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Saudi Airstrike Kills 13 Yemeni Civilians, Including Children

Saudi Airstrike Kills 13 Yemeni Civilians, Including Children

An airstrike from the U.S.-backed Saudi-led coalition hit a vehicle carrying civilians in north Yemen on Monday. The airstrike killed 13 people, including four children. The same day, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres removed the Saudi coalition from a global list of parties who have harmed children in conflicts.

The international humanitarian group Save the Children said the victims were on their way home from a local market when the vehicle was suddenly bombed. The Houthi’s Health Ministry identified eleven of the victims, which included one woman and four children, ages 12-14.

The coalition often targets civilian infrastructure, which is why Guterres’s move to remove them from the “blacklist” drew sharp condemnation from human rights groups. Saudi warplanes have hit schools, hospitals, water treatment plants, markets, weddings, and other civilian targets.

The UN special representative for children in armed conflict said Guterres made the decision to remove the Saudis from the blacklist following “sustained, significant decrease in killing and maiming due to airstrikes.” While it is true the worst of the bombing took place in the early days of the war, bombs still fall on civilians in Yemen regularly.

Saudi Arabia’s effort to drive out the Houthis and reinstate President Hadi started in 2015 with the full support of the United States, the UAE, and other Gulf allies. The airstrikes, blockade, and siege on the country has always been a war on civilians.

Dave DeCamp is assistant editor at Antiwar.com and a freelance journalist based in Brooklyn NY, focusing on US foreign policy and wars. He is on Twitter at @decampdave. This article was originally featured at Antiwar.com and is republished with permission. 

Qualified Immunity: An Invention of Judicial Activism

Qualified Immunity: An Invention of Judicial Activism

Qualified immunity is a legal doctrine that shields cops from liability for actions taken in the line of duty unless they violate rights “clearly established” by existing judicial precedent. No statute exists granting qualified immunity. It evolved over time based on a series of Supreme Court cases.

In practice, qualified immunity makes it extremely difficult to prosecute police officers for using excessive force or committing other acts of misconduct. As Supreme Court Justice Byron White wrote in the 1986 case Malley v. Briggs, qualified immunity protects “all but the plainly incompetent or those who knowingly violate the law.” Reuters called it “a highly effective shield in thousands of lawsuits seeking to hold cops accountable for using excessive force.”

But how did we end up with qualified immunity in the first place? The legal doctrine evolved over time thanks to federal judicial activism and was applied to every police department in the United States through the incorporation doctrine. The very existence of qualified immunity reinforces an ugly truth. We can’t trust the federal government to protect our rights. It almost always defers to government power.

We can trace the origins of qualified immunity back to the Civil Rights Act of 1871. The act was codified into law by 42 U.S. Code §1983—“Civil action for deprivation of rights.” In effect, it allows any U.S. citizen to sue a state or local official in federal court for “the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws.”

This was one of the first federal laws passed based on the 14th Amendment. The statute arguably overreaches the intent of the 14th. Regardless, for the first time, it created an avenue for individuals to hold state officials accountable through the federal courts.

Although §1983 did not specifically provide for an immunity defense, lawyers for government officials often argued for immunity based on common law, arguing it was implicit in the statute. Early on, immunity defenses were built on a case-by-case basis and not based on settled federal court precedent. But in the 1967 case Pierson v. Ray, the Supreme Court cemented the doctrine of qualified immunity into federal jurisprudence. The Court held that government officials who violate the law or constitutional limits on power in “good faith” can raise “qualified immunity” as a defense.

Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote the majority opinion.

“Under the prevailing view in this country, a peace officer who arrests someone with probable cause is not liable for false arrest simply because the innocence of the suspect is later proved. A policeman’s lot is not so unhappy that he must choose between being charged with dereliction of duty if he does not arrest when he has probable cause, and being mulcted in damages if he does. Although the matter is not entirely free from doubt, the same consideration would seem to require excusing him from liability for acting under a statute that he reasonably believed to be valid but that was later held unconstitutional, on its face or as applied.”

The next step forward for qualified immunity came in the 1971 case Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents. The case opened the door for individuals to sue federal government officials for violations of rights given that §1983 only applied to state and local officials. Justice William Brennan wrote, “While there is no explicit right to file a civil lawsuit against federal government officials who have violated the Fourth Amendment, this right can be inferred. This is because a constitutional protection would not be meaningful if there were no way to seek a remedy for a violation of it.”

In 1982, Harlow v. Fitzgerald established qualified immunity for federal government officials and set the stage for the current definition of qualified immunity. The Court held that government actors are entitled to qualified immunity due to “the need to protect officials who are required to exercise discretion and the related public interest in encouraging the vigorous exercise of official authority.”

“Government officials performing discretionary functions generally are shielded from liability for civil damages insofar as their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.” [Empashis added]

Today, courts analyze qualified immunity cases under a three-part test established in Graham v. Connor (1989). Ilan Wurman explained the test in a paper titled Qualified Immunity and Statutory Interpretation published by the Seattle Law Review.

“The test requires courts to undertake an objective analysis of the circumstances surrounding the use of force. Even if a court decides that the use of force was unreasonable and thus unconstitutional, the second step of the inquiry is the qualified immunity analysis: Was it ‘clearly established‘ that this kind of force in this kind of circumstance is unconstitutional? If not, the officer escapes liability.” [Emphasis added]

Grahm also established that all police excessive force cases involving arrests, searches, or investigatory stops must be evaluated under the Fourth Amendment, not the due process clause of the 14th.

Wurman argues that the “clearly established” test erects an almost insurmountable hurdle to those trying to prove excessive force or a violation of their rights.

“The qualified immunity test poses an almost insurmountable analytical problem—the permutations are infinite. A given situation is rarely exactly like another. There will always be sufficient distinguishing facts to decide that there was no clearly established law.”

Bivens and subsequent cases all involved federal government officials, but eventually, the court effectively abandoned the statutory process in §1983 and began hearing cases against state agents directly under the Constitution. As Wurman explained, “Immunity doctrine traditionally looked to the common law to derive immunities in §1983 cases. This approach was lost, quite possibly as a result of historical accident, as the Court began to hear Bivens actions directly under the Constitution and not under any statute.”

Later, he writes, “[The Court] subsequently invented immunity doctrine out of whole cloth in other federal-officer cases and exported that doctrine to the §1983 cases rather than importing the relevant doctrine from the state-officer cases.”

The rationale for federalizing state and local police misconduct cases was good-intentioned. When Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1871, it was next to impossible for African-Americans to get a fair shake in many state courts and government officials could abuse their rights with virtual impunity.

But the end-result of centralizing power in the federal government was worse. Now it’s next to impossible for any person in any state to get a fair shake when challenging police misconduct. The federal courts have cemented a system in place that gives law enforcement officers almost complete immunity and allows them to violate any individual’s rights with virtual impunity.

Through the incorporation doctrine that applies the federal Bill of Rights to state and local governments, this system protects police officers in every city, county and state in the U.S. from Honolulu, Hawaii to West Quoddy Head, Maine.

A decentralized system where cases were heard under state law and state constitutions would undoubtedly have problems. Some states would probably extend almost complete protection to law enforcement officers just like the federalized system. But surely some would be better.

The lesson here is pretty clear. Government protects its own. Centralized power almost never benefits the average person in the long-run. And we cannot count on federal courts to protect our rights.

This article was originally featured at the Tenth Amendment Center and is republished with permission.

Her Name Was Breonna Taylor: The Deadly Consequences of No-Knock Warrants

Her Name Was Breonna Taylor: The Deadly Consequences of No-Knock Warrants

mid the nationwide focus on the death of George Floyd, another tragedy has unfortunately fallen by the wayside. We should not forget the death of Breonna Taylor—or the dire need to abolish the “no-knock” warrants that caused her death, trample property rights, and routinely endanger Americans.

Here’s the sad story of Taylor’s death.

On March 13, police officers broke into the Louisville, Kentucky home of Taylor and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, unannounced. The police were executing a “no-knock” warrant, which allows them to conduct a search without identifying themselves as law enforcement, as part of a drug crime investigation into a different suspect—not Taylor or Walker—who was already in police custody.

When Walker heard unknown intruders breaking into his home, he did not know they were police officers. So, quite understandably, Walker grabbed his lawfully-owned firearm and fired a shot at the unknown invaders. The ensuing hail of more than 20 police-fired bullets left Taylor dead, and Walker was arrested for attempted murder of a police officer. (The charge has since been dropped).

Police claim that they knocked at the apartment door and announced themselves, yet that is hard to believe. They were specifically executing a “no-knock” warrant, after all, and not just Walker, but multiple neighbors have confirmed they heard no such announcement.

Neither Taylor nor Walker had a criminal history, and no drugs were found in the raid on their apartment.

Taylor’s killing was a grotesque act of police recklessness. It once again exposes the injustice of “no-knock” warrants, which put both police officers and law-abiding Americans in grave and unnecessary danger by creating a situation where a routine law enforcement search can easily turn into a deadly misunderstanding.

And, sadly, Taylor’s death is not as unique as one might think.

Law enforcement officers conduct 20,000 “no-knock” raids a year. We don’t know exactly how many people are killed or injured as a result, but an analysis from the American Civil Liberties Union does provide some insight. As reported by Vox, the ACLU looked into 818 such “no-knock” raids, and found seven deaths (2 were suicides to evade arrest) and 46 civilian injuries. If these figures are at all representative, that means many, many more Americans are injured or killed across all 20,000 raids.

“No-knock” raids have also resulted in horror stories like a flash-bang grenade being thrown into the crib of a 19-month-old toddler and the shooting of a 7-year-old child.

True, these raids usually don’t end in violence. But every single “no-knock” warrant violates the sanctity of the home, the privacy of the individual, and fundamental property rights, all of which are longstanding tenets in the western tradition of liberty and in the founding ideas of America.

As James Bovard wrote for FEE 20 years ago:

Without private property, there is no escape from state power. Property rights are the border guards around an individual’s life that deter political invasions.

Few government policies better symbolize the contempt for property rights than the rising number of no-knock raids. “A man’s home is his castle” has been an accepted rule of English common law since the early 1600s and required law-enforcement officials to knock on the door and announce themselves before entering a private home. But this standard has increasingly been rejected in favor of another ancient rule—“the king’s keys unlock all doors.”

The notion that “A man’s home is his castle,” as Bovard notes, is a fundamental American principle. It is enshrined in our Constitution, particularly through the Fourth Amendment, which recognizes Americans’ right to be free from “unreasonable searches and seizures” of their homes. It is hard to imagine any search less “reasonable” than one where armed-to-the-teeth police officers burst into your home in the dead of night—and don’t even announce themselves as law enforcement.

And conservatives especially should appreciate the insidious way in which “no-knock” raids undermine the Second Amendment and the right to self-defense. After all, Walker did exactly what many Americans who lawfully own guns would do: protect his home and family from armed intruders. For the exercise of this fundamental right, Taylor paid the ultimate price.

Policies like these compromise the sanctity of every American home. How can anyone exercise their right to self-defense to protect their home and family if they don’t know whether or not it’s the police breaking down the door?

This is why Breonna Taylor’s story must not be allowed to fall through the cracks, and “no-knock” warrants cannot be allowed to stand.

The police officers involved in her case still have not faced any charges, and her mother is calling for justice, saying “I need people to know that her life mattered.”

The only way to truly honor Taylor’s memory is to make sure this kind of tragedy never happens again—and that means banning “no-knock” warrants across the board. Thankfully, there is some political support across the ideological spectrum for this reform.

Congressional Democrats have introduced a police reform bill that would abolish “no-knock” warrants for federal drug cases, which doesn’t go far enough, but is at least a good start.

Meanwhile, Sen. Rand Paul, a libertarian-leaning Kentucky Republican, has led the charge against “no-knocks” from the Right. He was one of the first voices to speak out about Breonna Taylor’s tragic death, and has called for reform in no uncertain terms.

“I think it’s crazy that we’re breaking down people’s doors in the middle of the night,” the senator said in a conversation with Taylor’s aunt. “People are frightened. They don’t know what to do. They don’t know if it’s burglars.”

“I want to make sure that we don’t forget Breonna,” Paul continued. “That we try to make it better, so this doesn’t happen again.” The only way to do that is to consign “no-knock” warrants to the dustbin of history.

Brad Polumbo is a libertarian-conservative journalist and the Eugene S. Thorpe Writing Fellow at the Foundation for Economic Education. This article was originally featured at the Foundation for Economic Education and is republished with permission.

Senator Rand Paul Proposes National Ban on No-Knock Police Raids

Senator Rand Paul Proposes National Ban on No-Knock Police Raids

On Thursday, in a historical move, all 26 members of the Louisville, Kentucky Metro Council voted to pass a ban on no-knock warrants, a measure known as “Breonna’s Law.” The law was named after the former EMT who was gunned down as she slept in her bed by cops raiding the wrong home. The move still needs to be approved by the mayor, but it is revolutionary in precedent.

Image1“This is one of many critical steps on police reform that we’ve taken to create a more peaceful, just, compassionate and equitable community,” Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said, vowing to sign the bill “soon as it hits my desk.”

While this move is certainly noteworthy and will lead to a massive shift in law enforcement procedure that will undoubtedly save lives, it is reserved solely for the people of Louisville, Kentucky.

So, after this move, Sen. Rand Paul (R) Kentucky, proposed to make this a nationwide ban in one of the most unprecedented anti-police state moves we’ve ever seen.

“After talking with Breonna Taylor’s family, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s long past time to get rid of no-knock warrants. This bill will effectively end no-knock raids in the United States,” Paul said.

As Axios reports, Paul introduced a bill on Thursday that would prohibit federal law enforcement and local police that receive federal funding from entering homes without warning through a “no-knock” warrant, which was reportedly obtained by the officers that shot Louisville resident Breonna Taylor in her home on March 13.

Why it matters: In the wake of nationwide protests against the killing of George Floyd, there’s now a bipartisan consensus that police reform is necessary.

  • Senate Republicans led by Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) are planning a package that would require states to provide data on the use of no-knock warrants, but Paul’s proposal goes even further.
  • House Democrats, meanwhile, have proposed their own bill that would reform police training, make lynching a federal crime, and ban chokeholds and the use of no-knock warrants in drug cases.

As many have pointed out, however, the bill proposed by Democrats is full of questionable language which could end up hindering the already difficult process of seeking transparency in policing. Rand Paul’s proposal we be far more effective at curbing police violence.

Image1 (1)The idea of ceasing the use of no-knock raids is revolutionary when it comes to policing in the United States and its importance cannot be overstated.

Across the country—largely due to the failed drug war—police conduct more than 20,000 no-knock raids a year.

Breonna was murdered during one of them. Countless others are beaten, terrorized, and killed as well, and just like Breonna, cops often act on bad information.

“In theory, no-knock raids are supposed to be used in only the most dangerous situations … In reality, though, no-knock raids are a common tactic, even in less-than-dangerous circumstances,” Vox wrote in an revealing investigation in 2015. Case in point, Breonna Taylor.

A whopping 79 percent of these raids — like the one used to murder Dennis and Rhogena Tuttle in Houston, TX in 2019 — are for search warrants only, mostly for drugs. Just seven percent of no-knock raids are for crisis situations like hostages, barricaded suspects, or active shooters, according to an investigation by the ACLU.

What’s more, the study by the ACLU found that in 36 percent of SWAT deployments for drug searches, and possibly in as many as 65 percent of such deployments, no contraband of any sort was found.

Not only do these raids appear to be mostly unproductive, but they are often carried out on entirely innocent people based on lies, wrong information, or corruption, laying waste to the rights—and lives—of unsuspecting men, women, children, and their pets.

As we’ve seen in the case of Roderick Talley, drug task forces routinely conspire together to raid the homes of innocent people as a means of justifying themselves.

Cops have been routinely caught planting evidence, lying on warrants, and raiding wrong homes, and when we attempt to question this madness, we’re accused of hating cops.

Raiding homes with no-knock warrants was proven so horrifyingly ineffective last year in Houston with the murder Dennis and Rhogena Tuttle, that Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo vowed to end them.

However, unlike the aforementioned bans at the federal and city level, this was the chief simply promising not to do them.

As we reported at the time, in a move TFTP has never seen, the Houston police department is claiming they are taking steps to prevent future scenarios like this from happening—by ceasing the use of no-knock raids.

“The no-knock warrants are going to go away like leaded gasoline in this city,” Acevedo said during a heated town hall meeting on Monday.

“I’m 99.9 percent sure we won’t be using them,” he continued.

Hopefully, this bill receives the bipartisan support it needs to pass and end this violent and destructive practice. It will take us one step closer to one of the most important solutions to ending police brutality, by chipping away at the war on drugs.

Matt Agorist is an honorably discharged veteran of the USMC and former intelligence operator directly tasked by the NSA. This prior experience gives him unique insight into the world of government corruption and the American police state. Agorist has been an independent journalist for over a decade and has been featured on mainstream networks around the world. Agorist is also the Editor-at-Large at The Free Thought Project. Follow @MattAgorist on TwitterSteemit, and now on Minds. This article was originally featured at The Free Thought Project and is republished with permission. 

Rothbard’s Rules for Crisis

Rothbard’s Rules for Crisis

When an economic crisis hits, everybody from the Fed chairman to the man on the street knows that the Fed must print more money and reduce interest rates and that the government must spend more money and go deeper into debt. This is seen as necessary to “fill the gap” left by the private sector.

This approach is entirely wrong. In fact, it is highly counterproductive.

Murray Rothbard’s number one rule in an economic crisis is for the government not to interfere with the market’s adjustment process, or, in Wall Street terms, “the correction.” The more government intervenes in the economic crisis, the longer and the more grueling it will be. It can even perpetuate the depression as it did during the Great Depression.

However, the government has been intervening in most economic crises for the last century. This approach started shortly after the founding of the Federal Reserve in 1913. If printing money can paper over a problem, it seems like an easy, straightforward solution to politicians.

The United States had economic crises during the previous century. Two big ones were caused by the First and Second Banks of the United States. The ones after the War Between the States were quickly resolved because the national government could do precious little to intervene.

Even after the Fed was born, intervention was not the rule. During the depression of 1920–21 the Fed raised interest rates in the same way it did in the early 1980s. President Harding also balanced the budget. Both times it was grueling, but the economy quickly recovered, with full employment, rising wages, and a growing stock market.

What are the interventions that Rothbard wrote about that hamper market adjustment? In his America’s Great Depression (1963, pp. 19–23) we find the following:

First, government can attempt to delay or prevent bankruptcy or foreclosure by lending money or establishing moratoriums on rents and mortgage payments. This keeps prices up and prevents necessary adjustments.

