Sunday, October 22, 2017

The contractarian libertarian

Libertarianism and contractarianism - The Washington Post - John Thrasher, The Volokh Conspiracy:

September 20, 2017 - "Liberalism (in the classical sense) and its more austere cousin libertarianism, are fundamentally doctrines that put personal and political freedom at the heart of things ... typically understood as freedom from government and social interference so that one can exercise one’s freedom to live the life of one’s choosing. Equality is crucial in securing freedom insofar as we understand equality as equality of fundamental rights to non-interference....

"It is a commonplace to argue, as Thomas Nagel did in an early review of Robert Nozick’s epoch-making Anarchy, State, and Utopia, that the libertarian and classical liberal focus on rights is 'without foundations.' Although this criticism is fundamentally mistaken, it is an unsurprising allegation given the preferred intuitionistic method of many of the most important philosophical libertarians....

"I argue that libertarians and liberals should embrace a contractual method of justification.... The core rights that define the freedom and equality of members of a free society are or would be, on this view, the result of an agreement between rational individuals for the purpose of mutual benefit....

"[T]he state of nature and contractual consent are not accurate descriptions of the history of political organization. This criticism, however, misunderstands the basic idea behind social contract theory: to model how a genuinely voluntary and mutually beneficial society would be structured.... The social contract acts as a tool to evaluate existing and possible social rules and institutions.

"Contractual theory, pursued this way, aims to bring the mutually beneficial power of market exchange to social governance. But ... David Gauthier notes in Morals by Agreement, 'before Smith’s invisible hand can do its beneficent work, Hobbes’s war of every man against every man must first be exorcized' (85). Markets require a foundation in basic norms of trust and the assurance that one’s rights are secure. This requires, at least initially, credible enforcement and governance mechanisms. This governance can be achieved in any number of ways, however, not all of which require explicit political institutions.... Indeed, the long-term project of the libertarian contractarian should be to investigate how forms of genuine self-government can realize, in modern societies, the contractarian goals of voluntariness and mutual benefit....

""The contractual approach helps to solve two perennial problems in libertarian and liberal theory ... the foundational problem of whether to base libertarian conclusions on some deontological basis (e.g., natural rights) or to adopt a consequentialist justification [and] how to adjudicate between the anarchist and minimal government strands in libertarian thought....

"[T]he contractual approach preserves a focus on the consequences of political institutions that many find appealing in consequentialist or utilitarian theory....  Similarly, the contractual method, based on rational agreement, provides a justification for rights that doesn’t rely on controversial foundations. This, as I argue more fully in Social Contractarianism, makes the contractual approach uniquely attractive....

"I also argue that the contractual approach can dissolve another traditional dispute between classical liberals and libertarians; whether ... libertarians are really committed to anarchism.... The contractual libertarian can admit that there is no moral obligation or duty to obey the state, but that in a free and open society with institutions that can meet the contractual test, there are good reasons to endorse the laws and social norms of such a society....

"Agreement is the only basis of a free society. These agreements must be voluntary and reflect our perceived interests. A society built on this model would be as close to a truly voluntary society as we could ever hope."

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Saturday, October 21, 2017

Rand Paul on healthcare Executive Order

Rand Paul on Trump Healthcare Executive Action: Congress Failed, Time to Act:

October 12, 2017 - "President Trump ... today legalize[d] and allow[ed] individuals to form Health Associations and purchase insurance across state lines. This is what real free market replacement looks like. Millions of Americans will be eligible to band together to demand less-expensive insurance. The 28 million individuals left behind by Obamacare will now be eligible for inexpensive insurance.

"The cost to the taxpayer? ZERO! As opposed to the trillion-dollar, 'fake' replacements we voted on, this replacement simply legalizes choice....

"[N]ationwide associations like the National Restaurant Association will be allowed to form groups across state lines and, with the leverage of size, demand Big Insurance bring down their outrageous premiums. Many of the 28 million people left behind by Obamacare who still don’t have insurance work low-wage jobs in our fast food restaurants. The President’s decision today will allow workers from two million restaurants to come together to form a buying group....

"Millions of people will be eligible for the same group insurance that big corporations offer. In fact, Health Associations may grow to be larger than the largest of our corporations. Currently, about half of private insurance is cross-state, self-insured ERISA plans, and most employees love them.  The President’s action today will allow the millions of people in the individual market an escape route to group insurance.... Existing law allows the President to legalize these new groups and plans. Where previous administrations have been weak, President Trump is bold to allow this reform.

"Health Associations ... will be exempt from some Obamacare and State regulations. This exemption from regulations is why cross-state group insurance has seen the lowest rise in premiums of any health insurance available.... Million-person Health Associations will have enormous leverage to get better prices for consumers – that’s exactly why Big Insurance opposes them.

"It will take 6 months to a year to begin seeing the benefits of Health Associations.  I want to thank President Trump for taking this bold step forward.... Congress may have failed to act — but President Trump and I haven’t. We’ve been working on this behind the scenes....

