Friday, June 10, 2011

Libertarian Links

Looks like we're going to have to open another front in the 'drug war': A May 23 story in the Economist reported that Canada now trumps Mexico as an entryway into the U.S.  for the drug "ecstasy."

The fastest growing city in India has had no government in about 15 years: "To compensate for electricity blackouts, Gurgaon’s companies and real estate developers operate massive diesel generators capable of powering small towns. No water? Drill private borewells. No public transportation? Companies employ hundreds of private buses and taxis. Worried about crime? Gurgaon has almost four times as many private security guards as police officers."

NJ Education law costing $1B per year: "Mr. Christie wasn't thrilled. "You don't elect the Supreme Court; you don't expect them to be making law," he said. "But today, they made law. Because today, they sent an appropriations bill for $500 million that was not passed by the legislature, that was not signed by the Governor. Go to the Constitution and tell me, how the hell did they get away with that?"

The "benevolent" Swedish welfare state: From 1934 to 1974, 62,000 Swedes were sterilized as part of a national program grounded in the science of racial biology and carried out by officials who believed they were helping to build a progressive, enlightened welfare state...In some cases, couples judged to be inferior parents were sterilized, as were their children when they became teenagers.

Anthony Weiner on "Affordable Housing": "We now worship, it seems, at the altar of every big developer who comes to town," he said derisively, calling for 40% of all new housing to be set aside at nonmarket rates, split equally between housing for the poor and the middle class. Mr. Weiner also came out essentially in favor of welfare fraud, denouncing the mayor for fingerprinting food stamp applicants.

How big are federal subsidies for home ownership?:  "The massive federal subsidies for homeownership, which totaled some $230 billion in 2009 according to the Congressional Budget Office, should be phased out, and the tax deduction for mortgage interest eliminated."

Much of Europe has eliminated "free" parking.

How the outlawing of hunting elephants nearly made them extinct, and how capitalism (or capitalism-lite) has saved them.

What do oil prices affect besides gas?: "aviation and jet fuel, kerosene, lubricants, waxes, asphalt, dyes, athletic shoes, crayons, car tires, cosmetics, and plastics that are used in appliances, toys, flooring, computers, desks, carpeting, automobiles and medical equipment (syringes, artificial joints, prosthesis, catheters, hearing aids, artificial corneas, etc.) [...]Less than 46% of each barrel of crude oil gets processed into "finished motor gasoline."

How the rest of the world beats us on recycling: "So while in certain cities of the United States, people are forced to sort through their own garbage, in a number of places in the world, residents throw away their trash with no worries. The trash will be sorted and removed by the estimated 15 million waste pickers in the world."

Library privatization: "After the first year, LSSI had slashed operating costs by nearly $1 million, all while increasing library hours by 34 percent, doubling the materials budget, boosting circulation by 15 percent, and expanding community participation in library events."

Government job training: "Earlier this year, a General Accounting Office report found that no one in the bowels of the Beltway really knows how effective the feds’ $18 billion a year spent on 47 separate job-training programs run by nine different agencies really is. That’s because half of those programs haven’t undergone a performance review since 2004, and only five have ever conducted research on whether job seekers in the program do better than those who weren’t enrolled.  Among those five, the GAO wrote, the evaluators “generally found the effects of participation were not consistent across programs, with only some demonstrating positive impacts that tended to be small, inconclusive or restricted to short-term impacts.”"

A mixed review on a Civil War book that nonetheless has some interesting stuff: "[D]uring Lincoln's 1860 presidential campaign, Republicans went so far as to argue that they were the real White Man's Party, because their commitment to keeping the Territories slave-free wasn't about the evils of slavery; it was about keeping the West white, so white families alone could enjoy the bounty of the frontier without competition (except from Indians, who would be eradicated.)

