Libertarian Lite

Some say libertarians could win politically if they give up their principles.


In this year's Republican presidential primaries, Sen. Rand Paul got little traction. In 2012, his father failed. That year, the Libertarian Party candidate, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, got just 1 percent of the vote.We libertarians must be doing something wrong. Maybe our anti-government message is too radical, says Jerry Taylor. Maybe we should soften our approach.

"Libertarians need to be more realistic," Taylor told 500 young people at a taping of my TV show at last week's International Students for Liberty conference. In electoral politics, he said, finding libertarians is "like trying to find a daisy in Hiroshima" after the nuclear blast.

Taylor, a smart libertarian who runs a think tank called the Niskanen Center, says to become more popular, we libertarians ought to change our views. He criticized Rand Paul for saying that in 1964 he would've voted against the Civil Rights Act.

Actually, Rand didn't say that. He supported the act's ban on government racism, like Jim Crow laws. He objected only to the act's ban on private discrimination. Rand was right to object. If owners of a private business want to serve only gays, basketball players or bald men, that should be their right.

Market competition will punish bigots for their narrow-mindedness, because some people will avoid that store. There's no need for government force.

"Right," said Taylor, but "5 percent of the American public says yes to that, and 95 percent say no… They're not going to embrace a candidate who says, tough, people should just suffer under the teeth of bigotry because white people have that right."

I suppose Taylor is correct. Voters prefer simple answers ("Mexico will pay for a wall!"). They don't want constitutional lectures about property rights or free association.

Taylor is fine with welfare spending, too. He points out, "Even people like Milton Friedman and F.A. Hayek supported a safety net to help the indigent."

Taylor and some other libertarians sound like "reform Republicans" who want free-market advocates to embrace the welfare state. They think they're being practical, realistic.

But we free-market supporters know what really creates prosperity and opportunity: economic freedom! We saw it work in America when America was young. We see it now in Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland, Australia and other countries that today offer more economic freedom than the United States. Government that governs least governs best.

I said to Taylor, rudely, "Your plan for victory is to surrender?"

"No," replied Taylor. "I don't think it's surrender to say that the rights and freedoms of people in this country can be secured by government."

I don't either. But America's government has gone well past "securing rights and freedom." Today's welfare state provides much more than a safety net. It's become a giant hammock that encourages dependency. Government today takes half our money and micromanages the workplace.

But Taylor criticizes libertarians who complain about that and "reflexively" talk about "taxes and spending and regulation. Other things are important too, like war! War is the engine of the growth of the state. Hundreds of thousands of people die."

All true. We libertarians should probably talk less about taxes and more about what we'd do about ISIS and how to help poor people without using government force.

But I won't "soften" my arguments. I know they are right. After years watching liberal and conservative "solutions" fail, I know that limited government is the better way. We haven't convinced today's voters, but people aren't endlessly foolish. If we keep fighting, maybe they will see the truth.

To help us understand more about these ideas, the "Stossel" TV show will host a Libertarian presidential forum. Three leading Libertarian presidential candidates—"leading" because they placed top three in a poll done by the Libertarian Party—will debate. They are former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, software entrepreneur John McAfee and Libertarian Republic founder Austin Petersen.

The forum will air, unfortunately, on April 1. But this is no April Fools' Day joke. Our future is a stake.

For free tickets to the "Stossel" Libertarian presidential forum, contact

NEXT: New Video Shows Agents Began Shooting at LaVoy Finicum Before Alleged Reach for a Gun Said to Justify the Kill

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    1. Nothing left to cut, you crackpot.

    2. Pretty funny that a retarded prog hit it out of the park…..does not bode well moving forward.

      Maybe he’ll shame the much bigger state and federal entities next…probably not.

    3. “Special Districts”
      That was an amazing video.
      I had no idea that this problem was so huge and so widespread.
      And apparently so durable that no one knows how to get rid of them.

      That was an eye opener for me. It is amazing how these things can be right in front of you all your life, and you have no idea.

      1. And yet will be spread online about 1 millionth as much as last week’s “Drumpf” video.

        1. *sigh….

    4. Sorry, but Oliver’s piece took the wrong angle. First, he just ran a piece about election fraud, pointing out how rare it really is. Then he runs this piece, saying there are 40,000 of these special districts, and proceeds to talk about a small handful engaged in shady practices. What about the 10s of thousands that are honest? He highlights one commission where the only people present at the meeting are the 2 commissioners themselves, shows them following the rules of parliamentary procedure despite the fact they could have skirted the rules. These guys should be praised for showing great character, yet that segment came off as mocking those guys. He also ignores the fact that every one of the abuses he highlighted was in the context of the fraud being discovered and stopped, as opposed to fraud on the national level, which goes on year after year even after it is uncovered. The true villain of Olivers piece is the American public, who allows the abuses to go on because of their own apathy. Any taxpayer can attend the meetings of these commissions, which take place right in their own communities, and voice their opinions, and even run for seats on those commissions. But instead, they sit home on their asses, watching TV, and complain about how someone ought to do something about how their tax dollars are spent. Stop watching TV, or blogging, get off your asses, and get involved!

