by James W. Harris
Libertarianism is On the Rise
for libertarian ideas is growing -- and growing fast -- among the American
journalist David Paul Kuhn, Chief Political Correspondent for
RealClearPolitics, a popular and respected political news site with a
philosophical casualty of the Great Recession was supposed to be
libertarianism," Kuhn writes. "But signs to the contrary are
are increasingly opposed to activist government programs. The most significant
al movement of 2009, the Tea Party protests, grew out of that opposition.
Libertarian heroine Ayn Rand is as popular today as ever. Rand's brilliant and
radical laissez faire novel Atlas Shrugged
sold roughly 300,000 copies last
year, according to BookScan, twice its sales in 2008 and roughly triple annual
sales in recent decades.
are witnessing a conservative libertarian comeback. It's an oppositional
advance, a response to all manners of active-state liberalism since the
financial crisis. ...
the public believes there is 'too much' government regulation of 'business and
industry,' an 11-point rise in one year, according to a December CNN poll.
Nearly a third of the public, in contrast, said there was 'too little'
argues that the Obama administration's aggressive Big Government liberal agenda
have aroused dormant libertarian feelings among Americans.
more Americans are libertarian, or libertarian-leaning, than most people think,
uses recent Gallup polls to conclude
that "slightly more than a fifth of
U.S. adults" are, broadly speaking, more libertarian than anything else.
"This is the loose libertarian bloc of American politics," Kuhn says.
He further notes that "another third of the electorate allies with this
bloc on issues regarding government's reach into private industry." (This
would be largely market-oriented, small-government conservatives.)
together, this libertarian and free-market voting bloc has roughly equal
footing with those who favor far more government control of the economy.
says that this libertarian-themed opposition to the current Big Government
agenda is primarily focused on economics: "There is no wide-ranging call
for government to withdraw from social issues," he writes. "A rebirth
of traditional libertarianism this is not. It's a more limited libertarianism
that it is on the march."
David Boaz of the libertarian Cato Institute thinks Kuhn may be wrong about
Boaz: "I see some evidence of a social libertarian surge as well ... Polls
are finding growing support for marijuana legalization and for marriage
equality, especially among young people."
might add that growing numbers of Americans from across the political spectrum
are voicing alarm about government encroachments on fundamental Bill of Rights
Boaz: "As young people and independents also become increasingly
disillusioned with President Obama's big-government agenda, this may be a real
shift in a libertarian direction."
Americans Reject Gov't Health Care
congressional Democrats and the president rush to stitch together a
Frankenstein's monster of a health care bill, public rejection of the idea is
reaching record levels.
December 16, the Pew Research Center noted
has been the case in most Pew Research
Center surveys since July, there is
currently more opposition than support for the proposals. Nearly half (48%) say
they generally oppose the proposals in Congress to overhaul the health care
system while 35% generally favor them."
are rejecting health care reform for solid libertarian and free market reasons, Pew
reports: "A third of opponents (33%) cite too much government involvement
in health care as the most important reason for opposing the legislation."
complements the findings of a Gallup poll reported in November.
that, for the first time since Gallup began surveying health care
reform in 2001, "[m]ore Americans now say it is not the federal
government's responsibility to make sure all Americans have healthcare coverage
(50%) than say it is (47%)."
a sea change. Just three years ago, fully two-thirds polled by Gallup believed
that ensuring healthcare coverage was the government's responsibility.
here's something that's downright startling. So many Americans object so
strongly to government involvement in health care, and distrust government in
general, that Pew Research Center president Andrew Kohut believes
Americans might well reject Medicare if it were proposed today.
Medicare was being debated today would it be getting the same frosty reception
that we are seeing now -- and that we saw for health care reform in the Clinton
years?" Kohut wrote in August. "To my mind, the answer is yes. Much
of the opposition to health care reform today is being fueled by
anti-government sentiment that did not exist during the mid-1960's."
Amish Exempted from Health Care
Requirements -- What About You?
the health reform legislation the Democrats are struggling to pass, most
Americans would be forced by the government to purchase insurance -- or face
hefty fines and other possible punishment.
one group: the Amish. Democrats plan to exempt the Amish (and some similar
religious groups) from the "buy health insurance or else" mandate.
First Amendment grounds, because of Amish religious beliefs. The Amish believe
the church, not the government, should care for the needs of members. They are
thus conscientious objectors, for religious reasons, to commercial insurance
and government welfare programs.
: "[W]hen the Amish need medical care, they go to
regular doctors and hospitals and pay in cash often with financial help from
their church and neighbors. They rely on each other, not the government or
insurance companies, as a tenet of their faith."
