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[VIDEO] Seattle’s $15 Minimum Wage is Hurting the Workers It’s Intending to Help

Three years ago, the city of Seattle voted to gradually raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour in the name of human decency and basic fairness. Several cities, including New York and Los Angeles, have done the same thing. Critics argue that boosting wages by bureaucratic diktat leads to fewer hours and jobs for low-income and low-skilled workers.

Now what The Washington Post calls a “very credible” study from researchers at the University of Washington finds that the critics are right. The Post calls this bad news for liberals. But the real victims are low-skilled workers.

The study finds that when wages were increased to $13, employers cut hours by 9 percent. That means that low-skilled workers saw their monthly compensation decrease by an average of $125.

Studies that downplay the effects of minimum wage hikes have mostly focused on teenagers and fast food workers. But the study at the University of Washington paper looks at the impact on workers spanning all ages and all demographics.

The findings may surprise progressives who believe that the only limit to higher pay for workers is the greed and selfishness of business owners. But it doesn’t come as a surprise to those who remain unconvinced that the law of supply and demand can be amended by city councils. Labor is simply another cost for any business, and when the price of something goes up, we tend to buy less of it.

Another takeaway from the study is that if you want to raise the income of low-skilled workers, taxpayers should pay for that burden through direct cash payments or other forms of welfare. Offloading the cost to employers has unintended consequences, even though it’s a lot easier to demonize business owners for being greedy cheapskates than to build a consensus around raising taxes. Read the rest of this entry »

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[VIDEO] Five Clichés Used to Attack Free Speech 

 


[AUDIO] P.J. O’Rourke on Trump, Populism, and ‘How the Hell Did This Happen?’

“I consider myself primarily to be a libertarian,” says P.J. O’Rourke, the author of the new book ‘How the Hell Did This Happen?: The Election of 2016.’ “I am personally conservative [but] I always think of libertarianism as basically being an analytical tool, not an ideology per se…. When you look at something that happens, especially in politics, you look at something that happens, you say, ‘Does this increase the dignity of the individual? Does this increase the liberty of the individual? Does this increase the responsibility of the individual?’ If it meets those three criteria, then it’s probably an acceptable libertarian political policy, or lack thereof, because we like to subtract some things from politics too.”

Lunch with PJ O'Rourke

In the latest Reason Podcast, O’Rourke tells Nick Gillespie what he learned about Donald Trump’s appeal from his time spent covering the 2016 election, why populism is a “tragedy” for libertarians, and why he wants his kids to study English and the liberal arts at college. “Be immersed in the history of civilization, you know, in literature, in the arts,” he says. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Avik Roy: Texas Is a Model for a More-Libertarian, More Diverse America

Avik Roy, the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity co-founder, discusses how Texas has not only become an economic powerhouse, but has maintained a sense of inclusion that doesn’t exist in many other states.

“In Texas, the Mexicans have always been there…. There’s not this sense that Mexicans are foreigners,” says Avik Roy, Forbes opinion editor and the co-founder and president of the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity (FREOPP).

Roy believes Texas, a majority-minority state, offers a good counter-example for libertarians and conservatives anxious about immigrants and non-Europeans changing American political culture. The Lone Star State is not only doing very well economically, says Roy, there’s a sense of inclusion that doesn’t exist in many other states.

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“It’s not just a free state in the sense of policy, but there really is a sense that everyone feels, whether Anglo or Latino, that freedom has made their lives better,” Roy tells Reason’s Nick Gillespie. “This indigenous thing called Tex-Mex has been around for a very long time. It’s simply not treating the others as if they were others…that attitude makes a huge difference.”

According to Roy, who has advised politicians such as Rick Perry and Marco Rubio, one of the goals of the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity is to challenge the conservative view that holds racial and ethnic minority groups can only be appeased through more statism and redistribution and should thus be written off when it comes to building political and economic coalitions. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] ‘Sex, Drugs, & Robots’: Reason’s Katherine Mangu-Ward on the Future of the Magazine

Reason‘s new editor in chief Katherine Mangu-Ward sat down with former Reason editor and author Virginia Postrel (now a columnist at Bloomberg View) at Reason’s Los Angeles headquarters to talk about the future of the magazine as it nears its 50th anniversary.

Nick Gillespie—and to some extent Matt Welch—their version of Reason was sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll. Mine is more like sex, drugs, and robots,” says Mangu-Ward.

« The News Mausoleum Commentary Magazine

You may know Mangu-Ward’s work already as Reason’s managing editor or from her insightful cover stories covering everything from defending plastic bags to why your vote doesn’t count.

Approximately 48 minutes.

boys-magazine Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Alcohol Prohibition Was a Dress Rehearsal for the War on Drugs 

“The war on alcohol and the war on drugs were symbiotic campaigns,” says Harvard historian Lisa McGirr, author of The War on Alcohol: Prohibition and the Rise of the American State. “Those two campaigns emerged together, [and] they had the same shared…logic. Many of the same individuals were involved in both campaigns.”
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Did alcohol prohibition of the 1920s ever really come to an end, or did it just metastasize into something far more destructive and difficult to abolish—what we casually refer to as “the war on drugs?” McGirr argues that our national ban on booze routed around its own repeal via the 21st Amendment. Ultimately, Prohibition transformed into a worldwide campaign against the drug trade

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The ties between drug and alcohol prohibition run deep. The Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) was established in 1930, only three years prior to Prohibition’s repeal. The FBN employed many of the same officials as the Federal Bureau of Prohibition. And both shared institutional spaces as independent entities within the U.S. Treasury Department. “In some ways,” observes McGirr, “the war never ended.”

Prohibition-Detroit-1920-631.jpg__800x600_q85_crop Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Q&A with Fred Smith: ‘The Alternative To Innovation Is Not Stability. It’s Stagnation’

“The alternative to innovation is not stability,” says Fred L. Smith, who founded the influential and controversial Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) in 1984. “It’s stagnation.”

In 2014, after almost 30 years as CEI’s president, Smith became director of the group’s Center for the Advancement of Capitalism, which champions free markets as the best means to create a fair, prosperous, and future-oriented society. Libertarians, says the one-time federal bureaucrat, have always had a difficulty communicating their ideas to a wider public, even to the entrepreneurs and business leaders who radically improve our lives on a daily basis by providing better and better goods and services at lower and lower prices. “We need to re-calibrate our arguments so they reach the people we need to have as allies. That means businessmen.”

