Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Koch machine: immigration ban ‘wrong approach’

Koch Brothers' Network Says Trump Immigration Ban Likely ‘Counterproductive’ - ABC News - Liz Kreutz:

January 29, 2017 - "Add the Koch brothers’ network to the list of those questioning President Donald Trump’s recent executive order on immigration....

"'We believe it is possible to keep Americans safe without excluding people who wish to come here to contribute and pursue a better life for their families,' Brian Hooks, who oversees the Koch network’s bi-annual seminars, said. 'The travel ban is the wrong approach and will likely be counterproductive'....

"On Saturday, as demonstrations broke out at airports across the country in response to Trump’s immigration executive order, roughly 550 of the Koch brothers’ top donors gathered near Palm Springs, California, for their network’s winter seminar.

"Officials for the network told reporters they were encouraged by some of what they've seen so far from the new administration.... They pointed to Trump's regulatory reforms, his executive order on the Keystone pipeline, and some of his Cabinet appointments as areas where the Koch network is hopeful....

"The immigration ban was not a major topic of conversation here at the palm tree-filled oasis.... Charles Koch didn't mention it during remarks at the opening reception, nor was it a topic of discussion during the post-dinner panel with Republican Sens. Pat Toomey, R-Pennsylvania, James Lankford, R-Oklahoma, and Mike Lee, R-Utah.....

"According to a spokesperson, the Koch network will spend between $300 and 400 million dollars on politics and policy during the 2018 races, up from $250 million in 2016."

Read more: http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/koch-brothers-network-encouraged-president-trump/story?id=45125079
'via Blog this'

Monday, January 30, 2017

Libertarian Party against border wall

The Libertarian Party officially against Donald Trump Border Wall | The Orlando Political Observer (news releade):

January 27, 2016 - "The Libertarian National Committee published a statement on Friday, officially opposing the wall President Donald Trump has approved that will be constructed on the southern Mexican Border. 'The Wall' has been one of Trump most controversial decisions in his first week of office.

'When we erect barriers to peaceful immigration or contemplate restricting immigration based on characteristics such as religious beliefs, we desecrate the noblest of principles this country was founded upon.' said Libertarian Party Chair, Nicholas Sarwark, 'This isn’t just about immigrants and refugees. This is about who we are as Americans.'

"The wall, which is expected to cost somewhere between $12 and $16 billion dollars was one of President Trump’s most recognized campaign promises. Mexican President, Enrique Pena Nieto, has said his country will not pay for [its] construction and cancelled a meeting with the President soon after the announcement was made.

“In the Libertarian Party, we stand for "liberty and justice for all." Not just American citizens.' continue[d] Sarwark 'Not just those who were born here. Not just those of a certain background. Not just those of a certain skin color. Not just those of a certain religion.'"

'via Blog this'

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Technology Trumps Politics

The Blockchain Matters More than the President | Foundation for Economic Education - Jeffrey A. Tucker:

January 19, 2017 - "After a wildly contentious election season, you might get the impression that the future of the country, if not the world, hinges on the quality and ideology of top-down leadership. That’s actually wrong. Very little was said during the entire election about digital technology; nothing ever came up concerning distributed ledgers and the remarkable invention of a fully private currency that lives on the Internet and works without third-party intermediaries....

"It’s a paradigmatic case of how the structure of technology in our time has flipped the traditional model of what makes societies tick and what drives history forward. As we are learning, presidents and parties come and go; what persists and what keeps advancing regardless of political trends are the tools we use to improve our lives....

"Bitcoin has matured beautifully since its release in 2009. It has long since moved past the incredulity stage, though apparently skeptics will always be with us. What we see now is the drive toward mass adoption and industry application in every area, from payment processing to enterprise-building to security titling and contracting....

"Bitcoin is a market-based money and payment system that operates on its own, without the need for regulators, central banks, or even financial intermediaries. It is not only a money and payment system, however; it is also a system for bundling, documenting, and trading immutable packets of any kind of information that can include contracts, property titles, or any other form of human agreement, regardless of geographic proximity. This means that the resulting currency and/or information system operates completely outside borders and outside the domain of the nation-state....

"And why does it matter? Everyone has his or her own opinion on this. My angle is monetary. If there can be a parallel currency to nationalized monies, developing in tandem, the world economy is granted a future beyond the current miasma. So many modern problems and horrors trace to government money: economic depressions, declining incomes, wars, government growth and debt, cultural destabilization, and so much more. Finding a solution to this problem, and a path for reform, is a priority for anyone who loves liberty....

"The Bitcoin system is being developed in the context of consensus from actual stakeholders and tested by market results. This is the right path forward. Whatever the results, they stand a much stronger chance of putting the world economy on a forward path than any legislation or executive order coming from any government or political party."

Read more: https://fee.org/articles/the-blockchain-matters-more-than-the-president/
'via Blog this'

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Trump did the world a favor by killing TPP

Lawrence Solomon: Donald Trump did Canada (and millions of others) a huge favour by killing the Trans-Pacific Partnership | Financial Post:

February 26, 2017 - "Trump did the U.S. as well as the rest of the free world a favour in dumping the Trans-Pacific Partnership.... Obama wanted TPP as a legacy issue partly to fetter the free market and partly to establish his 'Asian pivot,' a dubious project involving the abandonment of allies elsewhere in order to bring China to heel....

"Obama ... was merely echoing his 2015 National Security Strategy that affirmed that trade deals are often motivated more by foreign policy considerations than economic benefits.... America’s free trade agreements ... have typically been motivated more by geopolitical than economic considerations, whether to bolster an ally’s economy, as was the case with Israel, or to secure co-operation in the fight against terror, as with the Bahrain, Morocco and Oman FTAs. They serve a foreign policy goal of locking countries into the U.S. sphere of interest.

"They also serve economic goals, allowing them to be sold to the public on their economic merits, and justifiably so. The deregulation, lower tariffs and expanded markets that trade deals usher in generally create more winners than losers. Obama’s TPP version of free trade, though, was different. While it would have delivered the goods by lowering tariffs and vastly expanding markets — TPP would have encompassed countries representing 40 per cent of the globe’s GDP and 33 per cent of world trade — it also would have bound the parties to policies and philosophies anathema to true free-trade regimes.

"'TPP puts American workers first by ... requiring all countries to meet core, enforceable labor standards as stated in the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work,' the Obama White House announced upon reaching agreement on the TPP’s terms.... Under TPP, the trade advantages developing countries now offer in the form of lower wages and informal work environments would have been undercut by their need to conform to ILO requirements on minimum wages, hours of work and unionization....

"The economies of developed countries such as Canada, too, would have been undercut by TPP through 'the highest environmental standards of any trade agreement in history,' as the White House announced.... This, along with TPP’s high-sounding provisions to 'promote sustainable development and inclusive economic growth' creates openings to arbitrarily attack resource projects, as Canada has learned to its sorrow through economically senseless restrictions on oilsands and pipeline developments.

"In cancelling TPP, Trump cancelled the TPP’s ability to undermine the free market and the sovereignty of countries representing 40 per cent of the world’s GDP. That’s a blow against the regulatory state and for economic freedom, one no free marketer should lament."

Read more: http://business.financialpost.com/fp-comment/lawrence-solomon-trump-did-canada-and-millions-of-others-a-huge-favour-by-killing-the-tpp
'via Blog this'

Friday, January 27, 2017

US debt to rise another $9 trillion in next decade

Federal Debt Projected to Grow by Nearly $10 Trillion Over Next Decade - The New York Times - Allen Rappeport:

January 24, 2017 - "After seven years of fitful declines, the federal budget deficit is projected to swell again, adding nearly $10 trillion to the federal debt over the next 10 years, according to projections from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The numbers reveal the strain that government debt could have on the economy as President Trump presses to slash taxes and ramp up spending.

"The deficit figures released Tuesday will be a major challenge to House Republicans, who were swept to power in 2010 on fears of a bloated deficit and who made controlling red ink a major part of their agenda under former President Barack Obama.

"Statutory caps imposed in 2011 on domestic and military spending have helped temper the deficit. But those controls are likely to be swamped by health care and Social Security spending that will rise with an aging population.

