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Missouri May Soon Close Loophole Allowing Government-Sponsored Theft

in Economic Liberty, Liberator Online, News You Can Use by Alice Salles Leave a comment

Missouri May Soon Close Loophole Allowing Government-Sponsored Theft

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

Missouri state legislators are looking into putting an end to state-sponsored theft of private property by closing a loophole that allows state officials to go to the feds for the shares of profits taken in asset forfeiture cases.

Missouri

The loophole known as “Equitable Sharing” works by giving state prosecutors the ability to bypass asset forfeiture laws that keep state police from confiscating property from suspects without a conviction. This happens when prosecutors throw the cases to the feds, who then walk in, take said property, and share the “profits” with the state’s law enforcement agency.

But with House Bill 1501, this procedure might be partially outlawed.

According to The Tenth Amendment Center, the piece of legislation would ensure Missouri law enforcement agencies and prosecutors may not participate in any agreement involving the federal government in which assets are seized and then shared.

Still, the bill isn’t perfect as it still allows state officials to profit from asset forfeiture if the case involves $100,000 in cash. However, HB 1501 could help to bring an end to the abuses related to civil asset forfeiture at least in the state of Missouri simply by making requirements regarding the practice harder to go around.

While Missouri has some of the best, most restrictive forfeiture laws in the country, this addition could inspire other states to stand up to the federal government by not letting the feds use state resources to seize private property from its residents without a proper conviction.

The first state to close the Equitable Sharing loophole was California in 2016. Missouri is now attempting to join the Golden State, while others are still ages behind, allowing government-sponsored theft to prevail.

But while this is definitely a step in the right direction, it’s important to note that this law originated with prohibition, being later reintroduced as part of the broad and ineffective drug war.

By justifying the seizure (read confiscation) of property based solely on the possibility that an individual is involved in the drug trade, officials have been stealing property for decades without ever first convicting the property owners, in a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. So if we are to be honest about the practice, its roots, and its immorality, we must first look at prohibition as a whole as the very reason why the government has believed for so long that it has any claim over the citizens’ private property.

The Peaceful Transition To Stateless Societies Is Already Happening

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The Peaceful Transition To Stateless Societies Is Already Happening

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

Libertarianism provides us with the understanding that decentralization of power works best, but only if the goal is to maximize prosperity, growth, ingenuity, and yes, peace. That’s why it’s often important to discuss forms of governance that do not involve large bureaucracies working on behalf of the “public,” an idea of homogenous unity that legitimizes power-hungry paper pushers and authoritarians alike.

stateless

In his new book, “Your Next Government?: From the Nation State to Stateless Nations,” Tom W. Bell goes through the trouble of breaking down what an essentially market-driven type of governance would look like by putting consent (and only consent) as the bedrock of its existence. And when I say market-driven, I mean it. After all, the only environment where we see consent being the condition on which people coexist is the market.

In a free market environment, service and product providers are not forced to set up shop by a government or authority and consumers aren’t driven to consumption at the point of a gun. Instead, they come in contact, exchange, or choose not to solely by consenting to serving, consuming, or not. Unfortunately, governments do not work as such and those who happen to be born or to move within the borders of a particular nation end up being subject to the rules imposed by a few, for the benefit of a few. Consent, then, is never part of the equation.

So if examples of real-world consent-based governance are to be taken seriously, as Bell attempts to do with his book by naming foreign trade zones (FTZs), Chinese special economic zones, and SEZs as examples of market-based governance, it’s clear that there are more than a couple of arguments to be made for this type of structure. Thankfully, libertarians can now discuss the practical evidence that backs their political philosophy with gusto as we now know that yes, it’s possible for us to become stateless and to do so peacefully.

Maybe now, we will finally be able to answer the age-old question regarding roads with the obvious: It doesn’t matter because the market will be the one to decide.

Fear Of IRS Audit Leads To Suicide

in Economic Liberty, Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Taxes by Alice Salles Leave a comment

Fear Of IRS Audit Leads To Suicide

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

Taxation, libertarians often say, is theft. But taxation also has other implications, causing those who are the target of the state over the suspicion of tax evasion to suffer greatly.

IRS

Lowell Hawthorne, the founder of the Golden Krust Jamaican beef patty empire, appeared to fear that the huge tax debt he allegedly had with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) would destroy him. Afraid of the probe into his alleged tax evasion, Hawthorne decided to end it all, committing suicide in his own office.

The whole incident was caught on tape, with Hawthorne pulling the trigger and ending his life inside of the office of his Bronx bakery and warehouse.

According to family members, the man was “acting funny” hours before taking his own life. He had reportedly talked about the debt to the IRS with family members and was afraid of what this would mean to him and his company.

The entrepreneur launched his business in 1989, employing several relatives. In his note, the business founder and Jamaican immigrant apologized to his family. But perhaps, who should really be apologizing to his children and grandchildren is the IRS.

