Mary Ruwart

American scientist and libertarian activist

Mary J. Ruwart (born October 16, 1949) is an American retired biomedical researcher and a libertarian speaker, writer, and activist. She was a leading candidate for the 2008 Libertarian Party presidential nomination and is the author of the book Healing Our World.

Mary Ruwart in 2013



Healing Our World: The Other Piece of the Puzzle, (1993)


Kalamazoo, Michigan, SunStar Press, 1993

  • As children relating to others, we learned a great deal about creating peace and prosperity. Most of us can remember Mom or Dad prying us apart from a playmate after we came to blows. ‘Who started it?’ often determined who received the most severe punishment. Even at a tender, we could see that if no one hit first, no fight was possible.
    • p. 7
  • Bureaucrats have little incentive for efficiency when consumers must pay for the service, whether they use it or not. The proof of this inefficiency is the enormous savings enjoyed when public services are contracted out to private firms instead of being performed by government employees. California cities save between 37% and 96% by contracting out their street cleaning, janitorial services, trash collection, traffic signal repairs, grass cutting, and street maintenance/overlay construction
    • p. 97
  • Today, of course, aggression once again keeps the disadvantaged from creating wealth for themselves and their loved ones. Minimum wage laws exclude unskilled workers from the Job market, while increasing the prices they must pay for goods and services. Licensing laws squeeze small companies out of business. Sixty percent of all new Jobs in the United States.
    • p. 141
  • Many individuals are capable of creating wealth but are excluded from the job market by minimum wage and licensing laws. Much poverty can be alleviated by allowing people to create wealth at whatever level they can and ‘work their way up.’
    • p. 147
  • The housing problem that generates homelessness has been linked to the aggression of rent control, zoning restrictions, building codes, and construction moratoriums, all of which limit the availability of inexpensive housing. When construction is limited and landlords can charge only a minimal rent, they naturally rent to only the most affluent ten-ants. rather than the poor who might be late in their payments. Once again, aggression hurts those it is supposed to protect.
    • p. 147
  • As long as we employ the guns of government to force our neighbors to our will, aggression will be the instrument by which we enslave ourselves. This is as true of global government as it is of our local and national ones.
    • p. 260
  • We reap as we sow. In trying to control others, we find ourselves controlled. In failing to honor our neighbor's choice, we create a world of poverty and strife.
    • p. 260
  • Because selfish owners want to profit as much as possible from their land, they have incentive to treat their property in a way that increases its value to others. The price that owners can get for the land depends on how other members of society value the care given to it
    • p. 264

Short Answers to the Tough Questions (1998)

1st edition published in 1998
  • Children who willingly participate in sexual acts have the right to make that decision as well, even if it's distasteful to us personally. Some children will make poor choices just as some adults do in smoking and drinking to excess. When we outlaw child pornography, the prices paid for child performers rise, increasing the incentives for parents to use children against their will.

Healing Our World: In An Age of Aggression, (2003)


