Saturday, January 19, 2019

Lessons from the government shutdown

John Stossel: Government shutdown lessons -- We could take a chainsaw to so much of government | Fox News:

January 17, 2019 - "This government shutdown is now longer than any in history. The media keep using the word 'crisis.' But ... I see people going about their business -- families eating in restaurants, employees going to work, children playing in playgrounds, etc. I have to ask: Where’s the crisis?...

"We need some government, limited government. But most of life, the best of life, goes on without government, many of the best parts in spite of government....

"Columnist Paul Krugman calls this shutdown, 'Trump’s big libertarian experiment.' But it’s not libertarian. Government’s excessive rules are still in effect, and eventually government workers will be paid for not working. That makes this a most un-libertarian experiment. But there are lessons to be learned.

"During a shutdown when Barack Obama was president, government officials were so eager to make a point by inconveniencing people that they even stopped visitors from entering public parks. Trump’s administration isn’t doing that, so PBS found a new crisis: 'Trash cans spilling … (P)ark services can’t clean up the mess until Congress and the president reach a spending deal,' reported NewsHour. But volunteers appeared to pick up some of the trash. Given a chance, private citizens often step in to do things government says only government can do.

"The Washington Post ran a front-page headline about farmers 'reeling … because they aren’t receiving government support checks.' But why do farmers even get 'support checks'?... Most fruit and vegetable farmers get no subsidies, yet there are no shortages of peaches, plums, green beans, etc. Subsidies are a scam created by politicians who get money from wheat, cotton, corn and soybean agribusinesses. Those farmers should suck it up and live without subsidies, too.

"During shutdowns, government tells 'nonessential workers' not to come to work. But if they’re nonessential, then why do we pay 400,000 of them?...  We could take a chainsaw to so much of government.

The New York Times shrieks, 'Shutdown Curtails FDA Food Inspections!' Only if you read on do you learn that meat and poultry inspection is done by the Department of Agriculture. They’re still working.... More important, meat is usually safe not because of government -- but because of competition. Food sellers worry about their reputations ... so they take many more safety measures than government requires. One meat producer told me that they employ 2,000 more safety inspectors than the law demands....

"Even security work is done better by the private sector. At San Francisco’s airport, security lines move faster. Passengers told me, 'The screeners are nicer!' The TSA even acknowledged that those screeners are better at finding contraband. That’s because San Francisco (Kansas City, Seattle and a dozen smaller airports) privatized the screening process....

"Private contractors are better because they must compete. Perform badly, and they get fired. But government never fires itself."

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Friday, January 18, 2019

Walker runs for B.C. Libertarians in Nanaimo

Nanaimo byelection candidate fights government intervention | Times Colonist - Carla Wilson:

"The B.C. Libertarian Party candidate in Nanaimo is urging citizens to rethink how much government they want in their lives.

"'I’m basically trying to get a message of freedom out there,' Bill Walker said. 'Take responsibility for yourself, your family, your community'....

"Walker, 60, has lived in Nanaimo for 25 years. He grew up in Vancouver and earned a bachelor’s degree in urban geography from McGill University. He has spent the bulk of his career as a mortgage broker and owns Coast Finance Corp. in Nanaimo. He also has a seven-room inn in Tofino.

"Walker joined the Libertarian Party five years ago. He said the party does not believe government should be intervening all the time. He also ran in the 2017 provincial election.

"There isn’t a campaign budget for the campaign, Walker said. He is being helped by a couple of friends.

"Walker, an advocate of private medical clinics in B.C., said such clinics would improve the public system by reducing waits. 'This is about freedom of choice.'

"He is opposed to government intervention in rental accommodation, saying that more rental properties could have been built in past years, and in favour of turning the Insurance Corp. of B.C. into a co-operative operation.

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Thursday, January 17, 2019

NC, Nevada Libertarians join park cleanup effort

Volunteers clean up Lake Mead in wake of government shutdown - Cristen Drummond, Las Vegas

January 12, 2019 - "The partial federal government shut down continues to impact national parks, including Lake Mead.... The Libertarian Party of Nevada organized a cleanup earlier today. About 40 people visited Boulder Beach on Jan. 12....

"The Libertarian Party of Nevada organized this call to action, but that didn't stop those with other political affiliations from helping out.

