Saturday, September 30, 2017

Police seal off polls to stop Catalan referendum

Spanish police block polls to try to prevent Catalan independence referendum - World - CBC News - Thomson Reuters:

September 30, 2017 - "Spanish police sealed off schools earmarked as polling stations and occupied the Catalan government's communications hub on Saturday in an effort to prevent a banned independence referendum.

"Supporters of the poll spent the night in schools with their children and say they plan to remain there until Sunday to keep them open for voters, although a Spanish government source said more than half had been closed off....

"Tens of thousands of Catalans are expected to attempt to vote in a ballot that will have no legal status as it has been blocked by Spain's Constitutional Court and Madrid for being at odds with the 1978 constitution.

"Catalonia is a wealthy region within Spain that includes Barcelona, with its own language, which is taught in schools and universally spoken. Should the vote take place, a 'yes' result is likely, given that most of the 40 per cent of Catalans who polls show support independence are expected to cast ballots while most of those against it are not.

"Parents in some of the occupied schools said police officers had told them they could stay as long as they were not doing anything connected with the referendum.... 'The police have been four times,' said Laia, a 41-year-old sociologist at a school in central Barcelona.... ''They read us out the part of the court order that says no activities related to the preparation of the banned referendum are allowed.'

"A Spanish government source said police, who have been mobilized in their thousands to the region in the northeast of Spain to enforce a court order banning the referendum, would remove people from polling stations on Sunday.

"The Catalan government said police had occupied its communications hub and would remain there for two days after Catalonia's High Court ordered police to prevent electronic voting and instructed Google to delete an application it said was being used to spread information on the vote.

"Despite central government and court efforts to prevent the referendum, Catalan Leader Carles Puigdemont told Reuters on Friday it would go ahead, with no last minute compromise."

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Friday, September 29, 2017

Don Willett nominated to U.S. Appellate Court

Trump Nominates Libertarian-Minded Texas Justice Don Willett to U.S. Appellate Court - Hit & Run : - Damon Root:

September 28, 2017 - "President Donald Trump will nominate [Texas Supreme Court Justice Don] Willett to fill one of two vacancies on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, the federal appellate court whose jurisdiction covers federal districts in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas.

"Willett, who appeared on Trump's 2016 list of potential U.S. Supreme Court candidates, is a rising star in conservative and libertarian legal circles and a popular presence on Twitter. If he is successfully confirmed to the 5th Circuit, Willett would immediately rank as one of the most libertarian federal judges in the country.

"Willett is best-known for his aggressive judicial stance in favor of individual rights and economic liberty. In the 2015 case of Patel v. Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, for example, Willett lambasted state officials for requiring eyebrow threaders to obtain a costly government license before engaging in the harmless act of threading cotton string through customers' eyebrows in order to remove old hair and skin.

"This case is fundamentally about the American Dream and the unalienable human right to pursue happiness without curtsying to government on bended knee,' he wrote. 'It is about whether government can connive with rent-seeking factions to ration liberty unrestrained, and whether judges must submissively uphold even the most risible encroachments.'

"In Willett's view, both the U.S. Constitution and its Texas counterpart contain judicially enforceable protections for 'the right to earn a living free from unreasonable government intrusion.' In the interests of full disclosure, I should also note that Willett's Patel opinion favorably cites my 2014 book Overruled: The Long War for Control of the U.S. Supreme Court.

"Willett has been equally outspoken when it comes to government malfeasance in the criminal justice realm. When the Texas Supreme Court refused to hear the 2014 asset forfeiture case Zaher El-Ali v. Texas, for instance, Willett filed a sharp and memorable dissent. 'Does our Constitution have anything to say about a "presumed guilty" proceeding in which citizens are not arrested or tried, much less convicted, but are nonetheless punished, losing everything they've worked for?' he complained."

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Thursday, September 28, 2017

Can Petersen "make libertarianism cool again"?

How Austin Petersen Can Make Libertarianism Cool Again | Harvard Political Review - Laura Nicolae:

September 26, 2017 - "Americans are tired of choosing between the 'lesser of two evils.' The country needs a moderate, likable candidate who can bridge the ideological gap with a balanced middle ground. Austin Petersen, a 36-year-old libertarian from Missouri, can do just that.

"Petersen ... is a passionate, articulate activist with a large youth following. Last year, he placed second in the Libertarian party presidential primary. In 2018, he will enter Missouri’s 2018 senate race as a Republican, hoping to unseat incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill....

"While he supports economic policies such as free trade and respect for private property, he also fights for personal freedoms like recreational drug use and internet privacy. The enthusiastic Midwesterner could become a source of inspiration for disaffected citizens who seek a centrist alternative to two increasingly polarized parties. If successful, his campaign would provide a model of how to forge a viable middle ground in the modern political arena....

"He demands criminal justice reforms to mend the damage caused by previous policy initiatives such as the war on drugs and mandatory minimum sentences. While these positions mirror those of mainstream Democrats, Petersen emphasizes the importance of making the government more efficient, not necessarily larger. Petersen’s social liberalism could set him apart from the other candidates and attract the votes of millennials, who often lean left on social issues....

"While he’s conventionally liberal on social issues, Petersen also advocates slashing the corporate income tax and cutting business regulations, which he blames for sending jobs overseas. He’d like to abolish the income tax entirely, and supports a flat 15 percent income tax as a first step....

"Petersen doesn’t see his social liberalism and fiscal conservatism as incompatible. To him, philosophical consistency requires supporting individual freedom of all kinds. For example, he believes those who support others’ right to control their body should also support their right to do what they want with their money.

"Many people lean libertarian on at least one issue. The challenge, Petersen argues, is to get them to see the logical consistency of supporting freedom across the board."

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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Legal cannabis sales boosted Denver property values, study finds

Weed is good for home values, real estate economists find - Jeff Ostrowski, Palm Beach Post:

September 25, 2017 - "With Palm Beach County’s first medical marijuana dispensaries poised to open soon ... here’s a bit of heartening news for nearby homeowners: Pot shops are good for home values.

"According to a study published in the academic journal Real Estate Economics, single-family homes within 0.1 mile of Denver’s 103 pot shops saw an increase in value of 8.4 percent compared to those located a bit farther — between 0.1 miles and 0.25 miles — from dispensaries. That increase in property value was estimated to be $27,000 for a typical house.

"The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Wisconsin, the University of Georgia and California State University, looked at appreciation since Jan. 1, 2014, when Colorado’s recreational cannabis law took effect.

“'The presence of retail marijuana establishments clearly had a short-term positive impact on nearby properties in Denver,' says Moussa Diop, an assistant professor of real estate at Wisconsin. 'This suggests that in addition to the sales and business taxes generated from the retail marijuana industry, municipalities may experience an increase in property taxes. It’s an important piece of the puzzle as more and more voters and policy-makers look for evidence about the effects of legalizing recreational marijuana, as the issue is taken up by state legislatures across the country.'

"Explaining why properties nears pot shops appreciated so strongly 'remains a puzzle that we leave to future research,' the authors write."

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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

How libertarian are Germany′s Free Democrats?

