Monday, June 26, 2006

Republican officials defecting to Democrats

It has been said that politicians look for the crowd, jump in front of them and then pretend to be their leader. If so then the Republicans are really in trouble. Their politicians are starting to desert them and join the opposition Democrats. Mainstream, that is non-theocratic Republicans, are quitting the party. Yes, voters left first. Now the politicians are following. Earlier I covered the Reagan administration official who is now the Democratic candidate for Senator in Virginia.

Well another defection has been Mark Parkinson. He is running for deputy governor in Kansas as a Democrat. Up until a few days ago he was the chairman of the state Republican Party. The Observer writes about his reasons, "Parkinson lambasted his former party's obsession with conservative and religious issues such as gay marriage, evolution and abortion." Parkinson said: "They were fixated on ideological issues that really don't matter to people's everyday lives. What matters is improving schools and creating jobs. I got tired of the theological debate over whether Charles Darwin ws right."

Paul Morrison, another former top Republican in Kansas is now a Democrat and running for attorney general for the state. The Observer reports that the neo-cons and theocrats in the Republican Party are thrilled as they figure this will cement their control over the party. True. It will. But that could be like inhereting a Kentucky Derby winning horse two days before it's due for the glue factory. What Republicans have to face is that their marriage to the theocratic right has destroyed the Republican Party. They glossed over it in the last few years only because the trauma of 9/11 focused people's attention on other issues. But people have seen the ugly side of fundamentalism and they don't like it.

Two things are happening here. People are deserting the Republican Party in droves. Now the officials are following. Secondly, people re deserting the traditional morality campaigns as well. This marriage of the GOP and the fundamentalist religionists has discredited the Republican Party and religion. Another news article I read today said that voters aren't embracing the Democrats so much as rejecting the Republicans. They still don't know what Democrats stand for, but then neither do the Democrats, but they do know what the Republicans stand for. In the past, as one pollster put it, they voted for the devil they knew. Now they can't stand that devil at all.

If the Democrats ever wake up and moderate their extreme Left views, accept real budget cuts to balance the budget, don't raise taxes, roll back the surveillance state of Bush, and focus on Iraq then would see a landslide that they haven't experienced in over 40 years.

Lethal welfare?

Welfare was originally established to help people through "rough spots". Now we have families that have existed off welfare for generations. Yes, there are some people who receive the temporary help they need but for a growing number of others welfare is the great enabler that allows them to party, drink and buy drugs. Yet these families are paid additional benefits for having children. So they do. One such family in New Zealand used their benefits to establish a "party house". The matriarch of this "family" though only 27-year-old had given birth to 8 children and couldn't care for any of them. Four ended up with an ex partner, one died during birth, one was taken from her due to neglect and two, the survivng two members of triplets, were beaten to death. Now this family, again on state funding is lawyering up and refusing to help with the police investigationm into the murder of these two helpless infants.

When welfare enables dysfunctional individuals, incapable of caring for themselves, to have children it places children in harm's way and some children die as a result. Charity not wisely given easily turns lethal.

Read the full article here.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Americans are fleeing the morality police

One of the main points of the Religious Right has been that government needs to be actively promoting moral values. Now very few people actually oppose moral values. And while the fundamentalists believe that they alone possess morals the fact is that most Americans are fairly decent people. And morality often requires leaving other people alone -- something the Religious Right has not figured out.

During the recent dark days of the Bush administration, an era that could almost make one fondly remember FDR and which has done more to resurrect Clinton's reputation than any other factor, government has been actively pushing moral values. They may not balance the budget but thank God they can bash gays. They may engage in torture but they promote chastity in the schools. And now that Bush is well down in the polls it appears the only crowd that is still clinging to his mantel for respectability are the fundamentalists. And even they are getting weary of the man.

One problem that the Religious Right can not understand is that government often discredits the very things it is meant to support. State control of education has turned schools into prisons where the inmates don't learn. Teachers hate teaching, students hate learning, and the parents can't stand the place. So more and more they flee to private education. Now the one group that most complained about that was the Religious Right. They saw that government botched education so badly they rushed out and started their own private schools by the thousands. And then they turned around and demanded that government take on promoting morality. So Christian friends, put on the Dunce cap and go sit in the corner.

Can government actually give moral values a bad name? Apparently so. The most recent Gallup poll looks into that matter. First, they find that most Americans still think that the morality of the nation is getting worse. I sure hope they are not confusing the morality of the White House with the morality of the nation. But what is interesting is that the idea that government can promote morality is declining. In 1996 the Gallup people found that 60% of Americans believed that government should promote moral values and 38% said it shouldn't. In the most recent poll it was evenly split 48% to 48%. In other words the number of Americans who thought government should promote morality dropped 12 points.

The Gallup people say: "That change appears to be a fairly recent phenomenon. ...Last September, 50% of Americans said government should promote traditional values and 47% said it should not favour any values. That was the closest the gap has been in the 13-year trend on this question. Prior to that, there had been roughly a 10 percentage point margin in favour of promoting traditional values." You can see from the chart that the gap on this issue really only closed in the last two to three years.

Yes, George seems responsible. The Christian Right got what they wanted for the first time in history --- one of their own in the White House pushing their agenda. And what are the results? A decline in the number of people supporting their agenda. The fastest way to discredit a good idea is to get government run it. Conservatives, who pretend to be wary of big government, are the one group that still believes that government ought to be promoting traditional values. But even there the margin is not as big as one would expect. Only 58% of conservatives want government in the morality business and 39% think morality ought to be privatised.

When you tweak the numbers and study the results it appears that really only evangelicals think government should be involved in promoting traditional values. The very people horrified at the idea of state schools seem enamoured with state morality. State control of religion didn't do religion any good. As one who has lived in countries like the US and nations with state churches I can see the difference. Europe today is mainly secular and most Europeans couldn't tell you the members of the Trinity. But they still have state churches across Europe. America separated church and state and religion thrives (for good or for bad depending on your point of view). Getting government officials in the front of the morality parade is the fastest way to discredit morality that I can think of. And the louder the White House has become about the morality the more obvious that they have been using it to divert attention from the numerous scandals that plague them and the problems which they are too incompetent to address adequately.

Yes, my born-again friends, you have done your own agenda a great disservice. And if you ever get your wish of reinstating "a Christian America" you will create more atheists and agnostics than the Robert Ingersolls of the world could ever do. Think about it.

Competition and health care.

The New York Times has an interesting article today regarding how physicians in the US are improving services. They write that "a rapidly growning number of physicians... have streamlined their schedules and added Internet services, among other steps, to better meet the needs of patients." Why? Here is the answer: "Those doctors know that as walk-in medical offices and retail-store clinics pose new competition, and as shrinking insurance benefits mean patients are paying more of their own bills, family care medicine is more than ever a consumer-service business. And it pays to keep the customer satisfied."

There are two important point there. One is that traditional medical services are facing greater competition and the other is that patients are paying more of the bills themselves. And now we get to the secret of rapidly rising health care costs or at least one of them. Yes regulation drives up costs. And law suits by greedy attorneys drive up costs as well. But the effort to provide health care to all also drove up costs. Government programs pushed more and more of the costs onto individuals other than the patients. This meant patient demand for service increased dramatically. If your employer or the government had to pay your food bills you would eat more as well. The "reduced" costs pushed up demand while regulations kept supply strictly limited thus resulting in much higher costs. When it comes to medical care governments have two policies. One is to increase demand as much as possible and the other is to reduce supply as much as possible. Any economist will tell you that if you do that the result will be dramatically higher prices.

Now that consumers are paying more of the costs themselves they are demanding better care and more careful about how they spend the money. The American College of Physicians and the American Academy of Family Physicians are both promoting programs to their members to increase the number of services they offer. And they are doing this to "keep them from going to an in-store clinic".

For decades governments around the world have been diluting market forces in medicine. Each year we saw more and more state control. Each year the "crisis" got worse. And each year the politicians said they need more control of health control. And they got it. And things got worse again. In the US we are now seeing physicians rearranging their schedules, including changing their lunch times, in order to serve more patients faster. In socialised health care systems patients queue up constantly. And when the lines get too long the state just announces they shortened it by taking huge numbers of patients out of line. Not that they are being cared for elsewhere. They just have to join the queue again and if the government is really lucky the patient will have died and can be removed from the listo all together.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Warming and carbon dioxide, oh my.

A press report from Reuters goes into the global warming issue. What is fascinating is what is said, what is admitted, what is merely conjecture and what is not said. The report notes "The last few decades were the warmest on Earth in the past 400 years." Okay. So 500 years ago it was probably warmer.

Why was it probably warmer 500 years ago? Greenhouse gasses? Obviously not. Human activity did not cause the planet to be warmer in the past than today. It isn't as if the Industrial Revolution of 1500 years ago warmed things up and then after they implimented a Kyoto Protocol things cooled down until we screwed it up again. One spokesman for this newest report blaming humans said: "Natural climate variability is something that we'd like to know about." I would hope so. I would think that natural variability is something we'd have to understand before we can state categorically that the warming in the last couple of hundred years is outside that variability.