    5. After I been earnin $8768 this-past/five weeks and-a little over, $10k lass-month. it’s realy my favourite work I have ever had. I actually started 7-months ago and pretty much straight away was earning at least $87… p/h. I follow
      this website,

  1. Taylor, a smart libertarian who runs a think tank called the Niskanen Center

    Oh Reason, you’re just trolling me now!

    Will Wilkinson (born 1973) is an American writer who currently serves as Vice President of Policy at the Niskanen Center.

    1. Care to tell us what you mean?

    2. I see you’d prefer we guess.
      I’m guessing you’d prefer no one has any principles, sort of like you?
      If I’m wrong, I’ve asked twice and got no answer, so I’m left with presumptions

    3. Will Wilkinson is back in the libertarian fold? Did he get the bum’s rush from The Economist too?

      Still, I guess reading Wilkinson beats an ice water enema. Just not by much.

        1. That’s just a wall of text. I’m familiar with MM. what do you think his key point is?

    4. How many public policy centers are there?? Where do they get all the money to employ these people?

      1. KKKOCHTOPUS!!!!!!

  2. “Some libertarians say libertarians can win if they surrender some of their ideas. John Stossel writes:”

    Pinging Mike! Mike, where are you? You can take this to the Koch Bros ™ and show that we’re all ignoring your sage advice!

    1. Quit being such a bully. Poor Hihn.

      1. Do you reckon he’s papered his walls with the screen prints of us calling him names?

    1. Again, what is that supposed to mean?

      1. He has no idea.

        1. OTOH, it’s only six days until the Ides of March.

      2. I think it means SIV read the headline and not the entire piece, and thus thinks Stossel’s the one calling for the abandonment of principles.

        1. I read everything on the front page. Stossel’s takedown is after the jump.

      3. I think he’s mad that Stossel seems to want to stab Trump at the moment he was about to announce his coronation.

  3. A distinction must be made here: there is a difference between saying that you must give up your principles to win (which is just victory by surrender) and voting for a half-loaf party (which makes good sense and is the MO of parties that are libertarian by name in Costa Rica and Slovakia. The latter just did pretty well in an election).

    Libertarians should not give up their ideals, but they need to make priorities based on 1) what’s most urgent and 2) what’s most achievable. Anti-discrimination laws are not as damaging as the WoD or Obamacare and trying to repeal them is unachievable. That has to be low priority. Unfortunately, cutting entitlements is also achievable. Focus on pension reform.

    When libertarians vote-which they are morally obligated to do if there is any conceivable benefit to doing so-they have to vote seriously, not for gratification. So basically the opposite of what Gillespie and Tuccille recommend at this time.

    1. Thanks, toxic. I’m sure your mom is interested in your opinion.

      1. Nah, probably not even her.

    2. “When libertarians vote-which they are morally obligated to do if…”

      Is this out of Rothbard or Nozick or who?

      As far as I can tell libertarians don’t even agree that one has a moral obligation to save a drowning child, let alone take part in an oppressive system of rule.

      1. It’s probably straight out of the Objectivist Code of Conduct In Order to Avoid Moral Leprosy

      2. libertarians don’t even agree that one has a moral obligation to save a drowning child,

        I would bet the vast majority of libertarians actually do think there is a moral obligation to save a drowning child. They just don’t think you should be assaulted and caged if you fail in your moral obligations.

        The smearing of “moral” and “legal” is one of the great tricks of totalitarianism. “Oh, you think it should be legal to do something immoral, huh?” is a favorite of proggies and theocrats alike.

    3. This is what I keep saying. As long as libertarians insist on their holier-than-thou circle jerk and ideological purity olympics, they will never get anywhere in terms of policy. Frankly I almost think that that’s the point; libertarians prefer the role of nihilistic outsider smugly watching the world burn because they get to point and say ‘I told you so’ as opposed to the responsibility of actually putting their ideas into action.

      But if there are any libertarians out there who are interested in winning, then incrementalism, compromise, and persuasion is the name of the game.

      And I’ve said this before as well — thirty years ago the prospects of progressivism looked far more bleak than they ever have for libertarians. But progressives took small victories where they could, hardened their support in some areas and compromised in others, voted strategically, applied social pressure, and built on that. Now they own the media, pop culture, academia, the bureaucracy, and a large portion of corporate America. In a short period of time they turned mainstream culture from relatively conservative into one in which a socialist could make a serious run for president, and even questioning progressive pieties will get your career ruined. That’s called success.

      And you think there weren’t people on the left who were frustrated at having to vote for the likes of Bill Clinton, instead of a ‘real progressive’?

      Libertarians could do the same thing if they’d actually get in the game.

      1. Agreed.
        Interesting to read the cute little one liner replies that offer nothing, just dismiss.
        So I must presume they prefer the circle jerk, cos there is no future in that path. None.

      2. 100% Agreed.

    4. Isn’t it past your bedtime, cytotoxic?

  4. Oh and this:

    ” Other things are important too, like war! War is the engine of the growth of the state”

    -This is oft-stated and seldom demonstrated. The New Deal happened *before* WW2. The follow-up is hilarious:

    “We libertarians should probably talk less about taxes and more about what we’d do about ISIS”

    Yeah, I’m sure hearing about how the USG should just ignore them away will totally sell freedom to the masses.

