Today the libertarian Mercatus Center released its annual “Freedom in the 50 States” list, a ranking of liberty in America as measured by Ron Swanson-ish ideals of personal and economic freedom.
According to the Center, the least free states in America are New York (population 19.5 million), California (pop. 38 million) and New Jersey (population 8.9 million).
The most free states are allegedly North Dakota (pop. 700 thousand), South Dakota (pop. 833 thousand) and Tennessee (6.4 million).
Conclusion: Americans must really, really hate freedom.This annual Mercatus “Don’t Ask Us How a Libertarian Think-tank Ended Up at a Public University” Center study is by far my favorite annual ranking of states. Mainly because I’m convinced the entire exercise is a false-flag operation to discredit libertarian conceptions of freedom.
There are many good reasons why one might move from San Francisco, CA to Murfreesboro, Tennessee but “because of freedom!” is not one of those reasons.
The libertarian response may be “well, we measure freedom based on tax rates and the level of business regulation,” in which case Murfreesboro does look better than the Bay Area, but all this proves is that tax rates and regulations are a dumb way of capturing what we mean by the idea of being free.
It’s also true that New York and California could be even more free if they relaxed some economic regulations. The world would be a better place if zoning laws were less restrictive, if people didn’t have to spend thousands of dollars trying to get licenses to cut hair or practice interior design and if drug laws were liberalized. Things can always be better.
But that things could be improved doesn’t mean that CA and NY are less free than ND/TN now.
Same-sex marriage or civil unions are legal in all the top “least free” states and banned in 4 of the 5 “most free states.” In Oklahoma, a second offense for possession of any amount of marijuana is a felony that carries a 2-10 year prison term. Sale and distribution of any amount carries a sentence of two years to LIFE. In “least free” New York, small-dose possession and distribution result in misdemeanor charges.
And obviously, New York gets a whole lot freedom-ier when you consider positive freedom in addition to the absence of government policies that could send you to prison FOR LIFE for minor drug crimes.
There are just a hell of a lot more opportunities for self-expression and self-actualization in NY/CA (thanks in large part to all those giant corporations who choose to do business in the “least free” parts of the country”) than there are in ND/SD/TN/NH/OK. Even more so if you’re poor and your ability to fully live life is highly dependent on access to government-sponsored health/social-services.
Basically, as an accurate ranking of the most and least free places in America, the Mercatus study gets an F. As a quick and dirty explainer of why libertarianism appeals to so few people, A+.
I have nothing to add, except to note that this post is set to troll a whole lot of people in 5 … 4 … 3 … 2 …
tl; dr Libertarianism is stupid.
Incidentally, this is also Paul Ryan’s old plan.
Ryan’s plan is also written under the premise that Obamacare will be repealed. Seeing as that’s not going to happen (hey Paul, who won last November? j/w), his entire budget is a farce.
What used to be old is
new againstill old.
Breaking news: Stupid Rich White Guy who masturbates to “Atlas Shrugged” wants to destroy poor people.
(Business Insider) - President Obama proposed increasing the minimum wage to $9.00 from the current level of $7.25 during his annual State of the Union address.
Right now, proponents and opponents are duking it out over what possible effect this would have on the economy and for workers.
The main confusion comes with the dissonance between what “should” happen to the labor market when the minimum wage goes up and what does historically happen.
In the abstract, increasing the price floor of labor should result in wage cuts. However, that hasn’t historically been the case. Historically managers will cut other expenses in order to compensate for an increase in the minimum labor cost and the increased minimum wage functions as a form of stimulus. Given the controversial nature of fluctuations in the minimum wage — billions of dollars hang in the balance for all parties involved — it’s going to be a very tough fight.
Still, a November 2011 study from Barry Hirsch and Bruce Kaufman of Georgia State University and Tetyana Zelenska sheds light on how businesses respond to increases in labor costs, and the results were surprising.
The group surveyed managers of fast food restaurants in Georgia and Alabama as they contended with three annual increases in the federal minimum wage between July 2007 and July 2009.
They asked the managers if they were taking any steps to offset increases labor costs.
Here is what managers did with regards to human resources:
Notice that only 8 percent of managers surveyed thought that firing current employees was at all important to make up for lost wages.
Indeed, raising the minimum wage allowed management to extract more performance from current employees in more than half of all cases.
