Monday, December 31, 2018

A Libertarian look at "government shutdown"

Partial government shutdown drags into 2019 with no end in sight | Fox News - Alex Pappas:

December 31, 2018 - "The partial federal government shutdown enters its second week – and the new year – without a deal to re-open the government in sight.... Republicans and Democrats have been at a standstill over President Trump's demands for $5 billion to fund the border wall....

"Funding for a slew of federal agencies lapsed at midnight on Dec. 22 – just days before Christmas – after Congress and the White House failed to pass a spending package. Nine of 15 Cabinet-level departments and dozens of agencies have closed, affecting about a quarter of the federal government."
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Some Libertarians Cheer When the Government Shuts Down. Here’s Why They Shouldn’t. | Cato Institute - Jeffrey Miron:

January 21, 2018 - "Libertarians believe in smaller government.... So one might naturally assume that libertarians would cheer federal government shutdowns. These do not stop all federal government activities, but they at least suspend some parts temporarily....

"But I think that view is a mistake. Perhaps shutdowns serve the libertarian view in a small way by illustrating that government is not as essential as past and present gloom-and-doom commentary suggests. After all, the United States has experienced 18 shutdowns, of varying size, since 1976, and in each case, the world kept spinning on its axis.

"They have no meaningful effect on how much the government spends, however. To begin with, shutdowns are (presumably) temporary.... And if history is a guide, then most of the suspended expenditures for salaries, benefits, and the like will be paid retroactively.... Shutdowns also have zero effect on entitlements like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Obamacare.... Because entitlements constitute the large majority (roughly 67 percent) of federal expenditure, and because this component is growing at an unsustainable rate, shutdowns cannot have any meaningful impact on the budget deficit. And even with discretionary spending, around half is exempt given that many Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security functions are exempted from the shutdown, because they are considered 'essential' services.

"What’s more, praising the shutdown lends credence to the view that libertarians hate government in all its forms.... Libertarians believe most government impinges our freedom and reduces economic efficiency [and] will happily vote to reduce most government, but in an orderly way that gives current beneficiaries time to adjust and allows private markets and institutions to develop in the place of government. Given the abrupt personal and economic disruption shutdowns cause, they may actually hurt the cause of small government....

"Libertarians will only succeed in reducing the size of government when they convince non-libertarians that smaller government is better. A government shutdown does little to nothing to change minds.... Shutdowns distract from the serious conversations that need to be had about fiscal reform and the size of government."
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Sunday, December 30, 2018

Clint Eastwood: still going strong, still libertarian

Clint Eastwood: Actor, Director, Musician, Politician, and Libertarian · 71 Republic - Brennan Dube:

December 26, 2018 - "Clint Eastwood Jr. was born May 31st, 1930 in San Francisco and his life journey has been remarkable. He will go down as one of Hollywood’s greatest legends and has been in films in each of the last 7 decades. Some of his best hits include ... The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Dirty Harry, Escape from Alcatraz, Million Dollar Baby, and Gran Torino, also having directed the latter two..., Eastwood has ... directed over 30 films and has won several Academy Awards including Best Director on two separate occasions.

"Eastwood has a cemented legacy in America and will forever be remembered for what he has done in Hollywood, but some may not realize just how political Clint Eastwood was.... Eastwood was a very passionate ideological follower of politics and his roots lie in Libertarianism. After being a member of the Republican party ... 1952-1974, Eastwood became an Independent and stayed as one until 1997. Following the 23 years as an Independent, Eastwood then registered as a Libertarian and has apparently been one ever since; he confirmed he was a registered party member in 2009.

"In a 2004 interview with USA Today, Eastwood stated he wasn’t conservative ... but more so libertarian. Eastwood went on to state his life-long belief in leaving everyone alone. On an Ellen interview in 2012, Eastwood reaffirmed his idealistic position in stating his firm belief in social liberalism and fiscal responsibility. Now his rhetoric doesn’t just stay put at just rhetoric, Eastwood has actually held public office.... Eastwood served as Mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea ... 1986-1988 and sat on the California State Park and Recreation Commission....

"Some other celebrities who identify as Libertarians are, actor Vince Vaughn, former WWE wrestler Kane (Glenn Jacobs), Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales, actor Kurt Russell, and American Idol Star Kelly Clarkson....

"Eastwood’s most recent film: The Mule, opened up in theatres on December 14th and it follows the true story of the eldest known drug mule in history. Clint Eastwood not only plays the mule but also directs the film. This is his first lead acting role since his supposed retirement in 2012.... Check out my review of The Mule here."

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Saturday, December 29, 2018

Conservatism vs. classical liberalism

Conservatism and Classical Liberalism Don’t Share the Same Values - James Peron, The Radical Centre:

November 3, 2018 - "Too many sympathizers to libertarian ideas think the core of liberalism is free markets and thus they fall for the delusion that conservatives are some variant of 'classical liberal,' because they claim to support markets.

"But, a classical liberal holds to individual rights as his core value, not markets. Markets are derivatives of rights theory ... intertwined with the liberal theory of rights. Conservatives tend to oppose individual rights for collectivist concepts. The 'common good' comes before individual rights to them.... It is no different with the illiberal Left, who make similar arguments.

"Individual rights means individualism  —  something for which conservatives don’t care. They are advocates of the herd, they preach social conformity in the name of tradition. They are happy for you to be free regarding which toothpaste to buy, just not thrilled if you assert the right to pick which person to marry....

"Economics, while individualistic at its core, is also very herd oriented.... Human economic needs are global, pervasive, and common to all ... what Abraham Maslow called lower order needs....

"Economic needs are not particularly individualistic. Thus conservatives don’t immediately oppose this freedom in the short term. I do think they oppose it in the long term, and there were plenty of times in history when conservatives opposed it in the short term as well.... Conservatives have not been friends of free markets overall. Economic rights just aren’t seen as automatically threatening to the conservative herd identity.

"What really gets the conservative’s back up is social freedom [or] freedom in the ... non-market realm. It is linked to markets but it is heavily about individualistic wants and needs, or what Maslow called self-actualization needs. Lower order needs tend to be relatively similar for all. Higher order needs are strongly individualized.

"The conservative is happy with freedom for the herd  —  that is in those areas where everyone has roughly similar needs — just not freedom for the individual  —  where needs and wants are unique, individualistic, perhaps even idiosyncratic or eccentric....

"The smaller the minority the more likely, I suggest, the conservative is to attack it. The closer it gets to the unique individual, the further it drifts from the herd, and conservative values are ultimately herd values. Theirs were values fit for a world where food was scarce and life was primitive....

"For the conservative mind it is easy to be 'liberal' when it comes to property rights, difficult when it comes to gender identity, same-sex marriage, religious skepticism, etc.... Given the consensus in favor of markets — impure ones perhaps, but still markets — it is much more telling to discover how much social freedom one is willing to grant. Where they stand on rights for LGBT people, or 'illegal' drugs, or censorship of erotica, is more indicative as to whether they are a classical liberal than their position on price controls or lower taxes."

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Friday, December 28, 2018

Albuquerque civil forfeiture struck down on appeal

Cops Can't Ignore New Mexico's Ban On Civil Forfeiture, Court Rules - Nick Sibilla, Forbes:

December 19, 2018 - "The city of Albuquerque cannot confiscate cars without a criminal conviction and must comply with a New Mexico state law that abolished civil forfeiture, the New Mexico Court of Appeals ruled this month. Under a vehicle seizure ordinance intended to combat drunk driving, Albuquerque seized hundreds of cars from innocent owners and freely admitted that “about half of the vehicles” taken “are not owned by the offender that we confiscate it from.” Confiscations were so lucrative, program revenue frequently exceeded expenses, giving police and prosecutors their own slush fund worth millions of dollars.

"Writing for a unanimous court, Judge Stephen French ruled that Albuquerque’s forfeiture program was 'wholly contrary to the language and spirit' of New Mexico’s reform, which preempted the city's ordinance 'in its entirety.' This decision joins a landmark ruling from late July that declared Albuquerque’s forfeiture program unconstitutional.

