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New Mexico's Medical Cannabis Program's Medical Advisory Board (MAB) Holds Public Hearing on Proposed New Rules

August 25, 2014 in PERSONAL LIBERTY

By drosenfeld

Department of Health Continues to Obstruct MAB’s Statutory Role to Advise the Program; Program Staff Refuse to Answer Any Questions Posed by the Board About the Evidence Supporting Recommended Rule Changes

SANTA FE, NM – Today, the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Advisory Board held a special hearing on proposed rule changes governing the state’s medical cannabis program. The board, frustrated that they were never formally consulted with by the Department of Health prior to releasing proposed rule changes, scheduled the hearing to listen to patients, licensed providers, advocates and the Department staff to inform their recommendations on the rules to the Department.

August 25, 2014

Drug Policy Alliance

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Source: DRUG POLICY

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Fight against Militarized Police Is a Culture War Worth Having

August 25, 2014 in Economics

By Gene Healy

Gene Healy

Asked “whether it’s proper to militarize the nation’s city police forces,” President Obama opined last week that “one of the great things about the United States has been our ability to maintain a distinction between our military and domestic law enforcement.”

But the images coming out of Ferguson, Mo., recently — body-armored, camo-clad “peace officers” with sniper rifles and mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles — have a lot of Americans wondering whether that has become a meaningless distinction.

Still, Obama continued, “We don’t want those lines blurred. That would be contrary to our traditions.”

He got that right, at least. America was born amid fear and loathing of standing armies at home. “It was easy to foresee the consequences [that] followed upon sending troops into America to enforce obedience to acts of the British Parliament,” John Hancock proclaimed in his 1774 address commemorating the Boston Massacre: “cruelty and haughtiness … citizens hourly exposed to shameful insults.” Thomas Jefferson worried that a peacetime military force would “overawe the public sentiment” and harm the republican character of our government.

If we share the Founders’ concern about domestic militarization, maybe we should stop subsidizing it. That’s what Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., hopes to do with the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act, a bill that has drawn interest from Republicans such as Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky.

Johnson’s bill takes aim at the Pentagon’s 1033 Program, which allows local police departments to acquire “free ‘military-grade’ weapons and equipment that could be used inappropriately during policing efforts in which citizens and taxpayers could be harmed.”

But the bill doesn’t touch the Homeland Security grants that bought St. Louis County its BearCat armored vehicle and that have lately become an even bigger driver of police paramilitarization. Any serious demilitarization effort will have to deal with Homeland Security Department programs arming local law enforcers with MRAPs and drones.

Reformers should expect vigorous pushback from the martial-law-and-order brigade in Congress.

Reformers should expect vigorous pushback from the martial-law-and-order brigade in Congress.”

In one of politics’ little ironies, leading terror-war hawk Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., was once the Irish Republican Army’s biggest supporter in Congress. (As Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., once cracked, “The only Republican organization I have ever noticed Mr. King represents is the Irish Republican Army.”)

Today, as a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, King is leading the fight to make small-town America look like <a target=_blank …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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How the Private Sector Might Colonize the Red Planet

August 25, 2014 in Economics

By Christopher Westley

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Der Spiegel expected $6 billion in broadcasting rights in what would be a sort of interplanetary Truman Show.  Over 700 people are competing for four slots to make the trip 10 years from now, even though “a return ticket is not part of the deal.”

I don’t know who these 700 people are, but they provide a nice illustration of the subjectivity of value, given that

Mars is not a destination that sounds particularly attractive. It is bitterly cold and dust storms sometimes envelope the entire planet for weeks at a time. Its sights are also limited to gorges that are several kilometers deep and enormous volcanoes, one of which is the size of Poland and stretches 26 kilometers (16 miles) into the Martian sky.  For settlers there, though, the Earth would be but a tiny point in the heavens and if something happened, there would be no help available. The flight takes at least six months — and the two planets are close enough to each other for such a trip only once every two years.

That some might choose to live in such an environment is easily understood within the Austrian framework which argues that “the incentive of human activity is always some uneasiness and its aim always to remove such uneasiness as far as possible, that is, to make the acting men feel happier….”  How much better are such projects given that they do not rely on coercive redistributions of wealth, as is the case with NASA, the Russian Federal Space Agency, and all other state organizations that view space as simply an untapped area of potential control.

So go for it, colonizers, even though I may be cheering you back here on earth, poolside with gin-and-tonic in hand, wondering if, someday, there might actually be a Mises Institute Mars explaining homesteading to a distant generation.

