Cops Beat Up an Old Lady and Then Laughed about It. Where Were the "Good Cops"?

Cops Beat Up an Old Lady and Then Laughed about It. Where Were the "Good Cops"?

05/04/2021Ryan McMaken

Last month, I mentioned the case of Karen Garner, a seventy-three-year-old, eighty-pound woman with dementia who was beaten by police for “resisting” arrest in June 2020. At the time, Garner was allegedly guilty of almost stealing thirteen dollars' worth of merchandise at Walmart after apparently forgetting to pay. When confronted by store workers, Garner attempted to pay but was thrown out of the store by Walmart staff.

Garner, who was apparently confused at the time of arrest, was soon confronted by Loveland, Colorado, police officer Austin Hopp while Garner slowly walked home. Within seconds—with the help of fellow officer Daria Jalali—Hopp threw the elderly, disabled woman to the ground, breaking her arm, and dislocated her shoulder.

The officers then threw Garner in a jail cell, denying her any medical treatment, for six hours.

But the story doesn’t end there.

Lest anyone think these officers made a well-meaning error in judgment or were unaware of Garner’s injuries, we can turn to video recorded at the Loveland Police Department facility following Garner’s arrest.

Shortly after Garner’s arrest, while Garner sat ten feet away in agony in her jail cell, officers Hopp, Jalali, and police staffer Tyler Blackett proceeded to review the body cam video from Garner’s arrest.

During this period of fun and revelry—captured on the station’s video cameras, and surely occurring “on the clock”—Hopp joked about dislocating Garner’s arm and declared, “I love it!” when he heard “the pop” that was apparently audible when Hopp wrenched Garner’s arm from its socket.

Hopp, Jalali, and Blackett proceeded to enjoy several minutes of hilarity as Hopp delighted in his torture of Garner and as Jalali and Blackett giggled and looked on.

Hopp and Jalali then when on to “fist bump” to congratulate themselves for Garner’s arrest.

Clearly, Hopp, Jalali, and Blackett were quite comfortable with amusing themselves with the suffering of others, and did not appear at all concerned that they might be disciplined for refusing medical attention to a woman in their custody who was clearly known to at least one of the officers to be injured. The dislocated shoulder, of course, was in addition to Garner’s bloodied face, which had earlier been observed and commented upon by police personnel in the body cam video itself.

And it seems the officers had little reason to suspect there might be any repercussions for their sadistic and unprofessional behavior. Although these officers’ little video party took place right in the middle of the police station, and right under the nose of supervisor Philip Metzler—who can be seen walking by Hopp and Jalali as they discussed the arrest—the Loveland Police department completely ignored the incident. The video suggests no other officers questioned this behavior or regarded it as untoward in any way. Certainly, Jalali and Hopp were not going to report on each other. We now know they were in a sexual relationship at the time of Garner's arrest

It was only eight months later, when Garner’s attorney sued the Loveland Police Department, that the department was forced to acknowledge the video, the arrest, and its officers’ behavior. But even now, the department is hard at work sweeping the matter under the rug. The three officers most closely involved with the incident—Hopp, Jalali, and Blackett—were all allowed to resign rather than be fired. This presumably will allow these officers to retain their pension benefits and pursue work as police officers in other departments.

The chief himself has offered no sign that he will accept any responsibility for what is apparently considered acceptable behavior in his department.

Bizarrely, in the midst of all this, the arresting officers still have their defenders. For example, last week, when some Loveland residents turned out to protest, some heavily armed locals turned out to shout at protestors who were allegedly guilty of insufficiently “backing the blue.”

Of course, the taxpayers already "back the blue" every day. The police budget is well funded to the tune of approximately $25 million per year in the small, virtually crime-free suburban town of Loveland. The idea that taxpayers—taxpayers like Karen Garner—ought to be harangued for a lack of police support should boggle the mind. For generations, Loveland police officers have been well paid to police a peaceful town where rarely does any officer deal with anything resembling a gangland slaying. Countless Loveland officers retire with generous benefits. Loveland citizens have financially backed the blue to the hilt for decades.

Two Important Reforms

The Loveland case also illustrates the need for other reforms we've discussed here at in the past. The first needed reform is abolishing police unions—and all public sector unions, for that matter. It is likely that a central reason the police department has avoided any real disciplinary action against Hopp et al. is because it is known the police union would provide legal services to the police officers and would fight tooth and nail to keep these officers in their positions. Police unions are one of the primary institutions most responsible for keeping abusive police officers on the payroll.

Second, legal immunity for police must be ended. Fortunately, in Colorado, this is already the case, and police can be found personally liable for up to $25,000 for abusive behavior. However, this new legislation did not take effect until after Garner's arrest. 

Playing with Official Inflation Statistics: An Example from Germany

The Harmonized Index of Consumer Prices (HICP) consists of 12 subindices, which are weighted according to their shares in total household expenditures. If, for example, food and non-alcoholic beverages (subindex 1) account for 15% of expenditures, they should also be given a weight of 15% in the overall index. In this way, each expenditure category would be given the importance it has for an average household. This is the claim of official statistics. But here, too, as so often, aspiration and reality diverge.