"Now, congressional leaders will have to choose between their fealty to the cause of fiscal prudence and the demands of the new president, who wants $1 trillion in infrastructure work over 10 years, a surge in military spending and large tax cuts for individuals and corporations....

"The deficit is expected to shrink this fiscal year and next before increasing in 2019 and beyond. Deficits would cumulatively total $9.4 trillion from 2018 to 2027, the budget office projects. By 2023, the deficit would reach $1 trillion, and in 2027, a projected $1.4 trillion deficit would be equal to 5 percent of the economy....

"After the release of the report, the Republican Study Committee, the main organization for House conservatives, signaled that it would not ignore that rising red ink to accommodate Mr. Trump’s spending ambitions.

"'Without changes to the federal budget, we are on a path to fiscal crisis with spending, deficits and debt continuing to balloon out of control,' said Representative Mark Walker of North Carolina, the chairman of the group."

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/24/us/politics/budget-deficit-trump.html?_r=0
'via Blog this'

Thursday, January 26, 2017

NC libertarian builds low-cost private schools

A Libertarian Builds Low-Cost Private Schools for the Masses - Reason.com - Jim Epstein:

January 23, 2017 - "Bob Luddy ... built his own network of low-cost private schools that the government can't meddle with.... A libertarian businessman based in Raleigh, North Carolina, Luddy made his fortune as the owner of the nation's leading manufacturer of commercial kitchen ventilation systems. CaptiveAire has factories in six states, and its 2016 revenues were $400 million....

"Luddy became interested in education when he observed that many hires at CaptiveAire lacked the basic math and science skills to thrive on the job. He volunteered to co-chair a statewide education commission and met with North Carolina officials to voice his concerns. 'They were happy to discuss all of these ideas,' Luddy says, 'but they weren't going to implement any of them.'

"The last straw for Luddy came in 1997, when he ran for a seat on the local school board and lost.... Almost immediately, he filed a charter for Franklin Academy, which today is the third largest charter school in North Carolina, with about four applicants vying for every kindergarten spot.... In 2007, he decided to take a more radical step by creating a non-profit network of schools called Thales Academy....

"Tuition is $5,300 for elementary school, and $6,000 for junior high and high school.... It takes advantage of North Carolina's tax-exempt financing for school construction, and Luddy himself makes a one-time contribution to help defray capital costs with each new facility. Luddy also provides about 6 percent of the student body with financial aid that covers up to half the cost of tuition, and 34 students (1.5 percent) receive financial aid through North Carolina's Opportunity Scholarship Program.

"So how does Thales get by with so little revenue? (North Carolina's public schools spent about $9,300 per pupil in the 2015-2016 school year.) One factor is that it doesn't serve kids with severe learning disabilities.... Luddy believes those students are best served through North Carolina's school voucher program....

"Thales schools also have no auditoriums because they're too expensive to build, heat, and cool.... There's no cafeteria, and thus no cafeteria staff. There are no school buses, and thus no school bus drivers. There's also hardly any support staff, and fewer actual teachers. Thales targets a teacher to student ratio of about 26 to one.... Most schools boast about small class sizes, but Luddy is proud of having large classes because it demonstrates efficiency.... It's part of a pedagogical approach called 'direct instruction,' which Luddy believes provides a superior education in a more efficient manner....

"As Thales enters its tenth year of operation, Luddy and his team have grand ambitions. There are currently 25 new Thales schools in the planning stages that would extend the network's reach into Georgia, Tennessee, and Florida."

Read more: http://reason.com/reasontv/2017/01/23/thales-academy-north-carolina-bob-luddy
'via Blog this'

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Seasteaders, French Polynesia sign agreement

A Floating Libertarian City Is a Step Closer to Reality - David Roos, Seeker:

January 20, 2017 -  "When Peter Thiel, the billionaire co-founder of PayPal, helped launch the Seasteading Institute in 2008, it sounded like a libertarian pipe dream — floating cities free from government meddling (no regulation, no taxes) that would be testing grounds for technological, social and political innovation.

"But this past January 13, the dream came one step closer to reality when the Seastead Institute signed a deal with French Polynesia that lays the legal groundwork for the world's first semi-autonomous floating city-state.

"French Polynesia is a cluster of more than 100 islands in the South Pacific, the biggest and best-known being Tahiti.... French Polynesia is courting investment in the so-called 'blue economy,' the sustainable development of offshore energy production, wild-catch fisheries, aquaculture and tourism....

"Joe Quirk is the Seasteading Institute's staff 'Seavangelist' and author of the forthcoming Seasteading: How Ocean Cities Will Change the World, written with Seasteading Institute co-founder Patri Friedman. Quirk was part of a 10-person team who visited French Polynesia back in September.

"'This was a Polynesian-initiated project,' Quirk told Seeker. "They reached out to us. It's an ideal country for seasteading, and they think we're the perfect industry for what they want to do with regard to the blue economy'....' [F]or this first, proof-of-concept project, the Seasteading Institute was searching for an island partner with protected shallow waters and an openness to new type of economic model called a SeaZone.

"Over the next year, the Seasteading Institute will be negotiating the legal terms of the SeaZone with the government of French Polynesia, which may include not only economic incentives, but a certain measure of political autonomy.

"The deal signed last week was just a memorandum of understanding between the Polynesian government and the Seasteading Institute. Before construction can begin on the pentagonal concrete platforms that would support the floating city, the Seasteading Institute and its Dutch engineering partner Blue21 must conduct economic and environmental impact studies....

"If all goes smoothly with the Polynesian negotiations, Quirk said that construction could start as early as 2018 and the first units could be sold starting in 2019."

Read more: http://www.seeker.com/a-floating-libertarian-city-is-a-step-closer-to-reality-2203456955.html
'via Blog this'

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Trump pulls U.S. out of TPP; NAFTA next?

Trump pulls U.S. out of TPP, will renegotiate NAFTA 'at the appropriate time' - Business - CBC News - Pete Evans:

January 23, 2017 - "The new U.S. president made good on one of his campaign promises Monday, formally withdrawing the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade deal, and signalling his intention to renegotiate NAFTA 'at the appropriate time.'

"Calling the move 'great news for American workers,' Donald Trump signed an executive order pulling the U.S. out of TPP, a pan-oceanic trade pact signed by his predecessor but never ratified..... 'We are going to stop the ridiculous trade deals that have taken everybody out of our country and tak[en] companies out of our country,' Trump said after signing the order....

"On the other side of the political aisle, Vermont Senator and erstwhile presidential candidate Bernie Sanders cautiously welcomed the move.

"'I am glad the Trans-Pacific Partnership is dead and gone. For the last 30 years, we have had a series of trade deals — including the North American Free Trade Agreement ... which have cost us millions of decent-paying jobs and caused a 'race to the bottom,' which has lowered wages for American workers,' Sanders said.... ''If President Trump is serious about a new policy to help American workers then I would be delighted to work with him'....

"Reports Monday suggested the Trump administration would also sign an order to formally attempt to renegotiate NAFTA. While that didn't come to pass, Trump told reporters that discussions on the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement would begin 'at the appropriate time.'

"At a press briefing later on Monday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said no further executive orders are planned today, but more movements on trade are expected later this week....

"Spicer added that the president is open to renegotiating NAFTA in its current structure, and expects those talks to begin within the next month."

Read more:http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/donald-trump-trade-nafta-1.3947989
'via Blog this'

Monday, January 23, 2017

'Circular reasoning' keeps Libertarians off ballot in Ohio

Here's why Ohio's Libertarians can't get their party name on the ballot | cleveland.com - Robert Higgs:

January 20, 2017 - "The Ohio Supreme Court on Friday rejected a complaint from members of Ohio's Libertarian Party that Secretary of State Jon Husted improperly decided to keep the party's designation from appearing on future ballots.

"In a 6-1 ruling, the court held that Husted was correct when he asserted Libertarians could not use the vote totals from Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson, who got 3.17 percent of the vote in November's election....

"Ohio law requires parties reach a threshold of 3 percent to be allowed to have their affiliation listed with candidates. Husted said no because Johnson ran as an independent.... Members of the Libertarian Party sued in December in an attempt to overturn Husted's decision.

