Thursday, February 28, 2019

Billions in aid to Afghanistan wasted

Billions in aid to Afghanistan wasted, including money from Canada, U.S. agency finds - The Globe and Mail - Robert Fife and Michelle Zilio:

November 2, 2018 - "Billions of dollars in Western foreign aid to Afghanistan, including from Canada, has been lost to widespread waste, lax oversight and endemic corruption, a U.S. watchdog agency says.

"The U.S. Special Inspector-General for Afghanistan Reconstruction said in a report to Congress that aid money has gone to build medical clinics without electricity or water, schools without children and buildings that literally melted away in the rain. Also, corrupt local officials who were in charge of paying workers with some of the funds created what the audits called “ghost workers,” civilian bureaucrats, police and soldiers who did not exist, then kept or diverted money recorded as being paid to them."

“'There is a lot of corruption, [but] most of what we have identified are just head-smacking stupid programs and really poorly managed and no accountability. Nobody is really held accountable for wasting the money,' Special Inspector-General John Sopko said in an interview with The Globe and Mail.

"Unlike the United States, Canada does not independently audit the money it puts into Western trust funds for international aid. But Mr. Sopko said he is certain the problems he identified for U.S. taxpayers are the same for Canadian taxpayers.

"Nearly 2,400 U.S. soldiers have been killed fighting the Taliban, and 158 Canadians died before Canada pulled its combat troops out of Afghanistan in July, 2011. The Afghan government is still fighting intense battles across most of the country and millions of Afghans have been displaced.

"As the country became increasingly dangerous, Western countries pooled their aid dollars into trust funds managed by the World Bank, the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization....

"Mr. Sopko’s office found a troubling lack of financial oversight and far-reaching mismanagement of two Western trust funds – the World Bank’s Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund and the UN-administered Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan, used to train and equip Afghan security forces.

"According to the Library of Parliament, Canada has donated more than $3-billion in foreign aid to Afghanistan since 2002, including US$850.9-million, to the two funds. (Foreign aid money is delivered in U.S. dollars.)"

Read more:
'via Blog this'

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Jones Act imposes embargo on Puerto Rico

It's Time to Lift the Jones Act Embargo | Cato Institute - Colin Grabow:

February 20, 2019 - "Puerto Rico is currently under a de facto embargo imposed by Congress.... Puerto Rico finds it impossible to import U.S. liquefied natural gas — not despite being part of the United States, but because of it....

"Passed in 1920, the Jones Act mandates that ships transporting goods between two points in the United States must be U.S.-built, U.S.-owned, U.S.-crewed and U.S.-flagged. Of the 478 ships in the world capable of transporting liquefied natural gas, however, none meet these requirements.

"That’s a problem for Puerto Rico, which relies on LNG for 34 percent of its electricity generation and would like to use more to replace some of the oil and coal that produce 64 percent of its electricity. But with no ships to transport it, cheap U.S.-produced LNG has effectively been placed off limits....

"Puerto Rico applied in December for a waiver from the Jones Act so that the territory can import LNG from the U.S. mainland aboard foreign-flagged ships. This eminently sensible step, however, has been met with a swift bipartisan backlash. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), the chairman and ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, dispatched [a] letter urging the Trump administration to reject the waiver application.

"Never mind the fact that expanded access to natural gas would help replace dirtier fuels like oil and coal. Never mind that the Jones Act effectively condemns cash-strapped Puerto Rico to paying more for natural gas imported from abroad. Never mind that the waiver would not displace a single U.S. ship, as none are capable of transporting LNG in large quantities....

[T]he Jones Act is among Washington’s most sacred cows.... [S]pecial interests that support the law includ[e] shipyards dependent on the U.S.-build requirement and carriers shielded from foreign competition.... And so ... Democrats and Republicans, who struggle to ... keep the federal government open, are aligned on a law that denies Puerto Rico’s access to U.S. energy supplies and condemns them to purchasing more expensive LNG from elsewhere.... "

"It’s time for the Trump administration to grant the waiver and Congress to repeal the Jones Act."

'via Blog this'

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Did Robert Kraft even commit a crime?

In A Truly Libertarian World, Robert Kraft Buying Sex Wouldn't Be A Crime - Jocelyn Glabach, Federalist Society:

February 25, 2019 - "Friday morning, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft found himself caught up in a prostitution sting spearheaded by Florida’s Jupiter Police Department.

"The details are still unfolding as to whether this was a consensual arrangement between two adults, or something more insidious involving sex trafficking. If it was the latter, one must wonder whether Kraft knew what he was getting into. But if this was run-of-the-mill prostitution, and he wanted to enter into relations with another consenting adult, and she with him, that should be none of our business.

"One of the pillars of libertarianism is self-ownership –– the idea that we have full autonomy over what we do with our bodies. Some gray area exists that divides the ideology on abortion, but sex is pretty standard: we are free to have sex with who we want, provided they are consenting and of reasonable age, and it should be none of the government’s business. So why would sex become the government’s business when money becomes a factor?

"One argument is that prostitution exploits women and elevates sex traffickers, so we ban it to [prevent] prostitution ... authorities ban X [and] supply goes down..... But what is the natural response?... X increases in value, a black market forms, cartels rise to power, organized crime grows, and the frequency of crime increases.... Prostitution, like marijuana, is not absolved from the laws of the market because of its implied immorality.

"[T]he solutions touted by the state of Florida ... won’t change demand in the slightest.... Just because the state wants people to behave in a certain way doesn’t mean they will. Wouldn’t it make more sense to attempt to get this industry out of the dark?

"All of this said, is sex trafficking the same as prostitution? Absolutely not. Sex trafficking deprives a victim of her autonomy and makes her a slave to her keeper. It is the antithesis of a voluntary contract, and sex traffickers should feel the full extent of the law over forcing their victims into compromising situations....

"Whether or not Kraft was a willing participant in voluntary prostitution or a knowing party in a sex trafficking ring is still unclear, but what is clear is that what consenting adults do with their bodies should not only be none of our business, and stand apart from the cancerous organized crime that is sex trafficking."

Read more:
'via Blog this'

Monday, February 25, 2019

Online cannabis monopoly a boon to black market

Ontario delivers yet another cannabis decision that hurts retailers and helps illegal dealers | Financial Post - David Clement:

February 20, 2019 - "Recently, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) stated legal cannabis shops in the province will be prohibited from offering online retail options to consumers. This means that the initial 25 cannabis stores in Ontario and the multitude of stores that could open once the province lifts its temporary cap on retail licences won’t be able to offer consumers online ordering for store pickup (click and collect). Nor will they be able to offer any same-day delivery services.

"The move to mandate that the province have a monopoly on cannabis e-commerce benefits the government, and the black market, at the expense of consumers....