    That’s another thing: libertarians had better develop a cogent, serious foreign policy framework. Non-interventionism that ain’t.

    1. Unfortunately the only foreign policy framework that is ever taken seriously is ‘bomb the shit out of anyone anywhere that looks at us funny’.

      And that ‘serious’ policy ain’t working all that well. As a matter of fact, a decade of it has put us in the position of needing to talk about what we need to do about ISIS *in the first place*.

      1. “‘bomb the shit out of anyone anywhere that looks at us funny’.”

        You might have more luck living in the real world, where America has tolerated state sponsors of terror like Iran and Saudi Arabia and hasn’t bombed them in the slightest. They haven’t bombed North Korea or Syria in the slightest. The USG seems to bomb a lot of non-problems like the Balkans and Qaddhafi.

        Until you people start getting serious and objective, you’re not getting anywhere.

        “As a matter of fact, a decade of it has put us in the position of needing to talk about what we need to do about ISIS *in the first place*.”

        There is no reason to believe ISIS or an analogue to it would not have emerged out of Syria’s chaos in an alternate timeline. Again: get serious.

        1. America overthrew the first ever democratically elected government of Iran and installed a brutal dictator which has lead directly to ISIS.

          1. The Iranians were too smart for that though. They threw the bad dictator out and replaced him with a worse one.

        2. ISIS arose, in part, due to the US funding opponents of Assad. Now that it has blown up in their face, its time to “get tough” on ISIS.

    2. So now you have convinced us that you are an idiot…

    3. We could start by no longer providing weapons or money to “moderates” who turn them over to ISIS. We could follow up by no longer referring to the theocratic madhouse Saudi Arabia as our “good ally”. We might stop flying air cover to support Iranian backed Shiite militias against ISIS while declaring Iran to be the most evil regime on earth. Does it really make sense to take sides in a fight between the “most evil regime on earth” and “the most evil terrorists on earth”?

    4. “The New Deal happened *before* WW2”

      Which one was of greater import to the American economy?

      (Not that I advocate war, but let’s at least be honest)

  5. Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland, Australia

    Are those bastions of libertarianism?

    Australia has an incredibly strict immigration policy. You have to show that no Australian could do the job you are being hired for. New Zealand doesn’t seem to be as strict, but they only accept highly skilled people who can support themselves while looking for a job

    The other two places aren’t easy to immigrate to either. Indeed, all of them are basically either islands or enclosed by mountains..

    Singapore is probably the closest to a true free market state the world has (well, some of the non-oil rich Arab countries), but they are also very much a police state when it comes to other stuff.

    1. Also not that all of those are small countries in terms of population. Australia has a whopping 23 million, Switzerland 8, Singapore 5.

    2. Canada is more economically free than America and not only lets in lots of people but will let in more this year.

      1. Fun fact, a friend of mine working for a Canadian company got stopped in Canadian customs while two guys with badges questioned him for two hours why he was flying into Canada instead of a red-blooded Canadian citizen.

        Not saying it’s the general policy but it sure was good for grade A retarded lulz.

        1. There’s a reality TV show about Canadian customs. I am flattered that they are making TV custom-made to piss me off.

      2. “Canada is more economically free than America and not only lets in lots of people but will let in more this year.”

        Is that a projection or relative to population? As the US takes in far more immigrants per year than Canada. 1 million vs a quarter million. While the US switching to a skill-based point system like Canada seems like an improvement to me, (the idea that either resembles anything remotely like a free system is ridiculous though)

        1. Canada’s got around 1/10th the population of the US, so their rate is higher.

          Of course, assimilation failures cause problems. I mean, seriously, you guys still haven’t even assimilated the French-descended Quebecois, for crying out loud, and you’ve had 200 years?

          1. I mean, seriously, you guys still haven’t even assimilated the French-descended Quebecois, for crying out loud, and you’ve had 200 years?

            I’m a little late to the party, but this was deliberate move by the British. Quebec Act guaranteed their religion, language and civil law in the hopes that they wouldn’t start any revolts. Which, ironically, pissed off the Thirteen Colonies and encouraged rebellion.

    3. You have to show that no Australian could do the job you are being hired for.

      So Australia’s immigration policy is effectively wide open?

    4. Singapore is probably the closest to a true free market state the world has

      Uh, no. Singapore is very much a state-capitalist style economy. Hardly free-market.

    5. To be fair, Stossel never said those places were libertopias.

      Also, in Australia and New Zealand the foreign born population is about 25%. Over 40% for Singapore. In the US, the number is below 15%.

  6. Some say libertarians could win politically if they give up their principles.

    But would you have really won?

    1. The game never ends, so nobody ever can be said to have won.

      1. What a strange game. The only way to win is not to play.

    2. The New York Times has begun to mull over a possible Trump presidency and have dusted off their objections to executive power, realizing that someone as wise and omniscient as Obama might not be at the reigns in 2016. So there’s that.

  7. Taylor, a smart libertarian who runs a think tank called the Niskanen Center, says to become more popular, we libertarians ought to change our views.