On the other hand some scientists are now warning that Europe may be headed for a mini Ice Age as well. A Russian scientist, Khabibullo Abudsamatov of the Pulkovo Astronomic Observatory in St. Petersburg says that global warming is mainly caused by increased solar activity and small changes in the planet's orbit. Greenhouse gases have almost nothing to do with the changes. The "good news," or "bad news" news, depending on how you look at it, is that he says the Sun is expected to see big declines in activity between 2035 and 2045 and that will lead to a mini Ice Age.

He says that solar activity has been jumping leading to the warming we have seen and is expected to peak in about seven years. At that point he predicts global temperatures will begin to decline. Terrence Joyce, chairman of the physical-oceanography department at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institutions says: "Abrupt climate change has been a part of our history." And that was before industrialization.

To understand whether we are experiencing something very unusual or par for the course requires us to know what happened in the past. We have a good idea of temperatures for only a relatively small period of time in human history. For the rest we rely upon proxies, or studies of other things which we then correlate to global temperatures. So we take a theory about X and then use that to create a theory about Y. Of course, the more theories you heap on top of each other the more problematic it becomes, especially if you are as unsure about theory X as you are about theory Y. One proxy used to determine global warming has been glacier fluctuations.

Now a recent report on that topic says that the "climate during the last several thousand years may have been even more variable than previously thought." This is from a report in Geology magazine. UPI reports that the new data "together with other clues of past climate, support an emerging idea that climate in the North Pacific region has cycled from warmer to colder intervals several times over the last 10,000 years."

There seems to be this idea that if one can only prove the planet got a bit warmer that the debate has ended. I suggest that is really just the beginning of the debate. The debate needs to cover the following items.

1. Has the planet warmed?
2. Is this warming within natural variations of the past?
3. Is this warming primarily caused by human activity?
4. Is this warming actually a net problem or a net benefit?
5. Is there anything that can be done about it that will actually make things better?
6. If there is what is it?

For instance, if the Russian scientist, who is not alone in arguing that solar activity is mainly responsible for warming trends, is correct and if solar activity decreases rapidly, as is projected, then we may see a sudden reversal in temperatures. That will create problems as well. If that is responsible for most warming then the small warming effect created by humans may be welcomed if we enter another cold spell.

All change requires adjustment. Nature is always in a state of flux, contrary to the visions of this stable eco system that some fantasize. Adjusting to a slight warming may be less problematic than trying to prevent it. The most radical proposal on the drawing board is the Kyoto Protocol and even supporters admit it will have an almost non-existent impact on global warming. Of course, if the Russian is correct, then by the end of the century global temperatures will be down due to reduced solar activity. No doubt the alarmists in 100 years time will say Kyoto was the reason.

Most life on the planet evolved during a period of time when global temperatures where much, much warmer than they are today, and even much, much warmer than the worst predictions would indicate for a future global temperature. It is not as if life will cease to exist as we know it, in spite of Hollywood disaster films to the contrary. The main food production regions of the world will have longer growing seasons for instance, increasing world food levels. Other regions will be warmer and might suffer more drought. But warmer climate means more evaporation, meaning more rain in other areas. Some areas will see improved growing due to better rain and some might have more flooding. Changes are constantly happening and have been for as long as we know, well before their were "human produced greenhouse gases" to worry about.

What concerns me is that people are demanding political solutions, as if politics ever solves much, before we have even answered the questions that need answering. Merely establishing a warming of less than 1 degree over the last 100 years is just the start of the debate. Those with a specific political agenda want to end the debate and immediately impose their agenda on the world. When people want to impose "solutions" before problems have been clearly defined one has to wonder if their motivation is so much the problem or really about their agenda.


More rogue cops get away with assault due to police "code of silence"

There are beliefs that one comes to reluctantly because the evidence is overwhelming yet the truth is uncomfortable. One such belief is that an awful lot of police officers are merely uniformed thugs. My inclination was to support the police. And I have close relatives who work in law enforcement. So I also know there are decent people in the field. But cops stick together and cover up for the thugs. I know that as well.

To illustrate the point take the case of Frank Jude. Jude had meet a couple of women earlier in the evening, Kristin Antonissen and Katie Brown. The women invited him and a friend to go with them to a local bar. While there Antonissen got a call inviting her to a housewarming for a local police officer. And she took Jude along. She says that when they walked in they got very nasty looks from the guests who were mostly cops. She said everyone “just stopped what they were doing and looked at us. It was a very, very uncomfortable situation.” Oh, Jude and his friend are black. Antonissen and her friend are white.

Antonissen and her friend went to the toilet and when they were gone the cops acted very intimidatingly toward him. When the girls returned he told them what had happened and they thought it best to leave immediately. So they went out to the truck they arrived in to leave. As they tried to do this the off duty cops surrounded the truck claiming that a badge had been stolen.

Antonissen said that the solution was to call the police and was told: “We are the cops, you don’t need to call the cops.” One off duty officer bashed in the woman’s headlight. Brown got out to show them her purse had no badge in it. Another person demanded that Antonissen hand over the keys to her truck. She replied saying she was going to call 911 for help. One cop told her “Do it, and I’ll kick your ass.” She called anyway. On the recording made when she called she is heard saying that a mob of individuals claiming to be police officers were “going through our stuff right now. They’re claiming we stole their wallets and we did not.” If they had been thieves it is not likely they would be the ones calling the police.

Two men pulled Jude’s friend from the car and cut his face while using racial slurs. Jude was also pulled out and a mob of cops started beating him. Brown reported that the cops were “just punching and kicking this guy, just constantly yelling and screaming, ‘Where’s my badge, where’s my badge.’” The cops ripped Jude’s pants off of him and kicked him till he was a bloody mess.

Antonissen said: “I could actually see blood shooting up in the air. Frank’s whole head was covered in blood.” When the police car arrived they handcuffed Jude and helped beat him for “resisting arrest” (this is the catch all lie used by cops when they act like petty thugs.)

No charges were filed against Jude and after 20 minutes they drove him to the hospital. Doctors tried to find out what happened but he refused to say with the police present. For obvious reasons. When the police left he opened up and doctors took multiple photographs to document the viciousness of the beatings.

The official police report, that I would bet doughnuts is a concocted lie, said that Jude started the incident by “physically fight(ing) with... off duty officers” who were” attempting to restrain him until uniformed squads arrived.” Something that contradicts the recorded report that Antonissen gave to 911 when she called for help. The cops who were present didn’t want to talk about what happened. That is they refused to say which cops committed the assaults. Only after much pushing did one on duty officer, Joseph Schabel, admit that he witnessed three cops beating Jude.

So now we have a gang of rogue cops. We have two black men being attacked for no reason. We have two white women who witnessed the attacked and reported it. We have an on-duty cop admitting he saw the attack. So what happens when it goes to trial. The cops walk free!

The jurors said the case had been inadequately investigated by.... well, by the police of course. So the police did a shitty job investigating other police officers and so the thugs walk free in what should have been an open and shut case. The prosecutor said that the biggest problem was the the police officers, sworn to uphold the law, refused to tell anyone what they saw. In other words they refused to uphold the law and put their buddy ahead of their duty to uphold the law.

The whole thing hinges around the fact that up to a dozen criminals, I mean cops, beat this man. And only three were charged. Jurors said that with that many involved how could they know they had the right ones. Maybe it was another cop. In my view they are all guilty and all of them should have been prosecuted.

Police officer after police officer, who attended the party and surrounded the truck, claimed that they never saw any beating. These “officers” also refused to speak to investigators. Jurors said it was obvious that the officers were liars and and hiding facts but felt their hands were tied because of it. The cops were were acquitted because their friends lied for them were Jon Bartlett, Daniel Masarik and Andrew Spengler. If you are Milwaukee don't call the cops for help and if you run into these acquitted (sic) criminals run in the opposite direction.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The snake marriage movement??

The Colbert Report is a hilarious satire on the Right-wing lunatic commentators, especially the obnoxious bunch at Fox News. In this episode Stpehen Colbert comments on a Congressman who attacked gay marriage on the basis that it could lead to marriage to snakes! Colbert takes off with that and it is rather funny. Enjoy it.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Clear cut, rock solid and wrong.

Imagine this: a young woman is working at a Pizza Hut. She is attacked, raped and shot to death. Two young men are arrested. One of them confesses. Yes, he was there. Yes, he helped do this. Yes, his friend was guilty. And so the jury thought. And this is Texas which loves to use judicial killing as a punishment. This is the Bible Belt where fundamentalist Baptists dominate and executing people is firmly part of their moral code. What should Texas do?

Ask the President and he'll tell you. Execute them and fast. Ask the Governor and he'll say the same thing. Do a survey of Texans and a good percentage of them will argue that scum like this need to die and the sooner the better. They don't want delays, appeals, or anything else slowing down the vengeance that they seek.

