April 19, 2012
When weird shit happens like Secret Service agents in Colombia making national news for failing to pay one of their Colombian prostitutes $47, there are only two realistic explanations.
Either the SS agents are so stupid that they would haggle with a ho over less than $50, then let her call the cops, turning it into an international incident, or this non-scandal is hitting the news to cover something else up.
But now it’s come out that the SS agents were stupid enough to have the president’s schedule out in view of the prostitutes in their rooms. So this is just run-of-the-mill forehead-slapping incompetence on display. Not only that, but this drunk asshole agreed to pay what turns out to be an escort $800 and then offers her $30 in the morning. She should get her money plus pain and suffering for having to deal with this fool.
Photo by alessandro isnotaurelio.
April 18, 2012
Convicted defendants left uninformed of forensic flaws found by Justice Dept.
Justice Department officials have known for years that flawed forensic work might have led to the convictions of potentially innocent people, but prosecutors failed to notify defendants or their attorneys even in many cases they knew were troubled.
In one Texas case, Benjamin Herbert Boyle was executed in 1997, more than a year after the Justice Department began its review. Boyle would not have been eligible for the death penalty without the FBI’s flawed work, according to a prosecutor’s memo.
The review was performed by a task force… in the 1990s. The inquiry took nine years… but the findings were never made public.
“The government has hidden behind the veil of secrecy to shield these abuses despite official assurances that justice would be done,” said David Colapinto, general counsel of the National Whistleblowers Center.
A common theme among reform-minded lawyers and experts is taking the oversight of the forensic labs away from police and prosecutors.
Monopolies in products and services stagnates innovation while driving up prices. Property rights enforcement and protection from violence is a service, and it is clearly not immune from the pernicious forces of monopoly.
Competition is the only way to ensure quality. If we do not introduce competition into the prosecution of property rights violations we will continue to be murdered by the state for crimes we did not commit. Low quality and high prices in this arena are deadly. It’s not a fantasy. Privatization is the only way to prevent further human rights abuses at the hands of monopolistic, overzealous, lazy prosecutors and the so-called Justice Department in bed with them.
Photo by Dan4th.
April 11, 2012
Matt Tiabbi’s reasoning behind Why Obama’s JOBS Act Couldn’t Suck Worse seems to not much more substantive than the typical liberal knee-jerk reaction (horror) to deregulation. Not to say the conservative knee-jerk reaction (joy) is better. But I wish a pub like Rolling Stone would demand more then this from its published analysis.
From the article:
There’s just no benefit that the JOBS Act brings to an honest startup company.
For real style? Tiabbi bemoans that startups now:
- Aren’t held liable when their PowerPoints don’t match their prospectuses, which are still mandatory and are available to any investor who wants to compare the PP to the prospectus.
- Don’t have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars registering with the SEC
- Can raise money via crowdfunding
These sound like benefits to me.
And the harm?
A startup can’t be sued if its PowerPoint doesn’t match their prospectus. Market forces alone encourage potential investors to compare the two before making an investment.
Registering with the SEC is a waste of time and money. It’s a high barrier to entry which limits competition and halts innovation while providing absolutely no protection against fraud.
Crowdfunding is a huge deal. Think about what microlending has done for innovators and entrepreneurs the world over. Now think about the benefits of incentivizing microlending by making it potentially profitable, and not just charitable, to microlenders. What a way to encourage innovation and put people with no money but good ideas and the willingness to work hard on the path to prosperity.
Why take a dim view of the JOBS Act unless you want to discourage innovation and entrepreneurship while encourage red tape and bureaucracy?
Microlending photo by Whitney Lauren.
April 10, 2012
I’m about to begin a new chapter in life. I’m moving from Birmingham, Alabama to Arlington, Virginia. I’m leaving my SEO Specialist job at EBSCO Industries to become the new Digital Publishing Specialist for Reason Magazine in Washington, D.C. I’m going to work for my favorite libertarian think tank in a huge, bustling city far from my southern home, where vehicles are optional but scarves and hats are mandatory much of the year.
