Liberty

Today in Liberty: Email Scandals, Threats to Signature Legislation, and Netflix’s Discovery That Big Government Is No Friend

bcchillary

Plenty of red meat in the news these days, from Hillary Clinton’s homebrewed email server to the US Ambassador to South Korea getting slashed in the face. Taken individually, these stories are just a fun diversion as part of surprisingly full news cycle. Taken together, however, they represent a potential sea change in how government functions — and how citizens and voters are reacting to it. Not surprising that things are changing in the time of NSA data gathering, a newly confident Russia, and the (continued) rise of the brutal Islamic State. So here’s a rundown for those seeking the little glimmers of liberty buried under the chaos.

CPAC happened last week and there was an air of excitement and momentum surrounding the incredibly deep GOP field leading into 2016’s presidential election. Scott Walker has ramped up his game and Jeb Bush tried to make the case that he’s not just the guy the Democrats would love to see make a run. And Rand Paul, as he usually does, won the straw poll largely due to the contingent of young voters who attend the annual gathering. A really great thing in fact because it means the millenials may actually be migrating to the right at a greater clip than anyone knew. But while Rand won the youth, social media and news data says that Scott Walker’s the one to watch…for now:

Resolved: We must fight harder for liberty in 2015

New Year's Celebration

Eternal vigilence is the price of liberty…

As we close out the books on 2014, United Liberty looks ahead to 2015, where the fight for individual liberty will be waged in Washington and across the United States. And while it’s easy to become discouraged about what happens (or doesn’t happen) in Congress, there are plenty of ways we can advance the principles of liberty in our own community.

Here are five ways UL encourages readers to spread the message of liberty in 2015:

  1. Engage in the “demand” economy. Technological advancements have made apps like Uber and Airbnb ubiquitous. Need a ride? Pull out your phone and hail an Uber. Want to rent out a spare room to a traveler for a weekend? Establish an Airbnb account. There are even apps that allow you to rent out your street parking. Want to grab lunch? Check out Twitter and see where the nearest food truck is.

    Unfortunately, local and state regulators are attempting to regulate these innovative services out of existence. By using them and sharing them with your friends and family, you create a new kind of citizen. A person who uses Uber or buys food from a food truck — be they liberal, conservative, or indifferent — doesn’t want government regulating those services out of existence. This is, perhaps, the easiest way to share the message of liberty with the broadest number of people.

#IAmUnitedLiberty: Carl Oberg saw first-hand how the sausage is made by bureaucrats and that turned him into a libertarian

Carl Oberg

Note: This is one in a series of profiles of UL contributors and friends and how they became involved in the “liberty movement.” Share your story on Twitter using the hashtag #IAmUnitedLiberty.

Carl Oberg has a great story about how he became involved in the liberty movement and, eventually, signed onto work as the executive director of the Foundation for Economic Education. Simply put, he saw first-hand how federal bureaucrats are influenced by special interests to make policy.

“I worked for seven years for the U.S. Department of Commerce in Washington, D.C. So, I was a federal bureaucrat,” Oberg told United Liberty over the weekend at FreedomFest. “And seven years of federal bureaucrat work taught me that I needed to be more of a libertarian, basically.”

Oberg says that his work was in trade policy and he traveled around the world to learn how trade policy is put together, or, as he put it, how the sausage is made. “I learned that it’s a messed up process. It’s a process that’s captured by special interests. And it’s a process that really doesn’t make any logical sense,” he explained. “It’s there to serve corporate interests in America.”

In his down time, Oberg said that he began reading the websites of various libertarian-leaning organizations, including the Foundation for Economic Education, the Ludwig von Mises Institute, and the Cato Institute.

“I started going to Cato events on my lunch hour in D.C., and started to educate myself. Finally, in December of 2007, I quit my job and I went back to grad school at George Mason University, and got a master’s in economics,” said Oberg. “While I was there, I interned at Cato and interned at a couple other places in D.C.”

Rules for Liberty

Don't Hurt People and Don't Take Their Stuff

Don’t hurt people, and don’t take their stuff. That’s the philosophy of liberty in a nutshell. Everyone should be free to live their lives as they think best, free from meddling by politicians and government bureaucrats.

To me, the values of liberty just seem like a commonsense way to think about political philosophy. The rules are easily understood, our aspirations for government are modest and practical, and our designs on the lives and behavior of other people are unpresumptuous, even humble. The rules are pretty straightforward because they treat everyone just like everyone else: simply; they are blindly applied like Lady Justice would; across the board. No assembly required.

I am not a moral philosopher and I don’t particularly aspire to be one. That said, I have stayed at more than one Holiday Inn Express. That makes me at least smart enough to know what I don’t know. So the rules that follow represent my not-so-humble attempt to boil down and mash up all the best thinking in all of human history on individualism and civil society, the entire canon of Judeo-Christian teachings, the spontaneous evolution of common law, hundreds of years of English Whig, Scottish Enlightenment, and classical liberal political philosophy, lots of Friedrich Hayek, Adam Smith and Ayn Rand, a smattering of karma, and, like any morally relevant updating of a time-tested ethos, at least a few hat tips to The Big Lebowski. All of this in six convenient “Rules for Liberty.”