The man who confessed was Christopher Ochoa and he testified that he and his friend, Richard Danziger, killed Nancy DePriest. Luckily for him and Danziger they got life sentences instead of the death penalty. Had they received the more severe, but very common, death sentence there is a good chance that they would have been executed by now. "So what?" say the advocates of judicial executions. "Scum like them deserve to die." Scum like them? Well, Ochoa confessed but he lied. He lied because he was terrified to deny the crime. Police had told him that unless he confessed he would get the death penalty and he would be executed.

Police grilled him constantly for two days with little sleep. He tried to resist but the police wouldn't let up. They were convinced he was their man so it was just a matter of breaking him. And they did. The described to him how he would be raped by other prisoners, they showed him photos of the dead woman, they showed him where on his arm the needle would be inserted to execute him. Orchoa said: "They kept saying, 'You are going to get the death penalty. This is a high-profile case. The community wants someone to die.'" Police said he couldn't call an attorney until charges were filed and eventually he confessed. And when he told the defense attorney what happened he wasn't believed

The presiding judge said that any jury would have found these men guilty. Ochoa's "confession" was iron clad as far he was concerned and "very compelling". Orchoa spoke of details of the murder known only to the muderer and to the police. But details the police had fed Orchoa. Danzinger had an alibi. He had spent the night with his girlfriend but her testimony was dismissed. Privately Orchoa insisted to his family he was innocent but said that unless he confessed they would seek his execution. It was the only way he saw to stay alive.

In essence this innocent man was told he had two choices. Confess to a murder he did not commit and spend his life in jail but alive or plead innocent, be found guilty anyway and be executed for his lack of cooperation. So Ochoa did what he felt was best given this unjust choice by the police. He and his friend were convicted and went to prison. These two men were still in prison until 2000 in spite of being innocent. But in 1996 another man, a convicted killer himself, admitted that he had been the one in the Pizza Hut that night.

With the help of pro bono attorneys the two innocent men were able to get DNA tests done which confirmed that the confession was not true. Orchoa admitted he lied under oath because of police intimidation. And finally the man who had actually done the crime was identified.

The guilty man, Achim Marino, wrote a letter of confession to then Governor George Bush. Bush was under some pressure since in his term in office 150 inmates had been executed by his government. That letter was sent to Bush in Febuary, 1998 but Bush did not turn it over to law enforcement after receiving it. The guilty man had sent the same letter to the police himself and to newspapers. He even told police where he hid items he took from the Pizza Hut like the keys, which were found at his parent's home.

After 12 years in prison the innocent men were released. They sued and were awarded damages. Orchoa, 22 when falsely convicted, received $5.3 million. Danzinger, 19 at the time, received $10 million in total. While in prison for a crime he did not commit he was beaten and suffers from permanent brain damage as result. Also traumatised by the events was the mother of the dead women, Jeanette Popp.

The police told Orchoa that the woman had been repeatedly raped and sodomized and he repeated to the jury what he had been told. The description was so real and graphic that Popp ran out of the courtroom and vomited. She had nightmares from what she thought had happened, something far worse and more gruesome that what actually happened. Police lied. They intimidated an innocent man and concocted facts for him to repeat in court. They told him that if he was white he might get off with life but he was Hispanic and "Hispanics always get the needle."

The police officer who led the investigation, Hector Polanco, had been identified as an officer who intimidates suspects and coerces confessions from them in other cases. And he was later fired when it was proven that he gave perjured testimony in a murder trial. But he was reinstated when he sued claiming the perjury was merely a memory lapse. He was paid $350,000 compensation for this! Danzinger's then girlfriend said that Polanco threatened her and told her he would try to implicate her in the killing as well. She had two children and he told her she would lose custody of them and that it would be proven she had given a gun to Danzinger. She says: "I had nightmares about this forever."

The Innocence Project was contacted by Orchoa and began to look into his case. They discovered that DNA samples still existed and that police had never bothered to test them. When he was released his mother was there to greet him. So was Jeanette Popp. At first she was angry that anyone would be trying to release the men she was sure had tortured her daughter. But when she looked at the evidence she realized something awful had been done to this men, and to her. She was at the prison to greet Orchoa and gave him a watch because, as she put it, time matters to him again.

Upon his release Orchoa went to the cemetary to his grandfather's grave. His grandfather had believed him innocent but died while Chris was in prison. Orchoa said: "I've got to go tell him I'm out." While in prison Orchoa, who was an honor student in high school, finished two degrees and upon release he went to law school. He said: "I made it through prison, why can't I make it through law school?" And in 2004 he started working for the Innocence Project himself.

Orchoe and Danziger were lucky. John Pray, of the Innocence Project, says: "For every one of these men for whom there is DNA to test, there are dozens of men and women who are denied access to DNA testing, for whom the evidence has been lost or destroyed, or for whom DNA is not available as evidence."

Jeanette Popp made one important point: "In loving memory of my daughter, it is my wish that the death penalty be abolished in Texas so that it can no longer be used as a threat to coerce confessions from the innocent." Orchoa agreed: "We need to stop the death penalty."

Anyone who doesn't believe that there are innocent people on death row right now awaiting execution isn't paying attention. Anyone who knows but doesn't care just isn't human.

Open Letter on Immigration

The Independent Institute has produced the following letter. Below you will find the names of hundreds of economists who have signed it. It is good to see this. Great libertarian thinkers like Ludwig von Mises understood these principles and it is good to see a libertarian insitute actually promoting those principles.

Dear President George W. Bush and All Members of Congress:

People from around the world are drawn to America for its promise of freedom and opportunity. That promise has been fulfilled for the tens of millions of immigrants who came here in the twentieth century.

Throughout our history as an immigrant nation, those who were already here have worried about the impact of newcomers. Yet, over time, immigrants have become part of a richer America, richer both economically and culturally. The current debate over immigration is a healthy part of a democratic society, but as economists and other social scientists we are concerned that some of the fundamental economics of immigration are too often obscured by misguided commentary.

Overall, immigration has been a net gain for American citizens, though a modest one in proportion to the size of our 13 trillion-dollar economy.

Immigrants do not take American jobs. The American economy can create as many jobs as there are workers willing to work so long as labor markets remain free, flexible and open to all workers on an equal basis.

In recent decades, immigration of low-skilled workers may have lowered the wages of domestic low-skilled workers, but the effect is likely to have been small, with estimates of wage reductions for high-school dropouts ranging from eight percent to as little as zero percent.

While a small percentage of native-born Americans may be harmed by immigration, vastly more Americans benefit from the contributions that immigrants make to our economy, including lower consumer prices. As with trade in goods and services, the gains from immigration outweigh the losses. The effect of all immigration on low-skilled workers is very likely positive as many immigrants bring skills, capital and entrepreneurship to the American economy.

Legitimate concerns about the impact of immigration on the poorest Americans should not be addressed by penalizing even poorer immigrants. Instead, we should promote policies, such as improving our education system, that enable Americans to be more productive with high-wage skills.

We must not forget that the gains to immigrants coming to the United States are immense. Immigration is the greatest anti-poverty program ever devised. The American dream is a reality for many immigrants who not only increase their own living standards but who also send billions of dollars of their money back to their families in their home countries—a form of truly effective foreign aid.

America is a generous and open country and these qualities make America a beacon to the world. We should not let exaggerated fears dim that beacon.

