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Thank A Bureaucrat: Baby Boomers Aren’t Leaving The Labor Force, Millennials Can’t Find Jobs

in Economic Liberty, Economics, Liberator Online, News You Can Use by Alice Salles Comments are off

Thank A Bureaucrat: Baby Boomers Aren’t Leaving The Labor Force, Millennials Can’t Find Jobs

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Early in 2017, the New York Times reported that the workforce is growing slowly as more baby boomers retire. Recently, economist Janet Yellen, otherwise known as the Federal Reserve System’s Chair, stated that another economic crisis is unlikely “in our lifetime.” Still, reports show that now more than ever, Americans of retiring age are choosing to forego retirement altogether. As these older Americans notice that Social Security and the meager savings they have accumulated over the years won’t be enough, they continue working.

boomer

But as young Americans leave college and find themselves stuck in part-time jobs that don’t even cover their student loans, baby boomers remain active. So, as a matter of fact, labor force participation hasn’t been falling thanks to older Americans finally retiring. Instead, young, fully capable and educated men and women are the ones who aren’t being able to find suitable work.

Don’t trust me? Look at the numbers.

Last quarter, Bloomberg reports, 19 percent of 70- to 74-year-olds were still working. In the same period in 1994, only 11 percent of people in that age group were still in the labor force.

Also, this past quarter, 32 percent of Americans between the age of 65 and 69 were employed. And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 36 percent of people in this age group will be working by 2024. A huge increase from 22 percent of Americans aged 65 to 69 who were active in the labor force in 1994.

 If these numbers aren’t enough, consider that in a survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, 79 percent of respondents said they expected to go into retirement while continuing to work. Workers aren’t even relying on retirement anymore as they struggle to save throughout life due to the high cost of living, high debt, and knowledge that Social Security alone just won’t do.

As you’ve read previously here at The Advocates, many young, educated Americans have already chosen to completely ignore their diplomas, going for occupations that are often available only to the low-skilled and poorly educated. As older Americans find it increasingly hard to leave the labor force altogether, expect an even greater number of young Americans failing to find gainful employment, especially in their areas. But instead of blaming baby boomers alone, remember what policies have paved the way for these discrepancies and who champions them.

 More government-backed student loans and easier access to loans and grants, ensuring everyone has a higher education, has always been a staple of the progressive agenda. One that has been thoroughly supported by… yes, Millennials.

As a result of the implementation of this kind of policy, the government created an inflated, artificial demand for a college education that would not be the norm if the state hadn’t decided that college is for everyone. Students, who are often just influenced by peer pressure, were led to believe that any degree was enough, and that they shouldn’t be taking a good look at the labor market before making a decision. The result? Too many Americans with useless degrees who will eventually settle for occupations that have nothing to do with their “calling.”

Unless government is removed entirely from the picture, this trend will only worsen.

Shouldn’t we intervene in other countries if we could save lives?

in Ask Dr. Ruwart, Foreign Policy, Liberator Online by Mary Ruwart Comments are off

Shouldn’t we intervene in other countries if we could save lives?

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Question

If we have the power to save lives by intervening internationally, which is the greater evil: imposing our will on others or the destruction of lives? Yes, it is correct that we tend to ignore civil strife in areas where we would either get bloodied or areas we don’t care about (like Rwanda), but should we intervene where we can do so at little physical cost if a net balance of lives can be gained?

lives

Answer

Ah, the age old question, ‘Can the ends justify the means?’ I’ve come to the conclusion that when we use bad means to obtain good ends, our efforts backfire every time. Rather than supporting a war funded with taxes, I chose to help the refugees.

Naturally, when you, as an individual, feel that you can do good by supporting a fight, you should follow your conscience by supplying your own time, money, and effort. If you force your neighbor who feels differently to participate, however, you’ll jeopardize your cause. After all, by using taxes to support the fight, you are first attacking your peaceful neighbors to save others from tyranny. You become the tyrant in order to save others from oppression. The contradiction should be obvious.

Many people applaud our entry into World War II as an example of how good (e.g., defeating Hitler) can come out of bad (e.g., taxes and the draft). With the advantage of historical hindsight, let’s see if this is an accurate description of what happened.

Hitler offered to let the Jews leave Germany if other countries would accept them. Few nations would alter their immigration quotas, however. If you visit the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C., you can see a picture of a shipload of Jews being turned away from U.S. shores. They eventually had to return to Europe, where most of them were killed. Without the aggression of immigration laws, we could have saved the Jews without spilling the blood of our young men.

Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor probably wouldn’t have occurred without the aggression of a U.S. oil embargo, saving the lives of our servicemen there.

Hitler’s finest were already trying to assassinate him by the time the U.S. entered the war and probably would have succeeded eventually. Instead, the U.S. entered the war, took Stalin as an ally, and gave Stalin most of Eastern Europe. Stalin proceeded to kill millions, without offering to let them migrate elsewhere, making Hitler look benevolent in comparison. Those who survived these purges were forced to live in constant fear, poverty, and strife. Did our aggression against our own neighbors make war on tyrants save lives or take them? The body count suggests that our aggression cost more lives than it saved.

California May Soon Put An End To Unchecked Police Surveillance

in Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty, Property Rights by Alice Salles Comments are off

California May Soon Put An End To Unchecked Police Surveillance

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

A bill introduced in the California Senate earlier this year that requires law enforcement agencies in the Golden State must get local government approval before deploying surveillance technology has just passed California Assembly’s Public Safety Committee. Now, it must pass the Assembly Committee on Privacy and Consumer Protection by a majority vote.

surveillance

If this bill remains favorable among California lawmakers and it becomes law, it could mark the beginning of a new era for privacy advocates since privacy advocates in other states might be inspired by seeing advocates targeting law enforcement agencies that abuse their power in the local level.

