Category Archives: Opinion

Confessions of an optionality maximizer

Source: Jacob ex Machina
by Jacob Lyles

"I confess, I am an optionality maximizer. When life gives me a choice, I habitually choose the path that leaves open the most future possibilities. I am a qubit that refuses read 1 or 0, a cat that refuses to be dead or alive. In college, I chose my majors (Economics and Mathematics) based on my estimation of which would leave open the most career prospects, thereby delaying the time for choosing. In my spare time, I am acquainted with many hobbies, but I am a master of none of them. To invest my time in one hobby would mean to give up the possibility of pursuing greatness at another. So I find myself a mediocre writer, a mediocre guitar player, a mediocre painter, and an okay counselor with okay physical fitness. I meditate far more than the modal human but far less than anyone who dedicates serious time to it. Yes, the bane of the optionality maximizer is dedication or commitment." (04/23/17)

Tax reform: Two places to start

Source: Garrison Center
by Thomas L Knapp

"An anonymous announcement of a forthcoming public announcement: On April 26, an anonymous White House source says, the Trump administration 'will outline our broad principles and priorities …. We are moving forward on comprehensive tax reform that cuts tax rates for individuals, simplifies our overly-complicated system and creates jobs by making American businesses competitive.' That sounds very nice. But given the administration’s previously revealed 'principles and priorities,' it’s reasonable to expect a heaping helping of economically dumb protectionist tinkering floating atop a billowing cloud of hot air. If Trump, his administration, and congressional Republicans were serious about real tax reform (they aren’t, but if they were), I’d expect to see two major initial proposals: A measure increasing the 'personal exemption' to the federal income tax once a year, every year, automatically, and a 'FICA floor' that likewise increases each year." (04/22/17)

The new age of Ayn Rand? Ha!

Source: Notablog
by Chris Matthew Sciabarra

"I've been reading a number of essays online about the alleged 'New Age of Ayn Rand,' and the authors typically give us a list of folks in the administration of Donald Trump and in the legislative and judicial branches of government who are supposedly Rand 'acolytes.' Two essays come to mind: Jonathan Freedland's Guardian piece, 'The New Age of Ayn Rand: How She Won Over Trump and Silicon Valley' and the far better piece by Thu-Huong Ha in Quartz, 'US Repubican leaders love Ayn Rand's controversial philosophy — and are increasingly misinterpreting it.' Freedland goes on and on about how Rand's 'particularly hardcore brand of free-market fundamentalism' is 'having a moment,' reflected in views expressed by Speaker Paul Ryan, former Presidential candidate Ron Paul, and his Senator son Rand Paul, and a host of folks in the Trump administration, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Labor Secretary Andy Puzder, and even Donald Trump himself, who once said something nice about Rand's novel, The Fountainhead." (04/22/17)

State governments are becoming the biggest drug lords of all

Source: Independent Institute
by Robert Higgs

"[S]tates that are 'liberalizing' their marijuana laws are not doing so by simply repealing existing laws that make the possession, distribution, and production of these products illegal. Instead, the states are creating a complex regime of control, regulation, and taxation. By these expedients, state governments are in effect responding to the public’s growing opposition to the old regime of arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment by creating a legalized arrangement in which the governments themselves will rig the markets and skim off a large part of the earnings of sellers via fees and taxation. Thus, the state governments are turning themselves into de facto landlords of drug-dealer sharecroppers: the producers that grow, process, and sell marijuana will be required to pay the government what amounts to a share of the income." (04/21/17)

Workplace smoking

Source: Future of Freedom Foundation
by Laurence M Vance

"[R]egardless of how unhealthy smoking is, regardless of how many people die from smoking-related diseases, and regardless of how successful Florida’s TFF program is, some important questions must still be answered about the proper role of government: 1. Is it the proper role of government to educate people about the health risks of smoking? 2. Is it the proper role of government to persuade people to quit smoking? 3. Is it the proper role of government to help people to quit smoking? From a libertarian perspective, the answer, of course, is a resounding 'no' to all three questions." (04/21/17)

The only solution to the Trumps' conflicts of interest

Source: Libertarian Institute
by Sheldon Richman

"The heart of the potential for conflicts of interests is not the Trumps’ business empire. Rather it’s presidential power to steer benefits to particular interests. So the surest way to eliminate the potential for conflicts is to eliminate the president’s power to steer benefits to anyone. This would include not only favors granted by executive action but also those that a president can push through Congress. Here we have an analogy with campaign finance. Those who fret over that issue don’t want to understand that no one would make mega-contributions to candidates if officeholders had no favors to sell. Who shops where there’s nothing to buy? By the same token, no one will do favors for a presidential daughter if the president has nothing to bestow in return. If politicians could not impose trade restrictions (and therefore could not selectively lift them either) or provide foreign aid or grant any of the other favors the government today can grant, we wouldn’t have to worry about conflicts of interest. Of course, the people who do worry are the same ones who think the government should have the power to do all those things — and more.

Technology, sharing, and regulation

Source: Heartland Institute
by Daniel Sutter

"Police in cities where Uber is illegal have tried sting operations to catch drivers, but have been frequently 'greyballed,' as reported by the New York Times. Uber’s technology does not just suspend the account of a questionable rider. Instead, it lets the rider line up a ride, but then cancels the ride. The same thing happens again if the rider puts in another request. The technology has been adept at identifying law enforcement accounts. Greyballing has helped Uber enter new markets without permission and build up loyal riders, who then push for legalization The company has admitted to and agreed to stop using greyballing to evade law enforcement where its service is not legal. Before condemning the technology, Uber has good reasons to block certain people from hailing rides." (04/23/17)

My mother taught me the basics

Source: The Price of Liberty
by MamaLiberty

"My mother taught me everything I really needed to know about being a good person and living a good life. After reading the gist of a lot of the 'news' this morning (I can only stand for so much), I thought I’d share her lessons with you." (04/21/17)

Why the US is a bigger threat than North Korea

Source: In These Times
by Vijay Prashad

"Amnesia is the mode of thought in the United States. Cluelessness about its belligerent history is now general. It would sound strange to ask why the North Koreans feel such palpable threat from the United States. Odd to raise the fact that it was the United States that brutally bombed North Korea in the 1950s, targeting its towns and cities as well as farms and dams. The data is inescapable. The United States dropped 635,000 tons of bombs on North Korea. This includes 32,557 tons of napalm—essentially a chemical weapon. As a comparison, it is fitting to see that in all of the Pacific sector of World War II, the United States dropped a mere 503,000 tons of bombs. The United States, in other words, dropped more bombs on North Korea during the ill-named 'limited war' than it dropped during the entire engagement against Japan during World War II. Three million Koreans died in that war, the majority in the North. North Korea has never attacked the United States." [editor's note: This should be read by anyone concerned about the "Korea threat" – SAT] (04/21/17)

Little Creep

Source: National Review
by Kevin D Williamson

"Chelsea Clinton, most recently lionized on the cover of Vanity Fair, is a 37-year-old multi-millionaire who has never uttered an interesting word about any subject at any time during the course of her life. Judging from the evidence of her public statements, she has never had an original thought — it isn’t clear that she has had a thought at all. In tribute to her parents, she was given a series of lucrative sinecures, producing a smattering of sophomoric videos for NBC at a salary of $600,000 a year. She later went more formally into the family business, leaving her fake job at NBC for a fake job in her parents’ fake charity. … since her mother’s most recent foray into ignominious defeat, she has been inescapable: magazine covers, fawning interviews, talk of running her in New York’s 17th congressional district. The Democrats are doing their best to make Chelsea happen. And, who knows, it might work." (04/23/17)