In Germany, the traditionally largest subindex covers housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels (subindex 4). It has always accounted for more than 21% of the overall index since the mid-1990s. Between 2020 and 2022, the weight had increased to slightly more than 25%. The official statistics thus assumed that German households spend on average around a quarter of their total expenditure on goods of this category. This is too little in the eyes of some critics. Many households spend significantly more on goods of this type. In larger urban areas, households often spend more than a third of their income on rent alone.

There has now been an unexpected change in 2023. The Federal Statistical Offices did not increase the weight of subindex 4, but lowered it from 25.2% in the previous year to 16.5%. No valid justification for this has yet been provided. On the website of the Federal Statistical Offices, there are only empty phrases: "The Corona pandemic, which has been prevalent since 2020, with its restrictions on public life and the resulting consequences, makes it necessary to change the usual procedure for updating the goods weights for the third year in a row as well." (translated with DeepL because AI is really good at translating bureaucratic talk.)

How could one even justify such an implausible adjustment? As a matter of fact, the adjustment means that from now on official statistics will assume that the average German household spends only 16.5% of its total expenditure on housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels. Whether this assumption is realistic is something everyone can consider for themselves.

What is clear is that the down-weighted subindex 4 has been showing above-average inflation rates for some time now. Between 1996 and 2022, it has risen by 84% overall, but the HICP as a whole has risen by only 59%. Only subindex 2 for alcoholic beverages, tobacco and narcotics has risen even more strongly during this period, by 115%.

During the inflationary phase of last year, prices in subindex 4 rose the most of all. The inflation rate here was 13.9%, more than 5 percentage points above the official average inflation. That the Federal Statistical Offices have now decided to lower the weight of this subindex has one practical effect: the officially measured inflation will be lower. But it measures past reality.

Image source:

QJAE: Publication Activity in Austrian Journals, 2011–20

Abstract: Counts of publications in the academic journals of the Austrian school of economics are used to rank scholars and institutions by research productivity in Austrian economics over the preceding decade. The journals surveyed are, alphabetically, Advances in Austrian Economics, Cosmos + Taxis, the Journal des économistes et des études humaines, the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics, and the Review of Austrian Economics. Ranking methodology follows the established mainstream literature but focuses on publications in journals that specialize in the Austrian school. An appraisal of the Austrian school’s progress over the past decade is provided, and implications for the future are suggested.

JLS: Are Pay Equity Policies Justified?

09/19/2023Bruce Gilley

ABSTRACT: This article identifies the lack of policy analysis as a major research gap in pay equity policies. Applying a policy analytic approach, the article applies comparative empirical evidence to the tasks of problem structuring and policy prescription as well as to three different evaluation methods: effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, and benefit-cost analysis. The results show that pay equity policies lack fundamental justification as public policies. Implications for research and policy revision follow.

Read the full article at the Journal of Libertarian Studies. 

Janet Yellen Needs to Brush Up on Her ABCT

09/19/2023Doug French

“I am feeling very good about that prediction,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told Bloomberg when asked whether the U.S. would avoid a recession while still containing inflation. “I think you’d have to say we’re on a path that looks exactly like that.”

Tell that to the 39,000 Americans who filed bankruptcy in August. That number is an 18% increase from a year ago and with unemployment now just 3.8%, imagine when more people are laid off with over $1 trillion in credit card debt outstanding.

At the same time commercial bankruptcies increased nearly 17% in August compared to July, reports, marking the 13th consecutive month that total bankruptcies, including families and individuals, have logged year-over-year increases, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute.

Chapter 11 filings surged 54% from the same month from a year ago. US bankruptcy courts recorded six new, large filings ($50 million +) last week alone. At least 23 big filings happened last month. The jump in business failures, especially for big firms, is clear, Ed Flynn, a consultant with ABI who studies bankruptcy statistics told Fortune. “I think a lot of it is interest rates,” said Flynn. “There have been an unusually large number of large cases.”

If that’s the case more bankruptcy filings are on the way. The September 11th treasury note auction produced the highest yield since before the great financial crisis, 4.66%. 

“Treasury yields also have also been pushed higher by growth in the supply of new notes and bonds to finance the US government’s widening budget gap. The three-year tenor increased by $2 billion this month and last month,” Elizabeth Stanton reported for Bloomberg.

If Secretary Yellen was familiar with the Austrian Business Cycle Theory she’d know the ongoing increase in interest rates means the landing will not be just hard, but historic in its brutality.

Why the American Revolution Still Matters

09/19/2023Ryan McMaken

Late last month, the administrators at a Colorado public school—with the grandiose name "the Vanguard School"—tried to force a 12-year-old boy named Jaiden to remove a Gadsden flag patch from his backpack. The Gadsden flag may be more familiar to readers as simply the rattlesnake flag with the words "don't tread on me" on it. People who are at all familiar with the American revolution know the flag is a revolutionary-era flag with a message designed to repudiate the imperial despotism imposed on the Americans by British elites. 