“'When we came into office, I halted vehicle forfeitures' ... Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said in a statement. 'During this time, our police department has ramped up other effective DWI prevention efforts to combat drunk driving and make our city safer.'

"Back in 2015, state lawmakers unanimously passed the New Mexico Forfeiture Act (NMFA) after several New Mexico law enforcement officials were caught on camera making outrageous comments about civil forfeiture. This landmark law abolished the practice throughout the state.... But several cities, including Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Las Cruces, refused to comply. These municipalities continued to seize cars under their existing ordinances, which lacked the protections now guaranteed by state law....

"From fiscal 2009 to 2016, Albuquerque collected $11.8 million in revenue from its forfeiture program, with $3.7 million spent on salaries and benefits for the DWI Seizure Unit. Forfeiture revenue even funded the paychecks of the city attorneys who prosecuted forfeiture cases...

"To justify its noncompliance, Albuquerque argued that municipalities could 'opt-in' to the NMFA.... But Judge French ... cited the NMFA’s purposes, which explicitly stated that the law was enacted to 'ensure that only criminal forfeiture is allowed in this state.' The continued existence of Albuquerque’s civil forfeiture program 'subverts the NMFA’s clearly stated purpose'....

"In the wake of the decision, Santa Fe suspended its own DWI vehicle forfeiture program last week, which was the second largest in the state. Since the NMFA went into effect in 2015, Santa Fe seized nearly 1,600 vehicles, auctioning off 362 of them."

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Thursday, December 27, 2018

Thais vote for legal medical cannabis & kratom

Thailand legislature legalises medical cannabis and kratom - Al Jazeera:

December 25, 2018 - "Thailand's legislature has agreed to amend the country's drug law to allow the licensed medical use of cannabis, as well as kratom, a locally grown plant traditionally used as a stimulant and painkiller. The Thai legislation on Tuesday passed its final reading at the National Legislative Assembly by a vote of 166-0 with 13 abstentions....

"The changes, which become law when published in the Royal Gazette, legalise the production, import, export, possession and use of cannabis and kratom products for medical purposes.

"Purveyors, producers and researchers will need licenses to handle the drugs, while end-users will need prescriptions.

"Thailand is the first country to take such action in Southeast Asia, a region with some of the world’s strictest drug laws. The move is under consideration in neighbouring Malaysia, while New Zealand's government earlier this month enacted a law liberalising the medical use of cannabis, which had previously been tightly restricted.

"Recreational use of the drugs remains illegal in Thailand and subject to prison terms and fines....

"While countries from Colombia to Canada have legalised cannabis for medical or even recreational use, the drug remains illegal and taboo across much of Southeast Asia, which has some of the world’s harshest punishments for drug law violations. Cannabis traffickers can be subject to the death penalty in Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia.

"Some said they hoped Tuesday's approval would pave the way for legalisation for recreational use.

"'This is the first baby step forward,' said Chokwan Chopaka, an activist with Highland Network, a cannabis legalization advocacy group in Thailand."

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Ohio accepting tax payments in Bitcoin

Why Ohio bitcoin tax gimmick is like paying with Beanie Babies - Susan Tompor, MSN News:

December 24, 2018 - "Car dealer Bernie Moreno took a small step outside of the tax payment comfort zone.... Moreno, 51, converted U.S. dollars into bitcoin in late November and paid off some taxes relating to car leases to the state of Ohio — gaining the Facebook bragging rights that he was the first ever to use bitcoin to pay some type of state taxes in the country.

"'Digital currency and blockchain are really the next tech revolution,' said Moreno, president of The Bernie Moreno Cos auto dealership in Olmstead, Ohio.

"Ohio is the first state in the United States to accept cryptocurrency. The state allows payment of 23 different business taxes via the portal, including the state sales tax, cigarette taxes, the public utilities tax, withholding tax and assorted other taxes.

"'From mom and pop coffee shops to Fortune 100 companies, businesses now have the ability to pay their taxes with,' the Ohio Treasurer's website says.

"For security purposes, a business must have a profile on file with the state Treasurer’s office... There's an initial three-month window where no fees will be charged. After the introductory period, the transaction fee will be 1 percent. The added cost would be lower than charges for using a credit card, the state said....

"Ohio's state treasurer Josh Mandel told CNBC that the Buckeye State is looking to attract blockchain start-ups with its new acceptance of bitcoin for taxes. Blockchain has the potential to revolutionize the financial services industry by making payments faster, more secure, and less expensive on a global scale, according to industry backers....

"In May, General Motors and Ford joined BMW and Renault and other firms to create the Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative to explore how manufacturers could tap into this new technology."

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Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Monday, December 24, 2018

An American libertarian's letter to Santa

Libertarian details wishes in a letter to Santa Claus | Columnists | - Roy Minet:

December 23 -
"Dear Santa,

"We know you’re very busy and you get lots of requests, so we’ll try to keep our list short. Here are a few of the things we’d most like for Christmas.

"First, we’d really like more fiscal responsibility. It’s troubling that the national debt is now nearly $22 trillion, which is more than the whole gross domestic product of our country for a year. Interest payments on this debt will exceed $334 billion this year.... This is a concern for the solvency of our nation. Moreover, it is morally reprehensible to shift the burden of our current flagrant spending onto the backs of our children and grandchildren.... What kind of parents would max out all their credit cards and then leave that debt for their kids to pay off?....

"We definitely are in favor of maintaining a strong national defense, but we would like an end to all the interminable undeclared wars. Just one of them — Iraq — has cost more than $2 trillion so far. At least as deplorable and morally unacceptable is our armed forces’ continuing loss of life and limb....

"Speaking of wars, we would also like an end to the war on drugs. This expensive war has been a failure by any measure and, quite likely, has exacerbated a serious problem. A previous misguided attempt at prohibition (of alcohol) was a similar disaster. That mistake was recognized after a decade of turmoil and reversed. Purely on a practical basis, there’s no reason to continue the war on drugs....

"If you can do it, we’d be extremely happy to have some election reforms. Our government — at the state and federal level — has fallen under the control of a class of establishment career politicians. They’ve certainly voted themselves extravagant pay, benefits and perks. They’ve rigged our elections to help themselves stay in power. As a result, 90 percent of incumbents are re-elected. And there is only one name on our ballots for far too many 'races.'

"Gerrymandering is the most obvious and easiest thing to fix. Next would be to greatly reduce the artificial barriers politicians have erected to keep their competition off the ballot. Another important change would be to replace the plurality voting method — the worst possible method — with a good ranked-choice method.... We should warn you, though, that career politicians are very adept at making sure that such reforms never make it through the legislative process....

"Finally, we’d most like to have world peace. Our definition of world peace would be that every individual’s rights to life, liberty and property be secured at all times. Everyone would be free to live and let live. Don’t tread on anyone. Minimize the use of force on honest and peaceful people."

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Sunday, December 23, 2018

Left / right culture war roils r/Libertarian

How Fascist Sympathizers Hijacked Reddit’s Libertarian Hangout – Mother Jones - Ali Breiland:

December 20,2018 - "For years, Reddit’s most popular libertarian board, r/Libertarian, eschewed formal moderation.... But over the course of the last several weeks, [a] new cadre of moderators have swiftly instituted strict rules they say are necessary to keep out trolls, undertaking mass bans of dissenting users.

"While the new moderators have written that they’re banning liberals and leftists whose positions are counter to the group’s, [some] longtime libertarian users of the group say ... the moves are part of a far-right digital coup targeting r/Libertarian [that] would give far-right users control of the largest libertarian subreddit, whose 261,000 subscribers make it one of the internet’s most popular libertarian communities.

"The moderators’ changes came two weeks ago, after a group of leftists users from the r/ChapoTrapHouse podcast subreddit had allegedly 'brigaded' r/Libertarian. ('Brigading' is a Reddit term for when outside users come into a group to troll it by downvoting posts.) One of r/Libertarian’s moderators, Reddit user rightc0ast, and new moderators that rightc0ast brought on between December 6 and 7, argued that they needed to tighten the group’s laissez-faire rules to protect it from outside trolling.

