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Is American Entrepreneurship Dead?

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

Is American Entrepreneurship Dead?

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Promises of a better future post the 2008-2009 recession injected new confidence in the American economy. With the President Barack Obama administration’s push to use public money to stimulate the economy back to recovery, many believed that a full comeback was in order.

But years after the implementation of the stimulus plan, corporate debt continues to increase due to the federal reserve’s meddling, and the participation rate in the labor force continues to fall.

Entrepreneur

As the current administration claims falling unemployment rates prove the stimulus worked, it’s easy to see why so many believe that things are “back to normal.”

But according to Yonathan Amselem, an asset protection attorney in Washington, D.C., things are far from “normal.”

In an article published by the Mises Institute, Amselem explains that after a market crash, the unemployment rate eventually drops, naturally. He also reminds us that the Obama administration took over after the market crash. And that the so-called “recovery” may have just been a sign of a process that would have happened with or without the stimulus.

He also argues that a review of the type of industries that have been growing since the stimulus plan was put into action prove that the creation of jobs alone has nothing to do with economic recovery.

“We are pumping out an army of waiters, social workers, and associate professors with worthless six-figure degrees they have no hope of paying off in this life or the next,” Amselem argued. Instead of “high value, goods-producing workers,” America is producing workers who do not rely on innovation.

Individuals, Amselem argues, are not being encouraged to start businesses. Instead, they seem to believe that they are perfectly capable of turning “a six-year sociology degree into a job that doesn’t involve bringing people mimosas for brunch.”

But the workforce is not to blame for this shift in leading industries.

Instead, Amselen argues that the lack of incentives tied to entrepreneurship is forcing countless Americans to keep their dreams and aspirations locked away. As businesses now fail at a greater rate than they start, free market advocates like Amselen remind us that people are discouraged to try out on their own.

To the D.C. attorney, America’s structure of production has been disrupted by the political class in a dramatic way, making workers less competitive and forcing the entire nation to carry a very heavy debt burden while keeping the entrepreneurial spirit stuck under a mountain of bureaucracy.

As free market advocates continue to make the case against overwhelming regulations, urging the public to look at government intervention as a means to hinder economic development, media outlets and influencers often accuse them of being against the poor.

But economic growth can only be accomplished when competition and freedom are reinstated. Being against the poor means being pro-government intervention in the economy, which forces those with pauper means to resort to the black market for their needs.

Without a Clear War Strategy, White House Wants to Increase Spending to Fight ISIS, Boost Surveillance State

in Foreign Policy, Liberator Online, Middle East, National Defense, News You Can Use, War by Alice Salles Comments are off

Without a Clear War Strategy, White House Wants to Increase Spending to Fight ISIS, Boost Surveillance State

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As the country focused on Iowa, the email server scandal, and Kanye West’s last Twitter feud, the Barack Obama administration geared up for a significant defense budget request.

The factor behind pushing the country further into debt? ISIS.

ISIS

According to Reuters, the current administration wants to add over $7 billion to its 2017 defense budget. The additional funding would provide support to this administration’s military campaign against the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL/Daesh). The additional request represents a 35 percent increase from past year’s defense budget.

While Reuters broke the story early Tuesday, US Defense Secretary Ash Carter had already planned on discussing the current spending priorities publicly during an address to the Economic Club of Washington. The White House will only release the full budget proposal on February 9th.

If approved by Congress, the 2017 defense budget would cost taxpayers $583 billion.

Since 9/11, military spending has risen sharply. But in 2013, military spending declined, going from $671 in 2013 to $619 in 2014.

To critics, the current administration has done everything in its power to “gut” military spending. These critics often suggest that the lack of an inflated military budget will leave America vulnerable, increasing the risk of terrorist attacks on US soil. But in reality, this administration is everything but fiscally conservative when it comes to the defense budget. Despite its strategical shortcomings.

According to Reuters, the current request to increase defense spending by $7 billion is mostly due to the administration’s campaign against ISIS. Despite the lack of details concerning the administration’s strategy to defeat the Islamic State, experts like former US ambassador to Syria Robert Ford have been vocal in their opposition to one of this administration’s most questionable strategies: to arm and train rebels in Syria.

To Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) who was also against the strategy to arm Syrian rebels, the current administration’s efforts against ISIS are insufficient. Mostly because the so-called war against the militant group was never authorized by Congress. Putting the issue up for discussion first could have helped the administration find a different approach to its campaign in Syria and Iraq.

