Saturday, October 31, 2015

How the Fed Is increasing economic inequality

Rand Paul Is Right: The Fed Is Increasing Inequality With Its Low Rates - Forbes - Jeffrey Dorfman: 

October 29, 2015 - "Last night’s Republican debate was supposed to be about economic policy, but instead it was, once again, more about moderators asking gotcha questions.... There was, however, a great moment of economic clarity, thanks to Rand Paul, on the surprisingly overlooked role the Fed has played in increasing economic inequality.

"Virtually all economists agree that the Fed’s low interest rates have been responsible for inflating stock market values. By reducing the returns to savings accounts, certificates of deposit and bonds, the Fed has intentionally driven ordinary investors to increase their investment allocation to the stock market, thereby boosting stock returns. Because people with more wealth tend to own more stock, those higher stock prices have led the rich to gain much more than the poor and middle class.

"Low interest rates have meant low borrowing costs for large corporations with direct access to capital markets. This low-cost borrowing has boosted corporate profits which also flow mostly to the wealthy.

"Poorer individuals, with smaller savings and few other assets, tend to be heavier users of credit cards for borrowing.... Unfortunately, while the Fed has pushed down interest rates for big corporations, average credit card interest rates have only dropped about 1.5 percentage points (from about 14.5 to 13%).... Wealthier individuals, with more savings and other assets, rarely need to carry a credit card balance, but they do borrow (tax-deductible) funds in the form of mortgage debt, often in large amounts. Thanks partly to the Fed’s many moves to lower interest rates, mortgage rates have fallen about 2.5 percentage points (roughly from 6.5 to 4% for 30 year fixed rate mortgages).... For example, somebody with a $400,000 mortgage could save ... $600 to $800 per month, way more than the $20 per month the poor are saving on credit card debt.

"Finally, the low interest rates set by the Fed combined with the additional labor costs thanks to the Obama Administration (Obamacare and its associated taxes) are changing the relative prices of labor and capital.... This also increases economic inequality because the poor and middle class earn most (or all) of their money from labor income, while the rich collect a significant share of their income in various forms of returns to capital.... Purposely tilting the economy in favor of capital and against labor is pretty close to taking from the poor and giving to the rich, the exact reverse of normal government attempts to redistribute income.

"[While] the left is consumed with economic inequality, nary a voice on the left is complaining about the Fed’s role in making it worse. Rand Paul is correct that the Fed is causing a widening of economic inequality....If you want less economic inequality, we should begin by stopping policies that make it worse."

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Friday, October 30, 2015

Rand Paul & Ted Cruz slam Federal Reserve

In GOP Debate, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul Tear at Fundamentals of the Fed - Michael S. Derby, Wall Street Journal:

October 29, 2015 - "Two Republican presidential candidates blasted the Federal Reserve on a fundamental level in a debate Wednesday night, airing their criticisms of the central bank before a prime-time television audience.

"Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky criticized the Fed’s impact on the economy and called for new operating regimes that would limit the central bank’s influence....

"Mr. Cruz lambasted what he saw as a 'star chamber' of central bankers implementing radical policies with little democratic accountability. He was particularly concerned with the now-ended campaigns of long-term bond purchases the Fed employed to provide stimulus.

"Mr. Cruz also said the Fed has an inflation problem on its hands. 'If you look at a single mom buying groceries, she sees hamburger prices have gone up nearly 40%. She sees her cost of electricity going up. She sees her health insurance going up. And loose money is one of the major problems,' he said. 'I think the Fed should get out of the business of trying to juice our economy and simply be focused on sound money and monetary stability, ideally tied to gold,' Mr. Cruz said.

"Mr. Cruz is correct that, since 2008, the Fed has had an aggressive monetary-policy stance, with short-term rates at near-zero levels, amid several rounds of large-scale bond purchases, as well as other tools to provide stimulus....

"Mr. Paul said in the debate that 'the Fed has been a great problem in our society' and that its policies have helped fuel economic inequality. He also made a plug for legislation that would audit the monetary-policy-making functions of the Fed, something central bankers and many economists believe would politicize rate policy and make it less effective.

"Mr. Paul also wants to fundamentally end how the central bank influences the economy. 'What you need to do is free up interest rates. Interest rates are the price of money, and we shouldn’t have price controls on the price of money,' the legislator said in the debate."

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Thursday, October 29, 2015

World Internet freedom down for 5th straight year

Freedom House: World Internet Freedom Keeps Eroding - Alberto Pimienta, Voice of America:

October 28, 2015 - "Internet censorship around the globe continues to intensify. According to a report by the independent monitoring group Freedom House, for the fifth consecutive year, more nations are censoring information online and demanding that companies and individuals remove content or face retribution.

"The annually released Freedom of the Net Report assessed 65 countries and identified China as the worst offender.... Gady Epstein, former Beijing bureau chief for The Economist magazine, said China has become more aggressive with censorship in the last couple of years under President Xi Jinping. 'They’ve blocked Google; they’ve blocked Gmail and other Google services. They arrested more online activists, people who comment independently on a range of issues, including corruption,' said Epstein....

"In Russia and Iran, people who post content deemed offensive by the government can quickly and easily land in prison. 'Those countries tend to block materials of political and social relevance. They tend to arrest users for writing about human rights and opposition,' said Sanja Kelly, director of the report.

"Syria is the second-worst performer in the study. Bloggers, journalists and activists face execution by armed groups in the country, according to Freedom House.

In Iran, rated the third-worst nation, Tehran’s conservative powerbrokers, including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, keep extremely tight control over the Internet, despite better bandwidth and the increase of 3G cellular connections.

"Social media, like Facebook and Twitter, increasingly play a big role in the way people get access to information in countries with restricted Web freedom.... The combination of social media services and content that authorities dislike, though, can be life-shattering. That is the case for Atena Farghadani, 28, an Iranian cartoonist. She was sentenced to 12 years in jail for posting one of her caricatures on Facebook, which portrayed Iranian lawmakers as animals.

"Freedom House said that during the research for the report, which focuses on events from June 2014 through May 2015, it stumbled upon a new development: Governments increasingly attack the source now....  'The governments are actually going to the company and saying, "This type of information exists on your servers. Take it down. If you don’t take it down, we’re going to either block your services or we’re going to take away your license so you will not be able to operate in our country any longer",' said Kelly."

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Ohio Rights Group now backs Issue 3

Pro-medical marijuana Ohio Rights Group endorses Issue 3 | - Jackie Borchard, Northeast Ohio Media Group:

October 13, 2015 - "The state's largest pro-medical marijuana group has endorsed Issue 3, the proposed constitutional amendment that would legalize medical and recreational marijuana sales and use in Ohio.... Issue 3, on the ballot this fall, would legalize recreational and medical marijuana, but commercial marijuana could only be grown on 10 sites belonging to investors bankrolling the initiative.

"The organization was an outspoken opponent of Issue 3 and ResponsibleOhio, the political action committee bankrolling the initiative. Ohio Rights Group even filed an elections commission complaint claiming ResponsibleOhio leaders 'infiltrated' their campaign and undermined Ohio Rights Group's petitioning efforts....

