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7 minutes | 2 months ago
Is Personal Liberty Selfish?
Welcome back to another episode of Liberty Revealed, the show dedicated to revealing personal liberty to all who listen. I am your host, Mike Mahony, and today I want to talk to you about how to handle liberty issues without being selfish.I recently had an interaction in a Facebook group and it gave rise to what we are about to discuss. It showed me exactly how much the Libertarian party is failing at its messaging. The fact that people still have a completely erroneous idea of what Libertarians stand for is evident by the conversation I am about to share.The person in question shared an article that described libertarianism as destroying our society. I immediately got intrigued because, to me, for that to happen, libertarian principles have to be prevalent in society and they are not. That’s what initially made me perk up and take notice. Upon reading the article, it was apparent that the author didn’t understand libertarianism at all. The author (and the person I encountered on Facebook) looked at libertarians as being on the far right of the political spectrum. They viewed our stance on personal liberty as selfish. Why?To me, there is just a very poor understanding of personal liberty and how it applies to society and in private. There is a failure to understand that personal liberty does have limitations when in a group.The phrase “your rights end where my rights begin” needs to be understood in order to remove that “selfish” label.Yes, we believe we should be allowed to do whatever we want as often as we want in the privacy of our own homes. However, upon leaving our homes, we must respect the boundaries others have. Just because it might be our right to do something a certain way doesn’t mean we have the absolute right to do that in public. As an example, some people like to walk around naked. That would be their right in the privacy of their own home, but not in public. In public, others have the right not to be forced to look at naked people everywhere. Their rights start where our rights end.This very simple concept clarifies the meaning of personal liberty. When something has no effect on other people, it is our absolute right to handle it how we see fit. And why not? We are not causing harm to anyone else, so why shouldn’t we be allowed to partake in that activity?It is important to note that everyone chooses what they want to do. Nobody is forced into doing things they do not wish to do. It is always their personal choice. That’s what personal liberty is all about. Tell me your thoughts on this by leaving a voicemail on the Yogi’s Podcast Network hotline at (657) 529-2218.That’s it for this episode of Liberty Revealed. .If you like what you’ve heard, please rate us 5 stars on Apple Podcasts and Google Play. If you’d like to learn more about personal liberty, grab your free copy of my book “Liberty Revealed” by heading over to http://yogispodcastnetwork.com/libertyrevealed. Until next time...stay free!
7 minutes | 3 months ago
Fight for Liberty
Welcome back to another episode of Liberty Revealed, the show dedicated to revealing personal liberty to all who listen. I am your host, Mike Mahony, and today I want to talk to you about the importance of continuing the fight for liberty.The election is over. At least that is what the media has said. Donald Trump clearly has another opinion.Whatever you think about the outcome of the election, one thing is very clear-- we libertarians need to continue the fight for liberty. We must be diligent and do this starting now. We cannot wait until it is an election year. That just doesn’t give us the time to spread the word.I am proposing that libertarians start campaigning now for liberty. The democrats have been very successful by taking control of local elections. They do this by having small democrat clubs that help with donations and campaign volunteers when a candidate surfaces for a given office.Anyone who has run for office as a libertarian will tell you that the sound of crickets is deafening when you ask for volunteers. There is just something about libertarian thinking that creates a selfish attitude. I’ve heard people proclaim that they won’t help because the candidate has no chance of winning. Well, without help, that’s exactly correct.Running a political campaign takes a lot of time, energy, and money. Want to see libertarians in office? Then do like the two corrupt major parties and work together to make it happen. My plan is very simple and will work if libertarians just embrace the concept that the fight for liberty isn’t just happening during election years.Local chapters should look up what cities have city council vacancies coming up. They should then seek to find 1 or 2 candidates who would be interested in filling those vacancies. Pay special attention to school board races because they are very winnable and they get our candidate the “incumbent” tag later when it counts.I am then suggesting that local chapters should form smaller groups throughout their larger geographic areas. These groups can help source potential local candidates. They can help with fundraising. They can be an army of volunteers. This aspect of my plan is huge. Local coordination broken into smaller chunks is going to be more effective.The big move our chapters need to make is finding businesses that are friendly to our cause. We must ask them to donate to our campaign war chest fund. Rather than wait for individual candidates to run for a given position, let’s recruit donations from liberty-friendly businesses right away. Let’s point to the positions we want to fill and then let’s get some money from them. Imagine how much easier it would be to recruit candidates if the recruitment call included the statement “...we will be able to give you $10,000 to fund your campaign right away”? Imagine having the money to put out advertisements for recruiting volunteers? By tackling two of the biggest hurdles a candidate faces, the party is setting the candidates up for success. Fundraising is something that should never stop. As an organization, we tend to rely too much on membership dues and small donations. We need to approach small businesses. They are the most affected by strangling regulations. They would welcome the libertarian approach to government and commerce. Let’s show them we are the only party that is completely business-friendly.To summarize, we need to:Identify positions we want to targetForm small local groups that can help spread the wordRecruit candidates Approach businesses for donationsFundraise all the timeWhen we can have all of this run like a well-oiled machine, we will be making real progress.Tell me your thoughts on this by leaving a voicemail on the Yogi’s Podcast Network hotline at (657) 529-2218.That’s it for this episode of Liberty Revealed. .If you like what you’ve heard, please rate us 5 stars on Apple Podcasts and Google Play. If you’d like to learn more about personal liberty, grab your free copy of my book “Liberty Revealed” by heading over to http://yogispodcastnetwork.com/libertyrevealed. Until next time...stay free!
7 minutes | 3 months ago
Welcome back to another episode of Liberty Revealed, the show dedicated to revealing personal liberty to all who listen. I am your host, Mike Mahony, and today I want to talk to you about the importance of voting for the candidate who most resonates with you.As I record this episode, it is election day in the United States. We have endured a solid year of campaigning and rhetoric. Perhaps, like me, you voted for the Libertarian candidate for President? If so, and you made this known on social media, you’ve no doubt been told that you are wasting your vote or that you are really voting for Trump. Today we are going to discuss these things and we will come to a very solid conclusion.When someone tells you that you are wasting your vote by voting for a third party candidate, remind them of how selfish their comment is. Help them to understand that we don’t try to vote for the winner, we vote for the person we are most ideologically aligned with and then we hope for them to win. Anyone saying you are wasting your vote has an ulterior motive. They want to amplify their own vote. They want you to vote for their candidate, thereby giving them an extra vote for all intents and purposes.This selfish attitude permeates American politics. People all over don’t really care what a candidate stands for as long as that candidate belongs to their party. That’s a very low bar to set and one that has lead our country into bedlam. Donald Trump is a result of always voting for the lesser of two evils. The two major parties don’t even attempt to run a principled candidate any longer. They know people are accustomed to voting for the lesser of two evils. The problem is that the lesser of two evils is still evil.What would be a wasted vote?An unprincipled vote is the only wasted vote. The purpose of voting is to tell the state and the country what your vision of government and society really is. What happens when you cave and vote in what is called a defensive vote? You sell out your personal beliefs. You become a political prostitute. You are no longer standing up for what you believe in because you’ve caved and voted for the lesser of two evils. I don’t know about you, but I do not want to be a political hooker. If you believe the Republican or Democrat candidate really does match your beliefs, go ahead and vote for them. If you don’t believe they match your beliefs, you are helping to preserve the status quo you despite.As I said, we don’t vote to pick the winner. WE vorte to tell everyone else which choice best represents the direction you want your state to go. You gain a power that a non-voter does not have--the chance to change your state.Voting for the lesser of two evils is sending the wrong message. It says that you are OK with just a good state, not the best state possible. Please don’t settle for anything less than the best.Learn from history. Radical ideas come to fruition all the time. That is, as long as you vote in a principled way. Remember, the only wasted vote is one for a candidate that doesn’t send the message you intend to send. Also remember that voting for the lesser of two evils is still casting a vote for evil.I hope that you cast a principled vote today. If you caved in and voted for one of the big two candidates, don’t feel bad. You can fix that by vowing never to do that again. Take a moment and promise yourself that every vote going forward will be a principled vote.The last thing I want to address is the ridiculous assertion that a vote for a Libertarian is a vote for Donald Trump (or anyone else). These people assume that had you not voted Libertarian you’d have voted AGAINST Donald Trump. That simply doesn’t cut it for me and my group of friends. We would never have voted for a Democrat or a Republican. Thus, our vote is for the candidate that most aligns with our belief system. Simple math will prove these people wrong, but their comment has nothing to do with math. Again, they are attempting to shame you into magnifying their own vote by getting you to vote for their candidate. Tell me your thoughts on this by leaving a voicemail on the Yogi’s Podcast Network hotline at (657) 529-2218.That’s it for this episode of Liberty Revealed. .If you like what you’ve heard, please rate us 5 stars on Apple Podcasts and Google Play. If you’d like to learn more about personal liberty, grab your free copy of my book “Liberty Revealed” by heading over to http://yogispodcastnetwork.com/libertyrevealed. Until next time...stay free!