"Both click and collect and same-day delivery are purchase options that significantly increase consumer access, which is key to curbing black-market sales. In order to truly achieve the goal of stamping out criminal actors, legal cannabis needs to be more accessible than illegal cannabis, which is something that click and collect and delivery can help with.

"This problem is made worse by the fact that 77 Ontario communities have opted out of cannabis retail altogether. These 'dry' communities will have no retail options within their city limits, leaving consumers to either drive to the closest opt-in community, order online through the OCS and wait three to five business days for delivery, or purchase cannabis illegally on the black market.....

"In a scenario where private online retail options were legal, we could see consumers in 'dry' suburbs ordering online to pick up on their way home from work, or even better, ordering for same-day delivery directly to their home. A delivery option for residents in dry communities would help meet their access needs, especially when compared to online ordering with the OCS, all while respecting the will of prohibitionist city councillors who don’t want cannabis retail. Unfortunately, the government monopoly ensures such a scenario is impossible.

"Allowing for communities to opt out of cannabis retail was already a mistake, because it ultimately signals to black-market actors that those supposedly dry jurisdictions are still open for illegal business. Preventing online ordering and delivery from private stores outside those communities dogpiles on to that growing problem and makes the situation much worse.

"Consumer access and consumer choice matter in terms of curbing the black market, but these policy failures could have larger implications. Those who never wanted cannabis to be legal to begin with will be front and centre arguing that legalization has failed to curb the black market and has failed to meet its objectives. Policies like community opt-outs and a government e-commerce monopoly act as a ball and chain for the legal market, limiting its ability to compete, which is a huge disservice to Ontario’s cannabis consumers."

David Clement is the North American affairs manager at the Consumer Choice Center.

'via Blog this'

Sunday, February 24, 2019

David Boaz's top 10 libertarian movies (I)

The 10 Best Libertarian Movies – David Boaz – Medium:

February 22, 2019 - "Hollywood takes a lot of flak for its liberal leanings.... Still, over the years Hollywood studios and some independent and foreign producers have made plenty of movies with libertarian themes. They’re not movies with John Galt speeches, and most of them aren’t really ideological at all. But the messages or the values are there.... So here are my choices, in alphabetical order…

"1776 (1972) - What could be more libertarian than a movie about ... the document that declared 'all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness'? A rousing Broadway musical effectively transferred to the screen....

"Amazing Grace (2007) - John Newton was a slave trader who ... renounced his previous life and became an evangelical minister in the Church of England, an abolitionist, and the author of a beautiful hymn. This movie reminds us that humanity has made great progress toward freedom, that each battle for freedom can be long and seemingly futile, but that the goal is worth time and money and effort.

"Amistad (1997) ... tells a fascinating story about a ship full of Africans who turned up in New England in 1839.... Amistad gives us a picture of a society governed by law.... And when the former president, John Quincy Adams, makes his argument before the Supreme Court, it should inspire us all to appreciate the law that protects our freedom.

"Dallas Buyers Club (2013) ... has a strong libertarian message about self-help, entrepreneurship, overbearing and even lethal regulation, and social tolerance. A homophobic working-class Texan learns in 1985 that he has AIDS ... goes looking for drugs, ... and starts selling them in Texas, mostly to gay men.... You’ll be surprised to see how many armed FDA agents it takes to raid a storefront clinic operated by two dying men.

"East-West (1999) - Films about the devastation of communism are all too rare. This French film (Est-Ouest) about Soviet emigres who returned to Russia after World War II is a lush and moving depiction of, as the New York Times put it, 'the grim reality of life and death in a police state': poverty, executions, and constant fear."

Read Part II here.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

State politicians bungling cannabis legalization

Libertarian official schools entrepreneurs on cannabis legalization - News - Sarasota Herald-Tribune - Sarasota, FL - Billy Cox:

February 23, 2019 - "[C]annabis ... legalization advocate Adrian Moore told a conservative Argus Foundation audience Friday that Florida has to get smarter.... Moore, vice president of the Libertarian Reason Foundation, said support for an 'adult use' referendum on the 2020 ballot is growing, and that lawmakers should be wary of pushing back with the sorts of stifling regulations that have created surging black markets in legal states....

“'These state governments were just doing an absolutely atrocious job with literally no idea of how things work,' he told an audience of 90 at the Sarasota Yacht Club. 'I think most of you probably know that understanding how markets work is not a prerequisite for being a legislator.'

"Having moved to Sarasota from northern California four years ago to escape high state taxes, Moore offered a cautionary tale to area business leaders whose understanding of emerging marijuana markets might well be as limited as that of Florida’s elected officials. He cited how Tallahassee’s refusal to yield to public opinion — lawmakers have erected numerous roadblocks to full implementation of Amendment 2 in 2016, despite 71 percent voter approval — has resulted in legal defeats at every turn.

"With prospects for even broader access looming, Moore warned against overtaxation, which fuels underground economies and defeats the purpose of legalization. He mentioned a New York Times article exposing California’s thriving marijuana black markets.... Moore, who holds a doctorate in economics as well as master’s degrees in economics and history, acknowledged the windfall-prospects lure of legal cannabis. But legislative greed, he said, can undermine the law’s best intentions.

"But legal marijuana’s pitfalls aren’t limited to tax policy. Federal prohibition aside, Moore pointed to tensions between state and local governments over licensing restrictions, zoning restrictions and regional price disparities that can drive product demand across state lines, which can provoke federal blowback.

"In California, for instance, four-fifths of the state’s municipalities have banned marijuana retailers simply because 'they were given the option to'.... What it means, he said, is that 'you don’t have a functional market in California.' Moore also points to California’s onerous 330 pages of rules and regulations in state marijuana laws, much of which he argues are devoted to 'harm reduction' scenarios, many of which are hypothetical and growth-inhibiting.....

"Another 'super-hot issue' facing states is the expungement of criminal records for nonviolent offenders whose marijuana crimes become obsolete when legalization laws are passed. Then there’s the issue of mandated 'gifting' of licenses to entrepreneurs in traditionally disadvantaged communities, whether or not those owners are qualified to handle demand.

"Moore’s presentation generated questions from understandably confused Sarasota employers.... He reminded listeners that, with marijuana still classified as a dangerous Schedule 1 drug, no state has developed a model policy. Colorado, the first state to legalize personal-use cannabis in 2014, continues to tweak and refine its rules as issues arise."

“'It seems that employers have control over their destiny, which is really what we’re going for,' Moore said. 'It should be up to employers to figure out how it should be applied and how it shouldn’t, as long as it’s not discriminatory.'”

'via Blog this'

Friday, February 22, 2019

Libertarian enters Argentine presidential election

The Libertarian Calling for an End to Argentina’s ‘Decadent’ Ways | Bloomberg - Carolina Millan and Jonathan Gilbert:

February 22, 2019 - "After a century of economic disarray in Argentina, Jose Luis Espert is making the case for radical change. The fringe right-wing presidential hopeful is running on a platform of liberal economic policies never before tried in one of South America’s most protectionist nations. The 57-year old economist and television pundit says President Mauricio Macri’s administration has been tame on trade, fiscal and labor policies....