"ORG Vice President John Pardee said the group would likely never receive the funding to pay for signature collectors and qualify for the ballot. Pardee said other legalization proposals planned for 2016, including one by Ohioans to End Prohibition, also lack the support needed to qualify for the ballot.

"Pardee said ORG would be doing patients a disservice to campaign against Issue 3 without a viable alternative and called Ohioans to End Prohibition's campaign absolute farce'....

"Sri Kavuru, president of Ohioans to End Prohibition, said ... 'He knows nothing of what is going on in our organization and we have plenty of time to make it to the ballot'....

"Pardee said no money or financial benefits were promised in exchange for ORG's support, but the group did seek concessions from ResponsibleOhio.

"Pardee said ORG has agreements with four of the 10 growing sites to lease space for 'artisanal' marijuana growers and a plan to appoint an ombudsman to lobby on behalf of patients while the industry is established.... Neither aspect is in the proposed amendment, but Pardee was confident in agreements made with ResponsibleOhio....

"Ohio Rights Group joins national NORML and the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio as the major proponents of Issue 3."

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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Iraq war contributed to rise of ISIS, Blair admits

Blair: Iraq war contributed to rise of ISIS but was justified | News , Middle East | THE DAILY STAR - Associated Press:

October 26, 2015 - "Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has acknowledged that the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 was partly responsible for the emergence of ISIS militant group in the Middle East. But he insists that toppling Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had been the right thing to do.

"Blair told CNN 'there are elements of truth' in the assertion that the war in Iraq caused the rise of ISIS, which now controls a large swath of Iraq and Syria.

"'Of course, you can’t say those of us who removed Saddam in 2003 bear no responsibility for the situation in 2015,' he said in an interview broadcast Sunday.

"Blair added that the Arab Spring revolutions, which began in 2011, had also played a part by allowing the Islamist fundamentalist militant group to flourish in civil war-torn Syria and then Iraq. And he said the 'sectarian policy' of Iraq’s Shiite-led government was also a factor in destabilizing the country.

"Blair’s decision to take Britain into the Iraq war – based on what turned out to be false claims about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction – remains hugely divisive at home and contributed to his Labour Party’s loss of power in 2010....

"'I apologize for the fact that the intelligence we received was wrong,' he said. 'I also apologize for some of the mistakes in planning and, certainly, our mistake in our understanding of what would happen once you removed the regime.'

"Some 179 British personnel died in Iraq between 2003 and 2009. A public inquiry into decisions and mistakes in Britain’s planning and execution of the war began in 2009 but has yet to issue its findings."

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Monday, October 26, 2015

U.S. gun homicides halved as ownership doubled

Pew: Firearm-Related Homicides Down Nearly 50% from 20 Years Ago - A.W.R. Hawkins, Breitbart News:

October 24, 2015 - "On October 21, Pew Research Center released findings that show the annual rate of firearm-related homicides in America declined by nearly 50 percent between 1993 and 2013.

"That’s the same time period in which The Washington Post (WaPo) reported that firearm ownership doubled in the United States.

The WaPo did not put a figure on the number of privately owned guns in America. Rather, they estimated that that average gun owner went from owning 4.1 guns in 1994 to owning 8.1 in 2013. Breitbart News used Congressional Research Numbers to show that this means the 192 million guns owned privately in 1994 grew to 310 million or more in 2009 and to an estimated 350 million in 2013.

"And PEW Research shows that this surge in privately owned guns did not correlate with an increase in firearm-related homicides but with a plunge in the annual firearm-related homicide rate, which fell from 7 per 1oo,ooo Americans in 1993 to 3.6 per 100,000 in 2013.

"Compl[e]menting this 20-year doubling of the number of guns owned by Americans is the fact that concealed carry permit holders nearly tripled between 2007 and now. According to the Crime Prevention Research Center, the '4.6 million' concealed permit holders of 2007 grew to over '12.8 million' permit holders in 2015. That means the last five years of the surge in gun ownership also coincided with a surge in carrying guns in public for self-defense."

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Sunday, October 25, 2015

Innocence is no protection from gov't surveillance

Guest Opinion: Innocence is no protection from gov't surveillance - News - The Herald News, Fall River, MA - George Phillies, Libertarian Association of Massachusetts:

October 25, 2015 - "Massive warrantless spying watches your every move. Your every phone call and email message is recorded. License plate recognition tracks where you drive.

"You say, 'I don’t care. I have nothing to hide.'

"I suggest: You need to care. Your innocence is not enough.

"There are 40,000 National Security Agency employees, and far more working for the NRO, DIA, CIA, and FBI. They all have relatives and friends. Some of those relatives and friends work where you do, save the way you do, and much more.

"Consider: You work hard, do well, and look for promotion into management. Your competition is Clement Doofus, who never quite does things so wrong that he gets fired. It’s promotion time. Clement gets the job. What happened?

"You’re clean as a whistle. Clement is clean as a whistle. Alas, the fellow who promoted Clement is having an affair with the hot babe in accounting. He responded positively to an anonymous motivational phone call telling him who to promote, unless he wants his family to find out. He can’t imagine how anyone knew. Alas, Clement’s brother works for the one of those agencies that tracks cell phones and license plates....

"You may be innocent. What about the people around you?

"The surveillance state is a direct threat to you. Yes, you!

"Let me say that again: No matter who you are: The surveillance state menaces you, your family, and your country. Only a libertarian future can protect you."

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Saturday, October 24, 2015

Activist SCOTUS needed to defend U.S. liberty

George F. Will: The Constitution Is A Libertarian Tool -

October 21, 2015 - "A supremely important presidential issue is being generally neglected ... presidential candidates should explain how they would select judicial nominees....

"Republicans can't speak their minds about the judicial supervision of democracy because their minds are unsettled. Fortunately, they are being urged, by thinkers like Randy Barnett, to adopt a vocabulary that disconcerts conservatives who have grown lazily comfortable with rhetorical boilerplate in praise of 'judicial restraint.'

"Barnett, a Georgetown law professor, recently took to a place that needs it — the University of California, Berkeley — this message: 'The judicial passivism of the Supreme Court has combined with the activism of both congresses and presidents to produce a behemoth federal government, which seemingly renders the actual Constitution a mere relic, rather than the governing document it purports to be.'

"In his lecture, 'Is the Constitution Libertarian?' Barnett acknowledged that in many respects American life 'feels freer' than ever, and that we have more choices. In other ways, however, freedom is too constricted, and individual rights are too brittle, because for decades America's Lockeans have lost ground to Hobbesians: 'The Lockeans are those for whom individual liberty is their first principle of social ordering, while the Hobbesians are those who give the highest priority to government power to provide social order and to pursue social ends'....

"Lockeans favor rigorous judicial protection of certain individual rights -- especially private property and freedom of contract -- that define and protect the zone of sovereignty within which people are free to act as they please.... Lockeans say the Constitution circumscribes the majoritarian principle by protecting all rights that are crucial to individual sovereignty....  And, Barnett argues, a properly engaged judiciary bears the burden of saying when the government has not justified its restrictions as necessary and proper.

