Liberty on the Rocks in the Boulder Examiner!

Last week Ryan Gaunt from the Boulder Examiner sat down with me to discuss Liberty on the Rocks:

Do you find yourself thinking what is going on with the free world? Do you ever wonder what happened to the American principles of limited government, individual liberty and free markets? Do you ever wonder where are all the people that still believe in Freedom and why no one in the main stream media, except John Stossel, is talking about freedom? Well Colorado’s own Amanda Teresi did when she co-founded Liberty on the Rocks, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the principles of Freedom that once made America the bastion of a free society.

Liberty on the Rocks is based on the idea of tavern style politics in the tradition of the Founding Fathers. It is a place where people can come together to discuss current political issues and debate the philosophies of old with a uniting theme of Liberty. With the government taking more control of the economy and eroding the protections of the constitution, Liberty on the Rocks is the grassroots movement that is encouraging folks to become active and informed on issues related to Liberty, in a comfortable and relaxed setting. The meetings are informal without set agendas where people can mingle and network or get up in front of the crowd to give a quick speech if they have important information to share.

Liberty on the Rocks doesn’t support or oppose any candidates or parties, it is simply a group working towards spreading the message of Freedom to folks across the country, and it’s going Nationwide. Chapters have started up in eleven states and even one in Vancouver, Canada. “Free Market think tanks should be considered cool”, Amanda Teresi said over a cup coffee. Amanda, who is the current president of Liberty on the Rocks, established this organization to encourage people to learn the principles of liberty in a way that is more in depth than watching the news. The Liberty on the Rocks social networks encourage liberty-lovers from all political backgrounds to share ideas on liberty and discuss the ways it can be maintained in America. They also point guests towards local and national organizations that have completed research on these issues, so they have opportunities to better educate themselves as well.

“The people are the defenders of the constitution, not the government”, said Amanda Teresi, “Someone is always going to try to grab as much power as they can and it is up to an educated and informed public to keep that power in check”. Amanda is an informed and active citizen who wants people to know of the best places to look for information on current issues, such as from organizations like the CATO institute, Reason, the Mises institute, the Independence Institute and Lew Rockwell.com.

Because of the activism of Liberty minded people, the idea of a Free nation is still alive and well as represented by Liberty on the Rocks. As Amanda touted ,”If a nation expects to be ignorant and free…it expects what never was and never will be.” If you are looking for a fun place to grab a drink and have some enlightening discussions while learning how to get more involved in the liberty movement, than Liberty on the Rocks would Love to see you at one of their next meetings. To find a chapter near you, visit www.LibertyOnTheRocks.org, or email Amanda directly at Amanda@libertyontherocks.org.

I’m Glad Scott Brown Voted for the Jobs Bill…

…early on that is.  At least everyone was paying attention.

While myself and others recognized that Scott Brown was not a liberty-loving fellow and were expecting this kind of behavior, it hasn’t been seen that way across the country (until now, hopefully).  All most people knew was that he was running against a Democrat and he said he wouldn’t vote for Obama’s healthcare bill.  But did many listen when he mentioned he wouldn’t vote for it because he thought he could instead make it better?

What I’m trying to say is that we shouldn’t be surprised by his vote to advance this bill.  His stance is that government can and should help people better their lives. He stated that he “…came to Washington to be an independent voice, to put politics aside and to do everything in [his] power to help create jobs for Massachusetts families.” [emphasis mine]  If we wanted a truly liberty-oriented candidate who believes in the constitution, it would have been someone who would never claim that the government is the answer to our problems, rather that they are the problem themselves. Not only should the government not be in the business of bettering anyone’s lives, they are unable to! If you frequent the post office, DMV or pay any attention to politics whatsoever, it should have been clear long ago that the government does not run things well and should be limited to the strict confinements of the constitution. Scott Brown let us down by advancing government rather than diminishing it.

I am glad that Scott made his move when people were watching. All I can hope is that as a nation we are learning our lessons, and it seems that we are. I have been quite pleased with the outrage today by those on the “center-right”, and am happy to see that very few are sticking up for him. However, we still have a long way to go and cannot stop now.  For those of us who truly care about restoring liberty to this republic, there is plenty of hard work ahead.

Disclaimer: Liberty on the Rocks is a non-partisan organization and does not endorse or oppose any candidate in any election.

