Relays Will Grigg:
A North Vegas Police Officer shot and killed a 38-year-old man for the supposed crime of walking away from a cop.
David L. Robinson was shot in the head by an unidentified North Las Vegas cop in the backyard of an abandoned home. He had been accosted by the officer while trying to cross the street. According to NLVPD propaganda officer Chrissie Coon, Robinson was “uncooperative” and “backed away” from the armed stranger, which will make it unusually difficult to claim that the victim acted “aggressively” toward the government functionary who killed him.
The killer has been placed on paid vacation while the department and the police union work on a cover story to justify his inevitable exoneration.
Unarmed, clearly non-violent student brutally pepper-sprayed.
73 were arrested over the weekend as police used outrageous tactics against college students enjoying a pre-St. Patrick’s Day party.
A youtube Video by levin00, shows how brutality and oppression are quickly becoming the goto tactics of Police State USA. It also shows that what the media is saying about this event is all wrong.
The video clearly shows kids having fun, NOT being violent or destructive.
Then the storm troopers show up in their black uniforms, with rubber bullets and pepper spray. The jackboots rolled trough campus laying waste to the wasted.
These are college kids doing what college kids do, and they were treated like enemy combatants. This was completely uncalled for! The violent tendency of the state has got to be reined in.
When will enough be enough? These cops need to be held accountable, as well as the one’s that sent their vicious attack dogs out to wreak havoc.
I write today to express my concerns about United States dollar bills. The exchange of dollar bills, including high denomination bills, is currently unregulated and has allowed users to participate in illicit activity, while also being highly subject to forgery, theft, and loss. For the reasons outlined below, I urge regulators to take immediate and appropriate action to limit the use of dollar bills.
By way of background, a physical dollar bill is a printed version of a dollar note issued by the Federal Reserve and backed by the ephemeral “full faith and credit” of the United States. Dollar bills have gained notoriety in relation to illegal transactions; suitcases full of dollars used for illegal transactions were recently featured in popular movies such as American Hustle and Dallas Buyers Club, as well as the gangster classic, Scarface, among others. Dollar bills are present in nearly all major drug busts in the United States and many abroad. According to the U.S. Department of Justice study, “Crime in the United States,” more than $1 billion in cash was stolen in 2012, of which less than 3% was recovered. The United States’ Dollar was present by the truck load in Saddam Hussein’s compound, by the carload when Noriega was arrested for drug trafficking, and by the suitcase full in the Watergate case.
Unlike digital currencies, which are carbon neutral allowing us to breathe cleaner air, each dollar bill is manufactured from virgin materials like cotton and linen, which go through extensive treatment and processing. Last year, the Federal Reserve had to destroy $3 billion worth of $100 bills after a “printing error.” Certainly this cannot be the greenest currency.
Printed pieces of paper can fit in a person’s pocket and can be given to another person without any government oversight. Dollar bills are not only a store of value but also a method for transferring that value. This also means that dollar bills allow for anonymous and irreversible transactions.
The very features of dollar bills, such as anonymous transactions, have created ubiquitous uses from drug purchases, to hit men, to prostitutes, as dollar bills are attractive to criminals who are able to disguise their actions from law enforcement. Due to the dollar bills’ anonymity, the dollar bill market has been extremely susceptible to forgers, tax fraud, criminal cartels, and armed robbers stealing millions of dollars from their legitimate owners. Anonymity, combined with a dollar bills’ ability to finalize transactions quickly, makes it very difficult, if not impossible, to reverse fraudulent transactions.
Many of our foreign counterparts already understand the wide range of problems that physical currencies can have. Many physical currencies have enormous price fluctuations, and even experience deflation. 20 years ago Brazil had an inflation rate of 6281%. In 4 years (2001 to 2005), the Turkish Lira went from 1,650,000: $1 to 1.29 to $1. In 2009, Zimbabwe discontinued it’s dollar. Before it was eliminated, the Zimbabwe dollar was the least valuable currency in the world and their central bank even issued a $100 trillion dollar banknote. A person would starve on a billion Zimbabwe dollars and it took an entire wheelbarrow full of $100 billion dollars in notes to purchase a loaf of bread.
The clear use of dollar bills for transacting in illegal goods, anonymous transactions, tax fraud, and services or speculative gambling make me wary of their use. Before the United States gets too far behind the curve on this important topic, I urge the regulators to work together, act quickly, and prohibit this dangerous currency from harming hard-working Americans.
— Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) offers this satirical response to Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) call to ban bitcoins.
If I were President, I wouldn’t let Vladimir Putin get away with it.