"So, Barnett says, yes, the Constitution — 'the law that governs those who govern us' — is libertarian. And a Lockean president would nominate justices who would capaciously define and vigorously defend, against abuses by majoritarian government, what the 14th Amendment calls Americans' 'privileges or immunities.'

"Republican presidential aspirants must be forced to join their party's argument about the judiciary's proper function. Then we can distinguish the Lockean constitutionalists from the merely rhetorical conservatives whose reflexive praise of 'judicial restraint' serves the progressives' Hobbesian project of building an ever-larger Leviathan.""

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Friday, October 23, 2015

Benton & Tate go free in Iowa bribery case

Adviser to Ron and Rand Paul found not guilty in bribery case - Yahoo News Joseph Ax, Reuters:

October 23, 2015 - "A former top adviser to 2012 Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul's campaign has been found not guilty in connection with an alleged bribery scheme to buy an Iowa state senator's endorsement.

"A jury in Iowa on Thursday cleared Jesse Benton, Paul's former campaign spokesman, of lying to the FBI about the alleged bribery, which came in advance of the 2012 Iowa caucuses in that year's presidential race....

"Benton, who is married to Paul's granddaughter, has worked with the [America's Liberty] Super PAC supporting Paul's son Rand as he seeks the Republican nomination for president for the November 2016 election.

"'I'm happy justice has been served', Rand Paul, a U.S. senator from Kentucky, said in a statement on Friday.

"Another former Ron Paul adviser, Dmitri Kesari, was convicted of causing the filing of a false campaign finance record but found not guilty of obstruction of justice. The jury could not agree on three other counts against Kesari.

"The case grew out of allegations that Benton, Kesari and another adviser, John Tate, bribed Iowa state Senator Kent Sorenson with $73,000 to switch his endorsement from then-U.S. Representative Michele Bachmann to Paul days before the 2012 Iowa Republican caucus....

"A federal judge threw out all charges against Tate ahead of the trial this month, as well as several other counts against Benton.

"Tate is the founder and president of America's Liberty PAC, the Super PAC supporting Rand Paul."

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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Arkansas LP sues to stop ballot access deadline change

Libertarian Party sues over early ballot filing deadline | Arkansas Blog | Arkansas news, politics, opinion, restaurants, music, movies and art - Max Brantley:

"The Libertarian Party of Arkansas said it has filed a federal lawsuit seeking more time to nominate candidates for the 2016 election.

"The state legislature this year moved filing to Nov. 2-9, a year ahead of the election, so the primary could be [held] in March to help Republican presidential primary candidates. The party complained this requires it to have its final candidates ready even before the major political parties begin their presidential candidate selection process.

"In a release, James Linger, attorney for the party, said, 'It is hard for me to understand what compelling state interest Arkansas would have in having the nominees of minor parties chosen so far in advance of the general election and significantly earlier than the date for picking the nominees of the major parties.'

"The Libertarian Party qualified for a spot on the ballot by a petition drive completed in June.

"The party will hold a nominating convention Oct. 24 at the Wyndham Riverfront in North Little Rock to nominate candidates for Congress, state legislature and other offices."
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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Libertarian vote per candidate doubled in Canada

Fringe parties see spike in candidates, votes | Canada Politics - Yahoo News Canada - Elianna Lev:

October 20, 2015 - "Now that the concession speeches are over and lawn signs are coming down, leaders of Canada’s lesser-known political parties are assessing how they did in Monday’s election.

"Of the 18 registered fringe parties including the pirates, the potheads and the pro-lifers, the top five performing ones were the Libertarian Party of Canada, the Christian Heritage Party of Canada, the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada, the Rhinoceros Party and the Progressive Canadian Party.

"Several that spoke to Yahoo Canada News acknowledged growing in both candidates and votes, despite still barely making a blip on the political radar.

"David Clement, a spokesperson with the Libertarian Party of Canada, says there were 72 candidates in this year’s election, a significant jump from the 2011 campaign. The party’s mission is 'to reduce the responsibilities and expense of government' and has been active since the 1970s, though it has gone through several incarnations.

"In total, the party won 37,407 votes [519 votes per candidate - ed.], a significant jump from the 2011 count, which then garnered 6,017 votes and only 23 candidates [265 votes per candidate - ed.].

"'It really cements us on the way to fielding a whole slate of candidates and building that momentum of progression moving forward,' he says.

"While none of the party’s candidates won in their respective riding, a few placed better than more established parties like the Greens, something Clement calls 'a good first step'."

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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

IRS spends $140M so far upgrading to Windows 7

Government watchdog blasts IRS for mismanaged migrations from Windows XP, Server 2003 | Computerworld - Gregg Keizer:

October 15, 2015 - "Government auditors have blasted the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for missing deadlines to upgrade Windows XP PCs and data center servers running Windows Server 2003, both of which have been retired by Microsoft.

"In a recently released report, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) criticized the IRS for spending nearly $140 million on upgrading Windows XP to Windows 7 even as it failed to meet the support cut-off of April 2014. At the deadline, over half of the IRS's PCs were still running XP.

"Nine months after Windows XP fell off Microsoft's support list, the agency still could not account for 1,300 PCs – about 1% of its total – and so couldn't say whether they had been purged of the ancient OS.

"On the server front, half of the IRS's Windows-powered servers were still running Windows Server 2003 in May, even though Microsoft would pull the support plug on that software two months later. At that time, the IRS still had not installed Windows Server 2012, the latest version, on any of its systems.

"The failure to upgrade its infrastructure to supported versions of Windows, said TIGTA, threatened taxpayers and tax collection. 'We believe that running workstations with outdated operating systems pose significant security risks to the IRS network and data, particularly in the environment where a chain is only as strong as its weakest link,' the TIGTA's report stated. 'External hackers or malicious insiders need to locate only the one computer with security weaknesses, such as one with an outdated operating system, to exploit in order to steal data or further compromise other computers.'

"That's not just theory. Earlier this year, the IRS admitted that hackers infiltrated its network and made off with personal information on more than 300,000 taxpayers."

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Sunday, October 18, 2015

Canada's Libertarians work to shed 'fringe' label

Some of the incidental coverage of the Libertarian Party of Canada this election campaign:

Rhinos and Pirates: A look at Canada’s federal fringe parties | CTV News - Michelle Zillio:
August 30, 2015 - "The Libertarian Party’s goal is to reduce the responsibilities and expense of the government so that Canadians can manage their own needs. The party stands for free market economic policies, including a gradual phase out of government control over the money supply. It believes that governmental regulatory agencies 'often do far more harm than good.'  The party also has a full platform with policies on health care, justice, immigration, foreign policy, gun ownership, aboriginal affairs and the environment."

