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How do you define a victimless crime?

in Ask Dr. Ruwart, Criminal Justice, Liberator Online, Personal Liberty, Victimless Crime by Mary Ruwart Comments are off

How do you define a victimless crime?

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

Question

I’m a Libertarian candidate for prosecuting attorney, and I’m seeking to craft short answers for my campaign. One of my campaign promises is that I will not seek to imprison persons accused of a victimless crime.

crime

How would you define ‘victimless crime’ when asked? Specifically, does that include negligent conduct that involves a risk of harming others? For example: driving through a red light, driving while intoxicated, and firing shots into the air.

Many types of negligent criminal conduct involve some risk of harming others. But often the risk is trivial. What is the dividing line between trivial risk and significant risk? There are no statistics on the risk of harm I know of.

Answer

A victim (by libertarian standards) is someone who is threatened with physical force, fraud, or theft. If there is no threat, there is no crime. A victimless crime, therefore, is one in which no one has been threatened with physical force, fraud, or theft.

Drug War Makes Criminals Out of California Physicians

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

Drug War Makes Criminals Out of California Physicians

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

To those who are born and raised in the City of Angeles, stories of violence set in motion due to poorly written drug and health-related laws aren’t particularly unique.

PillsOver the decades, Southern California has been in the news over instances of police brutality against minorities, wrongful killings by the police, deadly gang fights, and police union scandals. Los Angeles has also been the backdrop of countless gangster rap songs and videos, as well as the actual setting of several real life criminal conspiracies, so it’s not a surprise that even physicians are now being arrested for working directly with drug gangs.

According to a local NBC affiliate, two doctors working out of the Lynnwood area in South Los Angeles were arrested and charged for selling prescription drugs “without medical purpose.” The two physicians surrendered to federal authorities this past Friday and were later released on bond after appearing on court.

They were allegedly linked to gang members who were also arrested on the same day.

The United States Attorney’s Office’s Central District of California claimed that both physicians were “significant suppliers of drugs to a street gang.” Some of the drugs they allegedly helped gang members obtain include Vicodin, which is also known as Norco, Xanax, and Soma. The opioids, psychoactive, and barbiturate-like drugs were all prescribed “at or near maximum strength,” the report states.

One of the charged physicians was allegedly involved in these transactions between 2011 and 2015. The second doctor was accused of signing purposeless prescriptions in 2014 and 2015.

While the operation that led detectives to the gang members associated with the Lynwood doctors targeted East Coast Crips involved in California burglaries, officers looked into the relationship between the physicians and gangsters after learning that both doctors “served as large-scale sources of supply to [gang] members and associates.”

The doctors were allegedly caught after a series of undercover operations, meaning that officers or cooperating witnesses approached both physicians asking for these prescriptions. In most cases, officials stated, doctors failed to examine patients.

As the nation goes through one of its toughest drug epidemics in history, putting countless of drug users and addicts in morgues over tainted batches of opioids, stories like these remind us that, if there’s a market, even if the demand is for something considered illegal, there will always be someone willing to break the rules. Why? Because financial incentives often push otherwise decent people into breaking the law.

Even gang members are drawn into a life of crime over the promise of high turnouts for little work, even if the risks are also high. They might have never wanted to be part of a criminal gang, but when faced with the decision of becoming rich fast—even if it’s just a promise—they change their minds.

In a free society, these incentives also exist, but without prohibition, addicts and those who provide them with their drug of choice have freedom to do so in a peaceful manner. In the black market sprung out of prohibition, gangs use force to maintain contracts and fight over territory. They are also not worried about branding, making it easy for them to set morals aside to produce bad batches of whatever drug customers are after. In a free market setting, the opposite is true.

Also, addicts are more likely to be safe in an environment where drug consumers aren’t stigmatized. In a free society untainted by prohibitionist laws, drug users are more likely to look for help. Under the current laws, addicts are often afraid of being arrested—for a good reason. This fear pushes them deeper into their addiction, and the consequences are often deadly since they often become dealers themselves to sustain their habit.

