This week I’m wondering, once again, why believing in and following the Constitution is considered by many to be radical extremist behavior? America’s founding document should be more than some piece of old paper that tourists come to gawk at while visiting our nation’s capital. It’s like America has become an atheist nation and the Constitution is the Bible.
The power culture in DC ignores the Constitution because it is in their best interest to do so. Perhaps our founders were stupid for expecting a unit of law-making force and power (the government) to remain restrained by a document (the Constitution) that those (the citizenry) who are bound by the laws are supposed to enforce. No, it’s not perfect, but it has worked, more or less, for over 200+ years. The big question of the current generation seems to be how do we keep it from slipping away completely? Will America be America in 10 years? The writing on the wall says ‘no’, but it is our duty to do everything in our power to change that writing to say ‘yes’.
Michael Maresco has done more than most in this effort. Last week he completed his most recent journey across America via bicycle in an effort to raise awareness about America’s road from freedom to fascism. To me and many others he is the ultimate liberty hero. People like Michael give me hope. Please check out the site dedicated to his ride. Read through his travel log, look at the pictures, and be inspired by what you witness. He shows us all what is still great about America through the people he met and the places he’s seen. See LibertyRider.com.
Now a quick note on the name of this web site. I want to make it clear that I never intended to be dubbed THE Liberty Maven. I’ve been called that and I get uncomfortable every time it happens. The truth is that the domain name was available when we (Mike Miller and I) were trying to come up with a name for the site and it sounded good, so we got it. The intent of the name is to let everyone know that it is they who need to become liberty mavens. Having a country of liberty mavens is the goal. That goal may not be attainable, kind of like the “pursuit of happiness”, but always reaching for it is the important thing. I also want to thank you for continuing to read Liberty Maven. We don’t thank our readers enough. It is because of you that the site still exists and remains a passion for me and our other contributors. Thank you.
Ron Paul chose to enter politics in 1971, the year I was born. The reason he entered politics was due to then President Nixon driving the last nail into the gold standard coffin. Nixon severed all ties of gold to the U.S. dollar. This event implicitly granted the Federal Reserve to print money without bound. For Ron Paul being anti-Fed is not just another political position, it is the political position. It is in his blood.
In those early years and up until the economic crisis of last year Ron Paul was brushed off as crazy whenever he brought up the unchecked powers of the Federal Reserve. Once the bailouts began and continued it became politically expedient to be more like Ron Paul. That is, as long as you are talking about economics. On foreign policy Ron Paul is still apparently crazy for firmly believing in non-intervention.
I am not alone among the Ron Paul faithful when I say that I’m very tired of reading articles with any of the following labels attributed to Ron Paul:
In a recent article he had a few labels of his own for Sarah Palin supporters. He called them “establishment” and “country club” Republicans. Palin-ites reacted with fervor in dismissing Paul as just being envious.
I’m a believer in freedom because of Harry Browne. Well, perhaps it was just convenience and timing, but I became a lover of liberty in the mid 90′s as a college student. Harry Browne was the Libertarian Party nominee for President in 1996 and 2000. He was a tall glass of freedom-loving ice water in the hot and dry politics-as-usual desert. He quenched my libertarian soul.
While everyone else is celebrating the “4th of July” I’m celebrating Independence Day. On this Independence Day I’m celebrating by remembering the man that spoke with my voice before I knew what my voice was. Browne wrote an article on July 4th, 2003 (3 years before he died) called, “Uncelebrating the 4th of July“.
The article sums up perfectly how I feel about Independence Day right now. As was so often the case, Harry Browne was years ahead of his time.
I remember around that same year (2003) I was one of those libertarians that supported the Iraq war. I was a libertarian-in-progress or maybe some today would have called me a “Wayne Allyn Root” libertarian. I wrote an email to Harry Browne giving him my opinion about the war and asking him what he thought of my reasoning. He didn’t think much of it.
It’s Friday which means it’s time for another installment of “quick hits”…
The big news this week for liberty-seekers is that Ron Paul’s bill to audit the Federal Reserve has surpassed 218 cosponsors giving it majority support in the House of Representatives. The chances in the Senate are much more in question. Bernie Sanders introduced the same legislation in the Senate. It received its first cosponsor yesterday when the brave Jim DeMint signed on to the bill. There is an effort underway to promote calling each Senator of the Banking committee in an attempt to persuade them to cosponsor S.604. The current target is Robert Bennet (R-UT). More information from Shelly Roche at BreakTheMatrix.com here.
A few years back, the late great Harry Browne (one of Liberty Maven’s Liberty Heroes) published a list of New Years Resolutions focusing on effective communication. We’d all be better off remembering these words of wisdom in our day-to-day interactions. Here they are again:
A Libertarian’s New Year’s Resolutions
by Harry Browne
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 problems.
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.
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.