"Espert brings unconventional ideas to the region’s second-largest economy, which is struggling with a second recession in three years and the weakest currency in emerging markets. Macri, who faces reelection on Oct. 27, has struggled to turn around a country known for capital controls, unpredictability and contempt for foreign investors.

"Running for the Libertarian Party, Espert aims to end 'a century of decadence' through free trade, slashing the public sector and revamping labor laws based on 1940s workers’ champion President Juan Domingo Peron.

"While he’s likely to capture just a small percentage of votes -- by his own estimates he has seven percent of public support -- the self-proclaimed fan of Milton Friedman and the Chicago school of economics says his candidacy will serve to ingrain the need for a political overhaul.

“'I’d feel happy enough if common sense ideas are put back on the table,' Espert said....

"Espert says he can fire 1.5 million government employees, about 40 percent of the public workforce, without facing a backlash. That’s because the private sector, enjoying a lighter tax burden, would step in, he said.

"With many voters disillusioned by Macri but unwilling to turn back to his predecessor, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, other candidates sense a chance. 'A huge distrust in traditional politics has opened the biggest window of opportunity in 15 years,' Espert said.

"Espert, who’ll formalize his candidacy when elections are officially called in a few weeks, will face an uphill battle: He has limited political machinery and will rely on volunteers in a campaign expected to cost as much as $20 million."

Read more:

Thursday, February 21, 2019

NY Libertarian membership grows post-election

Libertarian numbers grow in New York - Capitol Confidential - David Lombardo, Albany Times-Union:

February 5, 2019 - "The ranks of the Libertarian Party in New York have immediately swelled with the party’s addition to the state’s voter registration form.

"The third party, which became a recognized party in January based on its showing in last year’s gubernatorial race, has 9,757 registered members in New York as of last week, according to data compiled by the state Board of Elections. This is nearly a 25 percent increase from 2018, based on estimates from party officials.

"Asked about the new status in November, New York Libertarian Party Chair Jim Rosenbeck said: 'It will no longer be a mystery how to register as a Libertarian'....

"A similar bump in enrollment was not seen by the Serve America Movement, a third party that qualified for the ballot with gubernatorial candidate Stephanie Miner. The party has zero registered voters in New York.

"Before the Libertarian Party became officially recognized, New Yorkers were able to write in the party on their registration form and they were classified as “other” party voters by the state, which was at 8,668 voters in November. This category had increased to 10,067 voters as of last week, with about 72 percent coming from the Women’s Equality Party and about 28 percent from the Reform Party, both of which lost their recognized status when their gubernatorial candidates got less than 50,000 votes in November.

"Nearly three quarters of the Libertarian voters are from outside of New York City."

Read more:

'via Blog this'

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Leyenhjolm to run at state level

Australia's Libertarian Senator Won't Seek Re-election - Hit & Run : - Scott Shackford|

January 8, 2019 - "Libertarian Australian Senator David Leyonhjelm is resigning from national politics, but he isn't leaving government behind. Instead he's looking to take his fight against the nanny state to the local level.

"Leyonhjelm, of Australia's Liberal Democratic Party (that's the country's label for libertarians), was elected to office in 2013 and re-elected in 2016. He has spent a lot of that time advocating for the liberty to own guns, marry somebody of the same sex, legally smoke marijuana, and be free from unwarranted government surveillance.

"Well, at least gay marriage was legalized (after a lengthy, complicated public vote). The rest has been a struggle. Even after the Australian Senate made it easier for terminally ill patients to import medical marijuana, the country's Department of Health continued to threaten people who attempted to do so. And the country has actually ramped up surveillance authorities on its citizens and is now potentially threatening everybody's data privacy and security with anti-encryption legislation. Meanwhile, as Australia's extremely high taxes on cigarettes has created a massive black market for the goods, the country has responded by attempting to stop large cash transactions....

"Leyonhjelm has now decided to focus on fighting the country's nanny tendencies on the state level. He says he's planning to run for the Upper House in New South Wales (home of Sydney and the country's highest population concentration of nearly 8 million).

"He told Sky News that he wants to fight against red tape on the state level, focusing on familiar overregulation issues like liquor licensing, rules on where you can smoke or vape, gambling, laws that control business hours, and issues like assisted suicide and, again, drug legalization....

"An election analyst at Australia's ABC Network ... predicted that Leyonhjelm would have a tough time keeping his Senate seat. The ruling government has made it harder since Leyonhjelm was elected for minor parties to reach the polling thresholds needed to win seats under the country's preferential voting system. But he could fare better with the New South Wales Legislative Council, though he's going to be competing against other third parties as well."

Read more:
'via Blog this'

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Libertarian commune founded in Norway

The libertarian commune made cryptocurrency the official means of payment - The Cryptocurrency Post:

February 17, 2019 - "The inhabitants of the libertarian commune of Liberstad made the City Coin coin the official currency of their town. Libertarians believe that digital money perfectly matches their values and allows them to become independent of the state.

"Liberstad municipality was founded in 2015 in Norway. The founders of the project want to gain independence from the state and to waive taxes in favor of the services of private companies.

"'We want to create a society in which people decide everything themselves and can live together without state authorities. We want to create a society without government coercion, blackmail, surveillance or unnecessary violence,' said the founder of the commune, John Toralf Holmsland.

"At the moment, the population of Liberstad has more than 120 inhabitants. Anyone can join the commune – for this you need to buy land for bitcoins.

"City Coin cryptocurrency was developed by the City Chain Foundation project.... City Chain has created a platform for a 'smart' city, which contains a number of functions for developing cities, such as Liberstad. Chief among these features is City Hub, an intuitive and easy-to-use control panel for smart city dwellers. Citizens can interact with the community, manage their virtual identity, create city-wide initiatives or vote for existing ones, register property, insure contracts and much more,' the project description says."

Read more:
'via Blog this'

Monday, February 18, 2019

Majority of Americans favor capitalism: poll

Capitalism crushes socialism: Fox News Poll | Fox Business - Dana Blanton:

February 13, 2019 - "Capitalism is far more popular than socialism, according to a Fox News Poll of registered voters. The poll also finds economic optimism high, and the number wanting help from the government the lowest in years.

"The new poll, released Wednesday, asks what message voters want to send to the federal government.  Over half would say 'leave me alone.'  About a third would ask Uncle Sam to 'lend me a hand.' The 34 percent saying 'lend me a hand' is down from 41 percent last year and 39 percent in 2016. The 55 percent who would tell the government 'leave me alone' is up from 51 percent in 2018 and 54 percent in 2016.

