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27 Feb 11:00

For The Love Of Models: A Global Warming Allegory

by Guest Blogger
Guest essay by William M. Briggs, statistician. Reposted from his blog wmbriggs.com A very odd thing happened in Science. Turns out a famous weatherman has been forecasting highs in the 60s then 70s for New York City all winter long. But the temperature never rose above the single digits, teens, twenties, and thirties. One day…
27 Feb 01:20

To the Governor’s Desk: Virginia Bill Bans Warrantless Drone Surveillance

by Kelli Sladick

RICHMOND, Va. (Feb. 26, 2015) A Virginia bill to permanently restrict the use of drones by state and local law enforcement is on its way to the Governor’s desk for a signature. If signed into law, it would not only establish important privacy protections at the state level, it would also thwart the federal surveillance state.

Virginia was the first state in the U.S. to establish any restrictions on drones when former Gov. Bob McDonnell signed a two year moratorium on the use of unmanned aircraft in 2013. SB1301 would replace that temporary moratorium with permanent restrictions on drone use.

The House approved the bill by a 99-0 while the Senate passed the legislation back on Feb. 10 by a 21-17 vote. The two version had some technical differences, but the senate has agreed to the House’s version of the bill.

SB1301 would require any “state or local government department, agency, or instrumentality having jurisdiction over criminal law enforcement or regulatory violations,” to obtain a warrant before deploying a drone with only a few exceptions.

The bill only allows warrantless use of a drone to help locate a missing persons, if officials determined it necessary to alleviate an immediate danger to any person, or, “if a person with legal authority consents to the warrantless search.” It also allows for the use of drones for certain non-law enforcement activities such as disaster damage assessment. The House version carves out exceptions for the National Guard when training for its “federal mission.”

SB1301 includes a blanket prohibition against weaponized drones.

Impact on the Federal Surveillance State

Although SB1301 focuses exclusively on state and local drone use and does not apply directly federal agencies, the legislation would throw a high hurdle in front of some federal programs.

Much of the funding for drones at the state and local level comes from the federal government, in and of itself a constitutional violation. In return, federal agencies tap into the information gathered by state and local law enforcement through fusion centers and a federal program known as the information sharing environment.

According to its website, the ISE “provides analysts, operators, and investigators with information needed to enhance national security. These analysts, operators, and investigators… have mission needs to collaborate and share information with each other and with private sector partners and our foreign allies.” In other words, ISE serves as a conduit for the sharing of information gathered without a warrant.

The federal government encourages and funds a network of drones at the sate and local level across the U.S., thereby gaining access to a massive data pool on Americans without having to expend the resources to collect the information itself. By placing restrictions on drone use, state and local governments limit the data available that the feds can access.

In a nutshell, without state and local cooperation, the feds have a much more difficult time gathering information. This represents a major blow to the surveillance state and a win for privacy.

Bills like SB1301 make part of a bigger strategy to put and end to government drone surveillance. Virginia led the way with its 2013 moratorium and appears set to take the next step. Each bill introduced, passed, and signed into law creates and builds momentum for other states to do the same.

SB1301 now moves to the Governor’s desk, where a representative of the Division of Legislative Services told us that he will have 30 days to decide.

26 Feb 18:50

Verizon had a clever response to today's big net neutrality vote

by Christina Sterbenz

The government just gave a big win to net neutrality advocates by voting to regulate broadband internet, also banning companies from paying for faster service that could prioritize their content.

Many of the big players, however, aren't happy about it. 

Verizon released the statement below, which calls the FCC's decision "badly antiquated regulations." To drive the point home, the company's PR team published the statement in Morse code.  

Verizon net neutrality statement

The FCC's #ThrowbackThursday vote on #NetNeutrality brought 1930s regulations to the 21st-century Internet: http://t.co/G3ytd278dz

— Verizon Policy (@VZPublicPolicy) February 26, 2015

The translated version also appears in a typeface that looks like it came from a typewriter.

Whether you agree with the decision or not, it's a pretty clever move.

Verizon Statement by efuchs160

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: 14 things you didn't know your iPhone headphones could do








26 Feb 19:23

To the Governor’s Desk: Virginia “Right to Try” Would Effectively Nullify Some FDA Restrictions on the Terminally-Ill

by Shane Trejo

RICHMOND, Va. (Feb. 26, 2015) – Yesterday, the Virginia state Senate gave final approval to a bill that would nullify in practice some Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules that prevent treatments from being used by terminally ill patients. The vote was 39-0 and the bill now moves to Gov. McAuliffe’s desk for a signature.

Introduced by Sen. William Stanley, Senate Bill 732 (SB732), the Virginia Right to Try Act, is the latest pushback against the FDA and their controversial methodology of withholding experimental treatments from people on their deathbed.

If signed into law, a patient suffering from a terminal disease attested to by a physician and who has considered all other approved treatment options would be able to try experimental treatments or drugs not yet approved by the FDA, effectively nullifying this narrow, but important set of federal restrictions.

Health care providers who prescribe these drugs to patients are shielded from liability under SB732. The text of the bill states that “no health care provider who recommends, prescribes, administers, distributes, or supplies an investigational drug, biological product, or device to a person (under the bill)…shall be deemed to have engaged in unprofessional conduct, or shall be adversely affected in any decision relating to licensure, on such grounds.”

SB732 makes up part of a greater trend sweeping the nation. During this most recent November election, Arizona residents approved Prop. 303, known as the Arizona Terminal Patients’ Right to Try Referendum. The proposition allows investigational drugs, biological products or devices to be made available to eligible terminally ill patients, not permitted under the FDA.

Legislatures in Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, and Louisiana, have already passed Right to Try Laws similar to the Arizona amendment, and more than 20 states are considering such measures in 2015, with legislative chambers in Utah, Montana, Wyoming, Arkansas and Mississippi passing similar measures this month.

Although these laws only address one small aspect of FDA regulation, they provide us with a clear model demonstrating how to nullify federal statutes that violate the Constitution. The strategy narrows the influence of nullification to limited aspects of the law itself. The strategy works because it focuses on ending specific federal policies large numbers of Americans from across the political spectrum oppose.

The bill represents a positive first step to help terminally-ill patients from FDA restrictions that can kill.

SB1301 now moves to the Governor’s desk, where a representative of the Division of Legislative Services told us that he will have 30 days to decide.

ACTION ITEMS

In Virginia: Support this bill by following the action steps at THIS LINK

In Other States: Take the steps to get a similar bill passed in your state at this link.

25 Feb 23:58

‘Are you now or have you ever been a climate skeptic?’Steven Hayward is proud to be one the Grijalva 7

by Marc Morano
http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2015/02/are-you-now-or-have-you-ever-been-a-climate-skeptic.php
25 Feb 15:10

GWPF Calls On Governments To Overhaul ‘Missionary’ IPCC

by Anthony Watts
IPCC has lost its scientific objectivity London, 25 February: The GWPF has, for a long time, warned policymakers and the public that the leadership of the IPCC has been losing its scientific objectivity and has been adopting environmentalism as a missionary cause. The astonishing letter of resignation released yesterday by its outgoing chairman, RK Pachauri,…
25 Feb 22:30

Good question

by lance

Why Are Feminists Ignoring The Violent Gang Rape Of Porn Star Cytherea? http://t.co/Z59LjVT3js @rsmccain

— totenhenchen (@czed75) February 25, 2015

Maybe Rolling Stone should get on that.

25 Feb 03:00

Popular New Mobile Service ‘Spontaneously Went Viral’

by Jon Street

A new texting service is so popular that it’s placing would-be customers on a waiting list just hours after its launch.

It’s called Magic, and users apparently think it’s living up to its name. So much so that users trying to sign up started getting messages like this one as early as Tuesday afternoon.

Image source: Magic

Image source: Magic

“We released Magic to a couple of our friends a few days ago and it spontaneously went viral,” the website reads.