Teachers and administrators at the Vanguard School, however, were absolutely sure the flag has "origins with slavery, and the slave trade." Of course, this is exactly the kind of historical illiteracy and social-democratic revisionism we'd expect from public school teachers and administrators. "Teaching" at your average public school is mostly about running a taxpayer-funded propaganda mill and daycare center, and has little to do with the dissemination of any factual material. Thus, it is likely that the staff at this school saw on MSNBC once that the Gadsden flag is "racist" because some American conservatives wave it. The leap from this slur to the idea that the flag is a symbol of slavery is brief indeed. 

 This whole narrative is part of the story pushed by the "1619 Project" at the New York Times which would have us believe that the American Revolution itself was all about racism and slavery. Meanwhile, the real themes and facts of the revolution—secession, natural rights, radical liberalism, violent revolution, and extreme decentralization—have all been swept aside to serve Progressives' current ideological projects.  The regime's propagandists—which includes most public school employees—naturally seek to destroy and discredit all symbols of the American Revolution beyond bland slogans about "taxation without representation." This framing of the revolution makes it all very safe and does not encourage any opposition to the current regime. After all, we have "representation" now—the millionaire gerontocracy in Congress "represents" you, don't you know—so there's no reason to think revolution can be justified. If you don't like something, just vote harder. 

This sterile pro-status-quo interpretation of the revolution is exactly what we should expect to be taught in a government school because the correct interpretation is far too dangerous and inconvenient for the regime. 

The reality of the revolution, of course, is that a sizable portion of the population—from intellectual elites in cities to ordinary farmers in the countryside—grew tired of the British yoke. Animated by a radical ideology of natural rights—which we now call "classical" liberalism or libertarianism—Americans declared the established government illegitimate and seceded. It didn't have to be that way. At first the Americans had asked politely for more freedom. They even sent the Olive Branch Petition to the King. For their efforts, the Americans were declared "traitors"—that epithet so often used by despots and their useful idiots everywhere. 

When the British state eventually launched a war against the Americans to prevent their secession, the Americans were forced to take up arms and killed government soldiers and officials until they packed up and left the country. The revolutionaries only wanted peace and self-determination. The British refused to let them have it. The British got their response, and got it good and hard. 

It was all morally justified, of course: the secession, the rebellion, the disdain for the British idea of "law and order." Parliament and the Crown had attempted to destroy the Americans' human rights—the rights of life, liberty, and property as outlined by the libertarian Leveller revolutionaries in England a century earlier. As a result, the revolutionaries were entitled to protect their rights by using violence in self-defense. 

Naturally, today's elites ignore those parts of the American Revolution. It also now appears the Progressives have moved on to the next phase which is to discredit the revolution altogether. Thus, symbols of the revolution must be denounced as symbols of slavery, and all modern rebellion and secession declared to be "treason" or "sedition" or some other political "crime." It's okay to "rebel"—i.e., in the style of Antifa or Black Lives Matters—so long as the "solution" is always more state power. Real independence, secession, and rebellion are absolutely not allowed. The 1619 Project thus assures us the whole enterprise of the American Revolution was suspect. We're told those ill-mannered Americans should have listened to their betters in the imperial metropoles of Britain! 

For those who actually respect human rights, however, any attempt to craft or promote this Progressive anti-revolutionary narrative must be met with enthusiastic opposition. In the case of Jaiden at the Vanguard School, there is a happy ending. The teachers were humiliated and Jaiden's backpack remains bedecked with the Gadsden flag. It's a small victory, but a necessary one. For obvious reasons, the regime doesn't want Americans to think secession or revolution—as so well described by Thomas Jefferson—is ever an option. Ever since the counter-revolutionaries got their new centralist-nationalist constitution in 1787, the American regime has been about the maintenance and spread of federal power. The revolution, however, acts as a beacon in the opposite direction, and Rothbard has explained why: 

The Americans had always been intractable, rebellious, impatient of oppression, as witness the numerous rebellions of the late seventeenth century; they also had their own individualist and libertarian heritage, their Ann Hutchinsons and Rhode Island quasi anarchists, some directly linked with the left wing of the English Revolution. Now, strengthened and guided by the developed libertarian natural rights ideology of the eighteenth century, and reacting to aggrandizement of the British imperial state in the economic, constitutional, and religious spheres, the Americans, in escalated and radicalized confrontations with Great Britain, had made and won their Revolution. By doing so, this revolution, based on the growing libertarian idea pervading enlightened opinion in Europe, itself gave immeasurable impetus to the liberal revolutionary movement throughout the Old World, for here was a living example of a liberal revolution that had taken its daring chance, against all odds and against the mightiest state in the world, and had actually succeeded. Here, indeed, was a beacon light to all the oppressed peoples of the world!

Javier's Milei's Populist Strategy in Argentina Is Working

09/14/2023Philipp Bagus

The Austro-libertarian movement has the better ideas. They continue to be discussed, elaborated, and intellectually defended. But how can the right ideas be implemented? What good is it to be right if the reality is left-wing? In fact, most of the population, or at least public opinion, seems to be drifting further and further to the left, with cancel culture, climate hysteria, a sprawling welfare state and ever higher taxes and levies.

