Friday, June 24, 2011

Libertarian Links

"More than a third of all states allow debtors “who can’t or won’t pay their debts” to be jailed. In 2010, according to the Wall Street Journal, judges have issued 5,000 such warrants."

Retail politics in Argentina.

Nevada passes law legalizing driverless cars.

This literally makes me nauseous.  Folks, this has to be stopped:  "House lawmakers passed legislation Thursday to overhaul the U.S. patent system for the first time in nearly 60 years, despite disagreements over patent-office funding and a provision that could help large banks challenge some patents. The House passed the America Invents Act on a 304-117 vote, a bipartisan tally with more than two-thirds of lawmakers from each party supporting the bill. The bill would change how the U.S. grants patents and award them to the party which is "first to file" an invention instead of the "first to invent" it."

Medieval standards of living (this might just be for me.)

An anti-eVerify article.

Romney vs. Romney.
 
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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Libertarian Links

Corrupt Chinese officials and employees of state-owned companies have absconded with about 800 billion yuan ($123.7 billion) of public money over 15 years through 2008, much of it making its way to the U.S., Canada, Australia and the Netherlands, according to Chinese news reports citing a central bank study.

Making drugs more dangerous.

Rand Paul kicking some TSA ass.

President Herbert Hoover asked for a temporary tax increase…in June 1932, raising the top income tax rate from 25% to 63% and quadrupling the lowest tax rate from 1.1% to 4%. That didn’t help confidence or the Treasury. Revenue from the individual income tax dropped from $834 million in 1931 to $427 million in 1932 and $353 million in 1933.

NC licensing ridiculousness: It is dangerous to practice music therapy without the proper education and training, according to Rebecca Engen, a music therapy professor at Queens University. “It is possible to use music harmfully,” Engen said at a meeting of the Legislative Committee on New Licensing Boards June 1. “You can use music that’s the wrong tempo or … that does not have the right musical qualities, and it can affect someone physiologically in a way that it can be damaging.” [...]Right now almost 80 percent of medical workers are licensed, he said. It’s the most regulated industry in terms of occupational licensing. And it’s also the most expensive.

More on licensing.

Bachmann forgets her reading of Mises.

Obama's free health insurance for middle class: President Barack Obama’s health care law would let several million middle-class people get nearly free insurance meant for the poor, a twist government number crunchers say they discovered only after the complex bill was signed. The change would affect early retirees: A married couple could have an annual income of about $64,000 and still get Medicaid, said officials who make long-range cost estimates for the Health and Human Services department. Up to 3 million people could qualify for Medicaid in 2014 as a result of the anomaly. That’s because, in a major change from today, most of their Social Security benefits would no longer be counted as income for determining eligibility.

Afghan troop levels.

According to a 2005 report commissioned by the Missouri Bar, caseload, more than any other factor, determines which public defender offices do good work and which do not. No lawyer, no matter how skilled, can do a competent job on 200 felony cases a year. In some public defender offices, the caseload is more than twice that.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Libertarian Links

Libertarian attitudes at 20(-ish) year highs?

14 reasons Rick Perry would be a bad President (this doesn't even mention his "prayer for rain.")

Crime mysteries: Steven Messner found that during the last 15 years, states with lower incarceration rates saw bigger drops in crime, on average, than those with lock-’em-up policies. Moreover, the historic increase in the prison population began in the early 1980s, a decade after the crime rate began to rise and a decade before it started to fall. The incarceration rate increased by more than 100 percent in the 1980s, but violent crime still increased that decade, by 22 percent.

Better informed Daily Show viewers or Hannity viewers: "particular Fox shows scored well above the average. Hannity & Colmes was one of only four choices to exceed 40 percent -- the others were the New Yorker/the Atlantic, NPR and MSNBC’s Hardball -- while The O’Reilly Factor scored 28 percent, or 10 points above the national average. (Hannity & Colmes even exceeded Stewart’s Daily Show in this poll, 42 percent to 30 percent.)"

Changing to a first to file patent system - the worst idea I've heard in a long time: "Section 18, crafted by Sen. Chuck Schumer, provides banks with “patent relief.” Tired of paying fees to patent holders, the banks successfully lobbied to allow them special powers to try to void patents they find onerous. Rep. Aaron Schrock (R., Ill.) intends on offering an amendment to strike the provision."

There may be more to this story, but my first impression is not positive: "The US Supreme Court ruled Monday that states did not have an automatic duty to provide counsel in civil courts in the case of a divorced father who was jailed for failing to pay child support."

How bad is non-payment of debt really?SPIEGEL ONLINE: The Germany of today is considered the embodiment of stability. How many times has Germany become insolvent in the past?
Ritschl: That depends on how you do the math. During the past century alone, though, at least three times. After the first default during the 1930s, the US gave Germany a "haircut" in 1953, reducing its debt problem to practically nothing. Germany has been in a very good position ever since, even as other Europeans were forced to endure the burdens of World War II and the consequences of the German occupation. Germany even had a period of non-payment in 1990.