Users are notified of their spot on the waiting list and told they can pay $50 for “immediate access” to a VIP-level status. Magic instructs those who choose not to pay for instant access can save the link and check back later to see where they are on waiting list.

So how does one get on the waiting list? Text a question or request to (408) 217-1721 and you’ll get a reply with a link to add your name.

Once you’ve officially joined, the Mountain View-California-based company behind “Magic,” called Plus Labs, says it fulfill whichever needs or wants you may have. The website gives just a couple of examples.

Image source: Magic

Image source: Magic

Image source: Magic

Image source: Magic

The company has operators on duty every hour of the day to fulfill requests as soon as possible. They use other services like Instacart or Seamless to get you whatever you want faster – “as long as it’s not illegal.”

Instacart and Seamless are two examples of apps that provide delivery service for groceries or ready-to-eat food. While apps like these ask for your credit card information or address for future deliveries, Magic customers are provided with an encrypted link to the online payment service Stripe, where they can plug in their information to be stored and used later.

It’s convenient, but convenience isn’t free. The requests themselves don’t cost anything but Magic does charge customers a base service fee plus the cost of whatever they’re having delivered. It’s important to note that the services Magic uses, like Instacart and Seamless, also charge fees, which Magic presumably charges customers on top of its own cost for convenience.

(H/T: Daily Mail)

Follow Jon Street (@JonStreet) on Twitter

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25 Feb 01:29

More Evidence That TOBS Is Garbage

by stevengoddard
I ran another test of TOBS-resistant data. Any day which has a higher maximum than the previous day can not  be due to TOBS double counting. The graph below shows the percent of days over 90 degrees, which were also hotter than … Continue reading →
24 Feb 21:53

The Whiskey Rebellion: True History and Hidden Lessons

by Steve Palmer

The standard version of the whiskey rebellion story, the one which I believed until I started reading on the topic, goes something like this….  In 1791, the Congress passed a whiskey tax.  In 1792, four back-woods counties in western Pennsylvania, unable to cooperate and accept the new reality that they were subservient to federal authority, resisted the tax and initiated a violent response which had to be put down by the federal government.  So, in 1794, President Washington dispatched 13,000 troops, put down the resistance then arrested (and pardoned) the ring-leaders.  With the rebellion quashed, federal supremacy lived happily ever after.

It only takes a few minutes of web surfing, however, to discover that this story line has some factual problems.

Not Just Pennsylvania

One problem we encounter with the official story line is that the whiskey rebellion was actually not limited to Pennsylvania.  It was a wide-spread resistance effort.  The National Park Service says,File:Thirteen Colonies 1775 map-fr.svg

“The Whiskey Rebellion took place throughout the western frontier.  There was not one state south of New York whose western counties did not protest the new excise with some sort of violence.”

And Murray Rothbard writes,

“President Washington and Secretary Hamilton chose to make a fuss about Western Pennsylvania precisely because in that region there was a cadre of wealthy officials who were willing to collect taxes.  Such a cadre did not even exist in the other areas of the American frontier; there was no fuss or violence against tax collectors in Kentucky and the rest of the back-country because there was no one willing to be a tax collector.”

In short, it seems that President Washington made an example of western Pennsylvania because the rest of the western frontier had successfully nullified the whiskey tax.

Tax Repealed

Another problem with the standard whiskey tax story comes when we learn that the tax was repealed only 11 years after its inception.  On this point, Rothbard writes,

Rather than the whiskey tax rebellion being localized and swiftly put down, the true story turns out to be very different.  The entire American back-country was gripped by a non-violent, civil disobedient refusal to pay the hated tax on whiskey.  No local juries could be found to convict tax delinquents.  The Whiskey Rebellion was actually widespread and successful, for it eventually forced the federal government to repeal the excise tax.

Even wikipedia, no bastion of classical liberal thought, says,

The Whiskey Rebellion demonstrated that the new national government had the willingness and ability to suppress violent resistance to its laws.  The whiskey excise remained difficult to collect, however.  The events contributed to the formation of political parties in the United States, a process already underway.  The whiskey tax was repealed after Thomas Jefferson’s Republican Party, which opposed Hamilton’s Federalist Party, came to power in 1800. (my emphasis)

Repeal Overseen by a Whiskey Rebel

File:Portrait of Albert Gallatin.jpgAnother possible problem with the standard story, or at least an interesting aspect of the story, comes in the form of a man named Albert Gallatin.  In 1794, Gallatin’s name appeared on a list of whiskey rebels.  The National Park Service tells us,

Unfortunately for Gallatin, the government officials did not differentiate between the moderates and the radicals who took part in these meetings. Participation brought guilt as far as those in the government were concerned.  In 1794 the militia called by Washington marched to dispel the rebels in western Pennsylvania.  They also brought a list of names of participants that certain members of the Presidential staff wanted arrested.  This list included Brackenridge and Gallatin.

Is it coincidental that Gallatin, accused of being a whiskey rebel, was the man who became Jefferson’s Secretary of the Treasury in 1801 and oversaw the 1802 repeal of the whiskey tax?  According to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau,

Elected to Congress after the rebellion, Gallatin worked for a more exact accounting of the Federal government’s finances, leading President Thomas Jefferson to appoint him Secretary of the Treasury, a post he also held under President James Madison.  In 1802, Gallatin oversaw the ending of all direct, internal Federal taxes, including the distilled spirits tax.

Conclusion

It appears that the whiskey tax was a Constitutional tax, and I don’t advocate civil disobedience against laws which are Constitutional and just.  However, the whiskey rebellion still offers a tactical lesson for us when confronted with an unconstitutional or unjust law.  It confirms the lesson that we have learned from other events such as the Civil Rights movement, India’s fight for Independence from Great Britain, and the Underground Railroad.  When confronted with an unjust or unconstitutional law, civil disobedience can be an effective counter-tactic.

In the case of the whiskey rebellion, civil disobedience was effectively combined with jury nullification and with a refusal to enforce by officials in several states.  These activities made the tax ineffective while it was in force and impacted the 1800 elections in a way that led to the repeal of the unpopular tax.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is excerpted from an article originally published Mar. 21, 2010.

24 Feb 14:13

How Can I Fight Rule That Says I Must Wait at the School Bus Stop for my 10 year old?

by lskenazy

Has anyone fought a school bus policy requiring adults to wait with their kids at the bus stop? Last year, a ridiculous bill to mandate this for anyone under 7th grade was floated in Rhode Island and, thankfully (with some help from this blog), it died a quiet death. So often, legislators seem to dream up ways to “save” children from nearly non-existent threats. The unintended consequences, meantime, are enormous: Suddenly, an adult has to be available to wait at the bus stop every morning and afternoon till a kid turns 12!

In the case below, it is not a law but a bus company rule that needs to be dropped.  Any advice you’ve got is most appreciated! (Boldface, mine.) – L.

Dear Free-Range Kids: I know I’ve read articles on your site before about school bus or school dismissal ‘policies’ (I put that in quotes because they don’t have actual written policies, just unwritten preferences, requirements, or practices) and I know that some parents have successfully dealt with it, but I don’t know how they did it.

Our school board uses different bus companies – all with different rules, apparently – and one of them has a policy that they will not let any child under 10 years old off the bus without a parent to pick them up.  I know of one driver who won’t even let kids out of the bus if the parent is visible and waving to the driver, unless they are actually right at the bus to get their child.  This is not some 4 year old Kindergartener, but a student in grade 4.  The bus company claims they cannot do it because of ‘liability issues.’  When asked if a parent could fill out a waiver, they said no exceptions will be made.  If the parent refuses to meet their child, they will be driven back to their school and if there is no staff at the school  around to receive the student, the police will be called.

So what I’m wondering is: how did other parents break through these kinds of barriers to Free-Range parenting?

