Latest Issue Of The Liberator Online Released

The Liberator Online is an online newsletter published regularly by the Advocates for Self-Government, the home of the World’s Smallest Political Quiz.

Volume 18, No. 12                                        June 20, 2013
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The Liberator Onlinefor everyone who loves Liberty
Published by The Advocates for Self-Government

“The Advocates is revolutionizing the libertarian movement. I encourage you to be generous in your support.”– David Bergland, 1984 Libertarian Party presidential candidate and author of Libertarianism in One Lesson

WELCOME to the Liberator Online!In This Issue

PRESIDENT’S CORNER
* Thomas Jefferson’s Final Fourth of July

INTELLECTUAL AMMUNITION
* Privacy: You DO Have Something to Hide
* VIDEO: Remy Sings “Tap It: NSA Slow Jam”
* Libertarian Party: Why Don’t Politicians Apologize When the Stock Market Goes Up?
* The Question Libertarians Can’t Answer… Answered

THEY SAID IT: Jay Leno lambasts the surveillance state…. Letterman skewers the IRS…. Conan O’Brien laughs at language legislators…. Sen. Ted Cruz’s home-run tweet on arming the Syrian rebels…. conservative leaders Jonah Goldberg and Sarah Palin hail libertarians…. Rand Paul says don’t trust the government…. Glenn Greenwald on how  Democrats came to embrace government surveillance and war (just like the CIA predicted they would)….

PERSUASION POWER POINT #350 by Michael Cloud
Few People Love Liberty for Its Own Sake; Millions Love Liberty for What It Does for Them

ASK DR. RUWART by Mary Ruwart
* How effective is government welfare compared to private charity?

ONE-MINUTE LIBERTY TIP by Sharon Harris
* The Surveillance Scandal: The Right — and the Wrong –Terms

WHAT’S HAPPENING WITH THE ADVOCATES
* FREE OPH KITS for libertarian student groups!
* Join the Advocates on Twitter
* Join the Advocates on Facebook
* 2014 Freedom Cruises

President’s Corner

by Sharon Harris

Thomas Jefferson’s Final Fourth of July The Fourth of July — Independence Day — is almost here. Like most libertarians, the Fourth means far more to me than just picnics and fireworks.

The Fourth of July meant a lot to Thomas Jefferson, too.

In 1826, when he was 86 years old, Jefferson was invited by the mayor of Washington, D.C. to join in a celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. However, the grand old man of liberty was too ill to make the journey.

So he sent a letter reluctantly declining, written with his typical eloquence and passion. It turned out to be his last political statement, as Jefferson died ten days later — on the Fourth of July.

Here is what he wrote:

“May [the Declaration of Independence] be to the world, what I believe it will be, (to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all), the Signal of arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government.

“That form [of government] which we have substituted, restores the free right to the unbounded exercise of reason and freedom of opinion. All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God. These are grounds of hope for others.

“For ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them.”

Yes! These are words all who love liberty can take to heart. This July 4th, let us dedicate ourselves anew to that most glorious of political causes: bringing to life Jefferson’s great vision of a world of liberty for all.

In liberty,

Sharon
sharon@theadvocates.org

* * *
The purpose of the Liberator Online is to build a stronger movement for liberty. We do this by providing information about the libertarian movement and how to best communicate the ideas of liberty. Thank you for being a part of this!

Learn more about the Advocates and our work for liberty.

Learn more about libertarianism — the philosophy of liberty.

Intellectual Ammunition

by James W. Harris 

Privacy: You DO Have Something to Hide

“If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.”

This is surely the most tedious argument in favor of government spying on innocent citizens. 

And it’s not just annoying, it’s dead wrong. You probably DO have something to hide. Something that could get you in real trouble.

So says Moxie Marlinspike — former director of application security at Twitter and co-founder and CTO of Whisper Systems — in an enlightening and frightening article at Wired.com entitled “Why ‘I Have Nothing to Hide’ Is the Wrong Way to Think About Surveillance.”