The bill, SB 21, mandates that law enforcement follows a Surveillance Use Policy for surveillance technologies available for use. This document would also cover the type of information these technologies collect. Once agencies develop their own operational policy, they would then have to submit these documents to a local governing body for approval. A hearing that would be open to the public would then be scheduled, and if the agency’s plan isn’t adopted then officials would be barred from using that particular surveillance technology within 30 days.

The proposed legislation would also ensure that civilians have the ability to sue a particular law enforcement agency if officers violate the legislation.

Officials would also have to amend policies related to any new surveillance technology they acquire in the future, forcing agencies to subject the new system to the same approval requirements.

While so far the bill seems promising, one of the risks associated with having this piece of legislation go through yet another committee is the fact lawmakers may feel compelled to amend the bill enough as to make some provisions in it toothless. Since this move would make law enforcement agencies fighting this bill quite happy, it’s important that SB 21 passes as is for it to be effective.

In order to help push the bill through the California legislature in a clean fashion, Media Alliance, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of California, and the Tenth Amendment Center are all pushing legislators to focus on the end goal, ignoring calls for watering down the bill coming from law enforcement interests.

As it stands, officials are allowed access to an enormous amount of access to a series of surveillance equipment without any significant oversight. As officials notice access to these tools may be restricted, forcing them to do actual investigative work to do their jobs, pressure mounts. So it’s no wonder that law enforcement unions and their lobbyists aren’t willing to give up on this fight so easily.

As agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) show they are willing to let criminals go so their surveillance methods are challenged in court, we can only hope this legislative effort remains strong, producing the end goal desired so that Californians’ privacy is protected.

Credit Union Wins Small Victory In Fight Against Federal Marijuana Prohibition

in Drugs, Economic Liberty, Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Alice Salles Comments are off

Credit Union Wins Small Victory In Fight Against Federal Marijuana Prohibition

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Marijuana was legalized in the state of Colorado, nullifying the federal prohibitive rules regarding the substance, in 2012. But as the pot industry grew tremendously over a short period of time in the state, the feds found yet another way to restrict marijuana entrepreneurs.

marijuana

Since marijuana is still an illicit drug according to federal law, the banking industry found itself unable to provide services to marijuana businessmen and women. As a result, many entrepreneurs found it hard to have access to loans or even bank accounts to better manage their business.

Recently, a marijuana credit union was able to win a small but significant victory in the fight against the federal government’s control over drug policy.

Fourth Corner Credit Union had been barred from having access to certain services due to its willingness to do business with marijuana-related businesses. As a result, the institution was not allowed to open a Federal Reserve master account so it could provide banking services to customers. Now, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has annulled this decision.

Thanks to this move, the institution is now free to re-apply for the account. And, if denied once again, Fourth Corner may take the case to court once more.

While this isn’t necessarily a victory in the sense that it allows banking institutions to provide services to whomever they wish, it’s the first step in a long process to ensure that Colorado’s marijuana laws aren’t undermined by the federal government’s insistence in upholding laws that effectively impact Americans’ right to self-ownership.

As it stands, Colorado’s pot industry has functioned mostly on cash transactions. This causes problems for both consumers and entrepreneurs as many of these companies may feel that saving and managing their money is more difficult without having access to a banking account.

But Colorado isn’t the only state running into major banking problems thanks to the federal government. Business in Washington and Oregon are also facing problems as feds are the ones that regulate the banking industry.

Perhaps, if freedom and true liberty advocates are willing to take up the fight, the next step anti-drug war advocates should take is to embark on a new nullification effort that might help to decentralize banking in the United States. By default, if this effort is eventually successful, states could continue passing their own drug-related pieces of legislation, allowing entrepreneurs to have access to a world of banking options not available to them until then. Of course, any such fight wouldn’t be easy. But decentralization is key in promoting liberty.

As more states become freer than others on diverse fronts, Americans see incentives in moving. This is how “voting with our feet” happens.

 

Are We Really the Land of the Free?

in Liberator Online, Libertarianism by Manuel Martin Comments are off

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

If America was a corporation, its company slogan would most likely be “land of the free and home of the brave.” It seems every time a politician gets on stage he or she can’t help but mention how America is prosperous because it embodies this slogan. There’s constant talk about freedom, yet everywhere I look, I see a society that has to pay government permit fees in order to do…almost anything. Here are some common examples:

free

- In most states, it’s illegal to own a house unless you pay the government property tax every year

- It’s illegal to own a car unless you pay the government vehicle licensing fee every year

- It’s illegal to drive a car unless you take a government test and pay for a government license permit

- It’s illegal to have a passenger drinking alcohol in your car while you drive unless you pay yearly permit fees in order to have a government permitted transportation company (like a limo or executive transportation company)

- It’s illegal to educate yourself and become a lawyer unless you pay a fee and pass a government certified test

- It’s illegal to start a company and try to better your life unless you inform the city, county, and state in which you live of your business intentions and pay their yearly permit fees

- It’s illegal in California to cut hair for a living unless you pay for government permission and certification

- It’s illegal to get married unless you pay for a government marriage permit

- It’s illegal to hire someone to work for you unless you pay them at or above a government-set wage

- It’s illegal to build a house from the ground up unless you pay your local government permit fee’s which can (in California) easily add $50,000-$80,000 cost to your new home

- It’s illegal to replace the roof on your home unless you pay for a government permit

Is America truly the “land of the free,” or is everyone so used to permits that they don’t realize that the government is stealing our rights and selling them back to us?

