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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

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

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

Hoosier

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Indiana to Reform Asset Forfeiture Laws, Rendering the Feds Useless

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

Indiana to Reform Asset Forfeiture Laws, Rendering the Feds Useless

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

The Institute for Justice, famous for fighting against civil asset forfeiture, once ranked Indiana as a “C+” state. According to the institute, the Hoosier State “earned an average grade for its laws and practices compared to other states” but “recent reporting suggests that these laws are often flouted.” In order to address this problem, IJ added that reform was badly needed.

Now, it looks as if their wish is about to come true.

car-1590508_1280According to the Tenth Amendment Center, a bill has recently been filed in the Indiana Senate that would prohibit the state from seizing property without due process. The bill, which is known as Senate Bill 8 (SB8), would effectively reform the state’s civil asset forfeiture laws, requiring state prosecutors to bring a criminal conviction to the judge before proceeding with the activity.

Currently, Indiana officials are allowed to seize property and cash from an individual without having him arrested first. Even if he was never found guilty of a crime.

If SB8 is signed into law, the new requirement would keep prosecutors in check, while also making it nearly impossible for state officials to send these cases to the federal government.

Currently, state laws allow prosecutors to bypass restrictions by sending cases to the federal government. This move is allowed due to the Equitable Sharing program, which gives states the option to keep a portion of liquidated seized assets. But if the new bill passes, Equitable Sharing will no longer be an option.

By repealing Section 9 IC34-24-1-9, the bill closes the federal loophole, helping to protect Indiana residents and their property.

In other states like California, referring to Equitable Sharing to get away with government-sponsored theft is no longer an option. If the Indiana legislature chooses to follow into the Golden state’s steps and this loophole is finally closed, the spark of property protection and constitutional rights will continue to ignite other local movements, helping to nullify this immoral law.

Now that SB8 was introduced, it will first be reviewed by the House Committee on Corrections and Criminal Law. If passed by a majority vote, it will move to the full Senate for further consideration. According to Tenth Amendment’s Mike Maharrey, “‘equitable sharing’ provides a pipeline the feds use to incentivize state and local police to serve as de facto arms of the federal government by funneling billions of dollars into their budgets.” Without this pipeline, the incentive to steal people’s property is gone. Striking the problem at its root.

Small CA City Employees Living Large, Making More Than Governors

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

Small CA City Employees Living Large, Making More Than Governors

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

Governments lack knowledge. And it’s what that axiom in mind that we can safely say that acting without knowledge is, even in the short run, a waste.

SantaMonicaIn the city of Santa Monica, California, local bureaucrats are making more than $300,000 a year. That’s $187,000 more than current Vice President elect Mike Pence made as Governor of Indiana the past year.

According to a local investigation, at least 105 Santa Monica employees make more than $300,000 a year, including Santa Monica Police Chief Jacqueline Brooks, who makes $480,000 a year while public records show her base salary is at $306,000.

Overseeing 200 officers, Chief Brooks’ salary seems a bit unusual, especially when you compare it with next door’s Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, who makes $344,000 while overseeing more than 9,000 officers.

Still in Santa Monica, an unnamed police sergeant raked in nearly $500,000 last year while his base pay was only $137,000. With overtime alone, he was paid about $179,000 extra but unused sick and vacation time were also added to the total, bringing the sergeant’s pay to the total of $475,000.

Others in the local force such as lieutenants, other sergeants, fire captains, and even a marshal made up to six figures by working overtime. According to the Santa Monica city manager, the high number of city employees working overtime is due to the fact that several positions are still unfilled. Currently, however, 18 new firefighters are training in the local academy. Other 18 positions are still waiting to be filled within the local Police Department.

As local transparency groups ask officials why they are having such a hard time filling positions while offering such good pay rates, they want more answers. And if public pressure grows, they may even be able to push for an audit.

As the taxpayer is forced to foot the bill, these watchdogs want city officials to be able to explain in detail why so many of its employees are making more than governors and, sometimes, even as much as the president.

Currently, Santa Monica has some of the highest taxes in the region. With the imminent increase in sales taxes projected to pass by popular vote, they will become even higher.

