Intellectual Ammunition

Home » Intellectual Ammunition

The Greatest Achievement in Human History?

in Liberator Online Archives by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 20 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Despite the best efforts of government to restrict or sometimes even outlaw free markets, free enterprise has brought us perhaps the greatest achievement in history: the largest and fastest reduction in worldwide poverty ever.

This good news comes from economist Douglas A. Irwin’s November 2 Wall Street Journal piece “The Ultimate Global Antipoverty Program.”

The subhead gives the essence of the story: “Extreme poverty fell to 15% in 2011, from 36% in 1990. Credit goes to the spread of capitalism.”

Writes Irwin:

The World Bank reported on Oct. 9 that the share of the world population living in extreme poverty had fallen to 15% in 2011 from 36% in 1990. Earlier this year, the International Labor Office reported that the number of workers in the world earning less than $1.25 a day has fallen to 375 million 2013 from 811 million in 1991. …

The economic progress of China and India, which are home to more than 35% of the world’s population, explains much of the global poverty decline. But many other countries, from Colombia to Vietnam, have enacted their own reforms. …

Such stunning news seems to have escaped public notice, but it means something extraordinary: The past 25 years have witnessed the greatest reduction in global poverty in the history of the world.

And free enterprise deserves the credit, Irwin emphasizes:

“To what should this be attributed? Official organizations noting the trend have tended to waffle, but let’s be blunt: The credit goes to the spread of capitalism. Over the past few decades, developing countries have embraced economic-policy reforms that have cleared the way for private enterprise.”

In contrast, “The poorest parts of the world are precisely those that are cut off from the world of markets and commerce, often because of government policies.”

Why haven’t we heard more about this? Why isn’t the world cheering?

Says Irwin: “The reduction in world poverty has attracted little attention because it runs against the narrative pushed by those hostile to capitalism. The Michael Moores of the world portray capitalism as a degrading system in which the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Yet thanks to growth in the developing world, world-wide income inequality — measured across countries and individual people — is falling, not rising, as Branco Milanovic of City University of New York and other researchers have shown.”

We have often said that spreading the ideas of liberty is “the great Cause that makes all other great causes possible,” and that liberty is literally a life-and-death matter for the people of the world. Here is proof of that.

Everyone working in our great Cause can take encouragement from this extraordinary leap forward — and redouble our efforts to remove the shackles of poverty and oppression from all the people of the world.

New FBI Report: Savage U.S. Marijuana War Continues, Despite Majority Support for Re-Legalization

in Liberator Online Archives by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 20 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

A solid majority of Americans now favor re-legalizing marijuana. Many states have eased laws War on Drugspersecuting marijuana smokers, and four states and the District of Columbia have even re-legalized it.

Yet governments at all levels continue to wage a costly, pointless, and ferocious war against peaceful marijuana users.

In early November the FBI released its annual Uniform Crime Report, which gives the best look at marijuana arrests and related statistics. It covers the latest year for which figures are available, 2013.

Among the findings:

  • The good news: arrest numbers are down, slightly. In 2013, there were 693,481 arrests for marijuana charges. In 2012, there were 749,825. However, despite years of growing support for re-legalization, there were actually fewer arrests back in 1998 (682,885).
  • As always, the vast majority of these arrests — a whopping 88% — were for simple possession. 
  • The remaining 12% of arrests were for “sale/manufacture,” a broad category that includes all cultivation offenses — even those where the marijuana was being grown for personal or medical use. 
  • Marijuana arrests make up 40.6% of all drug arrests, making it clear that the War on Drugs is, in reality, largely a War on Marijuana Possession.
  • Nationwide, police make an average of one arrest for marijuana possession every minute.
  • Nationwide, 51.9% of violent crimes and over 80% of property crimes went unsolved or did not result in arrest. Is there a connection?
  • Arrests for mere possession of marijuana cost, at a minimum, roughly half a billion dollars, says NORML, using an ACLU estimate of cost-per-arrest ($750). Other estimates range to several billion dollars. 
  • The effects of an arrest can be devastating, notes Paul Armentano of NORML: 

“Probation and mandatory drug testing; loss of employment; loss of child custody; removal from subsidized housing; asset forfeiture; loss of student aid; loss of voting privileges; loss of adoption rights…” and of course, for some, time behind bars.

Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, summed it up nicely:

“Arresting even one adult for using a substance that is objectively less harmful than alcohol is inexcusable.

“Law enforcement officials should be spending their time and resources addressing serious crimes, not arresting and prosecuting adults for using marijuana. Every year, these statistics show hundreds of thousands of marijuana-related arrests are taking place and countless violent crimes are going unsolved. We have to wonder how many of those crimes could be solved — or prevented — if police weren’t wasting their time enforcing failed marijuana prohibition laws.”

Your Tax Dollars Paid for Swedish Massages for Rabbits

in Liberator Online Archives by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 19 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Politicians are warning us that the government is broke. It’s time for higher taxes and belt-tightening. Citizens need to pay more and expect less.

But still, our leaders heroically scraped together funding for the most important, the most fundamental, the most essential government functions.

Like providing Swedish massages to rabbits.

Yep. The National Institutes of Health spent $387,000 on this project. Yes, that’s the same NIH whose director says they “probably” would have come up with a vaccine for Ebola by now, if it wasn’t for low funding (they only get $30 billion a year).