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Reason‘s Nick Gillespie sat down with Smith to talk about the liberating history of capitalism, the regulatory war on innovation, whether millennials are socialists or capitalists, and the morality of market exchanges. “The market not only creates a web of voluntary economic interactions,” says Smith. “It is the best facilitator for creating the social networks that encompass the modern world.” Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Charles C.W. Cooke on Brexit, #NeverTrump, and the Future of National Review 


[VIDEO] ‘The Real Threat To Free Speech Now is Conformism and Cowardice’

REASON TV with Spiked’s Brendan O’Neill

“The real threat to free speech now is conformism and cowardice,” says Brendan O’Neill, editor of Spiked and a columnist for Reason.com.

The 41-year-old Londoner has similarly blunt and outspoken views about “left-wing environmentalism,” which he calls “an apology for poverty” and simply the latest iteration of religious “end-of-worldism” in which “we will be judged for our sins.”

O’Neill is also a critic of European policies that he says marginalize religious and ethnic minorities even as they “protect” immigrants by passing hate-speech laws and banning burqas. “In their efforts to enforce Enlightenment values,” he says, policymakers “actually undercut them.”

O’Neill got his start at the defunct Living Marxism, the publication of Britain’s Revolutionary Communist Party, and these days he sometimes calls himself a “Marxist libertarian.” “It seems like a contradiction in terms,” he acknowledges, “but that’s because people haven’t read the original Marx and Engels, the early stuff…if you read the early stuff it’s all about liberating humanity from poverty and from state diktat and allowing them to have as free a life as possible.” Read the rest of this entry »


Nick Gillespie: U.S. Foreign Policy Shouldn’t Be Driven By Feelz

Why emotionalism is the problem, not the solution, when it comes to foreign policy.

Nick Gillespienick writes: Call me a heartless bastard, but images of dead Syrian children washing up on beaches should have absolutely nothing to do with American foreign policy, refugee quotas, or immigration schemes. Photo-based emotionalism is no way to conduct the affairs of nations. That way madness—and all too often, even more carnage—lies.

[Read the full text here, at The Daily Beast]

It’s one thing when highly charged images speak to pressing domestic concerns whose solutions are clear and within a single country’s ability to effect. In late 18th-century England, for instance, Thomas Clarkson’s illustration of slaveswedged into a ship’s hold like barrels of rum helped jump-start Britain’s abolitionist movement. Footage from Bull Connor’s Birmingham and Vietnam electrified the Civil Rights and anti-war movements. In such cases, the solutions were self-evident (if difficult to achieve): Stop your own countrymen from perpetuating evil. Nothing is so simple when it comes to wars and catastrophes in which you are not even a direct participant. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] REASON TV: Whole Foods’ John Mackey: Why Intellectuals Hate Capitalism

They’re jealous, he says, they side with rulers, and they don’t understand how markets work.

 &  “Intellectuals have always disdained commerce” says Whole Foods Market co-founder John Mackey. They “have always sided…with the aristocrats to maintain a society where the businesspeople were kind of kept down.”

More than any other outlet, Whole Foods has reconfigured what and how America eats and the chain’s commitment to high-quality meats, produce, cheeses, and wines is legendary. Since opening his first store in Austin, Texas in 1980, Mackey now oversees operations around the globe and 51YVrzR5lBL._SL250_continues to set the pace for what’s expected in organic and sustainably raised and harvested food.

Check out the book “Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business” at Amazon.com]

Because of Whole Foods’ trendy customer base and because Mackey is himself a vegan and champions collaboration between management and workers, it’s easy to mistake Mackey for a progressive left-winger. Indeed, an early version of Jonah Goldberg‘s best-selling 2008 book Liberal Fascism even bore the subtitle “The Totalitarian Temptation from Mussolini to Hillary Clinton and The Totalitarian Temptation from Hegel to Whole Foods.”

[See more at Reason.com]

Yet nothing could be further from the truth—and more distorting of the radical vision of capitalism at the heart of Mackey’s thought. A high-profile critic of the minimum wage, Obamacare, and the regulatory state, Mackey believes that free markets are the best way not only to raise living standards but also to explore new ways of building community and creating meaning for individuals and society.

[Order Jonah Goldberg’s book “Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning”  from Amazon]

At the same time, he challenges all sorts of libertarian dogma, including the notion that publicly traded companies should always seek to exclusively maximize shareholder value. Conscious Capitalism, the book he co-authored with Rajendra Sisodia, lays out a detailed case for Mackey’s vision of a post-industrial capitalism that addresses spiritual desire as much as physial need. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] George Gilder: Net Neutrality Is a ‘Ludicrous’ Idea That Will Shrink the Economy

“Everything on [the Internet] is changing minute by minute,” says George Gilder, “and the idea of establishing a level playing field, as if all bandwidth is homogeneous, is just ludicrous.”

 


[VIDEO] The Conservatarian Manifesto: Should Libertarians and Conservatives Unite?

“I think the ‘conservatarian’ term is not a linguistic trick, it is a substantive attempt to describe a certain coterie on the right,” explains Charles C. W. Cooke, a writer for National Review and author of The Conservatarian Manifesto: Libertarians, Conservatives, and the Fight for the Right’s Future. “These are the people who say when they are around libertarians they feel conservative, and when they are around conservatarianconservatives they feel libertarian…(read more)

[Check out Charles C. W. Cooke‘s new book: “The Conservatarian Manifesto: Libertarians, Conservatives, and the Fight for the Right’s Futureat Amazon.com]

Reason TV‘s Nick Gillespie sat down with Cooke to discuss his book…(read more)

Reason.com


[VIDEO] REASON: Nick Gillespie & Todd Krainin’s Epic Interview with Camille Paglia

Everything’s Awesome and Camille Paglia is Unhappy!

editor-commen-deskI nearly bypassed this interview, having enjoyed Paglia’s memorable social and cultural critiques over the last 15 years or so, I expected it to be good, but easy to put off for later viewing. Boy was I wrong. A potent, and revealing conversation. Free Range Big Thinkers like Paglia, in culture paglia-faceand media — especially ones who identify as Democrats but talk like libertarians — are few and far between. It makes the rare good ones even more valuable. We’ve not seen Camille’s familiar Madonna-loving, pop-culture-riddled smart commentary as much as we did in the 1990s, at the now-diminished pioneering Salon magazine, where she was a regular. Fast-forward to 2015: Paglia represents a senior figure, as a public intellectual. A long way from those early days at Yale in the 1960s. She’s older, crankier, controversial, and impossible to categorize, but that’s how we like it.