Cheers, T. Doyle

Cheers indeed. It will cheer me to hear of bus companies seeing the light of reason. – L. 

No mommy, no ridee.

Where’s your bodyguard, kid? 

20 Feb 05:00

Fundamental Forces

"Of these four forces, there's one we don't really understand." "Is it the weak force or the strong--" "It's gravity."
24 Feb 20:14

Florida Deputy Drags Mentally Ill Woman Out of Court By Her Feet Because She Was Crying Too Much

by Ed Krayewski

One of Florida's finest, Christopher Johnson, a deputy with the Broward Sheriff's office, has been placed on "restricted duty" after he was caught on cellphone video dragging a sobbing woman who had just been declared mentally incompetent out of the courtroom by her ankle bracelet.

Video was taken by a lawyer at the courthouse, and the sheriff's office promises a "comprehensive investigation."  The Sun Sentinel reports:

"I am concerned by the way the deputy handled this situation, because there were other courses of action he could have taken," Sheriff Scott Israel said. "Internal Affairs has initiated a complete and comprehensive investigation, and the deputy has been placed on restricted duty pending the outcome."

In the video the woman tells the cop she just wanted to cry in the courtroom for a few minutes. Watch it, part of a local news segment, below:

h/t Andrew S.

24 Feb 13:38

Rajendra Pachauri’s Resignation Letter

by Donna Laframboise
The resignation letter of the IPCC chairman is a two-page love letter to himself.
24 Feb 13:24

Edward Snowden's Libertarian Moment: We "will remove from governments the ability to interfere with [our] rights"

by Nick Gillespie

Via Mark Sletten comes this thread from yesterday's Ask Me Anything session at Reddit that featured Edward Snowden, Oscar-winning documentarian Laura Poitras, and journalist Glenn Greenwald.

The question posed to Snowden:

What's the best way to make NSA spying an issue in the 2016 Presidential Election? It seems like while it was a big deal in 2013, ISIS and other events have put it on the back burner for now in the media and general public. What are your ideas for how to bring it back to the forefront?

His answer is well worth reading in full (I've posted it after the jump), but its essence is a full-throated defense of classical liberal and libertarian theorizing not just about the consent of the governed but the right to work around the government when it focuses on social order over legitimacy. And, as important, a recognition that this is what we at Reason and others call "the Libertarian Moment," or a technologically empowered drive toward greater and greater control over more and more aspects of our lives. While the Libertarian Moment is enabled by technological innovations and generally increasing levels of wealth and education, it's ultimately proceeds from a mind-set as much as anything else: We have the right to live peacefully any way we choose as long as we are not infringing on other people's rights to do the same. Our politics and our laws should reflect this emphasis on pluralism, tolerance, and persuasion (as opposed to coercion) across social, economic, and intellectual spheres of activity.

As Snowden emphasizes, it's not simply that governments (thankfully) fail at attempts for perfect surveillance and law enforcement. It's that technologically empowered people are actively worked to route around government attempts to fence us in. "We the people will implement systems that provide for a means of not just enforcing our rights, but removing from governments the ability to interfere with those rights," he writes (emphasis in original). "we can find ways to reduce or remove their powers on a new—and permanent—basis."

Reading throught the Reddit exchange, it's easy to see why Snowden recently brought the 1,000-plus attendees of the International Students for Liberty Conference to their feet multiple times. He isn's some kind of pie-eyed nihilist, hell-bent on destroying the red, white, and blue for personal fame or out of ideological fervor. At 31 years old, he is an exceptionally well-spoken, thoughtful critic of the abuse of power that has become endemic to modern American governance. At the ISFLC, he said his one regret is that he didn't expose systemic infringement on citizens' constitutional rights sooner than he did.

If people lose their willingness to recognize that there are times in our history when legality becomes distinct from morality, we aren't just ceding control of our rights to government, but our agency in determing thour futures.

How does this relate to politics? Well, I suspect that governments today are more concerned with the loss of their ability to control and regulate the behavior of their citizens than they are with their citizens' discontent. 

How do we make that work for us? We can devise means, through the application and sophistication of science, to remind governments that if they will not be responsible stewards of our rights, we the people will implement systems that provide for a means of not just enforcing our rights, but removing from governments the ability to interfere with those rights.

You can see the beginnings of this dynamic today in the statements of government officials complaining about the adoption of encryption by major technology providers. The idea here isn't to fling ourselves into anarchy and do away with government, but to remind the government that there must always be a balance of power between the governing and the governed, and that as the progress of science increasingly empowers communities and individuals, there will be more and more areas of our lives where—if government insists on behaving poorly and with a callous disregard for the citizen—we can find ways to reduce or remove their powers on a new—and permanent—basis.

Our rights are not granted by governments. They are inherent to our nature. But it's entirely the opposite for governments: their privileges are precisely equal to only those which we suffer them to enjoy.

Emphasis in original.

Snowden ends by noting that "when [the law] becomes contrary to our morals, we have both the right and the responsibility to rebalance it toward just ends."

Here's his full answer:

This is a good question, and there are some good traditional answers here. Organizing is important. Activism is important.

At the same time, we should remember that governments don't often reform themselves. One of the arguments in a book I read recently (Bruce Schneier, "Data and Goliath"), is that perfect enforcement of the law sounds like a good thing, but that may not always be the case. The end of crime sounds pretty compelling, right, so how can that be?

Well, when we look back on history, the progress of Western civilization and human rights is actually founded on the violation of law. America was of course born out of a violent revolution that was an outrageous treason against the crown and established order of the day. History shows that the righting of historical wrongs is often born from acts of unrepentant criminality. Slavery. The protection of persecuted Jews.

But even on less extremist topics, we can find similar examples. How about the prohibition of alcohol? Gay marriage? Marijuana?

Where would we be today if the government, enjoying powers of perfect surveillance and enforcement, had -- entirely within the law -- rounded up, imprisoned, and shamed all of these lawbreakers?

Ultimately, if people lose their willingness to recognize that there are times in our history when legality becomes distinct from morality, we aren't just ceding control of our rights to government, but our agency in determing thour futures.

How does this relate to politics? Well, I suspect that governments today are more concerned with the loss of their ability to control and regulate the behavior of their citizens than they are with their citizens' discontent.

How do we make that work for us? We can devise means, through the application and sophistication of science, to remind governments that if they will not be responsible stewards of our rights, we the people will implement systems that provide for a means of not just enforcing our rights, but removing from governments the ability to interfere with those rights.

You can see the beginnings of this dynamic today in the statements of government officials complaining about the adoption of encryption by major technology providers. The idea here isn't to fling ourselves into anarchy and do away with government, but to remind the government that there must always be a balance of power between the governing and the governed, and that as the progress of science increasingly empowers communities and individuals, there will be more and more areas of our lives where -- if government insists on behaving poorly and with a callous disregard for the citizen -- we can find ways to reduce or remove their powers on a new -- and permanent -- basis.

Our rights are not granted by governments. They are inherent to our nature. But it's entirely the opposite for governments: their privileges are precisely equal to only those which we suffer them to enjoy.

We haven't had to think about that much in the last few decades because quality of life has been increasing across almost all measures in a significant way, and that has led to a comfortable complacency. But here and there throughout history, we'll occasionally come across these periods where governments think more about what they "can" do rather than what they "should" do, and what is lawful will become increasingly distinct from what is moral.

In such times, we'd do well to remember that at the end of the day, the law doesn't defend us; we defend the law. And when it becomes contrary to our morals, we have both the right and the responsibility to rebalance it toward just ends.

24 Feb 05:00

What a Principled Social Movement Looks Like

By JEFFREY A. TUCKER

When Leonard Read founded the Foundation for Economic Education in 1946, he did not intend to create an overtly political movement with particular political goals. He wanted something deeper, more lasting, and more culturally profound. He sought to inspire a love of liberty in all groups of society. Only this, he said, would create the basis of a lasting freedom that could resist despotism over time.

