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Rothbard: Gun Regulation Explained

October 7, 2015 in Economics

By Murray N. Rothbard

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Rothbard: Gun Regulation Explained

October 7, 2015

[A selection from For a New Liberty.]

If, as libertarians believe, every individual has the right to own his person and property, it then follows that he has the right to employ violence to defend himself against the violence of criminal aggressors. But for some odd reason, liberals have systematically tried to deprive innocent persons of the means for defending themselves against aggression. Despite the fact that the Second Amendment to the Constitution guarantees that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed,” the government has systematically eroded much of this right. Thus, in New York State, as in most other states, the Sullivan Law prohibits the carrying of “concealed weapons” without a license issued by the authorities. Not only has the carrying of guns been grievously restricted by this unconstitutional edict, but the government has extended this prohibition to almost any object that could possibly serve as a weapon — even those that could only be used for self-defense. As a result, potential victims of crime have been barred from carrying knives, tear-gas pens, or even hat pins, and people who have used such weapons in defending themselves against assault have themselves been prosecuted by the authorities. In the cities, this invasive prohibition against concealed [p. 115] weapons has in effect stripped victims of any possible self-defense against crime. (It is true that there is no official prohibition against carrying an unconcealed weapon, but a man in New York City who, several years ago, tested the law by walking the streets carrying a rifle was promptly arrested for “disturbing the peace.”) Furthermore, victims are so hamstrung by provisions against “undue” force in self-defense that the criminal is automatically handed an enormous built-in advantage by the existing legal system.

It should be clear that no physical object is in itself aggressive; any object, whether it be a gun, a knife, or a stick, can be used for aggression, for defense, or for numerous other purposes unconnected with crime. It makes no more sense to outlaw or restrict …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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What's Really Wrong with Obama's Syria Approach, and Why His Critics' Approach Is Worse

October 7, 2015 in Economics

By Christopher A. Preble

Christopher A. Preble

Judging from his actions, one could surmise that Barack Obama views the Syrian civil war as a classic no-win situation: a devilish cauldron of warring factions, shifting allegiances, and horrific destruction on all sides. And, if that is what he believes, then he’s exactly right.

But now some are using Russia’s decision to try to prop up Bashar al-Assad’s teetering regime as a justification for renewed U.S. involvement. They claim that it proves Obama’s approach—not just for Syria, but for the whole world—has failed. Richard Cohen castigates the president for his excessive caution, and speaks of the high costs of avoiding war. The Washington Post calls on Obama to “carve out safe zones. Destroy the helicopter fleet Mr. Assad uses for his war crimes. Provide aid to the battle-hardened force of 25,000 fighters.”

Surely all of these critics know that there is little that the United States can do alone. And it is difficult to work with allies and sometime partners in the region because they have competing goals—with us, and with each other. Even if we could intervene constructively, it’s not clear that we should. The risks of inaction seem preferable to those of action.

Doing something for no good reason isn’t a viable policy doctrine.”

But the president’s unwillingness to say these things reflects a major foreign policy divide in the country at large. On one side are those who believe that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were tragic errors, never to be repeated. On the other are those who argue that both wars were mishandled, but are still confident that the United States can and should intervene in foreign disputes and topple unsavory dictators. They still want to try to arrest the collapse of failing states, and believe that they have the power to do so. We saw those debates play out over what to do in Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, Egypt, and, of course, Syria.

It appears that the president is at war with himself. No one can dispute that the Syrian civil war is a tragedy. But no one can credibly claim that there are vital American security interests at stake in Syria. Who rules Damascus, and whether they rule it poorly or well, will not materially affect the safety of the average American.

A misguided few might manage to leave their homes and families, get to the fight, survive the war, …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Alone in Alabama: Dispatches From an Inmate Jailed for Her Son’s Stillbirth

October 7, 2015 in Blogs

By Ed Pilkington, The Guardian

Sentenced for ‘chemical endangerment,’ Amanda Kimbrough has sent letters from prison.


On 29 April last year Amanda Kimbrough sat down in her cell inside the notoriously tough Tutwiler women’s prison in Wetumpka, Alabama, and began writing a letter in which she described her feelings of loss and remorse. It was a poignant moment, as six years earlier to the day her only son Timmy had been born prematurely and had died from complications at birth after only 19 minutes.

“Tim Jr would be six years old [today],” she wrote, “and not a day goes by I don’t think of him. While I was out we keep his grave decorated and kept up, my husband and family do while I’m here.”