FDP: Are Germany′s ′liberals′ in reality ′libertarians′? | Germany | Deutche Welle:

September 25, 2017 - "The Free Democratic Party (FDP) is the comeback story of the German election.... On September 24 the FDP returned to the Bundestag with a two-digit result. Just four years ago, many commentators had pronounced the FDP dead when it was unable to collect the 5 percent of the vote necessary to enter Germany's parliament.

"But when Germans have to explain to foreigners what the party stands for, they often face a conundrum: How to translate the German 'liberal' into English.

"In German, the term 'liberal' is unambiguously tied to the FDP's pro-business, pro-civil liberties tenets. 'Liberals in Germany want the state be confined to providing safety for the people and a stable environment, but not meddle around with people with overabundant regulation,' explained German political scientist Michael Dreyer. The FDP, led by 38-year old former business consultant Christian Lindner, espouses progressive stances on social issues such as gay marriage, but these issues often take a backseat to the party's 'pro-business' economic platform, which is why the party and German liberals in general are often perceived as right of center.

"Part of the problem is that "liberal" does not fit nicely on one side of the political spectrum. While, for example, the British and Canadian liberal parties are both moderate leftist parties, the Australian liberal party is staunchly conservative.... In the US, progressive politicians ... are referred to as 'liberals.' Germany, meanwhile, has a long tradition of a strong Social Democratic Party....  Germany's Social Democrats, the Left Party and the Greens have pushed liberals to see themselves primarily as the protectors of citizens and companies from an overreaching welfare state.

"Presumably to avoid the ambiguity of 'liberal,' some English-language media use 'libertarian' to describe the FDP. Employed primarily in the US, the term refers to an ideology that favors a laissez-faire approach to the economy and endorses 'whatever floats your boat' social policies .

"While both German liberals and US libertarians want a smaller state, most FDP members reject the notion they are libertarians because the term is often associated with radically anti-government views.... Germans generally favor a much stronger welfare state than most Americans, which is why even the platforms of Germany's moderately right-wing parties ... overlap more with those of the Democratic Party than with the Republican Party, which has a strong libertarian wing, or the Libertarian Party itself.

"FDP members point to the example of health care to illustrate the difference between German liberals and US libertarians: While the FDP is in favor of state-sponsored health care, US libertarians want to see 'Obamacare' abolished."

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Monday, September 25, 2017

Libertarian rules committee wants slate elections

Libertarian Party Committee Adopts Change To How Vice Presidential Candidates Are Nominated - Jack News:

September 20, 2017 - "The committee that develops bylaws and rules for the Libertarian Party’s national convention over the weekend adopted changes to the process for nominating candidates for Vice President of the United States.

"Under the current and rather unique system used by the Libertarian Party, the nation’s third largest party, the convention first nominates a presidential candidate and then moves on to separately nominate a vice presidential candidate....

"The adopted change would have the party move to nominate the two offices together as a slate. Each candidate for the presidential nomination will be paired up with their desired running mate for presentation to the convention. A single vote would be held to determine which slate of candidates is nominated.

"The 6-1 decision by the Bylaws and Rules Committee, with two abstentions, now rests in the hands of the 2018 Libertarian National Convention, to be held over July 4 weekend in New Orleans. The proposal needs to clear a two-thirds vote to be adopted.

"Many found persuasive the observation that the moment after the conclusion of the presidential nomination is a time of peak attention and media coverage. It is a moment usually broadcast live on national TV, and the normal expectation would be for the candidate to accept the nomination and take their victory lap with a speech to rally the troops and encourage party unity.

"Instead, under the current process, [Gary Johnson was] forced to spend that moment in the spotlight beseeching convention delegates to approve [William Weld, his] desired vice-presidential nominee....

"At the same time, in order to accommodate the unexpected, it is also possible for the convention to split the question by a simple majority, reverting back to the old system of nominating for vice president separately.

"This could conceivably occur if, for example, two presidential candidates both failed to clear the 50 percent threshold on the first ballot, and both agreed on the convention floor to drop their own running mates and form a unity ticket."

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Sunday, September 24, 2017

Rethinking the Lockean Proviso

Libertarian property rights and the Lockean sufficiency proviso - The Washington Post - Fabian Wendt, Volokh Conspiracy:

September 22, 2017 - "John Locke’s Second Treatise of Government (1689) contains a defense of private property that makes use of the idea of labor-mixing. In §27, Locke writes: ‘[…] for this labour being the unquestionable property of the labourer, no man but he can have a right to what that is once joined to, at least where there is enough, and as good, left in common for others.’ The ‘at least’ clause has become known as the ‘Lockean proviso’. It is usually understood as specifying a limit to labor-based acquisition of private property.

"Since libertarians care a lot about private property and its justification, the Lockean proviso has been an important tenet in libertarian theories of justice....  Right-libertarians either reject the Lockean proviso or endorse very weak interpretations of it, while left-libertarians endorse some egalitarian interpretation of the Lockean proviso (which allows appropriation until one has one’s equal share of natural resources or as long as the appropriation is compatible with equality of opportunity for welfare).

"In between right- and left-libertarianism, there is room for moderate interpretations of the proviso, and in particular for a sufficientarian interpretation, a sufficiency proviso. It is remarkable that this option has rarely been defended. The resulting theory of justice can be called ‘moderate libertarianism’.... [M]oderate libertarianism has advantages over both left- and right-libertarianism because it better coheres with the most plausible rationale for endorsing a libertarian theory of justice in the first place.

"What is this rationale for endorsing a libertarian theory of justice? It starts with the rather trivial fact that persons are purposive beings. They have the capacity to pursue all kinds of projects. Almost all projects require external resources, and they require being able to count on one’s resources. For that reason, persons as project-pursuers need the opportunity to acquire private property in external resources in one way or another. Following Eric Mack, one can take this to establish a ‘natural right to the practice of private property’. Together with the idea of self-ownership, this natural right can be regarded as the core of a libertarian theory of justice. Note that the project pursuit rationale for libertarianism does not rely on the moral force of Lockean labor-mixing. Rather, private property as a practice is justified as being responsive to persons as project pursuers....

"[I]f one embraces a libertarian theory of justice due to the project pursuit rationale, then one should also embrace a sufficientarian proviso. The basic idea is simple: Without sufficient resources, people are unable to live their lives as project pursuers. Because this is so, a libertarian who advances a libertarian theory of justice because s/he cares about people as project pursuers must also care about everyone actually having sufficient resources for living a life as a project-pursuer. This is why some sort of sufficientarian proviso should be incorporated into a libertarian theory of justice....

"First of all, my sufficiency proviso does not apply to specific acts of appropriation, but to the practice of private property as a whole. The practice of private property is justified because private property is necessary for living as a project pursuer, but it can only be justified under condition that it actually enables everyone to live as a project pursuer.

"Second, the sufficiency proviso does not unconditionally require us to bring everyone above the sufficiency threshold. The proviso only prescribes that the practice of private property should be designed in a way that makes sure that everyone has sufficient resources to live as a project pursuer, if this is possible without undermining the point of having a practice of private property in the first place."

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Saturday, September 23, 2017

The morality of rule-breaking

Rule-Breaking is Necessary and Moral - Foundation for Economic Education - Working for a free and prosperous world - David Kelley, Atlas Society:

September 3, 2017 - "By 'rules' I mean self-contained prescriptions about concrete actions or situations, telling you what to do or how to do it. Fasten your seat belt. Don't smoke in elevators. Don't have sex on the first date. Don't drive over the speed limit. Don't hit below the belt. For many rules, there is a rationale provided by some broader principle. But when rules take the place of principles, as is happening more and more often today,... don't let them get in your way....