"You will be able to choose among better and cheaper insurance that works for you — something Obamacare made illegal. You will be able to buy across state lines, opening up competition for the best plans. Many Obamacare regulations will be waived for those in these groups, including costly mandates on what the plans must cover.

"Best of all, this isn’t a government mandate. It isn’t a subsidy. It isn’t a tax. Rather, it is the removal of government regulation and barriers to the best possible health care for millions of people."

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Friday, October 20, 2017

Vicente Fox campaigns for legal cannabis

At Phoenix cannabis expo, Vicente Fox talks marijuana, trade, Trump - Jason Pohl, Arizona Republic:

October 14, 2017 - "Former Mexican President Vicente Fox on Saturday made the case for broad-scale marijuana legalization in Arizona, telling a Phoenix crowd the days of failed drug policies were fading, despite rhetoric from President Donald Trump's White House.

"Speaking to hundreds of entrepreneurs, industry leders and curious residents at the Southwest Cannabis Conference and Expo at the Phoenix Convention Center, Fox reiterated his disdain for drug wars.... Fox said it was only a matter of time before all-out legalization was reality across the United States, Mexico and Canada.

"'I’m here to share with this community a future that we have ahead, a future of an economic sector that is good for people, good for health, good for the economy,' Fox told reporters before his keynote speech. 'But more so is good because it gives us the freedom to make our own decisions."

"Fox was Mexico's president from 2000 [to] 2006. Since leaving office, he has made far-reaching cannabis legalization a priority....

"He spoke in June at a similar convention in Oakland, saying Mexico and Canada had every intention of taking the lead on medical and recreational marijuana exports. The goal, he said, was to have Mexico produce 60 percent of the legal marijuana used by Americans, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

"Fox renewed those comments Saturday. He said the ongoing discussions about renegotiating the NAFTA ... needed to address the role of the cross-border marijuana trade. Tearing up the expansive policy framework would be detrimental to all industry and shove the United States and Mexico back in time, Fox said....

"Mexico has been incrementally legalizing various uses of marijuana and its derivatives for several years. In June, current Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto signed a decree legalizing medical marijuana, classifying the substance's psychoactive ingredient as 'therapeutic.' Medical marijuana use in Canada has long been accepted, and recreational use is widely expected to be legalized next year."

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Thursday, October 19, 2017

More than 200 forfeited cars go missing in NC

Audit: State cannot account for 234 vehicles seized under DWI forfeiture program - Carolina Journal:

September 28, 2017 - "State officials failed to account for 234 vehicles worth $634,000 seized by a program targeting drivers convicted of felonies for speeding or driving while intoxicated, a new state audit reported.

"Auditor Beth Wood found gaps in monitoring the contractors charged with impounding the vehicles, along with resistance from one major contractor to cooperate with the investigation. The missing vehicles should have been auctioned, kept in storage, or returned to the owners. But audit investigators couldn’t find the missing vehicles or the paperwork that might help find them.

"The Department of Public Instruction, the state agency that received money from the sale of seized vehicles, didn’t want the responsibility of monitoring the program, saying it was outside the agency’s core mission.

"The audit reviewed the DWI/Felony Speeding to Elude Vehicle Seizure Program from July 1, 2011 until June 30, 2016. Though the review covered five years, vehicles were reported missing over only the past three years.

"The General Assembly created the program in the 1990s to seize vehicles.... By law, proceeds from the sale of items seized in criminal cases go to the school district where the case was prosecuted. Local school districts initially and reluctantly monitored the program.

"In 1997, DPI took charge of overseeing the contractors that impounded and later auctioned the vehicles. But DPI didn’t want that responsibility, either. Oversight was lax, and DPI officials said it didn’t have the people or money needed to keep tabs on the contractors.... Oversight of the program shifted last year to the Department of Administration.

"The audit recommended tighter oversight from DOA, including a referral to the Division of Motor Vehicles, which may be able to track any undocumented vehicles.

"It also noted that Martin Edwards and Associates, the contractor handling (and losing) the vast majority of the vehicles, had impeded the investigation and resisted subpoenas from the auditor’s office. The auditor said DOA should reconsider using MEA as a contractor.

"DPI and DOA agreed with the audit’s findings and recommendations."

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Federal judges block Travel Ban III

Second judge halts Trump's travel ban | TheHill - Lydia Wheeler:

October 18, 2017 - "Judge Theodore Chuang, a federal district judge in Maryland, temporarily blocked the majority of the president’s ban on nationals from eight countries, but he said the president could still ban individuals from North Korea, business officials from Venezuela and individuals lacking a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.

"The order now allows entry of individuals from Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Chad.

"Chuang is the second judge to halt the ban. Hawaii District Judge Derrick Watson went even further Tuesday, blocking all of Trump’s restrictions except with respect to Venezuelan officials or immigrants from North Korea....