"But in its ruling, the Supreme Court said that ballot performance would only have helped the Libertarian Party if the candidates had actually appeared as Libertarian candidates. But since the Libertarians were not recognized as a valid party entering the election, that was not possible.

"'As Husted notes, the 3 percent vote required for a group to "remain" a political party must be received by the 'political party's candidate,' as specified in [state law,' the court said. 'The Libertarian's] candidates could not be the "political party's candidate[s]" because they were nominated and appeared on the ballot as independent candidates, unaffiliated with any political party'....

"Justice William O'Neill dissented.

"The Libertarians, he wrote, want recognition to participate in Ohio's 2017 primary election and beyond, while Husted is opposed because their presidential ticket did not appear as Librertarians on the ballot.

"'That is, at best, circular reasoning. It would not have been possible for Gary Johnson and Bill Weld to run as the candidates of the Libertarian Party as there was no such party recognized by the state of Ohio,' O'Neill wrote. 'Political parties have to start somewhere. Relators followed the rules that define what constitutes a political party, and now the state's chief elections officer asks this court to twist those rules around to keep the seeds of democracy from sprouting.'"

Read more: http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2017/01/heres_why_ohios_libertarians_c.html
'via Blog this'

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Trump protests leave this libertarian speechless

Speechless in 2017 (On the Banks) - Bretigne Shaffer:

January 19, 2017 - "I’m a libertarian. I’ve been surrounded by people who don’t agree with me for as long as I can remember and it has never occurred to me to isolate myself from everyone because of our political differences.... To me, you’re all a bunch of fascists. But I’ve somehow learned to live with you.

"For me, watching people unravel over this election has been instructive.... I understand that a lot of people are worried, upset, even frightened over the prospect of a Trump presidency. Good. They should be. But they should have been worried eight years ago, or at the very least, four years ago.

"I was worried four years ago. And I was worried eight years ago. I tried in vain to get my Obama-supporting friends to see what I saw, but with very few exceptions (which I appreciated, thank you) I was met with silence, accused of mean-spiritedness or just told that I should 'give him a chance'....

So in case you (like some of my friends) somehow missed out on what’s been happening over the past eight years, let me catch you up:
1. We no longer have a Fourth Amendment, nor the right of habeas corpus (you remember: it was kind of the foundation of our justice system). Yes, the demise of these fundamental protections has been a long time coming, but President Obama delivered the death blow when he gave himself (and all future presidents) the right to imprison indefinitely or even assassinate any human being on the planet with no due process whatsoever.
"Number One should be enough.... But, because I know it won’t be enough, I’ll continue…
2. Obama has bombed more countries than George W. Bush did, and his drone strikes have killed more than six times as many people as those under Bush, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (killing unintended victims 90% of the time.)
3. He has given himself (and all future presidents) the power to wage war without Congressional approval.
4. He has greatly expanded the mass surveillance of American citizens.
5. He put in place a statist health insurance mandate that has sent insurance premiums skyrocketing.
6. He has continued the same brand of crony capitalism and debt expansion of the previous administration....
"So as I watch my friends and thousands of other Americans gather together to protest the inauguration, I find myself a little speechless. It cannot be that all of these people only see evil when it wears the other team’s uniform. It cannot be that they are more upset by offensive speech than by a man claiming the right to kill any human being on earth at his whim. These things simply cannot be. And yet it sure looks like they are.

 "I love my friends. I share many of their concerns (or rather, it seems they have recently come to share some of mine) and I don’t think less of them because of our political differences. But after eight years of deafening silence about these concerns, their newly discovered outrage has no credibility with me."

Read more: http://bretigne.typepad.com/on_the_banks/2017/01/speechless-in-2017.html
'via Blog this'

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Obama guts 4th Amendment on way out

President Obama's Parting Shot at Personal Freedom - Reason.com - Andrew Napolitano:

January 19, 2017 - "On Jan. 3, outgoing Attorney General Loretta Lynch secretly signed an order directing the National Security Agency — America's 60,000-person-strong domestic spying apparatus — to make available raw spying data to all other federal intelligence agencies, which then can pass it on to their counterparts in foreign countries and in the 50 states.... Yet in doing this, she violated basic constitutional principles that were erected centuries ago to prevent just what she did.

"Here is the back story.

"In the aftermath of former President Richard Nixon's abusive utilization of the FBI and CIA to spy on his domestic political opponents in the 1960s and '70s ... Congress passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which created a secret court that was charged with being the sole authority in America that can authorize domestic spying.... The standard for a FISA court authorization was that the subject of the spying needed to be a foreign person in the United States who was an agent of a foreign power....

"The Patriot Act permitted FBI agents to write their own search warrants for business records (including medical, legal, postal and banking records), and amendments to FISA itself changed the wording from probable cause 'of foreign agency' to probable cause of being 'a foreign person' to all Americans who may 'communicate with a foreign person.'

"The recent USA Freedom Act permits the NSA to ask the FISA court for a search warrant for any person — named or unnamed — based on the standard of 'governmental need.' One FISA court-issued warrant I saw authorized the surveillance of all 115 million domestic customers of Verizon.... The NSA can use data from your cellphone to learn where you are, and it can utilize your cellphone as a listening device to hear your in-person conversations, even if you have turned it off....

"Notwithstanding all of the above gross violations of personal liberty and constitutional norms, the NSA traditionally kept its data ... to itself. So if an agency such as the FBI or the DEA or the New Jersey State Police, for example, wanted any of the data acquired by the NSA for law enforcement purposes, it needed to get a search warrant from a federal judge based on the constitutional standard of 'probable cause of crime.'

"Until now. Now, because of the Lynch secret order, revealed by The New York Times late last week, the NSA may share any of its data with any other intelligence agency or law enforcement agency that has an intelligence arm based on ... the non-standard of governmental need.....

"Obama, in the death throes of his time in the White House, has delivered perhaps his harshest blow to constitutional freedom by permitting his attorney general to circumvent the Fourth Amendment, thereby enabling people in law enforcement to get whatever they want about whomever they wish without a showing of probable cause of crime as the Fourth Amendment requires. That amendment expressly forbids the use of general warrants — search where you wish and seize what you find — and they had never been a lawful tool of [American] law enforcement until Lynch's order."

Read more: http://reason.com/archives/2017/01/19/a-parting-shot-at-personal-freedom
'via Blog this'

Friday, January 20, 2017

Medical cannabis legalization passes in Germany

German parliament legalizes cannabis for medical consumption | News | DW.COM:

January 19, 2017 - "In a landmark bill, members of Germany's parliament voted unanimously on Thursday to legalize the use of medical marijuana.

"Marlene Mortler, the German government's drug commissioner, had lobbied for the decision to allow patients to buy cannabis from their local pharmacy with a doctor's prescription.

"'It's a great addition for patients who have waited for this a long time,' Mortler said.

"Doctors have stated that marijuana can benefit cancer patients who are feeling nauseous after chemotherapy, and it also is believed the drug helps fight a lack of appetite and the weight loss that some tumor patients experience. Cannabis can additionally alleviate symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis.

"Opposition parties in Germany like the Greens and the Left Party had long fought for legalization....

"In Germany, the costs of the dried cannabis flower buds and cannabis extracts will be covered by health insurance for patients who have no other treatment options."

Read more: http://www.dw.com/en/german-parliament-legalizes-cannabis-for-medical-consumption/a-37189942
'via Blog this'

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Texas man jailed for possession of cat litter

Man jailed for 3 days after Texas cops confuse cat litter for meth • The Register - Alexander J. Martin:

January 9, 2017 - "Spare a thought for Ross LeBeau, who spent three days in jail when Texas cops confused cat litter for methamphetamine during a routine traffic stop....

"The Houston man had been stashing almost half a pound (220g) of cat litter in a sock in his car in the hope of stopping his windows fogging up, but in December two separate roadside field tests both gave false positives on the litter for meth.

"LeBeau got nicked and the cops of Harris County Sheriff's Office sent out a press release, including a mugshot, bragging of what they thought was the bust of the year, and claiming the arrest 'may have kept our children and loved ones free from being introduced to drugs.'

