Police Have No Duty to Protect You, Federal Court Affirms Yet Again

Police Have No Duty to Protect You, Federal Court Affirms Yet Again

12/20/2018Ryan McMaken

Following last February's shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, some students claimed local government officials were at fault for failing to provide protection to students. The students filed suit, naming six defendants, including the Broward school district and the Broward Sheriff’s Office , as well as school deputy Scot Peterson and campus monitor Andrew Medina.

On Monday, though, a federal judge ruled that the government agencies " had no constitutional duty to protect students who were not in custody."

This latest decision adds to a growing body of case law establishing that government agencies — including police agencies — have no duty to provide protection to citizens in general:

“Neither the Constitution, nor state law, impose a general duty upon police officers or other governmental officials to protect individual persons from harm — even when they know the harm will occur,” said Darren L. Hutchinson, a professor and associate dean at the University of Florida School of Law. “Police can watch someone attack you, refuse to intervene and not violate the Constitution.”

The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the government has only a duty to protect persons who are “in custody,” he pointed out.

Moreover, even though the state of Florida has compulsory schooling laws, the students themselves are not "in custody":

“Courts have rejected the argument that students are in custody of school officials while they are on campus,” Mr. Hutchinson said. “Custody is narrowly confined to situations where a person loses his or her freedom to move freely and seek assistance on their own — such as prisons, jails, or mental institutions.”

Hutchinson is right.

The US Supreme Court has made it clear that law enforcement agencies are not required to provide protection to the citizens who are forced to pay the police for their "services."

In the cases DeShaney vs. Winnebago and Town of Castle Rock vs. Gonzales, the supreme court has ruled that police agencies are not obligated to provide protection of citizens. In other words, police are well within their rights to pick and choose when to intervene to protect the lives and property of others — even when a threat is apparent.

In both of these court cases, clear and repeated threats were made against the safety of children — but government agencies chose to take no action.

A consideration of these facts does not necessarily lead us to the conclusion that law enforcement agencies are somehow on the hook for every violent act committed by private citizens.

This reality does belie the often-made claim, however, that police agencies deserve the tax money and obedience of local citizens because the agencies "keep us safe."

Nevertheless, we are told there is an agreement here — a "social contract" — between government agencies and the taxpayers and citizens.

And, by the very nature of being a contract, we are meant to believe this is a two-way street. The taxpayers are required to submit to a government monopoly on force, and to pay these agencies taxes.

In return, these government agents will provide services. In the case of police agencies, these services are summed up by the phrase "to protect and serve" — a motto that has in recent decades been adopted by numerous police agencies.

But what happens when those police agencies don't protect and serve? That is, what happens when one party in this alleged social contract doesn't keep up its end of the bargain.

The answer is: very little.

The taxpayers will still have to pay their taxes and submit to police agencies as lawful authority. If the agencies or individual agents are forced to pay as a result of lawsuits, it's the taxpayers who will pay for that too.

Oh sure, the senior leadership positions may change, but the enormous agency budgets will remain, the government agents themselves will continue to collect generous salaries and pensions, and no government will surrender its monopoly on the use of force.

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ACB's Betrayal of Trump Continues the Red Pilling of Conservative America

4 hours agoTho Bishop

If we were searching for a reason for political optimism in 2021, we were delivered another reminder of the degree to which mainstream American conservatives are waking up to what the state truly is. The latest institutional betrayal of Republican voters came from the Supreme Court, which rejected considering a lawsuit challenging late changes to Pennsylvania’s election process. The majority that voted to dismiss consideration included Trump nominees Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.

Are Notorious ACB shirts getting treated like the jerseys of an athlete who just jilted a fanbase?

This was predictable, of course. Not because there wasn't a substantive issue worth addressing: the degree to which state courts can interject themselves in election law seems like a valid question—regardless of one’s opinion about the 2020 election. As Justice Clarence Thomas noted in a particularly blunt dissent, this was simply the SCOTUS avoiding the issue entirely:

That decision to rewrite the rules seems to have affected too few ballots to change the outcome of any federal election. But that may not be the case in the future. These cases provide us with an ideal opportunity to address just what authority non-legislative officials have to set election rules, and to do so well before the next election cycle. The refusal to do so is inexplicable.

Of course, this is precisely the sort of behavior that we have come to expect from spineless politicians, and that is what you find on America's highest court—politicians in robes. While it’s become more fashionable lately to mention this in recent years thanks to the particularly hammy performance of John Roberts, this has long been the case.

As Ryan McMaken has explained:

The truly political nature of the court is well documented. Its politics can take many forms. For an example of its role in political patronage, we need look no further than Earl Warren, a one-time candidate for president and governor of California, who was appointed to the court by Dwight Eisenhower. It is widely accepted that Warren’s appointment was payback for Warren’s non-opposition to Eisenhower’s nomination at the 1952 Republican convention. The proposition that Warren somehow transformed from politician to Deep Thinker after his appointment is unconvincing at best. Or we might point to the famous “switch in time that saved nine[,]” in which Justice Owen Roberts completely reversed his legal position on the New Deal in response to political threats from the Franklin Roosevelt administration. Indeed, Supreme Court justices are politicians, who behave in the manner Public Choice theory tells us they should. They seek to preserve and expand their own power.

