Monday, July 31, 2017

Libertarian Powell running for Oklahoma governor

Powell enters race for Libertarian Party gubernatorial nomination | News |

July 8, 2017 - "The Oklahoma Libertarian Party’s most successful candidate to date, Chris Powell, is seeking the nomination for Governor.

"Powell, of Bethany, received more than 89,000 votes running for county office in 2016, besting Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson’s statewide total of 83,481....

"Powell, active in the OKLP since 2000 including a term as chairman, contrasts his greater depth of political experience as compared to the other Libertarian candidates for the state’s highest office. In regard to those seeking the Republican and Democrat nominations, Powell says, 'My life is far more representative of the vast majority of Oklahomans than that of the members of the political establishment in those other two parties. I understand the daily problems of regular people in ways those politicians never can.'

"Powell intends to focus on empowering local school boards and teachers, elimination of special interest tax credits, state agency consolidation, criminal justice reform, and working to reduce divisions in the Legislature, all of which will help address the ongoing budget problems."

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Sunday, July 30, 2017

Folksinger Moroz created her own currency

PanAm Podcast at Freedom Fest: Tatiana Moroz on Using Music - David Unworth:

July 26, 2017 - "Singer-songwriter Tatiana Moroz is a leading libertarian activists and bitcoin advocate who has traveled the country using her music to promote, the campaigns of Ron Paul and Gary Johnson, among others. A graduate of Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music, Tatiana was inspired by the musicians of the previous generation who used art to protest the Vietnam War.

"'I didn’t feel that my own generation really had any movement to get behind … but in 2011 I learned about the Federal Reserve, and I became involved in the Ron Paul movement, and I ended up singing all around the country. And then I ended up morphing into the bitcoin space. I felt that the political world wasn’t really going to offer a solution, I thought that we needed something else.'

"Tatiana created her own crypto-currency tatianacoin, as a way for artists to manage their financial affairs and relationships. 'I created what I considered to be a solution for artists regarding fans and funding. That was what I as an independent artist in New York felt were the two biggest challenges … how do we fund our arts, and then how do we make sure that there are people there to see us … as I evolved from friendster to myspace to facebook I realized that I didn’t own those relationships and I was basically creating value for those platforms, with facebook being probably the worst of the offenders, now every time I want to reach my fans I’ve got to pay money in order to reach them. I felt that by creating my own artist crypto-currency that would be a way to connect directly with my fans.'"

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Saturday, July 29, 2017

Scandinavia is 'a far cry' from actual socialism

Scandinavia is no socialist Valhalla - CapX - Madeleine Grant, Intitute of Economic Affairs:

June 28, 2017 - "Scandinavia occupies a special place in the minds of socialists around the world.... Over in America, all manner of people, from presidential candidates to Nobel-prize winning economists have argued that policy makers should take Scandinavia as a model for reducing inequality and promoting more balanced growth. But is it really the socialist Valhalla it’s feted to be?

"Addressing Harvard University last year, Danish PM Lars Løkke Rasmussen tried to set the record straight. 'I know that some people associate the Nordic model with some sort of socialism’, he said. 'I would like to make one thing clear. Denmark is far from a socialist planned economy. Denmark is a market economy.'

"Indeed, viewing Scandinavian countries as socialist – or even left-wing – overlooks an essential truth about how their economies are organised. While these nations do have high taxes and generous welfare, in many respects, their markets are unusually free, adopting exactly the kind of policies that the British Left, with its rigid adherence to central planning and intervention, spends its time fighting against....

"Neither Sweden, Norway nor Denmark actually has a minimum wage. Instead, wages are decided by mutual agreement between unions and employers, which usually vary according to the industry or occupation in question. In this respect, Scandinavian labour markets are far more flexible and decentralised than Britain’s....

"Corporate tax rates in Scandinavia compare favourably with those of overtly capitalist countries. Sweden and Denmark’s are among the lowest in the EU 15, while Finland’s, at 20 per cent, is on a par with Britain. Norway has the highest rate of the five countries, but, at 27 per cent, is still significantly lower than America’s (nearly 40 per cent).

"In a recent count, about 20 per cent of public hospital care and about 30 per cent of public primary care [in Sweden] was provided by private companies – compared with around 6 per cent in Britain.... Sweden’s education system – inspired by the ideas of that well-known socialist thinker Milton Friedman – allows parents to top-up the cost of private schooling with government-funded vouchers, and has led to a surge of choice and competition in schools.

"Norway, another nation often held up as an example of a “better way” by the British Left, is also something of a red herring.... Norway’s vast oil reserves ... allowed it to build up the largest sovereign wealth fund in the world (predicted to reach $1 trillion by 2020). Thus is Norwegian 'socialism', ironically, funded by investment in capitalist projects around the world.... Last year, for the first time ever, Norway’s government took more money from the fund than the fund itself derives from oil revenues....

"Scandinavia’s prosperity has only ever been threatened when its nations have embraced genuinely socialist policies. In the 1970s, the size of the Swedish state began to expand in earnest under successive socialist governments. Punitive taxation, including effective marginal rates that topped 100 per cent in some cases, prompted a mass exodus of wealthy citizens and entrepreneurs.... By 1993, when public spending had reached 67 per cent of GDP, Sweden had dropped from being the 4th richest nation in the world in the 1970s, to the 14th. Both Swedish and Danish citizens have since begun to reject 'tax and spend' at the ballot box and recent years have seen a growth in support for centre-right parties, promising fiscal restraint....

"The success of the Nordic Model hinges on its embrace of free-market capitalism, competition and defence of private property – a far cry from the centralised planning system espoused by the socialist Left."

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Friday, July 28, 2017

Sessions expands civil asset forfeiture

Jeff Sessions Backs Civil-Asset Forfeiture to Bipartisan Criticism - The Atlantic:

July 19, 2017 - "Attorney General Jeff Sessions rolled back a series of Obama-era curbs on civil-asset forfeiture on Wednesday, strengthening the federal government’s power to seize cash and property from Americans without first bringing criminal charges against them....

"The directive revives the Justice Department’s Equitable Sharing Program, a controversial process through which state and local police agencies can seize assets, then transfer those seizures to federal control. In doing so, local agencies can skirt some state-level regulations limiting forfeitures. Under the program, the federal government pools the funds derived from the assets and sends 80 percent of them back to the state or local department itself, sometimes evading state laws that say seized assets should go into a state’s general fund....

"A Justice Department inspector general’s report in April found that federal forfeiture programs had taken in almost $28 billion over the past decade, and The Washington Post reported that civil-forfeiture seizures nationwide in 2015 surpassed the collective losses from all burglaries that same year. In its report, the inspector general’s office also raised concerns about how federal agencies take funds, after it found almost half of the Drug Enforcement Agency’s seizures in a random sample weren’t tied to any broader law-enforcement purpose....

"In 2015, Sessions’s predecessor Eric Holder issued a set of modest policy changes that scaled back equitable-sharing proceeds if they were obtained without warrants or criminal charges. Sessions rescinded those policies, but, in a rare nod to critics, imposed some new safeguards on the practice by speeding up notification for owners and requiring more information about the local or state agency’s probable cause for seizing assets....