To Russian President Vladimir Putin, the focus in Syria should have always been to target ISIS. Instead of telling the Syrian people who their leader should be, Putin told CBS’s “60 Minutes,” world powers should come together to eliminate ISIS. But for most of the past year, the Obama administration reassured the media that the only way to make Syria safe was to make sure President Bassar al-Assad was out of the picture.

While the White House’s most pressing concern is ISIS, the militant organization is not the only issue listed as a priority in the 2017 defense budget proposal. According to Reuters, the administration also hopes to increase spending to “reassure European allies following Russia’s intervention in Ukraine.” Former Republican congressman Ron Paul has been warning against further intervention in the region since the first signs of turmoil in Ukraine hit the news.

The 2017 defense budget proposal also includes a request to fund a new Air Force bomber, which has replaced the Ohio-class submarines used to carry nuclear weapons. If Congress approves the proposal, the Obama administration is also hoping to use the extra funding to increase cybersecurity, electronic warfare, and US satellite security.

Could that mean that the surveillance state will get a boost?

State of The Union Address: What this Administration Got Wrong About Obamacare

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

State of The Union Address: What this Administration Got Wrong About Obamacare

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During President Barack Obama’s final State of the Union address, this administration’s signature healthcare law was seldom brought up. As a matter of fact, little time was dedicated to healthcare overall. But the few references to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have been mostly ignored, suggesting that little to no attention is dedicated to healthcare law as the media focuses on the 2016 presidential election.

But to Brian Blase, Senior Research Fellow with the Spending and Budget Initiative at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, the administration’s claims deserve a second look.

In an article for Forbes, Blase looks at how the current programs are performing. With the hopes of helping Americans have a better understanding of ACA and its consequences, the scholar analyses the administration’s claims and reports on his findings.

cooperative

According to the current administration, ACA was designed to fill “the gaps in employer-based care so that when you lose a job, or you go back to school, or you strike out and launch that new business, you’ll still have coverage.” To Blase, however, things aren’t that simple.

If the administration had made the portability of coverage a main priority, the law would not have to be as complex as it is.

Blase also argues that portability as a main goal would have prompted a piece of legislation that would have attracted considerable bipartisan support. Why? Because most healthcare experts on the right and center have always advocated for increased portability, urging lawmakers to severe the ties between insurance and employment.

To Blase, the primary purpose of ACA couldn’t be to keep Americans covered through the several changes they experience if the law standardizes health insurance and ups the requirements concerning coverage levels. By implementing a complicated tax and subsidy system to support ACA, the Obama administration forced consumers to fall prey to distorting price controls that make insurance coverage actually less affordable.

If the administration’s main goal with ACA was to keep people covered no matter what, the law wouldn’t also have been written in a way that increases gross premiums so radically, making low-income earners less likely to get good coverage.

While Blase spent a good deal of time focusing on this particular claim, another subject also caught his eye.

During the address, president Obama claimed that ACA has helped businesses to create jobs, not eliminate them. To Blase, this particular claim is troubling mostly because it’s not necessarily wrong. It’s misleading instead.

Claiming jobs were created because of the enaction of ACA is not a fact, since job growth naturally increased after the deep economic recession the country had just been recovering from when ACA became the law of the land. During the recession, millions of people were kicked out of their jobs, but as confidence grew, more jobs were inevitably created. That’s just a natural consequence of the labor market dynamics and is not at all connected to the enactment of ACA.

If the current administration is, indeed, concerned with how its healthcare programs are performing, Blase suggests, its review of ACA would lead to its repeal. Why? Because ACA is actually a negative pull on the economy.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, ACA will actually shrink the labor market in America. If the congressional projection is correct, two million full-time jobs will be lost due to ACA alone.

What About this Administrations’ Militaristic Policies and their Victims?

in Events, Foreign Policy, Liberator Online, Middle East, News You Can Use, War by Alice Salles Comments are off

What About this Administrations’ Militaristic Policies and their Victims?

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During most of the day Tuesday, the day President Barack Obama gave his State of the Union Address, the Internet went ablaze with the White House’s announcements concerning empty gallery seats.