"'Hello, /r/Libertarian,' new moderator JobDestroyer wrote on December 8 in a now-removed post announcing the new rules.... JobDestroyer detailed a list of new restrictions barring trolling and 'off-topic' conversations, and threatened to ban anyone believed to be posing as a libertarian, but were secretly on the left.

"Most of the five new moderators have a posting history showing them taking part in r/The_Donald, an infamous pro-Trump subreddit, and r/Physical_Removal, a subreddit dedicated to the idea of eventually forcibly removing liberals and leftists from society that was banned in 2017 for 'posting content that incites violence'....

"Rightc0ast, who played a key role in taking over the group by inviting new allied moderators, ... promoted the then-upcoming Unite The Right white supremacist protests in Charlottesville, Virginia. [He] has also backed the idea of an ethnostate and supported the Fash The Nation podcast, which was created by a neo-Nazi blog. On Reddit, he was a moderator of r/The_Donald and a moderator of r/Physical_Removal.

"Although before the changes the subreddit had been, for all intents and purposes, unmoderated, there were still several users on file as moderators.... Rightc0ast has been one of these moderators since 2010. Last year, some members of the group lobbied for the account to be removed... After some debate, rightc0ast ultimately remained as a moderator, but kept a low profile until after the alleged Chapo brigading. (Members of the Chapo subreddit have disputed whether such an attack was actually launched from their board.)...

"Reddit ... announced in October 2017 that it would take stricter actions against content that incites violence, leading to the closure of several far-right groups.... Users and moderators who used such groups have flocked to other subreddits like r/The_Donald.... Reddit says it’s working against users who violate its policies, but that it had no specific policy banning moderators of banned subreddits from continuing to moderate elsewhere."

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Saturday, December 22, 2018

Rand Paul backs U.S. troop pullout from Syria (video)

Rand Paul: Promise To End The War In Syria Is Why Trump Won The Election | Video | RealClearPolitics -Tim Haines:

"December 20, 2018 - On 'America's Newsroom' Senator Rand Paul backed President Trump in the face of harsh criticism from Republicans over his decision to withdraw the 2,000-strong U.S. force from Syria.

"RAND PAUL: 'This is a very bold move for President Trump. It is exactly what he promised the American people -- in fact it is one of the reasons he won the election. Because he is different from so many Republicans who want us to be everywhere all the time around the world. They want us to be the world policeman, that every war on the planet we have to have our soldiers involved with. President Trump said he was going to treat America first....

"'I think there are a lot of independent voters, a lot of people in the middle of these states that President Trump won - Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin - these are states that no other Republican won, because they want to be at war everywhere all the time. President Trump said we're going to go to war when we have to, but when we win we're going to come home. It is an incredibly bold maneuver.

"All of the naysayers in Washington will be against him, but guess what, if you ask the American people, this is why President Trump won the election.'"

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Friday, December 21, 2018

U.S. Congress passes First Step Act

First Step Act: House passes criminal justice reform, following Senate - Vox - German Lopez:

December 20, 2018 - "The US House of Representatives on Thursday passed a criminal justice reform bill, sending the most significant changes to the federal criminal justice system in decades to President Donald Trump’s desk. The Senate previously overwhelmingly approved the legislation in an 87-12 vote.

"The bill, called the First Step Act, makes modest changes to the federal system. It very slightly pulls back punitive mandatory minimum sentences by, for example, letting judges give lower sentences in some circumstances and relaxing a 'three strikes' law to give 25 years instead of life in prison. It makes 2010 crack sentencing reforms, which eased crack sentences to bring them more in line with powder cocaine penalties, retroactive. It expands 'good time credits' that well-behaved inmates can use to get out of prison a little earlier. It creates 'earned time credits' that encourage inmates to take part in rehabilitative programs for an earlier release.

"It doesn’t end the war on drugs or mass incarceration. It won’t stop police from locking up nonviolent drug offenders. It doesn’t legalize marijuana. It doesn’t even end mandatory minimums or reduce prison sentences across the board, and it in fact only tweaks both. As the First Step Act’s name suggests, its supporters consider it a first step.

"The bill also only affects the federal system — which, with about 181,000 imprisoned people, holds a small but significant fraction of the US jail and prison population of 2.1 million.... In total, the First Step Act will let a few thousand inmates — likely around 6,000 to 7,000 — out of prison early once it’s enacted, and slightly shorten prison sentences in the future....

"Even though Trump ran on a 'tough on crime' platform in which he promised to support harsh prison sentences, the president has come to support the legislation — in large part thanks to the backing of key advisers, including his son-in-law Jared Kushner. He’s expected to sign the bill in the coming days."

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Thursday, December 20, 2018

Federal judge strikes down Obamacare in Texas

BREAKING: District Court Judge in Texas Holds ACA Is Unlawful - Volokh Conspiracy : - Jonathan H. Adler:

December 14, 2018 - "This evening, as the Affordable Care Act's enrollment period ended, Judge Reed O'Connor of the U.S. District Court for Northern District of Texas issued his much-awaited opinion in Texas v. United States, concluding that the individual mandate is unconstitutional and that, as a consequence, the entire Affordable Care Act is invalid. This is a surprising result, and one that is hard to justify....

"The problems with Judge O'Connor's opinion are evident at the outset where he summarizes his conclusion....
In NFIB, the Supreme Court held the Individual Mandate was unconstitutional under the Interstate Commerce Clause but could fairly be read as an exercise of Congress's Tax Power because it triggered a tax. The TCJA eliminated that tax. The Supreme Court's reasoning in NFIB — buttressed by other binding precedent and plain text — thus compels the conclusion that the Individual Mandate may no longer be upheld under the Tax Power. And because the Individual Mandate continues to mandate the purchase of health insurance, it remains unsustainable under the Interstate Commerce Clause — as the Supreme Court already held.
"The problem with this analysis is that its central claim — that 'the Individual Mandate continues to mandate the purchase of health insurance' — is false ... there is nothing left in the ACA that mandates that people obtain health insurance.

"Judge O'Connor ... goes on to claim that this justifies declaring the whole law invalid because Congress, in 2010, claimed the mandate was essential to the operation of the Act. Yet Congress in 2017 reached a different conclusion when it enacted legislation zeroing out the mandate penalty. The ACA today — the ACA as amended by Congress in 2017 — no longer relies upon an enforceable individual mandate to operate because there is none....

"Because the law imposes no penalty or legal sanction on failing to comply, there is no injury as required by Article III, let alone an actual and concrete injury-in-fact.... Standing requires an actual injury. An unenforced and unenforceable horatory admonition doesn't cut it.

"Judge O'Connor's opinion declares the individual mandate to be unconstitutional, and declares the rest of the ACA to be inseverable and invalid -- all of it, including those provisions that have nothing to do with health insurance markets. Yet Judge O'Connor has not (as yet) issued an injunction barring enforcement of the law....

"I ... do not believe the states' arguments have much of a chance before the Supreme Court. Indeed, I would not be surprised were this decision to be overturned on standing on appeal, in which case certiorari would almost certainly be denied."

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Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Cash bail requirements cost U.S. $15 billion/year

Report: Imprisoning People Who Can’t Pay Bail Costs America $15 Billion a Year - Hit & Run : - Scott Shackford:

December 19, 2018 - "America's dependence on cash bail does more than just deprive people of their liberty merely for being accused of a crime; it also costs the rest of us a fortune....

"A new report by The Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution attempts to measure the full financial impact of pretrial detention in the United States. Analysts Patrick Liu, Ryan Nunn, and Jay Shambaugh calculated that pretrial detentions that are the result solely of people being unable to pay bail cost the country $15 billion a year.

"They arrived at this figure by looking at the average number of people who are sitting in jails every day who have been offered bail but haven't paid it, typically because they cannot afford it. That's about 412,000 people, nearly a quarter of our incarcerated population. They calculated how much it costs to jail somebody each day. This varies wildly from state to state, but averages out to $77.67 a day, or about $28,000 a year per person....