Libertarians on the march | Toronto & GTA | News | Toronto Sun - Mike Strobel:
September 6, 2015 - "Libertarians have a snazzed-up image and a hot new leader. Fox News called him 'a dreamboat.' He’s a firefighter, for crying out loud....  'I’m no kook,' Tim Moen chuckles down the line from Calgary. Moen, 42, is the first line of the Libertarian Party of Canada slogan: New leader. New colours. New party. 'We’re here, we’re politically active and we’re ready to put our stamp on the Canadian political scene,' he tells me....  'We can’t keep throwing a reckless hail Mary pass into an endzone called Libertopia. We need to grind the ball down the field, making Canadians a little freer each time.' By 'freer,' he means small bureaucracy, a 15% flat tax and raising the personal exempt level to $17,300 from $11,000. Weed, the sex trade and other victimless 'crimes' would be legal. As taxes fall, the nanny state, which all major parties nurture, would fold its tent. 'Our culture sees government as there to solve all our problems and relieve all our anxieties. We need to change the culture.'"

Fringe candidates raise a little hell come election time - Politics - CBC News - Steve Patterson:
October 13, 2015 - "There was also a Libertarian candidate in my riding, a party I have never quite understood other than to imagine it mocking the Liberal Party for not being Liberal enough (i.e., if the Liberals say 'Vote for Justin,' the Libertarians would just say 'Vote ... or don't')."

When you don’t want to vote for a winner: Who are the OTHER parties in the Canadian election? | National Post - Tristin Hopper:
October 14, 2015 - "Canada’s Libertarians aren’t nearly as crazy as their U.S. equivalents. They seem fine with universal healthcare, but want to make it a provincial responsibility. And, as far as can be told, they have no plans to privatize sidewalks. But expect all the usual libertarian things: Legal drugs, legal prostitutes, no more loonies and a lot more guns. This election, the party’s got Tim Moen, the Alberta filmmaker who rose to prominence after giving an insider’s view of the sheer amount of fossil fuels Neil Young burned while shooting his anti-oilsands documentary."

Fringe candidates on rise across Saskatchewan - Andrea Hill & Charles Hamilton, Saskatoon Star-Phoenix: 
September 30, 2015 - "'The government has no right to tell people what they can and can't do,' said Bronek Hart, one of two Libertarian Party candidates in the province. He'll be on the ballot in Saskatoon-West. Hart said he knows he has no real chance of winning, but he decided to run after becoming disillusioned with the promises of the major parties. 'I went, "Wow, these parties suck",' he said. His party's platform includes ending the war on drugs, significantly reducing federal income tax and repealing the power of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission and other federal regulatory agencies. The party also promises to end all Canadian involvement in foreign wars and make it easier for lawabiding citizens to carry guns. Hart said he hopes that, at the very least, support for the Libertarian Party will influence the next government."

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Saturday, October 17, 2015

LP candidates Hu & Clarke in Georgia Straight

Guns, drugs, hookers, and freedom: meet the political party formerly banned by Elections Canada | Georgia Straight Vancouver's News & Entertainment Weekly - Devon Rowcliffe:

October 16, 2015 - "They’re both left-wing and right-wing. They steadfastly oppose anti-terrorism legislation such as Bill C-51, advocate for legalizing drugs and prostitution, and promote a non-interventionist foreign policy. Yet this same group also wants to allow private healthcare, decrease taxes, and make it easier to obtain guns.

"What could be behind this seeming paradox? The Libertarian Party of Canada....

"The Straight recently spoke with two Libertarian candidates running here in Metro Vancouver to get their views: Bonnie Hu, a 22-year-old female of Chinese descent who immigrated to Canada as a youth and is contesting political office for the first time; and John Clarke, a 64-year-old Caucasian male who has run numerous times for both the federal and provincial Libertarians since 1984."

"Both candidates discovered the libertarian philosophy — based upon small government, low taxes and minimal regulations — at a young age. Clarke stumbled upon it while in high school during the mid-1960s, while Hu came across libertarianism on internet forums....

"The Libertarians are considered a fringe party here in Canada, although they have amassed an impressive 72 candidates for the 2015 election. Will this be enough to make a breakthrough on October 19? 'We're taking votes away from the other parties for sure,' said Hu, who is running in the suburban riding of South Surrey-White Rock. 'Mostly Conservatives, but [from] all the others too'....

"And how do Libertarians feel about Harper’s Conservatives? 'Libertarians oppose the basic thing of the Conservative Party — which is their taxing, their regulating,' said Clarke, who is running in the Vancouver Centre riding. 'And in terms of foreign policy, bombing Libya is a completely un-libertarian act'....

"Unlike the Conservatives, who take pride in their 'tough on drugs' stance, the Libertarians offer a strikingly different policy: they advocate for the legalization of marijuana and decriminalization of all other drugs....

"Regarding healthcare, the Libertarians are interested in allowing for more choice — particularly [in] the private sector....

"Regarding other social programs, the Libertarian candidates didn’t mince their words. 'We should cut spending on low-income assistance,' said Hu. 'I don't believe in the government supports and hand-outs [people with disabilities] are getting. They should get help from private sources.'

"Climate change is another topic where the party’s candidates hold opinions that may shock some voters. Neither Clarke nor Hu were convinced that human actions have been responsible for the planet’s warming trend....

"The subject of terrorism is one where the Libertarians seem more like a left-wing party. The interviewed candidates felt that terrorism was being used by the Conservatives as a wedge issue to gain votes....

'[The Conservatives] stand for big government, and they want more surveillance through Bill C-51,' [Hu] said. 'I don't believe people should be under surveillance ... people should be able to expect basic [rights] like privacy.'

"And as for the niqab? 'I think people should be free to wear whatever they want,' said Clarke."

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Friday, October 16, 2015

Medical marijuana legalized in Croatia

Croatia Legalizes Weed For Medical Use Jackie Salo, International Business Times:

October 15, 2015 - "Marijuana became legally available in Croatia for medical purposes Thursday. The decision to legalize followed a high-profile case in which a multiple sclerosis patient was jailed last year for growing the plant to ease his pain.

"Huanito Luksetic, 37, was detained for growing cannabis plants in his garden in a village near Rijeka. Police seized around 44 pounds of marijuana from the multiple sclerosis patient, who said he used the plants to make cannabis oil.

"Doctors and other patients spoke out in support of legalization after Luksetic made news, and a monthslong campaign was launched to legalize medical marijuana. 'For us, patients, cannabis is one of the most important plants for our lives and health,' Luksetic told Agence France-Presse. 'Everyone should have the right to choice and self-cure.'  "

"Medicines that contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can be prescribed in Croatia starting Thursday to patients suffering from chronic health problems such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and AIDS. Regulations limit the quantity to 7.5 grams per month, and patients can receive a prescription of up to only 30 days. It remains illegal to grow marijuana at home....

"Over the years, some level of cannabis legalization has won support in other European Union countries, including Spain, Portugal, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands.

"The U.S. has legalized medical marijuana in 23 states and entirely in four states -- Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington. European Union countries are unlikely to follow suit with complete cannabis legalization, EU drug monitoring agency chief Wolfgang Gotz said."

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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Libertarian runs to have someone to vote for

McFadzean striving for liberty and prosperity in Canada | Federal Election | Bonnyville Nouvelle - Kristen Oelschlagel:

September 28, 2015 - "The Libertarian party will be on the ballot in the Lakeland riding for the 2015 federal election, with Robert McFadzean stepping forward to be the local candidate....