Marlinspike quotes James Duane, a professor at Regent Law School and former defense attorney:

“Estimates of the current size of the body of federal criminal law vary. It has been reported that the Congressional Research Service cannot even count the current number of federal crimes. These laws are scattered in over 50 titles of the United States Code, encompassing roughly 27,000 pages. Worse yet, the statutory code sections often incorporate, by reference, the provisions and sanctions of administrative regulations promulgated by various regulatory agencies under congressional authorization. Estimates of how many such regulations exist are even less well settled, but the ABA thinks there are ‘nearly 10,000.'”

That’s right. The federal government cannot even count how many federal laws there are. Indeed, no one knows them all.

Nevertheless, you can face severe penalties if you unwittingly break one.

Therefore, asks Marlinspike, “If the federal government can’t even count how many laws there are, what chance does an individual have of being certain that they are not acting in violation of one of them?”

Marlinspike then quotes Supreme Court Justice Breyer:

“The complexity of modern federal criminal law, codified in several thousand sections of the United States Code and the virtually infinite variety of factual circumstances that might trigger an investigation into a possible violation of the law, make it difficult for anyone to know, in advance, just when a particular set of statements might later appear (to a prosecutor) to be relevant to some such investigation.”

And if you think we’re talking about variations on things like murder, robbery and assault, think again.

Marlinspike writes: “For instance, did you know that it is a federal crime to be in possession of a lobster under a certain size? It doesn’t matter if you bought it at a grocery store, if someone else gave it to you, if it’s dead or alive, if you found it after it died of natural causes, or even if you killed it while acting in self defense. You can go to jail because of a lobster.

“If the federal government had access to every email you’ve ever written and every phone call you’ve ever made, it’s almost certain that they could find something you’ve done which violates a provision in the 27,000 pages of federal statues or 10,000 administrative regulations.

“You probably do have something to hide, you just don’t know it yet.”

VIDEO: Remy Sings “Tap It: NSA Slow Jam”

Oh yeah! Reason TV presents the perfect song for this moment in history: a brilliant and hilarious music video on the NSA spy scandal, written and performed by the great comedian Remy.

“Tap It: NSA Slow Jam” manages the unusual feat of being laugh-out-loud funny and paranoia-inducing creepy at the same time. Pay close attention to the wonderful lyrics (which can be found at the same URL as the video).

Highly recommended! When you’re done laughing, share it with friends. Be aware, of course, that you’ll quite likely be sharing it with your uninvited online buddies at the NSA as well. Hope they’ve got a sense of humor.

Watch the Video

Libertarian Party: Why Don’t Politicians Apologize When the Stock Market Goes Up?

The Libertarian Party is asking an unusual and thought-provoking question: Why don’t Democrats and most Republicans apologize to the American people when the stock market goes up?

Think about it. When the stock market drops, politicians invariably exclaim: “Thank goodness we didn’t privatize Social Security! Just look how much people would have lost in the stock market!”

But what about when the market goes… up? Imagine the potential earnings that Americans coerced into Social Security have lost because the government won’t let them control their retirement assets.

“After an almost uninterrupted bull market since March 2009 and six consecutive months of stock market gains, why haven’t politicians who are against any kind of privatization of Social Security apologized to the American people?” asks Libertarian National Committee member William Redpath.

“More than two thirds of workers pay more in payroll taxes than the individual income tax. That is money that is forcibly taken from them by the government that they could invest to build real wealth over the course of their working lives, or money that could be spent to make their lives better today.

“Instead, workers are forced into a system in which their payroll taxes are immediately given to current retirees or spent by the government in other ways.

“People should be free to keep their payroll taxes and use those funds as they see fit. If they choose to save and invest, it doesn’t have to be in the stock market. It could be in more conservative investments. However, the stock market has been the best investment over the long run, and attempts by politicians to demonize it harm the American people.”

In fact, notes Redpath — who is a licensed CPA and a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) — during any 20-year period going back to at least 1926, the stock market has never had a negative return. According to Morningstar, $1 invested in a basket of small company stocks at the end of 1925 would have been worth $18,365 at the end of 2012.

Indeed, Social Security is a lousy deal for citizens in many ways, Redpath points out.