I am on Twitter.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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For-Profit Colleges: Felonies or Feeding Frenzy?

August 25, 2014 in Economics

By Neal McCluskey

Neal McCluskey

For-profit colleges have been feeling a lot of heat over the last few years, and likely some of it has been fueled by politicians driven as much by politics or ideology as concerns about a uniquely awful higher ed sector.  That said, for-profits do have some atrocious outcomes, and no doubt some have very shady practices. So how does the public know if attacks on specific for-profits are about real malfeasance, or about politicians – including lots of attorneys general — trying to make names for themselves by aggressively going after easily demonized schools?

The answer, alas, is that it is essentially impossible for anyone who isn’t able to devote oodles of hours investigating the dealings of individual schools, and wading into the voluminous regulations that come, especially, with federal student aid. So is Corinthian really awful — deserving, essentially, of a federal death sentence – but the City College of San Francisco an obvious victim of a cruel, merciless accreditor? Or is one taken down because it is easily caricatured as uncaring and money-grubbing, while the other is defended because, thanks to its nonprofit status, it seems innocent? Who knows, unless one can wade deep into the operations and outcomes of both schools?

Importantly, on a macro level the evidence is pretty solid that all sectors of higher ed feature serious wastefailure, and profit-taking, which should make anyone suspicious of attacks only on openly for-profit schools. That said, look at the proprietary sector and there is little question that many of those schools truly aren’t producing decent outcomes. The question, then, is how do you weed out bad schools without opening up the potentially huge problem of politically driven “accountability”?

There is only one answer: make people pay for college with their own money, or funds they get voluntarily from others. In so doing, restore incentives for people to think long and hard about where they go to school and what they study, and eliminate the need for people other than those consuming the education – largely bureaucrats and politicians – to be in charge of accountability. It would provide the best outcomes not only for decent schools that shouldn’t be subjected to political feeding frenzies, but also prospective students who would no longer be encouraged to overpay for schools or studies that would ultimately hurt them – and taxpayers – more than they would help.

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Source: OP-EDS

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Obama Administration Debates Bombing Syria to Fight Islamic State; Instead, Washington Should Allow Syria and Others to Battle Killer Radicals

August 25, 2014 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Until now, President Barack Obama’s foreign policy appeared to be based more on reason than emotion. In contrast to the easily excitable and often angry Sen. John McCain, for instance, the president did not suggest war was the answer to every international problem.

However, the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant may have cost President Obama his equanimity. Administration officials are proclaiming this isolated experiment in 7th Century Islam to pose a dire threat to America. After promising to strictly limit the mission in Iraq, Washington is preparing to expand the war to Syria, where the administration has spent years working to overthrow the Assad government—the most formidable force blocking Islamic control over the entire country. Instead, the administration should push other nations into the lead.

Iraq is a catastrophic failure. America’s last four presidents share the blame. Most at fault is George W. Bush, whose ill-considered decision to attack Iraq blew up the nation and ignited sectarian war. Now many of his backers are campaigning for another invasion of sorts, with U.S. ground forces taking on everyone, from ISIL to Iran to Iraq’s Shia-dominated national government. Naturally, these exponents of error neither acknowledge the disastrous consequences of their past policies nor offer evidence that their new proposals would yield better results.

Yet the Obama administration risks falling into war again. The president originally undertook what he said would be a limited bombing campaign to save stranded refugees and protect U.S. personnel. Since then the campaign has been broadened to general support for forces opposing ISIL, though still justified as a “security” measure for Americans. (The president explained to Congress that if ISIL forces held the Mosul Dam, it could fail, threatening the lives of the U.S. staff in Baghdad. Such “reasoning” sets no limits on American involvement in Iraq’s conflict.)

Washington already has gone to war twice in Iraq. There’s no reason to believe that the third time will be the charm.”

Now officials want to go further. Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, argued that the Islamic State must be “addressed on both sides of what is essentially at this point a nonexistent border” between Iraq and Syria. Operating within Syria would pose a much greater challenge than launching strikes in Iraq, however. Washington’s intelligence capabilities remain limited over the “nonexistent” border. More important, the Obama administration has spent …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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A Simple Tax Reform Can Help Families and Promote Economic Growth

August 25, 2014 in Economics

By Chris Edwards, Amity Shlaes

Chris Edwards and Amity Shlaes

It’s only 2014, but politicians are already casting about for the magic tax vehicle they can ride to the White House in 2016. Most strategists agree that a plan to lift the financial pressure on the middle class will do the trick. All strategists agree Americans need to save more for their future.