Jeffery Abarbanell, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Jason Abrevaya, Purdue University
Richard Adelstein, Wesleyan University
William P. Albrecht, University of Iowa
Michael V. Alexeev, Indiana University
Bruce T. Allen, Michigan State University
Richard A. Almeida, Southeast Missouri State University
Lee J. Alston, University of Colorado, Boulder
Santosh Anagol, Yale University
Gary M. Anderson, California State University, Northridge
Michael Anderson, Washington and Lee University
Robert M. Anderson, University of California, Berkeley
James E. Anderson, Boston College
Robert Warren Anderson, George Mason University
William L. Anderson, Frostburg State University
Dominick T. Armentano, University of Hartford
Richard Arnott, Boston College
Pierre Azoulay, Columbia University
Howard Baetjer, Jr., Towson University
Dean Baim, Pepperdine University
David Balan, Economist
A. Paul Ballantyne, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs
Owen Barder, Center for Global Development
Frank M. Bass, University of Texas, Dallas
Jonathan J. Bean, Southern Illinois University
Peter M. Beattie, Michigan State University
Scott Beaulier, Mercer University
John H. Beck, Gonzaga University
Stacie Beck, University of Delaware
Steven R. Beckman, University of Colorado, Denver
David T. Beito, University of Alabama
Jere R. Behrman, University of Pennsylvania
Donald M. Bellante, University of South Florida
Daniel K. Benjamin, Clemson University
Bruce L. Benson, Florida State University
George S Berger, University of Pittsburgh, Johnstown
Ernst R. Berndt, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
David Berri, California State University, Bakersfield
Alberto Bisin, New York University
Linda J. Bilmes, Harvard University
Greg Blankenship, Illinois Policy Institute
Alan S. Blinder, Princeton University
Barry Boardman, Chief Economist, Kentucky Legislature
Alan E. Boese, Virginia State University
Peter J. Boettke, George Mason University
Elizabeth C. Bogan, Princeton University
Cecil E. Bohanon, Ball State University
Ben W. Bolch, Rhodes College
James E. Bond, Seattle University
Robert A. Book, Independent Economist
Thomas E. Borcherding, Claremont Graduate University
Michael D. Bordo, Rutgers University
Donald Boudreaux, George Mason University
Scott Bradford, Brigham Young University
Ryan R. Brady, United States Naval Academy
Serguey Braguinsky, State University of New York, Buffalo
Jorge Bravo, Duke University
Stephen Eric Bronner, Rutgers University
Taggert J. Brooks, University of Wisconsin, La Crosse
Wayne T. Brough, Freedom Works
Robert K. Buchele, Smith College
Mark Buckley, University of California, Santa Cruz
James B. Burnham, Duquesne University
James L. Butkiewicz, University of Delaware
Bruce Caldwell, University of North Carolina, Greensboro
John E. Calfee, American Enterprise Institute
Joe Calhoun, Florida State University Anil Caliskan, George Mason University
Charles W. Calomiris, Columbia University
Noel Campbell, North Georgia College and State University
Bryan Caplan, George Mason University
Robert S. Carlsen, University of Colorado, Denver
Bo A. Carlsson, Case Western Reserve University
Robert B. Catlett, Emporia State University
Emily Chamlee-Wright, Beloit College
Henry W. Chappell, Jr., University of South Carolina
Kristine L. Chase, St. Mary's College of California
Carl F. Christ, Johns Hopkins University
Harold Christensen, Centenary College of Louisiana
Lawrence R. Cima, John Carroll University
James E. Clark, Wichita State University
R. Morris Coats, Nicholls State University
Loren Cobb, The Quaker Economist
Mark A. Cohen, Vanderbilt University
Ben Collier, Northwest Missouri State University
William B. Conerly, Conerly Consulting LLC
Patrick Conway, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
John E. Coons, University of California, Berkeley
Lee A. Coppock, University of Virginia
Roy E. Cordato, John Locke Foundation
Paul N. Courant, University of Michigan
Tyler Cowen, George Mason University
Dennis J. Coyle, Catholic University of America
Christopher J. Coyne, Hampden-Sydney College
Donald Cox, Boston College
Erik D. Craft, University of Richmond
Peter Cramton, University of Maryland
Maureen S. Crandall, National Defense University
Robert Thomas Crow, Business Economics
David Cuberes, Clemson University
Kirby R. Cundiff, Northeastern State University
Scott Cunningham, University of Georgia
Christopher Curran, Emory University
Hugh M. Curtler, Southwest Minnesota State University
Kirk Dameron, Colorado State University
Jerry W. Dauterive, Loyola University New Orleans
Paul A. David, Stanford University
Antony Davies, Dequesne University
Steven J. Davis, University of Chicago
Alan V. Deardorff, University of Michigan
Alan de Brauw, Williams College
Gregory Delemeester, Marietta College
Bradford DeLong, University of California, Berkeley
Michael Dennis, College of the Redwoods
Arthur T. Denzau, Claremont Graduate University
Arthur M. Diamond, Jr., University of Nebraska, Omaha
John L. Dobra, University of Nevada, Reno
Asif Dowla, St. Mary's College of Maryland
Daniel W. Drezner, University of Chicago
Lloyd Dumas, University of Texas at Dallas
Manoranjan Dutta, Rutgers University
William R. Easterly, New York University
Richard M. Ebeling, Foundation for Economic Education
John C. Edmunds, Babson College
John B. Egger, Towson University
Barry J. Eichengreen, University of California, Berkeley
Eric Eliason, Brigham Young University
Jerome R. Ellig, George Mason University
Randall P. Ellis, Boston University
Sara Fisher Ellison, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Jeffrey C. Ely, Northwestern University
Ross B. Emmett, Michigan State University
Richard E. Ericson, East Carolina University
Barry S. Fagin, United States Air Force Academy
Frank Falero, Jr., California State University, Bakersfield
Jonathan Falk, NERA Economic Consulting
Eugene F. Fama, University of Chicago
Susan K. Feigenbaum, University of Missouri, St. Louis
Roger D. Feldman, University of Minnesota
J. Peter Ferderer, Macalester College
David N. Figlio, University of Florida
Morris P. Fiorina, Stanford University
Hartmut Fischer, University of San Francisco
Eric Fisher, Ohio State University
Franklin M. Fisher, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Robert J. Flanagan, Stanford University
Mark C. Foley, Davidson College
Fred E. Foldvary, Santa Clara University
William F. Ford, Middle Tennessee State University
Peter Frank, Wingate University
Robert H. Frank, Cornell University
Michele Fratianni, Indiana University
Jesse M. Fried, University of California,. Berkeley
Lowell E. Gallaway, Ohio University
Gary M. Galles, Pepperdine University
B. Delworth Gardner, Brigham Young University
Judith Gans, University of Arizona
Justin Garosi, North Dakota State University
David E. R. Gay, University of Arkansas
Adam K. Gehr, Jr., DePaul University
Michael Giberson, Independent Economist
Douglas M. Gibler, University of Kentucky
Adam Gifford, Jr., California State University, Northridge
John Gillingham, University of Missouri, St. Louis
William Gissy, Kennesaw State University
Edward L. Glaeser, Harvard University
Nathan Glazer, Harvard University
Brian Goff, Western Kentucky University
Steven M. Goldman, University of California, Berkeley
Deborah Goldsmith, City College of San Francisco
Don Goldstein, Allegheny College
Jack A. Goldstone, George Mason University
Peter Gordon, University of Southern California
Richard L. Gordon, The Pennsylvania State University
Roger H. Gordon, University of California, San Diego
Scott F. Grannis, Western Asset Management
Wayne B. Gray, Clark University
Martin Greenberger, University of California, Los Angeles
Michael Greenstone, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Gene M. Grossman, Princeton University
Peter Z. Grossman, Butler University
Richard S. Grossman, Wesleyan University
James D. Gwartney, Florida State University
David D. Haddock, Northwestern University
Larry M. Hall, Belmont University
James Halteman, Wheaton College
W. Michael Haneman, University of California, Berkeley
Robin Hanson, George Mason University
Andrew Hanssen, Montana State University
Stephen K. Happel, Arizona State University
W. Penn Hardwerker, University of Connecticut
Donald J. Harris, Stanford University
M. Kabir Hassan, University of New Orleans
Kevin A. Hassett, American Enterprise Institute
Robert H. Haveman, University of Wisconsin
Thomas Hazlett, George Mason University
Cary W. Heath, University of Louisiana, Lafayette
James J. Heckman, Nobel Laureate, University of Chicago
Scott Hein, Texas Tech University
Eric A. Helland, Claremont McKenna College
David R. Henderson, Hoover Institution
Jack High, George Mason University
Robert Higgs, The Independent Institute
P. J. Hill, Wheaton College
Bradley K. Hobbs, Florida Gulf Coast University
Randall G. Holcombe, Florida State University
Harry J. Holzer, Georgetown University
Richard Hooley, University of Pittsburgh
R. Bradley Hoppes, Missouri State University
Steven G. Horwitz, St. Lawrence University
Daniel E. Houser, George Mason University
Douglas A. Houston, University of Kansas
Charles W. Howe, University of Colorado, Boulder
John S. Howe, University of Missouri, Columbia
James E. Howell, Stanford University
Frank Howland, Wabash College
Hilary W. Hoynes, University of California, Davis
James L. Hudson, Northern Illinois University
James L. Huffman, Lewis & Clark College
Jeffrey Rogers Hummel, San Jose State University
David Hummels, Purdue University
Lester H. Hunt, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Christine Hurt, Marquette University
Roxana Idu, SUNY Buffalo
Frederick S. Inaba, Washington State University
Christopher R. Inama, Golden Gate University
Robert P. Inman, University of Pennsylvania
Michael Intriligator, University of California, Los Angeles
Thomas D. Jeitschko, Michigan State University
Bruce K. Johnson, Centre College
Douglas H. Joines, University of Southern California
Seth K. Jolly, Duke University
Garett Jones, Southern Illinois University
Kristin Roti Jones, Hartwick College
Michael Jones-Correa, Cornell University
William H. Kaempfer, University of Colorado, Boulder
Alfred E. Kahn, Cornell University
Joseph P. Kalt, Harvard University
Mark S. Kamlet, Carnegie Mellon University
Theodore C. Kariotis, Towson University
Stephen H. Karlson, Northern Illinois University
Jonathan M. Karpoff, University of Washington
David L. Kaserman, Auburn University
Peter B. Kenen, Princeton University
Miles S. Kimball, University of Michigan
Meelis, Kitsing, University of Massachusetts
Robin Klay, Hope College
Benjamin Klein, University of California, Los Angeles
Daniel Klein, George Mason University
Audrey D. Kline, University of Louisville
Paul R. Koch, Olivet Nazarene University
Roger Koppl, Fairleigh Dickinson University
Laurence J. Kotlikoff, Boston University
Melvyn B. Krauss, Hoover Institution
Brent E. Kreider, Iowa State University
Mordechai E. Kreinin, Michigan State University
David W. Kreutzer, James Madison University
Lawrence A. Kudlow, Kudlow & Company
Mukund S. Kulkarni, Penn State University, Harrisburg
Sumner J. La Croix, University of Hawaii
Arthur B. Laffer, A. B. Laffer Associates
Courtney LaFountain, University of Texas, Arlington
Deepak Lal, University of California, Los Angeles
Steven E. Landsburg, University of Rochester
Richard N. Langlois, University of Connecticut
Nicholas A. Lash, Loyola University
Wolfram Latsch, University of Washington
Robert A. Lawson, Capital University
Phillip LeBel, Montclair State University
Don R. Leet, California State University, Fresno
Kenneth M. Lehn, University of Pittsburgh
David K. Levine, University of California, Los Angeles
David M. Levy, George Mason University
Dale B. Light, Independent Scholar
P. Mather Lindsay, Mather Economics LLC
Tian Hao Liu, University of Chicago
George Lodge, Harvard University
Robert R. Logan, Northern Economic Research Associates
Edward J. Lopez, San José State University
Franklin A. Lopez, Tulane University
Anthony Loviscek, Seton Hall University
Robert E. Lucas, Jr., Nobel Laureate, University of Chicago
John E. Lunn, Hope College
W. Bentley MacLeod, Columbia University
Robert Main, Butler University
Burton G. Malkiel, Princeton University
Laurence Malone, Hartwick College
Yuri N. Maltsev, Carthage College
N. Gregory Mankiw, Harvard University
Geoffrey A. Manne, Lewis & Clark College
William F. Marina, Florida Atlantic University
Matthew Marlin, Duquesne University
Michael L. Marlow, California Polytechnic State University
Andres Marroquin Gramajo, George Mason University
Giovanni Mastrobuoni, Princeton University
David N. Mayer, Capital University
Carrie Mayne, Utah Department of Workforce Services
Will McBride, George Mason University
Deirdre McCloskey, University of Illinois at Chicago
Paul W. McCracken, University of Michigan
Rachel McCulloch, Brandeis University
Michael J. McCully, High Point University
Daniel L. McFadden, Nobel Laureate, University of California, Berkeley
Joseph A. McKinney, Baylor University
Walter W. McMahon, University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana
Robert McNown, University of Colorado, Boulder
Matthew Q. McPherson, Gonzaga University
Tom Means, San Jose State University
Roger Meiners, University of Texas, Arlington
John D. Merrifield, University of Texas, San Antonio
Harry Messenheimer, Rio Grande Foundation
Carrie Meyer, George Mason University
Jacob B. Michaelsen, University of California, Santa Cruz
William Milberg, New School for Social Research
Paul R. Milgrom, Stanford University
Demaris Miller, Psychologist
James C. Miller, III, George Mason University
Stephen C. Miller, Western Carolina University
Maria Minniti Koppl, Babson College
Jeffrey A. Miron, Harvard University
Wilson Mixon, Berry College
Robert Moffitt, Johns Hopkins University
Michael R. Montgomery, University of Maine
Cassandra Chrones Moore, Cato Institute
Thomas Gale Moore, Hoover Institution
John C. Moorhouse, Wake Forest University
Michael A. Morrisey, University of Alabama at Birmingham
Andrew P. Morriss, Case Western Reserve University
Milton L. Mueller, Syracuse University
Robert F. Mulligan, Western Carolina University
Michael C. Munger, Duke University
Ben Muse, Economist
David B. Mustard, University of Georgia
Richard F. Muth, Emory University
Thomas J. Nechyba, Duke University
Robert H. Nelson, University of Maryland
Russell Nelson, Economist
Hugh B. Nicholas Jr., Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center
M. Scott Niederjohn, Lakeland College
Eli M. Noam, Columbia University
Roger G. Noll, Stanford University
Masao Ogaki, Ohio State University
Lee Ohanian, University of California, Los Angeles
David J. O'Hara, Metropolitan State University
Randal O’Toole, Thoreau Institute
Lydia D. Ortega, San Jose State University
Evan Osborne, Wright State University
Randall E. Parker, East Carolina University
Allen M. Parkman, University of New Mexico
Jeffrey S. Parlow, Macomb Community College
Mark V. Pauly, University of Pennsylvania
Sandra J. Peart, Baldwin-Wallace College
William S. Peirce, Case Western Reserve University
Robert L. Pennington, University of Central Florida
Jeffrey M. Perloff, University of California, Berkeley
Timothy Perri, Appalachian State University
Mark J. Perry, University of Michigan, Flint
William H. Peterson, Ludwig von Mises Institute
William S. Peirce, Case Western Reserve University
Owen R. Phillips, University of Wyoming
Robert S. Pindyck, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Joseph S. Pomykala, Towson University
Steven Postrel, Southern Methodist University
Benjamin Powell, The Independent Institute
John M. Quigley, University of California, Berkeley
Carlos Ramirez, George Mason University
Elizabeth L. Rankin, Centenary College of Louisiana
James B. Ramsey, New York University
Ronald A. Ratti, University of Missouri, Columbia
Salim Rashid, University of Illinois, Champaigne-Urbana
Laura Razzolini, Virginia Commonwealth University
Edward M. Rice, University of Washington
Raymond Riezman, University of Iowa
Luis N. Rivera-Pagan, Princeton University
Richard W. Rahn, Center for Global Economic Growth
Mario J. Rizzo, New York University
Michael J. Rizzo, Centre College
Donald John Roberts, Stanford University
Seth Roberts, University of California, Berkeley
Malcolm Robinson, Thomas More College
James D. Rodgers, Pennsylvania State University
Harvey S. Rosen, Princeton University
Nathan Rosenberg, Stanford University
Philip Rothman, East Carolina University
Ronald D. Rotunda, George Mason University
Brian Rowe, University of Michigan
Charles T. Rubin, Duquesne University
Paul H. Rubin, Emory University
Gerard Russo, University of Hawaii
Andrew R. Rutten, Stanford University
Matt E. Ryan, West Virginia University
Andrew Samwick, Dartmouth College
Steven C. Salop, Georgetown University
Raymond D. Sauer, Jr., Clemson University
Thomas R. Saving, Texas A & M University
W. Charles Sawyer, University of Southern Mississippi
Edward M. Scahill, University of Scranton
D. Eric Schansberg, Indiana University, New Albany
Thomas C. Schelling, Nobel Laureate, University of Maryland
Richard Schmalensee, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Ken Schoolland, Hawaii Pacific University
Stewart J. Schwab, Cornell University
Anna J. Schwartz, National Bureau of Economic Research
Kenneth E. Scott, Stanford University
Carlos C. Seiglie, Rutgers University
Barry J. Seldon, University of Texas, Dallas
George A. Selgin, University of Georgia
Richard Sennett, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
John F. Shampton, Texas Wesleyan University
Richard Sherlock, Utah State University
Tyler G. Shumway, University of Michigan
Randy L. Simmons, Utah State University
Rita Simon, American University
Charles David Skipton, University of Tampa
Daniel J. Slottje, Southern Methodist University
W. Gene Smiley, Marquette University
Alastair Smith, New York University
Charles Welstead Smith, Ohio State University
James F. Smith, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Jeffrey Smith, University of Michigan
Karl Smith, North Carolina State University
Nathan Smith, World Bank
Robert S. Smith, Cornell University
Vernon L. Smith, Nobel Laureate, George Mason University
Russell S. Sobel, West Virginia University
Ilya Somin, George Mason University
John W. Sommer, Political Economy Research Institute
John C. Soper, John Carroll University
Martin C. Spechler, Indiana University
David B. Spence, University of Texas, Austin
Mark Steckbeck, Hillsdale College
Roland Stephen, North Carolina State University
E. Frank Stephenson, Berry College
Robert M. Stern, University of Michigan
Robert T. Stewart, Fordham University
Hans Stoll, Vanderbilt University
Edward P. Stringham, San Jose State University
Amy H. Sturgis, Belmont University
Paul J. Sullivan, Georgetown University
Anita Summers, University of Pennsylvania
Scott Sumner, Bentley College
William A. Sundstrom, Santa Clara University
Shirley V. Svorny, California State University, Northridge
Aaron M. Swoboda, University of Pittsburgh
Richard E. Sylla, New York University
Alexander Tabarrok, The Independent Institute
John A. Tatom, Indiana State University
Jason E. Taylor, Central Michigan University
David J. Theroux, The Independent Institute
Clifford F. Thies, Shenandoah University
Christopher R. Thomas, University of South Florida
T. Nicolaus Tideman, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Richard H. Timberlake, Jr., University of Georgia
Robert D. Tollison, Clemson University
Mark Toma, University of Kentucky
John F. Tomer, Manhattan College
Jay L. Tontz, California State University, East Bay
Joel P. Trachtman, Tufts University
Adrian E. Tschoegl, University of Pennsylvania
Kevin K. Tsui, Clemson University
David Tufte, Southern Utah Unhiversity
Frederick Tung, Emory University
Gordon Tullock, George Mason University
Chad S. Turner, Nicholls State University
Nicola C. Tynan, Dickinson College
Michelle A. Vachris, Christopher Newport University
John J. Villarreal, California State University, East Bay
Georg Vanberg, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Mark Van Boening, University of Mississippi
T. Norman Van Cott, Ball State University
Hendrik Van den Berg, University of Nebraska, Lincoln
Alvaro Vargas Llosa, The Independent Institute
Karen I. Vaughn, George Mason University
Richard K. Vedder, Ohio University
Erik Voeten, George Washington University
George Vredeveld, University of Cincinnati
Michael R. Ward, University of Texas, Arlington
John T. Warner, Clemson University
Alan Rufus Waters, California State University, Fresno
Michael J. Webb, Regulatory Economics Group
William Weber, Southeast Missouri State University
Ivo I. Welch, Brown University
David L. Weimer, University of Wisconsin, Madison
John T. Wenders, University of Idaho
J. Fred Weston, University of California, Los Angeles
Robert M. Whaples, Wake Forest University
Lawrence H. White, University of Missouri, St. Louis
Ronald F. White, College of Mount St. Joseph
John Whitehead, Appalachian State University
Marina v. N. Whitman, University of Michigan
Roland Wiederaenders, Austin Capital Management
Christopher Wignall, University of California at San Diego (grad econ student)
James A. Wilcox, University of California, Berkeley
Thomas D. Willett, Claremont Graduate University
Arlington W. Williams, Indiana University, Bloomington
Douglas Wills, University of Washington, Tacoma
Bonnie Wilson, St. Louis University
Larry T. Wimmer, Brigham Young University
Michael K. Wohlgenant, North Carolina State University
Barbara Wolfe, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Justin Wolfers, University of Pennsylvania
Gary Wolfram, Hillsdale College
Arthur Woolf, University of Vermont
Eric C. Woychik, Strategy Integration LLC
Brian Wright, University of California, Berkeley
Joshua D. Wright, George Mason University
Bruce Yandle, Clemson University
David B. Yoffie, Harvard University
DeVon L. Yoho, Ball State University
Derek K. Yonai, Campbell University
Jeffrey T. Young, St. Lawrence University
Asghar Zardkoohi, Texas A & M University
Lei Zhang, Clemson University
Kate Xiao Zhou, University of Hawaii
Zenon X. Zygmont, Western Oregon University

