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Portal:Libertarianism – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Aug 082015
 

The Cato Institute is a libertarian think tank headquartered in Washington, D.C. It was founded in 1977 by Edward H. Crane, who remained president and CEO for 35 years until 2012 when he was replaced by John A. Allison, and Charles Koch, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of the conglomerate Koch Industries, Inc., the second largest privately held company (after Cargill) by revenue in the United States.

The Institute’s stated mission is “to broaden the parameters of public policy debate to allow consideration of the traditional American principles of limited government, individual liberty, free markets, and peace” by striving “to achieve greater involvement of the intelligent, lay public in questions of policy and the proper role of government.” Cato scholars conduct policy research on a broad range of public policy issues, and produce books, studies, op-eds, and blog posts. They are also frequent guests in the media.

Cato scholars were critical of George W. Bush’s Republican administration (20012009) on several issues, including the Iraq War, civil liberties, education, agriculture, energy policy, and excessive government spending. On other issues, most notably health care, Social Security, global warming, tax policy, and immigration, Cato scholars praised Bush administration initiatives. During the 2008 U.S. presidential election, Cato scholars criticized both major-party candidates, John McCain and Barack Obama.

The Cato Institute was named the fifth-ranked think tank in the world for 2009 in a study of leading think tanks by James G. McGann, Ph.D. of the University of Pennsylvania, based on a criterion of excellence in “producing rigorous and relevant research, publications and programs in one or more substantive areas of research”. It has been called “Washingtons premier libertarian think tank.”

Ronald Ernest Paul (born August 20, 1935) is a Republican United States Congressman from Lake Jackson, Texas, a physician, a bestselling author, and the fourth-place finisher in the 2008 Republican presidential primaries.

Originally from the Green Tree suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he graduated from Gettysburg College in 1957, then studied at Duke University School of Medicine; after his 1961 graduation and a residency in obstetrics and gynecology, he became a U.S. Air Force flight surgeon, serving outside the Vietnam War zone. He later represented Texas districts in the U.S. House of Representatives (19761977, 19791985, and 1997present). He entered the 1988 presidential election, running as the Libertarian nominee while remaining a registered Republican, and placed a distant third.

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Portal:Libertarianism – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Around the Region: Donations needed for St. Augustine horse sanctuary and more

 Beaches  Comments Off on Around the Region: Donations needed for St. Augustine horse sanctuary and more
Feb 142015
 

BEACHES Beaches Art Fest call for artists

Beaches Art Fest is looking for artists for its 2015 event. Anyone interested needs to submit an application by March 13. For more, artsjolynjohnson@bellsouth.net.

BEACHES Beaches Watch welcomes new members

Beaches Watch Inc., a nonprofit nonpartisan civic organization that promotes and facilitates educated citizen involvement in local and state government decisions, welcomes new members. Membership dues at $10 per individual and $15 for families. For more, beacheswatch.com.

BEACHES Atlantic Beach charter review

Atlantic Beach city commissioners have granted an extension until March 1, 2015, for the citys Charter Review Commission to submit any recommended changes to the City Commission for placement on the August 2015 municipal election ballot.

CLAY Tax exemption deadline

The deadline for property tax exemptions in Clay County is Monday, March 2. First-time applicants must bring their deed, proof of residency and social security numbers of all applicants. Mobile home owners must also provide titles or registrations to the home. Applications can be filed at either the main office, second floor of the administrative building, Green Cove Springs, or the branch office, 1518 Park Avenue, Orange Park. For more, ccpao.com or (904) 284-6305.

CLAY Doggie play groups

Clay County Animal Care and Control, 3984 Florida 16 West, Green Cove Springs, is starting dog play groups. Staff and volunteers went through four days of Dogs Playing For Life training with dog trainer Aimee Sadler, who started the program. Paid for by a grant from The Animal Farm Foundation, the program is intended to help the dogs socialization, relieve stress, improve kennel presentation and release their energy. For more, claycountygov.com/departments/clay-county-animal-care-control.

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Around the Region: Donations needed for St. Augustine horse sanctuary and more

Legal process continues in bars lawsuit, Fifth Amendment asserted

 Fifth Amendment  Comments Off on Legal process continues in bars lawsuit, Fifth Amendment asserted
Jan 112015
 

RACINE The federal lawsuit brought against the city by former owners of five shuttered Racine bars is continuing its slow march toward trial, but attorneys are still deep within the information-gathering process known as discovery. Meanwhile, one defendant has taken the Fifth Amendment for some claims.

Filed first on Feb. 25, and then amended on Aug. 21, the lawsuit accuses Mayor John Dickert and close to a dozen other defendants of engaging in an elaborate plot to drive minority tavern owners out of the city, violating the bar owners constitutional and civil rights, and running afoul of the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, commonly referred to as RICO.

In addition to claiming minority bar owners were held to different standards than their white counterparts, the lawsuit accuses some Racine City Tavern League members of engaging in an elaborate effort to bankroll Dickerts mayoral campaigns that resulted in minority-owned bars being targeted, and their licenses freed up for white bar owners.