For many years, the United States survived without any income tax, a reality that former presidential candidate and congressman Ron Paul often highlights in his speeches. But as the federal government expanded, launching the American Civil War, the need for an income tax to maintain pay for the efforts became a reality. Over time, the tax burden only grew in America, especially after the 16th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified. And while we still struggle to pay the bill for our involvement in World War I, the debt continues to grow, making the future of every single man, woman, and child in this country a little more bleak.

While Hawthorne was also being targeted in a civil lawsuit regarding labor law violations, it was the fear of what he would experience under an IRS probe that led the grandfather to shoot himself.

The stress many business owners go through during IRS audits and other probes revolving around taxes is enough to make people sick, and, as we can see, crushing enough to make someone consider suicide. So when will we admit that, perhaps, it’s time to rethink taxation in the United States?

Who should pay for veteran’s benefits and other federal government promises?

in Ask Dr. Ruwart, Economic Liberty, Healthcare, Liberator Online, Military, Taxes, Welfare by Mary Ruwart Comments are off

Who should pay for veteran’s benefits and other federal government promises?

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

Question:

What is the libertarian view on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs? Do libertarians support tax dollars going to help our nation’s veterans with health care and other services, including disability benefits? Or is that also considered pork-barrel spending by libertarians?

economic

Answer:

In a libertarian society, military personnel would have compensation that was guaranteed by written contract. Funding these benefits wouldn’t depend upon taxation of future generations, as it is today. Instead, the benefits would be supplied by annuity-like funds that would grow over time. Thus veterans’ benefits wouldn’t become a political football.

Some libertarians do indeed support the use of tax dollars to fulfill promises to veterans, retirees, and others. Unfortunately, government has promised so much to so many that the only way these promises could actually be completely fulfilled would be to inflate the currency, which essentially imposes additional “taxes” upon us all.

Some libertarians have suggested selling off government assets, such as its 40% of the U.S. landmass, in order to attempt to fulfill these promises. I personally prefer this solution.

However, I suspect that none of us will ever see more than a fraction of what the government has promised us. The government operates a Ponzi scheme by spending today what has been promised for tomorrow. Because we, as a nation, have gone along with this Ponzi scheme, we will all eventually suffer the consequences. I fear there will be no easy way out.

Very few politicians will ever share this unpleasant truth with you, because they fear you’ll lose your faith and trust in them. However, the truth does set you free — to take another path and work to create a libertarian society!

Compassion Can Only Exist In The Market

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

Compassion Can Only Exist In The Market

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

As we approach Christmas, a holiday season ripe for the usual anti-capitalism sentiment as countless of people who celebrate the date prepare to buy presents to put under the tree, we are reminded that in times of crisis, only individuals working in a private business, where they have incentives to act responsibly so that they may also benefit themselves, will be able to meet the market’s demands.

market

In the end, no government bureaucrat can do what a simple pizza delivery man can. The story of Eric Olsen of Omaha, Nebraska, is a perfect example of this.

After Hurricane Matthew hit Florida, forcing countless of locals to be shunned from the world as communication lines were cut due to the natural disaster, Olsen knew he had to do something to make sure his 87-year-old grandmother was OK.

As he attempted to communicate with her, Olsen contacted the local police and the sheriff’s department, and yet nobody could tell him if Claire Olsen, his grandmother, was alive. After two days of agony, Olsen finally had a brilliant idea.

Instead of calling another government agency in search for help, Olsen found a local pizza place and made the call that changed everything.

“I just [finally] said, ‘I’m going to order her a pizza, and if they can deliver it, then I know she’s alive,’” Olsen told reporters.

Letting the delivery person know about his grandmother’s situation, Olsen asked the delivery person to call him when he finally delivered the pizza. So once the delivery man arrived, he put Claire in contact with her grandson.

“Police and fire couldn’t do it, but Papa John’s got there in 30 minutes and put the cellphone to her ear,” he jokingly said.

But as it turns out, the joke is really on anyone who truly believes that in a time of crisis, only governments should be trusted to act on our behalf.

When we trust the government to take on the responsibilities that truly should be our own, we also give bureaucrats and politicians powers over our own lives that should never be delegated to anyone else but ourselves.

If anything, this story goes to show that the market takes care of its consumers not because it has power over them, but because it has a responsibility to deliver, otherwise, it loses customers to competitors.

Once we all truly understand this, there will be no more need to convince anybody that a party is superior to another, and that a candidate in particular will do anything for us, as the public will finally realize politicians are not to be trusted.