In other local cities such as Long Beach, watchdogs found 13 city employees making more than $300,000. The same number of overpaid employees was found in Newport Beach, but both cities have populations that are about five times that of Santa Monica.

While the figures are exorbitant, the real problem in this case is not only that government officials are clueless about what the labor market looks from outside of their offices. The bottom line is: When the money doesn’t come out of your own pocket, you do not have to be careful about how you spend it.

Seeing taxpayers as a bottomless pit of money, governments have enough incentives to keep on spending without being held accountable for how they are spending this money. In a free market where the price system is in place, the cost of labor is varied and competitive. Without the pricing mechanism, service providers are not aware of the demand, making them incapable of determining real value.

The only solution to this problem is to shrink the government. Even local ones.

How Egg Regulations Hurt the Environment — And Your Pocket!

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

How Egg Regulations Hurt the Environment — And Your Pocket!

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

Government has a way of making us all question our sanity. Especially when it comes to food regulations and its environmentally unsound consequences.

In many countries across the globe, the practice of washing eggs is seen as anti-hygienic. Because when egg producers wash fresh eggs, they also remove a layer of protein known as cuticle.

EggsThe cuticle is important because it prevents the egg shell from being porous. With a porous exterior, eggs are vulnerable to bacteria.

In the 1970s, regulators with the U.S. Department of Agriculture concluded that egg producers should invest in “fancy machines,” as NPR puts it, to shampoo eggs with soap and hot water. But once the eggs were washed, regulators added, producers should place them immediately in a refrigerator.

To justify the addition of yet another requirement for the egg industry, regulators claimed this step helped to avoid salmonella contamination. But washing the egg’s exterior does little to prevent contamination.

As NPR explains, the cuticle “is like a little safety vest for the egg, keeping water and oxygen in and bad bacteria out. Washing can damage that layer and ‘increase the chances for bacterial invasion’ into pores or hairline cracks in the shell, according to Yi Chen, a food scientist at Purdue University.”

Salmonella enteritidis often infects a chicken’s ovaries, which tends to impact the yolk before the shell hardens. The bacteria can be killed when consumers cook it. Washing the exterior of the egg does little to prevent contamination. As expected, salmonella continues to expose about 142,000 individuals to infections each year.

While many contend that washing the egg and refrigerating it or leaving the cuticle both work, only the method adopted by the United States government requires a great deal of electricity use to ensure the product’s safety. Considering only 10 percent of the total U.S. energy consumption comes from renewable sources, it’s hard to see why environmentalists are not urging government to nix this particular regulation.

But too much energy consumption is not the only negative consequence of egg-washing. The cost of purchasing an egg washing machine, the device’s maintenance, required labor, and the cost of electricity employed in maintaining the product shielded from contamination all add up, increasing the price of eggs and harming the consumer.

With reports showing just how salmonella is still a problem despite the regulatory requirements imposed on the egg industry, it’s hard to contend forcing all producers to wash their eggs is somehow productive. Especially when so much electricity is required to maintain the eggs refrigerated.

Why not try freedom for a change?

Primaries, Caucuses, and Nominations… Oh My!

in From Me To You, Liberator Online by Brett Bittner Comments are off

Primaries, Caucuses, and Nominations… Oh My!

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

Two weeks ago, we discussed The “Most Important Election of Our Lifetime” Fallacy. Today, Indiana Republicans and Democrats line up to vote for their favored candidates and delegates on Primary Day.

The pressure to “participate in our democracy,” as I heard on the radio yesterday, continues to increase. The #NeverTrump advocates want me to vote for Ted Cruz today. I have yet to #FeelTheBern, despite the numerous radio and television ads from Bernie Sanders. This election cycle, the presidential nominees for both of the old parties are not yet locked in place, giving Indiana a moment in the sun with both the media and the candidates.

On top of that, there is a contested race for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate between two sitting Congressmen, Marlin Stutzman and Todd Young.

PrimariesWhile I have voted in primaries in the past, I last cast a partisan ballot in the primary in 2012 to vote for Ron Paul in the Republican Presidential Preference Primary. <– try saying that three times fast

While I supported some fine candidates in parties other than my own, I realized that the primary process is used to determine intra-party business. That business is to place the party’s best candidate forward for the general election.

