Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Congressional Cannabis Caucus formed

Just how mainstream is marijuana? There’s now a “Congressional Cannabis Caucus.” - The Washington Post - Christopher Ingraham:

February 17, 2017 - "This week, a bipartisan group of U.S. representatives formed the first-ever "Congressional Cannabis Caucus" to work on legislation related to marijuana legalization and regulation.

"Democrats Earl Blumenauer of Oregon and Jared Polis of Colorado teamed up with Republicans Dana Rohrabacher of California and Don Young of Alaska to form the caucus. Not coincidentally, all four representatives hail from states where recreational marijuana use is legal.

"'The federal government’s decades-long approach to marijuana is a colossal, cruel joke, and most Americans know it,' Rohrabacher said in a news release announcing the formation of the group Thursday. 'Not only have incalculable amounts of taxpayers’ dollars been wasted, but countless lives have been unnecessarily disrupted and even ruined by misguided law enforcement'....

"'Because of the conflicts between Federal and State law, marijuana-related issues are no longer theoretical — they are real, and they are affecting real people in Alaska and across the country,' Young said in a written statement. 'I look forward to working with the Congressional Cannabis Caucus to educate my colleagues in the House on the issues we are facing in Alaska, and hopefully to also develop solutions to these problems.'

"Earlier this month, Rohrabacher introduced a measure called the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2017, which would protect people from marijuana-related prosecutions under the Controlled Substances Act, provided that they were acting in compliance with state laws. The bill has drawn bipartisan co-sponsorship."

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/02/17/just-how-mainstream-is-marijuana-theres-now-a-congressional-cannabis-caucus/?utm_term=.0857036e7234
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Monday, February 27, 2017

Libertarian author Jerome Tuccille dead at 79

Jerome Tuccille, Libertarian Author and Trump Biographer, Dies at 79 - The New York Times - William Grimes:

February 24, 2017 - "Jerome Tuccille, who wrote one of the first manifestoes of the American libertarian movement and the first biography of Donald J. Trump, died on Feb. 16 at his home in Severna Park, Md. He was 79.

"As Mr. Tuccille (pronounced too-CHILLY) told the tale in It Usually Begins With Ayn Rand: A Libertarian Odyssey (1971), he was a disaffected Roman Catholic looking for a new faith when he discovered the writings of Ayn Rand and her radically individualist philosophy, which she called objectivism....

"In Radical Libertarianism: A Right Wing Alternative (1970), he laid out a political program that envisioned an end to conscription, taxes and government control over education, health services, transportation and other areas. It also called for the legalization of drugs, prostitution and pornography.

"In an Op-Ed for The New York Times in 1971, Mr. Tuccille called on conservatives 'who still care about such things as peace and justice and racial harmony' to vote for candidates 'who really mean peace when they say peace; who understand and intend to promote the politics of decentralization, of pollution control, of economic and judicial reform, and so on all the way down the line'....

In 1974, two years after the founding of the Free Libertarian Party, Mr. Tuccille ran for governor of New York.... Three years later, in an article for the conservative magazine National Review, he wrote the epitaph for libertarianism as a political movement. Although still committed to its ideals, he called it 'hopelessly utopian' and 'an intellectual exercise, not a serious political alternative'....

"Tuccille wrote how-to books on investing and a series of biographies, beginning in 1985 with Trump: The Saga of America’s Most Powerful Real Estate Baron.... After his Trump biography, he wrote Rupert Murdoch (1989), Barry Diller: The Life and Times of a Media Mogul (1998) and Alan Shrugged: Alan Greenspan, the World’s Most Powerful Banker (2002)....

"Tuccille remained what his son called 'a borderline anarchist. In The Gospel According to Ayn Rand (2007), ...  Tuccille wrote: 'The battle to sustain the Bill of Rights is more challenging now than ever, the fight for freedom is far from over. In many ways things have gotten worse over the decades. Government is grotesquely big, taxes are too high, civil liberties are getting crimped a bit tighter every day.'”

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/24/books/jerome-tuccille-dead.html
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Sunday, February 26, 2017

MDMA in final phase of FDA-mandated tests

A campaign for FDA approval of MDMA enters final trials - Business Insider - Kevin Loria:

November 30, 2016 - After veteran Tony Macie came back from Iraq in 2007, he learned he had post-traumatic stress disorder.... The retired sergeant then became part of a clinical trial organized by MAPS [Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies] that was testing an unusual substance.... MDMA, ... the pure form of something commonly thought of as an illegal party drug - ecstasy.... 'One of the first things I said when it kicked in was, "This is what I've been looking for,'" Macie says....

"The trial Macie was involved in and other Phase 2 clinical studies conducted by MAPS have been so effective that the Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday agreed to allow large-scale Phase 3 clinical trials — the third and final in the three sets of human trials required before the FDA will consider a new drug for approval — to go forward, according.... If those trials continue to show that MDMA effectively treats PTSD, ecstasy could enter clinical use as soon as 2021, fitting the timeline that MAPS has been working toward for some time now....

"One of the early studies conducted by MAPS showed that 83% of the study participants no longer showed signs of PTSD two months after treatment, and long-term follow-ups conducted an average of four years later showed that most of those benefits stuck. That was a proof-of-concept study, with just 20 participants, all of whom had psychotherapy as well.... 

"Though small and preliminary, the results were encouraging enough to help lead to Phase 2 clinical trials, which MAPS announced were coming to an end last March. These trials consisted of at least eight studies that Brad Burge, the director of communications for MAPS, recently told Inverse treated 136 people using MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD.... The data released from those studies so far is very promising, with a large percentage of patients not showing any signs of PTSD more than a year after completing the therapy.

 "The final tests will involve hundreds of people and must be conducted before the FDA decides to approve a new medication. 'Phase 3 starts around 2017, and it will take four to five years to finish,' Burge has previously said. 'So that will put it at early 2021 for FDA approval'....

"MAPS is mostly raising money itself to fund what it describes as a roughly $20 million plan to complete these trials, which are largely not of interest to pharmaceutical companies since the patent on MDMA has expired. That will mean significant fundraising is required.

"Last year the organization reported $9.1 million in assets, more than $5 million of which was a bequest from a longtime board member that has been earmarked specifically for those Phase 3 trials. In fiscal-year 2015, MAPS raised a combined $2.99 million from 2,500 donors. It said in its most recent annual report that 'substantially increasing our donor base' would be necessary to move forward with Phase 3 trials."

 Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/mdma-ecstacy-fda-approval-maps-2016-11
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Saturday, February 25, 2017

Ron Paul and the "libertarian statists"

Ron Paul and the "libertarian statists" - George J. Dance, Nolan Chart:

February 22,2017 - "The role of U.S. Libertarian Party (LP) Chair is an administrative position, that normally receives little public attention. That changed this January, after the current Chair, Nicholas Sarwark, appeared on a year-end Lions of Liberty podcast to discuss the 2016 LP presidential campaign of Gary Johnson and Bill Weld. One comment in that 40-minute interview “caused an eruption in comments on Facebook,' and a 'debate [that] raged on social media'.

"During the discussion, the podcast host contrasted Johnson’s messaging with Ron Paul’s 'ideologically pure' libertarian message; to which Sarwark responded 'that you "run a very dangerous line" by identifying [libertarian] beliefs with any one personality.' Then Sarwark made the comment that touched off the storm, saying of Paul:
“He had policy prescriptions that were straight-up wrong and anti-libertarian. None of us should be given a pass on having to have actual libertarian positions, or not be able to be called out when you say you oppose marriage equality. You know, that’s not a libertarian position to have. State’s rights is not a libertarian position, and it’s something Ron Paul had pushed for a long time.”
"'Libertarian Party Chairman Denounces Ron Paul’s Support for States’ Rights,' was the headline on a Ron Paul Institute article by Adam Dick. 'The Libertarian Party believes Ron Paul is not a Libertarian,' headlined Liberty Conservative, with writer Chris Dixon smugly commenting: 'Before criticizing others for not being libertarian, the Libertarian Party should probably learn what it means to be a libertarian first'....

