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Time for the IRS to Come Clean

September 30, 2015 in Economics

By Michael F. Cannon

Michael F. Cannon

A congressional oversight committee recently renewed its request for documents from an ethically suspect Internal Revenue Service, which ignores such requests with impunity. But this time, the Supreme Court has taken away the agency’s excuse for not cooperating.

In 2014, the IRS began imposing the individual and employer mandates on 70 million Americans even though the Affordable Care Act expressly exempts them from those taxes. The IRS may impose the disputed taxes, the ACA explains, only “through an Exchange established by the State.” The IRS ignored that plain language and imposed those taxes on 70 million taxpayers in the 38 states that did not establish a health insurance Exchange.

This past June, the Supreme Court issued one of its worst decisions in recent memory. In King v. Burwell, the Court rewrote and expanded the ACA in order to save the IRS’s extra-legal taxes, and hundreds of billions of dollars of related spending.

As Chief Justice John Roberts explained, “the context and structure of the Act compel us to depart from” what all nine justices agreed is “the most natural reading of the pertinent statutory phrase.” Ironically, after invoking the ACA’s broader context to justify ignoring its operative text, Roberts then ignored the many elements of the act’s context that flatly contradict his interpretation.

For four years, the IRS has been stonewalling Congress’ efforts to determine what agency officials knew.”

Just as the IRS imposed never-legislated taxes and spending by regulation, the Court did so via judicial opinion. The result is that Americans are living under an illegitimate law, paying taxes and underwriting government spending that no Congress ever authorized.

An important question remains, however. Congressional investigators found evidence suggesting that IRS officials imposed those taxes even though they understood that the ACA flatly denies them any authority to do so. Yet for four years, the IRS has been stonewalling Congress’ efforts to determine what agency officials knew.

In 2012, the House’s oversight committee requested documents related to the IRS’s decision to expand the reach of these taxes. IRS officials provided no substantive documents.

Under continued pressure, IRS officials allowed investigators to view certain documents “in camera.” Ironically, that means the investigators could read the documents, but take no notes and make no copies. It was in these documents that investigators nonetheless found evidence that IRS officials knew the ACA prohibited them from imposing the disputed taxes.

The committee again …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Don't Expect Much from FBI Chief's Call for Better Police Shooting Data

September 30, 2015 in Economics

By Matthew Feeney

Matthew Feeney

Despite widespread media coverage of police shootings, no one knows for sure how many Americans are killed by police officers each year. That’s why FBI director James Comey’s announcement this week that the FBI plans to collect more data related to police shootings was initially encouraging to policy analysts like me. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Comey’s proposal will provide accurate numbers.

The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program does include data on the number of police officers killed on the job and the number of “justifiable homicides” committed by officers, but this information is not very helpful because the FBI relies on law enforcement agencies to voluntarily hand over the information. Perhaps unsurprisingly, not every police department complies.

It’s frustrating that amid important discussions on much-needed reforms to police accountability, tactics, and training that information about police killings remains so unreliable.”

Those departments that do report data, however are asked to report police shootings which take place in their jurisdiction. As the Wall Street Journal  pointed out in December last year, some California Highway Patrol shootings may not be accurately reported because the shootings take place in a location under another department’s jurisdiction. The report showed that the inefficiencies in the reporting for the UCR program results in hundreds of police killings being left uncounted.

Regrettably, Comey seems to be doing little to provide law enforcement agencies with incentives to volunteer more accurate use-of-force data. Given the United States’ federalist system, the FBI cannot currently demand that law enforcement agencies hand over data on use-of-force incidents.

While government data on police killings is poor, two newspapers are keeping track of such incidents this year. The Washington Post is collecting information on police shootings (741 so far this year) and The Guardian is tracking all police killings (875 so far this year). For the time being, it looks as if the best source for police killings in the United States will be non-government projects like these.

Comey’s call for better data on police killings should be welcomed. It’s frustrating that amid important discussions on much-needed reforms to police accountability, tactics, and training that information about police killings remains so unreliable.

However, Comey has little influence on what data state and local law enforcement agencies choose to release. As much as he should be applauded for his concern about the state of reporting on police shootings, it’s unlikely that his rhetoric alone will produce …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Bernie Sanders Reaches 1 Million Donations Faster Than Any Presidential Campaign in History

September 30, 2015 in Blogs

By Zaid Jilani, AlterNet

And dedicated Super PACS are not part of the equation.