Darrell Issa acting on behalf of the people?: "Ranking Member Elijah E. Cummings wrote to Chairman Darrell Issa today to request that the Committee issue subpoenas to require mortgage servicing companies to produce previously-requested documents. “You have not hesitated—in other investigations—to issue subpoenas in a matter of days when your deadlines were missed, so it is unclear why a different standard applies to this investigation,” Cummings wrote."

Criminal justice: "According to the department’s data, which are based on nationwide surveys of prison and jail inmates as well as young people in juvenile detention centers, at least 216,600 inmates were victimized in 2008 alone. Contrary to popular belief, most of the perpetrators were not other prisoners but staff members—corrections officials whose job it is to keep inmates safe"

The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) estimates that 40,000 units in its 180,000-unit system (the nation’s largest) are “underoccupied,” with one or more empty bedrooms. Meanwhile, 144,000 families, mostly single parents with young kids, languish on the waiting list for an apartment.
After all, according to official estimates, marijuana constitutes 60 percent of cartels’ drug profits.
"The Associated Press does some accountability journalism on President Obama's promise to install solar panels on the White House roof"

Jobs "created" by the "stimulus": "Assuming the number of created or saved jobs reported by each contract recipient was accurate—which, as we've reported before, is still an open question—that breaks down to $533,000 for each job. That's more than five times the projection of the president's own Council of Economic Advisers , which estimated in May that every $92,136 in government spending would create one job for one year.  [...]Because the $16 billion in federal contracts represents about 5 percent of the $339 billion spent so far, they multiplied the 30,000 jobs by 20. The result is 600,000 direct jobs; and, relying again on the assumption that each direct job produces one indirect job, the White House doubled that number to 1.2 million."

Another good article on the stimulus:  After subtracting what House Democrats hope to spend on government payrolls, health, education and welfare, only a fifth of the original $550 billion is left for notoriously slow infrastructure projects, such as rebuilding highways and the electricity grid.

The Lochner case - freedom of contract: "As is often the case with regulation, large bakeries didn’t mind the law governing maximum hours because they could hire multiple shifts. Small bakeries, with their smaller workforces, found compliance far more difficult. The statute also set limits on ceiling heights designed to put cellar bakeries out of business. Small bakers felt that the law was enforced much more vigorously where nonunion bakeries were concerned, and Lochner, an immigrant who had opened his own bakery in Utica in 1894 where he worked alongside his wife and employees, soon attracted official attention. Lochner was charged with violation of the law because he let an employee named Aaron Schmitter and his family live above the bakery. [...]Bernstein spends a substantial part of his book describing the way in which an opinion that stopped a joint effort by large corporate interests and big unions to squash small businesses was somehow turned into the centerpiece of a narrative about the Supreme Court upholding big business at the expense of the little guy."


Government war against Phosphorous: Now, it is clear that the law's proponents knew exactly what the results would be. It would increase dishwasher use and even end up leading people to abandon dishwashers altogether, and either solution leads to much more water and energy use. In other words, even by the goofy environmentalists' own standards, this is no savings. It might end up in the reverse.

Nuclear dangers: U.S. nuclear power plant operators haven't figured out how to quickly detect leaks of radioactive water from aging pipes that snake underneath the sites — and the leaks, often undetected for years, are not going to stop, according to a new report by congressional investigators. The report by the Government Accountability Office was released by two congressmen Tuesday in response to an Associated Press investigation that shows three-quarters of America's 65 nuclear plant sites have leaked radioactive tritium, sometimes into groundwater.

Probably an even scarier story about nuclear plans.

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Monday, June 20, 2011

Libertarian Links

The storage room Wang and Xu budgeted to cost $25,000, would have cost $250,000 to comply with the city’s requirements, so the company will not store as many fragrance oils on site, making it more difficult to meet orders.

Death by regulation: About 90 percent of all the anesthesiologists in the country report they are experiencing a shortage of at least one anesthetic. [...]Currently, there are about 246 drugs that are in short supply and, as the chart shows, the number has been growing for some time.

Drug war: As USA Today reports, an astonishing 70,000 to 80,000 militarized police raids take place on a annual basis in America, many of them on mistaken suspects and many of them ending with injury or death for police and citizens alike.

Mortgage world: More than 2.7 million mortgage deadbeats are still living in homes they have not made a payment on in more than a year. Average time from first missed payment to foreclosure is now 565 days.

First indication that UK made right call in eschewing further stimulus: Unemployment across the pond is dropping at fastest rate in 10 years.

FDA controlling your life: On June 28, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will hold a hearing to decide the fate of Avastin, a drug taken by thousands of women fighting late-stage breast cancer. Many of these women have pleaded for continued access to the drug, which they consider a matter of life and death. But this case is really about what will guide decisions on treatment options—the best judgment of doctors and their patients, or the policy preferences of the FDA.