"The suspect was in jail for three days before a more thorough testing procedure in a laboratory identified that the suspected methamphetamine was in fact kitty litter.

"According to LeBeau's attorney, George Reul, LeBeau does not blame the arresting deputies, but the roadside tests which provided false positives....

"Houston has been at the centre of a scandal regarding the $2 roadside drug tests, which have been alleged to be sending tens of thousands of folk to jail on an annual basis, despite their proclivity for producing false positives.

"An article by ProPublica in conjunction with The New York Times Magazine, which looked at the issue at length, stated: 'Widespread evidence shows that these tests routinely produce false positives. Why are police departments and prosecutors still using them?'"

Read more: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/01/09/texas_man_loses_job_and_jailed_after_cops_confuse_cat_litter_for_meth/
'via Blog this'

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Maxime Bernier a 'reasonable libertarian'

Breakfast with the Tories: Maxime Bernier, the smooth libertarian - CBC News | Opinion - Neil Macdonald:

January 13, 2017 -"Maxime Bernier ... mostly turns the discussion to ... his ideas.  ​

"He's libertarian, to the extent that it's possible to be a libertarian and seek high office in a country that was built on protectionism and entitlement and government being the answer to everything.

"He advocates the end of quotas and supply management for dairy, poultry and eggs. Oh, and maple syrup. Most Canadian politicians — let alone MPs representing rural Canada like Bernier — prefer to leave such topics undiscussed.

"He wants to abolish interprovincial trade barriers. Stopping companies from growing into other Canadian jurisdictions, or stopping workers from travelling between provinces, he characterizes as 'foolish,' 'doubly foolish' and 'ridiculous.'

"Bernier wants an end to what he calls 'corporate welfare,' his term for governments using tax money to pick winners, such as Bombardier and General Motors, and letting losers struggle with market forces.

"He wants to deregulate telecommunications in a country with some of the most expensive cell phone bills on earth. Let other companies come in and compete, he says.

"Ditto for airports and airlines. To Bernier, more competition is always the answer.

"Health care? He rather refreshingly pronounces the Canadian system, with its rationing and waiting lists and regional inequalities, 'abysmal.' Bernier wants to pull the federal government out of health care entirely and transfer tax points to the provinces, which are solely responsible for delivering health care in any event.

"That, he says, would be the end of endless bickering and financial demands from the provinces. He concedes the plan would disadvantage poorer provinces with smaller tax bases, but says that's what equalization is for.

"Bernier avoids the term 'two-tier,' but that's what he's proposing. He wants private delivery, but stresses his support for keeping universal health insurance: 'I'm a libertarian, but I'm reasonable.'

"He would cut taxes. Deeply. Oh, and balance the budget in two years."

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/news/opinion/breakfast-with-bernier-1.3931417
'via Blog this'

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Crystal MN libertarians keep city council majority

America’s One and Only City Council Run by Libertarians - Alan Greenblatt, Governing.com:

January 2017 - "Libertarians claim their only majority in the country on the city council of Crystal, Minn., population 22,000....

"Mayor Jim Adams and Councilman Casey Peak, both Libertarians, were first elected four years ago. Two years ago, they put together a council majority of Libertarians and people Adams describes as 'liberty-minded.'

"They’ve pursued some of the ideas you would expect, running a task force that’s been going through and questioning almost every law on the books. An ordinance requiring bomb shelters, for example, has been eliminated, and the pool table at the community center is now legal. A lot of the changes have strengthened property rights, whether it’s eliminating point-of-sale inspections or taking care of smaller matters, such as lifting a ban on keeping chickens in yards. 'We’re not doing a lot of fundamental changes in terms of wiping out stuff and changing how things operate,' Adams says. 'We’re getting rid of obsolete stuff.'

"The biggest change the council has made is to insist, when it can, on paying cash upfront for capital projects. It paid for a new public works building with $13.5 million in cash, rather than issuing bonds. If the city had borrowed the money, it would have paid back $1 million per year for 20 years. Driving down the cost over the long term made a lot of sense to Adams. Not everyone agreed it was a good idea. Paying for the building meant siphoning money from other accounts, reducing city reserves by nearly a quarter. As a result, the city has raised property taxes, as well as water and sewer fees.

"John Budziszewski, who was re-elected to the council in November after a two-year absence, complains that the council eliminated the licensing requirement and fee for those who operate rental properties. He notes that the mayor, who has a home remodeling company, owns several rental houses. 'It looks like they’ve pretty much created a tax break for themselves,' says Budziszewski, 'while raising a levy for the rest of us.'

"Budziszewski managed to unseat Peak this fall, but the election of a 'liberty-minded' candidate to another seat means the Libertarians have kept their working majority intact. 'I don’t know anybody in the metro area who is taking this approach beyond us,' Adams says, 'but we’ve got buy-in from the council and that should not change.'"

Read more: http://www.governing.com/topics/politics/gov-crystal-minnesota-libertarians.html
'via Blog this'

Monday, January 16, 2017

Cannabis reform creeps forward in Europe

Marijuana Legalization In Europe: Is France Next? - Cecilia Rodriguez, Forbes:

January 6, 2017 - "European legislation echoes international law barring consumption of narcotic drugs, although countries can choose whether or not to sanction its use. That detail has given rise to rather peculiar ways to dance around the law, or between the two alternatives.

"Decriminalization means that the use or possession of cannabis is not a criminal offence but the production and commercialization continue to be outlawed, as in the Netherlands. 

"Legalization puts marijuana at the same level as tobacco. It lifts the ban on the use, production and distribution. The state replaces the clandestine market, regulating both demand by excluding certain consumers, such as minors. as well as the commercialization through authorized controlled “pharmacies” or other venues.

 "None of the European Union members has completely legalized marijuana. Spain, Germany, Portugal and the Netherlands, among others, have twisted their laws to tolerate and frame the use and sale of small amounts through special dispensaries, recreational stores (coffee shops) and clubs.

"It has also been 'sort of' decriminalized or 'semi legalized' in the Czech Republic, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Croatia, and Slovenia, where the fines are lighter, possession of personal amounts are accepted and legislation carves the difference between 'light' and 'hard' drugs. The Czech Republic, for example, passed a law in 2010 decriminalizing possession of narcotic drugs in small quantities.....

"Germany has a 'special' regime of tolerance that makes the country one of the most lax, despite the fact that possession is still forbidden. It is expected that this year the country will approve licenses to sell cannabis for therapeutic purposes.

"In 2001, Portugal became the first E.U. member to decriminalize personal use of marijuana, although cultivation is still criminal even if the crop is intended for personal use. Sale, too, remains illegal.

"Analyses of the Portuguese law are positive: Consumption of drugs has slightly increased among adults and markedly decreased among young people.

"In Italy, which some predict will become the next European country and the second in the world after Uruguay to legalize cannabis, possession is prohibited but not for personal use and in small quantities.

"In Spain, cultivating cannabis on private property for personal consumption by adults in a private space is legal. 'Cannabis social clubs' that organize those activities number in the hundreds - more than 300 in Barcelona alone. At the same time, and as contradictory as elsewhere, cannabis sales are still illegal.

"France and the rest of the E.U. consider the use of drugs, including cannabis, a criminal offense and its possession is always a crime, even if it doesn't always lead to prison. Cyprus, meanwhile, is the strictest: Possession can be punished by up to eight years in jail."

Read more: http://www.forbes.com/sites/ceciliarodriguez/2017/01/06/marijuana-legalization-in-europe-is-france-next/
'via Blog this'

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Free speech advocate Nat Hentoff dead aged 91

Nat Hentoff, RIP | Cato @ Liberty - Tim Lynch, Cato Institute:

January 8, 2017 - "Cato Senior Fellow Nat Hentoff passed away on Saturday evening at age 91.  He was a leading authority on the Bill of Rights and most especially the First Amendment.  He authored 37 books and countless newspaper and magazine articles.  He is perhaps most well-known for his opinion articles in the Village Voice, where he wrote for 51 years, from 1957 until 2008.  He joined the Cato staff in 2009 and never stopped researching and writing.  A few years ago, he told me that he was following Duke Ellington’s guide with respect to his own work in defense of the American Constitution:

  • Rule 1: Don’t Quit
  • Rule 2: Reread Rule #1

"Nat actually knew Duke and many other luminaries, from Malcolm X to Supreme Court Justice William Brennan.  He was a jazz expert, writing on music for the Wall Street Journal.  He often said that 'jazz and the Constitution were his main reasons for being.'  He said his passion for jazz and liberty overlapped because they were both about respecting everyone’s individuality.