When the suit was first filed, there were 20 defendants and eight plaintiffs. Since then one of the plaintiffs Cerafin C. Davalos, the owner of the former Ceras Tequila Bar has been dropped from the complaint, as have eight of the original defendants, including the tavern league itself.

Although attorneys for the remaining municipal defendants continue to deny the allegations, the case has proceeded to the discovery process.

U.S. District Judge J.P. Stadtmueller ruled in November that while the civil rights conspiracy claims in the lawsuit should be dismissed, the RICO claims made against the municipal defendants and private defendant Doug Nicholson should proceed to discovery along with the civil rights complaints.

Discovery began in earnest in November. The process, whereby plaintiffs and defendants can obtain evidence from the opposing party, is expected to wind on for several months, said Michael J. Cohen of Meissner, Tierney, Fisher & Nichols S.C., the attorney for the city, Dickert, and 10 other municipal defendants.

There is quite a bit of it that has been requested particularly from the municipal defendants, Cohen said. I wouldnt be surprised if it ends up being 2 million pages of paper that (the plaintiffs) have requested including electronic information.

On Jan. 6 Stadtmueller honored a request by both parties to keep certain personal information contained in the documents such as Social Security numbers of the parties, or identifying information of those not named in the suits, such as witnesses in police reports sealed to public.

But attorneys for the defendants havent spent all their time filling document requests and preparing for depositions. They have also filed answers to the plaintiffs amended complaint.

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Legal process continues in bars lawsuit, Fifth Amendment asserted

Freedom to Marry ad targets court

 Freedom  Comments Off on Freedom to Marry ad targets court
Sep 272014
 

Gay marriage advocates are counting on Supreme Court justices to be watching the Sunday shows ahead of their first private conference of the new term Monday.

Freedom to Marry, a group thats long pursued gay marriage legalization in courts, will air a new ad aimed at urging the Supreme Court to take up one or more of the five cases currently on its docket. Most expect the Court to take up a caseand ultimately legalize gay marriage across the countrythis term. The justices could decide to start a case moving as early as Monday, though they could also wait until a future conference in the coming months.

Currently, 19 states and Washington, D.C., have legalized gay marriage. The cases already up for consideration by the court are from Utah, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Virginia and Indiana, with another from Ohio expected to follow soon.

(PHOTOS: Where same-sex couples can wed)

One nation, indivisibleexcept if youre gay, the narrator of the Freedom to Marry ad says, as a map appears on screen with all the states that have legalized marriage in bright blue, against the dull grey for all the rest.

Proponents and opponents alike are eager to see the Supreme Court establish one set ruling, a swift change from even just a few years ago. Thats not the only shift: now the wide expectation is that the court will rule in favor of legalization, likely with the courts four liberal justices joining Anthony Kennedy, whos spent years writing opinions that have eased restrictions on gays. Some even think Chief Justice John Roberts might join a legalization decision too.

(PHOTOS: 26 gay-rights milestones)

Over photos of gay couples, the narrator of the ad says, theyre taxed unfairly, denied Social Security and parenting rights, and can lose a family home when their loved one dies.

Our ad underscores the human costs of prolonging marriage discrimination. Every day of denial is a day of real and needless injury, indignity, and injustice to too many families across the countryand time matters, said Freedom to Marry found and president Evan Wolfson.

America is ready for the freedom to marry, 40 lower courts have affirmed the freedom to marry, even opponents are saying its time to bring the country to national resolution, Wolfson added. And it is, indeed, time.

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Freedom to Marry ad targets court

WATCH: Freedom to Marry Tells Supreme Court 'It's Time'

 Freedom  Comments Off on WATCH: Freedom to Marry Tells Supreme Court 'It's Time'
Sep 272014
 

The nationwide advocacy group has a message for the justices on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Set to air one day before the Supreme Court meets for its first private conference of the new session, a national advocacy group has created an ad that argues that “it’s time” for the high court to establish marriage equality nationwide.

The 30-second spot, produced by advocacy group Freedom to Marry, will first hit airwaves around Washington, D.C., during the Sunday morning talk shows, the group announced. Starting next week, the spot will be broadcast nationally on network television. Focusing on the critical legal protections denied couples in any of the 31 U.S. states without marriage equality, the ad highlights the dissonance between a society that claims to cherish independence and freedom but relegates many of its citizens to second-class status.

“One nation, indivisible except if youre gay,” says a narrator in the ad. “In 19 states, gay couples and their children share in the protections that only the freedom to marry provides. In the others, they are banned from marrying. Theyre taxed unfairly, denied Social Security and parenting rights, and can lose a family home when their loved one dies. Every day of denial means real harms to real families. Its time to end marriage discrimination.”

In a statement released with the video, Evan Wolfson, the founder and executive director of Freedom to Marry, said, “The ad underscores the human costs of prolonging marriage discrimination. Every day of denial is a day of real and needless injury, indignity, and injustice for too many families across the country and time matters. America is ready for the freedom to marry, 40 lower court rulings have affirmed the freedom to marry, even opponents are saying it’s time to bring the country to national resolution and it is, indeed, time.”