"Large regions of social life that ought to be governed – and to a large extent used to be governed – by principles of courtesy, justice, and mutual respect have now been bureaucratized by rules. Movie theaters find it necessary to inform their patrons that talking during the movie is forbidden. Interactions between men and women in the workplace are now regulated by sexual harassment rules that attempt to replace the principle of respect and the exercise of judgment....

"Because they are so concrete, no set of rules could possibly cover every situation and action to which the corresponding principle applies. This defect is particularly serious in ethics, the field that provides the broadest and most fundamental level of guidance for human action.

"The advantage of principles is the advantage of concepts: They unite an open-ended number of particular cases under a single abstraction. Of course we pay a price for this ... one has to apply a principle to a particular case by the exercise of judgment, taking account of the specific facts about the context.... But this points to a second defect of rules....

"Rules are formulated for specific contexts, but they never fully specify the nature or limitations of that context. As a result, rules invariably have exceptions and they often conflict with each other. Someone trying to follow the rules without the benefit of broader principles will have no way to determine when he is faced with an exception, or how to resolve a conflict.... The exercise of judgment cannot be eliminated from human life, and the attempt to do so by erecting a network of rules has destructive consequences in public as well as private affairs.

"There is a final defect that rules have in virtue of their concreteness. It is the most serious defect of all, and ... most pronounced in the realm of ethics: Unless rules are anchored in principles, they cannot be rationally justified.... They can be accepted only on faith or authority – i.e., as arbitrary edicts....

"In social contexts, rules laid down by an authority are sometimes necessary to prevent conflicts among people.... But even in this context, rules have all the defects we discussed: they cannot cover every situation, they have exceptions, and if they are detached from rational principles they are an arbitrary expression of will.... Rules that are arbitrary or issued chiefly as a means of asserting authority invite rule-breaking by those independent enough to bridle at subjection to another's will....

"We do need objective standards. But objectivity requires principles, not rules. The choice is to be principled, acting on one's own understanding of reality, or to be ruled – by an explicit authority or by the cramped and encrusted dictates of tradition. For anyone who values his own life and his own autonomy, that's an easy choice."

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Friday, September 22, 2017

Roger Ver backing new country project

Roger Ver Joins Other Libertarians In Announcing a New Nation - Jon Buck, Cointelegraph:

September 22, 2017 -" Olivier Janssens, founder of Freedom Investments, and Roger Ver, of Bitcoin Foundation fame ... [are] seeking to establish [an] independent nation, governed by libertarian values, and invites anyone who shares their political views or are just ‘free thinkers’ to join them....

"However, the team has yet to disclose the location, nor has indicated what entry standards would be required.

"The locations being evaluated include areas with safe, conflict-free areas, proximity to economic centers in the US, Europe, and Asia, and accessibility by water. The team is hoping to offer a stable government with substantial national debt a way to eliminate some of that debt with a land lease to FreeSociety.

"Roger Ver, in his announcement ... was quick to point out that participants could join. Legally, the country will have a constitution, but only after final negotiations are complete. The team hopes to establish a precedent for future sovereign nations, stating:
It is important to establish a proper rule of law, as our project will set an example for the industry and create an important precedent with governments and the world. We want to make sure the constitution is solid but avoid the inefficiencies of existing government structures."
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Thursday, September 21, 2017

MIT grads build reactor that uses nuclear waste

Can Reusing Spent Nuclear Fuel Solve Our Energy Problems? - Gary Strauss, National Geographic:

September 19, 2016 - "Nuclear ... engineer Leslie Dewan believes that a safe, environmentally friendly, next-generation nuclear reactor isn’t just feasible — it's commercially viable.

"As cofounder and CEO of Boston-based startup Transatomic Power, Dewan and fellow Massachusetts Institute of Technology grad Mark Massie are working on commercial-scale development of a molten salt reactor first prototyped in the 1960s at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

"'“We’ve changed the design to make it more compact, power dense, and able to run on spent nuclear fuel,' says the 31-year-old Dewan, a National Geographic Emerging Explorer....

"Unlike most traditional nuclear reactors that use water as a coolant and are fueled by solid uranium pellets, molten salt reactors [are] fueled by uranium dissolved in liquid salt, consuming fuel more slowly and efficiently.

 "Transatomic's reactor is also designed to automatically shut down during a power outage, with fuel draining into an escape tank and freezing solid, avoiding the kind of meltdown that has made more traditional nuclear power plant development abhorrent to power companies, alternative-energy proponets, environmentalists, and policymakers, many of whom remain alarmed by the prospect of more nuclear power.

 "Transatomic ... offers a solution to the problem of where to store spent nuclear fuel, which has long vexed scientists. Typical nuclear reactors consume only a fraction of the energy in their uranium fuel, which has lead to vast amounts of spent radioactive fuel rods.

"Transatomic's molten salt reactors would use that spent waste.

"''The world’s stockpile of nuclear waste is about 300,000 metric tons, about a football field’s worth that’s two meters deep,' Dewan says. 'There’s a tremendous amount of energy that’s left. With that waste, a waste-consuming molten salt reactor could produce enough electrical energy to power the world for decades.'"

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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Illinois governor signs civil forfeiture reform

Rauner enacts civil asset forfeiture reform |

"September 20, 2017 - "Gov. Bruce Rauner today signed HB303, bipartisan legislation aimed at reforming Illinois’ asset forfeiture system. The reforms will increase transparency and shift burdens of proof to protect innocent citizens while maintaining the proper use of asset forfeiture as a tool for law enforcement. Gov. Rauner was joined by Illinois State Police (ISP) officials, ACLU members, legislators, and advocate organizations.

"'Illinois residents should be protected from the unfair seizure of their private property,' Gov. Rauner said. 'This legislation will enact needed reforms to prevent abuse of the civil asset forfeiture process, while maintaining its importance as a critical tool for law enforcement to make our communities safer.'

"When properly applied, asset forfeiture strikes at the economic foundation of criminal activity.... However, if asset forfeiture is misused, it can have major economic ramifications on Illinoisans who may be innocent of any wrongdoing. The forfeiture of cash, a vehicle, or even a home can also affect their family members and exacerbate financial insecurity.

"This important piece of legislation will provide for greater public transparency in Asset Forfeiture proceedings through the collection and publicly accessible reporting of forfeiture data, as well as additional sanction authority for abuse and violations of forfeiture rules by the ISP.

"HB 303 also shifts the burden of proving guilt to the government, and increases the burden of proof to mirror that of the federal government in forfeiture cases from probable cause to a preponderance of the evidence, a fair and equitable standard. It also makes a number of other changes such as eliminating restrictive bonding requirements and adjusting the threshold amounts of money subject to forfeiture as well as the levels of cannabis and controlled substance possession that can lead to forfeiture proceedings as a way to thoughtfully limit the use of this system to its intended purposes."

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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Chinese government banning digital currencies

China orders Bitcoin exchanges in capital city to close - BBC News:

September 19, 2017 - "China is moving forward with plans to shut down Bitcoin exchanges in the country, starting with trading platforms in key cities.