On the ~ 2000 weapons in Operation 'Fast and Furious'
: The agents interviewed say supervisors viewed the bloodshed with chilling indifference—or worse. As the report summarizes, "An increase of crimes and deaths in Mexico caused an increase in the recovery of weapons at crime scenes. When these weapons traced back through the Suspect Gun Database to weapons that were walked under Fast and Furious, supervisors in Phoenix were giddy at the success of their operation."

"The classic case study is Duke University Hospital, which cut the costs of treating congestive heart failure by 40% but then dumped the integration program because it lost money under Medicare's fee schedule."

Charity: U.S. donations to charity rose to $291 billion last year, a study found on Monday, but it was still more than 6 percent below a 2007 record as the nation struggles to recover from its worst recession in decades. Americans gave nearly 4 percent more in 2010 compared to 2009,


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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Libertarian Links

Obama overruled own lawyers to continue war in Libyia: "President Obama rejected the views of top lawyers at the Pentagon and the Justice Department when he decided that he had the legal authority to continue American military participation in the air war in Libya without Congressional authorization, according to officials familiar with internal administration deliberations. [...]Presidents have the legal authority to override the legal conclusions of the Office of Legal Counsel and to act in a manner that is contrary to its advice, but it is extraordinarily rare for that to happen. [...]Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. supported Ms. Krass’s [the anti-war] view, officials said."

SEC signs $550M lease! Truly astonishing!: Thankfully, the money to fund the 900,000 square foot lease was shot down in the Fiscal Year 2011 Budget that passed earlier this year. However, the SEC still jumped the gun back in July 2010 by signing the 900,000 square foot lease at the taxpayers expense to the tune of $550 million dollars in lease obligations.

Insurance and money: "Multiple studies have been performed to answer the question: Does drug X improve cardiovascular outcomes compared to drug Y alone after a patient has had a major cardiovascular event or a stroke? The answer, unequivocally, is yes. By how much? The answer is a few percentage points, give or take.[2] Does it eliminate the risk all together? The answer, unequivocally, is no. It should also be noted that drug X in addition to drug Y confers a minor increase in the risk of having a major bleeding event. So the question is: How many people, in the appropriate clinical setting, knowing this information, would buy drug X for $140 per month? Probably not nearly as many who take it now for nothing or for a small copay."

Jimmy Carter's op-ed against the drug war
: "But about three-quarters of new admissions to state prisons are for nonviolent crimes. And the single greatest cause of prison population growth has been the war on drugs, with the number of people incarcerated for nonviolent drug offenses increasing more than twelvefold since 1980."

North Carolina's effort to replace its Medicaid claims system is now two years behind schedule and more than $200 million over the original budget.

NC: "The legislature has given final approval to a bill that will allow formerly incarcerated people to earn a certificate that enables them to apply for professional licenses that convicted felons had been prohibited from getting.  [...]Former offenders have about a 50 percent chance of returning to prison within three years of their release, according to the state's sentencing commission, costing taxpayers about $27,000 per inmate a year."

Medicaid: "The New York Times reported today on a study in which researchers called doctor’s offices to schedule appointments for children with conditions like “diabetes, seizures, uncontrolled asthma, a broken bone or severe depression.” When the researchers said the children were covered by private insurance, all but 11 percent got an appointment. When they said the children were covered by Medicaid, two-thirds didn’t get an appointment."
Washington state already has a "death panel": "Melinda Woods, whose son has diabetes, said many who attended were stunned that committee members "knew nothing about type 1 diabetes. And they're making this huge, important decision that affects all these people. It was mind-boggling." [...]The seven doctors, a nurse, a chiropractor, a naturopath and a speech therapist who make up the committee are, by design, not experts in the technologies they review."
What are ACO's (for health care) and why are they bad: "For nearly five decades, Medicare regulations have financially penalized doctors who coordinate care. [...]"Here's a flash for the policy wonks pushing ACOs," writes industry expert Robert Laszewski. "They only work if the provider gets paid less for the same patient population. Why would they be dumb enough to voluntarily accept that outcome?" The Mayo Clinic, the Cleveland Clinic and 93 percent of multi-specialty physician groups are not that dumb.  In what the Associated Press called an "unusual rebuke," they and other providers that President Obama has hailed as models for his ACO program have refused to participate in it."

That's why, notes LEAP, fully 75 percent of Americans and 69 percent of police chiefs agree that the drug war has failed.

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Friday, June 17, 2011

Libertarian Links

Marco Rubio speech about opportunity.

Carter on pot decriminalization (back in the day): "That first happened when Jimmy Carter was seeking the Oval Office. Here's a quote of his you've likely forgotten or never heard before: "I do favor the decriminalization of marijuana." Under his never enacted plan, an American could've possessed up to an ounce without running afoul of federal law."