Watch the ad here:

When the nine justices of the U.S. Supreme Court hold their first private conference of this session on Monday, they will have the opportunity to consider reviewing seven marriage equality cases from five states. While the court is under no obligation to take up any of the cases at this conference or any other advocates on both sides of the issue widely expect the court to consider at least one of the cases in the coming year or two.

It is possible that the court could decline to take up any of the cases currently before it, which would have the effect of affirming the so-far-unanimous decisions of lower courts finding statewide bans on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. If that’s the course taken by the court, marriage equality could be on its way to an estimated 65 million Americans who reside in the states with cases before the court, and those states covered under the jurisdiction of circuit courts of appeal.

While it is impossible to predict the actions that might be taken by the Supreme Court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg recently made headlines for her assessment that “there is no need for us to rush” to issue a definitive ruling, pointing the nearly unanimous decisions by lower courts finding marriage bans unconstitutional.

However, with more than 80 cases challenging statewide marriage bans in every U.S. state and territory without marriage equality, it’s entirely possible that federal courts will eventually disagree with one another on the issue. In fact, earlier this month, a federal district judge in Louisiana bucked the national trend and upheld the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, claiming it was rationally related to the state’s “legitimate interest” in “linking children to an intact family formed by their two biological parents.

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WATCH: Freedom to Marry Tells Supreme Court 'It's Time'

Free Speech and free tuition on campus

 Free Speech  Comments Off on Free Speech and free tuition on campus
Sep 202014
 

I’m going back to the Berkeley campus next week for the 50th reunion of the Free Speech Movement. You may have heard in some history class about Mario Savio and the first student sit-in of the ’60s. That was us FSMers at Berkeley.

It will be a little surreal. A university that had nearly 800 of us arrested in December 1964 is welcoming us back by hanging Free Speech banners on the building we occupied. We’re coming home like a victorious football team! But it’s not a real victory because the same forces that tried to shut us up in the 1960s have a more chilling control over U.S. college students today than they ever had over us. Today, it’s not police control; its economic control.

When I went to Berkeley, it cost me $62.50 a semester. That covered registration, lab fees, healthcare and a student body card. My tuition was free. (It was $600 for out-of-state students.) Today, in-state tuition is $12,872.

There’s been inflation, of course. But nothing that begins to explain this kind of huge jump. The increase also can’t be explained by the cost of new stadiums and lavish buildings, which we intellectual alumni love to deplore. Nor is it due to teachers’ salaries. Low-paid adjuncts do much more of the teaching today than they did when I went to school. Top academic administrative salaries, like top corporate executive salaries, have increased beyond inflation, it’s true, but not by enough to account for a tuition increase from nothing to $12,000.

My tuition could be free in the 1960s because higher education was supported by state and federal funds. But since my school days, the rich have rebelled against paying taxes. With so much government support gone, the bulk of tuition must now be paid by students themselves. But student and parental salaries have stagnated at best, so a lot of that increased tuition is financed by borrowing. That gives moneylenders the very same folks who oppose taxes a lien on the future earnings of educated Americans.

I realized how much this prospect must dampen the campus atmosphere when I opened the UC Berkeley website and clicked cost of attendance. Before I got to the actual dollar amounts, I was assured in big letters that A Berkeley education earns our graduates an additional $26,333 each year in income over those who did not go to college.

Since Berkeley is still an excellent school, its students will surely learn to recognize the slippery wording and limited predictive value of that undocumented statistic on future earnings. They will therefore worry about the debt they’re piling up. And they’re right to worry.

Thanks to intense bank lobbying starting in the 1970s, student loans are uniquely punitive. Most can’t be refinanced, which means that people who borrowed at 8% in the 1990s are still paying 8%. Unlike other loans, student loans can’t be discharged in bankruptcy and a borrower’s salary, Social Security and even disability checks can be garnisheed.

Student loans are also exempt from many truth-in-lending laws. I learned what that can mean when I asked a relative in her 40s about her school debt. This is a woman who put herself straight through college and graduate school, not stopping until she had her PhD. But that hasn’t kept her from falling prey to the banks.

When she stayed home for six months with a new child, she accepted her lenders’ offer to lower her $1,200-a-month payment without realizing that the interest that would have been due during this forbearance would be added to the principal. So when I asked how it stands now, this bright and darling woman mumbled with embarrassment that after 14 years of making payments she now owes $93,000 on an $80,000 loan. But don’t worry we’re chipping away at it.

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Free Speech and free tuition on campus

Couple convicted of criminal harassment claim free speech

 Free Speech  Comments Off on Couple convicted of criminal harassment claim free speech
Sep 022014
 

By DENISE LAVOIE

September 02, 2014 12:00 AM

BOSTON Bernadette Lyons came home one day and found 10 strangers milling around her driveway looking for free golf carts.

