The Free Market didn’t let the house burn

Some basic libertarian principles are catching flak over a house burning down. It seems that in Obion County, Tennessee, you’re required to either pay a $75 subscription fee for fire service or else risk your house burning down. Homeowner Gene Cranick didn’t, and when his house caught fire, firefighters watched it burn.

Some on the left are using this as evidence that libertarianism fails and is morally bankrupt. They also don’t know what they’re talking about.

First, many libertarians have no problem with municipal fire services. They don’t. Only a small handful want that in the private sector’s hands completely with subscriptions and such. However, what happened in Obion County wasn’t even what these people envision.

You see, Obion County does let residents opt in to paying for fire service. That is all fine and good. However, they also have a monopoly on fire services. I can subscribe to their service, or get nothing. That’s not the free market at work, that’s a tax they’re calling a fee but making optional. Gene Cranick should have had the choice of several operations if you’re going to make it optional. If the answer is still no, then oh well.

Cranick has stated that he would have paid anything once the fire broke out, and a free market operation would have responded to such. You see, the $75 subscription fee, in a free market, would have been part of a list of fees. Putting out a fire without the subscription fee would have cost more, but a free market operation would have been willing to do it for the extra income. Greed ain’t always a bad thing after all. Greed, the progressive boogie-man, would have put out the fire at Gene Cranick’s house. Adhering to regulations - you know, like all the regulations progressives seem to love? - caused Cranick’s house to burn down.

A libertarian ethnography

Recently I was prompted by an anthropology student at the University of Washington to answer several questions about libertarianism. The exchange was great, and provided a means to clarify several things that have been otherwise muddled.

Basic Questions:

1. How do you define a libertarian?

To me a libertarian is someone who believes in a limited government, which provides basic needs that most people believe to be necessary but does not try to stuff ideology down the citizens’ throats, the freedom of the individual to become whatever it is they want to be and a free market that allows great deals of mobility and ingenuity.

2. What influenced you to become and/or remain libertarian?

I love this country (for the ideals it was founded on, not because of nationalism, regionalism or nativism), and when I entered college, it became very clear that other students and professors didn’t. A bit of a blanket statement, I know, but it’s relatively true. I found myself defending slanderous left-wing statements about this country’s history, and in that process I realized I was libertarian. Liberty is the foundation of American society and government, and even if they don’t call themselves such, I think most Americans who love their country and find it exceptional are libertarians to a certain extent.

There is No Police Like Holmes: Sherlock Holmes, Libertarian Hero.

Free Market Justice by Gaslight.

It is axiomatic that whatever the state can do the private sector can do better, and this lesson is rarely illustrated better in literature than in the stories of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  As it was said by Doyle’s brother-in-law E.W. Hornung, there is no police like Holmes.  With the new Sherlock Holmes movie set to be released on Christmas day, we will no doubt see a resurgence of interest in the original Sherlock Holmes stories, movies and television programs.  Viewers and fans would do well to note the prevalent anti-state themes that course through these stories like the famous cocaine through the veins of Holmes himself.

The relationship between Holmes and the official London police force showed the marked contrast between a skilled master and a team of public investigators usually barely maintaining the status quo at least a few steps behind the criminals.  Scotland Yard reeked of a smug incompetence that amused Holmes, even as he gave them the credit in most cases.  They were frequently on the wrong path, lecturing Holmes about him wasting time chasing his fancy theories which ended up being correct.  While Inspector Lestrade and the rest were so easily duped by the scheming criminals, Holmes did what the police should have done, what they were getting paid tax payer money to do.  In “The Case of the Red Circle” we even see that a constable on duty at a murder scene is easily manipulated by a housewife.  Like so many other instances in real life, the private market yielded results where the public option brought errors, gridlock and confusion.

Podcast: Sarah Palin, Libertarianism, PATRIOT Act Extensions, Flavored Cigarettes, & “Tenthers”

Jason and Brett were once again joined by Eric Von Haessler on this week’s podcast to discuss:

You can download the podcast here (just over 63 minutes/58 MB). The intro music is once again “Silence is Violence” by Aimee Allen.

Lindsey Graham Doesn’t Like Libertarians


South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham demonstrates why I am not a Republican:


Libertarianism and The Center

Libertarians constantly face the preeminent struggle to form and implement strategies to gain political relevance. The party has never achieved a result better than 1% on a Presidential Election. Adding to our frustration is the failure of the Libertarian Party to capitalize on the opportunity Ron Paul’s groundbreaking Republican Primary campaign, which gained new ground for the libertarian philosophy in terms of visibility. Bob Barr’s campaign failed to crack 500,000 votes in an election cycle in which Ron Paul earned more than 1 million votes in Republican primaries and caucuses.