"All Bitcoin exchanges in Beijing and Shanghai have been ordered to submit plans for winding down their operations by 20 September....

"Chinese authorities decided to ban digital currencies as part of a plan for reducing the country's financial risks.

"A website set up by the Chinese central bank warned that cryptocurrencies are 'increasingly used as a tool in criminal activities such as money laundering, drug trafficking, smuggling, and illegal fundraising'.

"According to a document leaked online by users on the social network Weibo that was seen by Coindesk, Chinese regulators ordered all cryptocurrency exchanges in Beijing to stop registering new user registration by midnight local time on 15 September, and ... to send regulators a detailed 'risk-free' plan of how they intend to exit the market before 18:30 local time on Wednesday 20 September.

"The regulator also ordered the exchanges to submit DVDs containing all user trading and holding data to the local authorities.....

"'China is shutting the exchanges down for good reasons - I think it's right they're being cautious at this time,' Paul Armstrong, an emerging technology adviser and author of the book Disruptive Technologies, told the BBC.... However, Mr Armstrong does not think that this will be the end of Bitcoin in China for good.

"'They're shutting it down for now, but it doesn't mean that in six months or so they won't create new Bitcoin regulations like Japan and Australia did," he said. 'All the other countries have digital currencies and are making important decisions about it, so it doesn't make sense for China to dismiss it out of hand.'"

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Monday, September 18, 2017

US House votes to block civil forfeiture expansion

In Surprise Vote, House Passes Amendment to Restrict Asset Forfeiture - Zaid Jilani, The Intercept:

September 12, 2017 - "In a surprise move, the House of Representatives on Tuesday approved an amendment to the Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act that will roll back Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s expansion of asset forfeiture.

"Amendment No. 126 was sponsored by a bipartisan group of nine members, led by Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich. He was joined by Democratic Reps. Ro Khanna of California; Washington state’s Pramila Jayapal, ... and Hawaii’s Tulsi Gabbard.

"Civil asset forfeiture is a practice in which law enforcement can take assets from a person who is suspected of a crime, even without a charge or conviction. Sessions revived the Justice Department’s Equitable Sharing Program, which allowed state and local police agencies to take assets and then give them to the federal government — which would in turn give a chunk back to local police. This served as a way for these local agencies to skirt past state laws designed to limit asset forfeiture....

"Amash, the prime mover of the amendment, spoke forcefully in favor of the Obama-era rules.... 'Unfortunately these restrictions were revoked in June of this year. My amendment would restore them by prohibiting the use of funds to do adoptive forfeitures that were banned under the 2015 rules,' he explained.

"Virginia Democratic Rep. Don Beyer reached across the aisle to voice support for Amash’s effort. 'Civil asset forfeiture without limits presents one of the strongest threats to our civil, property, and constitutional rights,' he said on the floor. 'It creates a perverse incentive to seek profits over justice.'

"The amendment passed with a voice vote, meaning it had overwhelming support.

"Republican Reps. Mark Sanford of South Carolina, Raúl Labrador of Idaho, and Dana Rohrabacher of California joined in the effort, along with Democrat Earl Blumenauer of Oregon."

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Sunday, September 17, 2017

Film chronicles cancer doctor's battles with FDA (video)

Synopsis - Burzynski, the Movie:

"Burzynski, the Movie is an internationally award-winning documentary originally released in 2010 (with an Extended Edition released in 2011) that tells the true story of a medical doctor and Ph.D biochemist named Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski who won the largest, and possibly the most convoluted and intriguing legal battle against the Food & Drug Administration [FDA] in American history.

"His victorious battles with the United States government were centered around Dr. Burzynski’s gene-targeted cancer medicines he discovered in the 1970’s called Antineoplastons, which have currently completed Phase II FDA-supervised clinical trials in 2009 and ... been given permission by the FDA to begin the final phase of FDA testing – randomized controlled clinical trials....This documentary takes the audience through the treacherous, yet victorious, 14-year journey both Dr. Burzynski and his patients have had to endure in order to obtain FDA-approved clinical trials of Antineoplastons....

"[T]he Food and Drug Administration engaged in four Federal Grand Juries spanning over a decade attempting to indict Dr. Burzynski, all of which ended in no finding of fault on his behalf. Finally, Dr. Burzynski was indicted in their 5th Grand Jury in 1995, resulting in two federal trials and two sets of jurors finding him not guilty of any wrongdoing."

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Saturday, September 16, 2017

Don't blame the alt.right on Ron Paul

Stop trying to blame the alt-right on Ron Paul | Rare - Jack Hunter:

August 25, 2017 - "Did Ron Paul’s popular presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012 kick-start the racist alt-right? No, they didn’t. But some are trying to say they did.

"This conversation began with Matt Lewis’ thought provoking 'The Insidious Libertarian-to-Alt-Right Pipeline' on The Daily Beast Wednesday, in which Lewis ponders if the explosion in popularity of libertarianism over the last decade also served as a breeding ground for today’s new generation of young white nationalists. My answer to Lewis is that ... the overwhelming majority of libertarians did not veer in that direction and explicitly reject white nationalism....

"Then Lewis got around to Ron Paul... '"The paleo-libertarian seed that Ron Paul, Murray Rothbard, and Lew Rockwell planted in the 1990s has come to bear some really ugly fruit in the last couple of years as elements of the alt-right have made appearances in various libertarian organizations and venues,” writes Steve Horwitz, an economist who writes at Bleeding Heart Libertarians.... “In a way, Ron Paul is the guy who lit the fuse,” Nick Gillespie says. “And he embodies some of those contradictions" [between libertarianism and the alt-right]'....

"Horwitz, a left libertarian cited by Lewis, has posted negative things about the Pauls for many years, both Ron and Rand, despite the fact that far less people would even know who Horwitz is and other prominent libertarians if not for the Paul family. That said, Horwitz is not wrong about Rothbard and Rockwell’s dalliances with paleoconservatives in the 1990s, how that racially troubling movement (I identified as paleoconservative back then and know the history well) was a precursor to the alt-right....

"[But] whatever questionable actions Ron Paul’s friends were taking in the 90s, the Ron Paul “rEVOLution” a decade later was the exact opposite regarding the current discussion about the alt-right.... I explained my journey from paleoconservative to libertarian in a lengthy Politico story in 2013. Central to that path was how Paul’s influence pushed me away from the kind of hateful ugliness we see even more extremely with the alt-right today:....

"I cannot count the number of liberty movement members I have met over the course of ten years, traveling across the country during both of Paul’s presidential runs and in the years in between, who had a similar journey: Conservatives who once had little reservation about demonizing immigrants, or blacks or Muslims, who due to Ron Paul’s influence had become libertarians and thus embarrassed by their former views. Not to mention the throngs of people younger than me who came to Ron Paul from not only the right, but left, or even many who had been politically apathetic prior. They weren’t right-wingers looking for redder meat. They were attracted to Paul in part because he was the opposite of that kind of politics, which so many had soured on.....

"I could just as easily make the argument that the Paul’s liberty movement is the exact opposite of the alt-right, something Paul touched on himself commenting on the chaos in Charlottesville."