Government Facial Scans Are Here, Here’s Why You Should Worry

in Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Alice Salles Comments are off

Government Facial Scans Are Here, Here’s Why You Should Worry

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

What starts as “common sense” legislation often ends up opening up the gates for more government intrusion, putting the freedom and privacy of Americans at grave risk.

That’s what’s happening now as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)’s “Biometric Exit” program is starting to be used at airports in certain parts of the country.

government

Congress, decades ago, passed legislation pushing federal officials to take steps to track down foreign nationals as they entered and left the United States. The idea, born out of a perceived necessity to keep track of foreigners who overstayed their visas, soon became the basis for yet another idea. That’s when the thought of creating a database filled with scans of American faces came to life.

Without going to Congress or consulting the public, the DHS launched the Biometric Exit program. Slowly, the agency started implementing the scanning initiative, making American citizens and green card holders, as well as foreigners, have their faces scanned before embarking on certain international flights from both New York and Atlanta.

To kickstart this program, DHS partnered with Delta in Atlanta and New York and with JeBlue in Boston, making these face recognition scans mandatory when run by Delta and voluntary when run by JetBlue.

To those going through JetBlue, the company gives passengers the option of ditching the physical ticket altogether for a face scan.

Despite the different approaches, both of the systems already in use are just the start of something larger that could soon turn into a nationwide launch of Biometric Exit. As a result, everyone, both foreign and American, would be subject to having their faces scanned and their details added or matched to a federal database.

If this system becomes mandatory, the issues associated with errors could be a major headache for individuals on the receiving end of the extra scrutiny. With government goons taking the facial recognition tool much too seriously, a case of mistaken identity could put an absolutely innocent person at risk of being detained, while other, smaller mistakes, could cause passengers to miss their flights or spend extra hours at secondary screenings.

Aside from these potential issues, the very idea that the federal government would be collecting this information from anyone leaving the country raises questions regarding the constitutionality of these scans. After all, does the collection of information on innocent Americans without a warrant pass the Fourth Amendment test?

Many legal scholars say that it wouldn’t. So why is the DHS putting this in motion without Congress’ approval?

Well, quite frankly, because they can. As government grows larger and more intrusive, it also grows more certain it may operate outside existing laws that theoretically restrict them from infringing on people’s most basic rights. And that is the problem that must be addressed.

GOP Will Fail To Bring ACA Down Because Lawmakers Don’t Understand Economics

in Economic Liberty, Healthcare, Liberator Online, News You Can Use by Alice Salles Comments are off

GOP Will Fail To Bring ACA Down Because Lawmakers Don’t Understand Economics

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, has been slowly falling apart from day one. With President Donald Trump promising to repeal and replace the health care legislation once in office, he pressed both the House and Senate to pass legislation that “fixed” what was wrong with President Barack Obama’s signature legislation. But perhaps, that’s the problem: The idea that a piece of law can be fixed simply by passing more legislation addressing the same issues is nothing but a sham.

GOP

Access to health care can only be expanded, helping those among us with the most meager of means to be able to obtain the care they require, once all laws regulating health care and insurance are abolished, not reformed. Unfortunately, neither the Senate nor the House GOP’s health care bill goes as far as necessary to allow the health care market to heal completely from the failures brought about heavy-handed government intervention.

According to Senior Research Fellow and health care scholar at the Mercatus Center Robert Graboyes, the latest version of the GOP’s health care bill does nothing to “repeal and replace” Obamacare. As a matter of fact, he writes on Real Clear Health, the bill simply alters the law. Calling the changes proposed by the bill “arcane,” Graboyes says neither of the GOP’s last attempts at tackling Obamacare dismantle the law’s structure. Instead, he explains, the only thing both the Senate and the House versions of health care reform are able to eliminate is the individual mandate, lifting requirements that force all Americans to obtain health insurance or else pay a penalty to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Still, the Senate version of health care reform legislation is just as dependent on government spending as Obamacare, ignoring that access to care will only be widened once the private sector isn’t restricted by regulations brought about the very marriage of Washington, D.C., politics and health industry heavyweights.

Instead of trying to tackle the health care problems that were provoked by health legislation in the first place with more laws, it’s time lawmakers recognize that the only way people will obtain better and more affordable care is by allowing the market to heal. And for that to happen, legislators must get out of the way completely, letting the private sector come up with the answers.

As Ron Johnson writes for the New York Times, the private sector relies on root-cause analysis to pursue improvement and offer better solutions to consumers without losing sight of the “KISS” principle (“keep it simple, stupid”). Without getting out of the way, health care providers will not be able to adapt and patients will continue to suffer to obtain basic care amidst health insurance skyrocketing premiums. Is that what we want?

How Self-Government Can Be the Change You Wish to See

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online by Mike Sertic Comments are off

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

I recently heard someone regurgitate the quote that is typically (and evidently, wrongly) attributed to Gandhi, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”  I sighed and found myself annoyed.  But why?

Change

It’s not as though it’s a bad piece of advice. It’s probably because I imagine the person saying it wearing lavender-tinted tea-shades and swaying back and for the sound of Lennon’s Imagine, all the while praising the virtues of socialist societies like Venezuela and Cuba.  (Obviously, that should shed some light on my own personal biases.)  