And that’s just the beginning. Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) has released his annual Wastebook report.

Wastebook 2014: What Washington Doesn’t Want You To Read“ identifies “100 silly, unnecessary, and low priority projects” that lay bare Washington’s loony spending priorities. Wastebook

Total bill for these one hundred projects? A whopping $25 billion. And, Sen. Coburn warns, this is “just a fraction of the countless frivolous projects the government funded in the past twelve months — with borrowed money and your tax dollars.”

Sen. Coburn further notes: “Despite all of this obvious waste, Washington politicians celebrated ending the fiscal year with a deficit under half-a-trillion dollars for the first time since 2008 — as if adding $486 billion to a national debt quickly approaching $18 trillion is an actual accomplishment deserving praise.”

Here are a few more choice items from Coburn’s Wastebook 2014:

  • $856,000 to teach mountain lions to use treadmills.
  • $307,524 to study whether sea monkeys can be trained to swim. 
  • $371,026 to study whether mothers love their dogs as much as their own children.
  • $804,254 for a video game to empower parents to persuade their kids to eat vegetables.

Just skimming the table of contents rewards you with items like these below. And each one is accompanied by a jaw-dropping description that will have you thinking you’re reading the humorous parody site The Onion:

  • Roosevelt and Elvis Make a Hallucinatory Pilgrimage to Graceland
  • NASA Wonders How Humans Will React to Meeting Space Aliens
  • Anti-Terror Grant Buys State-of-the-Art SWAT Equipment for Safest Small Town in America
  • Spouses Stab Voodoo Dolls More Often When “Hangry,” Study Reveals
  • Scientists Hope Gambling Monkeys Unlock Secrets of Free Will
  • Paid Vacations for Bureaucrats Gone Wild 
  • Taxpayers Help NY Brewery Build Beer Farm
  • Free “High-End” Gym Memberships for DHS Bureaucrats
  • USDA’s “Perfect Poop Pak” Smells Like Government Waste

Page after page, the idiocy and waste goes on and on. Read the whole thing here.

FDA Bureaucrats Kill 150,000 Americans

in Liberator Online Archives by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 19 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Never mind Ebola, terrorists and school shootings. Abolish the FDA

What Americans should fear is… the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration).

The FDA’s failure to approve life-saving drugs in a timely fashion is killing thousands, even tens of thousands, of Americans every year, critics charge.

Take just one example. An estimated 150,000 Americans have died or will die from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis — a disease in which tissue deep in the lungs becomes thick and stiff, or scarred, making breathing difficult — because of the FDA’s four-year delay in the approval of the drug pirfenidone — a drug already approved and marketed in Europe (since 2011), Japan (2008), Canada (2012) and China.

That estimate comes from Dr. Henry I. Miller, a medical researcher, founding director of the FDA’s Office of Biotechnology, and 15-year member of the FDA.

That’s more Americans than were killed in any American war except the Civil War and World War II.

And pirfenidone is just one example among many others. The FDA’s slow approval of beta-blocking drugs in the 1970s may have led to the unnecessary deaths of up to 100,000 people, according to Sam Kazman, J.D., of the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

For many years the FDA prohibited aspirin makers from advertising the widely-accepted argument that aspirin could significantly reduce the risk of heart attack for some patients. According to economist Paul H. Rubin, “The FDA surely killed tens, and quite possibly hundreds, of thousands of Americans by this restriction alone.”

Indeed, says Reason magazine’s science correspondent Ronald Bailey, “the FDA’s increased obsession with safety may be killing more people than it saves. …After all, if it takes the FDA ten years to approve a drug that saves 20,000 lives per year that means that 200,000 people died in the meantime.”

The FDA’s approval process can take up to… 18 years. For people desperately fighting fatal illnesses, such long waits are death sentences.

Making things worse, the FDA’s review process is so expensive that,according to Yevgeniy Feyman of the Manhattan Institute: “The typical drug approval costs between $1.2 and $1.3 billion.”

According to Reason magazine’s Bailey, many drugs that could save lives are never introduced because of this cost.

In 2000, economist Daniel B. Klein of the Independent Institute wrote: “Because the FDA process is so expensive, so protracted, and so uncertain, thousands of untold drugs are never discovered or developed. It is impossible to estimate the suffering and death caused, but surely it greatly exceeds 50,000 premature deaths annually.”

Why is the FDA so agonizingly (literally) slow and expensive? Prior to 1962, the average time for FDA approval was just seven months. However, in 1962 Congress passed the Kefauver Harris Amendment, which added a new requirement of proof of effectiveness, in addition to the old standard of proof of safety, for approval of new drugs. Effectiveness is a far more difficult, and expensive, standard to meet.

Perhaps worst of all, the FDA typically doesn’t give even gravely ill patients the opportunity to choose promising treatments it has not approved. As journalist Kate Jenkins asks: “If you had a fatal disease and were told you only had one year to live, wouldn’t you prefer to be allowed to make your own choice?”

This article by Ronald Bailey gives a further look at this mess, and offers libertarian alternatives.

The Independent Institute offers an overview of the situtation and proposals for replacing the FDA.

And for a great movie that dramatizes this life-and-death struggle, see The Dallas Buyers Club starring Matthew McConaughey.