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Friday, September 15, 2017

Senate kills Rand Paul's war powers repeal

Senate scuttles Rand Paul's war powers repeal - POLITICO - Connor O'Brien:

September 13, 2017 - "The Senate Wednesday scuttled a proposal by Sen. Rand Paul to repeal the war authorizations that underpin the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as military action in a slew of other countries.

"The vote was 61 to 36 to table — or kill — Paul's amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act. The Kentucky Republican's proposal would have repealed both the 2001 and 2002 authorizations for the use of military force [AUMF's] six months after the bill becomes law, giving lawmakers a tight window to pass a new framework for U.S. military operations overseas....

"In a floor speech Tuesday, Paul torched his fellow lawmakers for refusing to vote to authorize the myriad military actions the U.S. has engaged in since the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington on Sept. 11, 2001. 'I don't think that anyone with an ounce of intellectual honesty believes that these authorizations from 16 years ago and 14 years ago ... authorized war in seven different countries,' Paul said.

"Wednesday's vote came after Paul blocked Senate leaders' efforts to speed consideration of the must-pass defense policy bill for two days. Paul objected to procedural efforts to begin debate sooner and threatened to hold up all other senators' amendments if he wasn't granted a vote on his proposal.

"Paul was joined by senators from both parties who supported sunsetting the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs in order to force Congress to debate and pass a new authorization that covers the current military campaign against ISIS as well as other contingencies.

"Virginia Democrat Tim Kaine, who has pushed for a new AUMF with Arizona Republican Jeff Flake, said it was 'way past time' for a vote.... 'Of all the powers Congress has, the one that we should most jealously guard is the power to declare war,' he said....

"In a classified briefing with senators in August, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the 2001 AUMF provides legal authority for current military operations in the Middle East, though Mattis has said Congress should enact a new resolution."

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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Let FISA surveillance law expire, says Sarwark

US Libertarian Party Wants Key Surveillance Law to Elapse Without Renewal - Sputnik International:

September 13, 2017 - "The US Libertarian Party (LP) does not want the controversial US surveillance law empowering authorities to carry out warrantless surveillance of foreign targets, to be reauthorized and instead suggests that it simply end ... by the start of 2018, the chairman of the party's executive body, the Libertarian National Committee, told Sputnik on Wednesday.

"In a letter dated September 7, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions and National Intelligence Director Dan Coats called on US Congressmen to permanently reauthorize Section 702 of a 2008 package of amendments to the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which is set to expire at the end of the year....

"'We would like the bill to elapse completely and sunset and not to be renewed at all — not permanently, not for five years, not for even one year,' Nicholas Sarwark said, stressing that the US National Security Agency (NSA) and the country's law enforcement agencies had abused powers granted to them....

"'The US government has shown that it is unwilling to abide by rules laid out in legislation, while Congressmen have demonstrated that they are unwilling to exercise meaningful oversight, Sarwark continued. Therefore, the only sensible solution to the situation at this point is "to let the law elapse and start over if there are in fact legitimate intelligence gathering tools that can be done in a constitutional manner....

"'Law enforcement would always like to have more tools and the Constitution does not make law enforcement easier, it makes it harder. That is the point of our Constitution and it is exactly backward to say "well, can we make law enforcement’s job easier at the costs of individuals’ privacy,"' the politician suggested....

"Mass surveillance by US authorities in the United States and other countries was revealed in classified US documents published by former NSA employee turned whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013, prompting criticism from governments, as well as human right advocates and activist groups across the globe."

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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Colorado governor signs civil forfeiture reform bill

Civil forfeiture reform protects Colorado property owners | - Bill Grant, Grand Junction Daily Sentinel:

August 23, 2017 -  "The Civil Forfeiture reform bill (HB1313) signed by Gov. John Hickenlooper last Friday makes Colorado the latest of more than 20 states that have limited the power of law enforcement agencies to seize cash and property from suspected drug dealers or other detained individuals without due process, including arrest and filing charges.

Hickenlooper was not initially a supporter of HB1313.... 'We used our weight to push against it,' Hickenlooper said. 'Usually when you push against something that hard and it still passes, it’s hard to stop it.'

"HB1313 prohibits seizing agencies from receiving proceeds from the federal government unless the value of the property and currency in the case exceeds $50,000 and the federal government commences a forfeiture proceeding that relates to a criminal case.

"HB1313 also provides new reporting requirements and puts limits on asset forfeiture proceeds government agencies can receive for crime-fighting purposes.

"This was not a partisan issue in the legislature. 'Civil asset forfeiture reform passed the legislature by a combined vote of 81 to 19,” the ACLU of Colorado said in a letter urging Hickenlooper to sign the bill. 'It was supported by Republicans, Democrats, libertarians, progressives and just about everyone in between,' Denise Maes, ACLU public policy director wrote. 'Coloradans want and deserve stronger protections when property is taken by police'...

"In a statement attached to HB1313 by Hickenlooper when he signed it, the governor identified additional reforms he would like to implement in the next legislative session to address fairness and protection of citizens facing civil asset forfeiture. 'Government should never keep assets seized from innocent people,' Hickenlooper wrote in his letter....

"Hickenlooper’s agenda for the next legislative session will build on the progress thus far toward reforming civil forfeiture laws. He has called on the Legislature to provide funds to current recipients of forfeiture proceeds to keep them whole, while removing any real or perceived financial interest in forfeitures by appropriating adequate funds to support the program."

"So long as police departments and county sheriffs continue to reap profits from forfeitures to use in their law enforcement programs, the incentive to seize property for profit is very real, critics contend."

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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Ontario Liberals plan cannabis monopoly

Ontario LCBO cannabis sales plan a missed opportunity - Michael Schulman, Yahoo Finance Canada:

September 11, 2017 - "Ontario’s plan to sell recreational marijuana through dozens of government-controlled outlets 'is grossly insufficient' in meeting consumer demand and will 'encourage' the growth of the black market, experts say.

"Finance Minister Charles Sousa, Health Minister Eric Hoskins and Attorney General Yasir Naqvi revealed the details of the rollout Friday, which will see 40 LCBO-run marijuana stores — separate from its liquor vending locations —  in place across the province by next July, with that number rising to 80 in 2019 and 150 in 2020. A government website dedicated to online sales is in the works for 2018....

"The Liberal government said the plan will allow the LCBO to sell marijuana at competitive prices, snuff out the black market and boost provincial coffers through tax revenues.... However, experts are skeptical that the distribution model will have its intended effects.

"Anindya Sen, a professor of economics at the University of Waterloo, told Yahoo Canada Finance that he is 'disappointed' the province didn’t utilize the existing marijuana dispensaries and that the number of planned LCBO-run stores won’t be enough to meet consumer demand.

'My concern is that the objective of making (dispensaries) illegal is to stamp out the illicit market, but this will do anything but stamp out the illicit market, in fact, it will encourage the growth of an illicit market because there’s simply not enough stores'.... He said that it will also take time and 'a lot of money' to set up these new government-controlled outlets.

"Rosalie Wyonch, a policy analyst at the C.D. Howe Institute, echoed Sen’s concerns, saying that there are at least 100 marijuana dispensaries and delivery services currently operating in Toronto alone, and the Liberal government’s plan misses the opportunity to take advantage of that foothold in the market.... Wyonch said the dispensaries could’ve been licensed and regulated by the government, rather than being turned into black market competition.

