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Posts by Less

My Favorite Libertarian Charitable Deductions This Season

Having long ago reached the point of having more money than time to support the libertarian movement, I take great care in picking out organizations to support. Although I do make gifts to a wide variety of groups, some of which focus on only one or a few important issues (such as Antiwar.com and the Institute for Justice), and others which don’t give me any tax deduction (such as the Center for a Stateless Society, Strike-The-Root, and The Voluntaryist), my largest contributions are monthly pledges to support 4 activities I consider essential to the future of liberty. Three of these activities occurred to me as a result of reading Malcolm Gladwell’s THE TIPPING POINT: he identified every successful movement as requiring 3 types of people: Salesmen, Connectors, and Mavens.

(1) Advocates for Self Government  is training the Salesmen. It has been number one on my list for years, because it is helping to develop what I consider most missing from our movement, people with the skills to persuade others to libertarianism. We have a great idea, but a serious lack of people with the ability to persuade non-libertarians. The late Marshall Fritz started this organization in the mid-1980s and Sharon Harris is doing a tremendous job of running it today. Its wonderful and free e-newsletter, the Liberator Online, is chock full of easy-to-absorb ideas and tips for promoting libertarianism (I use Harris’ ONE MINUTE LIBERTY TIPS and Mary Ruwart’s SHORT ANSWERS all the time), as is its website (start with the Libertarian Dozen), and it sponsors some great outreach tools, including the World’s Smallest Political Quiz and Operation Politically Homeless. They spend my dollars very wisely and productively.

(2) Future of Freedom Foundation is my favorite Connector. In a movement filled with organizations that snipe at each other and refuse to work together, FFF sends out a daily email with links to many of the best articles written, drawing freely from all those organizations that hate each other. I only started donating recently when they hired Sheldon Richman as Vice-President: Sheldon is a great Maven, Connector, and Salesman all by himself, and as a long-time editor of the Freeman for an organization whose name I seem to have forgotten, drew many of the finest minds in the movement (including me) to write for him, as I’m sure he will now do for FFF and its monthly journal. If you don’t have time to keep up with what everyone is writing about, just keep up at FFF and you should be just fine.

(3) Independent Institute is my favorite Maven. While there are plenty of fine libertarian organizations providing ongoing reporting of current events and commentary (in fact, Anthony Gregory’s commentaries for II are among my favorites), the Independent Institute is doing scholarly work as well, including fine peer-reviewed studies and full length books on important topics. For example, John Goodman’s PRICELESS is the most useful book on health care available for libertarians wanting to be informed and informative when talking to others. I could have chosen some of the fine organizations associated with George Mason University, also doing scholarly work, but I’ve found myself reading more II publications than those of any other organization when trying to advance my own understanding, and feel I owe the money to them.

(4) Students for Liberty is my final cornerstone. Sadly, most people harden quickly in their basic outlook on public policy, and if you don’t reach someone before they’re out of college, it gets extremely hard to reach them later. Notice how Ron Paul, the oldest of all candidates, had a base of support consisting primarily of young people, which is one reason he never had a chance with the establishment Republican Party. Now Ron Paul’s people started an auxiliary for the young, but to be perfectly frank, I think the movement needs to go beyond identification with a single hero or leader: I want the young people themselves to lead. At SFL, they do: their blogs are active and intellectually stimulating, differences are discussed instead of buried, anarchy isn’t a prohibited word and is thoughtfully debated, and optimism abounds, as it must for a movement such as ours to succeed. There are elements of maven (book publishing), connector (regional and even international conferences), and salesman (advice on speech and attire critical for young people trying to be taken seriously). I’m happy to include them in my big 4.

Let me add that, whenever possible, you should sign up for monthly pledges rather than giving large individual sums. All of these organizations are forced to spend unnecessary time contacting former donors for future donations, and monthly pledging saves them time and allows you to ignore their begging, knowing you are already an ongoing supporter. Plus, you don’t feel as much of a pinch when your gifts are individually smaller. I know whereof I speak on this: trust me.

Happy Holidays: I hope my advice on cutting your income tax liability next year has been helpful.


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Who’s the Scrooge? Libertarians and Compassion

['Tis the season, which always reminds me of a wonderful article Roderick Long wrote many, many years ago that I cut and pasted into a file and love to share with people every December. I went to Roderick's website to find a copy, but all I could find was two mentions of the piece along [...]

Continue reading at Anarchy Without Bombs …

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Elinor Ostrom’s Legacy: Managing Resources Without Government or Private Property

I never met Elinor Ostrom, 2009 Nobel Laureate in Economics, who has died at the age of 78, but learned much from her on how anarchy could solve the hardest problems. She devoted her professional life to studying how people around the world had actually attempted to manage common resources without resorting to either government property or private property methods, and drew tentative conclusions about what made some approaches successful and others unsuccessful. I hope you’ll read the piece I wrote at the time she won the award:

http://anarchywithoutbombs.com/2009/10/13/brava-an-uncommonly-fine-winner-of-the-nobel-prize-in-economics/

My attempt in that piece to summarize what she learned follows.