12 minutes | 3 months ago
Pandemic Response and Civil Liberties
Welcome back to another episode of Liberty Revealed, the show dedicated to revealing personal liberty to all who listen. I am your host, Mike Mahony, and today I want to talk to you about the lockdowns that have been caused by the pandemic.First, thank you for bearing with me as it has been several months since an episode has been released. The show will get back to a regular frequency going forward.On March 13, 2020, life changed as I knew it. That day, in particular, we were moving from one home to another. We got an automated call from my son’s school announcing that in-person instruction was suspended due to the coronavirus. From there, things just got worse.The California state government installed lockdowns that have crushed the economy and taken away the rights of the people. The government has rushed to find a way to control the spread of the virus. Across the world, a range of surveillance technologies are being deployed in an effort to find out more about who is sick. Although a crisis may make increased surveillance more palpable to the billions under some kind of lockdown civil libertarians shouldn’t be shy about highlighting the ineffective nature of many emergency measures and insisting that even those that are effective be strictly time-limited.Tragedies, panics, and crises tend to result in extremely bad policy decisions. The 9/11 terrorist attacks prompted a wave of unnecessary and ineffective laws and policies. The establishment of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its Transportation Security Agency (TSA), the passage of the PATRIOT Act, and the rollout of a wide range of new surveillance programs are among the most notable domestic examples. The effectiveness of these measures should embarrass government officials. Post‐9/11 mass surveillance did not thwart large terrorist attacks, with a White House panel finding that one of the most famous mass surveillance programs — the snooping on telephony metadata — was “not essential in preventing attacks.” Meanwhile, the TSA has demonstrated that it’s more efficient at fondling law-abiding citizens and residents than it is at passing its own security tests. Predator drones, often associated with US foreign policy, fly along the northern and southern borders adorned with the Customs and Border Protection logo.Even when emergency measures are effective they can sometimes stick around longer than necessary. At the beginning of the Second World War, the British government passed a range of policies that infringed on civil liberties, including the introduction of ID cards. In September 1939 First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill gave a speech in which he emphasized that infringements on freedom would be temporary. Churchill said:“Perhaps it might seem a paradox that a war undertaken in the name of liberty and right should require, as a necessary part of its processes, the surrender for the time being of so many of the dearly valued liberties and rights. In these last few days the House of Commons has been voting dozens of Bills which hand over to the executive our most dearly valued traditional liberties. We are sure that these liberties will be in hands which will not abuse them, which will use them for no class or party interests, which will cherish and guard them, and we look forward to the day, surely and confidently we look forward to the day, when our liberties and rights will be restored to us, and when we shall be able to share them with the peoples to whom such blessings are unknown.”The surrender of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan did not spell the end of British ID cards. It wasn’t until 1952 that the British government finally scrapped ID cards over the objections of many in law enforcement.Crisis measures are often ineffective and can survive the crisis they are implemented to counter. We should keep these facts in mind while addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.There are important differences between the Second World War and the current pandemic. The Second World War had clear victory conditions and the enemy’s territory was geographically defined. It’s unclear what it will take for governments to declare the current pandemic to be over, and the pandemic is a crisis that is indiscriminately affecting countries across the world.Knowing more information about people is valuable in a pandemic, and some have cited examples around the world of information gathering being effective. Singapore is one of the countries most mentioned in pandemic surveillance discussions. A recent Harvard University study found that if other countries had used Singapore’s methods to detect imported cases of COVID-19 the number of detected imported cases could have been about three times what it is now.In South Korea, international visitors are required to download an app that helps users check for COVID-19 symptoms. Those in quarantine also have to download an app, which allows officials to track those who break isolation. A handful of European governments (Spanish, Romanian, Slovakian, and Polish) have embraced the South Korean approach and have developed their own app.The Trump administration is reportedly considering cellphone surveillance as a way to track the spread of COVID-19. However, it’s unlikely that South Korean surveillance methods would be effective in the U.S at this point. As Spencer Ackerman explained in the Daily Beast, pandemic surveillance is not like counter-terrorism surveillance in key regards:“Coronavirus surveillance isn’t like the kind of surveillance used to track, say, terrorist suspects. Public health officials seeking to arrest an outbreak start with a positive test of a patient and then work outward to find and warn people the patient was in close contact with. Counterterrorism surveillance, in practice, tends to gather everyone’s data first—often without warrants—analyze it for connections to targets of interest (a practice known as contact chaining), and then either purge it or keep it.[…]But according to epidemiologists, America is unlikely to replicate South Korea’s success. South Korea (and China) tested extensively for COVID-19 early on. That was the key step for being able to identify and isolate those infected before they spread the disease further. No such thing occurred in the U.S.—and accordingly, domestic pandemic surveillance in late March 2020 would resemble the anticipatory guesswork of counterterrorism surveillance, more intrusive than effective.”That surveillance tools and methods won’t be effective hardly means they won’t be deployed. Hospitals across the U.S. are set to experience an influx of patients that is beyond their capacity. This will undoubtedly increase criticism of the government. Amid frustration and anxiety, we should expect officials to embrace a more aggressive “do something” approach. The Trump administration already has relationships with companies such as Palantir, which prides itself on building tools ideal for mass surveillance.American lawmakers and officials haven’t only considered increased surveillance in response to COVID-19. They have told citizens and residents across the country to stay at home, and businesses have been forced to close or make dramatic changes to how they operate.When local officials announce restrictions on freedom we should be sure to ask them what conditions will justify an end to such restrictions. Earlier this week, Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser issued an order requiring all “non‐essential” businesses to close until April 24, 2020. However, the order notes that the deadline could be “extended, rescinded, superseded, or amended” by another order.Those of us enduring these imposed periods of isolation deserve to know when the isolation will end. How will officials define the end of this ongoing pandemic? The end of a war is easy to define. The end of a pandemic isn’t. If we are to endure restrictions on our freedoms in the name of public safety the least officials can do is tell us when it will all be over.Increased surveillance and restrictions on movement need not be the only options officials consider. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, my colleagues have been writing and discussing the numerous policy changes that could have allowed more people to access COVID-19 tests more quickly and allowed for a more efficient response to the pandemic (visit this link to find out more). Among the few silver linings of the current crisis is the possibility that lawmakers and regulators will learn valuable lessons about how to respond to the next pandemic.Lockdowns, curfews, and increased surveillance are infringements on freedom, but civil libertarians should be prepared to concede that such measures can sometimes be justified, if only in rare and extreme circumstances. But accepting that such measures may be necessary should not make us complacent. We should continue to raise concerns and highlight policy changes that could alleviate the effects of the pandemic. In addition, we should ask lawmakers tough questions about why specific pandemic measures are necessary, why they think such measures will be effective, and when the measures will be abandoned.Any blind acceptance of the measures being put into place by the government should be reconsidered. The government will take as much of our freedoms away as it can get away with. We must not allow that to happen. Speak up and let your government know that you want an end to the restrictions that are currently in place. Ask them to reopen the economy so that your fellow Americans can begin earning an income again.This pandemic response has been so disastrous that it is estimated that almost 50% of all businesses will be closed permanently. This cannot be allowed to stand.Tell me your thoughts on this by leaving a voicemail on the Yogi’s Podcast Network hotline at (657) 529-2218.That’s it for this episode of Liberty Revealed. .If you like what you’ve heard, please rate us 5 stars on Apple Podcasts and Google Play. If you’d like to learn more about personal liberty, grab your free copy of my book “Liberty Revealed” by heading over to http://yogispodcastnetwork.com/libertyrevealed. Until next time...stay free!
9 minutes | 9 months ago
Let's Talk About Universal Basic Income
Welcome back to another episode of Liberty Revealed, the show dedicated to revealing personal liberty to all who listen. I am your host, Mike Mahony, and today I want to talk to you about universal basic income.Universal basic income is so much better than our current system of welfare. If such a program were to be implemented in the United States, the details become extremely important. The main pout is that universal basic income would replace welfare.Current federal social welfare programs in the United States are an expensive, complicated mess. According to Michael Tanner, the federal government spent more than $668 billion on over one hundred and twenty-six anti-poverty programs in 2012. When you add in the $284 billion spent by state and local governments, that amounts to $20,610 for every poor person in America.Wouldn’t it be better just to write the poor a check?Each one of those anti-poverty programs comes with its own bureaucracy and its own Byzantine set of rules. If you want to shrink the size and scope of government, eliminating those departments and replacing them with a program so simple it could virtually be administered by a computer seems like a good place to start. Eliminating bloated bureaucracies means more money in the hands of the poor and lower costs to the taxpayer. That’s what’s known as a Win/Win.Universal basic income would also be considerably less paternalistic than the current welfare state, which is the bastard child of “conservative judgment and progressive condescension” toward the poor, in Andrea Castillo’s choice words. Conservatives want to help the poor, but only if they can demonstrate that they deserve it by jumping through a series of hoops meant to demonstrate their willingness to work, to stay off drugs, and preferably to settle down into a nice, stable, bourgeois family life. And while progressives generally reject this attempt to impose traditional values on the poor, they have almost always preferred in-kind grants to cash precisely as a way of making sure the poor get the help they “really” need. Shouldn’t we trust poor people to know what they need better than the federal government?Both Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek advocated for something like universal basic income as a proper function of government, though on somewhat different grounds. Friedman’s argument comes in chapter 9 of his Capitalism and Freedom, and is based on the idea that private attempts at relieving poverty involve what he called “neighborhood effects” or positive externalities. Such externalities, Friedman argues, mean that private charity will be undersupplied by voluntary action.“[W]e might all of us be willing to contribute to the relief of poverty, provided everyone else did. We might not be willing to contribute the same amount without such assurance.”And so, Friedman concludes, some “governmental action to alleviate poverty” is justified. Specifically, government is justified in setting “a floor under the standard of life of every person in the community,” a floor that takes the form of his famous “Negative Income Tax” proposal.Friedrich Hayek’s argument, appearing 17 years later in volume 3 of his Law, Legislation, and Liberty, is even more powerful. Here’s the crucial passage:“The assurance of a certain minimum income for everyone, or a sort of floor below which nobody need fall even when he is unable to provide for himself, appears not only to be wholly legitimate protection against a risk common to all, but a necessary part of the Great Society in which the individual no longer has specific claims on the members of the particular small group into which he was born.”To those who know of Hayek only through second-hand caricatures of his argument from The Road to Serfdom, his claim here will no doubt be surprising. Hayek was not opposed to the welfare state as such (not even in the Road to Serfdom). At the very least, he regarded certain aspects of the welfare state as permissible options that states might pursue. But the passage above suggests that he may have had an even stronger idea in mind - that a basic income is not merely a permissible option but a mandatory requirement of democratic legitimacy - a policy that must be instituted in order to justify the coercive power that even a Hayekian state would exercise over its citizens.Before I close, I want to say at least a little about the different policy options. But there are a lot of different options, and a lot of details to each. So bear in mind that what follows is only a sketch.Universal basic income involves something like an unconditional grant of income to every citizen. So, on most proposals, everybody gets a check each month. “Unconditional” here means mostly that the check is not conditional on one’s wealth or poverty or willingness to work. But some proposals, like Charles Murray’s, would go only to adult citizens. And almost all proposals are given only to citizens. Most proposals specify that income earned on top of the grant is subject to taxation at progressive rates, but the grant itself is not.A Negative Income Tax involves issuing a credit to those who fall below the threshold of tax liability, based on how far below the threshold they fall. So the amount of money one receives (the “negative income tax”) decreases as ones earnings push one up to the threshold of tax liability, until it reaches zero, and then as one earns more money one begins to pay the government money (the “positive income tax”).The Earned Income Tax Credit is the policy we actually have in place currently in the United States. It was inspired by Friedman’s Negative Income Tax proposal, but falls short in that it applies only to persons who are actually working.The US Basic Income Guarantee Network has a nice and significantly more detailed overview of some of the different policies. You can watch Milton Friedman explain his Negative Income Tax proposal with characteristic clarity to William F. Buckley here. And for an extended and carefully thought out defense of one particular Universal basic income proposal from a libertarian perspective, I highly recommend Charles Murray’s short book, In Our Hands: A Plan to Replace the Welfare State.Tell me your thoughts on this by leaving a voicemail on the Yogi’s Podcast Network hotline at (657) 529-2218.That’s it for this episode of Liberty Revealed. .If you like what you’ve heard, please rate us 5 stars on Apple Podcasts and Google Play. If you’d like to learn more about personal liberty, grab your free copy of my book “Liberty Revealed” by heading over to http://yogispodcastnetwork.com/libertyrevealed. Until next time...stay free!