I’m scared. I’m scared of the rent, the metro, the cold, the crime, the new job. The having only a few friends in the area. The corporate culture that probably could not be more different than what I’m used to.
But I’m about to begin to live the life about which until now I’ve barely had the courage to dream. Know what’s really crazy? The barriers to entry I thought were beyond my ability to navigate are actually much lower than I could’ve imagined. I thought I needed a law degree or a book of published clips before a think tank would look at me. Turns out there are multiple organizations out there looking to place young, inexperienced workers and recent grads in think tank jobs. (Check ‘em out: http://www.heritage.org/about/job-bank, http://www.charleskochinstitute.org/liberty-at-work/, http://www.charleskochinstitute.org/associate-program/)
I’m also going to be participating in the Koch Associate Program beginning in June.
I just didn’t know before. I didn’t know about Heritage’s job bank. I didn’t know about the Koch Associate Program.
Now, I want the decision makers at Reason to look back at hiring me as their single greatest decision. I want to learn the shit out of liberty and professional development with Koch. I want to get to know every liberty lover in D.C. and out of them select an amazing group of friends.
And then? Then, I want to publish best-selling books, speak at conferences and appear on television to rep the shit out of liberty. It feels unobtainable right now. I have very little knowledge of how to get from here to there. But I know, from experience now, that the barriers to entry are low enough for me to handle. If I try, I know I can do this. Wish me luck!
Photo by me!
April 9, 2012
Oaksterdam Founder, Prop. 19 Funder, Driven Out of His Peaceful, Productive Business by Government
Richard Lee is the founder of Oaksterdam University, a Northern California medical marijuana training school. Raids by the DEA on his home and business have left him bankrupt, although he has not been charged with any crime. He doesn’t even know why he was raided. Don’t raids require warrants? And don’t warrants require probable cause?
But wait, the government is supposed to protect property rights!
Should we be surprised that an entity whose continued existence requires the violation of property rights (via taxation) would violate property rights?
Which is scarier?
But this is more than a property rights violation. At least with taxes you can know how much you’ll owe and make decisions accordingly. An atmosphere where your legal business can be raided and effectively shut down at any time for no reason breeds a new kind of paralyzing terror.
With cannabis, in the absence of clear-cut laws, the state has allowed the DEA to relieve citizens of their property without due process. It’s impossible for patients, users, educators, doctors or proprietors to know whether state or federal law applies and how, which makes it impossible to be in full compliance. Which means that law enforcement can enforce whatever laws they want to at the time. The situation replaces the rule of law with the rule of bureaucrat tyrants.
Shame on the Obama administration for not clearing up the muddle that is federal marijuana legislation. And shame on Obama himself for promising to end raids of state-law-compliant medical marijuana dispensaries and then doing nothing to stop the DEA from conducting raid after pointless, destructive, politically motivated raid.
Swat photo by OregonDOT.
Pot photo by the cutely named Dank Depot.
April 4, 2012
I didn’t expect to find anything to love in an article titled Listen to left to get healthcare right. But I did. Author David Hoppe points out several truefacts.
Our employer-based approach not only excludes or underinsures millions of people, it also puts big and small businesses behind an expanding 8-ball as managers who want to do the right thing are penalized by the ever-increasing cost of premiums. Let’s face it: for years, the healthcare market in this country has utterly failed at correcting itself.
Republicans who have been hellbent on stopping Obamacare have nothing to suggest by way of an alternative, perhaps because they have basically killed their own idea.
Can’t argue there.
The federal government has to intervene, not only to take the side of people who are being trampled by market forces that show no regard for their health and well-being, but in order to keep the larger economy from being sucked dry.
What the what?
Federal intervention caused the employer-based approach to healthcare Hoppe justifiably criticizes. A market hamstrung by tax-code distortions and regulations has a hard time correcting itself. If Federal intervention caused the problem, what kind of Federal intervention does Hoppe think will solve it?
Hoppe calls for what he calls “Medicare for Everybody.”
“If it’s good enough for people over 65 (and it is, ask any senior, even a Tea Party member), it ought to work for the rest of us.”