"Liu et al. also did their best to calculate out how much money the economy loses due the amount of time somebody spends in jail and is therefore unable to work. That worked out to an average of about $8,590 annually per prisoner. All together, that comes out to $15.26 billion a year....

"The report also looks at trends of pretrial detention and finds a dramatic increase over a decade of both the number of people being held in jail prior to trial and the amount of time they have to spend waiting for their day in court.

"Since the 1990s, the number of people who have been ordered to pay bail (or some other financial obligation) in order to be freed has risen from 53 percent to 72 percent. What's more, pretrial detentions have increased even as total arrests have gone down....

"During this timeframe, the amount of time it took between arrest and adjudication for people charged with crimes increased in pretty much every category.... So people who cannot afford the increasing amounts of money being asked for their freedom are being punished with even longer waits behind bars....

"About 50 percent of those who are released before trial need a commercial bond (as in a bail bondsman) to cover the court's imposed bail. That means they have to pay typically 10 percent to the bondsman to be freed, which is money they never get back. Essentially, they're being ordered to pay a fine to a third party (sometimes in the thousands of dollars) to be released. If they don't, they sit in a jail cell. Either way, they're punished prior to conviction."

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Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Maine Libertarians lost party status in midterms

Maine Libertarians lose party status - The Ellsworth American - Cyndi Wood:

December 18, 2018 - "The state’s Libertarian Party has lost its party status, the Maine Secretary of State’s Office announced Monday....

"To retain party status, qualified political parties must have at least 10,000 registered voters who are enrolled in the party cast ballots in the general election, among other provisions in Maine law. As of the Nov. 6 general election, only 6,168 voters were enrolled as Libertarians.

"All voters who were registered as Libertarians are now listed as 'unenrolled' in a party, as of Dec. 4. The Libertarian Party was originally qualified in July of 2016.

"The Libertarian Party has filed a renewed declaration of intent to form a party and must collect at least 5,000 enrollees by Jan. 2, 2020. A voter may enroll in the Libertarian Party by completing a new Maine Voter Registration Application. The voter must check the box next to 'other qualifying party' and write in 'Libertarian' or 'Libertarian Party.'

"Once a voter has enrolled in the Libertarian Party, the voter must remain in the party for three months before he or she can file an application for either a withdrawal or change in enrollment.

"Only three political parties are [now] officially recognized in the State of Maine: Democratic, Green Independent and Republican.... Qualified parties can certify their presidential and vice presidential candidates’ names for the November 2020 General Election ballot and can nominate candidates in the primary elections."

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Monday, December 17, 2018

Michigan senator wants to limit local 'tree police'

Opinion | C’mon, Michigan. Don’t get hysterical about ‘tree police’ bill | Bridge Magazine - Tom Casperson:

December 12, 2018 - "Let’s put ‘tree police’ in proper perspective. I recently sponsored legislation, Senate Bill 1188, that attempts to strike a better balance between local government authority and private-property rights around the state.

"Our state includes more than 1,700 local units of government - cities, townships and villages. A small handful of them, less than 10 percent, have an ordinance that allows them to regulate trees on private property.... These communities don’t pay or credit their residents and businesses for planting more trees. But if you want to remove a tree, they require you to plant another to their specifications or pay hundreds of dollars per tree to remove them.

"On its face, this is simply unfair, undemocratic and unscientific. We heard in Senate testimony from an arborist who noted that many unmanaged woodlots get overrun with invasive trees and vegetation. Sometimes, the smartest remedy is removing trees to keep a forest healthy.

"Environmental groups and local government interests testified that this kind of local ordinance is a critical tool for managing stormwater, light pollution, noise pollution, carbon, aesthetics and community development, and even their ability to meet state and federal environmental laws.....

"But all of these arguments ring hollow when you stop to consider that more than 90 percent of Michigan communities accomplish all these ends without local tree removal ordinances - through mutual agreements and incentives, not fees and fines.

"Our concern is that, ultimately, local tree removal ordinances are simply a way for local government to maintain an unfair level of control over residents and fill local coffers.... We do not argue against the benefits of trees.... But there are other ways for local units of government to provide incentives for residents, businesses and farmers to plant more of them.

"The practice of a few local governments squeezing their people over how they manage trees on their land flies in the face of one of our most fundamental American rights - private property."

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Sunday, December 16, 2018

First Purge called "most libertarian film of 2018"

The First Purge” - The Most Libertarian Film of 2018 - Being Libertarian - Luke Henderson:

July 5, 2018 - "The Purge saga ... revolves around a dystopian US where a new political party, called the New Founding Fathers of America, were elected to office on the platform of initiating a holiday where for one night each year, all crime, including murder, is legal, with the intent of releasing the country’s pent up anger towards the collapsing economy....

"Though it is implied that the government of this franchise is corrupt, audiences don’t get a truly in depth look into how until The First Purge. As the title suggests, the newest film tackles the election of the New Founding Fathers of America ... and their initiation of what would become the murderous holiday. What makes this film stand out from the other three films is that the monstrous corruption of government is not hidden in the slightest.

"In the beginning of the film, the NFFA offers citizens of Staten Island, who have been chosen as the location to experiment with the purge, $5,000 to participate in the night, with more money offered if they kill someone.... Many of the residents take the money because of the hope of a new life it offers....

"In Washington D.C. audiences see the Chief of Staff and the social psychologist who created the concept of a night of murder-induced catharsis overseeing the event via video recording drones. They are disappointed initially as the only murders have come from the insane ... and residents mostly vandalize property, loot business and have 'Purge parties.'

"Around midnight, gangs suddenly appear who begin mercilessly killing. The social psychologist finds this unusual as her hypothesis predicted a high initial murder-rate that would quickly taper off. She goes to a private office to investigate.... [T]he social psychologist finds video of the gangs suddenly appearing out of garages after midnight out of nowhere and the Chief of Staff has her sent to Staten Island to be killed for revealing the truth....

"Frankly, the film left me stunned with its unintentional libertarian messaging on the terrors of a corrupt government, human nature and individuals defending themselves....

"The initial failure of the purge experiment ... tells a lot about how government officials will go to extreme lengths to create situations where their legislation seems essential. Without the meddling of the Chief of Staff, the purge very well could have failed and the population would have seen that in general people just want a release from their frustration, but many of the options to do so aren’t afforded to them. It’s a lesson in the possibilities of decriminalization and legalization of illegal substances and 'obscene' activities.

"Finally, The First Purge offers one of the best arguments for the right to gun ownership and self-defense.... Even the most ardent gun hater can’t deny that a corrupt government using deadly force on its citizens should have been met with the same force.

"Every libertarian should ... see The First Purge.... Films are one of the most effective tools to spreading a message and getting people emotionally invested, so using the market to accomplish this is one of the most libertarian things we can do."

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Saturday, December 15, 2018

Ranked voting survives legal challenge in Maine

Federal Judge Upholds Maine's Ranked-Choice Voting - Hit & Run : - Scott Shackford:

December 13, 2018 - "In the November midterms, incumbent Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin won the first round of votes against Democratic challenger Jared Golden. But he did not get more than 50 percent of the votes.... Under Maine's new election rules, put into place by the voters, a candidate for Congress must get a majority of the votes....

"Maine voters are asked to rank the candidates in order of preference. If no candidate gets a majority vote, the candidate who received the least votes is eliminated [and] for those who voted for the eliminated candidate, their second choice is counted.... In Maine, ... that pushed Golden ahead to narrowly win with 50.6 percent of the vote. Poliquin sued to try to stop the vote count, challenging the constitutionality of ranked-choice voting.

"U.S. District Court Judge Lance Walker, appointed by President Donald Trump, roundly rejected Poliquin's suit.... Poliquin ... had argued that Article 1, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution calls for plurality voting. But it does not.....

"Walker also rejected an argument ... that the system violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.... The plaintiffs only voted for Poliquin and declined to rank the other candidates, which ... [t]hey argued ... meant that their votes had less 'weight'.... This made little sense and the judge rejected it. They chose not to rank the other candidates, but the option was presented. And during each round, each person's vote counted only once....