Kalamazoo, Michigan, SunStar Press, 2003

  • We defer to authority figures because they are supposed to know more than we do. If a mistake is made, it's easy to lay the blame at their feet. Ultimately, however, we are responsible for choosing the authority figure we defer to. Choosing to defer to one who urges aggression against others still puts the responsibility on us.”
    • p. 10
  • Through taxation, pacifists are forced at gunpoint to pay for killing machines; vegetarians are forced at gunpoint to subsidize grazing land for cattle; nonsmokers are forced at gunpoint to support both the production of tobacco and the research to counter its impact on health. These minorities are the victims, not the initiators of aggression. Their only crime is not agreeing with the priorities of the majority. Taxation appears to be more than theft; it is intolerance for the preferences and even the moral viewpoints of our neighbors. Through taxation we forcibly impose our will on others in an attempt to control their choices.”
    • p. 12
  • Indeed, taxation and other forms of aggression-through-government are so taken for granted in our culture that one of our most popular sayings is that ‘nothing is certain except death and taxes.’ Yet slavery was once as universal. Taxation is thought to be indispensable to civilization today, just as slavery once was. Advocates of taxation claim that since most people pay assigned taxes before the guns show up, they have implicitly agreed to it as the price of living in ‘society.’ Most slaves obeyed their master before he got out the whip, yet we would hardly argue that this constituted agreement to their servitude. Today, we have an enlightened perspective on slavery, just as one day we will have an enlightened perspective on taxes and other forms of aggression we now think of as ‘the only way.’
    • p. 13
  • Aggression hides in our culture under many names. Taxation is only an example, but one of the most widespread and uneconomical. If this concept seems incredible to you, consider the shift in awareness that it implies. Are we like children, accepting five pennies for our dime?
    • p. 14
  • The marketplace has many similarities to nature's rainforest and oceanic ecosystems. Left to their own devices, the marketplace and the earth's ecosystems are self-regulating. Neither requires our forceful intervention to establish a holistic balance in which a diversity of complimentary niches can evolve. Aggression in the marketplace or destruction in a natural ecosystem upsets this balance. Some of the niches are destroyed along with their occupants. Diversity is lost.
    • p. 15
  • Wealth is created when we use existing resources in new ways. Since such creativity is virtually limitless, wealth is too.
    • p. 17
  • When we consider that resources will one day be mined from planets other than the earth, that matter and energy are totally interchangeable, and that basic chemical elements can be transmuted, we realize that resource seeds are so abundant that they do not impose practical limitations on the creation of wealth at all.
    • p. 19
  • In the marketplace ecosystem, interference usually means aggression-through-government. When we don’t like the outcomes that we get in the marketplace, we sometimes try to correct its ‘imperfections’ with laws that force our neighbors—at gunpoint, if necessary—to do things differently… Imperfections of the marketplace ecosystem are dwarfed by the havoc created by our well-meaning aggression.
    • p. 27
  • [M]ost poverty in the world today is caused by aggression, not ignorance. The illusion that aggression-through-government benefits the poor at the expensive of the rich is just that, an illusion.
    • p. 92
  • Many subsidized exclusive monopolies are public services. On average, we pay twice as much through our taxes for these services as we would if they were provided by the private sector.
    • p. 113
  • By making our police force an exclusive, subsidized government monopoly, we increase the cost and decrease the quality of protection, especially for the poor. By banning handguns, we disarm the disadvantage.
    • p. 114
  • Those too poor to own their own home pay no property taxes, but their rent reflects the taxes that the landlord must pay. The poor pay higher rents to subsidize inefficiency and waste.
    • p. 123
  • In the late 1980s, Soviets were allowed to keep the wealth they created by raising vegetables on their garden plots. Although these plots composed only about 2% of the agricultural lands in the Soviet Union, they produced 25% of the food! When Soviets kept the wealth they created, they produced almost 16 times more than when it was taken from them at gunpoint, if necessary!
    • p. 129
  • In spite of the additional financial burden, struggling immigrants made great sacrifices to educate their children as they saw fit rather than send them to inexpensive or even free public schools. Catholics saw the public schools as vehicles for Protestant propaganda and established parochial schools. German immigrants sent their children to private institutions when the public ones refused to teach them in German as well as in English. Immigrants who wanted their children to learn their native tongue and their Old World history opted for private or parochial schools that catered to their preferences.
    • p. 147
  • Can you imagine a school system funded by taxation hiring a teacher who equated taxation with theft? Hardly! Consequently, our children are instructed by teachers who believe that first-strike force, fraud, or theft is acceptable as long as it’s for a good cause.
    • p. 147
  • The Swiss people are the best practitioners of the ideals of non-aggression. The Swiss national government posts are parttime positions. Most decisions are made at the canton (state) level. Swiss per capita income is the highest in the world, showing that non-aggression pays. How did the Swiss come to adopt a relatively non-aggressive constitution in an aggressive world? In the mid-1800s, they imitated our constitution and stuck with it!
    • p. 160
  • The basic premise of libertarianism is that each individual should be free to do as he or she pleases so long as he or she does not harm others.
    • p. 161
  • Throughout the world, law enforcement has many characteristics of fourth-layer aggression. Police, courts, and prosecutors are often part of tax-subsidized government monopolies that we are forced to use. As with all such aggression, we end up with high-cost, low-quality service and little innovation. We pay too much for too little.
    • p. 237


  • We are more likely to protect the environment when we own a piece of it and profit by nurturing it.
    *Whenever people do not pay the full cost of something they use, they have less incentive to conserve. For example, when people pay the same amount of taxes for solid waste disposal whether they recycle or not, fewer people are inclined to recycle. As a consequence, we have more waste and disposal problems.
    • Gary Chartier & Charles W. Johnson, edit., Markets Not Capitalism: Individualist Anarchism against Bosses, Inequality, Corporate Power and Structural Poverty, New York and London, Minor Compositions/Autonomedia, (2011), Chap. 46 “Aggression and the Environment”, p. 405

Short Answers to the Tough Questions: How to Answer the Questions Libertarians Are Often Asked, (2012)


