October/November Dates for Welch and Gillespie's Declaration of Independents Tour

Matt Welch and I, co-authors of the widely praised The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong With America, will be speaking at a number of colleges and conferences over the coming months.

Here's a rundown of events and locations, including next Saturday's hoo-hah in the City of Brotherly Love:

Saturday, October 8: Students for Liberty Regional Conference, Drexel University, Phildelphia, Pennsylvania.

We're giving the evening keynote address. For more information, go here.

Monday, October 10: Hampden-Sydney College, Hampden-Sydney, Virginia.

We're speaking at 7.30PM at the Crowley Forum. For more information, go here.

Wednesay, October 12: Bastiat Society, Charleston, South Carolina.

For more information, go here. 

Tuesday, October 18: Yale Political Union, New Haven, Connecticut.

Nick Gillespie debating smoking and other nanny-state bans. For more information, go here.

Saturday, October 22: Students for Liberty Regional Conference, Columbia University, New York City.

We're giving the afternoon keynote talk. For more information, go here.

Tuesday, November 15: Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts.

Talk by Nick Gillespie sponsored by Liberty at Boston University (where Reason magazine was founded in 1968!) at 4.30PM. For more info, go here.

Order our book at Amazon.com for just $15.28 in hardcover and $11.50 on Kindle; order at Barnes & Noble in hardcover and Nook for around the same.

Here's what George Will had to say about the tome in a column published during the dog days of the country's second consecutive recovery summer:

Autodidacts [...] should spill sand on the pages of "The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong With America" by Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch. These incurably upbeat journalists with Reason magazine believe that not even government, try as it will, can prevent onrushing social improvement.

Here's what the book blogger Portland Aristotle had to say after catching our show in the City of Roses' great bookstore Powell's:

I am still trying to digest everything that I have learned from their presentation and having read their book. I absolutely love original thinking and strongly recommend their book to anyone out there trying to understand where our politics is taking us.

And here's E.D. Kain writing in Forbes:

It’s a good book, a well-written, easily accessible manifesto on how libertarian ideas and anti-authoritarianism can help change the world, and how they will one way or another, whether we like it or not. Just as importantly, the book is uplifting, optimistic and full of energy. This is no pessimistic rant about how awful the “other guy” is – its a cheerful dismissal of tribalism and monopolistic thinking, in life and in politics. Nor is it merely a stab at the state – the old dinosaurs of corporate America face the same dismal looking future, and only manage to hang on to their advantage through state protection to begin with.

Oh yeah, and here's what some viewers of Real Time With Bill Maher said after I ran through some of arguments on that excellet show earlier this summer and argued against bank bailouts, restrictions on immigration, the drug war and in favor of smaller government, freedom of speech (even for corporations), and equal standing under the law for gays and lesbians:

Hey, @nickgillespie just bc you look like the Fonze with Aids doesn't mean you can ramble on like a fag

U stupid undercover Tea bagging fuck!

#SuperDouche @nickgillespie on Real Time with Bill Maher wearing his fake Ed Hardy shirt and Pimp jacket. What a tool!

@nickgillespie What was it like to get your ass pounded by Donna Brazile and Mayor Fetterman? For a PhD you're awfully ignorant and wrong. 

Thx @nickgillespie for showing us that Libertarians can interrupt, roll eyes, and fling racist remarks W/O gov't intervention.

All these comments and more can be checked out at our website for the book.

Watch the Maher appearance, where I was joined by political consultant Donna Brazile, Braddock (Pa.) Mayor John Fetterman, and actor John Turturro:

Nick Gillespie Defends the Indefensible of Fox Business' Stossel

Reason's Nick Gillespie appeared on Fox Business' Stossel show on August 18, 2011, to "defend the indefensible." The co-author of the new book The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong with America, Gillespie and David Boaz of the Cato Institute and Alex Tabarrok of George Mason University made the moral and economic case for often-vilified practices ranging from ticket scalping to human-organ sales to the creation of private currencies.

About 19 minutes.

Go to Reason.tv for HD, iPod and audio versions of this video and subscribe to Reason.tv's YouTube channel to receive automatic notification when new material goes live.

Declaring Independents in Chi-Town: Welch & Gillespie 8/15 Podcast from WGN 720. Plus: in Seattle Now!

Last week, Reason's Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch traveled to Chicago to promote their new book, The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong with America.

Among their stops in the Windy City was an August 15 program with the venerable Milt Rosenberg of WGN's 720AM. Gillespie and Welch spent an hour talking libertarianism with the "slightly superannuated" (his description!) University of Chicago psychology prof and talk-radio legend.

To listen to or download the podcast, go here now.

And if you're in the Seattle area, check out Gillespie and Welch at Hempfest today and tomorrow.

And they will be part of a Reason Foundation mini-conference on drug policy reform:

On Tuesday, August 23, the Reason Foundation (the nonprofit that publishes this website) is hosting an afternoon conference on drug-policy reform. Among the speakers will be Jacob Sullum, Nick Gillespie, and Matt Welch, along with folks such as the Drug Policy Alliance's Ethan Nadelman.