The right ideas and theories are there, but they have not yet been put successful in practice. How can this be changed? Of course, ideas are important, they must also be disseminated, from below, from the grassroots up. It's an arduous process. And there has been undeniable progress in recent years. Nevertheless, the left-wing zeitgeist is rolling over the freedoms of citizens almost unhindered; most shockingly during the Covid crisis. The left tries to paint anyone who stands in the zeitgeist´s way as an extremist or even a Nazi.

Against this background, what can a successful strategy look like? Murray Rothbard addressed this question in an article in the Rothbard-Rockwell Report entitled Right-Wing Populism: A Strategy for the Paleo Movement. His contribution is groundbreaking and forward-looking. He anticipates the successes of Donald Trump in the United States and, more recently, of Javier Milei in Argentina.

Javier Milei is making a splash on all sides, because on August 13, 2023, he won the primaries for the presidency in Argentina. In the German media, he is described as ultra-right and ultra-libertarian. Recently, the Financial Times dealt with the self-confessed anarcho-capitalist in a column, in which the author insinuated that the libertarian Milei would follow the strategy of right-wing populism designed by Murray Rothbard in 1992. This gives rise to the question if that claim is true and what exactly is this right-wing populism?

According to the paleo-libertarian Rothbard, the program of right-wing populism includes 8 main points:

  1. Radical tax cuts
  2. Radical reduction of the welfare state
  3. Abolition of privileges for "protected" minorities
  4. Crushing criminals
  5. Getting rid of bums
  6. Abolition of the Federal Reserve
  7. A program of America First (anti-globalist and isolationist)
  8. Defending traditional family values

Indeed, Milei's election manifesto is very much in line with Rothbard's right-wing populism and paleo-libertarianism. Milei wants to radically reduce taxes. He never tires of calling taxes what they are, theft. He also wants to radically grind down the welfare state and likes to illustrate the reduction in government spending and his proposal of reducing Argentinian ministries from 18 to 8 with a chainsaw. His "Chainsaw Plan" is intended to radically trim the state.

Milei repeatedly speaks of equality before the law as a fundamental liberal principle and wants to abolish privileges for minorities. As a result, he repeatedly clashes with radical feminists who defend legal privileges for women.

The imprisonment of criminals is also on Milei's agenda. Gun freedom is in his program so that victims can defend themselves against criminals. Those who refuse to work are no longer supported by the state in his Argentina.

Milei also has the 6th of Rothbard's points in his agenda: Milei wants to abolish the central bank of Argentina. Using right-wing populist rhetoric he aims to physically blow up the central bank. In doing so, he would wipe out the power of one of the most inflationary central banks, which willingly financed all Peronist and Kirchnerist spending programs. He wants to dollarize the country and open it up to currency competition.

Milei also puts his own country first: Argentina first. Right-wing populism opposes the globalist agenda. It cuts development aid, climate programs and military adventures. Milei likes to point out that Argentina was one of the richest countries in the world at the beginning of the 20th century thanks to classical liberal policies and was destroyed by socialism in the 20th century. In 35 years, Milei promises, Argentina can be a superpower again. The prerequisite for this to happen is a return to libertarianism.

Finally, Milei also defends traditional family values and opposes the state takeover of family responsibilities. The vehement opponent of abortion has defended the right to life several times in debates with radical feminists.

Milei used to be chief economist at various institutions and a professor of economics. He is a follower of the Austrian School of Economics. One of his dogs is named Murray. He contributor a chapter two-volume Festschrift in honor of Jesús Huerta de Soto edited by David Howden and myself. A couple of years ago he was guest via zoom in my seminar in our Master's degree in Austrian Economics that we offer in Madrid, and spoke about his strategy.

In short, Milei is one of us. And he can win the election. He can become president of Argentina. An Austrian. An anarcho-capitalist. With an openly radical libertarian election program. In a country that has paid homage to socialism for decades. Amazing.

Milei has been very present in the public debate in Argentina for years. He gained fame as a polarizing and fiercely arguing talk show guest. Later, he decided to create his own party to lead the culture war against socialism and statism more effectively and to bring the right ideas to more people.

His rhetorical strategy in debates is vociferous, belligerent, and is sometimes perceived as offensive (if the truth can be offensive at all). He does not allow himself to be intimidated or belittled by left-wing opinion-makers. In a debate, he simply shouts louder than the leftists, whom he calls "Zurdos", and interrupts them to tell them to their faces that they are saying an absolute stupidity and have no idea what they are talking about. You should read Hayek, Mises and Rothbard first, Milei recommends to them. He also calls leftists and politicians parasites and thieves, in a debate. For taxes are theft. 