According to the White House, one seat will remain vacant during the entire address “for the victims of gun violence who no longer have a voice.” But to author James Bovard, seats should be left vacant to remind the public of the victims of the president’s militarism instead.

doctors without borders hospital bombed

The Washington Post keeps a database of incidents involving police’s deadly use of force. According to its findings, 986 people were killed in 2015 alone during encounters with police officers. While the president has been pushing for tougher, more restrictive gun control measures to curb gun violence in America, the US Justice Department has been supporting officers every time the Supreme Court agrees to hear an excessive-force case.

Recently, Bovard noted, Attorney General Loretta Lynch claimed that federally-funded police agencies should keep the number of people killed in encounters with the police under wraps.

And despite the efforts of several US states willing to put an end to the drug war at home, Obama’s policy in Mexico continues to fuel the drug war in the neighboring country, increasing the number of victims abroad.

But this administrations’ militarism is not only responsible for death and destruction in the American continent.

To Bovard, a few seats should also stay vacant to remind us of the 30 French medical staff, patients, and other victims of the US attack against a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan.

To Bovard, the twelve Yemenis killed during a US drone strike while celebrating nuptials on December 12, 2013 shouldn’t be ignored. But neither should the 30 people splattered to death during a 2012 drone strike in Afghanistan.

Prior to the deadly incident, a group of Taliban insurgents reportedly entered a house where a family was holding a wedding ceremony. As Afghan and American forces surrounded the house, firing broke out. As both sides struggled, the 18 members of a single extended family feared for their safety.

A few moments after US and Afghan troops were wounded in the fight, a jet was called to help, dropping a 500-pound bomb on the house.

At least nine of the innocent victims were children.

Other victims Bovard urges the White House to recognize include the four Americans killed in the 2012 Benghazi attack and the hundreds, or perhaps even thousands of Libyans who lost their lives during the civil war triggered by Hillary Clinton and Obama’s bombing campaign against Moammar Gadhafi.

Another seat should also remain vacant in the name of the 16-year-old Abdulrahman Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen who was killed in yet another US drone strike under this administration.

Due to the White Houses’ militaristic policies here and abroad, people are losing their lives.

Unnecessary conflicts produced by bad policies should require more attention not only because they are killing people, but because of the Obama administrations’ hypocritical stances show they have never been serious about living up to the expectations raised during the 2008 presidential campaign.

Something tells me the next Commander in Chief will have to tackle the same issues. Unsuccessfully, of course, since every single US president appears to focus on implementing the same bad policies.

NSA Spied on Israel to Counter Criticism of Iran Deal, Communications with U.S. Lawmakers Intercepted

in Foreign Policy, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty, Property Rights by Jackson Jones Comments are off

NSA Spied on Israel to Counter Criticism of Iran Deal, Communications with U.S. Lawmakers Intercepted

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

The National Security Agency is bracing for another heavy round of criticism. On Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the controversial intelligence agency spied on Israeli leaders while the United States was ironing out a nuclear agreement with Iran. But the spying apparatus also captured communications between Israeli and members of Congress.

NSA

President Barack Obama and the NSA have already come under fire for spying on leaders of countries that are allied with the United States, such as Brazil, Germany, and Mexico. The White House was reportedly unaware of the NSA’s activities, which came to light in the summer of 2013.

President Obama, in early 2014, pledged to stop snooping on the United States’ allies. “The leaders of our close friends and allies deserve to know that if I want to learn what they think about an issue,” he said, “I will pick up the phone and call them, rather than turning to surveillance.” The only exceptions to the prohibition were countries that served a national security interest. Among them was Israel.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the NSA has continued to spy on Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is a fierce critic of the nuclear agreement that the United States worked out with Iran. Netanyahu brought his concerns against the deal to Washington in March during a speech to a joint session of Congress.

The intelligence received by the NSA, according to the report, was used to “counter” Netanyahu’s criticism of the agreement with Iran. Inadvertently or not, the NSA “also swept up the contents of some of [Israel leaders’] private conversations with U.S. lawmakers and American-Jewish groups.”

The intercepts revealed that Israel was coordinating with U.S.-based groups to criticize the Iran deal. “The NSA reports allowed administration officials to peer inside Israeli efforts to turn Congress against the deal. [Israeli Ambassador Ron] Dermer was described as coaching unnamed U.S. organizations—which officials could tell from the context were Jewish-American groups—on lines of argument to use with lawmakers, and Israeli officials were reported pressing lawmakers to oppose the deal,” the report explained.