Kalamazoo, Michigan, SunStar Press, 2012

  • Actually, libertarianism assumes people will look after their own selfish interests. Because interaction is voluntary in a libertarian society, people can only cater to their own selfish interests by paying attention to what others want.
    • p. 8
  • As for charitable giving, Alexis de Tocqueville commented on the high level of generosity he observed during his travels in the early days of the United States. People who are free and prosperous are more likely to share with those who have less.
    • p. 9
  • Libertarians are the ultimate decentralists: libertarians want to take government from the nation, state, and community down to the level of the individual. The closer to this ideal that we come, the more libertarian our society should be.
    • p. 9
  • Libertarians don’t tell starving people to ‘eat cake;’ they prevent starvation by creating an abundance of ‘cake.’ Virtually all poverty in the world today is a result of governments aggressing against their people. Free countries, on the other hand, end poverty by removing the laws that foster it. They create an abundance of wealth because the poor aren’t legally ostracized from supporting themselves.
    • p. 10
  • Libertarians don’t want to do away with force, just ‘first-strike’ force. If neither of us strike first, no fight is possible. If you are behaving peacefully, and I assault, defraud, or steal from you, then defensive force is permissible in a libertarian society.
    • p. 11
  • Government is, in essence, the privileged class dominating the disadvantage. The Big Lie is that government is the friend of the poor and the foe of the well-to-do.
    • p. 14
  • Simply, libertarians do not advocate the initiation of force, fraud, or theft to achieve social or political goals. If you refused to contribute to my favorite charity, and I took your money at gunpoint anyway, I’d be stealing from you. Similarly, if I vote for taxes to force you to contribute to that charity, I’m asking the government to take your money—at gunpoint, if necessary… Wrong doesn’t turn into right, just because the majority agrees to it. Minorities have no protection if they have to depend upon the majority for it.
    • p. 18
  • In a libertarian society, aggressors would be required to compensate their victims and pay for costs of their trial and apprehension. Studies show that such restitution is one of the most effective deterrents known.
    • p. 20
  • A person who harms another owes the victim compensation. If the victim has been killed, the claim to that compensation usually passes to the victim’s heirs. Without apparent heirs, it’s possible that a libertarian jury would direct the compensation towards a charity or group that the victim favored. Although compensation is primarily awarded to restore the victim, studies show that restitution serves to rehabilitate the criminal as well.
    • pp. 25-26
  • A free-market is the only way to control corporations! As long as government has the power to regulate business, business will control government by funding the candidate that legislates in their favor. A free-market thwarts lobbying by taking the power that corporations seek away from government!
    • p. 32
  • Our greatest polluter is the government (i.e., U.S. military), not corporate America. Putting government in charge of protecting the environment is like asking the fox to guard the hen house.
    • p. 48
  • When courts found the military liable for illness and death after careless nuclear testing in Utah, the government claimed sovereign immunity and refused to pay damages. In a libertarian society, no one would be immune from the consequences of their actions, especially not a government charged with protecting us.
    • p. 49
  • The best way to empower the poor is to allow them to become rich—rich enough to buy land. This is easier than it seems, since most poverty today, even in the Third World, is a direct result of aggression-through-government. Minimum wage and licensing laws put the disadvantage out of work, creating poverty by destroying jobs. When government aggression lessens, poverty decreases too.
    • p. 65
  • Most non-Western governments make it difficult to get clear land titles. Approximately 60-80% of such property is ‘extralegal,’ making it difficult to borrow against or transfer. As a result, while the poor in these countries ‘hold’ a great deal of land, they cannot easily use its full potential.
    • p. 65
  • Of course, in a libertarian society, laws discriminating against gay people would not exist. For instance, same-sex couples find themselves facing the same laws against intermarriage as blacks and whites once did. In a libertarian society, marriage would be a private contract between two willing individuals who could set the terms to suit themselves.
    • p. 123
  • Most economists believe that the Great Depression was primarily a result of the Federal Reserve’s manipulation of the national currency. Had the government not interfered with the banking industry by giving the Fed a monopoly on money, the Depression might have never occurred. Too much government, not too little, was the culprit.
    • p. 102
  • When you subsidize anything, you get more of it. Paying teens even a pittance to have more children encourages them to do so. By the time they are old enough to vote, they finally realize that they will always be poor unless they can get into the work force. By then, however, it is almost too late. Unless a relative helps out, child care costs are prohibitive for someone starting in an entry level job. They find themselves forever stuck in the ‘Poverty Trap.’
    • p. 137
  • When the Statue of Liberty was erected, government was the acknowledged enemy of the poor. Lady Liberty asked for the poor, the wretched refuse, the masses, not the wealthy or skilled. Why? Because everyone understood that the poor prospered best when government didn’t put them out of their jobs with excessive regulations. In the 1880s, for example, guild membership was required in Europe to work in certain occupations and the poor had a difficult time qualifying.
    • p. 138
  • Libertarian societies also create immense wealth primarily because the poor are not excluded from the labor market. Studies show that the closer a country is to the libertarian ideal, the more even is its distribution of wealth.
    • p. 139
  • Libertarians believe that no one should be forced to support another. If a woman has chosen to gift a fetus with life, it does not necessarily follow that she is obligated to continue to support it with her body, especially if that support threatens the woman’s life. A woman’s body is her property, to do with as she wishes.
    • p. 141
  • Libertarians support free trade, but it doesn’t take the five hundred plus pages of the NAFTA agreement to say ‘no more restrictions between us.’
    • p. 183
  • When tariffs are eliminated, consumers pay less for foreign goods. They therefore have more money to spend on other things. Their spending creates more new jobs than those that are lost.
    • p. 183
  • By the late 1970s, armed citizens were killing more criminals in self-defense than the police. Many more would-be attackers and robbers are deterred from their crime when their intended victim simply brandishes a firearm.
    • p. 189
  • An armed society is a polite society, and the not-so-wild West was rather peaceful, in spite of Hollywood’s violent portrayal. As a legacy, in the rural West where every household still has firearms, crime is less than in eastern cities.
    • p. 190
  • ‘Mandatory’ means forced—at gunpoint, if necessary. When we force people to do things, for their own good or the good of others, we violate their right of self-determination. Libertarians respect the rights of others to choose their own path—that’s what liberty is all about. If community service is such a good deal, we should have no trouble persuading people to do it voluntarily. If we can’t convince others that our way is best, maybe we should humbly consider the possibility that it isn’t.
    • p. 199
  • In a libertarian society, big business wouldn’t be so big, since they couldn’t destroy their competition through government regulation. Without government control of the airways, more radio and television stations would be available and could not be shut down on political whim.
    • p. 230
  • One way to eliminate the Federal Communications Commission would be to auction off all of the frequencies and allow them to be bought and sold like other property. Trespass by other stations would be handled just like trespass on land. Bandwidths useful for new applications could be ‘homesteaded’ just as land once was.
    • p. 231