16 minutes | 9 months ago
How to Handle Data Privacy
Welcome back to another episode of Liberty Revealed, the show dedicated to revealing personal liberty to all who listen. I am your host, Mike Mahony, and today I want to talk to you about data privacy and how I feel it should be dealt with.Protecting internet data privacy without hindering innovation requires a dose of legislative humility and strong trust in consumer intelligence. Neither is easy for a Libertarian to swallow.The recent data breaches at Google and Facebook have amplified the debate around data privacy and the laws governing the same. Commentators seem to feel the US regulatory approach to all of this is akin to the Wild Wild West. They act as though no regulation exists.Some are calling for the adoption of heavy-handed, European-style controls such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which imposes 45 specific rules on data-driven enterprises. They have applauded new data regulation rules in California, which grants sweeping power to the state’s attorney general to collect fees, impose rules, approve business plans, and solicit public support for class actions against internet companies. It is reasonable to be skeptical of the notion that increasing government power is the key to protecting privacy, but without federal preemption, the nation could balkanize with 50 sets of online privacy rules, undermining the seamless digital experience consumers enjoy today as well as the internet economy which powers some 10 percent of national gross domestic product.I, for one, feel the regulatory approach to data privacy and protection of the internet is just flat out wrong.One reason people believe the US has an inferior, laissez-faire approach to internet regulation is that they confuse data privacy and protection and because they are not familiar with America’s own substantive privacy protections developed since its founding. In fact, there are literally hundreds of laws on privacy and data protection in the U.S.—including common law torts, criminal laws, evidentiary privileges, federal statutes, and state laws. America’s tradition of protecting privacy is predicated on ensuring the individual’s freedom from government intrusion and pushing back the overreach of the administrative state. By way of comparison, the EU’s laws are relatively new, officially dating from this century, and still lack the runway of judicial scrutiny and case law that characterizes U.S. law.This experience from Europe gives us a glimpse of what to expect should we adopt a similarly heavy-handed regulatory approach in the USA. Simply put, the EU’s laws don’t work to create trust in the online ecosystem. After a decade of data protection regulation—in which Europeans have endured intrusive pop-ups and disclosures on every digital property they visit—Europeans report no greater sense of trust online. As of 2017, only 22 percent of Europeans shop outside their own country (a paltry increase of 10% in a decade). Moreover, only 20 percent of EU companies are highly digitized. Small to medium-sized European companies have neither modernized their operations nor marketed to other EU countries because data protection compliance costs are too high.To do business in the EU and comply with the new rules, US firms with 500 employees or more will likely have to spend between $1 and $10 million each to comply with GDPR. With over 19,000 firms of 500 employees or more in the US, total GDPR compliance costs for U.S. firms alone could reach $150 billion, twice what the U.S. spends on network investment and one-third of annual e-commerce revenue in the U.S. Not surprisingly, thousands of online entities, both in the EU and abroad, have proactively shuttered their European operations for fear of getting caught in the regulatory crosshairs.Moreover, there is a business model behind data protection regulation. Not only will Europe have to hire some 75,000 new data protection professionals as regulatory compliance officers, but regulatory authorities are also doubling their staff and budgets to take on the increased workload of managing compliance and complaints. Just seven hours after the GDPR came into effect in May 2018, Austrian activist Max Schrems lodged complaints against Google and Facebook, demanding $8.8 billion in damages because their services are so popular that they effectively “force” people to use them.Politics continues to play a huge role in data privacy and protection.A decentralized, limited government approach has been empirically shown to better protect data privacy, but regulatory advocates are too powerful, organized, and determined to let well enough alone. They consider themselves the self-appointed protectors of all Americans, who they deem unwitting digital serfs, forced to engage in transactions against their will and too stupid to learn how to be safe online. While freethinkers value sovereignty and choice, they are diffuse and difficult to galvanize. The sweeping regulations adopted in California and the European Union were enabled by a small yet vocal group of activists.While the media emphasizes the partisan chaos in Washington, there is a bona fide, fact-based, bipartisan effort within Congress to create a rational policy for consumer online privacy. The Senate Commerce Committee has hosted a series of hearings to gather input from a variety of stakeholders. In addition, the Trump Administration has tasked key agencies with developing scientific and policy principles that ensure standards and guarantee freedom of choice for individuals while also giving organizations legal clarity and the flexibility to innovate. It may seem counterintuitive that we need more privacy legislation, but in this case, the outcome will be worse for freedom if Congress does not clarify a single national policy.I personally prefer a market-based approach to data privacy and protection. To me, the required trust in consumer intelligence is difficult, but necessary if we are to both protect our privacy and data and protect our freedom.The elements of a market-based approach includes a consistent national policy that promotes technological innovation, consumer education, and freedom of choice for consumers.Privacy-enhancing technologies. Continuous technological improvement of online systems will always be better than regulatory regimes that rely on bureaucrats to decide how data should be processed and which abuses to adjudicate. Scientific research demonstrates that privacy-enhancing innovation (a field including dozens of technologies such as encryption, data minimization, anonymization, attribute-based access controls, etc) makes the online experience safer and more private than a bureaucratic approach can. Moreover, soft law instruments such as multi-stakeholder processes, scientific best practices and standards, and codes of conduct can address emerging data protection challenges without resorting to heavy-handed rules. Policymakers should consider the role of incentives for design and experimentation with privacy-enhancing technologies (PETs). These can include grants, awards, and competitions. Importantly, a national policy would include a legal safe harbor for innovators so that they can experiment without punishment and so that enterprises can be confident that they are complying with the law.Consumer education. Informed consumers who have the freedom to choose among a robust array of goods and services are the bedrock of a free-market economy. This assumes a marketplace in which there is sufficient information, ease of market entry and exit, and minimal regulatory distortion. Scientific research concludes that the consumer’s level of knowledge about the online experience is crucial when it comes to creating trust online. Notice and consent are meaningless to consumers if they don’t understand the nature of the transactions in which they engage, how online platforms work, and the associated costs, benefits, and alternatives. (See p. 13 of this filing to the Federal Trade Commission for the history of consumer education and models of online privacy education.) Individuals need to take the responsibility to educate themselves about the online services they use and policy-makers must ensure that there are transparent ways for consumers to get access to that information. Moreover, educated consumers are a powerful check on unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats, limiting the need for regulation in the first place.Choice. Individuals must have freedom of choice over whether to share their data in exchange for a service as well as the ability to say no to terms and conditions which make them feel uncomfortable. When a consumer says no and declines the service, this sends an important message to providers to improve their products and services. A key problem of the California and European rules is that they obligate providers to deliver services even if users object to sharing their data. This perversion creates a free-rider problem, which increases the amount of processing that must be performed on consenting users so that the service provider can cover its costs. Moreover, it removes the essential feedback that providers need from users so that they can improve their services.Flexibility. A recent Senate hearing featured the architect of the California Consumer Privacy Act, Alastair MacTaggart, who took offense that his local Supercuts hair cuttery requested his email and phone upon checking in for an appointment. MacTaggart called it “out of control” and intimated that this practice should be eliminated for all Supercuts customers. (He also spent nearly $3.5 million of his own fortune from a successful real estate business, which, ironically, relies on the same kind of data processing he now wants to eliminate.) This kind of elitism fails to see how many people appreciate SMS reminders for their salon appointments and want to receive email offers of coupons for hair care products, discounts, and so on. The situation is a reminder of the need for regulatory flexibility. Consumers who do not want to participate in such programs should not have to, but those who want to should be allowed. Regulatory advocates don’t like the idea that a customer loyalty program has such requirements. They don’t want enterprises to have the flexibility to reward loyal customers. Again, this creates a free-rider problem. If enterprises are obliged to make offers available without any minimum requirements, the provider’s incentive for offering the promotional program is thus removed, and the provider pulls the offer. This leads to overall price increases while reducing welfare for the set of customers who wanted the offer in the first place. In any case, there are technical workarounds that can secure privacy without eliminating enterprises, such as anonymizing email addresses and phone numbers. (See p. 11 of the filing for the discussion on anonymization).Consistency. America’s 50 states are a single market, which is a boon to America’s digital economy. An app posted in Maine can serve a user from Hawaii. However, California’s new privacy law disrupts this seamlessness, inhibiting commerce both inside and the state. Other states (NY, NJ, MD, MA, RI, IL, and CT) are threatening to make their own rules. We need a single federal privacy standard enforced by a single Federal regulator – ideally the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC can enforce the standard and deliver enforcement with the cooperation of state attorneys general.The cycle of privacy panic, the manufactured fear that accompanies new technologies, has been a well-documented phenomenon for more than a century. When first introduced, photography was maligned for violating one’s privacy. As people experience new technology, they grow more comfortable with it, ultimately adopting it in a way that demonstrably improves their lives. When asked what has brought the biggest improvement to their lives in the past 50 years, Americans name technology more than any other advancement, notes Pew Research in a 2016 survey.Today’s debate about the data-driven economy is no different. Market-based solutions can address data privacy concerns without surrendering the internet to government control. If anything, this legislative moment is about reaffirming America’s history of data protection and privacy. We need federal law to stop state-level overreach so that the freedom of individuals and enterprises can flourish.Tell me your thoughts on this by leaving a voicemail on the Yogi’s Podcast Network hotline at (657) 529-2218.That’s it for this episode of Liberty Revealed. .If you like what you’ve heard, please rate us 5 stars on Apple Podcasts and Google Play. If you’d like to learn more about personal liberty, grab your free copy of my book “Liberty Revealed” by heading over to http://yogispodcastnetwork.com/libertyrevealed. Until next time...stay free!
7 minutes | 10 months ago
Taking Back Liberty
Welcome back to another episode of Liberty Revealed, the show dedicated to revealing personal liberty to all who listen. I am your host, Mike Mahony, and today I want to discuss why I am so disappointed with Americans in general and Libertarians specifically.As I record these words, much of our country is under lock down. This has happened due to an attempt to control the spread of the virus known as COVID19. The problem is that the story keeps changing. Let’s begin by addressing some very concerning issues.Right now the government is exercising vast power to keep citizens inside as much as possible. On March 30, 2020, Muriel Bowser, the mayor of Washington DC announced people will receive 90 days in jail and a $5,000 fine if they leave their homes. The only exceptions: grocery shopping, essential workers, and outdoor exercise. What the hell is wrong with people?Why aren’t people marching in the streets in protest? Why are people so willingly relinquishing their rights? Why can’t they see the obvious problems with the story the government is feeding us?It is extremely concerning to me that we are so willing to do exactly what the government is telling us to do. This is unprecedented. We didn’t do this for SARS or MERS. Why are we so willing to voluntarily destroy our economy? It baffles me!Where are Libertarians during this crisis? Yes, a small number with leadership qualities are speaking out, but so many are silent on this issue. That, too, baffles my mind.Now is the time for us to stand up and shout about our liberties being taken away. It is time for us to be leaders and show the rest of the country that we are being aggressively oppressed. We need to let President Trump know we will not continue with this lockdown. We need to tell people that they can be safe from the virus and still have a mostly normal life. There are ways to accomplish this that don’t involve completely destroying our own economy. Using common sense would be the place to begin.It frustrates me that people truly believe the government can and should hold our hand and take care of us.are you serious? The government that can’t figure out how to run things without massive taxes is supposed to protect us from a virus? Are we not capable of conducting ourselves in a manner that addresses hygiene and cleanliness to avoid spreading this virus? Think! Our government was not at all prepared. They were not just caught with their pants down, they were caught naked and asleep at the wheel. That’s the government people expect to save them?Libertarians! Now is the time for us to get our message to the masses. We need to explain to them why Liberty is so important. We must show everyone that we know how to handle this issue without shutting everything down for an extended time period.We need to use our social media accounts to spread the word. We need to explain our principles to everyone. If we have to do this multiple times a day every single day, it needs to happen.We are at risk of losing our liberty permanently. How do you think the government is going to react once this is all over? Have you considered that they will create restrictive regulations to control us because they see how we’ve rolled on our backs like scared dogs? That’s exactly how our government works. We give them an inch and they take that inch for themselves plus a few hundred miles more.As for me, I’ve been speaking out. I am not going to allow this to happen to my country without a fight. Are you with me? If you are, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and just say “I am in!” If you do that, I will respond and we can begin to work together to spread the word. Only when true patriots stand up against this oppression will it stop.Instead of us wasting time worrying about the name people give to this virus, we should put our foot down and demand things change immediately. Again, email me at email@example.com and let’s get started.That’s it for this episode of Liberty Revealed. .If you like what you’ve heard, please rate us 5 stars on Apple Podcasts and Google Play. If you’d like to learn more about personal liberty, grab your free copy of my book “Liberty Revealed” by heading over to http://yogispodcastnetwork.com/libertyrevealed. Until next time...stay free!
