All Done Here

July 31st 2016

Dear Readers –

It’s time to say good-bye.

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything here, and even longer since there have been any responses to my posts. It’s not that I have nothing to say about freedom, nor have I lost any of my enthusiasm for working for individual liberty and personal responsibility.

In the eight years since I started this blog, Facebook has become the venue of choice for most political comments. In addition, I am now the Vice Chair of the Libertarian Party of Kansas, and that consumes much of my time and energy.

For those of you interested in continuing to read about and support the LP, let me suggest you go to the national LP web site, www.lp.org, or the Kansas LP web site, www.lpks.org, and sign on as volunteers.

If there was ever a year ripe for Libertarian ideas, this is it. It would be nice if we could win the presidency and lots of national and local offices. But even if we can’t do that, I’m thinking that this is the year we attract so many voters that the major parties start scrambling to be more libertarian in an effort to win them back. Wouldn’t that be delicious?

Please, get out there and make it happen!

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November 5

September 2nd 2014

Fellow Libertarians,

On Tuesday, November 4, 2014, virtually every one of you will go into a voting place, mark your ballot for whatever Libertarians are running in your city, district, county, and state, and many of you will leave the polling place, proudly wearing your “I Voted” sticker, and feeling satisfied that you have done your part for liberty.

On Wednesday morning, November 5, as you read the paper and look closely at the details of the election results, I wonder:

Will you remember fondly helping carry the Libertarian candidate’s banner in a parade, waving and smiling at the crowd? Or will you wish you had taken those few hours to show the public the enthusiastic support our candidates really have?

Will you smile at the memory of staffing a Libertarian candidate’s booth, explaining the principles of liberty to interested passers-by? Or will you wish you had chosen that instead of an evening of mindless television?

Will you go outside and take down your yard sign supporting a Libertarian candidate, knowing that the sign influenced more people than you will ever know about? Or will you wish you had taken the time and trouble to ask for one?

Will you be glad that the dollars you donated to a Libertarian campaign were used to buy a few more push cards, a few more bumper stickers? Or will you wish you had decided to give up a few cups of gourmet coffee and used the money for liberty instead?

Voting for Libertarian candidates is essential, of course. But it isn’t enough. If every person who plans to vote Libertarian on November 4 will do just ONE MORE THING — donate an hour or two of time, donate a few dollars, put up a yard sign — the LPKS will be unstoppable!

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3rd Quarter Issue of The Free Kansan

July 7th 2014

The third quarter 2014 issue of The Free Kansan is available at http://lpks.org/files/2014/07/Free-Kansan-July-2014.pdf

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Listen, Learn, Then Lead

July 7th 2014

(This is my editorial from the latest issue of The Free Kansan.)

Twenty years ago I was the owner of a small business.  Then and now, when people hear about that they will ask me two questions:  What did I sell? Where was the store?

That seems appropriate.  It’s all they really want to know, and it is enough to satisfy a superficial curiosity.

~~~~~

One of he best conversationalists I have ever known was a minister by the name of Julian.  I never heard him deliver a sermon; he was long retired by the time I met him.  And now, as the Bible puts it, he sleeps with his fathers.  Our acquaintance lasted a short time, really.

He and his wife and I belonged to a group that went to lunch together occasionally.  The group was big enough that we could not all talk together, so conversation naturally and conveniently broke into small groups.  At one lunch, I was seated close to Julian and his wife at the end of the table.

Julian found out I had recently closed my store, and he asked me the expected questions about location and type of merchandise.  Then after sitting quietly for a few moments he asked, “So, how many customers would you say you had in the store in a typical day?”  Nobody had ever asked me that before, and I had to think for a minute before answering.  “How did you display the merchandise?” was his next question.  “Was it in straight rows like a drugstore, or scattered around the store?”  “Did many people ask for merchandise you didn’t carry?”  “Were your customers the people who would use the merchandise themselves, or were they buying for someone else?”

Every time I answered, Julian would absorb the information carefully.  He reminded me of a student who has just been exposed to the academic subject that will become his life’s passion.  By the time we finished lunch, I do be believe Julian knew pretty much what it had been like to be Sharon waiting on customers in Senior Ease, what the store looked like, what my conversations with my customers sounded like.

It wasn’t that Julian wanted to own a store that catered to the needs of the elderly.  I strongly suspect that Julian treated all conversations that way.  He was simply interested in the experiences of anyone with whom he was talking.

The intriguing part of Julian’s conversational technique, of course, is that at the end of that lunch, I felt like the most interesting person on earth.  For an hour, I had been the sole focus of the attention of this intelligent and caring man.  He didn’t interrupt me with tales of his own experiences, he did not criticize my business decisions, he did not make suggestions about what I could have done differently to have made the business a success.

Indeed, his probing questions sometimes made me think about my business in ways I had not done before.  And if he had wanted to critique my management skills, by the time lunch was over I would have not only listened avidly, I would have loved him for it.

