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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

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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.

‘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.

 

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?

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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.

New York’s ‘Worker Protection’ Laws Will Only Hurt Workers

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

New York’s ‘Worker Protection’ Laws Will Only Hurt Workers

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Politicians cannot create value, and neither can governments. Still, voters are often the first ones to admit they chose a particular candidate because he or she promised to “create jobs.” With both conservative-leaning and progressive-leaning Americans making the case for government-sponsored programs that create more jobs, it’s easy to ignore the role of basic economics. After all, knowing economics in depth means that you understand that you cannot create jobs out of thin air. What you can create instead is value, and the only way to do so is by having government get out of the way completely.

Workers

In an environment where individuals are free to start businesses by basing their decisions on the demands of consumers, jobs are created out of a real necessity. By responding to an actual market need, employers then offer potential employees the opportunity to trade their labor for wages, which in turn will help them better their standard of living. As Robert Fellner wrote for the Mises Institute, “wages spring directly from, and are proportional to, the degree in which a job creates wealth by helping to satisfy an unmet need.” Or in other words, wages are the product of the wealth creation process triggered by a service or product created to meet the market’s demands.

When government attempts to “create jobs” and stipulate wages artificially by passing minimum wage laws, they are neither creating these positions out of a real necessity to meet a market demand nor raising standards of living by creating value. Instead, government-sponsored job creation is often the result of taxpayer-backed projects, which are in turn managed by central planners with little to no knowledge of market demands. And by increasing restrictions on the productive sector of the economy with minimum wage laws or other restrictive policies, the government takes the businessman’s freedom to give low-skilled individuals a chance at being employed, learning a trade and perhaps going on to take jobs in the future that offer higher wages.

 The new law also stipulates that workers may not work without breaks of at least 11 hours between shifts.

Needless to say, this new law will only hurt workers who are often the first to take on extra shifts and are willing to cover for colleagues due to an abrupt schedule change — not the employer. These individuals will be forced to take on extra side gigs to make ends meet instead of simply working more hours for their current employers.

If anti-poverty advocates were honest about helping those in need, they wouldn’t demand government do “something” about creating new jobs or raising wages artificially. Instead, they would look at the only viable way of actually helping the greatest number of people possible: the free market.

What Aetna’s Decision To Leave Obamacare Proves

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What Aetna’s Decision To Leave Obamacare Proves

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

When it comes to government policies, we seldom see initiatives looking into undoing what has been done.

AetnaAs the health care bill supported by President Donald Trump makes its way to the Senate after being passed by the House of Representatives, many remind the public that the bill isn’t ideal. Not because it doesn’t bring a complete end to the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, as we know it. But instead, critics suggest that the new proposals simply do not go far enough by not bringing an end to the federal government’s involvement with the health insurance business.

Government officials have, for the most part, created a rise in health care costs by trying to address the consequences of their policies by enacting more restrictions and regulations.

By selectively intervening in the health care market, government generates more unanticipated difficulties, as economist Ludwig von Mises once wrote. As politicians are pressed to “do something” to address the issues brought up by intervention, they come up with new interventionist policies, thus never bringing an end government’s involvement in the business of providing care.

A perfect example of an unintended consequence caused by further meddling with the health insurance industry is Aetna’s recent decision to pull out completely from the Obamacare individual market for 2018.

According to the company, its participation in the Obamacare exchange is costing them money. More precisely, the company is projected to lose around $225 million this year. In 2014 through 2016, Aetna lost $700 million from its exchange plan businesses.

Some of the issues that have been to blame for these losses include a poor balance between sick and healthy customers purchasing plans through the exchange. As a result, premium rates have gone up 25 percent this year, forcing more Americans to remain uninsured, proving that every time the government gets involved with health policy, it stifles choice, hurting those who need the care the most: the patient.

Another problem caused by government’s requirements concerning mandatory insurance purchase is the lack of access to actual care.

As the insured notice that it becomes ever more expensive to have access to doctors because of the high co-pays, they fail to seek the care they require.

Seeing this trend and feeling the pressure to see more patients for less cash, many doctors have decided to skip the nightmare altogether by leaving the insurance market and by offering personalized care instead. The movement has prompted a series of doctors to turn to direct primary care for the solution, offering patients care in privately-run clinics in exchange for a monthly payment that often pales in comparison to what an individual would pay an insurance company.

By saying no to insurers, these doctors and patients are also saying no to suffocating regulations.