I’d seen other references and links to this new Paglia interview, but it was the Twitter feed of noted media critic Mollie Z. Hemingway than finally got my attention. Yesterday, she’d collected a string of individual excerpts (well chosen clips, too, a few samples below) Thanks to MZH, otherwise I might have missed this. Included here is the hour-long video, and just a fraction of the transcript. If you don’t see anything else this weekend — or this year — don’t miss this. Brilliant work by REASON‘s  & . Go get the whole transcript. And tune into Mollie Z. Hemingway’s articles here, and tweets here.

INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT: This is a rush transcript. Check against video for accuracy.

reason: Let’s talk about the state of contemporary feminism. You have been in a public life or in an intellectual life since the late 1960s, a proud feminist, often reviled by other feminists. Gloria Steinem most famously said you were an anti-feminist and that when you denied that, she said that would be like a Nazi saying they’re not anti-Semitic. You’re mixing it up. What is going on with the state of “professional feminism” in this country. It seems if you look at from, say, the early ’70s, things have gotten better for women. Men are less uptight about gender roles. Women are more in the workforce, they get paid equally, sexual assaults and sexual violence are down. In so many ways, things are going pagliabetter than ever, and yet from sites like Jezebel or Feministing, all you hear is that things have never been worse.

[Check out the books and essays of Camille Paglia at Amazon.com]

Paglia: Feminism has gone through many phases. Obviously the woman’s suffrage movement of the 19th century fizzled after women gained the right to vote through the Constitutional amendment in 1920. Then the movement revived in the late 1960s through Betty Freidan co-founding NOW in 1967. Now, I preceded all that. I’m on record with a letter in Newsweek, I was in high school in 1963, where I called for equal rights for American women and so on. I began thinking about gender, researching it, I loved the generation of Amelia Earhart and all those emancipated women of the ’20s and ’30s, and because I had started my process of thought about gender so much earlier, I was out of sync with the women’s movement when it suddenly burst forth.

[Read the full text here, at REASON]

reason: It became a huge kind of cultural moment in the late 60s—it had been percolating before…

Paglia: It was literally nothing. There was no political activism of any kind from women getting the right to vote in 1920… when Simone de Beauvoir wrote her great magnum opus, The Second Sex, published in the early 1950s, she was thought to be hopelessly retrograde. Nobody could possibly be interested again in gender issues.

reason: You were living in upstate New York. Did you already know what your sexuality was? What was it like to be a woman, a lesbian, in 1963?

Paglia: Well, the 1950s were a highly conformist period. Gender had repolarized after really great gains it seems to me in the ’20s and ’30s, and one must be more sympathetic to the situation of my parents’ generation. They had known nothing but depression and war throughout their entire lives. My father was a paratrooper, when he got out of the army, everyone married, and I’m the baby boom. They wanted normality. They just wanted to live like real people, man and wife in a home. I found the 1950s utterly suffocating. I was a gender nonconforming entity, and I was signaling my rebellion by these transgender Halloween costumes that were absolutely Neil Daviesunheard of. I was five, six, seven, eight years old. My parents allowed me to do it because I was so intent on it.

reason: What were you dressing up as?

Paglia: A Roman solider, the matador from Carmen. My best was Napoleon. I was Hamlet from the Classics Comics book. Absolutely no one was doing stuff like this, and I’m happy that this talk about medical sex changes was not in the air, because I would have become obsessed with that and assumed that that was my entire identity and problem, so this is why I’m very concerned about the rush to surgical interventions today. At any rate, I was attracted to men—I dated men—but I just fell in love with women and always have. Yes, there’s absolutely no doubt. I was on the forefront of gay identification. When I arrived at graduate school at Yale 1968-1972, I was the only openly gay person, and I didn’t even have a sex life. To me, it was a badge of militance. And I was the only person doing a dissertation on a sexual topic. It’s hard to believe this now.

[Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson]

reason: What was the topic?

Paglia: Sexual Personae, which was the book finally published in 1990 after being rejected by seven publishers and five agents, and that was unheard of again. I’m delighted I had the sponsorship of Harold Bloom that pushed the topic through the English department, I think possibly that they allowed me to do such a thing on sex was actually kind of amazing.

My clashes with other feminists began immediately. Read the rest of this entry »


That’s It, House of Cards. You Lost Me

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Nick Gillespienick writes: A show that was once darkly great has descended into prosaic moralism. God save us from fictional pols who are serious about jobs programs.

Is anybody else kinda-sorta done with House of Cards? Not literally but figuratively. Season three is a real letdown, but not because the Netflix series is, in the words of one reviewer, too “bleak” or negative or dark.

“House of Cards is going softer than President Frank Underwood’s gut. The first two seasons were a palate-cleansing, tit-for-tat inversion of Aaron Sorkin’s cloyingly earnest West Wing, where even the bad guys tended to be good-hearted, if ideologically misguided.”

It’s the exact opposite: House of Cards is going softer than President Frank Underwood’s gut. The first two seasons were a palate-cleansing, tit-for-tat inversion of Aaron Sorkin’s cloyingly earnest West Wing, where even the bad guys tended to be good-hearted, if ideologically misguided.

[Read the full text of Nick Gillespie‘s savage complaint here, at The Daily Beast]

But in just three seasons of House of Cards we’ve gone from Underwood (Kevin Spacey) not thinking twice about shoving under a train the unethical journalist he was fucking to a world where he actually takes seriously the idea of a federally funded jobs program that will—finally! seriously! emphatically!—end unemployment as we know it. He actually seems to earnestly want to do something for people and not simply because it will give him more power. Hell, at one point, he echoes FDR talking about how the “country needs bold, persistent experimentation” to turn the economy around and approaches his “America Works” program as something other than the shovel-ready malarkey the old Frank would have gleefully exulted.

Do we really want the characters in House of Cards to start developing consciences and to grow into moral actors? Please, the whole kick of the show is precisely that its universe is inhabited only by ethical gargoyles. 

Even more disappointing is the devolution of First Lady Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) from a ruthless operator who puts Agrippina the Younger to shame into a latter-day Lady Macbeth filled with doubts about her and her husband’s patently unredeemable actions. “We’re murderers, Francis,” she says at one point in the new season—as if that’s a bad thing.