The event is free and open to the public, but RSVPs are a must. Details:

Drug Policy Reform in the States

 When: Tuesday, August 23 from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. 

Where: Hyatt Regency Bellevue, 900 Bellevue Way NE, Bellevue

RSVP: Mary Toledo at mary.toledo@reason.org or 310-391-2245

“Drug Policy Reform in the States” will be a chance to find out how states are leading the way in drug policy reform. You’ll hear from drug policy experts, including Washington State Representative Roger Goodman; the Drug Policy Alliance’s Ethan Nadelmann, and Reason's own Jacob Sullum, Nick Gillespie, and Matt Welch. This “mini-conference” will take place just before the annual State Policy Network meeting kicks off, but you do not have to be registered for SPN to attend this informative free afternoon.

For more information about SPN, go here.

And what the hell, here's PiL singing "Seattle":

Update: Now with Audio! Listen to Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch on Boston's WRKO AM 680 at 1:30 PM ET

Update (8/21): The audio for this show is up. Go here to listen.

We'll be talking about life, liberty, and The Declaration of Independents with newbie radio host, Boston.com blogger and friend o' Reason Garrett Quinn (pictured in his natural habitat). You can listen live at this link.

Speaking of our book, here are excerpts from a couple of recent blog reviews. First up, Jason T. Kocher:

The book is to some degree Chicken Soup for the Libertarian Soul – a metaphysical construct that has actually been documented, a semi-transparent mass to be sure but a bit more grounded than your average specter...with or without the optional top hat and monocle. [...]

My only real complaint about the book is that it lacks any serious, dedicated discussion of cuts to National Defense. While the subject doesn't fit into the citizen-as-consumer narrative that propels the rest of the book, the omission is nonetheless unfortunate as it may very well lead casual readers to discount the rest of the book, believing the authors are just like traditional conservatives, ready to slash social programs, but not the Military-Industrial Complex. The truth – though not obvious in this book – is that the authors have a strong history of arguing for such cuts in their work with Reason and on television appearances.

That said, The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong With America was a joy to read for this particular libertarian soul and I suspect other Independents, Democrats, Republicans, and even the apolitical would find something surprising, heart-warming and optimistic within its pages.

And Josh Harding:

The big question on a book like this:  will it influence others?  I'm doubtful the book will sway partisans from either side of the conservative/liberal dichotomy, not with the authors referring to Iran-Contra as "Ronald Reagan's dress rehearsal for Alzheimer's" and accurately pointing out how President Obama has expanded Bush-era policies.  But partisans are not the target audience.  Independent voters and entrepreneurial citizens are.  For independent voters, this book serves as a good introduction to libertarianism and how the libertarian mindset has some pretty considerable accomplishments under its belt.

Policy wonks already steeped in such things as Chicago or Austrian school economics, marijuana legalization, and other libertarian-leaning causes won't find anything new in the book.  But voters fed up with Washington should find a lot they can cheer about.


Reasoners on the Dial: Nick Gillespie & Matt Welch on Chicago's WGN 720 AM Tonite, 11pm CT

Matt Welch and I will appear on WGN 720 AM's Extension 720 with Milt Rosenberg tonight starting around 11pm CT (or whenever the Cubs lose their ball game tonight).

We'll be talking about Ron Paul, libertarian politics, and, yes, The Declaration of Independents, our new book that wowed George Will, Forbes, Barron's, and others. Go here for more info on the show tonight - and to listen live online.

And go here for more info on the book.

Read our latest op-ed, published over the weekend in The Arizona Republic.

And if you live in the hog-butchering, broad-shouldered city of Chicago, come hear Matt and me talk at one of two joints tomorrow. One's a lunch gig and the other is a happy hour talk. Details here.

What Would Libertarians Do?: A Conversation with Matt Welch & Nick Gillespie at SF's Commonwealth Club

In late July, Matt Welch and I appeared at San Francisco's legendary Commonwealth Club as part of the group's In Forum program. We were interviewed by San Francisco Chronicle political reporter Joe Garofoli about contemporary politics, the libertarian perspective, and our new book The Declaration of Independents in front of about 125 people.

It's a fun and lively discussion and well worth a watch and/or a listen (go here for a podcast version).

Nick Gillespie & Matt Welch in the Arizona Republic on the Rise of Independent Voters

In today's Arizona Republic, Reason.tv Editor Nick Gillespie and Reason magazine Editor Matt Welch write an essay-slash-excerpt from The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong with America, titled "Free minds and spirits threaten 2 parties' grip." Here's how it begins:

A growing majority of us have responded to the dysfunctional theatrics of Republican and Democratic misgovernance by making a rational choice.

We ignore politics most of the time[.]

Read the whole thing here.

Three Thorough Blog Reviews

Over at the Nobody's Business blog, Mark "Windypundit" Draughn complains about The Declaration of Independents' title, objects to the word "politics" in the subtitle, makes a crack about the "insane amount of promotion" for the book around these parts, and then...proceeds with the most thorough discussion and expansion of the book's ideas yet committed to pixel. And he's still only on Part I! Since Draughn starts with a bill of particulars, I'll cheat and skip to his glowing comment about our passage sketching out a crude definition of libertarianism:

That might be the single best description of the libertarian mindset that I have ever read. It's exactly why I choose to call myself a libertarian. It's not about Ayn Rand or anti-communism or big business or hard money or even non-coercion. It's because I want us all to live in a world that is "tolerant, free, prosperous, vibrant, and interesting."

