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If We Quit Voting

November 4, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

4764

Frank Chororov examines the practice of voting abstinence in today’s Mises Daily:

For 25 years my dereliction has been known to my friends, and more than one has undertaken to set me straight; out of these arguments came a solid defense for my nonvoting position, so that the lady in question was well parried with practiced retorts. I pointed out, with many instances, that though we have had candidates and platforms and parties and campaigns in abundance, we have had an equivalent plenitude of poverty and crime and war. The regularity with which the perennial promise of “good times” wound up in depression suggested the incompetence of politics in economic affairs. Maybe the good society we have been voting for lay some other way; why not try another fork in the road, the one pointing to individual self-improvement, particularly in acquiring a knowledge of economics? And so on.

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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How Wilson and the Fed Extended the Great War

November 4, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

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Mises Daily Tuesday by Brendan Brown:

With European powers broke and economically ailing by 1916, World War One would have ended much sooner had the Federal Reserve and its cronies not stepped in to help England and France keep the bloodshed going. Meanwhile, US economic intervention led to a huge post-war bust in America.

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Lessons Washington Could Stand to Learn

November 4, 2014 in Economics

By John A. Allison

John A. Allison

North Carolina is currently in the midst of what economists and social scientists would call a natural experiment. Last year, the state embarked on a sweeping program of economic, regulatory, and budget reforms aimed at shrinking the size and scope of government. Taxes were cut across the board, regulations simplified, and the growth of state spending has slowed significantly in the last two years. 

These reforms are hardly unique. States like Texas have long had similar pro-growth, limited government policies that have met with great success. Still, North Carolina is notable for how rapidly and comprehensively it has changed its approach.

When success is encouraged and celebrated rather than derided and taxed and when government lives within its means everyone ends up better off”

After the 2013 election, Gov. Pat McCrory and the Republican legislature he joined had quite a mandate for reform. The state’s economy had been growing at an anemic 0.3 percent (well below the national rate of 1.6 percent).

As the Cato Institute noted in our 2014 Fiscal Policy Report Card on America’s Governors, within two years, McCrory and the state legislature, led by House Speaker Thom Tillis, delivered one of the most impressive tax reforms of any state in recent memory. Three individual income tax rates were replaced with just a single, lower rate. The personal exemption was eliminated and the standard deduction was expanded, benefiting nearly all taxpayers. (For these efforts, North Carolina tied for the highest score on Cato’s report card.)

These reforms represent a departure for the state that has not been without criticism. Campaign ads have derided tax and regulatory reforms as giveaways to big corporations and the wealthy. Slowing the growth of the state’s budget, critics argue, will starve the state’s economy of vital government “investments” that would cost jobs. In a fit of hyperbole, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman called the state’s decision to exit the federal extended unemployment assistance program, rather than hike payroll taxes to fund it, a “war on the unemployed.”

Now is a good time to step back and evaluate whether these reactions to the act of reining in government are justified.

In public policy, what matters — or what should matter — is what works. What approach creates the most jobs and ensures the prosperity and well being of the most people? North Carolina’s program of reforms is testing the premise that a smaller government that …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Rothbard on Voting

November 4, 2014 in Economics

By Jeff Deist

Rothbard_56_Sennholz_dinner

Murray Rothbard discusses the merits and morality of voting in a great interview from 1972:

[This interview was first published in the 25 February 1972 edition of The New Banner: A Fortnightly Libertarian Journal, Vol. I, No. 3.]

NEW BANNER:  Some libertarians have recommended anti-voting activities during the 1972 election.  Do you agree with this tactic?

ROTHBARD:  I’m interested to talk about that.  This is the classical anarchist position, there is no doubt about that.  The classical anarchist position is that nobody should vote, because if you vote you are participating in a state apparatus.  Or if you do vote you should write in your own name, I don’t think that there is anything wrong with this tactic in the sense that if there really were a nationwide movement — if five million people, let’s say, pledged not to vote.  I think it would be very useful.  On the other hand, I don’t think voting is a real problem.  I don’t think it’s immoral to vote, in contrast to the anti-voting people.