It’s unclear which lawmakers’ communications were intercepted by the NSA. But the report could reignite the already fiery debate in the halls of Congress and on the campaign trail over the intelligence agency’s snooping, as well as renewed criticism of the Iran deal and the Obama administration’s already stressed relationship Israel and Netanyahu.

Will Republicans Allow an Obamacare Bailout?

in Healthcare, Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Jackson Jones Comments are off

Will Republicans Allow an Obamacare Bailout?

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One of the few bright spots in the government-funding bill passed last December was the inclusion of a provision that barred the Obama administration from using taxpayer dollars to bailout a little-known Obamacare program. Known as “risk corridors,” the program receives contributions from health insurance companies that make money from plans sold on the exchanges required by the law and redistributes it to those that experience losses.

Health Care

Congressional Republicans had targeted the program for repeal. In November 2013, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., introduced legislation, the Obamacare Bailout Prevention Act, to do just that. “The American people are sick of Washington picking winners and losers, especially since the chosen losers often end up being taxpayers who foot the bills for Washington’s mistakes,” Rubio said at the time. “Washington’s bailout culture must end, and eliminating Obamacare’s blank check for a bailout of insurance companies is a common sense step to protect taxpayers when Obamacare fails.”

Lobbyists for insurance companies worried about congressional action against the program, which, according to the administration’s propaganda, is supposed to be deficit-neutral. Without the program, insurers’ lobbyists said, premiums would rise and drive consumers away from the exchanges, possibly leading to a dreaded “death spiral.” While the bill didn’t see any action in the Senate, Rubio reintroduced it in January at the beginning of the new Congress.

The language prohibiting the use of taxpayer funds for the risk corridors program that was included in the government-funding bill applied only to fiscal year 2015. It would have to be inserted into the bill for fiscal year 2016 for it to continue to apply. This is where it gets interesting. Insurers have filed more in claims than money that’s available in the program.

“On October 1, 2015, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced the total of collections and payouts under the risk corridor premium stabilization program for 2014. CMS announced that insurers have submitted $2.87 billion in risk corridor claims for 2014. Insurers only owe, however, $362 million in risk corridor contributions,” Health Affairs reported in October. “Thus payments in 2015 for 2014 will be paid out at 12.6 percent of claims, assuming full collections of contributions owed.”

In other words, the risk corridors program faces a more than a $2.5 billion shortfall. The only way to fill the gap is to transfer funds – i.e., taxpayer money – to cover the payments owed to insurers.

The House of Representatives is in the midst of working on the government-funding bill for fiscal year 2016. The current funding agreement expires on Friday, though lawmakers will likely pass an extension to give themselves more time to hammer out a framework. But without a specific language prohibiting the administration from using taxpayer money to make the risk corridors payments, taxpayers could be on the hook for what is, ostensibly, a $2.5 billion Obamacare bailout.

Address Security Concerns But Let Syrian Refugees Come to the U.S.

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Address Security Concerns But Let Syrian Refugees Come to the U.S.

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America’s governors are playing right into the hands of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. In reaction to the terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday, the governors of 30 states have called on the Obama administration to delay its plans to allow refugees from Syria to be placed in their states.

The concerns aren’t without merit. One of the Islamic radicals who participated in the terrorist attacks had a passport, using a phony name, showing that he entered Europe from Syria. This revelation has raised concerns about holes in the security screenings of the refugees who may enter the United States as the flee from a bloody civil war that has ravaged their country and left tens of thousands dead.

syrian-refugee-crisis

Similarly, congressional Republicans are poised to push legislation to “pause” the program. Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., in the first major test of his nascent speakership, said, “This is a moment where it’s better to be safe than to be sorry.” Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., introduced a bill of his own to temporarily halt the resettlement of Syrian refugees.

“The time has come to stop terrorists from walking in our front door,” Paul said in a statement. “The Boston Marathon bombers were refugees, and numerous refugees from Iraq, including some living in my hometown, have attempted to commit terrorist attacks.”

“The terrorist attacks in Paris underscore this concern that I have been working to address for the past several years. My bill will press pause on new refugee entrants from high-risk countries until stringent new screening procedures are in place,” he added.