Rand Paul, demonstrating how far an apple can fall from a tree.
Here’s his father’s take for comparison.
Rand may very well be the best option on ballots come 2016 (probably by a lot, considering his purported stance on drones and the NSA and the TSA and “Obamacare” and the budget, relative to the other potential candidates at least), but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’d be a good option. Particularly not when he demonstrates an eagerness for foreign meddling, even if it is less blood-thirsty than his predecessors…
Bonnie Kristian (hipsterlibertarian) noted yesterday, in chastising certain libertarians who are displeased with Rand Paul, that we must be able to distinguish and prioritize some issues over others to best analyze candidates. She explained that some issues are more central and of higher importance than others, and as such should carry more weight in our analysis.
My stance on voting in general notwithstanding, I can certainly agree with that. And I contend that war is a big issue.
This is a follow-up to yesterday’s post.
As with other law enforcement authorities, the record of the NSA in obtaining warrants from the FISA court is imposing. In the 33,949 applications that were resolved from 1979-2012, only 11 were rejected (0.0324%). (The rejection rate for other wiretap applications in state and federal courts is similarly low.) Though originally designed merely to issue secret warrants for surveillance, the powers of the FISA Court have expanded over time, with a large expansion of power occurring in 2008, when the Bush administration retroactively immunized any “electronic communication service provider” from any liability for their complicity in unlawful NSA surveillance.
In order to deal with a large number of warrant applications, the powers of the FISA Court have expanded to the point that it has undertaken quasi-constitutional proceedings, allegedly validating the surveillance programs as being within the constitutional powers of the US government. Even in this latter function, the hearings have been closed to the public and have been conducted with only the government giving arguments to the court. Hence, the government has had free rein to be the only party represented at hearings which have purported to determine its own legal powers under the US Constitution. For this reason, one commentator has noted that, “[i]n truth, the FISC has basically become a parallel Supreme Court, but one which operates in almost total secrecy.”
The effect of this secret court system has been to allow the NSA to build up 34 years of judicial precedents in favor of its expansive powers, with a large body of purported constitutional findings validating its own power. All of this has been conducted behind closed doors, without the inconvenience of opposing argument from other parties. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this secret court system has opened up opportunities for judicial capture for the NSA. As noted by legal scholar Elizabeth Goitein, “[l]ike any other group that meets in secret behind closed doors with only one constituency appearing before them, they’re subject to capture and bias.”
For former FISA court judge James Robertson, these remarks have rung true to such an extent that he has publicly complained about the ex parte nature of the FISA court proceedings. According to this former member of the court, “[w]hat FISA does is not adjudication, but approval. This works just fine when it deals with individual applications for warrants, but the 2008 amendment has turned the FISA court into an administrative agency making rules for others to follow.”
To the extent that judicial capture has been resisted by the court, it has nonetheless functioned as a compliant entity to the NSA, through the fact that any criticisms against the unlawful actions of the NSA have been kept secret, and have been without any serious legal consequence to the agency. When the Chief Judge of the FISA court was alerted to a mass of systematic misrepresentations to the court by the NSA, the consequence was a “stern rebuke” in a classified memorandum that was not available to the public until years later. (In fact, the opinion was only declassified due to public pressure as a result of the Snowden leaks. If not for these leaks it is likely that the opinion would still remain classified today.) In March 2009, following breaches of the courts orders, the Chief Judge found that the testimony of General Keith Alexander setting out the NSA interpretation of the court’s orders “strained credulity” by interpreting a part of the orders as effectively being optional. He also found that “[t]he minimization procedures proposed by the government in each successive application and approved and adopted as binding by the orders of the [FISA Court] have been so frequently and systematically violated that it can fairly be said that this critical element of the overall [metadata] regime has never functioned effectively.” Despite lacking confidence that the NSA would comply with future orders, the Chief Judge allowed the mass collection of metadata to continue, and allowed the government to continue to apply for access to this data on a case-by-case basis, or for imminent threats, until such time as they completed a review of their procedures. The NSA completed their review and the regular operation of the mass-surveillance program was restored shortly afterward.
Some commentators have taken this judicial rebuke by the FISA court as proof of the “toughness” of the court on the NSA, but in fact, it is proof of their subservience to the agency. Despite finding that there had been systematic misrepresentations to the court by the NSA, no action was taken against officials who had given false statements to the court. There was no disciplinary action of any kind against personnel of the agency, and the “rebuke” of the court remained a private classified document, only available to the agency being criticized. NSA officials who had systematically misled the court were free to read this rebuke knowing that no consequence would follow from it, since no member of the public could read about their actions. When the matter was later exposed to the public (as a result of the Snowden leaks) the Chief Judge complained that his court “… is forced to rely upon the accuracy of the information that is provided to the Court.”The surveillance programs of the NSA continued, with ongoing approval by the court, after a short period of technical review conducted by the NSA. Such “toughness” as this is what passes for “checks and balances” within the system of secret courts.