Lysander Spooner, the patron saint of individualist anarchism, had a very effective attack on this idea.  The thing is, if you really believe that by voting you are giving your sanction to the state, then you see you are really adopting the democratic theorist’s position.  You would be adopting the position of the democratic enemy, so to speak, who says that the state is really voluntary because the masses are supporting it by participating in elections.  In other words, you’re really the other side of the coin of supporting the policy of democracy — that the public is really behind it and that it is all voluntary.  And so the anti-voting people are really saying the same thing.

I don’t think this is true, because as Spooner said, people are being placed in a coercive position.  They are surrounded by a coercive system; they are surrounded by the state.  The state, however, allows you a limited choice — there’s no question about the fact that the choice is limited.  Since you are in this coercive situation, there is no reason why you shouldn’t try to make use of it if you think it will make a difference to your liberty or possessions.  So by voting you can’t say that this is a moral choice, a fully voluntary choice, on the part of the public.  It’s not a fully voluntary situation.  It’s …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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A Voter's Guide to the Drug War

November 4, 2014 in Blogs

By Eugene Jarecki, AlterNet

The stakes couldn't be higher: Oregon, Alaska, Florida, California, and Washington D.C. have big votes.


Whatever else Tuesday may bring, it looks poised to be a banner day for those of us who have long sought to end America's failed war on drugs. And if the stars and voter participation align, it may indeed prove a tipping point in the long fight toward a possible landslide for Drug War Reform.

Citizens across the country will vote Tuesday on more initiatives to reform drug control policy than at any other time in American history. This is a coup in itself, of course, reflecting how much the movement to end the Drug War has gained ground in recent years. But to seal the deal and truly begin to close this harrowingly destructive chapter in American history, voters need to understand how the war has failed for over forty years to curb rates of drug addiction or abuse while instead simply shattering families, tearing communities apart, and wasting taxpayer dollars, all the while sowing popular distrust in law enforcement and filling the nation's jails with predominantly poor, minority, and nonviolent inmates. Above all, the public needs to understand how damaging the war has been not only to other families and communities but to their own.

The good news is, increasingly, they do. After crying in the wilderness for decades, long-time advocates for Drug War reform are finally seeing the tide of public opinion turn: a Pew report from earlier this year found that 67% of the country thought the government should focus on providing treatment to users of hard drugs, while only 26% thought the focus should be on criminal prosecution. That's a sea change from just a few years ago, when “lock 'em up and throw away the key” was how most people thought the country should approach its drug problem. Tuesday, we face an opportunity to begin codifying that shift of public opinion into law, with more than seven states and seventeen municipalities deciding on crucial legislation related to marijuana legalization and criminal justice reform.

If even a handful of initiatives in …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Bill Maher Gets His Comeuppance over His Attacks on Islam: 'What He Is Doing Is Un-American'

November 4, 2014 in Blogs

By Luke Brinker, Salon

The journalist Rula Jabreal explains her heated debate with Maher — and the “dangerous” impact of his ideas.


Last weekend witnessed yet another fierce debate over Islam on HBO’s “Real Time With Bill Maher,” just four weeks after the comedian tussled with actor Ben Affleck on the issue. This time, Maher’s interlocutor was the Italian-Palestinian journalist Rula Jebreal, who took Maher to task for what she called his “offensive” criticism of the religion.

The impetus for the latest debate was the controversy surrounding Maher’s upcoming commencement address at the University of California-Berkeley, where a group of students circulated a petition protesting the choice of Maher, whom the petition described as a “blatant bigot and racist.” The university ultimately stood by its decision to bring Maher to campus, and during his Friday show, he assailed the attempt to cancel his address as an illiberal effort to shut down free speech. Similarly, Maher has couched his criticism of Islam in liberal terms, arguing that true liberals have a duty to oppose Islamic “illiberalism.”

Jebreal would have none of it, objecting to Maher’s framing of the Berkeley controversy as a free speech issue and castigating his criticism of Islam as grossly simplistic. Now, in an interview with Salon, Jebreal sounds off on her “Real Time” appearance, the debate over liberalism and Islam, and whether she’ll ever be back on Maher’s show.

