It is counterproductive and economically prohibitive to continue a path of hostility toward [legal marijuana] dispensaries. Moreover, it appears to directly counter the spirit of Deputy Attorney General Cole’s memo, and is in direct opposition to the evolving view toward medical marijuana, the will of the people and, by now, common sense. … It is our view that the intent of the Justice Department is to not enforce its anti-marijuana laws in conflict with the laws of states that have chosen to decriminalize marijuana for medical and recreational uses.
It is counterproductive and economically prohibitive to continue a path of hostility toward [legal marijuana] dispensaries. Moreover, it appears to directly counter the spirit of Deputy Attorney General Cole’s memo, and is in direct opposition to the evolving view toward medical marijuana, the will of the people and, by now, common sense. …
It is our view that the intent of the Justice Department is to not enforce its anti-marijuana laws in conflict with the laws of states that have chosen to decriminalize marijuana for medical and recreational uses.
Sometimes a single story has a way of standing in for everything you need to know. In the case of the up-arming, up-armoring, and militarization of police forces across the country, there is such a story. Not the police, mind you, but the campus cops at Ohio State University now possess an MRAP; that is, a $500,000, 18-ton, mine-resistant, ambush-protected armored vehicle of a sort used in the Afghan War and, as Hunter Stuart of theHuffington Post reported, built to withstand “ballistic arms fire, mine fields, IEDs, and nuclear, biological, and chemical environments.” Sounds like just the thing for bouts of binge drinking and post-football-game shenanigans.
That MRAP came, like so much other equipment police departments are stocking up on — from tactical military vests, assault rifles, and grenade launchers to actual tanks and helicopters — as a freebie via a Pentagon-organized surplus military equipment program. As it happens, police departments across the country are getting MRAPs like OSU’s, including the Dakota County Sheriff’s Office in Minnesota. It’s received one of 18 such decommissioned military vehicles already being distributed around that state. So has Warren County which, like a number of counties in New York state, some quite rural, is now deploying Afghan War-grade vehicles. …
A cornucopia of such Pentagon “bargains” (the Pentagon charged Warren County only $10 for the vehicle) has, in the post-9/11 years, played its part in transforming the way the police imagine their jobs and in militarizing the very idea of policing in this country.
If bourgeois dignity and liberty are not on the whole embraced by public opinion, in the face of the sneers by the clerisy and the machinations of special interests, the enrichment of the poor doesn’t happen, because innovation doesn’t. You achieve merely through a doctrine of compelled charity in taxation and redistribution the “sanctification of envy,” as the Christian economist the late Paul Heyne put it. The older suppliers win. Everyone else loses. You ask God to take out two of your neighbor’s eyes, or to kill your neighbor’s goat. You work at your grandfather’s job in the field or factory instead of going to university. You stick with old ideas, and the old ferry company. You remain contentedly, or not so contentedly, at $3 a day, using the old design of a sickle. You continue to buy food for your kids at the liquor store at the corner of Cottage Grove and 79th Street. And most of us remain unspeakably poor and ignorant.
— Deirdre McCloskey, Bourgeois Dignity
The L.A. City Council approved today a $5.9 million settlement to officers alleging they had been punished by their superiors for not fulfilling ticket quotas.
The City Council settled the lawsuit with 10 LAPD officers of a motorcycle unit who filed it back in 2010, according to the Los Angeles Times. The officers claimed they were forced by Capt. Nancy Lauer to meet ticket quotas—which would break state law. Reportedly, they were required to write at least 18 tickets per shift. They alleged that in retaliation, their supervisors would give them bad performance reviews, reassignment, and [harassment], reported Los Angeles Daily News.
However, the settlement agreement was discussed behind closed doors, and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck denies a ticket-quota system was put in place. “We will continue to have measures of productivity,” Beck told City News Service. “Not quotas. Measures of productivity. They’re different.”
This settlement comes on the heels of a similar 2011 ticket quotas lawsuit where two LAPD officers were awarded $2 million by the L.A. Superior Court.
So these tax-leech bullies are given orders from their tax-leech bosses to reach a minimum amount of harassment against mostly peaceful people - ticket quotas that are against the law (but these tax-leeches are above the law, so why would that matter?). They fail to reach this minimum and are subsequently “punished” (lol). Then, these tax-leech bullies sue the city in response to the treatment by their tax-leech bosses. The tax-leech meddlers in the city council, in turn, settled with the tax-leech bullies to the tune of $5.9 million. And this was paid for, of course, by taxpayers.