The dubious nature of the FISA court is well-understood within the wider judicial system, a fact which was clear in the Klayman preliminary judgment. The stark distinction between the secretive FISA court and the public court system was recognized by Judge Leon when he observed that, “… no court has ever recognized a special need sufficient to justify continuous, daily searches of virtually every American citizen without any particularized suspicion. In effect, the government urges me to be the first non-FISC judge to sanction such a dragnet.” It is notable here that Judge Leon felt that it was significant that he was the first non-FISC judge to consider the matter, a tacit recognition that the judgments of the FISC cannot be regarded as true constitutional scrutiny.
Legal scholar Randy Barnett has argued that surveillance programs by a secret court violates the requirement for “due process of law.” According to Barnett, “[s]ecret judicial proceedings adjudicating the rights of private parties, without any ability to participate or even read the legal opinions of the judges, is the antithesis of the due process of law.” Though we refer to such an institution as a “court” system in the positive-law sense, in truth, such a “court” lacks many of the characteristics of a proper court. It is in fact more akin to bodies such as the English Star Chamber, which conducted judicial hearings in secret, issuing secret rulings affecting parties who were not represented in its hearings.
[O]ne of the most instructive aspects of the NSA scandal is the way the agency has succeeded, for an extensive period of time, in warding off legal challenges to the constitutionality of its surveillance programs. This is instructive from the point of view of libertarian theory, since it illustrates the degree to which the much-vaunted “checks and balances” within the State apparatus, highlighted in the recent Obama speech, are really illusory. In practice, the judicial and executive branches of government tend to act as a legitimizing mechanism for the actions of government agencies, with rare “checks and balances” and “reforms” coming only when the legitimacy of the system is under potent attack from some outside source.
The NSA has taken great advantage of the symbiosis between the executive and judicial branches of the State, having implemented long-running programs of lawless surveillance and phony judicial review. The modus operandi of the agency in these matters has been to hide behind various secrecy requirements which have been used to hamstring attempts at open judicial review, ensuring that scrutiny of its programs and their legal basis is kept away from the prying eyes of the public. This has included the use of secret courts, where other parties are not represented and are not privy to proceedings. It has also included the use of secrecy requirements in evidence controlled by the NSA, which prevents people from showing that they have standing to challenge the agency’s programs in court, or mandates that such matters are “state secrets,” beyond the scope of judicial review. And of course, it has also included an extensive regime of secret judicial rulings and secret “law,” with proceedings conducted behind a legal wall chiseled with those two ominous words: top secret! …
The ultimate arbiter of constitutionality in the US legal system, [the Supreme Court], has shown itself, in past cases, to be highly protective of the government in these matters, and has previously assented to some quite absurd doctrines and arguments to prevent any meaningful judicial review. The court has repeatedly taken assurances from the US government that the opportunity for constitutional review would arise in the future, but has consistently sided with their assertions that it cannot arise for this particular plaintiff, or this one, or this one. This has meant that while the illusion of judicial control has been maintained, the court has taken a policy of de facto immunity from constitutional scrutiny. As Larry Klayman put it, “most judges are just ‘yes men’ who rubber-stamp the federal government’s agenda.”
Today Democratic California Attorney General (and potential future gubernatorial candidate) Kamala Harris figured out how to appeal to the powerful school unions in the state without having to wade into the difficult issues like their massive pension debtsor the fact that more and more Californians are turning tocharter schoolsto get the heck out of the system.
The big crisis is truancy, she argues, and she and several Democratic lawmakers introduced today a package of bills to fight it. In her bigpress release, she makes no bones about what the goal of reducing truancy is; in the very first paragraph, Harris mentions how absences cost the state school system $1.4 billion a year, because state school funding is tied to attendance.
In a way, I’ve always appreciated how nakedly honest California is about the reasons it’s fighting truancy. They want their money and they want it now. Whether the quality of education or the way students (or parents) are treated contributes to student truancy is not a concern. The law says students need to be in school, the school gets money for students being in school, and so the law is going to drag students into school so that the schools will get their money. Oh, hey, and maybe the law can make some money on the side, too, by fining the parents.
Before looking at these proposed solutions, let’s look at a moment at what Harris calls a crisis:
“According to the California Department of Education, 691,470 California elementary school children, or 1 out of every 5 elementary school students, were reported to be truant in the 2011-2012 school year.”