Second, the Fed can adopt an easy money policy of inflation. This keeps prices up and interest rates down, whereas economic recovery is based on lower prices and higher interest rates.

Third, efforts during a depression to keep wages higher than market rates when prices are falling means that real wage rates rise. The result is massive unemployment.

Fourth, policies to keep prices up also raise the cost of living and can result in surpluses of goods with no buyers.

Fifth, efforts to stimulate consumption discourage saving, a prime ingredient of recovery. Food stamps and taxes on wealth, capital, and profits encourage consumption and discourage savings. Because government spending is entirely consumption, its budget should be slashed permanently.

Sixth, policies to subsidize unemployment, such as unemployment insurance, only increase unemployment and discourage people from searching for jobs or accepting lower-paying ones.

In summary, Rothbard’s approach for dealing with an economic crisis suggests that government should not prevent prices and wages from falling or stand in the way of bankruptcies. The road to recovery involves higher interest rates and price deflation. This leads to a painful but effective and historically tested process that is fully opposed by mainstream economists.

To show you the common sense of this deflationary approach, consider what is typical in an economic crisis. During a hypothetical economic crisis, we might see the following:

  1. The price of capital falls drastically. Thing like stocks, real estate, and land fall by up to 90 percent. The Dow and NASDAQ lost around 50 percent after the housing bubble. The Dow lost more than 90 percent of its value during the Great Depression.
  2. The prices of basic commodities, like energy, grains, and metals, fall significantly, sometimes by more than 50 percent, as did gasoline after the housing bubble.
  3. The price of labor falls noticeably, with the prices of highly skilled labor falling by more than 50 percent in some cases and those of manual labor falling even further. After the dot-com bubble burst, computer programmers could not find work and often opted to retrain for other occupations.
  4. The prices of consumer goods fall somewhat, but although luxury goods prices might fall by 20 percent or more, the declines in the prices of necessities is minimal, because the demand for goods like toothpaste and soap is largely unaffected while the demand for others, such as rice and potatoes, often increases.

The obvious implication of these changes in relative prices is that entrepreneurial people should buy up the cheap capital goods, commodities, and labor to produce consumer goods or hire the abundant skilled workers to produce innovative consumer goods to sell for profits.

Mainstream, especially Keynesian, economists use the metaphor of a black hole to describe an economy experiencing deflation as utter destruction. I have dubbed this fear apoplithorismosphobia. As shown above, Austrian economists see deflation as part of a necessary cleansing process, and they use the metaphor of the shock absorber to describe the impact of deflation. The historical record supports the Austrian view of deflation.1Joseph T. Salerno, “Deflation and Depression: Where’s the Link?,” Mises Daily, Aug. 6, 2004, https://mises.org/library/deflation-and-depression-wheres-link; Pavel Ryska, “Deflation and Economic Growth: The Great Depression as the Great Outlier,” Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics 20, no. 2 (2017): 113–45; Greg Kaza, “Deflation and Economic Growth,” Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics 9, no. 2 (2006): 95–97.

In terms of silver linings, it’s worth noting that Microsoft and Google were small companies when they started in the late 1970s and the late 1990s, respectively, but that both greatly expanded in and after the subsequent economic crises. Microsoft did so in the depression of the early 1980s, and Google did so in the aftermath of the collapse of the tech-stock bubble in the early 2000s.

Still, there is great skepticism that the U.S. government would ever sit on the sidelines and not pursue the interventionist, big government agenda. True enough, but there is actually a silver lining here too. If the government continues to pursue this failed approach, things will only get worse and we could end up in a hyperinflation:

The value of the U.S. dollar has already fallen immensely and is currently only strong vis-à-vis other fiat monies. It has suffered an official inflation rate of 2,500 percent since the Fed began operations. The M1 money supply—what we think of as money—has increased from around $250 billion when the United States was taken off the gold standard in 1971 to $5 trillion today, up from $4 trillion just a couple of months ago! That is an increase of 1,900 percent. The M3 money supply, which includes all forms of money, increased from $685 billion in August 1971 to over $16 trillion today, an increase of 2,200 percent.

If the federal government continues to run massive deficits and the Fed continues to monetize government debt, interest rates will increase and foreigners and their central banks, who are large holders of both our currency and our debt, will lose confidence. If they decrease their demand for our government debt, it will start us down the road to hyperinflation and possibly a totalitarian form of government.

The silver lining here is that proponents of the free market would likely get what they have long wanted through the political process: a return to the gold standard, the repeal of Social Security and welfare, an end to the warfare and surveillance states, and a return to a decentralized form of federalist government.

This article was originally featured at the Ludwig von Mises Institute and is republished with permission. 

Roof Koreans: How Civilians Defended Koreatown from Racist Violence During the 1992 LA Riots

Roof Koreans: How Civilians Defended Koreatown from Racist Violence During the 1992 LA Riots

The riots of the spring of 2020 are far from without precedent in the United States. Indeed, they seem to happen once a generation at least. The 1992 Los Angeles Riots are such an example of these “generational riots.” And while most people know about the riots, less known – though quite well known at the time – were the phenomenon of the so-called “Roof Koreans.”

The Roof Koreans were spontaneous self-defense forces organized by the Korean community of Los Angeles, primarily centered in Koreatown, in response to violent and frequently racist attacks on their communities and businesses by primarily black looters and rioters during the Los Angeles Riots of 1992. Despite their best efforts, over 2,200 Korean-owned businesses were looted or burned to the ground during the riots. It is chilling to imagine how many would have suffered the same fate had the Koreans not been armed.

Standing on the rooftops of Koreatown shops they and their families owned, clad not in body armor or tactical gear, but instead dressed like someone’s nerdy dad, often smoking cigarettes, but always on alert, the Roof Koreans provide a stirring example of how free Americans of all races can defend their own communities without relying upon outside help.

The Koreans of Los Angeles were the ultimate marginalized minority group. They were subject to discrimination and often victimized by the black community of the city. Due to language barriers and other factors, they lacked the political clout of other minority groups, such as the large Mexican community of Los Angeles County. This in spite of their clear economic success in the city beginning in the 1970s and 80s.

The reasons for the tensions between the Korean and black communities of Los Angeles pre-dates the riots, which were largely just the match that ignited the powder keg that had been this region of Los Angeles for years. To understand what happened in Koreatown in 1992, it is necessary to understand much more than simply the Rodney King trial and the resulting riots.

The Roots of Korean Business Ownership in Black Communities

How is it that the Korean-American community of Los Angeles ended up owning so much property in what were largely black neighborhoods? The answer, ironically, lies in a previous riot, the Watts Riot of 1965. This riot, which included six full days of arson and looting, was kicked off when a black man was arrested for drunk driving.

The riots occurred roughly at the same time that the Koreans started showing up in America. This meant that, among other things, businesses and real estate were very cheap to purchase. The newly arrived Korean immigrants began buying up the businesses that no one else wanted. By the 1980s, it wasn’t limited to Los Angeles – Koreans were dominating the mom-and-pop shops from coast to coast. But the resentment in the City of Angels was growing.

Prologue: The Death of Latasha Harlins

Roof Koreans: How Civilians Defended Koreatown from Racist Violence During the 1992 LA RiotsWhile it was not the start of tensions in the city between these two communities, the killing of Latasha Harlins in 1991 certainly ratcheted the situation up to a new level.

Harlins, whose personal life is a hard-luck story that does not bear repeating here, was 15 at the time when she was shot and killed by Korean shopkeeper Soon Ja Du, a 51-year-old woman born in Korea. Du generally didn’t even work in the store, a task that typically fell on her husband and her son. However, that day she was covering for her husband who was outside in the family’s van.

Du claimed that Harlins was trying to steal a $1.79 bottle of orange juice, but witnesses said they heard Du call Harlins a slur and heard Harlins say she planned to pay for the juice, with money in hand. After reviewing video tape footage, the police agreed with the witnesses. Video footage further showed Du grabbing Harlins by her sweatshirt and backpack.

Harlins responded by striking Du twice, which knocked the latter to the ground. Harlins started to back away, prompting Du to throw a stool at her. The two struggled over the juice before Harlins went to leave. Du went behind the counter and grabbed a revolver, firing at a retreating Harlins from behind from three feet away. Harlins was killed instantly by a bullet to the back of the head.

Billy Heung Ki Du, Ja’s husband, rushed into the store after hearing the gunshot. His wife asked where Harlins was before she fainted. Mr. Du then called 911 to report an attempted holdup.

Mrs. Du was charged with voluntary manslaughter, a charge that can carry up to 16 years in prison. At trial, she testified on her own behalf. The jury recommended the maximum sentence, which the judge rejected, instead giving Mrs. Du time served, five years probation, 500 hours of community service and a $500 fine. The California Court of Appeals upheld the sentence about a week before the riots began in a unanimous decision. Harlins’ family received a settlement of $300,000.

The case wasn’t the first example of tensions between the two communities, but it was a microcosm for them and perhaps the worst from an optics perspective. In 1991, the Los Angeles Times reported that there were four shootings in the span of just over four months involving a Korean shooter and a black target. The store was eventually burned down during the riots, never to reopen.

That same year, there was an over 100-day boycott of a Korean-American-owned liquor store that ended when the owner was effectively bullied into selling his store to a black owner. Then-Mayor Tom Bradley, who many blamed for the riots, was instrumental in coming to this “settlement” which chased a Korean owner out of the area.

The Rodney King Verdict: The Riots Begin

Roof Koreans: How Civilians Defended Koreatown from Racist Violence During the 1992 LA RiotsThe other relevant background story is the trial of Rodney King. This was what touched off the LA riots. The short version of the story is that Rodney King led the police on a high-speed chase going up to 115 miles per hour. He was evading them because he was driving while under the influence and was on parole at the time. His two passengers were loaded into the squad car first, with King exiting the car last.

King was beaten for approximately two minutes straight on a 12-minute tape recorded by a nearby civilian. He was also tazed. King repeatedly attempted to get up despite instructions to stay down. Officers later testified that they believed he was on PCP at the time, but his toxicology test ruled this out. The tape became a national sensation and then-Chief Daryl Gates described himself as being in “disbelief” when he saw the tape.

Four of the five officers on the scene were charged. The jury, which contrary to popular belief, was not “all white,” but did not include any black members, acquitted the four officers on assault, acquitted three of them on excessive force and resulted in a hung jury on the fourth charge after seven days of deliberation.

At 5 p.m. after the verdicts were announced, Mayor Tom Bradley gave a press conference interpreted by many, including Assistant Los Angeles police chief Bob Vernon, as effectively giving permission to riot. Vernon stated that police incidents increased noticeably after the mayor’s statement.

The event credited with touching off the riots was the arrest of 16-year-old Seandel Daniels at 71st and Normandie in South Central Los Angeles. The rioters began attacking Koreatown on the second full day of rioting.

Koreatown Gets Attacked During 1992 LA Riots

Koreans began moving to Los Angeles in large numbers after the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, a radical departure from previous immigration laws that dramatically changed the demographic character of the nation, including Los Angeles. Many Koreans opened successful businesses in the area, but incurred resentment and racism from black residents, which is documented in popular culture of the time such as Do The Right Thing and Ice Cube’s “Black Korea” off of Death Certificate.

When the riots spread throughout the city, the LAPD blocked roads going through Koreatown into more affluent neighborhoods. This was seen by many residents as a containment that effectively left Koreatown residents trapped inside the riot zone. What’s more, the police and other first responders ignored the pleas for help coming from within Koreatown.

Of the nearly $1 billion in damages done during the riots, over half of it was done to Korean-owned businesses.

Enter the Roof Koreans

Roof Koreans: How Civilians Defended Koreatown from Racist Violence During the 1992 LA RiotsThe Korean community of Los Angeles did not simply sit by and allow their neighborhood and businesses to be destroyed by rioters without lifting a finger. On the contrary, the images of Korean shopkeepers and their families defending themselves from the rooftops of their buildings soon became one of the most iconic images of the riots. Live footage of gun battles were circulated on cable news and elsewhere. The images still resonate with freedom lovers to this day – what image could be more powerful than an ethnic minority refusing to subject itself to a pogrom, instead taking to the rooftops to defend themselves with deadly force, if necessary?

For firearms collectors, the Roof Koreans present another avenue of interest: They used many cool weapons that largely left the market after the Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 was passed. The Intratec TEC-9 and the A.A. Arms Kimel AP-9 are just two of the weapons used by the Roof Koreans, alongside more standard weapons such as the Daewoo K1, standard issue for the Republic of Korea’s military.

The Republic of Korea’s military is another key part of the story with regard to the Roof Koreans. Far from an untrained mob of men who took up with arms sans training, the Roof Koreans were, by virtually any definition, “a well-regulated militia.” Many of them had experience in the South Korean Army, as South Korea has conscription with very few exceptions.

It’s worth noting that virtually every weapon used by the Roof Koreans to defend themselves, their businesses, their communities and their families would be against the law or, at least, highly restricted today. “High capacity magazines” (anything over ten rounds) are against the law and there is a 10-day waiting period for all firearms purchases. As the riots lasted five days, this would have put anyone who had not already purchased a firearm in a seriously precarious position.

The Lessons of the Roof Koreans

Kurt Schlichter was in Inglewood at the time of riots, one of the hardest hit areas. He speaks eloquently on the topic of the Roof Koreans (or “Rooftop Koreans” as he calls them) and the need of communities to defend themselves. His account of defending Los Angeles against riots is worth reading, despite the fact that he was not in Koreatown.

He makes the case that it is not just wise, but the responsibility of all Americans to prepare themselves for such events. And while we would not go as far as him to suggest that people ought to be legally required to prepare for such an event, we do agree with him that everyone is their own first responder. More than that, there is a solid argument to be made that we have a duty to our community to prepare for those times when individual defense is not enough, but a common defense is necessary.

The Roof Koreans provide a perfect, real-life counter argument to the idiotic question of gun grabbers that free men justify why they “need” certain arms to defend themselves. If ever anyone “needed” a fully automatic rifle with a 100-round magazine, it was the Korean community of Los Angeles.

“Roof Koreans: How Civilians Defended Koreatown from Racist Violence During the 1992 LA Riots” originally appeared in the Resistance Library on Ammo.com.

Why Did The Police Abandon Their Posts?

Why Did The Police Abandon Their Posts?

The riots and looting that have taken place in the aftermath of a Minneapolis law enforcement officer suffocating a man to death — which was caught on video by a bystander — has people questioning the idea of policing and how it is done. Should police be taught de-escalation tactics? Would it be prudent for them to live in the area they patrol? Why is law enforcement still performing “broken window policing?” In the wake of the murder of George Floyd by Derek Chauvin these are all things to ponder. 

Taking all of this into consideration, people aren’t asking why it is that police are abandoning their precincts, leaving them to the mob, and suffering no consequences for this action. A few have asked why the police aren’t protecting the public and its property but one would think that in the least the cops would protect “their own house,” right? It is apparent that people learned nothing from the Parkland school shooting when it comes to “law enforcement” being the “security force” of the people. Even after it was determined that the officers who cowered outside had “no duty to protect,” the public still didn’t grasp the message the courts were sending. 

The idea that law enforcement is there “to serve and protect” individual members of the public has been ruled against over and over again, and the facts surrounding some of the most famous cases are particularly heinous. 

Warren v. District of Columbia (1981) 

Warren v D.C. is probably the most cited case when it comes to the fact that police aren’t mandated to protect the individual. 

The details of the case are terrifying: 

In the early morning hours of Sunday, March 16, 1975, Carolyn Warren and Joan Taliaferro, who shared a room on the third floor of their rooming house at 1112 Lamont Street Northwest in the District of Columbia, and Miriam Douglas, who shared a room on the second floor with her four-year-old daughter, were asleep. The women were awakened by the sound of the back door being broken down by two men later identified as Marvin Kent and James Morse. The men entered Douglas’ second floor room, where Kent forced Douglas to perform oral sex on him and Morse raped her.  

Warren and Taliaferro heard Douglas’ screams from the floor below. Warren called 9-1-1 and told the dispatcher that the house was being burglarized, and requested immediate assistance. The department employee told her to remain quiet and assured her that police assistance would be dispatched promptly.  

Warren’s call was received at Metropolitan Police Department Headquarters at 0623 hours, and was recorded as a burglary-in-progress. At 0626, a call was dispatched to officers on the street as a “Code 2” assignment, although calls of a crime in progress should be given priority and designated as “Code 1.” Four police cruisers responded to the broadcast; three to the Lamont Street address and one to another address to investigate a possible suspect.  

Meanwhile, Warren and Taliaferro crawled from their window onto an adjoining roof and waited for the police to arrive. While there, they observed one policeman drive through the alley behind their house and proceed to the front of the residence without stopping, leaning out the window, or getting out of the car to check the back entrance of the house. A second officer apparently knocked on the door in front of the residence, but left when he received no answer. The three officers departed the scene at 0633, five minutes after they arrived.  

Warren and Taliaferro crawled back inside their room. They again heard Douglas’ continuing screams; again called the police; told the officer that the intruders had entered the home, and requested immediate assistance. Once again, a police officer assured them that help was on the way. This second call was received at 0642 and recorded merely as “investigate the trouble;” it was never dispatched to any police officers.  

Believing the police might be in the house, Warren and Taliaferro called down to Douglas, thereby alerting Kent to their presence. At knife point, Kent and Morse then forced all three women to accompany them to Kent’s apartment. For the next fourteen hours the captive women were raped, robbed, beaten, forced to commit sexual acts upon one another, and made to submit to the sexual demands of Kent and Morse.  

Warren, Taliaferro, and Douglas brought the following claims of negligence against the District of Columbia and the Metropolitan Police Department: the dispatcher’s failure to forward the 6:23 a. m. call with the proper degree of urgency; the responding officers’ failure to follow standard police investigative procedures, specifically their failure to check the rear entrance and position themselves properly near the doors and windows to ascertain whether there was any activity inside; and the dispatcher’s failure to dispatch the 6:42 a. m. call. 

The women sought to sue the District of Columbia and several individual members of the Metropolitan Police Department on two different occasions. The results were: 

“In a 4–3 decision, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals affirmed the trial courts’ dismissal of the complaints against the District of Columbia and individual members of the Metropolitan Police Department based on the public duty doctrine ruling that the duty to provide public services is owed to the public at large, and, absent a special relationship between the police and an individual, no specific legal duty exists. The Court thus adopted the trial court’s determination that no special relationship existed between the police and appellants, and therefore no specific legal duty existed between the police and the appellants.” 