Compassion can only exist in a society where people are free to develop their own sets of values. When forced upon us, morals are ignored. But when all we have is freedom, consumers and their welfare hold the key to good business practices.

Why make criminals out of inner city kids and doctors when you can put an end to the drug war?​

No, Violent Crime is Not Getting Worse

in Criminal Justice, Gun Rights, Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Jackson Jones Comments are off

No, Violent Crime is Not Getting Worse

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

One wouldn’t know it if they read what some news outlets are reporting or listened to the words of some Republican hopefuls and pundits on television, but there isn’t any real evidence that crime is getting worse.

The Pew Research Center, in May 2013, noted that the gun homicide rate was down 49 percent since 1993, when it peaked. What’s more, non-fatal gun violence dropped by 75 percent over the same period analyzed. The Bureau of Justice Statistics, an agency in the Department of Justice, found similar figures, a 39 percent drop in gun homicides and a 70 percent drop in non-fatal gun violence, between 1993 and 2011.

Police-Car-Lights-GOOD.JPG

Although instances of gun violence were falling, according to the Pew Research Center, 56 percent of Americans believed gun-related crimes were on the rise compared to 20 years before. The causes of this belief are certainly up for debate, but the media’s focus on shootings and coverage of politicians’ reactions could be a cause. After all, bad news sells.

At the end of August, The New York Times reported that “[c]ities across the nation are seeing a startling rise in murders after years of declines.” The Times offers data from several U.S. cities that have seen spikes in homicides. Some have interpreted the story as a nationwide spike in violent crime attributed to the so-called “Ferguson effect.” Heather Mac Donald pushed this theory in a May editorial at the Wall Street Journal.

“Since last summer, the airwaves have been dominated by suggestions that the police are the biggest threat facing young black males today,” Mac Donald wrote. “Almost any police shooting of a black person, no matter how threatening the behavior that provoked the shooting, now provokes angry protests.”

Others, including Bruce Frederick of the Vera Institute and John Lott of the Crime Prevention Research Center, have taken a more reasoned approach to the perceived spike in violent crime.

“[N]ot all of the increases cited by the Times are statistically reliable; that is, some of them are small increases, or are based on small numbers of cases, such that the observed increases could have occurred by chance alone. Among the 16 top-20 cities for which I found publically available data, only three experienced statistically reliable increases,” Frederick explained. “Only one of the top-20 cities included in the Times’ sample, Chicago, experienced an increase that was statistically significant.”

“Even where a statistically reliable increase has been experienced,” he noted, “a single year-to-year increase does not necessarily imply a meaningful trend.”

Writing in response to Mac Donald at the end of May, Lott pointedly contested her narrative, writing, “The bottom line is that across the largest 15 cities in the US the murder rate has fallen by by 12 from 749 to 737 (a 2% drop) or from 43 from 871 to 828 (a 5% drop).”

And while many are insisting that violence against police is becoming a trend, the Associated Press recently noted that shooting deaths of police officers are actually down by 13 percent. “There were 30 shootings last year and 26 this year,” the report explained. “Those figures include state and local officers, as well as federal agents.” The data used in the report came from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

Each shooting, whether of an innocent person or a police officer, is a tragedy, but everyone needs to calm down about this supposed uptick in violent crime because the data suggest that 2015 is consistent with recent years. Even if by year’s end there’s an increase in violent crime, it’s far too early to call it a trend.

No, Immigrants Don’t Make the U.S. Less Safe

in Immigration, Liberator Online, News You Can Use by Jackson Jones Comments are off

No, Immigrants Don’t Make the U.S. Less Safe

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

Immigration has been catapulted back into the national political discussion in recent weeks, thanks to the comments of a bloviating celebrity businessman who is desperately seeking relevance.

immigrant family

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists,” he said last month. “And some, I assume, are good people.”

While some justifiably cringed at the notion, immigration restrictionists have praised the comments, especially after the tragic death of Kate Steinle, who was murdered by an illegal immigrant in San Francisco.

Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a rabidly anti-immigration group, declared, in the wake of Steinle’s murder, that the celebrity’s “widely mocked warnings of this very danger have been vindicated.”

Former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, who, in 2010 signed the toughest anti-immigration law in country, said the celebrity “is kind of telling it like it really, truly is.”

“I think that the people of Arizona realize that we picked up the tab for the majority of the violence that comes across our border in regards to the drug cartels, the smugglers, the drug houses,” Brewer said. “It has been horrendous.”

But is it true that immigrants bring crime to the United States? The answer may surprise you. Writing at Reason in July 2009, Radley Balko noted that despite its close proximity to Ciudad Juarez, which has been ravaged by Mexican drug cartels, El Paso, Texas “is among of the safest big cities in America.”

“There were just 18 murders in El Paso [in 2008], in a city of 736,000 people. To compare, Baltimore, with 637,000 residents, had 234 killings,” Balko explained. “In fact, since the beginning of 2008, there were nearly as many El Pasoans murdered while visiting Juarez (20) than there were murdered in their home town (23).”

“Numerous studies by independent researchers and government commissions over the past 100 years repeatedly and consistently have found that, in fact, immigrants are less likely to commit crimes or to be behind bars than are the native-born. This is true for the nation as a whole, as well as for cities with large immigrant populations such as Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and Miami, and cities along the U.S.-Mexico border such as San Diego and El Paso,” he added.

On Tuesday, Alex Nowrasteh, an immigration policy expert at the Cato Institute, further countered the argument that more immigrants mean more crime in the United States.

“Both the Census-data driven studies and macro-level studies find that immigrants are less crime-prone than natives with some small potential exceptions. There are numerous reasons why immigrant criminality is lower than native criminality,” Nowrasteh wrote. “One explanation is that immigrants who commit crimes can be deported and thus are punished more for criminal behavior, making them less likely to break the law.”

“Another explanation is that immigrants self-select for those willing to work rather than those willing to commit crimes,” he added. “According to this “healthy immigrant thesis,” motivated and ambitious foreigners are more likely to immigrate and those folks are less likely to be criminals.”

None of this touches on the economic benefits of immigration or the dishonorable intentions of anti-immigration groups that drive the fear mongering. Those are topics, perhaps, for another day. But the fears about crime committed by immigrants are completely and utterly unfounded.

Witness Protection Libertarians

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online, Persuasion Powerpoint by Michael Cloud Comments are off

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

You’ve seen it featured in crime, courtroom, and police dramas on television.

A powerful and dangerous individual or group has gotten away with force and fraud for years. Finally, the police and prosecutors find a witness whose testimony can put the thugs behind bars.

Witness ProtectionBut the criminals will threaten or kill the witness or his family if he takes the stand.

The only way the authorities can get the witness to testify is to protect him and his family.

So the prosecutors and law enforcement offer secret relocation, new identities, and a new life to the person and his family — in exchange for his truthful testimony in court.

Witness Protection.

In our legal system, in certain cases, this makes sense.

But it makes no sense for libertarians to act as if they were in the political equivalent of this program.

Some libertarians blend in with mainstream or nonpolitical neighbors and coworkers.

They rarely join in on political or economic conversations at home or at work. And, if they do, they keep their comments mild and bland.

If they get libertarian email newsletters or social media, they keep it to themselves

`Why stir up trouble?’ they think. `Why start an argument?’

The don’t put Libertarian campaign signs on their front lawns. They don’t put Libertarian bumper stickers on their cars. And they keep their libertarian books and DVD’s in the private areas of their homes.

If they donate to Libertarian campaigns or vote for Libertarian candidates, they tell no one.

Secrecy. Silence. Invisibility.

Witness Protection Libertarians.

But this does NOT make them safer. It makes Big Government safer.

It delays the growth of the Libertarian movement. It hinders support for the cause of liberty.

It keeps your family, friends, neighbors and co-workers from having warm and thoughtful conversations about liberty with someone they know and like and trust: YOU!

Opt out of Witness Protection Libertarian policies.

Opt into persuasive libertarian communication with The Advocates for Self-Government.