"Both fortunately and unfortunately, the storm blew over quickly. Fortunately, because it seemed like little more than an attempt by anti-LP libertarians to embarrass an LP figure, similar to many of the criticisms of Johnson and Weld during the campaign. Unfortunately, because (aside from [Mike] Maharrey’s contribution) there was little to no attempt to address the substantive issue that it reflected.

"At issue is the question of using the U.S. Bill of Rights, and the federal courts, to protect individual rights from state governments as well as from the federal government. Libertarians like Sarwark argue that 'the Federal government can protect the equal rights of people from state discrimination' – while 'states’ rights' advocates like Maharrey claim that one 'simply can’t reconcile [that idea] with the Constitution. Whether you agree philosophically with Sarwark’s constitutional construction or not, no founding era evidence exists to support it.'"

Read more: https://www.nolanchart.com/ron-paul-and-the-libertarian-statists
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Friday, February 24, 2017

Arizona House passes modest forfeiture reform

Tenth Amendment Center Blog | Arizona House Unanimously Passes Bill Taking on State, Federal Asset Forfeiture - Mike Maharrey:

February 23, 2017 - "Today, the Arizona House voted 60-0 to pass a bill reforming the state’s asset forfeiture laws. The bill also takes on federal forfeiture programs by banning prosecutors from circumventing state laws by passing cases off to the feds in most situations....

"Rep. Eddie Farnsworth (R-Gilbert) introduced House Bill 2477 (HB2477) on Feb. 7. The legislation would require prosecutors to establish a higher evidentiary standard for asset forfeiture. As it stands, the law only requires a preponderance of the evidence. HB2477 would raise that, requiring police and prosecutors to provide 'clear and convincing evidence' the property was linked to a crime. While the proposed law would not require a criminal conviction before proceeding with asset forfeiture, it would take a step toward reforming Arizona’s forfeiture laws under that essential standard.

"HB2477 would also drastically increase transparency. It would establish stringent asset forfeiture reporting requirements law enforcement agencies would have to follow. Additionally, police would have to detail how seized funds are spent.

"While the reforms are modest in comparison with those under consideration in many states, law enforcement has aggressively lobbied against the bill. Activists have obtained letters sent to representatives from at least three police departments opposing the bill....  Despite the opposition, the Arizona House passed it by a 60-0 vote.....

"HB2477 also close a loophole that allows prosecutors to bypass more stringent state asset forfeiture laws by passing cases off to the federal government under its Equitable Sharing forfeiture program: 'The seizing agency or the attorney for the state may not enter into any agreement to transfer or refer seized property to a federal agency ... for the purpose of forfeiture unless the seized property includes more than one hundred thousand dollars in United States currency'....

"The inclusion of provisions barring state and local law enforcement agencies from passing off cases to the feds is particularly important.... By placing the case under federal jurisdiction, law enforcement can ... collect up to 80 percent of the proceeds from forfeited assets via the federal Equitable Sharing Program ...  a pipeline the feds use to incentivize state and local police to serve as de facto arms of the federal government by funneling billions of dollars into their budgets....

"HB2477 now moves to the Senate for further consideration."

Read more: http://blog.tenthamendmentcenter.com/2017/02/arizona-house-unanimously-passes-bill-taking-on-state-federal-asset-forfeiture/
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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Conference sees good and (mostly) bad in 2017

Can libertarians mediate the divide? | Newsday -  Cathy Young:

February 23, 2017 - "The people who gathered for the 10th annual conference of the International Society of Students for Liberty in Washington last weekend were a motley crowd that included anti-war activists with neon-colored hair and law students in three-piece suits. In the exhibit hall, a display honoring Ronald Reagan was only a few feet away from a LGBT group with a rainbow version of the 'Don’t Tread on Me' Gadsen flag and from the table of a group called Muslims for Liberty.

"Despite the festive atmosphere, this year’s speakers at the libertarian event were mostly in a dark mood.... While libertarians tend to be at the Republican end of the two-party spectrum, Donald Trump Republicanism is about as un-libertarian as you get. There was raucous applause when Katherine Mangu-Ward, editor of Reason magazine ... declared at the opening-night session, 'Free movement of people and goods across the border is good.' Another Reason editor, Nick Gillespie, contrasted the libertarian spirit of “cosmopolitanism and tolerance” with Trump’s demonization of undesirables — and with the left’s anti-pluralist drive to silence politically incorrect speech.

"Tom Palmer, vice president for international programs at the nonprofit Atlas Network, ... named left-wing identity politics and thought-policing as part of the problem, [but] his focus was the threat from the right: in America, Trumpism, with its cult of the leader who embodies the people’s will and its paranoia about the foreign; in Europe, populist, nationalist, and sometimes outright fascist movements, many financed by Russia’s authoritarian regime.

"Social psychologist and New York University professor Jonathan Haidt, whose talk on the rise of the 'safety culture' in colleges was probably the biggest hit of the conference, warned that 'the end of liberal democracy” was a real threat.... Social justice, Haidt said, is replacing pursuit of knowledge as the central mission of universities, and there is less and less tolerance for dissent. The result is a generation sympathetic to censorship of offensive speech.

"While parts of the conference had a decidedly pessimistic tone, there was optimism as well — and discussion of libertarian victories from deregulation to gay civil rights. Libertarianism may not have all the answers; but right now, it may be our best hope for rebuilding a culture of freedom and tolerance."

Read more: http://www.newsday.com/opinion/columnists/cathy-young/donald-trump-is-as-un-libertarian-as-you-can-get-1.13162055
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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A better way to secure the border

Ron Paul: How About a Better Solution Than Donald Trump’s Border Wall? | Opinions - Noozhawk.com:

February 2, 2017 - "Just one week in office, President Donald Trump is already following through on his pledge to address illegal immigration. His Jan. 25 executive order called for the construction of a wall along the entire length of the U.S.-Mexico border ... his proposed solution will unfortunately not lead us anywhere closer to solving the problem.

"First, the wall will not work. Texas already started building a border fence about 10 years ago. It divided people from their own property across the border, it deprived people of their land through the use of eminent domain, and in the end the problem of drug and human smuggling was not solved.

"Second, the wall will be expensive.... Trump has claimed that if the Mexican government doesn’t pay for it, he will impose a 20 percent duty on products imported from Mexico. Who will pay this tax? Ultimately, the American consumer....

"Although Trump is right to prioritize the problem of border security, he misses the point on how it can be done effectively and at an actual financial benefit to the country....

The solution to really addressing the problem of illegal immigration, drug smuggling and the threat of cross-border terrorism is clear: remove the welfare magnet that attracts so many to cross the border illegally, stop the 25-year U.S. war in the Middle East and end the drug war that incentivizes smugglers to cross the border.

The various taxpayer-funded programs that benefit illegal immigrants in the United States — such as direct financial transfers, medical benefits, food assistance and education — cost an estimated $100 billion per year.... It is estimated that since President Richard Nixon declared a war on drugs, the United States has spent more than $1 trillion to fight what is a losing battle.

"Finally, ... we must soberly consider why [terrorists] may seek to do us harm.... We have been dropping bombs on the Middle East since at least 1990. Last year, President Barack Obama dropped more than 26,000 bombs. Thousands of civilians have been killed.... Ending this senseless intervention will go a long way toward removing the incentive to attack the United States....

"Trump’s plan to build a wall will end up costing a fortune while ignoring the real problem of why people cross the borders illegally. They will keep coming as long as those incentives remain."

Read more: https://www.noozhawk.com/article/ron_paul_a_better_solution_than_donald_trumps_border_wall_20170202
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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Cannabis legalization back on table in Vermont

Vermont Bill Aims to Legalize Recreational Cannabis in 2017 - Merry Jane - Tyler Koslow:

February 2, 2017 - "On Wednesday, a new bill was introduced to the Vermont House that would allow adults in the state to possess up to 2 ounces of marijuana without penalty, eliminating the civil fine that is currently in place. The measure, entitled H. 170, would also allow residents to grow up to two mature plants and seven seedlings on their private property.

"The bill co-sponsored by three members of the House Judiciary Committee leadership team, including Rep. Maxine Grad of Moretown (D), Rep. Chip Conquest of Newbury (D), and Tom Burditt of West Rutland (R). While Grad and Conquest are focused on providing residents with the ability to legally grow their own cannabis, their Republican counterpart looks at the new bill as an opportunity for taxpayers to save money....

"The proposal is much more restrictive than the recreational bill that was shot down in the House last year, which would have created a retail-based system similar to the one in Colorado. But still, H. 170 offers the state a major opportunity to eliminate criminal and civil fines for marijuana possession.

"Under the current law in Vermont, possession of up to 1 ounce of cannabis comes with a civil fine of up to $200, while 1 to 2 ounces could potentially result in six months in jail. At the start of the year, parting Governor Peter Shumlin pardoned hundreds of Vermonters that were convicted of marijuana-related violations."

Read more: https://www.merryjane.com/news/vermont-bill-aims-recreational-cannabis-legalization
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Monday, February 20, 2017

Some guy crashes libertarian event for publicity

Alt-Right Leader Richard Spencer Crashed a Student Libertarian Conference and Was Shunned - Hit & Run : Reason.com - Robby Soave:

February 20, 2017 - "On Saturday, alt-right leader Richard Spencer crashed the 10th annual International Students for Liberty Conference at a hotel in Washington, D.C. After quarreling with conference attendees, he left the premises.

"Spencer, a self-declared white nationalist who believes the U.S. is losing its white identity, had no business attending a gathering of libertarian students, and conference organizers had every right to eject him. Indeed, their decision to do so was a valid exercise of libertarian principles in action....

"Spencer set himself up in the bar of the hotel — the Marriott Wardman in Woodley Park — and attempted to host an unscheduled and unwanted conversation.... Spencer was not welcome at the hotel and had not been invited to participate in ISFLC.

"'We did not invite Mr. Spencer'" said SFL CEO Wolf von Laer in a statement. 'We reject his hateful message and we wholeheartedly oppose his obsolete ideology'....

"It's not completely clear whether Spencer departed of his own accord: he seems to think he was forced to leave, while others say he asked security to see him out safely, even though he was in no danger. But it hardly matters: the Marriott Wardman hotel is private property, and should enjoy the absolute right to evict irksome and unwelcome guests from its premises.

"Spencer has attempted to wring as much publicity from the incident as possible — he tweeted about it no fewer than 40 times, by my count. In his mind, libertarians are 'lolbertarians' who need to 'accept the reality of race' and get serious about 'white replacement.' To the extent that his only goal in life is to garner more attention for his fringe worldview, I suppose the stunt was a success — here I am writing about it. Congrats to you, guy who thinks 'the United States is a European country'.

"Spencer is entitled to broadcast his vile opinions, and to make equal use of public resources. He should not be attacked on the street, or anywhere else. But no private actor is required to give him a platform.... ISFLC, an organization that works tirelessly to support the cause of liberty all over the world — not just for white American college students — handled the matter correctly, in my view."

Read more: http://reason.com/blog/2017/02/20/alt-right-leader-richard-spencer-crashed
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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Limits to charity

Charity Is Not How We Solve Poverty | Foundation for Economic Education - Jason Sorens:

February 19, 2017 - "In a famous 1972 article, 'Famine, Affluence, and Morality,' philosopher Peter Singer compared global poverty to a child drowning in a pond: ': '[I]f it is in our power to prevent something very bad from happening, without thereby sacrificing anything morally significant, we ought, morally, to do it. An application of this principle would be as follows: if I am walking past a shallow pond and see a child drowning in it, I ought to wade in and pull the child out. This will mean getting my clothes muddy, but this is insignificant, while the death of the child would presumably be a very bad thing.'

"If we ought to prevent something very bad from happening whenever we can do so without sacrificing anything morally significant, then we also ought to spend much of our lives and wealth on rescuing people from starvation and disease.... Instead of buying a Starbucks coffee once a week, you could save that money – about $200 over the course of a year – and give it to a charity that saves lives. It’s morally wrong to buy Starbucks coffee when there are people dying around the world. Letting someone die so that you can enjoy Starbucks is like letting a child drown rather than getting your suit muddy....

"Singer’s argument faces two main difficulties. First, he thinks it’s obvious that consuming luxuries isn’t morally significant. But is that right?... Second, he thinks saving poor people’s lives is about as simple as wading into a pond and dragging a drowning child out of danger. But in fact it might be a lot more complicated.

"Let’s think about the first point. Global poverty is a really big problem. There are millions of people suffering from extreme poverty and a very high likelihood of early death. If it were always wrong to consume a luxury whenever there were someone whose life could be saved instead, we would in fact be morally obligated never to consume any luxury, and to spend essentially our whole surplus wealth and time on saving people. It’s as if there were millions of ponds with millions of children drowning in them. To live up to a moral duty to save every life, we’d have to spend our entire lives going from pond to pond.

"That kind of life might not be worth living. You’d be turning yourself into a virtual slave of the people you save. Your life would have no value to you.... It isn’t clear at what point it becomes morally permissible for us to focus on our own desires rather than spending our resources on saving others, but it’s definitely well before the point of 'marginal utility' (when you become as bad off as someone in extreme poverty). The point isn’t that you don’t have a duty to save people – you do – but there are limits, real though difficult to nail down precisely, to the duty.

"The second point is that saving people isn’t simple. Giving money to a charity that claims to help people may not do very much good and may even do net harm. Extreme poverty in the world today is generally the fault of some human organization or institution, usually a government but often rebel groups, gangs, and other purveyors of violence.... If giving to a charity empowers some vicious gang or government that keeps people poor, you’ve just made poor people’s lives worse....

"Extreme poverty is falling around the world, mostly because governments have chosen to let their people join the global marketplace. The biggest reductions in poverty have happened in China, where post-1980 market reforms have raised 680 million people out of poverty. One of the most important things we can do to better the lives of the poor is to fight for their access to property rights and to global markets."

Read more: https://fee.org/articles/charity-is-not-how-we-solve-poverty/
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Saturday, February 18, 2017

Niskanen economist urges Universal Basic Income

Why Should a Libertarian Take Universal Basic Income Seriously? - Niskanen Center - Edwin G. Dolan:

February 6, 2017 - "In a recent post on EconLog, Bryan Caplan writes, 'I’m baffled that anyone with libertarian sympathies takes the UBI [universal basic income] seriously.' I love a challenge.... Here are three kinds of libertarians who might take a UBI very seriously indeed.

"[W]hat galls many libertarians most about government is the failure of many policies to produce their intended results. Poverty policy is Exhibit A.... A UBI would help by ending the way benefit reductions and 'welfare cliffs' in current programs undermine work incentives ... a worker from a poor household can end up taking home nothing, even from a full-time job. A UBI has no benefit reductions. You get it whether you work or not, so you keep every added dollar you earn (income and payroll taxes excepted, and these are low for the poor).

