Archives for April 2012
A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about what was wrong with the libertarian movement today, the mistakes and missteps we’ve perpetuated. I’ve been working on continuing the series, but there are several issues that are all complex. My initial post was more about the PR angle of it; the next three deal with actual philosophy. The three major problems that I see—and will explore in individual posts—is the current debate over intellectual property rights, the preoccupation with Rothbardian/Rockwellian anarcho-capitalism, and what I see as indequate foreign policy positions. All three of which, I think, make libertarianism look immature and unserious, and threaten its viability with the American public.
In this post, I’ll look into intellectual property rights; also, take a look at my first post, as well as read Tom Knighton’s excellent post on being more inclusive to moderate libertarians, and even letting them run the movement. But first, let’s look at IPR.
Many libertarians—not all, but many—are part of the anti-intellectual property movement. They argue that copyright is wrong, that one cannot have property rights in a mere idea, and that filesharing and data piracy should be completely legit and permissible. The main foundation for this position is that digital goods and intellectual goods cannot be scarce, thus you can’t have property in them. Stephen Kinsella, furthermore, argues over at Mises that this is theft—intellectual property rights would give A control over B’s property, by telling B not to use his or her property in certain ways.
All of this is balderdash.
With the future of ObamaCare up in the air, President Barack Obama took a divisive tone yesterday in discussing the pending Supreme Court ruling on his signature domestic, albeit blatantly unconstitutional law:
President Barack Obama took an opening shot at conservative justices on the Supreme Court on Monday, warning that a rejection of his sweeping healthcare law would be an act of “judicial activism” that Republicans say they abhor.
Obama, a Democrat, had not commented publicly on the Supreme Court’s deliberations since it heard arguments for and against the healthcare law last week.
Known as the “Affordable Care Act” or “Obamacare,” the measure to expand health insurance for millions of Americans is considered Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement.
“Ultimately, I am confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress,” Obama said at a news conference with the leaders of Canada and Mexico.
Conservative leaders say the law, which once fully implemented will require Americans to have health insurance or pay a penalty, was an overreach by Obama and the Congress that passed it.
The president sought to turn that argument around, calling a potential rejection by the court an overreach of its own.
“And I’d just remind conservative commentators that, for years, what we have heard is, the biggest problem on the bench was judicial activism, or a lack of judicial restraint, that an unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law,” Obama said.
If you’ve been paying attention to the Republican Senate primary in Indiana, you know that Sen. Dick Lugar has had a rough time lately. Last month, he was declared to be ineligble to vote after not being able to produce proof of a permanent residence inside the state.
But it keeps getting worse for Lugar as he has had to pay $14,000 back to taxpayers for spending on hotels when he visited Indiana:
Sen. Dick Lugar is paying back more than $14,000 to the federal Treasury — three times his earlier estimate — after a closer review of his 35-year career found he owed additional money for hotel stays in the Indianapolis area.
The Indiana Republican said Friday that an investigation by the Senate’s disbursing office initiated at his request found he improperly billed taxpayers for his hotel stays for all but seven years during his time in office, amounting to $14,684.85. He cut a personal check paying that amount on Friday.
“Your office has compiled a comprehensive list documenting cases in which I incurred per diem expenses during trips that included a stop in Indianapolis … during August recess periods and sine die adjournments,” Lugar said in a letter to Christopher Doby, financial clerk of the Senate. “Vouchers for per diem expenses incurred in the Indianapolis area during these periods should not have been submitted or paid, even though they all pertained to official business.”
Lugar suggests he paid more back to the Senate out of caution. Lugar’s admission came after he acknowledged last week that he erroneously billed taxpayers $4,500 for hotel stays after a review by his staff of records dating to 1991. He began the inquiry after POLITICO asked about the matter, and later acknowledged the errors.