Town of Castle Rock v. Gonzales 

The importance of Castle Rock v Gonzales cannot be overstated since, unlike Warren, this case was taken to the Supreme Court of the U.S.A. for its ruling.  

The events that precipitated the ruling are tragic to say the least: 

During divorce proceedings, Jessica Lenahan-Gonzales, a resident of Castle Rock, Colorado, obtained a permanent restraining order against her husband Simon, who had been stalking her, on June 4, 1999, requiring him to remain at least 100 yards (91 m) from her and her four children (son Jesse, who is not Simon’s  biological child, and daughters Rebecca, Katherine, and Leslie) except during specified visitation time. On June 22, at approximately 5:15 pm, Simon took possession of his three daughters in violation of the order. Jessica called the police at approximately 7:30 pm, 8:30 pm, and 10:10 pm on June 22, and 12:15 am on June 23, and visited the police station in person at 12:40 am on June 23. However, since she from time to time had allowed Simon to take the children at various hours, the police took no action, despite Simon having called Jessica prior to her second police call and informing her that he had the daughters with him at an amusement park in Denver, Colorado. At approximately 3:20 am on June 23, Simon appeared at the Castle Rock police station and was killed in a shoot-out with the officers. A search of his vehicle revealed the corpses of the three daughters, whom it has been assumed he killed prior to his arrival. 

Gonzales filed suit against the Castle Rock police department and three of their officers in the U.S. District Court of Colorado claiming they didn’t protect her even though she had a restraining order against her husband. The officers were declared to have “qualified immunity” and thus, couldn’t be sued. But, “a panel of that court… found a procedural due process claim; an en banc rehearing reached the same conclusion.” 

In this case, the government of the town of Castle Rock took the decision against it to the Supreme Court of the U.S.A. and got the procedural due process claim reversed, finding 

The Court’s majority opinion by Justice Antonin Scalia held that enforcement of the restraining order was not mandatory under Colorado law; were a mandate for enforcement to exist, it would not create an individual right to enforcement that could be considered a protected entitlement under the precedent of Board of Regents of State Colleges v. Roth; and even if there were a protected individual entitlement to enforcement of a restraining order, such entitlement would have no monetary value and hence would not count as property for the Due Process Clause.  

Justice David Souter wrote a concurring opinion, using the reasoning that enforcement of a restraining order is a process, not the interest protected by the process, and that there is not due process protection for processes. 

Lozito v. New York City 

This one was saved until the end because, unlike the previous cases, the officer in this one admitted under grand jury testimony that the reason he didn’t come to the aid of Joseph Lozito is because he was scared that Lozito’s attacker had a gun. 

On February 11thMaksim Gelman, started a “spree-killing” by stabbing his stepfather, Aleksandr Kuznetsov, as many as 55 times because he refused to allow Gelman to use his wife’s (Gelman’s mother’s) car. Gelman would end up killing 3 more while injuring 5, the last injured person being Joe Lozito on a northbound 3-train while on his way to work.  

The facts of the Lozito attack are startling: 

“Joseph Lozito, who was brutally stabbed and “grievously wounded, deeply slashed around the head and neck”, sued police for negligence in failing to render assistance to him as he was being attacked by Gelman. Lozito told reporters that he decided to file the lawsuit after allegedly learning from “a grand-jury member” that NYPD officer Terrance Howell testified that he hid from Gelman before and while Lozito was being attacked because Howell thought Gelman had a gun. In response to the suit, attorneys for the City of New York argued that police had no duty to protect Lozito or any other person from Gelman.” 

Lozito had heard of the previous cases stating that the police had “not duty to protect” but decided to go to court representing himself.  

The court would have none of it: 

“On July 25, 2013, Judge Margaret Chan dismissed Lozito’s suit, stating that while Lozito’s account of the attack rang true and appeared “highly credible”, Chan agreed that police had “no special duty” to protect Lozito.” 

As segments of the country continue protesting, rioting and looting as a “response” to the George Floyd killing, and local governments are questioning funding their enforcement agencies, people should retreat a few steps and take a macro view of their “protection services.” While some are rightly railing against police brutality and aggressive policing, they should go back to the beginning and ask whether any of these “fixes” are going to work if the most basic assumption when it comes to “serving and protecting” is a farce.  

If the police are just there as a clean-up crew, or historians after the fact, why not designate them as such. If in the overwhelming amount of cases they get there after a crime has been committed, it’s time to take that 2nd Amendment seriously and remove the barriers that keep many people, especially those in high crime areas, from protecting themselves. “Armed” with the knowledge that those you have falsely believed were there to protect you are in fact serving another purpose, rational individuals should be looking for realistic options when it comes to protecting yourself from any threat that may come your way; public or private. 

How Libertarians Can Create Order From Chaos

How Libertarians Can Create Order From Chaos

The aftermath of George Floyd’s murder has ushered in a grisly scene of terror for many. All around the country police are attacking peaceful protestors while ideological opportunists loot and riot, destroying private property and burning down cities.

As emotions run high and polarization continues to divide the country, libertarians find themselves bickering over the binary laid out before them by statists of all stripes—are cops the bad guys? Or are the looters the bad guys?

Yes!

For decades libertarians have railed against police and the abuse of power that runs rampant among their ranks. They’ve spent much of their careers desecrating private property, violating citizen’s rights, and imprisoning non-violent members of society for financial gain. On the other side of the argument, anti-capitalist instigators infiltrate peaceful protests to further their ideals of an armed revolution by destroying businesses, churches, and communities. Both sides of this quarrel take advantage of well-meaning individuals to further their agenda(s).

Libertarians have no interest on either side, yet, as Martin Luther King Jr. used violent protests of his era in his favor—deal with them or deal with us—libertarians may use the animalistic behavior of both parties to emphasize market solutions.

As Bastiat is quoted as stating, “Paris doesn’t go hungry.”

It is no secret in libertarian circles that the libertarian response to central planning, which Mises called “planned chaos,” is to utilize the market, allowing competition to separate the wheat from the chaff; creating order from said chaos. During this insidious time that response is needed more than ever.

Lisa Bender, the president of the Minneapolis City Council, was interviewed by CNN about the city’s stance to defund the police. It should come as no surprise that this politician, like all politicians, had no solutions to the problems that will surely arise once the MPD is defunded and eventually abolished. As is the case with all statists, her responses were emotionally driven much like right-wingers’ defense of the police is. If either side were to ask themselves simple questions in regards to defunding the police it’s entirely possible that they may switch sides completely.

Who will enforce arbitrary anti-liberty regulations and prohibitions on guns? Who is to punish those that sin against the environment, like using straws?

Neither left nor right have spent a moment considering the unintended consequences that their reactionary positions would surely cause.

On the other hand, libertarians have spent decades considering, theorizing, writing, and advocating for the defunding and dismantling of police. And though the movement is not addressing the problems that will result from the abolition of police it is leaving a glaring hole in the market for libertarians to fill.

Imagine a Private Membership Association app—we’ll call it Defund and Defend—that costs $2.99/month. For that $2.99/month Defund and Defend offers you a list of vetted security firms they contract with in your area. When you open the app you see the approved list: Threat Management Inc., The Protectorate Co., The Midnight Watchmen, and Safe-N-Secure LLC. You select your firm of choice, choose pay per call or join for a monthly fee, and meet with customer service to ensure your needs are met. If at any time you are dissatisfied with the services of a firm you may leave a bad review to warn other consumers and trial another firm until you find a firm that fits your specific requirements. The market moves in to fill a vacuum and delivers superior service in the absense of a state monopoly.

Anti-capitalists will certainly push back against such ideas, spewing such strawmen as, “You’ll see these firms become violent; warring amongst themselves.” Yet, Apple and Android don’t take up arms in the street fighting over territory. You only see that in black markets, or when the state’s monopoly is challenged. If anti-capitalists wish to opt out the market has no mechanism to coerce them into participation. That’s merely a state solution tankies insist on projecting onto businesses because it’s the only way they can think to attract consumers.

At this point some may be saying this is fantasy. To that I’d only direct you to research the amount of private security firms that contract with corporations and the wealthy. If the state wishes to deem such entities illegal wouldn’t one only have to argue discrimination?

At any rate, I’m not an attorney. There would certainly be some legal challenges as there were with Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb. This probably isn’t even a perfect solution. However, by now there are evil geniuses in our midst calculating risk v reward, and designing brilliant systems that utilize and promote libertarian first principles. That is the goal.

Libertarians should not feel pressured into the camps of left or right during such contentious times. The libertarian line has never moved: there are always market solutions that will serve all people sufficiently, and that is how we find order in the midst of chaos.

Tulane University Accused Of Anti-Male, Title IX Violation

Tulane University Accused Of Anti-Male, Title IX Violation

A complaint filed on April 17 with the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) could echo through college corridors across America. Stop Abusive and Violent Environments (SAVE)—a “national policy movement for fairness, due process and the presumption of innocence”—accuses Tulane University of sexual discrimination against male students. A review of 300 large colleges conducted by SAVE’s Title IX Equity Project found many institutions to be vulnerable to similar complaints.

The issue is federal funding. Tulane is a private university, but it accepts tax money for student aid. This obligates it to accept the policy conditions attached to funding. Title IX prohibits sexual discrimination in federally supported schools. 34 CFR 106—Title IX’s implementing regulation—prohibits scholarships or other financial aid that, “on the basis of sex, provide different amounts or types of such assistance, limit eligibility for such assistance…or otherwise discriminate.” (106.37(a)(1)) The alternative is to refuse federal money, as some religious colleges do, and maintain more control over policy.

Instead, Tulane’s tuition-aid page “strongly” encourages “all families” to apply for a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as well as for Tulane Institutional aid; a FAFSA must accompany the latter. The page claims that “all admitted students are considered for merit-based scholarships.”

There is reason to question this claim.

Tulane has a history of offering female-only scholarships. It is laudable to promote women’s education, but Tulane’s methods create problems. For one, in accepting federal funds, the university accepted Title IX. And then there is the ethical matter of privileging one class of student over another, especially since males are a minority at Tulane (slightly over 40 percent) and have a lower graduation rate within four years.

Tulane also has a history of being investigated by the OCR for sexual discrimination. In 2018, Title IX attorney and mother of two boys, Margaret Valois filed a complaint that sparked an OCR investigation. Valois offered female-only scholarships as examples of sexual discrimination. She stated elsewhere, “Tulane’s implementation of Title IX provides greater educational opportunities for female students…When opportunities and benefits are offered to one group because of their sex…it is patently unfair”

Tulane and the OCR quickly entered into a resolution agreement that stated, “By September 6, 2019, the University will ensure that it is not treating male students differently on the basis of sex…with respect to financial assistance.” Relevant faculty were to receive Title IX training, with Tulane’s Institutional Equity Team presumably preventing discrimination.

Or, perhaps, not. The university appears to be currently violating 34 CFR 106 on same-sex financial aid. The provision allows an exception, however. Same-sex financial aid is permitted when “established pursuant to domestic or foreign wills, trusts, bequests, or similar legal instruments or by acts of a foreign government “ which specify sex. But a condition adheres. “….Provided, that the overall effect of…such sex-restricted…forms of financial assistance does not discriminate on the basis of sex.” (106.37(b)(1)) Overall, the financial aid must not disadvantage either sex.

SAVE says Tulane’s aid policies do. The complaint asserts that its website shows three internal scholarships designed for male students. This contrasts with ten female-only internal ones. In terms of external scholarships, the complaint alleges Tulane “lists external female-only scholarships on its website but does not list any of the external male-only scholarships identified in a national survey of sex-specific scholarships.” By contrast, six female-only external scholarships exist. “This practice is prohibited by 106.37(a)(1)),” the complaint concludes, because it disadvantages male students. The university has not responded to direct queries.

And, so, a resolution similar to the 2019 one has been requested.

In November 2018, the Inside Higher Education article New Scrutiny for Women’s Programs” opened, “University of Minnesota ends requirement that some scholarships go to women. Tulane evaluates its programs limited to women. Other institutions face new complaints.” Whether or not SAVE’s complaint succeeds, it joins the rising cry for male students to be treated as equals.

The Flexner Report and the Cartelization of Modern Medicine

The Flexner Report and the Cartelization of Modern Medicine

Although we’ve been given a brief respite from COVID-19 pandemic news, it’s likely that the killer of over one hundred thousand so far in America will leap back to the front page and that continuous calls to flatten the curve will return to top of the mind.

As a friend and fellow ex-University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) Rothbard student reminded me, flattening the curve essentially means to socialize medicine: to ration healthcare, giving preference to COVID sufferers at the expense of non-COVID emergency medical care and elective procedures.

If the US healthcare system is the cowboy capitalism that many believe it is, why aren’t there doctors, nurses, and PPE (personal protective equipment) in abundance? Why the need to portion out medical care and talent?

The American Medical Association (AMA) was founded in 1847, incorporated in 1897, and as Paul Starr wrote in “The Social Transformation of American Healthcare: The Rise of a Sovereign Profession and the Making of a Vast Industry,” “The key source of physicians’ economic distress in 1900 remained the continuing oversupply of doctors, now made much worse by the increased productivity of physicians as a result…[of the] squeezing of lost time from the professional working day.”

Starr points out that the number of medical schools expanded at the end of the nineteenth century. From the founding of the AMA to 1900, the number of medical schools more than tripled from 52 to 160. The population expanded 138 percent between 1870 and 1910, while the number of physicians increased 153 percent.

“The weakness of the profession was feeding on itself; ultimately help had to come from outside,” Starr wrote. Help came in the form of the Flexner Report, penned by Abraham Flexner, whose claim to fame was being the brother of the powerful Dr. Simon Flexner, a key player in the chase for a vaccine to battle the 1918–19 Spanish flu,which killed 35 to 100 million people worldwide.

Brother Abraham was not a doctor himself. And while the report was commissioned by the Carnegie Foundation, “​Flexner’s report was virtually written in advance by high officials of the American Medical Association, and its advice was quickly taken by every state in the Union,” Murray Rothbard explained in Making Economic Sense.

Using the Flexner Report as a guide, the AMA was able to use the state to cartelize the medical industry. Rothbard wrote,

The result: every medical school and hospital was subjected to licensing by the state, which would turn the power to appoint licensing boards over to the state AMA. The state was supposed to, and did, put out of business all medical schools that were proprietary and profit-making, that admitted blacks and women, and that did not specialize in orthodox, “allopathic” medicine: particularly homeopaths, who were then a substantial part of the medical profession, and a respectable alternative to orthodox allopathy. (Making Economic Sense, p. 76)

The report recommended closing schools, competing therapies, and minority doctors that were considered substandard. “Medicine would never be a respected profession…until it sloughed off its coarse and common elements,” wrote Starr. Medical schools had been closing before 1910, with 20 percent shuttered in the four years before the report was published. Capital requirements for moden laboratories, libraries, and clinical facilities “were what killed so many medical schools in the years after 1906,” Starr wrote.

Rothbard explained further,

In all cases of cartels, the producers are able to replace consumers in their seats of power, and accordingly the medical establishment was now able to put competing therapies (e.g., homeopathy) out of business; to remove disliked competing groups from the supply of physicians (blacks, women, Jews); and to replace proprietary medical schools financed by student fees with university-based schools run by the faculty, and subsidized by foundations and wealthy donors. (Making Economic Sense, p. 77)

A reader can pick up plenty of books on the Progressive Era and find barely a mention of the AMA, yet the medical mess we have today took root during that era. Some of us still remember house calls, five-dollar office visits, worn black medical bags toted by doctors with stethoscopes dangling from their necks. Before the Flexner Report, mechanics made more than doctors and the brightest students avoided the profession to enter the clergy.

The burgeoning cartel meant “a skewing of the entire medical profession away from patient care toward high-tech, high-capital investment in rare and glamorous diseases,” wrote Rothbard, “which rebound far more to the prestige of the hospital and its medical staff than is actually useful for the patient-consumers” (ibid., p. 77).

Abraham Flexner, according to Starr, “had an aristocratic disdain for things commercial.” The high-minded Flexner Report “more successfully legitimated the profession’s interest in limiting the number of medical schools and the supply of physicians than anything the AMA might have put out on its own.”

The result: after peaking at 162 medical schools in 1906, by 1922 the number had been cut in half. The Flexner Report (a.k.a. ​Bulletin Number Four) recommended that the number of schools be reduced to thirty-one. Fortunately, more than seventy survived. Left up to Flexner, twenty states would not have had a single medical school. Legislators intervened. The report “was the manifesto of a program that by 1936 guided $91 million from Rockefeller’s General Education Board (plus millions more from other foundations) to a select group of medical schools,” according to Starr. Two-thirds of these funds went to only seven schools.

Medicine made a great leap in the Progressive Era. “The transition from household to the market as the dominant institution in the care for the sick,” in addition to increased specialization of labor, “has created emotional distance between the sick and those responsible for their care,” Starr wrote, “and a shift from women to men as the dominant figures in the management of health and illness.”

The true sign of the elevation of doctors in society was evident in 1926, when H.L. Mencken snidely wrote, “Kiwanis, like golf, is a symbol of the business man’s natural desire to break the dreadful monotony of his days. And when I say businessman, I include also, of course, the doctor, the dentist, the lawyer, and all other bored and laborious walking gents of human comedy.”

Thanks to Flexner, the AMA, and state licensing, today’s healthcare cartel is no laughing matter, but deadly serious.

Douglas French is former president of the Mises Institute, author of Early Speculative Bubbles & Increases in the Money Supply, and author of Walk Away: The Rise and Fall of the Home-Ownership Myth. He received his master’s degree in economics from UNLV, studying under both Professor Murray Rothbard and Professor Hans-Hermann Hoppe. This article was originally featured at the Ludwig von Mises Institute and is republished with permission. 

The Present and Future Cost of Spending

The Present and Future Cost of Spending

Welcome to your future. Your government is spending it right now. And your children’s and grandchildren’s future to boot.

The U.S. Treasury projected that it would borrow $2.99 trillion in the second quarter fo this year. The Trump administration also plans to borrow another $677 billion in the July-September quarter, bringing the total fiscal 2020 debt to $4.48 trillion.

To put it into some perspective, before the pandemic, the CBO projected that the federal deficit would come in at just over $1 trillion in fiscal 2020. The government is set to borrow nearly three times that in just three months. And the one-year total borrowing will nearly equal the total of the four biggest yearly budget deficits on record. The level of government borrowing will crush the previous quarterly record of $596 billion set during the height of the 2008 financial crisis. It’s nearly two-and-a-half times the total amount of money the U.S. Treasury borrowed in all of 2019.