Trump’s ‘Tax Cut’ Plan Will Actually Increase Inflation

in Business and Economy, Economic Liberty, Liberator Online, News You Can Use by Alice Salles 2 Comments

Trump’s ‘Tax Cut’ Plan Will Actually Increase Inflation

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

Former congressman Ron Paul used his latest column to talk about how Republicans in Congress are planning on passing a tax cut plan that, unfortunately, increases one of the most insidious “taxes” Americans are forced to pay on a daily basis.

tax

While the new tax cut proposal has positive elements such as the elimination of the death tax, Paul explains that the plan also adopts what’s known as the chained consumer price index, ignoring how inflation impacts our standard of living.

To the veteran congressman and liberty educator, there isn’t a worse policy than the adoption of the chained CPI. That’s because ignoring inflation allows for the population to completely forget about the single most devastating financial policy the government has ever adopted.

With the end of the gold standard during the Richard Nixon administration, the Federal Reserve was allowed to inflate the supply of currency without having anything to back it with. With greater currency circulation (higher supply), money loses its value. That means that the earnings of Americans from all walks of life actually lose purchasing power since the value of their real wages drops as the Fed pumps the economy with cheap cash.

According to Paul, the embrace of the chained CPI means that the Donald Trump administration is telling the masses that inflation does not reduce our standard of living.

Calling inflation a tax that “may be the worst of all taxes because it is hidden and regressive,” Paul explains that, over time, the use of chained CPI to adjust tax brackets may actually increase tax rates for everyone.

If the Trump administration and Congress’ Republicans were actually serious about helping Americans by cutting their taxes, Paul argues, then making it easier for the Fed to keep pushing up inflation would be the last idea they would try to implement. And yet, here we are, contemplating a new “tax cut” plan that does just that.

During Paul’s two last runs for the presidency, his message of sound money was the one that inspired an entire generation of young Americans to become politically involved. The same people who filled up stadiums to listen to a doctor from Texas were chanting “end the fed” and telling friends and family members just how immoral the Federal Reserve’s policies had been since its inception. In 2017, the Fed and its policy of increasing the supply of cash are simply not being pursued by anybody who seems even remotely concerned about U.S. politics.

Unfortunately, financial policies pursued by Washington are some of the most destructive, as they impact our lives in a very direct way.

Is it time to start talking about the Fed again?

Real Estate Developer’s Crony Relationship With NY Mayor Revealed

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Real Estate Developer’s Crony Relationship With NY Mayor Revealed

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

Crony capitalism has long been the driving force behind political shifts in the United States. And while that is usually accepted as an undeniable truth by most, many fail to see crony capitalism on city and state levels as a serious problem.

Recently, real estate developer and political donor-gone-rogue Jona Rechnitz offered testimony before the Manhattan federal court that shed some light on the quid pro quo relationship between businesses and local governments.

After having a New York City Mayor de Blasio operative contact him and ask him for a $102,000 donation so that Senate Democrats would get a boost in their efforts to remain in office, Rechnitz first refused, precisely because he wasn’t getting the favors from the city he had been after.

crony

“All you do is you come here when you need money,” he told the operative.

Rechnitz had been slapped with a series of violations due to the city’s change of policy regarding subletting rooms and whole apartments at the popular lodging app Airbnb.

While Rechnitz had paid the fines, he was still looking for a way to talk to the Housing Department directly to explain why the violations were unfair. And while he had contacted de Blasio’s office to make the meeting happen in the past, he had been ignored.

He also wanted to fast track the process to sell a home that belonged to his friend, and the city was allegedly not helping.

But as soon as he refused to give the mayor any money, things began to change. As a result, Rechnitz made the contribution requested of him. De Blasio even called him in person to thank him and to let him know that the contribution meant a great deal.

In no time, Rechnitz had reportedly gotten a meeting with the city to discuss the Airbnb issue. He also got the answers he needed on the property deal he was trying to make, all thanks to the money he “invested” and the subsequent bribes he allegedly carried out so that friends would invest millions in union pension funds.

Still, the mayor’s spokesperson has denied Rechnitz’s accusations. But regardless of what officials say, we know for a fact that when someone like Rechnitz says he “owns” a politician, it might as well be true.

Men of means who are willing to do anything to bring down competition will do all in their power to have a good relationship with elected officials. Not because that’s in their nature, but because government’s very involvement in businesses through regulation allows for companies and individual businessmen with the cash to pay to keep competitors at bay by influencing policy.

And it’s thanks to this reality that governments will often pass laws implementing policies that often benefit big, powerful companies while hurting small competitors who are still trying to enter the market. That’s how large companies become bigger and stronger, while competitors have a harder time even getting started.

Who loses in the end? The consumer.

How could theater and the arts survive without government funding?

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

How could theater and the arts survive without government funding?

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

Question:

I consider myself ideally a philosophical (and political) libertarian already, even though I’m only 15 years old. However, I have a passion for theater and the arts. What would happen if we eliminated funding for the arts? How would theater and the arts survive if it weren’t funded and supported by the government?

arts

Answer:

In a libertarian society, the theater and the arts would be supported through private patronage. However, such a society would be much wealthier than we are today (see my book, Healing Our World, available from the Advocates (2003 edition) or as a free download (1992 edition) at Ruwart.com for details). The wealthier the society, the more it spends on the arts. Consequently, the arts should flourish in a libertarian society.