"Kanya Bennett, a legislative counsel for the ACLU, noted that some polls have shown 80 percent of Americans oppose the practice. 'Civil-asset forfeiture is tantamount to policing for profit, generating millions of dollars annually that the agencies get to keep,' she said in a statement.... 'The only safeguard to protect Americans from civil forfeiture is to eliminate its use altogether,' said Darpana Sheth, a senior attorney at the libertarian nonprofit law firm Institute for Justice, in a statement. 'The Department of Justice’s supposed safeguards amount to little more than window dressing of an otherwise outrageous abuse of power'....

"'This is a troubling decision for the due-process protections afforded to us under the Fourth Amendment as well as the growing consensus we’ve seen nationwide on this issue,' California Representative Darrell Issa, a conservative Republican, said.... 'Instead of revising forfeiture practices in a manner to better protect Americans’ due-process rights, the DOJ seems determined to lose in court before it changes its policies for the better,' concluded Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah. 'Civil-asset forfeiture is unjust and unconstitutional,' Republican Representative Justin Amash of Michigan tweeted. 'It’s a big-government scheme to take people’s property without due process. End it.'"

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Thursday, July 27, 2017

What's William Shatner doing at FreedomFest?

Is Star Trek Icon William Shatner a Libertarian? | The American Conservative - Todd Seavey:

July 24, 2017 - "'Is there a free mind? Are our minds free? Are we programmed by something up there to follow our fate? Or are we programmed by Mom and Dad at a very early age? So is there free will? Do we make choices?'

"So wondered William Shatner during his July 21 speech at the annual Las Vegas convention of libertarians and other free-marketeers called FreedomFest. He urged the audience to stick to its principles, not compromise as he says he did when he directed Star Trek V by giving up on his original vision of having the real God attack the crew with an army of lava men in the film’s climax.

"Compromising principles is a mistake, suggested Shatner. 'Nobody can tell you what to do. Somewhere inside us is a core.'

"Is William Shatner a libertarian, you might ask? If not, what’s he doing there? Well, it seems more like he’s an environmentalist worried about overpopulation — and he’s a Canadian, of course — but he’s also expressed some populist longings for someone to sweep away the bureaucrats and make American democracy work again. And he avoids commenting on Donald Trump....

"None of this makes him too much weirder than a previous FreedomFest speaker who went on to bigger things, namely Donald Trump. I suppose the question is how big you want the libertarian tent to be. You probably want a tent big enough to let in optimists who still believe we can invent and build things, but not a tent so big that it lets all the carny-barkers inside....

"[A] decade or two ago ... it seemed that the worst thing that could happen to the libertarian movement is that it might get too screechy and radical and alienate mainstream Americans.... Nowadays, I worry more that in American politics, even the most radical road always leads back to the same mushy centrist middle, with a few highly predictable TV pundits guarding that middle against the emergence of any truly new ideas. So, if Shatner is unlikely to express a precise, coherent philosophical argument, I should at least root for him to leave crowds slightly confused, even if he says something stupid. That can spur thought.... Absent utopian unanimity, one should root for competition, always....

"Let my fellow libertarians fight viciously and devolve into factions (pausing to enjoy the occasional near-meaningless Shatner speech or other entertainment). Like small and decentralized states, the factionalism might afford a better chance for truth to survive out there somewhere than would one bland, homogeneous consensus version of the philosophy with all the rough edges polished and gleaming."

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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Hyra excluded from 1st Virginia governor's debate

First Gubernatorial Debate Does Not Include Libertarian Candidate | WVTF - Michael Pope, Virginia Public Radio:

July 24, 2017 - "The first of three debates for governor is scheduled for this weekend, when Democrat Ralph Northam will square off with Republican Ed Gillespie at the Homestead Resort in Hot Springs. But there’s one candidate who’s not invited to the party.

"Libertarian candidate Cliff Hyra spent months collecting signatures of voters to get on the ballot statewide. Last month, the Virginia Department of Elections said he qualified to be on the ballot in every jurisdiction in Virginia. But when voters are confronted with his name they might not know anything about him. That’s because debate organizers of the three debates for governor have not invited him to participate....

"The last Libertarian candidate for governor, Robert Sarvis, says that’s not fair to voters. 'It’s basically undermining the ability of the people to hear different ideas and to see everybody who’s going to be on their ballot. When there’s only three people who are going to be on the ballot, there’s no argument for keeping people out.'

"The bar association policy for who gets to be part of the debate says candidates must be 'significant' to participate, which they define as someone who does well in polling, has raised a significant amount of money and attracted a fair amount of media coverage. The policy doesn’t include any specific numbers for polling or fundraising, leaving it to the judgment of the organizers....

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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Libertarians disagree on Trump at FreedomFest

Libertarians cautiously sense opportunity under Trump - Chris Moody:

July 22, 2017 - "If there's one person relishing in Washington's Trump-era dysfunction, it's Libertarian Party Chairman Nicholas Sarwark, who sees the tumult as a prime recruitment opportunity.

'I have to give thanks to Donald Trump and the Republican Party,' said Sarwark, a former defense attorney who has led the Libertarian Party since 2014. 'Their success in getting control of government and then showing that they can't do anything once they have that control has been a better argument for joining the Libertarian Party than anything I could say.'

"As part of his efforts, Sarwark joined more than 1,000 libertarians and conservatives recently here in Las Vegas for a free-wheeling annual gathering called FreedomFest, fertile recruiting grounds where attendees held a robust skepticism of government power and where opinions of President Donald Trump were mixed....

"FreedomFest has been a mainstay of the Las Vegas convention circuit for a decade.... Trump himself made a surprise appearance at this conference in 2015, making it one of his first public appearances after announcing his bid for the presidency.... Jeffrey Tucker, the content director at the libertarian Foundation for Economic Education, assumed the crowd would run Trump out of town.... 'But by the time he ended, he had won over a substantial number of the crowd, which was a shock,' Tucker said....

"Indeed, reactions to Trump at the conference this year were varied.... Others, like former Libertarian Party Vice Presidential Nominee Wayne Allyn Root, can't get enough joy out of Trump's bombast. 'I love that he's driving liberals insane,' said Root, who debated Tucker about Trump at the conference....

"But for many who consider themselves libertarians, the main concern is systematic, and larger than the current president. The real issue, they say, is that the presidency has gained too much authority in the first place, and that Trump is merely taking advantage of an inheritance given to him by Republicans and Democrats alike....

"'"He is incompetent. He has passed no significant piece of legislation in 100 days despite his big promises. He is an embarrassment to the American people and around the globe. [But] What we need to do as libertarians is not talk about people, we need to talk about systems and policies,' said Nick Gillespie, editor in chief of the libertarian magazine website 'If you are a libertarian you should understand that big government is the problem.'"

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Monday, July 24, 2017

Toronto tears down stairs senior built for $550

Toronto mayor thanks citizen stair master as city demolishes his handiwork | CTV News - Daniel Otis:

July 21, 2017 - "A City of Toronto work crew was seen in Etobicoke’s Tom Riley Park early Friday morning, removing a staircase that had been erected by maverick local handyman Adi Astl. Construction on new stairs, Mayor John Tory promises, will begin immediately.

"Astl, a retired mechanic, says he built the stairs for a mere $550 after several neighbours tumbled down a muddy slope leading to the park’s garden. The work, which only took a few hours, came after the community was told to wait for a $65,000 to $150,000 solution from the city.