Prohibiting Syrian refugees from entering the United States, which is what some seem to want, may not be at all like the retaliatory attacks being carried out against mosques and Muslim-owed businesses in France in the aftermath of the attacks, but the anti-Islam sentiment is what ISIS thrives upon in its twisted eschatology.

“This is precisely what ISIS was aiming for — to provoke communities to commit actions against Muslims,” University of Maryland professor Arie Kruglanski told the Washington Post. “Then ISIS will be able to say, ‘I told you so. These are your enemies, and the enemies of Islam.”

Governors and lawmakers must tread carefully and keep in mind that history shows that refugees are overwhelming unlikely to be terrorists. A temporarily halt to the Syrian refugee program is understandable until security concerns are addressed, but we shouldn’t shut the door to people who are seeking safety by conflating it with the other hot-button issues, such as immigration.

Surprise! The IRS Audited Campaign Donors

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Surprise! The IRS Audited Campaign Donors

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By now, just about everyone knows the Internal Revenue Service targeted Tea Party and other right-leaning nonprofit groups because of their ideological beliefs. But the latest wrinkle in the story, one that hasn’t been widely reported, is the IRS audited donors to right-leaning nonprofits based on the reports they submitted.

IRSAccording to documents obtained by Judicial Watch, in 2010, then-Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus, D-MT, urged the IRS to “survey major 501(c)(4), (c)(5) and (c)(6) organizations .” The IRS complied, in 2011.

“In 2010, after receiving Baucus’s letter, the IRS considered the issue of auditing donors to 501(c)(4) organizations, alleging that a 35 percent gift tax would be due on donations in excess of $13,000. The documents show that the IRS wanted to cross-check donor lists from 501(c)(4) organizations against gift tax filings and commence audits against taxpayers based on this information,” Judicial Watch explained. “A gift tax on contributions to 501(c)(4)’s was considered by most to be a dead letter since the IRS had never enforced the rule after the Supreme Court ruled that such taxes violated the First Amendment. The documents show that the IRS had not enforced the gift tax since 1982.”

“But then, in February 2011, at least five donors of an unnamed organization were audited,” Judicial Watch adds.

One of the groups specifically mentioned as targets by the IRS was Crossroads GPS, which was founded by Karl Rove. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce was also mentioned as an organization that could be subject to scrutiny. Lois Lerner, the disgraced former IRS official who became the subject of congressional inquiries into the IRS’s targeting of Tea Party groups, approved of the gift tax auditing scheme.

“These documents that we had to force out of the IRS prove that the agency used donor lists to audit supporters of organizations engaged in First Amendment-protected lawful political speech,” Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, said in a press release. “And the snarky comments about the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the obsession with Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS show that the IRS was targeting critics of the Obama administration.”

“President Obama may want to continue to lie about his IRS scandal,” he said. “These documents tell the truth – his IRS hated conservatives and was willing to illegally tax and audit citizens to shut down opposition to Barack Obama’s policies and reelection.”

The IRS is, perhaps, the most corrupt agency in the federal government – and that’s saying something. The Tea Party scandal and the documents uncovered by Judicial Watch only skim the surface of recent problems. If there’s one federal agency that deserves to be torn apart, brick-by-brick, it’s this one, folks.

Obama Administration Spends $500 million to Train Only 60 Syrian Rebels

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As the Obama administration tried to convince Congress to support intervention against the dictatorial regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad in the summer of 2013, officials insisted that only a quarter of Syrian rebels had ties to Islamic extremist groups. That turned out to be inaccurate. An estimate produced by IHS Jane’s found that nearly half were Islamic extremists.

Fast-forward to June 2014, when the administration asked Congress for $500 million to train and equip to several thousand so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels to, now, fight the Islamic State, which operates in Syria, as well as Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries. Congress approved the funding request in December.

CNN reports, however, that the only 60 rebels have been vetted to participate in the program. Recruits cannot have any ties to terrorist organizations. “We make sure that they, for example, aren’t going to pose a green-on-blue threat to their trainers; that they don’t have any history of atrocities,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter told the Senate Armed Services Committee of the vetting process on Tuesday.

“I expect that number to improve,” he said, “but you deserve to know the truth.

The plan was to train some 15,000-rebel fighters over three years. Although 7,000 potential recruits are currently being vetted, Carter’s testimony didn’t sit well with members of the committee, including Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a prominent foreign policy hawk who has criticized the administration for its handling of the Islamic State, as well as not ousting Assad in 2013.