That dream has been gradually building for nearly 70 years, and today we have the opportunity to gain a glimpse of what it looks like and what it means for our future.

This is precisely what was on display at the International Students for Liberty Conference (ISFLC) in Washington, DC. FEE had a big presence as an educational institution and as a bulwark of principled ideas on the economic, legal, and ethical foundations of freedom. The timelessness of the message resonates deeply with the young generation that is pretty well fed up with living in a world in which personal and economic freedom is curbed and cut off.

This insight became crystallized for me at the very outset of the conference. On camera, appearing live from Moscow of all places, was the whistleblower and dissident Edward Snowden. His virtual presence was accomplished with tools accessible to anyone, anywhere, mostly at zero price — an unthinkable reality 10 years ago. Here is a courageous man who did a daring and wonderful thing for the world in exposing what the US government was doing to its own citizens. For speaking out, he had to flee the US government’s jurisdiction. Officials have said that if they ever get their hands on him, they will wring his neck. So he ended up in … Russia.

I’m old enough to remember Cold War propaganda. We built weapons and waged hot and cold wars in order to protect our freedoms against the evil communist totalitarians in Russia. We were the good guys and they the bad, or so we were constantly told. And yet, here we are a quarter century after the end of that conflict, and now Russia, for all its government’s suppression and imperialism, is providing sanctuary to the United States’ own political dissidents — just as the United States once did for Russia’s. What an amazing world of lies we lived in, and still do.

If the US government could stop Snowden from speaking, it would. But it can’t. Here we were in the nation’s capital, at a gathering of some 1,800 young liberty activists and intellectuals, and Snowden greeted us in real time. Stunning. He spoke, and we asked questions, and he spoke some more. His answers were beautiful and erudite and inspiring. He speaks the language of liberty, and only technology allows him to do so within our borders.

Indeed, what thrilled me the most was the technology and how it is serving up freedom even in our times. We are evidently living in a post-censorship world. Not even the world’s largest and most powerful state can stop its most famous dissident from speaking from his sanctuary (a former communist state) directly to a huge crowd right in the nation’s capital! How about that for the triumph of freedom?

For those who despair for the future of liberty, I can only suggest a trip to this conference. It has matured into one of greatest liberty gathering of its kind. The energy, emotion, and mass dedication were on display even before the conference began, and they extended all the way to the tearful ending.

At the last session, we heard from the person who is probably the best living historian of human liberty today: Professor Deirdre McCloskey. We heard her model what great scholarship sounds like. She was brilliant, humble, erudite, visionary. Following her speech, we had the final thank-yous and goodbyes. There wasn’t a person present who didn’t feel that liberty owns the future.

I gave several presentations at this event. They were in sessions that were somewhat edgy but ended up being very successful. The first was organized by FEE, and I spoke on ways to communicate liberty. Why is our method for communicating important? We are judged on the tone and tenor of our message. If we are harsh, all-knowing in our dogmatism, or unthinking in our sense of certainty, we risk giving the wrong impression about what freedom means. Freedom does not mean rule by libertarians. It means self-rule by people with an infinite array of hopes and dreams for their own lives. The people at FEE who gave these sessions emphasized inspiration and education over dogma and didacticism.

Another session was the art gala, our second one but much larger and more creative than last year’s. We had paintings on display, and a live session featuring music, poetry, and other forms of performance art. For my part, I opened with a lecture on how art lives longer than any existing state. To illustrate the point, I sang a song from the sixth century that illustrated commercial themes, a song from the body of music commonly called Gregorian chant. Others followed with fascinating presentations. The session lasted an hour but I felt like it could have gone on all evening.

The next session I hosted on an impromptu basis. It was designed to give people a chance to tell their stories with a liberty theme. It was here that it really hit me: liberty must mean something in our lives or it won’t mean anything at all. People told stories of personal struggle and triumph over the odds. The session gave people a chance to speak from the heart and get over that fear of sharing with a crowd of listeners. I’m really hoping to expand this session to last longer next year because I found it so beneficial.

I’ve said for several years that I sense a newer form of libertarianism arising among us. This conference reinforced that. There was surprisingly little talk about raw politics as such. As Bloomberg said: “At most other gatherings of young politicos, in February 2015, there’d be at least some focus on electoral politics. There was almost none of that at the Students for Liberty conference. Libertarian was their counter-culture; it contained multitudes.”

It was more about the demand for human rights and the urgency of living as if we have them. If we embrace our rights and liberties, and dare to live outside the plan, we can not only live better lives but also contribute to building a new world.

The number of exhibiting organizations was higher than ever. I would estimate some 100 of them came to give away free books, collect contacts, network with others, and generally show the students gathered what they had to offer. What were the major themes? Civil liberties and antiwar themes were high on the list, but I was also super pleased to see that this conference featured a solid opposition to the police state — an opposition as intense as any you might have found on the New Left in the 1960s.

Most of the students here had only the lowest level of interest in national politics. It has failed this generation and they know it. There will be no more chasing the illusory dream that some one person is going to gain power to save us. We must save ourselves or we won’t be saved at all. That is a welcome realization because this conviction is a much stronger basis on which to build a lasting social force than any political campaign.

And you know how national websites like Salon are always claiming that libertarianism is all about white males? Come to this conference and you’ll see that this claim is just false. ISFLC 2015 was hugely diverse. I would estimate probably 40 percent were women and 35 percent were nonwhite. They came from all over the world, forming a kind of libertarian international to rival the spirit and power of the Marxists of old. The new libertarianism is neither left nor right but its own thing: a maturation of the classical-liberal conviction that society can be built without dependency on the state.

As glorious as this event was, I have the sense that it is just now being born. It is going to grow and grow, from 2K to 3K to 5K to 10K. This is where we are headed. It’s all about the future. And yes, there will be factions — and factions within factions — and there is nothing wrong with that, because a proliferation of factions doesn’t preclude real community forming at the same time. Liberty is diverse. But we all have the same goal. We are going to get there one way or another. The cages are opening up, and the more birds that fly from them, the harder it will be for our overlords to put us back in them.

24 Feb 01:43

Honey, I Finished The Internet

by Kate

"It's something to do". (h/t Gord M.)

23 Feb 03:42

Liberty: New Jersey Screws The Pooch Again

by Mike McDaniel
Gordon Van Gilder

Gordon Van Gilder

Regular readers recall, I’m sure, the plight of young, single mother of two, Shaneen Allen. Briefly visiting New Jersey from her neighboring home state of Pennsylvania, she was stopped for an alleged minor traffic violation and, trying to be a good citizen, told the officer about her legally possessed–in Pennsylvania–handgun. She was immediately arrested and faced a felony. Allen, who obtained a concealed carry license after being robbed twice within a year, was thrust into a legal wringer until Attorney Evan Nappen–with the help of the media and outlets like this scruffy little blog–shamed the prosecutor into allowing her to participate in a pre-trial diversion program. As long as she completes it, and there is no doubt of that, all charges will be dropped and she’ll have no record.

For those interested, my articles relating to the case are:

Shaneen Allen: Discretion and Distaste (At The Truth About Guns) 

Hollow Points: Bane of Know-Nothing Politicians

Shaneen Allen At Bearing Arms 

Shaneen Allen: A Real Race Card 

Shaneen Allen: Resolution? 

All people of good will and particularly those concerned with liberty should be relieved and delighted that Allen was finally able to receive justice, which raises a fundamental question: what is justice?

Webster defines it thus:

Definition

During my police days, my working definition was:

Justice: when you get into a traffic accident and the other guy gets the ticket.