"McFadzean's main message for his campaign is minimizing the government, especially when it comes to conducting business.... 'My main focus is to put forward the idea that rather than use government to run enterprises, we should turn to free enterprises and free markets,' said McFadzean.

"The Libertarian nominee spent 23 years teaching economics and financial management in the agriculture department at Lakeland College. A Vermillion resident for over 30 years, McFadzean prides himself on being actively involved in his community through groups like his church, the scouts, the local music festival and the choir.

"After being associated with the Libertarian party for a number of years, he decided it was time for people in the Lakeland to have a Libertarian in the ballot. 'The reason I want to run is that for many years now I've been very disappointed in politics in general, so I thought in order to have somebody to vote for I'd have to run myself.'

"As a Libertarian McFadzean explained that his campaign is not so much about what he can do for the constituency, but about fighting for liberty for everyone in the country. 'What I'm focusing on is encouraging people to change their way of looking at politics. Politics is how we get along with each other and most of us, in our private lives, respect other people's choices and property and I think government should do the same.'

"Admittedly, McFadzean said he's aware that the Libertarian party isn't likely to gain many seats in the House of Commons. 'I don't think I'd have a lot of power in parliament but I would promote liberty, promote free market, government cutting back on taxation regulation and I would try my best to influence the government in that regard.'"

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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

4 charges against Benton & Tate thrown out

Judge dismisses four of five charges against former Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell aide | Rand Paul | - Sam Youngman, Lexington Herald-Leader:

October 9, 2015 - "A federal judge dismissed four of the five counts against Jesse Benton on Friday, ruling that the U.S. Department of Justice violated an agreement with the former aide to U.S. Sens. Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell by using his statements to obtain an indictment.

"Benton, who also was a longtime aide to former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, resigned last year as campaign manager for McConnell's re-election campaign amid an investigation into allegations that Benton and others involved with Ron Paul's 2012 presidential campaign bribed an Iowa state senator to switch allegiances and then concealed the payments.

"Benton and another Republican operative, John Tate, took leaves of absence from leading Rand Paul's super PAC after they were indicted this summer.

"On Friday, Judge John A. Jarvey dismissed four counts — dealing with falsifying campaign documents and conspiracy — after Benton and Tate argued that the federal government used their statements against them in grand jury proceedings despite an agreement not to.

"A charge against Benton for allegedly lying to the FBI was not dismissed....

"Tate and GOP operative Dimitri Kesari were accused of bribing Iowa state Sen. Kent Sorenson with $78,000 to switch his endorsement from former U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann's campaign to Ron Paul's in the final days of the 2012 Iowa caucuses."

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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Libertarian offers different approach to politics

Oakville North—Burlington Libertarian candidate says he's 'socially liberal, fiscally responsible' - Julia Le, Oakville Beaver:

September 28, 2015 - "David Clement says he's tired of the way politics are playing out in Canada.

"The 25-year-old, born and raised in Oakville, said Canadians are being overtaxed, the government is overspending and the charter of rights and privacy rights is being eroded.

"'I want to offer a different perspective and offer voters a different approach to how politics should be run in Ottawa,' said the White Oaks Secondary School (WOSS) graduate, who is currently is an entrepreneur working in the consulting field and on projects that involve energy security, youth engagement in electoral politics and municipal issues.

"He said residents shouldn't have to sacrifice the things they want, or feel like they have to 'settle by voting for the lesser of three or four evils.'

Clement is running as the Libertarian Party candidate in the new electoral riding of Oakville North—Burlington in the Oct. 19 federal election. He said he's offering change and a different approach on what the effective role of government can be....

"Clement, who describes himself as 'fiscally conservative, but socially liberal' noted he would be 'a strong independent voice... I represent a different option that isn't left or right,' he continued. 'It's more consistent in what the role of the government is and it's more consistent on making sure constituents’ needs are represented more accurately in Ottawa'....

"Clement, who holds an honours bachelor of arts in political science and a master’s degree in political science from Wilfrid Laurier University, said he would work at reducing federal income taxes, incrementally, to a rate of 15 per cent, end all forms of “corporate welfare” and increase the personal income tax exemption amount to $17,000 from $11,000.

'That significantly increases the residents' tax-free earnings and lowers taxes across the board. It's a tax fund that really seeks to benefit everybody,' he said.

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Monday, October 12, 2015

The Libertarian Moment is alive and well

The Libertarian Moment Is Alive and Well, Regardless of Rand Paul's Campaign - Tom Mullen, Huffington Post:

October 5, 2015 - "Rand Paul's campaign reported $2.5 million in donations for the entire third quarter, a precipitous drop from his previous reports.... That and anemic poll numbers have inspired many to not only pronounce Paul's presidential campaign dead, but to gleefully declare the so-called 'Libertarian Moment' over. Nothing could be further from the truth.

 "Anyone who believes the presidential election is a barometer of how libertarian America is becoming doesn't understand libertarianism and isn't paying attention to what's happening in the real world. Libertarians don't believe government solves anything, no matter who is running it. The purest libertarians refuse to vote on principle.

 "As radical as that might sound, almost half of all eligible American voters behave the same way, if not for the same reasons.... For the most part, they're not stupid. They just don't care. They may say they support this or that candidate when a microphone is shoved in their face, but in reality they live their lives, do their jobs and run their businesses without giving politics a second thought. This is an inherently libertarian worldview and it's growing....

"What Americans are interested in is the market and what it can offer them, regardless of what the government says or even legislates. Sharing economy companies like Uber and Airbnb are growing exponentially because they offer higher quality products at substantially lower prices. They are able to do so precisely because they either sidestep or openly flout the protectionist regulation supported by their established competitors....

"[G]un sales have exploded in the past fifteen years, despite strong anti-gun rhetoric following highly publicized mass shootings. This isn't limited to red states in flyover country. Gun sales have even seen a meteoric rise in deep blue California....

"Almost half of U.S. states have legalized medical marijuana in open defiance of federal law. Four states have legalized recreational use. They have consistently used the libertarian non-aggression principle as their reasoning: if it does not harm the person or property of someone else, the government shouldn't have the power to prohibit it.

"An overwhelming majority of states legalized gay marriage ... ten states ... through their legislatures.... [A] majority of Americans support gay marriage, but oppose forcing businesses to serve same sex couples if they don't want to ... perfectly consistent with the libertarian principle that government force should never be brought against those who have not aggressed against the person or property of another....

"The future will be even more libertarian than the present. Technology and the marketplace are threatening to render centuries-old government institutions largely irrelevant. What meaning will trade regulations have when 3-D printers disrupt the manufacturing industry? What will the who-will-build-the-roads crowd say to libertarians when hovercraft technology reaches its full market potential? How will the Federal Reserve control the economy when Bitcoin or its successors reaches theirs?"

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Sunday, October 11, 2015

Paul wins RLC straw poll, Cruz second

Rand Paul, Ted Cruz top straw poll at New Hampshire libertarian gathering - POLITICO - Katie Glueck:

October 10, 2015 - "Sen. Rand Paul on Saturday won the straw poll at a major libertarian gathering, with Sen. Ted Cruz coming in a close second.