"Fifty-seven percent of voters have a positive opinion of capitalism.  That’s more than twice the number who feel the same about socialism (25 percent).  Some of the groups most likely to have a favorable view of socialism include self-identified liberals (50 percent), Clinton voters (43 percent), and those under age 30 (36 percent)....

"Nearly four out of five voters feel their family either achieved the American Dream (38 percent), or is on the way toward achieving it (40 percent).  One in five believes the dream is out of reach (18 percent)....

"By a 47-42 percent margin, voters think capitalism in the U.S. gives them a 'fair shot.' However, men (58 percent) are 21 points more likely than women (37 percent) to say capitalism is a level playing field.  Similarly, whites (52 percent) are 19 points more likely than nonwhites (33 percent), and voters ages 45 and over (54 percent) are 17 points more inclined than those under age 45 (37 percent) to feel they are getting a fair deal.

"Meanwhile, the number thinking Americans rely too much on government and not enough on themselves has dropped:  61 percent feel that way, down from 74 percent in 2013....

"The Fox News poll is based on landline and cellphone interviews with 1,004 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Beacon Research (D) (formerly named Anderson Robbins Research) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from February 10-12, 2019. The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points for all registered voters."

'via Blog this'

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Hollywood hypocrisy shown by The Favourite

Somebody’s Favorite | Liberty Unbound - Jo Anne Skousen:

February 10, 2019 - "In the wake of last year’s militant #MeToo movement, when actresses haughtily proclaimed, 'We will no longer be pressured into trading sex for jobs' (and bullied other actresses into wearing black at the event to show their solidarity), the Academy this year has bizarrely honored The Favourite with ten Oscar nominations, ... confirming once and for all (as if there were any doubt) that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has zero credibility and doesn’t know what the hell it is doing.

"Loosely based on the reign of Queen Anne and her relationships with Sarah Churchill,Duchess of Marlborough, and a servant named Abigail (eventually Lady Masham), the film suggests that the silly and childlike Anne made all of her decisions based on which woman’s tongue pleased her best — and I don’t mean by talking. The film fairly drips with transactional sex....

"Rachel Weisz, who plays Sarah Marlborough, called the film 'a funnier, sex-driven All About Eve.' In that film, an established star (Margo Channing) befriends an aspiring actress (Eve Harrington), only to see her try to usurp her position in the theater. Similarly, in The Favourite, a young social climber, Abigail (Emma Stone), .... worms her way cunningly — or in this case, cunnilingually — into the favor of Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) by befriending and then pushing aside the queen’s long-standing confidante and advisor, Lady Churchill (Weisz), simultaneously finagling a financially and socially beneficial marriage to regain her aristocratic status.

"Don’t misunderstand my objection — I enjoy a good bedroom farce, with doors slamming, lovers hiding, comic timing, and double entendres galore. But this is different. The Favourite doesn’t just joke about sex; it celebrates the use of sex to gain political power, and hypocritically undermines everything these same preening, moralizing Hollywood hotshots stood up for just last year.

"It also seems to justify rape, as long as it’s funny.... When Lord Masham enters Abigail’s servant quarters without being invited, she asks him, 'Are you here to seduce me or to rape me?” He responds, “I’m a gentleman.' 'To rape me, then,' she deadpans, and the audience chuckles....

"All I’m asking is that the Academy pick a side and stick with it. Or admit that it really has no backbone or underlying moral principles whatsoever, and quit pretending to have the upper hand on social morality....

"Liberty readers might well enjoy The Favourite.... It’s bizarre in many ways, but it’s also witty, opulent, and well-acted. It presents three powerful women controlling the throne and politics of England in their own womanly way.... All three women use their sex for trade, but they do it willingly and deliberately, from a position of power rather than victimhood. Is it possible — even probable — that women in Hollywood have been doing the same thing for over a century, and only cried 'outrage!' (and somehow managed to blame Republicans) after they were caught?"

'via Blog this'

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Canada shows privatizing air traffic control works

Canada’s privatized air traffic control system should be model for U.S., analyst says - Transportation Today:

September 20, 2017 - "A proposal to privatize air traffic control in the United States would help facilitate modernization of the decades-old air traffic control system, a model that has seen success in Canada, argues an analyst at the independent, non-profit American Action Forum (AAF).

""Brianna Fernandez, a data analyst with AAF, says that because the Federal Aviation Administration’s funding is uncertain and enmeshed in political gridlock, upgrading the World War II-era, ground-based radar technology to GPS-based technology is close to impossible. But privatization would correct that, she said....

"Fernandez says it works in other countries, and should be a model for how it works in the United States.... Fernandez pointed to Canada as an example.

"Canada moved to a privatized ATC system, Nav Canada, nearly 20 years ago and was able to quickly modernize its air traffic technology in 2009 to an automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast system, Fernandez noted. This ATC system determines an aircraft’s position via satellite navigation and then broadcasts its location for tracking purposes....

"In contrast, since 2007, Fernandez wrote, the FAA has invested $3 billion in a satellite-based GPS tracking technology, included in a program known as NextGen, but has not either identified the total costs of NextGen, or set schedules for implementing it. Current estimates put the total cost at $160 billion by 2030.

"'Since it privatized its ATC services, Canada has implemented GPS technology, which has helped to lower costs to aviation users,' Fernandez wrote.... 'Nav Canada is also one of the safest systems in the world, and has won three International Air Transport Association Eagle Awards for the best ATC provider'....

"Similar systems exist in Australia, Germany, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, Fernandez wrote. 'Removing air traffic control from governmental constraints has allowed other countries to modernize their technologies at rates faster than the United States, while maintaining a safe system with lower costs,' she says in her paper."

Read more:
'via Blog this'

Friday, February 15, 2019

Weld exploring primary challenge to Trump

Bill Weld looking to challenge Donald Trump in 2020 Republican primary - CNNPolitics - Veronica Stracqualursi, Harry Enten & Daniella Diaz:

February 15, 2019 - "Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld said he's launching a presidential exploratory committee to run in 2020 as a Republican.

"'I hope to see the Republican Party assume once again the mantle of being the party of Lincoln. It upsets me that our energies as a society are being sapped by the President's culture of divisiveness in Washington,' he said Friday in New Hampshire, adding later, 'Because of the many concerns I've talked about today, I've established an exploratory committee ... as a Republican in the 2020 election.'

"Speaking at the 'Politics & Eggs' breakfast in Bedford, New Hampshire, Weld called Donald Trump a 'schoolyard bully,' 'unstable,' and 'a president whose priorities are skewed to the promotion of himself rather than toward the good of the country.'

"Weld is the first potential primary challenger to the President [and] ... will face an uphill battle.... Trump recently scored an 89% approval rating among Republicans nationally in a Gallup poll. Even in New Hampshire, where Weld is expected to base much of his campaign effort, Trump showed a similarly strongly 83% approval rating with Republicans in a late October University of New Hampshire poll.....