Perhaps, if more of these businesses are launched, health insurance companies as we know them will become obsolete, forcing the government to finally step away from messing with healthcare policy altogether.

California Kicks the Corpse of Free Association in Airbnb Investigation

in Economic Liberty, Issues, Liberator Online by Erik Andresen Comments are off

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California has decided you must allow anyone into your home, at least if you rent it on a short term basis. Department of Fair Employment and Housing had filed a complaint against Airbnb over alleged incidents of hosts discriminating against users on the basis of race. Airbnb has agreed to let DFEH conduct “testing,” similar to testing applied to landlords.

AirbnbThe problem DFEH is looking to solve: it seems some Airbnb hosts reject users based on their race. It reminds me of dating site OKCupid’s “discovery” that race plays heavily into how users select prospective matches.

That’s the trouble with freedom; sometimes people use it in ways we don’t like. Sometimes the results are unpleasant. But libertarianism isn’t about making perfect people. That’s what Progressivism wants to do: remake mankind. Libertarians see the world as it is, and we endeavor to act – messy as it can be – in harmony with human nature, not against it. Our goal is maximum happiness and prosperity for all but without the threat of force from the state.

Many libertarians have hailed the disruption that the “sharing economy” has unleashed on tired and over-regulated business, from taxis to hotels.  But we should not be surprised that those established industries and bureaucrats are fighting back however they can. And in this instance, they have found a chink in the armor; the sharing economy may not survive it. Airbnb and similar services are troubling for regulators and elected officials (beyond protecting established industries and maintaining tax revenue).  Peer-to-peer dealings, especially those involving your car and your home, are prone to reveal individuals’ personal preferences.

Then the mask slips – regulators like to regulate “business” – putting the boot to someone who wants to rent their spare room for extra cash looks too heavy-handed (and it is). A government official would never say that we must allow every stranger who knocks on our doors must be allowed in. But that is exactly what DFEH is saying the moment you and that stranger exchange cash.

Libertarians favor free association and dissociation. Private deals between two individuals are no business of the state. But California doesn’t see it that way; bureaucrats want to decide for you who you may let into your home.

 

Why Do People Obsessed With Science Ignore Economic Science?

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Why Do People Obsessed With Science Ignore Economic Science?

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It’s an interesting paradox often left unexplored by the media, but we seldom find someone who’s both passionate about climate change science and economic science.

Science Economist and professor Robert P. Murphy explored this at length in a recent column, using the April 22nd “March for Science” to demonstrate how little people know — or care to know — about economics.

Despite being supportive of the scientific method, Murphy aptly explained, the environmental activists taking to the streets to demand governments “do something” about the issue also used the event that gathered thousands of people across the country to show President Donald Trump they do not agree with his proposed budget cuts.

Claiming Republicans are “climate change deniers” who often ignore the “consensus” on global warming among the scientific community, these same science-loving advocates ignore the “consensus” on economic science. Instead of being consistent, they call for government intervention to bring an end to man-made climate change, Murphy correctly points out.

But as a Senior Economist with the Institute for Energy Research specializing in climate change, Murphy knows better.

A belief held by many economic science deniers includes the idea that a “bare minimum to cap global warming at 2 degrees Celsius” is imperative. However, if you consult the last United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, you won’t find anything that justifies that limit, Murphy wrote.

Furthermore, Murphy contends, “the IPCC’s own estimate of the economic cost of compliance with the policy goal [of limiting warming to 2°C] was greater than the estimate of the climate change damages from ‘doing nothing.’” Meaning that forcing governments to go along with this arbitrary cap would cost nations more, causing more damage than if government officials were simply sitting on their hands.

Still, Murphy continued, critics charged at him after he pointed their inconsistencies out, suggesting that the IPCC had used economic models that weren’t sufficient and adding they may have understated the risk posed by climate change. But by ignoring Murphy’s observations, climate change advocates who criticized his comments have also completely ignored the scientific process, putting their own beliefs before sound evidence.

Instead of relying on research and evidence-based results, Murphy concludes that the “refusal to follow the science” might be “more widespread” among environmental activist than one might suspect.

So what are these marchers doing when they take it to the streets to fight for the planet? Are they parading their “awareness” across the country out of a strange urge to appear “woke?” Or are they simply so oblivious of what science truly is that their lack of enthusiasm for the hard work that goes along with it shows, making them seem like the unsophisticated privileged kids they truly are?

We might never know.