The court, jealous of its power, and reluctant to hand down decisions that might actually cause the court to lose prestige, is at times careful to reflect the majority opinion regardless of how atrocious it might be. To see this, we need look no further than Korematsu v. United States[,] in which the court declared it perfectly legal to round up American citizens and throw them into concentration camps.

The court forever plays a careful balancing act with both the public and with other branches of the federal government in which i[t] continually pushes the bounds of federal power without rocking the boat to the point of calling its legitimacy into question among the majority of the population. Naturally, Congress and the presidency, themselves committed to untrammeled federal power, have no problem with most of this on most occasions, except perhaps in the details.

It is the last paragraph that brings us to this week’s decision. Regardless of the merits of the argument, there can be no tolerance for any major institution that invites questions over the legitimacy of the 2020 election in Joe Biden’s Americans. Particularly not one that resides in the current war zone of the American capital.

Already there are agents of the corporate press trying to spin Justice Thomas’s dissent as an act of sedition. I would be surprised if no Democrat ends up calling for his impeachment over the issue.

In terms of the incentive for a justice to build up their own prestige, none had more to gain from ruling against Florida’s first president than Kavanaugh and Barrett. Kavanaugh’s lack of principles has long been obvious to anyone who followed his career in the Bush administration. It is a testament to the repulsive treatment he received from the corporate press that they managed to make a Yale Law alum turned Beltway lawyer sympathetic.

It is also understandable to see how both could be convinced that this decision was a practical necessity for their historical reputations. In the view of America’s most powerful institutions, there is no greater stain than having Trump as a benefactor. The only way to be forgiven for this sin is to become politically useful in stopping him. With this case, the last legal challenge of 2020 is likely done.

This is yet another example of the unique value of Trump’s presidency. The failure of a conservative-aligned Supreme Court to defend Donald Trump is being properly recognized by many Americans as showing that it also cannot be trusted to defend them. Many who believed that a “conservative legal movement” could effectively defend the Constitution in DC—if only Republicans could get a true majority!—have now lost their innocence.

This invites an important question: What happens when yet another governing institution loses the faith of a large portion of the American public? While Congress has long been viewed as dysfunctional and the popularity of the presidency has largely been partisan, the Supreme Court has tended to be held up as a uniquely noble governing body. Now, we see its legitimacy questioned with increased frequency on both the left and right.

While this may be a bitter red pill for some to swallow, ultimately it is necessary medicine.

The growth of the American empire has always been dependent upon convincing the public that it is acting in its interest. When large portions of the population begin to recognize that this is an obvious lie, that the empire ultimately serves the interests of a privileged few, governing becomes more difficult. As Jefferson noted, the first step to opposing imperial rule is for people to recognize that they no longer consent to a government that is hostile to their lives, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.

In America today, there are 50 million+ Trump supporters who believe Joe Biden is a president imposed on the nation—potentially with the help of foreign powers—armed with a Democrat-controlled legislature and a Supreme Court whose credibility is now compromised.

Yet another reason why secession is becoming popular.

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Professor Philipp Bagus on the "Political Economy" of Covid Hysteria

5 hours agoJeff Deist

Professor Philipp Bagus has published a remarkable article making the case for developing a political economy to help us understand the 2020 coronavirus and similar events prone to mass hysteria.

The article, titled "COVID-19 and the Political Economy of Mass Hysteria,"1 appears in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. Happily, it is available online in full from the Swiss outfit MDPI (which is committed to open access scholarly publishing in the face of lingering and absurd twentieth-century paywalls for most academic journals). Bagus, along with coauthors José Antonio Peña-Ramos and Antonio Sánchez-Bayón, argue that digital media effectively boosts and weaponizes information provided by authoritative state sources in times of crisis.

 The invocation of "public health" tends to suspend the public's capacity for disbelief; after all, who wants to be sickened by an illness which respects no borders or strata of society? And why would politicians or media figures lie about a strange new virus emanating from China? It also tends to suspend the public's objections to plainly illegal or dubious extralegal measures, such as business closures and school shutdowns. It makes us forget about tradeoffs and alternatives, at least temporarily, because life, or at least our health, is at stake. This is especially true in the early months of a crisis, what we might call the "fog of war."

But as Bagus and company make clear, political and economic realities do not magically vanish during a pandemic. In fact, the enduring tensions between economics and politics loom ever larger when states take aggressive steps to keep citizens at home and substitute fiscal or monetary stimulus for economic activity. Public health and the broader welfare state—especially public healthcare systems—cannot be neatly separated. And the bigger the government, the more profound the magnitude of policy errors. Politicians, per Hans-Hermann Hoppe, have an everlasting tendency to think short term by their very nature. And they are at their worst when emergency powers are seized from a willing public uninterested in legislative processes.