"'Instead, we’ve got these hundreds of business ... owners and all their employees potentially facing penalties if they chose to continue to operate,' she said. 'The levying of these penalities will require significant justice and police resources, so to me it’s just a missed opportunity that we could’ve avoided ... altogether by bringing those retail storefronts into a competitive, legal market.'

"Wyonch added that since the these government-controlled stores will have no legal competition, there’s essentially no incentive to constrain their operating costs, which could, in turn, inflate prices and make it harder to compete with the black market.'"

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Monday, September 11, 2017

Maine county commissioner joins Libertarians

Maine county commissioner switches to LP | Libertarian Party - Bob Johnston:

September 8, 2017 - "Zakk Maher, a county commissioner for Androscoggin County, Maine, switched to the Libertarian Party on Sept. 7. Maher was elected to the seat last November as a Republican, defeating the challenger with 63 percent of the vote. The term of the seat lasts until the end of 2020.

"Maher is the second county commissioner to switch to the Libertarian Party in the past year. Jim Byrne of the Kankakee County Board in Illinois came over to the LP last Dec. 7....

"The Libertarian Party now has 159 elected officials."
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The Productive Path Forward | Zakk Maher, Androscoggin County Commissioner:

September 7, 2017 - "In an effort to reaffirm my own principles, as well as my passion for community service, I am enrolling in the Libertarian Party of Maine. I believe that each of us as a 'living creature, the creating individual,' as Bruce Lee once mused, 'is always more important than any established style or system.' As a Libertarian, I feel confident that when I say we believe in you, there are no ifs, ands or buts. And by freeing ourselves from the current political dichotomy I am positive the path forward for the County, the State and the Nation will be less turbulent, allowing our interpersonal relationships within our own community to bear much more fruit.

"I have caucused within the Republican party since 2004, supporting principled candidates that shared my vision of reducing the budgetary girth of the federal government in favor of more just and accountable controls at the State and County level. I also pushed for a pivot in philosophy, supporting a platform that respects the sovereignty of the individual in all matters of life, love and morality, as these are serious topics much too personal to be taken out of the hands of families directly impacted.

"These closely held ideals are what initially drew me to the party.... Yet, as the proclivities of the Republican Party drift further from my core belief of being fiscally conservative and legislatively unobtrusive, I feel it is only fair to myself and those I represent to formally follow my heart out of the party that had left me in spirit amid this past election cycle.... Still, this is not an action I take lightly, or without reservation.

"By taking the path less traveled I seek not to be followed, but rather inspire others to reassess their politics and focus on their own journey towards a peaceful and prosperous future."
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Sunday, September 10, 2017

Dave Smith releases comedy special Sept. 11 (video)

Libertarian Comedian Dave Smith on the Alt-Right, Christopher Cantwell, and How the Left 'Went Off the Rails' - - Nick Gillespie & Mark McDaniel:

September 8, 2017 - "New York comedian Dave Smith says he 'became a libertarian through the Ron Paul movement. He challenged all of my preconceived notions about what government was [and]...inspired me to read all of these people, like Rothbard, Mises, and Friedman.'

"When Bernie Sanders became a national figure, what Smith hated most about the Vermont senator was that he was aesthetically like a carbon copy of Paul — 'a kind of disheveled, older guy who's just a truth teller.'

"[The difference was that] 'Bernie would go around to these kids and be like, "Hey, so you're a college kid in 2017, you're among the richest, freest, most privileged people who have ever existed, [so] billionaires should be paying your bills for you" ... It was the difference between a propagandist and a truth teller.'

"Smith, 34, is a regular on the New York City stand up circuit and hosts two popular podcasts on the GaS Digital Network, Legion of Skanks and Part of the Problem. On September 11, he'll release his first comedy special, Libertas, which will be available for download here."

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Saturday, September 9, 2017

Why libertarians should see antifa as a threat

Antifa Has Backed Its Message With Violence for Decades in Europe - - Frederik Segerfeldt:

September 8, 2017 - "It is a cold and dark January night in the Swedish town of Eskilstuna. Fredrik Nyqvist and a friend are walking home from the founding meeting of the local section of the minuscule Libertarian Party.

"Suddenly, four men in black clothes and facemasks show up, knocking the two unconscious. One of the offenders later bragged about jumping on Fredrik's head, causing injuries that kept him hospitalized for days....

"At his home a couple of days later, a third party member received a note from a group claiming responsibility for the attack, and was warned:
We hereby give you a chance to terminate all political activities. Failing to do so, you may be the next one to be physically reminded of the consequences of pursuing anti-working class policies.
"The Antifa, or anti-fascist, movement ... resurfaced in various European countries in the 1980s and 1990s, attracting plenty of attention during the anti-globalization protests at the turn of the millennium. Since then, Antifa have systematically used violence as a political tool., Mainstream center-right politicians, leftist mayors and government bureaucrats have been targeted. Apart from the usual assaults, Antifa members have made arson and gas attacks.

"An original Antifa specialty is rioting, making up the Black Bloc of more mainstream leftist demonstrations, not least in protests against summits of international organizations.... The most recent example was the G20 meeting in July, when large parts of Hamburg, Germany were under siege and private property worth millions of dollars was vandalized....

"The American outfit copycats its elder siblings from across the pond, blending in with democratic leftist groups (acting as self-appointed bodyguards), creating Lenin-style united-front coalitions to gain legitimacy (who is not an anti-fascist?) and applying a very wide definition of the term fascist (most people they don't agree with).... Just as its European counterparts, the US Antifa is a mix of mainly left-anarchists and hard-core Marxists....

"So, should libertarians not be favorably inclined towards a movement that fights authoritarianism and centralization, standing up against the ugly collectivist ideology of racism? Well, it takes two to tango. And Antifa itself does not seem to think we have much in common.

"Our beliefs in the rule of law, property rights, and markets are anathema to them. So, on the contrary, they are not allies, but rather a major challenge to the liberty that we cherish. Libertarians do not subscribe to threats, physical violence, and vandalism as political methods."

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Friday, September 8, 2017

BC drug minister open to decriminalizing heroin

PM says no to decriminalizing drugs, B.C. addictions minister open to idea | Toronto Star - Camille Bains, Canadian Press:

September 7, 2017 - "Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has closed the door on decriminalizing illicit drugs to combat a national overdose crisis but British Columbia’s addictions minister says unprecedented deaths are a 'wake-up call' to reconsider that stance.

"Trudeau said decriminalization is not the approach Canada will take to deal with deadly overdoses often involving the opioid fentanyl.

"'We are making headway on this and indeed the crisis continues and indeed spreads across the country but we are not looking at legalizing any other drugs than marijuana for the time being,' Trudeau told a news conference Thursday at the end of a caucus meeting in Kelowna, B.C....

"Judy Darcy, British Columbia’s minister of mental health and addictions, said criminalizing people for having limited amounts of drugs for their own use instead of providing treatment puts them at risk of fatally overdosing.

"'I think we need to have this conversation in this country,' she said of decriminalizing small amounts of drugs such as heroin. 'Sometimes governments need to be pushed.'

