Declaration of Independents

Go Ahead, Ask a Libertarian! Nick Gillespie & Matt Welch Answer All Questions!


The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong With America, by Matt Welch and me, comes out on June 28. Click on the link above to preorder from your favorite bookstore, in your favorite format (yes, including Kindle), and to check out early reviews (Tyler Cowen of Marginal Revolution, George Mason University, and The New York Times calls it "the up-to-date statement about libertarianism.")

Tomorrow, June 15, Matt and I will be fielding questions via Twitter, Facebook, email, Hit & Run comments, and the occasional note tied to a brick and thrown through a window on any topic related to our book. We'll be sending out rapid-fire video releases and posting them at Reason's YouTube channel and here from 10am ET til 6pm ET.

To get in the question action, go here for easy ways to toss us a softball or to brush us back from the plate with some inside heat.

NEXT: Happy 40th, War on Drugs! Now Drop Dead Already!

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. “What’s up with the jacket?”

  2. Should people be allowed to contract themselves into slavery?

    Bonus question: define contract.

    1. Sure they can, but if you agree to be a slave you aren’t really a slave are you? You’re just doing a task or tasks for free.

      A contract is a legally enforceable agreement between two or more parties.

      1. And how does a slave contest violations of said contract?

        1. If the contract specifies that anything and everything your “owner” does to you is permissible under the contract, then the point is moot.

      2. I think that for it to really count as slavery it has to be a non-revocable contract that lasts for the rest of your life. And lots of whipping.

        If you look at it purely as a matter of right to contract, it seems like perhaps that should be allowed. But I think that self-ownership is more important than any contract. You are stuck owning yourself whether you like it or not and the right of self ownership cannot be transfered.

        1. It certainly can be transferred, but all contracts should have clauses in the event of a breech of the contract. There really is no such thing as a “non-revocable” contract.

          1. “breech of the contract”

            As opposed to the front of the contract?


        Terms of Use
        Mark A. Lemley
        Minnesota Law Review, Vol. 91, 2006

        “Today, by contrast, it seems widely (though not universally) accepted that if you write a document and call it a contract, courts will enforce it as a contract even if no one agrees to it.”

  3. Ginger or Mary Anne?

  4. Don’t wait for the jacket’s translation! Answer the question!

  5. Is there any limit to governmental coercion in defense of “property rights”?

    Or is the government’s use of the police power in defense of property the only “bottomless well of entitlement” that a Libertarian regards as legitimate?

    1. Is there any limit to governmental coercion in defense of “property rights”?

      There is no such thing as coercion in defense of property rights.

      Or is the government’s use of the police power in defense of property the only “bottomless well of entitlement” that a Libertarian [sic] regards as legitimate?

      I don’t know of any libertarian that views the police as an entitlement. If individuals decide they want police they will pay for it. If they don’t then they won’t have police. Entitlement has nothing to do with it.

      1. What you’re saying is not clear. You are proposing an individual right to decline to pay for police?

        1. Yes, you should not be forced to pay for police. I don’t see where you got the idea that police services are an entitlement. There is no such thing as a free lunch. Someone has to pay for the police, and in a libertarian society the people who do would have to do so voluntarily. The alternative is having no police at all.

          1. New question for Fonzie: is heller right?

          2. I have a cunning plan. Cops should be paid less and forced to supplement their income with tips. Bribery would still be illegal and maybe there could be a cap on how much you could get from any one citizen. Even criminals might tip if the arrest was done properly.

    2. Danny, how can you still fail to understand this. Property rights have nothing to do with police being there to protect your property. Property rights mean that you have the right to defend your own property. Using force to prevent someone from stealing your stuff is not coercion.
      The police and courts are not there to protect your property from burglars. They are there (ideally) to help settle disputes in a less violent way than might otherwise happen. If their presence helps to deter thieves, that is an extra bonus.
      You seem to have this idea that police are there to protect rich people’s stuff from poor people who might want to take it and you have it quite backwards. Rich people don’t need the police to protect their property. Rich people can afford to get alarm systems and hire people to guard their property, and they do.

      1. If Zeb had a point, he could be wrong.

        But is it technically possible for a person utterly without a point to be “wrong”?

        The police aren’t there to protect property. But they are. But that’s just a “bonus.”

        Okay, Zeb. Let’s sink it way, way down to your level. Riddle me this:

        Jay Leno “owns” 84 cars. He claims that they are his “property.” Fine. For all I know, he came by them honestly. Now somebody “steals” one of Leno’s cars. He dials 911. He wants the cops to go chase after his missing car. He wants whoever cut him down to only 83 cars to be put in prison. He wants a jury. He wants a judge. He wants a trial. He wants to make a victim impact statement.

        Do I have to pay for this sh!t? Am I going to be “coerced” into putting my hard-earned dollars into a system to make sure than nobody with 84 cars wakes up one morning and finds that there are only 83 cars left behind the mansion?

        Also: who cares what you think anyway.


        1. I don’t understand why you don’t get this. You must have some kind of mental deficiency. If people want cops and courts they will pay for them. If they don’t, they won’t. Where is the dilemna???

          1. heller’s position is internally coherent. That’s not what Zeb is saying, though.

  6. Is that a publisher-imposed title, or is it your own embarrassing mistake?

    Is it meta-stupid, like that howling-wolves t-shirt or Metalocalypse or something? Like, if Sarah Palin called her book that, would you become aware that it’s a parodically awful name, or is that already the joke?

    Is it regular stupid, but now that someone says it’s stupid you’re gonna act all “I so meant to do that” meta-stupid, like Jon Stewart does?and so it’s doubly po-faced and shitty?


  7. I think it’s a good title, if you remember that it will probably have negligible bookstore placement and therefore will be highly dependent on Amazon and Barnes & Noble site searches for sales.

    Books that are dependent on web sales need to have search-whore titles. Look at that title and tell me it won’t pop up in all sorts of searches.

    It’s like submitting a resume to an online database. You have to jam it up with all the right keywords. It doesn’t matter if it looks stupid to a human. Your opponent here is the search engine, not the reader.

  8. Why do you hate children/the poor/old people?

  9. What’s up with the monocles and top hats?

  10. Adn you guys are the pot lovers, right?

  11. A train leaves Boston heading west at 60mph. Simultaneously, a train leaves Chicago heading east at 40mph…

    1. Are the tracks made of Reardon Metal?

    2. Are they on the same track, heading toward each other?

      Follow up question – if they are, can I watch the wreck?

      1. Only if you can figure out where it happens and at what time.

  12. Question: The tide comes in, the tide goes out – why is that not explainable?

    1. And more importantly, how can we blame Obama for this?

  13. Please. You people and your silly questions. Here’s mine: “Is freedom just another word for nothing left to lose?”

  14. Are those clips in the beginning of the video from a ’70s gay porno featuring Matt Felch and Dick Gillespie?

  15. Okay, serious question: Given that the Constitution didn’t entirely succeed in reining in government, what changes does it need today to do so? Or do we need something entirely different? Or is Leviathan inevitable in any system?

  16. Fucking magnets, how do they work?

  17. I’ll join in with a serious question. Considering how many people have a stake in the current setup with all its intermixed handouts and regulations, what realistic path is there to a future without so much government regulation and interference? I mean simple things like no entitlements and rule by law, such that SWAT raids would disappear along with the war on some drugs.

  18. Serious question: What is your philisophical basis for asserting that everyone should be equally and maximally free?

  19. Why do matter and antimatter mutually annihilate upon contact?

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