"The poll, held at the Republican Liberty Caucus convention in Nashua, N.H., allowed attendees to vote for multiple candidates -- an effort to show which candidates would earn the approval of libertarian voters.

"Paul, the Kentucky senator and libertarian-leaning Republican, was voted the 'most-preferred' presidential candidate, pulling in 57 percent of the vote. Cruz, of Texas, came away with 51.2 percent of the vote, meaning that both candidates were considered acceptable by more than half of those who voted.

"The two candidates at the RLC, which endorsed Ron Paul in 2012, were separated by only 46 votes out of about 800 cast.

"The Paul campaign insisted that the Cruz campaign bussed in supporters and still fell short in the poll, a charge the Cruz campaign denied. However, it was clear from the convention that both campaigns had organized heavily for the event, and Cruz and Paul were the only major candidates in attendance.

"No one else came close to cracking 50 percent: in third place was Ben Carson with 18 percent, followed by Carly Fiorina and Marco Rubio at about 10 percent. Donald Trump registered 7 percent."
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Saturday, October 10, 2015

Tech, libertarian groups press for strong encryption

Tech, libertarian groups up pressure on Obama on encryption | TheHill - Cory Bennett:

October 7, 2015 - ""In two separate letters, a major tech trade group and a libertarian-leaning coalition pressed President Obama to publicly support strong encryption, even if it locks out law enforcement officials.

"'As organizations committed to free markets and limited government, we urge your administration to take a clear stand in support of the individual’s right to protect his or her security and privacy with strong encryption technology,' said one letter, signed by groups like TechFreedom and the Niskanen Center.

"''Regardless of good intentions, any efforts to undermine the security and effectiveness of strong encryption are misguided, shortsighted, impractical and ultimately counterproductive,” said a second letter from Ed Black, CEO of the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), which represents major tech players like Amazon, Facebook, Google and Microsoft.

"The letters come a week after privacy advocates and digital rights groups officially petitioned the White House to take the same stance.

"The combination has created a unique and powerful coalition pressing the White House on encryption.

"The Obama administration has been considering possible proposals that would give law enforcement guaranteed access to encrypted communications. Silicon Valley, privacy advocates and technologists have pushed back against this, arguing any such access makes encryption vulnerable to hackers and cyber spies.... Officials have countered that without access, investigators may not be able to get legitimate data on criminals and terrorists, even when armed with a warrant....

"In recent weeks, leaked memos have shown the White House is considering backpedaling from its desire for a technological solution that would let investigators bypass encryption.

"Privacy advocates have jumped on these signals, collecting signatures on a petition that would require the White House to publicly respond to a call for it to support full encryption.... As of Wednesday, the appeal had collected over 48,000 signatures in nine days."

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Friday, October 9, 2015

Ted Cruz courting Ron Paul Republicans (video)

Ted Cruz snags former Ron Paul supporters - Washington Post - Katie Zezima:

September 29, 2015 - "For months, the presidential campaign of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) has quietly been courting libertarian-leaning supporters -- people who once supported Ron Paul and ostensibly would have been inclined to back his son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) in the 2016 race.

"On Tuesday, Cruz released a video showing eight former Ron Paul liberty movement supporters -- a number of them from Iowa -- who are now backing Cruz. The campaign announced that former Congressman Bob Barr will chair a 'Liberty Leaders for Cruz' coalition comprised of libertarian-leaning Republicans....

"In the video, Cruz's supporters talk about how both Pauls endorsed Cruz's 2012 Senate run and said they believe he has held positions consistent with the liberty movement, including a reluctance to send boots on the ground to Syria and support for Rand Paul's bill calling for an audit of the Fed."

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Thursday, October 8, 2015

Harris running for Libertarians in Ottawa Centre

Meet the Ottawa Centre Libertarian candidate: Dean Harris - Ottawa East News:

September 28, 2015 - "Inspired by the 2008 U.S. presidential run of Ron Paul, Dean Harris is running as the Libertarian candidate in Ottawa Centre.

Harris is a 23-year-old linguistics student, who does not live in the riding but attends Carleton University. He grew up in southern Ontario and works as a ski instructor in the winter when he is not in school. Dean has also volunteered with the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides, preparing puppies to help blind people. 

Q: Why are you running?
A: I’m running to promote the ideas of freedom, to promote the idea that individuals own themselves and their own life and to try to promote the idea that we shouldn’t allow government to do things individuals are not allowed to do....

Q: What is the biggest federal issue facing your riding and how has it been handled to date? How would you approach it?
A: The issue I’m focused on most of all is the war on drugs, especially considering I’m campaigning and focusing a lot of my campaign on university campuses. A plurality of students and young people has used what are deemed to be illegal drugs. Thankfully most of those people who have used drugs haven’t faced the criminal justice system, but those who do, stand to have their lives ruined as a result of the prohibition of drug use....

Q: Nationally, what do you view as the biggest issues facing Canada, and how do you plan to address them?
A: The economy is a huge issue and our party platform is about deregulation, allowing free market mechanisms to take care of the economy. We’re in favour of deregulation of the CRTC as well as we are proposing a 15 per cent flat tax and to see the personal exemption based to $17,300. So that means the Canadians who are earning the lowest income would be able to keep more money in their pockets. Our plan would see a $17,300 exemption for basic personal income, with an additional $4,000 for students, seniors and each dependent child. So a family of four with two parents and two children would be able to earn their first $42,000 without paying a cent of tax. Everyone would pay a fair flat tax of 15 per cent after their exemptions."

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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Oregon is 3rd state to legalize marijuana sales

Oregon Marijuana Shops Begin Legal Sales To Recreational Users Today - Fortune - Tom Huddleston, Jr.:

October 1, 2015 - "Oregon’s legal market for recreational marijuana kicks off Thursday, less than a year after the state’s voters passed a bill allowing Oregon to join the two states where recreational pot sales are already legal: Colorado and Washington. While Alaska and Washington, D.C., voters passed similar bills to legalize recreational pot, Oregon now becomes just the third state to actually establish a system for legal sales. (Alaskan officials are still working out the details of a regulated recreational marijuana market, while D.C.’s laws only legalized the possession of recreational pot, not sales.)

"In Oregon, medical marijuana has been legal since 1998, but now all adults in the state who are at least 21 years of age are able to buy up to a quarter-ounce of weed per day without a note from their doctor. Having an established market for medical marijuana — with a supply system of growers and retailers already in place — could help Oregon’s recreational pot market get off the ground quickly. About 200 of the roughly 345 medical marijuana dispensaries in the state have registered to sell recreational pot as well, according to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, which also regulates marijuana sales.

"Recreational sales in Oregon will be untaxed through the rest of this year, with a sales tax of 25% set to be added in January after regulators determine the framework for taxing recreational pot. When that framework is finalized, the state is likely to receive a boost in tax revenues. In Colorado, where recreational sales have been legal since the start of 2014, the state collected more money in marijuana taxes in its last fiscal year than it did from taxes on alcohol sales, with a chunk of the cash coming from an excise tax earmarked for public school construction projects.

