You are browsing the archive for 2014 May 28.

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Regulations Accompanying Uruguay's Marijuana Legalization Law

May 28, 2014 in PERSONAL LIBERTY

By drosenfeld

May 28, 2014

No

This is an English translation of the regulations signed on May 6, 2014 to accompany Uruguay’s marijuana legalization law, passed in December 2013, making Uruguay the first country in the world to legalize the production, distribution and sale of marijuana for adults. In the regulations, specifics of the system – beyond what was captured in the bill (Law 19.172) – are fleshed out, providing details on forms of access, restrictions and regulatory specifics.

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Source: DRUG POLICY

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How Valuable Is a Federal Grant?

May 28, 2014 in Economics

By Randall Holcombe

Sometimes, a federal grant is worthless. The federal government has the ability to attach enough costly provisions to its grants that the net value is less than zero.

A recent case in my home town of Tallahassee illustrates this. The Tallahassee Democrat, May 21, page A1 (sorry, no link because a subscription is required) reports that project organizers who plan to build a $1.5 million homeless shelter have turned down $500,000 in funding because the money was to come from a federal grant. The article said, “…stringent reporting requirements, mandates to exceed prevailing wages and required environmental assessments would have increased the cost and delayed the completion time of the project significantly.”

The bottom line: the project’s developers believed that the costs associated with accepting the federal grant would have exceeded the $500,000 the grant would have given them.

The good news in this case is that the grant wasn’t accepted, so the money wasn’t wasted. But what if the project’s organizers had decided that accepting the grant would have imposed costs of only $400,000 on them? They would take the $500,000, which would have only been worth a net of $100,000 when accounting for all the costs and benefits. In this hypothetical case, the federal government would have taken $500,000 in tax revenues and produced a net value of $100,000 with it.

In this particular case in Tallahassee, the conditions lowered the value of the grant to below zero and it was refused, but in other cases grants are accepted even if they on net provide only a minimal value to recipients. Federal grants forcibly take money from taxpayers to give to grant recipients who value them considerably less than the value of the revenues that finance the grants. Federal grants destroy value. Sometimes they destroy so much value that recipients who are offered grants refuse to take them.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Lew Rockwell On the Tom Woods Show Today

May 28, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

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Lew joins Tom to discuss his forthcoming book, Against the State: An Anarcho-Capitalist Manifesto.

More on the book here. 

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Good Riddance to Commencement Speakers

May 28, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

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When I completed my economics degree I didn’t bother to attend the graduation ceremony. Although my parents had helped me out with some expenses, I had paid my tuition each semester with my own money I earned by mopping floors. I didn’t see any reason why I should give that well-heeled corporation known as the University of Colorado, which I had already paid handsomely, yet another morning of my life or the opportunity to subject me to a variety of forgettable speeches from faculty members and administrators who don’t know the first thing about holding down a real job.

Graduation ceremonies mostly exist to stroke the egos of the faculty members and give the institution itself a pat on the back while simultaneously attempting to convert the new alumni into donors. The most absurd aspect of the graduation ceremony, however, is the commencement speech. This, we are told, is some sort of once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hear an advocate for mass murder like Condoleeza Rice, or a lawless oligarch like Christine Lagarde, lecture new graduates about “giving back” to the community, or being yourself, or following your dreams.

As with most everything that occurs as a university, the purpose of the commencement speech is not to provide a service to the students, but to make the institution’s faculty and staff feel important. If an institution can land a celebrity speaker (no matter how blood-soaked or morally bankrupt) to deliver the commencement speech, it will be great for the next fundraising campaign, and if the speaker says something really entertaining, insightful, or controversial, then it might even get the institution in the evening news. It’s time to admit that the commencement speech serves a public relations function, not an educational one.

So strong is the myth of higher education institutions as the mediators or public debate, however, that faculty and pundits and others in the thrall of the academy, become indignant whenever students express disliking for the commencement speakers, which are, of course, invariably chosen without consulting the students themselves.

This year’s commencement season brought with it the usual controversy, and several commencement speakers withdrew after some students protested. Among those who withdrew were Condoleeza Rice and Christine Lagarde.  It turns out that some students didn’t want to be lectured by people who have based their careers on murder and thievery, respectively.