Cliven Bundy doesn’t actually believe in liberty

Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy positioned himself (with the help of conservative media and grassroots activism) as a champion of liberty against the oppressive federal government in his cattle dispute with the Bureau of Land Management. It turns out Mr. Bundy doesn’t actually believe in liberty, at least not for everyone.

After winning his fight with BLM, he continues to wage a pitched battle to maintain his 15 minutes of fame by holding daily press conferences on his property, usually with no more than single digit press coverage. During one such skirmish for relevancy on Sunday, he exposed himself as a disgusting racist and a dubious freedom fighter (emphasis added):

“I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” he said. Mr. Bundy recalled driving past a public-housing project in North Las Vegas, “and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids — and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch — they didn’t have nothing to do. They didn’t have nothing for their kids to do. They didn’t have nothing for their young girls to do.

Liberty movement activists sing praises of anti-establishment Republicans

In a town known for power-hungry establishment politicians and lobbyists who are constantly trying to exert their influence, there is a burgeoning group of young liberty movement activists who are working behind-the-scenes to change the status quo in the nation’s capital.

Mostly in their 20’s and early 30’s, D.C.-area liberty-minded activists hold jobs in congressional offices on Capitol Hill or in some of the town’s most well-known grassroots organizations. These young people have made their presence felt in the Washington-area political scene, and they’re doing so in an unorthodox way.

Many from this crowd meet-up at O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub in Arlington, Virginia for what they call “Liberty Karaoke,” a weekly tradition started a few years ago by a group of like-minded friends. It’s not unusual to find 50 or more activists hanging out and singing some of their favorite tunes on any given Tuesday night.

“D.C.-area liberty movement young people have been attending weekly karaoke for over three years,” Matthew Hurtt, a 26-year old grassroots activist, told United Liberty. “It was really organic. It’s been a weekly place to unwind and hang out.”

But the group has found another purpose for Liberty Karaoke by using it as a fundraising opportunity for certain candidates whom they support.

In early December, for example, the group hosted a fundraiser for Rep. Justin Amash, a 33-year-old Michigan Republican who has become one of the most vocal critics of the Obama Administration, domestic surveillance programs, and, at times, his own party’s leadership.

72% of Americans See Big Government as the Greatest Threat

big government

Since Barack Obama took office in 2009, more Americans say that big government is a much greater threat to the country than big business. The latest Gallup shows that the number of Americans who believe that big government is the biggest threat to the United States has been increasing in a rather steady fashion.

According to Gallup, 72% percent of Americans now believe that big government is the number one threat to the country. The poll also demonstrated that only 21% of Americans now believe that big business is the major issue. The historical high choosing big business over big government or big labor, 38%, was registered in 2002.

Liberty – Not Chinese Industrial Policy – Drives Innovation in America

Last week on The Diane Rehm Show, Susan Crawford, former special assistant to President Obama for science, technology, and innovation policy, claimed that China “makes us look like a backwater when it comes to [broadband] connectivity.” When she was asked how this could be, Ms. Crawford responded:

It happened because of [Chinese industrial] policy. You can call that overregulation. It’s the way we make innovation happen in America.

Ms. Crawford is wrong on the facts and the philosophy.

The Actual Facts

Two months ago, Ms. Crawford’s former employer, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, released a report with these conclusions:

America, Land of the Free (but get permission first)

“It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is to-day, can guess what it will be tomorrow.” — James Madison, Federalist No. 62 (1788)

Having celebrated the 237th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence this past Thursday, I was once again reminded of what a great country we live in; the “Land of the Free” where man is free to pursue happiness as he determines that to be, where you be anything you want to be and do what you want to do…anything at all!

Unless…

You want to choose your own health care plan, one that meets your needs and doesn’t force you to pay for coverage that you don’t need, that doesn’t make you pay for alcoholism coverage even if you don’t drink, coverage for smoking-related illnesses even if you’ve never smoked, pre-natal and maternity coverage even if you are a single man or a great-grandmother whose child-bearing years ended sometime around the Carter administration (sorry, you can’t do that).

Justice Anthony Kennedy is not a libertarian

Anthony Kennedy

Over the last few years, there has been much discussion about the philosophical leanings of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. Long considered a moderate on the High Court, Kennedy has been the deciding vote in many 5 to 4 decisions, leading John Tabin of The American Spectator to note that “[i]t’s Anthony Kennedy’s world; we’re just living in it.”

Some legal scholars have surmised that the Supreme Court may be in some sort of “libertarian moment,” thanks in part to Kennedy. This is not necessarily a new theory. Shortly after the Court issued its decision in Lawrence v. Texas (2003), a ruling that struck down sodomy laws in 13 states based concerns over privacy, Randy Barnett praised Kennedy’s “presumption of liberty” approach.

Kennedy’s ideology was again the topic of discussion in 2012 after he sided with the minorty in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, in which the majority upheld the individual mandate in ObamaCare.

After the Court’s decision last month in United States v. Windsor, which struck down the federal provisions in the Defense of Marriage Act, Kennedy’s ideological views are, once again, being discussed by legal scholars.


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