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What’s going on here might be called the “Archie Bunker Effect,” and it’s no prettier than when All in the Family’s protagonist would belch loudly after chugging a beer while sitting in his favorite living room chair. When All in the Family started in the early 1970s, its protagonist was supposed to hold up a mirror to America and depict the petty and base racism, sexism, you-name-it-ism of the working class. Bless their hearts, Hollywood big shots such as creator Norman Lear just wanted to ennoble the little people.

“He actually seems to earnestly want to do something for people and not simply because it will give him more power. Hell, at one point, he echoes FDR talking about how the ‘country needs bold, persistent experimentation’ to turn the economy around and approaches his ‘America Works’ program as something other than the shovel-ready malarkey the old Frank would have gleefully exulted.”

“By giving bigotry a human face, Lear believed, his show could help liberate American TV viewers. He hoped that audiences would embrace Archie but reject his beliefs,” wrote The New Yorker’s Emily Nussbaum in an essay inspired by Saul Austerlitz’s 2014 book Sitcom. But as Nussbaum puts it, “‘A funny thing happened on the way to TV immortality: audiences liked Archie,’ Austerlitz writes. ‘Not in an ironic way, not in a so-racist-he’s-funny way; Archie was TV royalty because fans saw him as one of their own.’” Probably even worse for Norman Lear, in many ways the ultimate limousine liberal, was that the show’s resident liberal mouthpiece, Mike “Meathead” Stivic (brilliantly portrayed by Rob Reiner), was the show’s true laughingstock.

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“We’re murderers, Francis,” Claire Underwood says at one point in the new season—as if that’s a bad thing.

[Read the full text here, at The Daily Beast]

But if there’s something more frustrating than fans misunderstanding a character and a show’s dynamics, it’s when producers do. All in the Family quickly became increasingly less funny and more preachy until it finally transmogrified into the godawful Archie Bunker’s Place. That last, comedy-free permutation was set at a bar Archie owned and operated. He still mangled the language (gynecologist became “groinacologist,” for instance) but Archie was now a standup guy who literally took in and cared for orphans.

“For all that, we are reminded time and again—and without irony—that leaders and policymakers are constantly balancing an impossible array of interests and tradeoffs.” 

Similarly, the third season of House of Cards spends a hell of a lot of time humanizing the Underwoods and other characters. To be sure—spoiler alerts!—recovering alcoholic and chief of staff Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly) is still capable of going on booze-and-sex benders and killing innocent people, but even he thinks twice before finally dispatching the prostitute Rachel, a loose thread whose existence threatens the president’s reelection. Read the rest of this entry »


Desperation: Blaming Eboloa on…Who Else?


Make Cops Wear Cameras

FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 13: A police officer standing watch as demonstrators protest the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown conceals his/her identity on August 13, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer on Saturday. Ferguson, a St. Louis suburb, is experiencing its fourth day of violent protests since the killing.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)g

FERGUSON, MO – AUGUST 13: A police officer standing watch as demonstrators protest the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown conceals his/her identity on August 13, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer on Saturday. Ferguson, a St. Louis suburb, is experiencing its fourth day of violent protests since the killing. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

A Nick Gillespie moment

TIME

Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old, shot to death in Ferguson, Missouri, by police. Eric Garner, a 43-year-old New Yorker, dies from a police chokehold. John Crawford III, 22, shot and killed by police in a Walmart outside of Dayton, Ohio.

Enough is enough. Each of these incidents has an unmistakable racial dimension—all of the victims were black and all or most of arresting officers were white–that threatens the always tense relationships between law enforcement and African Americans. As important, the circumstances of each death are hotly contested, with the police telling one story and witnesses (if any) offering up very different narratives.

Brown’s death in particular is raising major ongoing protests precisely because, contrary to police accounts, witnesses claim that he had his hands up in the air in surrender when he was shot. The result is less trust in police, a situation that raises tensions across the board.

View original post 441 more words


After Cochran’s Win: Red-State Socialism Must Be Stopped!

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The hidden message of Thad Cochran’s big win is that politicians can always get reelected by bringing home the bacon. This must end.

For The Daily BeastNick Gillespie writes: I get why Mississippi voters of all parties, races, and creeds pulled together at the very last minute to give Sen. Thad Cochran a win in his GOP primary and thus effectively another six years in the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body™ (also known as the League of Unextraordinary Gentlemen).The short version: Cochran has been very, very good to the Magnolia State, first as a congressman (1973-1978) and then as a senator (1978-forever). Not because he has authored or championed legislation that has expanded the scope of human freedom and flourishing. No, he’s just one of the great elder statesmen of what should be called out as “Red State Socialism,” the process by which supposedly conservative states—typically filled with politicians and voters who rail against welfarism in all its manifestations—are gifted massive subsidies courtesy of mostly blue-state voters.By any measure, Mississippi has been on the government teat longer and more fully than the kid on that creepy Time magazine cover about attachment parenting. According to the Tax Foundation, Mississippi has never been lower than fourth in the amount of federal taxes paid vs. the amount of federal money received.  In 2005, Mississippi received a jaw-dropping $2.02 in federal money for every $1 of taxes its residents sent to Washington.

By 2010, that had jacked up further still to $2.47. That same year, the Tax Foundation calculates that fully 49 percent of Mississippi’s state general revenue comes from federal taxpayers who will never step foot in Morgan Freeman’s and William Faulkner’s beloved stamping grounds. Read the rest of this entry »


Nick Gillespie: Now Let’s Replace All the Other Big-Spending Eric Cantors

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Eric Cantor was a noxious, cookie-cutter, U.S. Chamber, GOP hypocrite. We need legislators who don’t just talk limited government but do it.

For The Daily BeastNick Gillespie writes: Will anybody really miss Eric Cantor? Probably not. Despite (or maybe because of) his position in the House Republican leadership and the historic nature of his primary loss, there was virtually nothing remarkable about him as a politician or a policymaker. The Republicans have dozens or hundreds or thousands more just like him. He’s like a Dorito corn chip in those old Jay Leno ads: They’ll make more.

“On spending and economic issues, he was atrocious and hypocritical in all the ways that a Republican can be.”

Cantor exemplifies what Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) just denounced as a “Chamber of Commerce”-style GOP legislator, Gillespie book“the same-old, same-old,” standard-issue Republican who has brought the party to a historically low level of self-identification among voters.