Holy crap, that’s a lot! But wait just a minute. Here is how the State of California describes “truant”:
In California, a student is truant if he/she is absent or tardy by more than 30 minutes without a valid excuse on 3 occasions in a school year.
Yeah, so if Mom or Dad gets caught in traffic or is somehow late three times in a school year that means the kids are well on their way to becoming hardened criminals. California schools really,reallywant their money, folks. Harris further notes that one school reported that 92 percent of its students were truant in one year, but given the state’s definition, it’s a little hard to feel any outrage. She explains further that 250,000 elementary school students miss more than 10 percent of the school year and 20,000 elementary school kids miss more than 35 days of school a year. She describes this statistic as “shocking,” even though that works out to less than a percent of the total students in California’s school system.
Something has to be done, folks! Truant kids don’t learn things, and then they drop out of school and cause crime. Clearly, the solution would be to give parents flexibility in educating their kids and provide a system that allows for choices that work for families with different needs. Ha! Ha! Just kidding.You will accommodate the state’s schedule, citizens!Instead, Harris and lawmakers are suggesting more studies, more recordkeeping, more reports, and a mandate that every county create a special review board to deal with student attendance issues. That last one is an interesting item, as the state already allows for these boards. As part of the legislation mandating their creation, they are adding that a board must include a representative from the county’s district attorney’s office. And if there are costs because of this mandate (like, say, requiring somebody from the district attorney’s office to attend), the state is required to reimburse them. How much money are they going to end up spending chasing after this $1.4 billion lost from student absences?
Say you’re awesome at making widgets. You’re decent to pretty good at a number of things, but you can’t build houses or tend gardens or cook or sew, you have no interest in serving people food or drinks, you’re a terrible painter, and you hate shuffling papers in a mindless cubicle-job. Your real talent, though, is in widget-production; man, can you make a mean widget. So you decide to seize your comparative advantage in widgets to make and sell them for a living.
Well, you’ll need a workshop to make those widgets in and a storefront to sell them from, so you’ll buy or rent out space from someone who owns a building with the right accommodations.
You’ll then need equipment, which at some point you purchased from people who sold them. But now that you have the bigger shop, you buy even more.
You’ll need steel, screws, some gears, wood, cables, molded plastic, batteries, and other materials which you will use to make your widget. All those goods were previously sold by someone (and were made by someone else, whose component parts were culled or mined or created by yet another someone else).
You’ll need to hire people to help you make the widgets. Hire people to package them. Hire people to mop the floors at the end of the day.
You’ll need to buy power and communications and transportation capabilities from others still. Maybe hire a fumigator to tackle those termites, a plumber to repair a busted pipe, a chef to cater the grand opening, and a glazier to fix that broken window.
Of course to afford all this initial capital expenditure, you might need a loan from someone who saved the money first (that is, deferred their consumption) in order to lend it to you because they believe in your idea and your ability to implement it, and therefore your ability to pay interest (that is, the price of borrowed money).
And then you’ll need customers who value your widget more than the price they’d have to pay, or they wouldn’t freely make that trade.
And since you were the “customer” or exchange partner in all those previous transactions that led to that sale, you therefore preferred those goods and services more than whatever you gave up or you wouldn’t have made the trade.
Furthermore, every exchange you make is based on the fact that someone else was catering to your demands. In fact, you chose to make widgets because you’re better at that task than you are at making your own house or clothing or food - so with what you earn by fulfilling others’ demands, you can hire others who are good at what you are not. Our success, thus, comes from serving each other’s interests through assistance, tolerance, and cooperation.
Self-interest, as I’ve noted, is the motive behind all human action. We all observe and experience the world through the prism of our own minds and aim to achieve our own desires (for good or ill). Preferences are subjective and we all act in order to reach (or, more accurately, attempt to reach) some desired end. Any action that is voluntary reveals our preferences, which is to say our voluntary actions are always what suit us. As such, the state creates mechanisms with which individuals can pursue their self-interest at the expense of others and be inoculated from the consequences of their actions. The alternative is a society in which private property is respected and people face consequences for their mistakes and misdeeds (both from liability and competitive pressure); this is a society that rewards - and causes to flourish - peaceful cooperation and mutually beneficial exchange. In short, the free market best harnesses our individual, narrow self-interests to serve others.
