Big Announcements! Monday, Feb 17 2014 

I teased on Twitter that I had a major announcement coming for today. Here it is:

I have joined the team at Brenner Brief News as a contributor and an associate editor. This weekend, I wrote my first story for them and you will be seeing it sometime this week.

I look forward to working with someone as well respected as Sara Marie Brenner and her outstanding team as I embark upon my biggest step so far as a writer. I will be posting links to my stories here when they drop and probably a more in depth summary a week after the story and/or columns are published.

Also, I will be on the radio with Allan Bourdius and Anna Morris of Pocket Full of Liberty tonight at 9PM Central discussing my most controversial post ever Confessions of An Ex-Libertarian and various other issues. Please tune in!

Finally, some other changes are in store. This blog will probably become more erratic and random and based on more what’s on the mind of yours truly at the time. It will probably take a slightly less political focus. I will continue writing occasionally for Free Radical Network and United Liberty but probably by the middle of the year, I will be launching a new blog that will supersede (but not completely replace) this little site that will focus on building a big tent to promote the issues of liberty and limited government.

I look forward to your support and prayers in these endeavors.

Minimum Wage Increase? How About A Minimum Income Instead Monday, Feb 10 2014 

In the State of the Union speech, President Barack Obama called for an increase in the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour. President Obama and other Democrats believe that raising the minimum wage will lift American families out of poverty. Recent polling shows that Americans overwhelmingly support a minimum wage hike.

Meanwhile, Republicans are generally opposed to the proposal. Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says raising the minimum wage will destroy jobs. Research from economists David Neumark and William Wascher done over two decades does show a loss of jobs after a minimum wage increase. Economists Joseph J. Sabia and Richard V. Burkhauser found in a recent study that only 11.3% of all minimum wage earners are classified as poor. The minimum wage is a terrible weapon to combat poverty and is harmful to employment. It places the burdens on business, is poorly targeted, and makes it harder for young people and other low skilled workers to enter the workforce. There needs to be a better way to help people escape the clutches of extreme poverty.

One such idea is a guaranteed minimum income for those who cannot be claimed as dependents on someone else’s tax return. One of the ideas to implement such a program is a Negative Income Tax. For example, the government would set an income threshold per month and would pay the difference of the amount earned and that threshold. For example, if the threshold was $1600 per month and a person only makes $1000 per month, that person would receive a check for $600. There would be a form similar to a W-2 filed by employers every month that would show how much that person made. It would replace the minimum wage and most cash welfare benefits. It would streamline anti-poverty efforts and better target resources to those who need them. Finally, it would provide an incentive for employment because the amount is set low as not to let someone get rich, but provide just enough to meet their basic needs.

This is not an idea confined to the political left. The American Revolutionary Thomas Paine advocated a “Citizen’s Dividend” in his 1795 essay Agrarian Justice. The concept of the Negative Income Tax itself was proposed by Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman as a way to eliminate the bureaucracy of the welfare state. Free market economist Friedrich Hayek also supported something similar to guaranteed minimum income. Recently, Matt Zwolinski wrote “The Libertarian Case For A Basic Income” on the Cato Institute hosted Libertarianism.org.

Combatting poverty has been a major focus of the American people and its government for 50 years. It’s time to try a new approach, while at the same time encouraging employment and giving all Americans a true safety net for the first time in history.

Confessions Of An Ex-Libertarian Friday, Feb 7 2014 

Today, I finally acknowledged publicly what I have been knowing for sometime that I am no longer a libertarian. For awhile, I was feeling like I did not fit in any longer and felt alienated.

My own libertarianism was of a more moderate strain. I have no desire to privatize the roads, completely abolish the welfare state, abolish the military, privatize the police, and other anarchist fantasies. I believe in a strong, but limited government to maintain order, protect against external threats, enforce the laws and settle disputes, and provide the basic infrastructure the free market cannot provide. I continue to believe that free markets are preferable to central planning and do provide for greater prosperity for most people, although I do believe in a safety net for those who are inevitably the losers in capitalism, which I do not believe the private sector can provide on its own. Finally, I believe in a “live and let live” approach from the state as to how people live their lives, as long as they do not harm others. These beliefs have not changed.