Heavily Regulated Cities Are Unaffordable Cities

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

Heavily Regulated Cities Are Unaffordable Cities

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

Living in one of America’s largest cities isn’t for the faint of heart, and not only because of all the noise, crime, and yes, smell.

When it comes to finding suitable housing in big cities, the reality quickly kicks in as most of us would be incapable of affording to buy a home in some of the country’s population hubs such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, or New York City. While this has been a reality for quite some time, the deadly combination of higher demand and low supply caused by government intervention has made it particularly difficult for anyone to be able to afford to buy a home at these particular locations.

cities

Things have gotten so bad that nowadays, the average person in New York City must work 113.5 hours to pay a month’s worth of mortgage. With an average listing of $798,0000, NYC is the top most expensive city in the country to own a home, but not the only expensive place to live.

In Los Angeles, which comes in second, the average house listing is not too far from NYC at $748,000. The average Angeleno, however, must work 112.4 hours per month to afford a mortgage.

In Miami, the average local must work about 109.4 hours to pay a month’s worth of mortgage while in San Francisco, where the average income is higher than most of the previously mentioned cities, the common local must work 106.7 hours to pay for a month’s worth of mortgage, which isn’t cheap — the median listing in the Golden City is $1,150,000.
Unfortunately, this problem has become a reality not only for the top most expensive cities but for residents of all major urban centers across the country as well. And not because these cities are incapable of providing housing to those who are willing to do anything to stay and work, but because suffocating zoning laws have made it impossible for builders to build, pushing poor people into segregated areas and, as a result, creating privileged neighborhoods that only exist because of government intervention.

With rules that keep landlords from raising rent or that penalize them for kicking out renters who do not keep up with their bills, as well as the implementation of rules that force housing developers to produce low-cost apartments in luxury buildings, rent and cost of purchasing homes actually goes up for everyone in the process, these regulations and others have only one consequence: to jack up the price of housing across the board.

As local governments then step in to remedy the problem by passing more regulations, the results remain the same and the cost of housing goes up once again. Forcing while working and middle-class folks to live farther, and farther away, thus increasing the cost of working in these big cities, which then translate into fewer good-paying jobs.

Could non-profit co-ops and “mutual aid societies” help make basic health care available for all?

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

Could non-profit co-ops and “mutual aid societies” help make basic health care available for all?

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

Question:

I think part of the problem with today’s health care system is the over-reliance on insurance companies. They are (rightfully) in the business of making money, and as a result they keep raising premiums.

care

What about the idea of competing with them by fostering the creation of non-profit insurance and/or medical co-ops? In a co-op, any profits would stay in the co-op to offset the additional cost of helping those currently lacking basic care.

Answer:

You’ve pretty much described the “mutual aid societies” that once protected Americans against medical disasters — before government regulated them out of business for the benefit of the doctors and insurance companies.

David Beito’s wonderful book From Mutual Aid to the Welfare State describes them in detail.

The AMA condemned doctors that worked for a flat fee for these societies. Since the AMA controlled the licensing boards, physicians didn’t want to incur their wrath.

Even though the mutual aid societies served their members well during the Depression, insurance companies successfully lobbied for regulations requiring that mutual aid societies have large amounts of financial reserves on hand.

Thus, these effective co-op-like groups were essentially regulated out of business, putting us at the mercy of the often less efficient and less compassionate insurance companies.

The free market and human ingenuity creates amazing protection for us, but government intervention destroys it!

Why Government Is Responsible For Harvey

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

Why Government Is Responsible For Harvey

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

Whenever a major natural disaster like Hurricane Harvey hits the United States, many of us often wonder why is it that so many people still live in areas that are at risk of being greatly impacted. After all, why would people continue to build homes and buildings in areas that are more likely to be hit by a hurricane than others?

As you can imagine, the answer lies with the government.

Harvey

As Politico reports that the powerful home builders’ lobby was successful in killing new legislation that would have brought government-backed insurance coverage for new constructions in high-risk areas to an end prior to Harvey, it fails to explain why we have a National Flood Insurance Program in the first place. It also seems to ignore that the very existence of government-backed insurance is what created the problems we are experiencing now in Texas.

In 1968, when the NFIP was created, the program was sold as an answer to the high costs of federal disaster assistance.

But this issue could have easily been addressed if disaster relief had been allowed to be provided mainly by charities and local governments, just as it used to all across the country up to 1917.

Instead of scaling the federal government’s involvement down and giving the taxpayer a well-earned break, politicians decided to go the other way, making sure that new construction plans for risk areas would only be put into action if they were covered by the insurance program first.