“I’ve got to tell you after four years [since the Syrian Civil War began], Mr. Secretary, that’s not a very impressive number,” McCain told Carter. McCain suggested that U.S.-trained fighters be allowed to target Assad’s forces, whom they aren’t trained to engage.

The numbers may be low because many would-be fighters are more interested in toppling Assad and taking control of Syria than fighting the Islamic State, which is just one extremist group fighting the regime. Others include al-Qaeda and Hamas. Hezbollah and Iran are supporting Assad.

The foreign policy venture in Syria is already proving to be a failure, and yet, it’s amazing that some, like McCain, want to United States to get further involved by allowing fighters to go after Assad’s forces in addition to fighting the Islamic State. It may not be as sordid of an affair as Iraq, but it could be.

If there’s anything our history of intervention has taught us is that we’re not very good at it. Perhaps we would be better served if, for once, we stayed out of the fight.

They Said It… With John Kerry and Rand Paul

in Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the They Said It section in Volume 20, No. 8 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

LIBERTARIANS HELP WIN LEGAL POT IN ALASKA: “Smoking, growing and possessing marijuana becomes legal in America’s wildest state Tuesday, thanks to a voter initiative aimed at clearing away 40 years of conflicting laws and court rulings. Making Alaska the third state to legalize recreational marijuana was the goal of a coalition including libertarians, rugged individualists and small-government Republicans who prize the privacy rights enshrined in the state’s constitution.” — journalist Molly Dischner, Associated Press, “Alaska Becomes 3rd State With Legal Marijuana,” Feb. 23, 2015.

HOW GOV’T SPIES HACKED VIRTUALLY EVERY CELL PHONE IN THE WORLD: “With the help of the NSA, British intelligence broke into the world’s leading manufacturer of SIM cards and stole millions of keys that encrypt cell phone communications, including what you say. … U.S. and British spies hacked into Gemalto, which makes SIM cards for AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint, and hundreds of other wireless networks. With Gemalto’s encryption keys in hand, the intelligence agencies gained ‘the potential to secretly monitor a large portion of the world’s cellular communications, including both voice and data’ without having to get a single warrant or tell a telephone company.” — the Daily Beast website, summarizing “The Great SIM Heist: How Spies Stole the Keys to the Encryption Castle” by Jeremy Scahill and Josh Begley (based on files from Edward Snowden), The Intercept, Feb. 19, 2014. Ajit Pai

GOV’T AT WORK: “[Net Neutrality] is a solution that won’t work to a problem that doesn’t exist.” — Ajit Pai, a commissioner at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

UBER REDUCES DRUNK DRIVING, SAVES LIVES: “In May 2014, Uber set out to answer a simple but important question: what, if any, effect did the availability of safe, reliable rides on the Uber ridesharing platform have on drunk driving in Seattle, where prior to Uber’s arrival in 2013, approximately 7.6 people per day — or 2,750 per year — were arrested for driving under the influence. Using publicly available data and a simple econometric model, we discovered Uber’s entry into the Emerald City was associated with a 10% decrease in DUI arrests. The results were robust and statistically significant, providing meaningful evidence of the power Uber’s network of safe, reliable rides has on drunk driving in major metropolitan cities. … And the pattern is the same in cities across America. … [W]e believe there is a direct relationship between the presence of uberX in a city and the amount of drunk driving crashes involving younger populations.” —Uber and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) from their new study, “More Options. Shifting Mindsets. Driving Better Choices.”

FOOLS:
“American foreign policy is controlled by fools. What else can one conclude from the Doug Bandowbipartisan demand that the U.S. intervene everywhere all the time, irrespective of consequence? … Not only has virtually every bombing, invasion, occupation, and other interference made problems worse. Almost every new intervention is an attempt to redress problems created by previous U.S. actions. And every new military step is likely, indeed, almost guaranteed, to create even bigger problems.” —Doug Bandow, Cato Institute, “Washington’s Foolish Foreign Policy: American People Must Say No to More Wars,” Forbes.com, Feb. 21, 2015.