"But ... Why would I work at all if you gave me a UBI? That might be a problem if you got your UBI on top of existing programs, but if it replaced those programs, work incentives would be strengthened, not weakened.... Or, you might say, a UBI might be fine for the poor, but wouldn’t it be unaffordable to give it to the middle class and the rich as well? Yes, if you added it on top of all the middle-class welfare and tax loopholes for the rich that we have now. No, if the UBI replaced existing tax preferences and other programs....

"Many classical liberals, even those whom purist libertarians lionize in other contexts, are more open to the idea of a social safety net.... In his book Law, Legislation, and Liberty, classical liberal Friedrich Hayek wrote, "The assurance of a certain minimum income for everyone, or a sort of floor below which nobody need fall even when he is unable to provide for himself, appears not only to be a wholly legitimate protection against a risk common to all, but a necessary part of the Great Society."

"Once the philosophical hurdle is overcome, the practical advantages of a UBI become highly attractive. In terms of administrative efficiency and work incentives, a UBI wins hands down over the current welfare system, and beats even the negative income tax famously championed by Milton Friedman, another classical liberal,.

"The libertarian sympathies of still others arise from the conviction that all people should be able to live their lives according to their own values, so long as they don’t interfere with the right of others to do likewise. These lifestyle libertarians are drawn to a UBI because of its contrast with the nanny state mentality that characterizes current policies. Why should social programs treat married couples differently from people living in unconventional communal arrangements? Why should welfare recipients have to undergo intrusive drug testing? Why should food stamps let you buy hamburger and feed it to your dog, but not buy dog food?....

"A UBI is a policy for pragmatic critics of well-intentioned but ineffective government, for classical liberals, and for advocates of personal freedom. No wonder so many libertarians take the idea seriously."

Read more: https://niskanencenter.org/blog/libertarian-take-universal-basic-income-seriously/

Friday, February 17, 2017

Deep state terminated Trump security adviser

The Political Assassination of Michael Flynn - Bloomberg View - Eli Lake:

February 14, 2017 - "If we are to believe the Trump White House, National Security Adviser Michael Flynn just resigned because he lied about his conversations with Russia's ambassador to the vice president....  That sounds about as credible as when the president told CIA employees that the media had invented the story about his enmity toward the spy agency, not even two weeks after he had taken to Twitter to compare the CIA to Nazis.... It doesn't add up.

"It's not even clear that Flynn lied. He says in his resignation letter that he did not deliberately leave out elements of his conversations with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak when he recounted them to Vice President Mike Pence. The New York Times and Washington Post reported that the transcript of the phone call reviewed over the weekend by the White House could be read different ways. One White House official with knowledge of the conversations told me that the Russian ambassador raised the sanctions to Flynn and that Flynn responded that the Trump team would be taking office in a few weeks and would review Russia policy and sanctions. That's neither illegal nor improper....

"A better explanation here is that Flynn was just thrown under the bus. His tenure as national security adviser, the briefest in U.S. history, was rocky from the start. When Flynn was attacked in the media for his ties to Russia, he was not allowed by the White House to defend himself. Over the weekend, he was instructed not to speak to the press when he was in the fight for his political life. His staff was not even allowed to review the transcripts of his call to the Russian ambassador.

"There is another component to this story as well -- as Trump himself just tweeted. It's very rare that reporters are ever told about government-monitored communications of U.S. citizens, let alone senior U.S. officials. The last story like this to hit Washington was in 2009.... Normally intercepts of U.S. officials and citizens are some of the most tightly held government secrets. This is for good reason. Selectively disclosing details of private conversations monitored by the FBI or NSA gives the permanent state the power to destroy reputations from the cloak of anonymity. This is what police states do....

"The fact that the intercepts of Flynn's conversations with Kislyak appear to have been widely distributed inside the government is a red flag.

"Representative Devin Nunes, the Republican chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, ... saw the leaks about Flynn's conversations with Kislyak as part of a pattern. 'There does appear to be a well orchestrated effort to attack Flynn and others in the administration,' he said. 'From the leaking of phone calls between the president and foreign leaders to what appears to be high-level FISA Court information, to the leaking of American citizens being denied security clearances, it looks like a pattern.'"

Read more: https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-02-14/the-political-assassination-of-michael-flynn
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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Obamacare repeal no cure for U.S. deficit ills

On Spending, Is Rand Paul the Last Man Standing? - Barry W. Poulson, American Thinker:

February 15, 2017 - "Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was the only legislator to vote against Senate Concurrent Resolution 3, which sets the framework for budget negotiations in the 115th Congress. His vote was dismissed as an alleged example of libertarian extremism, but I suggest this vote is a measure of the extent to which legislators have lost touch with their constituents.

"Senate Concurrent Resolution 3 proposes to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without changes to other parts of the budget. The truly surprising (and disappointing) part of the legislation is it exempts future health care legislation replacing the ACA from current budget rules meant to impose fiscal discipline.... Because we can expect health care spending to grow at even higher rates than those projected by the Congressional Budget Office, this legislation is particularly problematic.

"Even more shocking is Senate Concurrent Resolution 3 assumes business as usual in future budget negotiations. Total spending is projected to grow from $3.2 trillion to $4.9 trillion over the next decade. Annual deficits will roughly double to more than $1 trillion; and total debt will increase from $20 trillion to $29 trillion....

"The universal support of Senate Concurrent Resolution 3, with Paul the lone dissenter, suggests legislators are not willing to enact the fundamental reforms in Medicare and Medicaid required to balance the budget. Nor should we look to Trump for leadership on this issue. He has made it clear entitlement reform is not on his agenda, stating, 'A balanced budget is fine, but sometimes you have to fuel the well in order to really get the economy going'....

"In 2016 alone, legislators proposed 192 bills to address budget deficits and the national debt. Paul’s bill, the Cut Cap and Balance Act of 2015, was one of only a dozen of these bills to be reported out of committee, and like other similar measures, it was rejected by his fellow members of Congress on both sides of the aisle....

"Despite his failures to get significant reforms passed in Congress, it is Paul, not his colleagues, who is in touch with his constituents. Nationwide polls conducted on behalf of the Balanced Budget Amendment Task Force ... reveal 83 percent of citizens support a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.

"If Paul is the only legislator in the Senate willing to stand up for a balanced budget when the chips are down, perhaps it is time for citizens to look for an alternative solution to the federal fiscal crisis. Twenty-eight state legislatures have now passed resolutions proposing a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. Only 34 states are needed to call an Article V convention, which, given the current restraints in Washington, D.C., may be a better option than waiting for Congress or the president to act.

Read more: http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2017/02/is_rand_paul_the_last_man_standing.html
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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The libertarian way to improve airports

A libertarian plan to improve our airports | Rare - Jillian Lane Wyant:

January 25, 2017 - "President Trump has promised to add a plan to improve American airports to his infrastructure proposal. Libertarian minded citizens are looking to Washington to both improve our airports by decentralizing control of airports, relying more on user fees and respecting travelers’ privacy rights....

"Americans have felt helpless as we’ve watched the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) physically and clumsily invade our personal privacy at the airport and the privacy of those around us. All while they continue to miss glaring red flags....

"Just last month, while in the Fort Lauderdale airport — two days before the terrorist attack on the airport, killing five people — the TSA stopped me due to the fact that the book in my purse was 'too thick and needed further inspection.' The man behind me in line laughed, as he overheard, and informed me he was carrying fireworks in his bag that the TSA had not detected. The self-righteous libertarian in me nearly imploded. This is not an isolated incident, this is a daily and possible deadly occurrence....

"Currently, libertarians are concerned with the amount that taxpayers are going be forced to foot the bill of when it comes to Trump’s infrastructure plan to rebuild America’s airports, roads, and bridges. The fiscally-conservative libertarian favors user-fees, as well as devolving the federal responsibilities over the airports and roads to local control.

