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 sees 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.

Further Weakening The Fourth Amendment

June 21, 2016

“It implies that you are not a citizen of a democracy but the subject of a carceral state, just waiting to be cataloged.”

The term “carceral state” was not spoken by Alex Jones, the late William Cooper, or anyone else that peddles in conspiracy theories. Those are the words of a Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotomayor, in her ruling on the case Utah v. Strieff.

Sadly, her opinion was a dissent, as cops are now allowed to conduct an illegal stop if an arrest warrant unrelated to the stop exists because “errors in judgment hardly rise to a purposeful or flagrant violation.” You can thank Justice Clarence Thomas for those insightful words.

We lost just a little bit more freedom because of this.

The Atlantic has an excellent write-up on the ruling.

The Effect of Gun-Free Zones

June 20, 2016

Libertarian scholar Tom G. Palmer, one of the original plaintiffs in Heller, with his take on the Orlando shootings:

It’s time to fight back. No more gun-free designated massacre zones. If there had been armed people with concealed carry permits inside the Pulse nightclub, the zealot who had pledged allegiance to ISIS could have been stopped. Dozens of lives could have been saved.

I say that as a gay man who has himself carried a weapon for protection.

Let’s get one thing very clear. Gun control advocates disarmed the victims at that night club. Florida law states unequivocally that even a concealed carry permit “does not authorize any person to openly carry a handgun or carry a concealed weapon or firearm into any portion of an establishment licensed to dispense alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises, which portion of the establishment is primarily devoted to such purpose.”

Non-Voting: The Civic Thing To Do

June 19, 2016

Michael Brendan Dougherty has penned the best article on non-voting in this election I’ve had the privilege to read:

You may in fact believe one side is worse than the other. Even significantly. That’s fine. In the sacred sanctum of my heart, I’d rather die at the hand of a knife-wielding relative over a game of cribbage than by drowning in an inflated kiddie pool filled with ammonia. I’ve gamed both of these scenarios out at length, and one of them is certainly preferable to the other. But I’m not going to interrupt a pleasant November day to endorse either of them.

And please don’t tell me that I owe it to those who died on Utah Beach on D-Day, or at the Battle of Yorktown in the Revolutionary War, to choose between Trump and Clinton. If we really believed that electing a president was somehow connected to honoring our war dead, we would not have chosen a bilious moron and a greedy black hole of ambition as our candidates in the first place.

Non-Voting = A Vote For Trump AND Clinton Simultaneously?

June 17, 2016

According to conservatives, anyone who doesn’t vote in this election is actually voting for Hillary Clinton.

According to liberals, a non-vote in this election is actually an additional tally for Donald Trump. Some liberals direct this argument only at disgruntled Bernie Sanders supporters, but others direct this jab at all non-voters.

By this logic, by staying home, a non-voter isn’t casting zero votes for president, but two.

Political tribalism apparently renders math skills obsolete. So let me try to help out a little, as I’m a pretty consistent non-voter.

I refuse to support Trump’s economic nationalism and ethnic isolationism (I believe there’s a word for this collection of beliefs). I refuse to support Clinton, champion of the regulatory state and a foreign policy neocon. I will not condone both candidates’ embrace of cronyism and the surveillance state. I won’t be voting. And my non-vote will add nothing statistically to Trump’s vote count. It will add nothing to Clinton’s vote count. Zero equals zero. Not one. Not two. Zero.

I guess this means I’m throwing a “temper tantrum” and disrespecting all those freedoms the Founding Fathers risked their lives for (which probably didn’t include the right to vote). I’d argue that liberty has no value if you do not have the freedom to follow your conscience. I cannot in good conscience legitimize these candidates, and I cannot legitimize what the Executive Branch has become. If people disagree with my analysis and feel compelled to vote, then they should act accordingly.

Just spare me the lame guilt trips and fuzzy math.

**UPDATE 7/26/16: I’ll add to this list as warranted, but here’s a rundown of political tribalists who are bad at math:

Trevor Noah
Chuck Norris


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