So for any given market activity, there will likely be far, far more people you cooperate with than people you compete against. Free markets are the opposite of isolating. It is the state that monopolizes force and chooses aggression over persuasion. It is the state that puts limits to peaceful activity and raises barriers to consensual exchange. It is the state that forces us to battle with one another as to whose ideas will dominate each other’s lives instead of allowing us to make peaceful decisions over our own lives for ourselves. The state divides us, the market brings us together. Because that’s what the market is: the interconnected nexus of mutually beneficial exchanges among consenting individuals. And it’s a beautiful thing.
Three weeks ago, Beth Gatny, a police officer in Euharlee, Ga., fatally shot 17-year-old Christopher Roupe after he opened the door for cops. According to the family and some witnesses the teenager was holding a Wii controller (which is a white stick, more or less) when he was shot once in the chest. Police claim Roupe was holding a handgun, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has not yet completed its report on the incident. Gatny remains on paid leave. Now, 11 Alive, the NBC affiliate in Georgia, reports that Gatny, who has been employed with Euharlee police for less than a year, had been fired from her last job:Gatny worked at the Acworth Police Department for 10 years prior to that and personnel records indicate that she was written up and suspended a number of times for various infractions.
In a timeline, her supervisors say she “refused to follow orders” on everything from filing paperwork to carrying her walkie talkie.
Gatny was involved in four car accidents in two years.
In 2007, she reportedly “left her duty belt, along with her weapon..with a civilian employee” while she had her picture taken with someone.
In 2008, while confronting three suspects, she fired her service weapon. An internal investigation found the suspect was trying to remove his backpack. She was convinced he was going for a gun, but a fellow officer said he never thought the suspect was armed.
Internal Affairs concluded she should not be punished because the initial call for service said the suspects could have been armed.
We’ve covered many police officers with the type of records and background that ought to, by common sense alone, end their law enforcement careers and preclude them from future employment as police officers. I’ve suggested zero tolerance for cops. Every time an irresponsible gun owner does something stupid or someone commits a prominent enough crime using a gun, the incident is used by anti-gun activists to challenge the notion that individuals have the right to arm themselves for self-defense. Yet the right to a gun is heavily restricted. A prior felony, for example, led to a 20 year sentence for a Philly man who shot his gun into the air. In the meantime, when former law enforcement officers are involved in acts of “gun violence,” their background is often not highlighted. For example, the Florida man who shot a fellow moviegoer for texting in the theater was a retired police officer, but it didn’t stop this anti-stand your ground editorial cartoon from using the incident to draw a broader point. Yet, even in states like New York with restrictive gun laws, politicians have carved out exemptions not just for law enforcement but former law enforcement, like the Florida man who fatally shot a texter. Police officers around the country are pushing back against the NFL’s no guns rule, not because they believe we all have the right to bear arms, but because they believe they do. How sick is that worldview?
Beth Gatny shot and killed a 17-year-old boy. She should be presumed innocent in a court of law until proven guilty, a right that needs to be preserved for all accused. But Gatny isn’t enjoying those rights right now, but privileges carved out for her and other police officers around the country, in union contracts often signed by local government officials long out of power. Earlier today, for example, I wrote about a Baltimore cop who choked his girlfriend’s puppy to death and then sent pictures of the dead dog to her. He admitted as much, and has been charged with animal cruelty. But he, too, remains employed with the police department. Unlike Gatny, he is suspended without pay until he is convicted. But the fact that a police officer can choke a puppy to death and admit it, or shoot a 17-year-old in the chest after he opens the door, or brutally beat a homeless man to death, and expect to keep their jobs until they have their “due process” is a perversion of the term. Being fired by a police department is not the same as being treated as a guilty person, it would be an acknowledgement that police officers are held to an extremely high standard because government has decided to give them costumes, guns, badges, and the wide discretion to use them. In too much of the United States, that higher standard simply doesn’t exist.
Beth Gatny and Alec Taylor, the puppy-choker, and every other cop with obviously poor character ought to be fired, and the police departments and municipalities that employ them should have that power.
Only then will it not be Orwellian to call them “public servants.”
Obamacare’s conservative critics sure know how to make themselves look out of touch. From Sarah Palin’s 2009 warning about “death panels” to last week’s headlines that a new CBO report said the Affordable Care Act would kill more than 2 million jobs, the law’s critics keep telling whoppers.
Say this much for the critics, though: At least they’re just bungling the facts.
Facts are easy. You can check facts. What supporters of the law are doing, on the other hand, transcends factual bungling. It’s far more advanced: a warping of reality so debauched it looks like something out of a tale by H.P. Lovecraft.
Christina and Timothy Sandefur offer a perfect example in the latest issue of Regulation magazine. The fine levied for failing to purchase insurance, they note, is a “penalty that’s a tax but doesn’t raise revenue.”