So we pay for all these tax-leeches to harass us, we pay them to set minimum amounts of harassment which in turn we pay fees on, and now we pay for the consequences of their wrong-doing.
Aren’t government monopolies delightful?
Leaked slides from an internal presentation reveal that the NSA use the cookies and location data from Google to pinpoint targets for government hacking.
Airports are perhaps the least jolly of locales during the holiday season, generally filled with disgruntled people facing delays, lost luggage and other mishaps. But, thanks to WestJet, one gaggle of weary travelers was treated to a Christmas miracle that turned an airport into Santa’s workshop.
The Canadian airline, with the help of a virtual and tech-savvySanta Claus, learned what passengers at the Toronto and Hamilton International Airports — who were waiting to board flights to Calgary — had on their Christmas wishlists this year. Once everyone boarded their planes, the WestJet team also took off — on shopping sprees, that is.
The more than 150 WestJet employees played the part of Santa’s elves, gathering personalized presents, wrapping them and delivering them to the Calgary airport before the unsuspecting recipients landed. Upon arrival, the travelers received nothing short of a holiday miracle at baggage claim.
That evil free market at it again. Can you believe this airline would dare to do this without taxing anyone and all as an advertising ploy? Tsk, tsk.
politicallyaffiliatedurl asked: Could you explain (in brief, if you'd like) why the 17th amendment is problematic?
Constitutional checks on government power are mostly a charade. States will forever and always do exactly what people are willing to acquiesce to, irrespective of whatever ostensible limitations some antique piece of parchment says to the contrary.
That said, it’s always better that there be checks on power than otherwise.
Before the 17th Amendment, the United States were structured in such a way that there was what may be referred to as a divided triumvirate of sovereignty: the people (by way of the House of Representatives), the states (by way of the Senate), and the federal government (by way of the executive). Decisions were made by these entities (and “interpreted” by the judicial), with the highest power going to the people (which is why the House of Representatives controls the budget). Senators were selected by the governments of their respective states. Because the federal government (before the 16th Amendment created the income tax) only had what was collected by and allotted to them by the individual states, and because states were unable to simply create their own currencies with which to amass debt, Senators with their state’s best interests in mind helped prevent overspending and keep a balanced budget. It was their job to ensure that their state wasn’t taken advantage of by the others, and because they weren’t necessarily democratically elected to “terms,” they could face immediate repercussions if they voted counter to the interests of their state and its people. The 17th Amendment changed how Senators were selected and removed them from the nexus of decision-makers who were responsible for making sound financial decisions for their state.
In short, Senators are less concerned with their specific state’s interests - particularly its financial obligations - when they are no longer selected by and accountable to the state legislators and executives who are in turn responsible to state residents for managing such matters. The 17th Amendment greatly diminishes state autonomy in favor of a more centralized federal government. It, along with the 16th Amendment, essentially neutered an important check on government power.
It is no coincidence that it was after the 16th and 17th Amendments were ratified, and the federal reserve came into being (all three in 1913!), that we saw the meteoric rise in government spending and control. There were no more impediments to its growth and centralization of power, and we naturally entered an age of total war.
Supporters of the 17th claim that it makes for a more democratic governance. This is, in a sense, true; but that does not mean it is good, as people, in turn, are able to exert less control over the minutiae of their own lives. Too few people understand that political democracy is illegitimate.
Repealing the 17th would not be a panacea, but it would be a sensible step in the right direction. And, far more importantly, it would mean that people have rebuked the centralization of power and the loss of autonomy enough to agitate for that very change. And that would be worth celebrating.
… Being an economist has got to be the most depressing job in the world. Because, you go your whole life trying to teach some basic principles, over and over and over you teach these principles: you teach them in the classroom, in newspapers, on television, on the internet—teach ‘em, teach ‘em, teach ‘em. And then, you’re sitting there on your deathbed, and your nurse comes in and says, ‘You know, I really think it would boost the economy if we raised the minimum wage.’ And you just think, what was it all for?
The Hart family found a way to help their autistic toddler through animal therapy, specifically with pet chickens. Now, their local city council in DeBary, Florida – fully aware of the boy’s condition and treatment – is telling the family that they have to get rid of their pets.
The Harts discovered the transformative effect chickens had on their son, J.J., last year. The boy previously experienced long bouts of silence and fits of anger. J.J.’s mother, Ashleigh, told the Orlando Sentinel about the positive effects the birds have had on her son, “he’s now going to a new preschool, and he’s able to communicate much better. And it all has to do with the chickens. He plays with them. He cuddles with them. And he runs around the yard with them. … It’s made a tremendous difference.”
