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Democratic Primary Voters Turn to Socialism

March 13, 2019 in Economics

By Michael D. Tanner

Michael D. Tanner

Outside the media and political circles that follow her every
move, few probably noticed or cared when Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez
pronounced capitalism “irredeemable.” But what are we
to make of the refusal of former Colorado governor John
Hickenlooper — supposedly the moderate in the Democratic
field — to admit that he was a capitalist? Speaking on
MSNBC’s Morning Joe last week, Hickenlooper turned
aside several direct questions about whether he was a capitalist
before allowing that “some aspects” of capitalism, like
small business, “probably work.” And what about the
fact that 77-year-old avowed socialist Bernie Sanders is in a
statistical tie for the Democratic nomination?

Perhaps that’s because Democratic primary voters have a
surprisingly favorable view of socialism. According to the latest
Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll, Democrats prefer capitalism to socialism
by the slimmest 51-49 percent margin. That’s a long way from
President Obama, who just four years ago pointed out that
“the free market is the greatest generator of wealth in
history — it has lifted millions out of poverty.”

Of course there is ample reason to be suspicious of the
combination of cronyism and government intervention that has
replaced free-market capitalism in recent years. But this new
affection for socialism represents a profound misreading of
economics, history, and the human condition.

As long as the party
keeps lurching left, Trump’s reelection prospects will
improve.

For most of recorded history, humankind was horribly,
desperately poor. Then, about 300 years ago, human wealth suddenly
began to increase exponentially. The reason for this sudden and
wonderful change was the advent of modern free-market capitalism.
And while those at the top of the income ladder undoubtedly saw
major gains, those who benefited the most from this increase in
wealth were those at the bottom.

In her groundbreaking book Bourgeois Equality, Deirdre
McCloskey points out that in the era before modern free-market
capitalism, great civilizations, such as Periclean Greece or Song
Dynasty China, sometimes saw a temporary doubling of national
income per capita. Such gains were considered extraordinary. But
compare that to the fact that since 1800, developed countries like
Sweden or Japan have seen a 3,200 percent growth in per capita
income. And with that growth came all sorts of associated benefits,
including longer life expectancies, a better-educated citizenry,
expanded civil and political rights, and reduced poverty. Studies
measuring inequality over time against indexes of economic freedom
(adjusted to exclude exogenous factors such as educational levels,
climate, agricultural share of employment, and so forth) show a
small but statistically significant reduction in
inequality in countries with high economic-freedom scores.

What has been true worldwide has been true for the United States
as well. Consider that by most measures …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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The Dogs of War Sniff out Mission in Central Africa

March 13, 2019 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

As if the United States wasn’t already pursuing enough
murky and dubious military missions in such places as Afghanistan,
Syria, and Yemen, a push appears to be underway to expand
Washington’s involvement in Sub-Saharan Africa.

U.S. troops are more deeply engaged in “anti-terror”
in Niger, Somalia, and other countries than most Americans realize.
When four American Special Forces personnel died in Niger in 2017,
even members of Congress were surprised.

A lobbying effort now seems to be taking place for U.S.
intervention to alleviate suffering in the Central African Republic
(CAR), because of that country’s ongoing civil war. NBC News
took the lead with a story on the March 6 Today show and
followed it up with a more detailed segment on the Nightly News that same evening. Cynthia
McFadden was the lead journalist for the report that included
searing footage of suffering in one UN-run refugee camp.

If we don’t do
it—the growing narrative goes—Russia, China, and ISIS
will.

The media treatment would be familiar to anyone who recalls the
preludes to U.S. military interventions in such places as Somalia,
Bosnia, Kosovo, Libya, and Syria. There is extensive video of
starving, disease-afflicted children and their anguished parents.
International aid workers emphasize that the suffering was certain
to get worse unless the “international community” (led,
of course, by the United States) took immediate action. A U.S.
diplomat on the scene or in Washington proceeds to echo that
argument. The armed conflict causing the suffering is mentioned,
but the treatment is brief and superficial, or it becomes a
simplistic melodrama in which a designated villain is causing all
the trouble: Think Slobodan Milosevic, Muammar Qaddafi, and Bashar
al-Assad.