Great article about sex crimes: After the law took effect, the number of sex offenders whose whereabouts were unknown more than doubled. The prosecutors reported that “the residency restriction is causing offenders to become homeless, to change residences without notifying authorities of their new locations, to register false addresses or to simply disappear.” [...]A 2003 Justice Department study of 9,700 sex offenders found that 5 percent were arrested for new sex crimes within three years of being released from prison. (By comparison, 23 percent of burglars were arrested for new burglaries, and 22 percent of people who had served time for nonsexual assault were arrested for new assaults.) Studies that cover longer periods find higher recidivism rates for sex offenders, but still nothing like those claimed by panic-promoting politicians. [...]A study of 4,700 sex offenders, published by Public Safety Canada in 2004, found that 24 percent were charged with a new sex crime over a period of 15 years. [...]Seto, Hanson, and Babchishin performed meta-analyses of 24 studies that looked at the criminal histories of “online offenders” (mainly consumers of child pornography) and eight studies that calculated their recidivism rates. They found that one in eight had an official record of committing a contact offense. [...]Between 1997 and 2007, the number of people sent to federal prison for possessing, receiving, or distributing (but not producing) child pornography quintupled, from 238 to 1,170, while the average sentence more than quadrupled, from 21 to 91 months. Among the baffling results of these policies: A defendant with no prior criminal record and no history of abusing children would qualify for a sentence of 15 to 20 years based on a small collection of child pornography and one photo swap, while a 50-year-old man who encountered a 13-year-old girl online and lured her into a sexual relationship would get no more than four years. The absurdity has not gone unnoticed by the judiciary. In a 2010 survey by the U.S. Sentencing Commission, 70 percent of federal judges said the recommended penalties for possessing or receiving child pornography are unreasonable. [...]The Washington state study found that committing a sex offender cost an average of $97,000 annually, compared to $26,000 for a year of prison, a gap that a 2007 investigation by The New York Times attributed to “higher costs for programs, treatment and supervised freedoms.”


Homophobic men most aroused by gay sex: When viewing lesbian sex and straight sex, both the homophobic and the non-homophobic men showed increased penis circumference. For gay male sex, however, only the homophobic men showed heightened penis arousal.


Is prison safer for black men than being on the street?

The hidden cost of the new health insurance law:  A recent employer survey by McKinsey & Co. found that more than half of all American companies are likely to “dump” their workers into the government-run exchanges. If half of the 180 million workers who enjoy employer-provided care wind up in the exchanges, the annual cost of Obamacare would increase by $400 billion by 2021.

Private crime labs?: The lab was closed in 2008 after another investigation revealed habitually sloppy analysis among the lab's workers, and an error rate as high as 10 percent, a jaw-dropping figure considering that those analysts' testimony can send someone to prison. [...]The initial investigation found at least 230 cases [in NC] in which crime lab workers failed to turn over potentially exculpatory evidence, including three cases that resulted in the defendant's execution.

 
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Thursday, June 16, 2011

The History of the Democratic Party and Racism

Ok, maybe it's not thorough enough to be a "history," but it's still interesting to me.

This was all spurred by one comment I read on Youtube.

Youtube:

Robert Caro pointed out in his extensive biography of LBJ, shortly after signing the 1964 Civil Rights Act, in a phone conversation (on tape at the LBJ Library) with Senator Richard Russell of Georgia, LBJ said, "That'll keep the niggers voting Democrat for the next 200 years."

There you go. When Republican president Eisenhower wanted to pass the 1957 Civil Rights Act - it was vetoed by LBJ, JFK, Albert Gore Sr, and mostly other democrats. So it failed to be passed.
Slate (on the 1957 Civil Rights Act):
The heart of the bill, in its original form, was a section that outlawed segregation in all aspects of American life—housing, schools, voting booths, public places such as restaurants and theaters—and imposed criminal penalties on violators. Yet it was precisely this section that Senate Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson agreed to eliminate in his effort to push the bill through. Prominent civil rights activists, in and out of Congress, were outraged. Many of them argued that it would be better to kill the bill and start over with a new one.
Big Government.com:
On his deathbed in 1874, Senator Charles Sumner (R-MA) told a Republican colleague: “You must take care of the civil rights bill – my bill, the civil rights bill. Don’t let it fail.” In March 1875, the Republican-controlled 43rd Congress followed up the GOP’s 1866 Civil Rights Act and 1871 Civil Rights Act with the most comprehensive civil rights legislation ever. A Republican president, Ulysses Grant, signed the bill into law that same day.

Among its provisions, the 1875 Civil Rights Act banned racial discrimination in public accommodations. Sound familiar? Though struck down by the Supreme Court eight years later, the 1875 Civil Rights Act would be reborn as the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

During the twenty years of the FDR and Truman administrations, the Democrats had refused to enact any civil rights legislation. In contrast, President Dwight Eisenhower signed the 1957 Civil Rights Act, which had been written by his Attorney General, a former Chairman of the Republican National Committee. The original draft would have permitted the federal government to sue anyone violating another person’s constitutional rights, but this powerful provision would have to wait until the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The bill had to be weakened considerably to secure enough Democrat votes to pass, so violations would be civil, not criminal offenses, and penalties were light. Vice President Richard Nixon helped overcome a Democrat filibuster in the Senate. The GOP then strengthened enforcement with its 1960 Civil Rights Act.