 

 

I Went To An Anti-Trump Tax March And This Is What I Found

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I Went To An Anti-Trump Tax March And This Is What I Found

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Saturday, April 15, the day on which individual income tax returns have been traditionally due, anti-President Donald Trump activists flooded the streets of several major cities across the country to demand Trump release his tax returns.

TaxWhile I was sent to Downtown Los Angeles to cover the “event” as part of a work assignment and I was not allowed to discuss different approaches to the idea of taxation, I was able to ask many of the attendees whether they were happy about the way the U.S. government handles their tax dollars.

In all cases, participants said “no.” And yet, none of those who talked to me thought of using that particular protest to voice those concerns. Instead, what they were really angry about was that Trump’s returns should be released so that his “ties to the Russians” were finally revealed.

How incredibly naive, even for progressives.

What was more unnerving was that they weren’t even angry that their taxes were now in the hands of a man they disliked, and that for the past eight years, anti-President Barack Obama activists were seeing their tax dollars being used by a man they despised. Instead, they found themselves in the right to demand documents from a man who has no legal or moral obligation to disclose documents related to the government confiscation of his wealth.

As participants answered my questions, saying they were unhappy that their hard-earned money was going to build walls and pay for bombs, not one attendee thought that that would be a much greater reason to go to the streets over. Instead, what mattered to them was Russia and how Trump, the “illegitimate” president, stole the election from the hands of a woman.

Many libertarians felt that none of the 2016 presidential candidates truly spoke to them, but to see so many people allowing their own concerns to be overridden by what the masses — or in this case, the great bulk of mainstream media — tells them that matters, is like watching countless of sleepwalkers march toward an abyss.

Giving up on a fight momentarily in order to stay out of trouble is one thing, but to give up on your individuality in order to let powerful groups with an agenda manipulate your political actions is madness. And yet, as I asked each and every person who agreed to talk to me whether they were unhappy, the answer was yes. But the euphoria tied to the Russia narrative was, unfortunately, just too good to let go.

In a time where addictions have replaced the rational decision-making process, it’s easy to see why many call this the age of outrage. And as I hopelessly looked for someone comfortable enough with their own thoughts to openly talk about their concerns and fight for them, I also found we just can’t depend on masses — no matter how compelling they may seem.

What The United Airlines Fiasco Teaches Us About Monopolies

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

What The United Airlines Fiasco Teaches Us About Monopolies

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The United Airlines fiasco has been all over the news — for a good reason.

A passenger who had already been allowed to take his seat had his face bloodied as police officers were asked to physically remove the man from the plane. The incident had followed what many reported as being an issue with an overbooked flight but later, it was discovered that the man had been picked in a lottery to leave the full flight after United noticed it needed four seats for crew members.

United AirlinesThe passenger in question, David Dao, refused to leave the plane, even after the company offered $800 and a hotel stay to whoever accepted to relinquish their seat, and that’s when the police were called in to “help.”

Many have noted that legally speaking, Dao was in the right and United was in the wrong. But what many are ignoring in this story has to do with how we got to a point where a private organization needs the services of the state police to remove a customer who had not broken his contract.

If United had to compete for its customers in a free, open market, would they have treated any customer this way?

Ryan McMaken of the Mises Institute answers that question with an in-depth review of the U.S. airline industry. He explains that, in North America, the four top carriers enjoy 80 percent of the business, putting these four companies in a nearly total control of the domestic flying industry. But that occurs not because these firms form an official, government-backed cartel. Instead, government intervention is so heavy-handed that it provokes an artificial barrier to other airlines, making competition less likely to happen.

Take the U.S. ban on foreign carriers for instance. Because international airlines are not allowed to fly certain point-to-point destinations domestically, only domestic airlines have the privilege of doing so. Economically ignorant politicians defend this policy by saying that this protects American workers and consumers. Unfortunately, this particular protectionist policy has the exact opposite effect, as fewer companies mean fewer options for both job seekers and flyers.

Down the line, as competition is stifled and domestic companies enjoy an artificial monopoly over the industry, the consumer suffers greatly, as the top four carriers are allowed to act erratically and still have a virtual control of the market. With no options but to fly using one of these protected firms, these consumers are then forced to undergo severe mistreatment. In a free market, this type of incident could have destroyed United, but in an environment where protectionism rules, United will suffer for some time before it bounces back up as few companies are able to compete.