However, for a few reasons I no longer feel comfortable calling myself a libertarian.

1)Libertarianism leads inevitably to anarchism. I agree with Thoughts on Liberty’s Rachel Burger that libertarianism eventually leads to anarchy and anarchy is quickly becoming the predominant strain in libertarianism. Organizations such as the Mises Institute, the Center For A Stateless Society, Students for Liberty, and the Foundation For Economic Education are promoting anarchy. I believe that a limited government is necessary to protect individual liberty and property. An armed mob is as coercive as any government agency and there must be a coercive power to protect life, liberty, and property from those who do not accept the social contract.

2) The infighting and dogmatism. Left-libertarians call right-libertarians racists, sexists, and homophobes and right-libertarians call left-libertarians communists. Both agree the other has to go. The differences between the two are becoming irreconcilable. In addition there is the unwillingness to tolerate opposing views in the movement. Such petty arguments are not conducive to a big tent or to a reality based approach to politics.

3) Making libertarianism into a cultural and not just a political ideology. One of the appeals of libertarianism is that anyone can support liberty, regardless of their cultural and moral views. All that is to be agreed to is that they would agree to not use the state to impose their morality. Unfortunately, that is no longer good enough. I outgrew utopian nonsense in elementary school.

I am a classical liberal which is the tree both libertarianism and American conservatism are spawned from. It is because of this common ancestry that I promote the conservatarian viewpoint. I still believe in limited government, the rule of law, private property rights, individual liberties, and free markets and that has not changed. I still consider myself a part of the broader liberty movement and I will stand up for liberty with anyone else who loves liberty, regardless of the label they give themselves.

I will fight for liberty alongside libertarians, however I will not fight for liberty as a libertarian.

Conservatives Miss The Point On Weed And CVS Wednesday, Feb 5 2014 

Yesterday, the drug store chain CVS announced that it would no longer sell tobacco products. The move drew sharp reactions and generated controversy, for and against. President Obama took time away from his busy schedule of campaigning, golfing, and vacationing to praise the decision. As predictable as the sun rising out of the east every morning, some conservatives took the opportunity to attack President Obama and proceded to look like fools in the process.

One of the conservatives (the term is used loosely in this case) that chimed in on this pressing controversy was Florida Senator Marco Rubio. He tweeted, “Many of the same people applauding #CVS for not selling tobacco are ok with making it easier to buy and smoke pot. #makesnosense”. For starters, it appears Senator Rubio is not familiar with the difference between the private sector making a business decision and government policy. CVS can choose whether or not to sell tobacco products. If customers have a problem with this decision they can shop at another retailer. However, if someone wants to buy and consume marijuana, they may go to prison under current laws. I understand this is a difficult concept for Senator Rubio to grasp, but it is entirely consistent to applaud a private company’s decision to no longer sell tobacco and to oppose throwing people in jail for smoking a joint. Some people just don’t believe that it is the role of government to tell people what they can and can’t put in their bodies, while at the same time being fine with and in fact applauding a private company that refuses to sell a product that kills its consumers when used as directed.

While Senator Rubio’s tweet was utterly moronic, a fact that was not lost on the good folks at Twitchy, that was not the dumbest conservative reaction to CVS’s decision. That award goes to Washington Times editor Emily Miller for this. Miller who previously claimed marijuana legalization in Colorado was a part of Obama’s cultural legacy while warning of the impending collapse of civilization because Colorado legalized marijuana has been on an anti-marijuana crusade. The 21st century’s Carrie Nation accused Obama in her Facebook post of “encouraging marijuana use”. Except President Obama has publicly said marijuana use is not very healthy so how can that be construed as encouraging marijuana use? Finally Emily can relax, Obama has no desire to change marijuana policy.

Conservatives need to learn the difference between the private sector and the public sector. Just because libertarians and others don’t believe in throwing people in jail for doing something or banning something does not mean we want to encourage its use. We simply don’t want the government to play mommy and daddy to 300 million Americans. I thought conservatives believed in individual freedom?

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