Our continued fight for liberty requires “Human Action”

Freedom from Bondage

In his epic work, Human Action, Ludwig von Mises outlines three conditions necessary before a person will act. All three conditions must be met:

  1. The person must feel an uneasiness with the current situation.
  2. The person must have a vision of something better.
  3. The person must have a belief that a particular action will make that better vision become reality.

If we hope to ever get large numbers of people interested in our ideas and willing to act to advance those ideas, we must devise a way to satisfy all three conditions in their minds.

The first condition presents no challenge. Most people already feel uneasiness with the current political setup. Nearly everyone wants a “change.”

But change, to what?

This is a tough question, and one that most people cannot answer. Most lack a clear and preferable alternate vision. They don’t meet Mises’ second criteria. This is what differentiates those of us who understand the philosophy of liberty. We possess the vision. We know what a truly free world would look like. And if we want people to go along with us, we must communicate and spread that vision.

But why don’t more of us do so? What prevents most of us who “get it” from dedicating ourselves to the cause of converting people? Why is there no domino effect, wherein our vision spreads from person to person, with each new convert taking purposeful action to spread the vision? Why do so many people become impassioned with liberty for a time, only to subsequently turn away from what seems to be an intellectual dead end? What prevents their flash of vision from turning into action? The answer is that many never fulfill Mises’ third condition. They lack hope for victory.

Republicans must abandon corporate welfare and learn to leave Americans alone if they want to win elections

The Republican Party has a fever, and Sen. Rand Paul has the cure. In an interview with Reason’s Nick Gillespie at last week’s Lincoln Labs’ Reboot Conference, the Kentucky Republican explained that the GOP can find electoral success if they learn how to stay out of Americans’ personal lives and abandon corporate welfare.

Paul and Gillespie chatted about several topics — including the seemingly shifting political dynamics in Silicon Valley, innovation and regulations, and foreign policy — before moving onto

“I think Republicans could only win in general if they become more live and let live — ‘leave me alone,’” said Paul. “Grover Norquist will talk about this sometimes, this ‘Leave Me Alone’ Coalition.” He explained that the GOP may not be a “pro-choice, pro-gay marriage party,” but he envisions one in which people with differing views on social issues work together to limit the federal government.

“And I think that live and live, agree to disagree kind of amalgamation in the party will allow us to be big enough to win,” he said, adding that Republicans can reach out to reach out to Millennials with a pro-privacy, anti-NSA message. 

How tech entrepreneurs Scott Banister and Peter Thiel are making Silicon Valley more friendly to Republicans like Rand Paul

Silicon Valley

Don’t look now, but Silicon Valley is being driven in a more libertarian direction. No, it may not happen overnight, but the efforts of a couple of well-respected entrepreneurs are sowing the seeds of liberty in the tech industry, which has generally had a leftist tilt.

Politico took note of the efforts of Scott Banister, a PayPal board member and tech investor, who spent much of the latter part of last week with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) in Silicon Valley as he courted tech donors and spoke at Lincon Labs’ Reboot conference in San Francisco.

“I think politicians usually have so little understanding of this space or they’re so not aligned with our interests,” Banister told Politico. “I think Rand both gets it and he’s very aligned.” Banister also indicated that he’ll some involved in helping Paul raise money for a presidential bid. “I think the good news is that I think Rand will have a very broad base of financial support,” he said.

Paul does indeed views that appeal to the Silicon Valley crowd. He has been among the most vocal opponents to the NSA’s domestic surveillance programs and he’s talked up Internet freedom. That’s red meat for the tech industry, which has been hit financially by the spying controversies that have boiled over under President Barack Obama.

Foreign policy realism: Some Interventions are Just

military intervention

I recently got into a heated discussion with a fervent Ron Paul supporter about foreign policy. I’ve had similar arguments with many other libertarians many times. Those like my friend hold that military intervention in foreign countries is inherently immoral and un-libertarian. For many Ron Paul supporters*, a purely non-interventionist foreign policy is a true libertarian litmus test.

In 1964, Kitty Genovese was murdered in broad daylight in the presence of numerous onlookers who did nothing to assist her. She was stabbed repeatedly, attempted to escape her attacker, and then stabbed and raped until her life was gone. One person shouted, “leave her alone!” but no one helped Kitty. As onlookers watched her get murdered and raped, no one came to her aid or called the police.

The gruesome, heartbreaking attack and the horrifying apathy of onlookers outrage and sicken us today. No libertarian would have objected to someone — anyone — saving Kitty.

Lovers of liberty rightly proclaim the heroism and virtue of people like Tuvia Bielski, George Washington, Raoul Wallenberg, Francis Marion, and other heroes and heroines who fought against tyranny in their own countries and elsewhere.

The views and opinions expressed by individual authors are not necessarily those of other authors, advertisers, developers or editors at United Liberty.