"Chuang’s order is similar to an order the Supreme Court issued in June in two cases challenging Trump’s previous ban on nationals from six majority-Muslim countries: Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen.

"The Justices reinstated the ban but carved out an exemption for people with a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the U.S."

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

'Libertarian paternalist' wins economics Nobel

Nobel Board Awards Micromanaging Fake ‘Libertarian’ Its Economics Prize - Joseph Bast, Federalist Society:

October 12, 2017 - "On Monday, the ... Nobel Prize in economics [was awarded to] the University of Chicago’s Richard Thaler. It was a poor choice. Thaler might be very smart and even clever, but his contribution to economics was largely, as he put it himself, to 'make a career stealing ideas from psychologists.'

"Thaler and other 'behavioral economists' observe that many people do not seem to act purely rationally all the time. Sometimes we exaggerate risk, procrastinate, give in to temptation, and fail to save for the future. Sometimes we need to be 'nudged' — Thaler’s most influential book, coauthored with Obama official Cass Sunstein, was titled Nudge.... Of course, some of this is true. Yet the core problems with behavioral economics are two-fold.

"First, Thaler and others stole their ideas from the wrong psychologists. Like many other academic disciplines, psychology was invaded by liberals and socialists in the 1960s.... Thaler and Sunstein relied on these liberal activists pretending to be psychologists for much of their 'evidence' showing how people are 'predictably irrational.' In fact, other scholars did not replicate the findings of these activists, and their conclusions were explicitly debunked by some researchers who tried, such as Judy Cameron and David Pierce....

"Good economists are quick to admit they are unlikely to be better judges of what people really want than the actors themselves.... A great example is fuel economy. The Obama administration, following the lead of previous Republican and Democrat administrations, believed people are too stupid or short-sighted to choose cars and trucks that get better gas mileage, so mandated that car and truck makers produce fleets with higher average miles per gallon than people want....

"But people choose cars and trucks with lower gas mileage because they value having bigger vehicles (for hauling kids and stuff), heavier vehicles (which are safer), and vehicles with more horsepower ... more than saving a few hundred or even a few thousand dollars on gasoline.... How can government bureaucrats possibly know the value of these features to each consumer? Obviously, they cannot....

"[T]housands of people die every year in car accidents that would not have been fatal but for the light-weighting of vehicles to meet the government’s fuel economy rules (called CAFE standards). In this case, Thaler’s 'nudge' philosophy is actually killing people every day....

"In Nudge, Thaler and Sunstein called for something they labeled 'libertarian paternalism.' Yes, that’s an oxymoron, and it’s almost incredible that two academics who take themselves seriously could have written it and not realized just how stupid their 'contribution' to the national debate is..... You can’t choose objectives for people ... while considering yourself a 'libertarian.' Goal-setting is part of freedom, maybe the biggest part....

"So congratulations, Mr. Thaler, on receiving the Nobel Prize. Too bad you didn’t earn it."

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Monday, October 16, 2017

Weld draws flak for attending GOP event

Bill Weld Didn’t Renounce Libertarianism by Supporting A Former Cabinet Member For Governor - Jack News:

October 12, 2017 - "An article last Thursday by Frank Phillips for Boston Globe said that former Gov. Bill Weld of Massachusetts was somehow betraying his Libertarian Party affiliation by appearing at an October 3 event with other prominent Massachusetts Republicans, including incumbent Gov. Charlie Baker, whom Weld has endorsed for re-election....

"Governor Weld’s friendship and support for Baker has never been a secret. After all, Baker served in two different cabinet positions during Weld’s own governorship. Weld noted that he would continue to support Baker, and other individual candidates as he saw fit regardless of party affiliation, to Libertarians at the 2016 convention in Orlando....

"In the 2016 US Senate race, the Alaskan State Libertarian Party’s ballot line had been hijacked by a pro-Trump candidate named Joe Miller. Weld instead endorsed incumbent Sen. Murkwoski, and didn’t hesitate to denounce the ostensible Libertarian Party candidate who was instead campaigning for Donald Trump.

"There’s nothing surprising or transgressive of any commitment here. As with Republicans and Democrats, Libertarians can endorse candidates in other parties when it suits them. Indeed, it’s not uncommon for Libertarians to support some like-minded candidates who are running as Republicans or Democrats....

"Additionally, the Globe article implies that Gov. Weld compounded this by not attending his home state’s Libertarian Party convention.... By the time the Massachusetts Libertarian convention was announced, Gov. Weld already had made other commitments, he explained. It was a simple scheduling conflict....

"Since the 2016 election, Weld has helped to secure support and fundraising for several Libertarian candidates and causes.... He’s also spoken at libertarian events, including an upcoming major speech at the regional conference of Students for Liberty in New York City on November 4th.

"As Gov. Weld told Reason magazine: 'I think in 8 to 12 years the Libertarian Party could become the number-one party in the United States, and I intend to participate in that.'"

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