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In Midnight Executive Order, Obama Administration Seizes 1.5 Million Acres

Obama Swoops Into Afghanistan On Bin Laden Death Anniversary

Obama Subverts Antiquities Act to Unilaterally Seize Land

 writes: When you think of a national monument, you probably think of a beautiful statue or some stately structure that honors a former president. They’re nice to have, nice to go look at. You probably don’t think of a “national monument” as 1.5 million acres of land that contains crucial natural resources the nation needs, but thanks to the national monument designation, can’t touch.

federal western land

Map of U.S. land currently under Federal ownership and control

“It is extremely disappointing that President Obama has declared another national monument here in Utah, ignoring the voices of so many in our state, particularly those closest to the designated space. By significantly restricting access to a large portion of public lands in Utah, the President weakens land management capabilities and fails to protect those the Antiquities Act intended to benefit.”

— Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes

Welcome once again to the final days of the Obama presidency, in which the whole point is to take abuse of executive power to new and, Obama homes, irreversible new heights. Screw your neighbors. Screw your own country. You’ve got nothing to lose at this point, and you think you’ve come up with a way to do it that leaves your successor helpless to reverse your abuses once you’re gone. One day it’s drilling in the Atlantic and the Arctic. The next it’s the de facto declaration of war against one of your best allies.

obama-escape

“Now you’ve decided to make official what you’ve long believed – that all property ultimately belongs to the state, whose primary interest in said property is to prevent said land from ever benefiting the people in any way.”

Now you’ve decided to make official what you’ve long believed – that all property ultimately belongs to the state, whose primary interest in said property is to prevent said land from ever benefiting the people in any way.

“Obama sees governing as a form of ideological combat. However much he may pretend he wants to help Trump get off to a good start, his actions say exactly the opposite. This gigantic federal land grab is only the latest example of Obama cleverly abusing executive powers in his waning days to hamstring the incoming administration, while structuring his actions in such a way that Trump can’t simply revoke what Obama has done.”

And if that means you’re seizing 1.5 million acres on the thinnest of premises, hey, you’re Barack Obama. At this point, it’s what you do:

The White House announced that The Bears Ears National Monument in Utah will cover 1.35 million acres in the Four Corners region. The move is a victory for Native American tribes and conservationists for whom the land is considered sacred, but sparked intense opposition from Republicans. Read the rest of this entry »

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[VIDEO] The Philosophy of Liberty is Based on the Principle of Self-Ownership

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Mission Accomplished: U.S. Drops to 16th on ‘Economic Freedom’ List, Behind Canada, Chile

Obama Change Not

The top 10: Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Mauritius, Jordan, Ireland, Canada, with the United Kingdom and Chile tied at 10.

“The United States, once considered a bastion of economic freedom, now ranks 16th in the world after being as high as second in 2000.”

Paul Bedard reports: The United States, ranked second in worldwide economic freedom as recently as 2000, has plummeted to 16th, according to a new report of world economies.

“A weakened rule of law, the so-called wars on terrorism and drugs, and a confused regulatory environment have helped erode economic freedom in the United States, which remains behind Canada and other more economically free countries such as Qatar, Jordan and the U.A.E.”

— Fred McMahon, Fraser Institute

The Fraser Institute’s annual report, Economic Freedom of the World, showed that the country’s drop started in 2010, the second year of the Obama administration.

“Economic freedom breeds prosperity and economically free countries like Canada offer the highest quality of life while the lowest-ranked countries are usually burdened by oppressive regimes that limit the freedom and opportunity of their citizens.”

— Fred McMahon, Fraser Institute

The world-recognized report showed that the U.S. fell in several areas, including legal and property rights and regulation.

“The United States, once considered a bastion of economic freedom, now ranks 16th in the world after being as high as second in 2000,” said the report issued Monday morning. Read the rest of this entry »


Danielle Allen: One Period Could Change the Meaning of the Declaration of Independence

WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 15: Ethan Kasnett, an 8th grade student at the Lab School in Washington, DC, views the original constitution. (Brendan Smialowski/GETTY IMAGES)

Danielle Allen is a political theorist at the Institute of Advanced Study and a contributing columnist for The Post. Her research will be the focus of a free conference on the Declaration of Independence titled “Punctuating Happiness, on June 23 at National Archives in Washington.

