Friday, August 02, 2019

From the Archives - Nipping ahead of regulators: Nick Gillespie discusses, free speech, and restraint (2010)

Nipping ahead of regulators: Nick Gillespie discusses, free speech, and restraint
August 2, 2010 3:27 AM MST

Nick Gillespie Reason magazine libertarian thought Rick Sincere was started in October 2007 as a video journalism site designed to complement the work of the Reason Foundation, the print edition of Reason magazine, and the magazine’s web site,

Since then, according to’s editor-in-chief, Nick Gillespie, the site has grown every month, not only “in terms of web traffic but more importantly in terms of a kind of recognition among free-market-oriented, libertarian think tanks [for which] we are setting the standard for video.”

Gillespie spoke with the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner after a panel discussion hosted at Reason’s Washington office on July 12. (Another article based on this interview with Gillespie, focusing on the potential for privatizing Virginia’s liquor trade, appeared on on July 19.)

Measures of Success
In addition to its own web site, has a YouTube channel with 410 uploaded videos that have been viewed at least 5,840,679 times; it also has 16,363 subscribers and 7,398 “friends” on YouTube.

From among those 400-plus videos, Gillespie points to two of them as his favorites.

“One of them,” he says, “is Reason Saves Cleveland with Drew Carey, a fifty minute, six-part series about how Cleveland might turn around a 60-year decline in population and economic fortunes. It’s a really interesting piece where we leverage all of the expertise we have in the public policy division of Reason Foundation, the journalism angle, etc.”

The other one he likes is called “UPS vs. FedEx, which was a two-minute long piece that looked at the way in which UPS is trying to get FedEx’s labor classification reclassified. We used a technologically advanced understanding of green screens and white screens and we had a lot of fun with it. It got a very complex message out in a very short period of time.”

Finding Government Nannies
A regular feature on is the “Nanny of the Month,” which looks at examples of paternalistic government action. Gillespie explained how he and his team find these “Nannies.”

Nick Gillespie Reason magazine libertarian Rick Sincere
Nick Gillespie
“We find the Nanny of the Month through two ways,” he said, first through original reporting by the staff of Reason, and second, through submissions by readers. “We get a hell of a lot – 50 to 100 – submissions a month.”

Gillespie noted that “that’s actually one of the things that’s interesting about the Web in general, that it’s a distributed intelligence network, so we’re getting a lot of information from people” who are strangers to the organization but who nonetheless “send us stuff.”

As the interview drew to a close, Gillespie mused that, “if there’s a message from, it’s that the 21st century, far from delivering on the utopian dreams of the 20th century, is a weird world where technology has continued to barely nip ahead of [the] government regulators at their heels across a wide variety of levels.”

Still, he remains optimistic, expressing the hope that “we’ll be able to outpace” government controls. The problem he sees is that the past two administrations – George W. Bush’s and Barack Obama’s – each have tried to restrict liberty in their own ways.

‘Worst continuity possible’
“This is something that I think people should understand,” he said, “which is that we tend to think in dichotomous terms about conservatives/liberals [or] Republicans/Democrats,” but these artificial divisions are “wrong.”

Gillespie pointed out that “George Bush signed the most restrictive campaign finance regulation act known to history, the McCain-Feingold law, which was then basically routed around by new technology. Barack Obama wants to control your political speech, he wants to control what is available on cable and satellite TV, and he wants to control what you can buy and sell on the Internet, just like George Bush.”

He concluded:

“Anybody who considers himself a liberal or a conservative should be concerned because what we are seeing is the worst continuity possible between a conservative Republican and a liberal Democrat.”

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on on August 2, 2011. The publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site went dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.