"Weld has had a unique political path. He served as a two-term Massachusetts governor during the early 1990s and later lost the 1996 US Senate race in Massachusetts against John Kerry. He resigned as governor in 1997 after Democratic President Bill Clinton nominated him to be US ambassador to Mexico [but] he was blocked by then-chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Sen. Jesse Helms....

"He was Mitt Romney's co-chair in New York when Romney ran for president in 2008. After Romney dropped out, Weld ended up endorsing then-Democratic nominee Barack Obama for president over the GOP nominee, Sen. John McCain.

"Weld was the 2016 vice presidential nominee on the Libertarian Party ticket with former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson. And despite that, Weld vouched for Hillary Clinton, even saying at one point he's 'not sure anybody is more qualified' than her to be president."

'via Blog this'
Read Weld's full speech here:

Thursday, February 14, 2019

71 SC legislators sponsor civil forfeiture reform

SC legislators announce significant civil forfeiture reform efforts - Nathaniel Cary, Greenville News:

February 13, 2019 - "As a morning Statehouse crowd milled about, ... Rep. Alan Clemmons stepped to a podium ... to announce a bill to reform civil asset forfeiture in South Carolina — a practice which allows law enforcement to seize property from residents, sometimes without charging or convicting them of a crime, and then profit from the proceeds....

"[H]e said the group stands with law enforcement, crime shouldn’t pay, and law enforcement should have the ability to seize property they believe to be illegally obtained. 'We, however, also stand with the presumption of innocent until proven guilty,' said Clemmons, R-Myrtle Beach. 'We also stand for the presumption of the sanctity of property rights.'

"He announced a bill, backed by the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council that Clemmons has previously chaired, to fundamentally change the way civil forfeiture cases are handled in the state. At its heart, he said, the bill would enable a person to not lose their property to police unless they were convicted of a crime.

"Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, ... D-Orangeburg, who is president of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, ... called it fundamentally an issue of fairness, saying someone who has not been convicted of a crime should not lose their property. She said she knows some small towns count on revenue from forfeiture to furnish police units....

“'I am pleased to stand with this bipartisan group, Democrats as well as Republicans, African-Americans as well as whites, to say we have come together on this issue to say enough is enough in South Carolina. We are going to stand for the citizens of this state.'

"The bill, introduced to the House on Wednesday, will be assigned to the House Judiciary Committee....  71 House members have signed on as co-sponsors. That’s enough votes to pass the bill out of the House....

“'It’s about time,' said Rep. Gary Clary, R-Pickens, a retired judge with 45 years legal experience who has presided over forfeiture cases.... 'I believe in individual rights and individual liberties, and this is one of the most important pieces of legislation that we are going to consider in this session.'

"Clary and others credited The Greenville News and Anderson Independent Mail's TAKEN investigation with creating a climate to address the unfairness civil forfeiture presents to citizens."

'via Blog this'

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Howard Schultz Libertarian trial balloon floated

Why Howard Schult could go Libertarian - Steven Nelson, Washington Examiner:

February 13, 2019 - "Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz may be able to avoid a 50-state scramble for presidential ballot access by seeking the Libertarian Party’s support.

"Members of the large national third party, which took more than 3 percent of the vote in 2016, are intrigued by Schultz and might be willing to give him the party nomination in 2020, meaning he would not have to gather hundreds of thousands of signatures as an independent.

"Schultz has branded himself a 'centrist independent' as he teases a potential challenge to President Trump. But he has Libertarians swooning over his concern about the national debt and opposition to socialist policies such as single-payer healthcare, free college, and high taxes.

"''Mr. Schultz describes himself as fiscally conservative and socially liberal, so I kindly encourage Mr. Schultz to look at our platform, as that title goes hand in hand with what the Libertarian Party stands for,' said Florida Libertarian Party Chairman Marcos Miralles....

"California Libertarian Party Chairwoman Mimi Robson said ... 'He’s definitely a fiscal conservative and he appears to be generally for civil liberties and individual rights... There's kind of a wait and see attitude'.... Robson said she doesn’t have a stance on Schultz, but does have advice. 'If he’s thinking about doing a run and doing it independently, I think that's not the best way to win,' she said....

"Schultz, raised in a Brooklyn housing project, has made his rags-to-riches tale of free-market success central to his possible campaign, while emphasizing Starbucks’ voluntary commitment to worker welfare. If he seeks the Libertarian nomination, however, it would reopen a debate between party purists and those willing to accept a more mainstream candidate. Recently, the more mainstream wing has won out, nominating former Republican Gov. Gary Johnson of New Mexico for president in 2012 and 2016....

"Nicholas Sarwark, chairman of the national Libertarian Party, said some of Schultz’s political positions are well in-line with the party, but others could be problematic.... 'his position on gun control would probably be very unpopular with libertarians.' Schultz said he believes 'guns of war' should be banned....

"Schultz's spokespeople did not respond to a request for comment."

Read more:
'via Blog this'

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Paul amendment allows sale of federal forest land

Sen. Rand Paul Proposes Changes To Natural Resources Management Act | - Alexia Waters:

February 12, 2019 - "Senator Rand Paul introduced two Kentucky-specific amendments to a bill that covers issues affecting federal lands.

"It’s the Natural Resources Management Act he’s proposing changes to and if passed, Kentuckians would see changes to two outdoor attractions. The senator says these changes would help increase tourism and support new economic growth in counties around Daniel Boone National Forest and the Lake Cumberland area.

"His amendments would give public access to waterways in the Daniel Boone National Forest in several counties. This would allow docks, boat slips, and marinas.

"The senator’s other proposed change would allow parts of the forest to be sold. He said it’s aiming at developing land in the national forest, which would allow the sale of land at some points along U.S. Highway 27.

"Opponents of the bill say there’s no limitations to how much land can be sold and there’s no public input.... Opponents also say there are endangered species in the area that may be harmed and they’re urging people to call legislators....

"Paul says the federal government should not stand in the way of Kentuckians accessing their own natural resources."

Read more:
'via Blog this'

Monday, February 11, 2019

Australian state MP wants drugs decriminalized

'Libertarian' MP calls for drug possession to be decriminalised - Adam Carey, The Age:

February 5, 2019 - "A new Victorian MP has used his first speech to call for drug possession to be decriminalised, arguing billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money is being wasted on failed policies of prohibition.

"Liberal Democrats upper house MP David Limbrick also paid tribute to his federal counterpart Senator David Leyonhjelm, who is being sued for defamation by Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young for alleged 'slut-shaming' comments.

"A self-described libertarian, Mr Limbrick vowed he 'would never vote for a reduction in freedom or an increase in taxes'.

"One of two Liberal Democrats elected to the upper house in November, he received just 0.84 per cent of the vote in the south-east metro district but ... is one of 11 upper house crossbenchers the Andrews government will have to negotiate with to pass legislation.