With Japan lowering its corporate income taxes, the United States reached a not-go-great milestone this week. That’s right, folks, we now have the highest corporate income tax rate in the world. Scott Hodge reports at the Tax Foundation:
It’s official. After eight years of having the second-highest corporate tax rate among industrialized countries, the United States has now assumed the top spot following Japan’s scheduled corporate rate cut on April 1, 2012. Since 2001, Japan had levied the highest combined corporate tax rate among OECD nations at 39.5 percent, slightly higher than the 39.2 percent combined federal-state rate in the U.S. Japan’s new rate is 38.01 percent, which includes a temporary 10 percent surtax that will expire after 2014.
The attention given to the Japanese rate cut has overshadowed the fact that Great Britain also cut their corporate tax rate on April 1st from 26 percent to 24 percent, and will cut the rate again to 23 percent in 2013. Moreover, on January 1st of this year, Canada cut its federal corporate tax rate from 16.5 percent to 15 percent. Canada’s combined rate is about 26 percent when the average rate of the Canadian provinces is added to their federal rate.
There was a lot of talk last year, thanks to the rise (and subsequent fall) of Occupy Wall Street, about income inequality. This discussion is most assuredly not over since President Barack Obama has set his sights on higher income earners as part of his misguided domestic platform. But a new tool from the BBC allows you to, by putting your pre-tax income information, see where you are on the global payscale.
Many of my well-to-do friends in Washington, D.C. have been sympathetic to the Occupy movement and the “We Are the 99 Percent” campaign. Indeed, everyone should be outraged when politically connected banks and businesses rob the U.S. taxpayer. But everyone should also recognize that most wealthy people in the United States have made their money by producing goods and services that make us all better off.
If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably very happy about how the Supreme Court hearings last week went. Justice Kennedy asked very sharp and pointed questions that seem to indicate he would vote against the individual mandate and perhaps put the entire law in jeopardy. That’s something anyone who is concerned about liberty should be pleased about.
But it’s important to see the stories that the other side will bring up in favor of it. Stories such as Violet McManus’:
When health care reform passed Congress more than two years ago, Julie Walters yelled for her husband to come into the living room where she was watching the vote live on television.
“I was so happy,” Walters remembers. “I yelled for Matt. I said, ‘Do you know what this means? Do you know what this means?’”
The historic vote meant their 18-month-old daughter, Violet McManus, would be able to keep her health insurance. Without health care reform, she would have gotten kicked off her parents’ insurance, perhaps as early as her 5th birthday, because her care is so expensive.
Violet McManus was born healthy, but when she was 11 months old her parents woke up in the middle of the night in their Novato, California, home to find her having a seizure.
“She was completely blue in her crib and shaking,” Walters remembers.
It was to be the first of hundreds of seizures — sometimes thirty in one day.
Violet has been hospitalized about six times and each hospitalization cost more than $50,000.
With polls in Wisconsin showing Mitt Romney with a healthy lead headed into tomorrow’s primary, Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Ron Johnson, both respected conservatives, have endorsed the former Massachusetts Governor in hopes to put him over the top.
Ryan, whose “Path to Prosperity” has become the budget blueprint for House Republicans, endorsed Romney on Friday:
“Who will make the best president? And who has the best chance of defeating Barack Obama? … In my opinion, Mitt Romney is clearly that person,” Ryan said on “Fox & Friends.” “I am convinced that Mitt Romney has the skills, the tenacity, the principles, the courage and the integrity to do what it takes to get America back on track.”
Asked if this was a message he has conveyed to Rick Santorum, Ryan, whose budget plan passed the House on Thursday, said he is planning on speaking to the former Pennsylvania senator later on Friday.
“I’m just convinced now, that if we drag this thing on until summer, it’s going to make it that much harder to defeat Barack Obama this fall,” he added. “The more we drag it out, the harder it is to win in November.”
Johnson, a part of the 2010 Tea Party class who has become a strong voice on health care, announced his support of Romney yesterday during a visit to Meet the Press:
Johnson announced the endorsement on MSNBC’s Meet the Press (MTP), according to a Sunday morning tweet from MTP executive producer Betsy Fischer.