Harry Browne: ‘A Libertarian’s New Year’s Resolutions’

by Harry Browne

Forwarded by Advocates for Self-Government

Harry Browne (RIP) was the Libertarian Party presidential candidate in 1996 and 2000.


1. I resolve to sell liberty by appealing to the self-interest of each prospect, rather than preaching to people and expecting them to suddenly adopt my ideas of right and wrong.

2. I resolve to keep from being drawn into arguments or debates. My purpose is to inspire people to want liberty — not to prove that they’re wrong.

3. I resolve to listen when people tell me of their wants and needs, so I can help them see how a free society will satisfy those needs.

4. I resolve to identify myself, when appropriate, with the social goals someone may seek — a cleaner environment, more help for the poor, a less divisive society — and try to show him that those goals can never be achieved by government, but will be well served in a free society.

5. I resolve to be compassionate and respectful of the beliefs and needs that lead people to seek government help. I don’t have to approve of their subsidies or policies — but if I don’t acknowledge their needs, I have no hope of helping them find a better way to solve their problem.

6. No matter what the issue, I resolve to keep returning to the central point: how much better off the individual will be in a free society.

7. I resolve to acknowledge my good fortune in having been born an American. Any plan for improvement must begin with a recognition of the good things we have. To speak only of America’s defects will make me a tiresome crank.

8. I resolve to focus on the ways America could be so much better with a very small government — not to dwell on all the wrongs that exist today.

9. I resolve to cleanse myself of hate, resentment, and bitterness. Such things steal time and attention from the work that must be done.

10. I resolve to speak, dress, and act in a respectable manner. I may be the first libertarian someone has encountered, and it’s important that he get a good first impression. No one will hear the message if the messenger is unattractive.

11. I resolve to remind myself that someone’s “stupid” opinion may be an opinion I once held. If I can grow, why can’t I help him grow?

12. I resolve not to raise my voice in any discussion. In a shouting match, no one wins, no one changes his mind, and no one will be inspired to join our quest for a free society.

13. I resolve not to adopt the tactics of Republicans and Democrats. They use character assassination, evasions, and intimidation because they have no real benefits to offer Americans. We, on the other hand, are offering to set people free — and so we can win simply by focusing on the better life our proposals will bring.

14. I resolve to be civil to my opponents and treat them with respect. However anyone chooses to treat me, it’s important that I be a better person than my enemies.

Some Thanksgiving Thoughts…

Today I am thankful for living in the future.

I’m virtually blind. Without my contact lenses I can’t see, can’t drive my car, can’t play sports with my daughter, can’t appreciate our mountains or any of the other wonders that vision grants us.

We take these little pieces of glass and plastic for granted but they are as much a miracle for me as in any biblical story where the blind were made to see and I am thankful whenever I remember that this gift of sight was not always so easily gained.

200 years ago “lenses” (barely qualifying compared to today’s) cost people twice what they do today, and at the lower incomes of the time that would be as much as 1/20 of their annual wages (more than most of us pay today for two months of rent).

But today I can purchases glasses, can purchase my eyesight, for little more than an average American’s wage for 2 day’s work… perfectly fitted, shatterproof, scratch resistant, UV filtering, auto tinting, etc. All because of the advances and economic progress of US over that time. Progress which has put this life changing marvel within my and every American’s reach.

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Magic Pots Of Money

First published on the Wake Up Tucson Blog:

Over the last year I have taken issue with characterizations of politicians here in Tucson. Specifically the commendations and congratulations for spending time and effort focusing on, and eventually succeeding in, bringing federal grants to our local community (in the form of TIGER and other federal transportation dollars) for our newest, big scale, fun-time, public works project: The Modern Streetcar.

Without getting into a lot of other issues with this project let me state one simple fact that people seem to be missing: There is no magic pot of free money in Washington, DC.

Federal grants and project funding only come from our own pockets or from pockets in other communities.

To the former, why are we sending money to Washington just to have it sent back to Tucson? To the latter, why should Tucsonans be living off of anyone else?

However, the situation is more complicated than that simple philosophical construct. You could answer that you believe that both of those are wrong and you still would likely take the money. Why? Because you don’t want someone else living off of you either. If we don’t take the money, won’t someone else?

Nasty little conundrum, right??