[Order Nick Gillespie‘s bookThe Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What’s Wrong with America from Amazon.com]

Cantor was what passes for a small-government conservative. Which is to say that Cantor was in favor of shrinking the size and scope of  government…except for the endless list of exceptions that allowed him to help grow federal spending by more than 50 percent in real terms, and regulatory spending by even more, during the Bush years.

You know the drill: As a “conservative,” Cantor wanted the government out of people’s lives because FREEDOM-FOUNDING FATHERS-CONSTITUTION. Yet Cantor was anti-gay marriage and anti-abortion (he even wanted to prohibit adults from transporting minors across state lines if they were getting abortions). Because the federal government really should dictate all that, right? He endorsed a constitutional amendment against flag burning because free expression doesn’t mean you can actually express what you mean. He was pro-gun or, more specifically, pro-National Rifle Association. He was pro-drug war. Nothing unique or interesting there. Read the rest of this entry »


Reason TV Interview with Former CBS Reporter Sharyl Attkisson: ‘If we knew everything then that we know now…’

Attkisson sat down with Reason TV‘s Nick Gillespie to discuss her reporting on Benghazi, Fast and Furious, and the decline of investigative journalism in America. About 20 minutes. Camera by Todd Krainin and Joshua Swain. Edited by Amanda Winkler

“If we knew everything then that we know now, one week after it happened, I think that would have been really devastating to [Obama’s reelection] campaign,” says former CBS reporter, Sharyl Attkisson, referencing the 2012 Benghazi terrorists attacks. Recently revealed White House emails suggest that the Obama administration may have attempted to mislead the American public by placing the blame on an Internet video and not Islamic terrorists, which would have raised questions about Obama’s foreign policy strategy.

[See Sharyl Attkisson’s book: Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama’s Washington at Amazon.com]

Attkisson, an award winning investigative reporter, was one of the few journalists who continued pursuing the Benghazi story long after many in the main stream media lost interest. According to Attkisson, her bosses at CBS wanted her to drop the story. As a result, she left CBS, her employer for two decades, this past March over what she claims is “liberal bias” at the network and a lack of serious devotion to investigative reporting.

Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Arguendo: Live Nude Theater! Strippers v. the Supreme Court

Arguendo

Is it constitutional to require strippers to wear pasties and G-strings?

In 1991’s Barnes v. Glen Theatre, Inc, the Supreme Court ruled that go-go dancers in Indiana could indeed be compelled to cover up their naughty bits. The decision upholding such bans is the subject of the provocative—and nudity-filled!—play Arguendo.

arguendo-poster-33529“Justices start off in swivel chairs just like the real justices,” explains Arguendo’s director John Collins. “Then those chairs are rolling all around the stage, the podium rolls around the stage, and eventually some actual, total, nudity gets involved in the argument as well.” The play’s text is faithful to Barnes’ oral arguments. “What you hear in Arguendo is exactly what you would have heard in the courtroom,” says Collins.

The lobby of Washington D.C.’s Woolly Mammoth Theatre hosts an interactive exhibit that allows the audience to engage the facts of the case and arrive at its own conclusion.

“I hope what you’re left with is that it’s not the easiest case in the world,” says Collins. “There are interesting questions on both sides of it.”

Collins spoke with Reason TV about the unique power of live performance, Arguendo’s experimental staging, and the irony that theaters, unlike strip clubs, are generally exempted from bans on public nudity. Read the rest of this entry »


The New York Times Anti-Ryan Campaign

The Worst St. Patricks Day Article You’ll Read All Year: How Paul Ryan is Like Genocidal Englishmen

We may have to reserve judgement on the worst article we’ll read all year. It’s still early! Though other lazy NYT op-ed writers have nine more months of blindfolded typing to catch up with him, Tim Egan is definitely a contender.

bullseye-Ryan2First, Krugman’s jaw-dropping, quote-worthy Paul Ryan smear, now Reason‘s Nick Gillespie has to clean up after Tim Egan’s smug, lazy historical association flim-flam. Both Krugman and Egan employ the same tactic, see if you can notice the identical device, disclaiming responsibility for responsibility via a weasel-worded disclaimer.

 writes:

In Sunday’s New York Times, National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Timothy Egan likens Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to the English overlords of Ireland’s great potato famine of 1845-1852. Seriously.

Egan says he did a bit of “time traveling” in anticipation of St. Patrick’s Day (whose celebration in the form of parades and drunkeness is largely an invention of colonial America). What did Egan find while traipsing about in the Old Sod?

“A great debate raged in London: Would it be wrong to feed the starving Irish with free food, thereby setting up a “culture of dependency”? Certainly England’s man in charge of easing the famine, Sir Charles Trevelyan, thought so. “Dependence on charity,” he declared, “is not to be made an agreeable mode of life.”

And there I ran into Paul Ryan…the Republican congressman was very much in evidence, wagging his finger at the famished. His oft-stated “culture of dependency” is a safety net that becomes a lazy-day hammock. But it was also England’s excuse for lethal negligence.”

But wait, before you dare say that Egan in any way means to compare Ryan to the architects of one of the most heinous acts of imperial brutality, perish the thought:

“There is no comparison, of course, between the de facto genocide that resulted from British policy, and conservative criticism of modern American poverty programs. Read the rest of this entry »


WASHINGTON POST SHAKEUP: Ezra Klein Out, Eugene Volokh, In: Bezos Era Begins

volokh_eugene-xTo grasp the magnitude of this realignment, imagine if the New York Times declined to renew veteran left-wing crackpot Paul Krugman‘s contract, and replaced him with Instapudit‘s Glenn Reynolds. Or if HBO fired Bill Maher, and offered a prime-time talk show to Greg Gutfeld. Yes, it’s like that.

Could this be a sign of intelligent life in media? What if Maureen Dowd was booted out of her nest at the NYT, replaced by Mona Charen? Imagine if ABC’s Good Morning America dumped its on-air talent and hired Ann Coulter, Tucker Carlson, and Michelle Malkin. Or if editorial control of  The Huffington Post was turned over to me, Nick Gillespie, and Jonah Goldberg

Okay that part is wishful thinking. But you get the idea. It’s a big deal.

John Nolte at Breitbart.com has the scoop.