Foreign Signatories top^
Lord Meghnad Desai, London School of Economics, England
Kevin Dowd, University of Nottingham, England
Jose Antonio Fontana, Uruguay
Francisco Javier Aparicio, CIDE, Mexico
Jurgen G. Backhaus, Erfurt University, Germany
Alvaro Bardon, Universidad Finis Terrae, Chile
Alberto Benegas-Lynch, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina
Niclas Berggren, Ratio Institute, Sweden
Andreas Bergh, Lund University, Sweden
Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen, University of Hull, England
Gregor Bush, BMO Economics, Canada
John B. Chilton, American University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
Julio H. Cole, Universidad Francisco Marroquin, Guatemala
Janet Coleman, London School of Economics and Political Science, England
Enrico Colombatto, University of Torino, Italy
Daniel Cordova, Peruvian University of Applied Sciences, Peru
Eric Crampton, University of Canterbury, New Zealand
Fredrik Erixon, Timbro, Sweden
Ana Marie Fossati, Agencia Interamericana de Prensa Económica, Uruguay
Angel Solano Garcia, Universitad de Granada, Spain
Ronald Hamowy, University of Alberta, Canada
Steffen Hentrich, German Advisory Council on the Environment, Berlin, Germany
Andrew Leigh, Australian National University
Pierre Lemieux, University of Québec in Outaouais, Canada
Christopher R. Lingle, Francisco Marroquin University, Guatemala
Lance J. Lochner, University of Western Ontario, Canada
Francis T. Lui, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, China
Robert Nef, Liberales Institut Zurich, Switzerland
Jan Narveson, University of Waterloo, Canada
Maximilian Oberbauer, University of Vienna, Austria
John F. Opie, Feri Rating & Research GmbH, Germany
Mohamed Oudebji, Economics and Social Sciences of Marrakech, Morocco
Tomi Ovaska, University of Regina, Canada
Eduardo Pegurier, Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Victoria Curzon Price, University of Geneva, Switzerland
Herbert Reginbogin, University of Potsdam, Germany
Friedrich Schneider, Johannes Kepler University of Linz, Austria
Parth J. Shah, Centre for Civil Society, India
Claudio Djissey Shikida, Brazil
Saul Trejo, Grupo Acex, Mexico
Alec van Gelder, International Policy Network, England
Sam Vermeersch, NPO Fakbar Letteren, Belgium
Anthony M. C. Waterman, University of Manitoba, Canada