"Darcy said decriminalization would go a long way in destigmatizing substance use because shame often bars people from getting treatment or even using supervised consumption sites.... 'If this overdose crisis is not a wake-up call, I don’t know what is,' she said. 'Not treating addiction the way we would any other chronic condition clearly is not working'....

"The BC Coroners Service said 876 people died in the province between January and July, up from 483 fatalities during the same months last year.

"Darcy, who spoke about the epidemic Thursday at a drug-conference headlined by an addictions expert from Portugal, said that country’s experience of decriminalizing limited amounts of some drugs in 2001, along with providing more treatment and programs that address stigma, should serve as a lesson for Canada."

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Thursday, September 7, 2017

Australian libertarian conservative makes case for same-sex marriage

Same-sex marriage: A libertarian conservative case for voting ‘yes’ - Janet Albrechtsen, The Australian:

September 6, 2017 - "If the High Court decides the upcoming same-sex marriage postal vote can go ahead this month, I will vote Yes. Some will say that casts me as conservative charlatan.... Yet voting Yes is entirely consistent with anti-statist, libertarian and indeed conservative beliefs that the state should stay out of our personal lives. Here is the libertarian conservative case for voting Yes to same-sex marriage.

"Voting No because same-sex marriage activists in politics, the media and beyond have overplayed their hand is not a position of principle. It’s a reaction rather than an answer to the broader question of whether gay and lesbian couples should be allowed to marry....

"As a libertarian, social change that enables more freedom for people to mark their relationship by marrying, to seek the stability that marriage can offer, ought to be recognised rather than rebuffed. Same-sex marriage will become law eventually because higher numbers of younger people support same-sex marriage than older people.

"That generational tide won’t be held at bay. Younger members of my family, my daughters in their 20s, can’t see what the fuss is about. Of course same-sex couples should be allowed to marry, they say. To their credit, they convinced me of that.

"There’s nothing wrong with being on the slow side of history, but ultimately opposing same-sex marriage rubbed up against my belief that governments have no business policing private relationships that do no harm to others. First principles of libertarian conservatives start with John Stuart Mill’s essay On Liberty: “The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.'

"As Mill explained, a government presuming to regulate us for our own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient to warrant interference in our lives. Who is to say what is 'good' for us better than what we choose for ourselves?

“'The only part of the conduct of anyone, for which he is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign,' wrote Mill. First principles don’t have an expiration date....

"Libertarian conservatives who believe in the liberal project where individual dignity flourishes with greater freedom will regard liberty as a good reason to support same-sex marriage and an even better reason to fight against these ideological bullies and the illiberal forces."

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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Prohibitionists dominate MA cannabis commission

Four out of Massachusetts' Five Cannabis Control Commission Members Oppose Recreational Legalization - News | MERRY JANE - Tyler Koslow:

September 6, 2017 - "With recreational cannabis legislation expected to go into effect next year, Massachusetts lawmakers recently finished putting together a marijuana policy board to help craft regulations for the Northeastern state's pot industry. At the surface, you might expect this to be the last progressive step towards full-scale legalization, but there seems to be a troubling pattern among the members of the new Cannabis Control Commission.

"According to the Associated Press, back in November, four out of the five appointed board members voted against recreational cannabis legalization. This has raised serious concern among local advocates, many of whom are calling for reassurance that the panel won’t try to hinder implementation of the voter-approved law....

"The board was selected by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey, and state Treasurer Deb Goldberg. Of the five appointed commissioners, only [Shaleen] Title ... voted in favor of the state's recreational cannabis ballot measure. Known as a strong voice in the marijuana movement, she is a founding member of the Minority Cannabis Business Association, an organization that pushes for local policies that promote diversity in the pot industry....

"None of the four members that voted against legalization have publicly expressed concrete reasoning for why they don’t support recreational marijuana....

As the future success of Massachusetts cannabis regulations rest in the hands of the Cannabis Control Commission, voters have a valid reason to question the track record of these anti-pot appointees. Whether the board satisfies the wishes of state constituents or not, they can be sure that marijuana advocates will be watching every step with a wary eye."

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Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Libertarians call for spending as well as tax cuts Trump’s ‘major’ tax overhaul a major disappointment | Independent Political Report:

September 5, 2017 - 'President Trump’s proposal for a major tax overhaul addresses only one half of America’s economic problems,' said Libertarian National Committee Chair Nicholas Sarwark. 'Trump’s proposal to cut the federal corporate income tax from 35 percent to 15 percent is merely a first step. American corporate taxes are substantially higher than those of most other industrialized nations. That incentivizes American corporations to stash cash from foreign earnings overseas, rather than bring it back to be spent or invested in the United States. Any tax cut is a good thing, but a tax cut without a corresponding federal spending cut is essentially meaningless to average Americans.'

"Referring to research by Mercatus Senior Research Fellow Veronique de Rugy, Sarwark pointed out that '43 percent of federal spending is borrowed. Nearly 70 percent of federal spending is in so-called mandatory spending (Social Security and other pensions, health care, interest on the debt, and various income transfer programs). That means the government is already borrowing before it even thinks about discretionary spending (defense, courts, regulatory agencies, roads, etc.). That’s all borrowed money.

"Sarwark continued, 'Whether the federal government borrows the money it spends or extracts it from the people through taxation makes little difference. In either case, it is money that is no longer available to be spent or voluntarily invested in the economy. Instead, it is spent far less productively, on wars, counterproductive bureaucracies, and the transfer of earnings from people who work to those who don’t'....

"The Libertarian solution is to eliminate the 43 percent of federal spending that is borrowed, with these common-sense, simple measures: limit defense spending to defense, eliminate counterproductive regulatory bureaucracies, and phase the government out of the health care and pension businesses. Then cut spending even more, with corresponding cuts in taxes.

"Americans spend more on federal, state, and local taxes than they do on food and clothing combined, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report released last week. People get their money’s worth in food and clothing. They don’t get it in government services."

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Monday, September 4, 2017

Did lack of zoning contribute to Houston flooding?

Don't blame Houston’s lack of zoning for Harvey flooding | TheHill - Scott Beyer:

September 3, 2017 - "Houston was recently victim to the largest rainfall in U.S. history, a 52” deluge from Hurricane Harvey that’s left many parts of the metro still underwater. Houston is also arguably the nation’s least-regulated metro area for land use, featuring a central city that doesn’t even have a zoning code.

"This correlation is, apparently, enough for the media to conclude that one has to do with the other.... Houston, wrote the Washington Post, 'is the largest U.S. city to have no zoning laws, part of a hands-off approach to urban planning that may have contributed to catastrophic flooding from Hurricane Harvey and left thousands of residents in harm’s way.'

"The oddest thing about this analysis is that it misses the actual details of Houston’s land-use policy. The city proper, while technically without zoning, still preserves many of the regulations found in other cities, which inhibit density.... Much of the sprawl development being criticized, meanwhile, wasn’t built in the city anyway. Since 2010, Houston has been America’s fastest-growing metro in net terms, adding 850,000. Only 200,000 of this has been in the city, while the rest has arisen in boomburbs like Katy and Sugar Land. And those municipalities have zoning codes that, again, discourage density.

“'This is not a zoning-related problem,' Jim Blackburn, a civil engineering professor at Rice University, said to me about the flooding....

