A Primer For Learning Liberty

A Definition:

Libertarianism is, as the name implies, the belief in liberty. Libertarians strive for the best of all worlds – a free, peaceful, abundant world where each individual has the maximum opportunity to pursue his or her dreams and to realize his full potential.

The core idea is simply stated, but profound and far-reaching in its implications. Libertarians believe that each person owns his or her own life and property, and has the right to make his own choices as to how he lives his life – as long as he simply respects the same right of others to do the same.

Another way of saying this is that libertarians believe you should be free to do as you choose with your own life and property, as long as you don’t harm the person and property of others.

Libertarianism is thus the combination of liberty (the freedom to live your life in any peaceful way you choose), responsibility (the prohibition against the use of force against others, except in defense), and tolerance (honoring and respecting the peaceful choices of others). (From Libertarianism.org)


Unpacking Self Determination:

Different strains of the philosophy of freedom find root in other ideas, but for most (as we read above) the most basic virtue, foundation and tenant of liberty is this: Self-Ownership.

One of the first western thinkers to describe this philosophy was John Locke:

…every man has a property in his own person: this no body has any right to but himself. (Second Treatise of Government, 1689)

From this idea comes the conclusion that, if each man is his own “property”, then certain rights, authorities and responsibilities are granted to only the individual; no congregation or congress of men acting in unison, or by majority processes, may morally abrogate, repeal or do away with those most basic liberties. Continue reading

This Idiot Takes On A Bigger Idiot About Who Libertarians Are

A friend asked me today if I could respond to Bill McMorris’ strange characterization of libertarians in a post at TheFederalist.com (Conservatives Will Embrace Libertarians When Libertarians Stop Embracing Government).

While my extended reply is posted below, I felt JD Tucille at Reason.com summarized the heart of the issue in these paragraphs he posted this afternoon:

Could the courts ever decide to reinterpret the law in such a way as to force people (such as social conservatives) to do business with customers who give them the creepy crawlies (such as gays and lesbians)? Courts have creatively rewritten the law before, so it’s possible.

But then, why not protect everybody‘s liberty? Make it clear that the point is to shield freedom of association and freedom of conscience for all, in a way that would protect the right of gay-owned businesses to chase Bill McMorris out of their stores as it would protect his right to toss them out of his place of business. And certainly craft it to protect the right of all of us to turn politicians away. 

But SB 1062 backers have made it clear, from the beginning, that this is all about their dislike of one group. This isn’t about paring back government; it’s about using legislation to slap at gays and lesbians. 

His full article is here.

I, in short, feel Bill McMorris is pretty close to not having a clue what he is talking about.

I’ll start with a general point that it might be true (though becoming less so every day) that the majority of libertarians are diverted leftists. Continue reading

Sharp Turns at 34

Tom Woods recently posted a question on his website regarding how you pursue, at a later age, a career in Austrian style economics and more generally the liberty movement.

It got me thinking because I had recently just done this exact thing…

I worked in finance for several years then opened an insurance agency with two friends.  After 8 yrs and a lot of personal study I felt called to do something supporting liberty leaning organizations and the cause of freedom.

So at 34, I sat down for a couple beers and a pizza with my wife and asked her a simple question, “If I wasn’t working at [RADIO EDIT], what would you see me doing?” then I just sat back and listened for 40 minutes as she told me many really interesting things… she said I’m a good speaker and writer, I’m great with clients, I teach well, she actually said she thought I’d be a great stay-at-home-dad 🙂 but curiously not once did she say she saw me selling insurance policies for the next 30 years.

So when I told her what I was thinking, she was definitely behind me, but when I said I wasn’t quite sure what to do she immediately responded that I needed to go back to school.  I mentioned it would take a few months to arrange things at work and she said no, I needed to get into classes right now.  This was August of 2012, so I had already missed the deadlines for our local university but she insisted that if I was going to do this I sign up for SOMETHING at our local community college.  To dip my toes in the water, re-stretch the intellectual muscles, awaken the student skills that had lain dormant for 15 yrs. Continue reading

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.