“Social Security returns are paltry at best and negative for some people. But the big enchilada that no defender of the status quo will address is this: Americans have no personal property rights in their future Social Security benefits. All Americans are beholden to future Congresses for their benefits. And, benefits can’t be passed onto their children and grandchildren, as private accounts could be,” says Redpath.

Plus, of course, Social Security is headed to insolvency, due to its Ponzi Scheme structure.

“Libertarians call for phasing out the current government-sponsored Social Security system and transitioning to a private voluntary system,” adds Geoffrey J. Neale, current chair of the Libertarian National Committee. “This will remove the looming threat of insolvency while allowing everyone… to be self-sufficient and prosperous in their golden years.”

The Question Libertarians Can’t Answer… Answered

Michael Lind, progressive co-founder of the New America Foundation, recentlywrote an article entitled “The question libertarians just can’t answer: If your approach is so great, why hasn’t any country anywhere in the world ever tried it?”

Asks Lind: “Why are there no libertarian countries? If libertarians are correct in claiming that they understand how best to organize a modern society, how is it that not a single country in the world in the early twenty-first century is organized along libertarian lines?”

Lind presumes this is a devastating attack on the very foundation of libertarian thought. Indeed, he asks, why isn’t libertarianism “discredited by the absence of any libertarian regimes in the real world?”

Of course, many libertarians realize this is not a new question at all. It’s actually quite common.

And there are many good answers to it — as libertarians promptly proved by providing them.

Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation, not only provided his own excellent answer, but did libertarians a further favor by offering links to some of the best answers.

Here are the links Hornberger offered (and a few more):

Tom Woods Reply Number 1

Tom Woods Reply Number 2

Michael Lind’s Obtuse Attack on Liberty and Libertarianism by Ronald Bailey

Michael Lind’s Bad Argument Against Everything by W.W. Houston

Freedom: The Unfolding Revolution by Jonah Goldberg

Why are there no libertarian countries? by Matt Mitchell

Michael Lind’s Revisionist Libertarian Smear by Ben Domenech

Three Challenges to Libertarian Populism by Ben Domenech

This is just a sampling. There are many other worthwhile and insightful responses on the web.

As libertarianism continues to gain ground, such challenges will be more common. It is vital that libertarians have effective, friendly and persuasive responses. These links offer important information and arguments to let you craft your own answers.

* * * * * * * *
Intellectual Ammunition is written by Liberator Online editor James W. Harris. His articles have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers, and he has been a Finalist for the Mencken Awards, given by the Free Press Association for “Outstanding Journalism in Support of Liberty.”

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They Said It…JAY LENO — BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR: “We wanted a president who listens

to all Americans. Now we have
one.” — Jay Leno, June 7, 2013.WELCOMING THE DEBATE: “President Obama said he welcomes a national debate over our surveillance policies. He said that’s a debate we wouldn’t have had five years ago. Five years ago? It’s a debate we wouldn’t have had two weeks ago if they all hadn’t gotten caught.” — Jay Leno, June 11, 2013.ANYONE KNOW?

 “Anyone know if President Obama intends to perform background checks on the Syrian rebels before providing them weapons?” — tweet from Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), June 18, 2013.RAND PAUL — DON’T TRUST GOV’T: “Our Founders never intended for Americans to trust their government. Our entire Constitution was predicated on the notion that government was a necessary evil, to be restrained and minimized as much as possible. Indiscriminate monitoring of citizens’ records is precisely the kind of general warranting we fought a revolution over. The Colonists did not appreciate a British government that could go door to door, searching anyone and everyone without probable cause or suspicion. …the proper order of things in our constitutional republic is that the government is supposed to fear its citizens, not the other way around.” — Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), “Americans who cherish freedom must push back against government surveillance,” Washington Times op-ed, June 7, 2013.

