The Lesser Of Four (Or Five) Evils

October 17, 2016

End This Election

October 6, 2016

It’s getting apoplectic out there in political tribal land. On the left, Keith Olbermann proclaims Trump will “end this democracy.” On the right, Sean Hannity is apoplectic at conservative “saboteurs” who will own Clinton, refugees, the Supreme Court, and radical Islam.

Sorry, tribalists, this election does not matter.

Andrew Napolitano echoes sentiments I’ve expressed on this blog, but goes further:

What if they are both statists? What if they both believe that the government’s first duty is to take care of itself? What if they both believe in the primacy of the state over the individual?

What if, in clashes between the state and individuals, they both would use the power of the state to trample the rights of individuals?

What if the first priority of both is not to decrease the size and scope of government but to expand it? What if they both believe that the federal government may lawfully and constitutionally right any wrong, tax any behavior and regulate any event? What if they both want to add a few thousand new employees to the federal payroll, give them badges and guns and black shirts, and engage them as federal police to insulate the federal government further from the people and the states?

The whole thing is here.

Exercise Your Right To Remain Silent

September 28, 2016

The Obamacare Marketplace’s Continued Collapse

August 31, 2016

Insurance companies are leaving the Obamacare exchanges. Apparently stringent regulation does NOT bring costs down. Michael Cannon explains what is going on in Pinal County, Arizona:

Obamacare requires insurers to do certain things, but only if they want to stay in the market. If the cost of those things proves too great — and Obamacare’s architects were very good at making lots of generous promises — insurers can leave. Obamacare asked insurers to cover so many pre-existing conditions in Pinal County’s exchange that it ultimately forced them to cover none. President Obama wanted to reduce discrimination in health insurance; in Pinal County, he increased it.

Let me be clear. Obamacare positively requires the very sort of discrimination it purports to prohibit. Arizona regulators report that two unnamed insurers will sell Obamacare plans to individual Pinal County residents, just not through the exchange. Only higher-income residents, who are likely to be in better health, can afford Obamacare’s unsubsidized premiums. Without Obamacare, those insurers could cover lots of Pinal County residents with moderate incomes. But Obamacare forces them to cover so many preexisting conditions that only the wealthy get coverage.

Will these residents still be subject to the individual mandate?

And Obamacare will still penalize those residents if they don’t buy coverage — even if the amount they must pay increases tenfold or more. Though they can no longer access the subsidies that made Obamacare coverage affordable, the fact that they are still technically eligible for subsidies means that, by law, coverage is still affordable for them and they must buy it or pay the penalty.

A False Choice: The Economics of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump

August 20, 2016

Do voters really have a clear choice between major party candidates this election?

Democrat Hillary Clinton is an unapologetic statist who always sees a role for government. “Regulation improves living conditions” she once told TV host John Stossel, and her campaign definitely promises more regulation: a higher minimum wage, “fair pay and fair scheduling, paid family leave and earned sick days,” and more regulations on the financial sector (for starters). Like any good Keynesian, Clinton wants to boost government spending, which means more spending on infrastructure, the manufacturing industry, and other things. She has a zero-sum outlook on economic matters, thinking we need to enact policies so America will “win the global competition for manufacturing jobs.” Thus her repudiation of NAFTA, her repudiation of the TPP, and her willingness to impose tariffs on countries that “break the rules.” The cherry on top of this statist sundae is a tax code that makes sure the wealthy pay their “fair share” and punishes companies for “shifting profits and jobs overseas” by imposing an “exit tax” and closes “loopholes.” In Clinton’s mind, this is “a more progressive, more patriotic tax code.”

Republican Donald Trump’s stream-of-consciousness rhetoric may be self-contradictory, but overall, his general philosophy is similar to Clinton’s. A man who supports raising the minimum wage, endorses the seizure of private property for so-called economic development, and proclaims he won’t “let companies move to other countries, firing their employees along the way, without consequences” cannot be viewed as someone who believes government power should have any restrictions. He sees the stimulative benefits of infrastructure spending, vowing to double Clinton’s spending proposals. Trump also sees economics as zero-sum game, stating we’re in the midst of “a trade war, and we’re losing badly.” Hence the need for trade protection that keeps “jobs and wealth inside the United States.” Only this will “make America great again.”