The national debt hit $25 trillion just a few weeks ago and it’s already knocking on the door of $26 trillion. By the end of the fiscal year, it will likely be well north of $27 trillion and climbing.

Here’s the most important thing to remember: Uncle Sam was already borrowing and spending at an unsustainable pace before coronavirus.

The federal government has run deficits over $1 trillion in four fiscal years, all during the Great Recession. The fifth trillion-dollar deficit was coming down the pike in fiscal 2020, despite what President Trump kept calling “the greatest economy in the history of America.” Simply put, the Trump administration was already running significant budget deficits even before the coronavirus crisis and debt was piling up at a dizzying pace. The deficit already featured numbers you would expect to see during a massive economic slowdown—before the massive economic slowdown. Response to the pandemic put spending and debt in hyperdrive.

Pretty much everybody accepts that borrowing and spending are necessary due to the economic destruction wrought by the government shutdowns. As the AP put it, “Private economists believe that the government has little choice but to spend the money now to prevent an even worse downturn and possibly even a situation like the Great Depression of the 1930s.”

Whether the government as a choice or not remains up for debate. What’s not debatable is that at some point we’re going to have to pay for all of this.

Never forget—borrowed money has to be paid back. Uncle Sam is effectively taking future productivity and spending it now. When the bills start coming due, the government will have two choices. It can raise taxes or it can pay the debt off through inflation.

I’d expect both.

Don’t think you can reelect Trump and avoid tax increases. The president can’t snap his fingers and suspend economic reality. At some point in the not-too-distant future, Congress will have to raise taxes to address budgetary realities. But tax increases are unpopular and politically unpalatable, so also expect a lot of inflation.

In fact, the Federal Reserve is already inflating the money supply at an unprecedented rate. Were it not for the central bank backstopping all of this borrowing, bond prices would tank and interest rates would soar. But the Fed is set up and primed to monetize all of this debt through QE Infinity. In effect, the central bank is printing money and buying U.S. Treasury bonds. Ostensibly, by creating artificial demand for Treasuries, the Fed will be able to soak up excess supply and hold interest rates down. It has no choice because rising interest rates would be the death knell for this debt-riddled, overleveraged economy.

But the central bank will create trillions of dollars out of thin air and inject it into the economy in order to run this debt monetization scheme. That raises the specter of inflation. This is one reason financial analyst Peter Schiff recently said hyperinflation has gone from the worst-case scenario to the most likely scenario.

So, enjoy your stimulus checks and your bailouts. You’re going to pay for it later.

And even sadder, your children and grandchildren are going to pay for it too. That’s unconscionable.

In a letter to James Madison, Thomas Jefferson asserted that we have no right to bind future generations to pay our debts.

“No man can, by natural right, oblige the lands he occupied, or the persons who succeed him in that occupation, to the paiment of debts contracted by him. For if he could, he might, during his own life, eat up the usufruct of the lands for several generations to come, and then the lands would belong to the dead, and not to the living, which would be the reverse of our principle.”

Politicians have short time-horizons. That’s why they generally make poor decisions. They don’t care about the future beyond the next election cycle. They certainly don’t care about my children. Elected officials do the popular thing now to secure reelection tomorrow. with little concern for the long-term consequences. It’s a neverending game of kick the can down the road—until you run out of road.

Three trillion borrowed dollars in the span of three months will make that road mighty short.

This article was originally featured at the Tenth Amendment Center and is republished with permission.

Libertarians Should Support #AbolishThePolice

Libertarians Should Support #AbolishThePolice

The protests in response to the murder of George Floyd have brought more mainstream exposure to a radical libertarian position than any other other political movement since Ron Paul’s presidential run. A number of hashtags calling for the defunding, disbanding and outright abolition of local police have propelled the topic into mainstream discourse. Over the past few days, The Star Tribune, Time magazine and today, the NYT have all run articles exploring the notion. A notion for which libertarians have devoted considerable effort, over the course of many decades, towards providing a theoretical and intellectual unpinning.

Due to the cultural development of the libertarian movement since the elder Paul’s presidential bid, however, some high profile libertarians have found it difficult to find fraternity with or even support such calls from urban minority community activists who have recently stolen the attention of the 24 hour news cycle. This is true for many reasons. Questions of the coherency of the narrative (who will enforce leftist laws???), over emphasis on racial issues instead of a focus on the institution of the police, and just the overwhelming growth of power of PC culture in just the last decade has made such libertarians regard this recent development as somewhat dubious.

Even on their own terms, it’s not clear that these views are justified.

First, its unclear as to whether or not this movement even qualifies as leftist, at least in the sense the term is used. If the position itself is leftist, than libertarians need to just accept that they hold leftist views. If by leftist they mean that *every* protester and voice in favor of abolition *also* holds socialist and anti-capitalist views, well that is immediately falsified. A number of libertarians have come out in support of the protests, a number even participated. How many people have to be libertarian for the movement to be libertarian? a plurality? a majority? Are we just going to say those people don’t count? Ok, so *most* protesters, right? What about the hundreds of thousands of participants who hold a complex set of political views that cant be easily summed up in a pithy way?  If what matters is the majority, than the movement has no political affiliation at all. What about the fact that ideas are transmitted through a sophisticated network over a variety of media, and people form their opinions based on a variety of influences. That political movements take on a life of their own, and calls to abolish are potentially as much to do with libertarian yammering as anything else?

Fine. Perhaps then, its the organizers that qualify the movement as leftist. I would accept that if they were calling for the platitudes and fashionable leftist rhetoric of yesteryear, These protesters have one goal. End the reign of terror that police have inflicted on the communities they are supposed to be serving and protecting.

“But it doesn’t make sense! How will they collect their revenue?”

Next we hear the following objection. “They don’t really want abolition, because then they couldn’t enforce their laws”. A slightly more coherent version of this rebuttal is “They haven’t really thought it through.” There is still *so* much wrong with this. Not only is it incredibly patronizing, but it homogenizes the entire movement. Libertarians are supposed to be methodological individualists. Not every protester is uniformly in favor of occupational licensing, zoning laws, business licenses, etc… In fact, most of these people don’t even consider these to be related issues, never mind having overwhelming support for them. Those who are familiar, have probably been victimized by such institutions themselves. What you really mean is that the political class wont let it happen. Uh, ok. Aren’t we all fighting the political class?

“But it shouldn’t all/only be about race”.

Yeah, well it is. At least for the people engaging in meaningful political activism right now. In the United States, urban minorities have a sense of the world in which their “class” such as it is, is perpetually victimized by a political establishment concerned with social control and exploitation. Is that not demonstrably true? Libertarians have historically never disputed that narrative. Our’s has always been a position that urban minorities are not focusing on appropriate causal factors… Which factors may i ask? … THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE INFRASTRUCTURE!!! Leftist are finally dialed in on the exact issue that libertarians have been saying lies at the heart of racial disparity, and now we cant support it because they see themselves as a class.

“What if they replace it with something worse?”

What  if they were screaming End the Fed? Would you be saying “What if they put in something worse?”. Sorry, guys. End the Fed is cancelled cuz there are greenbackers and conspiracy kooks. What if they were saying “End the empire”? It’s a callow angle. It certainly isn’t a priori true that replacing police with social programs would be less libertarian, and certainly reasonable that such programs could be more so. It’s a question of particulars. Each would have to be looked at on a case by case basis and evaluated on its own merit. Oppose those things when they happen. And what the hell can be worse than armed enforcement wing of the state? At worst, a replacement would be everything police already are, minus the guns. But again, nobody is saying you need to support that. Just oppose what you know is wrong. And for those suggesting that the market will not fill the void left by an absence of armed security forces in major cities… That people wont spontaneously organize to solve complex social problems. I have a few books i’d recommend. Starting with this one.

“It’s just the Mob. Looting is bad”

Here I would offer that somebody can see this movement as something bigger than looting and remain consistent with libertarianism. You don’t have to abandon a value for property rights to support activists protesting transgressions against property (such as all actions of the police on behalf of the state necessarily are). And by the way, it takes as little moral courage to decry looting as it does to decry racism. Not to mention the perfectly reasonable argument (which is born out by the evidence btw) that police response to the protests has done more to cause the looting than anything else.

“If they take power, they will betray us.”

Who? Leftists? Aside from the fact that i remain unsold on the idea that this is a homogeneous leftist movement, I am constantly bombarded with the narrative that they already have all of the power. How does them doing something we agree with put us at more risk than we would be otherwise?

So there it is. My case for embracing this movement. And my frustration at the state of libertarianism today. We should all agree, as we once had, Defund, Disband, Abolish. And if you don’t agree, well than get out of the way, cuz its happening.

 

 

How Inflation Has Been Driving Wealth Inequality In the United States

How Inflation Has Been Driving Wealth Inequality In the United States

“There is enough for all. The earth is a generous mother; she will provide in plentiful abundance food for all her children if they will but cultivate her soil in justice and in peace.”- Congressman William Bourke Cockran (D-NY)

With the massive oncoming rush of poverty as a result of government-imposed shutdowns, Americans can expect that the progressive left will shout again in a loud chorus about how capitalism has failed the poor. But the increasing global poverty brought about by the heavy hand of government mandates to close down the capitalist system cannot be leveled against the market system itself. You can’t blame a depression on the failure of the market system when official government policy was to shut the markets down.

It would surprise some people on the left to learn that the capitalist, free market system not only brings increasing general prosperity—something even many on the left begrudgingly acknowledge—it also brings up the wages of the poor and has its own kind of safety net system in place for frugal, working people in times of economic distress. While many on the left—such as academics Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty, politicians such as Bernie Sanders and the “Squad,” and leftist media outlets—like to talk about how there’s an increasing concentration of wealth in the hands of the rich, they’re only partly right.

The increasing number of billionaires around the world is largely a simple consequence of our increasingly globalized economy. If a man is able create a new and innovative product and sell it for a one-dollar profit to 1/3 of all Americans under the old protective national economy, he earns a little more than $100 million. But if an innovator sells a product to 1/3 of the people of the world in the global economy for a one-dollar profit each, he becomes a multi-billionaire. Sure, there are some crony billionaires like Elon Musk, who has been the recipient of more than $5 billion in government subsidies. And how could Musk not be rich after receiving so much largesse transferred from workers and taxpayers to his bottom line? But it is folly to claim the free market was at work in making Musk a billionaire. And despite the corporate subsidies exception, it perhaps shouldn’t be surprising that those most able to sell to the world with little restrictions—like tech companies—are producing the greatest number of billionaires.

This latter category of billionaires are not taking money from the working people through the tax system; they are profiting by providing new products that working people actually want. And in some cases, like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg or Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, they are becoming billionaires by offering a service to consumers for free.

Here’s where Piketty and Saez are wrong: the concentration of wealth globally is gradually declining, but the concentration of wealth in rich economies—including Europe—has been increasing. Most of this has been because of an increasing global free market in labor, as the dynamic capitalist economy shifts jobs to those most desperately in need of a boost in living standards. There’s a reason living standards have increased dramatically in China, much of Eastern Europe, Chile, and Mexico in the last three decades. And because of the diversion of jobs from rich countries to poor countries, it has put some stress on wage growth for middle and lower income workers in what the IMF calls the “advanced economies.” Meanwhile, many of those increasingly rich business innovators selling to the entire world are still coming from the advanced economies. One anecdote that follows along these lines are that Apple’s Steve Jobs and Arthur Levinson in the United States became billionaires even as they shifted much of the production of iPhones to China’s increasingly wealthy laborers.

The capitalist mechanism to raise people out of poverty doesn’t discriminate against people because of national borders or ethnicity.

The research by Piketty and Saez have contributed to a false narrative in another sense: the growing disparity between the wealth of the super-rich and the working class in America today began in the mid-1970s, not after the Reagan tax cuts (which didn’t take effect until 1982), as many on the left have been led to believe. A more careful study of charts published by Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez reveals the trend toward increasing centralization of wealth in the U.S. began shortly after the dollar was severed from the gold standard (and inflation initiated) and the Tokyo round of GATT (which decades later became the World Trade Organization). Both had an impact: the former by stealing the wealth of the creditor-workingman and transferring it to the debtors in the financial sector, and the latter by reallocating some of the dynamism of the U.S. economy globally to alleviate the conditions of extreme poverty in then-poor countries. In the 1970s, that meant lifting extremely poor nations like South Korea, Ireland, and Taiwan out of poverty.

It shouldn’t be surprising that as the globe has further embraced capitalism and free markets—however imperfectly—global income inequality has decreased in the past three decades. Revealingly, capitalism alleviates poverty in nations in proportion to the amount that the nations practice capitalism and free markets. Thus, since the 1990s, the economies of the Baltic states (Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia), the Czech Republic, and Slovenia took off while Belarus and Ukraine lagged behind.

But Piketty and Saez have a point when they argue the divergence between the rich and poor in the United States is growing faster than in European countries and other advanced economies. It’s true that the divergence in wealth concentration is increasing at a faster pace in the United States. And all of that difference can’t be chalked up to globalization, even though U.S. laborers’ wages were the highest in the world in the 1970s (and would therefore presumably have the highest stress from opening up the global free market in labor) and the U.S. has had the most technology innovators.

So what explains the rest of the difference?

There are a couple of reasons, and none have anything to do with capitalism.

The first is the cronyism already mentioned, which is far more rampant in the U.S. than other countries. Whenever government gives $5 billion to one man after taking it from the tax dollars of millions of working Americans, inequality is going to increase. And the level of cronyism in the U.S. has increased dramatically since 2008, with bailouts of the financial sector in 2008-12 and another, larger bailout ($4 trillion in subsidized loans) in 2020 hidden in the COVID-19 bailout CARES Act.

The second reason is inflation, which is an increase of the money supply that decreases the purchasing power of the dollar. Creditors are hurt and debtors are helped when the value of the dollar falls through inflation. Here’s an example from my personal history that helps to explain how creditors are hurt by inflation and debtors are helped by it:

I first moved out on my own in 1989 and rented a cheap one-bedroom apartment in Appleton, Wisconsin and thereafter visited home in Massachusetts where I told my father I was able to rent the apartment right across the river from Lawrence University for the incredibly cheap price of $290 per month.

He almost turned white, and eventually sputtered out, “That’s more than my mortgage.”

He had bought his big colonial-style home for his wife and five kids with a low interest rate in 1971, just as hyper-inflation was about to rear its ugly head. Over time, it became much easier to make payments on his 30-year mortgage (though our family struggled financially during this hyper-inflationary period on other necessities). In essence, the lender had been cheated out of the value of their loan to my father by the hyper-inflation.

My father had been lucky in a way I wasn’t. A few years later I bought a house with a loan where the interest rate was nearly nine percent (8.875%, with excellent credit and 20% down), at a time when the CPI was only increasing by four percent annually (and it would fall from there). The lenders had built the risk of inflation into their interest rates since the 1970s, and had over-compensated a bit.

And while the financial sector is the business of being in debt and managing other people’s money, the working man—especially the poor working man—is primarily a creditor. This may seem counter-intuitive: how can a poor man with no money extend credit?

The answer: his labor.

The working man generally only has his wages to sell. And he credits his employer for a week or two of his wages in perpetuity, always advancing his labor before he receives his pay. While this loan of $1,000 or so worth of labor to his employer every week may not seem like much, keep in mind that the largest line item on the ledger of almost every corporation in America is the wage line. Collectively, working people—even when they have no ability to borrow from others because they “have no credit”—are themselves huge creditors. Working people’s wages amount to a rolling loan of at least $160 billion (a week’s worth of $8.4 trillion in wages annually), a deposit level larger than that held by Goldman Sachs! The level of deposits credited to employers by wage-earners comfortably ranks among the 20 largest banks in the U.S.

While the financial sector has frequently failed the economy (though this has often been in response to bad government incentives), there’s one bank that’s never failed to keep credit flowing: laborers.

The poorer a man is, the more he is forced to be a creditor. While much of the middle class owns their own homes (or finances the purchase of them through debt), the poor working man must also extend his credit to his landlord, paying in advance a month’s rent for his apartment or home and typically advancing an additional month’s worth as security deposit.

Inflation takes away the value of these credited items, silently stealing from the poor working man by percentages rather than at the end of a gun. For the working poor, it takes value from everything they have: from their wages, from their rent, from the meager dollar deposits in their checking accounts (collectively, laborer/wage-earners are also among the greatest creditors to banks), and even the cash in their wallets. The richer a person is, the higher the proportion of his or her assets which are protected against currency inflation. Rich people generally a hold very small percentage of their assets in cash and instead have their wealth vested in inflation-protected hard assets like real estate, stocks, and commodities.

In essence, inflation is the most “regressive”—to use a term of the left—of any tax: The poorer you are, the higher proportion of your income it takes. Meanwhile, that which worker and creditors lose, borrowers—especially the financial sector—gain.

The financial and banking industries like to think of themselves as essential to the economy, and they are. But the financial and banking industries are essential only to the extent that they can properly price time and interest in the markets. Financiers and bankers don’t actually produce products consumed by people or manufacture food or physical products or provide services that contribute to people’s standard of living. Once they misallocate wealth and create a recession, their misuse of society’s abundant resources is exposed and the capitalist economy takes their wealth away and gives it to the worker by creating a recession and deflation of prices.

Deflation in a recession is a redistribution of wealth to the poor, especially the working poor. There’s a kind of “preferential option for the poor”—to borrow a term from the Catholic Church’s social teaching—in the pure capitalist pricing mechanism. Deflation acts a cushion for the frugal working man, letting his meager savings go further through the storm of a recession created by others.

One of the best signs a society is run by oligarchs is that its policy is dominated by rabid avoidance of deflation and strong encouragement of inflation. But this policy is unfortunately the priority of both parties in Washington. Congress’ first act during the coronavirus shutdown was to prop up prices for the financial sector with a giant $4 trillion subsidized loan program through the Federal Reserve Bank. The appropriately named “CARES Act” (even if it was only ironically appropriate) showed very precisely who Congress cares most for, and it was not the working man or the free market. The bill was passed unanimously in the senate and by voice vote in the House—despite efforts led by Representative Thomas Massie of Kentucky—and signed by President Trump. Notably, all the leftist congressmen and senators who squawk loudest about income inequality—Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, the “Squad,” Ro Khanna—voted in favor the bill that, as Massie tweeted out the day after the vote, was “the biggest wealth transfer from common folks to the super-rich (Wall Street and bankers) in the history of mankind.”