That Kimbrough – Alabama offender 287089, as the state branded her – should be thinking of her son on the anniversary of his death needs no explanation. But the poignancy of the letter is heightened by the knowledge that it was because of Timmy’s stillbirth at 25 weeks that she was locked up in the first place.

Kimbrough was prosecuted for the “chemical endangerment” of her fetus relating to her on-off struggle with drug addiction. The case was pursued so forcefully by the state of Alabama that she was charged with a class A felony – equivalent to murder – and taken all the way to trial, in what is thought to be the only full trial hearing of its sort in the country.

Later, the profound legal issues raised by the case would rise up through appeals all the way to the Alabama supreme court, the highest judicial panel in the state, where it would set a new precedent. In effect, it renders all pregnant women vulnerable to prosecution for any harm they might cause their fetus at any time after the moment of conception.

At her trial, Kimbrough was warned that if she was found guilty, she would face a mandatory sentence of 10 years to life in prison. In the end, though, she felt the deck was …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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TPP: The Latest Assault on Free Trade

October 7, 2015 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

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TPP: The Latest Assault on Free Trade

October 7, 2015

The Trans Pacific Partnership is just the latest assault on free trade, although, like previous assaults before it, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, it is labeled as having something to do with free trade.

Today's Mises Daily article describes it best: agreements between governments have nothing to do with free trade. This was the understanding of the early laissez-faire liberals. To have free trade, governments merely need only refrain from restricting it. And more specifically to the situation in the US, to allow free trade, the US government merely need refrain from prosecuting people who attempt to trade with foreigners who do not have the official stamp of approval from the US government. (See also Carmen Dorobat's article from yesterday.)

To support restrictions on free trade is to support the jailing and prosecution of peaceful private citizens who trade with foreigners. Whatever the motivation, whether it is to attempt to punish foreign regimes (as with supporters of the Cuban or Iranian embargoes), or protect certain favored industries, the fundamental mechanism behind restrictions on trade is the prosecution and punishment of private entrepreneurs who engage in peaceful trade.

The TPP, like all other trade agreements of its type, was designed to serve the strategic interests of the governments involved, and has nothing to do with opening up new opportunities for free trade among ordinary members of the domestic societies that are taxed to finance the governments involved. There is no doubt that certain large corporate interests with political power will benefit from agreements like TPP. Large interests have the clout and the resources to change and shape these agreements to favor them. Small enterprises and businesses, and small entrepreneurs will only endure greater restrictions.

The New York Times reports how US allies are using the TPP as a “check on China.” It's a national “security” scheme and has nothing to do with freer trade for you and me. Meanwhile, the CBC (Canada) admits that the TPP will do little to actually lower your grocery bill or the price of automobiles. So, if a trade …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Democrats Have Better Grammar Than Republicans, Study Reveals

October 7, 2015 in Blogs

By Adam Johnson, AlterNet

Grammar app-sponsored survey is based on candidates facebook posts.


Democrats convinced they are smarter and better educated than their Republican friends and family may be right after all—at least in terms of being able to speak the English language properly. 

A new “study” done by the grammar app Grammarly examined the Facebook comments of the supporters of all major Presidential candidates and noticed some startling patterns. According to USA Today:

Supporters commenting on Democratic candidates’ Facebook pages made an average of 4.2 mistakes per 100 words compared to 8.7 mistakes for supporters of Republican candidates. The Democratic supporters also showed a larger vocabulary, using on average 300 unique words per 1,000 words, while Republicans used only 245.

The trend is starker when broken out by candidate: The five Democratic candidates — Lincoln Chafee, Jim Webb, Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley and Hillary Clinton — all get better Facebook grammar scores (in that order) than every Republican except Carly Fiorina, whose supporters posted the best grammar scores of any GOP candidate, tying her with Clinton.

Ouch. 245 words vs. 300. That seems like a sizable gap. Of course, good grammar does not directly correlate with success – either in life or in politics. Just ask Lincoln Chafee who scored the most grammatical but also had the least supporters of the survey.

Grammarly's study did not, unfortunately, include any third party candidates. 

The findings are consistent with studies that do show Republicans are generally are less likely to go to college than Democrats. But, liberals should not get too smug. Studies also show that Tea Partiers, somewhat paradoxically, are more likely to have a college degree than non-Tea Partiers so that certainly complicates matters. 

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Source: ALTERNET

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Racist Facebook Users Relentlessly Mocked a 3-Year-Old Black Child — Then the Internet Struck Back

October 7, 2015 in Blogs

By Sophia Tesfaye, Salon

Black Twitter has little tolerance for slave jokes at the expense of a defenseless child.