Libertarian Candidates Pledge: End the Failed and Immoral War on Drugs

in Liberator Online Archives by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 18 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Scores of Libertarian Party candidates for federal office have pledged to downsize the bloated federal government — in these big and specific ways:

  • Eliminate the federal income tax
  • Abolish the NSA
  • Cut military spending by 60%
  • End the War on Drugs

End the War on DrugsWe’re exploring each of these pledges in detail, one per issue, because the Libertarian Party has done a great job of showing that these bold proposals are not only possible, but practical and enormously beneficial. (You can read about all four positions here.)

Here’s the final one: End the failed War on Drugs.

The candidates pledge: “If elected, I will sponsor legislation to end the War on Drugs, release all victimless drug ‘criminals’ from prison, abolish the federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and cut taxes accordingly.”

Here is the Libertarian Party’s case for ending the failed War on Drugs:

  • The War on Drugs has proven far more deadly and destructive than drugs themselves. 
  • Just as alcohol prohibition prompted organized crime, consumption of stronger alcoholic drinks, and an epidemic of alcohol overdose deaths, drug prohibition has prompted the formation of deadly street gangs, use of stronger drugs, and an increase in drug overdose deaths.
  • Because of the Drug War, the United States incarcerates more people than any country on earth. More than 500,000 Americans are now serving time in jail or prison for drug “offenses.” They are peaceful citizens, separated from their children and families, who could be living productive lives. Instead, their incarceration has cost taxpayers more than $1 trillion since 1971.
  • More than 658,000 people are arrested every year for mere possession of marijuana, diverting attention from where it should be: on violent criminals.
  • Marijuana prohibition denies those suffering from cancer, AIDS, migraines, glaucoma, and other serious diseases their right to an effective treatment that both reduces suffering and saves lives.

When we end the War on Drugs:

  • Crime will go down dramatically, making our streets and homes safer.
  • Law enforcement will focus more on finding and prosecuting murderers, rapists, and thieves.
  • People now in prison who never harmed another human being will be free to go home to their families. Their children will grow up with their mom or dad at home.
  • Each taxpayer will get back hundreds of dollars — every year — that they now spend on today’s failed prohibition. Money they can save, spend, or give away to others in need.
  • People suffering from cancer, AIDS, and other serious diseases will have dignified and safe access to medical marijuana, giving them their best chance for a long and healthy life.
  • Finally, ending the War on Drugs sends the right message to kids:

Be personally responsible.
Be just, be reasonable, and honor individual rights.
Admit mistakes and get rid of bad laws that don’t work.
End unnecessary human suffering.

VIDEO: “Obama’s Taylor Swift Strategy: Shake It Off (Remy Remix)”

in Liberator Online Archives by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 18 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

A new video by the liberty-minded comedian Remy is always a cause for celebration.

In this one Remy rewrites the Taylor Swift hit “Shake It Off,” turning it into a kind of Obama administration manifesto. So true that’s it’s downright scary. Also, of course, hilarious, with amazing performances by Remy.

Scroll down to see the lyrics — with links on the issues Remy raises in his parody rewrite – here.

From Reason TV. Approximately 2:15 minutes. Share it with friends!

New York Magazine: “A New Generation of Libertarians”

in Liberator Online Archives by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 18 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Are cutting-edge companies like Uber and Airbnb creating a new generation of libertarians?Marc Andreessen

Consider this fascinating snippet from New York Magazine’s interview with legendary Silicon Valley entrepreneur-provocateur (and self-described “McGovern libertarian”) Marc Andreessen, in their October 20, 2014 issue.

New York Magazine: Politicians like Rand Paul are seizing on young people’s embrace of companies like Uber and Lyft and Airbnb that are disrupting heavily regulated industries and saying, “You know, if you’re frustrated about Uber, let me tell you about these other regulations that are terrible.” Are these companies breeding a new generation of libertarians?

Marc Andreessen: I guess I would say the following: If you have been in an Uber car and gotten pulled over and had the car seized out from under the driver when you were like in the middle of a trip that you were otherwise having a good time on, you might be a little bit radicalized. You might all of a sudden think, “Wait a minute, what just happened, and why did it happen?” And then you might discover what the taxi companies did over the last 50 years to wire up city governments and all the corruption that’s taken place. And you might say, “Wait a minute.”

There’s this myth that government regulation is well-intentioned and benign, and implemented properly. That’s the myth. And then when people actually run into this in the real world, they’re, “Oh, f***, I didn’t realize.”

New York Magazine: My mom is renting out my childhood room on Airbnb.

Marc Andreessen: There you go. She’s one of the lawless libertarians.

Abolish NSA, Exonerate Snowden, Stop Illegal Spying: Libertarian Candidates Pledge

in Liberator Online Archives by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 17 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Scores of Libertarian Party candidates for federal office have pledged to downsize the bloated federal government  — in these big and specific ways:

* Eliminate the federal income taxEnd Spying - Abolish the NSA
* End the War on Drugs
* Abolish the NSA
* Cut military spending by 60%

We’re exploring each of these pledges in detail, one per issue, because the Libertarian Party has done a great job of showing that these bold proposals are not only possible, but practical and enormously beneficial. (Of course, you can jump ahead of us and read about all four positions right now.)