    I’m as skeptical of the Libertarian moment as anyone else not living in it… but this is total bunk. If you change your views to become more popular, then you aren’t libertarian, you’re Hillary or [GOP Cardboard cutout].

    1. If you tell me the Fourth Amendment is not cool, then I will change my view. I just yearn to be accepted, like all libertarians.

      1. To be libertarian is to be comfortable with not being accepted.

          1. Also, to be libertarian is to have your prog friends totally trolling you all the time with email links to stupid articles and op/ed pieces that purport to show you why you are so wrong.

            1. I visited friends in my hometown this weekend. Great people, they’re like my family (much closer, actually). But they’re all Bern Victims, and all that that implies. One of them sneered “something something libertarian…” and I kinda unloaded: “Um, you’re voting for a man who spent time at a pro-Stalinist kibbutz. If Rand Paul so much as shared a beer 30 years ago with some guy who said something nice about Hitler, we’d never hear the fucking end of it. Sanders has openly stated that he doesn’t believe in free enterprise. There are people at this table who deserve to have their choices ridiculed, and I’m not one of them.” In my defense, I was three glasses of wine in.

              I bought ’em all a few appetizers.

              1. Nice of you to buy the apps, the socialist in them would have found a way to make you pay anyway.

      2. I yearn to WIN, like the commies did with the 16th Amendment and the Prohibitionists did with the 18th (and 21st, if you read it closely). Socialism is mass starvation/war and prohibition is gangland and police murders. Nothing could be more obvious and different from what people “knew” in 1909. If we weren’t winning the infiltrators would not be so shrill. Every idiot law we force them to repeal is our victory. Open your eyes, dammit!

    2. I don’t think they are suggesting that we change our views. I think they are suggesting that we pick our battles and our tactics.

      The ideal is a minimal state (or to some of the more rabid no state), but refusing to support any candidate or proposal that falls short of that ideal just guarantees that we will have no say in government, which means we will get not more freedom but less. There are a significant number of libertarians who refused to support Ron Paul because they thought he was bad on gay rights. Why would either party ever shift our way when they know we won’t support them unless they give us everything we want at once?

      1. We’ve got the best platform out there, at least one genuine candidate (Austin) available, and the hockey-stick acceleration is kicking in as the DemoGOP compete in Mutual Assured Destruction. Damn the infiltrators, full steam ahead!

        1. I don’t know the people here well enough to tell if you are serious or satirically agreeing with me.

          1. After reading down thread I see that serious is the answer.

      2. A libertarian system of government isn’t the same as Anarchy.

        Anarchy is basically mafia style where people form into their own groups and work out deals with other groups without any central organized state. If people could behave themselves I would be all for this, but would enviably break down into a dictatorship where the strongest group would use force to consolidate and control the others.

        The purpose of government should be to maximize individual liberty and create a framework for free individuals to work together for their own self interest. Providing security, enforcing contracts, and generally preventing one individual from violating the rights of another.

    3. Libertarians need to change their propaganda, not their principles.

      1. Our propaganda is you will be allowed to do whatever you want expect initiate force. If people reject total freedom what else can we say?

        1. No that is our principle, it does not necessarily need to be our propaganda.

    4. “There can be no compromise on basic principles. There can be no compromise on moral issues. There can be no compromise on matters of knowledge, of truth, of rational conviction.”

      Ayn Rand

      1. There can be no questioning of the great Rand, either.

      2. Rand died alone and demonized, without any kind of major or even minor political movement driven by her ideals, not to mention alienated by many of her own followers. The closest thing to success was not her purist Objectivism, but how her work attracted individuals to the significantly less pure libertarianism. If anything Rand is a microcosm of why sticking to a strict fundamentalism doesn’t work.

  8. Stossel, once again laying it out in plain terms. What a friggin dude,

  9. He knows; don’t slink to them, let them crawl to you.

  10. llmao keep sticking to that anti-welfare state pro austrian economics and we will make no liberty gains

  11. Thanks for the Great Information in the post


  12. If that’s the best Taylor can come up with, I wouldn’t call him “smart”.

    Radical statements are interesting, and sometimes get attention. Moderate statements are boring and get no attention.

  13. Taylor is fine with welfare spending, too. He points out, “Even people like Milton Friedman and F.A. Hayek supported a safety net to help the indigent.”

    Nice motte-and-bailey. There’s a lot of space between our current massive, complex, pervasive welfare state (empire, more like) and the kind of safety net Hayek and others have proposed.

    1. Exactly. And Taylor doesn’t offer up any structural suggestions as to how to keep it in check. If tomorrow Congress passed a law that that said public benefits would be restricted to those at 200% of the poverty line, the day after tomorrow you’d have bureaucrats fiddling with the math to expand the welfare rolls anyway and in the next election half the fuckers that voted for that bill would end up tossed out on their ears after a barrage of ads depicting them pushing grandma off a cliff or taking a literal shit on a poor person.

  14. I like the indignant attitude about libertarians giving up on certain issues in echange for electoral given how many articles that appeared in the past year in Reasn advising conservatives/Republicans to give up on their principles for increased popularity (oddly, those were all issues left libertarians don’ t like).