The city initially cited them for a code violation, but the Harts petitioned to be allowed to keep their pets and DeBarycity council began a pilot program. The city allowed chickens, though required a permit. Reports indicate that the Harts and one other household, which was raising the chickens for eggs, participated in program.
Yet, the council voted last week 3-2 to yank away residents’ privilege to care for these animals. Mayor Bob Garcia was among the dissenting voices. He expressed to Fox Newshis view that “if we make laws that take away rights of individuals, especially children, those laws should be abolished. We should be protecting the rights of individuals, not suppressing them.”
Council member Nick Koval saw the situation differently. “I sympathize,” he assured, “but, we spend a lot of time and money establishing codes and ordinances for the protection of the citizens and taxpayers of this community. And I believe that they [chickens] belong in agricultural areas.”
While some government officials insist that the flightless birds harm the community, how much harm could the ban do to this child?
“It could be devastating to him,” Dr. Emily Forrest, who specializes in autism, explained that “children with autism are extremely sensitive to changes in their lives.” Forrest added, “it’s really sad for him that he has to stop because of a city ordinance.”
What people peacefully do on their own property
should be is no one else’s business.
From cops to bureaucrats to elected politicians - the state is where the schoolyard bullies go when they grow up.
Fascism has become a term of general derision and rebuke. It is tossed casually in the direction of anything a critic happens to dislike. But fascism is a real political and economic concept, not a stick with which to beat opponents arbitrarily. The abuse of this important word undermines its true value as a term referring to a very real phenomenon, and one whose spirit lives on even now. Fascism is a specific ideology based on the idea that the state is the ideal organization for realizing a society’s and an individual’s potential economically, socially, and even spiritually. The state, for the fascist, is the instrument by which the people’s common destiny is realized, and in which the potential for greatness is to be found. Individual rights, and the individual himself, are strictly subordinate to the state’s great and glorious goals for the nation. In foreign affairs, the fascist attitude is reflected in a belligerent chauvinism, a contempt for other peoples, and a society-wide reverence for soldiers and the martial virtues.
Fascism has become a term of general derision and rebuke. It is tossed casually in the direction of anything a critic happens to dislike.
But fascism is a real political and economic concept, not a stick with which to beat opponents arbitrarily. The abuse of this important word undermines its true value as a term referring to a very real phenomenon, and one whose spirit lives on even now.
Fascism is a specific ideology based on the idea that the state is the ideal organization for realizing a society’s and an individual’s potential economically, socially, and even spiritually.
The state, for the fascist, is the instrument by which the people’s common destiny is realized, and in which the potential for greatness is to be found. Individual rights, and the individual himself, are strictly subordinate to the state’s great and glorious goals for the nation. In foreign affairs, the fascist attitude is reflected in a belligerent chauvinism, a contempt for other peoples, and a society-wide reverence for soldiers and the martial virtues.
— Lew Rockwell, Fascism vs Capitalism
The latest from Matt Wuerker
I try really hard not to be cynical but sometimes I feel like society is just getting dumber.
You see, Nate, that without minimum wages and regulatory stipulations and mandatory benefits, employers would use actual whips on us as motivation, pay us in actual peanuts (hope you’re not allergic!), and might occasionally stab us with actual pitchforks when we underperform. Without the state helping us, we’d be powerless saps - at least according to the ‘progressive’ belief in the monopsony model of employment in which there is effectively no competition for labor.
Of course, if these progressives truly believed in what they profess - that employees are grossly underpaid, including health benefits offered, relative to their productivity - then why don’t they start their own competing businesses? They claim that there is more than enough room for profit while still paying a “proper” wage, and such higher pay would produce an increase in productivity that would prima facie offset that pay. So what’s stopping them? According to their own logic, it would be a boon to employees, a boon to consumers (who would naturally gravitate toward these probably more expensive but more “fair” products), and they could make a few bucks on top of it all. That’s a win-win-win, folks! So show us you mean what you claim to be true, progressives, and put your own money on the line.
Fiat money, if you like, is backed by men with guns.
That eugenics was part of the progressive agenda is one of the most heavily-airbrushed features of history.
A few months ago, I was reading a fascinating paper by Thomas Leonard on “Eugenics and Economics in the Progressive Era.” The paper is full of interesting tidbits, but I was especially struck by the discussion of Progressive Era arguments for the minimum wage.