Arizona Bill Could Be A Win For Sound Money

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

Arizona Bill Could Be A Win For Sound Money

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A bill being considered by the Arizona legislature could be the park of a sound money revolution. Much like the marijuana legalization movement ignited by anti-drug war advocates across the states, this new movement could help strike the root of all of our economic woes.

MoneyAccording to the Tenth Amendment Center, House Bill 2014 would initiate the sound money revolution by eliminating state capital gains taxes on gold and silver specie. Thus encouraging individuals to use the metals as currency. The bill, which passed the House on the 13th, will need a final approval from the Senate. And if approved, the legislation would then initiate a movement that could help put an end to the Federal Reserve’s monopoly on money.

By removing the burden of applying state capital gains taxes on income “derived from the exchange of one kind of legal tender for another kind of legal tender” and redefining legal tender as ““a medium of exchange, including specie, that is authorized by the United States Constitution or Congress for the payment of debts, public charges, taxes and dues,” coins having precious metal content could become, once again, a legal form of currency.

By passing this bill, the Arizona legislature would be allowing silver and gold specie to be treated as money, essentially “legalizing the constitution.”

Currently, Arizona law requires individuals to pay capital gains taxes whenever they use gold and silver in transactions or any time they want to exchange the metal for Federal Reserve notes. Due to inflation, the purchasing power of fiat money decreases, which then causes the metal’s nominal value to rise. Thus the “gain” taxes. Even if they are fictional. The result is obviously unfair because it penalizes those using gold and silver as money.

By passing HB 2014, Arizonans would not have to add the amount of any net capital gain tied to the exchange of different kinds of legal tender, freeing the consumer from being subject to state taxes.

This could open up currency competition in Arizona, causing other states to perhaps do the same once they realize competition will help to bring the government monopoly over the currency down.

To advocates of states’ rights like Tenth Amendment founder Michael Boldin, this piece of legislation in Arizona is a great first step to “end the fed’s monetary monopoly,” even if it won’t put an end to it overnight. By giving the individual Arizona resident his freedom to trade freely, he will be securing the purchasing power of his money as a result.

Who Owns Jobs: The Government or the Employer?

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

Who Owns Jobs: The Government or the Employer?

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Reuters has reported that the Donald Trump administration’s pick for head of the U.S. Labor Department has admitted to hiring undocumented immigrants in the past. More specifically, he admitted to employing a foreigner who wasn’t legally allowed to work in the United States as a house cleaner.

EmployerThe pick, who serves as the chief executive officer of CKE Restaurants Inc, made the revelation on Monday, adding that the employment had taken place for a few years. The statement he released also claimed that he and his wife were unaware that the worker wasn’t allowed to seek employment, but that once they were made aware they terminated her, offering her help to obtain legal status.

This piece of news is sure to be explosive, considering the scrutiny the current administration’s picks for cabinet positions have been receiving in the past months. Nevertheless, this story matters for a much more important reason. After all, who owns the job, the government or the employer?

While countries have boundaries by default due to the state’s need to set rules and impose restrictions on everything from migration to commerce, it is important to remember that only the individual employer owns the job he or she is creating.

Regardless of where you stand on immigration, it is up to the job owner to determine whether a particular individual is fit — or not — to perform the duties available in exchange for what the employer is willing to pay. It is also the employee’s right to accept the offer, whether or not the federal government has wage restrictions imposed. After all, if an unskilled mother of five who has just lost her husband is willing to take a job for $9 per hour, what authority does a lawmaker have to tell her she can only find a job that pays $15?

Employers willing to pay that much will undoubtedly hire someone with skills, leaving this poor individual out of the workforce and, what’s worse, in the hands of the welfare state.

When it comes to immigration, racism and security concerns aren’t what’s at stake. Instead, we must understand the basic principle of economics: supply and demand. If there’s a demand for workers willing to take on certain jobs and a supply of workers willing to do them, it will happen. Whether the government allows it or not.

Allowing individual job creators to take on the burden of understanding this risk makes them better employers, which also helps the country, by making sure that only hard workers who keep their promises and follow local rules are getting employed. When government imposes restrictions, workers are forced into the shadows. Putting their lives, the lives of their children, and employers at risk.

How about handing the burden back to the individuals involved in the transaction? It saves us money, boosts the economy, and helps us weed out those who aren’t serious about their intentions.