WAR, WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR: “So just what did several thousand dead Americans, and at least tens of thousands of civilian casualties, plus a couple of trillion dollars get us? … Are we living in a safer world with a more peaceful and prosperous Iraq, Afghanistan or Libya? Isn’t there, as some experts have posited, a possible casual link between the way we prosecuted the war on terror so far, and the proliferation of violence so much of the world is still living with today? … We are on a ‘wars of the future’ conveyor belt where we will keep spending mindlessly, without pausing to see what the trillions we have already spent have actually bought us and the planet.” — Robert Hennelly, “What did thousands of dead Americans get us? Before granting war powers, let’s see where the last two got us,” Slate.com, Feb 22, 2015.

EXCELLENT QUESTION: “Remember there was this [federal government] shutdown about a year ago, and in Washington everyone was clamoring, everyone was worried. I went home to Kentucky and you know what they said: ‘Why in the hell did you open it back up?’” — Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) speaking in Montgomery, Alabama, Feb. 20, 2015, quoted by Breitbart.com.

John KerryKERRY SWIFTBOATS NETANYAHU: “The prime minister was profoundly forward-leaning and outspoken about the importance of invading Iraq under George W. Bush. We all know what happened with that decision.” — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Feb. 25, 2015, attacking Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the grounds that Netanyahu’s support for the U.S. invasion of Iraq shows his judgment on Iran can’t be trusted. Yes, this is the same John Kerry who himself voted for the war in Iraq in 2002 and touted that support while running for president in 2004.

RULE OF THUMB: “Here’s a good rule of thumb: Any time a president says new tech laws are to protect ‘our kids,’ you know something bad is on the way.” — tech culture journalist Xeni Jardin on anti-privacy laws being considered by the Obama administration, “President Obama’s tech-centered State of the Union,” Boing Boing, Jan. 20, 2015.

VIDEO: Remy Takes on the ISIS Crisis

in Communicating Liberty, Foreign Policy, Liberator Online, Middle East, War by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 15 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

How to deal with the ISIS crisis?

In this amazing video, the Obama administration’s ISIS Response Team — all roles played by the wonderful liberty-minded comedian Remy — ponders various options.

It’s a modern-day Dr. Strangelove, as they consider using some hideous all-new weapons of mass destruction that are… just too terrible to contemplate.

A minute and a half of political wisdom and super laughs from Reason TV. Share it with friends!

Click here to read the next article from this issue.

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MintPress: Young Libertarians and Progressives Redefining American Politics

in Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 5 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

“Libertarians, Progressives Poised to Redefine American Politics” is the title of a Feb. 25, 2014 article by Frederick Reese at MintPress News, a new independent online journalism site.

“With an historically high 42 percent of Americans identifying themselves as independents as of January, the United States is becoming a nation increasingly not served by either the Republican or Democrat label,” Reese writes. “According to a December 2013 Gallup poll, 72 percent of all Americans believed that Big Government is a bigger threat to the United States than Big Business (21 percent) or Big Labor (5 percent).

“While this may be burn-out from years of government malpractice — an increase in unmanned drone usage, the largest government surveillance apparatus; several scandals involving the Executive Branch; a government shutdown in an attempt to repeal the patient Protection & Affordable Care Act followed by more than 40 repeal attempts — the general feeling is that the young vote has been moving away from the ‘Big Government’ parties.”

This portends huge change in the near future for American politics, the article predicts. Reese noted that young progressives and libertarians share many concerns on civil liberties and foreign policy issues — and those concerns are not being addressed by the two-party Establishment.

“As Millennials may represent the most Progressive or Libertarian generation ever, and as Millennials are expected to constitute 75 percent of the workforce by 2020, one might be tempted to say that the fate of the ‘Big Two’ parties lies in the embrace of their small-government cousins,” says Reese.

The article quotes Carla Howell, political director of the National Libertarian Party, on this coming sea-change:

“As the views of Americans, and especially young voters, converge with the Libertarian platform, we are attracting more votes than the party has ever seen,” Howell told MintNews. “Over 15,000,000 votes were cast for Libertarians in 2012. The Robert Sarvis for governor campaign in Virginia last year garnered 6.5 percent of the vote, the highest vote total for a candidate who was neither a Democrat nor a Republican in a southern state in over 40 years. His vote among those aged 18-29 stood at 15 percent.

“Both Democrats and Republicans have expanded Big Government to the limit that they could get away with for years, especially in the last 14 years during both the Bush and Obama administrations,” Howell continued. “Bailouts, FEMA, needless wars, Obamacare, the Drug Prohibition and NSA spying — all of which have failed their stated mission. They failed to create jobs, failed to stop the escalation of health care costs, violate personal liberties and put people and our country more — not less — at risk. Young voters have witnessed these abysmal failures and see that government is not the place to turn to solve human problems.”