"So it looks like Maine's ranked-choice voting system is here to stay..... Maine voters actually wanted to use it for ... statewide races and state lawmaker races too. But ... to comply with the voter-approved ballot initiative, lawmakers need to amend the state's Constitution. Right now state Republicans have been resistant. We'll see if this ruling gets them to accept the public's will."

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Friday, December 14, 2018

U.S. Congress votes to legalize hemp

Congress Passed the 2018 Farm Bill, Legalizing Hemp. What’s Next for Cannabis Businesses? - Cannabis Business Times - Eric Sandy & Melissa Schiller:

December 13, 2018 - "Congress federally legalized hemp with the Dec. 12 passage of the 2018 Farm Bill.... The $867 billion agriculture law cleared the Senate Dec. 11 with a 87-13 vote before gaining approval in the House Dec. 12 with a 369-47 vote. The bill has been sent to President Trump, who is expected to sign it into law.

"The Farm Bill removes hemp from the Controlled Substances Act and allows farmers to pursue federal hemp cultivation permits, while individual states can regulate the industry within their borders as they see fit. Already, 40 states have established hemp cultivation 'pilot programs' for industrial and commercial purposes, although the plant has been strictly regulated....

"Hemp cultivation became illegal in the U.S. in 1937, under provisions in the Marihuana Tax Act, which was drafted by prohibitionist Harry Anslinger. In the intervening eight decades, American culture has steadily warmed to the idea of reviving the agricultural commodity and its many commercial uses....

"The legislation will supersede the recently expired 2014 Farm Bill, which had granted states the ability to create those hemp production pilot programs. The manufacture and sale of hemp-derived CBD, however, was strictly regulated and sometimes left out of states’ medical cannabis market frameworks.

"Now, with hemp set to be treated as an agricultural product, the U.S. FDA or state departments of agriculture will provide oversight of the plant’s cultivation....

“'While the Farm Bill presents exciting opportunities for U.S. agriculture and the hemp industry, it is still unclear what the final status of CBD will be,' said Jordan Friedman, CEO and co-founder of Zodaka, a cannabis payment platform.... Hemp is primarily a cheap source of CBD, which [has] become a hot commodity, and the passage of the Farm Bill ensures that people who farm and create products with CBD are protected from prosecution, Joseph said.... More retailers will likely start integrating CBD products into their stores, as well....

"Hemp legalization will also lend support to what is already becoming a multi-billion-dollar American agriculture industry, according to Bruce Perlowin, CEO of Hemp, Inc., a U.S.-based hemp cultivator....

"And cultivating hemp can also help eliminate contaminants in the soil.... Hemp will absorb [pollutants] voraciously, neutralize them and break them down into harmless components."

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Thursday, December 13, 2018

Beck joins Celebrity Santas paying layaway debts

Tyler Perry paid 1,500 Walmart layaway accounts, but layaway has risks - Vox - Nadra Nittle:

December 12, 2018 - "This week, filmmaker Tyler Perry and musician Kid Rock made headlines for taking part in what’s become a holiday tradition among some wealthy people: paying off the layaway accounts of strangers. Layaway allows shoppers who can’t pay for merchandise all at once to reserve the product and pay for it in installments. While stores offer layaway year-round, it is especially popular during the fall when consumers use it to purchase holiday gifts that typically cost at least $50.

"Perry cleared the Walmart layaway accounts of 1,500 Atlanta-area shoppers, a deed that totaled $434,000. Inspired by the Madea star, Kid Rock paid off $81,000 in layaway balances at a Nashville Walmart. And last week Gayle Benson, owner of New Orleans sports teams the Saints and the Pelicans, paid off about $100,000 in Walmart layaway balances."

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Glenn Beck's Christmas Charity is a Great Example of Libertarian Principles - The Libertarian Republic - Caleb Shumate:

December 13, 2018 - "This past Saturday, nationally syndicated political commentator Glenn Beck demonstrated to our country the beauty of private charity when he and his family walked into a Walmart in North Richland Hills, Texas and spent $27,000 paying off people’s layaways for the holidays. Glenn did this while streaming on Facebook Live and then issued a challenge to Mark Levin, Steven Crowder, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and other conservative commentators to do the same.

"Beck cited that he and his family were inspired to do this by Tyler Perry, who paid off $434,000 for 1,500 people.... This ... is an excellent example of our ideas put into practice.

"We often complain about the evils of the welfare state, but if we want the government to do less, we have to do more. I believe ... that if we get the government out of the way, we not only can but will help those in need more efficiently. Instead [of] the government 'robbing collective Peter to pay collective Paul,' we can help those in need by giving them a hand up instead of a handout....

"I will gladly voluntarily give my wealth and time to help those who need it, but I cannot stand for the government taking the wealth of individuals and then giving it to other individuals creating a never-ending cycle of dependency and then having the gall to call that help!...

"I want to thank Tyler Perry, Glenn Beck, and Kid Rock, for their sincere charitable actions and for showing the country, as well as the world, that private charity is always the way to go – and of course, for reminding us of the reason for the Christmas season."

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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Libertarians see progress in midterm elections

Is the Libertarian Party Glass Half Full or Half Empty? - Hit & Run : - Matt Welch:

December 12, 2018 - "Last Friday, after a lengthy ballot count, Libertarian Jeff Hewitt was declared the winner of one of five officially nonpartisan seats on the Riverside County Board of Supervisors, giving him one of the largest constituent bases of any elected Libertarian in the party's 47-year history. On Saturday in this space, we posted a far less upbeat assessment of the L.P.'s current electoral situation....

"In a teleconference with party activists before the Hewitt announcement last week, Libertarian National Committee Chair Nicholas Sarwark laid out the numerical case for optimism.

"'We ran 833 candidates for public office in 2018 in the November elections. We ended up with 52 [now 53] elected Libertarians….That's an increase from the last general election year 2016, where we only elected 34 people," said Sarwark, who finished in fourth and last place in November's Phoenix mayoral race, receiving 10.5 percent of the vote. "In 2016, the Libertarian Party ran 593 candidates around the country….2017's our last odd-numbered year; we ran 135 candidates for both state and local races, but of those, we ended up electing 48'....

"In a press release Friday, the party exulted over Hewitt's win, calling it 'arguably the largest, most momentous win in Libertarian Party history.' The release went on to list the other winners from November, including four municipal officials who won partisan races in Indiana.

"Mark Rutherford, a longtime activist in the comparatively successful Indiana L.P., and former vice chair of the national party (2010-12), says there has a been a sea change in approach to nuts-and-bolts campaigning. 'I've never seen canvassing taken so serious by Libertarians since I first started paying serious attention to the LP in 1994,' Rutherford wrote in an email to me this week.... 'Right now, change is happening in the LP as I see it becoming a party that finds libertarians and gets them elected or appointed to office. I hope it continues'....

"'As far as how we came out of the 2018 election, ballot access-wise,' Sarwark said, 'we are on in 34 states for 2020 for a presidential candidate. That is the best situation we have ever been in after a non-presidential general election, and it's actually the best situation that any third party has been in in history.' The party maintains its expectation to be on the ballot in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, 'which would be one of the first times, maybe the first time, that anyone's done that back to back as a non-Republican-or-Democratic party'....

"'The original Libertarian Party had only 70 members, but today exceeds 130,000,' the L.P. noted yesterday in a birthday press release. 'The membership of the Libertarian Party has increased by 92 percent during the past 10 years. The presidential ticket of Gov. Gary Johnson and Gov. William Weld in 2016 received a record number of votes for the Libertarian Party. Perhaps most importantly, the Libertarians are the only party on the political spectrum defending both economic responsibility and social acceptance.'"

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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

French government scraps fuel tax hike

France scraps 2019 fuel tax increase for good in face of continued protests | CBC News - Associated Press:

Dec. 5, 2018 - "In the face of ongoing protests and rioting, the French government now says a planned fuel tax increase that  President Emmanuel Macron argued was crucial to fight climate change won't happen at all in 2019.