Danielle Allen writes: For all that we talk about “original” founding documents, when it comes to the Declaration of Independence at least, we’ve had multiple versions since the earliest days of the revolution. The most important difference among these versions appears in the sentence about self-evident truths.

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The manuscripts written out by John Adams and Thomas Jefferson; the version voted on by Congress, as attested to in the official minutes recorded by Charles Thomson; and the official poster printed up by John Dunlap at Congress’s request, on July 4 and 5, 1776, record a very long second sentence, reading as follows:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness; that to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

This lengthy sentence is a remarkably cogent expression of the theory of revolution that developed in early modern political thought. The people preserve their right to ensure that their rights are secured. When governments fail to secure those rights, the people may alter their government or, if it comes to it, abolish it and start over.

Declaration-Independence

Yet on July 6, Philadelphia printer Benjamin Towne — who had obtained a copy of the Declaration we know not how — printed an unauthorized version that broke that long sentence into two by placing a period after “pursuit of happiness.” Towne scooped Dunlap, who didn’t get the Declaration into his own paper until July 8. As the first newspaper printing, Towne’s version was circulated extensively and read like this:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, That all men are created equal; that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the content of the governed . . .”

In Towne’s printing, both the requirement that government balance the individual right to pursue happiness with the collective safety and happiness of the people and the accompanying theory of revolution drift out of focus. The period after pursuit of happiness leads us to disconnect the opening premise about individual rights from the argument for the positive value of good government and the all-important conclusion about altering governments that fail us.

[Read the full text here, at The Washington Post]

Last summer, I stood behind a group of high school students at an exhibit about the Declaration. They began reading one of the versions of the text with the period. When they got to “pursuit of happiness,” they lifted their hands in the air, shouted “yes,” and were gone. They got the point about individual rights but not the people’s responsibility to determine principles and organizational forms that achieve their shared safety and happiness. Read the rest of this entry »


What Is Rent-Seeking Behavior?

fair-exchange

Much rent-seeking is redistributing the surplus of one group of the middle class to another group of the middle class via the government. Although there might be great incentives for one group to seek another’s surplus, there is no added value for society as a whole

David John Marotta writes: Voluntary trade benefits both sides. Unless both parties believe they will benefit from the exchange, they will not consent.

In most exchanges both parties can produce the item they are trading more efficiently than they can produce what they are receiving. Producing a surplus of one item provides each party something to trade for someone else’s surplus. Having more than your family needs opens the opportunity to trade the excess for profit.

“In the public sector, for example, government lobbyists are hired to sway public policy to benefit their companies and punish their competitors. Although hiring lobbyists clearly benefits the company they represent, the work of lobbyists does not add value to the larger marketplace.”

Unfortunately, when property rights are weakened and the ownership of someone’s wealth or goods is debatable, people can gain more by trying to appropriate that wealth than by producing themselves. This behavior is called rent-seeking.

Rent-seeking frequently requires spending your own resources so you own someone else’s surplus in the end. In the public sector, for example, government lobbyists are hired to sway public policy to benefit their companies and punish their competitors. Although hiring lobbyists clearly benefits the company they represent, the work of lobbyists does not add value to the larger marketplace. If property rights on the surplus the company seeks had been more stable, such roles for lobbyists would never have been created.

1943 June Workers leaving Pennsylvania shipyards Beaumont Texas LOC FSA OWI Photo Credit John Vachon

Rent-seeking doesn’t add any national value. It is coerced trade and benefits only one side. Rent-seeking can include piracy, lobbying the government or even just giving away money.

“Imagine a thriving sea trade in which ships carrying cargo receive a 20% profit on the value of the goods. Now imagine the first pirate who arms his boat with cannons and rent-seeks the profit. The pirates are not producing any value of their own but are spending their own resources to capture the surplus of the shipping trade.”

If the pirate ship captures just one in every hundred ships, the average profit for the traders will drop to 19%. Meanwhile the pirate ship is seizing a 100% profit. There is incentive to join the rent-seeking pirate trade. By the time 10 pirates are competing for plunder, the profit of honest merchants has dropped to just 10%. At 20 pirates, there would be no profit remaining and no incentive to engage in the shipping trade.