See what he's talking about at the link.

So what did noted libertarian writer/conversationalist Todd Seavey think about the book? I'm late in linking to it, but here goes:

It will likely come as no surprise that I loved Declaration of Independents – and admittedly I know or have met several people mentioned above including the authors – but let the record show that I don't love just everything that libertarians spew out.  This book, like a 240-page version of a wiseass Gillespie aside, is downright exhilarating in its contempt for the usual two factions in what it terms our stagnant and likely-doomed political "duopoly."  It gives one hope that sheer stupidity does eventually bring collapse and renewal.  If so, the stupid, one-size-fits-all behemoth called government is plainly overdue for implosion.  Perhaps the current debt crisis will be the long-awaited moment.

If not, though, the book gives one hope that we will find ever-multiplying ways to route our lives around the sinkhole that is politics and find happiness.  It even gives me hope that people less ideologically inclined to agree with all this might find the book persuasive.  I look forward to hearing reactions from non-libertarians, but first they should read it, in large numbers.

It was thirteen years ago (though it feels like yesterday) that a previous Reason editor, Virginia Postrel, suggested ditching the right-left spectrum in favor of a dynamism-stasis spectrum (in her book The Future and Its Enemies), and her editorial successors, Gillespie and Welch, have taken things up a notch here, saying in effect, "Who needs political spectrums at all?  Go do your own thing."

Let's do that, and if it confuses the usual commentators, politicians, pollsters, and academic analysts, so much the better.  

And here's an excerpt from a review by Charles Thornton:

It is a fascinating book to say the least. [...]

The authors make the case for the power of freedom by looking at how it has played out in several instances.  Some of these chapters were very interesting and I have to admit I got lost in the details of other chapters.  For instance, there was a chapter on the role rock and roll played in fall of communism in Czechoslovakia.  I got totally confused reading this one.  On the other hand the story of how Southwest Airlines changed the airline industry was inspiring.

This is a very intriguing book.  I recommend it.

Next book tour stop: Tomorrow in Oxford, Ohio. More at the Declaration 2011 site.

Interview in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

On Milton Friedman's 99th birthday (and my 43rd!), the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review ran some quotes from an interview the paper conducted with moiself and Nick Gillespie, on the subject of The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong with America. Here's an excerpt:

On the book's aims:

Welch -- The intent ... is to encourage ... fence-sitters, to tell them, "Hey, it's OK to jump off this thing" -- that it's not irrational to not feel any sense of affiliation. ... "Republicanoids" and "Democratoids" alike frequently call independents either crazy people or just incredibly ill-informed ... and I think they're wrong.

Gillespie -- We wanted to write a political manifesto that kind of blows up politics. ... (T)he main message is that there are at least two parts to people's lives: There's the realm of politics and there's everything else, and people know, despite economic troubles and high unemployment rates and screwy policies and housing prices in flux and all of that, they know that the nonpolitical part of their lives keeps getting better, and ... we stress ... that politics is a lagging indicator of what's going on in America ... . It's time to kick down the front door ... and bring everything that is good and decent, all that democratization and decentralization of power and decision-making that we have in so much of our lives, to the political arena. And of course the incumbent powers ... a right wing and a left wing, they're going to scream and cry and shout, but they're finished. They're finished. They're the dinosaurs in the La Brea Tar Pits -- they're stuck, they're sinking and they're not climbing out.


"The impasse over the debt ceiling is exactly the problem that is outlined in the book, and the real issue is that we need to get to a point where we start saying, 'What are the first, second and third priorities of government?' And, 'Let's stop (messing) around with the second and third, much less fourth through 10th, priorities of government.'" -- Nick Gillespie

"We've had three, four years of ... disaster Keynesianism, started under Bush and increased under Obama, and you don't have to be an ideologue, you don't have to even have heard of a single Austrian economist ... to look around you and say, 'Hey, you know what, this really hasn't worked.' ... It's created an appetite for people who want to know, 'OK, what's the alternative to all that?'" -- Matt Welch

There's an enormous pile of interviews, reviews, and more over at the Declaration 2011 site.

Shocker in Portlandia: Gillespie/Welch Confess to Tolerating Some Environmental Regulations and a Social Safety Net!

Earlier this month, Nick Gillespie and I swung through beautiful Portland, Oregon as part of our tour for The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong with America. The highlight of the visit was a presentation and lively discussion at Powell's Books, the place that has as good a claim as any as the best bookstore in America. Before the dog-and-pony show, Chris Farley at Powell's sat us down for a probing interview about libertarianism, Jane's Addiction, the debt ceiling, Portland's famous microbrews, entitlements vs. safety nets, whether TARP saved the financial system, and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.). Excerpt from Farley's intro:

Not many Americans really understand what libertarianism is, and this passionate and articulate pair have just written as succinct and entertaining a treatise on its principles (the fewer the better) and spirit (Johnny Rotten meets Margaret Thatcher) as you'll find. Not surprising. As editors of Reason magazine and Reason TV respectively, they've had plenty of practice writing, talking, and blogging about libertarianism — and cheerily pissing off both right and left along the way.

