Sunday, February 26, 2017

This Could Be the Last Stand for Vaping

The vape industry currently stands on the edge of complete demise thanks to regulatory overreach. However, two Congressmen, Reps. Tom Cole (R-OK) and Sanford Bishop (D-GA), recently introduced legislation, which, if passed, may grant the e-cigarette industry a much-needed reprieve.
The FDA is, without a doubt, one of the worst offenders of cronyism.
Over the past year, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has targeted the e-cigarette industry, using false claims and fear-mongering to pass regulations that will likely put the majority of the industry out of business.
The new regulations were, of course, created in the name of protecting the American people from a potentially dangerous product. In reality, however, the only entity actually protected by these new laws is big tobacco.

6 Non-Racism Reasons to Reject Marine Le Pen

On the road to the French presidential elections, Marine Le Pen's presidential campaign is oddly similar to that of Donald Trump: confrontation with the media, nativism, and accusations of xenophobia. To avoid creating sympathy for the far-right candidate by throwing labels at her, let's give substantive reasons to oppose her. Here are six reasons to reject Marine Le Pen other than 'because of racism.'
1. Free Speech
Members of Le Pen's far-right political party, National Front, talk an awful lot about free speech, but only regarding their own free speech interests. For example, in October 2015, the party campaigned with the slogan “Je Suis Marine” (translation: I am Marine) after their leader was sued for comparing Muslims praying in the Parisian streets to the Nazi occupation.

What Is Laissez-Faire?

The pronunciation in English is lay-say-fair. Its French origins date back to the late Renaissance. As the story goes, it was first used about the year 1680, a time when the nation-state was on the rise throughout Europe. The French finance minister, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, asked a merchant named M. Le Gendre what the state could do to promote industry.
According to legend, the reply came: “Laissez-nous faire,” or “let it be.” This incident was reported in 1751 in the Journal Oeconomique by the free-trade champion Rene de Voyer, Marquis d’Argenson. The slogan was codified finally in the words of Vincent de Gournay: “Laissez-faire et laissez-passer, le monde va de lui même!” The loose translation: “Let it be and let goods pass; the world goes by itself.”
To generalize the principle: Leave the world alone, it manages itself. 

The Roots of the IRS Scandal

The revelation in May of this year that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) was systematically targeting Tea Party and other conservative groups for special scrutiny under the laws governing nonprofit organizations shocked the nation and triggered one of the Obama administration’s biggest scandals to date. According to a Treasury inspector general’s report, in May of 2010, agents in the IRS’s Cincinnati office began singling out applications for nonprofit status from groups with terms such as “Tea Party” or “patriot” in their names. The agents conducted lengthy investigations of the groups to determine whether they intended to spend too much of their money on political activities that are prohibited to most nonprofits.1 The IRS required some groups to answer long lists of questions about their intentions, it demanded donor lists from others, and it even examined Facebook and Internet posts.2 Some groups simply gave up and withdrew their applications. Others spent two years waiting for a decision that never came.3

“No Substitute for Victory”: The Defeat of Islamic Totalitarianism

John David LewisAuthor’s note: This article was adapted from a lecture I presented at the Ayn Rand Institute’s OCON conference “The Jihad Against the West,” in Boston, MA, on October 21, 2006.
The Greek historian Thucydides, writing about the calamitous war that had destroyed his own world, made an important observation about the causes of historical events: Even though circumstances may change, human nature remains the same; and certain human elements—especially moral and psychological factors—are at the root of all wars. We can disagree with Thucydides about the identity of those factors, and reject his pessimistic view of human nature, but we will benefit from accepting his challenge to rise above particular circumstances and focus on the principles of human action that are common to all time. Differences in technology, politics, or economics will always remain secondary to the ideas that motivate aggressors to launch bloody attacks and that empower—or restrain—defenders opposing those attacks.
In that spirit, let us begin by considering an event of cataclysmic proportions, a deadly attack against Americans, and then examine two possible responses to it. This approach will show us that the crisis we face today—a series of highly motivated attacks against the heart of civilization—is not unique, can be understood, and can be ended—if we choose to understand and end it.