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The mistakes of history: Repeat them!

Rick Barker is the New Zealand member of parliament who is in charge of Civil Defense. There have been some stuff ups in recent weeks from his department and he was questioned about this on the floor of the House. I guess the pressure was a bit much.

We've all heard the saying from George Santayana: "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it." Apparently Mr. Barker heard the saying as well. But like his department he got it wrong. He told parliament that those who ignored the lessons of history were "duty bound" to repeat them.

This is almost as bad as the Prime Minister, of Canada I believe, who once warned voters that the country stood on the edge of the precipice but that with his election they would take a giant step forward. Indeed. Flub up or just honesty? You be the judge.

The march of the theocrats.

A few months ago the Christianist controlled legislature of South Dakota passed the most restrictive anti-abortion laws in the United States. Now the Christianists in Louisiana have rushed to join them. How restrictive is it?

Consider this: if you are a young girl in either state who is brutally raped you will be required to give birth to the child of your rapist. It matters not what trauma this may inflict on you. What if you were the victim of violent incest, raped by your own father. Tough. You will be forced to give birth to your own brother because in the world of fundamentalism there are rules that apply to everyone regardless of circumstances. As the fundamentalist is known to say: "God said it, I believe it, that settles it."

There is no debate with someone who believes that God is talking to them and directing them. Their moral code is not their moral code since they are unhappy unless everyone is forced to live according it to. Fundamentalists Muslims want all women to cover their head not just Muslim women. Fundamentalist Christians do not care if you are not one of them. You will be forced to live as if you were.

Consider how they have treated the marriage issue. They oppose marriage rights for gay couples. Why? Because they think it sinful to be gay. So everyone must follow this moral code whether they think it is a sin to be gay or not. These Christianists have passed laws in several states which don't just ban gay marriage or even civil unions. They ban private companies from granting any benefits to the spouses of gay employees. So if X corporation says they want to offer health insurance to all employees and their spouses (legally married or not) these laws prevent them from doing so. I presume that to give health insurance would be a crime then. Just as the young girl who doesn't wish to give birth to the child of her rapists would be a criminal under these laws.

Now if this is the kind of power trip these people are on now what would it be like if they actually controlled the state completely? Christian theocrat Gary North was quite honest when he said, that if people "fully understood the long-term threat to their civilizaation that our ideas pose, [they] would be wise to take steps to crush us."

Sunday, June 18, 2006

The Big Five: the 5 best libertarian magazines around

People interested in the ideas of liberty need to be informed and one means of gathering information is through magazines. So if you are a novice at liberty, or even an old-timer at it, which publications ought to be at the top of your reading list?

Of course publications don’t all have the same focus. Some are more ideological than others for instance. So which publications would I recommend be included in the library of a well-read advocate of freedom? Here are my choices in no particular order.

The Economist is a definite on the list of recommends. It is truly an international publication, it is a news publication and it is one that shares the basic libertarian values. it is also the only weekly publication on my list. This amazing publication has been in continuous publication since 1843. In the original prospects for this publication it was stated that its purpose was to print articles “in which free-trade principles will be most rigidly applied to all the important questions of the day.” It was a leading publication of the classical liberals of England and is now the leading such publication for classical liberals in the world. Former editor Bill Emmott says the publications “philosophy has always been liberal, not conservative.” In other words it is pretty libertarian thought not blatantly so. It has favoured free markets, globalisation, legalisation of drugs and gay marriage. In most cases it has been true to its roots.

So you have a publication that is widely respected, sells 1 million copies per week, informative and editorially supports liberty most of the time. Because it is a weekly it is not cheap either. It is however very economically with verbiage so articles are short, informative and often have a bit of British dry humour along the way. A recent article on individuals in Canada being arrested for allegedly plotting to behead the prime minister was subtitled” How not to be Canadian”.

A one year US subscription is going to run $129.00 while in Europe it is even more. But if you read this publication you really don’t need Time, Newsweek, etc. More information here.

Next on my list is the monthly publication Reason. This glossy has been around for sometime, since the late 60s when it was a mimeographed newsletter published by Lanny Friedlander. It took off a few years later and eventually created behind it an entire foundation dedicated to promoting libertarian solutions to local problems. One way to get the flavour of a publication is to see what kind of stories they run. The current, June 06 issue has several interesting pieces. Jeff Taylor explores how the FBI allowed 9/11 to happen. Cathy Young investigates when criticism of Islam degenerates into bigotry. Three different individuals with three differing perspectives look at the war in Iraq and offer their views.