The next day, her husband, Jim, began getting phone calls late at night from people inquiring about a Harley Davidson motorcycle. The couple also received an anonymous email containing their Social Security numbers and other personal information, along with a message: “Remember, if you aren’t miserable, I ain’t happy!” The clincher came when child-protection workers knocked on their door and said they were investigating a report that Jim Lyons had physically abused their 13-year-old son.

“It was overwhelming,” Bernadette Lyons said. “Every day, we woke up not knowing what was going to happen. We were very scared.”

The couple’s neighbors in Andover, William and Gail Johnson, were convicted of harassing the Lyonses, helped by a friend who admitted placing fake Craigslist ads and sending the anonymous email at the behest of William Johnson.

The Johnsons are appealing their convictions, arguing that their actions were protected by the First Amendment right to free speech. The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts is scheduled to hear arguments in the case Wednesday.

Trouble between the once-friendly neighbors began in 2003, after William Johnson said he wanted to develop land he owned behind the Lyonses’ home into a small subdivision. The Lyonses and other neighbors objected, and years of litigation followed.

Jim Lyons, a businessman who owned several flower and ice cream shops, was elected as a state representative in 2010, after the dispute.

In March 2008, a Craigslist ad was placed by Gerald Colton, a friend of the Johnsons who posed as a former campground owner trying to get rid of golf carts. The ad said there were free golf carts in his yard, available on a first-come, first-served basis, and it included the Lyonses’ address and home phone number. After that, the Lyonses were the targets of a series of hoaxes.

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Couple convicted of criminal harassment claim free speech

Duo behind fake golf cart ads fight harassment law

 Free Speech  Comments Off on Duo behind fake golf cart ads fight harassment law
Sep 012014
 

By DENISE LAVOIE

AP Legal Affairs Writer

September 1, 2014 10:49 AM

BOSTON (AP) Bernadette Lyons came home one day and found 10 strangers milling around her driveway looking for free golf carts.

The next day, her husband, Jim, began getting phone calls late at night from people inquiring about a Harley Davidson motorcycle. The couple also received an anonymous email containing their Social Security numbers and other personal information, along with a message: Remember, if you arent miserable, I aint happy! The clincher came when child-protection workers knocked on their door and said they were investigating a report that Jim Lyons had physically abused their 13-year-old son.

It was overwhelming, Bernadette Lyons said. Every day, we woke up not knowing what was going to happen. We were very scared.

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The couples neighbors in Andover, William and Gail Johnson, were convicted of harassing the Lyonses, helped by a friend who admitted placing fake Craigslist ads and sending the anonymous email at the behest of William Johnson.

The Johnsons are appealing their convictions, arguing that their actions were protected by the First Amendment right to free speech. The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, the states highest court, is scheduled to hear arguments in the case Wednesday.

Trouble between the once-friendly neighbors began in 2003, after William Johnson said he wanted to develop land he owned behind the Lyonses home into a small subdivision. The Lyonses and other neighbors objected, and years of litigation followed.

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Duo behind fake golf cart ads fight harassment law

Online harassers claim free-speech protection

 Free Speech  Comments Off on Online harassers claim free-speech protection
Sep 012014
 

Denise Lavoie, Associated Press 8:46 a.m. MST September 1, 2014

Get the latest developments on the biggest stories on azcentral.(Photo: azcentral)

BOSTON Bernadette Lyons came home one day and found 10 strangers milling around her driveway looking for free golf carts.

The next day, her husband, Jim, began getting phone calls late at night from people inquiring about a Harley Davidson motorcycle. The couple also received an anonymous email containing their Social Security numbers and other personal information, along with a message: “Remember, if you aren’t miserable, I ain’t happy!” The clincher came when child-protection workers knocked on their door and said they were investigating a report that Jim Lyons had physically abused their 13-year-old son.

“It was overwhelming,” Bernadette Lyons said. “Every day, we woke up not knowing what was going to happen. We were very scared.”

The couple’s neighbors in Andover, William and Gail Johnson, were convicted of harassing the Lyonses, helped by a friend who admitted placing fake Craigslist ads and sending the anonymous email at the behest of William Johnson.

The Johnsons are appealing their convictions, arguing that their actions were protected by the First Amendment right to free speech. The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, the state’s highest court, is scheduled to hear arguments in the case Wednesday.

Trouble between the once-friendly neighbors began in 2003, after William Johnson said he wanted to develop land he owned behind the Lyonses’ home into a small subdivision. The Lyonses and other neighbors objected, and years of litigation followed.

Jim Lyons, a businessman who owned several flower and ice cream shops, was elected as a state representative in 2010, after the dispute.

In March 2008, a Craigslist ad was placed by Gerald Colton, a friend of the Johnsons who posed as a former campground owner trying to get rid of golf carts. The ad said there were free golf carts in his yard, available on a first-come, first-served basis, and it included the Lyonses’ address and home phone number. After that, the Lyonses were the targets of a series of hoaxes.