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200 WORDS – “Unions” are GOOD… “National Labor Relations Board Coerced Associations” are BAD

Modern unions wrap themselves in the human rights vernacular of voluntary association. Individual rights to form organizations, enter into agreements with each other, etc. A “rights” justification for an evolution from the monopolist “guilds” of earlier centuries.

Classical guilds (e.g. the stonemasons) had both legal associations (built on voluntary organization, contracts, common interests, family ties, etc.) and illicit (nominally illegal) associations (built on coercion, e.g. “If you’re a blacksmith, you have to join or else.”).

What changed from classical guilds to modern unions (with early 20th c. legislation like the National Labor Relations Act) was that the “or else” became legal.

After the NLRA, with a single union organized election (simple majority ruling), employees permanently lost (1) the choice to be a member or not, to negotiate their own wages/hours, to pay union dues or not… Lost most choice beyond their option to cast a ballot or quit.

This coercion has weakened over time (e.g. “right to work” laws), but the heart of unions remains their National Labor Relations Board connection and the consequential ability to bring legal force against “non-compliant” employers and workers.

Modern NLRA unionization legalized a “tyranny of the majority” in our workplaces, reducing individual liberty and devaluing personal initiative.

(1) Unionization is almost never reversed. Annual rate of “decertification” (defined as active election to rescind union representation, thus union membership drop not due to layoffs from or failure of companies with union representation) for sample year 2010 was 0.04% (approx.). In 2010, 6,200 employees were decertified after a member vote (National Labor Relations Board, FY2010, Table 15C) versus 14,700,000 total nationwide union membership (Bureau of Labor Statistics, FY2010, Union Members Summaryf).

Do Entrepreneurs Intentionally Harm Us?

Sitting in Micro and just had to turn on my “Shut Up” Mode while my teacher recites that we wouldn’t be able to enter a restaurant without the FDA because we would all almost certainly end up with food poisoning. That we wouldn’t possibly trust a restaurant without FDA and other regulatory certification.

First off, the FDA didn’t exist until 1930 and there have always been trusted and widely patronized eateries in this country.

Second, and FAR more importantly, for all of my friends who are restaurateurs or other restaurant professionals, does it offend you as it does me, that someone would say that a regulatory agency is what keeps you serving safe food? That your personal moral and monetary interests wouldn’t keep you from making people sick?

Is it true that it happens? Sure! Both by mistake and negligence. It happens TODAY, with all our regulation.

But I just had a professor say we couldn’t, as a GENERAL RULE, trust restaurants without a bureaucrat holding them accountable.

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Election Day Musings

Goodmorning Election Day!

Can I make a quick suggestion as everyone is rolling out of bed and contemplating that trip to your nearby polling station?

If you feel uninformed, that’s okay…

You’d really have to quit your job to even ATTEMPT to keep up with everything in which our government presumes to involve itself.So if you don’t know… drumroll… don’t vote.

No judgment here, honest, I totally get it.

But (if you are going to the polls today) I would ask, why not vote for what you think will make our government simpler? Will make it less intrusive, less involved, less expansive?

Maybe over the years, we can (step by step) shrink it down to the point where understanding a single ballot at the beginning of November once every two years isn’t an 80 hr/wk full time year round profession.

Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield, and government to gain ground.”

President Ford echoed this sentiment during a joint session of Congress in 1974, “A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.”

What “bigness” of government will you support today? Less or more?

Happy Voting! 🙂

Do Econ Professors Believe What They Teach?

Would this make sense? A math teacher spends a whole class proving that 2 + 2 = 4, but then turns around at the end of class and says, “But of course… it also equals 5 sometimes…”

Why do we hear Econ professors stand in front of classes and, after showing clearly and mathematically that…

… the minimum wage creates unemployment, “But of course… Fairness may justify some level of social


… government imposed unions raise wages above the sustainable level and wield monopoly power, “But of course… workers would be exploited with them.”

… there’s no historic evidence of sustained monopolies, “But of course… Natural monopolies are still a real thing, and thus should be government authorized and then regulated.”

… rising prices incentivize business owners to stay open during disasters, most effectively ration the use of goods in times of potential shortages and signal to outside entrepreneurs to bring more goods and services into areas where hardship means they are needed the most, “But of course… laws against ‘price gouging’ are still just the right thing to do in these circumstances.”

Please feel free to add your own examples of Economists explaining how 2 + 2 = 5… 🙂