The Strategy – A Long Term Approach to Freedom

Rather than simply trying to pick the best candidates, I see the goal as trying to encourage more people to consider and look into (for lack of a better term) *Libertarian ideals.  This is not as a ploy to get new Libertarian registrations (which I don’t see as bad), but rather to get more people thinking with a “Libertarian” mindset.  If a majority of individuals begin to adopt three quarters (or more) of the Libertarian argument, we will no doubt see a change in what happens in our government.  Could you imagine if most of the people in this country demanded free trade, fewer regulations, less spending and taxes and an increase in individual rights across the board?

I see an informed majority demanding real change in government as the only way to truly bring freedom back to America.  Legislators often do what the majority demands.  It is not as though many don’t want universal health care; the problem is that too many do.  And too many vote over and over again to tax and spend the money of the so-called “rich”.  The only way I see us ever getting on the course intended by our Founding Fathers is for liberty-minded folks to become the majority.  We need to inform people, and to encourage them to keep an open mind.  But we must first start with ourselves.  We, the lovers of freedom and justice, must keep our minds open and learn all we can.  To assume we know it all is a dangerous thought.  It makes us close our minds to new ideas and can dampen our efforts at influencing others.

We must be the advocates of freedom, and weave our fight into our daily routine.  Over dinner, drinks or casual conversation, we can mention (without malice) things others may not know and ask their opinion.  These ideas must get into everyday conversations around the country, and those who truly wish to defend our individual liberties must find a way to do so.

To help start the process of getting new ideas into the mainstream, Liberty on the Rocks has created (super cool) informational stickers.  These are the first two, and there will be more to follow.  They will eventually come in the form of t-shirts.  We hope this helps to get the conversation started, even if it only plays a small part.

By purchasing one or more stickers today, you will not only help to start the conversation by proudly displaying your stickers, but you will also help to fuel the nationwide Liberty on the Rocks movement.  All proceeds go to Liberty on the Rocks – both its educational efforts and the expansion of its social networks on a national scale.   Get yours today!

LOTR Stickers

To order your sticker, simply send cash or check to:

Liberty on the Rocks
P.O. BOX 9632
Denver, CO

Stickers are $5.00 a piece.  Please be sure to put in a short note listing the sticker(s) you want and your return address.

These stickers can also be purchased at the following Liberty on the Rocks meet-ups: Denver, Red Rocks and the Denver Tech Center.

*I use the word Libertarian because it’s the best way, in my opinion, to sum up the idea of an “advocate for liberty and justice”.  I am not for or against any party. I am an advocate of principle.

Relearning History – The Truth About Rockefeller

Remember learning about the so-called “Robber Baron’s” in high school?  Or as Michael Moore would say, those evil capitalists who took all the wealth in the country and left nothing for their fellow man?  The ones who created monopolies by trashing the little guy and charging exorbitant prices to the consumer.  Remember them?

Would it be a big surprise if I told you there was a different story behind these individuals?  That they actually helped the economy grow and helped make consumers and workers better off? Would you be surprised if I told you your teacher may not have told you the truth about men like Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller?

If you are someone who believes companies should be as inefficient as possible, just so long as everyone has a job, you might still believe Rockefeller to be a “Robber Baron”. If you think prices for commodities should stay as high as possible to benefit those in the business, then you might not have liked the guy much.  But if you believe the opposite, read on.

I recently read a fantastic article in the Objective Standard that discusses the real history of John D. Rockefeller, and the process by which his Standard Oil Company rose to claim around 90% of market share in oil refining from 1879-1899.

Unfortunately for most of us, we didn’t get the full story when learning about industrialists such as Rockefeller.  Most of us learned what was written by Ida Tarbell or Henry Lloyd; people who didn’t know much about economics, and were unable to see what Standard Oil did for America.

Because of the wealth generated by Standard Oil, Rockefeller is still able to give away his wealth to this day.  One tribute to his glory is the Rockefeller Center in New York, where they have the annual Rockefeller Tree Lighting.