"The idea that Houston’s land use decisions were the main cause for flooding is absurd on its face. No amount of regulation will properly absorb or confine a year’s-worth of rainwater falling in 5 days. New York City, which is basically the anti-Houston — a dense, regulated city — was devastated by Superstorm Sandy, when just a few inches of rain and strong winds caused flooding in all 5 boroughs.

"And the idea that Houston’s land-use decisions were even a minor factor in the flooding looks increasingly baseless.... The wetlands that have been lost to development since 1990 would have absorbed an estimated 4 billion gallons; the rainfall that Harvey dumped onto the Houston area was an estimated 20 trillion [20,000 billion - gd] gallons....

"Blackburn believes that there are still measures Houston can take to lessen future flooding.... Even if strong growth continues in Houston, it will need to be different — which he believes, counterintuitive to many commentators, should mean more market-oriented. Blackburn said that a FEMA flood insurance program has distorted settlement patterns, incentivizing many to locate near bayous or in flood plains. And he thinks that Houston’s future development will be denser, and built in more elevated areas.

"The irony is that Houston, because of its looser regulations, will likelier tolerate such dense development. This contrasts with, say, New Orleans, another flood-prone city where much of the housing remains in flood plains, but where zoning laws restrict construction in wealthier, higher-elevation areas.... Houston’s lack of zoning and minimal regulation, while not the cause of flooding, may in the future be the greatest control against it."

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Sunday, September 3, 2017

Routledge Handbook of Libertarianism published

The Routledge Handbook of Libertarianism - The Washington Post - Ilya Somin, The Volokh Conspiracy:

August 29, 2017 - "The Routledge Handbook of Libertarianism  (edited by Jason Brennan, Bas van der Vossen, and David Schmidtz), has just been published. This book is the most wide-ranging analysis of libertarianism, its strengths and weaknesses, and its applications to a wide range of political issues, to be published in a long time.

"In addition to the editors, contributors include a wide range of prominent libertarian scholars and critics of libertarianism, including Peter Boettke, Geoffrey Brennan, Sarah Conley, Jessica Flanigan, Samuel Freeman, Gerald Gaus,  Michael Huemer, Peter Jaworski,  Anna Stilz, Fernando R. Tesón, Kevin Vallier, and others....

"Here is the publisher’s summary of the book:
Libertarians often bill their theory as an alternative to both the traditional Left and Right. The Routledge Handbook of Libertarianism helps readers fully examine this alternative without preaching it to them, exploring the contours of libertarian (sometimes also called classical liberal) thinking on justice, institutions, interpersonal ethics, government, and political economy. The 31 chapters – all written specifically for this volume – are organized into five parts. Part I asks, what should libertarianism learn from other theories of justice, and what should defenders of other theories of justice learn from libertarianism? Part II asks, what are some of the deepest problems facing libertarian theories? Part III asks, what is the right way to think about property rights and the market? Part IV asks, how should we think about the state? Finally, part V asks, how well (or badly) can libertarianism deal with some of the major policy challenges of our day, such as immigration, trade, religion in politics, and paternalism in a free market. Among the Handbook’s chapters are those from critics who write about what they believe libertarians get right as well as others from leading libertarian theorists who identify what they think libertarians get wrong. As a whole, the Handbook provides a comprehensive, clear-eyed look at what libertarianism has been and could be, and why it matters.
"Sadly, the price [$171. on Amazon - gd] may well be too high ... to buy the book ... for anyone but libraries, the very wealthy, and academics with expense accounts. But if you’re at all interested in the subject, you should definitely at least take a look at it and check out some of the chapters."

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Saturday, September 2, 2017

Liberty magazine marks its 30th year

We’re Here! | Liberty Unbound - Stephen Cox:

August 28, 2017 - "Thirty years ago, the first issue of Liberty appeared. It was dated August 1987, and it emerged from an old house high on a hill in the little town of Port Townsend, Washington, overlooking the Puget Sound.

"Liberty was born at the moment when technology was making it possible to create a national magazine in one’s own home — if you were willing to perform the backbreaking effort necessary to get it to other people’s homes. R.W. Bradford and Kathy Bradford, who lived in the house on the hill, were willing to do that. Timothy Virkkala was their learned assistant in the project. And this, I suppose, is where I come into the story. I was Bill Bradford’s old friend from Michigan, our home state, who was privileged to become an editor-at-long-distance.... One of Liberty’s first gifts to me was a svelte little plastic fax machine into which I could feed my handwritten copy (or copy embodied in a bad, bad computer printout), so it could be transmitted to Liberty HQ and retyped for publication....

"Within a few years, all copy became digital, human and financial costs-per-word decreased, and Liberty was being mailed to thousands of readers, all over the world. We started at six big issues a year, then went to 11 or 12 big issues. From the start, we had attracted most of the great names in the libertarian movement, and we continued to attract them, from Murray Rothbard to John Hospers to Milton Friedman.... .

"In December 2005, Bill died in his house on the hill, after a long and heroic struggle with cancer. One of his last concerns was the future of Liberty. We talked on the phone, a couple of weeks before his death, and I agreed to take the job as editor in chief. The good thing about me was that I had been an editor from the start and had been the only person, besides Bill himself, who had written something for every issue. The bad thing was that I lacked Bill’s gargantuan energy, his intimate knowledge of everything libertarian, and his . . . just everything that distinguished him as a great human being. For me, the good thing about my new job was that I got to collaborate with the amazing people who did the real work: Kathy Bradford, Mark Rand, Patrick Quealy, and Drew Ferguson....

"In 2010, Liberty passed into its third technological era. Print journalism was on its way out. Fewer people wanted to wait for Liberty to arrive by mail. Bill had once been proud that we had subscribers in virtually every real country in the world, but changes in postal rates had nearly eliminated our worldwide audience. We needed to make a change, and we did: in late 2010, we became an online journal....

"Substantial writing is writing that endures, and I think you’ll find that the great majority of the writing we’ve published retains its interest in a way that journal writing ordinarily does not."

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Friday, September 1, 2017

Indiana Libertarians organizing at county level

Libertarian Party Of Indiana Expands Leadership To Several More Counties -

August 11, 2017 - "The Libertarian Party of Indiana [LPIN] announces the installment of new leaders in several counties across the state. This continues the pattern of growth for the LPIN, even in an off-cycle year for elections.

"LPIN State Chair Tim Maguire stated that the Party has installed new County Chairs in Jackson, Knox and Hendricks counties. Those roles have been filled by Erin Meadors, Micah Haynes and Eric Knipe respectively.

"'We're continuing to experience a surge in activity all around the state,' said Maguire. 'After the 2016 election, we never saw new interest in the Libertarian Party dwindle. Through that desire for liberty from our citizens, we have been able to identify the excitement found in these new leaders. They are just a small portion of the former Republicans and Democrats that have realized that the old parties don't represent us anymore'....

"The first half of 2017 saw the expansion of Libertarian leadership in Carroll, Morgan, Montgomery and Jasper Counties.

 "Maguire went on to say that, 'the Libertarian Party of Indiana is always looking for people interested in helping spread liberty by taking leadership roles in their community. I encourage anyone looking for a way to participate to reach out to me. We are excited about the possibility of working together with you.'"

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