In keeping with Rothbard's strategy of right-wing populism, he clearly names the profiteers of the state apparatus. He rails again and again against the caste of politicians and bureaucrats. He calls them parasites that live at the expense of the hard-working and decent citizens. Politicians are completely useless and could not live without the productive Argentinians. Politics is not the solution, but the problem. And politicians form part of the problem. In this way, Milei wins over those decent Argentinians who suffer most from the yoke of the state. Equally clear are his remarks on the concept of social justice. So-called social justice is a monstrous injustice because it means unequal treatment of people before the law. It is a fig leaf for envy and resentment.

Milei's emotional and polemical nature resonates with many, especially among young people. After winning the primaries in mid-August, he has legitimate hopes for the Argentine presidency.

Milei's successes have become a topic of everyday conversation, especially in the Hispanic world. One speaks of Milei with astonishment and appreciation. Acquaintances and friends send short videos of his rhetorical gems. Libertarian ideas are back in vogue. People are venturing forward with libertarian opinions, everywhere and unexpectedly. The window of public and permissible opinions is shifting in the direction of freedom. Thanks to Milei.

Regardless of whether the charismatic Milei ultimately wins the election, his campaign has sparked a young and powerful libertarian movement. His triumph in the primaries may be more significant than the Ron Paul Revolution of 2008 and 2012. The incredible fact is that he is successful. With a right-wing populism that Rothbard recommended, in a run-down country, with his charismatic personality, with aggressive rhetoric. Nothing is impossible. Even a libertarian can win a democratic election. It's the strategy that counts. ¡Vamos Javier! ¡Viva la libertad, carajo!

Image source:
Ilan Berkenwald via Flickr

The Suspect Was Already in Handcuffs. Then Police Assaulted Him.

09/14/2023Ryan McMaken

A member of the Fort Lupton, Colorado Police Department was fired last month after she was found guilty of reckless endangerment and third-degree assault. Former Officer Jordan Steinke had arrested Yareni Rios-Gonzalez for suspected menacing and put her in the back of the patrol car of Platteville police officer Pablo Vasquez. Vasquez had parked his cruiser on railroad tracks. Moments later, the car was struck by a passing train with Rios-Gonzales inside. The victim—who has never been convicted of any crime related to the incident—and can thus be presumed innocent—suffered life-threatening injuries as a result. She barely survived. 

The incident helps to illustrate the risks faced by suspects in custody when at the mercy of indifferent, incompetent, or hostile law enforcement officers. 

The matter of police aggression toward persons already in handcuffs is also notable for being central to the George Floyd case. Floyd was subject to deadly force by police officers even though he was cuffed and posed little-to-no threat to the safety of officers or the public at large. 

Indeed, we can point to many, many cases across the country of police assaulting persons who were in handcuffs. In most of these cases, police convicted of offenses receive slaps on the wrist such as job loss or probation. When lawsuits are pursued against the police officers or their respective departments, it is the taxpayers who pay the bill.  Police attacks against handcuffed victims provide interesting case studies because they cannot be justified by the usual claims about the use of force by police. When law enforcement officers use violent tactics against others, it is often said this is justified because the officers were in danger of harm themselves, and thus acted in self-defense. These claims are often correct. In cases where suspects are already restrained, however, suspects do not pose a deadly threat to police and police assaults cannot be justified. 

Unfortunately, protections for police such as qualified immunity and pro-police bias in law courts often prevents victims from receiving sufficient restitution from their attackers.

Murray Rothbard noted that the deck is already stacked against those who are taken into custody by police, and a legal double standard clearly exists. Rothbard writes: 

The policeman who apprehends a criminal and arrests him, and the judicial and penal authorities who incarcerate him before trial and conviction—all should be subject to the universal law. In short, if they have committed an error and the defendant turns out to be innocent, then these authorities should be subjected to the same penalties as anyone else who kidnaps and incarcerates an innocent man.

In the Western world, the principal that government agents must be subject to the same law as everyone else is many centuries old. The reality faced by police, however, is something far different. Police can arrest, restrain, and imprison persons who have been convicted or no crime of offense. If police are wrong, and have imprisoned the wrong person, they rarely face any sanctions that an ordinary person would face for similar behavior. Rothbard goes on to note that in a truly just world, police 

must observe the critical libertarian rule that no physical force may be used against anyone who has not been convicted as a criminal— otherwise, the users of such force, whether police or courts, would be themselves liable to be convicted as aggressors if it turned out that the person they had used force against was innocent of crime.

Of course, many will argue that this simply isn't practical and some suspected violent criminals must be detained until their guilt can be ascertained. 

Even if we grant that claim for the sake of argument, we can see that depriving people of their freedom when they have yet to be convicted of anything is very serious business and offers many opportunities for abuse. Thus, one would think that taking non-convicts into custody—i.e., people still presumed innocent—requires the utmost care from police officers to preserve the health and safety of those who have been rendered unable to protect themselves or see to their own safety when in transit. Put another way, people in restraints have been deprived of exercising self-ownership and so it falls to the arresting officers to guarantee the suspects' safety. 

Moreover, even those people in custody who are later found guilty of some offense must not abused while in custody. Punishments are to be dispensed by the law courts, not by arresting officers. 

Unfortunately, many police officers don't see it that way. 