Clever strategizing had won him the support of most African-American voters, but it took President John Kennedy (D-MA) nearly two years to make good on even one of his promises to them. He refused to attend a dinner commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and turned down Martin Luther King’s invitation to speak at the March on Washington. He did name Thurgood Marshall to the federal bench, but that was to an appeals court in New York, far from the fray in southern states. Kennedy did not honor his campaign promise to submit to Congress a new civil rights bill soon after taking office.

While the Kennedy administration was ignoring its campaign pledges, the Republican minority in Congress introduced several bills to protect the constitutional rights of African-Americans. In January 1963, congressional Republicans introduced a sweeping civil rights bill to enact what Democrat opposition had prevented from being included in the 1957 and 1960 laws. Threatened by this initiative, the president finally acted. Hastily drafted in a single one-nighter, the Kennedy bill fell well short of what the GOP had introduced the month before. Many Democrats were preparing a protracted Senate filibuster of this civil rights bill, which was in a committee of the House of Representatives when John Kennedy was murdered in November 1963.

The 1964 Civil Rights Act was an update of Charles Sumner’s 1875 Civil Rights Act. In striking down that law in 1883, the Supreme Court had ruled that the 14th Amendment was insufficient constitutional authorization, so the 1964 Civil Rights Act had to be written in such a way as to rely on the interstate commerce clause for its constitutional underpinning. The 1964 Act guaranteed equal access to public facilities and banned racial discrimination by any entity receiving federal funding, thereby extending coverage to most every hospital, school and government contractor. Also banned was racial discrimination in unions and in companies with more than twenty-five employees. Enforcement provisions were much more rigorous than those of the 1957 and 1960 Acts.

Republicans supported the 1964 Civil Rights Act much more than did the Democrats. Contrary to Democrat myth, Everett Dirksen (R-IL), the Senate Minority Leader – not President Lyndon Johnson – was the person most responsible for its passage. Mindful of how Democrat opposition had forced Republicans to weaken their 1957 and 1960 Civil Rights Acts, President Johnson promised Republicans that he would publicly credit the GOP for its strong support. Johnson played no role in the legislative fight. In the House of Representatives, the 1964 Civil Rights Act passed with 80% support from Republicans but only 63% support from Democrats.

In the Senate, Dirksen had no trouble rounding up the votes of most Republicans, and former presidential candidate Richard Nixon lobbied hard for passage. On the Democrat side, the Senate leadership did support the bill, while the chief opponents were Senators Sam Ervin (D-NC), Al Gore (D-TN) and Robert Byrd (D-WV). Senator Byrd, whom Democrats still call “the conscience of the Senate,” filibustered against the 1964 Civil Rights Act for fourteen straight hours. At a meeting held in his office, Dirksen modified the bill so it could be passed despite Democrat opposition. He strongly condemned the Democrat-led 57-day filibuster: “The time has come for equality of opportunity in sharing of government, in education, and in employment. It must not be stayed or denied. It is here!”

Along with most other political leaders at the time, Johnson, credited Dirksen for getting the bill passed: “The Attorney General said that you were very helpful and did an excellent job… I’ll see that you get proper attention and credit.” At the time, for instance, The Chicago Defender, a renowned African-American newspaper, praised Senator Dirksen for leading passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

The struggle for civil rights was not finished, however, as most southern states remained under the control of segregationist Democrat governors, such as George Wallace (D-AL), Orval Faubus (D-AR) and Lester Maddox (D-GA). Full enforcement of the 1964 Civil Rights Act would not arrive until the Republican political ascendancy in the South during the 1980s.
Washington Post:
In 1960, King was arrested for trespassing during a sit-in and held in Georgia's Reidsville prison. Fearing for his son's life, Martin Luther King Sr. appealed to presidential candidate John F. Kennedy to secure his release.

When King was freed, his father vowed to deliver 10 million votes to the Democrat, even though Kennedy was only a reluctant supporter of civil rights. That began four decades of black people voting for liberals.
Dirksen Congressional Center:
In the twenty-six major civil rights votes since 1933, a majority of Democrats opposed civil rights legislation in over 80 percent of the votes. By contrast, the Republican majority favored civil rights in over 96 percent of the votes.
Wikipedia (On the KKK):
As a secret vigilante group, the Klan targeted freedmen and their allies; it sought to restore white supremacy by threats and violence, including murder, against black and white Republicans. In 1870 and 1871 the federal government passed the Force Acts, which were used to prosecute Klan crimes.[18] Prosecution of Klan crimes and enforcement of the Force Acts suppressed Klan activity. In 1874 and later, however, newly organized and openly active paramilitary organizations, such as the White League and the Red Shirts, started a fresh round of violence aimed at suppressing blacks' voting and running Republicans out of office. These contributed to segregationist white Democrats regaining political power in all the Southern states by 1877.
 [...]In an 1868 newspaper interview, Forrest stated that the Klan's primary opposition was to the Loyal Leagues, Republican state governments, people like Tennessee governor Brownlow and other carpetbaggers and scalawags.
[...]Its predecessor had been an exclusively partisan Democratic organization in the South. The second Klan grew in the Midwest, where for a time, its members were courted by both Republicans and Democrats. The KKK state organizations endorsed candidates from either party that supported its goals; Prohibition in particular helped the Klan and some Republicans to make common cause in the Midwest. In the South, however, the southern Klan remained Democratic, closely allied with Democratic police, sheriffs, and other functionaries of local government. With continuing disfranchisement of most African Americans and many poor whites, the only political activity took place within the Democratic Party.
Youtube video on the Klan.