"If you imagine after heavy rain, or any rain, it becomes like a slippery slope -- there’s no holding on,” Astl told CTV News Channel from the park on Friday. “It might be okay when you’re ten-years-old, but if you get in my age, or a little bit younger, it’s very tough.'

"Astl’s stairs, declared unsafe by city bylaw officers, were quickly cordoned off with caution tape....

"In a written statement released Friday, Mayor Tory called the original price tag for the project 'absolutely ridiculous and out of whack with reality.'

"'I want to thank Mr. Astl for taking a stand on this issue,' Tory added. 'His homemade steps have sent a message that I know City Staff have heard loud and clear.'

"According to Tory, construction of new stairs will begin Friday and be completed within days.... The City estimates that the new stairs will cost $10,000. In an interview with CTV News Channel from Toronto City Hall, Tory vowed to make sure that cost estimates are more reasonable in the future."

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This story has been updated.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

New documentary on web outlaw Kim Dotcom

The martyrdom of Kim Dotcom | - Philip Mathews:

July 23, 2017 - " Controversial internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom is interviewed in his Auckland waterfront apartment in 2016. There is tasteful decor, natural light, sea views and directly behind the man himself, an upside down US flag on a cushion.

"Given that the US was into its fifth long year of trying to extradite Dotcom to face trial on copyright and other charges, that shot seems like one of Dotcom's famous provocations – in your face, Uncle Sam.... Annie Goldson​, director of the documentary Kim Dotcom: Caught in the Web, can't remember who art-directed the two-day interview, but thinks it was Dotcom himself....

"Detailed, neutral and at times sympathetic, Goldson's documentary started to take shape in 2014 when Dotcom, already a folk hero and political martyr in New Zealand after the raid on his Coatesville mansion in 2012, made the ill-judged decision to enter politics. Does anyone remember Internet Mana? The shaky alliance between the techno-radicals of Dotcom's Internet Party and Mana's old school socialists crashed into the 2014 election campaign like a runaway train.

"It climaxed at a political circus called the Moment of Truth. Dotcom flew investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald ​to Auckland and crossed live to free-speech heroes in hiding Julian Assange and Edward Snowden. Five days before the election, the Auckland Town Hall was packed with activists and journalists who expected this stunt to topple the Government....

"On election night in 2014, when it was clear Internet Mana had failed, Dotcom blamed himself and his toxic brand, and largely disappeared from public life. Now he is reclusive in his luxury pad, separated from his wife Mona (their story is a charming romantic interlude in the film). After two years of negotiations, Dotcom agreed to an interview and offered access to his archives, including home movies of family life in Coatesville before everything soured....

"[T]he biography that Goldson constructs suggests someone who always yearned to be famous. He played up the Dr. Evil role but long before he was even called Dotcom, the 20-year-old Kim Schmitz​ was turning up to a Munich nightclub in a flash white suit, posing as though he had already made it.... It was the classic Jay Gatsby​ myth, the self-invented phony. Even arrests were good for business – the notorious hacker could rebrand as a security consultant. In the background there was a tough childhood with a violent alcoholic father....

"There are good interviews in the film, shedding light on complex areas of freedom and copyright. Greenwald is there. The musician Moby is there. Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales is there. US technology journalist Greg Sandoval calls Dotcom 'a PR genius". Movie producer turned scholar Jonathan Taplin argues that 'he's a criminal ... he should be in jail'. 

"No one can agree on Dotcom and the film won't change that. It is not just his personal style that provokes strong opinions. Instead, as Goldson notes, there is something about these internet guys, 'these individuals' we have created.... Think of Dotcom and Assange and, more recently, Peter Thiel​. What do they have in common? They are transnational, mostly apolitical, loosely libertarian. They represent a different, more confusing world to come."

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Saturday, July 22, 2017

Rand Paul explains opposition to Trumpcare bill

Rand Paul: Crony capitalism isn't a right, so why does Senate healthcare bill give insurance companies the right to a bailout? - Washington Examiner:

July 22, 2017 - "I remember a lot of outrage about two things when I first ran for office: Obamacare and the bank bailouts. Unfortunately, the Senate healthcare bill combines the worst of those two — this time, we're bailing out the big insurance companies.

"Why? Partly because of the crony capitalism that pervades the culture in the swamps of Washington.

"But it's more than that. In order to advance their crony capitalism, the Senate Obamacare bill takes us beyond the long-running debate about 'is healthcare a right' to a new debate: 'Is health insurance a right?' ... a right to healthcare that includes a taxpayer obligation to maintain insurance industry profits, which hit a record $15 billion last year?....

"We aren't talking about whether or not we take care of the poor or disabled who can't afford their healthcare.... I can have an honest debate with socialists about whether one can have a right that confers an obligation on another individual, but I really can't even admit any intellectual honesty to those in Congress who now argue that the federal government has a responsibility to confer profit to a profitable industry....

"I am disappointed that my colleagues have insufficient confidence in the freedom of the healthcare marketplace, and I am greatly disappointed they've decided there now exists a federal right of insurance companies to have their $15 billion annual profit subsidized by taxpayers.

"I really can't describe my level of disappointment. Crony capitalism is enshrined as a 'right' by the new GOP Obamacare bill, while that bill does little to nothing to repeal Obamacare or fix our ailing healthcare sector."

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Friday, July 21, 2017

Invictus leaves Libertarians, joins GOP

Controversial Western Civilization Crusader Augustus Sol Invictus Bolts Libertarian Party for the GOP - Hit & Run : - Matt Welch:

July 17, 2017 - "Augustus Sol Invictus, the lawyer, 'revolutionary conservative,' and crusader 'to guard western civilization against foreign aggression and internal corruption,' has for the past few years been the single most controversial member of Florida's Libertarian Party, for reasons [that include] disputed allegations of neo-Nazism [and] accurate reports of ritual goat sacrifice....

"Well, as of July 13, after years of recriminations, resignations, and mutual accusations of bad faith, the L.P. won't have Invictus to kick around anymore. The onetime trouncee in an unusual L.P. primary fight over Florida's U.S. Senate election in 2016 posted a video on his Facebook page, declaring that he was 'Moving from the collegiate levels to the big leagues, and playing to win,' seeking along the way to 'unite the right wing of American politics at long last in order to save our country and our civilization'....

"In May, Invictus and I both gave lunchtime talks at the Florida L.P. 2017 state convention ... after which I had two main takeaways: 1) The Party was clearly rattled by his ongoing presence (and sponsorship), and 2) his apocalyptic, nationalist-populist vision of libertarianism stuck out like a throbbingly sore thumb compared to what I usually encounter at Libertarian gatherings. I do not often hear discussion, however guarded, about 'the genocide of the white race,' from either capital- or small-l libertarians these days.

"Invictus portrays this as the result of 'leftists who have infiltrated and corrupted the Libertarian Party,' leading to an insufficient defense of his chin-leading on the front lines of the Free Speech/AntiFa wars. Most L.P. activists I surveyed counter along the lines of Andy Craig: 'We can only hope his gang of enablers and skinhead fans now follow him back whence they came.' (Libertarian National Committee Chair Nicholas Sarwark simply tweeted, 'May he go in peace.')....