"While marijuana remains illegal on the federal level, the number of states passing laws to legalize the drug in some form has grown in recent years and several more states are expected to vote on further legalization proposals before the end of next year. While the presidential election is going on next fall, voters in several states — including Arizona, California, Maine, and Nevada — are expected to vote on legalizing recreational marijuana sales.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Rob Anders supporters urged to vote Libertarian

Rob Anders people still don't like Ron Liepert - Laura Payton, Maclean's:

September 24, 2015 - "Calgary West MP Rob Anders ... lost the Conservative nomination more than a year ago for the newly redrawn riding of Calgary Signal Hill. Ron Liepert, Alberta’s former Progressive Conservative finance minister, won.

"In the lead-up to the nomination vote, Anders dismissed Liepert as a Red Tory, compared Red Tories to 'a flu that just won’t go away' and said Red Tories would have to 'recruit Liberals and New Democrats because they know they don’t have enough numbers in and of themselves.'

"Now, Anders’s former riding association president is asking Conservatives to support the Libertarian candidate in Signal Hill, according to an email provided to Maclean’s.

"'True conservatives were very disappointed when Ron Liepert, with the help of the left, manipulated his way in to the Calgary Signal Hill candidacy for the Conservative Party of Canada,' wrote John DeRinzy, who identifies himself in the email as a former president of the Calgary West Conservative riding association. 'We have gone from having a college-educated, dedicated MP with a voluminous knowledge of history and politics, to a guy who has a history of failure in the provincial arena'....

"DeRinzy writes that he doesn’t want to spoil his ballot or simply not vote, so he is supporting Libertarian candidate Tim Moen. Moen is also the leader of the Libertarian Party of Canada, and DeRinzy says he has committed to working with the federal Conservatives.

"That might be a tough sell, however, if the Conservatives were to win the election and introduce legislation similar to some of the bills they’ve written in the past, including C-51 (a law Liepert supports).... The Libertarian Party platform would also seem to run counter to that of the Conservatives, who have made it a point to crack down on crime: the Libertarians call for the legalization of what they see as victimless crimes, including sex work and the consumption and sale of marijuana. The party also opposes military missions.

"DeRinzy notes in the email that he doesn’t agree with everything the Libertarians stand for, but says he didn’t agree with the Conservatives on everything either.

"'I stand fully behind the Conservative Party of Canada’s efforts to make a positive difference in the lives of Canadians by implementing strong conservative values. But I have to help Tim Moen defeat Ron Liepert, in order to assist the Party. Can you imagine the chaos another red tory will do in the Harper caucus?'

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Monday, October 5, 2015

Raid on raw milk farm thwarted by social media

Wrong that raw milk raids continue | Guest column | Opinion | Toronto Sun - Karen Selick:

October 4, 2015 - "On Friday, Oct. 2, 20 or so investigators from various Ontario government departments, accompanied by six armed police officers, raided Glencolton Farms, the co-operative farm in Grey Bruce County where raw milk advocate Michael Schmidt manages the dairy operation .... They arrived with a truck and a search warrant authorizing them to seize and remove numerous items for a raw milk investigation.

"The news spread quickly on Facebook and Twitter. Soon, 50 co-op members were at the farm, shoulder-to-shoulder, barring the exit to the invaders. Eventually, a deal was negotiated: the cops and bureaucrats would leave with nothing more than a few computers that had already been removed (which they promised to return), and the co-op owners would stand aside.

"This is the third such raid that Michael Schmidt has undergone.... Each time, Schmidt has been convicted of one or more regulatory offences relating to raw milk. Each time, he has been fined thousands of dollars.... Each time, the story caught the attention of increasing numbers of Canadians, who became curious about raw milk and wanted to acquire some. So each time, the province’s strong-arm tactics have backfired, increasing rather than reducing the number of raw milk drinkers in the province....

"Today, Canada makes the pasteurization of milk mandatory, but many countries around the world do not. Roughly half of the U.S. states allow sales of raw milk. In at least six European countries, raw milk is legally sold in vending machines....  The Canadian government says that unpasteurized milk is dangerous and people shouldn’t drink it. But ... there has not been even a single report of illness relating to the raw milk that Schmidt has produced over the past 27 years.....

"The controversy over raw milk has led researchers in Europe to conduct wide-ranging scientific studies.... The GABRIELA study published in 2011 ...  involved 8,000 school-aged children. Those who had consumed raw milk had a roughly 50% lower risk of asthma and allergies.

"Since asthma kills approximately 250 Canadians every year, it is perfectly reasonable for adults afflicted with the disease to seek out raw milk as a preventative measure for their children.

"Schmidt has consistently sought opportunities for the past 27 years to meet with provincial officials and negotiate a way to give Ontarians the option of consuming raw milk without breaking the law. The response has always been a cold shoulder.... Kathleen Wynne’s administration continues to follow the failed policy of raiding and harassing Schmidt and the co-owners of the co-operative farm."

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Sunday, October 4, 2015

New book on 'the most misunderstood libertarian'

The Most Misunderstood Libertarian - Online Library of Law & Liberty - Alberto Mingardi:

September 28, 2015 - "To the surprise of many, scholarship on Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) has flourished in the last few years. A towering figure in Victorian Britain, Spencer was all but forgotten after his death. His works, which taken together form a 'Synthetic Philosophy,' seemed alien to 20th century academics in an age of meticulous specialization. Also his commitment to individual liberty and (seriously) limited government has not been too common in the discipline that he helped establish, sociology.... Spencer may be routinely included among the forerunners of modern libertarianism but it is rather uncommon to find a contemporary individualist thinker deliberately appealing to his insights....

"The paradox of one of the fiercest libertarians ever to be ignored by libertarians emerges vividly from Herbert Spencer: Legacies, edited by Mark Francis and Michael Taylor.... Spencer’s legacy is plural, as the title of this collection suggests, and may have come to us mediated by subsequent developments in different fields. The plural nature of the 'legacies' is stressed throughout, and has multiple dimensions: disciplinary, political, and even geographical...

"Taylor stresses how Spencer goes for voluntary and spontaneous arrangements, not necessarily for institutional settings based on the price system. But this won’t sound particularly controversial or new to libertarians, who, despite the caricature often made of them, understand that not everything in life is tradable at a money price. Their point is more subtle (and Spencerian): that is, top-down government intrusions may retard or altogether stop the spontaneous evolution (or adaptation to new circumstances) of human societies....

"One of the many take-aways of this book is that Spencer was a far more complex thinker than those who only know him as a diabolical 'social Darwinist.' Its essays might, for example, open the eyes of those who still have in mind the Herbert Spencer largely manufactured in the 1940s by Richard Hofstadter in a book that made history as a beautifully written and yet quite misleading tirade. Taylor explains that Spencer never thought that 'social existence involved an unrelenting struggle for survival in which the richest were the most successful and the poor should go to the wall.' He quotes Thomas Leonard’s important study on the Hofstadterian myth....