Bagus's framework for the political economy of covid emerges when we begin to understand the politics and the economics realistically and in tandem. Mass hysteria imposes tremendous costs across society, both in human and economic terms. Tradeoffs cannot be avoided, even if they are not much discussed in popular media. Alcoholism, suicides, untreated illness, and vast psychological harms all must be considered in addition to the staggering and almost unknowable financial costs of lockdowns. Hysteria makes it all worse. The paper identifies political institutions, politicians themselves, and media actors as having colluded to intensify the degree of hysteria in society over covid during the past year:

  • States banned or limited activities like dining, sports, and socializing;
  • States approached the perceived threat from the virus in a centralized way;
  • Heavily politicized and state-licensed media tended to promote viewpoints provided by government officials;
  • Negative news stories were bolstered when provided by seemingly authoritative public health officials;
  • Politicians may well haved benefited by instilling fear in the population; and
  • Politicians had every incentive to overstate the threat of the virus, as they don't bear the costs

The close nexus between political actors and dominant media platforms creates a ripe environment for covid hysteria simply because the incentives and tools are so suited to it. As the authors put it:

Self-interested politicians face an asymmetric pay-off. Underestimating a threat and failing to act has great political cost, as politicians will be held responsible for the disaster caused by the threat they underestimated. By contrast, an exaggeration or even invention of a threat and bold state intervention are politically more attractive. If the existential threat claimed by politicians really turns out to be such a great danger, they can be celebrated as heroes if they enacted bold measures. If the costs of these measures ultimately turn out to be excessive compared to the actual danger, then the politicians do not have to bear the cost of the wrong decision but can pass it on to the rest of the population. Politicians enjoying a guaranteed income therefore have an incentive to exaggerate a danger and to impose exaggerated measures, also called policy overreaction, which is conducive to the emergence and growth of mass hysteria.

In sum, property rights tend not to be effective limits in curbing mass hysteria in a welfare state. Moreover, the state may inhibit the natural mechanisms that reduce stress and hysteria. The centralized nature of the state increases group and conformity pressures. Politicized mass media and negative messages from official state agencies can further increase psychological pressure. Finally, the state may intentionally want to increase anxiety, and politicians have the incentive to make bold decisions and exaggerate the threat.

Big government and big media go hand in hand, hence the public overreaction to covid. After all, collectives by their very nature do not allow for a variety of viewpoints or approaches to problems. Bagus and his coauthors have given us a wonderful and original exposition, a new way of looking at Edward Bernay's old concept of "manufacturing consent." They have also given us the solution: market incentives, property rights, and decentralized mechanisms for discovery. Top-down statecraft cannot produce competition for solutions, but instead acts as a blunt and inefficient instrument of bad policy.

Or as the authors state, "there exist important limits for a mass hysteria to harm life and liberty in a minimal state."

  • 1. Philipp Bagus, José Antonio Peña-Ramos, and Antonio Sánchez-Bayón, "COVID-19 and the Political Economy of Mass Hysteria," International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18, no. 4 (2021): 1376, https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18041376.
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Pennsylvania's Centrally Planned Vaccine Plan

Pennsylvania’s Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam said in a press release on February 12 https://www.media.pa.gov/pages/health-details.aspx?newsid=1292 that only four groups are allowed to handle distribution of Covid-19 vaccines going forward: hospitals, federally qualified health centers, county health departments, and pharmacies in effect shutting out primary care doctors from Covid-19 vaccine distribution.  In response, the Pennsylvania Academy of Family Physicians, Pennsylvania Osteopathic Medical Society, and the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American College of Physicians (physician group) collectively expressed disappointment in the Acting Secretary of Health’s misguided allocation changes to the state’s COVID-19 vaccination distribution plan, removing primary care providers from the list of those permitted to administer the COVID-19 vaccine

Their press release states:

Without sound justification and demonstrating a lack of understanding in the way most Pennsylvanians receive their health care, the Administration is making a woeful mistake by cutting out primary care physicians as eligible providers.

Justifying her action acting Secretary Beam said.

“As there is very limited COVID-19 vaccine supply compared to demand, every possible effort must be made so that the vaccine received in the commonwealth is effectively administered. To achieve this goal, I am issuing an order outlining appropriate steps and recognized best practices to ensure vaccine providers are effectively meeting the goal of vaccinating Pennsylvanians and creating a healthy Pennsylvania for all.”

While acting health secretary Beam’s intention of making use of every dose of the Covid-19 vaccine is commendable, what is so puzzling about this decision is the inconvenient fact that one of the most successful vaccine rollout by percent of people vaccinated is in the neighboring state of West Virginia.  West Virginia, a small and mostly rural state with a large elderly population, quite similar to Pennsylvania in many aspects, showed how to roll out Covid-19 vaccinations successfully. West Virginia is now being hailed as a vaccination success story, with 85 percent of its delivered doses already used, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, putting it second in the country behind North Dakota.  A key part of the strategy in West Virginia was the decision not to activate a federal partnership with pharmacy chains and instead relying on independent drugstores

Dr. Clay Marsh, West Virginia's coronavirus czar and vice president and executive dean of health services at West Virginia University may have read some articles from the Mises Institute when he states “But we absolutely rely on the creativity and the innovation of all of our people. Because we don't want to rely on external resource requirements for us to be able to do what we need to do.” 