"'We find ourselves afflicted by the deadliest cancer in human history,' Augustus Invictus declares in his mission statement at The Revolutionary Conservative, 'manifest in the twin symptoms of leftism and international finance: in a word, globalism.' It's a diagnosis that has even less resonance within the Libertarian Party in month six of Donald Trump's presidency.

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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Two libertarian websites suspend publication

Dow Jones' Heat Street is closing - Business Insider- Jake Kantner:

June 30, 2017 - "Heat Street, the 'punky libertarian' website which was the brainchild of former Tory MP Louise Mensch, is being shut down after little more than a year.

"Heat Street will close on August 4 and the operation will be moved under investor brand MarketWatch, according to a spokesman for Dow Jones, the arm of Rupert Murdoch's media empire which housed the website.

"In an emailed statement, he said: 'The operation will be restructured under the MarketWatch umbrella, with the goal of strengthening cultural, entertainment and gaming coverage.

"'The Heat Street brand and future content associated with the brand will be part of the MarketWatch group.'"

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Being Libertarian 'Going Dark' in Light of Corporate Readjustment - Being Libertarian - Martin van Staden:

July 19,2017 - "In light of our momentous growth and expansion, Being Libertarian will be ceasing most activity, including the posting of new images, articles, and videos across our platforms. This will, however, only be for a short period of time, as the senior management engages with one another on our path forward. The structures which were created almost two years ago are not keeping up with our growth and professionalization in all the respects they should be, so the Board is going to readjust and reconsider various elements of Being Libertarian’s constitution and operations.

"While no new content will be created for the next while, followers of Being Libertarian on Facebook will be treated to some of our older articles and videos from our impressive archive of content. We encourage you to continue engaging, and thank you again for your continued support."

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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Libertarian Jake Porter running for Iowa governor

Libertarian Iowa gubernatorial candidate calls for 'real changes' | Cedar Rapids Gazette - James Q. Lynch:

July 19, 2017 - "The politics-as-usual approach to state government by Republicans and Democrats is unsustainable and hurting vulnerable Iowans, according to Jake Porter, a Libertarian who is joining the race for governor.

"'We’re having this huge budget crisis, and I don’t see other candidates proposing real changes,' Porter said Tuesday.

"Instead, Statehouse lawmakers and the governor are using the budget as a weapon, according to Porter, who will formally announce his candidacy on 'The Simon Conway Show' on WHO Radio between 4 and 7 p.m. Thursday.

“They’ve decided we’re having a budget crisis, so we’re going to cut the services people use most, whether it’s mental health services, sexual abuse hotlines, domestic abuse shelters (or) hearing aids for kids,” Porter said. 'They’re not actually going after any of the waste that could easily be cut. They’re going after the things that are going to hurt the most people, probably as an excuse to raise the sales tax next year.'

"Porter, 29, a Council Bluffs business consultant long active in the Libertarian Party, previously ran for secretary of state. He thinks his views and priorities are more closely aligned with voters than either the Democratic or Republican platform.

"He wants to make medical cannabis available, restore voting rights for felons who have served their time, end corporate welfare, return Medicaid to its pre-privatization status and phase out the state sales tax.

"He opposes corporate welfare on libertarian principles. It’s wrong, Porter said, to ask Iowans to pay millions of dollars to financially sound corporations. He singled out the Research Activities Credit that refunds tax money to corporations even if they have no tax liability.

"'They’ve put the tax bill on the smallest Iowans and smallest companies,' he said. 'I don’t think the state should favor one business over another....

"'I’ve watched the budget grow from $6.2 billion from the end of the Culver administration to $7.3 billion' under Gov. Terry Branstad, he said. 'So they can’t claim they’ve actually cut any government. They’ve grown it while giving large tax breaks to big financially sound corporations.'"

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Medical cannabis legalized in Greece

GREECE HAS JUST LEGALIZED MEDICINAL CANNABIS: What Does This Mean for the Future of Greek Weed? - Dope Magazine - Seshata:

June 30, 2017 - "The government of Greece, led by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras of the left-wing Syriza party, has today announced that cannabis is effectively legal for medicinal use. Tsipras announced in a press briefing at the Ministry of Health that the Joint Ministerial Decision on the legalization of medical cannabis was signed and published.

"As part of the announcement, it was stated that cannabis is to be reclassified from Table A — the most restrictive category of narcotics, which also includes heroin, LSD and MDMA — to Table B, a category that includes methadone, cocaine and opium.

"The reclassification means that the state can potentially give licenses for cultivation in the near future, although nothing has yet been announced regarding potential licensing procedures....

"Greece has long had extremely restrictive laws on cannabis and other drugs, and implemented laws prohibiting its sale and use as early as 1890. However, this announcement is the latest in a string of recent moves towards liberalization of cannabis laws....

"This latest news marks yet another small but significant step on the path to legalization of cannabis in Greece. Prior to prohibition, the country had a thriving export industry of fine-quality hashish, originating from the Peloponnese region of southern Greece. Urban legends of the fine landraces of the region still abound in Greek grower circles.

"Even further south, in Crete, there is a thriving market in illicit cannabis cultivation. Throughout the country, rates of recreational consumption are consistently high, yet penalties for its use remain harsh.

"Greece has a long history of cannabis use and cultivation, a favorable climate (in both temperate and political terms), and a need for economic stimulus. It is therefore possible Greece’s current government will continue on this trajectory and consider the legalization and regulation of other forms of cannabis cultivation, sale and use in coming years."

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Monday, July 17, 2017

Sharpe to run as Libertarian for NY governor

Larry Sharpe Announces Run For NY Governorship As a Libertarian - Elias J. Atienza, The Libertarian Republic:

July 12, 2017 - "Larry Sharpe, the 2nd place runner-up 2016 vice presidential candidate, announced that he was running for Governor of New York in 2018. He did this as a ‘birthday announcement’ and confirmed he was running as a member of the Libertarian Party....

"In the live stream, he said that he wanted his campaign to be a model for future Libertarian campaigns and stressed that he was in it to win.

"'I will run as a Libertarian and Libertarian only. I will show the nation that you can win as a Libertarian, that you can run a campaign as a Libertarian, and you can be taken seriously as a Libertarian,' he said.

"Sharpe is a relative newcomer to the Libertarian Party, having risen from obscurity to almost snatching the vice presidential nominee spot from Bill Weld....

"Sharpe faces an uphill battle in a state that has elected Democrats to the governorship since 2008. However, he is helped that Cuomo approval rating has dropped recently to 46 percent according to a recent Quinnipiac University poll.

"Only Cuomo and Sharpe have announced their intentions to run for governor ... as of this publication."

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Sunday, July 16, 2017

‘Game of Thrones: Libertarian Edition’ (video)

Reason releases hilarious parody video ‘Game of Thrones: Libertarian Edition’ – TheBlaze - Brandon Morse:

July 14, 2017 - "With season seven of the smash HBO show “Game of Thrones” debuting on Sunday, Reason has released another hilarious video putting a libertarian spin on the fantasy epic.

"Reason’s  Austin Bragg, Meredith Bragg, Andrew Heaton, and Remy Munasifi have made libertarian versions of “Star Trek” and “Star Wars” in the past. “Star Trek: Libertarian Edition” won a Southern California Journalism Award for Best Humor/Satire Writing of 2016.

"The video features Heaton and Austin Bragg playing numerous roles. Heaton plays the Hand of the King attempting to convince the small council that small government and non-interventionism is the key to a more prosperous Westoros.