Then we have three articles dealing with what Americans can learn from India. Shikha Dalmia writes “What Detroit Can Learn From Bangalore” and “Where Did India’s Skilled Labour Come From?” on the role of private education in India. Samuel Staley looks at “The Rise and Fall of Indian Socialism”. Unrelated is Bruce Bartlett’s article “The President’s Rotten Record on Trade”. Julian Sanchez looks at the so called “marriage crisis” while Amy Sturgis looks at the libertarian legacy of sci-fi writer Octavia Butler. Of course there is more. This is just a sampling. The publication has been revamped and is widely hailed as one of the top political magazines in the United States. It comes out 11 times per year and is about $20 for a US subscription and about $30 per year in Europe. You can find out more here.

Certainly to be included is another libertarian publication with an illustrious history: the Freeman. Published by the Foundation for Economic Education this magazine has been around for half a century. During the 50s and 60s it was had the libertarian market pretty much it itself. There were short lived or limited circulation newsletters around. But from a libertarian perspective this was pretty much it. It was then filled with articles by writers like Ludwig von Mises, Frank Chodorov. Leonard Read, John Chamberlain and FA Harper. But they also republished classic works by Bastiat, Spencer, de Tocqueville, and Sumner.

For years the publication was given away and it was one I read in high school. And I found much in the magazine worth reading. But the layout was dull and I was not greatly fond of the editorial thrust under the then editor Paul Poirot. Eventually a donation was required, the magazine changed formats and a new editor, Sheldon Richman came on board. I find the new magazine a much improved version and far more interesting.

The Freeman is another monthly. How it differs is that the focus is more on the ideas of libertarianism. It does have more new oriented material than in the past but this is mainly a publication described well by its subtitle: “The Ideas of Liberty.” The current issue includes an interesting article by James Tooley on why private education is good for the world’s poor, a reprint of an article on the early history of FEE by Henry Hazlitt, an article by Steven Horowitz “Hayek and Freedom”, “Japan, Germany and the End of the Third Way” Norman Barry and “Ludwig von Mises: The Political Economist of Liberty” by economist and FEE president Richard Ebeling. Each issues includes numerous columns and book reviews as well.

I would recommend a minimum donation of $20 for a US subscription and $30 if in Europe. More information can be found here.

To round out my list I will now focus on two journals. Unlike the previous three publications these are more academic in focus but well worth reading or having in one’s library for reference. If academic material is a bit much for you then the three publications I’ve mentioned above will give you a well rounded look at the world and what is happening in it from a libertarian perspective. But don’t underestimate your ability to read these journals.

The first journal on my list is The Cato Journal which is described as an interdisciplinary journal of public policy analysis. It’s been going for 26 years and I remember receiving the first issue. It is published quarterly. It is not a glossy or filled with pictures. It is an academic journal with footnotes and credentials for the authors.

In the most recent issue you will find one article asking “Does Foreign Aid Help?” while another wants to know “Does a Less Active Central Bank Lead to Greater Economic Stability?” An old friend of mine from my days at the Pacific Research Institute, Greg Christainsen writes on “Road Pricing in Singapore after 30 Years” -- an issue he and I talked about almost 20 years ago. Two other authors ask: “Does Gun Control Reduce Crime or Does Crime Increase Gun Control?” You will also find an article on the impact of government control on drug prices and on research and development, other articles and several book reviews.

A subscription for one year, four issues, is $24.00 in the US and $34.00 outside the US. More information can be found here.

And rounding out my “Big Five” is The Independent Review is a quarterly published by the Independent Institute and edited by Robert Higgs. It too is academic in nature but with more variety in an issue than the Cato Journal which often concentrates on one topic. It has been around now for 10 years. The most recent issue is the Spring, 06 issue.

This issue illustrates the diversity of topics. Charlotte Twight has a disturbing article “Limited government: Ave Atque Vale” which deals with how the Bush administration has basically imposed a national ID on Americans. She notes that in just two months the US government imposed the ID program and the Supreme Court destroyed basic Constitutional rights by giving the broadest definition ever to the interstate commerce clause and to the takings clause. She says that in just a few weeks time three main pillars of freedom were destroyed and said: “If anyone still doubted the direction in which government power is heading in the United States, these decisions surely dispel such doubts.”

In the same issue Frederic Sautet investigates “Why Have Kiwis Not Become Tigers? Reforms, Entrepreneurship, and Economic Performance in New Zealand.” James Payne investigates “Does Nation Building Work?” and Natalie Janson looks at “Business and the Welfare State in France and Germany.” There are several other articles as well.

A subscription costs $28.95 for one year within the United States. The one major drawback of this publication is that they really do charge very high penalties for subscribers outside the US with an additional charge of $28 for an overseas subscription. Between the two academic journals I tend to prefer this publication but I’m not sure I prefer it $28 worth more than I do the Cato Journal. I think they have done themselves a real disservice by charging so much extra. Typically a $10 extra charge seems most common while the Independent Institute charges almost three times as much. More information can be found at

So those are my “Big Five” publications for libertarians. I think this selection has a decent balance in it. You get hard news, news and policy analysis and you get good academic material to back it up with. You are not inundated with publications to read. There are 51 copies of The Economist over a year’s period which is more than all the other publications put together. So basically every week you receive one publication. Then not quote once a month you will receive Reason and The Freeman, and then every four months you will receive The Cato Journal and The Independent Review. To deal with this amount of magazine reading, if you read it from cover to cover, you only have to finish 1.5 publications per week. But I assure you that there are many articles you will skim and some that won’t interest you at all. So this level of reading is manageable for most people including those who still need time for books.

Notice: Over the next few months we shall do several “Libertarian Lists” that are of use to those interested in freedom. This is the first in that series. I should also mention that I have given my honest opinions here but should mention conflicts of interest. In the past I have written for Reason though not recently. I do contribute to The Freeman and have several articles coming up there. I have not written for the others though I did once work for the publisher of The Independent Review, David Theroux when he was president of the Pacific Institute.

Sad, sad Slovakia

With only 29% support the nutty Left of Robert Fico will apparently be forming a new government in Slovakia. Fico is a control freak. One of the old Left who think that little minds like themselves can operate entire economies and run people's lives. They get into office by promising to give the littler minds that vote for them lots of free goodies. They promise them heaven on earth but can't deliver.

The election is so splintered that there is still a chance that the reform minded government may retain power but only time will tell. Slovakia was the poor half of the former Czechoslovakia. But when that nation split in two Slovakia went on to reform while the Slovakians clung to the rigid views of the Left. The Czech Republic prospered quickly and Slovakia stagnated. But eight years ago a reform minded government was elected. It followed the examples of successful Eastern European nations and went to a flat tax and pushed through other reforms. Quickly new jobs were being created and the economy started booming.

All segments of the economy saw growth. Employment was up across the board. Of course some people got rich quickly and others are growing richer slower and Fico appealed to those who are not productive promising to punish those who got wealthy faster. He appealed to envy as the Left always does.

The numbers show that the reforms benefitted all. But the statists who want power know that envy is a sure fire method of rallying those people in society who hate others for their success and are willing to be slightly poorer themselves in order to make the wealthy substantially worse off.

And the man is in Congress.

Stephen Colbert does an interview with Lynn Westmorland, a Congressman from Georgia. The whole thing is quite funny as this man is a complete idiot. It amazes me how uninformed and unintelligent he is. He is a sponsor of legislation to require that the Ten Commandments be put up in judicial buildings by law. He says he can't think of a single better building for the Ten Commandments. Colbert practically nudges and hints there might be one building that is a bit more appropriate --- such as a church --- but the Congressman has this blank look on his face and simply can't think of one place where a religious code of conduct might be more appropriate than a government building. And the look on the Congressman's face is perfect when Colbert asks him to name the Ten Commandments. The man goes blank as he realizes that he has absolutely no idea what is in them --- he just knows he for them. He managed three and they were the easy ones about lying, stealing and murder. Here is some of the interview for your amusement.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

The Irish Times needs a political lesson. Libertarians are not another version of conservative.

The Irish Times has an article on Jason Reitman and his new film Thank You for Smoking. Reporter Donald Clarke seems to have a problem, and some confusion as well, regarding libertarians. Reitman says that the author of the story on which the film is based, Christopher Buckley, has "a libertarian mind, which I have learnt means something a little different in Europe to what it means in America."

Clarke writes: "Yes, indeed. Many here libertarians as Republicans without the Creationist, fundamentalist baggage."

Certainly such a comment reveals an amazing lack of knowledge regarding libertarianism. It isn't as if the only difference between a libertarian and today's Republican is "Creationist, fundamentalist baggage." If one just spoke in terms of the three main areas of public policy the differences are apparent. Republicans are interventionists in foreign policy libertarians are not. Republicans are not inclined toward civil liberties and libertarians are. And Republicans say they support free enterprise while libertarians actually mean it.