Do you think minimum wage laws have consequences, regulations do harm, infrastructure spending is overrated, and free trade benefits makes us better off? Do you think it is distasteful to wrap these bad policies up in the American flag? If so, then this is a sad year to trudge out to the polls.

What Obama Got Right: One Libertarian’s Perspective

August 9, 2016

From a libertarian point-of-view, there hasn’t been much to celebrate from President Obama’s two terms. The stimulus was counter-productive. Median income is down, as is labor force participation. Health care “reform” built upon our health care system’s worst aspects. The War in Afghanistan continues indefinitely. The surveillance state is even more pervasive. The possible indefinite detention of Americans without a trial was signed into law. Press freedom has been undermined. Our meddling in Libya further destabilized the region. The regulatory state has expanded and done harm in the process.

“Little to celebrate” doesn’t mean every decision from the Obama administration has been wrong. I’d argue these are the highlights of Obama’s presidency:

-Acknowledging the problem of occupational licensing, and taking small steps to help reform the practice.

Working to normalize relations with Cuba. The embargo has failed. By being able to do business with Americans, Cubans would see a slight betterment of their lives, while undermining the Castro regime’s economic propaganda.

Commuting select sentences for those convicted of low-level non-violent drug crimes.

Barring law enforcement from using federal law to conduct warrantless seizures of property.

Limited immigration reform.

Ending the Bush administration’s “enhanced interrogation techniques.”

-Appointing Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. She is arguably the Court’s last consistent defender of the Fourth Amendment.

Modestly expanding our freedom to trade internationally.

For sure, some of these are qualified successes. We still wage a war on drugs. Obama has been a record deporter. Asset forfeiture reform didn’t last. Bush-era officials won’t have to face justice for enabling torture. Sotomayor is hardly perfect. But with the statist nature of the Democrats and Republicans, any deviation from the norm warrants acknowledgment, no matter how fleeting.

Drug War Stupidity: A False Arrest For Glaze

July 29, 2016

Arrested for possessing glaze. As in glaze from a Krispy Kreme donut:

The suspect “stated that the substance is sugar from a Krispy Kreme Donut that he ate,” but Riggs-Hopkins knew better: Two field tests of the “rock-like substance” gave “a positive indication for the presence of amphetamines.”

Rushing was handcuffed, arrested, and taken to the county jail, where he was strip-searched and locked up for 10 hours before being released on $2,500 bail. Three days later, after a lab test found no illegal substance in the evidence recovered by Riggs-Hopkins, the charges against Rushing were dropped. The lab test was not specific enough to identify which brand of donut the glaze came from, so we’ll just have to take Rushing’s word that it was indeed a Krispy Kreme.

The suspect, Daniel Rushing, said he had nothing to hide, so he allowed his car to be searched. Call this another lesson in why you never consent to warrantless searches, as a person’s innocence still resulted in his arrest.

Skepticism Of Global Warming Policies = Racketeering?

July 12, 2016

The Democrats have seemingly declared freedom of thought to be tantamount to involvement in organized crime:

But make no mistake: This coordinated campaign would be an assault on free speech even if it were not drenched in conspiratorial inaccuracy. Democratic lawmakers, attorneys general, and activists are systematically singling out free-market think tanks for potential criminal prosecution and one-sided disclosure requirements based on the content of the think tanks’ research and commentary. They are literally trying to criminalize dissent. If successful, they will establish as “fraud” or “racketeering” any future think-tank work that runs afoul of political orthodoxy.

Prosecutorial Misconduct

July 1, 2016

The Republican Counter-Proposal To Obamacare

June 30, 2016

What do Republicans propose to replace community-rating regulations, guaranteed-issue regulations, millennial mandates, and an explicit mandate to have coverage that the federal government approves? With community-rating regulations, guaranteed-issue regulations, millennial mandates, with only an IMPLICIT mandate to have coverage that the federal government approves.

Cato’s Michael Cannon provides the details.