Let’s look at the pledge to abolish the NSA (National Security Agency).

The candidates pledge: “If elected, I will sponsor legislation to abolish the NSA, grant clemency and full whistleblower protection to Edward Snowden, consolidate our 18 spy agencies into one accountable agency, and cut taxes accordingly.”

Here are the benefits of fully restoring the Fourth Amendment, exonerating Edward Snowden and shrinking the American spy apparatus, according to the Libertarian Party:

* Privacy! No more snooping on your private emails, phone calls, text messages, Skype sessions, and other personal communication without your consent. No risk of embarrassment and humiliation due to others’ unwelcome knowledge of your personal life. You alone will control your private information.

* Consolidating the 18 U.S. spy agencies will enable substantial cuts in federal taxes. Each American family will get back, on average, $540 every year that they now pay in taxes.

* Assurance of privacy will increase the use of online banking and shopping, creating greater convenience for shoppers and increased sales for online vendors. It also encourages use of email, which cuts costs for businesses, cuts prices for consumers, liberates personal communications, and reduces paper waste.

* Protection from warrantless government search and seizure will greatly reduce the risk of unjust arrests and prosecution of innocent Americans, and will lessen the risk of America devolving into a state of tyranny.

* Exonerating Edward Snowden will grant him the respect and freedom he deserves, and will make it safe for whistleblowers to speak up when the government violates the rights of citizens.

 

VIDEOS: The 5 Best — and 5 Worst — Libertarian TV Shows Ever

in Liberator Online Archives by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 17 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Reason’s Nick Gillespie recently went out on a limb and picked the 5 best libertarian-themed TV shows ever.

And then, while arguments were still raging — how could you leave off Yes Minister, Firefly, and Green Acres, you @#%%^^^!!! — Gillespie crept further out on that same limb and picked the five most anti-libertarian TV shows ever.

Check these two videos out and see his choices. Sure, you’re going to disagree with him on some things (indeed, we predict riots may break out in some cities over his choice for worst-ever anti-libertarian show) but that’s part of the fun.

And if you discover a new show or two to watch, it’s well worth the few minutes it takes to watch these short (3 and 4 minutes) and fun videos.

Major Study: U.S. and World Economic Liberty is Fading

in Liberator Online Archives by James W. Harris Comments are off

Economic Freedom of the WorldEconomic liberty — essential for human progress and well-being — has dropped significantly worldwide. And the United States — once the very symbol of economic freedom — has fallen behind many other countries in this crucial area.

That’s the disturbing finding of the 18th annual Economic Freedom of the World Annual Report, a highly-regarded measuring of economic freedom around the world.

The annual study is prepared by the Economic Freedom Network, a group of independent research and educational institutes in nearly 90 nations and territories worldwide. The group describes their report as “the world’s premier measurement of economic freedom.”

The report defines the cornerstones of economic freedom as: personal choice, voluntary exchange, freedom to compete, and security of private property.

The report measures economic freedom in five different areas: (1) size of government, (2) legal structure and security of property rights, (3) access to sound money, (4) freedom to trade internationally, and (5) regulation of credit, labor, and business.

Each year’s report ranks the nation of the world in relation to one another, and assigns a score from zero to ten on the amount of liberty in each nation.

This year’s study covers the year 2012, the most recent year for which the data is available.

It reports that the United States, “long considered the standard bearer for economic freedom among large industrial nations, has experienced a substantial decline in economic freedom during the past decade.”

The fall has been fast. From 1980 to 2000, the U.S. was generally rated the third-freest economy in the world, ranking behind only Hong Kong and Singapore.

However, in this year’s study the United States now ranks 12th in the world, tied with the United Kingdom and behind countries including Canada, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.

More disturbing than the rankings is the U.S. score of 7.81, which shows a continuing pattern of losing economic freedom. After generally rising from 1980 to reach second place and a score of 8.55 in 2000, the U.S. has now fallen considerably lower.

The reasons? According to the study: “Due to a weakening rule of law, increasing regulation, and the ramifications of wars on terrorism and drugs, the United States has seen its economic freedom score plummet in recent years, compared to 2000 when it ranked second globally.”

Worldwide economic freedom dropped slightly in this year’s report, and it remains well below its peak level of 6.92 in 2007. The average score fell to 6.84.

Hong Kong retained the highest rating for economic freedom, 8.98 out of 10. The rest of this year’s top scores are Singapore, 8.54; New Zealand, 8.25; Switzerland, 8.19; Mauritius, 8.09; United Arab Emirates, 8.05; Canada, 8.00; Australia, 7.87; Jordan, 7.86; and, tied for 10th at 7.84, Chile and Finland.

These scores are extraordinarily important, because, as the report shows, economic liberty is literally a matter of life and death. Extensive research shows that people living in countries with high levels of economic freedom enjoy greater prosperity, more political and civil liberties, and longer life spans.

As the report notes: “Nations in the top quartile of economic freedom had an average per capita GDP of $39,899 in 2012, compared to $6,253 for bottom quartile nations. Moreover, life expectancy is 79.9 years in the top quartile compared to 63.2 years in the bottom quartile, and political and civil liberties are considerably higher in economically free nations than in unfree nations.”