Reason:
President Theodore Roosevelt was one of many Progressives captivated by this notion: He opposed voting rights for African-American men, which were guaranteed by the 15th amendment, on the grounds that the black race was still in its adolescence.

[...]Writing in the Socialist Democratic Herald, Victor Berger, the leader of the party’s right wing, declared that “there can be no doubt that the negroes and mulattoes constitute a lower race—that the Caucasian and even the Mongolian have the start on them in civilization by many years.” 
Suite 101:
Wilson took his southern outlooks and feelings towards race with him to the White House. Almost upon taking office, he fired most of the African Americans who held posts within the federal government, and segregated the Navy, which until then had been desegregated. Many of the newly segregated parts of Wilson’s federal government would remain so, clear into the 1950s.
Wikipedia:
While president of Princeton University, Wilson discouraged blacks from even applying for admission, preferring to keep the peace among white students than have black students admitted.
PBS:
During [Wilson's] first term in office, the House passed a law making racial intermarriage a felony in the District of Columbia. His new Postmaster General also ordered that his Washington offices be segregated, with the Treasury and Navy soon doing the same. Suddenly, photographs were required of all applicants for federal jobs. When pressed by black leaders, Wilson replied, "The purpose of these measures was to reduce the friction Ö It is as far as possible from being a movement against the Negroes. I sincerely believe it to be in their interest."
WND:

The original targets of the Ku Klux Klan were Republicans, both black and white, according to a new television program and book, which describe how the Democrats started the KKK and for decades harassed the GOP with lynchings and threats.

An estimated 3,446 blacks and 1,297 whites died at the end of KKK ropes from 1882 to 1964.

[...]Further, the first grand wizard of the KKK was honored at the 1868 Democratic National Convention, no Democrats voted for the 14th Amendment to grant citizenship to former slaves
WND:
In 1840, the very first national nominating convention of the Democratic Party adopted a platform which read in part:
Resolved, That Congress has no power … to interfere with or control the domestic institutions of the several states … that all efforts by abolitionists … made to induce Congress to interfere with questions of slavery … are calculated … to diminish the happiness of the people, and endanger the stability and permanency of the union.
[...]In their national convention of 1860, Democrats harshly responded to certain Northern (Republican) states that were passing state laws to evade the Fugitive Slave Law by adopting a plank in the Democratic Party Platform which read:

Resolved, That the enactments of the State Legislatures to defeat the faithful execution of the Fugitive Slave Law, are hostile in character, subversive of the Constitution, and revolutionary in their effect.

Human Events:
Fast forward to 1898 in Wilmington, N.C., where Democrats murdered black Republicans so they could stage, "the nation's only recorded coup d'etat."  Then, in 1922, Democrats in the Senate filibustered a Republican attempt to make lynching a federal crime.
[...] Moreover, let's take a look at a couple of studies that actually set out to compare how racist Republicans and Democrats actually are. First off, a professor from Yale looked at voting patterns and she found that:
"...(W)hite Republicans nationally are 25 percentage points more likely on average to vote for the Democratic senatorial candidate when the GOP hopeful is black. ...In House races, white Democrats are 38 percentage points less likely to vote Democratic if their candidate is black."

[...]Then there is another study, this time from a professor at Stanford -- of how much government largesse Democrats and Republicans believe people deserved to be given after Katrina -- and, surprise, surprise: Democrats behaved in a racist fashion while Republicans didn't:
"But for Democrats, race mattered -- and in a disturbing way. Overall, Democrats were willing to give whites about $1,500 more than they chose to give to a black or other minority...." Republicans are likely to be more stringent, both in terms of money and time, Iyengar said. "However, their position is 'principled' in the sense that it stems from a strong belief in individualism (as opposed to handouts). Thus their responses to the assistance questions are relatively invariant across the different media conditions. Independents and Democrats, on the other hand, are more likely to be affected by racial cues."

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Libertarian Links

FBI getting even more surveillance power: Under current rules, agents must open such an inquiry before they can search for information about a person in a commercial or law enforcement database. Under the new rules, agents will be allowed to search such databases without making a record about their decision.

Belgium hasn't had a government in a year (did anyone else know about this?): "Dan Alexe, a Romanian-born Belgian film-maker said: "The trains and buses still run. The police are still operating. The post is late, but then it always was late. Maybe having 'no government' is preferable to having governments which collapse all the time.""