Primary care physicians have plenty of experience administrating immunizations across a wide range of age groups.  They are in the business of connecting and caring for people at the local level on a daily basis.  They are best equipped to pull up a list of patients who qualify for the Covid-19 vaccine at each phase of the rollout.  But with the new order by the acting health secretary Beam, primary care physicians are being sidelined.  West Virginia has shown that good personal contact is key to the whole effort.  Most people in rural areas would rather get vaccinated by their doctor that they know and trust than by large impersonal semi-governmental vaccination centers.  According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health the list of approved vaccination sites will shrink from about 780 providers statewide to only 200 to 300 that will continue receiving doses from the state. 

In their press release the physician groups conclude:

Many people will turn to their primary care physician for guidance as to whether they should get the vaccine. Physicians, nurses, and physician assistants who provide care in private practices are trusted by their patients. This is especially noteworthy when considering those patients who may otherwise be reluctant to get the vaccine. A pharmacist or other provider who is unknown to the patient will not be able to provide that same level of confidence. Additionally, many older Pennsylvanians may believe that they will receive the vaccine in their primary care physician’s office. The new order creates yet another hurdle for a demographic who is already struggling with navigating the vaccine distribution landscape.

A main reason and good reason for the change in policy is to ensure all vaccine doses provided are administered and not wasted.  However, on February 17th acting health secretary Beam had to address a major vaccine snafu when COVID-19 vaccinations for up to 115,000 Pennsylvanians have to be rescheduled. According to Beam, the Moderna vaccine was inadvertently administered as the first of the required two shots when the serum was earmarked for the second shot instead.  Pharmacies often don’t have more than a day’s notice about shipments, which complicates scheduling people for vaccinations.  Each vial of the Moderna vaccine has 10 doses, and once the vial is open, the vaccine lasts only five hours. After five hours the vaccine has to be discarded, only a minority of primary care physicians can manage the logistical challenges of such a strict timeline.

Another reason for the change by acting health secretary Beam and an order by Governor Wolf is to expedite the rollout.  Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 vaccine program has been marred by glitches from the start.  It has been criticized over how fast its allocated shipments are administered ranking Pennsylvania in the middle while West Virginia ranks third according to the New York Times tracker.  

The glitches in the vaccine rollout in Pennsylvania are even more troublesome by the fact that President-elect Joe Biden tapped Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine to be his assistant secretary of health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  Dr. Levine was in charge of the Covid-19 response in Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania is now trying to untangle its botched vaccine rollout under her leadership.  What can the rest of the country expect once Dr. Levine is in charge of a larger rollout?  

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Lockdowns Destroyed the Democracy of the Marketplace

"We're closed."

These are terrible words to see in front of your favorite small shops and services when you are in the mood to purchase something you desire, or ready to pay for something you wish to avail of. This feeling is made even worse emotionally when you know the closures are forced and permanent, and that you sadly and ultimately could not do anything about it.

It may not be the case that these businesses were bad and died a natural death, and may in fact be quite the contrary. You are probably a dedicated customer, and one among many that happily voted to keep those enterprises running by paying for what they offered, because you and others genuinely liked them. These businesses could have thrived under normal circumstances.

However, when a business was one of the casualties of regulations that limited its ability to operate, and when you were forced to stay at home and became unable to spend on it as often as before, you were essentially denied the ability to vote for its continued existence.

A diverse and plentiful number of micro, small and medium enterprises makes up the bulk of any healthy economy. It is normal to see that such entities comprise the vast majority of business activities in countries around the world. The economy has to thrive at different levels to cater to the tastes and needs of people from all walks of life. This natural phenomenon has been demonstrated consistently over the course of human history.

These days, the depressing news that hits consumers around the world is that of the mass closure of smaller businesses. These would be last seen offering final services that could not even be given fully due to limitations imposed upon them. These are the stores that found themselves severely hampered by the policies governing the economy created in the wake of the pandemic, through no fault of their own. While some undoubtedly survived by adapting to circumstances, as competent entrepreneurial entities should, many did not.

If a business is limited, for example, to only be able to serve an arbitrarily small number of customers at any given time, how can it hope to get by as it normally would? Yet such limitations exist around the world, decreed in the name of stopping the spread of COVID-19. For example, shops that used to be able to tend to twenty customers at once could have had their maximum number of potential clients reduced to just five at a time.

What this does in practice for countries with large populations is that customers would sometimes have to line up outside shops or gather in large crowds for a long time anyway due to space limitations. In that case, was the objective of the policy, presumably to create social distancing, successfully met? That said, these cases are supposed to be the lucky ones. Some businesses could not even reopen at all due to other such restrictions that worked unfavorably against them.

Disasters and market fluctuations happen, sure, and these sometimes trigger the closure and death of certain businesses. Risk and uncertainty are always integral parts of lived experiences, and we make decisions and judgements based on our perception of them. But the very problem posed here is that closures enabled through harsh restrictions could have been avoided entirely. Some business deaths were preventable, and it would be a disservice to simply blame everything on the pandemic.