~~~~~

Libertarians have a reputation for arguing rather than conversing, for lecturing rather than listening.  As convinced as we are that our ideas are right, it is easy to become exasperated with those who just can’t see things our way.  And it’s unreasonable to expect most people to have Julian’s patience and “people skills.” But sometimes I wonder what would happen if more Libertarians listened more carefully, asked caring questions, and made a real effort to help others think carefully about their own positions.  Maybe we could lead them gently toward liberty rather than hitting them over the head with it.

 

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LPKS Calls for Wisdom

February 14th 2014

The Kansas House has recently passed HB 2453. This bill, among other things, would allow state employees to refuse to serve or wait on people whose lifestyle conflicts with the employee’s religious beliefs.

Here is the press release that was sent out yesterday by the LPKS:

 

PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 13, 2014

Kansas Libertarians Call for Wisdom From Senate and Governor

The Libertarian Party of Kansas (LPKS) is encouraging the Kansas Senate to use better judgment than they believe was demonstrated by the representatives in the Kansas House when they passed HB 2453, An Act concerning religious freedoms with respect to marriage.

The Libertarian Party has a number of serious concerns with the bill which they believe make the proposed law unacceptable for Kansas.

First, the LPKS points out that government officials and employees work for all Kansans, and that by choosing to accept a job paid for by tax-dollars those individuals have agreed to serve all citizens.

Second, the LPKS believes that Kansas businesses already have the liberty to choose who they do business with.  If those businesses make choices that are distasteful to the majority of our citizens, the free market will remove their support from that business.  More laws will not make the situation better nor move Kansas toward the Libertarian goal of “Liberty for All”.

Finally, the Libertarian Party finds this bill unacceptable because they believe it is clearly aimed at a single segment of our society.  The LPKS believes that all good laws should apply equally to all people all of the time, and this bill clearly does not meet that basic tenet of good government.

Should their call for ‘better judgment’ fail in the Senate, both of the Libertarian candidates for Kansas Governor are calling upon current Governor Sam Brownback to veto the bill.  Both Libertarian candidates say they would veto the bill if they were governor.

Tresa McAlhaney said, “As Governor, I would veto HB 2453 based on the principle that it is inappropriate to use the force of law to justify discrimination by public employees.”  Her opponent, Keen Umbehr said, “We must remember that public employees are agents of the government and their actions within that role are the actions of the government.  It is not acceptable for the government to choose to provide services to some Kansans while refusing to do the same for others.  To do otherwise is contrary to the equal protection guaranteed within the 14th amendment of the US Constitution.”

Regardless of which candidate wins the Libertarian nomination for Kansas Governor, if Governor Brownback does not veto this bill he will likely hear about it from his Libertarian opponent during the general election.

While LPKS Policy Researcher Stacey Davis doubts that Governor Brownback will actually veto the bill should it be passed by the Senate, Davis hopes that Kansans understand that real Libertarians are not found within the ranks of the Republican Party.  “It has become very trendy for some elected Republicans to claim Libertarian leanings or to even claim that they are actually Libertarians, but that is simply not the case,” says Davis.  “Real Libertarians understand that it is not enough to fight for the liberties that you personally agree with. Instead, real Libertarians understand that to finally break out of the political status-quo, our representatives have to commit to supporting everyone’s liberty.  That’s why I expect the Libertarian Party to remain the fastest growing political party in Kansas.”

