We launched LibertyBlog.org (LB) in April 2012 to help citizen journalists promote liberty. In just 2013, readers in over 120 countries have visited LB, showing the global appeal of the liberty movement. This year, LB published many insightful articles on various liberty topics, such as the following:
- Maggen Elizabeth Stone’s Plan B in the Vending Machine? No Surprise There
- Brad Jordan’s Front Yard to Fork: Grow Your Own and Be Free
- Randy Quarles’ Restraining “Judicial Activism of the Most Pernicious Sort”
Below are LB’s 10 most-read articles in 2013. We’re grateful for our writers and readers, and we look forward to 2014!
Pat noted how Congress began 2013 with a 14 percent approval rating. To help improve Congress, Pat examined two governmental reforms presented in Larry Sabato’s book from 2007 titled A More Perfect Constitution: 23 Proposals to Revitalize Our Constitution and Make America a Fairer Country.
First, Pat suggested Americans should pass a Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA) to the Constitution, which would force Congress to spend no more than its revenue every year. Second, Pat recommended limiting the service of Representatives and Senators to 12 years, which could help prevent a “careerist style of politics.”
Pat concluded that, “[although] Sabato published A More Perfect Constitution in 2007…his two best recommendations to improve Congress are still relevant. Congress should pass a BBA and term limits to reform itself.”
9. Tony Escobar’s Maryland Repeals Capital Punishment: A Positive Step?
Tony, a libertarian, explained why he supports Maryland’s recent repeal of capital punishment. For one, Tony argued capital punishment is inconsistent with the “unalienable” right to life that the Declaration of Independence articulated as follows:
[A]ll men…are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
The Constitution permits capital punishment if there’s “due process” of law. However, imposing such punishments as life terms with no chance of parole would be more consistent with protecting the Declaration’s “unalienable” right to life than imposing capital punishment.
Tony also argued the following:
[C]apital punishment by a state isn’t necessarily a “just” punishment for murderers. At the very least, as Murray Rothbard argued in The Ethics of Liberty, the victim’s heirs and not the state should decide if the murderer should receive death as punishment.
However, with the following passage, Tony concluded that Maryland has much work to do:
Maryland and other states continue to violate the right to life in other ways, such as with legalized abortion and euthanasia. [Nevertheless,] Maryland’s repeal of capital punishment is a positive step.
8. María Belén Eyheramonho’s “Hear, Americans, the Sacred Cry: Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!”
To inspire Americans to embrace economic freedom, Maria described the descent of Argentina into socialism. For instance, Maria noted that, in a matter of decades, Argentina slipped from being “among the 10 wealthiest countries in the world” to having one of the world’s least free economies.
Maria concluded with this rousing warning to Americans, which invoked a verse from Argentina’s national anthem:
Could the South American trend toward socialism reach the United States? While many Americans value civil liberties, watch out! Economic freedom in America is also under fire, and economic freedom is necessary for personal freedom. Nevertheless, Americans shouldn’t be hopeless. Not at all! Let’s go liberty, let’s go property! Hear, Americans, the sacred cry: Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!
7. Dan Smyth’s I Got More Guns than the KGB
Dan chronicled how, in May 2013, an organization called Defense Distributed (DD) used a 3-D printer to “print” a plastic pistol that really shoots. DD posted the gun’s blueprints on its website for others to download and print.
Dan argued DD changed the world in two significant ways. First, DD discovered how to make guns available to everyone in the world, as people can now copy guns without limit. Second, DD’s printed gun shows that the Second Amendment’s right to keep and bear arms can overlap with the First Amendment’s “freedom of…the press.” The Founders meant the First Amendment’s “the press” to refer to any communications technology, such as today’s office printers, blogs, and 3-D printers.
Thus, as Dan noted, “printed gun specs are non-scarce goods that the First and Second Amendments protect, [so] any American could…have, to paraphrase rapper M.I.A., ‘more guns than the KGB.’”
6. C. Harrison Myers’ Overpopulation’s False Doom and Gloom
Are the doomsayers of overpopulation correct? Could most cities become like Mumbai, India, and could humanity run out of food and water?