DEMOCRATS EMBRACE THE SURVEILLANCE STATE: “The most vocal media critics of our NSA reporting, and the most vehement defenders of NSA surveillance, have been, by far, Democratic (especially Obama-loyal) pundits. …one of the most significant aspects of the Obama legacy has been the transformation of Democrats from pretend-opponents of the Bush War on Terror and National Security State into their biggest proponents: exactly what the CIA presciently and excitedly predicted in 2008 would happen with Obama’s election.” – civil liberties journalistGlenn Greenwald, “On Prism, partisanship and propaganda,” The Guardian, June 14, 2013.WE NEED TO MOVE TO LIBERTARIANISM: “The only truly new political idea in the last couple thousand years is this libertarian idea, broadly understood. The revolution wrought by John Locke, Edmund Burke, Adam Smith, and the Founding Fathers is the only real revolution going. And it’s still unfolding. …it’s an ideal I’d like America to move closer to, not further away from as we’ve been doing of late…” — bestselling conservative author and founding editor of National Review Online (NRO)Jonah Goldberg, “Freedom: The unfolding revolution,” NRO, June 14, 2013.

SARAH PALIN SAYS LISTEN TO LIBERTARIANS: “The scandals infecting this city [Washington D.C.], they are a symptom of a bigger disease, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a Republican or a Democrat sitting atop a bloated boot on your neck, out of control government, everybody gets infected, no party is immune. That’s why, I tell you, I’m listening to those independents, those libertarians, who are saying, it is both sides of the aisle, the leadership, the good ol’ boys in the party on both sides of the aisle, they perpetuate the problem.” — 2008 GOP vice presidential candidateSarah Palin, speaking to Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition conference, June 15th, 2013.

GOODEST IDEA YET: “Marco Rubio announced a new bill that would require immigrants to learn English to become citizens. Many Americans already say it’s the goodest news they have heard all year.” — Conan O’Brien, June 11, 2013.
LETTERMAN SKEWERS IRS: “We put up with the IRS. They weasel you and take your hard-earned money. They’ve been taking their tax dollars and throwing themselves lavish parties. I was thinking, ‘Yeah, well, what good is it being a bunch of power-hungry, jack-booted goons if you can’t enjoy yourselves, if you can’t every now and then pat yourself on the back?'” — David Letterman, June 4, 2013.* * * * * * * * * *
“They Said It…” is compiled by Liberator Online editor James W. Harris. 

Persuasion Power Point #350

by Michael Cloud

Few People Love Liberty for Its Own Sake; Millions Love Liberty for What It Does for Them

For most people, freedom is NOT an end in itself.

It is an indispensable means to many desirable ends.

Few love liberty because of what it is.

Millions and millions cherish liberty for what it does. For the results it produces. For the opportunities it makes possible. For the benefits and blessings it bestows.

Because this is so, we must explore and expose these fruits of liberty.

With both abstract and concrete examples.

Freedom promotes prosperity.

Liberty unleashes creativity.

Freedom nurtures generosity.

Ending the state income tax, and giving back every dime of it to the taxpayers who earn it, means an extra $XXXX for each worker each year — to spend, to save, to invest, to loan, to give, and more.

Reclassifying marijuana the same as wine and beer in the state of Colorado will save taxpayers $XXX each year, free up YYY police officers to go after murderers, rapists, child molesters, and white collar thieves, and cut gun violence by $ZZZZ.

Recognizing each person’s right of self-defense, supporting each person’s right to buy, own, carry, and use guns and other instruments of self-defense, means XX% less crime and YY% safer neighborhoods.

We bring people to a greater understanding and appreciation of liberty by showing others the specific blessings it gives birth to.

“Freedom fosters these results.”

“This specific freedom measure generates these concrete results.”

As we see this again and again, we realize that to love what freedom does… is to love freedom.

* * * * * * * *
Michael Cloud’s brand-new book Unlocking More Secrets of Libertarian Persuasion is available exclusively from the Advocates, along with his acclaimed earlier book Secrets of Libertarian Persuasion.

In 2000, Michael was honored with the Thomas Paine Award as the Most Persuasive Libertarian Communicator in America.

Unlocking More Secrets of Libertarian PersuasionBRAND NEW!

Click cover to see more and order.

Ask Dr. Ruwart

Dr. Mary Ruwart is a leading expert in libertarian communication. In this column she offers short answers to real questions about libertarianism. To submit questions to Dr. Ruwart, see end of column.