"Francis, who like his co-editor cites the Leonard monograph, also makes clear Spencer’s commitment to pacifism: 'Spencerians believed that imperial conquest might have been a natural phenomenon when employed by ancient states, but was an archaic activity in modern times' and a most immoral one. The thread running through all of Spencer’s works is the idea that society progresses toward the minimization of violence, which had been needed at earlier stages of civilization....

"This book may convey a sense of Spencer’s true understanding of complexity.... His magnificent The Study of Sociology (1873) would be a relevant work for those interested in the proper role of the social sciences and their limits, if only they read it....

"If I had any quibble about this impressive collection, it would be that the propensity to consider The Man Versus the State as 'just' a political pamphlet causes the contributors to overlook that this is perhaps the first work whose arguments are truly centered around the notion of unintended consequences. All in all, though, Herbert Spencer: Legacies may foster a better understanding of this seminal thinker and raise yet more interest in his underappreciated writings."

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Saturday, October 3, 2015

Is the U.S. Constitution a libertarian document?

“Is the Constitution Libertarian?” My Baxter Liberty Initiative Lecture on 10/6 - The Washington Post - Randy Barnett, the Volokh Conspiracy:

September 29, 2015 - "On Tuesday, October 6th, I will be giving the Baxter Liberty Initiative Lecture, sponsored by the Political Science Department of the University of California at Berkeley. The topic on which I was asked to speak is 'Is the Constitution Libertarian?'...  I just finished writing my lecture. Here is a portion of how it begins:

"Truth be told, libertarians have a love-hate relationship with the Constitution. On the one hand libertarians, like most Americans, revere the Constitution. Libertarians particularly appreciate its express guarantees of individual liberty and its mechanisms to preserve limited government. If being American is to subscribe to a creed, then the Constitution, along with the Declaration of Independence, are the foundational statements of this creed.

"But some libertarians have issues with the Constitution as well. And here I speak for myself, as well as others. There was a reason I eschewed writing about and teaching Constitutional Law when I became a law professor in favor of teaching Contracts. For, after taking Constitutional Law in law school, I considered the Constitution a noble, but largely failed experiment in limiting the powers of government. In my con law class, every time we got to one of the 'good parts' of the text that protected liberty, we turned the page to read a Supreme Court opinion explaining why that clause did not really mean what it appeared to mean....

"This fundamental failure of the Constitution to limit the size and scope of government has even led some libertarians to contend that the enactment of the Constitution represented a coup d’état by big government Federalists against the more preferable state-centered regime defined by the Articles of Confederation and favored by the Antifederalists.

"Yet many libertarians are genuinely torn, one might go so far as to say schizophrenic, about how the Constitution has actually worked out. Big and intrusive as government is today, it could be much worse. Few can point to other countries where individuals are freer in practice than in the U.S.... Libertarians still refer to the U.S. as a 'free country,' maybe still the freest on earth. That the Constitution deserves at least some of the credit for this freedom seems likely."

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Friday, October 2, 2015

Libertarian 'loving every minute' of first campaign

Libertarian 'loving every minute' of his first election campaign - Richard Vivian Cambridge Times:

"First-time politician Nathan Lajeunesse acknowledges he’s far from a frontrunner to become Kitchener South-Hespeler’s first MP, but he’s 'loving every minute' of the campaign.

"Representing the Libertarian Party of Canada, this 29-year-old Hespeler native and professional ironworker is eager to provide voters with an alternative to candidates representing the more traditional parties.

"'I’m the only one that’s going to be saying something different than the other three,' he said, referring to the Liberal, Conservative and New Democratic party candidates. 'All of them try to stay right around the middle, whereas there are things we strongly oppose and think that need to be changed.'

"Chief among those changes, Lajeunesse explained, is less government, lower taxes and re-establishing 'an actual monetary system that’s backed by a real commodity and could actually hold value over a long period of time and inflation would not always have to increase.' A commodity such as gold, he said, would provide a better comparison for determining the true value of a dollar than stacking Canuck bucks up against American greenbacks'....

"'I think I’m going to open up a lot of people’s eyes to a new idea and that they don’t have to be bullied by the big three – there are other options,' he said.

"The candidate has some signs up throughout the riding and has taken part in a few media interviews, but don’t expect to find him knocking on any doors....

"'I want to … be accessible,' said Lajeunesse. 'I’ve always found when people come and knock on my door, it’s never the right time. That’s where I have a problem with the knocking on the doors.'

"If anyone wants to talk about the Libertarian approach, or his candidacy, Lajeunesse encourages people to email him at and set up a time to chat.

"'There is not one aspect of my campaign that I’ve done that I think I’ve hit the nail right on the head. I think every aspect I’m going to do better next time,' Lajeaunesse admitted, noting this won’t be the only time people see his name on a ballot."

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Thursday, October 1, 2015

Happy Birthday copyright claim invalid, judge rules

'Happy Birthday' song copyright claims are invalid, federal judge rules - LA Times - Christine Mai-Duc::

September 22, 2015 - "None of the companies that have collected royalties on the 'Happy Birthday' song for the past 80 years held a valid copyright claim to one of the most popular songs in history, a federal judge in Los Angeles ruled on Tuesday.

"In a stunning reversal of decades of copyright claims, the judge ruled that Warner/Chappell never had the right to charge for the use of the 'Happy Birthday To You' song. Warner had been enforcing a copyright since 1988, when it bought Birch Tree Group, the successor to Clayton F. Summy Co., which claimed the original disputed copyright.

"Judge George H. King ruled that a copyright filed by the Summy Co. in 1935 granted only the rights to specific piano arrangements of the music, not the actual song.

"'"Happy Birthday" is finally free after 80 years,' said Randall Newman, an attorney for the plaintiffs in the suit, which included a group of filmmakers who are producing a documentary about the song. 'Finally, the charade is over. It's unbelievable.'

"Until now, Warner has asked for royalties from anyone who wanted to sing or play 'Happy Birthday to You' – with the lyrics – as part of a profit-making enterprise. Royalties were most often collected from stage productions, television shows, movies or greeting cards. But even those who wanted to sing the song publicly as part of a business, say a restaurant owner giving out free birthday cake to patrons, technically had to pay to use the song....

"Two of the filmmaker plaintiffs paid $1,500 and $3,000 for the rights to use the song, their attorneys said. Filmmaker Steve James paid Warner $5,000 to use the song in his 1994 documentary Hoop Dreams.

"At a March hearing in the case, records show, a Warner/Chappell representative seated in the audience told the judge that the company collects as much as 'six figures' for certain single uses of the song. The song brings in about $2 million a year in royalties for Warner, according to some estimates....

"It is not entirely clear, the judge ruled, that the Hill sisters wrote the lyrics for 'Happy Birthday To You.' But either way, they never asserted a copyright claim for the lyrics, even though they sued for the rights to the original melody....

"Ultimately, the judge ruled that no evidence existed that the Summy Co. -- the original company to assert a copyright claim -- ever legally obtained the rights to the ... song from whomever wrote it.

"Tuesday's ruling means that the song is now considered a public work and is free for everyone to use without fear of having to pay for it, according to a statement from the plaintiffs' attorneys."

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