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Online harassers claim free-speech protection

Tax Freedom Day will come 3 days later this year

 Freedom  Comments Off on Tax Freedom Day will come 3 days later this year
Apr 092014
 

Economy For Utah, it arrives April 17; April 21 for rest of nation.

“Tax Freedom Day” when a typical worker will have earned enough to pay his tax bill for the year if he spent money on nothing else is falling three days later this year both in Utah and the nation.

In Utah, it will be on April 17 after falling on April 13 in 2013, according to a study by the Tax Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan tax research organization based in Washington, D.C.

However, that is still earlier than average.

The national Tax Freedom day is on April 21, 111 days into the year. Last year, it was on April 18.

“Tax Freedom Day is three days later than last year due mainly to the countrys continued slow economic recovery,” the Tax Foundation said.

Twenty-six states have earlier Tax Freedom Days than Utah this year.

The earliest, or best, among the states is in Louisiana on March 30. The latest, or worst, is in Connecticut and New Jersey on May 9.

For states surrounding Utah, Tax Freedom Day is on April 8 in New Mexico; April 11 in Idaho and Arizona; April 15 in Nevada; April 17 (like Utah) in Wyoming; and April 22 in Colorado.

The foundation says it now takes the nations workers 33 days to pay their federal income tax bill; 27 days to pay Social Security taxes; two days for federal excise taxes; eight days for federal corporate taxes; and four days for other federal taxes.

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Tax Freedom Day will come 3 days later this year

Everybody Loves Libertarianism, Insists Libertarian

 Misc  Comments Off on Everybody Loves Libertarianism, Insists Libertarian
Mar 272014
 

Kevin Williamson, a libertarian-ish conservative writer for the National Review, wrote a bracingly honest assessment of the limited appeal of Rand Pauls ideology. (Short story: Most people really love the biggest government programs, like Social Security and Medicare.) This confession against ideological interest naturally antagonized Reasons Nick Gillespie, who is not only a libertarian-libertarian, but also deeply committed to his belief that libertarianism is always, just you wait and see, on the rise.

Gillespie counters Williamson with a sputtering piece arguing that Rand Paul is poised to seize the center of the American political debate with his innovative proposals, such as saving Ukraine by cutting aid to Ukraine. Gillespie bolsters his thesis with a random collage of factoids:

The one sort-of on-point factoid Gillespie offers is a poll conducted by the libertarian Reason foundation showing that, contrary to the overwhelming findings of pollsters everywhere, voters really do want to cut Medicare and Social Security. The unstated joke here, in case you didnt catch it, is that every interest group has its own handcrafted polls showing that, if you word the question in just the right way, overwhelming numbers of Americans agree with their position on any given issue. And sure enough, Reasons poll has its own wording that finds people are really keen to cut Social Security and Medicare. But this poll, just like every advocacy poll, is worthless, because in real politics, one side of the issue cant control the terms by which it will be debated.

The movie Divergent provides the frame for Gillespies paean to Paul. I have not seen the film. Apperently it describes a future in which people are slotted from birth into categories, and those who refuse to follow along are Marked for Death! This theme, explains Gillespie, sums up Rand Paul. Because obviously the clearest hallmark of an independent rebel is a candidate who has devoted his entire life to slavishly carrying out his fathers kooky dogma.

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Everybody Loves Libertarianism, Insists Libertarian

Grow up, Libertarians!

 Misc  Comments Off on Grow up, Libertarians!
Jun 132013
 

Since I published my Salon essay, The Question Libertarians Just Cant Answer, true believers in the libertarian cult have been struggling to answer the simple but devastating question I asked: If libertarianism is such a good idea, why arent there any libertarian countries?

Writing in Reason, Ronald Bailey cites the spread of particular liberties since the eighteenth century as evidence that the entire world is becoming libertarian. But he ignores the fact that the welfare state and business regulation have grown up together with democracy and civil liberties. The citizens of democracies prefer to vote themselves generous social insurance benefits. They also insist on using government to police business firms while benefiting from a market economy.

Most of Baileys examples assume that this or that trend of which he approves will continue forever. For example, he points out that cross-border migrants now constitute one in 33 people (putting it this way makes it sound more impressive than no more than 3 percent of the human race). He doesnt mention that even this surprisingly small amount of global migration has produced anti-immigrant backlashes in most developed countries, including the U.S., where comprehensive immigration reform may fail once again.

Writing in The Economist, a libertarian-leaning magazine, Will Wilkinson tries to answer my question in a different way:

Wilkinson is confusing policies and systems. In my essay, I took care to distinguish the two. I pointed out that particular useful policies favored by libertarians can be adopted by modern countries, without fundamentally altering the dominant mixed-economy model that blends markets, government and the nonprofit sector in a compound that will always be too statist for libertarians.

American progressives in the tradition of the two Roosevelts have never been doctrinaire statists or socialists and have no objection to promoting markets, where that serves the public interest. A progressive can favor privatizing the Post Office and expanding Social Security at the same time. Or vice versa (progressive arguments against Social Security privatization are based on its practical problems). I recently co-authored a proposal to use vouchers for eldercare in the U.S., without thereby becoming any less a sinister statist enemy of human freedom, from the perspective of the libertarian cult.