It should be noted that most students who attend commencement ceremonies couldn’t care …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Politico Op-Ed: The Founding Fathers Would Have Protected Your Smart Phone

May 28, 2014 in Politics & Elections

Privacy is a core American value. For 235 years, the Fourth Amendment has protected us from unwarranted searches of our personal belongings. All the while, technology has been changing where and how we keep those belongings. On April 29, the Supreme Court held oral arguments in two cases, Riley v. California and United States v. Wurie. At question is whether the police can search the contents of a phone without a warrant during an arrest. At stake is whether technological advancements have rendered one of our most treasured civil liberties obsolete.

Today, many Americans keep their entire lives on their phones: family photos, emails, calendar appointments, Internet searches and even location history. Considered separately, each of these categories can reveal very private information. Taken together, they can present a pretty good picture of who you are, what you do, where you go, what you read and what you write. What protection does the Constitution offer them from suspicionless search by the government?

The Fourth Amendment grants to the people the right to be ‘secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.’ It did not find its way into the Constitution by accident. It was, rather, a specific response to a principal grievance of colonial Americans under British rule – namely, the use of the ‘general warrant’ whereby the crown gave officials almost unfettered authority to search colonial homes, rifle through papers and scour personal belongings.

As the Constitutional Accountability Center explains in its friend-of-the-court brief in Riley and Wurie, ‘Stated simply, the Framers wanted to strip the government of the arbitrary power to rifle through a person’s belongings in the hope of finding something incriminating.’

There can be little doubt that the modern smartphone is today’s equivalent of our Founders’ ‘papers and effects.’

The Fourth Amendment protects us from unreasonable, warrantless searches of these modern-day versions of ‘papers and effects.’ Indeed, as the Cato Institute observes in its own friend-of-the-court brief, allowing for warrantless searches of cellphones ‘would throw open too-wide a door onto suspects’ personal and private information without judicial supervision. Cellphones are doorways into people’s lives as broad as the front doors of their homes.’

The government argued that public safety demands the police have unfettered liberty to search a person under arrest. This is a false tension between liberty and security; robust protection of our Fourth Amendment rights can coexist with the …read more

Source: RAND PAUL

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Why the Cost of Government Is Higher Than You Think

May 28, 2014 in Economics

By Mises Updates

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Gary Galles writes in today’s Mises Daily:

The most common examples of politically ignored crowding-out effects are from government fiscal stimulus to “cure” recessions. Such stimulus must be paid for. If financed with current taxation, reduced take-home incomes of those forced to bear the burdens will crowd out some of their spending. If the stimulus is financed by borrowing, savings and investment dollars that would have gone to finance private-sector debt (for factories and other enterprises) will be crowded out by government debt instead. Current borrowing will also require higher taxes in the future to pay off or continue to finance the debt. These future taxes then crowd out future spending and savings.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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After Dodd-Frank: The Future of Financial Markets

May 28, 2014 in Economics

Four years after the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Financial Protection Act (Dodd-Frank) was signed into law, there are many open questions about what the Act has achieved and what lies ahead for the U.S. financial system. A two-day conference on July 16-17, hosted jointly by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and the Cato Institute, will explore some of the most hotly debated aspects of financial regulation and policies to improve financial markets in a post-Dodd-Frank world.

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Source: CATO HEADLINES

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Accountability for Thee but Not for Me

May 28, 2014 in Economics

By Michael D. Tanner

Michael D. Tanner

When it comes to business and the private sector, President Obama and top Democrats are all about accountability.

Banks: “When we learn that a major bank has serious problems, we will hold accountable those responsible,” President Obama says.

Oil companies: “The person who makes the mistake ought to be responsible,” according to Florida senator Ben Nelson.

Auto makers: “Manufacturers [are] on notice that they will be held accountable if they fail to quickly report and address safety-related defects,” said transportation secretary Anthony Foxx.

President Obama loves to hold the private sector accountable. Government? Not So much.”

Food processors: “Anyone who knowingly and willingly put American families at risk should be held responsible to the fullest extent of the law,” declared Representative Rosa DeLauro, after a series of beef recalls.