Higher labor costs weren’t only offset from cuts to total labor cost, either. Management also took several steps to increase efficiency and productivity to compensate for the higher costs:
This far from settles the fight over raising the minimum wage, but does address concerns that a rise in the minimum wage would lead to across the board job losses.
(h/t) Modeled Behavior for the study
Look at that. Once again, evidence telling us that the talking points libertarians and right wingers keep bringing up about raising minimum wage are horse shit.
It’s unfortunate timing that the “gun control debate” would happen now, as an entire generation of Americans have become enamored with conspiracy theories and zombie films. Since 9/11, a handful of paranoid libertarians have been able to afford a platform to unleash their ignorance (thanks YouTube) on a generation of X-Files fans unable or unwilling to think critically about the topics at hand. Now something as benign as a ban on military-grade weapons has to prove it isn’t a conspiracy to “take our guns” in preparation for an NWO / Illuminati / Big-Brother-style government invasion. This, sadly, is probably the major stumbling block to actual military-grade weapons policy reform. As I’m typing this, some country hick is getting his rocks off to the thought that Obama planned Sandy Hook so he could “disarm us” and install cameras in our houses. I wish I were kidding.
If you read this in a book, you’d say the author went too far and the narrative was no longer believable:
If the gun advocates behind this year’s inaugural Gun Appreciation Day had hoped to use the day’s festivities to build support for their anti-regulation platform, they are going to have to wait another year.
A representative from Political Media, the group responsible for organizing Gun Appreciation Day, was not immediately available for comment.
This is real life.
The Onion couldn’t write a better article.
“Remember, the Death Star’s power to destroy a planet, or even a whole star system, is insignificant next to the power of the Force.” - The White House
“I’m not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that’s a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States. I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow. I’m not a scientist. I don’t think I’m qualified to answer a question like that. At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all. I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says. Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that. It’s one of the great mysteries.”
- Marco Rubio, when asked about the age of the Earth.
What follows is a guest blog post written by Marty Nader, a political science PhD candidate at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln; he specializes in campaigns, elections, political communication and public policy.
I would put Ed Gogek’s New York Times op-ed regarding the successful marijuana legalization initiatives in Colorado and Washington in the same category as drug czar Gil Kerlikowske’s recent and disappointing response to popular legalization petitions: Full of long discredited factoids and old school prohibition apologetics. Both Gogek and Kerlikowske are simply regurgitating talking points from the DARE programs of the 1980s and 1990s without addressing any of the 21st century concerns of the contemporary marijuana debate (e.g., prison overcrowding, a clogged judicial system, the racial dimensions of drug arrests and convictions, drug war spending, failure of the drug war to accomplish any of its objectives, success of medical marijuana programs and decriminalization policies in the United States and abroad, and more).
I wholeheartedly disagree with Gogek that the Democratic Party should be cautious about being the “party of pot.” If the Democrats learn anything from the state legalization initiatives, it should be that Democratic voters are overwhelmingly on one side of this issue, that more states are bound to legalize, regulate and tax recreational marijuana, and that Amendment 80 received more votes in Colorado than did Barack Obama, illustrating a rare example of bipartisan support for policy reform. Democrats should be proactive in taking the reins on this issue both at the state and national levels. Support for marijuana legalization will continue to increase as the electorate begins to look younger and less white. Neither party can afford to pass on this issue for much longer.
In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if in the next ten years Republicans began making calls for marijuana legalization, particularly at the state-level by using the libertarian frame of this issue: wasteful government spending and unnecessary government intrusions into private behaviors.
I understand that Congress, the DEA, the Department of Justice and the entire drug war establishment are reluctant to admit that for 40 years they have been sending people to prison for something that is now legal in two states, but that’s not a sufficient argument to support the continuing prohibition. That is, however, all I hear coming from prohibition advocates: keep doing what we’re doing and eventually it will work … maybe.
Dr. Gogek mentions that “every addiction medicine society” claims that marijuana is highly addictive. So does every law enforcement and prison organization. The vast majority of medical associations, however, argue that marijuana is no more addictive than coffee, chocolate or Diet Coke. If vaporized or eaten (as opposed to being smoked), marijuana has virtually no negative health effects whatsoever (the psychoactive ingredient THC is not harmful, but inhaling the smoke from a burning plant is). The negative public health effects of marijuana that opponents love to mention come from its prohibition, lucrative black market value and associated violence; not its biochemical composition.