"While of course, the first thing that Congress should undertake to fix when dealing with the airports is fixing the overzealous and egregiously expensive screening administered by TSA.... Over the last eight years, we have heard time and time again that the TSA is not doing an exemplary job of screening passengers, yet they continue to employ over 44,000 security officers. The TSA’s sole job is to intercept items that could cause a security threat, yet ... anybody who has traveled in the past few months feels violated every time they pass through security as attacks on airports continue to occur.

"As for the funding of infrastructure improvements, the Cato Institute is promoting the libertarian idea of 'Privatizing U.S. Airports.' Robert W. Poole Jr. and Chris Edwards make the case for a reduction in 'federal intervention' and a push toward a 'greater reliance on the private sector to fund, own, and operate the nation’s infrastructure." These are consistent with libertarian ideas that promote safety and peace-of-mind for travelers alike. Libertarians would like to dismantle the high federal taxes imposed on air travel that is used to improve airports; and allow local airports to collect fees to improve infrastructure on their own.

"Libertarians need to look to the members of the House Transportation Committee like Reps. Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Mark Sanford (R-SC) who can guide the legislation in the direction of decentralization and to get the federal government out of the business of treating all Americans as if they are terrorists.... Liberty based ideas that promoted decentralization and a less invasive taxes and security checks could make air travel great again."

Read more: http://rare.us/rare-politics/rare-liberty/a-libertarian-plan-to-improve-our-airports/
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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Iowa State NORML group can use ISU logo, court rules

Appeals court rules marijuana legalization group can use Iowa State logo - Jake New, Inside Higher Ed:

February 14, 2017 - "Iowa State University cannot bar a student group from using the university’s logo and mascot on T-shirts advocating the legalization of marijuana, a federal appeals court ruled Monday.

"The lawsuit, sponsored by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education as part of its Stand Up for Free Speech Litigation Project, was filed by two former Iowa State students in 2014. At the time, the students were officers with the university's chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. They had repeatedly sought permission to use the Iowa State logo alongside a cannabis leaf on their shirts, but their requests were denied, with the university saying it did not want to appear to be endorsing the group’s agenda.

"But the court's opinion noted that the university allows 800 other student groups to use the logo, including organizations with differing political viewpoints, such as the Iowa State Democrats and the ISU College Republicans....

"The university had originally allowed the group to use its logo and mascot on the shirts, until ...  local politicians pressured the university to revoke its approval of the T-shirts. One such email came from the governor's office.... [T]he university ...suddenly prohibited 'designs that suggest promotion of dangerous, illegal or unhealthy products, actions or behaviors,' or 'drugs and drug paraphernalia that are illegal or unhealthful'....

"Two of the group’s officers sought FIRE's help in suing the university ... after attempts to handle the conflict internally, including submitting several other designs, failed.... Last year, a federal court ... ruled that Iowa State had discriminated against the group and violated the First Amendment. Iowa State chose to appeal, but Monday’s ruling by the higher court reaffirms the initial decision. John McCarroll, a university spokesman, said Iowa State is reviewing the appellate court’s decision and has not decided yet whether to appeal again.

"Monday’s ruling is another win for FIRE’s Stand Up for Free Speech project, in which the organization supports students looking to sue colleges over First Amendment issues.
Four of the project’s initial six lawsuits have ended in settlements."

Read more: https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/02/14/appeals-court-rules-marijuana-legalization-group-can-use-iowa-state-logo
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Monday, February 13, 2017

NH state legislator joins Libertarian Party (video)

NH State Representative Joins Libertarian Party – Press Conference Video | Free Keene: - Ian Bernard:

February 9, 2017 - "It’s a big day for libertarian history in New Hampshire and nationwide. For the first time in two decades, the Libertarian Party of NH (LPNH) has a sitting state representative in the legislature who is just beginning his first term in office. Caleb Dyer, state representative for Hudson and Pelham, announced today at a press conference in Concord’s Legislative Office Building that he has switched his voter registration from republican to libertarian and has also joined the state party as a dues-paying member. Dyer is a New Hampshire native who knocked on 2,000 doors in his district, Hillsborough 37, to win his election in November of 2016. Here’s the press conference video from this morning:"



Read more: http://freekeene.com/2017/02/09/breaking-nh-state-representative-joins-libertarian-party-full-press-conference-video/
'via Blog this'

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Essentials of Economics back in 'print'

Essentials of Economics | Foundation for Economic Education - from the foreword by Jeffrey Tucker:

"The enduring power of this book is due to the enduring power of economic logic. If it is done well, it applies in all times and places. And this book does economics extremely well. In times when economics is subject to vast political manipulation, when people have abused the science to push political agendas contrary to everything economics stands for, this book stands out as a clear, objective, and rational statement of the core of what economics teaches....

"Ballvé was teaching in Mexico when he heard Mises speak. They struck up a correspondence. After Ballvé felt that he had most of his questions answered, he sat down to write this short book. It was published in Mexico in 1956. It sold very well and went into several editions.

"Two additional names deserve special mention in the tale of how it came to the English-speaking world. The William Volker Fund, administered by its founder’s nephew Harold W. Luhnow, funded a translation. This was one of thousands of incredible projects pushed by the Volker Fund in those years. Without this act of benevolence, this book would have likely been forgotten....

"But there is another important act of entrepreneurship behind this work. Leonard Read (1898–1983) was head of the Foundation for Economic Education. His passion was finding literature that propagated economics to the intelligent layman. He had a remarkably independent mind and a good eye for literary value. He read through Ballvé’s work and decided that he would use the extremely scarce resources of the foundation to promote and distribute the book as widely as possible.

"This was a risky decision. Ballvé was an unknown in the United States. He had no academic position in the United States. He had no champions, money, or connections. There was no quid pro quo at work. Read would not be able to sponsor lecture tours by the author or otherwise turn him into a big star....

"It was an excellent decision. FEE distributed many thousands of copies, perhaps even many tens of thousands of copies....

"What Read had seen in this book others saw as well. The book does not require a great deal of time, but it covers a vast scope of topics. It is, in many ways, the perfect tutorial in what economics is and what it implies about our world. It is completely free of the tendency toward political posturing. Its lessons are broad enough to apply in all times and all places. For this beleaguered generation of freedom-minded individuals assaulted on every side by trends toward centralization, this tutorial is truly the light."

Read more: https://fee.org/resources/essentials-of-economics/
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Saturday, February 11, 2017

The president doesn't know what civil forfeiture is

Trump Does Not Know What Civil Forfeiture Is, but He Likes It - Hit & Run : Reason.com - Jacob Sullum:

February 9, 2017 - "In a meeting with county sheriffs from around the country on Tuesday, President Trump jokingly (we hope!) threatened to 'destroy [the] career' of a Texas legislator who proposed requiring the government to obtain a conviction before taking property allegedly tied to crime.... Worse, the White House transcript of the president's remarks about forfeiture shows he literally does not know what he is talking about...

