Libertarian Lee Wrights Dead at 58

Liberty lost a great champion today when Lee Wrights passed away just a few months shy of his 59th birthday.  Lee, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, spent decades as a libertarian activist and journalist.

After college degrees in history and journalism, Lee became a contributing editor for the Eagle News, a monthly political news and commentary newspaper in Forsyth County. Wrights founded Liberty for All with J. Michael Bragg in 2000, a free speech publication with the motto “Let Your Voice Be Heard” which claimed “no one is turned away and no one is censored.”

In 2001, Wrights became an editor of Free Market Daily, an e-mail newsletter. A year later, he helped to found the Rational Review News Digest, a daily web and email-based news and commentary roundup. From 2005 to 2008, Wrights worked as editor of the Choice Channel for the International Society for Individual Liberty, now Liberty International.

Wrights has been active in local, state and national Libertarian Party organizations since 2000 and is a lifetime member of the Libertarian Party (LP). He has served as secretary and chair of the Libertarian Party of Forsyth County, N.C. and was vice chair of the Libertarian Party of North Carolina (LPNC) for seven years. He also served as the LPNC ballot access director for two years.

Wrights served twice as the Vice Chair of Libertarian National Committee (LNC), and an at-large member.  He was a member of the LNC’s platform committee and judicial committee as well.  Lee chaired the Burnet County LP of Texas and was the Senate District 24 representative to the Texas LP State Executive Committee. In 2008, Wrights was my campaign manager when I ran for the 2008 presidential nomination for the LP; in 2010, he managed my campaign for Texas State Comptroller.

Wrights was also the president of the Foundation for a Free Society, a non-profit educational organization dedicated to promoting the principles of liberty, personal sovereignty, private property, and free markets.

Lee ran for the 2012 presidential nomination of the Libertarian Party with the goal of stopping all war, referring not only to war with foreign nations, but also to war on the American people and their civil liberties waged by the U.S. government. Wrights was defeated by former New Mexico Governor, Gary Johnson.

For the past few years, Lee has handled several libertarian Facebook pages, including my own.  He has inspired friends and fans with his trademark “Reddpaw” memes.

Lee leaves behind supporters from all over the world, as well as his two daughters, parents, brothers and sisters, and other family.  He will be sorely missed by his close friends who love him dearly, myself included.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

GlobeHeart centered for web

Valentine’s Day is made for lovers. I like to think that those who love liberty are some of the best lovers of all.

Real lovers won’t try to coerce you, manipulate you, or try to take your stuff. Real lovers care enough to give you the very best—freedom of choice.

Many people think that lovers of liberty are cold and uncaring, because they don’t support government intervention and taxation. Just the opposite is true.

Those who love liberty are championing the free market, which has lifted millions out of abject poverty. Those who love liberty know that property rights provide the best environmental protection. Those who love liberty understand that restitution, rather than incarceration, can heal the wounds caused by aggression. Those who love liberty realize that dismissing civilian casualties from our bombing overseas by calling them “collateral damage” is beyond cruel.

The words of love come easily to our lips, but actions speak so much louder. Today, I want to personally thank you for loving others enough to honor their choices.

Thank you for all you do for love and liberty!

Can This Event on Save Your Life?

Secrets to Preventing and Treating Disease in the Ever-Changing U.S. Health Care LandscapeISIL Health Event with 5 speakers

Without your health, it’s tough to live a happy, fulfilled life. With the changes in Obamacare, soaring pharmaceutical prices, and the regulatory pressures that favor treatment over prevention, our health is at risk. This one-day program on March 11, 2017, will inform you of little known changes in recent legislation and scientific knowledge that can help you not only survive, but thrive.


John Mackey
, founder of Whole Foods and Conscious Capitalism, will share his ideas on nutrition, supplements, and other aspects of healthy living. He’ll help you take responsibility for your part in keeping your body “whole.”