Your “Real Time” appearance came just a few weeks after Maher sparked a firestorm of controversy following his heated debate with Ben Affleck. Did you expect Islam to come up during your appearance on the show?

I was told, actually, that he wanted to discuss the Berkeley thing, and I was told that he wanted to discuss the connection between torture applied by the CIA in prisons like Camp Bucca and the rise of extremism, and also the fact that ISIS is utilizing the same techniques. So I knew that he wanted to discuss that.

I thought that Berkeley would open up the conversation about that issue. So I thought that he wanted to talk about Berkeley, and make it about free speech – and that was …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Wisconsin Police Deploy Armored Vehicle over Dog Poop Dispute, SWAT Team Executes Dog

November 4, 2014 in Blogs

By David Edwards, Raw Story

“It all began when a neighborhood man’s dog had crapped in a woman's yard on Saturday afternoon.


The police chief in Racine, Wisconsin has promised an internal review after a bizarre neighborhood dispute ended with a SWAT team killing a family pet.

Resident Kim Polk told WITI that it all began when a neighborhood man’s dog had crapped in her yard on Saturday afternoon.

“His dog proceeded to soil my grass and I asked him you are going to pick that up because I don’t want that sitting on my grass,” Polk recalled.

She said that the man responded by kicking the dog poop into a pile of leaves she was raking, and then threatening her family’s dog with a bow and arrow.

When Polk’s husband went to talk to the man about the confrontation, she said that he came to the door armed.

“He closed the door and came back to the door with a machete in his hand, a very long machete so at that time my husband backed up off the property and I had my daughter call the police,” Polk explained.

Disturbing cell phone video posted to YouTube shows tactical officers taking cover behind an armored vehicle, when a small dog runs out of the suspect’s home. The dog appears to turn and head back to the home after spotting the armored vehicle, but officers quickly fire at least two shots and the dog falls to the ground.

“Oh my God!” a person watching from a nearby home can be heard screaming. “They shot the dog. You f*cking a**holes!”

In a statement to the Racine County Eye, Racine Police Chief Art Howell expressed his regret for the dog’s death.

“On a personal level, I am saddened over the loss of a domestic pet that more than likely, had no malice against anyone,” he said. “During this standoff, the dog owner threatened to use a body armor piercing crossbow to kill officers, and this subject threatened to use his dog as a weapon against officers as well. After several hours of dialogue with crisis negotiators, the barricaded subject ultimately made good on his threat to introduce the dog …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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What Progressive Groups Are Doing at the Last Minute to Turn the Election Around — Is It Enough?

November 4, 2014 in Blogs

By Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet

Progressives are determined not to repeat the mistakes of 2010's Tea Party rout.


The months leading up to the 2014 midterm election could not be more different than the same period four years ago—when the Tea Party peaked as a wave of older, whiter and wealthier voters turned out while the coalition that elected Barack Obama stayed home.

Whether or not Democrats hold onto their U.S. Senate majority (and the final votes for that might not be tallied until early January if there are senatorial runoffs as many experts expect), what’s clear about this election is that Democrats and progressives have tried to break the old script that says a president’s party always loses badly in a midterm year.

They have done that not just by bombarding the airwaves in battleground states, but also by clogging the online platforms used by anybody political marketing experts think are likely voters. Every successive national election cycle breaks the previous spending record and 2014 is no exception. But what’s different this year is where the messaging has occurred, especially a shift to online media. And the messages themselves are a bit different, in that many are not designed to poll well, but to provoke people to vote.

“They do have more information now,” said Travis N. Ridout, co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project, which analyzes campaign ad trends. “Part of it is the political parties and outside groups are devoting more to mobilization than they did in the past. They figured out in 2012 that just airing more and more ads in Ohio doesn’t cut it. We know from scientific experiments that you’ve got to work the mobilization side too.” 

In 2010, the Democratic Party largely sat on its hands and expected the coalition that first elected President Barack Obama to show up. It didn’t. Young voters, people from communities of color, and women largely stayed home, disappointed that the federal government didn’t do more to end an economic downturn. Meanwhile, whiter and wealthier Tea Partiers came out and helped the GOP win a U.S. House majority.

Today, there have been deliberate efforts …read more

Source: ALTERNET