C. Harrison dispelled these doomsayers’ claims. For one, C. Harrison examined how Earth has enough space for an enormous world population. C. Harrison also showed that Earth can provide more than enough food and water for a growing population. For example, Earth can produce 26 times more grain than farmers produce today.
C. Harrison concluded that “[a]s long as we have free markets, we can “leave all creative energies uninhibited” to solve ‘overpopulation’ problems.”
5. Dan Smyth’s Future Kennedy: “States Must Recognize Same-Sex Marriage”
In June 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in United States v. Windsor that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional. Among other effects, Section 3 prevented homosexual but not heterosexual couples from receiving some federal perks, such as tax breaks for having children.
Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy said, “DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the liberty of the person [to enjoy federal perks] protected by the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution.” The Fifth Amendment reads in part as follows: “No person shall be…deprived of …liberty…without due process of law.”
Dan argued that, according to Justice Kennedy’s logic, state laws supporting traditional marriage appear doomed. It seems likely that a future Justice Kennedy could strike down such state laws, saying that “no state shall…deny to any person [homosexual]… the equal protection of…[marriage] laws.”
Dan asked readers what states should do if this situation occurs. Should states exit the marriage business and abolish state perks tied to marital status? Or, given the potential problems of privatizing marriage, will states just comply with future Kennedy’s decision?
4. Paul Wilson’s Partisanship Makes you Stupid
Based on his experience “in the political weeds monitoring the blathering of professional lunatics,” Paul described how partisanship makes you stupid.
Paul noted that, because of partisanship, “those who dissent from one tenet of their party are often accused of treason, stupidity, or malfeasance, while facing the secular equivalent of excommunication.” As one example, popular commentator Glenn Beck called Republican Senator Marco Rubio a “piece of garbage” for Rubio’s efforts to help Democrats pass immigration reform.
Paul recommended that people should instead converse “through logical argumentation.” However, as Paul lamented, non-partisan politicians “are becoming increasingly necessary, even as increasing polarization drives such politicians from the American political scene.”
Dan summarized his article titled “Avoiding Bloodshed? US Journalists and Censorship in Wartime” that War & Society, an international history journal, published in March 2013. Here’s the abstract:
This article examines censorship of US journalists in World Wars I and II and the Korean War, Vietnam War, and Persian Gulf War, and from war to war, trends in types of censored information. This article also answers whether any censorship has avoided bloodshed or been legitimate, and concludes by examining how, in any future US wars, the government or military could most legitimately ensure safe reporting.
2. Paul Wilson’s Should Religion Influence Government?
Paul, a Catholic social conservative, responded to his ideological opponents’ claim that, as a voter, he “forces his religious views on others.” Paul noted that people’s religious views will always influence law, as “law is largely an extension of societal morality.”
Nevertheless, Paul described how his religion is just one factor that affects his voting behavior. For example, Paul said the following regarding his pro-life views:
I wouldn’t seek to pass a law against, say, abortion just because God or my Church commands that abortion is immoral. I support pro-life laws primarily to protect the right to life, and my pro-life views are shaped by my belief in basic human rights, the need for societal self-preservation, my religion, and other factors.
Paul asked his opponents to recognize that he and other religious people vote according to many considerations besides religion.
1. Joseph S. Diedrich’s PoliTwix: Are Left and Right Really Different?
Joseph discussed how recent, humorous commercials by Twix, the candy bar that Mars, Inc., makes, relate to the American political system (Click here to see the commercial).
There’s no recognizable difference between the left and right Twix bars, and as follows, Joseph argued the same about Democrats and Republicans:
Republicans and Democrats quarrel over superficial disparities, while enthusiastically—albeit often unwittingly—agreeing on most matters of substance. [For example,] Democrats and Republicans quibble about the structure and funding of education, but they unanimously agree that mandated, standardized instruction is the only way to go.
Do you prefer the left or right Twix? Or do you “choose to not buy Twix at all”?