The NBC report followed that template to
perfection—including the focus on child victims. In an
on-camera interview, Caryl Stern, the CEO of UNICEF USA, stated
flatly: “This is the most dangerous place in the world for
children.” As with earlier media accounts that sought to
generate public support for U.S. intervention in the Balkans,
Libya, and other chaotic arenas, the report also highlighted the
sense of urgency and the assertion that the United States has both
a moral obligation and a strategic interest in taking action. One
passage asserted that the situation already in the CAR was dire and
becoming more so:

The Central African Republic has descended into chaos in recent
years. A sectarian civil war pitting Muslim rebels against
Christian militias has ravaged large swaths of the country,
displaced more than 1 million people and claimed the lives of tens
of thousands.

Adding to its woes, this landlocked nation of 4.6 million people
is now teetering on the brink …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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St Patrick: Kidnapped by Pirates and Enslaved at 16

March 13, 2019 in History

By Christopher Klein

Early in the 5th century, an Irish ship beat against the waves along the western coast of Great Britain. On the far edge of the crumbling Roman Empire, a band of Irish marauders crept into a secluded cove and raided the village of Bannavem Taburniae.

Among the plunder captured by the band of warriors dispatched by Ireland’s King Niall of the Nine Hostages was a 16-year-old boy named Succat. Although brought to Ireland against his will, the teenager would go on to become Ireland’s patron saint. St. Patrick may have been a foreigner who arrived in Ireland in the hold of a pagan king’s slave ship, but he would become synonymous with the island itself.

Established facts about Patrick’s youth are few, and much of what is known comes from the saint himself in his short autobiography, the Confessio. According to the traditional narrative, Patrick was born into a well-to-do family around 386 A.D. and grew up along Great Britain’s western coast, likely in Wales, which was part of the Roman Empire at the time. His father was a Christian deacon and a minor Roman official, his grandfather a priest.

The raid that tore him away from his family was not all that unusual in the early 5th century, says Philip Freeman, author of St. Patrick of Ireland: A Biography. “We know from a few other late Roman sources that the Irish had been raiding western Britain regularly for at least a century before Patrick was captured in the early 400s, just as the Saxons had been raiding in the east of Britain,” he says.

“One of the most horrifying features of the period is the wholesale enslavement of freemen and -women,” writes Thomas Cahill in How the Irish Saved Civilization. “In the slavery business, no tribe was fiercer or more feared than the Irish.” As Roman power waned, forays by Irish raiders grew more common. On a regular basis, they plundered animals and clothes and snatched children from their sleep in the middle of the night. They abducted young men to herd sheep and cows and young women to serve them.

Who Was St. Patrick? (TV-PG; 1:00)

Ripped from his home, Patrick herded sheep for a local chieftain on the slopes of Mount Slemish in County Antrim in the north of Ireland. Deprived of food and clothes, Patrick lived …read more

Source: HISTORY

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The Case for Allowing Interstate Trade Among Marijuana-Legal States

March 13, 2019 in Economics

By Ilya Shapiro

Ilya Shapiro

Although marijuana has been illegal under the Controlled
Substances Act since 1970, that will inevitably change. With
two-thirds of the country currently in favor of
legalizing recreational use—a remarkable shift, rivaled only
by polling trends on same-sex marriage—Congress is beginning
to read the smoke signals. Late last month, for example, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ)
reintroduced the Marijuana Justice Act, which would legalize
cannabis as a matter of federal law and expunge federal marijuana
convictions.

It’s important that lawmakers get national cannabis policy
right, which means both respecting each state’s prerogative to
handle its own policy and allowing interstate marijuana trade among
those states that legalize.