"Heaton and Austin Bragg also play two members of the Night’s Watch trying to figure out why their ancestors built a giant wall to keep out the 'free folk,' people who marry whoever they want, live however they please, and elect leaders instead of being under the rule of someone they never approved of."

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Saturday, July 15, 2017

Thiel invests millions in 'immortality project'

Mammoth task: billionaire Peter Thiel funded effort to resurrect woolly beast | Technology | The Guardian - Olivia Solon:

June 30, 2017 - "PayPal billionaire and Gawker war-wager Peter Thiel has invested $100,000 in a research effort to resurrect the woolly mammoth.

'Thiel, who believes that viewing death as inevitable is a sign of 'complacency of the western world', gave the money to Harvard University genomics professor George Church, whose laboratory is attempting to revive the extinct pachyderm .... taking DNA extracted from frozen mammoths and using it to genetically modify elephant cells....

"Peter Thiel’s team did not respond to requests for confirmation of the investment, but Church told MIT Technology Review that it was true....

"It’s not entirely surprising Thiel wants to bring a mammal back from the dead. According to several interviews, Thiel sees death as a terrible inconvenience that needs disrupting.

"'Almost every human being who has ever lived is dead. Solving this problem is the most natural, humane, and important thing we could possibly do,' he is quoted as saying on the website of the SENS Foundation, a charity Thiel funds that approaches aging as a disease in need of a cure.

"In 2015 he continued on his warpath against human fragility.

"'I’ve always had this really strong sense that death was a terrible, terrible thing,' he told the Washington Post, 'Most people end up compartmentalizing, and they are in some weird mode of denial and acceptance about death, but they both have the result of making you very passive. I prefer to fight it.'

"Thiel’s 'fight' involves investing millions in biotechnology and artificial intelligence in what he has called 'the immortality project'. His investment firm Thiel Capital has, according to Inc, expressed an interest in a company called Ambrosia, which is running a trial where individuals can pay $8,000 to receive a blood transfusion from a teenager in the hope that it will restore some youthful vigour....

"He has also signed up with cryogenics company Alcor to be deep-frozen at the time of his death in the hope that he too can be resurrected."

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Friday, July 14, 2017

Illinois legislature passes asset forfeiture reform

Illinois Legislature Passes Asset Forfeiture Reform - Hit & Run : - C.J. Ciaramella:

June 27, 2017 - "The Illinois legislature overwhelmingly passed a bill Friday tightening the state's civil asset forfeiture laws and shifting the burden of proof onto the government to show why it should be allowed to keep seized property.

"The vote came on the heels of an investigative report from Reason earlier this month showing lower-income neighborhoods of Chicago were hit hardest by asset forfeiture. Reason's report, analyzing more than 23,000 property seizures over the last five years, was cited by Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx in a letter to the Chicago Tribune Saturday urging Republican Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner to sign the bill into law....

"The bill, approved unanimously in the state senate and with only one dissenting vote in the house, would raise the standard of evidence for forfeitures from probable cause to a preponderance of evidence and bar seizures under $500 in many drug cases.

"It would also abolish a requirement of residents challenging seizures that they pay a 10 percent bond on the estimated value of their property to file a petition, and expedite hearings for owners claiming innocence....

"Overall, civil liberties groups are pleased with the bill. 'The main thing is shifting the burden of proof clearly onto the state and relieving property owners of having to prove their innocence,' Ben Ruddell, a staff attorney at the ACLU of Illinois, says."

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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Arizona Libertarians lose ballot law challenge

Law requiring more signatures for Libertarian candidates remains | State-and-regional | - Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services:

July 10, 2017 - "A federal judge has rebuffed a bid by the Libertarian Party to kill an Arizona law even its sponsors concede was designed to make it harder for minor party candidates to get on the general election ballot.

"Judge David Campbell acknowledged Monday the 2015 law sharply increases the number of signatures that Libertarian candidates need to qualify for ballot status. In some cases, the difference is more than 20 times the old requirement.

"The result was that only one Libertarian candidate qualified for the ballot in 2016, and none made it to the general election. By contrast, there were 25 in 2004, 19 in 2008 and 18 in 2012.

"But Campbell said the new hurdle is not 'unconstitutionally burdensome.' And the judge accepted the arguments that the higher signature requirements ensure that candidates who reach the November ballot have some “threshold of support'....

"In pushing for the change, GOP lawmakers made no secret they do not want Libertarian Party candidates in the race, contending that a vote for a Libertarian is a vote that would otherwise go to a Republican....

"Prior to 2015, would-be candidates qualified for the ballot by getting the signatures of one-half of one percent of all party members within a given area.... The new formula changed that to one-quarter of a percent — but for all people who could sign a candidate's petition. That adds political independents, who outnumber Democrats and are running neck-in-neck with Republicans, to the equation....

"Using that pre-2016 formula, a Libertarian could run for statewide office with petitions bearing just 134 names, one-half percent of all those registered with the party. But the new formula, which takes into account all the independents, required a Libertarian trying to get on a statewide ballot to get 3,023 signatures.

"To put that in perspective, that is close to 12 percent of all registered Libertarians. By contrast, the statewide burden for a GOP candidate, based on the number of registered Republicans, remains close to that one-half of one percent of all adherents."

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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Social Liberty Party goes libertarian in Brazil

Brazil's Rand Paul: Can Libertarianism Fix Crime and Corruption? | Rising Stars | OZY - Anna Jean Kaiser, Daily Dose:

June 28, 2017 - "Fabio Ostermann ... 32, is a key player in Brazil’s growing libertarian movement, which has risen against a backdrop of the country’s collapsing left. He’s led youth groups on college campuses, co-organized some of the country’s largest-ever protests — which may have helped impeach the country’s leftist president, Dilma Rousseff. Now, he’s the president of the Social Liberty Party in his home state, which he is reforming to defend classical libertarian ideals.

"He ran and lost for mayor of his hometown of Porto Alegre, but now has his eye on a lower house seat in 2018 — and on launching a larger campaign in next year’s presidential and congressional elections to occupy the political vacuum created by the left’s disintegration with a rebranded, youthful, American-influenced libertarianism. Ostermann’s brand of libertarianism calls for widespread privatizations, deregulation of the economy and open trade markets. He’s pro marijuana legalization and favors gay marriage....

"Ostermann was trained by the United States’ most influential libertarian organizations — the Cato Institute, the Atlas Network and the Charles Koch Foundation.... He took a course on libertarian theory with Cato and earned a Koch summer fellowship to work at the Atlas Network. Newly evangelized, Ostermann returned to Brazil in 2009, where he co-founded Estudantes pela Liberdade — the Brazilian chapter of Students for Liberty, another U.S.-based libertarian group....

"From that came the Free Brazil Movement. They started rallying hard to impeach Rousseff. On March 15, 2015, Free Brazil and other organizations mobilized 3 million people to protest in 229 cities across the country — the largest protest since the fall of the military dictatorship in 1985....

"If elected, Ostermann’s first policy order of business would be the mass privatization of Brazil’s $70 billion-plus social safety net. He supports voucher systems for private schools and health care. 'I don’t think the government has the competence or capacity to manage these services in a country as chaotic as Brazil,' he says, though he’s happy to let the government spend on sanitation, security and 'basic infrastructure.' (That doesn’t include soccer stadiums, he adds, in sardonic reference to some $25 billion spent on the World Cup and the Olympics in 2014 and 2016 — though that number is frequently contested in Brazil.)