I encourage people to take a second look at some of the things they learned in school.  The concept of “Robber Barons” and private companies creating “evil” monopolies is simply one of these bits of misinformation.  Read this article, entitled, “Vindicating Capitalism: The Real History of the Standard Oil Company” by Alex Epstein.  It is a little long, but easy to read and well worth it.  Epstein begins by quoting some of the nasty things said about Rockefeller.  The first of which was written in an essay by Henry Lloyd entitled, “The Story of a Great Monopoly”, where he alerts readers to the fact that Standard Oil “…produces only one fiftieth or sixtieth of our petroleum, but dictates the price of all, and refines nine tenths.”

Epstein quickly points out that the information most of us have about Rockefeller is untrue.  Being able to operate in a free economy simply allowed him to produce kerosene and other products better, faster and cheaper than ever before.  Before he had entered the market, no other businessman in the kerosene industry had discovered a way to produce more efficiently, in order to offer a better product at a better price.  Things were mostly done in a sloppy manner, which made the price of kerosene more expensive than it needed to be.  It also made it dangerous.  Because many small business owners in this industry didn’t have the right tools and temperature gauges to properly make kerosene, thousands of  fire deaths were reported each year throughout the 1860’s and 1870’s.

Rockefeller was a smart businessman.  He saw an opportunity to make money in the market by selling a product that people wanted.  And he did it better than anyone else!  He made his refinery bigger, invested in research and development to discover new ways to use resources so less would go to waste, he paid his employees wages higher than market price to attract the best and brightest.  Essentially he made smart decisions where others didn’t.  All of this revolutionized the refining industry.  He created more jobs than would have been created without his brilliant mind and the ability to operate in a free market.  He brought the price of kerosene down for consumers and made it safer.  In 1865 kerosene cost fifty-eight cents a gallon.  Due to competition in a free marketplace (and Rockefeller entering the market), by 1870 it was twenty-six cents a gallon and by 1874, ten cents.  How can anyone be against that?  The truth is that he helped the price go down, not up. He not only paid and treated his employees well, but they were there on their own volition!  He did not force anyone to do anything, whether it was to buy his product or work in his factories.

If we are ever to start understanding the truth about free market capitalism and how well it works, the first step is to get our facts straight.  I know they aren’t, because two years ago as a student teacher I taught a class the lessons from Lloyd and Tarbell, because that was what I was told to teach.  If I had known any better, I would have taught it differently, but I am certain that a majority of teachers would not.  That is why I encourage you to read this article on Rockefeller – and then pass it on to a friend.

Government cannot offer good service

With the looming government run health care bill that may be taking over the health care industry in the United States, we might as well just say screw the children….and the elderly, and the middle aged.

What I find so crazy about this entire situation, is the way people talk about the government coming in and saving us all by magically offering everyone health care.  Doesn’t anyone watch the news?  I personally do so as little as possible (they hardly talk about anything useful), but all it takes is to turn it on every once in a while.  All they can talk about is how bankrupt each of the states are.  How there isn’t enough money for this or that program.  Schools need more money, budgets are being cut, the federal government needs to send funds to desperate states that cannot pay the bills.  But somehow, just somehow, we are going to pass a trillion dollar health care bill that will cover everyone (remember, a trillion has 12 zeros)?  What??  Did everyone just forget about how we can’t even afford what is currently in our federal or state budgets?  Not to mention the fact that unemployment is up to 10%.  Which is really closer to 18-20% if you add in all the folks who stopped looking for a job or have settled on part-time employment for the time being.  So what is this bill doing that will affect this unemployment rate?  It’s forcing employers to pay for health insurance for all their workers (with some small exceptions).  Hmmm.  I could have sworn that would be anti-job growth as it takes money away from those we want to start hiring people.  But  I sure am not a politician, so how would I know?

It’s time that America admitted the truth, that this bill cannot work.  It is impossible.

If people really think the government (subsidized by taxpayers don’t forget) will be able to pay for everyone to have the best health insurance, they must not pay much attention to the services they offer currently.  They must not frequent the post office, or the DMV/DOT.  They must not have heard how horribly our public schools compare to those of other countries – which is not because they are underfunded.  It’s not because of bad teachers.  It’s because it’s a monopoly that doesn’t have to make a profit or prove to anyone that they are doing a good job (they just have to make you feel bad for “the children” and vote to give them more money).  You will see the same with government run health care.  They will find ways to cut back on costs by cutting back on care.  Just like they do with everything else.  They will also find ways to cut back by dictating how people live their lives.  Just as they do in Japan where they measure your waistline to see that you’re under the government ordained weight.