And when global oil prices fell at the beginning of the current oncoming depression, one of the first acts of President Trump was to broker a deal to re-empower the OPEC cartel to raise prices on consumers. Of course, lower gasoline prices amounts to one of the few financial benefits for consumers during the current government-imposed shutdown.

Avoiding falling prices has been the official policy of the U.S. government since 1930. The entire economic efforts of the Hoover Administration and Roosevelt’s New Deal were attempts to artificially prop up prices paid by the working man. In essence they were saying to the poor: “No, we won’t let you working people have your deflationary purchasing power back. We’re going to print new money and put it back in the hands of the same people who created the economic trouble in the first place.”

President Herbert Hoover initiated the Reconstruction Finance Administration, which loaned government money to the same mismanaged banks and utilities that had created the problem. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his compliant Congress passed the National Recovery Act, and the resulting National Recovery Administration arrested tailors for sewing pants for ten cents less than the regulated price and arrested chicken farmers for letting customers pick their own chickens they would buy (because the latter violated high-price-fixing regulations imposed by FDR’s rule-makers).

FDR also supported and signed the Agricultural Adjustment Act, which bought and destroyed agricultural produce before it could be sold in the market in order to keep consumer prices artificially high at the supermarkets. The idea that government would deliberately destroy perfectly good food in an economic depression when so many were going hungry in order so that the poor would have to pay a higher price at the cash register was just as insane a policy as it sounds, and it was a policy later lamented by folk singer Woody Guthrie.

And while official government policy was designed to rob the working man by keeping prices high at the the check-out counter, these government interventions also incompetently fiddled with the market pricing system and—this shouldn’t have been a surprise—extended the Great Depression until long after World War II had started.

By the way, paying farmers to produce nothing is a policy still practiced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture today, though in most cases it takes the form of subsidies for farmers not to plant in the first place. Dozens of farmers take in tens of millions of dollars in order not to plant crops at all, again, with the idea that this will raise prices in the supermarket for consumers.

Let’s go back to the point that the income inequality is increasing at a faster pace in the U.S. than in Western Europe. One might argue: how can anyone say that inflation is making the margin of wealth wider than European countries when European countries have inflation rates about the same as Americans (and in some cases worse)?

The answer is a little more complex, but it can be loosely summed up this way: The position of the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency means that currency inflation is not only increasing the wealth of the banking and financial sectors at the expense of the American working man, but also at the expense of the working men in other countries that use the U.S. dollar as their international exchange currency. In short, the inflationary dollar system robs the working people of the world for the U.S. financial sector while the inflationary Euro, Ruble, or Pound only robs the working men of the countries where their currency circulate.

Sure, the U.S. banking and financial sectors benefit from the inflationary increase in the money supply of the dollar, as one would expect from debtors who are the first to receive new credit in an economy and are the first to use that purchasing power before it is diminished at the retail level. As a result, the U.S. financial sector is the richest in the world.

But the unseen impact of this currency inflation is that the laborer has had his wages and his savings robbed at the hand of the government at a time when the free market sought to return it to him, and at a time when the working man needed it most. It’s time for policy makers end the anti-labor price-fixing on behalf of the financial sector, especially in the current economic crisis. This should be a broad issue on which the ideological left and right, as well as libertarians, could agree upon.

Deadly Charms: Seduction by Serial Killers and the State

Deadly Charms: Seduction by Serial Killers and the State

There is an apparent seductive appeal to the serial murderer, those—mostly men—who are remembered for their last name and the litany of their bloody deeds. Movies, books and in some cases fan bases are dedicated to them. They inspire art, and despite their cruelty, for some there lurks a charm. Ted Bundy was famously charming, it was one of the tools that he used to murder. Ed Kemper is almost nuanced in his ability to convey his terrible deeds, and again he has a charm that betrays the true beast that lurks beneath his glasses. Perhaps there is a civilised condition that allows us to sleep on instinct.

Beyond the celebrity murderers lurks a deeper and more widespread appeal to deadly charm that captivates both the morally neutral and those who consider themselves to be good people. Inside the uniform of law enforcement or the military many assume that one requires courage, dignity, a sense of righteousness, and most of all that those wearing such an outfit will stand firm for the collective good. They work for a monopoly that uses the language of altruism to convince us that it is an impartial safeguard for security and order, but ultimately benevolent. It is us and it is for us. Yet, it harms, constricts, feeds upon, and at times destroys us. Often it murders abroad, apparently for us.

Despite this, we can bear witness to its many misdeeds captured on film or by phone. Unlike a serial murderer whose moments of intimate terror are often lost in their victims’ misery, we can see with frequency many examples of when the state kills. And though most of us want to see the serial murderer behind bars or executed, we have a complicated empathy for the state. Ted Bundy, during his sentencing, was complimented by the sitting judge. A man who had raped, mutilated murdered, and likely raped again young girls and women with brutal violence. And a judge, the supposed champion for justice of the people, displayed a fondness for the man capable of such horror. He was charming, after all.

We never saw the monstrous actions that Bundy inflicted. We could only read about them and have them at best described to us. We can see photos of the victims in their final indignity, a trophy to a now famous man’s legacy. And when we can see murder with our own eyes, captured on film, many of us can contextualize the conduct. Whether it is a policeman committing murder or the military, it is through charm of the ideals of nationalism—the belief that those in uniform are somehow doing this for a collective good—that evil can be given a context, or explained away. We allow it because we are in some way complicit. A Ted Bundy can be tried before his peers, and yet someone selling cigarettes is tried and executed on the pavement or worse. Inside the War on Terror, suspects can be assassinated simply on the grounds of association.

The monopoly known as the state is made up of millions of public servants and yet their servitude is questionable and often ambivalent. The state serves its own interests and at times that self-interest can coincide with millions of individuals. Stability, order, and harmony is the ultimate interest of all government. How it manages to achieve this is determined by the regime’s ideology and character. The goal is to perpetuate itself, but until what or when? Just as the serial killer’s aim is to feed his malicious hunger, whatever charm and benevolence that he may display ultimately serves that deadly and self-obsessed end.

For in a liberal democracy the voters are invited or forced to participate in a ritual of state religion known as voting. It is when the most narcissistic and sociopathic perform before an eager media and greedy-jealous public to promise, deceive, and ultimately convince the voter that they are better humans. These individuals, for what ever reason, at best believe that they have the superhuman capability to rule and influence the mechanisms of government to improve an issue or society. The others, most often the victors, simply yearn for the perks of politics and what a life of power promises. With all the skills of a serial murderer they smile and conceal what they truly know and, like Ted Bundy or Ed Kemper, they view other human beings as disposable, only existing to be fed upon. But in the end you are able to participate in the limited choice and when their careers end they can at times dissect their legacy with little remorse, the blood of policy washed clean of their hands because it was done for us. We voted, after all.

Complicit in this deception are the thousands and sometimes millions of implementers; those who are morally indifferent. To them it is merely a job, whether that’s destroying a local business with bureaucratic bloat, or subjugating entire regions to the misery of war. They will do it with the sole self-interest that they are paid and have a pension at the end of their career cycle. They have no great legacy and do not become famous; they are common and yet without them the politician, the state itself, is nothing. While the serial murderer has his hands, teeth, a hammer or knives, the State and its elites have the eager thousands as their tools for murder and coercion. Whatever consequences that others suffered is meaningless. The tools of the State are obeying orders, simply enforcing law and policy. And many will love them for it, because they are in-name servants of the public. To kill a baby in a crib is criminal; to starve twenty thousand to death is legal policy.

Under any set of circumstances we can often come to an agreement that the torture and then murder of an unarmed person is abhorrent. Many of us live under a system that claims a rule of law, so that even the Devil has his day in court. Men like Ted Bundy had many days in court. Despite his crimes, he was granted this right. Even if the victim’s families yearned to see him suffer. The state determined that he should be given due process. In doing so he was able to reveal both charm and intelligence. A cold-blooded murderer was suddenly human. But he was still found guilty. If we listen to the many voices of ideology and policy, we can hear that others apparently do not have this right. People who have taken no life for some reason are judged and tried in an instant, rather than a man like Ted Bundy.

For enemies of the state, like those ever insurgent terrorists,  can be tortured, imprisoned, and sometimes killed without trial. That’s even if they are imprisoned on the grounds of being in the wrong area, and likely never to have taken a life or even participated in the taking of a life. Men like Julian Assange can face a purgatory of legal inconsistencies after being forced into house arrest and his detractors will crave his blood despite him never having brutally murdered anyone. Yet we are charmed into believing that we have the rule of law.

Despite the footage of the murder of the Reuters journalists, the most famous of the Wikileaks revelations, many other clips are available that have also been revealed during the War on Terror. Images and documents of admitted evidence that show mass murder of innocent civilians across the globe, all as a result of policy. The Pentagon Papers and the Afghanistan Papers each reveal the level of indecision and futility that the deadly adventures into other regions wrought, and yet the appeal of the state remains.

Police murders in the United States have been so commonplace that their only exception recently is in the nature of the outrage itself. Despite this the State retains its charm. Many are inviting others to vote, but for what? More of the same repackaged. Many of the protesters are calling for an end to ‘systemic racism,’ and inside Australia when another Indigenous man dies while in police custody, the outcome will perhaps be another Royal Commission. Those responsible will likely never face the trial and justice a private actor would.

The state has so much appeal and so many benefit directly that it is hard to conceive an alternative. The painful transition is too bitter to imagine. Instead the unborn will face more debt, regulation, and tyranny. Those who question the state are considered radicals and anti-social, even abnormal. Those who yearn for it and call for more of it are normal. And when the trending objection is police brutality, the state again gets a pass, and racism is the singular issue of blame. What is the solution? More awareness? Racism unfortunately is always going to exist, but the state always has and always will give racists immense power to harm.

Until individuals begin to question and delve deeper into matters not much will really change. Many claim to want change, and yet they only seek a rebranding of the status quo. Change is difficult because it means change. It is not just a word or a political slogan. It is a complete dismantling and overhaul of everything. More of the same is not change. It is the opposite.  Perhaps the solution is in allowing those who seek it to be free. If only somewhere on this Earth was available for like-minded individuals to migrate and be free of the state. Utopia perhaps. But consider this: every piece of this planet—and soon space itself—is claimed or overseen by a state. And yet those who seek to be free of it are radical and the problems continue. It is not those who wish to be left alone that are imperial in their ambitions. It is those who claim the charm of ideological benevolence that continue to impose, manipulate, and destroy under the guise of a greater good.

In the end, George Floyd was looking for work. He had suffered because of a government mandated lockdown. He then was accused of passing fake money, and executed in front of the world by police officers enforcing the law. Perhaps there was racism involved. Regardless, this was another crime committed by the state. To assume that sexism is at fault because men like Ted Bundy and Ed Kemper targeted women ignores the greater crime of rape and murder itself. Can you reform such men driven by a deadly compulsion? Should you? And can you reform a monopoly that exists through coercion? We can only seek to end or limit such deadly entities, not delude ourselves in the pursuit of reforms. That is in itself a dangerous delusion.

The solution is not in voting for another face or manager to sit atop of the monopoly. The solution is in ending the monopoly itself. The insanity to assume that others belong against their will is a violence that only a perverse ideology can manifest. Giving no consideration for voluntary conduct or interaction, but instead using the threat of violence or inflicting it upon others, is brutal conduct. And then to smile and claim is a collective good is a madness beyond that of Kemper or Bundy. Until we can look past the deceptive charm that we allow ourselves to be seduced by, then the mass murder and violence will go on in its present form all over this planet. Liberty may not be charming in its honesty, but found inside of it is a justice for all lives. And voting between evils only ever leads to more evil.

Do Activists Want Domestic Violence To Increase During the Pandemic?

Do Activists Want Domestic Violence To Increase During the Pandemic?

A contradiction is grabbing the narrative on domestic violence (DV) during the coronavirus lockdown: a decline in police reports on DV means the rate is increasing and more government is needed. A cynic might wonder if DV experts want to stoke the panic that drives funding and legislation. DV is too important, however, to allow either cynicism or opportunism to dominate the discussion. Reality should fill this role.

DV may tend to increase during times of stress, but this cannot be assumed. A May 8 headline in The Atlantic ventures, “The Worst Situation Imaginable for Family Violence. All over the United States, adults and children have been quarantined for weeks with people who hurt them.” Assuming that “the worst situation imaginable” is upon us quickly transforms into statements of ‘fact,’ such as the claim of increasing DV. Even so, the headline is more realistic than most others because it refers to “adult” survivors, which gives a nod to the many men who are abused. A 2015 national survey by the Centers for Disease Control found that more men than women had been physically attacked by an intimate partner: 4.2 million male victims, and 3.5 million female victims. There is a burning need for media to deal with what is real about DV.

The data on current and changing rates often rely on two sources: hotlines and police reports. The latter is far more accurate, for several reasons. People access DV hotlines and services for help on many non-DV issues, including housing, immigration, and medical problems, but they report crime to the police. The same person may phone a hotline many times, but a police report is almost always ‘one person, one case’. The funding of a DV service often depends on its volume, which encourages overstatement. Police accounts also ground DV in reality, with real names and verifiable details rather than anonymous reports. When police statistics are available, they should be preferred to anecdotal accounts by advocates.

Yet media often uses more political and less reliable reports over crime ones, perhaps because they are more attention grabbing. An article in the Marshall Project is an example; “Is Domestic Violence Rising During the Coronavirus Shutdown? Here’s What the Data Shows.” It notes that police reports in three cities, including Chicago, DV appear to have declined during COVID-19. After mentioning the drop, the article states, “but police and experts say that may be a problem…News outlets across the country have written about advocates’ concerns that crime statistics are masking an uncounted rise in domestic violence.”

It is always valid to question discrepancies in information from different sources, but news stories should not work to dismiss hard evidence that casts doubt on whether there is a DV crisis. They should not turn hard data of a decline in DV into an alarm bell about an increase.

An ABC headline declares, “Fewer domestic violence calls during COVID-19 outbreak has California officials concerned.” A Los Angeles Police Chief warns “that’s going in the wrong direction with what we believe is actually happening” without adding evidence of why the direction is “wrong.”  A City Attorney declares, “I am very alarmed by what appears to be a dramatic decrease in reported crimes involving our most vulnerable.” Both men presume that trapped victims are unable to reach out even though email, texting, and cell phones make communication easier than ever before.

The Denver Channel states, “In March, Denver Police reports show a decrease in calls for domestic violence compared to last year during the same month but in Aurora, Gateway Domestic Violence Services saw an increase in calls from March 19-25, 2020 compared to the previous week.” Why would it be easier for a victim to call Gateway than a police line? People know 911; how many have memorized the Gateway number? The report merely highlights conflicting accounts, both of which may be accurate.

The Chicago Tribune weighs in with an article entitled, “Why a drop in domestic violence reports might not be a good sign.” NewportRI runs the headline “Newport County hasn’t seen uptick in reported domestic violence incidents during coronavirus pandemic,” and it follows with the statement “but it’s important to note the data doesn’t tell the whole story.” The Iowa Capital Dispatch declares, “The Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence has not seen a huge growth in calls to its statewide hotline, according to spokeswoman Lindsay Pingel. But it is anticipating an increase.”

News stories are becoming opinion and advocacy pieces. Typically, they present a truly wrenching story of DV; police and other statistics are mentioned; even data that shows a decrease, however, is construed as proof of an increase and is used to call for more government support, more intervention. Sometimes unsubstantiated “data” is thrown into the mix. On April 5, for example, the New Mexico Political Report asserted: “Last week, domestic violence incidents in Bernalillo County reportedly jumped 78 percent.” When the EndtoDV organization attempted to verify this alarming statistic, County Undersheriff Larry Koren could not “confirm anything resembling these numbers.”

No one knows the real rate of DV under COVID-19, and some indications point to a definite rise. Rates of DV naturally fluctuate over time and geography, however, with peaks generally occurring in Spring when the preceding figures were collected.

As a woman who has experienced severe DV, it is difficult not to react viscerally and urgently to cries for help. But people need to pause and assess whether the call is justified before rushing toward solutions that impact the lives of others; false solutions harm real victims and those accused, as well as their families. The first priority must be a respect for evidence over assumptions, for truth over advocacy. All approaches to this sensitive, explosive issue must start with what is real.

How the Press Forgot the Crimes of George W. Bush

How the Press Forgot the Crimes of George W. Bush

Former president George W. Bush has returned to the spotlight to give moral guidance to America in these troubled times. In a statement released on Tuesday, Bush announced that he was “anguished” by the “brutal suffocation” of George Floyd and declared that “lasting peace in our communities requires truly equal justice. The rule of law ultimately depends on the fairness and legitimacy of the legal system. And achieving justice for all is the duty of all.”

Bush’s declaration was greeted with thunderous applause by the usual suspects who portray him as the virtuous Republican in contrast to Trump. While the media portrays Bush’s pious piffle as a visionary triumph of principle, Americans need to vividly recall the lies and atrocities that permeated his eight years as president.

In an October 2017 speech in a “national forum on liberty” at the George W. Bush Institute in New York City, Bush bemoaned that “Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.” Coming from Bush, this had as much credibility as former president Bill Clinton bewailing the decline of chastity.

Most media coverage of Bush nowadays either ignores the falsehoods he used to take America to war in Iraq or portrays him as a good man who received incorrect information. But Bush was lying from the get-go on Iraq and was determined to drag the nation into another Middle East war. From January 2003 onwards, Bush constantly portrayed the US as an innocent victim of Saddam Hussein’s imminent aggression and repeatedly claimed that war was being “forced upon us.” That was never the case. As the Center for Public Integrity reported, Bush made “232 false statements about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and another 28 false statements about Iraq’s links to Al Qaeda.” As the lies by which he sold the Iraq War unraveled, Bush resorted to vilifying critics as traitors in a 2006 speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Bush’s lies led to the killing of more than four thousand American troops and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians. But since those folks are dead and gone anyhow, the media instead lauds Bush’s selection to be in a Kennedy Center art show displaying his borderline primitive oil paintings.

In February 2018, Bush was paid lavishly to give a prodemocracy speech in the United Arab Emirates, ruled by a notorious Arab dictatorship. He proclaimed: “Our democracy is only as good as people trust the results.” He openly fretted about Russian “meddling” in the 2016 US election.

But when he was president, Bush acted as if the United States were entitled to intervene in any foreign election he pleased. He boasted in 2005 that his administration had budgeted almost $5 billion “for programs to support democratic change around the world,” much of which was spent on tampering with foreign vote totals. When Iraq held elections in 2005, Bush approved a massive covert aid program for pro-American Iraqi parties. The Bush administration spent over $65 million to boost their favored candidate in the 2004 Ukraine election. Yet, with boundless hypocrisy, Bush proclaimed that “any (Ukrainian) election…ought to be free from any foreign influence.” US government-financed organizations helped spur coups in Venezuela in 2002 and Haiti in 2004. Both of those nations, along with Ukraine, remain political train wrecks.