Extortion: How Politicians Extract Your Money, Buy Votes, and Line Their Own Pockets, by Peter Schweizer

Extortion: How Politicians Extract Your Money, Buy Votes, and Line Their Own Pockets, by Peter Schweizer. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013. 250 pp. $27 (hardcover).
Many people, from all sectors of the political spectrum, believe our government is bought and paid for by corporations. Fat-cat businessmen, in this view, bribe politicians. They donate cash to politicians’ campaigns, and in return politicians grant them special favors: bailouts, subsidies, protection from competition, and the like. Money, according to this line of thinking, corrupts politics.
This view contains an element of truth. Some businessmen do seek special favors from government. But that is only a small part of the story. In Extortion: How Politicians Extract Your Money, Buy Votes, and Line Their Own Pockets, Peter Schweizer points out, “We have focused on the buyers of influence (those outside special interests), but paid little heed to the sellers of influence—bureaucrats and politicians” (2). “What if the problem,” Schweizer asks, “is not bribery . . . but extortion” (2)?
If so, the idea that money corrupts politics is backward. Rather, Schweizer argues, “Politics is corrupting money” (1–2). The politicians and bureaucrats, not the corporations, are pulling the strings.

Martin Anderson Remembered

Friends of freedom have lost a friend. Martin Anderson, 78, a Hoover Institution scholar and policy advisor to presidents, has passed away. Among his achievements were helping to eliminate the military draft and heading off a national ID card.
Anderson was a life-long fighter for freedom. From the 1960s he was part of Ayn Rand’s New York circle and he helped make real the principles of individual liberty and limited that she espoused.
In his 1964 book The Federal Bulldozer: A Critical Analysis of Urban Renewal, 1942-1962 Anderson demonstrated how government policy was actually destroying affordable housing and at huge taxpayer expense.

Was Ayn Rand Wrong on Reagan?

Edward Hudgins shutterstock_177028802.jpgHardcore anti-Communist Ayn Rand was, to the surprise of many who did not live through those days, not a fan of hardcore anti-Communist Ronald Reagan. But Rand died in 1982, only a year into Reagan’s presidency. So on the occasion of his birthday, let’s ask why Rand didn’t like Reagan and whether, if she had lived, she would have reevaluated her opinion of the Gipper.

Fear of the Religious Right
Rand found strong fault principally with Reagan’s alliance with the emerging Religious Right. She said that “the appalling disgrace of his administration was his connection with the so-called ‘Moral Majority’ and sundry other TV religionists, who are struggling, apparently with his approval, to take us back to the Middle Ages via the unconstitutional union of religion and politics.” Most notably, Rand rejected Reagan’s opposition to legal abortion.

Schumpeter’s Innovators

But today marks the birthday of another world-changing leader in the annals of liberty, Joseph Schumpeter, born on February 8th, 1883.
1943 HarvardAlbum Schumpeter e1444474319832No one did more to create the popular imageof the heroic entrepreneur than the Moravia-born economist Joseph Schumpeter (1883-1950), who was for many years aprofessor of economics at Harvard University.
Best known for his book Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy (1942), Schumpeter wrote that: “Capitalism, then, is by nature a form or method of economic change and not only never is but never can be stationary.  The fundamental impulse that sets and keeps the capitalist engine in motion comes from the new consumers’ goods, the new methods of production or transportation, the new markets, the new forms of industrial organization that capitalist enterprise creates.”

This endless generation of new goods and services and methods means, at the same time, the continual elimination of old goods and services and methods. From these observations came Schumpeter’s most famous statement: “This process of Creative Destruction is the essential fact about capitalism. It is what capitalism consists in and what every capitalist concern has got to live in.”

A Randian Rockstar: KISS’ Gene Simmons

Ayn Rand rocks.
That’s the attitude of KISS frontman Gene Simmons, an autodidact who immigrated from Israel when he was 8, and who leaned on his own creative drive to become one of the most successful entertainers of his era.
simmons_and_rand_small_rgb.jpg "When I first came to America, I used to go to the library every day after school. I couldn't believe that all of the knowledge of mankind was available to somebody who [was] not even from America," he said. "So if I had access to all the knowledge that the rich and the powerful have, why is it anybody else's responsibility for me to do well?"
Just like Ayn Rand, who changed her birth name -- Alissa Rosenbaum -- after emigrating to America, Simmons started life as Chaim Weitz, born in Haifa, Israel. His mother was a Holocaust survivor. And after their arrival in the U.S., minus his father, the family struggled. But Simmons committed himself to education from Richmond College in New York, as a way to move up and out. He received a bachelor's degree in education and later taught 6th grade in New York City. His other unique early jobs including stints at Glamour and Vogue, where he was an editorial assistant. He became a scholar—of life, of music and designing his own life on his own terms.