"Limbrick said the 'war on drugs' had failed as badly as the US prohibition on alcohol in the 1920s. 'As a parent, I have had enough of hearing about young people dying from adulterated substances produced in backyard labs,' he said in Parliament....

"Limbrick said Victoria should follow the example of Portugal, where the possession of drugs was decriminalised in 2001. 'For a country that was once considered the heroin capital of Europe, drug-related HIV infections have fallen by 95 per cent and the drug mortality rate is now the lowest in Western Europe,' he said.

"The number of people charged for drug use and possession in Victoria has more than doubled in the past seven years..... 24,584 people were charged with drug possession last year, with cannabis possession the most common charge....

"Limbrick and northern Victorian MP Tim Quilty are the first Liberal Democrats to be voted into the Victorian Parliament."

Read more:
'via Blog this'

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Greenhouse gas from livestock cut by over half in pilot study

Seaweed could make cows burp less methane and cut their carbon hoofprint - MIT Technology Review - James Temple:

November 23, 2018 - "In a wooden barn on the edge of campus at the University of California, Davis, ... Holstein dairy cows participated in a study to test a promising path to reducing methane emissions from livestock, a huge source of the greenhouse gases driving climate change. By adding a small amount of seaweed to the animals’ feed, researchers found, they could cut the cows’ methane production by nearly 60%.

"Each year, livestock production pumps out greenhouse gases with the equivalent warming effect of more than 7 gigatons of carbon dioxide, roughly the same global impact as the transportation industry. Nearly 40% of that is produced during digestion: cattle, goats, and sheep belch and pass methane, a highly potent, albeit relatively short-lived, greenhouse gas.

"If the reductions achieved in the UC Davis study could be applied across the worldwide livestock industry, it would eliminate nearly 2 gigatons of those emissions annually — about a quarter of United States’ total climate pollution.... Ermias Kebreab, an animal science professor at UC Davis who leads the work, is preparing to undertake a more ambitious study....

"In 2014, Australian researchers found that low doses of a red algae known as Asparagopsis taxiformis virtually eliminated methane production in lab experiments. Field trials with live sheep cut emissions as much as 80%, while the UC Davis experiment, the first on live cattle, showed a 58% reduction on average when a related seaweed made up 1% of their diet....

"Australis Aquaculture, a producer of ocean-farmed Asian sea bass based in Greenfield, Massachusetts, is attempting ... through a research project in Vietnam, dubbed Greener Grazing ... to grow seaweed off the coast of Vietnam. The plants would be placed within the type of plastic tube netting used to grow oysters, and suspended a few feet underwater — just deep enough to be protected from waves, but close enough to the sun for photosynthesis to drive growth.

"Meanwhile, DSM, the giant Dutch conglomerate, is working on a synthetic additive for the cows. A paper its researchers coauthored found that a methane inhibitor known as 3-nitrooxypropanol, or 3NOP, cut emissions by 30% in lactating Holsteins ... milk production wasn’t affected during the 12-week experiment, and as a bonus, the “spared methane energy” helped generate tissue, resulting in higher body weights. DSM Nutritional Products ... has already applied for US Food and Drug Administration approval to sell it in the United States."

Read more:
'via Blog this'

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Unbridled military spending endangers liberty

The Military Industrial Complex’s Assault on Liberty | The American Conservative Michael Shindler:

June 22, 2018 - "[T]he House Appropriations Committee advanced a lavish $674.6 billion Pentagon spending bill for fiscal year 2019. That means Congress is preparing to spend even more on defense, which isn’t at all shocking. To even marginally decrease defense spending, according to its champions, would be disastrous....

"America’s military has over 800 bases worldwide, more than any other nation or empire in history. In order to staff, equip, and maintain this body, the U.S. spends more on defense than China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, the United Kingdom, India, and France combined.... According to the Credit Suisse Research Institute, the strength of the American military exceeds that of all other countries.... Yet legislators still claim that the military is experiencing a 'readiness crisis,' which necessitates further fattening of the defense budget.

"This 'crisis' is often exaggerated or confused by its proponents because 'readiness' is an ambiguous term that hints at urgency without ever specifying a threat. In that vein, arguments often focus on the health of particular programs while failing to contextualize them within clearly defined geopolitical aims.... Emotion, not genuine geopolitical insight, drives popular support for inflated defense spending, and, in the words of horror writer H. P. Lovecraft, 'the oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear.'

"When World War II ended, defense spending fell significantly. President Truman was left wondering how to persuade Congress to fund various geopolitical projects.... Senator Arthur Vandenberg forthrightly advised him to 'scare the hell out of the American people,' and so he did with great success. Later presidents followed suit throughout the Cold War and, together, they funded an extravagant arms race that lasted until the Soviet Union fell....

"Shortly, however, new demons were conjured up from the Middle Eastern sands and the defense budget has been distended ever since. If this cycle of inflated spending and fearsome rhetoric were some sort of perverse exercise towards geopolitical predictability, perhaps it would be pardonable. But it isn’t. In addition to our scruples, it costs us our liberty.

"In his famous 'Cross of Iron' speech, President Eisenhower said, 'Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed .... In the words of American political philosopher Lysander Spooner, 'the only security men can have for their political liberty, consists in their keeping their money in their own pockets, until they have assurances … that it will be used as they wish it to be used''....

"In a capitalist economy such as ours, money is the fuel of freedom. To take so much of it away from taxpayers to fund military bloat, which is neither necessary nor beneficial, is to not only deprive them of some good or service, but to deprive them of their choice, which is the essence of liberty."

Read more:
'via Blog this'

Friday, February 8, 2019

State of Colorado plans to ban plastic straws

Libertarian Party Op Ed: Colorado Is Becoming California With Proposed Straw Ban | Westword - Michael Lopez:

February 6, 2019 -"Colorado Democrats and progressives [are] ... introducing a version of a bill banning plastic straws that garnered plenty of memes last year when it was brought forward in Santa Barbara, California.... While the proposed legislation in Colorado will not fine or jail servers, it is within the realm of possibility that what happened in Santa Barbara is ... going to be the law of the land for all of Colorado.

"The ordinance in California made instant criminals out of all the waitstaff in the city if they give a patron a straw — any straw, compostables included.... [They] could face up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. The restaurant would not pay this fine. No, the server who dared hand you a straw without a request ... is personally fined.

"While the Libertarian party of Colorado supports environmental conservation through privatization and respect for property rights, it is always an occasion for concern when 'big brother' attempts to legislate morality, even if the legislation is not — for the moment — intended to be enforced. There will be calls for this legislation to be amended so that it can be enforced, and that enforcement will always come with some sort of threat. Therein lies the Libertarian opposition to this legislation. Maybe you were a server once upon a time. Maybe you agree that single-use plastic is wasteful and destructive, but do you honestly believe that workers should be jailed for providing straws? Do you trust government officials to stop there? Are you comfortable with the possibility of our government exercising the Machiavellian idea of rule through fear?