Most readers of this blog will be familiar with the argument that minimum wage laws create unemployment. And most of us, no doubt, regard this as a powerful argument against the minimum wage.
As Leonard’s paper shows, progressives like Sidney Webb were familiar with this argument. But rather than viewing additional unemployment as a cost of minimum wage laws, they actually regarded it as a positive benefit! After all, you see, the people most likely to be disemployed by a minimum wage were those who were among the least employable anyway – the drunks, the idiots, and the immigrants – especially those who were members of “low-wage races.” And, according to the grand progressive vision, anything we can do to identify such individuals and segregate them from healthy, productive white society was a step in the right direction for the human race.
The only logically consistent and economically sound supporters of a minimum wage are racists, government-protected unions, and large corporations as they have the most to gain relative to the rest of us. Oh, and of course politicians.
Increases in the minimum wage are usually “phased-in.” Instead of raising the minimum wage overnight, the law usually specifies a series of steps [over a number of years]. The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007 increased the prior $5.15 minimum wage in three steps:…to $5.85 per hour 60 days after enactment (2007-07-24), to $6.55 per hour 12 months after that (2008-07-24), and finally to $7.25 per hour 12 months after that (2009-07-24)…The initiative is targeted for the November 2014 ballot. If it passed early in 2015, the minimum wage in California will go up to $10 an hour; early in 2016 it would be raised to $12 an hour. In other words, the initiative in a couple of stages would raise the minimum wage of all California workers to $12 an hour.
What’s the point of these byzantine time tables? Why not just immediately impose the minimum wage you actually want? On the surface, the steps seem like an implicit admission that sharply and suddenly raising the minimum wage would have the negative disemployment effects emphasized by its critics. The point of the steps, then, is to turn a dangerously sharp and sudden hike into a harmlessly slow and gradual hike.
On reflection, though, this argument makes very little sense. Giving people more time to adjust to incentives normally leads to larger adjustments, not smaller. If you suddenly raise the gas tax, for example, there is very little effect on gas consumption. But if people expect the gas tax to go up years before the higher tax kicks in, many will buy more fuel-efficient cars, leading to a large behavioral response. Minimum wage hikes should work the same way: Employers’ long-run response should exceed their short-run response. If minimum wage advocates want to minimize the disemployment effect, they should remember the old adage about ripping off a Band-Aid: One sudden pull and you’re done.
On reflection, though, there is another major difference between employers’ response to sharp-and-sudden versus slow-and-gradual minimum wage hikes: visibility.
If the minimum wage unexpectedly jumped to $12 today, the effect on employment, though relatively small, would be blatant. Employers would wake up with a bunch of unprofitable workers on their hands. Over the next month or two, we would blame virtually all low-skilled lay-offs on the minimum wage hike - and we’d probably be right to do so.
If everyone knew the minimum wage was going to be $12 in 2015, however, even a large effect on employment could be virtually invisible. Employers wouldn’t need to lay any workers off. They could get to their new optimum via reduced hiring and attrition. When the law finally kicked in, you might find zero extra layoffs, because employers saw the writing on the wall and quietly downsize their workforce in advance.
If you sincerely cared about workers’ well-being, of course, it wouldn’t make any difference whether the negative side effects of the minimum wage were blatant or subtle. You’d certainly prefer small but blatant job losses to large but subtle job losses.
But what if you’re a ruthless demagogue, pandering to the public’s economic illiteracy in a quest for power? Then you have a clear reason to prefer the subtle to the blatant. If you raise the minimum wage to $12 today and low-skilled unemployment doubles overnight, even the benighted masses might connect the dots. A gradual phase-in is a great insurance policy against a public relations disaster. As long as the minimum wage takes years to kick in, any half-competent demagogue can find dozens of appealing scapegoats for unemployment of low-skilled workers.
Most non-economists never even consider the possibility that the minimum wage could reduce employment. Before I studied economics, I was one of these oblivious non-economists. But if minimum wage activists were as clueless as the typical non-economist, they wouldn’t bother with phase-in. They’d go full speed ahead. The fact that activists’ proposals include phase-in provisions therefore suggests that for all their bluster, they know that negative effects on employment are a serious possibility. If they really cared about low-skilled workers, they’d struggle to figure out the magnitude of the effect. Instead, they cleverly make the disemployment effect of the minimum wage too gradual to detect.
"ruthless demagogue, pandering to the public’s economic illiteracy in a quest for power"
I think I’ve found my new favorite definition of a politician.