In that October 2017 New York speech, Bush proclaimed: “No democracy pretends to be a tyranny.” But ravaging the Constitution was apparently part of his job description when he was president. Shortly after 9-11, Bush turned back the clock to before 1215 (when the Magna Carta was signed), formally suspending habeas corpus and claiming a prerogative to imprison indefinitely anyone he labeled a terrorist suspect. In 2002, Justice Department lawyers informed Bush that the president was entitled to violate the law during wartime—and the war on terror was expected to continue indefinitely. In 2004, Bush White House counsel Alberto Gonzales formally asserted a “commander-in-chief override power” entitling presidents to ignore the Bill of Rights.

Under Bush, the US government embraced barbaric practices which did more to destroy America’s moral credibility than all of Trump’s tweets combined. Bush’s “enhanced interrogation” regime included endless high-volume repetition of a Meow Mix cat food commercial at Guantanamo, head slapping, waterboarding, exposure to frigid temperatures, and manacling for many hours in stress positions. After the Supreme Court rebuffed some of Bush’s power grabs in 2006, he pushed through Congress a bill that retroactively legalized torture—one of the worst legislative disgraces since the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. During his years in the White House, Bush perennially denied that he had approved torture. But in 2010, during an author tour to promote his new memoir, he bragged about approving waterboarding for terrorist suspects.

Is Bush nominating himself to be the nation’s racial healer? When he was president, Bush inflicted more financial ruin on blacks than any president since Woodrow Wilson (who brought Jim Crow barbarities to the federal government). Bush trumpeted his plans to close the gap between black and white homeownership rates and promised in 2002 to “use the mighty muscle of the federal government” to solve the problem. Bush was determined to end the bias against people who wanted to buy a home but had no money. Congress passed Bush’s American Dream Downpayment Act in 2003, authorizing federal handouts to first-time homebuyers of up to $10,000 or 6 percent of the home’s purchase price. Bush also swayed Congress to permit the Federal Housing Administration to make no–down payment loans to low-income Americans. Bush proclaimed: “Core American values of individuality, thrift, responsibility, and self-reliance are embodied in homeownership.” In Bush’s eyes, self-reliance was so wonderful that the government should subsidize it. And it didn’t matter whether recipients were creditworthy, because politicians meant well. Bush’s 2004 reelection campaign trumpeted his down payment giveaways, a shining example of “compassionate conservatism.”

Thanks in large part to his policies, minority households saw the fastest growth in homeownership leading up to the 2007 recession. The housing collapse ravaged the net worth of black and Hispanic households. “The implosion of the subprime lending market has left a scar on the finances of black Americans—one that not only has wiped out a generation of economic progress but could leave them at a financial disadvantage for decades,” the Washington Post reported in 2012. The median net worth for Hispanic households declined by 66 percent between 2005 and 2009. That devastation was aptly described in a 2017 federal appeals court dissenting opinion as “wrecking ball benevolence” (quoting a 2004 Barron’s op-ed I wrote). But almost none of the media coverage of the ex-president reminds people of the economic carnage of this Bush vote-buying binge.

It is possible to condemn police brutality and, even more importantly, the evil laws and judicial doctrines that enable police to tyrannize other Americans without any help from a demagogic ex-president who ravaged our rights, liberties, and peace. As I commented in an August 2003 USA Today op-ed, “Whether Bush and his appointees will be held personally liable for their [Iraq War] falsehoods is a grave test for American democracy.” The revival of Bush’s reputation vivifies how our political media system failed that test. As long as George Bush doesn’t turn himself in for committing war crimes, all of his talk about “achieving justice for all” is rubbish.

This article was originally featured at the Ludwig von Mises Institute and is republished with permission.

The Solutions To Police Brutality Politicians Aren’t Giving You

The Solutions To Police Brutality Politicians Aren’t Giving You

Since the George Floyd protests began last week, they have since morphed into a much broader movement which is now exposing a problem this country has suffered from for a long time. The system of law enforcement in this country has morphed into a militarized standing army, preying on the poor, and rife with corruption. Naturally, people are pissed.

As we have stated from the beginning of the riots, this reaction was inevitable. Minorities and the poor have been pushed into a corner and ignored as the state preyed on them through a system of extortion and violence. One can only be ignored for so long before they eventually lash out.

Remember when football players were peacefully protesting by taking a knee, and the country—including the Commander in Chief—collectively lost their minds telling them to shut up and sit down? Trump even called for them to be fired for this. Now, because these folks were ignored and told to shut up during their peaceful protests, the inevitable non-peaceful protests have begun.

For decades there has been a perfect storm brewing in this country as minorities and poor people have their doors kicked in and are terrorized by cops during botched raids for substances deemed illegal by the state and watch helplessly as their family members die in video after video at the hands of cops. Now, we have record unemployment, lockdowns, cops murdering people on video and facing no immediate charges, and those in charge sit at the top and point fingers.

Because the system will always refuse to accept responsibility for the situation it has forced onto the people, the blame game always comes next. Instead of realizing the error of their ways, government is now blaming the riots on Antifa, White Nationalists, the Alt-right, “thugs,” and any other scapegoat they can find to blame besides taking responsibility. They are even blaming Russia now. You cannot make this up.

Naturally, this will never lead to any positive change. It will only prolong suffering, create more divide, and perpetuate a system of injustice for decades to come. Those who want to incite peaceful change, however, have been pushing these ideas out for a long time. Now, people may finally listen.

To lower the likelihood of future chaos, America’s system of law enforcement needs radical change. Instead of threatening to execute suspected looters with no due process—the discussion we should be having right now is how to fix this broken system. It is not difficult, it is based in logic and reason, and its effects would be significantly felt almost overnight.

Over the years, TFTP has been proposing these solutions and below we have compiled a list of five main actions that could affect this much needed change, right now.

The first and most significant solution to this pain and suffering would be to end the war on drugs—today. Legalize every substance out there.

Richard Nixon, in his effort to silence black people and antiwar activists, brought the War on Drugs into full force in 1973. He then signed Reorganization Plan No. 2, which established the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Over the course of five decades, this senseless war has waged on. At a cost of over $1 trillion—ruining and ending countless lives in the process—America’s drug war failed, miserably, and has created a drug problem that is worse now than ever before.

This is no coincidence.

For years, those of us who’ve been paying attention have seen who profits from this inhumane war—the police state and cartels.

The reason why the drug war actually creates a drug and violence problem is simple. And those who profit most from the drug war—drug war enforcers and cartels—all know it. When the government makes certain substances illegal, it does not remove the demand. Instead, the state creates crime by pushing the sale and control of these substances into the illegal black markets. All the while, demand remains constant.

We can look at the prohibition of alcohol and the subsequent mafia crime wave that ensued as a result as an example. The year 1930, at the peak of prohibition, happened to be the deadliest year for police in American history. 300 police officers were killed, and innumerable poor people slaughtered as the state cracked down on drinkers.

Outlawing substances does not work.

Criminal gangs form to protect sales territory and supply lines. They then monopolize the control of the constant demand. Their entire operation is dependent upon police arresting people for drugs because this grants them a monopoly on their sale.

It is incredibly racist too. The illegality of drug possession and use is what keeps the low-level users and dealers in and out of the court systems, and most of these people are poor black men. As Dr. Ron Paul has pointed out, black people are more likely to receive a harsher punishment for the same drug crime as a white person.

This revolving door of creating and processing criminals fosters the phenomenon known as Recidivism. Recidivism is a fundamental concept of criminal justice that shows the tendency of those who are processed into the system and the likelihood of future criminal behavior.

The War on Drugs takes good people and turns them into criminals every single minute of every single day. The system is set up in such a way that it fans the flames of violent crime by essentially building a factory that turns out violent criminals.

It also creates unnecessary police interactions—disproportionately carried out on black people—which leads to resentment, harassment, civil rights violations, and even death. When drugs are legal, there are far fewer doors to kick in, fines to collect, profit prisons to fill, and money to steal.

Secondly, we need to end qualified immunity for police.

When it comes to police accountability, one overarching question remains. ‘Do we want to live in a society whereby law enforcement officials can completely violate a person’s constitutional rights and get away with it?’ For our society to be free, the answer to that question must be a resounding, powerful, unwavering, ‘Hell No!’

Unfortunately, however, this is the case most of the time thanks to law enforcement personnel’s use and abuse of Qualified Immunity.

For those who may be unaware, qualified immunity is a legal doctrine in United States federal law that shields government officials from being sued for discretionary actions performed within their official capacity, unless their actions violated “clearly established” federal law or constitutional rights.

The Supreme Court created qualified immunity in 1982. With that novel invention, the court granted all government officials immunity for violating constitutional and civil rights unless the victims of those violations can show that the rights were “clearly established.”

As Anya Bidwell points out, although innocuous sounding, the clearly established test is a legal obstacle nearly impossible to overcome. It requires a victim to identify an earlier decision by the Supreme Court, or a federal appeals court in the same jurisdiction holding that precisely the same conduct under the same circumstances is illegal or unconstitutional. If none exists, the official is immune. Whether the official’s actions are unconstitutional, intentional or malicious is irrelevant to the test.

An example of this would be the family of George Floyd attempting to seek compensation for his death. Because there has never been a “clearly established” case of a cop kneeling on a man’s neck until he dies being declared unconstitutional, a judge in Minnesota could easily dismiss their case.

It is essentially a get out of jail free card for cops and it perpetuates the problem of police violence by giving bad cops a free pass.

After removing a cop’s ability to trample rights without consequence, it is time to hold them liable. That’s where personal liability insurance comes in.

As the Free Thought Project has reported extensively, police officers, even when found at fault for their abusive actions, are almost never held personally liable. It is the taxpayers who foot the bill. However, all that can change overnight by requiring cops to carry personal liability insurance.

Imagine, for a moment, the result of all police officers being held personally liable for their actions and forced to pay their victims. In nearly every other profession on the planet, if someone hurts someone else while on the job, they are held liable — personally. Why can’t cops carry personal liability insurance just like doctors?

As instances of police brutality and police killings continue to be exposed, there is no doubt that the US is in dire need of reform. The simple requirement for police to be insured for personal liability is an easy fix—especially to remove repeat offenders from the force.

All too often, when a tragic death such as George Floyd occurs, later—as was the case with Derek Chauvin—we find out that the officer should have never been given a badge and a gun in the first place because of their past. However, insurance companies, who can’t fleece the taxpayers to pay for problem cops, would have to come out of pocket to pay for them and would make sure that these officers are uninsurable.

If the officer becomes uninsurable, the officer becomes unhirable—simple as that.

There are likely many cops out there right now who would be denied insurance coverage by any company, due to their track records. A requirement for personal liability insurance would, quite literally, weed out problem officers—almost overnight.

The fourth solution to preventing police brutality and violence would be to bring predatory policing to a halt.

All too often we hear the ridiculous statement from the police apologist crowd saying, “If you don’t break the law, you have nothing to worry about.”

However, that statement couldn’t be further from the truth.

Former NSA official William Binney sums this myth up quite accurately, “The problem is, if they think they’re not doing anything that’s wrong, they don’t get to define that. The central government does.”

Attorney Harvey Silverglate argues that the average American commits three felonies a day without even knowing it. Most of these crimes have no victim either—like possessing marijuana, driving a car with dark windows, or a burned out license plate light.

While most everyone in America commits these same infractions designed for revenue collection instead of safety, most of the people targeted by police for these crimes are the poor, minorities, and the mentally ill.

As the 2014 death of Mike Brown in Ferguson exposed, in 2013, African-Americans accounted for 86 percent of traffic stops, while making up only 63 percent of Ferguson’s population.

For those too poor to pay their tickets, routine traffic stops in Ferguson ended up in repeated imprisonment due to mounting fines. Ferguson was running a de facto debtors’ prison.

Revenue collection, persecution of the poor, and debtor’s prisons take place in every county, in every city, across every state. This institutionalized cruelty is little more than a day’s work for the millions of bureaucrats involved in the racket.

Sadly, until this system of wealth extraction is defunded or brought to a halt through radical policy changes, cases of cops preying on the poor will continue at an ever increasing rate until the whole country is one big prison—or, burned to the ground.

Lastly, we should end the monopoly that American police have on law enforcement.

Simply put, police officers can be corrupt, kill with impunity, and are rarely held accountable because Americans have no other choice. We are stuck with them. In any other job market on the planet, if they had a death toll of 1,000 Americans a year, they would be out of business overnight. However, because cops have a monopoly on law enforcement in America, the death toll keeps rising.

By allowing competition in law enforcement, the incentives for policing would drastically shift. Violent police departments would be fired and replaced with less violent ones. Cops would have an incentive to serve their communities by solving real crimes like rape and murder instead of kidnapping and caging people for victimless crimes.

If this sounds like a pipe dream to you, then you’ve probably never heard of Dale Brown.

Dale Brown of Detroit’s “threat management center” has shown that crime can be stopped and lives can be saved by independent people using nonlethal tactics.

In areas of Detroit where police don’t answer 911 calls, Dale Brown took matters into his own hands and started taking those calls himself, and because Dale was not “above the law” as police officers claim to be, he had to solve these crimes without hurting people, because he would actually be held accountable for his actions.

Yes, businesses pay for these services. However, as a side effect of providing businesses with security, Dale has also been able to provideservice in poor neighborhoods for free, by financing his business through providing security for high-income areas.

Instead of policing from a place of fear, self-preservation, and extortion, Brown polices through love. He offers of some timeless advice that we could all use right now. “The cornerstone for protection is love, not violence, not guns, not laws, you cannot truly protect anything that you do not love.”

Matt Agorist is an honorably discharged veteran of the USMC and former intelligence operator directly tasked by the NSA. This prior experience gives him unique insight into the world of government corruption and the American police state. Agorist has been an independent journalist for over a decade and has been featured on mainstream networks around the world. Agorist is also the Editor-at-Large at the Free Thought Project. Follow @MattAgorist on TwitterSteemit, and now on Minds. This article was originally featured at The Free Thought Project and is republished with permission.

The State’s Priority Is Protecting Itself, Not You

The State’s Priority Is Protecting Itself, Not You

Murray Rothbard pointed out in his book Anatomy of the State how the state is far more punitive against those that threaten the comfort and authority of government institutions and workers than they are against crimes against citizens.

This, according to Rothbard, exposed as a myth the notion that the state exists to protect its citizens.

“We may test the hypothesis that the State is largely interested in protecting itself rather than its subjects by asking: which category of crimes does the State pursue and punish most intensely—those against private citizens or those against itself?” Rothbard wrote.

“The gravest crimes in the State’s lexicon are almost invariably not invasions of private person or property, but dangers to its own contentment, for example, treason, desertion of a soldier to the enemy, failure to register for the draft, subversion and subversive conspiracy, assassination of rulers and such economic crimes against the State as counterfeiting its money or evasion of its income tax.”

Boy how recent events have proven Rothbard right.

For weeks, we saw police aggressively pursuing and punishing peaceful people merely violating arbitrary lockdown orders to go surfing, cut hair, or host a child’s play date.

But in the first nights of the George Floyd protests, police allowed rioters to run amok destroying property, with political leaders dismissing the damage as unimportant.

This stark contrast in police responses dramatically underscores Rothbard’s point.

Take the first nights of rioting in Minneapolis. As reported by the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, the source of the “police stand-down order that allowed his own city to burn,” merely “shrugged off responsibility and minimized the damage.” Moreover, according to the report, “Frey kept repeating that the destruction was ‘just brick and mortar.’”

And consider the example of Raleigh, North Carolina Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown, who said:

When the greater risk is of injury to the officer, and I had five injured last night – a building? A window? A door? The property that was in it can easily be replaced. But for a person who has had officers shot. And more recently than not, I will not put an officer in harm’s way to protect the property inside of a building. Because insurance is most likely going to cover that as well but that officer’s safety is of the utmost importance.

Got that? The officer’s safety is the primary concern, not the property of citizens. Agents of the state whose sole job is supposedly to protect the people and their property instead refuse to do their job at the first hint of danger.

Worse still, as Ryan McMaken pointed out in a recent article at Mises.org, “A failure to protect taxpaying citizens from violence and crime in a wide variety of situations is standard operating procedure for police departments that are under no legal obligation to protect anyone, and where ‘officer safety’ is the number one priority.”

McMaken further notes that it is “now a well-established legal principle in the United States that police officers and police departments are not legally responsible for refusing to intervene in cases where private citizens are in imminent danger or even in the process of being victimized.”

Police absence during riots is nothing new. As McMaken wrote: “During the 2014 riots that followed the police killing of Michael Brown, for example, shopkeepers were forced to hire private security, and many had to rely on armed volunteers for protection from looters. ‘There’s no police,’ one Ferguson shopkeeper told Fox News at the time. ‘We trusted the police to keep it peaceful; they didn’t do their job.”’

As the violence of the riots intensified, mayors instructed police forces in cities across the nation to step up their presence.

But their initial reactions are the most telling.

The contrast between police actions against peaceful lockdown “violators” and the rioters is striking. The instincts of the political class was to haul mothers in parks and hair stylists away in handcuffs, while standing down and allowing private property owned by citizens to burn.

The former involved disobeying a government order, an act which would threaten the perceived authority, no matter how arbitrary, of the state. The latter involved violation and destruction of citizens’ property.

As Rothbard would have predicted, the state was far more interested in preserving the illusion of its authority than the property of its citizens.

Putting a tragic, but fine, point to Rothbard’s point: George Floyd was choked to death by a police officer sent to detain him for the “crime” of using a counterfeit $20 bill to buy cigarettes.

The state is not us. It does not exist to protect our person or property. It exists first and foremost for its own benefit and to exert power and control over its subjects.

Events of the past several weeks should make this crystal clear.

Bradley Thomas is creator of the website Erasethestate.com and is a libertarian activist who enjoys researching and writing on the freedom philosophy and Austrian economics. Follow him on twitter, @erasestate

Native American Boys: Forgotten Victims

Native American Boys: Forgotten Victims

A recent study by the Nebraska State Patrol and the Commission on Indian Affairs should change how the media and lawmakers view violence against Native Americans. They should look carefully at male victims, but it is far from clear that they will.