"We entrust our lives to those we elect to government. You vote for them because you believe that they will behave and act as you would, if you were in their shoes. You must then ask yourself: Would I be willing to separate my neighbor from their family, lock them in a cell and take their money, simply for using a straw after I politely asked them not to? This is the kind of self-reflection that we expect our representatives to also undertake. And it is the kind of self-reflection that we should all practice when we ask government to intervene in our lives."

Read more:
'via Blog this'

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Hewitt gives Libertarians' 2019 SOTU presponse (video)

The Libertarian Party State of the Union: 'Americans deserve better' than 'Republicans and Democrats careen[ing] toward socialism and fascism' - Hit & Run : - Matt Welch:

February 5, 2019 - "While Democrats bicker over who should give responses to tonight's State of the Union Address, Libertarians have gone the prebuttal route, delivered by the party's biggest star, the recently elected Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Hewitt.

"Hewitt, the pension-reforming former mayor of tiny Calimesa, California, who now represents 438,000 constituents, starts off the message from America's third-largest party by reciting piles of contextual good news that "you won't hear in the torrent of doom and gloom from our nation's capital'.... But ... the mood does turn darker. 'Our national debt has skyrocketed to almost $22 trillion.... [H]undreds of thousands are behind bars for no just reason at all... Our sons and daughters have been deployed to far-flung, never-ending wars without constitutional authorization.'

"And on the political conflict du jour, Hewitt comes out foursquare in favor of immigration.... 'The prohibition of immigration requires an extensive apparatus for mass surveillance and government intrusion into our daily lives. Libertarians say: The United States should welcome immigrants.'"

Watch the whole message here."

Read more:

'via Blog this'

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Bob Marley and identity politics

Music Legend Bob Marley and the Folly of Identity Politics - David Unsworth, Panam Post:

December 20, 2017 - "A few years ago, I spent two weeks in Jamaica [that included] the obligatory visit to the Bob Marley Museum. After touring the mansion, which once housed the headquarters of Marley’s Tuff Gong record label, we were ushered into a small movie theater to watch a brief documentary on the life of Bob Marley.... Marley said on camera something that surprised me; something that I had not known before.

“'My father was white and mother was black. Then call me half-caste or what ever. I don’t dip on nobody’s side. I dip on God’s side, the one who create me and cause me to come from black and white'....

"Marley’s words should give us much food for thought today, as the post-Trump environment has seemed to engender a new age of identity politics.... In the United States, we are faced with a situation where, politically, we are highly divided along racial lines.... Identity politics has exacerbated our differences, and the animosity that we feel along racial and geographic lines....

"The law is supposed to be color-blind; progressive groups routinely argue, however, that it is not. They likely have many reasonable enough points. Yet, is a nationwide lurch towards identity politics really the path forward for progress in America?

"It is time that Americans stop dividing themselves politically into groups and subgroups.... American politicians of both parties should be saying, 'What can we do, right now, that is good for America as a whole. For all Americans.' ... not dreaming up ways to offer political bargains to various identity politics groups in order to reach 51%. Good public policy, good fiscal policy, good monetary policy, well-written evenly-enforced law, is good for all Americans, regardless of race, class, ethnicity, language, religion, geography, or sexual orientation....

"Entrepreneurship, individuality, and social and economic freedom have always been at the heart of the impressive American success story. It is for that reason that millions of immigrants have sought a better [life] here. It is for that reason that hundreds of thousands still brave perilous sea crossings or hazardous desert treks to reach American soil, regardless of their immigration status.

"A free market economy does not inherently discriminate based upon these identity categories. The market doesn’t care about your sexual orientation, or your skin color, or your religion, or your language: it cares about the cost and quality of the good and service you provide....

"We can not change the past. What we can do now, is try to make public policy that will truly afford the greatest opportunities to all American citizens, regardless of their race or class, gender or ethnicity,"

Read more:
'via Blog this'

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

William Weld reregisters as Republican

Weld switches back to GOP ahead of 2020, mulls challenging Trump - Domenick Mastrangelo:

February 5, 2019 - "Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld is mulling running for president and has taken a step toward challenging President Trump for the Republican nomination in 2020, according to a report.

Weld, 73, has changed his party registration in the Bay State from Libertarian back to Republican, according to the Associated Press.

"A former Republican governor during the 1990s in the strongly blue state, Weld was running mate to 2016 Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson. Johnson and Weld earned ... about 4.4 million votes. Some analysts say if the pair had decided against running, Trump's popular vote margin might have been closer. Trump won the Electoral College despite losing the popular vote by about 2.9 million to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

"No Republican has announced plans to challenge Trump in 2020, and some states have discussed nixing primaries in order to clear a path for the president to the nomination.

"In the run-up to the 2016 election, Weld described Trump as having 'a screw loose.'"

Read more:
'via Blog this'

Monday, February 4, 2019

Alabama Libertarians sue for voters' list access

Libertarian Party files suit against Alabama claiming discrimination against minor parties | Opelika Observer:

January 21, 2019 - "Citing State of Alabama Election Code, the Libertarian Party of Alabama (LPA) has filed suit in the U.S. District Court, Alabama Middle District, alleging the State of Alabama discriminates against 'minor parties' and independent candidates, by charging them for the state-wide voter registration list or a portion thereof.

"Alabama law provides that major political parties – Republican and Democrat – be given the state-wide voter registration list free of charge, while charging minor parties and independent candidates one cent per name [which] equates to approximately $34,000. Add the 2.5% additional charge if paid for by credit or debit card for an additional $850....

"Since minor party candidates and independents must collect signatures by petition equal to 3 percent (currently 51,588 valid signatures for state-wide office) of the most recent vote for Governor, access to the voter registration list is crucial in order to confirm the validity of the signatures on the petitions....

"If a candidate is able to achieve 20 percent of the votes cast in a state-wide race, the minor party is then declared to have ballot access.... However, if the candidate/party does not break the 20 percent threshold in the next election, the minor party loses its ballot access and then must start gathering petition signatures again.

"Denied the ability to check petition signatures against the voter registration list because of the exorbitant cost associated with obtaining the list, minor parties and independents are placed at a distinct disadvantage. To quote the complaint, '…there is anything but a "uniform charge;" for the major political parties get it for free, while minor political parties have to pay an exorbitant fee for it. In effect, those who can least afford it, have to pay the most.'

"The complaint goes further in stating that Alabama law unconstitutionally discriminates between major and minor political parties in an effort to create obstacles that make it more difficult for minor parties, like the LPA, to grow, garner support, and obtain votes so that its members and followers hold public elective office. It also calls out violations of individuals’ rights protected under the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution....