"Jefferson County, Kentucky, Sheriff John Aubrey broaches the subject of forfeiture, complaining that 'people want to say we're taking money and without due process.' According to Aubrey, 'That's not true. We take money from dope dealers.' It's clear from Trump's response to Aubrey's complaint that he does not know any of this....
  • Trump: So you're saying — OK, so you're saying the asset taking you used to do, and it had an impact, right? And you're not allowed to do it now?
  • Aubrey: No, they have curtailed it a little bit. And I'm sure the folks are —
  • Trump: And that's for legal reasons? Or just political reasons?
  • Aubrey: They make it political, and they make it — they make up stories. All you've got to do —
  • Trump: I'd like to look into that, OK? There's no reason for that. Dana, do you think there's any reason for that? Are you aware of this?
  • Acting Attorney General Dana Boente: I am aware of that, Mr. President. And we have gotten a great deal of criticism for the asset forfeiture, which, as the sheriff said, frequently was taking narcotics proceeds and other proceeds of crime. But there has been a lot of pressure on the department to curtail some of that.
  • Trump: So what do you do? So in other words, they have a huge stash of drugs. So in the old days, you take it. Now we're criticized if we take it. So who gets it? What happens to it? Tell them to keep it?
  • Boente: Well, we have what is called equitable sharing, where we usually share it with the local police departments for whatever portion that they worked on the case. And it was a very successful program, very popular with the law enforcement community.
  • Trump: And now what happens?
  • Boente: Well, now we've just been given — there's been a lot of pressure not to forfeit, in some cases.
  • Trump: Who would want that pressure, other than, like, bad people, right? But who would want that pressure? You would think they'd want this stuff taken away.
  • Aubrey: You have to be careful how you speak, I guess. But a lot of pressure is coming out of — was coming out of Congress. I don't know that that will continue now or not.
  • Trump: I think less so. I think Congress is going to get beat up really badly by the voters because they've let this happen. And I think badly. I think you'll be back in shape. So, asset forfeiture, we're going to go back on, OK?
  • Aubrey: Thank you, sir.
  • Trump: I mean, how simple can anything be? You all agree with that, I assume, right?
  • Unnamed Participant: Absolutely, yeah.
  • Trump: Do you even understand the other side of it?
  • Participant: No....
"Trump initially seems to think asset forfeiture is what happens when police seize 'a huge stash of drugs.' He is puzzled that anyone would say the cops should return a pile of cocaine or heroin to a drug dealer, because 'you would think they'd want this stuff taken away.'

"Eventually Trump seems to get that it's money (or other assets) the cops are taking, but he still assumes it's money lying next to a huge stash of drugs — as opposed to, say, the savings of a hapless college student, the winnings of innocent poker players, or the bank account of a convenience store owner whose deposits the IRS deemed suspiciously small. Trump is baffled as to why anyone would want to stop the cops from taking drug dealers' profits.

"Aubrey and Boente, who obviously know better, are not about to enlighten Trump, since they both have a financial interest in promoting forfeiture, which helps fund their budgets."

Read more: http://reason.com/blog/2017/02/09/trump-does-not-know-what-civil-forfeitur
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Friday, February 10, 2017

Pence hires Cato staffer as chief economist

Libertarian finance guru heads to Pence's office | Washington Examiner - Joseph Lawlor:

February 7, 2017 - "A libertarian finance expert and top critic of former President Barack Obama's Wall Street reform laws is headed to the White House.

"Mark Calabria, previously the director of financial regulatory studies at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank in Washington, D.C., reportedly will serve as Vice President Mike Pence's chief economist....

"A former staffer to former Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., with a PhD in economics from George Mason University, Calabria represents a strain of free-market thinking that views federal regulation of markets as often counterproductive and is skeptical of the influence of the Federal Reserve and government spending.

"Unlike top White House economic policy advisers, such as National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn or Treasury Secretary-designate Steven Mnuchin, both of whom worked at Goldman Sachs, Calabria does not come from Wall Street and doesn't have past affiliation with Democrats. Calabria, who maintains an active social media presence, has criticized big business interests in the past.

"Calabria also has sought to reform the Federal Reserve and supported legislation to subject the central bank to a policy audit, a measure opposed by big banks. He helped start Cato's Center for Monetary and Financial Alternatives, which advocates alternatives to the Fed's control of monetary and regulatory policy within the academy.

"In testimony to the House Financial Services Committee, Calabria also has advocated scaling back the government's role in guaranteeing mortgage-backed securities and closing mortgage buyers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, a viewpoint at odds with the interests of the housing industry."

Read more: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/libertarian-finance-guru-heads-to-pences-office/article/2614407
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Thursday, February 9, 2017

Trump offers to destroy Texas senator's career

Trump offers to 'destroy' Texas senator to help Rockwall sheriff | Politics | Dallas News - Todd J. Gillman & Lauren McGaughy: :

February 7, 2017 - "There's a Texas state senator with a new target on his back, courtesy of President Donald Trump and the Rockwall County sheriff.

"At a meeting Tuesday with sheriffs from around the country, Sheriff Harold Eavenson complained about a state senator who wanted to make it harder for law enforcement to get control of assets forfeited by drug traffickers.... ' 'We'll destroy his career,' Trump offered....

"During the meeting, Trump went around the room asking the sheriffs to air top concerns.

"'There's a state senator in Texas that was talking about legislation to require conviction before we could receive that forfeiture money,' Eavenson told the president.

"'Can you believe that?' Trump said.

"'And I told him that the cartel would build a monument to him in Mexico if he could get that
legislation passed,' Eavenson said.

"'Who is the state senator? Do you want to give his name? We'll destroy his career,' Trump said, prompting laughter.

"Two Texas senators have offered legislation this year to require conviction before someone's assets could be seized. Sen. Konni Burton, a Republican who often pushes civil-liberties legislation to protect personal information and property, was a fierce critic of Trump during the campaign.

"She and Sen. Juan 'Chuy' Hinojosa, a McAllen Democrat, have formed an unlikely team pushing this asset forfeiture legislation.

"Eavenson confirmed that he was talking about a male senator. That rules out Burton.

"Hinojosa said he didn't believe he was the target — and isn't concerned... 'I don't know the sheriff,' Hinojosa said. 'Quite frankly, I don't pay much attention to what Trump says anymore'....

"Several other senators have also supported this change in the past, including two civil-libertarian Republicans: Bob Hall, whose district includes Rockwall County, and Don Huffines of Dallas. A Huffines aide denied he was the senator in question.

"Hall, who represents Rockwall, said he has a 'good relationship' with Eavenson and said the sheriff could have been talking about any of the 31 senators. 'Half of them out there say it's somebody else. So who knows? And you know what? I couldn't care less,' he said...

Read more: http://www.dallasnews.com/news/politics/2017/02/07/trump-offers-destroy-texas-senator-help-rockwall-sheriff 'via Blog this'

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

DeVos confirmed as U.S. Education Secretary

Statement on Confirmation of Betsy DeVos as U.S. Secretary of Education | Cato @ Liberty - Neal McCluskey:

February 7, 2017 - "It is gratifying to see Betsy DeVos confirmed as the next U.S. Secretary of Education. This is not because the federal government should attempt to push school choice — it should not, except in the District of Columbia and for families connected to the military — but because the opposition to now-Secretary DeVos was so unfair to her, and to the research on educational freedom.

"The reality is that research indicates charter schooling works in Michigan, DeVos’s home state, and specifically in Detroit. It shows that families of students with disabilities, rather than somehow being victimized by school choice, are empowered and immensely satisfied with it. And logic and evidence show that private school choice, rather than imposing ideas on people, frees them to get what they want for their children without forcing it on others.

"It is also gratifying to see DeVos approved because she stated repeatedly in her confirmation hearing that education decisions should be left to state and local governments. Constitutionally, that has things absolutely right: the Constitution gives Washington no authority to govern or 'oversee' American education, as Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) put it, which means such rights remain with the states, or with the people. And 50-plus years of increasingly intrusive federal meddling in education, with ultimately no visible academic improvement to show for it, brilliantly illustrates the wisdom of that decision.

"Now let us hope that the Trump administration sticks to the constitutionally-constrained federal role — even on school choice — that Secretary DeVos has repeatedly endorsed. "

https://www.cato.org/blog/statement-confirmation-betsy-devos-us-secretary-education
'via Blog this'

This work by Cato Institute is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

BC Libertarian Anderson in first election

Anderson joins Cowichan Valley race as Libertarian candidate - News - Robert Barron, Cowichan Valley Citizen:

February 1, 2017 - "The Libertarian Party has a candidate running in the Cowichan Valley for the provincial election in May.