Healing Our World: The Compassion of Libertarianism, (2015)


Kalamazoo, Michigan, SunStar Press, 2015

  • When we, as individuals, take from our neighbors what they won’t voluntarily give—at gunpoint, if necessary—we call it theft. When majorities take from minorities what they won’t voluntarily give—at gunpoint, if necessary—we call it taxation.
    • p. 21
  • As children, we learned that if no one hits first, no fight is possible. Therefore, refraining from ‘first-strike’ force, theft, or fraud, is the first step in creating peace.
    • p. 21

Death by Regulation: How We Were Robbed of a Golden Age of Health and How We Can Reclaim It, (2018)


Kalamazoo, Michigan, SunStar Press, 2018

  • Congress enacted the 1962 Kefauver-Harris Amendments to the 1938 Food and Drug Act… What the Amendments actually did was increase the time it takes for a new drug to move from the lab bench to the marketplace: a change from 4 years to 14 years over the next few decades. Terminally ill patients who couldn’t live with the delay turned to the black market to get access to potential cures. Every year, the cost of satisfying the FDA have soared, resulting to ever-increasing prices at the pharmacy. More than half of our potential innovations have never made it to patients because companies realized they couldn’t recoup their investments under the new regulations.
    • pp. 1-3
  • Even when the FDA agrees to expanded access, pharmaceutical companies are often reluctant to give terminal patients a drug that is still in development. If patients die from organ failure related to their disease, the FDA may require additional studies from the manufacturer to make sure that the death was not hurried along by the drug. Naturally, the extra studies increase the development timeline and overall cost.
    • p. 35
  • When the AIDS epidemic began, the US pharmacist had little to offer its unfortunate victims. Consequently, AIDS patients began bringing in antiviral drugs or immune stimulants that were approved in other nations, such as ribavirin and Isoprinosine. It might have made sense to approve those drugs on the basis of data from other countries, but back then the FDA insisted on considering only studies done in the United States.
    • pp. 61-62
  • How many innovative, potentially lifesaving drugs never make it to the marketplace because of the added costs in time and money imposed by the [Kefauver-Harris] Amendments? No one knows for sure, but the studies that have been done imply that we’ve lost about 80% of the innovations that we would have had in the absence of he Amendments.
    • p. 110
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