But as the always insightful James Bovard wrote in 2006, the only thing this bloated U.S. government program achieved was to serve as a perverse incentive that pushed more and more companies to build in “river flood plains and coastal areas long favored by hurricanes.”

In an old ad showcasing NFIP to average Americans, FEMA told viewers then they couldn’t “replace your memories,” but they would “help you build new ones.” Instead, Bovard wrote, all that FEMA and the NFIP did was to “[induce] people to build homes in areas where their memories get swept away.”

Still, many alerted both Americans and the federal government that the program was nothing but a sham.

In 1997, a report by Idaho Statesman revealed that NFIP “[brought] more people into harm’s way” by making dangerous development “look not only possible, but attractive.”

Scott Faber, the former Senior Director for Public Policy for American Rivers and current Vice President of Government Affairs at the Environmental Working Group, once said that the NFIP had essentially become a tool in the hands of powerful construction overlords against the environment.

“Prior to the 1960s, you didn’t have much development in flood-prone areas because you couldn’t find any insurer crazy enough to underwrite it,” Faber told Bovard. “But the federal government came along and said it is okay — we are going to make it financially possible for you to live in a flood plain. The effect of this has been much more dramatic in coastal areas, where we have seen a huge boom in coastal development in the last 30 years.”

Thanks to government’s involvement, we now have many more damaged properties, people being displaced, and some even being killed thanks to floods than if insurance hadn’t been subsidized by the taxpayer. And we have nobody but government to thank for it.

So when time to rebuild comes and people call for more federal government involvement, how about reminding our fellow Americans why Hurricane Harvey had such great impact in Houston, Texas, in the first place?

How can we have fire protection and other services without taxes?

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

How can we have fire protection and other services without taxes?

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

Question:

If there were no taxes, how would we pay for hospitals, military defense and rescue workers? It would stink if a privatized fire fighter let your house burn because you didn’t pay for them. And what if a small town had only one station, and it begins over-pricing because they’re the only one in town?

taxes

Answer:

Actually, many small towns today, including my own, utilize private fire fighters who are primarily volunteers.  Each year, a community-support organization collects donations from bake sales, garage sales, barbeques and other fund-raising events to pay for their equipment. Almost everyone contributes as a customer, donor, volunteer, or organizer. Smaller communities would probably continue to utilize such strategies in a libertarian society.

In larger communities, homeowners could subscribe to one of multiple fire-fighting services.  Mortgage companies and insurers would likely require such a subscription as part of their contract, as many do today. Thus, most people would carry such subscriptions, which would probably be about half of what we pay in taxes today.

Someone without a subscription could still call a fire-fighting service and get immediate service; they would simply pay more than a person with a subscription. In some cases, a service might put out a fire gratis simply as good-will advertising to other neighbors, who might decide to switch their subscription to a group they’ve seen in action.

You can find more examples of how fire protection and other important services would be paid for in a libertarian society in my short articles here and here.

I go into more detail in my book “Healing Our World,” available from the Advocates [latest 2003 edition] or as a free download [older 1992 edition] at my website.

Crony Capitalism Is Why You Can’t Afford To Air Travel

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

Crony Capitalism Is Why You Can’t Afford To Air Travel


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

Americans can’t afford to do much these days. But when it comes to traveling by air, American consumers often feel trapped. Not simply because the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is everywhere, getting to perform procedures on innocent travelers only violent prisoners should be subject to. But also because flight tickets are too expensive.

air

In an article for Reason, Mercatus Senior Research Fellow Veronique de Rugy explained that while a consumer may pay about $541 for one single plane ticket from New York to Paris, at least 74 percent of the total cost ($401) goes entirely to taxes and fees. In case you fly domestically, you might pay fewer taxes. Still, you will be paying more simply because U.S. airlines have been lobbying aggressively to make sure that international air flight companies aren’t allowed to offer more domestic flights. As a result, only American airlines have the privilege to fly consumers inside of the country. Without competition, these companies function as a monopoly, forcing consumers to have fewer options both in flights and in prices.

And what’s worse, when defending these policies both lobbyists and lawmakers claim to be in support of such protectionist measures because they protect American jobs.

Of course, because if foreign airlines offer more flights within the U.S. territory more foreigners will be employed, pushing Americans out of the workforce, correct? Absolutely not.

Even if foreign companies expand in America, that will mean more and not fewer opportunities for American workers. But it doesn’t stop there. It will also benefit American consumers, who will have more options of flights and prices. With more affordable flights they will be able to travel more often, boosting the gains to all airline companies competing openly.

Still, even if foreign airlines were to compete with American companies openly at some point in the future, the delays and additional problems caused by the government-run security lines managed by the TSA would continue to serve as a deterrent to consumers who prize their privacy and physical well-being more than their willingness to travel. Unfortunately, the TSA is also constantly lobbying to remain relevant, making its influence harder to ignore.