  15. “We haven’t convinced today’s voters, but people aren’t endlessly foolish.”

    Facts not in evidence.

    1. Yes, but I don’t think being smug about LIVs or stupid chattel is a winning way to go.

      Trump exists because of voter frustration. So does Sanders. The opportunities are there.

  16. we libertarians ought to change our views

    Why should i change? The statists are the ones who suck.

    1. I second that. We could, however, remove the stupid abortion straddle plank. All it does is tell women we want to help the christianofascists force them to reproduce. Roe v. Wade and the 14th Amendment both assure that right, which is a public health measure just like ebola and anthrax vaccines. The original LP planks contained no abortion language. We could remove the “all other” line at the bottom. All it does is generate conspiracy paranoia and obfuscate the NAP. The borders plank is currently a straddle and a liability with suicide-mystics willing to bring military germs and chemicals in to avenge themselves on the Republicans we voted against. Hostile infiltrators will always suggest we adopt moronic and suicidal planks. Allow for that. We should expect nothing less. We could drop it. But the basic LP platform is fine.

      1. “help the christianofascists force them to reproduce”

        Holy shit you’re a fucking idiot.

  17. Government should be limited to negative externalities such as pollution and other damages that could threaten innocent 3rd parties but stay out of arm’s length business transactions. The government should be in charge of military, police, fire, FBI, CIA. Stay the hell out of business transactions. Look what government involvement in the food and pharmaceutical industries has brought us….the single most toxic diet in the world and the sickest, most obese and drug addled population, and the highest rate of mental illness that leads to crazy violent acts seen on tv every other day. Common sense.

    1. The DemoGOP looters want us to sanction their initiation of force. It shows how worried they are. Look, Brazil’s gatekeeper judges FINALLY allowed a “stealth” libertarian party to form in Brazil. They only have three planks, two of them relevant. If this is not a false flag operation it may be the entering wedge because organizers have admitted that other planks on things like women’s individual rights and hemp prohibition are under consideration and might be added when opportune. We’ve been trying to get an LP started there for many years, and this wimpy show is a breakthrough–especially with voters forced to subsidize and vote for 33 looter parties already!

    2. Government should be limited to negative externalities

      Err, no. Government should be limited to violations of the rights of identified persons committed by other identified persons. Free-floating “externalities” are just another open door for totalitarianism.

    3. There should be a separation of Economy and State just like there is between Church and State.

  18. Cart. Horse. Things never even get to the point of discussion of ideas. The barrier is being heard in the first place and that’s a function of the candidates that the Libertarian Party runs. Gary Johnson? Good guy, no media presence, no charisma. Bob Barr? I’m a libertarian and *I* wouldn’t vote for him. Harry Browne? Basically Michael Hihn, and like Hihney, no one in the world has heard of him and if they did, they’d hate him..

    The breakthrough event would be a media personality running. Stossel, maybe. Mike Rowe would be excellent. Penn Jillette. Drew Carey. Get the ideas coming from a familiar and likable source, get the message carried by the media because what famous people say is newsworthy. It’s a pity that this is what we need, but this is what we need.

    1. Austin Petersen is the best libertarian candidate I’ve seen, and he only needs a couple of percent to be effective. We WIN every time our spoiler votes change a law and lower a tax. The communist party WON when its Manifesto Plank 2 became the 16th Amendment with how many votes? 2%? The Prohibition Party WON when its 18th Amendment made the streets run with blood, the gutters run with beer, and the depositors run to banks to withdraw their money before asset-forfeiture did it for them.

    2. And no one will ever do this until we accept some things.

      Right now we slavishly accept and adhere to such aphorisms as ‘the people who should have the least power are those that seek it most’ ‘absolute power corrupts absolutely’

      We have all manner of platitudes that discourage leadership–because even the appearance of leading gets one labeled as the wrong kind of seeker after power.

      So people stay away.

      The media rips apart any who dare to raise their head.

      So, eventually the only ones left are the crazed–the very people who really shouldn’t have power. Sanders, who longs to wield Stalin’s whip. Clinton, who believes it is her divine right to have power. Trump, who seems to be doing the whole thing as a lark.

      People like Stossel and Rowe understand their own shortcomings, they don’t think they’re fit.

      And so they sit it out, dispensing wisdom from the sidelines..

    3. Propagandize, bitches.

    4. Mike Rowe would take the female vote from Hillary no problem.

  19. I get what Stossel’s saying. No heroin addict ever got clean by voluntarily doing a little less each day. But welfare spending is like a tumor. You can’t just say, “Ok, at the end of the fiscal year there will be no more subsidized housing, disability, food stamps, or other long-term public assistance,” and expect people to adjust. Yes, in the long term poverty will be reduced, especially the kind of systemic poverty that is perpetuated by those programs. But in the short-term you’ve got people who have in some cases never known a time that they weren’t entirely dependent on public assistance. Ideology and theory aside, if you can’t ease them off the public teat you’re going to have riots, starvation, and suffering. And if you turn a blind eye to that, you start to look less like someone who believes in the power of individual liberty to lift people out of poverty and more like a Maoist who believes that if the revolution’s success requires some human sacrifices, then so be it.