[...]And while Northern wealth increased 50 percent between 1860 and 1870, the South lost 60 percent of its wealth in those years, roughly half of it human "property." Lincoln proposed legislation establishing a $400 million fund to compensate Southerners for giving up slavery, if they would recognize national sovereignty and ratify the 13th Amendment emancipating the slaves. We don't know what Southern leaders would have said; Lincoln's own cabinet nixed the idea.  [...][E]ight northern states rejected black suffrage, while forcing it on the former Confederacy. [...]In this same period, even a couple of liberal heroes fell down too. Mark Twain and Walt Whitman both lamented the messiness of universal suffrage."

Che Guevara killing machine.

Che part 2: "In 1958, after taking the city of Sancti Spiritus, Guevara unsuccessfully tried to impose a kind of sharia, regulating relations between men and women, the use of alcohol, and informal gambling—a puritanism that did not exactly characterize his own way of life. He also ordered his men to rob banks. [...]This camp was the precursor to the eventual systematic confinement, starting in 1965 in the province of Camag├╝ey, of dissidents, homosexuals, AIDS victims, Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Afro-Cuban priests, and other such scum. [...]According to Philippe Gavi’s biography of Guevara, the revolutionary had bragged that “this country is willing to risk everything in an atomic war of unimaginable destructiveness to defend a principle.”[...]The period in which Guevara was in charge of most of the Cuban economy saw the near-collapse of sugar production, the failure of industrialization, and the introduction of rationing—all this in what had been one of Latin America’s four most economically successful countries since before the Batista dictatorship. [...]Land reform took land away from the rich, but gave it to the bureaucrats, not to the peasants. (The decree was written in Che’s house.)

Company unions: "A company union is one formed and administered by an employer, generally designed to improve labor-management relations. In the 1920s, numerous company unions were set up as a means of giving voice to workers in workplace decisionmaking. At the time, these organizations were considered very progressive, and employers such as Goodyear Tire who used this form of labor relations were considered enlightened. In 1922, the Leeds and Northrup Cooperative Association, a company union, instituted the nation's first unemployment insurance plan.

The National Industrial Recovery Act was enacted in 1933. Section 7(a) of NIRA said that employers had to: (a) allow their employees to join unions "of their own choosing," and (b) bargain with those unions. To meet this requirement, many employers formed company unions and bargained with them. Independent unions, such as the American Federation of Labor, didn't like this competition, which might have reduced their power and membership. As a consequence, the NLRA of 1935 outlawed company unions. Section 8(a)2 of the NLRA forbids employers to form or support any labor organizations that deal with management on the terms and conditions of employment."

On Unemployment Insurance:  "In 2011, the program will cost taxpayers $134 billion, [...]In 1910, nearly 30 percent of total union expenditures in Britain went toward out-of-work benefits. [...] Originally, benefits typically lasted 16 weeks [...]In response to the recent recession, Congress passed extraordinary expansions in UI payments such that benefits could be drawn for 99 weeks—or nearly two years—in many states. [...]Today, the federal government levies a 6.2 percent unemployment insurance tax on the first $7,000 of each worker's earnings. [...]the states of Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington having the highest wage bases of about $30,000 or more in 2010. [...]The standard UI tax rate in most states is 5.4 percent, but the rate varies by employer depending on the employer's use of the UI system, which is called "experience rating."[...] tax rates can be as high as 13.5 percent for employers with high layoff rates. [...]In 2010, the average weekly benefit varied from a high of $416 in Massachusetts to a low of $189 in Mississippi. [...]Legal restrictions have been a hurdle to the development of private UI. Law Professor Michael Rappaport found, for example, that two Michigan insurers profitably sold UI plans beginning as early as 1910, but state law limited their market to just railroad conductors [...]In 2010, Harvard University's Robert Barro estimated that the extensions of UI benefits to an unprecedented 99 weeks had increased the U.S. unemployment rate by 2.7 percentage points at the time [...]The Department of Labor estimates that the improper payment rate for UI is about 11 percent, which amounted to $17 billion of wasted taxpayer money in 2010."

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