###

CONTACT INFORMATION

Tresa McAlhaney – KS Governor Candidate – Ph: (913) 667-9736 – McAlhaney4Gov@gmail.com

Keen Umbehr – KS Governor Candidate – Ph: (785) 765-2626 – Keen@KeenForKansas.com

Al Terwelp – LPKS State Chair – Ph: (785) 665-7581 – Chair@LPKS.org

Mr. Stacey Davis – LPKS Policy – Ph: (785) 231-9524 – Policy@LPKS.org

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Editorial From the Last Issue of The Free Kansan

February 3rd 2014

Should it be illegal to hurt someone’s feelings? If I do something that does not constitute force, fraud, or abuse, but which makes you so mad you can barely see straight, should we pass a law against it?

Most Libertarians would say no.

How about if what I do makes you cry? Makes you remember horrible events from your childhood? Makes you severely depressed for a week?

Most of us would still say no.

Does it matter if I didn’t realize the effect my actions would have on you? What if I consciously and deliberately made you so miserable you couldn’t get out of bed the next morning?

In other words, does what was going through my head when I hurt your feelings matter in deciding the legality of my actions? Or is it the action itself that constitutes criminality?

When an American flag becomes soiled, worn, or otherwise unfit for display, the “correct” way to get rid of it is to burn it. Most instruction manuals for this kind of procedure specify that it must be done respectfully, but in no way is burning considered an unacceptable way to dispose of a flag.

And yet, flag-burning has become a graphic way to demonstrate dissatisfaction with this country and its government, a gesture used both domestically and by those in other countries. And many people would like to make it a crime to burn an American flag if it is done in anger or as a way to denigrate this nation.

I grew up in a military household. My father was an Air Force officer, so patriotism was a big deal in our household. When I was in school we were still reciting the Pledge of Allegiance every morning. I know three of the four verses to “The Star-Spangled Banner.” I freely admit that remnants of that visceral and unwavering support of America still hover around me.
But I am going to argue here that those who would make flag-burning a crime are doing so because it hurts their feelings, not because the action constitutes a crime in any way that makes sense.

Some years ago the concept of “hate crimes” came to be encoded in our system of justice. If I hit someone, and if a prosecutor can be convinced that I did it because of my victim’s race, gender identity, sexual orientation, or religion, my crime becomes more heinous that if I hit him because, say, I just thought he was ugly. The actual damage done from my left hook to the jaw is not the only factor in determining the severity of my punishment. What was going through my head at the time has become a major factor.

In George Orwell’s masterpiece, 1984, the government not only controls peoples’ speech and actions, but it uses the Thought Police to seek out citizens who are guilty of thoughtcrime or crimethink. And we know how well that ended.

I admit that I cringe at the thought of someone being abused or killed because the perpetrator didn’t like their race or creed or sexual identity. But I think we need to be very careful to understand that the crime is the abuse itself. Justice demands that a criminal who practices violence against another human being be punished, swiftly and appropriately, for the violence alone, not his or her thoughts about the victim. Once we start punishing people for their attitudes, we have started down a dangerous road.

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The Free Kansan, First Quarter 2014

January 3rd 2014

The latest issue of The Free Kansan is available online at www.lpks.org.

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Happy Bill of Rights Day

December 15th 2013

Only a group of Libertarians would have a serious conversation about which amendment in the Bill of Rights is their favorite.

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Encouraging Existing Businesses

December 3rd 2013

I just sent this letter to the Topeka Capital-Journal:

To the Editor:

According to a recent article in the Topeka Capital-Journal, three programs within the state Department of Commerce, over a period of 6 or 7 years, doled out more than $30 million in grants and low-cost loans to 769 companies in exchange for the promise of bringing some 42,000 jobs into Kansas. We can’t know how many more taxpayer dollars have been given out because the records for the rest of the programs within the Department are not available online.

I have a suggestion. Let’s find 769 small, locally-owned businesses with a combined payroll of 42,000 people, businesses which have been loyally struggling along, paying their employees, paying their taxes, with no help from anyone. Let’s give them $30 million in grants and low-cost loans over the next six years.

If we’re going to give away that much money in an effort to increase the number of jobs available to Kansans, I’d prefer to see it used to reward and encourage expansion in existing businesses that have been sustaining the Kansas economy for years.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Now, before my fellow Libertarians get all up in my face — yes, I’d prefer we didn’t collect and spend that money at all. But I’m trying to make a point about priorities.

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Check Out The Free Kansan

October 12th 2013

The latest edition of The Free Kansan is now available at www.lpks.org.  There’s a pretty cool puzzle on page 8.

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