You are browsing the archive for 2013 April 25.

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Dear Rand Paul: Keep Fighting the Fight on Drones

April 25, 2013 in Economics

By Malou Innocent

Malou Innocent

Over a month after Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky., delivered a 13-hour filibuster of John Brennan’s nomination to head the CIA, questioning the legality of the president to kill an American on American soil, Paul appears to have backtracked. Appearing on Fox Business Channel with Neil Cavuto, Paul referenced the Boston Marathon bombing and said he has, “never argued against any technology being used when you have an imminent threat, an active crime going on.” Paul continued, “If someone comes out of a liquor store with a weapon and $50 in cash, I don’t care if a drone kills him or a policeman kills him.”

Paul’s apparent openness to using such excessive lethal force against the “imminent threat” of theft drew a heap of condemnation among his most ardent pro-liberty supporters (and caused Paul to try walking back his comments). But to borrow a phrase from President Barack Obama, Paul’s foot-in-mouth kerfuffle could provide a “teachable moment.”

Someone in Congress must argue repeatedly and consistently for why lawmakers must put an end the president’s limitless power to wage war indefinitely.”

What the Beltway foreign-policy commentariat latched onto most after Paul’s marathon filibuster was his grievance that a weapons- and surveillance-platform used against foreigners could be redirected back at American citizens. Unfortunately, Paul has run with that meme: hypothetical threat -mongering over drone-bombing cafés rather than a deep consideration of Congress’s abnegation of its responsibility to constrain executive power.

Nobody is perfect, and I would wager Paul would admit the same of himself. But whatever one makes of the excuses he’s made since his interview with Neil Cavuto, Paul has been, to his credit, one of the few voices on Capitol Hill calling for a return to the traditional system of Madisonian checks and balances. Lest we forget that he peppered his speech at CPAC with admonishments over the powers wielded by our post-9/11 imperial presidents:

My question was about whether Presidential power has limits.

[…]

If we allow one man to charge Americans as enemy combatants and indefinitely detain or drone them, then what exactly is it our brave young men and women are fighting for?

Montesquieu wrote that there can be no liberty if you combine the Executive and the Legislative branches. Likewise, there can be no justice …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Sen. Paul Advocates for Acceptance of Foreign Drug Studies

April 25, 2013 in Politics & Elections

Sen. Rand Paul took to the Senate floor today to put a face on two orphan diseases: Neurofibromatosis Type 2 and Pulmonary Fibrosis. Orphan diseases are rare and likewise, their resources, treatments and cures are rare. In order to find cures, Sen. Paul believes the U.S. must clear regulatory obstacles by accepting foreign drug studies as our own. Below is the video and transcript of his speech.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH SEN. PAUL’S SPEECH

TRANSCRIPT
My nephew Mark Pyeatt has neurofibromatosis 2 but that is not who he is. He is an indomitable spirit, a courageous young man, a man who knows and faces each day certain that he is one with his God. He is like many young people in search of the truth. He reads. He thinks but he no longer hears.
Neurofibromatosis 2 is characterized by recurrent neurologic tumors and its signature tumor is one of the auditory nerve. It’s relentless course ultimately destroys the hearing.
I have never heard Mark complain. While my signing is only rudimentary, most of his immediate family are proficient and at Christmas dinner for forty family members, nearly everyone is trying to learn to sign.
The grandkids sing, ‘Happy Birthday, Jesus. I’m so glad you came.’ The whole family is learning to communicate with their hands.
I mostly like to learn insults so I can taunt Mark on the golf course. I can’t use most of the signs I’ve learned on television. I don’t know this for certain, but I think the seven words George Carlin used – cannot be said or signed on TV.
I love the way names for people in sign language are created only by the deaf. Mark’s mother Lori is L to the ear. My wife Kelley is K sweet. My middle son Duncan is D in a hoop.
Neurofibromatosis 2 is a rare disease. Some call it an orphan disease. Orphan diseases face certain obstacles that other diseases do not. Money is allocated typically for research based on how prevalent the disease is. For rare diseases the resources are likewise rare.
In order for investors to invest in a cure for neurofibromatosis 2, regulatory obstacles need to be cleared. We need to allow foreign drug studies to be accepted and not repeated in the US. We need to have speedy approval for …read more

Source: RAND PAUL

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Learn about Lincoln from his Greatest Critic

April 25, 2013 in Economics

By Mises Updates

Thomas DiLorenzo will be teaching Lincoln: The Founding Father of the American Leviathan, starting May 9.