You never find similar pragmatism among libertarians. They are always against any public option and always for a real or imagined private option. Libertarianism is dogmatic, not experimental. Any maverick libertarian who suggested a deviation from orthodoxy say, expanding Medicaid, on efficiency grounds would be expelled from the cult as a statist heretic.

Bailey and Wilkinson accuse me of discouraging potentially useful social experimentation. But its not an experiment if you know the result in advance. Libertarians, like utopian socialists and utopian anarchists, think they already know the desirable end state of human social evolution, even if they are content to move toward that utopia incrementally.

Most liberals would approve of the philosopher Karl Poppers distinction between piecemeal social engineering and utopian social engineering, symbolized by the lethal attempts of Jacobins, fascists and communists to remake whole societies from scratch on the basis of this or that theory. In The Open Society and Its Enemies, Popper wrote that the piecemeal engineer will adopt the method of searching for, and fighting against, the greatest and most urgent evil of society, rather than searching for, and fighting for, its greatest ultimate good. In some cases, fighting urgent evils requires the expansion of particular liberties, like abolishing slavery and segregation and securing the right to vote. In other cases, it requires limiting particular liberties, like the freedom of employers to buy and sell slaves, use child labor or pollute the environment.

Libertarianism poses as a comprehensive public philosophy promoting the greatest ultimate good of individual freedom, not just a list of particular policies, like private toll roads instead of public highways or vouchers for schools. So it is not enough for libertarians to point to discrete measures that have been adopted by systems based on other principles, like social democratic progressivism or conservative welfare capitalism. Libertarianism as a system will be hard to take seriously until there are at least a few functioning, systematically libertarian countries in the world.

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Grow up, Libertarians!

U.S. Rep. Justin Amash talks budgets, veterans, guns, doles out parenting advice

 Misc  Comments Off on U.S. Rep. Justin Amash talks budgets, veterans, guns, doles out parenting advice
Mar 242013
 

CASCADE TOWNSHIP, MI A father himself, U.S. Rep. Justin Amash is certainly no stranger to parental advice.

Typically, it falls to his three children. But on Saturday, aconstituentat a Cascade Township town hall asked the West Michigan congressman for help dealing with “wayward” children who believe liberal economic policies.

Amash’s advice: Have them study economics in college and “introduce them to libertarianism.”

It was just one of the many questions put to and answered by Amash, who is spending his congressional spring break hosting town halls and forums throughout his district. Saturday’s town hall at the Cascade Township branch of the Kent County District Library was standing room only.

“I went to D.C. to shrink government, and not grow government,” he said.

A couple people asked Amash what he and Congress will do to help veterans and fix problems with wait times for services. Amash said that veteran care was being victimized by big spending programs like the military, Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare.

One person said some veterans are waiting up to two years to have claims considered or to appeal decisions by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. Another person told a story of a veteran who wanted help with his suicidal thoughts, could not find it and killed himself. Someone else said the treatment of veterans is embarrassing.

“It is a travesty what happens to our veterans because of the budget process,” Amash said, adding later that he votes in favor of appropriation bills that provide care for veterans and believes they are “perfectly within the bounds of the Constitution.”

“Caring for veterans is one area where Congress agrees.”

On Iran, Amash said he was in favor of sanctions that stop the country from obtaining nuclear weapons but against sanctions that hinder trade and hurt people.

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U.S. Rep. Justin Amash talks budgets, veterans, guns, doles out parenting advice

America made up of minority groups, diverse views

 Misc  Comments Off on America made up of minority groups, diverse views
Jun 272012
 

To the editor:

Dr. Leonard Duckworths letter to The Courier Sunday was full of frustration. He wondered how the non-thinkers could vote for President Obama. His frustration is systematic of all minorities. All surveys show Americans in general are empathetic and pragmatic. It is these feelings that make our political majority an amalgamation of libertarianism, inclusiveness, the ecologically bent, competitive and nationally centric. Throughout our history, Americas political philosophy has been center-right on economic issues and center-left on social issues.

If you are a liberal, progressive, socialist, etc., you are a minority. If you are a conservative, libertarian, a Tea Party supporter, a follower of the Christian right, etc., you are a minority. This makes for diverse views in letters to The Courier. It is this diversity of thought that makes America great. It is also this diversity of thought that leads to frustration for many. It is not the non-thinkers but the thoughtful center that elects the president.

Duckworth and other minorities need to keep their pens handy. No matter whether Obama or Romney gets elected, the president will pander to the majority and implement policies that frustrate the minority. As ugly and frustrating as it is, this is the American way and in todays world there is no better way.

If you need proof, just think of this; Texas is one of the most conservative states in the country, and its largest city has an openly gay mayor. How strange is that?

Tim Doherty

Conroe

To the editor:

The Tea Party position is that they want to keep their hard-earned money and that they basically should not pay any taxes all the while driving on streets and highways that are paid for through taxes.