In these times, where consumers are stuck at home and unable to spend on the goods and services they would otherwise like to avail of, people are essentially barred from the democracy of markets. On the consumer side, it has become difficult to patronize favorite businesses as in pre-pandemic times. On the producer side, it has also become difficult to provide goods and services in a way that allows for continued and efficient operations in a “pandemic market”.

With many small businesses tragically and irreversibly gone —and more to follow suit as countries continue to scramble to get their acts together— we need to create a healthy and competitive global economy. We should start by remembering the importance of enabling market democracy.

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The Failure of Britain's Railway "Privatization"

02/23/2021Paulo Ferreira

It is no surprise to the daily English commuter that British Railway has always fallen short of providing adequate services to it’s customers. Dissatisfaction is at an all-time high, with high ticket fares and poor timing schedules. Rail user satisfaction at 10-year low. To avoid bankruptcy, the state provides subsidies and security bonds to prevent job losses – albeit bonds incur debt that will have to be paid off - and there has been a conscious effort on successive governments in terms of pushing up ticket fares, so that the burden of taxation does not fall entirely on the taxpayer.

This disaster is the offspring of the botched "privatization" of rail which has since evolved into a monopoly of the railway system in Britain. Privatization is only effective if there are other players on the market competing against each other—or at least the possibility of entry for other firms into the market. This helps to keep prices down as the possibility of competition drives providers to better serve customer needs and wants.

With the introduction of the 1993 Railway Act, the Conservative government at the time initiated the privatization of rail by establishing Railtrack, becoming the sole owner of infrastructure in the entire country, laying out the rules for train operating companies. Train companies – national or international – would own and deploy various rail franchises. Rolling stock operating companies provide the necessary locomotives, and freight operating companies, whose primary responsibilities include transporting cargo across the national network.

The main problem holding the industry back however is the lack of competitive infrastructure, for not only does a geographic monopoly exist, but also an overly complex, fragmented system interdependent on a myriad of factors, a tight, bureaucratic labyrinth that drowns out competition. All signals, levels crossings, bridges and tunnels are held on a leash by the Leviathan of rapid transit: Network Rail – the successor to the unsuccessful Railtrack - a public company answerable to the Department for Transport, financing and maintaining the rail tracks by redirecting profits and dividends earned during the year for reinvestment. Strictly speaking, despite privatization, the state reversed their decision and have a final say on how British tracks should be run. The dictum “meet the new owners, same as the old ones” can justly be applied here.

Trains in less dense routes and stations are split into various rail franchises, beginning with a private company placing a bid to secure contracts that allow them to operate on specific routes, as stipulated by the contracts complying with public law regulations. The government takes into consideration each candidate in terms of which company can provide the best passenger satisfaction, as well as optimistic projections of future revenue. The winner, before being awarded the contract, must pay a premium to the government and the projections forecast for the future also increases the premium. Each area has different routes and varying government specifications laying out the ground rules, including train services and station upgrades. However, many of these contracts end up becoming unprofitable due to a lack of demand in certain regions of the country, and private companies owning the rail franchises default, being liquidated as a result. In areas of a less dense population, local monopolies are born, giving the companies a bargaining chip on the region.

It should be noted that various foreign governments dominate several UK rail franchises. For example, Deutsch Bahn (the franchises in question include Arriva Trains Wales, Chiltern Railways, CrossCountry, Grand Central and Northern) is financed by the German government, being the sole shareholder. Therefore, should they cut their investment on Deutsch Bahn would have the detrimental consequence of cutting down the number of trains available for usage to the British public. Other foreign governments too own majority stakes in railway companies, owning nearly all rail franchises in the UK.

Before privatization, economic liberal think tanks such as The Centre for Policy Studies and the Adam Smith institute put forward several proposals. The one eventually adopted by the Conservatives was the one put forward by the Adam Smith institute: different companies running trains. It would have been wiser had the State instead decided to heed the advice put forward by the Centre for Policy Studies, proposing that Britain should go back to the Victorian era structure of a dozen private companies controlling railway.

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Deregulate the Policing Market

Priti Patel (the UK secretary of state, akin to the US’s attorney general but with a much wider purview) has been recently considering new laws to tackle a spate of dog thefts across the country. The crime wave has been spurred by lockdown measures, with many people desiring “covid pets.”

This increase in demand for pets, especially dogs and puppies, has led to an increase in prices, with some puppies now costing as much as £1,883. Most Austrian economists will not be surprised that the “the bureaucracy is expanding to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy” but where a problem is presented that seemingly needs a solution, what else is to be done?

In this case it’s existing regulation (prelockdown) that is causing the most major problems for this not to be a state issue. It's about crime and how it pays. According to the most recent data (as of July 2019), only 7.8 percent of all reported crimes in England and Wales end in a conviction.