Cast your mind back to those halcyon days of yore, when the law was first being debated. Democrats were keen to insist, as President Obama did in an interview with George Stephanopoulous, that the penalty was “absolutely not a tax increase.” On the other hand, the law’s proponents worried the Supreme Court would not buy the line that Congress had the power to impose the levy under the Commerce Clause. (They were right about that.)
So they came up with the bright idea of calling the penalty an “excise tax on individuals without essential health benefits coverage.” That was pretty sketchy, since an excise tax applies to the purchase of goods, not to individuals who haven’t bought a good. But it worked: In 2012 the Supreme Court’s majority rescued Obamacare by agreeing to call the penalty a tax.
At the same time, the Court also insisted that the penalty was not a tax. This was the only way to get around the Anti-Injunction Act, which generally requires someone to pay a tax before he can challenge the collection of it. Since the mandate penalties originally did not kick in until 2014, that would have prevented the Court from ruling on the law’s merits until much later.
But wait, there’s more!
The Constitution says “all bills for raising revenue” must originate in the House of Representatives. But the ACA originated in the Senate, when Majority Leader Harry Reid took a House-passed measure, deleted its text, and substituted what became the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act for the original bill.
The Pacific Legal Foundation is challenging the constitutionality of Obamacare on Origination-Clause grounds. In response, the Obama administration claims the ACA not only originated in the House, but also that it is — wait for it! — “not a ‘Bill for raising Revenue.’ ”
So is the penalty a tax or not? Answer: Pick a color between one and 10.
And this is only the beginning. Consider the ACA’s other controversial mandate — the contraception mandate, now being challenged by (among others) Hobby Lobby, a company called Conestoga Woods, and Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic charity. They do not want to be forced to provide or arrange for contraception, which violates their religious beliefs.
In response, Obamacare defenders could simply say that life is full of trade-offs, and ensuring access to free contraception is more important than religious liberty. Instead, they want to claim both sides of the argument by insisting that those who object to the mandate are the ones violating religious freedom. Not buying your employees contraception, their argument goes, violates the employees’ freedom of religion. How? Because, um … hey, look, a squirrel!
The other day The New York Times took this absurdity another step further. The paper argued — you might want to grab a chair — that not forcing companies to furnish contraceptives for their employees violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
Moving on: The Affordable Care Act says people who qualify can obtain subsidies to buy insurance through an exchange “established by the state.” Thirty-four states have no exchange of their own; they have exchanges established by Washington. This means the people of those states are ineligible for subsidies. According to the law’s defenders, though, the language of the law does not say what it says, because we all know what Congress really meant. Or something like that.
Which brings us to last week, and the CBO’s projection that Obamacare will induce more than 2 million people to quit working or cut back their hours to take advantage of the law’s subsidies. Conservatives initially misread this as saying the law would destroy 2 million jobs, which was wrong of them; employers will not lay off 2 million people.
But if conservatives were too quick on the trigger, what excuse do liberals have? Not content to point out the truth, they have tried to spin the news as good: Isn’t it wonderful that those who could work will choose not to so they can reap benefits from the shrinking cohort of the employed? Obamacare is liberating people from the tyranny of gainful employment! What could be better?
Answer: “a comprehensive national health care system and a guaranteed basic income,” according to Alex Pareene of Salon, because “people should be free from [lousy] jobs.” If they were, then they could “spend more time with their families,” enrich themselves, get educated, “and even just … [fool] around a little more.” (No word on who, exactly, will be left to provide the income in this non-worker’s paradise.)
A world in which nobody has to do unpleasant work is a world in which you ride to the park on a unicorn. But that is a world many of Obamacare’s supporters inhabit: a place where the individual mandate is both a tax and not a tax; where the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause requires religious people to violate their faith; where “the state” means “the federal government”; where taking a job is wage slavery, but taking a handout is freedom.
Makes you wonder what color the sun is there, doesn’t it?
Pick a color between one and 10.
[Venture capitalist Tim Draper], the prime mover behind the “Six Californias” initiative, a proposal to partition the nation’s most populous state into six smaller ones…
With 38 million people spread over such a vast and varied territory, Draper argues, a monolithic California has grown ungovernable. The state’s population is more than six times as large as the average of the other 49 states, and too many Californians feel estranged from a state government in Sacramento that doesn’t understand them or reflect their interests. He is far from the first to say so. Plans to subdivide California have been put forward since the earliest days of statehood in 1850. Inan 1859 plebiscite, voters approved by a landslide a proposal to split off Southern California into a separate state. (The measure died in Congress, which was in turmoil over the looming Civil War.)