John Nolte reports:  Very interesting day at The Washington Post. Left-wing Ezra Klein is out and the much-respected conservative legal blog, The Volokh Conspiracyis in. Already the Jeff Bezos era is becoming an interesting one. Numerous reports claim that Bezos wasn’t interested in a multi-million dollar proposal Klein pitched, but he was apparently interested in giving Volokh full editorial control:

We will also retain full editorial control over what we write. And this full editorial control will be made easy by the facts that we have (1) day jobs, (2) continued ownership of our trademark and the volokh.com domain, and (3) plenty of happy experience blogging on our own, should the need arise to return to that…

Ezra-Klein-xx

After all, they approached us because of who we are and what we write. They know our ideologies. They know our blogging style. They know that we sometimes put up quirky non-law posts. They tell us they’re fine with all of that.

Both moves are a huge boost for the Post for a few reasons.

As much as Ezra Klein was worshipped by others in the elite media, he badly damaged the Post’s credibility as an objective news outlet. It was unconscionable of the Post to frame Klein’s hysterical leftism and Obama water-carrying as objective analysis and reporting. Klein is a wild-eyed Statist, and a wildly dishonest one to boot.

Read the rest of this entry »


Survey: How Libertarians Fit In the GOP

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Kevin Glass  reports:  The Brookings Institution‘s Public Religion Research Institute conducts what they call the “American Values Survey,” and this year have focused particularly on how libertarians fit into the American political fabric. Libertarians are traditionally thought of as being “on the right” and presumed to be most accurately represented, of the two major parties, by the Republican Party.

But is that really true?

PRRI finds that libertarians constitute a very small segment of the GOP and have difficulty making common cause with the other ideological strains of the Republican Party. Specifically, libertarians are repelled by the religious right, which still makes up a significan portion of the conservative movement.

As Brookings’ Ross Tilchin writes:

Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] 3 Reasons Anchorman 2 is The Most Important Movie of The Year

As Anchorman 2, the long-awaited sequel to 2004’s Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, hits theaters, it’s worth pointing out Will Ferrell’s fake newscaster is not just wildly entertaining but hugely instructive in our media-soaked age.

Here are three reasons why Anchorman 2 is already the most important movie of the year.

1. It Foregrounds Media Cliches and Pat Formulas.

When Ron Burgundy and team create ridiculous, over-the-top news features such as “Rip the Lid Off It!,” it’s impossible to ever take a special report or interruption for breaking news uncritically ever again.

2. It (de)humanizes the Production of “News.”

By calling attention to the actual production process of “news” and the often-considerable limitations of the people who make media, the Anchorman franchise underscores that news is invented, not discovered.

Read the rest of this entry »


Remembering Christopher Hitchens, 1949 – 2011

 writes:  Christopher Hitchens died on this date two years ago. Hitchens was the model of a public intellectual. He was certainly public in his positions and arguments, which allows for anyone interested to assess a person’s arguments. And he was intellectually honest in a way that is uncommon, with many (most?) thinkers curtailing their views if they threaten a broader ideological identity. Though definitely a man of the left, Hitchens was never orthodox and ran into trouble given his positions on issues such as abortion (he was against it), foreign interventionism (he was for it), free speech deemed offensive to certain groups (he was for it), and more. While he rarely missed opportunities to offend right-wing sensibilities (he once joked about Ronald Reagan’s Alzheimer’s clearly having started with the president was still in office), he didn’t hold back against the left, either. He had few kind words about Martin Luther King, Jr. and he dismissed Gandhi as a “poverty pimp.”

He admitted to Reason in a wide-ranging  2001 Reason interview conducted a few months before the 9/11 attacks that his connection to the left was fraying (he would break definitively with The Nation magazine shortly after the attacks). Part of the reason stemmed from his realization that the forces of creative destruction unleashed by capitalism were remaking the world in a way that he – along with Marx and Engels in the Communist Manifesto – could appreciate:

The thing I’ve often tried to point out to people from the early days of the Thatcher revolution in Britain was that the political consensus had been broken, and from the right. The revolutionary, radical forces in British life were being led by the conservatives. That was something that almost nobody, with the very slight exception of myself, had foreseen.

Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] ReasonTV: Dirty Jobs’ Mike Rowe on the High Cost of College

 &  write: “If we are lending money that ostensibly we don’t have to kids who have no hope of making it back in order to train them for jobs that clearly don’t exist, I might suggest that we’ve gone around the bend a little bit,” says TV personality Mike Rowe, best known as the longtime host of Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs.

“There is a real disconnect in the way that we educate vis-a-vis the opportunities that are available. You have – right now – about 3 million jobs that can’t be filled,” he says, talking about openings in traditional trades ranging from construction to welding to plumbing. “Jobs that typically parents’ don’t sit down with their kids and say, ‘Look, if all goes well, this is what you are going to do.'”

Read the rest of this entry »


NFL: Why are we subsidizing such a hugely profitable sport?

Football: A Waste of Taxpayers’ Money

From right: Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) is tackled by Chicago Bears safety Chris Conte (47) during overtime at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome, in Minneapolis on Dec. 1, 2013.

From right: Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) is tackled by Chicago Bears safety Chris Conte (47) during overtime at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome, in Minneapolis on Dec. 1, 2013.

 writes: As we enter the drama-filled final week of the regular college football season and the final month of the National Football League’s schedule, forget about GM and Chrysler, Solyndra, or even cowboy poetry readings. Fact is, nothing is more profitable, more popular, and more on the public teat than good old American football. That’s right. You, dear taxpayer, are footing the bill for football through an outrageous series of giveaways to billionaire team owners and public universities that put pigskin before sheepskin.

It’s just not right when governments shovel tax dollars at favored companies or special interests, even when those firms are called, say, the Minnesota Vikings or the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers University. The NFL’s Vikings are lousy at scoring touchdowns – they have the worst record in the NFC North – but they’ve proven remarkably adept in shaking down Minnesotans for free money. Next year they’ll be playing ball in a brand-spanking new $975 million complex in downtown Minneapolis, more than half of whose cost is being picked up by state and local taxpayers. Over the 30-year life of the project, the public share of costs will come to $678 million. The team will pay about $13 million a year to use the stadium, but since it gets virtually all revenue from parking, food, luxury boxes, naming rights, and more, it should be able to cover that tab. Not that the Vikings were ever hard up for money: Forbes values the franchise at nearly $800 million and the team’s principal owner, Zygi Wilf, is worth a cool $310 million. When the Minnesota legislature signed off on its stadium deal for the Vikings, the state was facing a $1.1 billion budget deficit. Priorities, priorities.

Read the rest of this entry »


Pot’s Black Market Backlash

potfranklin

How prohibitionists and nanny staters are trying to keep marijuana illegal—or at least inconvenient.