The usual calls when this happens are for more police to be dropped on the streets, as if this were some God Simulator computer game where spawning enough units eventually gets the job done while the economy shuffles on certis paribus. But this is the real world, and the economic constraints of resources, funding, training times, and acquiring competent applicants exist.

So what is the alternative? Deregulate the policing market. Why should we leave a government monopolist police to concentrate on petty theft and dog napping when rape convictions are at their lowest point ever? Private police forces already exist in the UK, mostly in response to state budget cuts (another argument against monopoly is that the state’s ability to “giveth and taketh away” on a whim often does not correspond to local demand).

However, the role of private police forces needs to have the support of the home secretary in regard to jurisdiction. This became the issue with the port authorities (who have had private police in the UK since the 1840s). Delivering criminals from the port to custody meant breaching a “mile radius” zone of jurisdiction and so making it illegal to bring a criminal to justice! Luckily the powers of the constable were increased to ensure this was legal.

Private policing, being nothing new, adds a whole host of benefits to the area of policing as well, including increased conviction rates and reduced costs. There are opportunities for communities to have their own police from their own backgrounds (the UK police are still not trying to understand why young black men won’t join the Met [Metropolitan Police] or why nationalists won’t trust the PSNI [Police Service of Northern Ireland]).

The state police are needed at the moment to deal with serious crimes: rape, murder, child grooming, and abuse. These serious damages to person are in a rational society detestable, and no one, excepting the most lunatic fringes of liberal academia, would want to see their perpetrators roaming the streets. Whether these are sent for treatment or punishment is another debate, but their exclusion from society is accepted by most.

So let’s give the private police a chance to prove that this is a market that can not only reduce the government’s time and money, but can have an exponential amount of positive externalities. We can begin to let people trust their own police, run by them for their community, in accordance with the laws of the land, of course. This is not a call for miniwarlords, just a way for the market to prove its efficiencies over the state.

It’s unlikely, given the new Tory (see Labour) method of tax and spend that an actually viable, free market solution will be picked up. However, getting this conversation started and offering solutions that are more than just “stop and search” or “hug a hoodie” is important. We must look to all the options before our police force is given powers they don’t need to fight crimes that are none of their concern or dwindle into a restricted, powerless force that simply protects the wealthy and is mistrusted by everyone else.

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CNBC Does Black History Month

02/23/2021Robert Aro

As a black man, this bothers me, and I hope anyone who loves freedom and liberty feels the same.

Last week, in celebration of Black History Month CNBC continued with its “Invest in You” series:

featuring weekly stories from CNBC contributors and members of the Financial Wellness Council, including the lessons they’ve learned growing up, their advice to Black youth, their inspirations and how they are working to close the racial wealth gap.

The definition of the “racial wealth gap” is not provided, but they share a stat from a Federal Reserve study to provide an idea:

The median wealth for a White family was $188,200 in 2019, compared to $24,100 for Black families and $36,100 for Hispanic families.

No one can reasonably say what median wealth should be. However, we can say the median wealth of white families is many more times the median wealth of black families. We are offered solutions as to how to bridge the gap, recommended by several African Americans, presumably experts, whose opinion we should listen to because they are either famous or rich:

Quoting Akbar Gbajabiamila, former NFL Player turned cohost of American Ninja Warrior, who believes financial literacy can help lessen the gap. His solution is:

People in power need to step up and help open up financial advising for everyone.

Higher up the wealth bracket we hear from the first black billionaire, Robert Johnson, who sold Black Entertainment Television (BET) in 2001. He believes powerful business people should be called upon to help black Americans advance. It’s unclear if he means powerful blacks or all powerful people. Either way, the successful people “achieved their success by having opportunity.” He goes on to say that these powerful people should tell black Americans:

“We’re gonna give you equal opportunity that we had, we’re gonna give you access to capital that we had, and we’re gonna ensure that you have a chance and a fair shot at participating in the American dream.”

There were even more people who weighed in on the issue. But the flavor of the article should be apparent by now. Time after time, whether from the mainstream media, politicians, or central bankers, we are told that the answer to our economic problems is for those in power to simply take the right action to help those in need. According to the quote above, if powerful people simply decided to grant more opportunities to those in need, it would allow the marginalized to get their fair shot, therefore achieving The American Dream…

Unfortunately, the opportunity to provide something useful to the black community and anyone else experiencing hardship is lost on CNBC. When we talk of opportunity, many forget it is the government and their central banks that are at the forefront of limiting our ability to succeed. Consider the effect of regulations, free market intervention, and inflationism and refraining from them would help better close this gap between all races.

Regulations. The list is long: the war on drugs, prohibitions on selling goods and/or services, import tariffs, minimum wage laws… to name a few. There are countless rules which govern our lives. Yet these rules are involuntary restrictions placed by the powerful over the masses. Society could find positive economic outcomes if we simply removed laws which limit economic freedom.

Interventionism. Remember, it is the Fed that creates over $100 billion a month to buy government debt, tinkers with interest rates, and creates special programs to assist certain members of society at the expense of other members of society. The powerful tell us these programs are for our own good and that if it weren’t for them society would be much worse.