The Omaha World-Herald offers a surprising statistic, “The greatest percentage of Native American missing persons are boys age 17 or younger, accounting for 73.3% of all Native American missing persons in Nebraska.” In fact, they account for 59.6% of missing people in the state. The data is even the more remarkable because it resulted from LB 154, a state bill to “require a report on missing Native American women in Nebraska.” The 21-line bill that authorizes the study mentions “Native American women” six times; men and boys are not mentioned at all.

At long last, male victims of violence may receive the same attention as female ones. Or will they?

Some telling comments conclude the study. Under “Important Related Information,” it states, “During the period of this investigation…there have been several tragic events involving young Native women in Nebraska: the cases of Ashlea Aldrich and Esther Wolfe. These alleged crimes against Native women make plain” why the study and “its ongoing follow through are vitally important.” State Senator Tom Brewer, who co-sponsored LB 154, is quoted: “We need all law enforcement to communicate and work together to address the exploitation and victimization of Native women.” The concluding words of Judi M. Gaiashkibos, Executive Director, Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs, speaks only of “women and children” and laments “actions and policies” that “have displaced women from their traditional roles in communities and governance and diminished their status…leaving them vulnerable to violence.”

Men and boys are nowhere. Nor does the media seemingly note even the possibility of male victims. A Lincoln Journal Star article that anticipated LB 154 was entitled “Senators want to step up investigations of missing or abused Native women.” And a word commonly applied to violence against Native American women is “epidemic.” These women deserve every bit of attention and compassion they receive, but so do males.

Lawmakers also ignore male victims. The latest Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which awaits reauthorization, is an example. It sets the national standard on how sexual abuse is handled, including “Standardized protocols for…missing and murdered Indians.” (Sec. 904) Native American women is one of the Act’s core issues with TITLE IX—Safety for Indian Women addressing the problem. Title IX opens, “More than 4 in 5 American Indian and Alaska Native women, or 84.3 percent, have experienced violence in their lifetime”—a statistic drawn from a National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey entitled “Violence Against American Indian and Alaska Native Women and Men.”

The statistic is appalling, but VAWA makes a curious omission in quoting it. Immediately after the 84.3 percent figure, the Survey cited reads, “More than 4 in 5 American Indian and Alaska Native men (81.6 percent) have experienced violence in their lifetime.” In other words, Native American men experience only 2.7 percent less violence than women. A few lines later, the  Survey states “55.5 percent” of women and “43.2 percent” of men “have experienced physical violence by an intimate partner,” figures that differ by 12.3 percent. And, yet, this data does not make it into VAWA.

It is difficult to avoid concluding that VAWA slants important evidence in order to champion female victims and dismiss male ones. In theory, the programs VAWA administers are available to both sexes even though the language is gendered for females. In practice, VAWA is widely accused of making only a tiny portion of its considerable resources available to men.

The plight of male victims must be well known to lawmakers who appear to be passionate about issues like domestic violence (DV). A 2019 article in Indian Country Today, “Breaking the silence on violence against Native American men” cites “a recent study by the National Institute of Justice”; it reported that “more than 1.4 million American Indian and Alaska Native men have experienced violence in their lifetime.” The total may be an understatement. Males victims of DV ”are often reluctant to seek help or tell friends or family out of embarrassment and/or fear of not being believed. They may worry that they—and not their partner—will be blamed for the abuse.”

The blind eye to male victims is not limited to Native Americans, however, but pervades most discussions of DV. Consider the VAWA provision that allows battered immigrants to petition for legal status. In 2016, Attorney Gerald Nowotny called out the provision’s unfairness to men. Nowotny wrote, “The irony is that when it comes to the perception of domestic abuse, the focus is almost exclusively on men as the perpetrators of violence and abuse. The statistical reality is that more men than women are victims of intimate partner physical violence and psychological aggression.” Nowotny’s assessment derived from a 2010 national survey by the Centers for Disease Control and U.S. Department of Justice that found more men than women experienced physical violence from an intimate partner and over 40% of severe physical violence.

But the assumption of mainstream media and lawmakers seems unshakable: men commit violence against women; men are not victims. What if this gender bias were a racial one? What if VAWA was the Violence Against Whites Act? There would be and there should be outrage. The same people should be as outraged as by the suffering of men who too often remain silent for fear of being ridiculed or not believed. In this regard, male victims today resemble female ones from decades ago; they are revictimized by a system that does want to hear their voices.

 

Why Its Hard To Fire Abusive Cops

Why Its Hard To Fire Abusive Cops

What does it take to fire a cop? In comparison to several other high-profile cases in which a police officer has killed someone on video, things have moved remarkably fast in the George Floyd case. The other four officers involved in his arrest were fired from the Minneapolis Police Department the following day. By comparison,

  • Fellow Minnesota officer Jeronimo Yanez, who on July 6, 2016, shot and killed Philando Castille in his vehicle after Castille informed him that he was armed, was not relieved until after he was acquitted for manslaughter and reckless discharge of a firearm on May 30, 2017. He was given a $48,500 buyout to leave the St. Anthony department.
  • Cleveland officer Timothy Loehmann, who shot twelve-year-old Tamir Rice on November 22, 2014, was also fired on May 30, 2017. However, his firing was due to withholding information on his job application rather than killing a child who held an airsoft gun.
  • NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo, who killed Eric Garner over not paying taxes on cigarettes, was not fired until August 19, 2019, a full five years after the latter’s death on July 17, 2014. He plans to file an appeal to get his job back.
  • Philip Brailsford, who shot Daniel Shaver while he lay prone in the hallway of a hotel in Mesa, Arizona, on January 18, 2016, was fired in March of that year. However, he was reinstated in August 2018 for forty-two days in order that he could be medically retired for PTSD (due to his shooting of Shaver) and receive a $2,500 monthly pension.

What I would like to emphasize here, however, is that a police officer being fired is often not the end of the story. Even though the officers involved in Floyd’s death have been fired, they may not stay fired. Many officers, through their collective bargaining agreements and statutes, enjoy the right to appeal their termination to independent arbitration, which often results in their reinstatement.

Mark Iris, a researcher at Northwestern, studied years’ worth of police arbitration decisions in Chicago and Houston and found that in both cities arbitrators overturned disciplinary decisions half the time. Tyler Adams analyzed every published arbitration decision regarding a police officer’s discharge between 2011 and 2015, finding them overturned 46.7 percent of the time. One notable finding from Adams’s research is that an officer’s disciplinary record was raised by one or both parties in nearly every analyzed decision, with those with positive work histories being more likely to be reinstated than those who without them. A potential difficulty with this is that many police union contracts require that misconduct be removed from an officer’s record after a certain period. According to Stephen Rushin’s analysis of one hundred seventy-eight of the largest cities’ police union contracts, eighty-seven (including Minneapolis’s) contain such provisions. Some, such as that of Columbus, Ohio, even prohibit the use of an officer’s history as a factor in determining the propriety of disciplinary action in later investigations.

The ability to appeal to arbitrators has led to many questionable reinstatements. One was Pittsburgh officer Paul Abel, who on one night in 2008 consumed four beers and two shots of liquor. After leaving his wife’s birthday party, Abel claimed to have been sucker-punched in his car while at a stoplight. He retrieved his Glock from the trunk of his car and drove in pursuit of his attacker. Driving around the block, he spotted Kaleb Miller, whom he knew from the neighborhood and believed to be the person who had punched him. Abel then pistol-whipped Miller on his neck and accidentally shot him in the hand. Witnesses testified that the assailant who punched Abel was not Miller. Despite being arrested and fired, Paul Abel successfully appealed his termination. In this respect, Abel is not alone among Pittsburgh police officers:

In December 2009, Eugene1It is interesting to note that Paul Abel and Eugene Hlavac were, respectively, the ninth and first most highly paid employees of the city of Pittsburgh in 2012, according to the Pittsburgh Business Times. was accused of slapping his ex-girlfriend (and his son’s mother) so hard that he dislocated her jaw. And in November 2010, Garrett Brown was accused of running two delivery-truck drivers off the road in a fit of rage—an allegation similar to those made against Brown in at least one other late-night traffic encounter.

Each of these men, who were all Pittsburgh Police officers at the time of the incidents, shares a common experience: They all were fired, charged criminally, cleared of those charges…and then got their jobs back through arbitration. And they’re not alone. Nine officers were fired by the city between 2009 and 2013, but five of those terminations were overturned by an arbitrator….In cases where terminations were appealed by the police union through arbitration, officers got their jobs back close to 70 percent of the time.

We should expect that the officers involved in the arrest and killing of George Floyd will also appeal their termination. Should they be unsuccessful in this, however, they may be able to find employment as police officers elsewhere. Although most states have some kind of standardized training and licensing of police officers, decertification of fired officers can be notoriously difficult, leading to the phenomenon of the “wandering officer” who goes from department to department. I will discuss this in a future post.

Tate Fegley is a 2018 Mises Institute Fellow, and winner of the 2018 Grant Aldrich Prize for Best Graduate Student paper at the Austrian Economics Research Confernce. He is currently a graduate student at George Mason University. His CV can be found at TateFegley.com. This article was originally featured at the Ludwig von Mises Institute and is republished with permission.

Defense Secretary Esper Calls on States to ‘Dominate the Battlespace’

Defense Secretary Esper Calls on States to ‘Dominate the Battlespace’

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper used the term “battlespace” to describe protests in US cities in a phone call with governors on Monday. “I think the sooner that you mass and dominate the battlespace, the quicker this dissipates and we can get back to the right normal,” Esper said.

Over 17,000 troops in 24 National Guard jurisdictions have been activated to deal with the civil unrest sparked by the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. The troops are also being used to enforce curfews across the country. More than 40 cities have set curfews in place.

President Trump also spoke with the nation’s governors on Monday and called on the states to “dominate.”

“The president says he wants to dominate the streets with National Guard, with a police presence,” White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said at a briefing on Monday, explaining the president’s comments.

In the phone call, Trump also said he was putting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley “in charge” of the protest response. Gen. Milley is technically the highest-ranking military official in the country. It is not yet clear exactly what his role will be.

“General Milley is here who’s head of Joint Chiefs of Staff, a fighter, a warrior, and a lot of victories and no losses. And he hates to see the way it’s being handled in the various states. And I’ve just put him in charge,” Trump said.

Taking things a step further than bringing in the National Guard, Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) called on President Trump to invoke the 1807 Insurrection Act, which would allow the president to deploy active-duty troops to cities across the country. The act was last invoked in 1992 as a response to protests and looting in Los Angeles after the Rodney King incident.

“If local law enforcement is overwhelmed and needs backup, let’s see how tough these Antifa terrorists are when they’re facing off with the 101st Airborne Division,” Cotton said on Twitter. President Trump retweeted Cotton and said, “100% Correct. Thank you Tom!”

Press Secretary McEnany said the Insurrection Act is an option for Trump. “The Insurrection Act, it’s one of the tools available, whether the president decides to pursue that, that’s his prerogative,” McEnany told reporters.

Speaking at the White House Monday evening, President Trump said, “if a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.”

Trump went on to address his plan to deal with protests in Washington DC, demonstrations that drove the president to seek shelter in an underground bunker on Friday. “As we speak, I am dispatching thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel, and law enforcement officers to stop the rioting, looting, vandalism, assaults, and the wanton destruction of property,” Trump said, speaking of measures he is taking in Washington.

This article was originally featured at Antiwar.com and is republished with permission.

Three Ways Not To Analyze COVID-19 Statistics

Three Ways Not To Analyze COVID-19 Statistics

The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns continue to cause unprecedented devastation of everyday life in the United States–approximately 100,000 deaths, tens of millions unemployed, and countless plans, activities, and goals put on an indefinite hold.

In this context, news outlets, politicians, and consumers are closely following the trends in the COVID-19 statistics, trying to answer the most pressing questions. Are things getting better or worse in the US? Have we succeeded in the flattening the curve? Are the reopened states seeing a surge in new cases that many have feared?

These are important questions. Unfortunately, much of the reporting on the COVID-19 data obfuscates the underlying reality. In most cases, the problem is not that the reporting is literally false. But it typically focuses on the wrong metrics and fails to account for the severe limitations in the underlying data. The end result is that readers–and perhaps policymakers–come away with a more optimistic or pessimistic understanding than is actually warranted.

With that in mind, here are three errors to watch out for in discussions on COVID-19 data.

1. Focusing on the number of newly reported positive cases

This problem has become more common, particularly since some states have started to reopen. Here are some examples of recent headlines that commit this error:

Virginia Reports Highest One Day Increase in Coronavirus Cases After Gov. Ralph Northam Criticized For Not Wearing Mask – Newsweek, 5/25/2020

Texas sees highest single-day hike in coronavirus deaths, cases – Texas Statesman, 5/14/2020

Intuitively, it seems like the number and trend of newly confirmed COVID-19 cases must be an important number. But by itself, it doesn’t tell us much at all. To properly understand it, we also need to know the number and trend in total COVID-19 tests conducted over the same period.

As an illustrative example, let’s consider two random days of test results from Virginia. All results that follow are originally sourced from The Atlantic’s COVID Tracking Project:

With these facts alone, it would appear May 25 was a much worse day than April 13 for Virginia when it comes to the coronavirus. Over three times as many people were confirmed as positive. Surely, must mean the virus was spreading wider and was more out of control on May 25–after the reopening–than it was in mid-April during the lockdown, right?

Well, not quite. When we add the context of the number of tests performed and the positivity rate (the rate of positive tests out of total test results reported), a very different picture emerges. See below:

From this, we can see a more compelling explanation for why positive tests on April 13 were so much lower–namely, far fewer tests were conducted.

Based on these figures, there’s very good reason to assume the virus situation was actually worse on April 13. The high rate of positives suggests that they were unable to test enough people. So if they had had enough resources to test all suspected individuals, it’s likely that the number of positives would have been much higher.

But if you only focus on the positive cases, this reality gets completely turned on its head.

A similar version of this general error can be observed in many reports on record increases in daily cases. Confirmed cases are indeed continuing to rise throughout the US. But the good news is that in most places, the total number of tests is rising at an even faster clip.

2. Focusing on the percentage growth rate (or the doubling rate) of confirmed cases

A related analytical error gets made when media outlets report on the percentage growth rate. Examples of this error in the wild can be routinely found in Bloomberg Radio news updates. Last week, they were reporting around a 1.1% increase in cases, which varied slightly depending on the day.

For a print example, I offer this highly neutral take from Willamette Week in Oregon from May 21, “A Rise in COVID-19 Cases in Deschutes County Tests Whether the State Will Close Bars, Restaurants Again. (So Far? No.)”:

The number of COVID-19 cases in Deschutes County has increased over the last seven days. On Wednesday, the county reported nine cases—more cases than it has on any other single day.

 

Those increases raise the question of whether the state will order the county to shut down the bars, restaurants and hair salons that reopened just six days ago…

 

A 5 percent increase in COVID cases is the benchmark the state set for reviewing the status of a county and possibly shuttering it again. [Health Researcher Numi Lee] Griffith pointed to a 27 percent increase in cases in Deschutes County during the week ending May 20. (emphasis added)

This article is interesting for a couple reasons. First, we see that it actually starts out by committing error #1, reporting a record increase of nine cases without providing information about the number of tests.

(Later on, the article even notes that many of the new cases were actually identified proactively through contact-tracing rather than simple symptomatic testing. If anything, that’s actually a positive indication about the county’s preparedness to mitigate the virus, not a cause for alarm.)

But I digress. The key points in the Willamette Week article are that a) Oregon has actually built this metric into its reopening guidelines and b) Deschutes would have violated it with a 27% increase.

The reason people tend to focus on the growth rate (or in some cases, the days-to-doubling) is because we know that the virus naturally spreads at an exponential rate. One person gives it to three people who each give it to three more people and so on.

In theory, the growth rate is useful because it could offer a window into how quickly the virus is spreading currently, and whether the curve has been sufficiently flattened.

But here’s the problem. One of the key features that makes COVID-19 harder to deal with is that many people who contract the virus, experience no symptoms at all. And while this is not entirely proven, it’s generally believed that these asymptomatic individuals are still contagious and thus contribute to the exponential spread of the disease.

The challenge is that testing capacity has been so limited that states have not been able to conduct the kind of widespread random testing that would be needed to identify all of the asymptomatic cases. The other way to plausibly identify all or most asymptomatic cases is through a robust contact-tracing system like that of South Korea or Taiwan. But the US’s capabilities here are still limited. Instead, COVID-19 testing around the country has been prioritized for people with symptoms and healthcare workers.

The upshot of all this is that the growth rate is not a useful proxy for the thing we’re actually trying to measure. What we want to know is the true rate of spread for the virus, in real-time. But due to testing limitations, the growth rate mostly reflects a) the growth rate in testing capacity and b) the growth rate in symptomatic patients.

This error actually cuts in both directions. Early on in the COVID-19 crisis in February–when the CDC was hard at work developing a faulty test and the FDA was simultaneously preventing others from creating a better one–the nation was testing virtually no one. So most metrics looked good.

Then in mid-March as testing capacity finally got built out, the number of positive cases quickly exploded. Positive cases were doubling every two to three days, as this chart shows:

And then, starting in mid-April and continuing to the present, the growth rate and doubling rate slowed back down. Perhaps this can be partly explained by the voluntary precautions and the lockdowns. But clearly, the more important driver is this: While the virus may grow exponentially, US testing capacity does not.

At each point in the process, including today, these metrics have not been meaningful in the US. In March, they offered a belated confirmation that the virus was already spreading widely. And now, they suggest that virus is slowing down, in part because testing capacity can only grow so fast.

3. Citing the case fatality rate as a meaningful statistic

As its name implies, the case fatality rate (CFR) is calculated by taking the total number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 and dividing by the total number of confirmed cases. The calculation is straightforward, and but the result is worse than useless in the case of COVID-19, as we’ll see.

The most high profile example of bad reporting on the CFR comes from the World Health Organization, whose director said this on March 3:

Globally, about 3.4% of reported COVID-19 cases have died. By comparison, seasonal flu generally kills far fewer than 1% of those infected.

This shockingly high 3.4% figure was used as one of the reasons to justify widespread lockdowns. And yet, the statement itself offers a clue about the problems with this metric.

In that quote, the WHO is comparing the then-calculated CFR of COVID-19 to the infection fatality rate (IFR) of seasonal influenza. These are not the same metric.

In effect, the CFR is what we can easily observe and calculate. The IFR is what we actually care about, but it’s harder to determine. The difference between the two metrics is the denominator. The CFR divides by total confirmed cases, and the IFR divides by total infections.