As the title of their book implies, The Declaration of Independents, Gillespie and Welch see the answer to our current predicament outside of our sclerotic two-party system. Probably a good thing — which party would have them? You can't be for gay marriage and legalizing pot and giving women full control over their bodies and slashing the military and find a home in today's Republican Party. And what Democrat would welcome anyone who so often sees government not just as a problem but as a joke.

The Ron Paul part of the interview:

Farley: I heard a Ron Paul interview recently, and he seemed to be arguing the opposite, that all environmental problems could be dealt with as property-rights cases through the courts. You know, "I've got my land, you've got your land, if you do something that harms my property, I'm going to sue you." It sounded insane to me.

Welch: Ron Paul is more ideologically based than Nick and I are, but we're constantly asked about him.

Farley: You love Ron Paul, but you don't agree with him on everything.

Welch: I don't love him. I don't love any politician. But, I like Ron Paul and appreciate Ron Paul.

Gillespie: We talk about him in the book. More than anyone else in the 2008 election, he's the reason why there was any discussion of the Iraq War and the Afghanistan War and foreign policy. He's got problems. He's not going to be the next president of the United States. And, yet, you've got to love a guy who is like an 800-year-old obstetrician who was getting college students to come out — like Obama wasn't, even. So, there's a lot there to love.

Welch: He was talking about legalizing heroin at the last South Carolina debate. That's very interesting. As an intellectual exercise, it's interesting to probe the limits of questions like, do you agree with government sidewalks or not? But let's also remember the world that we live in.

The world that we live in is one in which — when was it, about a year ago? — a little girl in Portland had her lemonade stand shut down because she didn't get the right permit for the county fair. You know, "We have regulations here."

And, it wasn't just that she got her lemonade stand shut down, it was that the local Portland city councilwoman or the head of permitting said, "We have to have a process. It's very important that we know what's going to go on in that lemonade."

That mindset is so much more prevalent than the no-government-sidewalks mindset. What we're trying to do in the book is say, okay, we're not talking about a libertarian fantasy utopia. We're asking, how do you bring libertarian insights — libertarian as an adjective or an impulse — how do you bring these insights to bear on issues that aren't working very well right now, such as K-through-12 education, and so on?

We're not talking about getting in and ripping everything up. We're talking about introducing some level of consumerism and individual choice into what's driving policies, so that we can get pricing and markets to drive prices down and quality up.

It's not clear from that excerpt, but the "as an intellectual exercise" bit above was not actually a reference to Ron Paul, but rather to the types of questions we constantly field on the book tour, a la "But smoking bans make bars nicer!" and "Is there ANY government regulation you extremists would support?" Read the whole interview for various departures from anarchism.

Here's a review of our Powell's gig by the legendary Pacific Northwest blogger PortlandAristotle, over at Oregon Live. Excerpt:

I go to a lot of Powell's books author presentations. This is the second largest crowd I have seen in the Pearl room (second only to Chris Hedges last fall). They are very engaging speakers, mixing up their talk with clips from Reason TV. [...]

I am still trying to digest everything that I have learned from their presentation and having read their book. I absolutely love original thinking and strongly recommend their book to anyone out there trying to understand where our politics is taking us.

Also in attendance was The Atlantic's Conor Friedersdorf. From his write-up:

The work of entertaining writers, the book is refreshing, especially among political tomes, for several reasons: it offers an original but plausible take on recent history, doesn't blame a partisan enemy for all that ails America, and advances an argument too complicated to fully convey in a review -- hence its critical success in a genre where many titles run out of ideas at the end of the subtitle. [...]

Thus far, it certainly seems like independent-minded people organizing to advance single issues tend to call for increases in liberty, whether the subject is gays or drugs or economic freedom. Truth be told, I am as much an optimist as the authors, and I hope their instinct is right: that independents plus technology equals saner public policy and more freedom. There is, or course, a darker possibility. Independent minded Americans might eschew party loyalty, use the Internet to organize, and effectively demand that the borders be closed to new immigrants or that all mosque construction be halted. It isn't, after all, just libertarian-minded folks who are fed up with the status quo. For libertarians, that means that there is much persuasion yet to be done. As stewards of Reason and Reason.com, Welch and Gillespie are well-positioned to do it.

Next up on the never-ending tour: Chicago!

Upcoming Declaration Events in Chicago

Matt Welch and I will be appearing at two venues in Chicago on Tuesday, August 16, one at lunch and another in the evening.

We're in town to discuss our new book, The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong With America, which has been named the summer read of 2011 by George Will (compared to Ludwig von Mises' Human Action anyway), "a rollicking tale" (Barron's), "a remarkably uplifting book" (Three Sources), and "a cheerful dismissal of tribalism and monopolistic thinking, in life and in politics" (Forbes).