    1. You sure about the heroin addicts? People have done it that way w cigarets, so I’m pretty sure it’s been done w heroin too.

      1. People in chronic pain chronically take pain relievers.

        I don’t get why that is so difficult to understand.

    2. The Liberal Party of America was against the dole in 1930 because “nobody gets of of it.” But opiates cause atrophy such that the withdrawal is a form of duress you can reasonably assume the user did not agree to. The exploitation of that duress among primitives and Asians (whose metabolism is more vulnerable) by heavily-mixed-economy corporations (especially chemical plants in Germany, France, Austria) brought on WWI after China’s revolution genuinely excluded opiate imports. That heroin has in the past led to war (oh yes it did!) is a good argument against legalization and for decriminalization, so contract law and lobbies cannot be a party to defrauding consumers.

    3. So, should we apply the same logic to police excess? Maybe we should settle for, just a little less.

      Or maybe the War on Drugs? How about libertarians get okay with shorter sentences for possession?

      Oooh! I got it! Global Military Adventurism! Let’s all get okay with just a little less warmongering!

      1. Um, yes actually.

        If the progressives have demonstrated anything, it’s that incrementalism is a strategy that actually works. If you wait to get everything you want all at once, you wait forever.

        1. Agreed. that is the point of my own thoughts in a post below. Give up this pipe dream that we just need a little more flair in our message, or more money to get the message out there, or whatever panacea is sought. It’s delusional.

          Move ahead with small victories that can be won. Decriminalize personal marijuana use is better than seeking a universal and immediate end to the Drug War. Why? Because the first is attainable, the latter is the end result of a long-term concerted effort to dismantle it.

  20. Elections are about FEELZ?

    I hate that. We need a law….

  21. Looters can be counted on to lie about the vote counts. Until each voter receives a QR code with which to check that their own personal vote was counted as cast, it is safe to assume the counts are fictitious. I would bet money that the LP really gets twice the vote count the DemoGOP asserts–but there is no way to settle because the bet and verification are both illegal. Imagine a bank that won’t let you check your deposits or balance on an ATM… FRAUD.

    1. Right, and all the media is in on it too, that’s why exit polls line up so well with the fictitious results!

  22. And I’m sure Taylor would have been just fine with libertarians having taking a more “practical” stand on same sex marriage. Or a more “practical” stand on warmongering. Or maybe libertarians ought to settle down and get comfortable with the War on Drugs.

    Oh, wait, no?

    Why am I not surprised? Just another round of the progressives in libertarian clothing telling us we all have to shut up and get with their program.

  23. It’s unfortunate to me that no one here seems to have addressed the real problem of tactics. It really does seem to me that many libertarians get nihilistic. I’m not at all suggesting we change our views, but it looks like we’ve given up the fight (or don’t care about actually trying to achieve our goals). Where are the articles about how to get people to think differently? Where are the ideas about doing what Rand and Ron did and infiltrate the two parties and change them from within?

    I don’t have all (any?) of the answers, but I’m interested in at least putting up a fight for what I believe, and it’s worth it to me to make small step-changes. I’m not at all suggesting we need to vote Hillary cuz gay marriage or Trump cuz less foreign war. I’m talking about ideas to get people to understand libertarian principles and maybe convert enough people that we can see some steps towards liberty.

    …. sigh… I just wrote all that and even I feel like it’ll be a waste of time. I keep forgetting most people are retarded.

    1. Where are the ideas about doing what Rand and Ron did and infiltrate the two parties and change them from within?

      Reason has become the biggest culprit. Endless articles about “what’s wrong” and very little about “what could be right.”

    2. The nihilistic infiltrators do not contribute money or votes. The Solomon Asch experiment proved that only 25% of a population grasps obvious reality. Activists are like sheepdogs moving large herds. Our constitution proves that with 2% of the vote the communists moved the income tax into the civil war, then into the tariff act, then finally into the Constituion. Prohibitionists did much the same, or someone would deny it. Those facts indicate change is like a thrust vector overcoming inertia and hanging the momentum of a large mass. Our spoiler votes have accelerated this product of centuries of graft for 45 years, until the change is now perceptible even to Gallup. OF COURSE the looters want us to ban abortion, shoot dogs and children over pot and sack and pillage through asset forfeiture like them. They are about to lose those powers. They will make up any lie in order to continue to rob, murder and enslave, and will deny everything until the trapdoor drops and the noose snaps taut–just like at Nuremberg.

  24. If only libertarians would give up their pro-immigration, anti-spending, and pro-free-trade beliefs, then they could get behind Trump!

  25. To get to a libertarian society in one fell swoop would, at this point, require a violent revolution and a bloodbath.

    The problem is that there are very few historical examples of sustained incremental libertarian progress. Unlike the multitude of historical examples of sustained incremental government expansion.

    It may be there just is no good way to get incrementally more free. Its something I struggle with. I could happily sign on for incremental change, but it seems like the proverbial unicorn.

    Look at medpot – supposedly an incremental advance toward legal pot, but it has spawned its own crony capitalist Bootlegger-and-Baptist opposition to legal pot.