This morning, the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign announced that it had crossed the threshold of one million individual contributions to his campaign. 

As the Wall Street Journal notes, this is a record for U.S. presidential campaigns. During his 2008 run, Barack Obama did not reach this threshold until February of 2008. During his 2012 run for re-election, he did not hit it until October 2011.

The number of donors behind these contributions to Bernie for President was not released, but it is presumably lower than one million, as many give repeat contributions. The Sanders campaign did release its average contribution number, which is $24.86. The campaign has repeatedly pointed out that it is not supported by dedicated Super PACs, as are all of his opponents on the GOP side and Martin O'Malley and Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side.

With the Federal Elections Commission deadline for the third quarter of 2015 ending tonight, we will soon see how much money the Sanders campaign—and the campaigns of his rivals—raised in total. 

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Source: ALTERNET

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Joseph Salerno at the Nassau Institute in the Bahamas

September 30, 2015 in Economics

By Mises Institute

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Joseph Salerno at the Nassau Institute in the Bahamas

Prof. Salerno delivered a lecture on money and banking last Wednesday in Nassau, Bahamas. The Nassau Institute described the talk:

“Dr. Salerno will briefly describe the era of sound money that existed under the gold standard during the 19th century and up to the onset of the First World War. He will then discuss how government and central bank policies destroyed the gold standard and ushered in the era of pure fiat currencies and permanent inflation after the collapse of Bretton Woods in 1971. He will show how the logic of central banks and fiat money led inevitably to the housing bubble, the financial crisis, and the Great Recession, and how quantitative easing and other inflationary “unconventional” monetary policies are now setting the stage for a recurrence of monetary and financial chaos, and possibly even hyperinflation.”

Photos from the event:

September 30, 2015

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Newly Discovered Recording of Mises

September 30, 2015 in Economics

By Mises Institute

Ludwig von Mises Archives
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Political Theory

Newly Discovered Recording of Mises

September 30, 2015

In honor of Mises's 134th birthday on September 29, the Mises Institute is proud to share this recording of “The Economics of the Middle-of-the-Road Policy”—the inaugural lecture in the American School of Economics series, delivered on April 25, 1962.

Special thanks to Richard Ebeling for making the original reel-to-reel recording available.

This audio is also available on SoundCloud and YouTube.

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Aphorisms in Honor of Liberty

September 30, 2015 in Economics

By Mises Institute

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Aphorisms in Honor of Liberty

September 30, 2015

Four-time summer fellow at the Mises Institute, Jakub Bozydar Wisniewski, emails: “Over the last two years I wrote over 600 liberty-themed aphorisms, which I have recently published as a book, entitled The Pith of Life: Aphorisms in Honor of Liberty.”

In the volume you'll find wisdom such as:

A bad economist believes that pay can be legislated. A good economist believes that legislation can be paid for.

A bad economist believes that prices should be policed by the state. A good economist believes that police should be priced by the market.

A businessman calls himself boss, but his goal is to serve others. A politician calls himself servant, but his goal is to boss others.

A fool believes in designing markets. A person of reason believes in marketing designs.

A fool believes that the market makes profits corrupting. A person of reason knows that it makes corruption unprofitable.

A fool deplores the fact that automation destroys jobs. A person of reason delights in the fact that it makes jobs less automatic.

A good economist believes that his role is to improve the public’s understanding of the market. A bad economist believes that his role is to improve the market’s understanding of the public.

A good economist believes that the ones best suited to deal with the problem of scarcity are entrepreneurs. A bad economist believes that it’s the economists.

A “guaranteed profit” is something akin to a riskless danger.

Plus nearly 600 more.

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The Bizarre Anti-Choice Dream World Bolstered By Liars Like Carly Fiorina

September 30, 2015 in Blogs

By Jessica Valenti, The Guardian

Those intent on destroying access to abortion live in a dream world.


There was a time when I empathized with those on the other side of the abortion debate. They felt abortion was murder – and no matter how wrong I knew they were, I understood that believing such a thing would mean fighting to make abortion illegal.

But I don’t understand anymore. There are too many holes in their logic, too much magical thinking and outright lies to leave room for meaningful debate. How can you find common ground if you’re not even living on the same planet?