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.
I resolve to cleanse myself of hate, resentment, and bitterness. Such things steal time and attention from the work that must be done.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
His biography on his website describes him perfectly: Harry Browne was an American free-market Libertarian writer and the Libertarian Party’s 1996 & 2000 candidate for President of the United States. He was also a well-known investment advisor for over thirty years, author of “Harry Browne’s Special Report” — a financial newsletter published from 1974-1997, author of 19 books and thousands of articles, Co-founder and Director of Public Policy of the libertarian Downsize DC Foundation, host of two weekly network radio shows — one a political and the other a financial show, host of an ETV (internet-based television) show called “This Week in Liberty with Harry Browne” on the Internet based Free Market News Network, a consultant to the Permanent Portfolio Family of Funds, and a popular inspirational public speaker.
For my money, he had a way of speaking that made you understand libertarian principles better than anyone. Lew Rockwell summed up the essence of Harry Browne’s abilities in an article following Browne’s death.
He was exceptional as a public speaker during the campaigns. No matter whether the topic was taxes, education, states rights, war and foreign policy, or the drug war, he took the right position and explained it in a way that allowed anyone to see his point of view. He changed minds, and stuck to principle the whole time. Harry was not tempted to sell out his message for the sake of more votes. He didn’t trim or compromise. His energies were spent trying to think of ways to make the core message more marketable and understandable.
Below are a few quotes from Harry Browne
“I am running for president because it is obvious that no Democrat or Republican is ever going to stop the relentless growth of the federal government. …only a Libertarian is going to set you free.”
“The government’s War on Poverty has transformed poverty from a short-term misfortune into a career choice.”
“The Bill of Rights is a literal and absolute document. The First Amendment doesn’t say you have a right to speak out unless the government has a ‘compelling interest’ in censoring the Internet. The Second Amendment doesn’t say you have the right to keep and bear arms until some madman plants a bomb. The Fourth Amendment doesn’t say you have the right to be secure from search and seizure unless some FBI agent thinks you fit the profile of a terrorist. The government has no right to interfere with any of these freedoms under any circumstances.”
And finally a quote that encompasses the economic disaster of 2008/2009:
“The free market punishes irresponsibility. Government rewards it.”
Amen Harry. We miss you, but your message carries on.
reason: But you’d enjoyed the Paul movement (or moment)?
Jillette: I was just thrilled! I love it when people are seeing a point of view that they’ve never seen before. I had people coming to me and explaining RP’s positions in a way that I couldn’t explain them. I loved that! I love listening to somebody talk about liberty so much better than I ever had. I am such a believer in marketplace of ideas. What troubles me most about politics is this feeling that you shouldn’t waste time with anyone but the frontrunners. The fact that we had this little glitch in the system, that people might listen to somebody else who wasn’t at the top of the polls, it just fills me with such incredible joy to think about it. There were people who considered me a nut for not going with one of the two major party candidates who were, all of a sudden, supporting Ron Paul.
The thing is, I don’t think any of libertarian ideas are very far out of actual spirit of our culture. The reason I use the word “nut” positively is that I think a lot of people really do believe in libertarianism, and small government, and they just need to be told that it’s OK. Paul found ways to say talk about it. I don’t think winning or even running a good race was that important. I don’t even think the million-dollar fundraising days were important. What was important was people being able to say in their own words stuff I agree with about individual rights. I think we need somebody that has charisma and clarity to make people think that’s ok. I have always, like the singers and songwriters of country western music, identified with the losers. A lot of people are not like that. A lot of people watch the Olympics to see people pick up medals.
If you’ve never seen Penn and Teller’s Showtime series called “Bullshit!” I can’t recommend it enough. Below is a fine example of their work on flag burning and the Bill of Rights.
After yesterday’s big media day I think it is an appropriate time to announce my own “official” endorsement of Bob Barr for President. Considering all of the pro-Barr sentiments made by me over the course of the past several months this will not come as a shock to anyone who reads Liberty Maven regularly.
I lobbied for Bob Barr to get in the race once Ron Paul officially dropped out. I’ve been critical of both Paul and Barr where I felt criticism was due. Clearing away all of the minutiae and focusing on the two all encompassing campaign questions I consider for each candidate, Bob Barr is the last one eliminated.
Those questions are: Do you have a mathematical chance of winning? Do you support individual liberty? The first weeds out the riff-raff and the second usually weeds out the rest. The last candidate to be eliminated wins my vote, therefore I fully and officially endorse Bob Barr for President of the United States.
Bob Barr is not perfect. No candidate is. For my money Harry Browne came pretty close back in 1996 and 2000. But this is 2008 and Barr is the best of the better candidates on liberty. He is better than McCain and Obama on civil liberties, foreign policy, and a whole host of other issues. He is better than Chuck Baldwin because he is not a protectionist on trade. He is better than Ralph Nader because he is not anti-business.