Further, the poorest 10 per cent of people in the freest nations are nearly twice as prosperous as the average population of the countries with the least economic freedom.

The 10 lowest-rated countries for economic freedom are: Myanmar, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Chad, Iran, Algeria, Argentina, Zimbabwe, Republic of Congo, and, lastly, Venezuela. (North Korea and Cuba could not be included because data was unavailable.)

“The link between economic freedom and prosperity is undeniable,” said Fred McMahon of the Fraser Institute, one of the institutes involved in producing the report. “The most economically free countries offer the highest quality of life and personal freedoms, while the lowest-ranked countries are usually burdened by oppressive regimes that limit the freedom and opportunity of their citizens.”

The report is available free online.

Cut Military Spending by 60%: Libertarian Candidates Pledge

in Liberator Online Archives, Military by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 16 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Cut Military Spending by 60%As we noted last issue, scores of Libertarian Party candidates for federal office have pledged to downsize the bloated federal government — in four big and specific ways:

  • Eliminate the federal income tax
  • End the War on Drugs
  • Abolish the NSA
  • Cut military spending by 60%

We’re exploring each of these pledges in detail, one per issue, because the Libertarian Party has done a great job of showing that these bold proposals are not only possible, they are practical and enormously beneficial. (Of course, you can jump ahead of us and read about all four positions right now.)

Let’s look at the pledge to cut military spending by 60% or more. The candidates pledge: “If elected, I will sponsor legislation to cut military spending by 60% or more and cut total federal spending accordingly; close all foreign U.S. military bases; withdraw completely from the Middle East; and bring our troops home.”

Here are the benefits, according to the Libertarians:

* A non-interventionist foreign policy will result in less hostility towards the United States and reduce the risk of a terrorist attack.

* There is no justification for forcing U.S. taxpayers to fund the military defense of other nations, including wealthy countries such as France, Germany and Japan.

* Cutting the U.S. military by 60 percent does not remove one cent of U.S. military defense spending — only military offense, defense of other countries, and waste.

* An oversized military budget is a war waiting to happen. Needless war results in untold death and destruction — the greatest assault on human liberty. A lean, reasonably-sized military budget will save lives, avoid casualties, preserve personal property and community infrastructures, and foster peace.

* Voters want to downsize the U.S. military. According to a survey by the Stimson Center, Democratic, Republican and independent voters all want to cut military spending “far more severely than the sequester would” and “far, far more severely than either party has proposed.”

* Closing foreign bases and withdrawing from the Middle East means that U.S. troops stationed abroad can come home to their families. Kids will grow up with mom and dad at home.

* Fewer casualties will reduce demand on the Veterans Administration, which will improve the care of America’s wounded soldiers.

* Downsizing the military will force the reduction and consolidation of 18 separate spy agencies — the surest way to end the government’s spying on innocent citizens in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

* A right-sized military will be auditable, will squeeze out its legendary waste and will put an end to overpriced and unneeded multi-billion-dollar procurements that politicians lobby for to “bring home the bacon” to their districts.* A non-interventionist policy will reduce trade barriers, resulting in greater prosperity for both Americans and our trading partners.

* Cutting the military by 60 percent will enable substantial cuts in federal taxes and stop the growth of the national debt. If applied to the income tax, each American family will get back, on average, $4,100 — every year. If used to balance the budget, it will eliminate approximately 70 percent of the deficit and stop today’s rapid inflation of the dollar. This will stabilize prices on everyday goods and services and dramatically reduce the risk of an economic collapse.

* Transferring wealth out of the government sector and into the private sector will create sustainable, productive jobs — approximately twice as many jobs as will be lost in the government sector. A net increase of millions of new jobs.

Robbery With a Badge: Shocking New Report

in Criminal Justice, Liberator Online Archives by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 16 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Asset forfeiture is a dull name for a shocking little-known legal device Civil Asset Forfeiturethat allows law enforcement officials to take your cash and property — without a warrant or criminal charges of any kind — and keep most of the proceeds.

That’s right: they can do this even if you have not committed a crime. Even if you’ve never been charged with one.

The only way you can get back your money or property is to go through an exhaustive legal process to prove that your property was legally acquired. Yes, in essence, you must prove to the government that you are not guilty. And the process is so difficult, time-consuming and expensive that most don’t attempt it.

Even if you think you know about this vile practice, a new report by the Washington Post entitled “Stop and seize: Aggressive police take hundreds of millions of dollars from motorists not charged with crimes” has uncovered new information that will shock you.

Among the Post’s findings:

* Asset forfeiture has risen dramatically in the past decade. Thousands of Americans have had billions of dollars stolen by police — again, without being charged or convicted of a crime.

* The federal government has given millions of dollars to non-government organizations to train police officers in aggressive use of asset forfeiture. An estimated 50,000-plus police officers have had such training in the last decade.

* Says the Post: “Behind the rise in seizures is a little-known cottage industry of private police-training firms that teach the techniques of ‘highway interdiction’ to departments across the country.