Just as the social conservatives must realize that the government cannot dictate morals, the left must be able to see that they cannot force people to be healthy either.  Freedom allows good behavior to be rewarded (eating healthy + exercise = lower insurance costs and little to no hospital bills) and bad behavior (unhealthy eating + no exercise = high health care costs and a large number of hospital bills) to be discouraged.  When we give everyone the same price tag on health insurance (unless you’re wealthy, then you pay much more), what is the benefit of being healthy?  It’s nice to not get fined, but most people are ok to get monetary fines every once in a while if it means living as they choose.

Democrat Makes Clear What he Thinks Gov’t Will do to Health Care Industry

In a magnificent editorial written in Complete Colorado, Colorado’s Complete News Source, it becomes clear what Representative Jared Polis sees for the future of health care in America if government run health care is passed.

Polis is a self-made millionaire, having co-founded his first company, American Information Systems, while still in college.  While he may be a liberal, he is no dummy when it comes to understanding what the free market can produce.  That is why this story, written by Todd Shepherd, editor and founder of Complete Colorado, is so dang interesting.  Give it a quick read to find out what Jared’s insights are related to the future of health care in America if Obama Health Care is passed.

Obama Health Care Debate with Hugh Hewitt

I attended a health care debate last night between national radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt and CU Law Professor Paul Campos.  As I listened to the debate, I could not believe the things coming out of the liberal Law Professor’s mouth, but even more so, I was awestruck and disappointed by the things that Hugh never said.

One argument Professor Campos made was that we spend more on health in America than other developed nations, due to high administrative costs, which he claimed were 30% of the overall cost.  I have not researched this myself but I believe it to be true.  The question I wanted Hugh to respond with (and answer) would have been, “Why are we spending so much on administrative costs?”  Part of the reason for this is people treat insurance as something that is meant to cover every routine check-up and doctor visit, instead of simply covering catastrophic events, such as a major illness or accident.  When a doctors office must file myriad amounts of paperwork for insurance companies simply to see a patient who has the sniffles, it is no doubt going to raise the costs due to the time it takes to do such things.  Also, when the insurance industry is getting a cut every time someone sees the doctor, it raises costs as now there are more people who need to get paid.  Ari Armstrong, of FreeColorado.com, points out that the reason insurance should be left to cover catastrophic events is that “…if you force insurers to cover routine, expected costs, the premiums will grow much more expensive. Because holders of this alleged “insurance” bear no direct costs for their health decisions, they are less thoughtful about how they use medical services.” The second point he makes here is that when people aren’t spending their own money (i.e. they are billing it to their insurance company) they have no reason to shop around for the best price, or to consider whether they really need to see the doctor.  This makes it much more expensive than it should be to have high-risk health insurance in the case something goes terribly awry.

Another point iterated by Professor Campos was there wasn’t enough competition in the health industry, which made prices go up and service go down.  It is therefore necessary, he asserted, that government step in to create competition.  To my surprise, Hewitt did not make a meaningful argument against this ludicrous statement. The fact is there isn’t near as much competition in the marketplace for health insurance as there could be.  But to assert that it is a market failure is more or less to utter that you have no idea what a free market is.  A free marketplace allows anyone to enter into the game and compete with their products or service.  Mr. Campos is therefore making the conjecture that there simply aren’t enough people out there who want to make money in health insurance.  Do we really believe this is the case?  The real reason there isn’t as much competition in the marketplace is because of government – not market failure.  Due to the tax code which provides tax breaks for employers who offer health insurance, more people rely on employer-based insurance as opposed to buying their own plans.  This limits their choice and makes it harder for them to determine the actual costs of the plan, in addition to making it non-portable.  When people lose or change their job, they also lose their insurance.  Why doesn’t the government just allow tax breaks to individuals when they buy insurance for themselves?  A phenomenal article called Moral Health Care vs. “Universal Health Care” by Dr. Paul Hsieh and Lin Zinser touches on many of the government regulations that have restricted competition in health insurance, including the inability to buy across state lines. To say that the government must be brought in to introduce competition in the marketplace is more than a joke, it is entirely contrary to the truth.  I only wish Hugh would have made mention of it.