Montana to Remove Middle Man, Liberating the Market from Obamacare

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

Montana to Remove Middle Man, Liberating the Market from Obamacare

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

Health care has been a hot button issue for years. Ever since the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — also known as Obamacare — a greater number of doctors have been opting to exit the system altogether, while patients have increasingly run away from insurance providers, opting to join health sharing ministries instead. While many hoped for a reversal of the law once a Republican president took office, any reform could take months and perhaps even years to be completed. Instead of waiting for the federal government to remove hurdles so that the healthcare market can promote competition, thus making care affordable and available to all, some states are acting unilaterally, attempting to pass their own laws nullifying the federal control over the healthcare market.

ObamacareIn early January, Montana’s Sen. Cary Smith, a Republican from Billings, introduced Senate Bill 100. The bill establishes that primary care agreements would not be considered insurance in the state, allowing doctors and patients to set their own agreements and freeing them from meeting onerous demands and regulations.

With this bill, patients would be able to have the care they need without paying through the nose with insurance. Considering monthly premiums have been increasingly dramatically over the past few years due to the burdensome regulations imposed by federal law, this could help countless low-income Montana residents to stay healthy without having to break the bank.

If the bill is signed into law, it would also create a structure that would allow the state government to regulate direct primary care provider agreements.

While this particular move isn’t exactly “freeing,” the first portion of the bill allowing doctors and patients to set up their own agreement could help to undermine federal control over health care law, giving locals a much needed break from costly insurance deals.

Furthermore, this bill would minimize costs for the doctors, since the third party payer would be removed from the equation. Allowing the medical retainer agreement deal to come to fruition would also allow the patient to pay the physician directly for routine exams and care monthly. Through their agreement, exams or treatments would cost nothing extra. Without an insurance company standing between the patient and the doctor, the patient would also have access to better care, since the relationship between the two parties would be more personal. An issue that has been damaging the quality of care across the board.

According to Tenth Amendment’s Mike Maharrey, this solution provides the type of cost control promised by the past administration with the passage of ACA. While the health care law failed to deliver on its promises, Montana residents could finally see the cost control they want if this bill is signed into law.

SB100 is now set to move to the House for consideration, where a committee will have to pass it by a majority vote before the full House can vote on the measure.

How would roads be operated and financed in the ideal libertarian world?

in Ask Dr. Ruwart, Business and Economy, Economic Liberty by Mary Ruwart Comments are off

How would roads be operated and financed in the ideal libertarian world?

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

Question: How would roads be operated and financed in the ideal libertarian world? How would traffic violations, actions which may be victimless crimes but would be very likely to harm others if they were allowed to continue unchecked, be handled?

RoadsAnswer: Roads would probably be operated by companies which would finance them through tolls (highways), subscription fees (local roads), or measures similar to condominium dues (neighborhood streets). Even today, some communities finance almost half of their roadways through these alternatives, saving themselves up to 50% when compared to government-run alternatives.

Road owners would set the standards for drivers’ conduct (e.g. speed limits, alcohol load, etc.). Reckless drivers, regardless of whether they were under the influence of mind-altering substances, would probably be banned by road owners so that customer safety could be maintained.

Libertarians believe that defensive force can be used against those who initiate or THREATEN to initiate force against others. Prohibiting reckless driving could certainly fall into that category.

Alaska Moves Closer to End Raw Milk Ban Statewide

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

Alaska Moves Closer to End Raw Milk Ban Statewide

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Like drugs, raw milk has become the stuff of mad regulators. “It’s bad for you,” therefore, it needs to go — whether you like it or not.

CowBut raw milk is what it is: raw. It isn’t for for everyone — just like fried food, vegetables, or drugs. Why try to set a standard that isn’t universal and can’t be met by all?

Over the years, brave lawmakers like former congressman Dr. Ron Paul as well as current Kentucky Representative Thomas Massie attempted to put an end to the raw milk ban madness. But despite their best efforts, little was accomplished on the federal level.

That’s where state lawmakers enter the picture.

In Alaska, for instance, state lawmaker Geran Tarr is fighting the federal raw milk ban by pushing a bill through the House that would legalize the sale of raw milk across the Last Frontier state. The bill, known as House Bill 46 was introduced in the House on January 13. It stipulates that individuals across the state are free to sell raw milk to consumers.

This bill would render the federal ban on the sale of the “dangerous” product useless, while allowing Alaskans to make their own decision for themselves.

According to the bill, raw milk sellers would only be required to add a warning to the product’s label stating that the contents are not pasteurized and that they may cause health concerns.