Upon reflection, though, it’s good advice, assuming the change you want to see in the world is more libertarian, less authoritarian.  And if you’re reading The Liberator Online, I’d say there’s a good chance that’s the case.

The other reason why we’re likely to roll our eyes at this mantra is that so few of us actually heed it.  The trick to taking this advice, I’m learning, is to understand two related but distinct concepts: locus of control, and sphere of influence.  Let’s focus on locus of control for now.

Locus of control (LOC) is a psychological term developed to assess an individual’s feeling or sense that they are empowered and in control of their own life outcomes.  Thus, a person with a strong internal LOC believes he mostly responsible for how good his health, wealth, status and overall well-being are.  It seems likely that people who adhere to this internal view of LOC share at least some libertarian values.  Conversely, those with a strong external LOC (like Germans, apparently) tend to hold more fatalistic, even nihilistic attitudes that can slowly chip away at the productive and moral capacity of a nation.  I’d be willing to bet there’s at least a moderate correlation between external LOC people and socialist economic policies.

So how does an understanding of LOC help libertarians to effect change in the world?  First, it reminds us that some people fundamentally do not view the world through our paradigm of freedom of choice and self-government.  We should remind these folks when possible of historical examples of the potential power each person is capable of in taking a stand and making a difference for themselves and countless others.

Second, work to practice self-government (defined in this sense as self-rule or self-mastery) in the aspects of life over which you have direct control, if you’re not already doing so.  For example, a while back a was frequently awakened in the middle of the night by a loud noise disturbance of private landscapers working nearby my home.  My initial thought, in my frustration, was to call government code enforcement and have them shut these landscapers down.  But that didn’t seem in concert with my libertarian values.  Instead, I contacted the owner of the landscaping company and we came to an agreement that satisfied both of us—he still fulfilled his contractual cleaning services, and I was able to sleep peacefully.  Such a resolutions weren’t guaranteed, of course, but how often do we think about settling such issues ourselves?

Through this encounter, I put the onus of responsibility on myself to see if I could achieve the desired outcome I was looking for without shifting it to a third-party agent who may ultimately have used threats of force of fines against the company.  That is one small example of self-government in action, and something that I need to remind myself of in situations involving social conflict.  To the degree we are able to tap into the strong internal LOC that we as libertarians tend to hold and not outsource decision rights and authority to third-party agents who hold a monopoly over the use of force, the more effective we will be in actualizing the change we want to see in the world.

Let us know about examples in which you have consciously abstained from involving third-party government agents to settle a dispute or solve a problem that you were able to accomplish yourself. We’d love to hear them.

What Kent State Teaches Us About Free Speech

in First Amendment, Freedom On Campus, Liberator Online by Chloe Anagnos Comments are off

What Kent State Teaches Us About Free Speech

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

U.S. senators focused on free speech on college campuses on Tuesday as a panel questioned students, academics, and lawyers after high-profile speeches were canceled on campuses around the country this past year.

Kent State

Those students and academics questioned on the panel insisted the “golden rule” is for the speech to go on as long as violence can be prevented. They dismissed the idea of intolerance.

Eugene Volokh, a professor at the UCLA School of Law, said that a “heckler’s veto” should not be allowed.

“I think the answer is to make sure they don’t create a disturbance and to threaten them with punishment, meaningful punishment if they do create a disturbance,” Volokh said. “If thugs learn that all they need to do in order to suppress speech is to threaten violence, then there will be more such threats.”

But Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said that universities can’t always deal with the fallout when protestors respond to a speaker they oppose. She said the biggest threat of violence often comes from people who don’t attend the university and that colleges don’t always have the resources to deal with those types of situations.

“You don’t think we learned a lesson at Kent State way back when?” Feinstein said at one point.

In 1970, National Guardsmen opened fire on unarmed protesters of the Vietnam War at Kent State University in Ohio. Four students died and nine others were wounded.

Police charged that among the rioters they had spotted two militants just released from jail after serving six months on violent charges. The students denied this.

During these times on campuses across the country, it is imperative that elected officials and police understand the First Amendment in its entirety before any action is taken in the name of security. It’s also ridiculous to think that the killings of those students would have been prevented if the government hadn’t allowed the protests in the first place.

The First Amendment states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Therefore, students are within their rights to peacefully protest or demonstrate. If, and only if, protests become violent is it the role of the government to intervene.

Free speech means that Americans have the undeniable right to say, write, publish, and think whatever they want. It also means that we have the right to protest any establishment we so choose, even if it is our university or government.

The events that surrounded the shootings at Kent State should teach us that no matter how controversial the topic, we are within our rights to publicly display our disagreement as long as it is done without violence.

New Law Ensures Maine Won’t Help Feds Restrict Gun Owners’ Freedoms

in Gun Rights, Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Alice Salles Comments are off

New Law Ensures Maine Won’t Help Feds Restrict Gun Owners’ Freedoms

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Ever since the boom in state-led efforts to legalize or decriminalize marijuana, effectively rendering federal laws regarding the substance toothless, many decentralization advocates began urging locals to take up the fight against Washington, D.C., in more active ways. Now, groups across the country have added a series of other victories to their personal records by defying the state and crushing restrictive health care laws, freeing up education requirements in their states, and even making it safer to be a gun owner.

Maine

That’s what Maine lawmakers have just accomplished.

Last week, a bill that prohibits state officials to gather information on firearms and their owners was signed into law by Gov. Paul LePage. Thanks to this piece of legislation, Maine gun owners’ privacy will be protected and kept from the sticky hands of the feds, who are always looking for a way to put a countrywide registry of gun owners together. Without a far reaching database of firearms and their owners, federal officials are unable to enforce any more restrictive new anti-gun ownership law Washington decides to enact in the future.