Internet trolls rarely make sense but they are usually tucked away to the dark corners of comment sections or pass themselves off as eggs on Twitter. But now we’ve reached the juncture when racist internet trolls are so shameless that they freely use their Facebook profiles and full names to spout their disgusting nonsense.

That was the case when a defenseless and rather adorable three-year-old boy became the center of racist and abusive Facebook comments after a white Georgia man decided to sneak a selfie with the child and post it to his page for all his trollish friends to lampoon, implying that the child was a slave and referring to him as “sambo.”

Zellie Imani of the Atlanta Black Star first reported on the Facebook post by Geris Hilton — real name Gerod Roth — and the ensuing backlash:

“I’ll feed you, but first let me take a selfie,” wrote one of Hilton’s Facebook friends.

“I didn’t know you were a slave owner,” wrote a commenter named Emily Irene Red.

“Send him back dude those f–kers are expensive,” another Facebook user, by the name of Dylan Kleeman, reportedly wrote.

Commenter Tim Zheng described the young child as “feral.”

But before long, Black Twitter (it’s a thing — the LA Times has even dedicated a reporter to it) got a hold of Hilton’s post and proceeded with swift social media justice:

 

help me find out their facebook addresses or any info at all…THIS is why I am what I am…

Posted by G Devan Smith on Thursday, October 1, 2015

The boys mother, Sydney Jade, was a coworker of Hilton’s and took to social media to defend her child, Cayden:

This Cayden Jace! The love of my life, the apple in my eye, my EVERYTHING. All this lovely personality wrapped up into one small person’s body. …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Azihari & Rouanet: No More "Free Trade" Treaties: It's Time for Genuine Free Trade

October 7, 2015 in Economics

By Mises Institute

No More “Free Trade” Treaties: It’s Time for Genuine Free-Trade
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Azihari & Rouanet: No More “Free Trade” Treaties: It’s Time for Genuine Free Trade

October 7, 2015

Mises Daily Wednesday: Ferghane Azihari and Louis Rouanet write:

Murray Rothbard opposed NAFTA and showed that what the Orwellians were calling a “free trade” agreement was in reality a means to cartelize and increase government control over the economy. Several clues lead us to the conclusion that protectionist policies often hide behind free trade agreements, for as Rothbard said, “genuine free trade doesn’t require a treaty.”

The first clue is the intergovernmental and top down approach. Intergovernmentalism is nothing more than a process governments use to mutualize their respective sovereignties in order to complete tasks they are not able to accomplish alone. Nation-states are entities which rarely give up power. When they finalize agreements, it is to strengthen their power, not to weaken it. On the contrary, free trade requires a decline of governments’ regulatory power.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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LinkedIn May Owe You $1,500 for Spamming Your Inbox

October 7, 2015 in Blogs

By Adam Johnson, AlterNet

Anyone who used the service between Sept. 17, 2011 and Oct. 31, 2014 is eligible to file a claim.


If you felt like you were being inundated with spam from LinkedIn for several years you were not alone. 

After a Two-year legal battle LinkedIn itself admitted as much, saying they were “sending too much email” and agreeing to pay $13 million total to potentially thousands of users.

Anyone who used the service between Sept. 17, 2011 and Oct. 31, 2014 is eligible to file a claim. Ironically, Sept. 17, 2011 was the first day of Occupy Wall Street, a movement which was focused on runaway corporate excess. 

According to the Huffington Post, LinkedIn broke normal spamming procedures in a uniquely sleazy way:

The way the “Add Connections” service works is that an email invitation is sent out by LinkedIn to the contact. But if the person does not respond to the invitation within a certain amount of time, LinkedIn follows up by sending them two more reminder emails.

According to the lawsuit, LinkedIn members did not consent to the additional emails when they chose to use the feature.

LinkedIn, for its part, says they “need to do a better job of figuring out when to send you an email”, which is corporate-ese for “we will caliber our spam so as to maximize marketing outreach without getting sued and having lots of bad PR.”

You can click here to file a claim. Though the law firm handling the suit says that users could get up to $1,500 the actual amount will likely be much lower since it largely depends on how many people end up filing the claim, according to KTLA.

Good luck and remember when you get that big check who brought it to your attention.

You're welcome.