Currently, the sale of raw milk is prohibited in Alaska. But individuals are allowed to purchase cow shares if they want to consume unpasteurized milk. This legal option makes it difficult for the common consumer to have access to the product.

With this bill, this requirement would be lifted, allowing raw milk producers to sell directly to the final consumer.

HB46 should soon be referred to a committee and once it receives a committee assignment, it needs to pass by a majority vote before it moves to the House and Senate for a vote.

If signed into law, the ban upheld by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would be nullified in practice.

To this day, the FDA maintains the ban by claiming that raw milk poses a health risk due to the susceptibility to contamination tied to cow manure. They claim that the possibility milk may be contaminated with E. coli is enough reason to keep consumers from making their own choices.

In 1987, with the implementation of 21 CFR 1240.61(a), the sale and consumption of unpasteurized milk was effectively banned federally by putting an end to the transportation of raw milk across borders or even within borders. If Alaska wins this battle, it would be a victory for liberty.

Marijuana Sales Break Records in 2016, Here’s Why This is Important

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

Marijuana Sales Break Records in 2016, Here’s Why This is Important

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

In 2016, marijuana sales grew 30 percent in the United States and Canada, reaching $5.86 billion in U.S. sales alone. As new rules regarding marijuana use and commerce begin to take effect in states like Florida, the year of 2017 promises to be the best in record for cannabis. And yet, the federal government continues to uphold its ban on the plant. Going as far as reassuring the public that CBD, one of the main ingredients in the cannabis plant used to manage pain, is also a Schedule I drug.

MarijuanaRegardless of the federal government’s lack of grasp, the market has chosen to ignore restrictions. Which is what the last big numbers tied to marijuana sales helps to prove.

By 2021, legal sales in the North American continent could reach the $20.2 billion mark, making the marijuana industry’s growth incomparable to the growth of other remarkable industries such as the the Internet. At this rate, the industry could be posting a 25 percent compound annual growth, experts say. But before marijuana, few industries showed this type of success.

In the 1990’s, one of the few consumer industry categories that reached the $5 billion mark in annual spending — only to produce the same rate of growth following the boom — was cable television. In the 2000’s, the Internet did the same, with a 29 percent compound annual growth. As the marijuana market continues to grow, however, the most important aspect of this story is often ignored.

As options become more widely available, and substances such as cannabis achieve legitimate statuses, consumers who rely on the product or who are simply curious now have options. When consumers have options and they are able to “shop around,” they are also less likely to be exposed to the evils of defective or corrupted products. Bad quality is often associated with items available in the black market precisely because the dealer selling products in obscurity has no incentive to compete.

When drugs and other products considered dangerous are decriminalized or legalized, consumers are the first to benefit.

Instead of standing in the way of personal choice, we must boost choice by simply letting the market decide where it goes first. Not because companies and entrepreneurs have a right to tell consumers what to do, but because consumers will lead the way, demanding better services and acting accordingly, by boycotting a certain product or service provider.

Bay Area Restaurants Suffering due to Local Minimum Wage Laws

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

Bay Area Restaurants Suffering due to Local Minimum Wage Laws

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

Californians are proud of their politics. More often than not, they will claim they have set the standards, yielding “real change” across the country. But when policies embraced by Californian progressives backfire, don’t expect to see them apologizing to the rest of us.

In the Bay area, folks working in the restaurant business had one of their worst years yet in 2016. And it had nothing to do with the presidential election. Instead, it was a local wage policy that changed their realities, making it difficult for restaurant business to stay afloat or expand.

Oakland-CaliforniaRecently, a local favorite closed its doors while a new restaurant opened in the same area. Unfortunately, the second place was also forced to shut down. What both places have in common? The cost of doing business is too high.

According to a local radio station, rents are helping to drive restaurant business out of the region and into the East Bay. But employees are also feeling the rent blues, moving away from the Bay area and finding it harder to keep a job due to the distance. On top of all that, food prices have also risen, while California’s new minimum wage law begins to claim its first victims.

In the case of the Bay area, the minimum wage jumped from $9 per hour to $12.25 in 2015, due to a recent Oakland wage law. In 2016, the minimum wage rose even higher, to $12.55, leaving restaurants scrambling to keep the same number of employees while struggling to stay in business.