"When talking marijuana legalization, he situates his pro stance in response to Brazil’s bloody drug landscape, where drug crime causes near-constant violence in urban centers. In 2015, Brazil had more than 56,000 homicides, landing it the world’s highest murder rate in terms of absolute numbers, which in large part is due to drug-related crimes. In turn, Brazil also has the world’s fourth-largest prison population. 'To leave drug traffickers and cartels to have a monopoly over marijuana is a crime against society and an ineffective way to spend taxpayer money,' he says.

"Ostermann defends this latter stance despite the fact that it may have lost him his race last year. It’s his obsession with ideological purity that might keep him and his party from finding success."

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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Libertarian elected mayor of McClain, Mississippi

Loungin' with Libertarians aims to promote party unity - - The News for South Mississippi - Caray Grace:

July 8, 2017 - "The Mayor of McClain, Miss. is a Libertarian, and the party says he's the first elected Libertarian in the state of Mississippi.

"'It's kind of overwhelming to be the first one. Everybody is wanting you to set a good example as a Libertarian. Of course in small towns you have to do what you have to do for your constituents whether that goes along with Libertarian lines or whatever lines,' said Mayor Steve McCluskey....

"'The Libertarian party, its been around since 1971, but people are really starting to pay attention and notice as they become more and more dissatisfied with those two old parties,' said Daniel Hayes.

"Hayes is with the Libertarian National Committee and says Libertarians believe in minimal government interference in citizens lives....

"Today's meeting extended an olive branch to members of others parties as well. The mayor of Tupelo, who happens to be a Democrat, spoke to the audience about the current state of Washington and the importance of crossing party lines to move forward. "

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Monday, July 10, 2017

Cannabis goes on sale in Nevada

Nevada marijuana dispensaries off to smokin' hot start - Jenny Kane, Reno Gazette-Journal:

 July 7, 2017 - "The four Reno dispensaries licensed to sell recreational marijuana each raked in 'hundreds of thousands of dollars' in the past four days from the state's first legal recreational marijuana sales, according to Will Adler, executive director of the Sierra Cannabis Coalition....

"Nevada Dispensary Association Executive Director Riana Durrett 'very roughly' estimated that Nevada made $1 million from taxes between Saturday and Tuesday, and dispensaries as much as $3 million.

"'Naturally, it will drop off because the first day was a novelty,' Durrett said. "I think (sales) will stay healthy because this market exists now, and I think people will be relieved to come out of the shadows;....

"Oregon dispensaries made $3.2 million on the state's first day of sales and more than $11 million in their first week, according to a 2015 article in Time. Colorado dispensaries made more than $5 million in their first week, although Washington dispensaries didn't make $2 million until four weeks in, the same article said....

"'(Customers) were a part of history — prohibition is over,' said Mikel Alvarez, spokesman for Blum, a company which has one dispensary location in Reno and three in Las Vegas.

"The Reno location served 1,000 customers and made $100,000 in sales during the first 24 hours, starting at midnight Saturday. The company's three Las Vegas locations brought in $90,000 in their first 24-hour stretch.

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Sunday, July 9, 2017

One great idea and two bad ones

Nationalism and Socialism Are Very Bad Ideas - - Deirdre Nansen McCloskey, Reason:

February 2017 - "Between the Great Lisbon Earthquake [1755] and the revolutionary year of 1848 the European chattering classes had three big ideas. One was very, very good. The other two were very, very bad. We're still paying.

"The good one, flowing from the pens of such members of the clerisy as Voltaire, Thomas Paine, Mary Wollstonecraft, and above all the Blessed Adam Smith, is what Smith described in 1776 as the shocking idea of 'allowing every man [or woman, dear] to pursue his own interest in his own way, upon the liberal plan of equality, liberty, and justice'....

"The boldness of commoners pursuing their own interests resulted in a Great Enrichment — a rise in Europe and the Anglosphere of real, inflation-corrected incomes per head, from 1800 to the present, by a factor, conservatively measured, of about 30. That is, class, about 3,000 percent.... And now, despite the best efforts of governments and international agencies to bungle the job, liberalism is spreading to the world, from Hong Kong to Botswana....

"The two bad ideas of 1755–1848 were nationalism and socialism.... Nationalism, when first theorized in the early 19th century, was entwined with the Romantic movement, though of course in England it was already hundreds of years old.

"What is bad about nationalism, aside from its intrinsic collective coercion, is that it inspires conflict. The 800 U.S. military bases around the world keep the peace by waging endless war, bombing civilians to protect Americans from non-threats on the other side of the world. In July 2016, we of the Anglosphere 'celebrated,' if that is quite the word, the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, a fruit of nationalism, which by its conclusion three and a half months later had cost the Allies and the Central Powers combined over a million casualties, most of them dismembered by artillery....

"The other bad idea of the era was socialism, which can also be linked to Romanticism, and to a secularized Christianity.... What's bad about socialism, aside from its own intrinsic collective coercion, is that it leads to poverty. Even in its purest forms — within the confines of a sweet family, say — it kills initiative and encourages free riding.... The not-so-sweet forms of socialism, especially those paired with nationalism, are a lot worse. Thus North Korea, Cuba, and other workers' paradises. As the joke goes, 'Under capitalism man exploits man; under socialism it's the other way around.'

"What to do? Revive liberalism, as the astonishing successes of China and India have. Take back the word from our friends on the American left. They can keep progressive, if they don't mind being associated with the Progressive movement of the early 20th century, and its eugenic enthusiasms for forced sterilization and for using the minimum wage to drive immigrants, blacks, and women out of the labor force.....

"Read Adam Smith, slowly — not just the prudential Wealth of Nations, but its temperate sister The Theory of Moral Sentiments. And return in spirit to the dawn of 1776, when the radical idea was not nationalism or socialism or national socialism, but 'the obvious and simple system of natural liberty' that allows all men and women to pursue their interests in their own ways."

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Saturday, July 8, 2017

Teens found libertarian news start-up

Hersey students lead libertarian news start-up - Josh Irvine, Chicago Daily Herald:

July 7, 2017 - "Two Hersey High School students ... Ryan Manthy, 15, and Maxwell Hessling, 16, both Arlington Heights [Illinois] residents, serve as the president and the chief financial officer, respectively, of 71 Republic, LLC.

"The website primarily covers topics related to the Libertarian Party (the company name refers to the year of the party's formation, 1971) and publishes editorial content advocating libertarian causes....

"71 Republic grew out of Manthy and co-creator and CEO Mathew Geiger's attempts to build a libertarian presence in the media. Geiger, a 16-year-old living in rural North Carolina, decided along with Manthy to use the former's connections to the Libertarian Party as the focal point of a new publication focused on libertarian politics. Hessling joined as CFO in May; the site launched in early June....

"At present, 71 Republic has 20 contributors in three countries, who include a Libertarian Party representative in the Maryland legislature and numerous high school students, including another Arlington Heights teen.

"[C]ontributors ...are required to provide a 1,000-word editorial on why capitalism works and take part in an hourlong interview where their political views are discussed. Despite this, the duo said their intent is to remain nonpartisan.