Nick Gillespie writes: In 2012, voters in Colorado and Washington passed full-on, no-hemming-or-hawing pot legalization by large majorities. Lawmakers in each state have spent the better part of the past year figuring out how to tax and regulate their nascent commercial pot industries, which will open for business in 2014 (until then, recreational pot is only supposed to be cultivated for personal use). The spirit behind the legalization efforts in both states was that marijuana should be treated in a “manner similar to alcohol.”

Unfortunately, it’s starting to look like both states are going to treat pot in a manner similar to alcohol during Prohibition. Not only are pot taxes likely to be sky high, various sorts of restrictions on pot shops may well make it easier to buy, sell, and use black-market marijuana rather than the legal variety. That’s a bummer all around: States and municipalities will collect less revenue than expected, law-abiding residents will effectively be denied access to pot, and the crime, corruption, and violence that inevitably surrounds black markets will continue apace.

Read the rest of this entry »


Pot Legalization: 8 Things We Won’t Miss When Marijuana Is Legal Everywhere

 

Nick Gillespie writes:  Last year, residents of Colorado and the state of Washington voted overwhelmingly to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes. Now, according to a new Gallup Poll, fully 58 percent of Americans believe that pot should be available in a way that’s similar to tobacco, beer, wine, and alcohol, which arguably cause more harm than marijuana. That’s a 10-point increase over last year and the latest indicator that the federal war on weed, which officially began in 1937, is finally drawing to a close. Given the directions things are headed in this country, here are eight things nobody will miss when pot is finally legal everywhere in the U.S.

  • 1. Vapid anti-drug commercials like the famous “I learned it by watching you!” public-service announcement, in which a son tells an outraged father how he became familiar with pot. The dad seems to be successful and they’re in a nice house so….what’s the problem again?
  • 2. Ritual apologies by world-class athletes such as swimmer Michael Phelps for smoking dope at a private party. Despite winning 14 Olympic gold medals and completely rewriting his sport’s record books, in 2009 Phelps promised his “fans and the public it will not happen again.”
  • 3. Breath-taking personal hypocrisy by politicians such as Barack Obama who laugh about their own pot smoking (he’s not the only one, the last three presidents have tried it) while increasing funding for the Office of National Drug Control Policy and other drug-war operations. As a presidential candidate, he joked to a gathering of fawning journalists, “When I was a kid, I inhaled….That was the point.”
  • 4. Long federal prison sentences for legitimate business owners like Aaron Sandusky.  He ran a medical marijuana dispensary in California that was in full compliance with state laws, but he still got busted by the Obama administration’s Justice Department and is now serving a 10-year stint. Read the rest of this entry »

From the Department of Petty Controversies: Schools Cancel Halloween

Of all the conflicts to roil our educational system, this one is pretty absurd

 writes:  In the latest example of small-mindedness plaguing our educational system, schools around the country are attempting to ban costumes and candy on what is surely one of most kids’ favorite days of the year. The excuses range from vague concerns about “safety” to specific worries about food allergies to—get this—fears of breaching the wall of separation between church and state.

But whatever the motivation, the end result is the same as what Charlie Brown used to get every time he went trick-or-treating: a big old rock in the candy bag. What sort of lesson are we teaching our kids when we ban even a tiny, sugar-coated break in their daily grind (or, even worse, substitute a generic, Wicker Man-style “Fall Festival” for Halloween)? Mostly that we are a society that is so scared of its own shadow that we can’t even enjoy ourselves anymore. We live in fear of what might be called the killjoy’s veto, where any complaint is enough to destroy even the least objectionable fun.

Consider Sporting Hill Elementary School in Pennsylvania. Earlier this month, the school sent parents a note explaining that wearing Halloween costumes was was canceled because, well, you know, “safety is a top priority.” A spokesperson further explained, “We recognize that the education about, and celebration of, seasonal festivals is an important aspect of the elementary setting…[but] we must do so in a manner that is safe and appropriate for all children.” You’d think it would be easy enough to craft basic guidelines on what’s safe – only fake blood, no trailing ghost or ghoul fronds that might get tripped on– but such a simple task is apparently beyond the powers that be in Sporting Hill. Read the rest of this entry »


3 Reasons We Need a Dirty Deal on Debt Ceiling

President Barack Obama has been outspoken that he wants a “clean,” no-strings-attached bill to raise the federal government’s borrowing ability.

But as the date on which the U.S. will hit the current limit approaches and Republican and Democrat legislators start last-minute negotiations, Nick Gillespie lays out three reasons why the only good debt deal is a dirty deal – one that ties any increase in borrowing capacity to specific cuts in future spending. Read the rest of this entry »


Welcome to the Era of Unlimited Government!

obama-and-bush428  writes: It’s a telling coincidence that the latest scandalous revelation about the National Security Agency (NSA) is hitting the front pages just as the enrollment period specified by the Affordable Care Act (ACA, a.k.a. Obamacare) is getting started.

Each of these things underscores different but related aspects of the virtually unlimited state that has ruined the peaceful slumber of libertarian-minded Americans for decades. Whether we’re talking about surveilling citizens without any sort of serious legal oversight or forcing them to participate in economic activity in the name of health care über alles, the answer always seems to favor the growth and power of the state to control more and more aspects of our lives. Is it any wonder that a record-high percentage of Americans think the federal government is too powerful? Read the rest of this entry »


Reality Check: 3 Reasons ObamaCare isn’t Apple

Reason‘s Nick Gillespie skewers the lamest White House talking point from the Obamacare spin-a-thon.

Three reasons why Obamacare isn’t Apple.

1. Apple Products Are, um, Voluntary.

Using Apple products is strictly voluntary. Unlike Obamacare, nobody is forced to pick up the latest iPhone or Mac. And thank god, nobody is forced to use inferior offerings such as Apple Maps.

2. Apple Can Go Out of Business.

Apple, like other once-mighty tech giants such as Nokia and RIM, is only a string of bad releases away from going belly up. The federal government? Not so much.

3. Apple Stores Are Occasionally Open.

Even on its busiest days, you can usually get into an Apple store. And you can always get online at Apple.com. Compare that to the experience of earlybirds trying to access the health insurance exchanges at Healthcare.gov or residents of whole states such as Colorado and Oregon, where there are major delays.