Don’t get me wrong, accountability is a good thing. Especially when criminality or willful negligence is involved, there may well be a role for the government in holding business accountable. More important, when businesses screw up, the market itself extracts a price: Share prices drop. Market share shrinks. People lose their jobs. Just ask former Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel.

But when it comes to the government itself, there is precious little accountability.

Take the ongoing scandal in the VA health system. In Phoenix, where news of secret waiting lists first broke, up to 40 veterans reportedly died while awaiting care. There is now evidence of wrongdoing at 26 facilities in seven states. One can only imagine how outraged President Obama would be if some private company acted half so irresponsibly. Democrats would be lined up at the microphone to demand action; Harry Reid would probably blame the Koch brothers.

Yet, the VA scandal has generated no such response. No one has been fired. General Eric Shinseki, who has run the department for the last six years, but who — like the president himself — apparently learned about the scandal from the newspapers, is still in charge. When the House voted last week 330–33 for legislation that would make it easier for the VA secretary to fire people, Shinseki opposed it. Exactly one person, an undersecretary, has resigned so far, and he had already announced that he was leaving. Not only do the administrators in the Phoenix hospital where the whole thing began still have their jobs, they actually got bonuses this year — a move that was only reversed after the media …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Wisconsin's Progressive Police State Betrays Campaign Finance Folly

May 28, 2014 in Economics

By Ilya Shapiro

Ilya Shapiro

The latest battle in Wisconsin’s political wars shows what happens when laws that regulate political speech intersect with prosecutorial power to engage in open-ended investigations. “When government attempts to regulate the exercise of this constitutional right, through campaign finance laws or otherwise,” explained U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa in a recent ruling, “the danger always exists that the high purpose of campaign regulation and its enforcement may conceal self-interest.”

Restrictions on political speech are bad enough, but when they’re accompanied by paramilitary raids and gag orders, nobody’s freedom is secure.”

Judge Randa was writing about Milwaukee County DA John Chisholm’s pursuit of “all or nearly all right-of-center groups and individuals in Wisconsin who engaged in issue advocacy from 2010 to the present.” Finding that Eric O’Keefe, the Wisconsin Club for Growth, and other limited-government advocates “have been shut out of the political process merely by association with conservative politicians,” Randa stopped a probe that had begun in August 2012 and was now run by a special prosecutor.

The investigation targeted alleged “illegal coordination” between Governor Scott Walker and independent advocacy groups. Using a rare and secretive “John Doe” mechanism, it built on a previous inquiry that began before Walker’s gubernatorial election and had become a roving inquisitor. (Wisconsin law, like its federal equivalent, limits the amount that any individual can contribute to a political candidate, and thus also prohibits using outside groups as campaign proxies.)

As Judge Randa’s ruling made clear, there was no “express advocacy” supporting any particular candidate—there weren’t even issue ads relating to the 2012 recall—let alone coordination of such advocacy. All the groups did was to speak out in support of market-oriented reforms, including those that Walker pushed regarding public-sector benefits and collective bargaining rights.

This all sounds very dry and technical: government lawyers couldn’t prove the violation of obscure election regulations. But an ordinary lawyering failure doesn’t typically involve predawn raids where sheriff deputies “used bright floodlights … seizing business papers, computers, phones, and other devices, while their targets were restrained under police supervision and denied the ability to contact their attorneys,” or wide-ranging subpoenas subject to a secrecy order—which a state judge ultimately quashed.

In other words, what happened here was that like-minded individuals got together to support certain public policies. For that “suspicious” behavior, the full force of government came down on them, shutting down their advocacy during this election year. …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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New York State Assembly Passes Comprehensive, Bi-Partisan Medical Marijuana Bill

May 28, 2014 in PERSONAL LIBERTY

By mfarrington

New York One Step Closer Becoming 23rd Medical Marijuana State

Patients and Families Cheer Assembly Action, Call for Vote in the Senate

Albany — Today, the New York State Assembly passed (A.6357-B/Gottfried) by a bipartisan vote of 91 – 34. This is the fifth time that the Assembly has passed a medical marijuana bill, and comes just months after the Assembly included the measure in their one-house state budget proposal.

May 27, 2014

Drug Policy Alliance

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Source: DRUG POLICY