Starlee Coleman from the Goldwater Institute will be sharing the exciting new Right to Try legislation sweeping the nation state by state. Right to Try allows the terminally ill to bypass the FDA for access to cutting edge therapies. If you or your loved ones are threatened by a deadly disease, it may help you get tomorrow’s cures today!

Sally Pipes from the Pacific Research Institute will be updating us on the negative impact of Obamacare, an update on its repeal and replacement. Following Trump’s presidential victory, she will be updating us on the latest developments in the battle for repeal and replacement of Obamacare.  She will discuss her plan on the best way to achieve affordable, accessible, quality care for all Americans, and some workarounds to get you and your loved ones the best health care possible. This information could save you money and your life!

Dr. Mary Ruwart, Chair of Liberty International, shares her experience with the FDA, how it keeps life-saving information and medications from the American public, and how to find out where to go to get them. Some tests are even available right here in the U.S.—like blood tests for detecting cancer before scans can even see it—but your family doctor probably doesn’t even know about them.

Dr. Kyle Varner will share his experiences and tips for finding quality medical care outside of the United States, where it can be had for a fraction of the U.S. cost. “Medical tourism” is on the rise, because many cutting edge procedures are ONLY available offshore. Learn how you can get the best medical care that the world has to offer, instead of limiting yourself only to what the FDA and other government agencies approve.

The event will take place at the Wyndham Garden Hotel Austin, 3401 South IH-35, Austin, TX 78741, from 10 AM until 4 PM on March 11, 2017.  A delicious, nutritious lunch will be provided!

Early bird special is just $45 until February 1 and goes to $55 after that.  Student rate is $25.

The health information shared at this meeting will help you live longer and healthier. Don’t delay! Register TODAY by clicking this link!

Digital Versions of “Healing” and “Short Answers” Available NOW!

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Many of you have been asking me for digital versions of Healing Our World and Short Answers.  Not only are these now available at www.ruwart.com, but you can get a package discount when you buy a digital book along with a print version.  Just click on the name of the book in the first sentence of this post to go directly to the special page for each one.

Since Christmas is just around the corner, you can keep the version you prefer for yourself and give someone else the gift of liberty too!  If you want to give several copies of the printed book to friends and family, you can get discounts for multiple copies there too!

Have a great holiday!

Join Sally Pipes and Me in Austin March 11 (Date Change)!

Liberty International, formerly the International Society for Individual Liberty, is hosting a one day event in Austin, Texas, to update you on the health care crisis brought on by our government.  More importantly, you’ll learn about changes in recent legislation and scientific knowledge that can help you not only survive, but thrive.

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Sally Pipes from the Pacific Research Institute will be updating us on the the negative impact of Obamacare on all Americans and the ongoing legal challenges that will hopefully derail it.

John Mackey, founder of  Whole Foods and Conscious Capitalism, will share his ideas on nutrition, supplements, and other aspects of healthy living.I’ll be speaking about the FDA, how it’s thwarting scientific progress, and what you need to do to protect yourself.

Starlee Coleman from the Goldwater Institute will be sharing the exciting new Right to Try legislation sweeping the nation state by state. Right to Try allows the terminally ill to bypass the FDA for access to cutting edge therapies.

We are expecting other speakers to join us as well, so please save the date March 11.  The event will be held in Austin, Texas.  For more details, click here or check out our Facebook event page!

Be sure and join us for your good health!

Join John Mackey and Me in Austin March 11 (Date Change)!

Liberty International, formerly the International Society for Individual Liberty, is hosting a one day event in Austin, Texas, to update you on the health care crisis brought on by our government.  More importantly, you’ll learn about changes in recent legislation and scientific knowledge that can help you not only survive, but thrive.

AustinMackeyColemanPipesRuwart(2)

John Mackey, founder of  Whole Foods and Conscious Capitalism, will share his ideas on nutrition, supplements, and other aspects of healthy living.I’ll be speaking about the FDA, how it’s thwarting scientific progress, and what you need to do to protect yourself.