"James Anderson, a plumber and gas fitter who lives and works in the Valley, said this is his first time running in an election campaign.

"Anderson, 35, said he decided to throw his hat in the ring because he’s growing increasingly concerned about how the government is treating its citizens.... 'People’s liberties and personal freedoms like free speech are under attack, public spending is out of control, and I think it’s time something is done about these issues,' Anderson said.

"'I’m a firm believer in the philosophy that says if you’re not harming anyone, you should feel free to live your life as you see fit and not be dictated to by government bureaucrats.'

"Anderson said the Libertarian Party is the only viable option for people looking to take back control from the traditional political parties.

"He said he and the party are committed to lowering taxes by reducing the unnecessarily large size of government, reducing the amount of red tape associated with running a business and limiting government control over how people live their lives and use their own property.

"'The party promotes the values that I hold,' Anderson said.

"'I want to be a voice of reason in a crowded room full of people trying to decide how you should live your life.'"

http://www.cowichanvalleycitizen.com/news/412346083.html
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Monday, February 6, 2017

FEC handled debates challenge 'contrary to law' judge rules

Federal Judge Issues Blistering Ruling Against the FEC - IVN.us:

February 3, 2017 - "In blunt and highly critical language, a federal judge on Wednesday blasted the Federal Election Commission (FEC).... In her 28-page decision, U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan said that, in rejecting a complaint by Level the Playing Field, a group seeking to change the rules for participation in the final fall debates, the FEC had acted in a manner that was 'contrary to law.'

"The FEC was the defendant in the case, but the real villain in the story is the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), a private organization that is dominated by Democratic and Republican party stalwarts.

"The CPD’s rules – mainly the 15% threshold late in the election cycle for admission — have effectively excluded independent candidates from participating in the September and October debates, thus denying them the chance to become president — even though polls clearly show Americans want that choice.

"The lawsuit by Level the Playing Field (LPF) provided evidence that the CPD’s board members, contrary to the law, were acting as partisans through donations, fundraisers, and public pronouncements. The suit also offered studies by experts that showed that it was practically impossible for independents to meet the threshold set by the CPD for inclusion in the debates....

"The FEC blithely dismissed challenges and recommendations by LPF, so the non-profit, founded by scholar-businessman Peter Ackerman, member of the executive committee of Atlantic Council’s board of directors and the former chairman of Freedom House, filed a lawsuit in September 2014. The suit was later joined by the Libertarian and Green parties....

"The judge concluded by ordering the FEC to 'reconsider the evidence and allegations and issue a new decision consistent with this Opinion within 30 days.' Otherwise, she wrote, the plaintiffs 'may bring…a civil action to remedy the violation involved in the original complaint.'

She also ordered the FEC to 'reconsider the Petition for Rulemaking' that the plaintiffs had requested and 'issue a new decision consistent with this Opinion within sixty days'....

"She blasted the FEC for its 'refusal to engage in thoughtful, reasoned decision-making in either enforcement or rulemaking in this case.' She called the FEC’s factual and legal analyses “threadbare,” and she said that ... in this case, 'the court cannot defer to the FEC’s analysis and further concludes that the FEC acted arbitrarily and capriciously and contrary to law when it determined that the CPD did not endorse, support, or oppose political parties in the 2012 election.'"

Read more: https://ivn.us/2017/02/03/federal-judge-issues-blistering-ruling-fec/ 'via Blog this'

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Trump era is libertarians' opportunity

Donald Trump and the Libertarian Future - Hit & Run : Reason.com - Nick Gillespie & Veronique de Rugy:

January 20, 2017 - "Donald Trump is nobody's idea of a libertarian but his presidency provides a tremendous opportunity to advance libertarian policies, outcomes, and aspirations in our politics and broader culture. Those of us who believe in reducing the size, scope, and spending of the federal government and expanding the autonomy, opportunities, and ability of people to live however they choose should welcome the Trump era. That's not because of the new president's agenda but because he enters office as the man who will inevitably close out a failing 20th-century model of governance....

"Trump enters the White House with historically low approval ratings. This is not merely his fault by any stretch. His Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, was similarly distrusted, a reflection of broad loss of faith not in this or that candidate but the entire political system and especially the two major parties, Congress, and most parts of the federal government. Our declining faith and confidence in government are direct results of failures in government to deliver what it promises and, as a majority has long believed, a belief that it is trying to do too much. Trump is coming after not just eight years of an imperial presidency but 16 years of such behavior. For the entirety of the 21st century, the White House has been occupied by men who consistently arrogated more and more power to themselves, often only advancing their complex and self-serving legal arguments in secret or amongst their own advisers.

"Trump's bullying personality, seemingly boundless egotism, and personal vindictiveness simply pour gasoline on the fire that is already lit. Serious conservatives and, at least temporarily, many conventional liberals have a heightened appreciation of limiting government power, especially in the executive branch. From secret kill lists to limitless surveillance to an endless list of presidential orders on everything from workplace rules to immigration, Obama 'leaves a loaded gun in the Oval Office' for his successor....

"Washington is broke, unpopular, and dysfunctional. The only important question is what will come next. Clearly, we need a government that spends less and does less but also appeals to most Americans of whatever ideological persuasion. We know what sort of operating system has improved our commercial, cultural, and personal lives: It's one that flows directly from libertarian ideas about maximizing options for individuals and the groups they form.... The trick, of course, is to translate that live-and-let live ethos, the cornucopia model into politics and government, which by definition precludes exit. Here, Trump's brashness and divisiveness is forcing all of us to realize government isn't and can't be all things to all people without endless conflict....

"By a two-to-one margin (60 percent to 30 percent), Americans believe the country is headed in the wrong direction, a dread that was energized by the two main choices for president offered us in 2016.... A future in which government is disrupted and diminished — and individuals are empowered and enlivened — is possible, but only if we make it happen." "

Read more: http://reason.com/blog/2017/01/20/donald-trump-and-the-libertarian-future
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Saturday, February 4, 2017

Alt.right or SJW? No.

No One Wins in the Alt-Right vs. SJW Conflict - Being Libertarian - Remso W. Martinez:

January 29, 2017 - "We often fall into the trap of binary thinking which forces us to make a decision as to who we side with, buying into something wholesale for the sake of avoiding being excluded. Trump or Clinton? Nationalist or Globalist (two very undefined terms even the people throwing them around can’t properly define)? Social Justice Warriors or Alt-Right? This rationalization takes away individualism from people and stirs up antipathy with communities that otherwise could have a proper discussion.

"The Alt-Right is an ill-tempered movement of people that feel victimized, ignored, abused, and are fighting for attention. Their tactics include shaming, bullying, and ruthlessness that they justify with a sense of moral righteousness.

"Social Justice Warriors are an ill-tempered movement of people that feel victimized, ignored, abused, and are fighting for attention. Their tactics include shaming, bullying, and ruthlessness that they justify with a sense of moral righteousness.

"Do you see a difference in either description? If you did, go back and read it over and over again. There is no moral relativist claim to make though; both side’s arguments aren’t null. Just because I criticize one more than the other doesn’t mean the other is less problematic or occupies the moral high ground....

"Everyone spends so much time combating each other, no one spends time on anything substantial. Milo Yiannopoulis is popular because he brings up controversy, and sometimes controversy is necessary to bring attention to things no one talks about, but there is a fine line between trying to be a reformer and being a jerk just for the sake of it. Yeah, Milo never punched anyone, but his behavior has caused more polarization than anything.