"The site currently receives around 3,000 views a week and has amassed an audience on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. It has also partnered with The Scoop, a libertarian digital news startup meant to compete with other digital news platforms like Now This.

"Manthy and Hessling hope to see their startup acquired by a media conglomerate like Viacom, with the ultimate goal of cultivating an 'alternative market' for the news media."

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71 Republic 

Friday, July 7, 2017

Rand Paul goes to war with GOP over Trumpcare

Rand Paul is going to war with his own party - Jeremy Beanham, Washington Examiner:

July 7, 2017 - "Sen. Rand Paul has not been quiet about his displeasure with the Republican healthcare bill as it was written, saying many times that he can't vote for it unless it looks more like an actual repeal of Obamacare.

"Paul has derided Republicans for dropping the essence of their previous 'repeal and replace' mantra for another big government approach, which promises an infusion of more federal money into the healthcare system.

"Now that Paul has voiced support for separating the repeal effort from the replace effort into two different bills, he has distinguished himself even further from the rest of his caucus as one of the few remaining small government, pro-liberty Republicans.

Commenting on the current bill, he said, ... 'every time you add more federal money, more spending, for the big government Republicans, it offends the conservatives....

"'You could say to the moderates we are going to give you more spending over here but it's going to be on a separate bill, and then you say to conservatives like me that are worried about the debt and think that we're going to ruin the country – I can't vote for all that spending – so if you want my vote, clean up the repeal, don't put all the Christmas ornaments and billion dollar goodies on it, just give me repeal, and if the Democrats and big government Republicans insist on Christmas ornaments that cost $45 billion and $100 billion, it'll be on a different bill.'

"His implication is clear: he wants to reduce the federal government's role in health care – as he and others in his party previously promised to do – and is, therefore, a conservative, and those Republicans supporting this bill are not."

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Thursday, July 6, 2017

Recreational cannabis legalized in Catalonia

Catalonia legalises marijuana consumption, cultivation and distribution | The Independent - Chris Baynes:

June 30, 2017 - "The government of Catalonia has legalised marijuana, making the autonomous Spanish region the latest part of the world to loosen restrictions on use of the drug.

"The cultivation, consumption and distribution of cannabis will be permitted for members of designated clubs after the region's parliament voted to regulate them.

"It follows a campaign which gathered 67,500 petition signatures, forcing a government debate.

"Cannabis clubs previously existed in a state of legal limbo in Catalonia after emerging in response to strict fines issued by the national government to users caught taking the drug in public.

"Clubs must be self-sufficient non-profit associations that only distribute cannabis to members aged over 18. They will be limited to producing 150kg of the dried drug a year and subject to rules designed to stop drug tourism.

"In 2014, officials in the Catalan capital Barcelona attempted to curb the boom in cannabis use over fears the city was growing to rival Amsterdam as a marijuana haven. Under the new legal framework, members will not be able to acquire cannabis for 15 days after joining a club....

"Spain's federal government could look to challenge Catalonia's legalisation.

"Last year Spain's highest court overturned Catalonia's 2013 ban on bullfighting after Madrid's ruling party argued it harmed artistic freedom and cultural heritage."

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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Petersen leaves Libertarian Party 'for now'

Read Austin Petersen's Goodbye Note to the Libertarian Party - Hit & Run : - Nick Gillespie:

July 4, 2017 - "Austin Petersen, the second-place finisher for the 2016 Libertarian Party presidential nomination, is running for the U.S. Senate seat in Missouri currently held by Democrat Claire McCaskill. But he's running as a Republican and explains his decision below....

"Dear friends in the Libertarian Party,

"For the last eight weeks, I've spent six hours a day calling my supporters to ask them their thoughts on how I might best advance liberty. I took the time to listen to every single persons' opinion about a potential opportunity to seek a seat in the U.S. Senate here in my home state of Missouri.

"Of the thousands of people I spoke to, all encouraged a run, hundreds donated, and the vast majority offered their opinion regarding which party I should align with. Over 98% of them, including registered Libertarians, independents, Republicans, and even Democrats, said to run GOP....

"I have chosen to listen to them, as they are the lifeblood of all efforts that I will make to advance our common cause. They are the people whose time, energy, and money I will need to bring our movement a victory that we desperately need....

"I have served the Libertarian Party in nearly every capacity, at every level, from your humble volunteer coordinator at your national office, to one of your top contenders for President of the United States. Any future successes I may garner in the realm of politics will come in large part because of the experience and opportunities you gave me to advance American freedom, and for that I thank you.

"Sadly, I must depart for now. I go with no ill will, and wish you all the best in your future endeavors.

Best Wishes,
Austin Petersen"

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Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Virginia Libertarian makes ballot for governor

Libertarian candidate for Virginia governor qualifies for November ballot | Virginia Politics | - Bill Bartel, Virginian-Pilot:

June 29, 2017 - "Virginians will have a third choice for governor in the Nov. 7 general election.

"Cliff Hyra, a 34-year-old patent attorney from Hanover County, has qualified to be on the ballot as the Libertarian Party candidate, the Virginia Department of Elections confirmed Thursday.

"Hyra and his supporters submitted petitions bearing more than 10,000 signatures to earn a spot....

"Hyra is making his first bid for elected office. He has a law degree from George Mason University and a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from Virginia Tech, according to his law office website. He is married with three children.

"Four years ago, Libertarian Robert Sarvis qualified for the gubernatorial election but collected less than 7 percent of the popular vote. Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe narrowly defeated GOP candidate Ken Cuccinelli in 2013 by 56,435 votes out of 2.2 million cast."

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Monday, July 3, 2017

Fascists and progressives

by George J. Dance

Alt.right author James Miller believes that "Fascism has an undeserved bad reputation." In his view: "Regardless of this reputation, Fascism is a very sensible economic and social ideology." He goes on to offer the following definition:
Fascism is an economic system in which a nation’s government plays a central role in monitoring all banking, trade, production, and labor activity which takes place within the nation. Such monitoring is done for the sole purpose of safeguarding and advancing the nation and its people. Under Fascism, the government will not approve of any business activity unless that business has a positive impact on the nation as a whole and the people of the nation — this is the axiom which determines everything under Fascism.[1]
Interestingly, this definition of fascism (which looks correct) also looks like a correct definition of progressivism, the economic philosophy of the Roosevelts, Woodrow Wilson, and every Democratic president since (save perhaps Truman and Clinton), and some Republican presidents as well (Gerald Ford, G.H.W. Bush).

Like socialism, fascism and progressivism are variants of statism: the belief that state control of society and the economy is necessary to bring about and maintain a good society. But while socialists try to achieve that control directly, through government ownership and increased government spending, progressives and fascists try to achieve it indirectly through regulation, oversight, and management of nominally private businesses and workers.