14 minutes | a year ago
Stop Foreign Intervention
Welcome back to another episode of Liberty Revealed, the show dedicated to revealing personal liberty to all who listen. I am your host, Mike Mahony, and today I want to talk to you about why the United States should stop its constant interventions in foreign countries.Over several decades, Libertarians have expressed opposition to United States intervention in foreign countries. We have offered alternatives that have been ignored by the leadership in Washington DC. Every election cycle the Republican and Democrat candidates claim they will bring peace and stability and never seem to do that. The American people are growing weary of this constant cycle of intervention. Is it now time for a Libertarian foreign policy?Adam Smith taught that for there to be a tolerable government, there needed to be in place the essential ingredients of peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice.” War doesn’t make the list for good reason. It is probably the largest and most far-reaching of all statist enterprises. It's an engine of collectivization that undermines private enterprise, raises taxes, destroys wealth, and subjects all aspects of the economy to regimentation and central planning.It also alters the citizens' view of the state in a subtle way. "War substitutes a herd mentality and blind obedience for the normal propensity to question authority and to demand good and proper reasons for government actions," the late scholar Ronald Hamowy writes in The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism. He continues, "War promotes collectivism at the expense of individualism, force at the expense of reason and coarseness at the expense of sensibility. Libertarians regard all of those tendencies with sorrow."Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman stated the issue more clearly. "War is a friend of the state," he told the San Francisco Chronicle about a year before his death. "In time of war, government will take powers and do things that it would not ordinarily do." The evidence is solid and irrefutable. Throughout human history, the government has grown during wartime, rarely surrendering its new powers when the guns fall silent. War is a means used for the government to increase in size and that’s not a good thing.Some people make the claim that a particular threat to freedom from abroad is greater than anything we could do to ourselves in fighting it. But that is a hard case to make. Even the post-9/11 "global war on terror" — a war that hasn't involved conscription or massive new taxes — has resulted in wholesale violations of basic civil rights and an erosion of the rule of law. From Bush's torture memos to Obama's secret kill list, this has all been done in the name of fighting a menace — Islamist terrorism — that has killed fewer American civilians in the last decade than allergic reactions to peanuts. It seems James Madison was right. It was, he wrote, "a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad."Some would say the United States is an exceptional nation that serves the cause of global liberty. The United States pursues a "foreign policy that makes the world a better place," explains Sen. Lindsey Graham, "and sometimes that requires force, a lot of times it requires the threat of force." By engaging in frequent wars, even when U.S. security isn't directly threatened, the United States acts as the world's much-needed policeman. That's the theory, anyway.In the real world, the record is decidedly mixed. This supposedly liberal order does not work as well as its advocates claim. The world still has its share of conflicts, despite a U.S. global military presence explicitly oriented around stopping wars before they start. The U.S. Navy supposedly keeps the seas open for global commerce, but it's not obvious who would benefit from closing them — aside from terrorists or pirates who couldn't if they tried. Advocates of the status quo claim that it would be much worse if the United States adopted a more restrained grand strategy, but they fail to accurately account for the costs of this global posture, and they exaggerate the benefits. And, of course, there is the obvious case of the Iraq War, a disaster that was part and parcel of this misguided strategy of global primacy. It was launched on the promise of delivering freedom to the Iraqi people and then to the entire Middle East. It has had, if anything, the opposite effect.Libertarians harbor deep and abiding doubts about the government's capacity for effecting particular ends, no matter how well-intentioned. These concerns are magnified, not set aside when the government project involves violence in foreign lands.In domestic policy, libertarians tend to believe in a minimal state endowed with enumerated powers, dedicated to protecting the security and liberty of its citizens but otherwise inclined to leave them alone. The same principles should apply when we turn our attention abroad. Citizens should be free to buy and sell goods and services, study and travel, and otherwise interact with peoples from other lands and places, unencumbered by the intrusions of government.But peaceful, non-coercive foreign engagement should not be confused with its violent cousin: war. American libertarians have traditionally opposed wars and warfare, even those ostensibly focused on achieving liberal ends. And for good reason. All wars involve killing people and destroying property. Most entail massive encroachments on civil liberties, from warrantless surveillance to conscription. They all impede the free movement of goods, capital, and labor essential to economic prosperity. And all wars contribute to the growth of the state.It is my own personal belief that when something isn’t working we should stop doing it. Clearly, this constant intervention into foreign issues is not working. We are not accomplishing the goals our leadership claims exist for these interventions. Instead, we are risking both American and foreign lives in a fruitless endeavor to be the police for the world community. While the concept may on the surface appear admirable, the end result is anything but. This is where a Libertarian foreign policy would change everything.Now, as my regular listeners are aware, I am a pragmatic Libertarian. While I believe 100% in libertarian principles, I know that our society is fully entrenched in its current ways and any change is going to take time. There are a lot of political and structural impediments to the government doing less of anything. We face a problem when dealing directly with the American people. There's a strong bias among the American people that when you face some economic or social problem — from healthcare to education to welfare — the government should do something. When you say the government should do less or limit its response, many are skeptical.When it comes to foreign crises, you're constantly faced with bad actors on the international stage — from dictators to ayatollahs. The argument that we should restrict intervention or avoid projecting strength often doesn't resonate with the public. What's interesting, however, is that you generally don't get both of these attitudes — government activism at home and abroad — from the same person. Those most likely to grasp that government is not the solution to every domestic problem are the most likely to be skeptical of that argument when it's presented in relation to foreign policy. And that really means that those advocating a libertarian foreign policy are men and women without a country. In our binary political system, there's no party or constituency that's really speaking for that viewpoint.You can see the evidence of that in the congressional vote for the Iraq War. Among Republicans, there were only seven who voted against authorization. What's less well remembered is that half the Democrats in the Senate voted to authorize the Iraq War. The list includes Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, John Kerry, Chuck Schumer, and Harry Reid. These are not "back-bencher" Democrats. They're some of the most prominent figures, including the supposed Peace Party's most likely next candidate for president of the United States.That means that the parties really present an echo, not a choice. There's this "me tooism," even when it comes to Democrats. In some respects, that makes sense because they're the party that believes in the government's ability to keep us safe all of the time and in every situation. But some of it is also a relic of politics from the 1980s and 1990s, when a lot of these people came of age at a time when the Democratic Party was seen as weak on foreign policy. A lot of Democrats internalized that critique and regarded it as a political liability. Ultimately, they tried to counter that liability by becoming more hawkish.The odd thing about that is that it doesn't reflect many of the trends in public opinion, particularly those of rank-and-file Democrats. But politicians tend to stick with the ideas they adopted during their formative years. So you have a generation of hawkish Democrats leading a party of people who are hesitant to see such an outsized U.S. role in the world, and particularly in the Middle East. Thus a lot of the core assumptions that are being batted around by both parties in discussing the potential nuclear threat from Iran are very similar to the core assumptions that led us into the Iraq War.So what do we do about this? There was a period when we were seeing real growth in the libertarian wing of the Republican Party, and some chastened conservatives seemed to be moving in that direction. But, again, it's easier to make those arguments when everything is going well. As soon as there's any significant instability in the world, it becomes much harder to make non-interventionist arguments in foreign policy. The Republican Party seems at the moment to be reverting to form.But I don't think all is necessarily lost. True, the political incentives for even the best-intentioned libertarian-leaning Republicans are bad. They will be punished by the loudest voices on the right if they say anything that deviates from the idea of aggressively projecting strength. At the same time, there's been a lot of success framing a libertarian non-interventionism as President Barack Obama's foreign policy. Now I find it interesting that a president who escalated one war, launched two more without congressional approval, and proposed a fourth is any kind of non-interventionist. But there you have it. Our binary political system makes it difficult to have these debates in a nuanced fashion.On the positive side, I've always argued that we need to get people who are engaged in economics — those conservatives and libertarians who specialize in fiscal areas — to be a little more vocal on foreign policy. In private, you often hear a lot of conservative budget experts express their doubts about an ever-expansive military footprint abroad. There, of course, still needs to be some foreign policy expertise that comes from a less interventionist perspective on the right.But, in the meantime, as we cultivate those voices, there's a vacuum that needs to be filled by people who are philosophically sympathetic to less intervention and yet specialize in other issues. They shouldn't let the wall of separation between budget gurus and defense hawks dictate what the Republican Party's foreign policy is going to be.Tell me your thoughts on this by leaving a voicemail on the Yogi’s Podcast Network hotline at (657) 529-2218.That’s it for this episode of Liberty Revealed. .If you like what you’ve heard, please rate us 5 stars on Apple Podcasts and Google Play. If you’d like to learn more about personal liberty, grab your free copy of my book “Liberty Revealed” by heading over to http://yogispodcastnetwork.com/libertyrevealed. Until next time...stay free!