Medicare is only able to operate currently because it’s subsidized by the private insurance companies Hoppe wants to edge out of the market. Even with that advantage it’s unsustainable in its current form. Putting the entire nation under Medicare would only hasten its swan dive into insolvency.
This article typifies the left’s “thinking” on health insurance. They recognize the system is messed up. They think up unsustainable ways for the government to “fix” it. They blame Republicans for getting in the way of the fixes. At no time do they address the myriad ways government intervention causes and exacerbates deficiencies in the health insurance market. And at no time do they seriously consider the unintended consequences of further government intervention.
Image by ProgressOhio.
April 3, 2012
Amazing: The Poorest Households Spend 9% of Their Income on Lottery Tickets
As it turns out, the typical U.S. family spending spends nearly the same share of its money — 10.8% — on insurance and pensions, including mandatory insurance programs like Social Security.
Sad: Unlike Social Security, at least with the lottery there’s a chance it’ll pay off.
From Why Do We Stick With Broken Social Security Model? on investors.com.
Workers can expect a legally mandated 22% cut in Social Security benefits when they retire. So, after forking over 12.4% of their earnings — both directly and through their employers — for 35 or 40 years, they can look forward to receiving a less-than-zero-percent return while continuing to spend their working lives paying 100% of the promised benefits to current retirees.
Photo by Montage Communications.
April 2, 2012
A Tale of Three Teachers
Author John Merrow argues that university teaching programs don’t really teach teachers what they need to know to do their jobs (AGREED!). So his solution is to make it harder to get into these schools (wha?).
To teach in American public schools, you must be certified. Certification requires a four-year degree in education, or a masters in education.
Barriers to entry limit supply, blunting competition.
The laws of supply and demand dictate that if demand stays the same for teachers, fewer applicants means higher costs and lower quality. Think about it. Would you be able to pick higher quality candidates out of 100 applicants or 1,000 applicants? If quality is equally distributed, obviously 1,000.
Now costs are handled outside of the market, through collective bargaining. So what does that leave to the market? Quality.
Certification requirements lower competition for teaching spots, meaning pretty much anyone who can make it through the joke that is education training gets to be a teacher. Further limiting who gets into these schools will exacerbate the problem. The solution is to open up teaching to anyone who wants to try to get hired. Then let schools determine their criteria for hiring. Perhaps it’s competence in their subjects. Maybe it’s experience teaching, even if it’s outside of public schools. If a teacher doesn’t work out, he or she simply gets fired or quits (what’s to lose, they haven’t sunk 4 years and tens of thousands of dollars into a teaching degree that’s useless outside of education).
Certification is supposed to be worth the decrease in overall quality to ensure a certain baseline of quality. The baseline of quality established by certification sucks donkey balls. Scrap it and let the market work.
Photo by Ron Houtman.
April 1, 2012
Licensure requirements supposedly protect consumers from dangerous or unqualified service providers. Ensuring a certain baseline of safety and quality is supposed to be worth the higher cost and lower quality that results from limiting competition via barriers to entry. Except it’s not. Jezebel reports: D.C. Cab Commissioner Says Cabbies Have Been ‘Manhandling’ Passengers.
As Reason has reported, the supply of cabs is limited in D.C. by a licensing exam for drivers that’s been closed since 2010. Wouldn’t you think one thing any test would want to establish is whether the applicant is likely to assault passengers? Fail.
There’s one thing I’m wondering though. The person bringing these assaults to light is D.C. Cab Commissioner Ron Linton. This is the guy who pushed for a medallion system for D.C. cabs, like the one that has pushed up prices and handed control of the industry to one company in New York. He pushed for it after meeting privately with taxi magnate Jerry Schaeffer, who literally hired the lobbyist who wrote the last medallion bill. (Source)
Is it possible he’s trying to gin up support to further barriers to entry to the marketplace by scaring people about being assaulted in cabs? It would make sense. People tolerate licensure requirements due to fear.
Even still, if so, I’d have to ask him: If the tests didn’t work to keep passengers safe, why would the medallions?
Photo by Digital Sextant