How effective is government welfare compared to private charity?

QUESTION: Recently in the Liberator Online you answered a question with the following supporting argument:

“For example, about 75% of the tax dollars that are targeted to welfare programs actually go to the middle-class administrators rather than the needy. In contrast, private programs give about 75% of donated dollars to the poor. Thus, the poor get more when charitable giving is private.”

I am interested in where you got your statistics. I want to share this argument with friends, but I like to provide references. Could you do so?

MY SHORT ANSWER: Gladly! These are the references that I’m currently citing in the latest version of my book Short Answers To The Tough Questions:

Welfare and Poverty,” NCPA Policy Report #107 (Dallas, TX.: National Center for Policy Analysis, 1983), p. 1.

“Breaking the Poverty Cycle: Private Sector Alternatives to the Welfare State,” a book by Robert L. Woodson. (Harrisburg, PA.: The Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives, 1988), p. 63.

The Costs of Public Income Redistribution and Private Charity” by JR Edwards, Journal of Libertarian Studies 21: 3-20, 2007.

The last reference is the most comprehensive. On pages one and two, Edwards cites two studies, over a seven year period. He writes:

“[Government] income redistribution agencies are estimated to absorb about two-thirds of each dollar budgeted to them in overhead costs, and in some cases as much as three-quarters of each dollar. Using government data, Robert L. Woodson (1989, p. 63) calculated that, on average, 70 cents of each dollar budgeted for government assistance goes not to the poor, but to the members of the welfare bureaucracy and others serving the poor. Michael Tanner (1996, p. 136 n. 18) cites regional studies supporting this 70/30 split.

“In contrast, administrative and other operating costs in private charities absorb, on average, only one-third or less of each dollar donated, leaving the other two-thirds (or more) to be delivered to recipients. Charity Navigator, www.charitynavigator.org the newest of several private sector organizations that rate charities by various criteria and supply that information to the public on their web sites, found that, as of 2004, 70 percent of charities they rated spent at least 75 percent of their budgets on the programs and services they exist to provide, and 90 percent spent at least 65 percent. The median administrative expense among all charities in their sample was only 10.3 percent.”

Later on Edwards adds: “In fact, the average cost of private charity generally is almost certainly lower than the one-quarter to one-third estimated by Charity Navigator and other private sector charity rating services…” and tells why.

The bottom line: Government spends about 70% of tax dollars to get 30% of tax dollars to the poor. The private sector does the opposite, spending about 30% or less to get 70% of aid to the poor.

Note: I used “about 75%” from memory, which is getting a little less accurate these days. :)  In the future, using the “about 70%” figure would probably be better.

Edwards also makes this key observation:

“[R]aising only half as much money through voluntary donations, the private agencies (and families) could deliver the same amount as the government, saving, in the process, all the costs the government imposes on the public through the compulsory taxation. Given that aiding the poor must have large support among the public for coercive government redistribution to be policy, couldn’t the supporters raise, through voluntary donations from among themselves, half the amount that would have to be raised through taxation, and avoid coercing the rest of the nonpoor public?”

That’s the hope the libertarian vision offers: more effective aid for the poor and needy than ever before, delivered voluntarily by the private sector at a far smaller cost than today’s welfare state.

LEARN MORE: Suggestions by Liberator Online editor James W. Harris for further reading and viewing on this topic:

Free ebook: The End of Welfare: Fighting Poverty in the Civil Society by Michael D. Tanner.

In this 1996 Cato Institute book — now available as a free download — Cato’s Michael Tanner traces the growth of the welfare state in America. He argues that government welfare programs have failed to accomplish their ostensible goal of alleviating poverty. Moreover, they have undermined the traditional American principle of voluntarism. The interventionist welfare state has replaced civil society with political society — and the results have been disastrous for taxpayers, community, liberty and, most especially, the poor themselves.

Tanner argues persuasively that government welfare has failed by every measure, and that private charity can and should replace coercive bureaucratic government welfare. This will not only be more cost-effective, it will provide the poor with more effective and humane care.