  26. Lol, about a month ago my article “Breaking up with libertarianism” was published on the Quillette website, making similar arguments to the ones that Stossel is responding to here. The piece is available at…..tarianism/

  27. What we NEED to do is market ourselves effectively.

    There is this idiocy called ‘the sharing economy’. What is it?

    It is the naked free market. It is a person, using their property to make a living all on their own. Uber and Lyft and companies like them have devised an intermediate that disguises this, that makes it seem to air brained millenials to fall right in line with their insipid beliefs.

    But it doesn’t. It relies on private property, and free ownership. On individual choice and need.

    Or imagine that one could end the abrogation of the right of free association simply by altering the agency of the segregator. ‘NO Whites Allowed’ sounds a lot more like privilege.

    There are libertarian paths to all the hippy lefty crap Nick drools over–we fail in trying to take the hippy lefty path to them as a ‘victory’–it is not, it is invariably an expansion of the state.

    We need to offer the same stuff–but from OUR direction. Legalization because the government has no right to tell you what to put in or do with your body. Alternate forms of marriage because the State should not be involved in how two or more consenting adults join their families. Secure borders because there is no ‘commons’ to have a tragedy of and trespassers can be shot. Easy immigration because anyone can hire anyone from anywhere so long as they’re willing to bring them in–and anyone can buy in, so long as they can pay. Make it pretty–but make sure it’s tanstaafl.

    1. I’ve noticed something that goes along with your “sharing economy” point. Ever notice that when central economic planning and regulation produce shortages, a free market solution invariably arises? It’s usually disparaged by those in power and labeled “the black market”, but would it not be more accurately referred to as an unregulated free market? It delivers when the dominant, controlled economy fails.

      What’s more, it naturally arises. No need to for “democritization” or “regulatory optimization”. Pricing evolves and takes into account costs and risks. In fact – and here is the true wonder of it all – not only does it thrive without regulation, it arises to meet demands IN SPITE OF LAWS SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED TO CRUSH IT. Drug and alcohol prohibition prove this. Hell, it’s so effective that it turns those who are tasked with destroying it to its own ends. *This* needs to be repeated constantly: the free market gets shit done. If we can’t appeal on principle, we can just point to the practical benefits.

  28. How about a THIRD path?
    We’ve established that sticking to the puritan guns of Libertarianism means 1% and a fight to even get on the ballot every single time.
    We’ve read above that compromising principles has it’s own set of problems.

    But why on earth doesn’t the LP (the actual party, not the huge number of folks, like myself, who are “Libertarian-leaning”) COOPERATE with other like minded parties? Instead of putting a presidential candidate forward in a impossible effort to even get attention, rather find and draw from the mainstream parties and other 3rd parties and form a coalition?

    Would that win? Certainly not in the short term, but this would get a lot more recognition, to be sure – esp. if such a coalition draws 5% of the vote. It is hard to join with others that have religious or socialist or statist views, but it’s not an endorsement of those, it’s merely an acceptance that there is some common ground.

    Libertarians are for equality, for limited govt, for free markets – find common ground with others.

  29. While enduring the self-congratulatory Derp Stream that is social media, I’ve pondered how to better get our message out. So far I have:
    1)Drawing a clearer connection to services like Uber and emphasizing the power of free markets, as mentioned earlier.
    2) PR: Five minute vids from Reason are fine for those who already agree, but do little to convince others. I’ve noticed that relatively short, pithy, easily-shareable-via-social-media vids that keep the message simple seem to work.
    3) If compromises are to be made, let it be this: The best weapon against us (at least in the minds of those who see govt as a benevolent, near-magical institution) is our opposition to state welfare. No matter how many times it’s pointed out to them that voting to allocate other people’s resources towards social ills doesn’t make THEM a hero, it’s not gonna sink in. The glow they get from just stepping into a voting booth and “doing the right thing…for the children” is too great. So fine, let ’em have it. Steer clear of gutting welfare and instead emphasize the freeing of markets and the elimination of licensing/zoning regs. If naysayers are afraid of evil capitalists running amok, advocate for stronger, clearer liability laws. But keep welfare, only reforming it to supplement income (perhaps guaranteed minimum income). Once people can provide for themselves in a free market, the demand for social services will shrink.

    It won’t be Libertopia, but it’ll be damn closer than we are now.

    1. Problem: In Brazil the Pope of Rome says men with guns should ban contraceptives and abortion, therefore the poor cannot afford them. When the current looter party took office and sent cheap care packages to the families forced by superstition and law to breed like rats, infant mortality rates fell faster. There are the horns of dilemma. The best out is to advocate individual rights for women, but the church that burned people alive for centuries will come gunning for your candidates the way the GOP wishes it could here. The issue can go on a back burner, or the mosquito/pinhead crisis can be exploited. The nascent libertarianish party just getting started is NOT getting sucked into attacking those issues head on at this time.