So perhaps Clarke would have been right if he had said 'libertarians are Republicans without the Creationist, fundamentalist baggage, without the war in Iraq, without the war on drugs, without the Patriot Act, without federal control of education, without the big penalities for "indecency", without the federal marriage amendment, without the banning of flag burning, without the antiabortion views, without spying on the public, without the homophobia, without the anti-immigrant rancor, without Guantanamo, without the massive deficits, without the huge spending increases..." well you get my drift. Of course the sentence wouldn't make much sense if you actually list the huge number of differences between a libertarian and a Republican. So if one wants to slam a libertarian by associating them with Republicans it is best to deny the facts and pretend there is really only one point where they differ and not the dozens that in fact exist.

I would bet that in some important ways that Mr. Clarke has more in common with Bush and the Republicans than any libertarian, properly labeled, would.

I am aware that some conservatives, shamed by the antics of the clown in the White House, are now trying to call themselves "libertarians" as a rebranding exercise. But when they define their terms they are still as far from being libertarians as they have been for decades. Libertarians are not "more Right" conservatives. In fact libertarians are not on the Right. The Right is a wasteland. Which is not to say the Left is much better. Libertarians reject both and support freedom across the board. Of course there are some Republicans who lean libertarian but in my experience they are a tiny percentage of those who pretend they do. Ditto for libertarian Democrats.

Why I think Andrew Sullivan got it wrong this time.

Conservative writer Andrew Sullivan is a bit disturbed. What upset him was that a man, who was appointed by the Governor of Maryland, to serve on the states Metro transit authority board made some remarks that were considered unacceptable and bigoted. Governor Robert Ehrlich, Jr., a Republican by the way, removed the man from his position. I'll get to the specifics shortly. Sullivan says that the removal was "an act of profound intolerance" because 'words hurt no one." Now for the context.

The man, Robert J. Smith, made some very bigoted remarks about gays. He did so in public while being interviewed on television. Smith called gays "deviants." Smith defended himself saying that the remarks don't impact on his performance running a bus or rail system. Sullivan defended the man because the man's offensive remarks are rooted in his religion. Sullivan says "they are indeed intrinsic to his understanding of his own religious liberty" and that such people should be left "alone in the expression of their own faith."

Context is everything. I want to say why I think Mr. Sullivan may be wrong here. First, Mr. Smith has every right to express his opinion. What he does not have is a right to work for the governor on terms unacceptable to the man who appointed him. His appointment made him a representative of the governor. I have no feelings for Governor Ehrlich one way or another. But it seems to me that he has the right to determine who will represent him. Obviously the man served at the Governor's discretion and could as quickly be relieved of that position at the Governor's discretion.

Now if Mr. Smith were a career bureaucrat who expressed an odious opinion --- as if there is anything more odious than being a career bureaucrat --- I would argue that the Governor ought not have the right to fire a man for a disgusting opinion. But, in this case specifically, the man was appointed by the Governor and reflected on him. The Governor was quite clear that these sorts of opinions were not what he was about. He said they were in "direct conflict" with his own views of "tolerance and opportunity". Fair enough. I don't see how Smith’s remarks couldn't reflect on the man who appointed him.

Now it seems to me that Sullivan, who is religious himself, is particularly concerned because the man's beliefs are religious in nature. I should say that Sullivan is a well known gay conservative who disagrees with the views Smith expressed quite strongly. But he seems to think that in this case, because the beliefs were religious, they deserve extra respect of some sort. Here I disagree.

Consider a Identity Christian who holds a job representing a company. That man appears on television and expresses some of his deeply held religious views. He tells the world that Jews are the children of Satan who have to be destroyed to preserve the white race. It is a religious belief. It is only words. But should his employer be required to continue to pay this man a salary to represent them even in a context totally outside those of his remarks? If a man were appointed to a University board, and got up and gave a lecture speaking about the natural inferiority of blacks, should he be kept in that position simply because these are deeply held beliefs? One expresses bigotry out of religious beliefs and another out of his own scientific beliefs. Both are sincere. Are sincere religious belief immune where sincere secular bigots are not?

My view is that a private company has the right to fire and hire employees for being bigots or for not being bigots. They live with the consequences of their reputation. It would be nice if all the bigots worked at the same place so those of us who would prefer not to support them wouldn't have to do so. Private employment ought to be private and employers and employees free to come to their own terms without interference. By the way the same right would mean that fundamentalists would not have to hire Catholics, gays, Mormons, Jews or anyone else they thought doomed to hell fire as well.

The matter becomes more complicated when it is a government job. The easiest way to handle the matter is privatise the job. That's my first preference. I don't think the government ought to be running a transit system in the first place. Sell it off. The owners have to live with the reputation that their board members or representatives give them and they ought to be free to take any stand they want on whether to keep or fire bigots. But government can not enjoy the same privileges as private companies because it exists on the funds taken from all of us involuntarily. I don't have to give a dime to a private company unless I choose to do so. I have no such choice with government agencies. If I don't give it to them they will take it regardless.

But the bigot is in the same position. and he is forced to support the agency as well. Should government be allowed to hire and fire people for things not related to work? No! They shouldn't be able to discriminate on the basis of political beliefs or religious beliefs or the lack thereof. So what was the difference here? Mainly that Smith was not just a bureaucrat but an appointee of the governor. He was associated with the governor and served at his pleasure. You can not remove that association and Ehrlich realised that. He didn't accept these views, making him unusual for a Republican, and if he did nothing it would appear that he was amenable to such opinions. He did what was best for himself and removed his appointee, as he had the right to do, and appointed a replacement he could live with. Ehrlich has to run for re-election so he will have to live with whether his decision was right or not.

But there is something important in Sullivan's comments. It is something that is often expressed and ought to be discussed. It is the idea that religious beliefs, unlike most other beliefs, somehow deserve respect simply because it is religious. Sullivan is religious so it is natural that he would just operate with this assumption. But can a modern world operate on the principle that any religiously expressed opinion deserves some respect? Now when I say respect I mean deference being paid as if that belief is sensible and worthy of respect no matter how outlandish it may be. I do not advocate stripping people of the right to express opinions nor do I think that they ought to be prevented from non-violent practices that are religious in nature. I am not saying we should trample their rights.

But I do question this idea that once a belief is shrouded in the name of religio, that is somehow immune from the normal process of social sanction. Surely a conservative ought to recognise the important role that social sanction plays in preventing liberty from becoming libertinism. A civilised society ought to be able to express moral indignation at unacceptable beliefs even if those beliefs are given a religious aura. There is no other area of human life where beliefs are so protected. If this man got up and said he hated Jews and that Hitler was a great guy would Mr. Sullivan be arguing that his losing his job was an act of intolerance? I have my doubts. I personally think it a good thing that what was once called "polite company" will not sanction the racists words of a bigot by pretending that those beliefs deserve respect. All of us are free to express opinions and no one else is required to sanction them or put up with our company if they disagree with them.

Religious beliefs are no more immune from social sanction than the antiquated views of the racialists. I don't believe in censorship which is where the force of law is used to prevent a man from expressing his opinions. Had that been done here I would be screaming about it. It wasn't. But is Mr. Smith immune from the social sanctions inflicted on him by others because of his bigotry? No. And that they were religious in nature is not particularly relevant. All beliefs, held by all people, are sacred to them. Religious beliefs deserve no special respect simply because they are claimed by faith. I personally think that if a society is to have a moral order of decency that the social sanction inflicted on odious influences like bigotry are the best way of obtaining it. It is far better than censorship or force. It is how civilised people combat the obnoxiousness of hate and it ought not matter whether that hatred wears a religious cloak or not.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Comrade George is watching you, carefully.

John Howard may have his eyes on grabbing the Norfolk Island but the Bush administration has it eyes on the people it trusts least in the world -- the American public. According to the Washington Post the prying into your life has dramatically increased and what the government is forbidden to do itself, by law, is purchased circumventing the law. At least 52 different federal agencies have launched almost 200 projects to collect private information about American citizens.

More government agencies are keeping track of the average American than worry about Osama bin Laden or the war on terrorism. Of course they say that most of their efforts to spy on American citizens is to fight terrorism. That mantra is the catch-all excuse for government expanding powers and becoming more intrusive. Data mining techniques were mostly used by private businesses in search of customers. But not most the data mining that is being done on Americans is being done by their own government spying on them. The vice president of one data mining company said: "What was surprising... was how aggressibe and hot the intelligence and security market is for this." This company said that over half their client list is now government agencies spying on Americans.

One problem is that such techniques of data mining really don't provide useful information on terrorists. It produces huge numbers of false leads and wastes millions of dollars and manhours tracking down normal citizens. But then that assumes the government's target is really terrorists and that it isn't just collecting information on Americans. One former official with the government said that the Bush people see things like this: "If you have nothing to hide, why do you care if I know what movies you rent? Who you are talking to? If you live a godly life, a perfect life, you don't have to worry about 100 percent disclosure." Welcome to Big Brother citizens. Of course by the time you figure out that big government is more of a threat to peace, prosperity and freedom than any terrorist is, well it will be too late comrades.