Can Draper’s six-state plan do better? It moved one step closer to plausibility last month, when California’s secretary of stategave backers the go-ahead to begin collecting the necessary petition signatures to put “Six Californias” on the ballot. If 808,000 signatures are submitted by July 14, the measure could go to voters in November.
Clearly, a six-way Golden State split is the longest of long shots, and critics aplenty have already started blasting Draper’s proposal. But even many of the critics agree that California has become an unwieldy, unmanageable mess.
"No other state contains within it such contradictory interests, cultures, economic and political geography,"writes Keith Naughton at PublicCEO, a website that covers state and local California issues. “It has become impossible to even remotely reconcile the array of opposing forces. The only way to get anything done is to shove laws and regulations down a lot of unwilling throats.” In the Los Angeles Times, business columnist Michael Hiltzik claims the economic fallout from the Six Californias plan would be “horrific” — he’s especially disturbed that the proposed new state of Central California “would instantly become the poorest state in the nation,” while Silicon Valley, where Draper lives, would be one of the wealthiest. Yet Hiltzik concedes that “Californians have lost contact with their government as more budgeting and administration [have] been upstreamed to Sacramento” and as state policies have “taken decision-making for everything from pothole repair to art and music classes out of the hands of the locals.”
Tim Draper, a storied Silicon Valley venture-capital investor, is the the prime mover behind the ‘Six Californias’ initiative.
It’s been a long time since an existing state was partitioned into smaller states. It last happened in 1863, when 50 northwestern counties of Virginia were renamed West Virginia and admitted as the 35th state. More than 40 years earlier, Maine, which had been part of Massachusetts since the 1650s, voted overwhelmingly for a divorce, and eventually entered the union as a new state in 1820. In both cases, separation was driven, then embraced, by communities and people who had grown alienated from a state government dominated by interests they didn’t share. West Virginia’s mountain people had chafed under Richmond’s rule, and sharply opposed the formation of the Confederacy. Mainers had long complained that the Legislature in Boston — where Maine was underrepresented — was not only too far away, but too willing to sacrifice their interests to those of Massachusetts.
Maybe those chapters from 19th-century history have no relevance to California today. Or maybe Draper is onto something that shouldn’t be dismissed too casually. Last September, in California’s rural north, Siskiyou County and Modoc County voted to pursue secession from California and support the creation of a new State of Jefferson. Local residents crowded the Siskiyou board of supervisors’ chambers, and when a speaker asked who in the audience favored the idea, the local paper reported, “nearly every hand in the room was raised.”
Conventional wisdom says Draper’s scheme hasn’t got a chance. But venture capitalists have a knack of seeing openings and opportunities that most people miss. Would “Six Californias” would be an improvement over the status quo? That’s definitely a debate worth having.
I think splitting up states into smaller, more manageable, responsive, representative, and accountable chunks is a great step in the right direction. Six California’s is a start. Then those six should be split in half, and those halves split again and again. Only this way can governments trend toward better representation of the demands and values of the people who reside within their borders.
If a small state predominantly of leftists passed a law to ban water bottles, issue penalties for “excess profits,” and create expansive welfare and public transportation programs, then it will gather more support and alienate fewer people than if such a law were passed in a larger, more mixed state. If a small neighboring state promised greater gun rights, fewer business regulations, and lower taxes, then the two states would compete for residents and occupants by virtue of their public policy. And despite such competition, there would ultimately be less conflict among individuals since their ideas on how one should live his or her life won’t affect the other (as much as if they all shared the same borders, anyway).
As I noted in a recent conversation with a coworker about splitting up California (and the United States) into smaller states: “it makes no sense for people who have little in common culturally, geographically, and ideologically to be forced into some common union in which they battle for whose ideas should run the others’ lives.”
Isn’t it amazing that the same people who failed to see the real estate bubble developing, the same people who were so confident about economic recovery that they were talking about “green shoots” five years ago, the same people who have presided over the continued destruction of the dollar’s purchasing power never suffer any repercussions for the failures they have caused? They treat the people of the United States as though we were pawns in a giant chess game, one in which they always win and we the people always lose. No matter how badly they fail, they always get a blank check to do more of the same.
It is about time that the power brokers in Washington paid attention to what the Austrian economists have been saying for decades. Our economic crises are caused by central bank infusions of easy money into the banking system. This easy money distorts the structure of production and results in malinvested resources, an allocation of resources into economic bubbles and away from sectors that actually serve consumers’ needs. The only true solution to these burst bubbles is to allow the malinvested resources to be liquidated and put to use in other areas. Yet the Federal Reserve’s solution has always been to pump more money and credit into the financial system in order to keep the boom period going, and Mrs. Yellen’s proposals are no exception.
