You are browsing the archive for 2018 January 05.

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Making Circuits Courts Appealing Again

January 5, 2018 in Economics

By Ilya Shapiro, Aaron Barnes

Ilya Shapiro and Aaron Barnes

Even beyond passing tax reform, slashing federal regulations,
and pruning the federal bureaucracy, Donald Trump’s most impressive
and lasting achievement so far is his record-setting pace of
judicial appointments to the U.S. courts of appeals. While the
Supreme Court gets attention for its blockbuster national cases,
the 13 federal circuit courts represent the end of the line for all
but 70 or so of the more than 50,000 cases they decide annually.
Judges sit on those appellate benches for life, affecting our law
long after the White House has changed hands.

After eclipsing the previous first-year records set by
Presidents Kennedy and Nixon with 12 appellate judges confirmed in
2017, what are the prospects for continuing this momentum and
increasing Trump’s judicial legacy?

Ultimately, the answer depends on two factors: (1) the number of
open seats to fill and (2) the power to get preferred nominees
confirmed. With regard to the latter, to paraphrase Yogi Berra,
making predictions about control of the Senate is hard,
particularly beyond this year’s elections. But engaging in a bit of
informed speculation as to the number of seats that will be
available for filling is less of a parlor game. The key
consideration in forecasting such vacancies — beyond the 17
that currently exist, for which six nominees are pending — is
the potential for judges to take advantage of what is known as
senior status. This status is governed by the so-called Rule of 80:
A federal judge who is at least 65 years old has the option of
going into semi-retirement once the judge’s combined age and years
on the bench add up to 80. So someone who was appointed before the
age of 50 (as most of Trump’s nominees have been) can go senior
immediately at 65.

The decision to take senior status has significant consequences.
Under it, a judge has the option of presiding over a reduced
caseload while maintaining his or her full salary. (In effect,
whatever work they do is voluntary at that point because they get
their full salary in retirement regardless, so we should be
grateful to them for picking up that slack.) For those who consider
interpreting the law and deciding cases to be a labor of love,
doing less work for the same pay can prove to be quite enticing.
Most relevant to a president wishing to leave a lasting mark on the
courts is that these senior judges don’t count against the 179
total appellate judgeships authorized by Congress. As soon as a
judge takes senior status, the president can nominate a new judge
to fill the newly vacant seat.

For …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Angus Deaton Inadvertently Shows Why We Shouldn't Care about Economic Inequality Stats

January 5, 2018 in Economics

By Ryan Bourne

Ryan Bourne

When the Pope tweeted in 2014 that “Inequality is the root
of social evil,” his stock rose with egalitarians. Former US
president Barack Obama had described inequality as “the
defining challenge of our time”. Jeremy Corbyn has since
risen, demanding an economic policy to tackle Britain’s
“grotesque inequality”. The assumption underpinning
these views is that a concentrated distribution of income or wealth
has negative economic and social consequences.

The idea that more inequality is a bad thing and less inequality
a good thing permeates public debate. It is the moral foundation of
Corbyn’s call for extensive government redistribution of
income and wealth.

But according to Nobel Prize-winning economist Angus Deaton,
worrying about whether inequality causes problems, such as slower
growth or impaired democracies, looks at things through the wrong
end of the telescope. “Inequality is not so much a cause of
economic, political, and social processes as a consequence,”
he concludes.

Inequality can sometimes
be a reflection of some social ills. But it can be a reflection of
social progress too, and some purported cures for it are much worse
than the disease.

This makes sense. A given distribution of income or wealth does
not fall manna from heaven, nor is it pre-determined by government.
It is a reflection of millions of interactions, trades, decisions,
inheritances and policies. A Gini coefficient, or a statistic of
the income or wealth share for the top 1pc, is aggregate
information, but tells us nothing about how it has arisen. Whether
we consider the overall result “fair” or
“unfair” depends, as Deaton acknowledges, on its
causes.

High levels of inequality, as seen in countries such as South
Africa, can be indicative of historical injustices. They can result
from prejudice and oppression, past and present. They can arise
from government capture by special interest groups, cronyism and
corruption. Poor education, family breakdown, racial
discrimination, long-term unemployment and social immobility might
all lead to a concentration of income at the top.

On the other hand, there are some causes of inequality that are
benign, such as lotteries, and others which are positively
beneficial, such as technological advances, entrepreneurialism and
free trade. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs got rich by providing
services that enhanced our lives. In South Africa again, income
inequality actually rose further post apartheid, because talented
black people had opportunities opened to them for the first time.
Few would suggest this was undesirable.