Should I be able to participate in their elections? I am not a member of either Team D or Team R, nor do I donate to either. Should I have a vote in how they conduct business? After all, General Electric does not allow non-shareholders determine who sits on their board. They handle such decisions internally, and most importantly, without using resources paid for by taxpayers.

In 2012, taxpayers spent approximately $400 million to fund each state’s primary election, ranging from $1.32 to almost $4 per voter, depending on the state and their turnout.

That means that taxpayers across the country subsidized the cost of selecting Mitt Romney and Barack Obama before their conventions even occurred in Tampa and Charlotte.

By contrast, the Libertarian Party chose the Gary Johnson/Jim Gray ticket in Las Vegas at their 2012 convention whose costs were borne entirely by attendees and donors to the party.

Often, the argument used against the idea of parties funding their own intra-party business is that only party insiders will be involved in the selection process. Given the way that the rules are written, the ability of “superdelegates” to ignore their constituents’ desires, and the efforts of those looking to stop the likely nominee, aren’t those same party insiders already doing the legwork of choosing who should represent them in both of the old parties?

I guess the question to be answered is, should taxpayers fund conventions and primaries? Couldn’t we make this simpler and less expensive by having the Party bear these costs, rather than have taxpayers subsidize the cost of this selection process and provide extra paid and earned media to the parties allowed to participate?

23 Million!

in From Me To You, Liberator Online by Brett Bittner Comments are off

23 Million!

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

Add Friday, March 11, 2016 to the history books!

23 Million!The World’s Smallest Political Quiz broke the 23 million mark for the number of times it’s been taken online since its placement on the Internet in 1995.

While the Quiz has seen many iterations, both analog and digital, it is still the best tool out there to quickly and accurately examine the political tendency of its takers. The results give you a great place to start discussing issues as you work to persuade them to embrace a more libertarian philosophy and outlook.

A bit of history about the Quiz:

  • 1969 – David Nolan created the “Nolan Chart,” at the time, a new look at the political spectrum beyond the “Left–Right” line, which measures political thought along a one-dimensional line, into a two-dimensional graph, measuring degrees of economic and personal freedom.
  • 1971 - Nolan introduced the chart in an article for the January issue of The Individualist entitled “Classifying and Analyzing Politico-Economic Systems.”
  • 1987 – Advocates founder, Marshall Fritz, designed the 10 question quiz to accompany the Nolan Chart, along with other refinements. The Quiz originally appeared in card form, and is still available in that form today.
  • 1993 - Brian Towey produced a full-color, instant-scoring computer Quiz on disk, for DOS and Windows. Shortly thereafter, programmer Jon Kalb created a similar version for Macs.
  • 1995 – Our first website Self-Gov.org, hits the Internet, with an interactive version of the World’s Smallest Political Quiz. To our knowledge, this is the first political quiz online.
  • 2004 – Printed versions of the Quiz topped 7 million.
  • 2013 – The Quiz reached 20 million online administrations.

 

Do you have a favorite aspect of the Quiz? Have you done something neat with it (Did you know I once gave it to a panda?)? Share your outreach and Quiz stories with us.

 

A Tale of Two Petitions

in From Me To You, Liberator Online by Brett Bittner Comments are off

A Tale of Two Petitions

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

Here in Indiana, election laws require candidates for statewide office to submit signature petitions from 500 registered voters from each of the state’s nine Congressional districts before they can appear on primary ballots.

Recently, Rep. Todd Young, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, saw his petition signatures challenged by the Indiana Democratic Party and his GOP competitor. The challenge centered on one district, where Rep. Young submitted a number of signatures perilously close to the minimum. An independent effort by the Indianapolis Star found only 497 valid signatures, despite the campaign’s claims of 501 valid ones and improper rejections.

As the challenge progressed, many Republicans across the state endorsed Young, while simultaneously speaking in favor of “their guy” in comments aimed at the Indiana Election Commission.

As many expected, a 4-member panel deadlocked at 2-2 along party lines, preventing any action by the commission.

The challenge prompted a bill from Young’s party, who enjoys supermajority status in both chambers of the state legislature, to reduce the hurdle from 500 to 200.

OKLP Petition Turn InRoughly 750 miles away, the Libertarian Party of Oklahoma submitted 42,000 signatures to the state Election Board in an effort to be recognized as a political party and have candidates appear on the general election ballot this November.

Rather than risk a close call akin to Rep. Young’s, the Libertarians submitted almost double the number of the 24,745 signatures necessary to survive signature any challenges during validation.

Having been a part of ballot access petitioning in the past, I find that the latter method is preferable to the first. Doing so eliminates many angles of attack used by those in power to prevent competition in the marketplace of politics. Without friendly members of the board, it’s unlikely that things would have a rosy outcome for the Libertarian Party of Oklahoma, had they not turned in far more signatures than necessary.

While the validation in Oklahoma remains, do you expect an outcome similar to Rep. Young’s, had the Libertarians taken the riskier action with their petition turn-in?

I guess it pays to have friends in high places.

Aluminum Industry Wants Tax Deal, but Nobody Wants to Cut the Red Tape

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

Aluminum Industry Wants Tax Deal, but Nobody Wants to Cut the Red Tape

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

Many think of crony capitalism as the source of all problems we face as a nation. They are not entirely wrong.

Take the domestic aluminum industry for instance. Despite the taxpayer investment, producers are losing their share of the market. Without freedom to compete, members of the industry take part in political games, using their influence with state governments and Washington politicians to beg for privileges that no other aluminum producers enjoy. The result? Major trouble for the consumer, employer, and worker.

Aluminum

In America, there are three companies that produce primary aluminum. Alcoa is the largest producer, operating multiple primary plants in New York, Washington, Indiana, and Texas.

In early November 2015, Alcoa announced that it would have to permanently close its Massena West smelter in New York. At the time, town supervisor Joe Gray said that the jobs Alcoa would take away if the smelter closed would be “next to impossible to replace,” considering the aluminum giant has been the major employer in the region for quite some time.

By late November, however, a deal was reached and the upstate New York smelting plant was saved. What happened? New York Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled a $69 million incentive package that benefited Alcoa. At least 600 jobs were saved.

The plan was backed by Cuomo and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), who made the announcement at the Alcoa plant in Massena. As union bosses celebrated the special relationship between the New York government and industry leaders, the incentives weren’t widely criticized, mainly because tax incentives aren’t seen as handouts by many. Instead, people often believe that tax incentives are good.

During the announcement event, Cuomo claimed that the incentives plan “is the state’s way of stepping up.” Yet none of those present were able to criticize the existing red tape that makes it so hard for companies to function in America in the first place.

If the cost of doing business in the country was not an obstacle, more competitors would fill up the gap, and cheap aluminum coming from China would have a hard time staying relevant. Instead of working to remove red tape and help all entrepreneurs and existing businesses to flourish, the state decided to give one group access to privileges that others in the same industry simply do not enjoy.

But as Alcoa enjoys the $30 million it got from the New York incentive package, things continue to look bad for the aluminum producers and its employees. Except now, the issue is not New York, it’s Indiana.

According to IndyStar.com, southwestern Indiana residents are now concerned that the Alcoa smelter in their state will shut down, shedding 600 jobs in the process. Early in January 2016, Alcoa announced it would be closing its Warrick Operations smelter by the end of March. This is a “major economic event,” said Warrick County Chamber of Commerce director Shari Sherman. But to Alcoa, the shutdown makes sense because the Indiana facility is not “competitive.” Meaning the cost of keeping it open is a burden.

The facility has been operating in Indiana for the past 55 years. As the smelter closes, multiple families brace for the impact. As workers struggle, so do companies that are finding it much harder to compete. The issue? They have a hard time covering the costs of doing business in America.

If workers and consumers are serious about seeing fewer job losses in their states and more prosperity, they’d be urging lawmakers to cut the red tape, not backroom deals.

Multiple Threats Made Against US School Systems Following San Bernardino Shootings

in Education, Liberator Online, News You Can Use by Chloe Anagnos Comments are off

Multiple Threats Made Against US School Systems Following San Bernardino Shootings

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

In the weeks following the shootings in San Bernardino, California, that killed 14 people, multiple threats have been made against school systems in New York, Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas, Miami and Indiana.

Members of the Los Angeles Board of Education received a crudely written email that prompted officials to close all 900 schools in the nation’s second-largest school system Tuesday. School officials for the New York City school systems and local law enforcement dismissed an identical threat as a hoax.