12 minutes | a year ago
Lying to Governmental Agencies
Welcome back to another episode of Liberty Revealed, the show dedicated to revealing personal liberty to all who listen. I am your host, Mike Mahony, and today I want to talk to you about lying to a governmental body.Every state in the United States has laws regarding public meetings. These laws prescribe the procedures for open public meetings. From the notice requirements to what legislators can address during a meeting, these laws aim to provide transparency in government. The concept is most definitely positive. Keeping government transparent is essential to the progress of the liberty movement. In July of 1987, the Los Angeles Times published an article that has a very important title -- “Brown Act Keeps Sun Shining on Government.” For those who don’t know, the Brown Act is California’s open meetings law. These laws work best in smaller settings like commissions and school board meetings because there is very little public attendance at these meetings. These open meeting laws force the government to conduct business in the so-called light of day. Is this necessarily a good thing?Open meeting laws require that, with notable exceptions, most meetings of federal and state government agencies and regulatory bodies be open to the public, along with their decisions and records.Although open meeting statutes are closely related to the Freedom of Information Act of 1966, no national minimum standard defines “openness,” and it is not mentioned in the First Amendment. Much of the litigation over open meeting laws has centered on whether particular exceptions justify closing certain meetings of government bodies.These laws ensure the public’s right to access to the internal workings of government at all levels. This “right” cannot be traced back to America’s common law tradition with England or to practices in place when the United States was founded.Until the mid-1800s, sessions of the English Parliament were closed to the public, and attempts to publish its debates in the press were punishable offenses. In America, sessions of the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention were held in secret.Although neither the Constitution nor the Bill of Rights requires public access to government meetings, the principle is entirely compatible with the concept of popular sovereignty and an informed citizenry. The freedoms of speech, the press, and the right to petition the government in the First Amendment all presuppose a “right to access.” To criticize or support a government policy effectively, citizens must be informed of the reasons for that policy.In the 1950s, even before Congress enacted the Freedom of Information Act, the American Society of Newspaper Editors had formed the Freedom of Information Committee. It pressured state legislatures to enact “open meetings” laws as part of a general move toward more responsive and responsible government.By 1976 all of the states and the District of Columbia had passed sunshine laws that created a legal right to (limited) access.In general, most statutes require public bodies to meet and deliberate in public.Although these laws guarantee that the public and the media can attend, they do not guarantee the public’s right to speak.What constitutes a meeting is usually defined by its purpose — to perform public business (social gatherings are not considered meetings) — and the number of participants—a quorum or majority. All such meetings, unless specifically and legally exempted, are presumed to be open to the public, and agencies are required to give advance notice of the date, time, place, and agenda.Exempted meetings are normally held in closed executive session and may be devoted to such things as personnel issues, ongoing investigations, collective bargaining, conferences with agency attorneys, the acquisition or sale of public property, or a debate among members of the agency prior to a decision.Nevertheless, the agency must compile minutes or transcripts, and formal action must be taken in a public session. Both federal and state legislatures have the discretion to enact statutes to change or add exemptions at any time.This brings me full-circle back to the topic of today’s show--lying to a governmental body. It has recently been suggested that local government bodies such as city councils should put people under oath before allowing them to speak in front of that body. The reason for this suggestion is to avoid situations where someone comes before the body to lie to them. Is this a good idea or a bad idea? Let’s think it through, shall we?Proponents say that lying is fraud. They argue (as do Libertarians) that fraud is a crime society cannot stand for. But are lies always fraud?The legal definition requires that for a lie to be fraud, it has to be an intentional lie. If you truly believe you are telling the truth, but it is determined you were wrong, that does not qualify as fraud. That doesn't excuse willful denial or ignorance of the truth. If you should have known the truth or could easily have discovered it before telling the lie, it could still be a problem.The second part is about the liar's intention. A lie that you don't mean anyone to take seriously, such as a joke or hyperbole, wouldn't constitute fraud.When it comes to proving intent for fraud, courts often look at what the liar could gain if someone believes the lie. If the liar benefits from someone believing and acting on the lie, that tends to show intent.The legal analysis will also rely on context. A lie, while you’re trying to sell your house, is more likely to result in a lawsuit than a lie told over drinks at a bar. Those are obvious examples, but there are many situations in between where the line isn't so easy to see.The third element is whether the lie actually caused harm.If the listener believed the lie, acted as if it were true, and suffered some kind of injury because of that belief, then there may be some liability for fraud.Injury can mean actual physical harm or financial loss. In general, emotional "pain" isn't enough to build a case for fraud.In general, anything other than a white lie (like how nice your spouse looks) should be avoided. Remember, a lie runs the risk of becoming fraud if you expect the listener to act on the lie. Keeping it honest isn't just good personal policy; it's a sound legal strategy too.So why not put people speaking at public comments under oath? You would be able to hold them accountable if they lied under oath. You would be able to take action against those who lie for personal gain. An example of where this would apply happened recently at a Buena Park City Council meeting.I am part of a group of people who have been trying to recall a corrupt councilmember. We attended a public meeting and were accosted by the husband of one of that councilmember’s staunchest supporters. When I say accosted, I mean we were physically assaulted. The entire incident was captured on video.A week later that man appeared at City Council and stood up to tell his side of the story. He claimed he was merely protecting his wife. He claimed his wife was being attacked and he simply stepped in as her defender. The problem is the video evidence clearly stated otherwise. It clearly showed he was the aggressor. But what was his purpose in lying at City Council?We may never know, but several speculated that he was attempting to set up some kind of legal action against our group. At the very least, he was committing libel against us. He knew he was lying and he knew he was attempting to gain personally from those lies. He had committed fraud by the legal definition. Had he spoken under oath, he may have been in some hot water.While I can see the benefits in a situation like this, I question whether making people speak under oath will accomplish the right goal. I don’t believe most people go to a City Council meeting to intentionally lie. I fear that forcing them to be under oath would discourage people from exercising their First Amendment rights. I am afraid that people would fear prosecution for perjury if they spoke out at a public meeting and what they said turned out to be false. I know many will say they simply have to prove that any untruthful statements were unintentional, but I ask why they should need to prove that in the first place.In order to come to a conclusion about this issue, I think we need a better understanding of how many people intentionally lie at these meetings. If it is a rampant problem, putting people under oath is something to consider, but if it is a minor, once in a blue moon type of issue, putting people under oath has too many negative connotations for it to be a good thing. Tell me your thoughts on this by leaving a voicemail on the Yogi’s Podcast Network hotline at (657) 529-2218.That’s it for this episode of Liberty Revealed. .If you like what you’ve heard, please rate us 5 stars on Apple Podcasts and Google Play. If you’d like to learn more about personal liberty, grab your free copy of my book “Liberty Revealed” by heading over to http://yogispodcastnetwork.com/libertyrevealed. Until next time...stay free!
11 minutes | a year ago
Would Approval Votinig Result in Better Representation?
Welcome back to another episode of Liberty Revealed, the show dedicated to revealing personal liberty to all who listen. I am your host, Mike Mahony, and today I want to talk to you about approval voting and why I believe it will lead to better representation for the United States.I am certain you are wondering what approval voting is. It is a single-winner electoral system where each voter may select ("approve") any number of candidates. The winner is the most-approved candidate.Robert J. Weber coined the term "Approval Voting" in 1971. Guy Ottewell described the system in 1977. It was more fully published in 1978 by political scientist Steven Brams and mathematician Peter Fishburn.Approval voting ballots look like the ballots we are currently used to. They have a list of the candidates running for that seat for each office being contested. Next to each name is a way to select that candidate.Each candidate is essentially treated as a separate question: “Do you approve of this person for this job?” Approval voting allows the voter to indicate their support for one, some, or all candidates. Every vote counts equally and all voters get the same number of votes: one per candidate. The winner is the candidate supported by most voters.If a voter happens to mark every candidate the same it will have no effect on the outcome of the election. It is a wash. Each candidate approved is considered preferred to any candidate not approved, while the voter’s preference for their approved candidates is not specified. Approval voting can be considered a form of range voting, with the range restricted to two values, 0 and 1—or a form of majority judgment, with grades restricted to good and poor. Approval Voting can also be compared to plurality voting, without the rule that discards ballots that vote for more than one candidate.Approval voting has already been put to the test in various places.Approval voting has been used in privately administered nomination contests by the Independent Party of Oregon in 2011, 2012, 2014, and 2016. Oregon is a fusion voting state, and the party has cross-nominated legislators and statewide officeholders using this method; its 2016 presidential preference primary did not identify a potential nominee due to no candidate earning more than 32% support. It is also used in internal elections by the American Solidarity Party, the Green Parties of Texas and Ohio, the Libertarian parties of Texas and Colorado,[ the US Modern Whig party, and the German Pirate Party.In 2018, Fargo, North Dakota passed a ballot initiative adopting approval voting for local elections, becoming the first United States city and jurisdiction to adopt approval voting.Approval voting advocates Steven Brams and Dudley R. Herschbach predict that approval voting should increase voter participation, prevent minor-party candidates from being spoilers, and reduce negative campaigning. The effect of this system as an electoral reform measure is not without naysayers, however. FairVote has a position paper arguing that approval voting has three flaws that undercut it as a method of voting and political vehicle. They argue that it can result in the defeat of a candidate who would win an absolute majority in a plurality election, can allow a candidate to win who might not win any support in a plurality election, and has incentives for tactical voting. The first two "flaws" are considered advantages by advocates of approval voting, as it chooses centrist candidates with broad appeal rather than polarizing candidates who appeal only to the majority. Supporters also point out that any voting method is subject to strategic voting with more than two candidates, as pointed out in Gibbard's theorem.One study showed that approval voting would not have chosen the same two winners as plurality voting (Chirac and Le Pen) in France's presidential election of 2002 (first round) – it instead would have chosen Chirac and Jospin as the top two to proceed to a runoff. Le Pen lost by a very high margin in the runoff, 82.2% to 17.8%, a sign that the true top two had not been found. Straight approval voting without a runoff, from the study, still would have selected Chirac, but with an approval percentage of only 36.7%, compared to Jospin at 32.9%. Le Pen, in that study, would have received 25.1%. In the real primary election, the top three were Chirac, 19.9%, Le Pen, 16.9%, and Jospin, 16.2%. A study of various "evaluative voting" methods (approval voting and score voting) during the French presidential election, 2012 showed that "unifying" candidates tended to do better, and polarizing candidates did worse, via the evaluative voting methods than via the plurality system.A generalized version of the Burr dilemma applies to approval voting when two candidates are appealing to the same subset of voters. Although approval voting differs from the voting system used in the Burr dilemma, approval voting can still leave candidates and voters with the generalized dilemma of whether to compete or cooperate.While in the modern era there have been relatively few competitive approval voting elections where tactical voting is more likely, Brams argues that approval voting usually elects Condorcet winners in practice. Critics of the use of approval voting in the alumni elections for the Dartmouth Board of Trustees in 2009 placed its ultimately successful repeal before alumni voters, arguing that the system has not been electing the most centrist candidates. The Dartmouth editorialized that "When the alumni electorate fails to take advantage of the approval voting process, the three required Alumni Council candidates tend to split the majority vote, giving petition candidates an advantage. By reducing the number of Alumni Council candidates, and instituting a more traditional one-person, one-vote system, trustee elections will become more democratic and will more accurately reflect the desires of our alumni base."The approval voting method seems to me to avoid poor choices by voters. The research I’ve done indicates that it would be an extremely fair and equitable manner in which to elect our representatives. Of course, this is predicated on voters doing the right thing and actually voting for all candidates they approve of. As an example of what could happen, I looked at my own past election experience. Because there were 3 candidates in my race and the voters had to choose just 1 candidate, I was at a disadvantage as a candidate running in a third party. The victor got 65,000 votes, the second place got 30,000 votes and I got 16,000 votes. We know that 16,000 people approved of me, but what if the 65,000 who voted for the winner also approved of me? I would have won the election! This is the easiest way to make sure that everyone has an equal chance at winning if they are qualified. It is a simple change. Unlike Ranked Choice Voting, which requires a complete change to the ballot and massive voter education efforts, approval voting (as I mentioned) uses the same type of ballot. The main difference is voters can vote for as many candidates as they’d like. Tell me your thoughts on this by leaving a voicemail on the Yogi’s Podcast Network hotline at (657) 529-2218.That’s it for this episode of Liberty Revealed. .If you like what you’ve heard, please rate us 5 stars on Apple Podcasts and Google Play. If you’d like to learn more about personal liberty, grab your free copy of my book “Liberty Revealed” by heading over to http://yogispodcastnetwork.com/libertyrevealed. Until next time...stay free!
