Thanks all, we're done here. But the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of Redditors, so come one over to Reason and join our comments section.

Hello reddit.

We're Matt Welch (/u/MattWelchReason) and Nick Gillespie (/u/Nick_Gillespie), the editors of Reason magazine, and Reason TV and co-authors of 2011's The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong With America.

Matt's also the co-host of The Independents on Fox Business Network and Nick is a columnist for The Daily Beast and

Go ahead and ask us anything about politics, culture, and ideas and the libertarian movement, 2016, you name it. But we've got to warn you that quite probably the toughest question--"Ever wonder what it'd look like if you switched faces?"--has already been asked and answered #triggerwarning

Proof: Matt and Nick

Comments: 1454 • Responses: 21  • Date: 

SkyLukewalker260 karma

My perception of Libertarians is that they are almost exclusively middle to upper middle class white guys who have had very little adversity in their lives. Can you tell me if this perception is incorrect or not and why?

If your goal is to build a legitimate political movement, how can you convince disadvantaged minorities to support you?

Do you believe that money is free speech? If yes, why is bribery illegal?

If you were allowed to make one single reform to American politics, what would it be?

Nick_Gillespie61 karma

Specific to the question of convincing disadvantaged minorities to give libertarianism a shot: The events in Ferguson and Staten Island are a terrifying indication of how the state's police power is abused at the cost of minorities lives. I believe that many if not most of the problems of inner cities (and rural areas, too) are the direct results of government policies. You bring in school choice; end the drug war and the black market violence it concentrates in poor neighborhoods; and get rid of dumb minimum wage laws, occupational licensing hassles, and stupid zoning restrictions, and you're a long way toward creating a better, fairer America.

As Rand Paul has noted, libertarians have done a poor or nonexistent job in talking with minorities about their situation and how less government and more empowerment might help. We need to do that and I think we are. At the Daily Beast, I wrote about "The Libertarian Moment in Ferguson," where African-American anger at police abuses merged with libertarian concerns about militarized police. That's a great starting point, as is school choice and discussions of eminent domain abuse and drug legalization.

passstab86 karma

Reason has run a lot of anti-copyright articles.
Would your organization consider releasing Reason under a Copyfree license? Doing so would be consistent with libertarian ideals and would be a very easy way to promote your publication and its ideas.

Thanks for the great website.

Nick_Gillespie77 karma

We try not to speak in the royal we at Reason (we don't believe in monarchy or group-based editorial stances), so I won't speak for my colleagues. But I am very much in the copyright anarchist camp. Whatever the origins of copyright in an American (and constitutional) context, it's clear that most intellectual property laws are the tools of politically connected firms (cough, cough, Disney, cough cough). As long as you are not falsely claiming work as your own, I think things should be wide open.

Our goal at Reason--published by a nonprofit--is to spread our ideas and journalism far and wide. This turns out not only to be a pretty good business model (we have stable if limited funding) but it means we don't get super worried when people start using our stuff. But we haven't looked at the copyfree license and probably should.

As with immigration and drug laws, copyright laws are not particularly operative in the decisions people make. But to the extent they make it harder to produce and consume culture, they should be amended.

Viva Grokster!

durgz62 karma

How can US citizens legitimately challenge the two-party system?

Nick_Gillespie74 karma

What Matt said, plus this: I worry less about the parties themselves and worry more about policy. The fact is that we'll always have two major parties because of the way votes are counted in our system. What those parties stand for changes all the time and gives us plenty of room to create true libertarian polices in either or both parties: Free trade, open borders, immigration, you name it. The parties are empty wine bottles (as a classic 19th century cartoon once put it). It's our job to fill them with new wine. The wine of...freedom, baby!

iamprivate52 karma

Fears of technological unemployment have been unfounded in the past but do you have other reasons to believe that this won't become a problem going forward? Does libertarianism become less practical the more and more people have no marketable skills?

Nick_Gillespie69 karma

In the short term, technology causes some dislocations. In the long term, it grows the economy and the overall number of jobs and possibilities. This is what the historical record shows over and over again (typists were killed by the rise of personal computers, but the new PC-centric world employs far more people than old typing pools ever could).

An important addendum (especially from a guy in his early 50s): All of us need to keep growing and expanding our skill sets over our entire lifetimes. If you don't, you're waiting to get caught in a bad pinch.

Here's Reason's Ron Bailey on why we shouldn't worry about technological unemployment going forward.

prayformojo8020 karma

Hey guys, I've been a fan of Reason and H&R for years. While you're both libertarians, I have to imagine the two of you don't see eye to eye on every single political topic. Where have you two disagreed the most?

MattWelchReason20 karma

1) Bert Blyleven's Hall of Fame credentials. 2) The cover of every issue of the magazine, in history. 3) The reasons for the Kosovo war. 4) The appropriate level of hatred a person should have.

Nick_Gillespie17 karma

Again with this Bert Blyleven insanity! Matt is a professional jock sniffer of the California Angels of Los Angeles-Anaheim-Death Valley or whatever they're calling themselves this week. That's why he cares so much about BB.

If Blyleven deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, everyone and no one does. Decent journeymen don't deserve to be in HOF any more than demi-gods deserve to be in Olympus.

suaveitguy18 karma

How do you (or how does Libertarianism) reconcile its principles with public health initiatives?
e.g. smoking is terrible, its defense would have been fueled in people addicted to its chemicals and up until 1970 or so by their ignorance - but it was eradicated mostly by policy.

Nick_Gillespie41 karma

I think it's important to make a distinction between what I would consider true public health concerns--such as infectious disease outbreaks--and desired lifestyle choices, which shouldn't be implemented via force.

Individuals have a right to abuse their own bodies however they see fit. If you want to smoke, or drug, or become a fat shit, that's your right. But others shouldn't be forced to subsidize or insure your lifestyle.

At the same time, nobody has a right to inflect their contagions on unwilling folks. That's where real public health issues should be addressed.

I recommend Jacob Sullum's excellent piece "An Epidemic of Meddling" on this topic.

Also, Ron Bailey, et al's discussion of mandatory vaccinations.

suaveitguy10 karma

Is libertarianism, as practiced, a concrete and defined platform?
Do you think it is (or at least has the potential to be) used to fight cherry picked fights? e.g. Stay out of my business (in areas that matter to me) but get in mine or other people's business (in areas that benefit me.)

Nick_Gillespie25 karma

Good one. For a great, broad critique of how free marketers of one era often turn into crony capitalists of the next, I highly recommend Saving Capitalism from the Capitalists:

I worry that Uber, which is a great example of a company that is running rings around old, govt-connected forms of transport business, may well be cozying up to power once it feels like it can lock in its market advantage:

I like to think of libertarian as an adjective--as a descriptor of a tendency or a direction rather than a concrete, fixed in cement, set of policy positions. If your predisposition is to want people to have more autonomy and ability to choose in all areas of life, you're libertarian. And you'll likely be in favor of tolerance, peace, pluralism, drug legalization, marriage equality, lower levels of regulation, etc. But to me the most important thing is the sensibility not the specific policy positions.

RastonBot6 karma

Thanks for hiring JD. He comes off as a little unhinged and that's refreshing. Does he scare anyone at Reason? My bet is he scares Robby.

Nick_Gillespie8 karma

JD Tuccille is one bad motherfucker. Don't approach him on the weekends and for god's sake, don't let him get wet!

We keep him housed in Arizona or Nevada (like there's a difference, amirite?) in that thing in Hoover Dam that was at the end of the first Transformers movie.

live9free1or1die6 karma

What do you believe are the most effective ways to spread the ideals of libertarianism to the generations that are still growing up today (gen Y & Z)? Also I know it's early but do either of you have a favorite candidate for 2016? Whether they are going to run as a libertarian, or not. Thanks.

Edit: horrible grammar.

Nick_Gillespie25 karma

This is a good question, a tough question, and an easy one, as far as I'm concerned.

Reason did a major poll of millennials over the summer and it showed that in many ways, the youngs (34 and under) are pretty libertarian in many ways and not so much in others. For instance, they don't have the sexual hangups re: gays and lesbians older people have; they are more secular and tolerant generally; and they don't trust the government very much. At the same time, they want the government to do a lot of stuff in terms of jobs, entitlements, and income.

I think the best way to reach younger people is to show how most of what they value in the world--tolerance and technological innovation, say--is derived from libertarian attitudes and policies. They also need to understand just how fucked they are when it comes to old-age entitlements and that what might have made sense during the Great Depression doesn't anymore. We don't just need to reform entitlements, we need to get rid of them as a concept. Let's help the poor but not burden young and relatively poor people with paying for the health care and retirements of olds.

But mostly the best way to reach young people is the same way we try to reach other folks: We explore the world and show how freedom works to make all of us better off and to create a more interesting, fun, and fairer world.

ningrim6 karma

Is disruption (blocking people's movement, shouting people down) nonviolent? Does it violate the principle of nonaggression? Should libertarians approve of such activity?

Nick_Gillespie28 karma

The heckler's veto is an illegitimate form of protest as far as I'm concerned. The proper answer to bad or stupid speech is more and better speech, not shutting people down.

I am seriously distressed by the shift toward shouting people down or trying to silence them (on campuses and in many other settings) than creating alternative discussion spaces and engaging debate. Bizarrely, we are a clearly less racist, sexist, homophobic society than we were even a few decades ago. Yet some people insist on saying that virtually every unpleasant sentence or thought is a crime against humanity. When comedians like Chris Rock say they've given up on touring colleges because the audiences there are too sensitive, we're pissing away a hard-won victory for free expression.

Luckily, most of the culture is very much interested in talking up a storm.

window54 karma

Do libertarians take a stand on immigration? Should all of Central America be allowed to move to the US?

Nick_Gillespie12 karma

The short version: If they want to. I'm radical enough to even want to allow CANADIANS to come here if they want. We essentially had open borders through the early 1880s (when the govt passed explicitly and disgustingly racist quotas against Chinese immigrants; by the 1920s, that same sort of shit was leveled against people like my grandparents from Italy and Ireland, who had managed to sneak in already).

So the short version is simply: Yes to open borders as much as possible. Governments don't control borders--people do. They move around the world in pursuit of freedom and opportunity. Those flows are far less dictated by what we do or don't do and what's going on in their home countries or in our economy. By all accounts, net immigration across the southern border has slumped since our economy started sucking. It will pick up again when the economy does.

One final thought: What makes anyone think that all of Central America wants to move to the US any more than all of Italy did in 1900? Up to 40 percent of European immigrants in the late 1800s/early 1900s moved back to their home countries after checking this place out. The US is really in the shitter when we stop being the magnet for new people.

For more detials and FACTS! Reason's special issue on immigration

Louis_Farizee3 karma

Happy Repeal Day!

I don't know if you've been asked this before, but what would President Gillespie's first 100 days in office look like? How about Senate Majority Leader Welch?

Nick_Gillespie19 karma

Just saying: I would resign within the first 24 hours. You're on your own, bitches!

polimodern0 karma

Do you charge money for your free minds and markets?

Nick_Gillespie11 karma

We charge fiat currency, really, so you should send as much of your worthless "money" as possible, especially during our annual webathon. Details at