(Hat tip to Libertarian Party blog)

Cost of Government Day: You Worked More Than Half This Year for Gov’t

in Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition in Volume 18, No. 15 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Did you notice? Sometime in mid-July, you stopped working for the government — and were finally allowed to start keeping the money you earn.

Each year the Cost of Government Center, in partnership with Americans for Tax Reform Foundation, calculates Cost of Government Day.

Cost of Government Day is the day on which the average American has earned enough income to pay off his or her share of the spending and regulatory burdens imposed by government at the federal, state and local levels.

This year Cost of Government Day arrived — finally! — on Saturday, July 13.

In other words, this year American workers are forced to labor 194 days out of the year just to meet all the costs imposed upon them by government.

And that’s just the average. Taxpayers in many states will have to work well past July 13 to pay for costs imposed by their bloated state governments. Notoriously high-tax, big-spending states such as California, Illinois and New York have some of the latest-arriving Cost of Government Days in the nation.

Worst of all is Connecticut — where residents must labor for the state until… August 31.

And if you feel that the burden has gotten worse during the past few years, you’re right.  This year marks the fifth consecutive year that Cost of Government Day has fallen in July. Prior to the Obama Administration, the latest-arriving Cost of Government Day recorded was June 27.

They Said It… With George Will, Peggy Noonan, and More

in Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the They Said It.. section in Volume 18, No. 15 of the Liberator OnlineSubscribe here!)

YOUR CELL PHONE NOW WORKS FOR THE FBI:
Peggy Noonan“The FBI is able to remotely activate microphones on phones running Android software. They can now record conversations in this way. They can do the same with microphones in laptops. They can get to you in a lot of ways! Does this make you nervous? If not, why not?” – Peggy Noonan, “Why Christie Is Wrong,” Wall Street Journal blogs, August 5, 2013.

Bill of Rights

WHAT FIRST AMENDMENT?: “Asked to name the five specific freedoms in the First Amendment, 59% of Americans could name freedom of speech, followed by 24% who could name freedom of religion, 14% freedom of the press, 11% the right to assemble, and 4% the right to petition. Thirty-six percent of Americans cannot name any of the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment.” – The First Amendment Center reporting findings of its annual national survey of American attitudes about the First Amendment.

CHILLINOIS: “Today Illinois became the 20th state to legalize [medical] marijuana. The state also changed its name to Chillinois.” — Conan O’Brien, August 1, 2013.

THE “LIBERTARIAN MOMENT” IS HERE: “From issues such as same-sex marriage and legal marijuana to restrictions on government spying and U.S. intervention in foreign affairs, the nation is engaged in a new ‘libertarian moment,’ politicians and political scientists say.” — reporters Dave Helling and Steve Kraske, “Nation has arrived at a new ‘libertarian moment,’ experts say,” Kansas City Star, August 4, 2012.

GEORGE WILL DEFENDS LIBERTARIANISM AGAINST “DANGEROUS” GOV. CHRISTIE:
George Will“What libertarianism says — it comes in many flavors and many degrees of severity, and it basically says before the government abridges the freedom of an individual or the freedom of several individuals contracting together, that government ought to have (A) a compelling reason; and (B) a constitutional warrant for doing so. Now, if Mr. Christie thinks that’s a dangerous thought, a number of people are going to say that Mr. Christie himself may be dangerous.” — pundit George Will responding to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s recent attacks on libertarianism, on ABC’s “This Week,” August 4, 2013.

JAY LENO ON OBAMACARE LIES: “The Obama administration has admitted that, under Obamacare, you might not be able to keep your doctor. At first the president guaranteed you’d be able to keep your doctor, and now they’re saying you ‘might’ be able to. Today Obama changed his slogan from ‘Yes we can’ to ‘Perhaps we could try. Can’t promise anything.’” — Jay Leno, July 24, 2013.

JAY LENO GIVES THANKS: “Detroit has become the largest city in U.S. history to file for bankruptcy. What happened was Detroit’s population dropped something like 70 percent, but the government got bigger. The tax base got smaller, but the government got bigger. Thank God that kind of thing could never happen in Washington.” — Jay Leno, July 22, 2013.