"The Libertarian Party of Alabama (LPA), a recognized affiliate of the national Libertarian Party, has been working to keep government from trampling the rights of individuals in our state since the early 1970s. For more information about the LPA, go to"

Read more:
'via Blog this'

Sunday, February 3, 2019

ARI begins outreach to student libertarian groups

What Defenders of Liberty Need to Know - Tom Bowden, New Ideal:

January 21, 2019 - "In recent years, there has been a resurgence of libertarian student organizations both in the US and around the world. Many of the students involved in those organizations are interested in Ayn Rand, and it’s for this audience that philosophers Onkar Ghate and Gregory Salmieri presented a seven-part lecture series called “What Is Liberty?”"

"'It’s exciting to see that there are so many students around the world interested in promoting liberty,' Salmieri says. 'That’s a project that requires philosophy, and most of these students are still at the early stages in the process of thinking through what liberty is and what’s needed to defend it. We prepared these lectures as a summary for this audience of Rand’s political philosophy....

”The relationship between Objectivism and the libertarian movement has been fraught since the libertarian movement coalesced in the late 1960s, Salmieri observes. 'Early libertarian leaders all cited Rand as an influence, but most of them had embraced anarchism, a view that Rand considered to be deeply incompatible with capitalism — and, indeed, with the requirements of human life. She held the libertarian movement in contempt for this reason, and also because she regarded it as unphilosophical — as an attempt to pursue ‘liberty’ as a vaguely defined political goal without first doing the thinking needed to understand what liberty is or what it requires.'

"In some ways, Salmieri notes, today’s liberty movement is a lot better than the movement Rand denounced in the early 1970s, but her central criticisms of the movement remain valid. 'Anarchism may not be as dominant as it once was,' he explains, 'but it exerts an outsized influence on how almost all self-professed libertarians think about freedom. And, if one looks at the full range of positions endorsed by all the people who claim to be united ‘for liberty,’ they’re too disparate for them to count as all fighting for the same thing. Some of them are fighting for something I can recognize as freedom, but others are fighting against it.'

"This confusion presents a real problem for the future, Salmieri contends, because at one time or another all of the most oppressive social systems in history — socialism, fascism, anarchism — have been hailed as 'pro-liberty' and championed by young people who thought they were on the side of freedom....

"All seven sessions, filmed at the 2017 Ayn Rand Student Conference, are available on this YouTube playlist in the order presented."

'via Blog this'

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Ayn Rand's literary roots

Ayn Rand, the Russian-American Victor Hugo - Econlib - Bryan Caplan:

February 3, 2005 - "Ayn Rand’s novels blend two distinct genres. She fits squarely into the tradition of the Russian philosophical novelists like Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky. But she is also a plot-rich Romantic in the tradition of Victor Hugo. Some standard features of the Russian approach:
  1. Characters embody philosophical positions.
  2. The plot explores the implications of these philosophies on the characters’ lives.
  3. The conclusion of the novel vindicates the current philosophical position of the author....
"In The Brothers Karamazov, for instance, Ivan embodies idealistic atheism, Alyosha earnest Orthodox Christianity, Dmitri unreflective pragmatism, and Smerdyakov nihilism. The murder of the sons’ father tests their convictions. And (spoiler!) the revelation that Smerdyakov is the murderer ultimately discredits not only his nihilism, but Ivan’s idealistic atheism, for the latter paves the way for the former.

"If she had written only We the Living, Rand would probably now be hailed as one of the lesser 20th-century descendants of Dostoyevsky. Its characters embody idealistic Communism, cynical Communism, defiant individualism, and despairing individualism. But then she up and wrote The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged which are, by the standards of the Russian philosophical tradition, far better. The characters' philosophies are more interesting, the plot pits them against each other more effectively, and the concluding epiphanies are more compelling (especially in Atlas)....

"When you measure Rand’s against her Russian peer group, she is among the masters. But this understates her artistic achievement because she simultaneously works in another tradition: 19th-century Romanticism exemplified by Victor Hugo. Some standard features of the Romantic approach:
  1. The characters are larger-than-life.
  2. The plots are imaginative.
  3. The plots are carefully crafted puzzles, unpredictable in advance, but cleanly logical in hindsight....
"I love Victor Hugo, and even if he’s not for you, it’s hard not to admire the craftsmanship. Dramatic situations and dramatic characters stitched seamlessly together – it’s not easy....

"When you put Ayn Rand beside Victor Hugo, however, the student is the master. Rand out-Hugos Hugo. For starters, her characters are more colorful.... The plot of Atlas Shrugged is likewise more imaginative than anything Hugo cooked up.... Her craftsmanship is better too. Hugo is full of improbable coincidences. Rand studiously avoids them....

"If you hate Rand’s style, I probably can’t talk you into enjoyment. But I suspect that the main reason many thinkers I respect don’t enjoy Rand’s fiction is that – even though they like one or both of the genres she exemplifies – they can’t bring themselves to judge her by the standards of those genres. If they did, the worst they could say about her would be 'Pretty damn good.'"

Read more:
'via Blog this'

Friday, February 1, 2019

Shutdown may mean brain drain to private sector

Federal shutdown's legacy may be brain drain to private sector | US news | The Guardian - Lauren Aratani and Erin Durkin:

January 30, 2019 - "The longest government shutdown in US history has come to an end, but experts fear its long-term consequences will include a brain drain among professionals.... The pain of the shutdown and fear of another one may drive away current and would-be government employees – especially those in highly skilled fields such as science, research and technology who can often command bigger paychecks in the private sector.

“The damage is profound,” said Max Stier, the president and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service. “This is something that will take a very long time to fix....

"The partial government shutdown left 800,000 federal workers without pay, either sent home from their jobs or required to work without pay.... Government workers who once thought they could count on stable, long-term employment have now realized the rug can be pulled out from under them at any time, with decisions made by politicians leaving them to spend weeks, or even months, without pay.

"Shaneece Hill, an information technology analyst who works on contract with the Food and Drug Administration, said she loves her job, but had to spend some of her time while out of work applying for other jobs, a requirement to get unemployment benefits.... She plans to see out her contract, but is now thinking about going into the private sector once it’s up.

"'You thought the government was stable, the one job that was always going to be there,' Hill said. 'Usually the school of thought is, "Oh, you have a good government job, or you have a contract job with the government. They’re always open. They’ll always be there." It just gives you another reason for that not to be true,' she said. 'I’m just exploring options for something that’s more permanent'....

“'It’s not a secret you can make more money as a defense contractor or in cybersecurity working for a private company,' said John Harmon, the vice-president of federal sales at the cybersecurity firm Endgame. 'If the government isn’t a safe place to work any more, they can look other places.'

"While conventional wisdom holds that stability is one of the draws of a government job, Stier said he believes employees are more motivated by their commitment to the mission.... That too is jeopardized by the shutdown, which forced scientists to leave fragile research languishing in the lab. 'You’re not able to do your mission, and for no good reason,' Stier said.

Read more:
'via Blog this'