"This is one of many cleanups at national parks scheduled by libertarians around the country today. The libertarian party plans to organize another beach clean up next month, and may also go up to Mt. Charleston."
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NC Libertarians Clean Up National Parks During Shutdown - Ashley Claster, Spectrum News:

January 12, 2019 - "Trash is piling up in national parks across the country. The workers who usually clean it up are not on the clock because of the government shutdown....

"The Libertarian Party of North Carolina is helping fill the void. The party chair, Susan Hogarth, said it is up to the people who love the land to do what the government cannot.

"'A big thing for Libertarians is that people will take care of the things that are important to them,' Hogarth explained. 'So we want to be a part of that. In fact, we don't think the federal government should be owning park lands or any lands. So, as part of that, we'd like to show that it's possible for it to be taken care of without the government doing that job....

"'That's a really clean park anyway because the people, they really take care of it.... They care about it. They go running here and bicycling. So they do tend to throw their stuff away. But that means the trash cans are full,' Hogarth said.

"Libertarians coming from all parts of the state say they're here to show their commitment to the community..... Hogarth says the cleanup is a demonstration that the people who use these resources care about the land and will take care of it, even when state and federal agencies do not."
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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

5th Amendment covers biometric phone locks, California judge rules

Feds Can't Force You To Unlock Your iPhone With Finger Or Face, Judge Rules - Thomas Brewster, Forbes:

January 14, 2019 - "A California judge has ruled that American cops can’t force people to unlock a mobile phone with their face or finger....

""The order came from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in the denial of a search warrant ... filed as part of an investigation into a Facebook extortion crime, in which a victim was asked to pay up or have an 'embarassing' video of them publicly released. The cops had some suspects in mind and wanted to raid their property. In doing so, the feds also wanted to open up any phone on the premises via facial recognition, a fingerprint or an iris.

"While the judge agreed that investigators had shown probable cause to search the property ... judge Kandis Westmore ruled ... that the government did not have the right, even with a warrant, to force suspects to incriminate themselves by unlocking their devices with their biological features. Previously, courts had decided biometric features, unlike passcodes, were not 'testimonial' ... because a suspect would have to willingly and verbally give up a passcode, which is not the case with biometrics. A password was therefore deemed testimony, but body parts were not, and so not granted Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination....

“'If a person cannot be compelled to provide a passcode because it is a testimonial communication, a person cannot be compelled to provide one’s finger, thumb, iris, face, or other biometric feature to unlock that same device,' the judge wrote. 'The undersigned finds that a biometric feature is analogous to the 20 nonverbal, physiological responses elicited during a polygraph test, which are used to determine guilt or innocence, and are considered testimonial....'

"Andrew Crocker, senior staff attorney at the digital rights nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation, said the latest California ruling went a step further than he’d seen other courts go....

"The magistrate judge decision could, of course, be overturned by a district court judge, as happened in Illinois in 2017 with a similar ruling. The best advice for anyone concerned about government overreach into their smartphones: Stick to a strong alphanumeric passcode that you won’t be compelled to disclose."

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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Rangers shut down Tennessee park cleanup

Libertarians told to stop cleaning Shiloh National Military Park - Adam Friedman, Jackson Sun:

January 14, 2019 - "Members of the Libertarian Party in West Tennessee thought it would be nice to help clean up Shiloh National Military Park since most of the park's staff has been put on leave because of the partial government shutdown.

"But after less than 30 minutes of groundskeeping, they were told to leave.

"'Every other effort to clean up the national parks, from Washington, D.C., to Yosemite, has been fine," Tennessee Delta Region Libertarian Party Co-Leader Victoria Lee said. 'But when we went to Shiloh, we were told we were not allowed to clean up the park.'

"Lee, along with 25 other Libertarian Party members, and their families, went to Shiloh on Sunday to help clear off walking paths and rake leaves.

"The clean up at Shiloh is part of a nationwide initiative by the Libertarian Party to help clean up national parks around the country.

"'This is all in order to prove that volunteerism works,' Tennessee Delta Region Libertarian Party Co-Leader Marcus Baker said. 'Government isn't needed for everything; there are volunteers out there who can handle certain things. We all like keeping our national parks clean, simple as that.'