* * * * * * * * * *
Got questions?  Dr. Ruwart has answers! If you’d like answers to YOUR “tough questions” on libertarian issues, email Dr. Ruwart

Due to volume, Dr. Ruwart can’t personally acknowledge all emails. But we’ll run the best questions and answers in upcoming issues.

Dr. Ruwart’s previous Liberator Online answers are archived in searchable form.

Dr. Ruwart’s brand new book Short Answers to the Tough Questions, Expanded Edition is available from the Advocates, as is her acclaimed classic Healing Our World.

Click cover to check out Dr. Ruwart’s latest book!

One-Minute Liberty Tip

by Sharon Harris

The Surveillance Scandal: The Right — and the Wrong –Terms

“In the animal kingdom, the rule is, eat or be eaten; in the human kingdom, define or be defined.”

So wrote the great libertarian Thomas Szasz.

Define or be defined. That’s a key principle of effective communication.

You can see this at work right now, in the unfolding scandal concerning government surveillance and the resulting public debate.

Those who defend such programs are using specific words to attempt to redefine and change what is at stake in this debate.

“I think it’s important to recognize that you can’t have 100 percent security, and also then have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience,” President Obamasaid this month. “We’re going to have to make some choices as a society.”

Similarly, I’ve watched TV pundits and talk show hosts discuss this issue over and over again — always using the word “privacy” and talking about “the debate over balancing security with privacy.”

What’s going on here? The president and his supporters are attempting to define — or perhaps more accurately, redefine — the debate.

They want us to see this, and discuss this, as a question of “privacy” and “convenience” versus “security.”

Or even better for them, as Obama puts it in the quote above: “100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience” versus security.

They want these words and phrases to define the debate because, if we debate using these terms, they win.

The argument that we must compromise on “privacy” and “convenience” sounds so reasonable. After all, don’t we all routinely relinquish some privacy for other values? For example, we voluntarily give websites like Facebook our personal information, in exchange for the value of being able to use their services. We give credit card companies detailed information about our financial and personal lives for the benefits of using their cards.

As for “convenience,” it sounds unreasonable — in fact, downright selfish — not to be willing to give up something so trivial as a little convenience in order to protect Americans from terrorism.

That’s the argument the administration and its defenders want to make. It’s how they want to frame the debate.

But “privacy” and “convenience” are not what this debate is about. Not at all.

It’s about liberty. The Fourth Amendment. Fundamental Bill of Rights freedoms. The Constitution. Basic rights. Core freedoms.

“Privacy” and “convenience” are squishy, malleable, non-political terms. It’s easy to imagine “striking a balance” between them and something so vital as security.

But it’s far harder to imagine “balancing” your fundamental liberty. Anyone familiar with politics and history can see that such balancing acts quickly tip over to the government side.

They want to change the debate. Don’t let them.

Don’t use terms like “privacy” and “convenience” when discussing this issue. You lose every time these words are the ones used to describe what’s at stake in this debate. Politely but firmly object to them if politicians and others use them.

Point out that this debate is about liberty. The Fourth Amendment. Fundamental Bill of Rights freedoms. The Constitution. Constitutional guarantees. Basic rights. Core freedoms.

This is also a great time to memorize, and quote, the words of Benjamin Franklin: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

And the words of President Obama, in 2009: “As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.”

Define — or be defined.

* * * * * *
Sharon Harris is president of the Advocates for Self-Government.  

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2014 FREEDOM CRUISES: Advocates Board Secretary and long-time libertarian leader Dr. Ken Bisson invites you to join him for a Freedom Cruise. Enjoy a wonderful trip on a luxury cruiser — at a bargain rate! Great food and fine company. Non-libertarians welcome! On January 26, 2014 the 17th Annual Freedom Cruise embarks: a 7-day Holland America voyage to excellent snorkeling destinations Grand Cayman and Cozumel, with visits to Key West and Half Moon Cay as well, all on Holland America’s newest cruise ship! (These aren’t Advocates events, but libertarians who have been on past cruises rave about them.) Ken offers two other February 2014 cruises as well. For photos and more details — or to sign up for free, no-pressure, no-commitment email updates — visit Freedom Cruises.

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