Sally Pipes from the Pacific Research Institute will be updating us on the the negative impact of Obamacare on all Americans and the ongoing legal challenges that will hopefully derail it.

Starlee Coleman from the Goldwater Institute will be sharing the exciting new Right to Try legislation sweeping the nation state by state. Right to Try allows the terminally ill to bypass the FDA for access to cutting edge therapies.

We are expecting other speakers to join us as well, so please save the date March 11.  The event will be held in Austin, Texas.  For more details, click here.

Be sure and join us for your good health!

Epi-Pen Prices Soar as FDA Makes Life Tough for Its Competitors

Last October, Sanofi withdrew Epi-Pen’s last true competitor, Auvi-Q,  from the market after some suspected device malfunctions.  Without competition, Mylan, which acquired the Epi-Pen in 2007, when it was selling for around $57, raised their prices to $600 for a 2-pack.  I was actually quoted $800 at my pharmacy.

Teva had submitted an application for a generic version of the Epi-Pen to the FDA.  However, the agency felt “certain major deficiencies” needed to be addressed. Marketing of Epi-Pen’s new competitor will be delayed until at least 2017.

Adamis wants to market a syringe prefilled with epinephrine, the active drug in the Epi-Pen. Some diabetics must inject themselves with insulin, so use of a syringe, rather than an Epi-Pen-like device, is not unprecedented.  The FDA wouldn’t approve it without more studies on patient usability and product stress testing. Mylan is protected from still another competitor by regulatory delays.

Competition keeps corporate greed in check

 

In theory at least, your compounding pharmacist might be able to prepare epinephrine-filled syringes for you.  However, your doctor will have to prescribe them; once the Adamis syringe is approved, compounding pharmacists will be forbidden by FDA regulations from preparing them anymore. The syringe might be a bit more difficult to use, especially for children trying to cope in an emergency, so this option isn’t for everyone.

In the meantime, consumers are usually unaware that there is still another, less expensive alternative.  Adrenaclick is similar to, but not identical with, the Epi-Pen and is available for a fraction of the price. If you decide to try it, be sure and become familiar with it: it has two caps that need to be removed instead of Epi-Pen’s one.

However, the FDA won’t let your pharmacist substitute Adrenaclick unless your doctor re-writes your prescription.  The FDA isn’t sure that you’ll get the exact same blood levels of epinephrine, even though the dose is the same.  Your doctor will have to specify Adrenaclick on your prescription or your pharmacist can’t fill it.

Competition is the greatest price regulator of all.  Without it, Mylan has a virtual monopoly on a life-saving device; about 40% of its profits come from the Epi-Pen. The $1.2 billion in 2015 sales from this product should have encouraged other companies to rush to market with an imitator; epinephrine is cheap and off patent, even though the Epi-Pen itself is patent-protected.

However, the average generic drug takes about 3 years or so to wend its way through the FDA approval process.  Devices generally take even longer.  In the meantime, Mylan can pretty much charge what they want.

Critics of the pharmaceutical companies will use the Epi-Pen price hike as another example of corporate greed—and so it is. However, the real culprit here is the FDA, which has delayed or killed Mylan’s competition. The recent price hike only happened after Auvi-Q was withdrawn and Sanofi decided not to dump it.  Competition keeps corporate greed in check better than any form of legislative price control, which has deadly side effects of its own.

The big casualty of price-fixing by government is less innovation.   Countries that try to keep drug prices down through regulation end up delaying or denying their citizenry access to new, life-saving drugs.  People in other countries might not pay as much money for the drugs they get, but their loss of access can cost them their very lives.

Surprisingly, the marketplace punished Mylan for its price gouging on the life-saving Epi-Pen, even though that strategy would have increased profits to investors.  Their stock price fell about 9% last week for a loss of $3 billion. Mylan tried to stop the stock from dropping further by giving $300 coupons to out-of-pocket buyers, but the stock has not recovered. Even though corporate greed is a real phenomenon, social conscience is too.