 

Michael Cloud is a master of libertarian communication. He is author of Secrets of Libertarian Persuasion and Unlocking More Secrets of Libertarian Persuasion. The latter can be purchased by subscribers of the Liberator Online for merely $5.01 and FREE SHIPPING with the code “LIBERATOR14″ at the link.

Achieve Your New Year’s Goals — John Tierney and Roy Baumeister on Willpower (Video)

in Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Libertarian’s New Year’s Resolutions section in Volume 19, No. 27 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

If you’re serious about achieving success with your New Year’s resolutions, here is some hardcore information on how to do that, by two of the leading experts in the field (at least one of whom is a libertarian).

“Self-Control is the Key to Success: John Tierney and Roy Baumeister on Willpower” is a one-hour program produced by Reason TV earlier this year.

The two are authors of the bestseller Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength.

“There are two qualities that correlate with success,” says New York Times journalist — and libertarian — John Tierney. “One of them is intelligence and the other is self-control. And so far researchers haven’t figured out what to do about intelligence, but they have rediscovered how to improve self-control.”

Tierney spoke at an event sponsored by the Reason Foundation on January 28, 2014 along with his co-author Roy Baumeister, the Francis Epps Eminent Scholar in psychology at Florida State University.

Baumeister and Tierney discuss the importance of willpower in determining our success in life and offer tips for improving our self-control.

Among the highlights in this video (and where they can be found): laboratory experiments that show how willpower can be depleted (6:20); the effect of glucose levels on self-control (10:15); how to make good on your New Year’s resolutions (16:30); why dieting undermines self-control (20:45); how to make an effective to do list (22:30); Tierney and Baumeister’s experience meeting David Allen, author of Getting Things Done (24:30); why it’s a good idea to weigh yourself every day if you’re trying to shed pounds (25:30); the role of genetics in determining a person’s willpower (31:00); why self-help literature rarely emphasizes willpower (33:00); the victim mentality and Alcoholics Anonymous (35:20); willpower and crime (38:50); procrastination as a tool for getting things done (47:20); and willpower and evolution (51:45).

Check it out — and make 2015  your best year yet!

About 1 hour and 2 minutes. Shot and edited by Jim Epstein of Reason TV.

Rand Paul: “I’ll Do Everything to End the War on Drugs”

in Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 21 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

On his HBO show last Friday (Nov. 14), Bill Maher asked Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) about remarks Rand Paulhe made in 2000 concerning the War on Drugs:

BILL MAHER: “You said in 2000, ‘The War on Drugs is an abysmal failure and a waste of money.’ Are you still on that page?”

RAND PAUL: “I’m absolutely there, and I’ll do everything to end the War on Drugs….

“The War on Drugs has become the most racially disparate outcome that you have in the entire country. Our prisons are full of black and brown kids. Three-fourths of the people in prison are black or brown, and white kids are using drugs, Bill, as you know…at the same rate as these other kids. But kids who have less means, less money, kids who are in areas where police are patrolling… Police are given monetary incentives to make arrests, monetary incentives for their own departments…

“So I want to end the War on Drugs because it’s wrong for everybody, but particularly because poor people are caught up in this, and their lives are ruined by it.”

Paul also strongly defended sentencing reform and restoring voting rights to non-violent former felons.

Paul further indicated his opposition to the federal War on Drugs during an early November discussion on the Washington, D.C. marijuana legalization vote. Paul told Roll Call that he strongly favors getting the federal government out of such matters:

“I’m not for having the federal government get involved. I really haven’t taken a stand on … the actual legalization. I haven’t really taken a stand on that, but I’m against the federal government telling [Washington, DC] they can’t,” Paul said.

“I think there should be a certain amount of discretion for both states and territories and the District. I think really that when we set up our country, we intended that most crime or not crime, things that we determined to be crime or not crimes, was really intended to be determined by localities.”

His father Ron Paul sometimes has taken that position or one similar to it, calling for ending the federal War on Drugs and leaving it up to states to decide whether or not they want to pursue drug prohibition.