As an addiction specialist over the age of 50, Dr. Gogek has a vested occupational and economic interest in keeping marijuana a Schedule I substance. The court system sends him marijuana users as patients for addiction therapy, and users are happy to take addiction therapy in place of jail time. I know several people who have been coerced into such therapy. They have to admit that they have an addiction, a problem, they must submit to a higher power, attend meetings, attend sessions, and so on. Every marijuana user I know who has gone through such programs has come out with a much better understanding of how marijuana is nothing like other addictive substances, including alcohol.
Gogek also refers to the “phony science” behind medical marijuana in his op-ed. This is a true sign of any drug warrior. It isn’t phony science; it may be controversial, it may conflict with your preexisting understanding of medication, but there is nothing pseudo-scientific about it. Universities around the country and around the world are conducting medical marijuana research; some of it even being funded hypocritically by the federal government.
Marijuana is a preferred treatment for cancer patients dealing with nausea from chemotherapy and radiation because the pharmaceutical alternatives have too many adverse side effects. Aside from these conditions, there are only a few diseases and ailments that marijuana uniquely treats. While I do support medical marijuana laws out of compassion for the truly sick, I don’t think marijuana should be legalized for its medicinal purposes only. It should be legalized for adults who want to responsibly use it recreationally … just like we allow for alcohol and coffee. Medicinal access should be a by-product of general legalization; recreational access should not be attained through loopholes in medical marijuana programs.
Gogek also tries to equate marijuana use with the domestic violence associated with alcohol, crack/cocaine, and prescription drug abuse. In fact, many (if not most) women’s advocacy organizations support marijuana legalization because marijuana use is not associated with domestic violence. Worst case scenario, marijuana legalization leads to increased laziness and couch-potatoism; not the violent and abusive behavior associated with alcoholism. Tying marijuana with the damage and destruction of more dangerous drugs has been and continues to be a common ploy used by prohibition advocates.
In reference to Gogek’s concerns about young marijuana users performing poorly in school: Are under-performing students more likely to seek out marijuana, or does marijuana make students perform worse? I don’t know the answer. Anecdotally, I would guess that it depends on the person. Some people can have a few drinks each week and not have their life negatively impacted; some lack the ability to control their drinking and therefore face the consequences. It’s likely the same with marijuana. I agree with Gogek that marijuana, like alcohol, should not be available to people under 18. But as long as marijuana remains illegal, young people will continue to purchase marijuana from dealers who do not check IDs. Currently, marijuana is much easier to acquire than alcohol for minors. Regulating it like alcohol will make it harder, though still not impossible, for young people to purchase.
Finally, drug courts, contrary to what Dr. Gogek says, are not a successful program. Not at all. They are designed to streamline the drug prosecution process to free up the court system for non-drug cases. The problem is that there are too many drug arrests for the drug courts to handle (~800,000/year). State and federal courts continue to be overburdened with victimless possession and cultivation offenses. Drug courts also overwhelmingly sentence people to addiction treatment for small possession offenses. While this does slightly mitigate the over-incarceration problem, it also creates a complex wherein people like Ed Gogek become dependent on and encourage the continuance of the War on Drugs.
Simply put, Dr. Gogek is a devotee to and beneficiary of marijuana prohibition. He and others like him refuse to see the changing tides on this issue. He clings to half-truths and drug war talking points that have fallen on deaf ears. I support his work in treating patients with real addictions to seriously destructive drugs, but I sincerely disagree with his position on the perils of marijuana legalization. If legalized, people who feel as though they are addicted to marijuana can still seek out treatment (a la alcoholism), instead of being forced through court orders to “voluntarily” submit themselves for addiction treatment.
Will the repeal of marijuana prohibition go off without a hiccup? I expect not. The prohibition of alcohol and its repeal required adjustment periods. It’s a good bet that the same will happen with marijuana. I’m just glad the ball is rolling and the era of marijuana prohibition is seeing its last years.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown secured a convincing win for his tax initiative on last week’s ballot, thanks partly to voters who might not seem like a natural constituency for the 74-year-old, lifelong politician — young voters.
Those under 30 helped Brown win relatively easy passage for his Proposition 30, which will raise the statewide sales tax for four years and income taxes on high earners for seven years. (read more)
Paul Begala (via herapotter)
Rick Santorum (Santorum Claims Homosexuals Stole Election)
(note: Daily Currant is a satire site… still believable though!)