Some Republicans are advocating a giant child tax credit, but there are more effective means for helping the middle class. One is a tax program already road-tested in the country whose populace most resembles our own, Canada.

It’s called the Tax-Free Savings Account and TFSA, as most Canadians refer to it, is a roaring success. Though these savings accounts were introduced only five years ago, 48% of Canadians have already signed up. That compares with only 38% of U.S. households owning any type of IRA—though IRAs have been around for decades. At the end of 2013 Canadians held $109 billion in assets in TFSAs. In an economy our size that would be the equivalent of $1 trillion.

The autonomy these accounts offer to everyone will make families become—and think like—millionaires.”

So what is this Canadian savings account? The nearest U.S. equivalent would be Roth Individual Retirement Accounts. With a Roth, workers pay taxes on earnings before they put their cash into the account. The money then grows tax-protected, and people pay no tax when they withdraw it.

However, Roth accounts have numerous restrictions. You can’t open a Roth easily if your earnings are above certain limits: $191,000, for example, for a married couple filing jointly. You can’t withdraw cash whenever you feel like it, at least not without daunting penalties. So even when Americans have money to save, they often hesitate to stash it in a Roth.

Canada’s TFSAs are like Roth IRAs—but supercharged. Citizens may deposit up to $5,500 after-tax each year, and all account earnings and withdrawals are tax-free. However, unlike Roth IRAs, funds can be withdrawn at any time for any reason with no penalties or taxes. Another feature: The annual limit on a contribution carries over from year to year if a citizen doesn’t reach it. So if a Canadian contributes $2,000 this year, he can put away up to $9,000 next year ($3,500 plus $5,500).

There are other attractive features: Unlike in a Roth, there are no income limits for individuals contributing to a TFSA, and there are no withdrawal …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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No Government Austerity, No Gain

August 25, 2014 in Economics

By Richard W. Rahn

image

Richard W. Rahn

Do you think government has grown or contracted during the past seven years? If you listen to the political class and many of their lackeys in the news media, you would think there have been massive cuts in government spending. The truth is the opposite both in the United States and Europe. As can be seen in the data in the accompanying chart, total government spending in the six years since the beginning of the “Great Recession of 2009” is larger in both real terms and as a percentage of the economy in the United States, Europe, Japan — and even China — than it was before the recession began. The eurozone countries, plus the U.S., Japan and China, account for more than two-thirds of world’s gross domestic product.

Keynesian and socialist-leaning economists tend to favor bigger government and more government spending, while classical and Austrian school economists tend to favor smaller government. Once again, a global experiment was tried in the early stages of the Great Recession, when massive increases in government spending occurred in the United States and most other major countries. According to Keynesian orthodoxy, this spending binge was supposed to result in a rapid recovery, high growth (the Federal Reserve and the Obama administration had predicted several years of approximately 4 percent growth in the U.S.), and big increases in employment. It didn’t happen.

Given the lack of political will to do what is needed, most of the people in the rich countries are going to experience what personal bankruptcy feels like.”

The major eurozone countries have stopped growing, including Italy, France and even Germany (which had a better record), and Europe is again teetering on recession. If you listen to the voices of the left in Europe, they claim there was too much austerity (meaning too little government spending). The left wing of the Democratic Party makes similar claims, and one of their gurus, New York Times economist Paul Krugman, blames the poor result on the “stimulus” being too small. One little problem for the Krugman crowd is that they cannot identify any country in the world where government, as a share of GDP, is big enough to produce high growth, high employment and high wages. At times, the socialist and communist economies approached 100 percent government spending, and the only things they produced were shrinking economies and an increase …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Why Isn’t Monetary Pumping Helping the Economy?

August 25, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

slow2

Mises Daily Monday by Frank Shostak:

The longer central banks world wide persist with their loose monetary policies the greater the risk of severely damaging the wealth-generating process is. This in turn raises the likelihood of a prolonged stagnation.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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The Dead Hand of Socialism: State Ownership in the Arab World

August 25, 2014 in Economics

Extensive government ownership in the economy is a source of inefficiency and a barrier to economic development. Although precise measures of government ownership across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are hard to come by, the governments of Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Syria, and Yemen all operate sizeable segments of their economies—in some cases accounting for more than two-thirds of the GDP. In a new paper, Cato scholar Dalibor Rohac argues that MENA countries need to implement privatization in order to sustain their transitions toward more representative political systems and inclusive economic institutions.

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Source: CATO HEADLINES