"The government had announced a six-month suspension of the tax just yesterday.... But 24 hours later, amid continued anger on the streets and a parliamentary debate on the 2019 budget, French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe suddenly told his fellow legislators that 'the tax is now abandoned' in the 2019 budget....

"The budget can be renegotiated through the year, but given the scale of the recent protests, Macron is unlikely to revive the added fuel tax idea anytime soon.

"French protesters are welcoming Macron's decision to scrap a fuel tax rise — but say it may not be enough to contain public anger.... Three weeks of protests have left four people dead, hundreds injured and central Paris littered with burned cars and shattered windows.

"The so-called 'yellow vest' movement was mostly peaceful to begin with. People angry about the planned tax increase donned the yellow emergency vests all French drivers must have in their cars in case of a breakdown and took to the streets in mid-November.

"The past two weekends, though, saw outpourings of violence and rioting in Paris, with extreme far-right and far-left factions joining the demonstrations. It was the worst anti-government rioting since 1968. At least four people died, and police feared more violence would come this Saturday in the French capital."

"On Wednesday, France's largest farmers' union said it will launch anti-government protests next week, after trucking unions called for a rolling strike.

"Trade unions have not so far played a role in the yellow vest protest movement but are now trying to capitalize on the growing public anger."

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Monday, December 10, 2018

Libertarian Hewitt elected co. supervisor in CA

Libertarian Party celebrates their 'most momentous win' after California votes finally tallied - Washington Times - Jennifer Harper:

December 7, 2018 - "California officials have spent weeks counting provisional and absentee ballots following the Nov. 6 election, and have at last determined who will be the next supervisor for the 5th District of Riverside County.

"Libertarian Jeff Hewitt on Friday was declared the winner with 51.9 percent of the vote, besting his Republican opponent Russ Bogh, who garnered 48.1 percent.

"'This is arguably the largest, most momentous win in Libertarian Party history,' the Libertarian Party said in a celebratory statement. 'The population of Riverside County is estimated by the U.S. Census Bureau at 2,423,266 for 2018.... Hewitt’s district alone has a population of more than 438,000.... Other Libertarians have been elected to state House positions over the years, including Andre Marrou in Alaska and several in New Hampshire. All of them, however, were elected in districts with populations of less than 50,000.'

"Riverside County has appropriated spending of $5.6 billion in 2018-19 on revenues of $5.4 billion....

"'Hewitt will have 20 percent of the board’s vote. His considerable persuasive abilities will aid him in doing something about that budget shortfall going forward,' the party noted, citing numerous cost-cutting measures Mr. Hewitt previously deployed as ... mayor of Calimesa, some 60 miles east of Los Angeles.

"They included trimming 'bankruptcy-inducing pension obligations' and paring down administrative costs.

"Libertarian National Committee Chair Nicholas Sarwark emphasizes that his party is in it for the 'long game,' adding that out of the 833 Libertarians who ran for office this year, 53 won. 'What we’re trying to do is keep advancing down the field regardless of the other things that are happening in the world or in politics,' Mr. Sarwark said. “We have to show up to every election.'"

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Sunday, December 9, 2018

Canada's CRTC wants a 'not a tax' on internet

 CRTC Wants to Tax Internet Users to Subsidize Content Creators | Frontier Centre For Public Policy:

November 17, 2018 - "Ian Scott, chair of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), told a conference of international regulators last month that he wants to add a one per cent surcharge on stand-alone Internet subscriptions and have the money go to those who create Canadian programming. Claiming it’s 'not a tax,' he insists that Internet service providers benefit from the nation’s beloved Canadian content and therefore should contribute to the cost of its creation.

"Noting that the average monthly Internet bill in the country is a mere $46 a month (yes, who knew?), he told the Financial Post: 'Is 46 cents worth it per month in order to support the future of viable Canadian programming? The answer is yes.'

"Actually, the answer is no.... What does and doesn’t stream over the Internet is none of the CRTC’s business. Its job should be upholding and not violating the principle of net neutrality that insists upon regulators and providers remaining agnostic regarding its content. This, and not taxing it based on its content, is what should be enshrined in any new legislation.

"The Federal Court of Canada has already determined that the Internet doesn’t constitute broadcasting. The fact that carrying video is among its numerous utilities doesn’t make it television any more than carrying audio makes it radio or disseminating the printed word makes it a newspaper or posting images of art makes it a gallery. It’s the Internet – an actual thing that money-grubbers incapable of weaning themselves from the succour structures of the 1980s need to keep their lips off.

"Then of course there’s the fact that the entire world has changed due to the current technological revolution.... The Internet has disrupted everything. Entire businesses and companies (think Blockbuster) have disappeared. Others such as newspapers that were once robust and healthy are now emaciated waifs as their revenue streams have been swept away. So why not another 'not a tax' for them?

"Yes and one to help those bankrupt video store operators.... And another over here for my friends in the travel agency business. Oh, and one for that fella over there? Yeah – the musician who can’t make money selling music anymore and has to hit the road constantly. How about funds for everyone – each supported by just a teeny weeny 'not a tax' – who has had their business model disrupted by the Internet?

"Apart from music, the CRTC is unlikely to get involved in most of these areas – although others will certainly be tempted. That it’s going down this road at all, however, and at a time of robust investment in Canadian film and television, displays an unseemly willingness to kowtow to the creative lobby."

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Saturday, December 8, 2018

Midterm results disappointing for Libertarians

The Libertarian Party Future, Perennially Out of Reach - - Matt Welch:

January 2019: ""He's going to finish certainly no worse than second, and maybe first,' Libertarian Party (L.P.) 2016 vice presidential nominee Bill Weld enthused about Massachusetts state auditor candidate Dan Fishman in mid-October.... It looked like Weld might be onto something two weeks later when The Boston Globe took the highly unusual step of endorsing the L.P. candidate....

"Massachusetts voters declined the advice. When the smoke cleared on November 6, the would-be Libertarian auditor for the government of Taxachusetts finished not first, not second, but a distant third place, with a desultory 4.2 percent of the vote. The effort was enough to give the party automatic statewide ballot access for 2020 ... but not enough to stave off the national wave of nausea that afflicted many libertarians on election day.....

"About the only federal candidate prioritizing the budget calamity was Gary Johnson.... Running in the state he governed twice, and where he earned 9.3 percent of the presidential vote in 2016, ... Johnson was able to participate in debates and generate extensive media coverage. The first independent three-way poll in late August hinted at a shockingly competitive race: 39 percent for Heinrich, 21 percent for Johnson, and just 11 percent for Rich. And yet Election Day 2018 brought another Libertarian bummer:... Rich doubled up on Johnson, 31 percent to 15 percent....

"Political fear and loathing, it turns out, is no friend to independent and third-party candidates.... As we learned in 2016, when voters feel revulsion toward a candidate or party, they are likely to go for the alternative with the best chance to defeat the bad guy. In a high-turnout midterm like 2018, minor parties undershoot their polling projections by massive amounts.

"The most anticipated of the 22 Libertarian races for governor, for example, was rising party star Larry Sharpe in New York. An energetic, fast-talking campaigner with a preternatural talent for fundraising, Sharpe brought in an impressive $450,000.... He pulled just 1.6 percent, behind even Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins' 1.7. Yes, the L.P.  achieved state ballot access for the first time in history, but that low showing came as a demoralizing shock.

"'WTF is going on?' Wisconsin Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Phil Anderson messaged me on election night..... Anderson's pre-election polling average of 4.2 percent had collapsed to a barely visible 0.8 percent. Eight Libertarian candidates for governor were polling higher than the Democratic-Republican point spread on election eve; zero repeated the trick once the votes were counted....

"The three state legislators who had previously switched from Republican to Libertarian once in office — Nebraska state Sen. Laura Ebke and New Hampshire state Reps. Brandon Phinney and Caleb Dyer — all faced their first election wearing the L, and all lost badly.... Insurgent Wyoming state House candidate Bethany Baldes came so close to unseating incumbent Republican Majority Leader David Miller that she was erroneously reported as winner on election night, only to eventually lose by 53 votes....