Sadly, we can expect to see the cost of other generic drugs and devices soar in the future. In 2000, the FDA intensified its Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) demands. Companies had to upgrade their equipment, even if was working perfectly, and were fined for any violations in record keeping.  The FDA didn’t find any product problems during these inspections, just failure to check its multitude of regulatory boxes.

When faced with new FDA manufacturing demands, some companies chose to abandon products that were older and brought in low revenue instead of making expensive upgrades. As the number of competitors dwindles, expect to see more generic drugs become unaffordable—courtesy of the FDA.

 

 

 

Join Me in Austin March 11 (Date Change)!

AustinMackeyColemanPipesRuwart(2)

Liberty International, formerly the International Society for Individual Liberty, is hosting a one day event in Austin, Texas, to update you on the health care crisis brought on by our government.  More importantly, you’ll learn about changes in recent legislation and scientific knowledge that can help you not only survive, but thrive.

I’ll be speaking about the FDA, how it’s thwarting scientific progress, and what needs to be done to stop it.

Starlee Coleman from the Goldwater Institute will be sharing the exciting new Right to Try legislation sweeping the nation state by state. Right to Try allows the terminally ill to bypass the FDA for access to cutting edge therapies.

Sally Pipes from the Pacific Research Institute will be updating us on the the negative impact of Obamacare on all Americans and the ongoing legal challenges that will hopefully derail it.

John Mackey, founder of Whole Foods and Conscious Capitalism, will share his ideas on nutrition, supplements, and other aspects of healthy living.

We are expecting other speakers to join us as well, so please save the date March 11.  The event will be held in Austin, Texas, exact time and place to be announced.  Sign up for updates  here.

Join us if you can!

Privatize the Police for Public Safety!

In the mid-1980s, I went into classrooms several times a year to talk about the libertarian philosophy.  I discussed how some cities had saved money using private police instead of public ones.  Invariably, students expressed concern that private police might become an outlaw gang, robbing those they were supposed to be protecting and shooting them if they didn’t cooperate.

By now, these students are adults.  On the nightly news, they are hearing more and more about police shooting unarmed individuals, even those on their backs with their hands up! The public perception is that police who shoot or tase innocent people are rarely held accountable.

What is less publicized, but in fact much more common, is the theft of private property by police using asset forfeiture.  If property (car, house, cash, bank account) rather than a person is suspected of being linked to drugs, for example, it can be seized without any real proof of wrongdoing.  The police have strong incentive in most states to confiscate property on mere suspicion, since the department usually gets a share of the proceeds.

Chapter 16 police

What looks suspicious to the police can actually be quite innocent.  Are you carrying more than $500 in cash? It must be from a drug deal, so the police confiscate it.  Do you make deposits to your bank account in amounts between $5,000 and $10,000?  You must be “structuring” to avoid having to fill out the paperwork associated with deposits of $10,000 or more, so your account is forfeit.  Do you run a motel and report drug users to the police?  Your motel is guilty of criminal activity and is seized even though you’ve done nothing wrong!  Luckily, the libertarian Institute for Justice is fighting back on behalf of these innocent victims; the Republicans and Democrats don’t have a problem with the seizures and so do nothing.

If you are victimized by the police, you may try to do things the American way and sue.  That won’t be much help.  Even if you prevail, which is unlikely since the courts tend to support the police, you may be charged “storage fees” for the time that those who confiscated had to care for it. The attorney bills to recover what’s rightfully yours are likely to make even a full recovery a pretty big loss.  It’s horrifying that your life savings or home can be taken from you without due process.

However, for the police, the profit is incentive to simply confiscate more. “It’s kind of like pennies from heaven,” explains Kenneth M. Burton, Columbia, Mo., police chief, discussing the money generated from asset forfeiture. “It gets you a toy or something that you need is the way that we typically look at it, to be perfectly honest.”

If a private police force did such things, individuals would cancel their subscriptions to it.  Enraged citizens would make sure that city managers would consider the policing contract null and void.  Of course, in real life, the private police service would have great incentive to fire rogue officers in order to maintain their contract. The service would be self-policing.  If it wasn’t successful in keeping bad cops in line, the company would be replaced with one that truly was there to “serve and protect.”