More Belgium: "Belgium has now gone for more than a year without a government and, you know what?  Life is carrying on as normal. The crops are growing, the wheels are turning in the factories, the civil servants (there are lots of these) are lingering over their coffee and speculoos biscuits. The light legislative agenda has given the country something of a boost: growth forecasts keep being upwardly revised, and the economy is expected to expand by 2.3 per cent this year." [...]With no new quangos being created, no new taxes being levied, few new regulations being imposed, the economy is growing faster than the state.

Union Power: "Taken together, over the last two decades, the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association have been by far the nation’s leading political donors in federal elections, contributing about 30 percent more money than the second highest contributor, AT&T. Teachers’ unions are either the Number One or Number Two political contributor in 60 percent of U.S. states. The unions further shape the political process by providing countless volunteers to operate phone banks and knock on doors. Using these resources, they have essentially taken over the Democratic Party, which receives 99 percent of their political contributions. [...]Teachers know that tenure protects their lower-performing colleagues: 55 percent of teachers surveyed said that tenure makes it tough to weed out mediocre and incompetent teachers. Clearly, such a policy isn’t good for students. Nonetheless, 77 percent of teachers surveyed said that they would oppose eliminating tenure."

Am I actually quoting Paul Krugman in earnest?: After all, hasn’t Medicare spending risen dramatically over time? Yes, it has: adjusting for overall inflation, Medicare spending per beneficiary rose more than 400 percent from 1969 to 2009. But inflation-adjusted premiums on private health insurance rose more than 700 percent over the same period.

Facebook losing US users: The study noted that Facebook had 155.2 million U.S. users at the beginning of May but 149.4 million at the end of the month. Other countries showed losses as well; Canada dropped by 1.52 million and the U.K. dropped by more than 100,000, but the U.S. showed the biggest loss for Facebook last month.

The danger of the state controlling health care: Earlier this year, the administration, as part of its 2012 budget, proposed terminating a program that provides more than $300 million a year to the 56 free-standing children’s hospitals around the country, which train 40 percent of the nation’s pediatricians and 43 percent of pediatric sub- specialists.

Green lies: Obama's Council of Economic Advisers suggests 225,000 clean energy jobs were either created or preserved through the third quarter of 2010 thanks to more than $80 billion in the economic stimulus package. But those are estimates at best.

FDR's Treasury Secretary knew New Deal didn't work: "After almost two terms of Roosevelt’s New Deal spending, and after doubling the national debt, the result was that more than one of every five Americans was out of work. “We have tried spending money,” Morgenthau conceded. “We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work.”"

Medicare: Doctors participating in Medicare today must practice medicine under an outmoded, wasteful payment system. Typically, they receive no financial reward for talking to patients by telephone, communicat­ing by e-mail, teaching patients how to manage their own care or help­ing them be better consumers in the market for drugs. Medicare pays doctors government-mandated fees for about 7,500 specific tasks and these tasks are not on the list.

The benefits of raw milk.

American students are less proficient in their nation’s history than in any other subject.

Private sector employees more than three times more likely to quit their jobs than state and local government workers.

Why are there drug shortages?: "The Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been stepping up its quality enforcement efforts — levying fines and forcing manufacturers to retool their facilities both here and abroad. Not only has this more rigorous regulatory oversight slowed down production, the FDA’s “zero tolerance” regime is forcing manufacturers to abide by rules that are rigid, inflexible and unforgiving."

The Post Office: Despite facing no competition, it lost $8.5 billion last year. [...]Now that we communicate mainly electronically, more than half of all mail is junk.

There is one entire country, however, that Google Earth won't show you: Israel.

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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 Camagüey, 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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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Libertarian Links

Health insurance: The constitutional battle over ObamaCare has largely focused on the constitutionality of the individual mandate. Namely, does forcing individuals to buy health insurance violate the commerce clause? But as the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals prepares to hear Florida v. United States, a second issue is of equal importance: Was District Court Judge Roger Vinson correct to rule that the federal government can force states to expand their Medicaid programs as a precondition for continuing to receive matching federal funds for the program?

Law: Top American firms have cut hiring or moved to a lower-tier pay system for many new associates. Corporations are reducing their legal departments. Legal temp companies now pay as little as $20 a hour to lawyers for document reviews that a decade ago might have been billed at $200 an hour.

NC gov. workers' insurance: When she vetoed the original State Employee Health Plan (SB265) North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue indicated that she opposed the increase in premiums, although her own budget proposal would have include premiums, too. With the increase, the total employee’s contribution for their health benefits would have been about 2.7 percent. [...]In a ten-state comparison it was found that even the proposed increase to $11 a month would leave North Carolina with the lowest percentage of employee contributions to their health plan.

Disgusting NC political tactics: Freshman Republican lawmaker Mike Stone says his daughter was “used against” him when a public school teacher instructed her and her classmates to contact elected officials in opposition to budget cuts.

Warning!: Anthony Weiner pic that once seen cannot be unseen.

