Archive for the ‘US government’ Category


Know yer rights

October 10, 2015

I don’t know why, but I got a couple of links from Paul B this week related to rights when dealing with police officers in the US. (I hope this doesn’t mean that someone he knows has been busted.)

First he sent a link to this Fifth Amendment Flowchart by Nathaniel Burney. I’d never thought a lot about the topic — I haven’t needed to, luckily — but it surprised me how complicated dealing with the police could get when Miranda warnings and the Fifth Amendment are involved.

Then yesterday Paul sent a link to some podcasts made by folks at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. They’re a surprising resource to find. I hope their legal accuracy is as good as their convenience.

Continuing the 5th Amendment bit, I listened to the podcast titled Self Incrimination Roadmap. Not to take anything away from Mr. Burney’s excellent flowchart but I found the podcast a little easier to follow.


Why we need limited government

October 4, 2015

Jeff sends a link to this documentary and writes, "I have to wonder how many examples there are across the nation where politicians and other guvmint [sic] officials illegally use the IRS to harass U.S. Citizens?"

It’s just shy of 30 minutes long.

I invite your attention to the 8:00 minute mark when an attorney named Mark Fitzgibbons says, "It started out as a good thing as you want local control over local issues. But you have people in county government who have all this power and no checks on their power. Of course they’re going to abuse it." (My emphasis.)

Well said, Mr. Fitzgibbons. Well said.


More evidence for the limited-government argument

October 3, 2015

When government doesn’t have the power to "pick winners", it can’t practice cronyism. To use a recent example, how about Solyndra?

Why some billionaires are bad for growth, and others aren’t
Not all inequality is created equal

Over the past few decades, wealth has become more concentrated in the hands of a few global elite. Billionaires like Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Mexican business magnate Carlos Slim Helú and investing phenomenon Warren Buffett play an outsized role in the global economy.

But what does that mean for everyone else? Is the concentration of wealth in the hands of a select group a good thing or a bad thing for the rest of us?

You might be used to hearing criticisms of inequality, but economists actually debate this point. Some argue that inequality can propel growth: They say that since the rich are able to save the most, they can actually afford to finance more business activity, or that the kinds of taxes and redistributive programs that are typically used to spread out wealth are inefficient.

Other economists argue that inequality is a drag on growth. They say it prevents the poor from acquiring the collateral necessary to take out loans to start businesses, or get the education and training necessary for a dynamic economy. Others say inequality leads to political instability that can be economically damaging.

A new study that has been accepted by the Journal of Comparative Economics helps resolve this debate. Using an inventive new way to measure billionaire wealth, Sutirtha Bagchi of Villanova University and Jan Svejnar of Columbia University find that it’s not the level of inequality that matters for growth so much as the reason that inequality happened in the first place.

Specifically, when billionaires get their wealth because of political connections, that wealth inequality tends to drag on the broader economy, the study finds. But when billionaires get their wealth through the market — through business activities that are not related to the government — it does not. […]

(My emphasis.)

I think we should to be a lot more jealous of our Constitutional prerogatives. How about enforcing the Tenth Amendment:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

To put perhaps-too-fine a point on it: constitutionally, the US government has no business concerning itself with funding basic scientific research, or with wealth inequality, or with any number of other things it does when those aren’t directly related to its role has protector and defender of the people.

And it shouldn’t matter what the policy wonks or special interests might think the government ought to be doing.

Via the always readable Coyote blog


Another example that value is subjective

July 31, 2015

I didn’t know a movie was being made about Kelo v City of New London.



July 28, 2015

Here’s a David Brooks column in The New York Times.

The Minimum-Wage Muddle

Once upon a time there was a near consensus among economists that raising the minimum wage was a bad idea. The market is really good at setting prices on things, whether it is apples or labor. If you raise the price on a worker, employers will hire fewer and you’ll end up hurting the people you meant to help.

Then in 1993 the economists David Card and Alan Krueger looked at fast-food restaurants in New Jersey and Pennsylvania and found that raising the minimum wage gave people more income without hurting employment. A series of studies in Britain buttressed these findings. […]

Some of my Democratic friends are arguing that forcing businesses to raise their minimum wage will not only help low-wage workers; it will actually boost profits, because companies will better retain workers. Some economists have reported that there is no longer any evidence that raising wages will cost jobs.

Unfortunately, that last claim is inaccurate. There are in fact many studies on each side of the issue. David Neumark of the University of California, Irvine and William Wascher of the Federal Reserve have done their own studies and point to dozens of others showing significant job losses.

Recently, Michael Wither and Jeffrey Clemens of the University of California, San Diego looked at data from the 2007 federal minimum-wage hike and found that it reduced the national employment-to-population ratio by 0.7 percentage points (which is actually a lot), and led to a six percentage point decrease in the likelihood that a low-wage worker would have a job.

Because low-wage workers get less work experience under a higher minimum-wage regime, they are less likely to transition to higher-wage jobs down the road. Wither and Clemens found that two years later, workers’ chances of making $1,500 a month was reduced by five percentage points.

I wonder if Governor Cuomo reads the Times — or Forbes.

Via Coyoteblog


Take my rights. Please.

July 18, 2015

I don’t think this quite reaches the level of civil disobedience but it would certainly be good for civil annoyance. (And maybe give TSA folks a clue that they should find productive work.)

In any case, I think I’ll buy a few because I like the idea.

TSA “Bill of Rights” Card

Mr Jillette and a friend of his got the idea to make playing card size copies of the Bill of Rights printed on metal. It sets off the metal detectors and you get to hear the security person say, “I’m going to have to take away your Bill of Rights.” Well, it’s not going to actually work like that very often, but the idea is there. They’re light and go right into a breast pocket. Purchase 1 or 100 and hand em out to your friends.

H.T. Jeff G


"Don’t be evil" my aching back

November 11, 2014

I’m taking this report at face value. Assuming it’s correct, this is an amazing show of chutzpah. What do you think that solar plant is, Google, a sports stadium maybe? (My emphasis below.)

World’s largest solar plant applying for federal grant to pay off federal loan

Struggling solar thermal plant seeks huge taxpayer bailout

After already receiving a controversial $1.6 billion construction loan from U.S. taxpayers, the wealthy investors of a California solar power plant now want a $539 million federal grant to pay off their federal loan.

“This is an attempt by very large cash generating companies that have billions on their balance sheet to get a federal bailout, i.e. a bailout from us – the taxpayer for their pet project,” said Reason Foundation VP of Research Julian Morris. “It’s actually rather obscene.”

The Ivanpah solar electric generating plant is owned by Google and renewable energy giant NRG, which are responsible for paying off their federal loan. If approved by the U.S. Treasury, the two corporations will not use their own money, but taxpayer cash to pay off 30 percent of the cost of their plant, but taxpayers will receive none of the millions in revenues the plant will generate over the next 30 years.

Can we get the government out of the habit of picking "winners" and let the market decide what projects get financed? It’s time for some of that Separation of Market and State that I go on about.


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