Instead, we are stuck with a government monopoly on defensive force.  When the police become predators, it’s tough to dislodge them.  The city managers, police chief, the courts, and the entire police force are all  government employees who tend to protect each other, instead of the citizens who employ them.  Without the power to withhold our subscriptions, or our taxes that pay police salaries, we have little recourse.

Private police actually save us money.  Communities that utilize them not only pay them less, but get the bonus of crime prevention.  Policing companies make more money if they can prevent crime rather than chase after criminals, so that’s what they do.  It’s not just safer for the citizens; it’s safer for the police too.

Let’s face it: policing is a tough, stressful job.  You can get killed doing it.  Our police put their lives on the line every day when they don the uniform and strap on their firearm.  When cops shoot unarmed citizens or steal property they are sworn to protect, all of our guys and gals in blue are tainted by it.  Privatizing our police may be the only way to clean up the corruption.

I wonder how those students that I talked to back in the 1980s are feeling about public police now.

Should Women Be Drafted?

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My short answer is that no one should be drafted. After all, our Constitution prohibits involuntary servitude, which is exactly what the draft is. Our young men—and possibly women—will be forced—at gunpoint, if necessary—to take up arms and kill other people.

Except for a few psychopaths, taking up arms with the intention to kill others day after day is difficult, even when our nation is truly threatened. It’s a rare individual who remains unscathed by killing others and being a target, which is why so many return home with post-traumatic stress disorder or serious mental illnesses. Going to war should always be the last resort, since the cost in lives, money, and disabilities is so high. In recent times, however, sending troops overseas seems to be a knee-jerk response to any provocation.

When our young people perceive that a war is not just or not warranted, they become unwilling to risk their lives or kill for it. In Vietnam, a war I remember well, this is exactly what happened. Although young men enlisted early in the war, they soon concluded that Vietnam was not a threat to the United States, and resisted the draft overtly or covertly.

Today, not enough of our young men are enlisting to sustain the conflicts in the Middle East. Our troops look forward to going home after their tours are up, only to be forcibly reenlisted under the stop-loss fine print in their contracts. We claim to have a volunteer army, but in fact those who enlist can be drafted for another deployment. This discourages further enlistment, as new recruits start to understand that they are actually signing an open-ended contract.

Clearly, the government believes it will need a draft in the not-so-distant future to maintain its chosen  military action. We are told that without a draft, our young people will not step forward when our country is threatened. This is patently false. After 9/11, volunteers flooded to sign up for the anticipated military action. Now they no longer do, as they perceive their government is embarked on never-ending wars.

If our nation is truly threatened, our young people step forward willingly; if it isn’t truly threatened, why should they risk life and limb? We can’t keep killing people overseas because maybe, someday, they might try to harm us.  There are simply too many people who “might” try to hurt us.  A better strategy is to make sure our domestic security is strong enough that those who would do us harm will be thwarted in their attempt.

If we engage in overseas wars that are not truly defensive ones, and may even be primarily in the service of special interests, our young people should refuse to go.  These young adults become the canaries in the coal mine, warning us that the war we wish to fight might not be so right.

Killing is difficult enough when it is perceived as a necessary evil, but it’s even more difficult without the motivation to protect our homes and loved ones. The draft isn’t only involuntary servitude; its slavery of the worst kind as it asks the draftees to do things they find morally repugnant. How are we to spread freedom abroad by taking it away from our young people at home?

Women have a major role to play in discussions about the draft. They should indeed talk about equal rights—for both men and women. Self-determination, the decision whether or not we are willing to go out and kill others, is a right that belongs to both sexes. Instead of insisting that their own rights should be violated, as the rights of men are today, women should be lobbying for an end of the draft. Our great, great-grandmothers fought to end the slavery of black people; today, we honor their memories by fighting to end the slavery of the draft.