On the matter of George Floyd, for example, Floyd already had his hands cuffed behind his back when police officer Derek Chauvin saw fit to kneel on his neck for several minutes. Why did Chauvin decide to use deadly force on a man already in restraints? This question was posed during Chauvin's trial to Minneapolis homicide lieutenant Richard Zimmerman, who is Minneapolis's longest-serving sworn officer. Zimmerman testified that Chauvin's use of deadly force on Floyd was "totally unnecessary" and that the use of deadly force would only be justified if the officers felt their lives were threatened by Floyd. Zimmerman testified it's hard to see how Chauvin could possibly come to this conclusion since the threat level posed by handcuffed suspects is very low. (Police Sergeant David Pleoger also testified that Chauvin used unnecessary force and violated policy by pinning Floyd on the ground.)

Chauvin's defenders naturally attempted to come up with excuses for Chauvin's incompetence and aggression. Although it has never been established that Floyd actually used a counterfeit twenty-dollar bill, some claimed that Floyd was arrested while stealing and thus—for some unexplained reason—deserved to have a man kneel on his neck while handcuffed. Others noted Floyd may have been on drugs, as if this was in any way relevant to the question of whether or not a police officer ought to be able to attack a handcuffed suspect.

The truth is that Chauvin likely assaulted Floyd simply because Floyd was being uncooperative and Chauvin felt Floyd was wasting Chauvin's time. We see this often. Suspects in handcuffs—i.e., people who have been convicted of no crime—have often been the target of police abuse because police grow impatient. 

For example, police officers in Yuba City, California threw an elderly handcuffed man to the ground and paralyzed him because he wasn't complying fast enough to suit the short-fused police officers. In East Point, Georgia police shocked handcuffed Gregory Towns with a taser 14 times because he wasn't walking fast enough for police. In Clayton County, Georgia, a sheriff's deputy held a gun to a man's head while the man had his hands cuffed behind his back. The deputy wanted the man to comply with her orders more quickly. Officers in West Valley City, Utah shot and killed a man who was in handcuffs and detained inside a police station. Near Trinidad, Colorado, deputies barked conflicting orders at a handcuffed man who had parked in a place police didn't like. When the man couldn't figure out the deputies' incoherent demands, the police tased him in the face. Police in Castle Rock, Colorado allowed a police dog to attack a handcuffed man sitting on a curb. Police used a similar tactic in Alpharetta, Georgia

Sometimes police abuse handcuffed suspects to extract information. In Roswell, Georgia, police locked a handcuffed 13-year old boy in the back of a police cruiser with the windows down in sub-freezing temperatures. The child wouldn't answer questions, so a police sergeant concluded "he's not going to say anything if he's warm." Police decided to freeze the boy until he talked. 

These are all just cases that have been recently resolved, reported, or subject to legal proceedings. A longer timeline, of course, shows a long history of police abusing people in custody who are restrained and unarmed. These are also just the more egregious cases where police met with some level of legal accountability. Lesser cases often just bring acquittal or docked pay for abusive police. For example, when a Miami police officer kicked a handcuffed man in the head while he was lying on the pavement, the only punishment for the officer was a lost job. After an Atlanta police officer kicked a handcuffed woman in the head, he was fired but faced no legal consequences.  Moreover, because most states protect officers from any personal liability due to "qualified immunity" laws, most legal settlements are extracted not from individual officers or police pension funds—as should be the case—but from taxpayer funds. 

Yet, even when we recognize that policing can be a dangerous business and suspects are often unpredictable, how police treat people in custody is an indication of just how much police consider themselves to be above the law. It's one thing to react violently against armed and unrestrained suspects. That is often justified. It's something else entirely when police assault people who are on the ground with their hands cuffed behind their backs.  Or, as in the case of Rio-Gonzales, the police may take away a person's freedom, but can't be bothered to ensure that person is not parked in the path of an oncoming train. Police are very good at taking advantage of the extra power and privileges that come with a gun and a badge. But they are apparently much less concerned with the added responsibilities and obligations that come with taking people into custody. 

Rothbard was right that these abusers ought to be treated the same as any private citizen who attacks a person in handcuffs and is unable to defend himself. Police must be held personally liable for the harm they caused. Instead, under the status quo, these offending officers often enjoy free legal services from the police unions and can hide behind immunity laws. It's a two-tiered justice system, after all.

Current CPI Inflation is Worse than Reported

09/14/2023Jonathan Newman

Last year, Joseph Salerno cautioned against the use of year-over-year CPI inflation rate calculations.

This way of calculating the annual inflation rate is backward looking, because the most recent monthly rate is heavily outweighed by the previous eleven months' rates.

In contrast, calculating the annual inflation rate by compounding and annualizing the most recent monthly or quarterly rate of change in the CPI gives a better idea of what inflation currently is and how it may be trending.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics just recently announced a new CPI statistic (which has many flaws on its own) for August 2023, and it was reported by them and the broader economic and financial news media as a 3.7 percent increase since last year. Consider this boilerplate reporting from CNBC: “The August 2023 consumer price index rose 3.7% on an annual basis, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said Wednesday.”