Still, if the current administration and Washington, D.C., lawmakers are serious about boosting the economy, they should be considering bringing the TSA to an end while also allowing free and open competition in the airline business domestically as well.

Unfortunately, something tells us that crony capitalism will remain strong, so long as there is a state and a group of lawmakers eager to enjoy the perks that come with supporting the causes that are dear to their donors.

How will libertarians help those who are disadvantaged?

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

How will libertarians help those who are disadvantaged?

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

Question

In every human endeavor that has been measured, humanity shows a distribution of talent, ability, error, height, weight, intellectual capacity, etc. that follows the traditional bell-shaped curve. That is, unless it is skewed by local factors of education, various selected populations, and so on. In other words, half the people of the world are on the ‘left’ side and half the people are on the ‘right’ side of this curve.

libertarians

So, then, my question: How do libertarians, with their ‘pull yourself up by your boot straps’ outlook, propose to deal with those on the left side of the curve? To blithely say that ‘privatization of welfare,’ private charity, and so on will take care of these more unfortunate folks is simply ‘pie in the sky’ thinking.

Answer

Libertarian societies are wealthier than other countries because the poor are given the opportunity to work. European immigrants, for example, came to the US to escape the guilds and trade restrictions that kept them out of the labor market. Thus, the first thing a libertarian society does to help the ‘left side’ is to shift as many people as possible further into the middle. Because almost everyone is better off in a libertarian society, more charity is available for the few who cannot support themselves. When help is given privately, approximately 80% of each charitable dollar gets to a worthy recipient. Only 20% of each tax welfare dollar reaches the poor; most of the money goes to pay the salaries of the social workers. In addition, welfare harms the poor by discouraging them from entering the work force. After ten years of personally working with welfare recipients, I can attest that the system does the poor more harm than good.

The Military Wastes Your Money On NASCAR And It Isn’t Working

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

The Military Wastes Your Money On NASCAR And It Isn’t Working


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

If you read our articles regularly, you may know the U.S. military is prone to wasting money on things that simply don’t work.

Not only because a lot of the programs they implement end up backfiring, putting weapons and tools purchased with U.S. taxpayer money in the hands of terrorists, but also because they often spend money on superfluous materials that have no real purpose.

NASCAR

But perhaps what you may not have known until now is that the U.S. military also spends millions sponsoring sports teams and athletes. Well, that is, until the House Appropriations Committee approved an amendment that bans military sponsorship of sports. Perhaps now that the bill is going to the House floor for a vote, things might end up changing soon.

Over the past five years, the National Guard has spent $136 million on Dale Earnhardt Jr., NASCAR’s most popular driver. And what for? To get people to become engaged enough that they would enlist. The problem is that the advertising effort is simply not paying off.

In 2009 alone, Earnhardt earned $27.35 million in taxpayer dollars due to the National Guard’s sponsorship. However, only 343 guardsmen were recruited during that year. That means that the National Guard spent $80,000 to recruit each guardsman.

In 2012, something even worse happened.

When surveying new guardsmen who enlisted that year, not one said that NASCAR had been the reason they joined. Still, more than $26 million was spent that year on Earnhardt.

In the past, the military was harshly criticized for spending millions of taxpayer dollars on “patriotic displays” at sporting events, prompting many to wonder whether the advertising even made sense.

If other governments did the same, wouldn’t we call them propagandists? Why is it OK when the U.S. military does it?

When it comes to taxpayer dollars, it’s common to think of the funds as “free” money, but the revenue comes from individuals who have part of their hard-earned pay taken by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regularly so programs such as the ones run by the military can be funded. Technically speaking, these people are entitled to feel horrified, if not flat-out offended, whenever they learn their money is used on something they would never spend on themselves.

But they are also entitled to simply feel cheated out of their tax dollars by learning that the money they are earning is going toward programs that simply do not produce any tangible or positive results.

Whatever reason you may have to disagree with the military or any other government agency spending your money, we can all agree that the mindless waste has gone too far.

Afghan Soldier Uniforms That Didn’t Match The Terrain Cost Taxpayers $28 Million

in Liberator Online, Military, News You Can Use, Taxes by Alice Salles Comments are off

Afghan Soldier Uniforms That Didn’t Match The Terrain Cost Taxpayers $28 Million

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

Recently, Defense Secretary James Mattis was in the news for complaining about the Pentagon’s offhand spending habits.

While this may sound somewhat contradictory thanks to Mattis’ earlier claims indicating he would, indeed, love if defense had access to even more taxpayer money, his complaint brought light to yet another issue we often see happening with government.

uniforms

According to a recent Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) report, the agency spent $28 million on camouflage uniforms for Afghan soldiers that, unfortunately, do not work well with Afghanistan’s terrain. This means that, the $28 million that was used to purchase forest-patterned uniforms should have never been spent this way.