Currently, the 33 closed cannabis markets—that’s how many
states have legalized medical marijuana, 10 of which have also
legalized recreational use, with New York about to become the 11th—suffer under
extreme disequilibrium. Supply far outstrips demand in places like
Oregon, where dispensaries are selling marijuana at record-low
prices due to the growers’ impressive crop yield.

It’s important that
lawmakers get national cannabis policy right, which means
respecting each state’s prerogative to handle its own policy and
allowing interstate marijuana trade.

In Nevada, however, medical marijuana patients don’t have access
to affordable products to ease their pain—it’s hard to grow
cannabis in the desert! It would be efficient and profitable for
businesses in both states to simply ship Oregon’s marijuana to
Nevada. But interstate trade of marijuana is still very
illegal.

What’s worse, closed state borders create de facto cartels for
existing businesses. The burdensome licensing process in states
like California and Colorado already limits economic activity
related to cannabis. Until this changes, only the most established
and capitalized businesses will be able to successfully invest in
future cannabis trade.

By default, to succeed, any business has to be vertically
integrated from seed to sale in each state. This limits competition
and artificially inflates prices. Consumers, particularly elderly
patients, many of whom rely on cannabis products to mitigate health
concerns, will be at the mercy of businesses that don’t have to
respond to market forces.

o look at it another way, one of the principal criticisms of
Obamacare is that it doesn’t allow the sale of exchange
insurance plans across state lines. Well, such faux federalism
applied to cannabis policy suffers from the exact same deficiency:
closed markets inflate both health insurance premiums and the price
for premium bud.

Several bills now before Congress, like the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act,
contemplate interstate trade and a national industry. A number of
other proposals, like the RE[E]FER Act or the STATES
Act
, fall short of that promised goal even as …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Mississippi Should Join Call for Convention of States to Amend U.S. Constitution

March 13, 2019 in Economics

By Aaron Rice, Ilya Shapiro

Aaron Rice and Ilya Shapiro

Two days before the framers signed the Constitution, one
delegate noticed a defect in the plan. He rose to point out that
under the current proposal, only Congress could initiate the
process of amending the Constitution.

But if the federal government grew out of control, it could
never be counted on to rein in its own power. There needed to be a
way for the states to initiate the amendment process.

The other convention delegates agreed and unanimously voted to
add provisions to Article V, which equipped the states with the
power to call for a convention at which delegates would make
amendment proposals — which would then have to be ratified by
the states.

The day the framers feared, when the federal government would
far exceed its legitimate powers, arrived years ago.

Congress has long exercised powers that are not constitutionally
authorized. At the same time, in an effort to avoid hard choices
and increase its members’ reelection chances, Congress has
delegated most of the actual work of legislating to faceless,
unaccountable bureaucracies, which continue to grow unchecked.

The Federal Register, which contains all proposed and final
regulations issued by federal agencies, has published over 3.2
million pages. If it were printed and stacked, it would be taller
than the Washington Monument. This mountain of regulation —
not even legislation — slows economic growth, stifles
innovation, and prevents countless Americans from pursuing their
version of the American Dream.

The growth in our federal government has also led to
unsustainable federal spending. The federal debt recently topped
$22 trillion. Our country’s entire GDP is only $20.5
trillion, meaning that if we took every penny that is earned or
produced by every American over the course of a year, we still
could not pay off our debt. Every American’s share of the
debt is currently about $67,000, and within 10 years, every man,
woman, and child will owe $100,000. Future generations of Americans
are being born into staggering debt for services they will never
see.

The Supreme Court has been complicit in this perversion of the
constitutional order, failing in its duty to serve as a check on
the power of the legislative and executive branches. As the federal
government has grown large enough to control every facet of our
lives, so has the importance of the Supreme Court grown. The court
now routinely rules on the most important political issues in
American life, including healthcare, immigration, affirmative
action, abortion, political gerrymandering, and campaign finance.
These “winner takes all” decisions have led to more
polarization and a more toxic political discourse.

With a conservative majority on the court, there is hope that
the …read more

Source: OP-EDS