Supporting the Garrison Center’s Work: How and Why

The William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism is not an “organization” per se. We’re not registered with any government as a “non-profit.” Donations are not tax-deductible … in fact, since we’re not really an organization, we don’t accept donations at all. But our people do. And the “we” is really more of an “I.”

Hi, I’m Tom Knapp, “director and senior news analyst” at the Center. Which means that I write most of the Center’s content, maintain the web site, submit our content to newspapers, etc. When someone else writes an op-ed for the Center, I pay the author out of my own pocket (I’d like to do more of that, but that requires having, you know, money). So the way to “support the Center” is to “support Tom.”

A quick lowdown on the “how” before I get to the “why”: I accept donations through my blog, KN@PPSTER. Over on the right, near the top, you’ll find four options (Patreon, PayPal, Bitcoin and Litecoin) for contributing. Here’s a screen shot to help you find your way:




Now, the big question: Why should you support me? Simple: Because I get the job done. And when it comes to bang for buck, my work stacks up favorably versus think tanks with multi-million dollar annual budgets.

What is the job? Outreach. Writing libertarian op-eds and getting them published in “mainstream” and non-libertarian political media. That’s what I do. I’ve written hundreds, and placed thousands, of op-eds in those publications.

How can you tell I get the job done? Browse the site. At the bottom of each op-ed, you’ll find a list of publications in which that op-ed has appeared. Right now, I’m successfully placing Garrison op-eds 40-60 times per month in newspapers and on political sites across the US and around the world. Small-town dailies. Community weeklies. Large and prestigious newspapers. National and international news and political magazines.

My bare-bones financial nut for continuing to make this happen is $250 a month. At $500 a month, I would probably be able to go from three to four op-eds per week (with at least one per week written by an “outside author”) and start pushing toward the 100 mark with respect to getting libertarian material “out there” to the people who need it most. People outside the libertarian movement. You know, Joe and Jill Sixpack. The people we need to reach. The people we need to persuade.

Thanks to an angel donor who wishes to remain anonymous, that $250 per month came in, guaranteed, for six months. Said donor just extended for another three, which gets us to November.

Come hell or high water, I intend to keep the Center a going concern through the end of the year. If it’s not carrying its own weight by then, minus the single angel, I’ll decide the market has spoken and go do something else.

But this is me speaking to the market — to you, the libertarian who wants to spread our message far and wide, cost-effectively. At 50 media pickups per month and $250 in revenue, that’s $5 to place a libertarian op-ed in front of a non-libertarian audience. Sounds like a bargain to me. If you think so too, please help me keep making it happen.

Yours in liberty,
Tom Knapp

The Problem With Ad Blockers: There Ain’t No Such Thing as Free Content WWW

PageFair’s 2015 Ad Blocking Report paints a desperate picture for  web publishers. Those publishers, according to the report, can expect to lose $22 billion in revenues this year from readers’ widespread use of “ad blocking” software.

Halfway into the web’s third decade, content providers still struggle to monetize their products. Readers who never thought twice about springing for printed newspapers or magazines in “the old days” balk at ponying up for web editions. “Paywalls” don’t seem to work very well.

“Free” is the content watchword … but there’s no such thing as free. Most serious content providers publish for profit, not for fun. So the revenue model has evolved toward loading out every page with ads, then running as much traffic past those ads as possible.

I’m sympathetic to users, mind you. Too many ads can get very annoying, very quickly. I installed an ad blocker myself recently, specifically so that I could visit one site that (according to the ad blocker’s counter) averaged more than 20 advertisements per web page, slowing my computer to a crawl. After awhile, I rethought my strategy, uninstalled the ad blocker, and stopped visiting that site.

My reasoning: Checkout lines are inconvenient and annoying, too, but I don’t get to fill my cart with groceries and just breeze right on past the register. That would be stealing.

It seems to me that there’s a similar, if implicit, contract with web content providers. They’re not giving me the content, they’re selling it to me. The price is letting them put ads in front of me. If I’m not willing to pay that price, I shouldn’t expect the publisher to put out.

I’ve talked with fellow web readers about this. Some of them push back, pointing out that web advertising keeps getting more and more intrusive. Cookies and other tracking devices don’t just show you ads; they follow you around the Internet gathering information about you to target those ads to your interests.

I agree that tracking can get pretty creepy. And dealing with the various scripts that make the tracking possible bogs down my machine.

I think there’s a market solution to this, one that involves tough love on both sides of the content divide.

Instead of using ad blockers, readers should stop visiting sites with intrusive and annoying advertising … after hitting the contact links and explaining why they’ll be doing so in the future.

Instead of running an arms race with ad blockers, trying to find ways around them, publishers should just install scripts that detect the blockers … and black out site content entirely for readers using them.

It seems to me that this course would eventually result in some kind of detente: Readers becoming more tolerant of ads, publishers thinking more carefully about how much advertising they run, and ad brokers getting less intrusive with their tracking.

The last thing to do — unless we’re idiots — is ask government to regulate the user-provider interaction. That would only make things worse.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism ( He lives and works in north central Florida.




Social Security: An Inconvenient Truth

English: Scanned image of author's US Social S...
Social Security card. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The first “top ten” Republican presidential nomination debate consisted almost entirely of empty calories, and it’s easy to see why. The event was put on by Fox “News,” its dominating presence was Donald Trump, and its focus was, simply, on who could get most militaristic about Iran and immigration.

Issues of substance? Fuhgeddaboudit … except for one brief exchange between New Jersey governor Chris Christie and former Arkansas governor (and Fox talk show host) Mike Huckabee. Between the two of them, they revealed the narrow and dangerous range of thinking on the future of Social Security that characterizes both major American political parties. Even Bernie Sanders, allegedly a fire-breathing socialist, can’t seem to think outside that range on Social Security. A quick roundup of the positions:

Huckabee thinks that Social Security can and should be “saved” by switching from progressive federal income taxation to the “Fair” Tax, a 30% national sales tax.

Christie thinks that Social Security can and should be “saved” by increasing the retirement age by two years over a period of 25 years (i.e. every year or so, the retirement age goes up by one month) and “means testing” (i.e. stopping Social Security checks to senior citizens with retirement incomes in excess of $200k and $4 million in liquid assets).

Sanders thinks that Social Security can be “saved” by un-capping the tax that supports it. Right now, only the first $118,500 of each individual’s income is taxed for Social Security purposes. Sanders wants to remove that ceiling.

Social Security has long, and rightly, been characterized as the “third rail” of American politics. Those who touch it tend to die spectacularly gruesome political deaths. It has to be talked about, but nobody’s willing to talk about it outside the context of “saving” it.

That fear may be justified, but it’s also incredibly bad for America.

The ratio of retirees to current tax-paying workers is inverting — Baby Boomers are retiring, having had fewer children than their own parents.

Social Security’s  “trust fund” consists entirely of IOUs from a government already more than $18 trillion in debt and showing no signs of ever learning fiscal responsibility.

None of the gimmicks proposed by the likes of Huckabee, Christie and Sanders changes those fundamentals.  Even Social Security’s trustees predict insolvency by 2035, and their bookkeeping looks suspiciously optimistic.

Here’s what the politicians don’t want to tell you: Social Security is going to end.

Even if the US government hadn’t operated it as a Ponzi scheme, spending its revenues and paying old claims from new revenues, the demographic changes of the last 50 years would have made it untenable. And even absent those demographic changes, well, Ponzi schemes always collapse sooner or later.

It’s going to end. The only choice is whether it ends with a bang (total collapse and sudden mass destitution among the elderly) or a whimper (phasing it out with minimum possible harm to those counting on it).

Any politician who tells you otherwise is lying to you.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism ( He lives and works in north central Florida.