It was Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, who, working on an obscenity case, famously said he couldn’t define pornography, but he knew it when he saw it. Similarly, we may not be able to define justice, but we know injustice when we see it. Such is the case of Gordan Van Gilder who has the great misfortune to live in New Jersey. From Legal Insurrection: 

When a 72-year-old retired school teacher faces a 10 year felony sentence (a likely life sentence) for possession of an unloaded 18th century flintlock pistol, one knows immediately that we can only be talking about a handful of states in which such a travesty can happen.  In this case, not surprisingly, it’s the ‘Garden State’ of New Jersey. (h/t Sebastian over at the Shall Not Be Questioned blog.)

Gordon Van Gilder, who taught in the New Jersey school system for 34 years, is a collector of 18th century memorabilia.  He acquired a genuine antique flintlock pistol from that era, and had it unloaded and wrapped in a cloth in his glove compartment when he was pulled over for an alleged minor traffic violation.

Van Gilder consented to a requested search of his vehicle, and when asked by the officer if there was anything in the car the officer should be worried about, Van Gilder informed him about the flintlock in the glove box.  Although not arrested that day, the next morning several patrol cars woke him at his home and placed him under arrest.

New Jersey’s draconian gun laws explicitly include antique firearms such as this 300-year-old pistol.  Indeed, possession of a slingshot is a felony under New Jersey law.

Flintlock Pistol

Flintlock Pistol

A 300-year old pistol. There is no specific information, but it is highly unlikely that the pistol could have been fired. In the photo of a flintlock pistol, notice the flint clamped in the lock. Absent a properly shaped and fresh flint, and gunpowder in the pan–which surely could not have been present–the weapon was inert–obviously a relic.

Other news reports suggest that an undersheriff was not inclined to arrest Van Gilder. No rational police officer should be, however, apparently the local Sheriff demanded he be arrested, and four deputies arrived at Van Gilder’s door the next morning, handcuffed him, and took him to jail.

This is the height of insanity and abuse of power. Police officers have substantial discretion, and that discretion exists for cases just like this. While I have no doubt that New Jersey’s notoriously anti-liberty and anti-gun politicians fully intended that people like Van Gilder be arrested for daring to exercise their Second Amendment rights–even if they have to return to Revolutionary War era technology to do it–rational, if cowardly, legislators often write laws fully expecting, even hoping, that police officers will use common sense and never enforce them. In that way, politicians can have it every way, placating rabid statists, while also assuring the honest they never meant their insane and unconstitutional laws to apply to them.

Van Gilder is represented by Evan Nappen, a well-known attorney specializing in gun law cases, and thus is as well-represented as could be hoped for this case.  It was Nappen who successfully represented Philadelphia nurse Shaneen Allen when she was charged with unlawful possession of her PA-licensed handgun in New Jersey. The mother of two small children was ultimately permitted to enter pre-trial intervention rather than be subject to trial and New Jersey’s mandatory minimum sentence of 3 1/2 to 5 years imprisonment.  That outcome, however, took direct intervention by the state Attorney General, likely at the prodding of the presidential-aspirant Governor Chris Christie.

[skip] Van Gilder will be fortunate indeed if Nappen can win him a similar arrangement. Even a plea agreement that avoids jail time but convicts Van Gilder of a felony would likely jeopardize the teacher’s pension he spent 34 years earning.

As Van Gilder states in the video above–‘Avoid New Jersey. Don’t come here.’  And as Nappen notes, twice as many families are currently leaving New Jersey as are arriving in the state. New Jersey’s population loss relative to other states is also evident in its loss of a House seat following the 2010 census.  Other northeastern extremist gun control states have similarly lost House seats in recent years, with New York losing two seats and Massachusetts losing one seat.

Amazingly, the prosecutor involved in this case told Nappen that they couldn’t resolve the case because they were conducting ballistics tests on the flintlock! This is, of course, lunacy. Flintlock pistols did not have rifled barrels, nor did they have brass cartridge cases. Even if the police had a fired lead ball from the pistol with which to compare, it would reveal nothing at all, including the caliber. This is plainly either a delaying tactic, the prosecutor and police have no idea of firearm technology, or both.

The lesson is clear: while the majority of uniformed police officers support the Second Amendment and have no trouble with law abiding citizens owning and carrying firearms, there are some officers, prosecutor, and jurisdictions–sometimes entire states–where there is no such appreciation for liberty and where honest citizens can expect to be treated far more harshly than criminals for violations of gun laws.

The old axiom “ignorance of the law is no excuse,” applies here. In New Jersey, California, Illinois, New York, Connecticut, and other places, the law-abiding gun owner can expect to be treated as a pariah and a felon, and the ignorance is on the part of New Jersey authorities.

By all means, take the link to the Legal Insurrection report where an NRA embedded video about the case resides. It’s worth your time, but be sure to take your blood pressure meds before viewing–you’re not going to be a happy camper thereafter.

I’ll continue to report on this case as it develops.


Filed under: Firearms Tagged: New Jersey, Shaneen Allen
23 Feb 03:53

The Erik Scott Case, Update 23: Video That Won’t Disappear

by Mike McDaniel
Las Vegas Metro Police Sgt. Reyes

Las Vegas Metro Police Sgt. Reyes

Regular readers may recall that one of the many bizarre and corrupt features of the Erik Scott case was the disappearance of all surveillance video evidence at the Costco where he was killed by three panicky Metro officers: William Mosher–a serial Metro killer, Thomas Mendiola and Joshua Stark. Mendiola should have been washed out of Metro’s basic academy, but was allowed, for reasons never explained, to repeat a substantial portion of the course. There are indications that Stark is at least somewhat remorseful and retains some portion of honor, but obviously not enough to tell the truth. To be entirely fair, telling the truth about Metro corruption can be deadly.

Those wishing to refresh their memories with information regarding the video can visit these articles:

Update 8  

Update 8.2 

Update 17 

The Costco had three separate video systems, one recording video inside the store on multiple cameras, one recording the parking lot and exterior of the store, and one recording the gas station. Not only did Metro fail to secure all of the video recorders, they left them in the hands of Costco for days. Metro first claimed there might be something wrong with the video, then later claimed there was no video.

Even so, they eventually collected the hard drives and eventually sent them to the LA Secret Service and the manufacturer and lo and behold, recovered some 96% of the data. The 4% left unrecovered was, miraculously, all video, indoors and outdoors, during the time Erik Scott was shopping and when he was killed near the front doors.

Metro and Costco were never forced to disclose whether all video was backed up off site–common in contemporary commercial video surveillance systems–and there are a variety of other issues with this portion of Metro’s handling of the case.

Persistent rumors indicate that the supposedly missing video does exist and has been seen by Metro–and if so, surely by Costco management. If the video showed that Eric Scott was a raging madman inside the store, and that he drew his handgun–still in its holster–and pointed it at Mosher outside the store, there can be no doubt it would have been among the most widely distributed video clips in history. However, if it showed what the evidence reveals–Erik Scott was fully in control of himself and entirely unremarkable as he shopped, and not only did he never draw his handgun, he had no time to do it even if that were his intention–the video would be certain to disappear.

Yet another Metro source has recently seemed to confirm the existence of the Scott video. This is due to the efforts of a group of local Las Vegas citizens–Cop Block–that have been a thorn in the side of Metro since shortly after the Erik Scott murder. Following up on what appears to be Metro’s lack of interest in what may have been an unprovoked beating of a citizen by a security guard, a Metro Sgt. Reyes was recorded for some 24 minutes, and made an interesting admission. 

At approximately the 9:48 mark on the YouTube video (apparently recorded on 02-16-15), the Cop Block activist–believed to be Kelly Patterson–brings up the Eric Scott case. Sgt. Reyes acknowledges that case and says even though he wasn’t directly involved in the case, he knows more about what happened. The conversation is difficult to make out because Patterson’s mouth is obviously closer to the microphone than Reyes’, Patterson constantly interrupts Reyes attempting to make his points, and is so obviously focused on grilling Sgt. Reyes about the more recent incident and related video that he isn’t really paying much attention to what Reyes has to say.