They dont want government to touch their Medicare or Social Security, but they do not want to pay any taxes. They fly safely on airlines, are protected by our military abroad and by first responders locally, but they do not want to pay any taxes. They buy foods that are safe to eat due to our Department of Agriculture and they do not wish to pay any taxes.

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America made up of minority groups, diverse views

Democrat to GOP: Consider tax hikes to spare military from cuts

 Tax Havens  Comments Off on Democrat to GOP: Consider tax hikes to spare military from cuts
Jun 132012
 

WASHINGTON (AP) Republicans determined to spare the military from devastating across-the-board spending cuts presidential candidate Mitt Romney among them must be willing to consider closing tax loopholes and raising rates to increase revenue, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said Tuesday.

Democratic Sen. Carl Levin insisted that all elements of the federal government taxes, entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security and even additional defense reductions need to be part of the calculation as Congress scrambles to come up with a way to avoid the automatic, $1.2 trillion cuts in domestic and military programs over a decade. Those cuts are scheduled to start kicking in Jan. 2.

Levin said Republican and Democratic presidents, including Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, adopted both spending cuts and tax increases to address budget deficits. He said the current Republican leadership needs to do the same.

There can be no real deficit reduction and you cannot protect defense and other critically important priorities of this country from sequestration without additional revenue, the Michigan lawmaker said, referring to the process of automatic cuts that will take effect if Congress does not act.

Levin spoke at a national security briefing with retired Gen. James Cartwright, former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and David H. Langstaff, president and CEO of TASC Inc. The company provides engineering systems and other services to the Defense and Homeland Security Departments.

Levin ticked off various tax loopholes that could be closed, such as offshore tax havens and the carried interest rate that allows profits made by hedge fund managers to be taxed at a lower rate than ordinary income. He also favors returning the top tax rate to 39.6 percent for the wealthiest Americans, a number that was reduced to 35 percent when Congress adopted tax cuts under former President George W. Bush.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has warned about the meat ax approach of the automatic cuts, arguing it would hollow out the force. The cuts would come on top of a $492 billion reduction over 10 years that President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans agreed to last summer.

Levins appeal to Republicans to stop drawing an absolute line in the sand on additional revenue adds to the pressure as more than two dozen Senate Republicans and Democrats privately talk about an ambitious plan to avoid the automatic cuts. Uncertainty about the outstanding financial issues the automatic cuts, expiration of the Bush tax cuts and increasing the nations borrowing authority is unnerving to both industry and the markets.

Were all looking for the best way to deal with a large number of issues we have facing us at the end of the year, said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., who said he had spoken Tuesday morning to a Democratic senator and staff about possible steps. Alexander said he would listen to Levins suggestions.

Tax reform is at the top of the list of most Republican senators and most of us feel like that means broadening the base, closing the loopholes and could include more revenues. But for me, only if we have a firm plan to reduce mandatory spending. For me, runaway mandatory spending is the big bugaboo and thats what we need to deal with.

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Democrat to GOP: Consider tax hikes to spare military from cuts

Dem to GOP: Consider tax hikes to spare military

 Tax Havens  Comments Off on Dem to GOP: Consider tax hikes to spare military
Jun 132012
 

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans determined to spare the military from devastating across-the-board spending cuts presidential candidate Mitt Romney among them must be willing to consider closing tax loopholes and raising rates to increase revenue, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said Tuesday.

Democratic Sen. Carl Levin insisted that all elements of the federal government taxes, entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security and even additional defense reductions need to be part of the calculation as Congress scrambles to come up with a way to avoid the automatic, $1.2 trillion cuts in domestic and military programs over a decade. Those cuts are scheduled to start kicking in Jan. 2.

Levin said Republican and Democratic presidents, including Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, adopted both spending cuts and tax increases to address budget deficits. He said the current Republican leadership needs to do the same.

“There can be no real deficit reduction and you cannot protect defense and other critically important priorities of this country from sequestration without additional revenue,” the Michigan lawmaker said, referring to the process of automatic cuts that will take effect if Congress does not act.

Levin spoke at a national security briefing with retired Gen. James Cartwright, former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and David H. Langstaff, president and CEO of TASC Inc. The company provides engineering systems and other services to the Defense and Homeland Security Departments.

Levin ticked off various tax loopholes that could be closed, such as offshore tax havens and the carried interest rate that allows profits made by hedge fund managers to be taxed at a lower rate than ordinary income. He also favors returning the top tax rate to 39.6 percent for the wealthiest Americans, a number that was reduced to 35 percent when Congress adopted tax cuts under former President George W. Bush.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has warned about the meat ax approach of the automatic cuts, arguing it would hollow out the force. The cuts would come on top of a $492 billion reduction over 10 years that President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans agreed to last summer.

Levin’s appeal to Republicans to stop “drawing an absolute line in the sand on additional revenue” adds to the pressure as more than two dozen Senate Republicans and Democrats privately talk about an ambitious plan to avoid the automatic cuts. Uncertainty about the outstanding financial issues the automatic cuts, expiration of the Bush tax cuts and increasing the nation’s borrowing authority is unnerving to both industry and the markets.