"Nat was bemused by both his fan mail and hate mail as the years passed.  He didn’t play the political game — he would condemn Democrats and Republicans alike if they attacked constitutional principles. And he was always enthusiastic when he found a member of Congress coming to the defense of the Constitution, such as Senator Russ Feingold’s (D-WI) lone vote (in the Senate) against the Patriot Act in 2001, or, more recently, Senator Rand Paul’s (R-KY) efforts to scale back the surveillance state....

"Interestingly, when asked about his proudest achievement, he would say it was not anything he wrote.  He got an opportunity to work as a producer for a television special about jazz music in 1957.  He jumped at the chance to bring beautiful jazz music into the living rooms of folks who had never really been exposed to it before.....  According to Nat’s relatives, he passed away while listening to his favorite jazz tunes.

"We’re sad you’re gone, but we celebrate your good life.  Rest in peace."

Read more: https://www.cato.org/blog/nat-hentoff-rip
'via Blog this'

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

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Does the 'social contract' mandate paying taxes?

Social Contract: The myth - George J. Dance, Nolan Chart:

January 12, 2017 - "For a long time, libertarian thought was mainly ignored. Then came a period of articles making fun of those silly libertarians wanting to ‘privatize sidewalks’ and the like. Now it seems that we are definitely in the ‘fight’ stage. Not a week goes by without some article on the Web bitterly assailing libertarians and libertarian ideas.

"Normally I ignore; but a while ago I read a most remarkable article that calls for comment: “The Libertarian Delusion” by a Mr. James Luko. What is remarkable is not that Luko dislikes libertarian ideas – his biography does identify him as a career bureaucrat, after all – but how he argues against them.

"Luko takes umbrage with an earlier article,'The Delusion of Consent' by libertarian James Goodfellow, who argues that the power to tax is illegitimate because it is based on coercion; to which Luko responds:
this does not make it true just because Libertarians say so. There is a big difference in what libertarians assert as government being coercive and having a government which uses force legitimately…. If the government’s use of force was NOT legitimate – the author would be correct, but since it is legitimate then the author is incorrect.
"What makes government’s use of force legitimate, according to Luko, is something called the 'social contract':
“The Delusion of Consent” soundly ignores the theory of Social Contract, whereas the author asserts that collection of taxes is plunder, stealing, illegitimate coercion…. where coercive action is taken in relation to taxes, and the implicit threat of its use by the state, is NOT plunder nor illegitimate delegation of power – but rather “enforcement of a contract” that in return for government goods and services – one pays taxes…. The author’s argument ignores the theory of social contract, yet, that is what the author himself participates in.
"Indeed, if it were true that Goodfellow and other libertarians have all agreed to pay taxes, and even made a contract to do so, then they should just shut up and pay up. But, of course, a claim is not true just because Luko says so, either. So, since Luko urges us to 'separate rationalism from empiricism,' and since his claims that this 'social contract' exists and that we all participate in it are undoubtedly empirical, let us see what empirical evidence he offers for them. Before we do that, though, it may be useful to take a look at what exactly that 'contract' is supposed to be."

Read more: https://www.nolanchart.com/social-contract-the-myth
'via Blog this'

Friday, January 13, 2017

NY Times misrepresents school choice outcomes

The New York Times Continues to Mislead About School Choice in Michigan | Cato @ Liberty - Jason Bedrick:

January 10, 2017 - "In its quest to build a false narrative about Betsy DeVos, nominee for Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, the New York Times has continuously misled readers about the effects of charter schools in Detroit. The latest example comes from today’s editorial: '[DeVos] has also argued for shutting down Detroit public schools, with the system turned over to charters or taxpayer money given out as vouchers for private schools. In that city, charter schools often perform no better than traditional schools, and sometimes worse.'

"The NYT editors based their claim on a (faulty) Times op-ed from November in which Douglas Harris made the following claim: 'As one of the architects of Detroit’s charter school system, [DeVos] is partly responsible for what even charter advocates acknowledge is the biggest school reform disaster in the country. […] One well-regarded study found that Detroit’s charter schools performed at about the same dismal level as its traditional public schools'....

"Back in July, I highlighted the same report’s findings to dispel a similarly misleading description in the NYT: 'As shown [on] page 44 of the CREDO report, nearly half of Detroit’s charter schools outperformed the city’s traditional district schools in reading [46%] and math [48%] scores, while only one percent of charter schools performed worse in reading and only seven percent performed worse in math.'

"To claim, as the NYT does, that Detroit 'charter schools often perform no better than traditional schools, and sometimes worse' based on these figures is a highly distorted way of presenting the data. It’s equally true to say 'Detroit charter schools almost always perform as well [as] or better than traditional schools'....

"As [Ranesh] Ponnuru notes, the 2012 CREDO study concluded:
Based on the findings presented here, the typical student in Michigan charter schools gains more learning in a year than his [traditional public school (TPS)] counterparts, amounting to about two months of additional gains in reading and math. These positive patterns are even more pronounced in Detroit, where historically student academic performance has been poor. These outcomes are consistent with the result that charter schools have significantly better results than TPS for minority students who are in poverty.....
"Harris responded by shifting the goalposts by expressing skepticism of the very CREDO study he had previously described as 'well-regarded' when citing it in support of his view, claiming that the positive 'CREDO results may reflect cherry-picking” among other reasons why we shouldn’t take these results 'literally.' For the record, I am not entirely persuaded that the matching efforts in the CREDO study were well done, but one cannot cite a study in support of one’s view only to dismiss it when it is pointed out that the study’s conclusion contradicts that view."

Read more: https://www.cato.org/blog/new-york-times-continues-mislead-about-school-choice-michigan
'via Blog this'

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Emery endorses Maxime Bernier for Tory leader

Marc Emery Endorses Maxime Bernier For Conservative Leader - Ryan Maloney:

September 15, 2016 - "A Conservative leadership contender is welcoming the endorsement of Canada's so-called 'Prince of Pot.'

"Quebec MP Maxime Bernier, whose campaign is built around libertarian principles, won over notorious British Columbia-based marijuana activist Marc Emery on Wednesday.

"A spokesperson for Bernier's campaign says it is another example of the big tent Bernier is trying to construct.

"'Mr. Bernier is trying to build the largest possible coalition of Conservatives, and people who have never voted for the CPC, in order to win this campaign and defeat Justin Trudeau,' Maxime Hupé, the Bernier campaign's director of communications, told The Huffington Post Canada in an email....

"Emery's endorsement will raise eyebrows. The activist called former prime minister Stephen Harper a 'tyrant' in 2014 when he returned to Canada after serving a prison sentence in the United States for selling marijuana seeds.... Tories mocked Emery in an online attack ad and MPs also blasted him the House of Commons as a 'criminal and drug dealer'....

"Emery told 580CFRA radio host Evan Solomon Wednesday that he is a libertarian and agrees with 'every single policy position' Bernier has taken so far.

"'I've been waiting for a Conservative candidate in this country for 30, 40 years who wasn't anchored to all these backwards social conservative things that are settled policy, like abortion, like same-sex marriage,' Emery said....

"He said he doesn't even know what Bernier's pot position is — and doesn't care.... 'To me, legalizing marijuana is a settled policy,' he said, adding that he thinks Bernier's position on the drug will be nuanced and consistent with libertarian principles....

"Since forming government, Trudeau's Liberals have pledged to introduce legislation to legalize marijuana, but have not budged on calls from New Democrats to decriminalize the drug in the meantime."

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2016/09/15/marc-emery-maxime-bernier-conservative-leadership_n_12029026.html
'via Blog this'

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

SCOTUS dismisses Kasich conspiracy lawsuit

US Supreme Court declines to hear Ohio Libertarians' lawsuit - Washington Times - Julie Carr, Associated Press:

January 9, 2017 - "The U.S. Supreme Court has declined without comment to hear a long-running ballot access lawsuit brought by the Libertarian Party of Ohio. The high court’s action came Monday. It’s a victory for Ohio’s elections chief and a voter sued by Libertarians for their roles in disqualifying Libertarians’ gubernatorial candidate from 2014 fall ballots.