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Freedom and Healthcare: Is the Libertarian Party In Danger of Becoming Relevant?

April 25, 2013 in Blogs

By Robin Koerner You don’t have to be a economist to understand why American healthcare has been such a disaster for so long — and why Obamacare has spectacularly failed to do the one thing that would have solved most of its problems.

Because of a near-evil system in which employers are subsidized to pay health insurance premiums that the consumers of healthcare never pay, the health consumer has no incentive to shop for value. Price competition — which is the most important mechanism by which the free market makes goods and services affordable — is therefore eliminated. Care becomes hugely expensive as hospitals charge made-up prices that they know will be paid for by insurance companies. Not only does this system support the practicing of hugely wasteful defensive medicine, but also hospitals take every opportunity to recover from the insurance companies the cost of non-emergency care that government forces them to give for free to others who neither pay for what they use nor have their own insurance.

For the better part of a year, a pro-free-market, pro-liberty, grand-bargain solution to American healthcare has been kicking around my head, but I never wrote it down because it does not reject all government involvement in healthcare, and I rather expected that many of my libertarian readership would be disgusted by what many of them would deem a compromise of principle.

But for a reason that shall become clear, it’s now time to share it. It goes something like this.

If you took the American Constitution to the UK and asked the British, “Which major government programs are consistent with the American notion that the purpose of government is to protect life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”, I’d be prepared to bet that the most common answer would be “The National Health Service”, which is Britain’s system of socialized healthcare.

To most American conservatives, libertarians and Constitutionalists, this would be anathema. But it wouldn’t surprise Liberals.

The Brit, unschooled in the finer points of the Constitution and the Federalist papers, would no doubt point out that the NHS directly saves lives and directly promotes liberty and pursuit of happiness by completely eliminating the possibility of — and therefore any reason to worry about — medical bankruptcy. And so, he would say, the NHS is an example of government protection of life, …read more

Source: ROBIN KOERNER BLOG

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The Embarrassing Error of the Empirical Economists

April 25, 2013 in Economics

By Mark Thornton

Economic Policy Journal’s takeaway on the Reinhart-Rogoff fiasco:

Austrian economics reject empirical data as a method to prove economic theory, for Austrians it is all about logical deductions. Thus, there is not much for Austrians to do, relative to the current Reinhart-Rogoff destruction at the hands of a U Mass graduate student, other than to grab some popcorn and watch with bemusement from the sidelines.

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Bruno Leoni's Lesson

April 25, 2013 in Economics

By Alberto Mingardi

Alberto Mingardi

War has midwifed political theory since at least the time of the Ancient Greeks. John Rawls, the doyen of political liberalism, embarked on his grand theoretical quest after he came back from the Pacific theater, where he witnessed the aftermath of the Hiroshima bombing. Italian legal philosopher Bruno Leoni, who would have been 100 years old today, does not enjoy Rawls’s international renown. But Leoni, who died in 1967, wrote a book, “Freedom and the Law” (1961), that deserves a place in the canon of modern libertarianism. He was likewise deeply influenced by World War II, although in an unpredictable way.

As Hitler and Mussolini exited the stage of history, Leoni did not think the battle for freedom was won. He was a successful lawyer and academic, a vibrant polemicist for 24 Ore, Italy’s business daily, and an indefatigable cultural organizer.

And Leoni had had a “good war.” As liberty mattered more to him than blood, he fought with the Allies, leading dangerous missions to free British prisoners behind enemy lines. In the process he perfected his mastery of the English language and developed a distinctive appreciation of the British mind.

The influential 20th-century Italian philosopher knew that the rule of law is nothing but the rule of men under another name.”

Leoni saw a basic difference in the understanding of freedom between the Anglo-Saxons, who never flirted with totalitarianism, and Continental Europeans. This, in his view, could be traced to the differences between the common-law tradition, on the one hand, and the Continent’s legislation-focused approach to the law.

Theorists of freedom have repeatedly argued that laws should be general, abstract, universally applicable and written down, so they could be knowable by the sovereign’s subjects. We are free when everybody is subject to the very same law. Certainly, as Leoni wrote, general rules — “written laws” — are “an improvement over the sudden orders and unpredictable decrees of tyrants.”

But parliaments and regulatory bodies all over the world produce written laws, which typically come out of meticulously followed procedures. Is that enough to give us freedom and legal certainty?