“One of those firms created a private intelligence network known as Black Asphalt Electronic Networking & Notification System that enabled police nationwide to share detailed reports about American motorists — criminals and the innocent alike — including their Social Security numbers, addresses and identifying tattoos, as well as hunches about which drivers to stop. …

“A thriving subculture of road officers on the network now competes to see who can seize the most cash and contraband, describing their exploits in the network’s chat rooms and sharing ‘trophy shots’ of money and drugs…”

* “Some police advocate highway interdiction as a way of raising revenue for cash-strapped municipalities. ‘All of our home towns are sitting on a tax-liberating gold mine,’ Deputy Ron Hain of Kane County, Ill., wrote in a self-published book under a pseudonym. Hain is a marketing specialist for Desert Snow, a leading interdiction training firm based in Guthrie, Okla., whose founders also created Black Asphalt. Hain’s book calls for ‘turning our police forces into present-day Robin Hoods.’”

There’s much more in the Washington Post’s multi-part series, now online.

VIDEO: Acclaimed Introduction to the Philosophy of Liberty

in Liberator Online Archives by James W. Harris Comments are off

The Philosophy of Liberty is an eight-minute animated film by Kerry Pearson (aka Lux Lucre) based on the prologue of Ken Schoolland’s outstanding libertarian book The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible.

Millions of people have viewed the video. It’s online in English at YouTube and elsewhere, and it’s also available in about 40 other languages and several video formats at The Philosophy of Liberty website. There you can also learn more about the history of this remarkable video.

This is a great educational tool which we highly recommend. It offers an easy-to-understand introduction to the fundamentals of libertarianism. Many viewers praise it as extremely clear, rational and emotionally moving – a remarkable combination of responses. Share it online.

Libertarian Candidates Pledge: Abolish the Income Tax

in Drugs, Economic Liberty, Elections and Politics, Liberator Online Archives, Libertarian Party, Libertarian Stances on Issues, Libertarianism, Military, Taxes by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 15 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Scores of Libertarian Party candidates for federal office have pledged to downsize the Abolish The IRSbloated federal government — in these big and specific ways:

  • Eliminate the federal income tax
  • End the War on Drugs
  • Abolish the NSA
  • Cut military spending by 60%

We’ll be examining those pledges in detail below and in the next few issues, because they show that these bold-sounding proposals are not only possible, but practical and beneficial. (Of course, you can jump ahead and read about all four positions right now.)

First, eliminating the hated federal income tax. The candidates pledge: “If elected, I will sponsor legislation to eliminate the federal income tax, cut federal spending to the 1998 level ($1.65 trillion), and get the IRS off the backs of taxpayers.”

(Yes, that’s right: government has grown so rapidly in recent times that if you cut spending to 1998 levels — the Clinton era of huge government — you could eliminate the federal income tax.)

Here are the benefits of eliminating the income tax, according to the Libertarians:

  • Immediately balances the budget — without raising taxes.
  • Gives back, on average, $11,525 to each American family — every year — that they can invest, save, spend, or give away as they see fit.
  • Pours $1.4 trillion into the productive, private-sector economy, stimulating massive investment in small businesses and creating tens of millions of new private-sector jobs.
  • Stops the devaluation of the dollar and stabilizes prices, preserving American wealth.
  • Forces politicians to eliminate destructive federal programs, regulations, and bureaucracies that do more harm than good. Examples include: stifling business regulations, the prohibition of marijuana, unnecessary foreign wars, and thousands of frivolous projects best left to the private sector (e.g., promoting the Hawaiian Chocolate Festival).
  • Creates a boom in charitable giving. Trillions of dollars back in the hands of American taxpayers enables them to take care of others in need through their churches and private charities, and by giving directly to help friends, family, and community members in need.
  • Eliminates wasteful bookkeeping needed to comply with IRS tax filings and audits, saving Americans 6 billion hours of their precious time and up to $378 billion in accounting costs — every year.
  • Aborts the Democrats’ and Republicans’ plan to add another $5 trillion over the next eight years to the already perilously high $17 trillion federal government debt, sparing future generations from footing a bill they played no part in creating.
  • Frees up billions of dollars for Americans to spend on music, entertainment, crafts, and the arts, enabling talented individuals — now unemployed or working in jobs they don’t like — to do what they love for a living.
  • Forces politicians to eliminate government waste.
  • Stops the growth in the interest due on the federal debt, now at $237 billion per year. This will help minimize this expense if interest rates ever rise, which is likely.
  • Restores America’s reputation as the envy of the world, demonstrating that the American experiment of free, unfettered trade creates prosperity and alleviates poverty. This sets an example for poor countries, helping them rise from hardship to abundance.

 

Click here to read the next article from this issue.

Click here to return to the newsletter.

Joe Biden: Impeach the President If He Goes to War Without Congressional Approval

in Elections and Politics, Foreign Policy, Liberator Online Archives, War by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 15 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Joe BidenIn a bold move, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has declared it would be unconstitutional for the president to go to war without consulting Congress.

Further, Biden has pledged to demand the president’s impeachment should he do so.

Said Biden: “I want to make it clear and I made it clear to the president, if he takes this nation to war… without congressional approval — I will make it my business to impeach him.”

The vice president — who has taught constitutional law at the university level — elaborated on his views in this statement: “It is precisely because the consequences of war — intended or otherwise — can be so profound and complicated that our Founding Fathers vested in Congress, not the President, the power to initiate war, except to repel an imminent attack on the United States or its citizens. They reasoned that requiring the President to come to Congress first would slow things down… allow for more careful decision making before sending Americans to fight and die… and ensure broader public support.