 

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Source: ALTERNET

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Normalizing U.S. Relations with Cuba Leads to Escalation in Repression of Cuban Dissidents

October 7, 2015 in Economics

By Nat Hentoff

Nat Hentoff

On Dec. 10, 2014, the Cuban government marked the 64th anniversary of international Human Rights Day with sweeping nationwide arrests of pro-democracy dissidents. One week later, on Dec. 17, President Obama announced that the United States and Cuba had agreed to begin the process of normalizing relations.

The agreement, reached after 18 months of negotiations, included plans to reopen the U.S. and Cuban embassies in Havana and Washington, D.C., and a promise by President Obama to advocate for an end to the economic embargo of Cuba. In exchange, Cuba released 53 political prisoners on a list presented by the U.S. negotiators.

The Cuban government’s response at each stage in the process of reconciliation has been a steady escalation in the arbitrary harassment, abuse, arrest and detention of Cuba’s pro-democracy dissidents.

Human Rights Watch reports that “the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN) — an independent group the (Cuban) government views as illegal — received over 7,188 reports of arbitrary detentions from January through August 2014, a sharp increase from approximately 2,900 in 2013 and 1,100 in 2010 during the same time period.”

Before CCDHRN’s blog stopped being updated in June, its monthly arrest reports reflected that Cuban security police had made over 2,000 detentions for peaceful political activity since President Obama announced the normalization of relations in December 2014.

“Detention is often used pre-emptively to prevent individuals from participating in peaceful marches or meetings to discuss politics,” Human Rights Watch noted in its 2015 report on Cuba. “Other repressive tactics employed by the government include beatings, public acts of shaming, and the termination of employment.”

Yilenni Aguilera Santos is a member of the Damas de Blanco (“Ladies in White”) protest movement, a group of wives and family members of former and current political prisoners. On June 22, 2014, she reported suffering a miscarriage following a severe beating by Cuban security police during her detention in Holguin.

On Sept. 27, 2015, the website Diario de Cuba reported that the 21-year-old daughter of Damas de Blanco member Daisy Basulto was arrested, violently stripped, forced to urinate in front of police officers and then held in a cell at a police station in Cotorro, where she was exposed to a toxic chemical that made her ill.

The Cuban government prides itself on the excellence of its free nationwide healthcare system. But it maintains an “overcrowded,” “unhygienic” prison system, where “unhealthy conditions lead to extensive …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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And Coming Up on the Left, Bernie Sanders

October 7, 2015 in Economics

By Michael D. Tanner

Michael D. Tanner

As Hillary Clinton continues to stumble, her leading opponent, Senator Bernie Sanders, is having quite a run. Sanders continues to lead Clinton in New Hampshire, is running close in Iowa, raised nearly as much money as Clinton during the last quarter, and attracts Trump-like crowds at his events. And, if Joe Biden jumps in, splitting the Democratic establishment vote, he could become an even bigger threat to Hillary’s coronation. Maybe, then, it is time to take Bernie, as his campaign posters style him, seriously.

Sanders calls himself a “democratic socialist,” but he is not a socialist in the Jeremy Corbyn “nationalize industry” sense. He’s more of a tax-and-spend politician — on steroids.

You recall the old saying, “Don’t tax you; don’t tax me; tax the fellow behind the tree”? Well, Bernie wants to tax you, me, the fellow, and the tree too. He famously delivered an eight-hour Senate speech calling for higher taxes. So far, he has proposed, among other tax hikes, increasing the long-term capital-gains tax rate from 23.8 percent to a whopping 39.6 percent. At the same time, he wants to impose a transaction tax on every stock trade, which would wreak havoc with the average American’s pension fund and 401(k). He would end tax breaks for the coal, gas, and oil industries, and end the rule that allows U.S. corporations to defer taxes on earnings of overseas subsidiaries. He would also increase the estate tax and lower the threshold at which it applies. In addition, he would levy a 12.4 percent payroll tax on all earnings above $250,000, without a corresponding increase in benefits.

The progressives’ answer to Donald Trump.”

If that’s not enough, he has also pushed for a carbon tax. Moreover, although he hasn’t formally proposed it yet, he has said that he would not be opposed to a 90 percent top income-tax rate. And, while most other Democratic and Republican candidates — and even President Obama — would cut the corporate tax rate, currently the highest among major industrialized countries, to make us more competitive, Sanders hopes to raise corporate taxes.

Altogether, he would increase taxes by $3 to $6.5 trillion over ten years.

But all those new taxes wouldn’t come close to paying for his spending plans. Sanders calls for $1 trillion in new infrastructure spending, free tuition at public universities for everyone, federally financed family and sick leave, federal subsidies for …read more

Source: OP-EDS