"The Alt-Right and the SJW’s want you to pick sides, and I for one pick neither because both are full of crap. They both want you to conform to their thoughts and feelings and if you don’t they will slander, attack, and villainize you for the crime of being an individual. This isn’t a binary option; you can be a reformer without being a fire thrower or internet troll.

"Violence breeds violence, agitation brings out the worst in everyone, and in this cultural conflict there is no winner as long as everyone just wants to roll over each other."

Read more: https://beinglibertarian.com/no-one-wins-alt-right-vs-sjw-conflict/
'via Blog this'

Friday, February 3, 2017

Tenants may have sold drugs, so gov't seizes rental units from owner

John Robson: Ontario’s brutal assault on a good couple, which it never even bothered to accuse of a crime | National Post:

January 10, 2017 - "Canadians have rights, don’t they? We love our Charter and the robust, even convoluted, legal system that surrounds it. Yet increasingly we live in a fools’ paradise because one of the worst things that can happen to us is to be sucked into precisely the elaborate legal system we think protects us.

"This point was driven home for me, horribly, at a Canadian Constitution Foundation conference on Law and Freedom in Toronto last weekend. I was there to talk about the surprisingly encouraging 'Comeau' court ruling that we can buy beer and take it home even from (ugh) another province.... But this matter, or the apparently endless procedural wrangling in the CCF challenge to B.C.’s restrictive health-care law, is nothing to a tragic case described at the conference that, I confess, I was not aware of.

"It concerns the Reillys, a couple dedicated to helping the unfortunate who tailored two of their Orillia rental properties to low-income people with often chaotic lives. The Reillys were the sort of landlords who would personally drive carless tenants to the grocery store and to addiction counselling sessions.

"So in 2008 the police alleged drug-dealing at these two properties. Furthermore, they said some rent was paid from drug profits. And under Ontario’s soothingly named Civil Forfeiture Act, the “Director of Asset Management” seized the Reilly’s two properties as the 'proceeds' and possibly 'instruments' of crime.

"The Reillys were never charged with anything. It was never suggested that they were involved in drug trafficking. Moreover, despite deep sympathy for their tenants’ sometimes disorderly lives they had evicted more than 50 for dangerous behaviour and tried without success to have others evicted for drug use....

"No tenant was even arrested in connection with this seizure. The state never proved that the Reillys ignored any crime, let alone condoned or quietly profited from it. It just swooped because what Juggernaut wants, Juggernaut takes, casually crushing the Reillys in the process.

"They sold all their other properties to pay legal bills and mortgaged their home. Their marriage broke down. They are elderly and their lives are destroyed. And the case is far from over. Indeed the contested properties, badly dilapidated in the tender claws of the state, are being sold without any pettifogging determination whether the seizure was lawful."

Read more: http://news.nationalpost.com/full-comment/john-robson-ontarios-brutal-assault-on-a-good-couple-which-it-never-even-bothered-to-accuse-of-a-crime
'via Blog this'

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Ayn Rand and altruism

What Rand Meant by Altruism | Foundation for Economic Education - Gary M. Galles:

January 31, 2017 - "February 2 is best known as Groundhog Day. But it also marks the birth of one of the most praised and criticized thinkers of the past century – Ayn Rand. Rand sold more than 30 million books. Atlas Shrugged has been ranked behind only the Bible as an influence on readers’ lives. She has also been stridently attacked for issues such as her militant atheism. But perhaps least understood has been her full-bore rejection of altruism....

"Altruism has commonly been held up as the standard for moral behavior. But Rand rejected it, asserting it was 'incompatible with freedom, with capitalism, and with individual rights,' and therefore "the basic evil behind today’s ugliest phenomena.'

"That head-on collision arises from French philosopher Auguste Comte, coiner of the term altruism. The altruists.org website says he believed 'the only moral acts were those intended to promote the happiness of others.' Comte’s Catechisme Positiviste asserts that altruism 'gives a direct sanction exclusively to our instincts of benevolence,' and, therefore, 'cannot tolerate the notion of rights, for such a notion rests on individualism.'

"In Comte’s view, any act performed for any reason beyond solely that of advancing someone else’s well-being is not morally justified. That implies taking a tax deduction for a charitable act strips it of its morality.... Something as seemingly innocuous as feeling good about doing good also fails Comte’s joyless standards. Even 'love your neighbor as yourself' fails his unlimited duty of altruism....

Rand’s 'virtue of selfishness' was a response to Comte’s demand for complete selflessness. Not only is a requirement for everyone to completely disregard themselves an unattainable ideal, it is self-contradictory. You cannot possibly sacrifice yourself fully for me, while I am also sacrificing myself fully for you. And if no one has any intrinsic value, why would the results, even if possible, be meritorious? With Comte as a starting point, more attention to people’s own well-being – more selfishness, in Rand’s terminology – is the only way to move toward recognizing value in each individual and significance in each life.

"Comte’s conception of altruism is also inconsistent with liberty, which was Ayn Rand’s focus. The duty to put others first at all times and in all circumstances denies self-ownership and the power to choose that derives from it. Everyone else maintains never-ending presumptive claims on every individual, overriding any rights they may have. In contrast, benevolence involves voluntary choices to benefit others of one’s own choosing, in ways and to the extent individuals choose for themselves.... The key distinction is between benevolence’s individual discretion, which recognizes our rights over ourselves and our resources, and altruism’s unconditional requirement to always sacrifice for others.

"An omnipresent duty of self-sacrifice also makes people vulnerable to manipulation by those who disguise power over others as 'really' a means to attain some noble goal. The desire to sacrifice for the good of others can be transformed into the requirement to sacrifice to the desires of leaders."

Read more: https://fee.org/articles/no-ayn-rand-did-not-want-us-to-be-selfish/?utm_medium=push&utm_source=push_notification
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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Tennessee Libertarians against gas tax hike

Libertarians against gas tax - Omar Yusuf, Jackson Sun:

January 30, 2017 - "Libertarian Party of Madison County chair Corbin Brown was confused when he heard about Gov. Bill Haslam’s gas tax proposal.

"Brown said the state’s $800 million-plus surplus makes the proposal unnecessary.

"'This is one more way for the government to take which does not belong to them,' Brown said. 'It’s our money they are taking away from us.'

"Earlier this month, Haslam proposed a 7-cents-per-gallon increase on gasoline to the state’s gas tax and a 12-cents-per-gallon increase on diesel. If approved, it would be the first time since 1989 Tennessee has raised its gas tax....

"The Libertarian Party was founded in 1971. According to their party platform, Libertarians strongly oppose any government interference into personal, family and business decisions. They believe all Americans should be free to live their lives and pursue their interests as long as they do not harm one another.

"Libertarian Gary Johnson ran for president of the United States in 2012 and 2016. Johnson received more than four million votes in the 2016 election.

"Tennessee has two Libertarian elected officials. Wallace Redd in Clarksville City Council, Ward 4, and Mike Sexton, Union County Commissioner in District 6.... Jesse Fullington is running as a Libertarian for state representative in the 79th District....

"'When you’re driving, spending more money at the pump, it costs more money to move things around,' Fullington said. 'Can you name one thing not transported without fuel? By the nature of raising transportation costs, it’s going to raise the value of the product. So groceries might be cheaper tax wise, but they will be more expensive. It either balances out and hits zero or the increase in the value of the product is going to be more than what the tax was to begin with'....

"If the Libertarian Party does not get at least 34,000 signatures in the state of Tennessee before the summer of 2018, all their Tennessee candidates, including Fullington, will have to run as independents during the 2018 midterm elections."

Read more: http://www.jacksonsun.com/story/news/politics/2017/01/30/libertarians-against-gas-tax/97253266/
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