"A Shiloh National Military Park ranger can be heard saying in the video that he understands that the volunteers are trying to help but that volunteers can't clean up without a signed volunteer liability waiver.

"The Jackson Sun reached out to Shiloh National Park but has not received a response."

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Monday, January 14, 2019

Hot Air covers Libertarian park cleanup efforts

Libertarian Party organizes national park cleanups - Taylor Millard, Hot Air:

January 13, 2019 - "Republicans and Democrats may be sniping at each other over the partial government shutdown, but it’s the Libertarian Party which is putting words to action. Libertarians have organized multiple national park cleanups over the last week to show maybe the government isn’t needed to provide services.

"Libertarian Party National Committee Chair Nicholas Sarwark....'As Libertarians, we advocate replacing federal taxpayer funding for many services with private charity or privatization. We wanted to show how this could be accomplished by volunteering in our local communities. We know that people are inherently generous with their time and energy. We want to set an example by calling on the public to join us in maintaining our beautiful parks and landmarks this weekend and throughout the government shutdown.'

"The first cleanup was organized last Sunday with LP members, libertarians, anarchists, agorists, voluntarists, and more gathering at the National Mall in Washington D.C..... Libertarian Party members are also organizing national park cleanups in Ohio....

"This is probably one of the best ideas the Libertarian Party has ever had... It sends a clear message to others – and hopefully politicians – on how it’s a-OK to loosen the stranglehold the government has on our lives. There’s something to be said about this and for the ambitiousness of the LP to go, 'there’s a problem, we’ll organize, and solve the problem.'

"What’s going to be curious to see is how the Libertarian Party uses this momentum to advance its agenda in the future. The biggest critique I’ve had of the LP – as a small-l libertarian who isn’t a member of the party – is its seeming disorganization. The park cleanup shows the party is more organized than people realized and it also goes a long way to show people who may not hold to the ideology how free markets can easily replace what the government has seized.

"It will also be curious to see what happens once the rest of the government re-opens. Will there be a push to privatize the National Park System or, at least, part of it ... ? Will more people start voting for Libertarian Party candidates in local, state, and federal elections? I don’t expect the government to suddenly give up power, but if there’s enough of a push it might happen in the future.

"This is the long-term strategy by the Libertarians. Kudos to them for showing it works."

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Sunday, January 13, 2019

BBC TV's Yes Minister a primer on civil service

The BBC's "Yes Minister" Is Everything You Need to Know about Government - Foundation for Economic Education - Bill Wirtz:

November 18, 2018 - "The British satire show Yes Minister was unique in its display of the inner workings of government. It's as up to date as ever.

"The series ... on BBC Two between 1980 and 1988 ... has in its core the characters of Jim Hacker (the minister), Sir Humphrey Appleby (permanent secretary), and Bernard Woolley (Hacker's principal private secretary). Hacker plays the role of minister of administrative affairs, making him responsible for the British civil service and any type of reforms deemed necessary for the inner workings of the government. He is what Americans would probably describe as a 'dork': he's unable to understand the intrigue of the civil service, optimistic about his actual power, and easily swayed........

"Sir Humphrey represents the civil service: he is stubborn and opinionated, and manages to protect his interests and those of the bureaucrats with ingenious wit and plot. Humphrey characteristically says 'Yes Minister' repeatedly, though he's clearly understood to mean 'No.' Bernard ... is easily broken by Sir Humphrey and ... is also used to parody the civil service: he constantly chips in with unnecessary knowledge....

"The questions Yes Minister asks are not impertinent: Are long-term appointments of top-class civil servants really a good idea?...

"In 2015, the United States employed a total of almost 22 million government employees in federal, state, and local government.... Civil servants aren't only employees; they are, in fact, employees who vote for their bosses in significant numbers. All of the 22 million government employees vote, and they are closely associated with people (in this case their own families) who share their financial interests. When politicians do not exchange civil servants as they take office, they can get stuck with hostile and powerful bureaucrats who lobby for their own interests....

"Yes Minister shows how fear-mongering and delay are among the civil service’s tactics to stay in power. In fact, Jim Hacker continuously gets confronted with the wrath of the Deep State as soon as he tries to reform any of it.....

"[I]n today's Britain, a show like Yes Minister would be unlikely to be produced. The BBC would be worried about offending people or even ... undermining public faith in the institutions of the country."

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