First up is a lunch event at the University Club of Chicago at noon CT:

Tuesday, August 16th - 12:00 pm

The University Club of Chicago

Join co-authors and editors of Reason TV and Reason magazine, Nick Gillespie and Matt Welchfor a luncheon on their new book, The Declaration of Independents.  It is a compelling and extremely entertaining manifesto on behalf of a system better suited to the future - one structured by the libertarian principles of free minds and free markets.

The price for club member is $15 (plus tax and grauity) by August 15 and $18 after August 15. The price is $25 for non members via the Book Stall in Winnetka, Illinois.

Please call 847-446-8880 to make a reservation to this event.

Then there's a happy hour sponsored by the Heartland Institute:

Tuesday, August 16: 5.30pm to 7.30 pm

Pizza and Drinks with Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch

Jak's Tap

901 W. Jackson

Chicago, Illinois

The price for the event is $25. Registration does not include a copy of the book, which will be available for $26 at the event.

To register for the Heartland Institute Happy Hour, go here.

We'll be signing books at both events and hope to see all interested residents of the city that Reason rated as "the most meddlesome metropolis" in America at one or both events!

Who Is Nick Gillespie?

And today's "er, what?" award goes to...The Hill's Bernie Quigley, who writes one of the weirder blog posts you'll see, under the headline "Tea Party wins ... Who is Nick Gillespie?" All publicity is good publicity of course, and certainly all good publicity is good publicity, but...well, here's the lede:

Until this week Nick Gillespie was an unheard-of editor and writer except to those formidable few who admired his perseverance and looked forward to his rumpled commentary on Judge Napolitano's Freedom Watch. Like Richard Farina in the rising folk scene of the early '60s, aficionados knew him to be the original item and deeply admired him. But no one else did. This weekend the most mainstream of conservatives, George Will at The Washington Post, favorably reviewed his book, The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong With America. Today he is cited in The Wall Street Journal's "Notable & Quotable." Nick Gillespie has arrived. And so has the Tea Party.

Links added.

As one of the world's bigger Bob Dylan aficionados, of course, it was the Richard Fariña analogy that particularly stung the previously unheard-of editor. (On Twitter, Gillespie likened it to "someone speed-bagging my scrotum.")

Check out Gillespie's voluminous Reason archive here, and his not-inconsiderable Wall Street Journal contributions & citations here.

Matt Welch Interview in Sacramento's Capitol Weekly

Over in California's troubled capitol, a local weekly has printed a version of a conversation with me about libertarianism, the Golden State, and The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong with America. Excerpt from the not-quite-a-transcript:

How can libertarian policies help California?

I highly recommend reading probably the most libertarian speech ever given by a sitting politician in America. It is Jerry Brown's second inaugural address, back in 1979. It has some fire-breathing, anti-Lord Keynes kind of comments and it will shock the modern reader. California has been spending itself into oblivion for a really long time. The more local you get, the worse it gets. It's very telling that a lot of the official thumb-sucking class in the L.A. Times and elsewhere say that the problem is the ten Republicans left in the state and if they can just get rid of these obstructionists, we'll repeal Prop. 13 and all will be good and gravy.

In the short term, it's about pensions and fixing the giveaways to public sector unions. Schwarzenegger, who was a great disappointment as a governor, finally did a little bit of reform at the tail end of his term and Brown has talked about it but hasn't really done much.

Whole interview here.

Curious about that 1979 Brown speech (which I will confess to describing hyperbolically above; there have surely been more libertarian speeches)? Though I've linked it before, I'll link it again. Here's an excerpt:

[The tax revolt] has without question inspired the hopes of many.  Plain working people, the poor, the elderly, those on fixed incomes, those who cannot keep up with each new round of inflation or protect themselves from each subsequent round of recession, these are the people who are crying out for relief.

But in their name and in the name of misfortune of every kind, false prophets have risen to advocate more and more government spending as the cure – more bureaucratic programs and higher staffing ratios of professional experts.  They have told us that billion dollar government increases are really deep cuts from the yet higher levels of spending they demand and that attempts to limit the inflationary growth of government derive not from wisdom but from selfishness.  That disciplining government reflects not a care for the future but rather self-absorption.  These false prophets, I tell you, can no longer distinguish the white horse of victory from the pale horse of death.

Reason on the always-interesting Jerry Brown here.

"You know we're in trouble when you find yourself pining for a little dose of Carter economics."

In The Denver Post, Vincent Carroll writes about The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong With America, by Matt Welch and me:

A colleague at The Denver Post gave me a bomber of home- brewed beer the other day, so I took it to my patio and toasted Jimmy Carter.

Yes, that Jimmy Carter — he of the "crisis of confidence" speech, stagflation, Desert One, windfall profits tax, and other missteps.

Yet while Carter by and large is remembered as a failed president, he also helped lay the groundwork for the prosperity of the 1980s and '90s by freeing entire sectors of the economy from the shackles of restrictive regulation.

His leadership in deregulating the airlines is fairly well known. But he also pushed deregulation of trucking (helping to stimulate shippers such as FedEx, among other positive developments) and railroads, and, most important of all, started to de-control oil prices.