As the historical record shows, the fascist regimes of Germany and Italy, and the progressive regime of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, were composed of mutual admirers, who followed a similar politico-economic agenda. As David Gordon of the Mises Institue has documented:
  • The Nazi Party newspaper, the Völkischer Beobachter, "stressed 'Roosevelt's adoption of National Socialist strains of thought in his economic and social policies,' praising the president's style of leadership as being compatible with Hitler's own dictatorial Führerprinzip" (p. 190).
  • Nor was Hitler himself lacking in praise for his American counterpart. He "told American ambassador William Dodd that he was 'in accord with the President in the view that the virtue of duty, readiness for sacrifice, and discipline should dominate the entire people. These moral demands which the President places before every individual citizen of the United States are also the quintessence of the German state philosophy, which finds its expression in the slogan "The Public Weal Transcends the Interest of the Individual"'" (pp. 19-20)....
  • Mussolini, who did not allow his work as dictator to interrupt his prolific journalism, wrote a glowing review of Roosevelt's Looking Forward. He found "reminiscent of fascism … the principle that the state no longer leaves the economy to its own devices"(pp. 23-24)....
  • Roosevelt never had much use for Hitler, but Mussolini was another matter. "'I don't mind telling you in confidence,' FDR remarked to a White House correspondent, 'that I am keeping in fairly close touch with that admirable Italian gentleman'" (p. 31). Rexford Tugwell, a leading adviser to the president, had difficulty containing his enthusiasm for Mussolini's program to modernize Italy: "It's the cleanest … most efficiently operating piece of social machinery I've ever seen. It makes me envious" (p. 32)[2]
Because (unlike socialism), fascism and progressivism do not directly challenge a country's economic status quo, they can appeal to the conservative as well as the totalitarian biases that I have argued exist in modern political societies.[3] However, like socialism, fascism and progressivism imply a radical restructuring of society, with state power vastly increased at the expense of individual rights and liberties.

This ideological symmetry can lead to tactical symmetries: for instance, historical fascism relied on tactics of political violence copied from those on the radical left (the anarchists and Bolsheviks).[4] Progressives, on the other hand, initially rejected those methods; one fundamental difference between progressives and fascists. That was because radical leftism and fascism were populist, bottom-up movements, while progressivism began as a thoroughly top-down, establishment movement. However, the mass-based, bottom-up progressivism that began in North America in the 1960s has increasingly also adopted political violence tactics from the radical left, further blurring the difference between the fascist and progressive ideologies.


[1] James Miller, "What is Fascism," Kevin Alfred Strong blog, August 13, 2012.

[2] David Gordon, "Three New Deals: Why the Nazis and Fascists Loved FDR" (review of Wolfgang Schivelbusch, Three New Deals: Reflections on Roosevelt's America, Mussolini's Italy, and Hitler's Germany, 1933-1939. Metropolitan Books, 2006). Mises Daily, September 22, 2006, Ludwig von Mises Institute.

[3] George J. Dance, "Why are there no libertarian countries?", Nolan Chart, April 29, 2017.

[4] Ludwig von Mises, "The Argument of Fascism," Liberalism: In the Classical Tradition (translated by Ralph Raico). Foundation for Economic Education, 1985, 29. Books / Digital Texts, Ludwig von Mises Institute. 

Sunday, July 2, 2017

The Philosophy of Choice (I): The idea of choice

The Philosophy of Choice - George J. Dance, Nolan Chart:

The Idea of choice 

Choice, according to the (Oxford Canadian) dictionary, means both “an act or instance of choosing between alternatives” and “a range from which to choose.” “To choose” means to “select from a number of alternatives,” “decide,” “like,” and “prefer.”

Human choice is always individual, as only individuals can choose. Human ingenuity has devised many means of collective decision making, but the value of these comes from nothing more than the individual choices of those who propose and agree to them. Libertarians consider the recognition of, respect for, and defense of individual human choice to be the highest political good.

Why the highest good? Because choice appears necessary for so many other things that we consider good. Indeed, it is hard to separate the idea of choice from that of good: If you or I consider something (X) to be good, that is only because you or I have chosen X as a good; believing that X is a good necessarily also means believing that choosing X is good. Whatever we value in life, we value by our own choice, and in valuing it we also value our own choosing, and our own ability to choose.

Choice is valuable not only for you and me, but for everyone. Respecting the choices of our friends, family, neighbors — indeed, of any or all of humanity — seems essential to respecting them as persons. Honoring the choices of other people looks like a necessary part of the idea of morality, and, in turn, of the ideas of social peace and harmony.

Equally, choice seems integral to the idea of justice. Phrases like “he brought it on himself” or “you made your bed, now lie in it” reflect a basic intuition that it is just for people to experience the consequences of their own choices. Similarly, we consider it unjust to hold people responsible for actions they did not choose to commit, or had no choice but to commit.

Choice is also necessary to the idea of liberty or freedom. What libertarian philosophers like Jan Narveson call the “general right to liberty” is nothing more or less than the liberty to decide, speak, and act by one’s own choice.

As well, choice seems essential to human progress and abundance. Without the ability of humans to imagine and act on preferred alternatives, we would literally still be living in caves. All creativity, all advancement, every new idea and invention, exists only because of the power of choice. The market and the price system — an economy directed by nothing more than individual choices — makes those ideas and inventions widely available, empowering us to live without the age-old fears of starvation, poverty, and disease.

Continued - Part II here 

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Saturday, July 1, 2017

The Philosophy of Choice (II): Limits to choice

The Philosophy of Choice - George J. Dance, Nolan Chart:
Part I here

Limits to choice

Despite all this, some people worry about choice — perhaps not about choice in general, but quite often about there being “too much” choice. One worry is that people’s choices often conflict. Letting everyone act on their own choices sometimes does lead to disagreement and even violent conflict; some principle that can override individual choice is required to resolve this type of conflict.

That is a legitimate concern.

Libertarians agree that there should be rules and principles governing choice; what they deny is that those rules need to limit or restrict choice by some other, higher principle. Rather, governing rules and principles can be justified by the nature of choice itself. As choosing to do X means choosing to use one’s mind and body to do X, respecting another’s choice means respecting his or her right to freely use his or her own mind and body. What John wants to do by or to himself is a matter of his own choice; but what John wants to do with or to Mary is not simply a matter of John’s choice, but more importantly of Mary’s.

The idea of individual human choice requires the complementary idea of individual human rights — of what philosopher Robert Nozick calls the “moral space” within which each person is governed solely by his own choices. In turn, the idea of human rights helps define, and defend as well as limit, the scope of everyone’s freedom of choice.

Acting on one’s choices requires not just moral but also physical space, and (often) access to physical things. Human choices on how to use these spaces and things are a fertile source of conflict. So choice requires property rights, as an essential part of human rights.

A second objection is that some people make bad choices — some choose to kidnap, some to rob, some to burglarize, some to defraud. Why should those choices be respected?

But this second objection is just a special case of the first — that choices can conflict — with the same solution. Recognizing the principle of human rights, means recognizing that choices which violate the human and property rights of others should not be respected, or even permitted — not because one’s choices are unimportant, but because respecting those others’ basic right to make choices is more important.

That in turn leads to the Libertarian theory of law: that acts which violate the rights of others should be legally forbidden, while those that do not should be left alone. What is important, in judging a law to be good or bad, is the nature of the acts it forbids. Does an action affect only the person acting, or only those who consent (or choose) to be affected? Then it should not be interfered with. Does it hurt those who have not consented? Then it should not be allowed. Whom an action affects, and how; where it takes place (in one’s home? on a public street-corner?); and whose property it uses; are what the law should consider when judging any action.

In this way, the Libertarian theory of human and property rights makes possible a free society, one based on and maximizing individual choice. That society of choice, in turn, makes possible the realization of those other values of morality, justice, liberty, respect, harmony, peace, progress, and abundance.

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