On Thursday, school officials in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Houston and Dallas said they received threats similar to the ones received by the Los Angeles and New York school districts earlier this week.

School

Two schools in Indiana canceled classes after also getting threats. The Danville Community School Corporation said two students were arrested after allegedly making threats against schools in separate incidents.

The Miami-Dade County, Dallas and Houston school districts announced on their websites that “less-than-credible” threats were received by email late Wednesday evening, and that schools would be open Thursday. Officials from Broward County Public Schools in Fort Lauderdale said they also received a threat.

The districts are among the nation’s largest — Miami ranks fourth, Broward is sixth, Houston is seventh and Dallas is 14th.

In Dallas, officials with the Dallas Independent School District said some teachers and staff members at two schools — Pinkston High and Martinez Elementary — received threats via email and notified district officials. The district’s police department activated its emergency response protocol and began working with other law enforcement agencies to make sure the schools were safe.

“We need to make sure that we don’t overreact to fear,” Dallas police Chief David Brown said. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings agreed, adding, “Obviously someone is trying to scare Dallas and that is not going to work.”

Robert Mock, police chief for the Houston Independent School District, said random overnight searches by explosives detecting dogs and patrol officers turned up nothing after district officials, including the superintendent, received the threat by email.

So far Thursday morning, “everything’s been normal, schools are in session, kids are learning,” Mock said.

He added that he doesn’t want to downplay the message because “a threat is a threat.” But he said the message referred to weapons and explosives among unsophisticated content that was “so far over the top the logistics just didn’t pan out.”

Details about the threats in Miami and Fort Lauderdale haven’t been released yet, but said on their websites they were similar to those received in New York and Los Angeles earlier in the week.

It’s unfortunate that some of the largest school systems in the U.S. let fear win – and dictate action. Instead of having the foresight to recognize hoaxes coming from some of these schools’ own students, the “better safe than sorry” mentality only succeeded in distracting students from what is really important – their education.

Your Favorite Distilled Beverage May Get a Little Cheaper

in Economic Liberty, Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Taxes by Jackson Jones Comments are off

Your Favorite Distilled Beverage May Get a Little Cheaper

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

A bipartisan bill was introduced recently that would lower the per gallon excise tax on distilled drinks, including whiskey and rum.

The Distillery Innovation and Excise Tax Reform Act, introduced by Rep. Todd Young (R-Ind.), would relieve distilleries, especially newer ones, of some of the burdens they face when bringing products to market.

Currently, distilled drinks are taxed at $13.50 per proof gallon. Young’s bill seeks to lower the tax to $2.70 per proof gallon on the first 100,000 gallons produced by a distillery and $9 per proof thereafter.

Barrel

Rep. John Yarmuth (R-Ky.) has cosponsored the bill, which was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee on May 21. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) chairs the powerful tax-writing committee.

“All around southern Indiana, many new craft distilleries are popping up, creating jobs and adding to the tax base,” Young said in a release on Wednesday. “But there’s a lot of red tape involved in getting a new distillery off the ground, and this bill helps reduce that burden. In addition, we have many large, established distilleries in our region of the country, and this bill will help them, too.”

The bill has support from the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) and the American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA). “It is significant that the distillers of all sizes are united behind this important hospitality industry legislation,” Peter Cressy, CEO of DISCUS, said in a joint release with ACSA. “We thank the sponsors for recognizing the economic impact passage of this bill will have for our industry.”

Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) introduced a companion bill in the Senate. Sens. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) have signed on as cosponsors of the bill. Although the members represent states with a number of distilleries, the popularity of craft spirits has risen significantly and virtually every state now has distillery.

For the producers, the savings can mean expansion of their operations and more jobs for local communities.

“I started my distillery eight years ago to support Michigan jobs and prove that high quality spirits could be made right here in Michigan,” Rifino Valentine, founder of Valentine Distilling, said in a press release from Peters’ office. “While I’m proud to say we are expanding our facility, so many small distilleries are at a unique disadvantage as a result of the high federal excise tax.”

The bill may be common sense, but similar efforts to lower the excise tax on distilled spirits didn’t move out of committee in the previous Congress.