Inflationism. The long-standing fallacy of money creation for the purpose of wealth creation. However, the same money supply expansion benefits the most powerful members of society first. Ironic how so many people turn to those same powerful people for help when their priority is to preserve their own advantages.

This month, many were given a chance to talk about issues facing African Americans. Sadly, without understanding ideas of liberty and freedom, those who would benefit most from capitalism will continually seek socialism. When most people talk about opportunity, it’s often in the context of getting a handout or a leg up from another. Perhaps the best opportunity is to not limit someone’s opportunity from the start.

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Poll Finds 50% of Southern Republicans Now Support Secession

02/19/2021Tho Bishop

For several years now discussion of secession has become increasingly mainstream. A new poll highlights regional and partisan views on the topic.

Bright Line Watch asked Americans whether they would support their state seceding from the United State and joining a union with regional states. The question outlined the new unions as follows:

  • Pacific: California, Washington, Oregon, Hawaii, and Alaska
  • Mountain: Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico
  • South: Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee
  • Heartland: Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas, and Nebraska
  • Northeast: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and the District of Columbia

Support for secession was highest in the South and West, both at 33 percent, followed by the Northeast (32 percent), the Mountain region (28 percent), and the Heartland (24 percent).

Bright Line Watch’s analysis highlighted the degree to which shared political behavior correlated with higher support:

Support also corresponds with regional partisan context. In the Pacific and Northeast regions, both of which are deep blue and could be expected to be dominated by the Democratic Party (or its post-secession descendants), Democrats favor secession most, followed by independents and Republicans. In the deep red Mountain and Southern regions, that pattern is reversed with Republicans most amenable to secession. In the Heartland, a collection of mostly red states that also includes purple Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, independents are the group most inclined toward secession.

The unwillingness of respondents to reject secession outright is widespread and context-dependent. Republicans express greater support for secession overall than Democrats, but Democrats are more amenable to secession than are Republicans in regions they dominate.

The Americans most likely to support secession were Southern Republicans at 50 percent. Below is a graphical representation of the responses:

Given that a majority of Republican voters do not believe Joe Biden was a legitimately elected president, it will be interesting to see how these sentiments develop over the next few years. 

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Development Issues in Production, Innovation, and Inclusion

The problem of "development" continues to be a topic that draws the attention of academics and is also becoming more and more the concern of every person. This is especially seen when government policies, such as those made in relation to the spread of covid-19, present clear cases which directly affect the lives and well-being of individual citizens.

For the Austro-libertarian, the definition of sustainable development by the Brundtland Commission back in 1987 carries several questionable implications, as argued by Morgan Poliquin. Nowadays, however, development studies as a practice has evolved to include other ideas in the attempt to see different and multifaceted understandings of development.

In online lectures by Jeffrey Sachs based on his book The Age of Sustainable Development, he notes that development has evolved into a more practical and holistic approach composed of three pillars: economic development, environmental sustainability, and social inclusion. Despite the broader definition, it is important to remain critical, so for this article, we shall critique of these aspects to see what could be usefully applied in practice.

Economic Development

Traditionally, the first pillar of economic development has been measured using gross domestic product, or GDP for short. Asim Hussain argued that GDP cannot measure the quality of life, and Frank Shostak outlined how GDP growth doesn’t necessarily indicate true economic growth. This single number, often used by governments to report to citizens how well or poorly their country is doing economically, has been lauded as the main economic indicator for a long time, and questioning it has been long overdue.

Even Jeffrey Sachs acknowledges that GDP has limitations, which is why he posits that other measures of development are also important for a more complete picture of development. These can range from metrics that consider and aggregate other aspects of development, like the Human Development Index, or metrics that try to measure subjective happiness, such as the Cantril ladder.

Such approaches are at least better in that the human factor is given more emphasis, but as with any mathematical model made in an attempt to aggregate human experiences, we should always remain skeptical, and as with GDP, understand and be wary of their limitations. In this way, policies enacted to reach such measures of economic ends should rightly be scrutinized.

Environmental Sustainability

The next pillar that needs to be examined is that which ties development to the state of the environment. However, this leads to several problems regarding how to approach growing the economy, especially when this always seems to be at odds with the usage of resources and the environment. The Austro-libertarian perspective favors a movement toward innovation, which will manage, at its own accord, without further prodding, to create the goods and services that we need for our day and age, and not only in an environmental sense.

Tyler Watts wrote a critical argument about how concepts of environmental sustainability are at odds with economics. Among the ideas discussed was the power of innovation: in a free market economy, innovation would happen more naturally. The creation of cheaper, more efficient—and, by extension, cleaner and less wasteful—products and services is bound to happen as a consequence of progress and functional prices, due to the enabling of entrepreneurs to create competitive goods in the economy.

The idea that innovation pushed by economic freedom in the market is inherently reckless certainly needs to be examined. As Gary Galles contends, it is not a zero-sum game, for society as a whole prospers through innovation. The betterment of the world can come from allowing entrepreneurs to thrive.