Haitian stupidity: A couple of years back, the Haitian government decided that it would be an awesome idea to more than double the minimum wage to 61 cents an hour from 24 cents an hour. Many U.S. companies—including Hanes and Levi Strauss—have contacts with* factories in Haiti and were none-too-pleased about the proposed increase. Through the dark magic of lobbying Obama's State Department got involved and a partial exception was carved out for textile companies. [...]Still the US Embassy wasn’t pleased. A deputy chief of mission, David E. Lindwall, said the $5 per day minimum “did not take economic reality into account” but was a populist measure aimed at appealing to “the unemployed and underpaid masses.”

I can't decide whether this is police state or nanny state: Taxi driver Nabeel Langrial was talking to another cabbie near the Lumière Place casino last summer when an enforcement agent for the Metropolitan Taxicab Commission stopped to tell him his hat did not conform to the driver dress code. Langrial, a 23-year-old Muslim, told the officer the reddish-brown cap — called a kufi — had religious meaning. [...]Even though the ticket for wearing his Muslim cap ultimately was downgraded to a warning, he still served a one-day suspension earlier this year for not having his cab reinspected after an officer took it out of service that day

Psych: Over at The New Republic, Jamie Holmes, a policy analyst at the goo-goo think tank, New America Foundation offers an interesting argument that willpower depletion is a cause of sustained poverty. In recent years, psychologists have conducted experiments in which they get subjects to make a trade-off, say between eating a cupcake or a carrot. Next, the researchers offer subjects another trade-off, and many give into temptation. It seems that exercising one's willpower depletes it. Holmes argues that the poor in developing countries have to make many more painful trade-offs than do the rich, so that their willpower is sapped all the time, leading them to make bad decisions that keep them in poverty.

What is LEED?
: On a federal level, LEED certification has been adopted as either an outright requirement or a programmatic goal by any number of governmental agencies including four branches of the armed forces, the General Services Administration, the State Department, and the Department of the Interior. At least nine states require actual certification for public building projects, while another half dozen, including Massachusetts, are presently considering such requirements. Still others do not require certification but promote the use of LEED guidelines or encourage certification by offering tax credits or other incentives. Many municipalities and some county governments also require certification. Countless private institutions, such as the Partners HealthCare system, pursue LEED certification of their building projects as a matter of policy. For projects over a certain size, Boston requires building projects to be LEED “certifiable,” which is a significant distinction in that it adopts the standard but not the process.

Prison: Wages fall by about 15 percent after prison, yearly earnings are reduced by about 40 percent, and the pay of former prisoners (unlike compensation for the rest of the labor force) remains stagnant as they get older. The second important effect of imprisonment falls not on ex-inmates but on their families. About half of all prison and jail inmates are parents with children under 18. By 2008 about 2.6 million children had a parent in prison or jail. By age 17, one in four African-American youth has a father who has been sent to prison. [...]Sixty percent of state inmates are re-arrested within three years of being released from prison. Recidivism rates have not fallen despite a fourfold increase in incarceration rates since the 1970s.

Prison: More than 800,000 people are still arrested each year for marijuana alone, despite the widespread misconception that pot has been largely decriminalized, and despite the fact that close to half of all Americans by now have smoked it, and more than half, by some surveys, favor legalizing it.

Sweden (also, half of their children are illegitimate, another effect of the welfare state): Or take Sweden. Long gone are the arguments about the success of that kingdom's alleged "middle way" between capitalism and communism. In 1970 Sweden was ranked third in per capita income among industrialized nations; today it ranks 17th. The country's welfare state is strangling its economy. Taxes consume 55 percent of Sweden's GDP, while public spending equals 65 percent of GDP.



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Monday, June 6, 2011

Libertarian Links

Chuck Norris front kicks you in the face ...with facts (this really was (co-)written by Chuck Norris): This week, Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed a law that will help free Lone Star State businesses from the threat of frivolous lawsuits by enacting "loser-pays" tort reform. Prior to the legislation, litigants faced a no-lose situation, while defendants stood to lose everything—even for the most outrageous, bizarre and wrongful accusations. [...]America has the most expensive civil-justice system in the world, costing $255 billion in 2008, or nearly 2% of gross domestic product, according to a 2009 study by the firm Towers Perrin (now Towers Watson). That's more than twice as much as any other industrialized nation as a percent of the GDP.

Unemployment in the Great Depression overstated, unemployment today understated.

Holder goes back on crack sentencing reductions.

Teachers not teaching evolution?: The researchers examined data from the National Survey of High School Biology Teachers, a representative sample of 926 public high school biology instructors. They found only about 28 percent of those teachers consistently implement National Research Council recommendations calling for introduction of evidence that evolution occurred, and craft lesson plans with evolution as a unifying theme linking disparate topics in biology.

Latest study by a Swedish university shows that couples whose commute time exceeds 45 minutes are 40% more likely to experience marital problems.

The war on for-profit education.

John Stossel's show on The State Against Blacks.

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