The decision to purchase these uniforms was made after a former Afghan defense minister saw the model online and “liked” them. However, only two percent of the country’s terrain is woodland.

And who picked up the bill? The U.S. taxpayer.

In his response to the Department after this discovery was made, Mattis criticized officials who allowed this “cavalier” expenditure to take place, adding that this decision wasted taxpayer dollars “in an ineffective and wasteful manner.”

Claiming that this careless spending is an indicator of an “attitude that can affect any of us at the Pentagon or across the Department of Defense,” Mattis rightly pointed out that this makes the department lose focus on what matters.

But what Mattis may have missed is that government waste exists and is part of how government operates. It’s a feature, not a bug.

The Defense Department isn’t more or less likely to be wasteful than the Education Department or the Health and Human Services department. What makes any — and all — government agencies prone to waste is the very fact that these organizations aren’t worried about how they spend this money.

When you spend other people’s money, you’re more likely to abuse it. After all, only you know how better spend your own money.

But that’s not all.

Agencies often make huge mistakes when judging policies or particular approaches simply because they do not have the knowledge necessary to know what will work. Real-world consequences are often ignored because bureaucrats and officials make all the decisions, often basing their assessment on faulty or incomplete information.

Because knowledge is dispersed and difficult to access, governments are naturally incapable of acting with all variables in mind. As a result, they cannot ensure that the service in question will meet the demand.

Whether it’s Afghanistan, Iraq, or Syria, government officials have repeatedly claimed to have the answer, leading the country into military campaigns that not only backfired but that will also cost several generations of Americans.

While Mattis is right to be worried, it would serve him and others in similar positions to remember that there’s little one can do to put an end to waste within the government that doesn’t involve stripping government from free, easy, and endless sources of revenue.

How can we solve America’s economic woes?

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

How can we solve America’s economic woes?

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

Question:

How can you balance the budget, pay off the debt, and slash spending without doing away with entitlements, like Social Security and Medicare, that people have paid into for decades?

economic

Answer:

We can only balance the budget by privatizing entitlements like Social Security and Medicare and ending foreign wars. The ONLY way we can keep the promises made to our seniors without massive inflation is to increase our rate of wealth creation. One way to do that is by deregulating business. Each regulator destroys about 150 private sector jobs each year, so each one fired is true economic stimulus.

Another way to increase wealth creation is to cut the tax rate and end tariffs and other barriers to importation. This drives domestic capital into efficient businesses, stimulating the economy further. Even at lower tax rates, a robust economy means more tax dollars collected to offset the entitlement programs, which should be privatized ASAP so that young people aren’t forced into these Ponzi schemes.

In New York, You Can’t Pet Sit Without The State’s Permission

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

In New York, You Can’t Pet Sit Without The State’s Permission

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

For pet owners and dog lovers, the app Rover is a gift sent from the heavens. It helps users find affordable, convenient, and accessible help with their pets when and where they need it the most, no matter how last minute the emergency may be. Like Uber or Airbnb, Rover allows people willing to take care of your dog to do so freely, making it also affordable for the pet owner. But in places like New York, people making cash by providing a service and users looking for reliable help with their pets through Rover are under attack.

pet

Recently, the New York Health Department announced that pet sitters using the Rover app are breaking the law across the state and that’s because in New York, you are not legally allowed to take care of pets unless you’re associated with a licensed kennel.

Back in October, the department reached out to DogVacay.com, the app now known as Rover, telling the company to require its users to get licenses. Siding with app users, the company refused to comply.

As the news broke that the health department was cracking down on illegal pet sitters, many started speaking out against the state’s rules.

Twenty-nine-year-old Chad Bacon is one of them. The Brooklyn pet sitter told NY Daily News the fact he’s considered a criminal is absurd.

“The laws are antiquated. If you’re qualified and able to provide a service, I don’t think you should be penalized,” he said. After all, if his customers are happy, why would he be targeted by officials?

Using the app, Bacon told reporters, helps him when he’s between jobs, making it easier for him to be able to pay bills. Now that he’s been working full time by only using the app, he’s afraid this could put him in a sticky situation.

To those behind Rover, this type of policy hurts the poor and disadvantaged by forcing them to go through an expensive and laborious process in order to be allowed to offer pet-sitting services. The crackdown also hurts middle class and low-income pet owners who simply cannot afford to put their pets under the care of licensed professionals.

“You [are telling] the middle class you can’t own dogs unless you can pop in your Range Rover and drive to Connecticut for a boarding facility,” Rover’s general counsel John Lapham said.

Still, the department refuses to let go of the fear mongering rhetoric, claiming that without a license, pet owners are putting their beloved furry best friends in danger.

The same rhetoric all U.S. regulatory agencies employ whenever their credibility — and efficacy — is questioned.