"The party sued Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted ... and voter Greg Felsoci, alleging they were part of a scheme to selectively enforce Ohio election law to help GOP Gov. John Kasich’s ... re-election bid. At the time, the third-party gubernatorial candidacy of Charlie Earl was seen as potentially drawing votes from Kasich, who later easily won re-election."

Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/jan/9/us-supreme-court-declines-to-hear-ohio-libertarian/

Justices turn down appeal from Libertarians tossed from 2014 Ohio ballot | The Columbus Dispatch - Jack Torry:

January 11, 2017 - "Without comment Monday, the justices [let stand] a decision last year by both a federal appeals court in Cincinnati and a federal judge in Columbus that Gov. John Kasich and Secretary of State Jon Husted did not violate the U.S. Constitution when they removed Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Charlie Earl and attorney-general candidate Steven Linnabary from the ballot....

"Husted disqualified the two Libertarians because ... the people paid to circulate the [nominating] petitions did not disclose their employers on the petition.

"The Libertarians argued that state officials, as a way to help Kasich win re-election, were placing unfair burdens on their efforts to qualify for the ballot."

Read more: http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2017/01/09/supreme-court-rejects-libertarian-appeal.html

'via Blog this'

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Some conservatives learn to love Wikileaks

How Julian Assange evolved from pariah to paragon - The Washington Post - David Weigel & Joby Warrick:

January 4, 2017 - "President-elect Donald Trump tweeted some praise on Tuesday for ... Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks.... It wasn’t the first time Trump had praised WikiLeaks. During his campaign for president, Trump had gleefully highlighted emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign. By October, just the mention of WikiLeaks could start a roar of applause at Trump’s rallies.

"Since then, Trump has continued praising the radical transparency group, harshly criticized by President Barack Obama and other officials for what they describe as damaging national security leaks. He has defended its founder, who has lived in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since August 2012 to avoid extradition on a rape allegation in Sweden. And Trump has been in sync with conservative media, once critical of WikiLeaks, which increasingly embraces Assange as a hero....

"Assange’s interview with Fox News was conducted by Sean Hannity, who had evolved from a critic to a frequent booster.... Hannity presented WikiLeaks in its favored terms – as a source of true, incorruptible journalism.... Hannity, who told Assange last month that he had 'done us a favor,' said Tuesday that he believes 'every word' Assange says....

"The Fox interview won other fans: Sarah Palin, who had once compared Assange to the editor of an al-Qaida magazine, apologized on Facebook and credited him with releasing 'important information that finally opened people’s eyes to democrat (sic) candidates and operatives'....

"This treatment of Assange is a stark departure from what was, until recently, a near-universal condemnation of the Australian by conservative pundits and politicians.... The releases that started in 2010 prompted calls in conservative media for Assange’s prosecution, or worse.... Jeffrey Kuhner ... suggested that the U.S. government should have him assassinated.... A column in the conservative publication National Review Online questioned why Assange wasn’t dead already – perhaps 'garroted in his hotel.' Trump himself, in one of his then-frequent calls to Fox, called WikiLeaks 'disgraceful' and added that 'there should be like death penalty or something' for its releases.

"Assange’s most fervent praise in the United States ... came from libertarians. Then-Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, who ran for president in 1988, 2008 and 2012, asked in a floor speech 'which has resulted in the greatest number of deaths: lying us into war or Wikileaks revelations or the release of the Pentagon Papers?'”

"Assange ... appeared to notice where his defenders were coming from. In a 2013 discussion, ... Assange said: 'The libertarian aspect of the Republican Party is presently the only useful political voice in the U.S. Congress'."

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/how-julian-assange-evolved-from-pariah-to-paragon/2017/01/04/2a3ea6e6-d2b8-11e6-9cb0-54ab630851e8_story.html?utm_term=.5086f5d4f173
'via Blog this'

Monday, January 9, 2017

Liberals just say no to legal cannabis in 2017

Ottawa plans to open up legal market for cannabis by 2019 - The Globe and Mail - Daniel Leblanc:

December 13, 2016 - "The Canadian government is giving itself until late 2018 or early 2019 to open up the market for recreational marijuana....

"In a report released on Tuesday, a task force chaired by former Liberal minister Anne McLellan provided 80 recommendations to end the prohibition on marijuana that dates back to 1923, using a model similar to the one in place for sales of tobacco and alcohol.

"The report said Canadians should be able to buy or carry 30 grams of marijuana for personal use, while those who want to grow their own could have four plants at home. The system would feature storefront sales and mail-order distribution, and allow a wide diversity of producers to operate legally, including 'craft' growers and the current producers of medical marijuana.

"A senior federal official said the report has been well received inside the government and will have a large influence on the upcoming legislation to legalize marijuana.... Still, the official explained that opening up the legal market will depend on the 'readiness of the provinces,' which will be in charge of regulating the wholesale distribution and retailing of cannabis. As such, the official said that implementing the new regime in 2018 would be an ambitious target, given the complexity of the task, with 2019 being more likely....

"Ms. McLellan said the current system that criminalizes the consumption of marijuana is simply not working and needs to be updated.... But she refused to advocate an immediate amnesty for pot possession or a temporary decriminalization. Until the law is changed, she said, current laws 'should be enforced'."

Read more: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/federal-task-force-advises-wide-ranging-legalization-of-recreational-marijuana/article33307322/
'via Blog this'

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Moen slams Trudeau, Trump in year-end interview

Moen Slams Trade Skeptics, Lauds Gold - Sprott Money, Value Walk:

December 29, 2016 - "Tim Moen, leader of the fast-growing Libertarian Party of Canada, took time off during the Holidays to provide insights into key issues facing the Canadian economy in 2017. One priority: partially divesting US dollar holdings and shoring up Canada’s gold reserves.

"Canada’s economy contracted by 0.3% (in October). The unemployment rate came in at 6.8% (in November), two percentage points above the US total. The deficit has skyrocketed. How do you assess the Liberal government’s economic performance?

"It’s hard to imagine a worse set of policy proposals.... Deficits are the wrong thing to do in an economic downturn. When my family hits tough times, we tighten our belts and cut spending.

"When you believe (as most left-wing economists seem to) that wealth is created when government taxes and borrows and directs money to the right areas, then you might think they are on the right track. But any serious economist knows that the market is the most efficient way to distribute money because it does not tolerate foolishness and incompetence.

"Other jurisdictions have discovered that for every job created by government spending another two to four are lost. Nobody considers the unseen costs of these policies.

"What are your views on a future Trump Administration?

"Trump (through his borrow, spend and simplistic anti-trade policies) is offering a hit of heroin to Americans, who in many ways have become a country of heroin junkies when it comes to public policy. They are lapping it up. Trump’s election matters in that he had an anti-establishment message. He hit on a note in an American culture that is sick of the status quo.

"But I remain guarded that this means we are going to see any meaningful change. I don’t get that sense at all. Trump is not pursuing Hillary Clinton like he said he would, and shows no signs of 'draining the swamp,' judging from the number of Goldman Sachs executives and other insiders being nominated to key posts.

"For meaningful change to happen, we need a population that demands liberty, more than the illusion of security, and that is willing to make uncomfortable adjustments and sacrifices right now in their own personal lives in exchange for long-term gains.

"Many in the 'Alt Right' community, a key segment of Trump’s supporters, are coming out in favour of protectionist, anti-trade measures, such as tariffs and increased restrictions on labour mobility. What is your position?

"They are wrong. If obstacles to trade between countries made us richer, why not have walls between states and even cities? As the Smoot-Hawley tariffs showed, trade barriers make everyone poorer....

"Protectionism may save some jobs in the near term but it does so at the expense of everyone else. Many politicians simply don’t understand these basic laws of economics. I blame public education and decades of leftist economic indoctrination."