"Libertarians are accustomed to being outnumbered and excel at playing long-game strategies, often far outside the cyclical sugar highs of electoral politics.... As disappointing as November 2018 felt for the L.P., the party did emerge in a stronger position for 2020, when it will be the only minor party with a spot on all 50 state ballots. American politics moves fast, so the next two years may yet feature more political libertarianism than we can currently fathom. As hard as that may be to believe after Election Day."

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Also read: Libertarians see progress in midterm elections

Friday, December 7, 2018

Remember George H.W. Bush and Keith Jackson

Not to Praise, But to Bury | Liberty Unbound - Andrew Ferguson:

December 4, 2018 - "As another elder statesman dies and the nation is caught in the grip of another bout of panegyrics, it’s worth ... considering also the plight of Keith Jackson.

"In 1989, Jackson was a high school senior in Anacostia, southeast DC, ... a low-level drug dealer.... Bush ... wanted a set piece to kick off his own extension of Reagan’s War on Drugs. So his staff came up with the idea of busting someone for selling crack cocaine — still the drug warrior’s enemy of choice — in the shadow of the White House....

"[Drug Enforcemant Agency] agents offered up Jackson as a patsy.... That purpose in hand, the undercover DEA agent on Jackson’s case asked him to meet at Lafayette Park, promising an extra premium to lure Jackson to Northwest DC, where black residents of the city almost never went....

"The purchase took place on September 1, and on September 5 Bush was holding up a plastic baggie of crack cocaine during a White House address, noting that it had been 'seized' (not bought) just across the street. He demanded more cops to arrest drug dealers, more prosecutors to seek harsher penalties for them, and more prisons to hold all the extra convicts. He got all of those things, often in connection with mandatory minimum laws that eliminated judicial discretion in sentencing....

"Keith Jackson was one of those who fell prey to a mandatory minimum. The DEA arrested him, not at the sale for whatever reason, but immediately after Bush’s speech. After his first two trials ended in hung juries, a third trial saw him convicted and sentenced to a legally-mandated decade in prison without parole. The judge in the case, uncomfortable with the mode of Jackson’s entrapment, urged him to ask the president for a commutation. But Bush had almost immediately washed his hands of the matter.... And so, for the crime of selling 2.4 grams of crack cocaine to another consenting adult in a place where there had been no recorded drug busts in the past, Keith Jackson served almost eight years in prison.

"What happened to him after that point is not known. One doubts that Bush ever dwelt on Jackson or any other of the thousands affected by yet another surge in the War on Drugs — young men and occasionally women losing their futures to ruthless sentencing guidelines and the economic incentives of incarceration, or often just their lives to police enforcement or to the criminal turf wars that invariably follow the artificial limiting of a highly in-demand substance. Add in the families and communities that depended on this suddenly absent and incarcerated generation, and it’s hundreds of thousands if not millions.

"But if Bush ever cared about those whose lives didn’t intersect with his, he certainly never showed it, as the Iraqi people had ample opportunity to learn....

"But when you see the footage of his funerals, when you take in the official outpouring of grief that is increasingly mandatory on such occasions, when above all you hear anyone talking about how George H.W. Bush advocated for a 'kinder, gentler conservatism,' spare a thought for Keith Jackson. It’s more than Bush ever did."

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Thursday, December 6, 2018

Cannabis legalization passed by NJ committees

The 11th State to Legalize Recreational Marijuana Is ... - Sean Williams, The Motley Fool:

December 2, 2018 - "On Monday, Nov. 26, two panels in New Jersey voted overwhelmingly to approve three new cannabis bills -- one of which aims to legalize adult-use marijuana.

"These panels, from the state's Senate and Assembly, voted 7 to 4, with two abstentions in the Senate, and 7 to 3, with one abstention in the Assembly, in favor of the bill that would legalize recreational marijuana within the state. The additional two bills that also passed cover an expansion of the state's existing medical cannabis program and the creation of a system that would speed up criminal expungements of low-level cannabis offenses. Now all three bills move on for an official vote from the full Senate and Assembly. Assuming passage, a recreational marijuana bill could find its way to Gov. Phil Murphy's (D-N.J.) desk within a few weeks....

"As with other legalized states, it would allow adults aged 21 and up to purchase up to 1 ounce of cannabis. There would be an attached tax rate of 12%, which would be considerably lower than the aggregate tax rates that some folks might pay in Washington state or California of up to 37% and 45%, respectively. For what it's worth, Gov. Murphy has suggested that a 12% tax rate is too low. Instead, Murphy has called for an excise tax of 25%....

"Beyond the basics, the broad-based legalization bill also includes a section on the expedited expungement of low-level marijuana offenses. Though a separate bill is being worked on that would tackle this faster and more efficiently, the mere existence of this clause is worth noting. It's also worth pointing out that North Dakota voters turned down a recreational legalization initiative in the recent midterms that had an expungement clause, suggesting that it's no given to attract support.

"Finally, the bill would allow for marijuana delivery services within the state, as well as give permission for dispensaries to create 'consumption areas.' Essentially, New Jersey would permit pot shops within dispensaries where consumers could enjoy their product outside of their homes....

"Though Gov. Murphy has taken exception to the proposed tax rate, he's been very clear in the past about his support for legalizing recreational marijuana as both a revenue driver within the state and a means to reduce cannabis enforcement costs. This, presumably, gives New Jersey a very good chance of becoming the 11th state to legalize recreational pot."

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Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Seattle suit against warrantless rental inspections

Mandatory Warrantless Rental Inspections Inspire Seattle Lawsuit - Hit & Run : - Scott Shackford:

December 5, 2018 - "In an alleged effort to root out slumlords, some cities treat renters as though they don't have any rights, forcing residents to allow government officials in for mandatory warrantless 'inspections' to make sure homes are up to code. The lawyers at the Institute for Justice, a national public interest law firm, have ... filed a class-action complaint against the city of Seattle that attempts to put a stop to its inspection program.

"According to their lawsuit, Seattle launched an inspection program in 2015 that requires landlords to register rental properties with the city. The city then randomly chooses 10 percent of the rental properties to inspect each year. This includes inhabited apartments and houses.....

"In July, according to the lawsuit, a group of renters sharing a home wrote city officials telling them that they do not consent to a search of their property. The owner of the home also wrote to let the city know that she was respecting her tenants' wishes. The city responded that if the landlord refused to let the inspectors in, she faced penalties of $150 a day for the first 10 days, and then $500 a day afterward. Seattle did not even respond to the letter from the tenants.

"The Institute for Justice is now representing both tenants and landlords in these cases to try to stop unwarranted inspections under the city's law, arguing that it violates the privacy provisions of the Washington Constitution....

"The Institute for Justice wants the city to have to show probable cause that there are code violations within somebody's home before it can demand access. The group is asking for Seattle's inspection system to be declared unconstitutional and for an injunction to be put in place stopping warrantless searches without a tenant's consent.

"This suit has been filed under Washington's Constitution rather than under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution because the state has additional privacy protections that are a little broader.... It was actually under Washington's Constitution in 2016 that another group of property-rights-protecting lawyers, the Pacific Legal Foundation, stopped Seattle from snooping through people's trash to make sure they were separating out their food waste."

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Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Globe and Mail on Bernier's 'darker vision'

Maxime Bernier goes to a dark place - The Globe and Mail - Jeffrey Ibbitson:

November 12, 2018 - "In a speech on Saturday at a conference hosted by the right-wing Rebel Media in Calgary, the leader of the new People’s Party of Canada questioned the science of climate change, pilloried the United Nations and insisted immigrants to Canada must embrace 'Western civilization values'....'

"The party, which the Beauce, Que., MP founded in September after deciding Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives had become too centrist, is making good progress.... Mr. Bernier claims to already have signed up 33,000 supporters with PPC riding associations organizing across the country.

"In some ways, Mr. Bernier is simply a Conservative in a hurry, with his proposals to lower taxes, eliminate corporate subsidies, deregulate the telecom sector, cut funding to the CBC and privatize Canada Post. But in front of a friendly crowd, his vision grows darker.