House Bill 9 was introduced by Rep. Patrick Corey, a Republican from Windham. But what was surprising to many is that the piece of legislation obtained wide support from both sides of the aisle. According to the bill’s wording, the creation of a state firearms registry is now prohibited.

“Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, a government agency of this State or a political subdivision of this State may not keep or cause to be kept a comprehensive registry of privately owned firearms and the owners of those firearms within its jurisdiction,” the law now states.

Passed by the state’s House by a 122-24 margin, the bill then headed to the Senate where it passed without any opposition. The piece of legislation was signed on June 12 and it’s scheduled to go into effect 90 days after the Maine legislative session is closed.

Since the federal government relies on information and resources made available by state officials and bureaucracies, passing this law means that the federal government won’t be able to obtain personal information on Maine gun owners anytime soon. By putting an end to any effort that would amount to a gun registry in the state, Maine is igniting a fire that could catch nationwide. In no time, the federal government would have its hands tied, forcing Washington to forego any new efforts to keep an eye on gun owners with the goal of restricting their freedom and violating their 2nd Amendment protections.

The Hoosier State Is About To Give Residents Enough Reasons To Flee

in Economic Liberty, Liberator Online, News You Can Use by Alice Salles Comments are off

The Hoosier State Is About To Give Residents Enough Reasons To Flee

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

As lawmakers across many states of the union begin to understand that decentralization and less federal government control over their lives are important, other states make it easier for locals to simply pack and leave for greener pastures in neighboring states.

Hoosier

In Indiana, a Republican-controlled Assembly has been working with Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb to increase taxes and fees on everything from fuel to medical marijuana registration in a series of different bills. As these bills have already been signed into law, locals will soon realize that the most mundane things that would otherwise cost nothing or very little in an environment free of government intervention are now actually hurting their pockets.

With all bills signed into law in 2017 alone in Indiana, at least 45 different taxes and fees have either been instituted or gone up. But according to Holcomb, that’s not “a lot.” Instead, he told reporters, he thinks that “paying for what we need” is what matters.

As fuel cost in the state goes up 10 cents on the gallon, many drivers may think that going “green” is the answer. But beginning in 2018, electric and hybrid vehicle owners will see a considerable increase in their registration fees, with hybrid cars costing an extra $50 and electric cars costing $150 more just to be registered with the state.

Thanks to the new laws, if you are local and you have a treatment-resistant epilepsy condition, you will need to register with the state’s epileptic cannabidiol registry to obtain legal treatment. But just to get your name on their list you will have to gather an extra $50 for the privilege — if you do not want trouble with the law for pursuing a health treatment to which you and only you have the right to say yes or no.

If Hoosiers who are tired of their current employment situation decide to change careers, choosing to become massage therapists instead, they will also have to obtain a license from the state, which will cost them $100 just for an “OK” stamp from bureaucrats.

Are you a college student in Indiana? Well, then you will face mandatory immunization against meningitis, which will cost you between $100 and $150. As we all know. there will be a lot of broke college students out there having to take money from their loans to cover for that.

Other fees and taxes that are also rising include court recordkeeping fees, background checks for teachers, notary services, storage fees for abandoned vehicles, and even harsher income tax requirements for visiting athletes.

Are private schools unfair?

in Ask Dr. Ruwart, Education, Liberator Online by Mary Ruwart Comments are off

Are private schools unfair?

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Question

I live in England, where the private schools are derided by some, not because they are bad, but because they are thought of as unfairly benefiting the wealthy. I disagree. I believe that, because the offspring is an extension of the parent, he or she gains no unfair advantage — the school simply allows people to gain advantage from their own work. Do you agree?

schools

Answer

I would agree. However, all schools, whether public or private cost many times more in taxes or tuition than is necessary because of government regulations. Without these restrictions, ad-sponsored television programs like Sesame Street, special educational cable stations, Internet courses, and other advances we cannot yet envision could make high-quality education virtually free — for everyone! For details, see Chapter 10 of my book, “Healing Our World,” available from the Advocates for Self-Government.

Massachusetts Wants To Boost The Marijuana Black Market

in Drugs, Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Alice Salles Comments are off

Massachusetts Wants To Boost The Marijuana Black Market

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Massachusetts voters chose to legalize marijuana for recreational use in November, putting an end to more than a century of prohibition in the region. This Wednesday, the state’s House leaders are going directly against their constituents, advancing a bill that would set the tax on recreational pot to 28 percent, double the amount currently allowed. On top of that, the proposal would also give municipal officials — or bureaucrats — power over which shops and farms can be banned, taking this authority away from local voters.

marijuana

Claiming that this piece of legislation actually better serves voters by protecting public health, safety, and the “best interests of the state,” lawmakers supporting the bill seem to ignore that the measures adopted in its text would have very different real-world consequences.

If the goal here is to boost the illicit marijuana drug market, the mandatory high taxes are enough to do the trick, and if what legislators want is to allow local government officials to be influenced by certain entrepreneurs to keep competitors from establishing shops or farms in certain locations in order to boost their own business, this bill also seems to be the perfect fit. In other words, if what Massachusetts lawmakers see as a victory is nothing but to create an environment where only gangsters and monied pot entrepreneurs are able to succeed, then they have hit the jackpot.

To advocates who have been working to legalize marijuana in the state for years, this bill represents a refusal to embrace what voters have already chosen to see implemented in 2016. Furthermore, they add that increasing taxes on marijuana sales will rise the cost of the final product to the consumer, who may choose to obtain his or her supply of weed from elsewhere.