Those intent on destroying access to abortion live in a dream world where they are right and just, even has they are continually provided evidence to the contrary and confronted with their deceptions. Never has this been more on display than in the last few weeks as Republicans have triedto defund Planned Parenthood, and Carly Fiorina’s campaign doubles down on the lie that there’s a video of Planned Parenthood providers talking about “harvesting the brain” of a live fetus.

As has been pointed out over and over, the video that Fiorina claimed existed simply does not, and so her campaign released a different video, complete with spliced and edited audio and video, to keep the lie going. And while the GOP claims that their obsession with Planned Parenthood is about donated fetal tissue – despite every completed state investigation clearing the nonprofit organization of any wrongdoing – Republicans earlier this week questioned Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards about which affiliates provide the most abortions and grilled Richards about her salary. Last time I checked abortion was legal, as was having a paying job.

But I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. Fantastical self-deception is necessary if you want …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Watch: Suburban Police Harass Black Family, Call Them Disgusting Racial Slur

September 30, 2015 in Blogs

By Shaun King, Daily Kos

This is not good.


Ladies and gentlemen: This is your America.

In Montgomery, Illinois, about 45 minutes outside of Chicago, two police officers have been caught on camera targeting, harassing, assaulting, and wrongfully arresting an African American family in the overwhelmingly white town—including calling the family a “bunch of fucking niggers.”

But they were fired, right? Because this would be damning evidence of racial bias unfit for officers of the law, right?

Nah. Not even close. The officers were given a three-day suspension.

Yeah. For real.

Please see the horrendous video below, which shows George Taylor being illegally targeted by police over and over again.

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Source: ALTERNET

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Anderson: The Coming Corporate "Crime Wave"

September 30, 2015 in Economics

By Mises Institute

The Coming Corporate “Crime Wave”
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Anderson: The Coming Corporate “Crime Wave”

September 30, 2015

Mises Daily Wednesday | William L. Anderson

In a recent appearance before Congress, Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates declared that the US Department of Justice is going to ratchet up its prosecution of individuals employed in corporations as part of a larger push against “white collar crime.”

Within the next year, we should expect to see mid-level business and finance executives doing “perp walks” in front of the news media, as federal prosecutors will charge them with various “economic crimes” in hopes that they will implicate their superiors. All of us by now know the drill and in a time of anemic economic growth complete with business failures, it won’t be hard to find scapegoats.

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A Strong Fair Use Provision Could Help Balance the TPP's Copyright Rules

September 30, 2015 in Economics

By K. William Watson

K. William Watson

Negotiators from the 12 countries of the nearly completed Trans-Pacific Partnership are meeting this week in Atlanta to find agreement on remaining contentious issues. The meeting offers the United States one more opportunity to correct its past mistakes by ensuring the mandatory inclusion of fair use exceptions to copyright protection in the TPP’s intellectual property chapter. Doing so would bring the TPP’s copyright rules more in line with U.S. law and improve the TPP’s core mission of liberalizing trade in a 21st Century economy.

The United States has long insisted on minimum standards for IP protection in trade agreements. Proponents of this policy tout the importance of IP-related industries to U.S. economic growth and the problems they face ensuring the protection of IP rights in foreign markets. The goal, they claim, is to raise foreign IP protections to the same level as the United States.

But critics rightly point out that U.S. trade agreements fail to capture the balance of creator and user interests imbedded in U.S. IP law. Trade agreements have been a one-way street that set a minimum level of protection. Limitations on creators’ rights—like fair use—are an important part of U.S. law but don’t get included in the agreements alongside things like longer monopoly terms and stricter enforcement.

IP rules in trade agreements reflect not what the law really is but what certain industries want it to be.”

What this means is that the United States is not actually exporting U.S. copyright law. It is instead merely pushing regulations thatlook like U.S. copyright law for the benefit of movie studios and record labels. IP rules in trade agreements reflect not what the law really is but what certain industries want it to be.

The result can be trade rules that directly conflict with U.S. law. In 2013 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that federal copyright law doesn’t prohibit the resale in the United States of foreign editions of copyrighted books lawfully purchased abroad. Technically, that ruling places the United States in violation of article 4.11 of theU.S.–Jordan Free Trade Agreement, because U.S. negotiators were wrong about what U.S. law actually requires. Many parts of U.S. law are unclear or in flux, and trade negotiators are not taking that into account.

Imposing minimum requirements for protection through trade agreements also restricts the ability of Congress to reform U.S. copyright law. Copyright reform advocates who …read more

Source: OP-EDS