Read more: http://www.valuewalk.com/2016/12/moen-slams-trade-skeptics-lauds-gold/
'via Blog this'

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Gillespie: Gary Johnson the best thing in 2016

Thank You, Gary Johnson, for Being the Best Thing in 2016! - Hit & Run : Reason.com - Nick Gillespie:

January 3, 2017 - "Before we completely flush 2016 down the memory hole, let us pause to remember Gary Johnson, the former two-term governor of New Mexico who generated a record number of votes as the Libertarian Party's candidate for president. If there was anything good that happened in 2016 ... it was @govgaryjohnson's ramshackle campaign to bring a very different way of thinking and talking about national politics to America.

"In the end, of course, there was a lot of disappointment. He didn't crack 15 percent in polls ... he supported the inalienable rights of gay Nazis to force homophobic Jewish bakers to make German chocolate cakes ... he spaced out while talking to recidivist plagiarist Mike Barnicle on Morning Joe and ... and so much more. Yeah, yeah, I get it....

"To all of it, I say, politely: Go screw yourselves, all of you.

"I choose instead to focus on what I think were two major themes that Johnson introduced into national politics that will have a very long shelf-life....

"First, he was the first politician in forever who had the temerity to say what we all know to be true: That most Americans are socially liberal (or tolerant) and fiscally conservative (i.e. responsible). Libertarian purists will denounce such a formulation as lazy or incorrect or insufficiently Misesian or Hayekian or Randian, but the way that Gary put it is exactly right in political terms. Most Americans have no problem with immigrants.... The same is true about marriage equality, pot legalization, and abortion rights.... Growing majorities are OK with living in a more-cosmopolitan, more-globalized America where you're free to travel, work, and mix with whatever people, food, and music you want.... 54 percent of us agree that 'government is doing too much'.... Gallup data shows that libertarian is the single-largest ideological bloc at 27 percent.... That was the essential message of the Johnson campaign and if it got drowned out somewhat by various gaffes and world events, it isn't going away any time soon.

"Second, and more controversially, I think, Gary Johnson incarnates what we will come to expect from politicians and presidents. Hillary Clinton was imperious and hyper-credentialed to a fault, Donald Trump was simply a bullying blowhard, and Jill Stein an unconvincing b—s— artist.... Johnson presented himself as experienced and competent ... but also relentlessly human. He didn't pretend to know everything ... or to be all things to all people.... Rather, at his best, Gary came off as a motivated and capable everyman, the sort of person you would trust to do right by you, own his mistakes, and move forward in the best faith possible.

"For all his faults, Johnson articulated the broadly felt desire for government that does less and costs less and personified a down-to-earth politician. In doing so, he prototyped what the politics and politicians of the future will be like."

Read more: http://reason.com/blog/2017/01/03/thank-you-gary-johnson-for-being-the-bes
'via Blog this'

Friday, January 6, 2017

John Stossel wants Trump to break his promises

Here's hoping Trump breaks his promises - John Stossel, The Spectrum:

January 4, 2017 - "Two more weeks until the new administration begins!

"I wonder if President Donald Trump will stick to his campaign promises — like reducing immigration and slamming consumers by imposing a 35 percent tariff. Hope not.

"But it could have been much worse.

"Bernie Sanders wanted to make college free, even though professors say classes are filled with privileged students who party and just kill time.... Both Sanders and Hillary Clinton promised a higher minimum wage and a thousand other new commandments that would do more harm than good.

"Every Republican candidate vowed to increase defense spending, even though the U.S. is going broke and already spends more than the next seven biggest nations combined, while half the democratic world freeloads off America's armed forces....

"I'm not infatuated with Trump. His magical thinking scares me. What gives me optimism are many of Trump's appointments. He's surrounded himself with people who 'get it,' who understand the harm done by overregulation and the benefits created by economic growth.

"Larry Kudlow as economic advisor?! Paul Atkins, Andy Puzder and Betsy DeVos in important positions?!.... I bet Mitt Romney wouldn't have appointed them....

"It would be easier to judge progress had the Libertarian Party candidate won. We could measure whether the party kept its promise to shrink government, cut spending, lower taxes, decrease overseas military commitments, deregulate and butt out of people's private lives.

"Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, sounding like the Founders of our nation, often answered reporters' grandiose questions by saying, 'I'm not running for king.' Unlike Donald Trump, a narcissistic bully who often tells us he's 'in charge,' Johnson understood that decision-making power is best left in the hands of individual citizens.

"Libertarians also respect Friedrich Hayek's insight: 'The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they know about what they imagine they can design'....

"I fear that 2017 will bring us more of the same: Politicians doing what they think will make the loudest voters happy.

"They want us to think we can have it both ways — that we can reduce deficits while boosting spending on infrastructure and defense and not touching entitlements, etc. That's what Donald Trump has promised.

"I hope he breaks many of his promises soon."

Read more: http://www.thespectrum.com/story/opinion/2017/01/04/heres-hoping-trump-breaks-his-promises/96119020/
'via Blog this'

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Ethereum, a censorship resistant 'world computer'

Ethereum Project Offers Censorship Resistant 'World Computer' for Developers - Breitbart - Tom Ciccotta :

January 3, 2017 - "The Ethereum Project, an open source platform developed by 22-year old programmer Vitalik Buterin, is seeking to build upon the blockchain technology established by Bitcoin by allowing developers to use the blockchain to build decentralized applications.

"The blockchain is a decentralized database where records and entries are virtually unchangeable. While Bitcoin utilizes blockchain technology to manage a currency, the Ethereum Project provides an open source environment where programmers can create applications on the blockchain.

"Tristan Winters, a reporter at ETHNews, the leading online Ethereum news site, explained to me the Ethereum project in layman’s terms: 'Ethereum is a "world computer." Instead of hosting apps on a server, you host them on the Ethereum blockchain and p2p network.... So the apps are censorship resistant and no one can shut them down'....

"Ethereum is driven by Ether, a cryptocurrency that acts as 'fuel' for the system. According to the project’s website, Ether is a necessary element that ensures that developers are writing quality applications ... (wasteful code costs more), and that the network remains healthy (people are compensated for their contributed resources).

"Because of the open source nature of Ethereum, it has almost limitless functions. Developers have proposed and began work on decentralized file storage systems, financial systems, and business management systems.

"Ethereum allows actors to create smart contracts, which are programs that run on the blockchain that can handle currency in a way that is unchangeable. Smart contracts can be used for a variety of business functions, such as the representation of shares, organizational voting, and fundraising.

"The decentralized nature of the Ethereum blockchain would allow for social networks that are truly resistant to censorship. Unlike Facebook or Twitter, a social network operating on Ethereum wouldn’t be accessed via centralized servers. Such a network would exist as a peer-to-peer network that lives on computers throughout the world. Because such a network would have no centralized body, censorship would be extremely difficult."

Read more: http://www.breitbart.com/tech/2017/01/03/ethereum-project-offers-censorship-resistant-world-computer-for-developers/
'via Blog this'

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Medical cannabis may cut traffic deaths: study

States With Medical Marijuana Laws Have Fewer Traffic Fatalities, But Why Isn't Clear - David DiSalvo, Forbes:

December 31, 2016 - "States that passed medical marijuana laws have seen an 11% reduction in traffic fatalities on average, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Public Health. Compared to states without medical marijuana laws, those with them had 26% fewer traffic fatalities overall. Study data was collected between 1985 and 2014.

"The impact was greatest for the 25 to 44 age group, which is also the group with the highest percentage of alcohol-related traffic fatalities. In 2013, about 47% of fatally injured drivers with blood alcohol levels over the legal limit were between 24 and 44, according the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The impact was also significant for the 15 to 24 age group....

"'This finding suggests that the mechanisms by which medical marijuana laws reduce traffic fatalities mostly operate in those younger adults, a group also frequently involved in alcohol-related traffic fatalities,' said Julian Santaella-Tenorio, a doctoral student in Epidemiology at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, in a press statement.

"But other parts of this study don’t neatly line up behind any single conclusion. For instance, the age group 45 and older didn’t see a decrease in fatalities.... In addition, some states with medical marijuana laws actually saw upticks in traffic fatalities. Both California and New Mexico initially saw traffic fatality reductions (16% and 17.5%, respectively) that gradually became increases.