Knowing consumers won’t buy pot if the cost is too high, many entrepreneurs who already run medical marijuana dispensaries in the state are beginning to reconsider plans to expand their business now that recreational marijuana is legal. But if legitimate businesses are disincentivized from opening their doors, consumers will then be at greater risk of experiencing health issues as they may end up purchasing marijuana in the black market, where products are often moldy or even adulterated.

Instead of protecting voters, lawmakers are making the marijuana market in the state more dangerous by both raising the overall cost of doing business and giving bureaucrats the power to pick and choose who may or may not do business in the state.

Unless lawmakers completely reword the bill, it’s poised to be passed this week before it goes to the Senate. If passed by both chambers, this bill could be signed by Governor Charlie Baker by the end of the month, putting an end to what anti-drug war advocates fought so hard to achieve.

Science Is Too Important To Be Left To the State

in Liberator Online, Libertarian Stances on Issues, News You Can Use by Alice Salles Comments are off

Science Is Too Important To Be Left To the State

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

When the science funding debate is ignited by reports that lawmakers are considering a new cut, news outlets are quick to publish stories about the “anti-science” legislators roaming Washington, D.C. with their dangerous unscientific biases running the country.

science What a bunch of old religious nuts, reporters and left-leaning critics suggest. They want science to die along with the planet.

Unfortunately, the winning narrative is nothing but that, a narrative. And whenever it pops up, people take it seriously, often ignoring facts — particularly those that demonstrate lawmakers are never truly serious about putting an end to government-funded anything.

So let’s look at what matters here. If science and advancing science so that we have access to better health treatments, technologies, and more convenient consumer products is what’s at stake, why would we, thinking individuals, allow scientific research to be funded by a handful of bureaucrats who have zero incentives to make good use of taxpayer money?

In a Bloomberg column, Holbert L. Harris Chair of Economics at George Mason University Tyler Cowen explains that when scientific projects are funded in the private sector, actual projects get the cash, not overhead. What does that mean? It means that private organizations understand that funding funneled to overhead, meaning indirect costs that go to facilities and administration as opposed to equipment, lab supplies, researcher salaries, etc, are often wasted.

When governments redirect taxpayer-funded money to organizations working on scientific research, they are simply putting more money into the power structure of these universities and big conglomerates, strengthening administrators and already established scientists. Who loses? Young and motivated researchers who are willing to take on incredibly ground-breaking projects that may not require that much funding in the first place. If governments weren’t the sole provider of funds but the private sector, these researchers wouldn’t have to lobby universities for grants. Instead, they would have to simply prove their work is worth investing on in the open marketplace.

In an article for the Mises Institute, Dr. Michel Accad explains that once science became influenced by a “massive government stimulus program” in the 1970s, the funding inflation “greatly devalued the worth of individual papers.” Now, studies must be “peer-reviewed,” meaning they must be reevaluated by others in the same field and published in peer-review journals to be accepted.

But as we have learned with the Austrian theory of the business cycle, when access to funding (or credit) is easy, entrepreneurial malinvestment becomes a reality. When it comes to scientific research investment, inflated science funding may lead to “malscience,” or as Accad puts it, “scientific output that is not well coordinated to the needs of the scientific community, because this centralized funding cannot reflect the needs of those intended to ‘consume’ the product of the funded research.”

As you can see, if the advancement of sound science is what truly matters, then leaving it in the hands of governments means fueling malinvestment as opposed to allowing scientific research be carried out as a response to a real demand. If we do not allow this “boom” to wane, we will continue to see nothing but the strengthening of already established scientific hierarchies while denying researchers who are thirsty to make the world a better place a chance. Is that what we truly want?

Harvard Treads On Memes

in First Amendment, Freedom On Campus, Liberator Online by Chloe Anagnos Comments are off

Harvard Treads On Memes

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Prospective members of Harvard University’s Class of 2021 had their admissions offers rescinded after they shared offensive content on social media.

According to screenshots obtained by The Harvard Crimson, messages shared by the individuals in a private Facebook group chat mocked sexual assault, the Holocaust, and the deaths of children. This group chat originally stemmed from the Harvard College Class of 2021 Facebook group as prospective students formed their own conversations with those who shared similar interests.

HarvardWhen the university’s admissions office became aware of the memes and images shared, they asked students involved to email pictures sent in the group chat for review. Then, Harvard’s administration revoked the students’ admissions offers.

“The Admissions Committee was disappointed to learn that several students in a private group chat for the Class of 2021 were sending messages that contained offensive messages and graphics,” according to an email obtained by The Crimson sent to students involved.

Apparently, the decisions are final.

I agree that the content these individuals shared was gross and offensive, but does that mean that they deserve to have their admissions revoked?

I think it’s important to note that these were teenagers who often don’t make the best decisions. Couldn’t the admissions use this as a teaching moment instead of completely revoking their admissions? After all, these were private conversations. It’s not like these students were speaking on behalf of the university by blasting these memes all over the Internet.

Harvard is a private institution and, ultimately, they can do what they want.

I just wonder if Harvard’s decision sets a negative precedent. Should faculty, current students, and anyone somehow associated with the institution start monitoring absolutely everything they say in private conversations? What does that say about Harvard’s respect for the First Amendment?

Essentially, what should be considered a ‘private’ or ‘public’ conversation? I’d like to know.

‘War Machine:’ A Lesson In Intervention All Libertarians Must Cherish

in Liberator Online by Alice Salles Comments are off

‘War Machine:’ A Lesson In Intervention All Libertarians Must Cherish

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

United States Army General Stanley McChrystal became infamous for resigning in shame after a report on Rolling Stone depicted him and his staff as highly critical of President Barack Obama. In the Netflix movie War Machine, McChrystal’s story becomes a tale of government folly abroad, where military men with views of grandeur attempt to mess with the lives of Afghans who want them out — no matter what.

warIn a post on his Facebook page, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) says the movie should be “mandatory for Congress to watch, particularly legislators hell bent on continuing/restarting the war in Afghanistan.” Without providing any spoilers, Paul touched on the very core subject of the movie.

Hiding behind a satirical rendition of McChrystal, the two-hour long flick is able to demonstrate, with visceral accuracy, just how utterly unproductive and destructive U.S. government’s interventions abroad can quickly become. By showing the viewer the demoralizing effect of a war against “common people” who don’t look or act like “insurgents,” the movie helps the public to have a better idea of what their tax dollars have been paying for since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

As many estimates claim both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars cost $4 trillion and $6 trillion, it’s difficult to watch War Machine and not ask ourselves why we were there in the first place.

As U.S. Marine Aaron O’Connell, the editor of Our Latest Longest War: Losing Hearts and Minds in Afghanistan, once stated, Americans spent a great deal of money “rebuilding” Afghanistan, only to have these efforts wasted in a short period of time.

During an interview with NPR, O’Connell gave a simple example of this phenomena:

“So we’ve spent billions building roads in Afghanistan, but we then turned the roads over to the Afghans in 2013. We trained up a maintenance unit so that it could provide for road maintenance, and nothing has happened since then. Now, today, more than half of the roads are deemed unfit for heavy traffic. And as one taxi driver put it in 2014 – things have gotten so much worse, now if we drive too fast, everyone in the car dies.”

When it comes to foreign policy, government intervention is very similar to intervention in domestic policies.

Government bureaucrats sit and think up a plan to “change” something or “make something better.” Then they pass legislation or simply pull some strings to get their views implemented. Unfortunately, their plan often backfires, simply because not one nor 100 bureaucrats have the knowledge that people on the ground, living those problems daily, have. As a result, the intervention turns into a mess that ends up harming more than it helps — no matter how well-intentioned.

As Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek once elaborated, “allocating scarce resources requires knowledge dispersed among many people.” Because access to this knowledge is impossible to any government body, interventions of any kind are bound to be disastrous.

In Afghanistan, we learned that much, except bureaucrats, are at it again, trying to revive the war sentiment even in Afghanistan.

As Paul stated, it might serve them well to watch War Machine, but not for the comedy alone. Instead of seeing the movie as satire, they must remember that what is depicted in the Brad Pitt-produced film is as far away from fiction as they can possibly imagine.

‘Old-Timey’ Jobs Are Back, And Gentrification Has Nothing To Do With It

in Economic Liberty, Liberator Online, News You Can Use by Alice Salles Comments are off

 ‘Old-Timey’ Jobs Are Back, And Gentrification Has Nothing To Do With It

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

The Wall Street Journal published a piece stating that certain forgotten and despised professions are making a comeback in urban centers like Portland, Brooklyn, and Pittsburgh.

According to the WSJ, “gentrification” is causing young, educated workers to choose to take on jobs that had been seen as low-status, semi-manual professions, turning them into what sociologist Richard Ocejo calls “glamorous occupations.”

jobs

As young men and women leave college to work as butchers, craft brewers, bookbinders, furniture makers, and bartenders, Ocejo argues that young people are drawn to these jobs as a reaction to “the ephemerality of the digital age.” But what Ocejo seems to forget is that, as the education industry is inflated with an artificial demand mostly ignited by government-backed grants and easy loans, young people who were told they should go to college no matter what often leave universities absolutely unsure of what they will be doing next.

Sometimes, they look for jobs in their fields but a lack of success makes them desperate. Sometimes, they abandon what they studied for years in a heartbeat, choosing to do odd jobs and then settle, doing something that is both accessible and financially sustainable, but not overly complicated.

That’s why there are so many restaurant workers with college degrees. So many bartenders, baristas, and fishmongers who never even glanced at their credential again. Not because they may have been born to take on those occupations, but because they wouldn’t have gone to college if they hadn’t been told they should have.

When the government adopts policies that offer individuals extra incentives to take on a particular task, eliminating the upfront cost to obtain a certain degree, it eliminates the individual’s willingness to establish him or herself as their own person, fighting and working hard for whatever it is they wish to do or be.

By facilitating college education to the point that anyone can have a degree, no matter how low their performance might be, governments are harming these individuals. After all, not everyone truly wants a college education, but they might not be compelled to go find out for their own because who would turn down “free” money?

Just like not all of us were born to be doctors, many of us prefer occupations that involve skills better learned at an apprenticeship program or in a trade school. Others learn their craft entirely on their own, by watching online classes or studying at their own pace at home.

By inflating the demand for college degrees, bureaucrats are doing nothing but to inflate the cost of a college education while forcing young men and women into a life of debt. Instead of serving as a guide, college becomes a burden, putting the young and the educated in despair mode. Many move back with their parents while others choose to change their lives completely, taking on jobs they would have never imagined taking.

Instead of gentrification, what has been driving these young men and women into “unwanted” professions” is nothing but circumstance, as they leave college with little to no professional experience and no idea of what they are going to do to pay their student loans. In other words, they are being driven toward anything they can do thanks in part to government’s involvement with the higher education business.

 

The Embodiment of the American Dream

in Liberator Online, Libertarianism by Mike Sertic Comments are off

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

A fellow libertarian recently forwarded me a link to a quiz that he suggested I take. Since I’m always up for a good political survey (and easily distracted), I decided to give it a try.  With claims that it could predict “what factors were working in [my] favor and what [I] had to overcome to get where [I am] today,” I was curious to find out how I scored on on someone’s American Dream quiz.

dreamBefore I go any further, I’ll state outright that I scored 60, meaning that I have been fairly fortunate and had more factors working in my favor than against me.  I have to say that I enjoyed taking the quiz, even though I find both the assumptions and purported research backing it to be biased.

The rhetoric is that of the “it takes a village” and “you didn’t build that…” mentality, which is subtly inferable and reveals itself in the results content.  The results section is quick to provide links to material propagating various socio-economic myths, such as the systemic gender pay gap (which is far more nuanced an issue when all factors are considered).

I have become accustomed to seeing this narrative pushed by various nonprofit organizations, marketing firms, and media outlets.  It is my perception that I am responsible for my successes and my failures, and I think this idea (related to locus of control) is a significant factor in determining an individual’s character and the amount of ultimate success (whatever success means for that person).

I couldn’t help but wonder how libertarians as a group would score on the American Dream survey.  If I were forced to hazard a guess, I would bet that more libertarians would score on my side of the scale, meaning that they’ve been luckier and had fewer obstacles.  I base this both on my social interactions with other libertarians and on the unfortunate stereotype that we are callous toward the plight of the less fortunate (a stereotype with which I happen to mostly disagree).  I also don’t know many libertarians who have received government benefits (or at least many who like to talk about it).

The embodiment of the American Dream is the age-old “rags-to-riches” stories in which a struggling but capable go-getter is able to shape his own destiny through hard work, resilience, and moxie.  Only until relatively recently did the phrase “equal opportunity” worm its way into the American lexicon and become associated with the American Dream. Libertarians (should) recognize that equal opportunity is a mythical construct as unnatural as equal outcomes.  And rather than continue to coercively intervene into the lives of American citizens in a foolhardy attempt to impose equality, we should seek to roll back the countless state interventions that negatively impact the very people they are trying to help.

So go ahead and check out their survey—I’m curious to learn how libertarians score.  And speaking of politics quizzes, there really aren’t any better than the WSPQ!

What will happen to people with low incomes if minimum wage is done away with?

in Ask Dr. Ruwart, Economic Liberty, Economics, Liberator Online by Mary Ruwart Comments are off

What will happen to people with low incomes if minimum wage is done away with?

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Question:

If you take away minimum wages, businesses can pay whatever small amount they want and keep the rest for profit. What about those who will only make $3.00 per hour?

wage

Answer:

If businesses can pay what they want, why do 90-95 percent of today’s workers in the U.S. make more than the minimum wage? The answer: supply and demand applies to employees as well as products. If a business doesn’t pay a person what he or she is worth, they go to a new employer or start their own business. In a libertarian society, with its expanding economy, such moves will be much easier than they are today.

Minimum wage laws actually destroy entry-level positions for the unskilled. Black economist Walter Williams believes that the minimum wage laws are the single most important factor in keeping young blacks out of the job market. The next time Congress considers raising the minimum wage, look in your newspaper for an estimate of the number of jobs that will be lost – potential training jobs for the disadvantaged.

Obama Era Rule Expansion Could Finally Kill The Fourth Amendment

in Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty, Property Rights by Alice Salles Comments are off

Obama Era Rule Expansion Could Finally Kill The Fourth Amendment

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Just before President Barack Obama left office, his administration gave President Donald Trump’s administration the best parting gift a power thirsty official could have asked for: More access to innocent Americans’ private information.

Fourth AmendmentAfter Edward Snowden revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) was spying on innocent Americans without due process, the country — and the world — learned that the U.S. government prefers to collect the haystack before looking for the needle. As the debate surrounding privacy rights heated up due to this revelation, others dismissed the reports, saying that those who have nothing to hide should have nothing to fear.

As a counterargument, privacy advocates pointed out that officials don’t need to do their jobs correctly to bust someone for a crime they didn’t commit if they have data.

With data, these advocates would explain, officials can tell a story, even if you had nothing to do with a certain crime.

Now, the Trump administration has the power to make use of the data collected by the NSA even more widely, since Obama gave sixteen federal agencies access to the agency’s database.

These agencies include the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Department of Homeland Security, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

While the government says that the collected communications available via the NSA are “masked” to protect the identity of innocent Americans, several government officials have the authority to demand unrestricted access. And what’s worse, Congress is now working hard to expand this information sharing system with a series of other agencies.

Thanks to Rep. John Katko (R-NY), HR 2169, or the Improving Fusion Centers’ Access to Information Act, may change the rules so that more agencies under the DHS control have the same access to NSA’s database, such as the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). If flying hadn’t been made nearly unbearable thanks to the sexual harassment that comes along with going through airport security, the TSA is about to get even more invasive by combing through information provided by the NSA and doing what it pleases with it — unless HR 2169 gets booted.

To privacy advocates, this bill would only do more damage to America’s already fragile civil liberties protections. Instead of keeping government officials and workers from having more reasons to abuse their power, this new rule expansion would put more Americans at risk of having their rights violated for entirely new reasons.

If the Fourth Amendment still means anything in this country, it might as well die an agonizing and definite death if Katko’s bill gets to the president’s desk. Are we ready for more TSA and ICE scandals?

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