Watergate Reruns: The Campaign to Overturn the Election

What I call the “Not Our President Elite” (NOPE) believes that a frighteningly ignorant, bigoted, and distinctly inferior America—not the America of NOPE—elected Donald Trump. Defeated in the election, not only for President, but for control of Congress and statehouses nationwide, NOPE must save America by reversing the election. There is a precedent for it and NOPE remembers it.
NOPE is an increasingly coordinated movement of news media, left-leaning groups, and legions of ideologues of today’s New (“Postmodernist”) Left that is pursuing two strategies for clawing back political power after the 2016 election. The strategies emerged from no “conspiracy”; in fact, they are classic means of “destabilizing” governments when an election’s losers refuse to accept the verdict.
The first is to create a permanent sense of crisis by histrionically portraying every initiative of the Trump administration as warranting nationwide resistance. 

Is Homosexuality Moral?

D. Moskovitz

Question: Is it moral to be homosexual? and what is Objectivism's view of homosexuality?
Answer: While Ayn Rand did consider homosexuality to be immoral, this was only her personal view. The morality of homosexuality is not a philosophical issue per se, but one can use Objectivist principles to evaluate the morality of homosexuality in any given situation. The essence of the Objectivist position is this: Homosexuality can be a moral issue only to the extent that it is a matter of choice. Scientific evidence shows that, in many cases, people don't choose their sexual orientations—it is in their natures to prefer sexual relations with members of the same sex, members of the opposite sex, or both. On the other hand, people can choose whether to act in accordance with their natures, and since sex is essential to man's life and happiness, this is a moral issue. It is morally right for people to act in accordance with their natures, whether heterosexual, homosexual, or anything in-between.

Gold, Money, and the Great Depression

Gold, Money, and the Great Depression

What caused the Great Depression? There’s no shortage of popular theories. Some say it was an inevitable consequence of capitalism. Others claim it was the big stock market crash of October 1929 that started it. Yet another hypothesis says that the 1930 Smoot-Hawley Tariff, highest in U.S. history, turned a recession into a depression.
Depression Bread Line
Source: Bain News Service
All these explanations are false. Economists have come to a near-consensus on the causes of the Great Depression, because the evidence closely fits a monetary explanation. This explanation essentially combines findings from Milton Friedman and Anna Schwartz’s 1963 book Monetary History of the United States and Barry Eichengreen’s 1992 book Golden Fetters, which adds an international dimension to the Friedman and Schwartz story.
Federal Reserve mismanagement caused the U.S. economy to turn from the “roaring Twenties” to a sharp recession in 1929-1930. Check out this chart of U.S. money supply growth from Barry Eichengreen’s article, “The Origins and Nature of the Great Slump Revisited.”

“Thanksgiving, Ethics, and Economics” or “Why The Lesson of Plymouth Plantation Lasts Longer Than One Day in November”

“Thanksgiving, Ethics, and Economics” or “Why The Lesson of Plymouth Plantation Lasts Longer Than One Day in November”

On December 9, 2015, as students reconvened with E3NE following their Thanksgiving break, we decided to reflect on history, and how it provides lessons in ethics and economics.
But first we needed to define a few terms, and keep our eyes peeled for a few others that would be important for the future and intellectual growth.
I asked the students to write what they believed to be the definitions of “morals” and “ethics”. Are morals subjective, or universal? How does that translate to ethics? Also, what are “rights”, and how do the concepts of ethics and social order/interaction have bearings on the concept of “rights”?
With these questions laid out, we went around the class to explore the answers, concluding that since human beings are subjective creatures, our morals are, by association, subjective. But ethics… Ahh, that could be a different thing. We discussed that there is a famous adage about morals and ethics: “Morality is knowing (internally) that it is wrong to cheat on a spouse. Ethics is making sure one does not.” The difference here is clear: Morality is internal, and ethics are the external manifestation of our subjective morals in practice.