Stories like this help to illustrate just how indefensible government interference in the market is. And yet, many well-meaning people who sometimes do agree that cases similar to this are absurd will still advocate for more government involvement in other fields.

It’s time to admit that government officials know little about the big wide world out there. Time to stop giving them the power to dictate how we should live our lives.

After Obamacare, Let’s Repeal All Government Involvement In Health Care

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

After Obamacare, Let’s Repeal All Government Involvement In Health Care

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

Everyone is talking about health care.

If you consider yourself a conservative, you might have felt a spark of excitement when Congress motioned to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, only to be let down once you learned lawmakers fell short of putting an end to President Barack Obama’s signature law.

obamacare

But to those who are serious about free market principles, the entire debate revolving around the end of of ACA is somewhat frustrating. That’s why health care in the United States hasn’t been good for decades, and Obamacare just made it a tad worse.

By the mid-1960s, the United States started to experience what heavy-handed intervention in the market does to supply and demand of services, and how it inflates the costs of such services.

With the passage of Medicare and Medicaid and new regulations that artificially trimmed the supply of doctors and hospitals, Americans noticed an increase in health care prices that, according to Mike Holly, “responded at twice the rate of inflation.”

Over time, medical special interests continued to lobby government for more regulations, further restricting competition and making it harder for members of the medical profession to make their services available at a lower cost.

With government’s involvement, demand for medical services increased thanks to subsidies, but with the restrictive regulatory monster only growing stronger with each passing decade, the supply of physicians, clinics, hospitals, and pharmaceuticals was further restricted.

As consumers began reporting hardships having access to care thanks to government’s overbearing involvement, government decided to act once again, targeting high costs by “partnering,” once again, with well-connected service providers and offering even more subsidies.

ACA, or Obamacare, is what happens when government tries to fix the problem by repeating its past mistakes.

With the passage of Obama’s signature health care law, the government ramped up subsidies, causing demand to continue to grow artificially while the supply was reduced thanks to the greater number of restrictions imposed on the market. As a result, powerful health care industry leaders grew into more powerful monopolies while entrepreneurs and independent physicians and clinics became overwhelmed and were forced to succumb to the system or get out of it completely.

So when Congress talks about repealing Obamacare as the only measure necessary to put an end to the incredibly maddening situation we find ourselves in today, don’t believe them.

For America to have a true free market system that will guarantee lower prices and increased supply of health care services to everyone, we must look beyond Obamacare. Or, as Mises Institute’s Ryan McMaken put it, we must “focus on repealing and undermining the edifice on which Obamacare was built: the highly regulated, subsidized, and manipulated healthcare markets that dominate today.”

Is Congress listening?

Massachusetts Moves To Put An End To Hair Braiding Licensing Requirements

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

Massachusetts Moves To Put An End To Hair Braiding Licensing Requirements

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

Some estimate that the practice of hair braiding is about 5,000 years old, making it a much more traditional and well-established practice than going to the state for permission to braid hair.

Still, hair braiders across the country are often forced to dedicate long hours of training and spend thousands of dollars on classes they shouldn’t be required to take to continue braiding hair professionally.

braiding

Thanks to state laws regulating the practice, many women found themselves in tough situations, being forced to stop making a living out of hair braiding out of fear they would end up having troubles with the law. As a result, the libertarian-leaning Institute for Justice filed several lawsuits across several states on behalf of these hair braiders.

Now, many states exempt hair braiders from having to follow licensing laws. Still, the most populous state in the New England region remains in the dark ages, requiring anyone who wants to braid hair for a living to log in 1,500 hours of training and spending up to $20,000 just so they may obtain a cosmetology license.

Because these licensing laws often impact women of color and immigrants, it’s hard to ignore the impact on these communities, especially when we consider that hair braiding poses no threat to public safety.

In order to address this issue statewide, Republican Massachusetts Senator Ryan Fattman proposed legislation that would ensure hair braiders would be exempt from cosmetology licensing laws. If this bill passes, it could help countless women who are predominantly black and immigrant to get back into the workforce without fear of being driven out of the market by the law.

When defending his bill, Fattman explained that licensing laws keep people from turning their talent into a fulfilling profession. “It’s an ethnic vocation that people have learned in their upbringing and they do it, and they do it without realizing they have to be licensed,” Fattman explained. “We wanted to basically lower the barriers to entry for people who make a living this way.”

As it stands, the bill is being reviewed by the Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure, but a hearing about the piece of legislation won’t be held until this fall.

While forcing hair braiders to obtain licenses to perform their duties is usually seen as nonsensical by most, many seem unable to think the same way about other professions and commercial endeavors, failing to see how regulation actually hurts professionals and consumers across the board by imposing barriers to entry in the market that will eventually inflate the cost of doing business. Still, it’s encouraging to see that yet another state is working on abolishing licensing requirements for hair braiders.

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