Denver 9/12 Rally

It’s always nice to be surrounded by those who understand the importance of liberty, and it’s even better when they are people who plan to fight for it.  That was the feeling I got from this past rally on the steps of the state capitol in Denver, Colorado.  There was a good turnout of about 1,500-2,500 people (I’m terrible at estimating, but I got the figures from a few other sources).  Those who spoke discussed the importance of liberty and the reasons why we must get it back in this country, as it has been missing for some time.

One of the speakers, Jon Caldara of the Independence Institute, made it clear that we the people are the last line of defense against the onslaught of socialism.  It will not be up to the politicians in the next few years to determine the fate of the country, it will be up to us.  And we MUST take a stand! Watch the second half of his speech:

Jon Caldara Speaks at Denver 9/12 Rally

I could not agree more with this assertion and so I urge everyone to do what they can to fight for freedom.  It can be as simple as using your voice.  Tell your friends, your family and your neighbors.  Educate yourself on the issues to be sure you can fully articulate the morality of capitalism and free markets.  From there, spread the word!  America needs us to fight for liberty  – so who is with me?

The Empirical Evidence Against Big Government

While liberty-minded individuals understand the concept of why big government is bad for an economy (usually because they are the ones who study economics), it is still very important to relay the facts and statistics whenever possible – as proof for those who believe big government is good for prosperity.  This six minute video clip by the Center for Freedom and Prosperity compares countries in the western hemisphere in order to determine which have the highest levels of GDP per capita, per capita gross national income and individual consumption per capita (more disposable income).  The highest levels are no doubt in the United States, which has the least amount of government spending compared to the four other countries (for now).

Remember the saying your teachers told you throughout middle school, that knowledge is power?  Well it is!  So check out the video as well as the Center for Freedom and Prosperity’s website, and share these statistics with your friends!

The Empirical Evidence Against Big Government

Brigitte Gabriel – A Woman of Passion

I wasn’t aware of Brigitte Gabriel, President and Founder of American Congress for Truth, until last March.  I heard her speak at a retreat I attended in Colorado Springs, Colorado for the Leadership Program of the Rockies.  At first, I wasn’t as excited to hear her speak as I was to hear other speakers, such as Dr. Yaron Brooks, President of the Ayn Rand Institute.  The reason being that the war had been going on for years, and although I still care deeply for our soldiers and the cause of freedom and protecting this country, I just wasn’t into the discussion of terrorism.  I just felt I heard it enough throughout the Bush years to last me a lifetime, and quite frankly, I didn’t know what to believe anymore.   Besides, I had been studying free market capitalism as well as the philosophy of Objectivism, and I just wanted to hear more about that!

Once she began to speak I could not take my eyes off of her or stop listening to her story.  A beautiful woman in her early forties, Brigitte was emphatic, full of life and proud to be an American by choice.  She was born in Lebanon in 1965 into a Christian family.  Not many years later, her and her family were in the middle of the Lebanese Civil War, which was not friendly to Christians.  Her story was gripping, terrifying and utterly devastating.  Although I expected her story to be the same old talk I’ve heard in the past, it was not ten minutes into her speech that I was tearing up uncontrollably.  By the middle, I was all out sobbing.  And I wasn’t the only one.  The story Brigitte told was that of her life growing up.  She talked about the constant fear her and her family suffered at the hands of those who hated them simply for being Christians.  She told us why her parents wouldn’t take her to Beruit one year as a child for Christmas; because once the war started there were checkpoints set up throughout the country, and Christians were taken from their cars to be shot on the spot.  She told us stories of how families hiding out in bomb shelters would be tortured and mutilated when found by the enemy.  She told us such horrible stories that I could hardly bare to listen, yet I could not leave the room.  She really opened my eyes, which have been shut for a while, to the reality that we face in this world; that there are people who hate us enough to kill us without knowing who we are.  People from many different religions and walks of life.  And while I won’t say that I now trust the government (which I see as separate from the military) to correctly determine which enemy poses an imminent threat  to our lives and/or our freedom, I will say that I support, and would personally administer, any action necessary to keep myself and my loved ones alive and free.  I would also support anyone who wanted to hear Brigitte speak.  It is very much worth hearing what she has to say, even if it’s only through a youtube video.