Since confirmed cases are a subset of total infections, the CFR will always be higher this the IFR. This doesn’t mean that COVID-19 is the same as the flu. But it does mean that comparing the CFR of one disease to the IFR of another is unlikely to provide useful information.

To be fair, it’s conceivable that the gap between the CFR and IFR will not be significant for some diseases. If there was a well-known disease and widespread testing was available, it’s likely that the number of confirmed cases would approximate the total number of infections and thus the CFR would be close to the IFR. However, this is not remotely true for COVID-19 now, and it was even less true at the beginning of March.

For COVID-19, there have been testing shortages all over the world, with a few exceptions. As a practical matter, this meant that tests were generally prioritized for people with severe symptoms and healthcare workers. This prioritization was necessary to try to treat patients more effectively and reduce spread in the hospital environment. But it also compromises the value of a CFR calculated off the resulting data.

The first problem is selection bias. If you’re primarily testing patients that already had severe symptoms, then the population of confirmed cases is skewed towards those that are going to have worse health outcomes from the disease. In turn, this will systematically push up the CFR.

A related problem is that limited testing obviously means the number of confirmed cases will be far lower than the total number of infections. By contrast, the COVID-19 death count, while imperfect, should at least be less understated. The reason is that some jurisdictions, like the US, now include “probable” cases of COVID-19 in the death counts, even without a confirmed test. Thus, although limited testing will effectively cap the number of confirmed cases reported, it does not cap the number of deaths reported. This reality will also tend to systematically inflate the CFR.

The final problem with the CFR occurs simply because COVID-19 is a new disease, and there’s a significant time lag between when someone contracts the disease and when they might actually pass away as a result. At any given time, some percentage of the total confirmed and active cases, relate to individuals who will eventually die from the disease. This will cause the CFR to be artificially lower than reality (though the effect is diluted as the disease progresses over time).

As we see, the errors in the CFR are considerable. And while they point in different directions, there’s every reason to believe that on net, the CFR significantly overestimates the true lethality rate of COVID-19.

The problem is not that the CFR is literally false. The CFR for COVID-19 is being calculated correctly, it’s just not a meaningful number.

“Follow the Data”

These days, it seems like we are constantly being told by pundits and politicians that we need to “follow the data” when it comes to COVID-19.

By itself, that’s not bad advice. But too often, these people act as though the data provides a script. We just look at the data, put it in our model, and voila! enlightenment rains down upon us.

It would be nice if it worked that way. In reality, “The Data” doesn’t tell us anything. People interpreting the data tell us about their conclusions, and they’re not always right.

Coming Apart at the Seams

Coming Apart at the Seams

It doesn’t have to be this way

America is burning. Quite literally. The most destructive riots in America in a very long time have hit more than two dozen cities, as opportunistic thieves and arsonists hijack massive peaceful protests and acts of peaceful civil disobedience sparked by the senseless murder of a man named George Floyd by Minneapolis police on May 25. The riots are a tragedy not just for those who have lost or been hurt – a few were even shot during a protest in Louisville, Kentucky on Friday – but for the protesters’ cause which is their righteous anger at unaccountable police violence running rampant through our society. The enemy is the state, but the rioters only make others feel grateful for the enemy’s protection. What is the sense in destroying the property and endangering the lives of innocent people? There is no sense in it, it’s mob-action stupidity and will almost certainly guarantee that the “great silent majority” of Americans continue to side with the “thin blue line” against them.

Even worse it provides the excuse for the further use of emergency tactics by police and could end up being cited to put the U.S. military on American streets. Already at least eight cities have declared curfews and almost one-third of American states have called out the national guard. The president has threatened to send in U.S. army forces as well. So much for limiting abusive police power.

And such limits are long overdue. Please go sign up for the afternoon email alert from the Free Thought Project site. You will see that every single day – virtually with no exceptions ever – Americans are killed by police. In a major proportion if not majority of these cases, the cops’ violence is obviously completely unwarranted. For example, Austin police murdered an innocent man just the other day. Note, as always, the local media spin on behalf of the cops against an innocent dead citizen, “officer-involved,” “shoot at.” There are thousands more.

Take the case of Breonna Taylor, a young, heroic EMT, slain in her own home by Louisville police on a paramilitary SWAT Team night raid on the wrong home, looking for evidence of supposed contraband violations by a man who had already been taken into custody in another location. For weeks the cops, in conspiracy with the compliant local news, smeared the innocent dead young woman as a “suspect” and her boyfriend as an attempted murderer of the heroic police. In fact, the boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, was the brave hero as well as innocent victim in the situation. These cops, pretending to be Navy SEAL Team 6 at war, did not announce their identities as police as they smashed down the door with a battering ram. Walker shot one officer in the leg. The cops then all opened fire, hitting Ms. Taylor 8 times, killing her.

Listen to the 911 call. After the cops apparently temporarily withdrew, Walker called the police for help, still unaware that it was the police who had committed the murder. Weeks later, after the story finally achieved wide publicity, the charges against Walker were dropped. Just another case of collateral damage in the tragedy-farce of the war on drugs.

It isn’t just the drug wars. America’s militarized war on guns is the same way. Even when not killed in paramilitary night raids like what happened to a young man named Duncan Lemp in Maryland last month, tens of thousands of Americans, maybe more, mostly poor and racial minorities, have been captured and locked in cages like animals not for using a firearm in any criminal way, but simply for having one when the state had commanded otherwise. Of course the alleged possible presence of firearms at a suspect’s location is the primary excuse for the use of deadly paramilitary teams in “no-knock” raids in the first place.

Another major problem beyond prohibition is the doctrine of “qualified immunity” for all law-enforcement officers, which after having been invented out of whole cloth by activist judges, has now evolved into an almost-blanket protection for murderous cops, serving as a license to kill and an always-get-out-of-jail-free card. For you to kill there must be no choice. For them it must only be “reasonable.” And reasonable means whatever they say. The suspect made a “furtive” movement! Blast him! He reached to pull up his sagging pants – “waistband!” Dead man. Two weeks paid vacation. Cops can even outright steal money from innocent people and the judges serve only as their accomplices. When they murder their own loved ones while off the clock, their partners only cover for them.

The same right-leaning patriots who are railing against police enforcement of the Covid lockdowns have got to ask themselves how they would feel if a cop did this to their father.

And what if it was almost certain they would all get away with it too?

In this case the cop who had his knee on Floyd’s neck, Derek Chauvin, has actually been fired and arrested, but only after the massive outcry, and almost certainly because of it. Even then, Chauvin, the cop seemingly most-responsible out of the three who were holding Floyd down, was only charged with little-old third-degree murder which carries a light sentence even if he’s convicted, which is unlikely anyway. The prosecutors had every incentive to “do something” like arrest him now to calm people down, but they also have every incentive to botch the case and let the killers all go free later on. In the charging documents the accusers themselves open up reasonable doubt in the form of autopsy results that say it was not damage to Floyd’s neck that killed him, indicating that it was the prone position of the victim as well as pressure to his back that made the difference instead. While far less than reasonable doubt, with the other men not charged, it’s almost certainly enough wiggle room for a cop to squeeze through.

The rest of America should try look past the stupidity and destruction of the riots in response to police violence and demand a serious change now. We need an end to all drug and gun prohibition, a permanent ban on all SWAT Team night raids, to shutdown the military’s 1033 and Homeland Security’s militarization of local police programs and federal militarized Joint-Task Forces, and most of all we need a massive new consensus to force the Supreme Court to overturn their made-up, Old World-style, qualified immunity doctrine. If government is above the law, then it is not law at all, only edicts of tyrannical men.

This is an emergency. These changes must be made immediately.

In the midst of all the virus, lockdown, police state and economic crises, take note, this society is in no position whatsoever to impose its “benevolent empire” on the rest of the world. We’re still a million miles from perfecting our own union. If it is to hold together at all, factions will need to do a better job learning to see things from others’ point of view. If no one can agree on what is to be done, let us then at least agree on what to stop. Roll back this government and let freedom reign instead. There’s no need to fight over our differences if we can be free to maintain them.

Scott Horton is editorial director of Antiwar.com, director of the Libertarian Institute, host of Antiwar Radio on Pacifica, 90.7 FM KPFK in Los Angeles, California and podcasts the Scott Horton Show from ScottHorton.org. He’s the author of the 2017 book, Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan and editor of the 2019 book, The Great Ron Paul: The Scott Horton Show Interviews 2004–2019. He’s conducted more than 5,000 interviews since 2003.

Scott’s Twitter, YouTube, Patreon.

No Matter What Happens, the World Only Watches

No Matter What Happens, the World Only Watches

A police officer pushed his knee into the back of the neck of a man until he died. Murder. But we watched. A mob stomped a store owner into the pavement as he protected his property. Attempted murder. Again, we watched. A gunship blew journalists and then a family—including children—to pieces. Murder. We watched. We are good at watching. We hear the blasts from the whistleblowers, but we already have our own eyes and despite what we see, we ignore. We do not care. And should we claim to care. It is never enough to challenge the comfort. Even if what we watched was for a time uncomfortable.

For most that read this they were raised in a land of democratic governance; the liberal ideal that in electing one’s representatives, that freedom, security, and order will find some balance. Harmonizing society is the modern religion, with the belief that the sacrifice of millions of innocents is enough so long as we believe hard enough in a rule of law. If we vote regularly, all will be well in the world and when we watch the weeds of this system—the government that we apparently control—we do nothing. Instead we willingly watch the murder go on in our names.

The present protests tearing many parts of the United States apart were ignited initially by a murder. It was not just that slaying of a man that sparked such an eruption. The powder keg was already waiting. But as we watch on, social media blatherers and a clickbait army of journalists speculate and drive narratives. They blame contemporary political matters and merging them with ancient human ills such as racism. All may be to blame and yet none. The consistent theme however is that the state in its many forms is responsible. The protesters are not all looters and rioters. Many in fact are defending private property and protecting people. Some are paid shills doing violent deeds, others are criminal opportunists, and some are undercover police officers instigating violence. But as we watch through the straw of social media, we are told what we are seeing, and it is simplified in narratives.

While most people focus on the riots inside the United States, they do not see the deadly riots elsewhere, from India to Chile. The unrest that has hurt millions in far more impoverished nations was not a simple case of ‘racist police.’ It is for a myriad of reasons, but ultimately the dissatisfaction with the state. It is its present form of austerity measures, where the hungry and jobless rely on the state monopolised services. Or it is because of repression and far more sinister democide and torture. All we can do is watch, and as Adam Curtis once said, ‘exclaim Oh Dear!’ because we can’t explain or understand that much with simple explanations. Instead we can only watch.

Whether a lone police officer murdering a man with the arrogance that only costumed authority could safeguard, or a drone operator peering at human life through the cold gaze of a monitor, the calculation to murder is afforded by the legal mandates of a brutal monopoly. Sometimes scapegoats are sought, and events are segregated from the wider calamity of policy. And other times we, the powerful voter, watch and then move on to something else. Perhaps that vote really does not matter in the end. Instead it enables, legitimizing the murder and misery. Because in voting, we sanction it. The protests and unrests re-emerge. But it lets us feel as though we have a say or have control.

Standing Rock was a powerful moment of defiance for a time and now it is forgotten by those who are not hurt by the outcome and those bitter moments of policy. Those who watched on and formulated an opinion of distance do not care about the injustice that spurred the protests. They could not care about the legacy of betrayal and deceit; they would not know the history that led to that moment. The 1970s Wounded Knee standoff is almost ancient now and robbed in its significance by more recent acts of domestic defiance. The many nations of original Americans know the pain of defeat and the lies of the federal government, while the rest of us watched. Soldiers who massacred women and children still have the medals of honour to their names, while the victims’ graves were robbed of any justice. Then people read and celebrated an end to the West and the frontier. Civilization bathed in the blood of the innocent. Like now, except few read any more and only watch.

Was George Floyd murdered because of racism? Who knows what was in the mind and heart of the uniformed killer. But would it have mattered? Individuals of all races, genders, and ages are murdered by the state in similar ways. Failed no-knock home invasions that lead to the murder of the innocent, bombs dropped onto city blocks from helicopters to defeat a gang, women shot in their bed as they sleep. We can watch on as a homeless man sits in his wheelchair and is gunned down in daylight or a man is tasered and then shot because he did not have a camping permit. Their skin color less important than that they are all individuals lost in time at the hands of agents of the state. That is the distinction. The power to murder without repercussion is afforded by the authority of the state.

While the siege at Waco and the execution of a family at Ruby Ridge may lead to the horrendous violence of the Oklahoma City bombing, the original evil is not suddenly cured because another act of wickedness was committed in vengeance. Even as we watch on, we can attempt to rationalize. Some can blame the victims when they suffer beneath the brutality of the state, despite what we watched. The mass murderers that masterminded the attacks of 2001 on the United States did it because it was a stab into their powerful enemy that they saw as responsible for so much horror inside the lands that mattered to them. Destroying many parts of the world in response was another cycle of misplaced vengeance. The innocent died as we all watched on. But the images of the burning and then collapsing Twin Towers of New York City was more important in some minds than watching Iraq or Afghanistan bleed for decades.

When people inside Iraq protest outside the American embassy, many cheer when the U.S. military blows an Iranian envoy to pieces while they are in an airport on a diplomatic mission. The protests were blamed on a foreign nation; they could not organically spark, the narrative claimed, even if thousands of people were desperate in their anger. As we watched on, we had the murders explained to us. The dead were evil men, the killing was justified. Yet it solved nothing. The people in Iraq are still suffering and desperate. We can watch them cry in agony as mutated babies die and smoke pollutes the playgrounds of violence left as a result of a self-righteous foreign policy. We can blame Iran, but it was the coalitions of distant and willing nations that have been bombing Iraq since 1991.

In months and years from now, when the present protests die down, the narrative will be simplified. As the LA riots of 1992 or the Watts riots of 1965 have become memories, it is clear the lessons were not learned. Sensitivity training and better public relations has not stopped the increase in laws, the violence, and the murders. It can be called racism or a class struggle but, in the end, it is the government exercising authority despite the claimed limitations of its own laws. Regardless of a sniper blowing a hole through a mother holding her baby or the bombs destroying peasants in distant lands, we are told to be angry when a man does not stand for a flag and a song before a football game.

The 1989 Tiananmen protests did not end the grip of the Chinese government’s rule. It made the CCP wiser and ensured that they installed greater controls from censorship to surveillance. The Hong Kong protests will no doubt only further these tightening grips, added with the Covid-19 pandemic and the availability of pervasive technology. Dictatorships will find it easier to control and rule. They will cite the calamity and violence of social disharmony as justification. The pandemics that have spread fast and taken lives as a key factor for public health and controls on the individual. And many more will dob and report to the authorities despite the AI and software that already monitors us. Despite the repression, the organ harvesting, executions and symbol of the ‘Tank Man,’ we take money from that government and visit the nation as happy tourists, omitting the images we watched.

This is the coming fate for liberal democracies. We have seen it with the COVID-19 lockdown and pandemic. The average person was diligent in their obedience, reason be damned. Science is politicized and massaged according to the latest meme that someone viewed. Feelings and mob instincts for control, to dabble in a neighbour’s or stranger’s life, is fueled with sense of entitlement. More authority, more government is called for by the self-righteous voices. And as a flock of ‘Karens’ scream at a woman who is shopping with no face mask on, many will cheer and applaud them. If their belief in the mask is enough many may some day bludgeon the maskless too, like that shop owner who was left for dead by looters, and we will watch.

Those who have caused the chaos, whether in foreign lands littering them with bombs and depleted uranium, or in crippling industry through regulation and taxation, or in waging a war on human ingestion, or to enforce medical lockdowns each time a flu arises, have only been allowed to because we all watched it happen. We were, in the end, indifferent. We are told that each vote matters and yet we never seemed to vote for anything that ever mattered. Instead the voter only votes on want, not need. A want for welfare, subsidies, grants, contracted jobs, and entitlements. All at the expense of dignity and other people’s rights. The mob never seemed to need freedom. And when it is taken away, those who cry out are called selfish. Yet those taking it, those wanting comforts or entitlements at the expense of strangers and familiars, claim to always be in need.

The violence of policy is on all of us. No militant junta or imperial democracy ever existed without the obedience of thousands or millions of willing killers. No tyrant is so powerful that they could rule without others doing their deeds. When Nicolae Ceausescu, the communist dictator of Romania, was executed by the very men who served him, they did so because the tide had changed. The killers now served the mob and not the tyrant. It is no different anywhere else. The killers will kill for whoever is in authority.

And without that authority, the killers are no longer protected. They no longer have the excuse of orders and policy to cower behind. When a policeman brutalizes an unarmed child, instead of filming it—protect the child. We have watched that scene enough. When a gang of fiends bash a man into the pavement—save the man. And perhaps instead of thanking a military person for their service, treat them as just another person. Because if it was not for that collective service, we would not have so much misery in those desperately poor parts on this Earth.

Perhaps we need to stop simply watching, we should begin to think for ourselves and stop blindly obeying the unjust. Perhaps next time you are watching murder, stop seeking a narrative that blames the victim and absolves the killer and act according to your dignity and justice. The answer is not in a ballot box or in mass carnage but by thinking, living, and discussing with liberty in mind. Perhaps we need to stop being afraid of disobeying unjust laws.

Never forget that there is never a reason to kill a non-threatening person in your care. That is murder and it defies the apparent principles of law and order under which the rest of us are forced to abide. Human dignity tells us it is wrong, even if narratives and ideologies grant it an exception. Dropping bombs on unarmed civilians or blowing a school bus full of children is always wrong. No matter who does it. A song, a flag, an ideal is never important enough to conceal that fact. There is never a context for murder. Tt is a shared insanity we keep allowing to occur. There is no greater perversity in watching the murder of others. We have too many snuff films that we can access and yet we do nothing but keep watching on.

Should something happen to you, don’t be surprised if the world just watches on.

News Roundup

News Roundup 7/2/20

US News Seattle’s mayor ordered the police to clear the CHAZ. [Link] Minneapolis’ city council has spent $63,000 of taxpayer money to hire private security for themselves. [Link] A family had to demolish their home after a SWAT team destroyed it trying to remove a...

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https://youtu.be/8VopLWluqAo ... my basic motivation for being a libertarian had never been economic but moral. ... While I was convinced that the free market was more efficient and would bring about a far more prosperous world than statism, my major concern was...

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Just as the boom bust cycle of the economy becomes inevitable through state intervention, so does the boom bust cycle of culture. Whether it be the death of Rodney King, Eric Garner, or George Floyd we're never far away from minority cultures reminding the dominant...

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