This let-the-states-decide position is also the premise upon which alcohol Prohibition was repealed in the 1930s.

Great News! The World Is Getting Better: HumanProgress.org

in Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 9 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

HumanProgress.orgThere is a large and growing body of evidence showing dramatic and remarkable improvements in human well-being in recent decades, especially in the developing world.

Unfortunately, this evidence is little-known and often overlooked. Bad news and predictions of doom and gloom are disproportionately reported. Many people, including the highly educated, simply have no idea of the great and ongoing progress in many crucial areas of human life around the world.

This exciting and uplifting news deserves far more attention. HumanProgress.org, a new website and research tool from the Cato Institute, hopes to accomplish that.

Many visitors who take the time to explore the site will be genuinely surprised by the well-documented major advances in world peace, living standards, environmental cleanliness, life spans, and much more. Crimes such as rape, hate crimes, deadly riots, and child abuse are all substantially down from the past. Around 5.1 billion people live in countries where incomes have more than doubled since 1960, and well over half the human race lives in countries where average incomes have tripled or more. Technologies unimaginable just a few years ago are now commonplace even among the world’s poor.

HumanProgress.org provides tools that let users see the many documented ways in which the world has become a far better place. Over 500 data sets of human development indicators from a variety of reliable sources allow visitors to compare indicators with one another, create and share graphics, and calculate differences in human well-being between different countries over time. Visitors can explore progress in categories including: Communications, Education, Energy, Environment, Food, Gender Equality, Happiness, Health, Housing, Transportation, Violence, and Wealth.

By putting together this comprehensive data in an accessible way, HumanProgress.org provides a fantastic documented resource for scholars, journalists, students, and the general public.

For a good graph-free overview of what it’s all about, go to the introductory essay “What is Human Progress?” which presents some downright startling figures and arguments and puts them in context.

And for an easy way to keep up with breaking good news about human progress — and to get a regular booster shot of reasons for rational optimism — you can like HumanProgress.org’s Facebook page.

Cato hopes that HumanProgress.org will lead to a greater appreciation of the improving state of the world. Things are getting better in many areas, to a remarkable degree, and largely due to progress in markets, civil liberties and peace. That’s great news! Let’s spread the word.

New Book Reveals Danger of Militarized Police

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

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 18, No. 13 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Rise of the Warrior CopFor several years award-winning libertarian investigative journalist Randy Balko has been covering an extremely important story that few other journalists have touched: the increasing militarization of U.S. police and the danger this poses to American liberties.

Rise of the Warrior Cop is Balko’s brand-new book on the topic of militarized police, and it is a chilling eye-opener. Anyone who cares about liberty should give it serious attention.

Balko shows how bad laws (the War on Drugs being a prime example), anti-liberty politicians, and America’s various “wars” against vague ill-defined enemies like crime, drugs, and terror have transformed America’s police force. The distinction between a cop and a soldier has been blurred to the point where they are often indistinguishable.

America’s cops have increasingly come to resemble ground troops: complete with military-style uniforms, tanks, other military weapons, military training and military-style tactics. Decades of police-state legislation have gutted fundamental constitutional protections like the Fourth Amendment. Rogue cops ignore or bypass our remaining legal protections.

Today’s police have arguably become an internal army — something the Founders feared and warned about. Indeed, according to Balko, police today have been conditioned to see the citizens they serve as an “other” — an enemy. In enforcing tyrannical laws like drug prohibition, they are actually engaging in a violent war against the people whose liberty and property they are supposed to protect.

America wasn’t supposed to be like this. And this isn’t an anti-cop book; good police will welcome it. It is a warning about how bad laws and bad politicians have transformed the police into something they were never supposed to be. Balko offers sensible suggestions to defuse and reform this situation.

Balko’s carefully researched book covers history, politics, and constitutional law. It is breathtaking and terrifying, and it is one of the most original libertarian books in years. Balko has exposed a grave danger to American freedom, and his argument deserves major national attention.

You can read a lengthy excerpt from Rise of the Warrior Cop for free, courtesy of the American Bar Association’s ABA Journal website.