As a result, restaurant owners are either closing or reinventing their businesses, turning full service restaurants into casual eateries. Local reporters who discussed the matter with these business owners all agree: when everything is expensive, whether it’s keeping employees to buying ingredients, the cost of doing business becomes too high. Now that we’re in 2017, local restaurants will be forced to pay $12.86 per hour to their minimum wage employees. In San Francisco, the minimum wage will increase to $14 this year. As restaurants struggle to keep up with payroll demands while paying the bills, they look at local politics and find themselves choosing between sticking with their communities or leaving. To stay, they must slash the number of employees or close their doors. With fewer employees — either because commute is unreasonable or because the minimum wage is bringing these businesses down — the industry’s future seems bleak.

While there’s still a vibrant and competitive environment for restaurants in the region, the cost of living and doing business locally is forcing people to think twice about their choices. Instead of staying put, they often prefer to walk away. And over time, this problem will yield even worse outcomes, producing fewer jobs in the region, which will eventually translate into poor economic growth.

Not being able to take risks, these entrepreneurs who decide to stay must downsize their businesses, and those who were employed are now, once again, struggling to find a job.

As locals begin to live the unintended consequences of minimum wage laws, they also learn about economics.

IRS Might Soon Go After US Bitcoiners

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

IRS Might Soon Go After US Bitcoiners

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

Recently, a digital asset exchange company based on San Francisco, California known as Coinbase was targeted by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Looking for data on Coinbase’s customers, reports showed the IRS had been looking into police digital currency users. The investigation focused on individuals who used Bitcoin between 2013 and 2015. At the time, “John Doe” warrants were deployed, indicating the IRS may have been looking for individuals using digital currency to evade tax payment.

taxationOnce customers were made aware of the federal government’s response, a lawsuit was filed. But despite Coinbase’s resistance, future court orders could jeopardize their principled stance in favor of their customers’ privacy. Hoping to block the IRS from having access to the company’s database without forcing Coinbase to get deeper into this fight, one customer sued the agency. Nevertheless, the suit is expected to fail. So what could happen next?

In an article, libertarian feminist Wendy McElroy explained the brake on the IRS won’t last. Why? Because the agency may be looking into extending the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) in order to have the enforcement basis to go after Bitcoin and its users. Since FATCA is the enforcement mechanism behind Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR), McElroy believes that the IRS may be using FATCA to target institutions, framing individuals by “strong-arming institutions to provide open access to their accounts.”

If the IRS has its way, McElroy explained further, FATCA will be targeting Americans who own bitcoins and who used the digital currency in transactions over the years. But she also warns that “accidental Americans” such as foreigners with dual citizenship will be next.

Despite the risk, this is not the first time the IRS showed signs of trying to get a hold of Bitcoin enthusiasts.

In March of 2014, the agency issued a notice reporting that digital currency was property and should be taxed as such. Laying the groundwork for what the IRS is doing now, the agency established a basis to go after users who haven’t reported their bitcoins to the taxman. Due to the notice of policy change, individuals getting wages, paying, or receiving in digital currency in exchange for goods and services were now subject to being taxed for those transactions. So far, Bitcoin enthusiasts and users have not reported harassment, but that’s because the IRS lacks an enforcement mechanism. With FATCA, agents may now enforce the new rules.

For bitcoiners, the warning is clear: Be aware that the last few years worth of transactions might be under scrutiny. And if your records are under investigation, you may only learn about it when the IRS sends you a letter demanding payment on bitcoin-related income.

Health Withers As Bureaucracy Devours Physicians’ Working Hours

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

Health Withers As Bureaucracy Devours Physicians’ Working Hours

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

The passage of the Affordable Care Act did not represent the death of free market healthcare in America. I was just the last nail in the coffin.

healthcare-1Health care services and their consumers have been hurting ever since the United States government initiated its policy of industry regulation. With the inclusion of so many requirements and mandates, the common physician saw his options vanish. And as a result, the cost of having access to skilled physicians shoot up. Seeing the crisis this vicious cycle created, lawmakers saw yet another opportunity to act, passing a cluster of laws designed to fight “abuse” called The Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Obamacare.

The goal behind ACA may have been to protect the consumer from unfair costs, but the result is nothing short of disappointing. Instead of keeping the cost of health care low, Obamacare artificially increased the cost of doing business to the insurance and healthcare industries.

What’s worse, ACA lowered standards of care as a result.

As physicians find themselves buried in paperwork, they lack the time to dedicate to their craft. Who suffers? The patient.

According to a study published recently in the Annals of Internal Medicine (http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=2546704), doctors spend two additional hours on paperwork for every patient they see.

While this is certainly one of the few studies into the subject, it isn’t the first time physicians noticed a problem with the increasing bureaucracy associated with practicing medicine.