Nor did Carter confine himself to prying open the commercial economy. He also liberated the home libation realm — hence my grateful toast — by signing a bill in 1978 giving the green light to domestic brewing, which had been banned since Prohibition....

"Though the work of improving Americans' beer palate sounds like the project of an elitist dissatisfied with the commoners' tastes," write Gillespie and Welch, "it's actually another twist on Southwest Airlines' form of democratization: The conservative, corporate, organization man status quo, in cahoots with a protectionist and illiberal government, colluded for far too long to produce crap."...

You know we're in trouble when you find yourself pining for a little dose of Carter economics.

More here.

Buy The Declaration of Independents from your favorite online retailer.

And watch the 8-minute Reason.tv documentary, Beer: An American Revolution, which plumbs the roots and variety of today's beerucopia.

In the New York Post, on the Debt-Ceiling Abuse of Language

Writing in the Sunday New York Post, Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch criticize the serial abuses of language in the debt-ceiling debate. Sample:

A funny thing happened on the way to a resolution over raising the nation's credit limit: The most basic definitions of easy-to-understand words such as "spending," "increase" and "budget cuts" went out the window faster than Anthony Weiner's political career. [...]

The high stakes, and inevitable political melodrama that comes with it, have produced a double-rainbow of demonstrably false statements about the basic matter at hand. New York Times economics blogger (and former Reagan administration official) Bruce Bartlett, for example, wrote about "President Obama’s endorsement of large budget cuts," much like Speaker of the House John Boehner saying that under his debt-limit plan, "Spending cuts exceed the debt limit hike."

Would that either of these phrases was even vaguely true.

Read the whole thing here.

Must Cowboy Poets Die for America to Live? PJTV's James Poulos Talks to Nick Gillespie about Debt Limits, Partisan Wrangling, & How Hate Mail is a Sign of the Libertarian Moment

Reason's Nick Gillespie talked with PJTV's James Poulos about the debt limit's impact on cowboy poets, whether John Boehner and Harry Reid are up to their jobs, and how hate mail is actually a sign that we've never been so free...

Click above to watch at PJTV (registration may be required).

Attn, Portland Reasonoids: Matt Welch & Nick Gillespie at Powell's City of Books, Monday, Aug. 1, 7.30pm

Reason's Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch will be at the celebrated Portland, Oregon bookstore Powell's City of Books on Burnside on Monday, August 1 to talk about and sign copies of their new book, The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What Wrong's With America.

The event starts at 7.30pm PT and more details are online here.

The Washington Post's George Will (kind of) calls Declaration the beach read of summer 2011:

August is upon us, beaches beckon and Michele Bachmann has set the self-improvement bar high. She recently told The Wall Street Journal, “When I go on vacation and I lay on the beach, I bring von Mises.” The congresswoman may be the first person ever to dribble sun lotion on the section of Ludwig von Mises’s “Human Action” wherein the Austrian economist (1881-1973) discussed “the formal and aprioristic character of praxeology.”

Autodidacts less exacting than Bachmann should spill sand on the pages of “The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What’s Wrong With America” by Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch. These incurably upbeat journalists with Reason magazine believe that not even government, try as it will, can prevent onrushing social improvement.

For more reviews, media appearances, and book tour information, go to Declaration2011.com.

Chicago Reasonoids, take note: Gillespie and Welch roll into the Windy City on August 16, with daytime and nighttime events. Details to come.

George Will Review: "America is moving in the libertarians' direction"

Writing in his nationally syndicated column, the Washington Post's George Will recommends The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong with America as suitable beach reading for a debt-ceiling summer. Excerpt:

Autodidacts [...] should spill sand on the pages of "The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong With America" by Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch. These incurably upbeat journalists with Reason magazine believe that not even government, try as it will, can prevent onrushing social improvement.

"Confirmation bias" is the propensity to believe news that confirms our beliefs. Gillespie and Welch say "existence bias" disposes us to believe that things that exist always will. The authors say that the most ossified, sclerotic sectors of American life — politics and government — are about to be blown up by new capabilities, especially the Internet, and the public's wholesome impatience that is encouraged by them.

"Think of any customer experience that has made you wince or kick the cat. What jumps to mind? Waiting in multiple lines at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Observing the bureaucratic sloth and lowest-common-denominator performance of public schools, especially in big cities. Getting ritually humiliated going through airport security. Trying desperately to understand your doctor bills. Navigating the permitting process at your local city hall. Wasting a day at home while the gas man fails to show up. Whatever you come up with, chances are good that the culprit is either a direct government monopoly (as in the providers of K-12 education) or a heavily regulated industry or utility where the government is the largest player (as in health care)."

Since 1970, per pupil real, inflation-adjusted spending has doubled and the teacher-pupil ratio has declined substantially. But math and reading scores are essentially unchanged, so we are spending much more to achieve the same results. America has the shortest school year in the industrial world, an academic calendar — speaking of nostalgia — suited to an America when children were needed on the farms and ranches in the late spring and early autumn. "No other industry," Gillespie and Welch write, "still adheres to a calendar based on 19th-century agricultural cycles — even agriculture has given up that schedule." [...]