Even so, Sgt. Reyes says:

I’m almost sure that video was seen many, many times.

Again, he’s interrupted by Patterson who tells him that the official Metro line on the video is that it doesn’t exist. Sgt. Reyes allows that that’s possible, and the conversation moves off in other directions.

Here’s William Scott’s (Erik Scott’s father) reply to the YouTube video:

Scott

Sgt. Reyes is about the fifth LVMPD cop to acknowledge that the ‘disappeared’ Costco security system video of my son, Erik’s murder by a cop on 7/10/10 WAS viewed by Metro officers. Because the video proves Erik did nothing to warrant being murdered by a scared, low-IQ cop (Wm. D. Mosher), Metro and Costco conspired to destroy the original hard drive, then claim 4% of the data couldn’t be recovered–precisely the portion that covered the time Erik was in Costco, then being shot to death in front of the Summerlin Costco in Vegas. I guarantee copies of the original video ARE still in Metro’s and Cost HQ’s hands.

Sgt. Reyes displays amazing patience in his conversation with Patterson, and is entirely reasonable throughout.

Obviously, Sgt. Reyes’ seeming admission is not absolute proof that the video exists, however, in police work, institutional knowledge is important and powerful. Many things a law enforcement agency would not the public to know are widely known by officers, and there are few Metro officers indeed without at least some knowledge of and interest in the Scott case, knowledge closely held and not generally available to the public.

It is likely indeed that the surveillance video exists and that Metro brass, Costco management–and of course police union thugs–know precisely what it reveals, however, proving that remains elusive.

Still, it’s interesting.  To what, I’m sure, is the great annoyance of Metro, the Erik Scott case is not going to go away–ever.


Filed under: Erik Scott Case Tagged: Costco, Erik Scott
18 Feb 15:58

Large well-funded laboratories…

by Daniel Lemire

Your intuition is probably that large well-funded research laboratories produce more research…

One part of this intuition is flat out wrong. Small teams are consistently more productive:

(…) small sized laboratories are more productive. This result is consistent with the results previously obtained in the literature (…) (Carayol and Matt, 2004)

And while abundant funding does help to produce more papers, there are not necessarily better ones. And the increase in productivity (a few percentage points per million dollars) is lower than you might think. Moreover, not all funding sources have a positive outcome. Earmarked or infrastructure funding may lead to lower quality research.

(…) the receipt of an NIH research grant (worth roughly $1.7 million) leads to only one additional publication over the next five years, which corresponds to a 7% increase. (…) (Jacob and Lefgren, 2011)

Public contractual funding (per permanent researcher) is the only significant funding variable: It plays positively on the publication intensity (not weighted for impact) [but] its impact is rather low. (Carayol and Matt, 2006)

As a first approximation, increasing federal research funding on the margin results in more, but not necessarily higher quality, research output. (Payne and Siow, 2003)

Conclusion: Small teams receiving maybe modest amounts of funding are probably a winning recipe most of the times. It is also a model that is compatible with professors doing hands-on work and having time to teach. We should be skeptical of large centralized projects in research.

Related posts (automatically generated):

19 Feb 19:39

Time Warner Cable calls customer “C**t” after she reports cable box problem

by Jon Brodkin

Time Warner Cable (TWC) isn't yet a part of Comcast, but it's taking after its potential parent company in one very unfortunate way.

Comcast customers have complained about their billing account names being changed to insults like "asshole," "whore," "dummy," and "super bitch." Now, the same thing has happened to a Time Warner Cable customer named Esperanza Martinez.

Martinez, of Orange County, California, provided Ars a copy of this letter she just got from Time Warner Cable:

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

20 Feb 16:50

Built to Last - RSS, HTTP

I’m a programmer by trade. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past 17 years doing this professionally, it’s that everything old is new again. There are really only so many patterns, and they just circle back around with new (and often more ridiculous) names.  

It’s rare that something really new comes along. I’d argue that the web, more specifically http, offered up the last truly new paradigm in computing. It is a single, elegant standard for distributed systems. We should all take the time every now and then to think about the beauty, power, and simplicity of this standard.

I’ve always had a similar affinity for RSS. If content is going to be distributed all over the world, it’s essential to have an elegant system for syndicating and subscribing to content sources. On top of that, a huge percentage of content sites adopted this standard years ago and still maintain it to this day. Man, are we lucky.  I can’t believe how many people still browse from site to site or just take what they can get from Twitter, et al.

It’s easy to get swept up in the latest trends in technology. Hardware, apps, development frameworks, social networks and so on. It’s never ending. But too often it takes us away from what I really want to be able to do with technology. Give me a browser, an RSS reader, and an email account and I’m all set. These are the standards that are built to last. Everything else just comes and goes.

19 Feb 01:34

Pennsylvania Bill Would Effectively Nullify New Federal Gun Control Efforts

by Scott Landreth

HARRISBURG, Pa. (Feb. 18, 2015) – A bill introduced in Pennsylvania would take important steps to effectively block a proposed new ATF ban on the popular M855 AR-15 round and other federal gun control measures within the state.

Sen. John Eichelberger and nearly a dozen cosponsors introduced Senate Bill 357 (SB357) on January 29, 2015. The bill is intended to protect from infringement “the individual right of the citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to bear arms as provided in section 21 of Article I of the Constitution of Pennsylvania.”

Section 2 prohibits the use of State resources to enforce any new Federal gun control on firearms, firearm components or ammunition. It then goes on to expressly state that:

Neither the Commonwealth, nor any of its political subdivisions, shall allow the use of any resources or public funds to enforce any Federal law, executive order or regulation that is enacted or promulgated after the effective date of this section and attempts to register, restrict or ban the ownership or purchase, whether by number or type, of a firearm, component of a firearm or ammunition.

“It’s essential to draw a line in the sand, and that’s what SB357 does,” said Michael Boldin of the Tenth Amendment Center. “By banning resources from the implementation of any new federal gun control measure, it will make them almost impossible to enforce and set the stage for the state to take similar action against other long-standing gun control ‘laws’ dating back to 1934.”

EFFECTIVE 

Based on James Madison’s advice for states and individuals in Federalist #46, a “refusal to cooperate with officers of the Union” is an extremely effectively method to bring down federal gun control measures because most enforcement actions rely on help, support and leadership in the states.

Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano agreed. In a recent televised discussion on the issue, he noted that a single state taking this step would make federal gun laws “nearly impossible” to enforce.

This is because a vast majority of federal enforcement actions are either led or supported by law enforcement – and other agencies – on a state level. As noted by the National Governor’s Association during the partial government shutdown of 2013, “states are partners with the federal government on most federal programs.”

“A partnership doesn’t work too well when one side stops working,” said Boldin. “By withdrawing all resources and participation in federal gun control schemes, the states can effectively bring them down.”

LEGAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL

Refusing to participate with federal enforcement is not just an effective method, it has also been sanctioned by the Supreme Court in a number of major cases, dating from 1842.

The 1997 case, Printz v. US serves as the cornerstone. In it, Justice Scalia held:

The Federal Government may neither issue directives requiring the States to address particular problems, nor command the States’ officers, or those of their political subdivisions, to administer or enforce a federal regulatory program. 

As noted Georgetown Law Constitutional Scholar Randy Barnett has said, “This line of cases is now 20 years old and considered well settled.”

MOMENTUM

Introduction comes at a time when several other states are considering similar bills, building momentum and support for the effort to block federal gun control at the state level. Similar bills have already been filed for 2015 in Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, Montana, Minnesota, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Carolina, West Virginia and New Hampshire and several more states are expected to do the same. Since 2013, Idaho, Alaska and Kansas have already passed into law legislation that pushes back at federal gun control measures with this same strategy.

TAKE ACTION IN SUPPORT

In Pennsylvania, follow all the steps to support this bill at THIS LINK

All other states, contact your state legislator and encourage them to introduce similar legislation to stop federal gun control at this link.