In 2005, Hames Sanders, MD wrote that, “As physicians, we are inundated with paperwork in every area of medical practice.”

Due to the time spent on bureaucracy, Sanders continued, the “time and money we desperately need for patient care” is gone. And while physicians “moan and groan about federal and state regulations that are responsible for much of our paperwork burden,” Sanders accused he and his colleagues of having “succumbed to a system that produces more.”

Despite some of their best efforts, things have only gone worse, with physicians now spending 49.2 percent of their time outside of the examination room, and 37 percent of their time in the room with the patient doing paperwork.

With President-elect Donald Trump and his administration showing signs they may not put an end to the Affordable Care Act, we might have to continue experiencing the same problems for 4 more years.

Who will fund national monuments in a libertarian country?

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

Who will fund national monuments in a libertarian country?

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

QUESTION: National landmarks such as the Jefferson Memorial, the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial are symbols of national unity, strength, and sources of inspiration. They are monuments of a national republic. How would these monuments be constructed for the entire nation in a libertarian society?

Monuments

MY SHORT ANSWER: They would be constructed and maintained through private donations rather than taxes. Donations are given freely; taxes are forced.

We honor Jefferson, Washington, and other American icons because they believed in the importance of individual freedom, even though they may not have practiced it perfectly (e.g., Jefferson had slaves). We dishonor their memory and the values they cherished by forcing our fellow Americans to pay for their memorials.

Without tax funding, the edifices of these great men might be less grandiose than they are today. (Of course, they might just as well be even grander, better preserved and staffed, and better funded.) However, they would be a truer symbol of the freedom that made our nation great.

Even today, many renowned historical sites and monuments are privately funded. George Washington’s home Mount Vernon — the most popular historic estate in America, open 365 days a year — has been maintained and made available to the public since 1853 by the Mount Vernon’s Ladies’ Association, which proudly declares it “does not accept grants from federal, state or local governments, and no tax dollars are expended to support its purposes.”

Thomas Jefferson’s home Monticello is maintained by a private, non-profit corporation, in cooperation with the University of Virginia.

Colonial Williamsburg was restored with private funds and is run as a private national museum not dependent on government funding.

A libertarian society, based on free enterprise and free from today’s crippling tax burden, would be far wealthier than our society today and thus better able to fund such monuments and landmarks. And the drive to collect the funding for them could unite and inspire the country every bit as much as the actual monuments themselves.

 

Officials Responsible for Stadium Subsidies Get Privileged Seats for Free

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

Officials Responsible for Stadium Subsidies Get Privileged Seats for Free

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

Freedom is easy to like. All it takes is for us to let it reign. But with crony capitalism being as ingrained in American political culture as it is today, most of the public isn’t aware of the disastrous consequences of the practice.

MinnesotaAccording to Reason magazine, at least six government appointees responsible for securing a great amount of public money for the construction of the Minnesota Vikings’ new football stadium are now getting access to luxury boxes at no cost.

The appointees are members of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA), an agency created by the state government in 2012 to administer public subsidies granted to the building of the U.S. Bank Stadium. The stadium opened earlier this year with the help of $1.1 billion grant from the taxpayer and now, the six appointees who must have worked quite hard to ensure public money was readily available are able to enjoy all and any events in the stadium for free.

During an investigation by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, reporters found that, while the Vikings claim that the very existence of these luxury boxes is a marketing move, family and friends of the same MSFA board members responsible for government’s generous grants are often in attendance.

While attempting to explain why they have access to the suites, at least two MSFA members told reporters that since they work “long hours on game days and spent long nights negotiating on behalf of taxpayers during construction of the building,” privileged access to events is “reasonable.” How about that?

Despite their comments, one of these privileged government workers happens to be the son of Walter Mondale, the 42nd Vice President of the United States under President Jimmy Carter, while a second MSFA board member is the daughter of Tom Kelm, the chief of staff for former Minnesota Gov. Wendell Anderson.

As you can see, power players in local and federal politics are often quick to identify. As many of them live their lives being involved in lobbying efforts to ensure special interests are being protected and propped by official entities, they also fatten their own bank account or enrich their lives as a result.

The lesson here is: Incentives always matter.

For this issue to be addressed in a direct and effective matter, those concerned with how their money is spent should always press for reform that removes these incentives from the game altogether. Change will come only when we are able to ensure that neither party is gaining something from government intervention.

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