That which makes Bob Barr imperfect for some makes him perfect for others. The fact is that Barr has an anti-libertarian voting record and that eliminates him in the eyes of some. I view his voting record as a scarlet letter. He can’t hide his record, but he can repudiate it and express regret and remorse as he has done.
It is high time my fellow liberty seekers join me in saying the following to Bob Barr:
I forgive you Bob Barr. I believe in redemption. There is no better man to kill the beast than the man who has lived in the beast’s belly. I will vote for you on November 4th and support you for as long as we both fight for maximizing individual liberty and minimizing government control in the days, weeks, months, and years to come.
[NOTE: This is my individual endorsement and may not reflect the views of other authors at Liberty Maven]
Many in the liberty loving wing of the United States, including Ron Paul, cried foul when the Federal Reserve bailed out Bear Stearns. Now it appears that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will be “nationalized” and bailed out as well with a blank check from taxpayers.
WASHINGTON – The government is expected to take over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as soon as this weekend in a monumental move designed to protect the mortgage market from the failure of the two companies, which together hold or guarantee half of the nation’s mortgage debt, a person briefed on the matter said Friday night.
Some of the details of the intervention, which could cost taxpayers billions, were not yet available, but are expected to include the departure of Fannie Mae CEO Daniel Mudd and Freddie Mac CEO Richard Syron, according to the source, who asked not to be named because the plan was yet to be announced.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and James Lockhart, the companies’ chief regulator, met Friday afternoon with the top executives from the mortgage companies and informed them of the government’s plan to put the troubled companies into a conservatorship.
It seems our push towards some weird tasting flavor of socialism and/or fascism is increasing lately at an alarming rate. Are people too lazy to be outraged? As Ron Paul shouted in one of the debates during his campaign, “I MEAN WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?”
Later on in the story is this gem:
Fannie Mae was created by the government in 1938, and was turned into a shareholder-owned company 30 years later. Freddie Mac was established in 1970 to provide competition for Fannie.
Shouldn’t it be obvious to people by now that that U.S. government fails in just about everything they set out to do? The late great Libertarian Harry Browne discussed this in Reason Magazine back in 1998.
“Anytime you turn anything over to the government, you transform what was a commercial, medical, social, safety, financial, or military matter into a political issue — to be decided by politicians like Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, Teddy Kennedy, and Jesse Helms. And guess how they make their decisions?
Conservatives recognize that government is incapable of eliminating poverty, discrimination, smoking, drinking, and many other supposed ills. But when the target is crime, foreign dictators, pornography, drugs, abortion, cloning, or any other item on their menu, government is suddenly transformed into Superman. Just allocate enough money, and the problem will be solved. And if the problem isn’t solved, that’s proof that not enough money was spent. Transpose the menus and you get the definition of a liberal.
Libertarians, however, know that government doesn’t work — even when it tries to do something we want. Government is coercion — pure and simple. Every government program involves forced activity, forcible prohibition, and/or forced financing — or else it wouldn’t be a government program. And there’s no way to make force efficient or benevolent; it’s just force. Thus libertarians are continually looking for ways to take functions — any functions — away from government, because they want to reduce government force to the absolute minimum possible.”
Ron Paul and Bob Barr are right today just as much as Harry Browne was back then. I think Harry had a knack for being more persuasive with his libertarian argument than Barr or Paul do today.
Over at NolanChart.com, Walt Thiessen has written a critical article on Bob Barr’s Libertarian campaign for President. It is a negative article that I, unfortunately, mostly agree with. Thiessen makes three major points:
Although some polls put Bob Barr in the 6% range in June, all polls now put him in the 1-2% range.
Measuring up to Ron Paul’s, Barr’s fundraising is comparatively non-existent.
Barr has “failed to win over the party faithful”, and has failed to adequately explain his support of unconstitutional bills in his past.
I agree with him on the first 2½ points, but when he and other people continue to say that Bob Barr has done nothing to alleviate the concerns of those who question his part, I strongly disagree. In every interview I’ve seen where people question his past support for the Patriot Act, the Drug War, etc., he has admitted his mistake, and explained how he seen the light and actually worked hard to reverse these things. What else can the man do? Only time will tell whether or not he is sincere or just being political expedient, but that’s not part of this argument. Bob has worked tirelessly for the past 5 years against the Patriot Act and it’s successors, FISA, and has even joined up with the American Civil Liberties Union and the Marijuana Policy Project in support of medicinal drug use. What else can the man do to alleviate concerns? If you simply choose not to trust him, that’s one thing. But to say that he’s done nothing is simply ludicrous.
Thiessen concludes by predicting Barr will get less votes in November than Badnarik’s 397,000 in 2004, which I feel is quite astonishing. I certainly hope this won’t be the case.