“We’re all looking for the best way to deal with a large number of issues we have facing us at the end of the year,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., who said he had spoken Tuesday morning to a Democratic senator and staff about possible steps. Alexander said he would listen to Levin’s suggestions.

“Tax reform is at the top of the list of most Republican senators and most of us feel like that means broadening the base, closing the loopholes and could include more revenues. But for me, only if we have a firm plan to reduce mandatory spending. For me, runaway mandatory spending is the big bugaboo and that’s what we need to deal with.”

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Dem to GOP: Consider tax hikes to spare military

Campaign finance reform fails to reach goals

 Misc  Comments Off on Campaign finance reform fails to reach goals
Feb 232012
 

Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012

By ROBERT J. SAMUELSON

WASHINGTON — The emergence of super PACs shows once again that “campaign finance reform” has failed abysmally. After nearly four decades, it has achieved none of its goals. It has not purged politics of big donations, nor cured public cynicism about the influence of the rich, nor made elected leaders more trusted. What it has done is compromise basic First Amendment rights, clutter politics with baffling laws and regulations, and actually deepen cynicism.

Except for contribution disclosures, campaign finance laws should be scrapped. If there were no limits on individual contributions to candidates (the basic limit is $2,500 per candidate per election, meaning $5,000 for a primary and general election together), there would be few — if any — super PACs. The wealthy would give to candidates directly instead of resorting to some contorted alternative. Super PACs are merely the latest of many contortions born of a muddled Supreme Court.

On the one hand, the court has blessed limits on direct contributions to candidates and political parties. The rationale: to prevent corruption and its appearance — undue influence by big contributors. On the other, the court has also said that the First Amendment guarantees Americans the right to spend unlimited amounts to elect anyone they wish. It's free speech. In Buckley v. Valeo (1976), the court tried to reconcile the contradictions by saying people could make unlimited “independent expenditures” not “coordinated” with the candidates or their campaigns.

The unsurprising result is that both parties searched for new ways to maximize spending without violating the letter of the law. These have included PACs (political action committees), so-called 527 groups, “soft money” and now super PACs, which can accept unlimited contributions and make “independent expenditures” (mainly media advertising). The trouble is that these various responses, though legally clever, seem ethically suspect to many Americans. The press generally adopts the same attitude.

The perception that political operatives and wealthy donors are skirting contribution limits — as they are — creates the aura of corruption and even criminality. Super PACs also seem to make candidates' campaigns less accountable. The fact that all this is an exercise of First Amendment rights is simply ignored. The paradox is that campaign financial “reform,” far from allaying public suspicion of the political system, deepens it.

What started as an understandable reaction to Watergate abuses now imposes a tangle of rules on free speech and political activity. Go to the Federal Election Commission's website and download its summary of regulations on “coordinated communications and independent expenditures.” It's 11 single-spaced pages of legalese. This is not what the Founders imagined when they said Congress “shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech” or the right “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Three myths buttress the status quo.

Myth One: The rich and corporate interests rule government through campaign contributions and lobbying.

This is absurd. In 2009, $2.1 trillion (60 percent) of federal spending went for “payments for individuals.” This included 52.5 million people receiving Social Security; 46.6 million on Medicare (many of the same people); 32.9 million on food stamps; 47.5 million on Medicaid; 3.9 million with veterans benefits. Almost all these benefits go to the poor and middle class. Meanwhile, the richest 5 percent of American pay 44 percent of federal taxes.

Does this look like government for the rich? Of course, businesses and wealthy individuals support candidates that share their interests. This is their right. But many super-rich contributors (George Soros and the like) are focused on political philosophies, not their net worth.

Myth Two: Political spending is out of control.

Not so. In 2008, spending for federal elections (the president, Congress) totaled $5.3 billion, up 27 percent from 2004. Over the same period, the economy grew 21 percent. By comparison, Americans spent $297 billion in 2008 on mobile and landline phones. Neither party has a permanent fundraising advantage over the other. In the last seven elections, Republicans raised more money in four, Democrats in three.

Myth Three: Spending isn't speech.

Well, try “getting your message out” without spending. If money is necessary to disseminate campaign themes, then limits on spending (“independent” or otherwise) restrict speech.

The widespread belief in these myths makes campaign finance regulation seem respectable. It's always convenient to blame the nation's problems on moneyed “special interests” and to pretend that controlling them will advance obvious solutions. This is usually a delusion. Solutions aren't always obvious, and the most powerful constituencies are not those with big bags of money but those with huge blocs of voters. AARP outguns the American Petroleum Institute.

The greater threat to our democracy arises from the well-intentioned effort to curb traditional First Amendment political freedoms under the guise of cleansing the system of the evils of money. There lies the true corruption of the U.S. Constitution.

© 2012 Washington Post Writers Group

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Campaign finance reform fails to reach goals




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