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The rent-seeking of pirates motivates merchants to spend their resources to prevent the theft. They sail with an armed escort. They pay privateers to capture the pirates. Even if these efforts cost 15%, they will still preserve a 5% profit. If the effort costs much more, however, shipping will simply cease. All of this expense could be avoided if incentives to be a rent-seeking pirate were somehow eliminated.

“If the pirate ship captures just one in every hundred ships, the average profit for the traders will drop to 19%. Meanwhile the pirate ship is seizing a 100% profit. There is incentive to join the rent-seeking pirate trade.”

When I (David John Marotta) was applying for college, I was told that hundreds of scholarships, many based on merit, were available. After hours of research I found very few for which I qualified. I found one scholarship for a student of Italian-American ancestry. It was worth $1,000 and required me to submit an essay. It took me three hours to write the essay. I was engaging in rent-seeking.

“By the time 10 pirates are competing for plunder, the profit of honest merchants has dropped to just 10%. At 20 pirates, there would be no profit remaining and no incentive to engage in the shipping trade.”

You might think that giving away money is free, but it is not. Even if you hold a random lottery, potential winners still need to take the time to enter. At my $5 hourly wage, my entry cost me $15. I learned later they received 450 entries. If my experience was typical, the rent-seeking cost of all the applicants was $6,750 just to win a $1,000 scholarship. If you add the time to judge the competition and send return letters, the waste gets even greater.

pirate-flag

“Rent-seeking never encourages productivity. The production of valuable goods and services is maximized with strong property rights when little is wasted in efforts to seize the surplus of others or to prevent others from seizing our surplus.”

During a strong economy there are fewer incentives for rent-seeking because production is highly rewarded. But when economic times make it more difficult to produce, it becomes more attractive to rent-seek someone else’s surplus.

This situation can create a downward spiral because the rewards of rent-seeking are often constant, whereas the surpluses available in a market economy are more variable. When the economy is poor, the burden of fixed rent-seeking costs on producers drives surpluses even lower. This makes rent-seeking relatively more attractive, which in turn further burdens those who try to remain productive.

“Any efforts to subsidize or bail out struggling businesses are rent-seeking. When some banks take excessive risks to gain excessive returns, they are risking that the returns will be worth the hazards involved.”

Much rent-seeking is redistributing the surplus of one group of the middle class to another group of the middle class via the government. Although there might be great incentives for one group to seek another’s surplus, there is no added value for society as a whole. Read the rest of this entry »


In Defense Of Banksy and Guerrilla Street Art

IMG -Thomas Hawk Foter

Photo -Thomas Hawk Foter

It’s more than an act of crime or commerce

James Poulos writes: To be a brand name in guerrilla street art is to be in exclusive company. And no one has built a bigger brand imposing his stencils, spray paintings, and sculptures on the world than Banksy. His latest installation, a scattershot, month-long spree of works called “Better Out Than In,” proved that to anyone who pays attention to New York City. Every day, across the five boroughs, the secretive artist debuted a fresh piece in a new location, spawning excited Instagrams, an interactive street map, and, yes, grumbling critique: not just from nannyesque Bloombergians, but the kinds of property rights advocates who sometimes cross swords with the Mayor. That is art Banksy style: sticking it to the man, and maybe to you too. Read the rest of this entry »


CO Senator Responds to Property Managers Attempt to Disarm Tenants

After news broke that Ross Management Group was attempting to bar tenants from possessing firearms in Castle Rock, Colorado’s Oakwood Apartments, Colorado state senator Greg Brophy (R-Dist. 1) spoke to Breitbart News about the issue.

Brophy said the news of the ban hit him as “flatly unconstitutional” from a legal and/or governance standpoint.

Of the attempt to force every tenant to give up his or her guns, Brophy said: “It is utterly foolish to go out and practically advertise that ‘no one living in this building can protect him or herself.'”

Brophy said doing this would have turned the apartments into yet another “‘gun free zone’ for criminally minded people to rob or attack at will.”

77-year old Oakwood tenant and Marine Art Dorsch feared these very things when he told Colorado 9News how shocked he was that Ross management was demanding he get rid of all his guns or get out of the apartments.

Douglas County leaders intervened in the situation and the ban has been rescinded.

via Property Managers Attempt to Disarm Tenants.