“The Founding Fathers were, as in most things, profoundly right. That’s why I want to be very clear: if the President takes us to war… without Congressional approval, I will call for his impeachment.

“I do not say this lightly or to be provocative. I am dead serious. I have chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee. I still teach constitutional law. I’ve consulted with some of our leading constitutional scholars. The Constitution is clear. And so am I.

“I’m saying this now to put the administration on notice and hopefully to deter the President from taking unilateral action in the last year of his administration. If war is warranted with a nation of 70 million people, it warrants coming to Congress and the American people first. ”

The only problem… those remarks were made in 2007 and 2008. When Biden was running for president. Before he was elected vice president of the U.S.

For that matter, then-Senator Barack Obama agreed with him. In 2008 Obama told the Boston Globe: “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”

Funny how being in the White House changes things.

(Hat tip to Andrew Kaczynski, BuzzFeed.com)

Click here to read the next article from this issue.

Click here to return to the newsletter.

VIDEO: Remy Takes on the ISIS Crisis

in Communicating Liberty, Foreign Policy, Liberator Online Archives, Middle East, War by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 15 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

How to deal with the ISIS crisis?

In this amazing video, the Obama administration’s ISIS Response Team — all roles played by the wonderful liberty-minded comedian Remy — ponders various options.

It’s a modern-day Dr. Strangelove, as they consider using some hideous all-new weapons of mass destruction that are… just too terrible to contemplate.

A minute and a half of political wisdom and super laughs from Reason TV. Share it with friends!

Click here to read the next article from this issue.

Click here to return to the newsletter.

The Biggest Danger: Terrorists or Government?

in Foreign Policy, Liberator Online Archives, Middle East, War by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 15 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Robert Higgs

Libertarian and economist Robert Higgs writes at his Facebook page about the relative danger to you from Islamic terrorists and U.S. governments:

“Unless you go to the Middle East, the probability of your being harmed by Islamic fanatics is so close to zero that for all practical purposes it may be taken to be zero.

“If you remain in the USA, however, the probability of your being harmed by governments at every level is 1.0, an absolute certainty. These governments will certainly appropriate your wealth in a variety of direct and indirect ways for their own purposes, many of which you will regard as abhorrent. They will certainly crush your freedoms in a multitude of ways; they will treat you as if you were a child or a mental incompetent; and they will disregard your own preferences for how you wish to live your life in peace.

“By their actions they will create effects and repercussions that guarantee the future will be less prosperous, less safe, and less socially content than it otherwise would have been. In short, these governments are your enemies: they intend to harm you, they have the capacity to harm you, and they do in fact harm you.

“Yet probably hundreds of millions of Americans fear faraway Islamic fanatics and fret about the fantasy of a looming global Caliphate. Therefore they support a variety of U.S. military measures in the Middle East and elsewhere purportedly aimed at the suppression of this looming menace, and they support a variety of overbearing and tyrannical government actions within the USA justified on the grounds that they protect Americans from terrorists.

“In short, they credit the bogeyman of their fevered imaginations (stoked by government officials, fear-mongering politicians, politico-clowns on talk radio) and more or less disregard the ceaseless pillage of their wealth and the rape of their freedoms by their real enemies, who are all too real and all too near at hand.”

Click here to read the next article from this issue.

Click here to return to the newsletter.

America’s Real Welfare Queens: Fortune 100 Companies

in Liberator Online Archives, Welfare by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 14 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Welfare QueensEarlier this year Open the Books, a non-partisan watchdog group advocating transparency in public spending, issued a genuinely shocking report that added up all federal grants, loans, direct payments, and insurance subsidies going to private companies.

Among its findings: corporate-welfare payments from the federal government to the Fortune 100 companies, from 2000 to 2012, amounted to more than $1.2 trillion.

The bulk of this was in the form of contracts between government agencies and private firms, with the largest going to the military-industrial complex. While these provide some services to taxpayers, such spending is difficult to control because the huge sums also fund a massive lobbying industry busily working for more such spending.

But contracts aside, staggering amounts of money were just given away as outright subsidies — taxpayer-funded handouts to the biggest businesses in America.

Writing in National Review Online, economist Stephen Moore summarizes: “$21.3 billion… was doled out in the form of outright income-transfer subsidies to corporate America. On average, each Fortune 100 company received about $200 million in such [taxpayer-funded] handouts.

“So who are the major corporate-welfare queens? The biggest grant recipients were General Electric ($380 million), followed by General Motors ($370 million), Boeing ($264 million), Archer Daniels Midland ($174 million), and United Technologies ($160 million).

“About $8.5 billion of this largesse came in the form of taxpayer-subsidized loans. The big winners here were Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Ford Motor Company, and other multibillion-dollar corporations whose franchisees received Small Business Administration loans.

“Archer Daniels Midland got just under $1 billion for USDA farm-program loans, and this doesn’t include ethanol subsidies. Another $10 billion was doled out through federal insurance…”

And the problem goes beyond even these staggering sums. Says Moore:

“That $1.2 trillion number does not include the hundreds of billions of dollars in housing, bank, and auto-company bailouts in 2008 and 2009, because those payments are kept mostly invisible in the federal-agency books. It also doesn’t include the asset purchases of the Federal Reserve, indirect subsidies such as the ethanol mandate that enriches large agribusinesses like Archer Daniels Midland…

“Amazingly, all but one of the Fortune 100 stood in the federal soup line to take at least some form of corporate-welfare benefit.”