Social Inclusion

Finally, the more human elements of development can be addressed in the last pillar, which is about humanity itself. Development should never be seen independently of the context of the people who make up society, and it is a valid human desire to be part of a society wherein they feel enabled to participate.

There are, of course, various ways to include people in society, and this continues to be a subject of debate and scrutiny. Nevertheless, there are humanity-centered approaches to development that can further the position of an Austro-libertarian—such as the human security approach or the capabilities approach—but one of them stands out in particular: the rights-based approach.

An inclusive society through the rights-based approach means that all persons should be able to live with their fundamental rights intact, and where they are not oppressed, but rather empowered. This should include the ability of individuals to participate fully in the economy and to have their personal liberties protected. To be able to live in a free society that honors these rights is a goal for social inclusion, and a desirable end for the Austro-libertarian.

The other approaches, such as the human security approach, which can be used to promote the value of peace and denounce the horrors and ultimate costs of war, or the capabilities approach, which can highlight the importance of realizing individual freedom, could also be looked into for similar valuable insights. War and slavery are, after all, unwelcome in an inclusive and free society.

Conclusion

Contemporary approaches and theories in sustainable development expand the definition of its study to consider perspectives beyond the original definition of the Brundtland Commission. These are perspectives that can be compatible with the Austro-libertarian perspective. The need to critically examine these emerging ideas, to lobby for the values of the free market and of personal liberty, and to hold governments accountable for desirable ideas of development, continues to be as relevant and important as before.

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Rush Limbaugh Was Great When Democrats Were in the White House

02/17/2021Ryan McMaken

Rush Limbaugh has died at age seventy. 

Whether or not one agreed with him, Limbaugh was long unavoidable for those who had any interest in political commentary—especially during the 1990s. Limbaugh had a very long career, but his peak in terms of talent and relevance was likely during the Clinton years.

In his early years, I didn't even know Limbaugh had a radio show, because I was in school when his show aired on the radio. Like many people, I only became aware of him when his syndicated television show premiered in 1992. For many of us who fancied ourselves opponents of "big government," Limbaugh seemed like a voice of consistent dissent in the early years of the Clinton administration. 

Limbaugh was relentless in his mockery of Clinton and in contradicting the administration's message. Limbaugh would even hilariously impersonate Clinton with a mock Clinton voice. 

Because he was criticizing the administration in power, Limbaugh appeared to be a true dissenter. He seemed to oppose everything the federal government was doing. He was even seemingly good on foreign policy, questioning the Clinton administration's policies in Bosnia and Iraq. In late 1993, National Review labeled Limbaugh as "the leader of the opposition." This seemed appropriate and true. 

By the late nineties, I was listening to a fair amount of Limbaugh's radio show, largely because I worked as a contractor in janitorial and landscaping services. That meant a lot of driving around in my pickup truck. And that meant a lot of AM radio. 

As a clueless teenager, and later as a clueless college student, I thought that those people who opposed the regime and its schemes would always do so, regardless of who was in power. As the Clinton years ended and the Bush years began, I would learn the error of my ways.

As the Bush years began, Limbaugh suddenly took on a different tone. He was supportive of the administration's plans and programs, even when they were very similar to those of the Clinton years. Things became far worse after 9/11. At that point, Limbaugh became a full-throated defender of the administration, pushing for every scheme the White House was pushing, and advocating for a full-blown GOP-controlled police state. 

In other words, Limbaugh became insufferable. He was no longer funny or biting. He was just another shill for the regime, with a small token bit of skepticism thrown in to maintain some semblance of independence from the official messages coming out of the White House. 

Buy then, of course, I had learned my lesson. Having first begun to participate in political debates during the Clinton years, I thought that those who criticized the administration's abusive and overreaching policies did so out of some sort of principled ideological view. I thought these people agreed with me that it was important to not turn around and take the opposite positions just because "our guy" is in the White House. Thanks to Limbaugh, I learned what a hopelessly naïve position that was. 

It turns out that opposition to the regime among many of these people only matters when "their guy" is the president. The rest of the time, we're supposed to just do as we're told and push the official position, because if we don't, then we might as well be pushing for the bad guy. 

At least, that's the message that was received from Limbaugh's complete about-face in 2001, and the lesson always stuck with me. 

I never bothered to tune back in during the Obama years to see what Limbaugh was up to. I suspect he was back to pretending to be a dissenter as during the 1990s. 

To his credit, in recent years, Limbaugh showed signs of figuring out—finally—that the "deep state" is not the good guys and that all those CIA and Pentagon officials he'd been cheering for all those years were maybe not the selfless patriots he apparently long assumed them to be. He seems to have figured out that the Dick Cheneys of the world are maybe not friends of the American people. 

But for the most part, his legacy was one of being proregime when the GOP is in and being antiregime when the GOP is out. Given that he was an entertainer, of course, it's hard to fault Limbaugh too much for this. He was just giving his audience what it wanted. And what his audience wanted was a simplistic yet incoherent idea which maintained that things are mostly fine when Republicans are in office, but that the world is mess when Democrats win the White House. He was clearly very successful at delivering the message. 

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