A tribute to Congressman Louis Thomas McFadden

A tribute to Congressman Louis Thomas McFadden
Image result for louis thomas mcfadden assassination
     Louis Thomas McFadden was born in Troy, Bradford County, Pennsylvania on October 1, 1876. He attended public schools and a commercial college.  At sixteen he took a job as office boy in the First National Bank in Canton, Pennsylvania, a small town near his birthplace.  Seven years later he was a cashier, and in 1916 he became the president of the bank.  Meanwhile, in 1898 he had married Helen Westgate of Canton, by whom he had three children: two sons and one daughter.  His political career began in 1914 when he was elected to Congress as Republican representative from the 15th district.  In 1920, he was appointed chairman of the influential House committee on Banking and Currency, a position he held until 1931.  
     McFadden's later career was marked by violent criticism of his party's financial policies.  Opposition to the Hoover moratorium on war debts led him to propose to the House on 12-13-1932 that the President be impeached.  He bitterly attacked the governors of the Federal Reserve Board for "having caused the greatest depression we have ever known".  Both the President and the Board, he was convinced, were conspiring with the "international" bankers to ruin the country.  He lost his seat to a Democrat in 1934, although two years previously he had had the support of the Republican, Democratic and Prohibition parties.  He died in 1936 while on a visit in new York City.

Farm Jobs and the "Lump of Labor" Fallacy

Andy Puzder was one of the few Trump appointees that I sort of liked (I say "sort of", because even he had ethical issues.) He was pro-immigration and anti-minimum wage. But in the end even many conservatives opposed him so he withdrew his name from consideration for Labor Secretary.
Reihan Salam was one of the conservative opponents of Andy Puzder:
Puzder has also been an influential critic of minimum-wage hikes and overtime regulations, warning that such measures would force employers to replace low-wage workers with machines. He seems animated by the Luddite conviction that productivity-boosting automation is necessarily a bad thing, despite the fact that rising productivity levels are essential to wage growth.

The assassination of Kim Jong-nam and the multifaceted threat of North Korea

Want More Jobs? Ban Power Tools

In a 1992 WSJ op-ed (“Help the Economy: Destroy Some Jobs”) featured last August on CD, economist Richard McKenzie criticized the misguided obsession with what he referred to as “jobism the modern public-policy philosophy that mistakenly focuses on of the number of jobs as being the “key measure of a country’s economic success or failure.” Here’s a key excerpt of Professor McKenzie’s op-ed:
Job creation (and protection) is a favored goal of our leaders because it appeals to existing political interests and is seductively misleading and counterproductive. It is also one of the easiest goals to achieve. To create or protect jobs, all Congress has to do is to obstruct progress and kill or retard opportunities for competitiveness and entrepreneurial spirit.

One Does Not Simply Eliminate Global Supply Chains

Peter Navarro, the head of President Trump’s new National Trade Council, gave a puzzling interview to the Financial Times. First, according to the FT, economist Navarro claimed Germany is using a “grossly undervalued” euro to “exploit” the United States. Yes, the euro has weakened against the dollar over the past two years. And maybe it is undervalued vs. economic fundamentals. But one factor driving that weakening has been the divergent policies of the Fed and the ECB.
The FT:  “The European Central Bank’s mass bond-buying programme has weakened the single currency, while rate hikes by the US Fed have strengthened the dollar.” What’s more, inflation-phobic Germany has been critical of the ECB strategy with German politicians, much like Republicans in the US calling for higher interest rates.
But if those remarks were somewhat bewildering, this from Navarro may raise alarm:

Is This Deregulation or Blackmail?

Trump’s statement that, “I think we can cut regulation by 75%, maybe more” is hugely welcome. Plus, the Trump administration issued an executive order proclaiming: “whenever an executive department or agency (agency) publicly proposes for notice and comment or otherwise promulgates a new regulation, it shall identify at least two existing regulations to be repealed.”

That looks pretty good on paper, though any clever deep-state dweller could easily find a rhetorical workaround. 
What kind of regulation does the Trump administration favor?
But think about it. If an executive order really has the power to perform statutory miracles, why leave the door open for any new regulations? Just urge the repeal of regulations, period. Goodness knows we need it. Everything and everybody suffers from the preposterous overregulation of every aspect of life.