Sums up Moore: “Imagine for a moment that you are sitting on your couch watching TV and there is a knock on the door. There in a corporate suit is an employee of General Dynamics with a tin cup and he asks if you would contribute a dollar for a research project. You would slam the door in his face. But somehow when the government collects a dollar from each of us and gives the money to General Dynamics, this is considered in Washington a wise ‘investment.’”

Read the next article from this issue here.

Go back to the full issue here.

Are You on the Fed’s Terrorist Watchlist?

in Liberator Online Archives by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 14 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

You can be pulled into the NSA’s database, put on a terrorist watchlist, and receive discriminatory treatment from local, state, and national law enforcement agents — without warning or notice, and for something as innocent as a Facebook or Twitter post.

So reports journalist Arjun Sethi in a shocking story in The Guardian, August 30, entitled, appropriately enough, “The US government can brand you a terrorist based on a Facebook post.”

“Through ICREACH, a Google-style search engine created for the intelligence community, the NSA provides data on private communications to 23 government agencies. More than 1,000 analysts had access to that information. …

“It was confirmed earlier this month that the FBI shares its master watchlist, the Terrorist Screening Database, with at least 22 foreign governments, countless federal agencies, state and local law enforcement, plus private contractors…

“The Terrorist Screening Database watchlist tracks ‘known’ and ‘suspected’ terrorists and includes both foreigners and Americans. It’s also based on loose standards and secret evidence, which ensnares innocent people. Indeed, the standards are so low that the U.S. government’s guidelines specifically allow for a single, uncorroborated source of information — including a Facebook or Twitter post — to serve as the basis for placing you on its master watchlist.”

Indeed, according to the investigative journalism website The Intercept, the Terrorist Screening Database has about 680,000 people on it — and more than 40 percent are described by the government itself as having “no recognized terrorist group affiliation.” That’s a whopping 280,000 people.

Continues the Guardian: “These eye-popping numbers are largely the result of the US government’s use of a loose standard — so-called ‘reasonable suspicion’ — in determining who, exactly, can be watchlisted.

“Reasonable suspicion is such a low standard because it requires neither ‘concrete evidence’ nor ‘irrefutable evidence.’ Instead, an official is permitted to consider ‘reasonable inferences’ and ‘to draw from the facts in light of his/her experience.’”

Further, the loose rules allow watchlisting without even the minimum standard of  reasonable suspicion. Non-citizens can be watchlisted just for being associated with a watchlisted person, even if the relationship is totally innocent. If a source or tipster describes a non-citizen as an “extremist,” a “militant,” or some similar term, and the FBI can make some vague connection, this could be enough to watchlist a person. The watchlist designation is secret, so no one is able to challenge these allegations.

But being on the watchlist can bring terrible consequences, notes the Guardian:

“Life on the master watchlist can trigger enhanced screening at borders and airports; being on the No Fly List, which is a subset of the larger terrorist watchlist, can prevent airline travel altogether. The watchlist can separate family members for months or years, isolate individuals from friends and associates, and ruin employment prospects.

“Being branded a terrorism suspect also has far-reaching privacy implications. The watchlist is widely accessible, and government officials routinely collect the biometric data of watchlisted individuals, including their fingerprints and DNA strands. Law enforcement has likewise been directed to gather any and all available evidence when encountering watchlisted individuals, including receipts, business cards, health information and bank statements. …

“A watchlist based on poor standards and secret processes raises major constitutional concerns, including the right to travel freely and not to be deprived of liberty without due process of law.”

Hina Shamsi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project, agrees: “We’re getting into Minority Report territory when being friends with the wrong person can mean the government puts you in a database and adds DMV photos, iris scans, and face recognition technology to track you secretly and without your knowledge. The fact that this information can be shared with agencies from the CIA to the NYPD, which are not known for protecting civil liberties, brings us closer to an invasive and rights-violating government surveillance society at home and abroad.”

The Guardian concludes with a question you’re probably already asking yourself:

“Indeed, you can’t help but wonder: are you already on the watchlist?”

Read the next article from this issue here.

Go back to the full issue here.

VIDEO: Fire Sale on U.S. Military Tanks — Get One for Your Town Today!

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online Archives, Military, National Defense by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 14 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Millions of Americans were shocked to see protestors in Ferguson, Missouri met with a militarized police force decked out in Kevlar vests, helmets, and camouflage, armed with pistols, shotguns, automatic rifles, and tear gas, and riding in armored military vehicles.

Though the weapons came from a variety of sources, such scenes brought public attention to the Pentagon’s 1033 program, which supplies military-grade equipment to local police departments, often for free.

Now the crack investigative journalists at Reason TV have unearthed a Pentagon commercial advertising the program to law enforcement. (Or so Reason TV says…)

Watch “Pentagon Has ‘Everything Must Go’ Sale.” Laugh, cringe… and laugh again. Then share with friends!

Approximately 1:37 in length. Performed by Will Neff. Written and produced by Neff and Paul Detrick.

Read the next article from this issue here.

Go back to the full issue here.

Page 1 of 3123