Greenroom/HotAir


George Will’s Libertarian Evolution: Q and A on Obama, Syria, and the Power of Choice

 & ‘s Q & A with George Will: “I’ve lived in Washington now for 44 years, and that’s a lot of folly to witness up close,” says Washington Post columnist George Will. “Whatever confidence and optimism I felt towards the central government when I got here on January 1, 1970 has pretty much dissipated at the hands of the government.”

“In part, I owe my current happiness to Barack Obama,” continues the 72-year-old Will, who “so thoroughly concentrates all of the American progressive tradition and the academic culture that goes with it, that he’s really put the spring in my step”. Read the rest of this entry »


REASON TV: Four Takeaways From Obama’s Speech On Syria.

On September 10, 2013, President Obama addressed the nation to explain why he favors a U.S. military strike in Syria. Reason TV’s Nick Gillespie offered four takeaways from Obama’s speech.


“Libertarians are the New Communists.” And Anti-Libertarians Are Out of Ideas

 writes: I’ve argued elsewhere that signs of the emerging “libertarian era” are everywhere around us, both in the voluminous and ever-growing positive press adherents of “Free Minds and Free Markets” and the increasingly shrill and misinformed attacks are drawing.

The latest example of the latter is on glorious, semi-literate display in the amazingly awful “Libertarians Are the New Communists,” by Nick Hanauer and Eric Liu and posted at Bloomberg View. Read the rest of this entry »


Washington Post: ‘big government is mostly unchanged’

Matt Welch

Your periodic reminder that the unbearable largeness of government is ongoing and eternal, despite a half-dozen recent showdowns over federal spending, comes from Sunday’s Washington Post. Excerpt:

After 2 1/2 years of budget battles, this is what the federal government looks like now:

It is on pace, this year, to spend $3.455 trillion.

That figure is down from 2010 — the year that worries about government spending helped bring on a tea party uprising, a Republican takeover in the House and then a series of ulcer-causing showdowns in Congress.

But it is not down by that much. Back then, the government spent a whopping $3.457 trillion.

Measured another way — not in dollars, but in people — the government has about 4.1 million employees today, military and civilian. That’s more than the populations of 24 states.

Back in 2010, it had 4.3 million employees. More than the populations of 24 states.

These numbers underline a point not made often enough: The stimulus was supposed to be a surge, a temporary increase to be pulled back after the crisis was averted. Instead, predictably, it just created a new baseline level of government spending.

Whole thing here. Link via the Twitter feed of the Post’s Dan Froomkin, who comments: “I’m still appalled by this poorly argued anti-government diatribe masquerading as a front-page WaPo story on Sunday.”

Serious about balancing the budget without raising taxes? Then read this Reason classic from Nick Gillespie and Veronique de Rugy: “The 19 Percent Solution.”

via  Hit & Run : Reason.com


Progressive Think Tank Demos Targets “Libertarian Right”

By 

Was it only yesterday that I suggested that a country ravaged for the past dozen-plus years by Big Government on steroids (plus whatever else A-Rod’s been shooting) was on the cusp of a glorious “Libertarian Era”?

As part of my case I pointed to recent fulminations across the political spectrum aimed at libertarians.

Long derided as inevitably male, pasty-faced, bitter-clingers to their Ayn Rands and their slide rules, libertarians for decades have been written off as a subset of all-powerful and oh-so-serious conservatives, as Republicans who smoke pot or have gay friends, and less. (Read “5 Myths About Libertarians,” my recent piece in the Washington Post, for some perspective.)

But now, in the words of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, libertarians are not just irrelevant but downright “dangerous” – and infecting both major parties. You know, because libertarians actually seem to give a rat’s ass about civil liberties, mindless military adventuring, and actually cutting government spending (which Christie has not done since taking office). Read the rest of this entry »


Five myths about libertarians

Five myths about libertarians

By Nick Gillespie

Nick Gillespie, editor of Reason.com and a columnist for the Daily Beast, is a co-author of “The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What’s Wrong With America.”

by Nick Gillespie The specter of libertarianism is haunting America. Advocates of sharply reducing the government’s size, scope and spending are raising big bucks from GOP donors, trying to steal the mantle of populism, being blamed for the demise of Detroit and even getting caught in the middle of a battle for the Republican Party. Yet libertarians are among the most misunderstood forces in today’s politics. Let’s clear up some of the biggest misconceptions.

1. Libertarians are a fringe band of “hippies of the right.”

In 1971, the controversial and influential author Ayn Rand denounced right-wing anarchists as “hippies of the right,” a charge still leveled against libertarians, who push for a minimal state and maximal individual freedom.

Libertarians are often dismissed as a mutant subspecies of conservatives: pot smokers who are soft on defense and support marriage equality. But depending on their views, libertarians often match up equally well with right- and left-wingers.

The earliest example of libertarian principles in partisan politics might have come in the late 19th and early 20th centuries,when Anti-Imperialist League Democrats rejected empire and war — and believed in free trade and racial equality at a time when none of that was popular. More recently, civil libertarians such as Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) supported Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) in his filibuster on domestic drones and government surveillance.

Libertarians are found across the political spectrum and in both major parties. In September 2012, the Reason-Rupe Poll found that about one-quarter of Americans fall into the roughly libertarian category of wanting to reduce the government’s roles in economic and social affairs. That’s in the same ballpark as what other surveys have found and more than enough to swing an election.

2. Libertarians don’t care about minorities or the poor.

As the recent discovery of neo-Confederate writings by a former senior aide to Sen. Paul shows, there sometimes is a connection between libertarians and creepy, racist elements in American politics. And given the influence of Ayn Rand among many libertarians, it’s easy to think that they care only about themselves. “I will never live for the sake of another man,” runs a characteristic line from Rand’s 1957 novel, “Atlas Shrugged.”

But at least two of the libertarian movement’s signature causes, school choice and drug legalization, are aimed at creating a better life for poor people, who disproportionately are also minorities. The primary goal of school choice — a movement essentially born out of a 1955 essay about vouchers by libertarian and Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman — is to give lower-income Americans better educational options. Friedman also persuasively argued that the drug war concentrates violence and law enforcement abuses in poor neighborhoods.

Libertarians believe that economic deregulation helps the poor because it ultimately reduces costs and barriers to start new businesses. The leading libertarian public-interest law firm, the Institute for Justice, which has argued Supreme Court cases for free speech and against eminent-domain abuse, got its start defending African American hair-braiders in Washington from licensing laws that shut down home businesses.

Read the rest of this entry »