1965, Congress has exempted the Amish from Social Security and Medicare taxes
for the same reason.
all for that. But why stop with the Amish? What about those of us who object
for other religious or spiritual reasons -- for example, a belief that the
initiation of force against peaceful people is wrong? What about those who
object on non-religious but deeply-held philosophical grounds?
these folks are already speaking out. FOX quotes
Ilya Shapiro, a senior fellow
in constitutional studies at the libertarian Cato Institute.
they can do it for religious objection, well, I have a different type of
objection," Shapiro said. "I think I'm being coerced into doing
something against my will, and so the challenge would be from a different
strongly support the Amish exemption, of course. But what about the rest of us conscientious objectors?
Study: Homeschoolers Dramatically Outperform Gov't-Schooled Kids
Homeschooled students are performing academically far above
students incarcerated in government schools.
much better? Homeschoolers, on average, scored a startling 37 percentile points
bove government school students on standardized achievement tests.
the finding of a recent study
conducted by Dr. Brian Ray of the National Home
Education Research Institute.
homeschool national average ranged from the 84th percentile for Language, Math,
and Social Studies to the 89th percentile for Reading, compared to the average
scores of 50 percentile points for government-schooled children.
"Progress Report 2009: Homeschool Academic Achievement and Demographics"
first major study of homeschooling results in ten years, and it is the most
comprehensive study of homeschool academic achievement ever. It surveyed 11,739
homeschooled students from all 50 states (and Guam and Puerto Rico) for the
2007-08 academic school year.
study's findings of academic superiority for homeschoolers are consistent with
previous studies on homeschool academic achievement.
there's more good news for homeschoolers. Government school students are
plagued by achievement gaps related to the students' gender and the education
and income levels of their parents. But such achievement gaps were not
in the homeschooled students surveyed.
Homeschooled boys and girls scored equally well.
income level of parents did not appreciably affect test scores.
parent education level did have some small impact, even children whose parents
did not have college degrees scored in the 83rd percentile, far above the
average for public school students. Homeschooled children whose parents both
had college degrees scored in the 90th percentile.
whether or not parents were teacher-certified had no impact on scores. Nor did
it make any difference whether a student lived in a state where homeschooling
was heavily regulated or not.
difference in cost is amazing, too. Government schools spend, on average,
nearly $10,000 per child per year. The average homeschool parent spends
about... $500 per child per year.
are an estimated 1.5 to 2 million homeschooled children in the U.S. today,
which is about 4% of the school-aged population.
is growing at around 7% per year. With results like these, it's no wonder. ---------------------------------------------
LENO ON GOV'T VS. PRIVACY:
"The government issued a statement this week
people aren't complaining about the full-body scanners. See, the
government always says that. Every time there's another intrusion into our
privacy, they say most people aren't complaining. Well, of course, most people
aren't complaining. You know what happens when you complain at airport
security? You get a colonoscopy and wind up on a terrorists watch list."
-- Jay Leno, January 13, 2010.
COULD GO WRONG?
"Now, let me get this straight.....We are going to pass a
health care plan written by a committee whose chairman says he doesn't
understand it, passed by a Congress that hasn't read it but exempts themselves
from it, to be signed by a president who also hasn't read it and who smokes,
with funding administered by a treasury chief who didn't pay his taxes...all to
be overseen by a surgeon general who is obese, and financed by a country that's
nearly broke. What could possibly go wrong?" -- Anonymous, quoted in Carpe Diem
IS A PRIVILIGED ELITE:
"People who are supposed to serve the public have
become a privileged elite that exploits political power for financial gain and
special perks. Because of its political power, this interest group has rigged
the game so there are few meaningful checks on its demands. Government
employees now receive far higher pay, benefits, and pensions than the vast
majority of Americans working in the private sector. Even when they are
incompetent or abusive, they can be fired only after a long process and only
for the most grievous offenses. It's a two-tier system in which the rulers are
making steady gains at the expense of the ruled. The predictable results:
Higher taxes, eroded public services, unsustainable levels of debt, and massive
roadblocks to reforming even the poorest performing agencies and school
, "Class War: How public servants became our masters,"
Reason magazine, February 2010.
NEWS AND BAD NEWS ABOUT BANK ROBBERIES:
"In 2009, the F.B.I. reported a 20
percent decrease in the number of people robbing banks. There was, however, a
huge increase in the number of banks robbing people." -- Jimmy Fallon,
"Late Night with Jimmy Fallon," January 19, 2010.
* * * * * * * *
"Good News, Bad News, Unbelievable News" is written by Liberator Online editor James W. Harris. His articles have appeard 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."