"So what this study appears to show is at least a plausible correlation between medical marijuana laws and lower traffic fatalities, but it’s not clear why this is true in some states and not others. It’s possible that other factors, like stronger police enforcement and more effective public health programs targeting drunk driving, work in tandem with medical marijuana laws in some states."

Read more: http://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddisalvo/2016/12/31/states-with-medical-marijuana-laws-have-fewer-traffic-fatalities-but-why-isnt-clear/2/#45886caf3644
'via Blog this'

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Wilder & Lane's Libertarian House on the Prairie

Wilder’s ‘Little House’ on a libertarian prairie - San Francisco Chronicle - Christine Woodside:

December 26, 2016 - "Libertarian ideas are woven into the very fabric of American life.... I think of the libertarian branch of the Republican Party as the 'Little House on the Prairie caucus.' Why? Because the beloved Little House children’s book series by Laura Ingalls Wilder was full of free-market ideals.

"Wilder was a chicken farmer and occasional journalist who became the author and heroine of the Little House books about her 1870's-80's pioneer childhood. Wilder’s secret collaborator, her daughter Rose Wilder Lane, infused the books with libertarian views....

"In 1930, during the Great Depression, Wilder and Lane were 63 and 44 years old and living on the family farm in southern Missouri. At Lane’s request, Wilder sat down and wrote of the family’s migration from Wisconsin to the future state of Kansas to Minnesota to Dakota Territory, with her Pa, Ma, and sisters, looking for the ideal farm.

"In Wilder’s early drafts, the family withstood frontier life staunchly, jaws set. Wilder told her daughter the Ingallses never showed emotion. But as Lane rewrote Wilder’s notes, she removed difficult events, like a baby brother’s death or the government’s subsidy of their blind sister’s schooling, and inserted plenty of happy dialogue with no bitterness, resentment or remorse.

"Within a few months, Lane had sold the first book, Little House in the Big Woods. One editor said it was 'the book no Depression could stop.' Readers asked for more, so the two women wrote seven more books together.

"The books extolled the power of ordinary people to make their own destinies. Consider this scene in The Long Winter, the sixth book: When frequent blizzards kept trains from bringing supplies to their Dakota Territory town, the storekeeper tries to overcharge starving neighbors who want to buy the last stock of wheat. A riot seems imminent until Pa speaks up: 'Don’t forget that every one of us is free and independent, Loftus. This winter won’t last forever, and maybe you want to go on doing business after it’s over.' It’s an appealing distillation of the idea that a free market can regulate itself....

"The series has sold millions of copies and inspired the TV show Little House on the Prairie.

"With the comfortable income provided by book royalties, Lane helped fund a free-market academy in the early 1960s in Colorado called the Freedom School [run by Robert Lefevre - ed.]. Two of the graduates were perhaps the most profoundly influential donors in modern conservatism: Charles and David Koch. Both joined the new Libertarian Party, along with Lane’s heir, Roger Lea MacBride, in the 1970s, before later returning to the Republican Party."

Read more: http://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/openforum/article/Wilder-s-Little-House-on-a-libertarian-10819927.php
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See also: Wilder's Little House books as libertarian propaganda

Monday, January 2, 2017

California legislature closes forfeiture loophole

Tenth Amendment Center Blog | Now In Effect: California Law Reins in Asset Forfeiture, Takes on Federal Equitable Sharing Program - Mike Maharrey:

January 1, 2017 - "Today, a California law went into effect that not only bolsters restrictions on state officials from seizing property without due process, but also throws a wrench into federal efforts to do the same.

"Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) introduced Senate Bill 443 (SB443) in 2015. The new law sets additional restrictions to prevent abuses from civil asset forfeiture, a controversial practice that observers such as the Institute for Justice (IJ) have called 'legal plunder.'

"California previously had some of the strongest state-level restrictions on civil asset forfeiture, but law enforcement would often bypass the state restrictions by partnering with a federal asset forfeiture program known as 'equitable sharing'....

"Under these arrangements, state officials would simply hand over forfeiture prosecutions to the federal government and then receive up to 80 percent of the proceeds — even when state law banned or limited the practice.... Through this loophole, U.S. DOJ paid local and state agencies in California more than $696 million in equitable-sharing proceeds....

"The following language shuts the loophole in most situations:
State or local law enforcement authorities shall not refer or otherwise transfer property seized under state law to a federal agency seeking the adoption by the federal agency of the seized property.
"SB443 makes it clear that state and local law enforcement agencies won’t receive federal equitable sharing money related to the seizure of assets unless it is expressly permitted under state law or if the seizure is over $40,000:
A state or local law enforcement agency participating in a joint investigation with a federal agency shall not receive an equitable share from the federal agency of all or a portion of the forfeited property…unless a defendant is convicted in an underlying or related criminal action of an offense for which the property is subject to forfeiture…
"Boats, vehicles, and homes will still require a conviction regardless of value....

"Supported by a politically diverse group of grassroots organizations, SB443 passed in the state Senate last summer by a resounding 38-1 vote. This year, the full Assembly passed it with a 69-7 vote."

Read more: http://blog.tenthamendmentcenter.com/2017/01/now-in-effect-california-law-reins-in-asset-forfeiture-takes-on-federal-equitable-sharing-program/
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Sunday, January 1, 2017

5 great books on politics and policy from 2016

5 Great Books on Politics and Public Policy from 2016 | Competitive Enterprise Institute - Richard Morrison:

December 21, 2016 - "A lot of interesting books on politics, economics, and public policy were published over the last twelve months. It can be difficult, though, finding the gems among the extremely large number of books about public affairs that hit bookstore (and Amazon warehouse) shelves each year. For every volume as eagerly anticipated as Deirdre McCloskey’s Bourgeois Equality, engaged readers must sift past a dozen volumes of hot-take pop commentary like Thomas Friedman’s Thank You for Being Late. That said, here are a few new titles that caught our attention at CEI in 2016.

"The Intimidation Game: How the Left Is Silencing Free Speech by Kimberley Strassel. Reviewed ... by Fred L. Smith, Jr.... 'A skilled investigative journalist, Strassel documents the extensive efforts to suppress political opposition, intimidate dissidents, and weaken the First Amendment. Strassel notes that attacks on speech — and defenders of it — have come from both parties.... Readers will gain clarity, but little comfort, from her chronicle of culture and politics conspiring to weaken free speech.'

"Progress: Ten Reasons to Look Forward to the Future by Johan Norberg, summarized here by Ryan Young.... 'Norberg is a Swedish economist and political commentator who ... updates CEI hero Julian Simon’s work showing why the world is getting better, not worse.... Norberg remains pessimistic about a scare-obsessed media’s ability to accurately report on the human condition. But the facts on the ground give him no choice but to be optimistic about humanity’s future, from declining disease rates to rising life expectancies to mass prosperity finally reaching the developing world'....

"Real Heroes: Inspiring True Stories of Courage, Character, and Conviction by Lawrence W. Reed. Reviewed by Kent Lassman.... 'Reed brings to life dozens of stories where high character animates courage and triumph. Reed has mastered the maxim that people think analytically but learn analogically. He carefully makes the case that we need real heroes and they can be found all around, if we are willing to see them.'

"Rivalry and Central Planning by Don Lavoie. Summarized here by Ryan Young.... 'Lavoie played a major role in building up George Mason University’s economics department before he passed away in 2001. The Mercatus Center’s new reissue of his 1985 book ... remains relevant to today’s debate between spontaneous orders versus central planning....

"I also include my own review, for Cato Journal, of Markets without Limits: Moral Virtues and Commercial Interests by Jason Brennan and Peter M. Jaworski ... released in 2015, but the review was published this year.... 'The authors do a good job of separating incidental objections from the fundamental moral questions at the heart of the anticommodification debate.... Their primary question is whether there are things that categorically cannot be legitimately bought and sold.... For example, Brennan and Jaworski engage in fascinating discussions on whether public betting on the likelihood of future terrorist attacks should be legal, as well as on more well-trod debate topics like legalizing sex work and the moral status of surrogate motherhood.'"

Read more: https://cei.org/blog/5-great-books-politics-and-public-policy-2016
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