18 Feb 02:00

An App That Lets Kids Report Bullies Anonymously

by Issie Lapowsky
Remlaps

Not sure if I like this idea or not. Guess I'll reserve judgement 'til I see how it plays out.

An App That Lets Kids Report Bullies Anonymously

Stop!t is an app thats lets students anonymously report instances of bullying, and it's gaining ground in schools across the country.

The post An App That Lets Kids Report Bullies Anonymously appeared first on WIRED.








17 Feb 21:17

Problems in Cleveland

by Tim Lynch

From Cleveland.com:

The U.S. Department of Justice issued a scathing report in December, claiming that the Cleveland Police Department routinely violated citizens’ civil rights. But taxpayers already had been paying a heavy price: more than $8.2 million to resolve lawsuits that accused officers of brutality, misconduct or making wrongful arrests….

In a number of cases, the people who alleged brutality were the ones who called police for help in the first place.  [!!]

More than a year ago, The Plain Dealer and Northeast Ohio Media Group submitted public records requests to the city, in an effort to determine how widespread allegations of misconduct were and how much police behavior was costing the city. The records were turned over on the eve of the Justice Department’s release of its report….

Mayor Frank Jackson says the settlements don’t prove any pattern of police conduct. They don’t even mean officers were at fault for wrongdoing, officials have said.
But viewed as a whole, the details show that high-level city officials were, or should have been, on notice about allegations that officers too often used excessive force, escalated confrontations and needlessly disrespected citizens in the community they were hired to serve.

Problems in Cleveland is a post from PoliceMisconduct.net

17 Feb 16:39

Estranged Wife Calls Police over Suicidal Husband, Cops Pursue, Shoot, and Kill Him

by Ed Krayewski

A woman in Provo, Utah, called 911 on her BB gun-wielding 24-year-old estranged husband, as Fox 13 in Salt Lake City reports:

According to Provo Police, [Chris] Evans' estranged wife called 911 reporting a domestic violence incident at her home in the area of 1300 West and 500 North, earlier in the morning.

According to police during that call she said Evans' had a BB gun and was attempting to commit suicide by cop.

Police say Evans got away from them at his home by threatening to shoot them and, according to cops, pretending to attempt to ram their vehicles.  Police say they entered the home afterward and found another BB gun there, at which point they feared Evans might have a real gun. Police went looking for Evans—who does not appear to have been pursued for any other reason than being the subject of a 911 call and resisting police contact—and shot and killed him at a distance of 100 feet, claiming he was resisting arrest and pulled a (BB) gun out of his truck.

Police say the cops involved in the shooting, who have not been identified, feared for their lives when they shot and killed Evans. "Odds are if you point a weapon at an officer while he is on duty, real or not, there's going to be a gun fight," a Provo police spokesperson said. "Officers have the right to go home at the end of their shift and they need to protect themselves."

As for Evans' estranged wife, her landlord says she took her children and left town. Evans' family say they would like to talk to her about his mental state but haven't been able to find or contact her.

In Utah, incidentally, you're more likely to be shot by a cop than a career criminal.

h/t Stanton Smith

16 Feb 21:12

Do the Wealthy Really Pay Their ‘Fair Share’? Economics Professor Breaks It All Down

by Billy Hallowell

Do the rich pay their fair share of taxes? That’s the very question that Lee Ohanian, an economics professor at UCLA, tackled in a new course for Prager University, revealing some fascinating statistics that he says dispel the myth that the wealthy aren’t paying enough into the tax system.

Ohanian began by noting that defining two elements is essential before fully understanding the issue: who, exactly, qualifies as rich and how “fair” should be defined. 

“According to 2011 data, a top 10 percent house makes around $150,000 per year in gross annual income [before deductions and taxes],” he said, noting that the top five percent consists of people making $190,00 and above.

Ohanian said the top one percent consists of people making $500,000, and above and that the proportion of those who make millions and billions is actually “very small.”

Prager University

Prager University

Then, the professor defined what he believes is “fair” when it comes to taxation. 

“Fair would seem to be that the group of taxpayers who earn 10 percent of the country’s income would pay 10 percent of the country’s taxes,” he said, noting that this doesn’t end up happening in practice. “According to IRS data, the top 10 percent of all earners pay 71 percent of all federal income tax, while earning only 43 percent of all income.”

Even the top one percent, he said, pays 37 percent of all federal income tax, while only earning 17 percent of it.

His conclusion: “If anything, the top 10 percent pay more than their fair share.” 

Ohanian also dove into the payroll tax as well, which deducts money for Social Security and Medicare, arriving at similar conclusions.

“To say the rich, however you might define them, don’t pay their fair share is simply wrong,” he concluded.

Watch him break it all down below:

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16 Feb 05:00

Freedom's Presidents

By THE FREEMAN

Jeffrey Rogers Hummel on President Martin Van Buren (1837–1841)

Martin Van Buren was the least bad president in American history. Although other chief executives had some libertarian accomplishments, he was by far the most consistent. Domestically, Van Buren kept government spending and taxes low, and also brought to culmination the Jacksonian program for the “divorce of bank and state,” despite the country being engulfed in a severe depression. But Van Buren’s most stunning achievements were in foreign policy. Mainstream historians usually rate presidents according to their forceful leadership, which biases them toward presidents who drag the country into wars, permitting displays of decisiveness and energy. But if we instead applaud maintaining peace, Van Buren has the unique distinction of keeping the country out of two possible wars. By blocking annexation of Texas, he forestalled a war with Mexico that unfortunately came about a decade later. He also calmed two major disputes with Canada, either of which could have instigated full-fledged conflict with Britain. One involved border incidents resulting from a revolt in Canada, and the other a clash over the Maine boundary. The unpopularity of these libertarian and diplomatic measures, even within Van Buren’s own party, contributed to his failure to win reelection in 1840 and renomination in 1844.

Jeffrey Rogers Hummel is a professor of economics at San Jose State University. He is the author of Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men: A History of the American Civil War.

 

Ivan Eland on President John Tyler (1841–1845)

John Tyler was generally in favor of limiting government — both domestically and internationally — much to the chagrin of his own Whig Party. It advocated a revival of the national bank and high tariffs, both of which would fund federal canals and roads. As an unelected president who had taken over after William Henry Harrison had died only a month into his term, Tyler exhibited amazing political courage in vetoing his own party’s platform. In the process, his cabinet resigned. His party expelled him and then unsuccessfully tried to impeach him. Tyler, like many of the best American presidents who stuck by their principles, was not asked back for a second term.

Tyler’s greatest triumph may have been in reversing the terrible policies toward Native Americans perpetrated by his predecessors, Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren (an otherwise admirable president). Tyler settled the longest and bloodiest American Indian war in history by allowing Seminole Indians to stay on their reservation instead of being expelled by armed force west of the Mississippi River — a solution Van Buren had rejected. Tyler then was able to cut the size of the US Army by a third.

Ivan Eland is a senior fellow at the Independent Institute and author of the book Recarving Rushmore: Ranking the Presidents on Peace, Prosperity, and Liberty.

 

Lawrence W. Reed on President Grover Cleveland (1885–1889, 1893–1897)

Unless you grade politicians on the curve, the vast majority would flunk right out of the gate. But Grover Cleveland, America’s 22nd and 24th president, was one of the best. He exercised good judgment on so many occasions — from supporting lower taxes and freer trade, to vetoing more bills than the previous 21 presidents combined, to opposing the paternalistic nanny state — that it’s hard to pick just one decision to rate as his finest.