—————————————————————————————–

What distinguished the successful attempts to manage commons from the unsuccessful ones in her empirical studies were:

1. Clarity in the boundaries and rules. Lawful people that we are, anarchists have a great appreciation for the minimization of unnecessary conflict. When people know what is and isn’t acceptable behavior to others, it is easier for us to adapt our actions in accordance with those expectations. Of course, the idiots who spout nonsense such as “ignorance of the law is no excuse” are inevitably government prosecutors: the rest of us understand that common law provides its greatest service by clarifying expectations so that people can interact cooperatively and peacefully.

2. Local input and acceptance of these rules. Friedrich Hayek, co-winner of the first Nobel Prize in Economics, would be proud. The closer someone is to a situation, the more things they’ll know that others do not. Central planning, even were it performed by angels, would not produce good rules because of information problems. The fact that angels AREN’T in charge is, of course, another problem. Ostrom is well versed in “public choice” theory and knows that government regulators are humans with their own information AND incentive problems.

3. Active involvement of those most likely to be using the commons in the monitoring of use. The ones who care the most need to either directly involve themselves or else delegate to monitors who are accountable to them. Again, central planners, especially government officials who are accountable, if at all, to a much wider variety of people than those most interested in the commons in question and for a larger variety of activities than just the management of specific commons, cannot effectively monitor them and be held accountable. If the people who most need the commons can’t fire those who fail to protect it, the tragedy is inevitable.

4. Methods for dispute resolution. Central to anarchist theory is the idea that parties with disputes will agree to third party mediation or arbitration of those disputes. One of the inanities of government is that any dispute between the government and private persons is adjudicated by the government itself. The evolution of common law went far beyond the ad hoc choice of an arbiter to arrangements that let parties know in advance how disagreements would be resolved. Disputes are inevitable: dispute resolution methods are necessary, and do evolve.

5. Sanctions for violators. Naturally, those found liable by arbiters or, worse, those who declare themselves “outlaws” by refusing any third party arbitration may need to be encouraged to comply by proportional sanctions. Common law anarchists emphasize the value of non-violent enforcement through ostracism and boycott, most effective against those who are part of the local community, but recognize that some cases may require force against violators. Clearly, the arsonist may need to be restrained physically to protect the forest. Still, when local acceptance and monitoring of rules is strong, violations are rare, usually accidental, and typically resolved without the need for violence.


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And lest we forget, Antiwar.com is the Health of the Anti-State Movement

I promise, no more variations on Randolph Bourne’s line this month, but Antiwar.com is conducting its quarterly drive for donations. I’ve long been an admirer of their work and a recurring donor, and was greatly honored when they chose to highlight my speech on their blog at http://www.antiwar.com/blog/2012/05/09/less-antmans-antiwar-speech-at-the-lp-convention/. But that’s not the page I want you to visit. Go to:

http://antiwar.com/donate/

We all do what we can within our personal financial limits, and I’m fortunate enough to be able to do more than most, but even a $10 contribution adds up, and reminds them that their daily fight for the most important libertarian cause, the cause of peace, is appreciated. If you can’t spare even $10, spare a moment to email them thanks. If you can spare a dollar a day for peace: sign up as a $30 recurring donor. Don’t give until it hurts, give until it puts a smile on your face to be reminded that you’re not crazy and alone in your views. Or at least not alone.


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Antiwar is the Health of the Anti-State Movement: THE MOVIE!

Here is a YouTube video of my 7 minute speech at the Libertarian Party National Convention on May 5, 2012:


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Antiwar is the Health of the Anti-State Movement

[This is the text of my speech at the Libertarian Party National Convention, which I delivered on May 5, 2012 in Las Vegas and was broadcast live on C-SPAN. Thanks so much to those who have given me such positive feedback and requested a copy of my speech.  Since it was for oral delivery, I paid little attention to punctuation.]

Five years ago, almost to the day, the Libertarian movement exploded into the public consciousness. As someone who joined the Libertarian Party more than 32 years ago, when our party and platform already supported marriage equality for gays while the big debate in this country, including the Democratic Party, was over gay imprisonment, I can tell you that the first 27 years were the hardest. We had an appealing message of liberty that for some reason just didn’t catch fire with the public. Until May 15th, 2007. And there is one man we have to thank. Rudolph Giuliani.

On that day, the one-time 1988 Libertarian Party nominee for President, who I believe is still an official member of our party, was attacked by Giuliani for expressing the absurd idea that the 9/11 murderers, and let’s be clear that they are murderers, were motivated to kill Americans because of US military intervention on top of cruel trade sanctions in Muslim countries. Giuliani, as you know, is a foreign policy expert because he lived close to the World Trade Center and wore a hardhat on 9/11. Oddly enough, not only the CIA but the 9/11 Commission, which supposedly included Giuliani, AGREED with the man Giuliani attacked. As for the man he attacked, anyone who is an advocate of peace, whatever disagreements they might have on other issues, should join me in saying, God bless you, Ron Paul.

We have all heard Randolph Bourne’s famous quote “War is the health of the state”. War is the four letter word that lets government officials who are mere mortals, almost as human as you and I, place themselves above the rule of law, above due process, and above habeas corpus because, of course, all’s fair in love and war.

War is such a useful concept to politicians that they declare wars on everything. The war on terror, the war on drugs, the war on ignorance, the war on poverty, the war on pornography, and even the war on trans-fats. You see, we can’t afford to respect life, liberty and property… WE’RE AT WAR.

Drowning people in fear is the key to power. But we also learned five years ago that antiwar is the health of the anti-state movement. And even if we do nothing other than end ALL the wars, real as well as metaphorical, we will be well on our way to a free society. And millions are ready to rally around that banner.

But only one party can be the Party of Peace, and it isn’t the Republican Party, which will only nominate a candidate who passes two tests. First, they must be pro-life. Second, they must want to kill lots of foreigners. It isn’t the Democratic Party, which has rallied around a man who now holds the record for most children killed by a Nobel Peace Prize winner. And it isn’t our good friends in the Green and Constitution parties, who understand the importance of military nonintervention but not the equal or greater importance of free trade, which the late libertarian, Joan Kennedy Taylor, called the necessary foundation for world peace. The Libertarian Party is the only Party of Peace.

Libertarians love strategic alliances … between people. Trade, travel, migration and cultural exchange build both prosperity and friendship throughout the world. We oppose strategic alliances between governments. They lead to war, terrorism, and a blind eye toward violations of life, liberty and property by those allied governments. When it comes to politicians, friends don’t tell friends to respect human rights. And with friends like that, we create enemies.

Libertarians believe in humanitarian intervention… by volunteers who are supported by others who volunteer their money. The most positive image of Americans is our personal generosity after natural disasters in other parts of the world. We oppose humanitarian intervention by governments, whose decisions are influenced by what President Eisenhower called a military-industrial complex that profits from finding crises, and whose arrogance causes them to fancy themselves experts about another country and culture simply because they viewed a YouTube video. Of all humanitarians, the US government is the one whose past record of horrible unintended consequences and distorted intelligence has most earned itself a “time out” in its own corner of the world. It’s time for some humanitarian nonintervention. Bring ALL of our troops home from around the world to their families, treat their wounds, and stop creating new ones.


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David Nolan, R.I.P.

I lost a dear friend, today, David Nolan. The Libertarian Party was founded in his living room in 1971, and he remained actively involved right up until his unexpected death two days short of his 67th birthday. One of my fondest memories was being invited to sit at his table at the 10th anniversary celebration of the LP in 1981 in Denver, and we collaborated on several projects over the years to try to guide the party toward a consistent message of liberty, an effort that is more important now than ever.

He popularized the Nolan Chart, which does the best job I’ve ever seen of psychologically breaking the addiction people have to a one-dimensional view of politics. I’m constantly asked whether I’m on the left or the right, and the only correct answer is that the question doesn’t make sense. The Nolan Chart makes that clear. If you have a minute, take the World’s Smallest Political Quiz at http://www.theadvocates.org/quiz so you can see how libertarians compare to progressives and conservatives.

Ironically, his birthday request on Facebook is on my page as I write this. He asked people to contribute to his favorite charity (which also happens to be my favorite charity), The Advocates For Self Government, and I’ve added a little extra this month to my regular monthly pledge. Perhaps you might consider a small donation in his memory at https://www.theadvocates.org/donate so that his birthday wish can come true.


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Border Patrol Catches Americans Trying to Get to Mexican Clinic

June 20, 2017

TIJUANA (AP) – Mexican police arrested nearly 50 elderly Americans Wednesday as they exited on the Mexican side of an underground tunnel connecting San Ysidro, California and Tijuana, Mexico.  The Americans were being smuggled into the country in an attempt to get them to the nation’s premier heart transplant center, located in the isolated desert town of Vista de Nada.  Authorities believe that the Americans, several in wheelchairs and all in poor health, were en route to the world-famous Transplanto Gringo Heart Center, which until recently had been a popular destination for Americans seeking treatment for serious heart conditions and unable or unwilling to wait the 2 years required for heart surgery appointments in the United States.  American hospitals have been facing a mysterious shortage of qualified staff since the 2013 passage of the universal ChimeraCare bill, that had been hailed as guaranteeing health care for all Americans while reducing costs and providing a pony to all 6 year olds.

A law that went into effect on January 1, 2017 in Mexico, however, ended this popular “medical tourism,” after the Partido Faux Libertario swept to victory in the 2016 elections with 38% of the vote, but 82% of the seats in the Congress of the Union. President Juan Hermano Brinca, a trained economist from the Universidad de Nuevo León de Vaquerías (UNLV), noted that the Americans were traveling on public roads and unowned land to get to the Heart Center, and that the majority of Mexicans were annoyed by their presence, and would have certainly refused to allow them to travel on the roads and the land nobody owned had they personally homesteaded every meter of the country.  ”As Trustee of all of the unowned and public land in the State of Mexico, it is our party’s responsibility to centrally plan the transition to the spontaneous order in the most libertarian manner possible, ” added PFL Spokesman Maleducado de la Hayek.

When asked about the property rights of those who supported the free travel of foreigners within Mexico, Vice President Mirada Perdida responded, “It isn’t their property, since they lost the election.  What are you, some kind of socialist?”

(h/t dL’s inspired comment on my last post)


There is no libertarian case for restricted immigration

It is almost 30 years to the day since Libertarian Party Presidential Nominee Ed Clark set off a firestorm of criticism within the party for indicating that he didn’t think free immigration should be immediately adopted.  One of the strongest criticisms came in a post-mortem of that campaign by Mr. Libertarian, Murray Rothbard, who stated:

Immigration provided probably the greatest (or perhaps the second greatest) single scandal of the Clark campaign. New York Times liberals, you see, love Mexicans but only in Mexico; they are not too keen on Mexicans emigrating to the United States. And so the Clark position, which not only betrayed the libertarian principle of free and open immigration, but also froze immigration restrictions in with the welfare system.  – Libertarian Forum, Sep-Dec 1980

We all make mistakes, and the purpose of this post isn’t to single out Clark for something he said three decades ago under the pressure of the highest profile campaign in LP history (indeed, Rothbard himself strayed much further only a few years later).  But the question of whether Clark’s campaign had violated libertarian principles wasn’t even considered debatable at the time: it was obvious to all libertarians that free and open immigration was as clearly the libertarian position as was free and open trade.  It should still be obvious and, in the present environment, it is more important than ever to rekindle that awareness.

An excellent contribution toward that end is today’s post by dL of Liberale et libertaire: Restricted Immigration is not a Libertarian Position.  I strongly encourage you to read it in its entirety.  There are some hard issues on which the libertarian position is debatable.  Immigration (more accurately, freedom of travel) is not one of them.

For those who agree that free immigration is the only position consistent with the non-aggression principle, but who are concerned about the plausibility of some of the non-libertarian objections based on practicality, I would encourage a thorough reading of University of Hawaii Professor Ken Schoolland’s long article for the International Society for Individual Liberty: Why Open Immigration? In particular, Schoolland has demolished the “welfare magnet” theory with an insightful study of migration within the 50 states: there is an incredibly strong correlation between welfare benefits and migration: IT IS STRONGLY NEGATIVE! Immigrants flee the high welfare states to go to the low welfare states (Arizona ranks 46th in welfare benefits: it would be almost the very last place for a welfare-seeker to settle).

Violent crime rates are also negatively correlated to immigration, and immigrants increase the wealth of current residents.  Even the security argument is backwards: the underground railroad that has developed to allow workers to enter this country makes it easier for an undetected terrorist to enter, and would disappear without the revenue provided by the demand by millions of secret passage.

Utopia is not an option, and the practical argument over the pluses and minuses of immigration can never be settled to everyone’s satisfaction, but two principles should guide the confused:

(1) When in doubt as to whether aggression will work or not, the default position should be don’t aggress.

(2) To successfully control the borders would require the delegation of an enormous amount of power to government officials, who are fallible human beings prone to the corruption of power, like all other human beings.  The type of society we would need to restrict immigration successfully would be Hell on Earth.


The Machinery of Freedom now online!

More than 30 years ago, the first edition of David Friedman’s The Machinery of Freedom was the book that first made me comfortable calling myself an anarchist. The second edition, from 1989, has been out of print for a while, but David has just put online a complete copy of this masterpiece.

Even if you’re already an anarchist, there is much to learn from this wonderful book. I highly recommend it.

http://daviddfriedman.com/The_Machinery_of_Freedom_.pdf

If you prefer it in paper form, a used paperback copy is available at Amazon for only $100.  At that price, it is STILL worth it.