A generation that has grown up with the Internet "has essentially been raised libertarian," swimming in markets, which are choices among competing alternatives. [...]

"Declaration of Independents" is suitable reading for this summer of debt-ceiling debate, which has been a proxy for a bigger debate, which is about nothing less than this: What should be the nature of the American regime? America is moving in the libertarians' direction not because they have won an argument but because government and the sectors it dominates have made themselves ludicrous. This has, however, opened minds to the libertarians' argument.

The essence of which is the commonsensical principle that before government interferes with the freedom of the individual, and of individuals making consensual transactions in markets, it ought to have a defensible reason for doing so. It usually does not.

Read the whole thing here.

Nick Gillespie Talks Debt Limit, Legalizing Drugs, Ending Wars, & More on Real Time with Bill Maher

I was on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher last Friday, July 22.

Also on the panel were Braddock (Pa.) Mayor John Fetterman, Democratic National Committee member Donna Brazile, and actor John Turturro.

The topics included the debt-ceiling debate; libertarians vs. conservatives; the legalization of drugs, online poker, and prostitution; Michelle Bachmann's husband and gay rights; entitlement spending; military interventionism and compulsory service; immigration reform; and whether socialism provided a model for shared sacrifice.

The conversation is lively and heated throughout. Among the memorable moments: when Fetterman asks me if I want "to take it outside"; when I suggest Maher give up his show if he's serious about reducing his carbon footprint; and whether having a military draft would have precluded the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

About 30 minutes.

Go to the Real Time site for more information about Bill Maher and clips from recent shows.

This appearance generated more response than I've gotten in many years, a testament to the reach of Real Time and, even more so, the intensity of its audience. I picked up about 500 Twitter followers and wonderful new insults such as the following:

Hey, @nickgillespie just bc you look like the Fonze with Aids doesn't mean you can ramble on like a fag

U stupid undercover Tea bagging fuck!

#SuperDouche @nickgillespie on Real Time with Bill Maher wearing his fake Ed Hardy shirt and Pimp jacket. What a tool!

@nickgillespie What was it like to get your ass pounded by Donna Brazile and Mayor Fetterman? For a PhD you're awfully ignorant and wrong. 

Thx @nickgillespie for showing us that Libertarians can interrupt, roll eyes, and fling racist remarks W/O gov't intervention.

The last criticism - about interrupting - is one I take seriously and for which I should apologize (my colleagues can commiserate with the fellow panelists).

The responses tended to balance out, split between hate and love. To wit:

@nickgillespie Great job representing us on a show that never has Libertarians. Thanks for showing the hypocracy

Don't agree with him about a lot, but kind of have an intellectual crush on @nickgillespieafter seeing him on @billmaher.

@nickgillespie You were brilliant on the Bill Maher Attempts to be Relevant Show

@nickgillespie never heard of you until last night, now you are my hero!

@Nickgillespie made 3 liberal heads explode on bill maher's show last night. 

However the show went, afterwards I had nice conversations with both John Fetterman (whose work in Braddock is extremely interesting and worth looking at) and Donna Brazile (who agreed that there's a lot of common ground, especially on issues such as the drug war, the role of the military, and gay rights, between liberals and libertarians). I've been a longtime watcher of Real Time (as I was of its predecessor, Politically Incorrect) and while I rarely agree with much of what's said on the show, I think it's a fun and informative - and certainly one-of-a-kind - contribution to political and media discourse.

Back in 1997, Brian Doherty and I interviewed Bill Maher for Reason. Read it here.

In the D.C. Examiner, on 3 Fixes to Government

In a last mini-excerpt from their book The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong with America, Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch identify a Big Three of government dysfunction long overdue for reform:

Today, there are three great blots on the American Dream. Unsurprisingly, in all three areas, the state, at various levels, calls most of the shots, either through straight-up racketeering or by rigging the rules in a way that makes it nearly impossible for people to escape.

Americans, ever inventive, keep constructing elaborate workarounds to circumvent the tired regulations that support these three vast empires of concentrated political power.

But it's time to stop sneaking out windows and creeping through back doors. Forget "winning the future" -- if America has any hope of winning the present, it's time to confront head-on our profound problems with education, health care and retirement.

Read the whole thing here.

The Future Was Going to be "The Jetsons plus Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space plus maybe a David Bowie song." What Happened?

The very excellent Cincinnati magazine interviewed me about my book with Matt Welch, The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong with America, living in the greater Cincy area, and just how disappointing the 21st century has turned out so far. Snippets:

Why did this moment seem like the right one for this book? I really looked forward to the 21st century. I remember thinking it was going to be awesome. It’s going to be The Jetsons plus Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space plus maybe a David Bowie song. And the plain fact is that the 21st century has been a complete fucking bust from every level and from any perspective. It really seems to have sucked in many ways.

But in the book you spend a lot of time talking about how great the world is. In many parts of our lives, things are getting much better and freer. You can buy virtually anything you want and have it delivered very quickly. And even more important, you can meet up with people that you never would have stumbled across and build communities and have conversations that extend relationships that would have ended when someone moved out of town. When you go to the grocery store, instead of going to a crappy produce section with one eggplant, you’re likely to encounter three or four varieties of eggplant. More important, there’s the ability to express yourself not just through creative expression but in terms of your gender and your race and what you like to do.