The formal procedures are upheld, but intrusions into private and economic life are frequent and clearly more pervasive than they were in the past. Legislative technique has improved and the number of scholars and practitioners of law has grown exponentially. But we do not necessarily enjoy more legal certainty than we …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Smoking Stupidity

April 25, 2013 in Economics

By Patrick Basham, John Luik

Patrick Basham and John Luik

Mayor Bloomberg wants to raise to 21 the age for buying cigarettes in New York City, in hopes a higher minimum age discourages young people from smoking. He’d have done better to look at what we know about how and why youngsters start smoking in the first place.

Very few teens buy cigarettes at a retail outlet; the overwhelming majority (95 percent) get their tobacco from friends or family. So the retail accessibility of tobacco is largely irrelevant to their decision to smoke.

There’s an easy way to check this: If easier retail access to tobacco were a cause of increased smoking, then you’d expect to find less youth smoking where access to tobacco was more tightly controlled — but the real-world evidence says otherwise. The widespread restrictions on accessibility in California, for example, have largely failed to shift youth smoking levels.

Bloomberg’s focus upon first-time retail purchases also misses the essential point that most adolescent smokers experiment with single cigarettes, not packaged cigarettes. They become smokers long before they ever buy a pack. A teen’s first purchase decision isn’t about becoming a smoker, but rather about which brand to smoke.

[pullquote]Apparently, the Bloomberg team would rather pass another unproductive ban, than actually tackle the tougher job of focusing on real solutions to youth smoking.[/pullquote]

The research evidence about adolescent smoking is full of powerful explanations for why some kids smoke and others do not. None relate to the legal age for buying cigarettes.

When asked what factors led them to start smoking, adolescents mention peer pressure, expressing their individualism and making a statement vis-á-vis their parents or other authority figures.

The seminal British government study, Why Children Start Smoking, found that the presence of any of the following factors made becoming a smoker far more likely: being a girl; having brothers or sisters who smoke; having parents who smoke; living with a lone parent, and not staying in full-time education after 16.

The most persuasive explanation of youth smoking focuses on what we know about young people’s risk factors for problem behavior. According to this “social determinants of health” approach, youth smoking is the result of lower incomes, bad schools and dysfunctional family relationships.

For example, since a study of Pennsylvania high-school students a generation ago, we’ve known that a family’s socioeconomic status is an important predictor of adolescent smoking. That is why the risk factors that lead to experimental smoking by adolescents include …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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America on Welfare

April 25, 2013 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Living the good life on welfare. Even the Europeans recognize that they pay a high price for creating an increasingly dependent society.

Denmark has been transfixed by the revelation of a 36-year-old single mother who collects more in benefits than many Danes earn at work, and has done so for two decades. Worried Karen Haekkerup, Minister of Social Affairs and Integration, people “think of these benefits as their rights. The rights have just expanded and expanded.”

But it’s really not that much different in the U.S., the nominal home of the free. Nearly two decades ago welfare reform briefly captured political attention and won bipartisan support. The effort was a great success. But most welfare programs remained untouched and the gains have been steadily eroded.

Today nearly 48 million people, almost one out of every six Americans, receive Food Stamps. Outlays on this program alone have quadrupled in just a decade. Indeed, the government actively promotes the program, encouraging people to sign up. Other welfare programs also are growing in reach and cost. The Congressional Budget Office recently pointed to “increases in the number of people participating in those programs and increases in spending per participant.” The U.S. isn’t that far behind Europe.

The Great Society needs to be replaced by the Free Society.”

Indeed, America, like Europe, has a veritable welfare industry. A forthcoming report from the Carleson Center for Public Policy, named after Reagan administration welfare chief Robert Carleson, charges that “The federal government has spawned a vast array of redundant, overlapping and poorly targeted assistance programs.” Authors Susan Carleson and John Mashburn count 157 means-tested programs intended to alleviate poverty. There were more than two score housing programs, more than a score of nutrition programs, almost as many employment/training and health programs, and lesser numbers of cash assistance, community development, and disability programs. More expansive definitions count even more programs — 185 total, according to Peter Ferrara.

No surprise, the welfare industry is expensive. Social Security is the single most costly program, but more goes collectively to welfare. Today government at all levels spends around $1 trillion a year on means tested anti-poverty programs. And that amount is just going up and up.

Total federal and state welfare spending rose from $431 billion in 2000 to $927 billion in 2011. Both parties are responsible, but President Obama bears particular responsibility. Last year, explained …read more

Source: OP-EDS