While 3.7 percent exceeded expectations, it understates the current rate of price increases. Using, as Salerno suggests, the compounded annual rate based on the July to August percent change results in a whopping 7.8 percent.

You won’t find this figure in the official CPI release, but it is easy enough to calculate on your own or with the St. Louis Fed’s CPI graph and data series.

This way of presenting CPI inflation is not mere manipulation to make inflation look worse than it is. Salerno explains:

Now this may seem like merely a technical matter, but some forms of data presentation are clearer and more useful than others, especially during a time of rapid inflation. Presenting the inflation rate as a year-over-year calculation obscures shorter-term but substantial fluctuations that may occur and what they portend for the future, especially if inflationary expectations are beginning to become unhinged.

Read Salerno’s full article here.

Why Are We in Niger?

09/12/2023Ron Paul

The July military coup in the west African country of Niger has once again brought attention to the fact that the US government runs a global military empire that serves Washington’s special interests, and not the national interest.

Before the coup made news headlines, most Americans - including many serving in Congress - had no idea the US government maintains more than 1,000 troops stationed on several US bases in Niger. But it’s even worse than that. A recent report in The Intercept suggests the Pentagon repeatedly misled Congress about the extent and the cost of the US presence in Niger. 

According to The Intercept, “in testimony before the House and Senate Armed Services Committees in March, the chief of US Africa Command described Air Base 201 (in Niger) as ‘minimal’ and ‘low cost.’” In fact the US government has spent a quarter of a billion dollars on the base since construction began in 2016.

So when did Congress declare war so as to legalize US military operations in Niger? They didn’t. But as Kelley Vlahos writes in Responsible Statecraft, US troops have been “training” the military in Niger since 2013 and the US government has constructed a number of military bases to “fight terrorism” in the country and region.

Does that mean that the Pentagon is operating in Niger under the 2001 authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) meant to track down those who attacked the US on 9/11? It’s a good question and thankfully one being asked by Sen. Rand Paul in a recent letter sent to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.

Senator Paul first pointed out in the letter, “the Administration’s limitless interpretation of the 9/11 AUMF and frequent use of Title 10 authorities results in military operations abroad conducted with little Congressional oversight and even less public scrutiny.” Such actions “undermine our Constitution,” he writes as he asks, “in how many countries are US forces conducting operations authorized by the 2001 AUMF.”

Ironically - or maybe not - one of the coup leaders in NIger had been trained by the Pentagon at Ft. Benning, Georgia, and at the National Defense University in Washington, DC. What is the US government training foreign military officers to do, exactly? Overthrow their own governments?

Whatever the case, it appears the coup government in Niger may be seeking a withdrawal of foreign military on its soil. Mass protests against French military presence has led the French government to begin talks with the coup government on withdrawal. There are rumors that the coup government may next request US troops to leave the country.

We should pre-empt their possible request by withdrawing all US troops immediately from Niger (and the rest of Africa) and closing all military bases. The claim that the US government is fighting terrorism in the area is doubtful. After all, in both Libya and in Syria the US government backed terrorist groups against governments it sought to overthrow. President Biden’s national security advisor Jake Sullivan famously wrote to his then-boss Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2012 that, “in Syria, al-Qaeda is on our side.”

Congress must step up and exercise its oversight authority to end the counter-productive US military presence in Africa. Our military empire is bankrupting us and turning the rest of the world against us.

Lew Rockwell's Prophetic Warning About 9/11

09/11/2023Tho Bishop

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, was established as one of the most important blogs in American politics. In the late 90’s, the blog was a unique voice against the tyranny of the Clinton administration, keeping alive the spirit of the printed Rothbard Rockwell Report earlier in the decade. While the site became a home for a number of talented libertarian voices, including a young Ryan McMaken, the work of Rockwell himself stands out for continuing clarity and relevance.

In the late 90s, LRC's antiwar message found common cause with many conservatives, such as Pat Buchanan, who wanted to dismantle the American empire in the wake of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It looked like conservatives and Rothbardian libertarians might find unity on foreign policy for the first time in decades.

This changed following the events of 9/11 and the rise of George W. Bush’s War on Terror. With the images of the collapse of the World Trade Center and the charred hole on the side of the Pentagon, the American right shifted away from the growing 90’s era skepticism of the American regime and became the loudest advocates for the Republican president’s construction of a new national security state.

This result is one that Lew Rockwell predicted.

In an article published on December 24th, 1999, Rockwell warned that the successful execution of a terrorist plot blamed on Middle Eastern terrorists would eliminate the gains of the 1990s.

Rockwell began the article, titled “Memo to Terrorists of the World”, with this:

The U.S. State Department and every other official agency is telling us to be on the lookout for terrorist attacks from you guys. The attacks could come in any form, say the press releases, from a letter bomb to a truck bomb. Security at airports and U.S. borders is tighter than ever. But it is not just you swarthy foreign types who are under suspicion, but also regular Joe citizens. We are all suspects.