But not so free politically? But not in politics. When you look at K–12 education and healthcare and retirement, there’s a complete disconnect. On one hand, you have this never-ending proliferation of choices and options. On the other hand, the great long-term trend of the past 40 or 50 years is people refusing to identify as either a Democrat or a Republican. And we decided the reason people are leaving those labels and calling themselves Independents is because they don’t like what they’re selling, which are rival visions of top-down control systems. The book is an attempt to talk about what was working in the non-political arenas to bring people these choices: the airlines, the deregulation of the workplace.

Read more, especially on how "edifice-complex" projects such as publicly funded stadiums and furshlugginer streetcars to and fro nowhere, drain cities of vitality.

In the D.C. Examiner, on Bipartisan Over-Spending

In a mini-excerpt from their book The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong with America, Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch blast Republicans and Democrats for the decade-long binge in federal spending, and then sketch out a solution. Excerpt:

If history is any guide and if the federal government wants to balance its books, it's got to spend no more than around 19 percent of GDP. So what would it take for the federal government to restrain spending to just 19 percent of GDP in 2020?

According to the Congressional Budget Offices' alternative-scenario projections, it would mean coming up with a budget equal to $3.7 trillion in today's dollars, rather than an anticipated $5 trillion if spending stays on autopilot. How do you trim $1.3 trillion over a decade or so?

Cut $130 billion out of projected spending (including projected increases) every year for the next decade. It's the only way to actually keep the federal government solvent until we get around to fully revising outdated entitlement programs that are set to beggar us more than any stock market collapse ever did.

And to put that 19 percent spending figure in perspective: spending in Clinton's final budget amounted to just a hair over 18 percent of GDP. Nobody back then was surviving on cat food.

Whole thing here.

Declaration of Independence Tour Stops in LA and Portland! Plus, Meet the New Political Technology!

Attention, Los Angeles Reasonoids:

On Friday, July 29, Matt Welch and Nick Gillespie will discuss their new book, The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong with America, at Los Angeles's famed Book Soup.


Friday, July 29


Book Soup

8818 Sunset Blvd. 

W. Hollywood CA 90069

Email: info@booksoup.com
telephone: 310.659.3110

Free parking behind the store via Nellas St.

And for Portland, Oregon folks, they will be talking at Powell's City of Books on Monday, August 1.


Monday, August 1

7.30PM PT

Powell's City of Books on Burnside

1005 W Burnside

(800) 878-7323      

Coming soon: Details on Chicago on August 16!

Read Gillespie and Welch's recent column in the Los Angeles Times on how independents in politics and new ways of organizing are changing the technology of politics:

In a country where the single largest political affiliation is now neither Democrat nor Republican but "independent" (38% according to Gallup and 37% according to the Pew Research Center) and where a whole generation of Americans has grown up fluent in the online skills that are disrupting incumbents in all other walks of life, the political winds seem to be blowing in the same direction: Away from dominant political tribes that are justifiably leaking market share and toward individuals who are fed up with bipartisan logjams that produce asinine policies.

Today, it's putting a dent in government spending, but tomorrow it could be legalizing marijuana in California, ending the federal prohibition of online poker, even rolling back the United States' seemingly endless commitments overseas. In a world where politicians are the problem, independents — and independence — are the future.

In the D.C. Examiner, on New Media

In a mini-excerpt from their book The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong with America, Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch celebrate how the new media landscape has already made the world a better and freer place. Excerpt:

It has never been easier for individuals to build their own seats at the table, forcing the top-down cultures of industrial media to confront their own inadequacies and acknowledge (only after kicking and screaming) the newcomers' contributions.

Name a subject that dominant city newspapers have walked away from covering intensely -- statehouse politics, high school sports, local crime -- and you'll find some entrepreneurial characters filling the void with gusto. [...]

Web has made not just media, but politics too, a much more fluid and unpredictable place. And now is the time to use the new media force to confront the grave problems that politicians have been busy foisting on us.

Whole thing here.

In the L.A. Times: How the Left Can Learn From the Tea Party

Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch, co-authors of The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong with America, argue that the momentary debt-ceiling impasse in Washington should give inspiration even to people who dislike the Tea Party. Starts like this:

Forget President Obama, House Speaker John A. Boehner and the less-interesting-than-their-name-suggests "Gang of Six." When the history of the Great Debt Ceiling Debate of 2011 gets written, the main character will not be a Beltway negotiator, or even a politician.

The only reason Washington is even talking about proposals to slow the growth of government spending, instead of robotically jacking up the nation's credit line for the 11th time in a decade, is that a large, decentralized group of citizen activists has spent the last few years loudly telling politicians from both parties one consistent message: restrain your own power or face our wrath.

Whether you conceive of the "tea party" as a heroic tamer of bipartisan big government or a diabolical hydra threatening America's very future, its success in precipitating a national debate over fiscal policy should give hope — and a tactical blueprint — to anyone who feels marginalized by politics.

Whole thing here.


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