  30. When I first discovered the LP in 1980, someone claiming to represent the “movement” asserted that “we” should surrender to the communist empire because resisting would endanger others from fallout and thus violate the NAP. Since then I have seen well-briefed brainwashers circulate the most bizarre fabrications in an effort to turn nonaggression from an instrument of freedom–written by Ayn Rand while Christian National Socialists were being hanged for genocide in Nuremberg–into a fountain of fallacies that ignore the definition of menacing, basic probability theory, the calculus of tradeoffs, the definition of a health hazard, and all of the foundations of industrial society. Never does a detractor quite exactly what Ayn Rand said about nonaggression and then expose a fallacy in her premises or methods of inference. I like caricatures, understand how fun it is to poke fun, but the only ones deriving idiotic conclusions from the NAP are socialists and fascists, and LP candidates ought not to accept those fallacies and equivocations as anything other than specious gibberish.

  31. I don’t think it’s a matter of giving up libertarian principles to get elected, but understanding that we can’t have a utopia overnight. I think candidates should clearly state their ideals, but then offer practical intermediary policy changes that can get us there or at least as close as possible given the current political climate.

    Immigration is a prime example. While the libertarian position may be to have open borders with very little government control, this is practically incompatible with a large welfare system. People flood in, get on welfare, then vote for democrats out of their dependence on those benefits.

    Where a better plan is to throttle the control of immigrants while we reduce the welfare state and improve the economy through deregulation to create an environment where immigration is not an issue and we can not only open the gates but promote more immigration.With more people providing for themselves vs. living off handouts, they will vote for their own self-interest of lower taxes and less government making our position stronger.

  32. Stossel…as a card carrying elite – what principles!!!!!!!!!

  33. I think before we can expect any third party to win, we need to change our system of voting to include an alternate at the time of the general election. In a system where the most votes win across all candidates a two party system is mathematically inevitable as people will vote against who the hate worst not for who they want the most.

    For example if in the general election Hillary, Trump, and Gary ran, you could vote for Gary, then Trump as the alternate.

    So I would vote for Gary, then if he failed to get a majority, my vote would then transfer to Trump. So instead of Gary getting 20%, Trump getting 39% and Hillary getting 41% and being declared the winner, Gary’s votes would transfer to Trump giving him 59% and the win. This removes the fear of “I must vote Trump to keep Hillary from winning”

  34. We, at Politics of Logic love what you do John, but got to take issue with this position. The biggest mistake Libertarians make is the high and mighty, refuse to vote b/c Republicans & Dems are all part of the problem mentality. The party of JFK party of low taxes & strong defense didn’t turn into the Obama/Pelosi party of social welfare & lead from behind overnight. The extreme left chipped away & moved the Dems Left.

    Ron Paul has done more for the cause of Libertarians than anyone in at least a generation & he did it from inside the Republican party. He didn’t “Fail”. The Republican party wasn’t ready for Ron Paul, but Paul moved the party toward the cause of Liberty. And Rand Paul didn’t fail b/c Libertarianism failed – Ted Cruz is just better at being the Ron Paul successor in the 2016 climate. Without Ron & Rand, there could be no Cruz.

    Rome wasn’t built in a day and the Libertarian nominee isn’t going to win the presidency or even make the stage. If Libertarians actually want to make the country more Libertarian, they need to work inside the Republican party and accept good over great in the short term. That isn’t surrendering, but sometimes you have to be willing to lose a battle to win the war. Whining about principles isn’t going to get it done. Small incremental gains with the party base that is clearly open to Libertarian principles is the only way we are going to advance the cause of Liberty and Constitutional Government.

    Keep up the good work John!

  35. I think Ron Paul’s biggest shortcoming as a candidate was his fixation on the Fed. Not just the Government but the Fed. Paul is a Gold Bug, a virtual suvivalist. He preaches that the economic world is about to collapse. Just like Harry Brown. Hard money is a classic liberal idea but it is 200 years out of date. That is the problem with the too pure libertarians. It is not a matter of giving up principles. It’s a matter of facing reality. The gold standard argument is over. A politician is no good without an elected office. These guys need to get current.

  36. Libertarianism is antithetical to democracy.

  37. It’s not a matter of giving up your principles, it is prioritizing your talking points. Not much point spending all your time talking about making private discrimination legal when there’s little chance of it happening. More time spent on talking about the size and scope of government means more supporters, so it should be done more often.

  38. It’s certainly been a winning strategy for the two big parties.

  39. It’s certainly been a winning strategy for the two big parties.

  40. Some say libertarians could win politically if they give up their principles.

    Maybe you just have to understand your principles. A country where 90+ percent of the people were farmers, and homesteading still yielded you a farm just like any other is very different in circumstance than one where everything has been fenced off and controlled, from land, to radio waves, to wildlife, to fishes, to streams.

    Libertarians often like Locke and Paine, but few seem to recall the Lockean proviso, or Agrarian Justice.

    Today’s welfare state provides much more than a safety net. It’s become a giant hammock that encourages dependency.

    This is the problem – disparaging those on welfare as loafers, instead of people dispossessed of their natural rights, lured into dependency, and finally punished for attempting to escape that dependency.

    If you, like Romney, are going to view all those dependent on government welfare as implacable enemies, do not be so surprised that they view you in the same way. If you want to be safe from the apparatchiks who would rule your lives, you need some of those dependent on government for their sustenance on your side, and this is only likely to increase as AI and labor regulations squeeze more and more people out of economical viability as employees.

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