It’s hard to know what to make of these warnings. You might not be plotting anything at all. This could just be propaganda designed to instill fear in the American people. All governments know that people living in fear of attack are more likely to be obedient. Or it could just be an excuse to step up violations of civil liberties.

Rockwell also warned about the fruits of US foreign policy, driving the anger to provoke such an attack:

On the other hand, these warnings may indeed be justified. Because of its foreign policy, imperial military reach, and global arrogance, the U.S. government is the most hated in the world. It’s not surprising that some of you might want to vent your anger. But before you do so, you should consider this: what the U.S. government has done to you and to everyone else in the world has nothing to do with the American people. Don’t blame us for the actions of the government.

You are undoubtedly outraged at the bombings and ongoing sanctions against Iraq. It’s true that these actions are grossly contrary to morality. It’s also true that tens of thousands of civilians have died because of them. But these actions were undertaken by the dictatorial executive branch, and with only the tacit approval of the Congress. No one asked the American people if we wanted this. Thanks to the long, progressive seizure of power by the presidency, the Clinton administration can act on its own, and pursue its own agenda apart from the will of the American people.

The same goes for the bombing of that pharmaceutical factory in the Sudan. It’s true that this was a ghastly crime. It’s an outrage that the Clinton administration has still not issued a formal apology or offered to compensate the factory’s owner for the property damage. But here again, the American people were not asked if they wanted to lob bombs on innocents. The decision was undertaken at the highest levels, in consultation with half a dozen un-elected bureaucrats.

Rockwell went on to consider a different path from the one the US would be on just less than two years later:

What can be done about it? You may propose violence, but that would be wrong, and it can only lead to more bombings, more interventions, and more crackdowns on liberties, at home and abroad. Indeed, terrorism can only play into the hands of the government because it seems to validate everything the Clinton administration is saying.

There’s a better way. The American people do not revere their leaders as they once did. In every way that is permitted, and some that are not, the American people are systematically withdrawing their consent from the powers that be. As we saw in Eastern Europe ten years ago, in Iran under the Shah and India under Gandhi, or in the American colonies in the 1770s, no government can continue to hold power once the people withdraw their consent.

So be patient. The U.S. military dominance of the world will not last forever. Give it some time; we’ll curb the power of the Leviathan. In the meantime, refrain from blaming the American people for the actions of our government, and from the violence that can only aid the empire.

While the chances for a peaceful overthrow of Clinton-style governance may seem fantastical in our current cynical age, it is worth revisiting the landscape of 90’s America. The disillusionment of the public for Washington, fueled by the lingering remnants of the lies of the Vietnam War, Watergate, and tyrannical agenda of the Clinton Administration helped fuel the rise of widespread distrust of Washington.

Crackdowns on gun rights fueled anti-DC militia groups around the nation. The sinister characters of the Clinton administration and their capture of the corporate press fueled the rise of Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones and the alternative media of talk radio. The X-Files, whose ratings in the 90’s trump almost all non-sports television programming in 2023, offered Americans regular programming of how the highest levels of government we capable of the greatest evils imaginable. 

Paul Cantor, an acclaimed media critic and student of Ludwig von Mises, noted in a journal article “This Is Not Your Father’s FBI: The X-Files and the Delegitimation of the Nation-State” just how subversive the message of this pop cultural phenomenon truly was:

The X-Files strongly suggests that our public officials are just figureheads, manipulated from behind the scenes by mysterious power brokers. It is remarkable how small a role prominent officials such as the president or central institutions such as Congress have to play in The X-Files. It is obscure government agencies that have the real power, such as the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), which, according to one conspiracy theorist in the X-Files movie, forms “the secret government” of the United States and will take over openly once the planned alien invasion finally begins. Arguably the most extraordinary message The X-Files has for its audience is that the public figures they see in Washington, who seem to represent the nation-state in all its flag-waving glory, are in fact inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. According to The X-Files, it is people whose faces we do not know who in effect govern our lives, and they do not do so in the name of the nation-state...History made by unknown men standing in the shadows—that is the governing vision of The X-Files and its ultimate subversion of the ideology of the nation-state.

In 2023, 1990’s politics seems to have far more in common with current political discourse than the age when Bill O’Reilly dominated cable news. The top terrorist concern of Washington is once again an organized political right, from parents upset with public school officials and those skeptical of “fortified” elections.

It is the tools created by Bush-era Republicans, applauded for their use against possible Islamic terrorists in our borders, now being wielded against Republican voters. As Rockwell predicted, the expansion of the regime’s power is weaponized against what will always be its greatest threat: domestic forces in conflict with the prevailing ideology of the political elite. 9/11 was the perfect catalyst for not just the neoconservative vision overseas, but the domestic agenda of the professional unelected class Fox Mulder and Dana Scully regularly sought to foil.

This would hardly shock fans of the work of The X-Files universe, whose writers ended up being just as prophetic as Rockwell. In the pilot of its spinoff program The Lone Gunmen, aired just months before 9/11, the show’s protagonists thwart a government conspiracy to run a plane into one of the World Trade Center towers to justify a new war serving the financial interests of the military-industrial complex.