The Chinese Gini coefficient has risen from 0.16 in 1980 to 0.55
in 2014 — a sign of rising inequality — but this has
gone hand in hand with huge poverty reduction as the country
liberalised markets. In contrast, Britain saw a modest fall in
inequality …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Cannabis Tax Revenues Will be a Roadblock to Sessions's Drug War

January 5, 2018 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

jess sessions.PNG

By: Ryan McMaken

Through November of 2017, the State of Colorado collected more than $226 million in revenues from cannabis taxes, licenses, and fees. That's a lot for a state government with total discretionary spending of about $10 billion.

This doesn't count tax revenues produced by industries that serve cannabis industries — but aren't cannabis businesses per se. Like other businesses, cannabis businesses also hire bookkeepers, lawyers, landscapers, janitors, and construction workers.

In other words, cannabis employs people, produces tax revenue, and is as much a part of the local economy as any other industry. (The industry employs more than 30,000 people.)

What's happening in Colorado, though, is likely to be dwarfed by the new cannabis industry in California where there are far more people, including many more millionaires and billionaires. Many of them will likely be interested in making some money in the new industry.

Mike Tyson, for example, has announced he plans to open a “cannabis resort” in the California desert.

The state government, of course, will be planning to cash in also.

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions meanwhile, has decided to ratchet up his own personal Drug War on Marijuana, with which he as an odd fixation:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday rescinded a trio of memos from the Obama administration that had adopted a policy of non-interference with marijuana-friendly state laws.

The move essentially shifts federal policy from the hands-off approach adopted under the previous administration to unleashing federal prosecutors across the country to decide individually how to prioritize resources to crack down on pot possession, distribution and cultivation of the drug in states where it is legal.

One gets the impression, however, that on this matter, the horse left the barn a long time ago. Even among Republicans, Sessions appears to be out in left field on this matter. Colorado's GOP Senator Cory Gardner was clearly furious — by Washington standards — after Sessions's announcement, claiming the Sessions essentially lied to Gardner about his intentions prior to be being confirmed. Gardner says he will retaliate, if necessary, by “holding (Department of Justice) nominees, until the attorney general lives up to the commitment he made to me prior to his confirmation.”

Meanwhile, the US Attorney in Colorado says he plans to hold to the status quo. The state's Attorney General, Republican Cynthia Coffman also chimed in, claiming that Sessions's office blindsided her:

“I …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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The Hanseatic League: An "Empire" of Commerce

January 5, 2018 in Economics

By Marcia Christoff-Kurapovna

shops.PNG

By: Marcia Christoff-Kurapovna

Once upon a time there was a northern, medieval phenomenon as much the subject of universal myth and curiosity as that of the enchantress city-republics flourishing down south: the Hanseatic League of the mid-13th to 16th centuries. “The Hansa“ (old German for “associations“) or “The League,“ as it was known, began as a treaty between Lübeck and Hamburg “to clear the road of pirates and robbers between the Elbe and the Trave“ [a river in northern Germany with its delta at the Baltic sea]. It gradually increased to add Cologne and Bremen, later expanding to Gdansk, Riga and Novgorod, finally incorporating Bruges, Brunswick, and many satellite-cities throughout Scandinavia. The main goal of this expansion was to keep the herring fisheries of the Baltic in the hands of the merchant-princes of Lübeck and decidedly out of the hands of Frederick II Hohenstaufen, stupor mundi extraordinaire, who, in 1226, decreed that lovely, gothic-gabled town an Imperial City. Then, too, routes to capture the salt trade to Cyprus were critical. Soon, The League was dominating commercial relations with the Levant, Venice, Spain, France and England in timber, fur, grain, honey, Scandinavian copper and iron, in return for spices, medicine, fruit and wine and cotton. Such is how this loose coalition of Flying Dutchman–capitalists emerged as an empire without a State.

Navigare necesse est, viviere non est necesse is inscribed over the door to the old shipping house in Bremen: “It is necessary to carry on navigation, it is not necessary to live.” This old Hanseatic wisdom truly captured the spirit of this great port-civilization. Ruled by a code of honor as a de-centralized alliance, trade was everything and “The State” was looked upon as a land-locked, bureaucratic annoyance. The League came together and stayed together to share the risks of trading, seafaring and—where necessary—to deal with pestering overlords who knew nothing of commerce on the high seas but could smell a fresh source of taxation from a thousand Baltic tributaries away. They were “men who would not fight or steal; who would not live by plunder for pay,” as a 19th century British magazine, The Illustrated Magazine of Art, once swooned in nostalgia. “As those who wished to sell honestly, they were compelled to unite together for their own protection in order that they not be deprived of the rich goods they brought back with them from Italy for the …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE