Who Does the Chamber of Commerce Work For?

shocked george

Hero to libertarians everywhere Justin Amash has been taking the Chamber of Commerce to task on Twitter over the organization’s very real tendency to prop up crony capitalism, this time by openly supporting the Ex-Im bank (make sure you go down the rabbit hole of retweets to get the full effect):


It’s good to have people on the Hill pointing out that those with access in DC are the ones who really do pull the policy strings, for better or worse. And the Chamber definitely has that access, one of the largest lobbying groups, and reportedly the largest spender yearly on behalf of its members. So, it’s easy to find fault with with them. They epitomize those “special interests” that all who disapprove of big government complain about. But then, sometimes they go and do things like this:

For several years, Josten has pressed the case that the federal debt, and in particular the tab for retirement programs, is an urgent concern for business, even if executives don’t see its effects firsthand the way they do for more traditional business worries such as taxes or regulations.

Bernie Sanders, the Faux Socialist, Government-Loving Statist


This was originally posted at International Liberty.


It’s not often that I disagree with the folks who put together the Wall Street Journal editorial page. For instance, they just published a great editorial on that cesspool of cronyism and corruption that is otherwise known as the Export-Import Bank.

Isn’t it great that the voice of capitalism actually supports genuine free markets!

That being said, a recent editorial rubs me the wrong way.

It’s about the presumably quixotic presidential campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders. These excerpts will give you a flavor of what the WSJ wrote.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, an avowed independent Socialist, has decided to run for the Democratic presidential nomination… He thinks the American economy is fundamentally unfair, and that government must tax and spend even more heavily… He thinks Social Security should increase benefits, no matter that it is heading toward insolvency. Higher taxes can make up the difference. …He wants single-payer health care, though his own state gave up the experiment as too expensive.

So what’s my disagreement?

11th Circuit: The Location of Your Cell Phone Isn’t Private


You know how Google, Apple, and Microsoft store your phone’s location history to help with searches and app interactivity? Well, a federal appeals court just ruled that none of that information is actually yours and you have no expectation of privacy from it, so courts don’t need a warrant to get it.

“Cell tower location records do not contain private communications of the subscriber,” the court said in its ruling. “This type of non-content evidence, lawfully created by a third-party telephone company . . . does not belong to Davis, even if it concerns him. . . . Davis has no subjective or objective reasonable expectation of privacy in [the phone company’s] business records showing the cell tower locations that wirelessly connected his calls at or near the time of six of the seven robberies.”

This is an obscene and invidious ruling that has enormous implications for yes, your actual privacy. If the cell tower location data that shows where your phone is can from now on be acquired without a warrant, then your physical location is always within reach of government agents.

Nevermind that your phone has layers and layers of privacy settings that keep your GPS and other location data off the grid. Triangulating cell tower data can be just as useful and is now more accessible to the government than it is to you.

As an example of the lengths Google’s Android Lollipop system goes to allow you to protect your location data, the following are screenshots from my phone.


Common Core And The Vomit Test

View on YouTube

Confession: I don’t get John Oliver. I find him funny occasionally, albeit often terribly misguided on many issues facing his adopted country (which, by the way, I think he truly loves and really means well in his sometimes awkward assessments).

But just when I think he’s completely in the European Socialism tank, he goes and does something like this.

113 is a lot of tests…something is wrong with out system when we just assume a certain number of kids will vomit…

He’s right that Bush’s No Child Left Behind was the gateway drug to Common Core, and that Obama flip-flopped on his disgust of filling out bubbles on a standardized test. And that there’s plenty of reason to suspect that these standardized tests, used to determine the relative health of a child’s ability to learn, are actually pretty miserable at determining what they’re designed to determine.

The Supreme Court Will Overturn Gay Marriage Bans, But Not Because They Discriminate Against Gays

gay marriage

After the oral arguments finally took place this week, almost everyone expects the Supreme Court to overturn state bans on same-sex marriage at the end of their session in June. But there may be a surprising reason why they do so that has nothing to do with discrimination against gays and lesbians.

The majority of the oral arguments dealt with the 14th Amendment “equal protection” argument that same-sex couples deserve the same access to the civil (not religious) institution of marriage that “traditional” opposite-sex couples do. It’s a compelling argument that declares the dignity of committed gay and lesbian couples is no less than straight couples. But it’s not what might clinch the majority vote on the court.

Roberts: “I’m not sure it’s necessary to get into sexual orientation to resolve this case. I mean, if Sue loves Joe and Tom loves Joe, Sue can marry him and Tom can’t. And the difference is based upon their different sex. Why isn’t that a straightforward question of sexual discrimination?”

Raisin Objections to Government Theft


There are millions of Americans across this great land who could tell a story about how federal bureaucracy and the gargantuan regulatory state we now bear have caused them frustration and grief, but few are more bizarre, or have such far-reaching implications, as the story of Marvin and Laura Horne and their quest to be raisin farmers.

Marvin Horne was once an agent of the all-powerful administrative state that he now wages battle against, working as a tax auditor before he and his wife decided to retire to the small farming enclave of Kerman, California, to try their hands at growing raisins.

The Hornes soon discovered they were slaves to an obscure agency of the federal government called the Raisin Administrative Committee (mull THAT one over in your brain for a few minutes), created nearly seventy years ago immediately following WWII. During WWII, the federal government had purchased massive amounts of raisins as part of the soldiers’ rations, and with the war over and the need for soldier rations greatly reduced there was an excess of raisins, and so the price of raisins fell precipitously. Thus, the RAC was formed with the stated goal of stabilizing prices for farmers to help them keep their farms. As with most government programs, the intention and the outcome were on opposite ends of the spectrum, as the Hornes came to learn and lament.

Dependency, Work Incentives, and the Growing Welfare State

    This was orginally posted at Mitchell’s blog International Liberty. It is particularly relevant as we watch the un- and underemployed vent their frustrations in Baltimore. ~ Ed.


    A nation’s prosperity is determined by the quantity and quality of labor and capital that are productively utilized.

    Which means that it doesn’t make sense to have policies that penalize either saving and investment or working.

    Yet that seems to be the favorite hobby of the political class.

    And there are real consequences. A new study by a pair of economists, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, has some interesting findings on the link between redistribution programs and labor supply.

    It’s a bit wonky, given the way academics write, but they produce some important data on the negative unintended consequences of government dependency.

Baltimore and What Happens After the Riot

baltimore riots

There’s a lot to report on, and infer about, what happened in Baltimore last night.

A protest over the death of Freddie Gray, who was critically injured in police custody, started peacefully with thousands marching through downtown streets before the demonstration turned violent and volatile.

The chaotic scene Saturday night prompted the first public remarks from Freddie Gray’s twin sister, who pleaded for peace at a news conference alongside the mayor.

“My family wants to say, can you all please, please stop the violence?” Fredricka Gray said. “Freddie Gray would not want this.”

Given there’s no way to do it all justice in any meaningful way — who understands what it’s like to be in the storm when they’re watching it on TV (sorry, Twitter)? — but there are few questions that bear noting now:

First, it is true that riots solve exactly nothing. There was apparently a rather well organized (ahem) peaceful protest in the afternoon that went wonky as the sun began to go down. But the question is this: did anyone think that peaceful protest would disperse peacefully in a city that takes great pride in being the home of The Wire? This is a city that is heavily segregrated, both racially and economically, so the disenfranchised will likely exploit an opportunity to be heard, even if the way they speak is coarse, self-involved, and patently ineffective. Surprise that the riot happened was most surprising.

Plato Told Hillary


Hillary’s Nipponized bit of the Sixth Avenue el hasn’t come back to haunt us yet, but it surely will.

Originally posted, with great fanfare, at The Ancient & Noble Order of the Gormogons. You have no idea what we had to promise to get them to agree to let us use it. We don’t want to talk about it. ~ Ed.

Posted by — ‘Puter

‘Puter awoke this morning to the crew on Morning Joe announcing in Very Serious Voices ™ the New York Times broke another Clinton Family scandal.

‘Puter yawned, assuming this would be another quickly dismissed “the Clintons are on the take” disclosure, one of which the media would quickly tire. Hey, ‘Puter remembers the Clinton-Media Complex from way back in Bill’s White House days.

Not so fast, though. Sure, this scandal’s about the Clintons and their congenital lust for money and power, no matter how dirty the source. But it’s also more than that, and ‘Puter thinks this scandal just may have staying power.

Fifth Amendment Challenge Against USDA’s “Raisin Taking” Makes It To The Supreme Court

raisin outlaw

California raisin farmer, Martin Horne, has been battling a Depression era U.S. Department of Agriculture regulation for over a decade. Horne says that the 1937 revision of the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act amounts to a violation of his Fifth Amendment protections, and is nothing short of government theft.

The Act gave birth to the Raisin Administrative Committee and the National Raisin Reserve ( yes, these are real things), and allowed them to confiscate a portion of raisin crops each year in an effort to stabilize raisin prices. The regulations are (surprise!) convoluted in that they don’t permit taking of crops from growers (producers) of grapes, but from handlers who dry and package raisins.  Horne is both.

In 2001, Horne claimed he was not subject to the USDA’s raisin taking, but they demanded 47% of his crop. When he refused, they slapped him with a $700,000 fine.  Horne has been navigating the court system since.

In 2013, the Supreme Court booted the challenge back to the Ninth Circuit, which ruled that the Fifth Amendment’s “Taking Clause” was not applicable in the case of raisins, and if it were ( ?) handlers were compensated by the controlled pricing on the raisins allowed to be sold by the Raisin Administrative Committee.


The views and opinions expressed by individual authors are not necessarily those of other authors, advertisers, developers or editors at United Liberty.