"First, he pledged, 'I am the only politician in Ottawa who promises to take Canada out of the Paris accord' to fight global warming.... Climate-change deniers will feel very much at home in the People’s Party.

"Second, Mr. Bernier is committed to 'abolishing foreign aid and saving the $5-billion that we spend every year to help Canadians instead'.... Even Mr. Trump hasn’t proposed completely eliminating foreign aid, although he would doubtless warm to the idea if he thought he could get away with it.

"Third, and darkest, 'our immigration policy should not aim to forcibly change the cultural character and social fabric of our country,' he told the audience. Immigration levels should be reduced, and immigrants must 'adopt widely shared Canadian values, Western civilization values,' he maintained.

“'On issues such as immigration, multiculturalism, diversity, [the Conservatives] are simply not willing to push back against the dominant left-wing narrative,' Mr. Bernier declared, 'and they are afraid to create controversies. I’m not afraid.'

"And if there were any doubt about the buttons Mr. Bernier intends to push in the months ahead, on Sunday, he tweeted a video of crowds in Pakistan protesting the release of Asia Bibi, a Christian who had been convicted of blasphemy. 'Radical multiculturalism is the misguided belief that all values and cultures can coexist in one society,' he tweeted. 'They cannot. We must protect our society against this kind of barbarism.'”

"No credible voice in this country seeks to undermine the values and beliefs embedded in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and in the fabric of Canadian society. Immigrants and refugees come here in search of a future protected by those values and beliefs. Mr. Bernier is simply stoking irrational fears of a threat that does not exist. It is pure Trumpism."

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Monday, December 3, 2018

40 Maine towns have declared food sovereignty

One year after becoming law, food sovereignty in Maine has taken hold — Homestead — Bangor Daily News — BDN Maine - Julia Beilly:

November 27, 2018 - "Since becoming law a year ago, the number of Maine towns and small communities with a food sovereignty ordinance has grown to more than 40.... The legislation, ... signed into law last October, allows municipalities to regulate local food systems, including production, processing, consumption and direct producer-to-consumer exchanges. This type of commerce had been regulated at the state and federal level, which continues to regulate meat and poultry production and sales.

"No official data are being collected on the towns adopting the ordinance, but last week Augusta became the latest municipality in the state to pass an ordinance based on the sovereignty law, joining the dozens of municipalities including Auburn, Machias, Blue Hill, Rockland, Chapman and York.

"Sen. Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, ... along with Rep. Craig Hickman, D-Winthrop, co-sponsored the food sovereignty legislation signed into law....

"In Greenwood, population 800, the ordinance is acting as a sort of small business incubator, according to Suzanne Dunham of Dunham Farms and Velvet Hollow Sugar Works in Greenwood. She and her husband Brian also manage the Greenwood Farmers Market.... Before passage of the food sovereignty ordinance made the licensing moot, the Dunhams were fully licensed by the state [but] 'others in our community didn’t have the economic means to go through licensing,' she said.  Now, thanks to the ordinance the town passed last June, that obstacle has been removed.

"'Greenwood’s food sovereignty ordinance allows me to make pies and other baked goods in my home kitchen and sell them directly to customers without having to be licensed by the state,' Greenwood resident Amy Chapman, who runs Amy’s Bakehouse out of her home, said. 'Since I have several other part-time jobs and baking is only a small part of what I do, it would not be worth my time, money and energy to do it for a weekly farmers market if I had to go through the state’s process to become a licensed producer'....

"That is exactly what Jackson envisioned for the law. 'A lot of people can’t take the chance on doing something they wanted to do because they found it too onerous or costly to become licensed under state or federal regulations,' Jackson said. “I think people who have a product will now take more of a chance and actually do something to create a small business'....

"Neighbors selling to neighbors has been going on for generations in Maine, but for all that time growers and producers not licensed by the state were forced to conduct business out of the public eye and only with trusted, known customers."

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Sunday, December 2, 2018

David Boaz remembers Andrea Millen Rich

RIP Andrea Rich | Cato @ Liberty - David Boaz:

August 1, 2018 - "I am saddened to report that my dear friend Andrea Millen Rich died this morning at her home in Philadelphia at the age of 79 after a 19-year battle with lung cancer....For more than 40 years Andrea was at the center of the libertarian movement, a mentor, counselor, friend, supporter, facilitator, networker, and gracious hostess....

"She was the first chair of the New York Libertarian Party in 1973-74. The vice chair was Howard S. Rich, whom she soon married. From 1974 to 1977 she was vice chair of the national Libertarian Party, and in 1980 she played a key role in developing television advertising for the campaign of Ed Clark, the Libertarian presidential nominee.

"From 1982 to 2005 she was the president of Laissez-Faire Books, which billed itself as 'the world’s largest collection of books on liberty.' It had a retail location on Mercer Street in Greenwich Village.... But in those pre-Amazon days, it was far better known for its monthly catalog that reached libertarians around the world. Through its Fox & Wilkes publishing imprint it brought many classic libertarian books back into print.....

"Andrea often negotiated with publishers to make books more affordable, and some books only found publishers because Laissez-Faire could guarantee an audience beyond the small academic market.

"Through her work with Laissez-Faire she became friendly with leading libertarian writers including Milton and Rose Friedman, Robert Nozick, Thomas Sowell, Nathaniel Branden, Thomas Szasz, Charles Murray, Richard Epstein, David Kelley, and Margit von Mises, widow of economist Ludwig von Mises.

"As president of the Center for Independent Thought [CIT], the parent organization of Laissez-Faire Books, she also launched and managed the Thomas S. Szasz Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Cause of Civil Liberties and the Roy A. Childs Fund for Independent Scholars.

"CIT’s biggest project was Stossel in the Classroom, which repackaged ABC News and Fox Business videos on economics and public policy by John Stossel for classroom use. The videos have been viewed by tens of millions of high school students – according to Stossel, reaching more people than ABC News and Fox News."

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Saturday, December 1, 2018

French revolt against climate-change tax

France’s Tax Revolt: What Separates the Yellow Vests from America’s Tea Party - Foundation for Economic Education - Bill Wirtz:

November 28, 2018 - "France is seeing large-scale protests against massive hikes in petrol prices, sparked by tax increases.... In an effort to make its case on climate change, the government under French president Emmanuel Macron has significantly increased the TICPE, an acronym which stands for 'interior tax on the consumption of energy products." An increase of up to 12 percent is supposed to curb CO2 emissions and get the country on target to fulfill its objectives, set out in the Paris Climate Accord....

"Petrol prices in the République, ... already much higher than in its neighboring countries, skyrocketed.... in the Paris region, a liter of petrol can cost up to €1.90 ($2.15). For my American friends who may be less familiar with the metric system, that’s $8.13 per gallon.

"As a result, the gilets jaunes (yellow vests) arose out of civil society. They aren't associated with any political party, but they are surely angry, contesting sky-high taxation in France, and the political class is unwilling to listen to them. Protest marches often occur on motorways, where the yellow vests block the streets to get attention for their cause. The high-visibility security vests they wear are symbolic for a cry for help and a desperate attempt to gain attention.... Some protests have turned violent in city centers, where particularly large crowds are clashing with police forces....

"The yellow vests aren't a political movement.... However, they risk being politicized ... political parties are mastering the art of undermining legitimate movements and claiming them for themselves. Both France's far-left and far-right believe that the yellow vests could be an essential electoral boost to them before the impending European elections in this coming May.

"But even if we assume that this movement manages to resist the attempts of being swallowed by either political side, what future can it have in such a tax-friendly country? The yellow vests are no Tea Party: they lack the structure and ideological backing....

"[T]he Tea Party understood that in order to cut taxes, you need to cut spending. In France however, expectations to win just as many people over on the promise of cutting spending are grim.... People arguing to cut taxes is a wonderful thing, but it also needs to be offset with the belief that the government isn't here to solve all of your problems. We're not hearing that from the yellow vests.....

"[C]utting taxes without cutting spending is just going to shift the problem to debt and inflationary policies. If the yellow vests want to become a movement that has an actual voice in the process of reforming France, then it needs to be ideologically sound."

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