But I’ll choose his staunch opposition to the Sherman Silver Purchase Act of 1890, passed during the tenure of the man between Grover’s terms, Benjamin Harrison. The act required the US Treasury to purchase (with newly printed paper money) virtually the entire output of American silver mines, precisely 4.5 million ounces per month. Furthermore, it forced the Treasury to pay twice what the silver was worth, mint it into silver dollars, and redeem it for gold on demand at half of what gold was worth. Dumb— really dumb. It was a subsidy for silver interests and a surefire prescription for undermining confidence in America’s money and economy. It was the primary cause of the Panic of 1893 and the depression that followed, even though it had strong support in the Congress and around the country.

While recovering from a secret, life-threatening operation for cancer in his mouth, Cleveland beat Congress into submission and secured the act’s repeal. “Patriotism,” Grover thundered, “is no substitute for a sound currency!”

Lawrence W. Reed is president of FEE.

 

Burton Folsom on President Warren G. Harding (1921–1923)

What if I were to tell you that we once had a president who, in his first two years in office, was able to lower tax rates and still cut the federal budget in half while slashing unemployment from 11.7 percent to 2.4 percent? Would you believe me?

Warren G. Harding accomplished all three of those things in his short presidency from 1921 to 1923. When he was elected in 1920, he (and his vice president, Calvin Coolidge) faced a stagnant economy and a ballooning national debt left over from World War I. Harding decided to cut the size of government.

“We need more business in government and less government in business,” he said. That would give entrepreneurs incentives to invest. Harding was right. With tax rates cut for all groups, Americans invented or expanded such businesses as air conditioning, talking movies, radios, refrigerators, telephones, and air travel.

The Roaring ‘20s launched with Harding’s assumption that greater freedom and less government would increase prosperity for all groups. The 1920s would also become the last decade in US history to see annual budget surpluses every year. Almost one-third of the federal debt disappeared under Harding and Coolidge.

Do historians celebrate Harding’s achievements? No; they collectively rank him in presidential polls as the worst president in American history. They criticize his appointments—some of whom were indeed corrupt—but others, such as Andrew Mellon, were superb). Historians also deplore Harding’s philosophy of limited government. But if we judge presidencies by results, we have to rank Harding as one of the better presidents in US history.

Burton Folsom Jr. is a professor of history at Hillsdale College and author (with his wife, Anita) of FDR Goes to War.

 

Amity Shlaes on President Calvin Coolidge (1923–1929)

Action is the main characteristic voters seek today. Yet, inaction can benefit a nation more, as President Coolidge demonstrated. He was our “Great Refrainer.”

Where others strutted, Coolidge stood. Where others exhorted, Coolidge held his tongue. The 13th president emptied even his writing of action — and active verbs. A classic Coolidge sentence: “The growing multiplicity of laws has often been observed.” Nine out of 10 English teachers would grade such a sentence down. Nine out of 10 would be wrong.

Example: When Coolidge was still governor of Massachusetts, patrolmen struck, the port city rioted, and the police commissioner fired the police. The union petitioned the governor, begging Coolidge to intervene. But the governor refused, insisting only the commissioner had that authority. Coolidge knew that public-sector strikes hurt the public too much to be warranted. Man had his place in the world, but man alone could not do everything: “Men do not make laws,” Coolidge wrote. “They do but discover them.” As president, Coolidge vetoed 50 bills. This was the boy with the finger in the dike, stopping a great progressive tide.

To honor Mr. Understatement, an understated sentence suits best: America could do worse than elect another Great Refrainer.

Amity Shlaes is author of Coolidge, The Forgotten Man, and the forthcoming Silent Majority.

 

Paul G. Kengor on President Ronald Reagan (1981–1989)

In the case of Ronald Reagan, this is a difficult assignment, one that I’ve been kicking around ever since Larry Reed kindly requested my input. I’ve settled on the following example.

Reagan was, of course, a free marketer. He was also the world’s leading optimist — an optimism particularly on display during the lingering recession of 1982–83, when the effect of his 1981 tax cuts seemed slow. “He is absolutely convinced that there will be a big recovery,” one Reagan adviser told Time. “My God is he an optimist!”

There was immense pressure on Reagan to reverse his tax cuts. The naysayers were not only external but internal. Reagan, however, hung in there. He was undeterred. He knew that the market needed to be freed to perform and work its magic, which it eventually did.

Freeman readers are familiar with the data:

After a slow start through 1982–83, the stimulus effect of Reagan’s tax cuts was extraordinary, sparking the longest peacetime expansion and recovery in the nation’s history: 92 consecutive months, far surpassing the previous record of 58 months.

Contrary to liberal demonology, women and blacks and other minorities did extremely well during the Reagan years. In the 1980s, there was a 40 percent jump in the number of black households earning $50,000 or more. Black unemployment actually fell faster than white unemployment in the 1980s. The number of black-owned businesses increased by almost 40 percent, while the number of blacks who enrolled in college increased almost 30 percent (white college enrollment increased only 6 percent).

Overall, the “Reagan Boom” not only produced widespread prosperity but — along with the attendant Soviet collapse — helped generate budget surpluses in the 1990s.

These impressive results were the product of a president’s optimism, his common-sense knowledge of markets, and his confidence to stay true to a course he knew would work.

Paul Kengor is professor of political science and executive director of The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. His latest book is 11 Principles of a Reagan Conservative.

15 Feb 20:13

Hackers Steal $1 Billion in Massive, Worldwide Breach

by Matt Vella

Hackers have stolen as much as $1 billion from banks around the world, according to a prominent cybersecurity firm. In a report scheduled to be delivered Monday, Russian security company Kaspersky Lab claims that a hacking ring has infiltrated more than 100 banks in 30 countries over the past two years.

Kaspersky says digital thieves gained access to banks’ computer systems through phishing schemes and other confidence scams. Hackers then lurked in the institutions’ systems, taking screen shots or even video of employees at work. Once familiar with the banks’ operations, the hackers could steal funds without raising alarms, programming ATMs to dispense money at specific times for instance or transferring funds to fraudulent accounts. First outlined by the New York Times, the report will be presented Monday at a security conference in Mexico.

The hackers seem to limit their scores to about $10 million before moving on to another bank, Kaspersky principal security researcher Vicente Diaz told the Associated Press. This helps avoid detection; the crimes appear to be motivated primarily by financial gain. “In this case they are not interested in information. They’re only interested in the money,” he said. “They’re flexible and quite aggressive and use any tool they find useful for doing whatever they want to do.”

[New York Times]

15 Feb 16:33

Feds Put Out New Drone Rules…and There’s Something Big They Won’t Allow

by Zach Noble

WASHINGTON (TheBlaze/AP) — If you have to keep light-of-sight contact with a drone, how much can you really do with it?

The government is proposing rules to usher in a new era in which small, commercial drones zipping through U.S. skies are a part of everyday life — but some proposed rules could keep drones from doing certain tasks, including making deliveries.

DOT and FAA Propose New Rules for Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems http://t.co/4r6LuxbDUB pic.twitter.com/nms8DYRUol

— The FAA (@FAANews) February 15, 2015

It is likely to be two or three years before the rules are made final, but federal officials said Sunday that once they are in place the economic and safety benefits of unmanned aircraft are expected to be enormous.

Among the chores that officials envision drones performing: Aerial photography and mapping, crop monitoring, and inspections of cell towers, bridges and other tall structures.

(Image via David Rodriguez Martin/flickr)

(Image via David Rodriguez Martin/flickr)

But the proposal includes safety restrictions such as keeping drones within sight of operators at all times and no nighttime flights. That could mean no package or pizza deliveries by drone.

See a section from the Federal Aviation Administration’s press release below:

(Image via FAA/TheBlaze)

(Image via FAA/TheBlaze)

President Barack Obama also issued a memorandum to federal agencies Sunday specifying measures to guard against abuse of data collected in drone flights, requiring agencies to review privacy and civil rights protections before deploying drone technology and to follow a range of controls.

Personally identifiable information collected in drone flights is to be kept no longer than 180 days — with some exceptions.

This story has been updated.

Follow Zach Noble (@thezachnoble) on Twitter

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