14 minutes | a year ago
Censorship: Is It Ever a Good Thing?
Welcome back to another episode of Liberty Revealed, the show dedicated to revealing personal liberty to all who listen. I am your host, Mike Mahony, and today I want to talk to you about censorship.What exactly is censorship? Defining this term properly will help you decide if it is ever a good thing. Censorship is the coercive silencing of dissenting views by political authorities generally in order to protect an official orthodoxy or to prevent the spread of ideas not authorized by the powers that be. As Alberto Manguel writes in A History of Reading, censorship “is the corollary of all power, and the history of reading is lit by a seemingly endless line of censors’ bonfires.”It should be noted that censorship has been and continues to be a common feature of oppressive regimes. John Milton, whose Areopagitica (written in protest of the censorship of his writings on divorce) remains the most eloquent defense of the free press written in English, provided a history of censorship from 411 B.C., when the works of Protagoras were burned in Athens on the grounds that they taught agnosticism. In the Republic, Plato advocates censorship of poetry and music that fail to promote the state’s interests. This tradition has continued in modern times. Beginning in 1933, Josef Goebbels oversaw mass book burnings, which became a trademark of the Nazi regime. In the Soviet Union, an agency called Glavlit oversaw all printed publications, including even food labels, to prevent the dissemination of unacceptable material. Today, officials in China, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and other countries have implemented censorship of books, periodicals, television, radio, and the Internet to ensure that political dissent, religious heterodoxy, or sexually provocative material are not disseminated to the general public.The introduction of the printing press and the Protestant injunction for believers to read the Bible for themselves made censorship an increasingly important subject of debate in Reformation Europe. In 1559, the Catholic Church issued the first Index Liborum Prohibitorum, which lists books forbidden as dangerous to the faith; the Index was not eliminated until 1966. Protestant nations were no less censorious. Henry VIII ordered the burning of Reformation books prior to his own break with Rome, including English translations of the New Testament, and established the licensing requirement for publishing that Milton would protest a century later in Areopagitica.In the ensuing decades, the English common law gradually developed a principle of free expression that barred the government from engaging in “prior restraint” (i.e., the forcible prevention of publication). But no rule protected authors from punishment after publication. Thus, although William Blackstone explained in his Commentaries that the prohibition on prior restraints was of the essence to English liberty, there was no “freedom from censure for criminal matter when published.” Dissidents could print their views, but the threat of prosecution for “seditious libel” and other political crimes helped temper criticism of the government. In America, however, the famous 1735 acquittal of John Peter Zenger largely eliminated seditious libel as a threat to colonial printers. Prosecutions for the publication of indecent material did continue, however. The first book to be banned in the United States was John Cleland’s pornographic novel, Fanny Hill, or Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure, which was prohibited in Boston in 1821 and, when republished in 1964, was again banned, leading to an important Supreme Court decision defining obscenity.Because the common law defined freedom of the press by the absence of prior restraints, the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which protects the freedoms of press and speech, has been interpreted as an almost absolute prohibition on prior restraints. Some have argued that the 1st Amendment goes no further, whereas others contend that it goes further than common law and prohibits certain forms of post-publication punishment or other government actions intended to limit the dissemination of information. American courts have identified three broad categories of censorship other than prior restraint: (1) the punishment of those who produce material—such as obscenity or extraordinarily intimidating threats—which is determined not to qualify as “speech” or “press” as the terms were understood by the authors of the 1st Amendment, (2) the use of libel and slander to punish those who utter falsehoods or unflattering comments, and (3) the removal of books from public libraries.It is widely conceded that certain material is so obscene that it contains no ideas or expression worthy of constitutional protection. However, defining the word obscene has proven extremely difficult for courts because too broad a definition might well threaten the dissemination of provocative, but serious, material. In 1973, the Supreme Court defined obscenity as material that, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest in sex, that portrays sex in a patently offensive way, and that lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value. This definition has proved difficult to apply, and in recent decades, governments in the United States have largely given up the efforts to ban pornography. Worse, it can be dangerous to declare that certain forms of expression are not protected forms of speech. Prohibitions of “hate speech,” or of expressive actions thought to be extraordinarily offensive, such as flag-burning, are similar in that they can often be justified on the grounds that such forms of expression communicate sentiments that are unworthy of legal protection. The dangers of such a rationale are evident in the area of sexual harassment laws, which in recent years have been expanded so as to intimidate some speakers or to prohibit some forms of expression that, whatever their merit, are clearly communicative and not obscene or threatening. In addition, this effort to define certain categories of expression as outside constitutional protections has spawned legal theories that seek to define certain categories of speech as deserving “lesser” constitutional protection. This regime of diminished protection prevails in the realm of commercial speech, defined to be speech that proposes a commercial transaction. Although the Constitution provides no warrant for such discrimination, the Supreme Court has found that commercial expression can be extensively regulated because it is not considered part of the political or cultural dialogue thought essential to democratic decision making. Likewise, campaign finance regulations, although often restricting the rights of individuals to express their political preferences, are frequently defended on the grounds that limiting the expressive opportunities of wealthy groups fosters broader democratic debate.Libel and slander laws have regularly been abused to stifle criticism of political authorities, but in the United States these efforts were severely curtailed by the 1964 Supreme Court decision New York Times v. Sullivan, which held that “public figures,” such as government officials or those who choose to partake in matters of public concern, can only rarely prevail in libel cases. Even publication of obviously false and obscene material about a public figure has been held protected by the 1st Amendment, as when pornographer Larry Flynt successfully defended his right to publish a counterfeit interview suggesting that minister Jerry Falwell had lost his virginity to his mother in an outhouse. Although public figures can virtually never succeed when suing media for such libel in the United States, European countries, particularly England, do not prohibit such suits. As a result, criticism of political figures in England is still often hampered. Worse, because publications produced in the United States are easily available in England, public figures who have been criticized have brought suit against American writers in English courts and recovered, although these suits would be constitutionally barred under American law. This “libel tourism” has become a matter of increasing concern in the age of the Internet.One common source of debate over freedom of expression in the United States involves the removal of controversial books from public libraries and libraries in public schools. Although not strictly a form of censorship—because the publications remain legal and available elsewhere— such attempts to prevent reading are common and are monitored by the American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom. The U.S. Supreme Court has never ruled that such removals are prohibited by the 1st Amendment, but in Board of Education v. Pico, a plurality of justices held that while school boards have broad discretion to choose what books are appropriate for curriculum or classroom use, and to choose what books may be placed in a library, they may not remove books that are already in the library on the basis of the ideas contained in those books or in an attempt to prescribe orthodox opinions.To me, it would appear that the vast majority of censorship is bad. I feel like going down the path of allowing censorship is an extremely slippery slope that leads to some very dangerous situations. If you allow censorship of things you define as bad, what stops others from defining as bad things you see as good? How do we determine what does and does not get censored? Perhaps we should use similar standards to our libel and slander laws? Many look towards protecting children as a good reason to censor things. Marjorie Heins does not argue that unfettered access to all forms of expression would benefit children. Even as some studies have claimed that violent images may help create violent children, Heins cautions against simplistic conclusions. “When you look at it, the definitions of violent entertainment are all over the lot,” she said. “There’s very little attempt to put violence in context, so it would be impossible to frame any kind of censorship legislation that would pinpoint what the harm is.”Rather than “intellectual protectionism,” Heins advocates media literacy programs and sexuality education to help children cope with their surroundings. She also questions the efficacy of “forbidden speech zones,” which may attract children to the very material that adults would deny them. Better, she said, to teach children to make the best choices than to pretend those choices don’t exist.“Kids are going to make some choices about culture, and those choices can be influenced by their interaction with their parents and their teachers,” said Heins. “It’s sort of similar to food. I think when your kid is a baby you can feed them good healthy baby food. Once they get into nursery school, they’re going to start learning about the other temptations, so the most parents can do is to try to continue to make some rules and try to explain why they’re the right rules.”Heins concludes that concerns about violence, language, and sex “have more to do with socializing youth than with the objective proof of psychological harm.” Censorship on behalf of children, she believes, is really done for the adults who demand it.I have to agree with Heins. We don’t censor to protect children, we do it because adults demand it. I say we should handle this very carefully. We should consider that the vast majority of censorship is simply wrong and should not be allowed. Tell me your thoughts on this by leaving a voicemail on the Yogi’s Podcast Network hotline at (657) 529-2218.That’s it for this episode of Liberty Revealed. .If you like what you’ve heard, please rate us 5 stars on Apple Podcasts and Google Play. If you’d like to learn more about personal liberty, grab your free copy of my book “Liberty Revealed” by heading over to http://yogispodcastnetwork.com/libertyrevealed. Until next time...stay free!
11 minutes | a year ago
Let's Discuss Donald Trump
Welcome back to another episode of Liberty Revealed, the show dedicated to revealing personal liberty to all who listen. I am your host, Mike Mahony, and today I want to talk to you about someone who gets bashed on a continual basis. This person gets bashed when they do something right and when they do something wrong. I am speaking of President Donald Trump.Let me begin by saying that I am not a huge fan of President Trump, but I am definitely a fan of fairness. I feel that we shouldn’t judge a leader because they do or do not do things the same as previous leaders. It is my personal opinion that a leader should choose a style and approach that fits them the best. Criticizing a leader for not following the traditional approach seems wrong on many levels. Let me give you some examples of what I am talking about.At the start of President Trump’s term he took a lot of heat (and continues to take a lot of heat) for separating families at the border and detaining children. The issue is that this has been going on since Bill Clinton was the president. Each president since Bill Clinton has continued to allow this policy. Why are we attacking Trump for simply doing what every other POTUS since Clinton has done? Some say they are justified in criticizing President Trump because he should have considered the policy and changed it. The problem is, how do these critics know he didn’t consider changing the policy and then decided to keep it? Why shouldn’t it be his right as the leader of the United States to continue a policy that was created 23 years before he took office?I understand that the policy itself is a bad one in the minds of most people (myself included), but that doesn’t mean the leader of the country should feel obligated to change it. Perhaps he knows of issues that will arise if changes are made? Maybe he possesses information we don’t have? Another area where people routinely criticize President Trump are the treaties he has decided to end. People continually say things like “This has been our agreement for
10 minutes | a year ago
Lying and Freedom of Speech
Welcome back to another episode of Liberty Revealed, the show dedicated to revealing personal liberty to all who listen. I am your host, Mike Mahony, and today I want to discuss freedom of speech.As a libertarian, I value the freedoms we are given by the Constitution. One of these is the freedom of speech granted by the First Amendment. Where I personally struggle is with allowing people who tell complete lies to do so under the guise of freedom of speech.On the one hand, I completely grasp that people need to be allowed to speak their minds. I agree that being able to speak up about our government is extremely important. But lying about another person is fraudulent speech. Should fraudulent speech be allowed?On the surface, the answer seems like it should be a resounding “no!” Why do we have libel laws if it is OK to lie about others? Well, if you are a business owner and a client is going around lying about you, that is not protected speech. You have every right to go after them in court for lying about you. On the other hand, if you are a political candidate, activist, government official or any other type of public figure, you won’t be successful in trying to stop the lies through the legal system. It turns out that the Supreme Court has already come up with a decision on this matter. In The New York Times vs. Sullivan (1964) the Court extended First Amendment protection to false statements of fact in a defamation suit. The Court held such statements, when made about a public official, could not be the basis for awarding damages, at least without evidence that the false statements either were made recklessly or with knowledge of their falsity. In Hustler Magazine v Falwell (1988). Hustler magazine had stated that a prominent fundamentalist minister, Jerry Falwell, had drunken sex with his mother in an outhouse. Although the Court noted that "false statements of fact are particularly valueless," it drew a distinction between false statements not meant or likely to be believed by readers and other false statements of fact. The Court held that First Amendment prohibited awarding damages for false statements about public figures that cannot reasonably be believed. Satire and parody often involve false statements, and so long as persons would not take the statements to be true, they cannot be the basis for a tort action.Based on my own experiences, this tends to make sense. My recent experiences have shaped my opinion on this matter. When someone tells lies about another person, that person has the right to either defend themselves or ignore the lies. The person being lied about needs to rely on the public being smart enough to not believe the statements. While this is risky, it is likely the best scenario. I have found that engaging with liars does no good. Anyone hell-bent on lying about someone will do so regardless of the facts presented. If someone is loose and free with the truth, what makes you think to challenge what they say about you will change that? What makes you think they won’t simply make up another lie about you to back up their previous lies?In my own experience with this issue, the person will throw out false statements. When those statements are challenged, the person then hones in on some of the finer points and creates stories about them that are false. This is a never-ending cycle. Thus, ignoring the person and letting them “speak their mind” is what I feel is the best course of action. It is a roll of the dice, but a necessary one at that. Any other approach will simply encourage the liar to continue lying.As with most things relating to the liberty movement, it is better to allow freedom than to restrict it erroneously. As the Supreme Court has stated, it is impossible for the state to determine the fine line that sometimes exists between fact and fiction. We do not trust the government to make these kinds of distinctions. We expect the judicial system to step in and define what is OK and what is not OK. All of this begins to make sense when you look towards the greater good. While I abhor liars, I value freedom even more than my hatred for liars. This brings up a solid point.People who speak falsely about others should beware. If they are protected by the First Amendment, any response that is untruthful is also protected by the First Amendment. Perhaps someone being lied about who is unscrupulous will respond in like manner? These are the risks one takes when they lie about someone else. You eventually reap what you sow. One day you will be on the receiving end of this type of treatment. Keep in mind that you can be attacked in the same manner you attacked others.It is important to note that the First Amendment rights really only extend to comments made about public figures.and limited public figures. Those people have no right to seek restitution even for false comments made against them. The problem is what constitutes a public figure or limited public figure. I feel that this is an area where our system needs a better means of defining the terms used. Right now, if you “thrust yourself into the public” you are considered a “limited public figure” yet you might actually only be supporting a political candidate (as an example).Nothing makes this case more clear than that of Terry Rakolta. She led a boycott against the show Married With Children. She made television appearances to spread the word. What she quickly found out is that as a limited public figure, people speaking out against her didn’t need to tell the truth. She found out that she had no recourse for the lies spread about her. It is part of the territory she entered into. It is a good thing that the First Amendment is carefully protected by the court system. Even the fact that people are allowed to lie about someone is probably a good safeguard in the end. The main objective should be to protect the rights of those who might otherwise be abused by the system itself.Enshrined in the First Amendment to the Constitution, freedom of speech grants all Americans the liberty to criticize the government and speak their minds without fear of being censored or persecuted.Judges, lawmakers, and scholars continue to struggle with balancing strong speech protections with the necessity of maintaining a peaceful society.Freedom of speech is a fundamental human right. It allows society to develop and progress. The ability to express our opinion and speak freely is essential to bring about change in society. Free speech is not only about your ability to speak but the ability to listen to others and allow other views to be heard. Going against people who have different views and challenging them is the best way to move forward.Tell me your thoughts on this by leaving a voicemail on the Yogi’s Podcast Network hotline at (657) 529-2218.That’s it for this episode of Liberty Revealed. .If you like what you’ve heard, please rate us 5 stars on Apple Podcasts and Google Play. If you’d like to learn more about personal liberty, grab your free copy of my book “Liberty Revealed” by heading over to http://yogispodcastnetwork.com/libertyrevealed. Until next time...stay free!
10 minutes | a year ago
Pragmatic Libertarianism Should Be Our Future
Welcome back to another episode of Liberty Revealed, the show dedicated to revealing personal liberty to all who listen. I am your host, Mike Mahony, and today I want to discuss what it means to be a pragmatic Libertarian.I’ve spoken about things like this on the show in the past. So many Libertarians are dogmatic with their positions on the issues. They want to see the Libertarian position in play and nothing less. Unfortunately, we live in a society where there are people who think like Libertarians, Republicans, Democrats, etc. Unless one election cycle every other party is voted out and Libertarians replace them, this is not a likely thing to happen.The United States is not likely to create an open border policy any time soon. However, it is highly possible that Congress will expand the number of highly skilled immigrant visas allocated each year. It is highly unlikely that drugs will be legalized in the United States in the near future, but it is possible to expand access to Naloxone programs to reduce deaths by overdose.The USA Patriot Act is likely here to stay. However, we could reduce some of the powers the NSA has to enhance personal liberty.I do not see our government privatizing marriage, but at least every American is now entitled to be married.This is why I strongly believe in pragmatic Libertarianism.It is clear that if all Libertarian policies were implemented, it would be radical. However, being radical does not cause policy change in the short term.A pragmatic Libertarian understands this issue and is happy making policy changes at the margin of issues. By continuing to work with lawmakers and making these small changes at the margin, we slowly move policy towards more and more Libertarian ideals. Being pragmatic and approaching governance in this manner, we slowly create a better society where personal liberty is at the forefront.Many advocacy organizations seem to believe that public opinion can and does shape public policy, but the research disagrees. This is because public opinion tends to be very fickle.If public opinion shaped public policy, trade would be more restricted, the minimum wage would be much higher, and corporations would be more regulated and more heavily taxed.If honest, most Libertarians would admit that they, too, oppose public opinion. They believe that influencing legislators is only possible through the use of carrots and sticks: campaign contributions to reward good behavior and vocal activism to preempt or punish bad behavior.Because most politicians are not influenced by public opinion, it gives us the opportunity to influence the formation of policy in other ways.If public opinion matters less than most people think and politicians are motivated by more than simply election concerns, it is clear that engagement with policymakers, politicians, and bureaucrats can produce better returns on investments than grassroots activism aimed at moving the needle of public opinion.While public opinion and activism can be effective at stopping policy changes perceived as negative, it is wholly inadequate at the task of furthering positive policy change.Some libertarians argue that policy compromises are “selling out” fundamental principles to the government machine. But we libertarians will never pass pro-liberty legislation without assembling larger coalitions or without working toward small gains within the machine itself.Politics is all about compromise--like it or not. When we are unwilling to engage in politics in pursuit of Libertarian policy, we are accepting the status quo. While public support of Libertarian policy is very helpful, it doesn’t define our success.Obviously, it would also help if we elected pro-liberty politicians. The problem is that there are not many pro-liberty lawmakers. One thing is for sure--there are many Republican and Democrat lawmakers who are pro-liberty on a range of issues.It is a fact that many young people find Libertarianism due to their belief that our political system is broken. Libertarianism offers a new narrative, seemingly unique, revolutionary, and focused on improving the lives of all people. However, most pro-liberty success, including the recent Supreme Court decision on marriage and the legalization of cannabis in a handful of states, falls short of the revolutionary political change many people are looking for.Small policy changes like the marriage decision or the legalization of marijuana dramatically improve people’s lives. The dogmatic Libertarian tends to disagree with just small changes like this. They want to see bigger things and they feel that these small changes are selling out libertarian ideals.Preventing 15,000 opiate overdoses through harm-reduction is not selling out libertarian ideals. It’s merely recognizing that a full end to the drug war is not plausible right now but that there is still plenty of room in the short term for policies that reduce the harm the drug war causes. By focusing on actionable policy improvements given the reality of the current political terrain, libertarians can achieve real change.Launching a new guest-worker program in agriculture may not abolish the borders, but it will dramatically improve the lives of a few thousand Haitian immigrants. There’s beauty in that small step forward.Libertarians can also look at historical examples of pragmatic libertarianism. During the Carter Administration, a diverse ideological coalition came together to deregulate the airline and trucking industry. The solution was not perfect. But it resulted in abolishing the Civil Aeronautics Board and the Interstate Commerce Commission. Abolishing government agencies is a huge victory for libertarianism and one that would not have been possible without sustained and strategic political engagement.When I ran for Orange County Supervisor in 2018, I had many dogmatic Libertarians give me grief over my stand on the homeless crisis. They would tell me I am not Libertarian enough and that I didn’t deserve Libertarian support. This always baffled me because, to me, Libertarianism is about making lives better through expanding personal liberty and reducing the government. The position of these dogmatic Libertarians baffled me. I even referenced utopian Libertarian outcomes in many of my speeches, but even this didn’t satisfy the dogmatic crowd.“Pure” libertarian orthodoxy should not dictate political strategy. Libertarian-friendly legislation and regulation are entirely plausible and desirable. Young libertarians should avoid rigid devotion to utopian outcomes at the expense of incremental policy improvements.While most of us acknowledge the value of a let-a-thousand-flowers-bloom strategy, the overwhelming balance of resources devoted to the libertarian movement is geared towards changing, educating, and inspiring public opinion. We as a movement continue to underinvest in making incremental changes to public policy through engagement with the people and institutions that actually dictate the pace and direction of policy change.There is a clear case for pragmatic libertarianism with a desirable influence in the halls of Congress. By directly engaging in the policymaking process, libertarians can have a real influence on our country, which means more liberty in our lifetime.Tell me your thoughts on this by leaving a voicemail on the Yogi’s Podcast Network hotline at (657) 529-2218.That’s it for this episode of Liberty Revealed. .If you like what you’ve heard, please rate us 5 stars on Apple Podcasts and Google Play. If you’d like to learn more about personal liberty, grab your free copy of my book “Liberty Revealed” by heading over to http://yogispodcastnetwork.com/libertyrevealed. Until next time...stay free!