Every time the Fed engages in this loose monetary policy, it just sows the seeds for the next crisis, making the next crash even worse. Look at charts of the federal funds rate to see how the Fed has had to lower interest rates further and longer with each successive crisis. From six percent, to three percent, to one percent, and now the Fed is at zero. Some Keynesian economists have even urged central banks to drop interest rates below zero, which would mean charging people to keep money in bank accounts.
When will this madness stop? Sound economic growth is based on savings and investment, deferring consumption today in order to consume more in the future. Everything the Fed is doing is exactly the opposite, engaging in short-sighted policies in an attempt to spur consumption today, which will lead to a depletion of capital, a crippling of the economy, and the impoverishment of future generations. We owe it not only to ourselves, but to our children and our grandchildren, to rein in the Federal Reserve and end once and for all its misguided and destructive monetary policy.
About 11,000 charter-school students and their parents descended on the state capitol building in Albany on Tuesday to protest New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s decision to block two new charter schools from opening next year and to halt the expansion of a third.
De Blasio will allow 16 other charter schools to move forward with their plans to open next year. So what does he have against these three schools in particular? The answer: He’s settling an old political score on behalf of his cronies in the teachers union.
The three schools sunk by the mayor are part of Success Academy, a charter network that posts exceptional test scoresand had five applicants for every opening last year. “You’re stopping one of the best charter schools with the highest grades,” says Dyreeta Donahue, whose child attends a Success Academy school. “That just doesn’t make sense. If the school was failing, then I would understand.”
But Success Academy happens to be run by a former politician named Eva Moskowitz, who made enemies with the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) during her tenure as chair of New York City Council’s education committee.
In November 2003, Moskowitz held a multi-day hearing on how union contracts imposed inane work rules on public schools and made it nearly impossible for principals to fire bad teachers. At the hearings she went toe to toe with one of the most powerful political figures in the city, UFT President Randi Weingarten.
During her testimony, Weingarten was flanked by the head of New York City’s Central Labor Council, Brian McLaughlin, who would later go to prison for embezzlement. McLaughlin told New York’s Daily News that he showed up because he “wanted to remind the city council members that the entire labor movement in the city is watching them.”
They got the message. Bill de Blasio, at the time a member of the city council, did what he could to distance himself from Moskowitz during the hearing. When a group of witnesses spoke about how the UFT contract made it difficult to remove bad teachers, de Blasio was dismissive. “I served in the Clinton administration, so I know what spin looks like when I see it,” de Blasio said. “And this is spin.”
Two years later, when Moskowitz ran for Manhattan borough president, Weingarten and the teachers unioncampaigned against her. Moskowitz lost the election, which (for the time being at least) ended her career in politics.
During a public forum held on May 11, 2013, which was hosted by the UFT, de Blasio told the audience: “It’s time for Eva Moskowitz to stop having the run of the place…. She has to stop being tolerated, enabled, supported.”
Now that he’s the mayor, de Blasio is doing what he can to please the teachers union and undermine Eva Moskowitz’s schools—even if it means taking away the opportunities for thousands of kids to get a better education.
"Tase Him Again! Tase Him Tase Him Tase Him!": San Francisco BART in Action Against Man Fellow Passengers Said Was No Problem →
From CBS Local San Francisco, transit police just doing their (unnecessary, in this case) job with unnecessary force:
Video has been obtained by KPIX 5 showing a BART police officer who repeatedly used a stun gun to subdue a passenger in front of other riders.
A woman who witnessed the incident, who did not want to go on camera, told KPIX 5 the man was harmless and that the officer used the stun gun for no reason….
While witnesses were heard on the video saying the man had done nothing wrong and not bothering anyone, the officer used the stun gun on the passenger.
As riders look on, the video shows the man being dragged to the aisle. “Don’t move or I’ll tase you again,” the officer was heard saying.
But that was not the end. Moments later, the officer said to the man, “Get on your stomach or I’ll tase you again.”
Minutes pass and more officers arrive. As the man was being held down and handcuffed, the video shows the same officer using the stun gun on the passenger for five seconds.
Tasers can be potentially fatal weapons, as officers should well know. And BART’s own policy says “that a stun gun can only be used if the suspect poses an immediate threat of bodily harm to the officer or another person.”
And the cop’s account that the hard-of-hearing 80-year-old with no criminal record was charging him with a .22 pistol runs counter to the coroner’s report, forensic evidence of the scene, and an audio recording of the incident.