10 minutes | 2 years ago
Homeless Crisis in America
Welcome to another episode of Liberty Revealed. I am your host, Mike Mahony. This is the show that puts personal liberty at the forefront of all discussions. Today I want to talk to you about the homeless crisis in our country and specifically, Orange County, California where I live. I will start by telling you that I do not have a particularly libertarian view of the solution to this problem. As I’ve explained many times, I am a pragmatic libertarian, believing that a utopian libertarian society would be the ultimate place to live, but understanding that we must integrate into the society we currently live in, a society where, unfortunately, the government does play a role in social issues. While I am completely opposed to this, I understand that solving problems in today’s world depends upon the approach used in today’s world. As many of you listeners know, I live in Buena Park, California, a city in Orange County. Like most places in the United States, Orange County is struggling to solve a homelessness crisis. Due in large part to an impotent Board of Supervisors who does nothing to help the community, this crisis has continued to get worse as time passes. As if it isn’t bad enough that our tax dollars were collected and then earmarked for the homeless issue, the Orange County Board of Supervisors sat on $900 million in funding while the homeless crisis continued to grow. They failed to even apply for other grants and funds that were made available for this issue as well. Their complete inaction has created a crisis of epic proportions that must be solved. Let me explain to you what a libertarian approach would be and then add my own spin to that. It is my strong belief, and has been for a long time, that since the tax dollars will never be returned and since they are specifically earmarked for the homeless crisis, they should be used towards solving that problem. I do believe that private charities should spearhead the effort, but the government can take the money it has earmarked for this issue and give it to the private charities so they are well-funded and can begin to work on a solution to this issue. Supporting these private charities is going to create the most efficient solution to the problem. Everyone needs to be held to the same standards. It is just wrong to say that people with jobs and homes can’t pitch a tent on the street while allowing the homeless to do so. I understand that the 9th Circuit court has ruled that there must be adequate resources available for the homeless before there can be enforcement of anti-camping ordinances. That’s why I feel we need to get busy on this problem. We need to provide the resources to the homeless so we can get back to enforcing the law equally. We need to let residents own the safety role in their neighborhoods. When the person doing the work is close to the person paying for that work, everything works more efficiently. Let residents of an area decide who will police their streets. Perhaps they want to pool their money and hire a private police force? Let them! The government does not have to handle this for us. We also need to remove the barrier to cheap housing. Things like tiny houses, RV parks and Alfresco Gardens go a long way towards providing cheap housing. The government needs to step aside and stop with all the red tape that makes it almost impossible to implement these kinds of programs. Let people choose to love in housing they can afford. Get rid of the “too libertarian” approach often used by libertarians. We clearly don’t agree with the war on drugs, but there is a role for law enforcement in these matters. We want drug dealers to be afraid of being arrested. That is a good thing. Hard-core libertarians believe that private charities can help those in need better than governments can, in part because coercive government programs often subsidize the wrong behavior. In a speech about what some call the “voluntary city,” economist Robert P. Murphy stressed that it is wrong to equate free-market conservatism with sink-or-swim social Darwinism. “You can admit that ‘yes, there is a need in a humane society for institutions that take care of people who are poor, who maybe made poor life decisions, or who just got struck with some rare disease or things beyond their control.’ We don’t want as a society to sit back and let those people die in the street.” He sees the answer in voluntary philanthropic organizations. This brings me back to the local situation here in Buena Park, California. In an effort to comply with the 9th Circuit ruling, the city began seeking locations for a homeless transitional housing center in the city. They initially selected a building on a main street. This building was close to a school, houses and a senior housing area. The argument was that it is “too close” to these things. The naysayers complained that while they are not opposed to helping the homeless, they didn’t think that location was good and wanted to see the shelter in an industrial area. I personally found the arguments against the shelter location uncompelling. The homeless are already near the residences. The homeless are already near the children. The homeless are already near the senior housing. How can one use as an argument against something things that exist before the something exists? After much debate, the city identified and approved a location in an industrial area. Guess what? The same people who were in favor of helping the homeless as long as the shelter was in an industrial area are now opposing the new site. Seriously! You can’t make this type of stuff up! To me this exemplifies why we have some work to do before the libertarian idea of philanthropy takes hold. We need to educate the public on the importance of contributing to these things. We need to show them that philanthropic solutions work. Once that is in place and we have the public on our side, it will be far easier to fight against taxation. Right now, when I mention cutting taxes completely, I hear questions like “Who will pay to fix the roads” and other similar questions. Philanthropy is still the answer. If there were no taxes and the roads were getting in bad shape, companies like Amazon and WalMart, who depend upon the roads to deliver their goods, would chip in the fix the roads. That’s exactly how it should be. Private enterprise making a profit off the use of the roads should be paying to maintain the roads. This is a mindset change and we need to begin the process of showing society that this will work better than the system we currently have. The homeless crisis can and should be solved the way the rest of society’s social issues should be solved–through private charitable organizations. Since we are not yet at that point in our society, we should allow the government to provide the cash to these private charitable organizations so they can get the job done. I’ve had libertarians yell at me and cuss me out for the stance I take on this issue. I say be realistic. We cannot snap our fingers and find ourselves in a utopian libertarian society. That is just not happening. The money they have earmarked, while coming from tax dollars, is never going to be returned to us. Would we rather have them not spend any of that money and watch as the homeless on the streets die or would we rather have them spend it to save lives? Isn’t it time that we realize there is a need in a humane society for institutions that take care of people who are poor? Let’s encourage this and help it grow. That’s it for this episode of Liberty Revealed. .If you like what you’ve heard, please rate us 5 stars on Apple Podcasts and Google Play. If you’d like to learn more about personal liberty, grab your free copy of my book “Liberty Revealed” by heading over to http://yogispodcastnetwork.com/libertyrevealed. Until next time…stay free!
29 minutes | 2 years ago
Loss of Freedom with Greg Kotstafis
Mike introduces his guest,Greg Kotstafis. Greg tells the story of how he wound up in trouble and losing his freedom. Greg says losing his freedom was devastating. He says the repercussions of getting out are worse than when you are in. Greg says you lose credibility. Your relationships have difficulty with trust. New relationships require you to disclose what you did. It can be hard for people to understand and it takes time for them to trust you again. He says he's been dealing with this for 7 years and he is still dealing with it. Greg advises that people need trusted people they can talk to about these issues as they arise. Greg discusses how he was given the advice to file for bankruptcy. Greg explains how we take so much about our freedom for granted. Greg points out that one mistake caught on social media can also ruin your life forever. Greg says that when you can be transparent you have better relationships. Mike and Greg discuss the need for boundaries.
35 minutes | 2 years ago
John Daly Shows Us How to Get Our News Right
Mike introduces the topic of Media Bias. Mike introduces John Daly, today's guest. John speaks about fake news. He says it is a worn out term. John points out that not only the media is biased–everyone is biased. John says the best way to get more informed is to set up a Twitter news account. Mike discusses the fact that the best way to solve a problem is to know all the different sides. John talks about what happened when he did a commercial for a book on the Trump tax cuts. John says listening is the key to everything. Mike explains why he agrees with John.
59 minutes | 2 years ago
Abe Abdelhadi Shares the Bitter Truth
Mike introduces his guest, Abe Abdelhadi. They run through the candidates. Kamala Harris: Abe says she was one of the worst attorney generals in California history. He mentions she is beholden to corporate interests. Elizabeth Warren: Abe says she's great at chastising people doing unethical things, but never introduces legislation to deal with the issues once and for all. Beto O'Rourke. Abe lists his record of voting to bail out banks, not opposing wars and several other issues as a reason not to vote for him. Tulsi Gabbard. Abe says he respects her as a veteran. He likes her voting record. She backs up what she says. She holds journalists' feet to the fire. Pete Buttigieg. Abe calls him the Gay Obama. He says that Buttigieg uses identify politics to get recognition. He talks about values. Cory Booker. Abe calls him an empty suit. Bernie Sanders. Abe says Bernie is dead to him because of how he handled the 2016 primary. Andrew Yang. Abe says he has a business background, but he is still a corporate Democrat. He is into Universal Basic Income. They divert into a discussion of minimum wage. Marianne Williamson. Abe says he has a friend who is a big fan. He doesn't feel she understands foreign policy. Joe Biden. Abe reminds us that Uncle Joe wrote the Patriot Act. He also reminds us about how he treated Anita Hill. John Hickenlooper. Abe says he's a non-starter. Not even a blip on the radar. Bill Weld. Abe says that Bill is too much about decorum and has no real substance to him. The discussion turns into one about Trump and his policies. Abe says Democrats refuse to accept responsibility when they lose. Will socialism be a differentiator in the race? Mike is a proponent of Universal Basic Income. Abe suggests supporting the food companies so they can help feed the hungry rather than waste money on the defense industry. Mike discusses the hypocrisy of those who oppose the homeless shelter in his town. Both Mike and Abe say they are consistent in their viewpoints. Abe says Russiagate was a ridiculous thing. Mike rants about the Libertarian approach of “all or nothing.” Mike says religion and politics are the same thing to him. Mike discusses the flaw in the Libertarian system.
35 minutes | 2 years ago
Damian Grasza Discusses Border Security
Mike introduces his guest, Damian Grasza. Damian believes “facts don't care about your feelings.” Damian says that regarding border security, there needs to be strict border control and the government must control who goes in and out. He doesn't think the government should track people inside the country, but they should know who is in the country at any given time. Mike asks how that will affect trade and the free movement of goods. Damian says the elected officials will figure that part out. Damian, who as Mike points out, advocates for closed borders, does not think tourism would be effected. Damian gives his opinion on Trump's travel ban. He says he sees both sides of that issue. Mike asks Damian what he thinks of Trump. He says at first Trump was immature, but he is growing into the job and he may be re-elected in 2020. Mike says he expects Trump to be re-elected in 2020. He compares this to team sports and preparation. Mike sees no credible opponent for Trump. Mike asks about immigration. He explains how some countries are required to have a visa while others do not need a visa. Damian states visas are necessary. He says most people come for vacation and not funerals. Mike asks about work visas. Damian believes it is a good idea to issue work visas. He doesn't feel people should come in to take advantage of the welfare system. Mike points out that countries with socialized medicine have stricter rules for entering their country. Mike asks if Damian is OK with legal immigration. He is. Mike asks Damian how a country should insure people don't overstay their visa. Damian says that countries with an ocean around them have a different approach. They are not worried about people walking across the border. He believes a physical barrier is required. Mike says that workers should be given a special visa to work. As long as they are employed, they should be able to stay as long as they want. Damian agrees. Damian asks what happens if people overstay. Mike says that is something lacking here in the United States. Mike points out that Australia sends officers to hunt down the people who overstay. Mike says that holiday visas are more difficult to deal with. The government just has no easy way to determine where the people went. Damian explains the fears people have when trying to get a visa to the United States. Damian explains the issues with Brexit and why it is costing so much money to fix. He explains that it was a very close vote (about 4% difference). Mike and Damian discuss how people should work together rather than against each other. Mike says the media is the problem. Mike explains that these indictments that came down during the Mueller investigation were all about things that have nothing to do with the issue. Damian says the media is hurting Theresa May. They turn the opinion of the citizens against her.
35 minutes | 2 years ago
Rick Dawson Talks Life as a Libertarian Activist
Mike introduces Rick Dawson, a Libertarian activist in the State of California. Rick says this is a dream come true being on Liberty Revealed. Rick talks about seeking an At-Large position with the California Libertarian Party. He explains why he is running. Rick is looking to support candidates and help them win elections. Mike says he is also running for the same seat and for the same reasons. Mike complains the candidate support system was non-functional. He feels that state parties should have strong candidate support to help them through the election process. Rick talks about his run for Congress. He also felt the candidate support was non-existent.
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