The “Battle of Berkeley” Is a Bad Sign for Liberty – Article by Dan Sanchez

The “Battle of Berkeley” Is a Bad Sign for Liberty – Article by Dan Sanchez

The New Renaissance Hat
Dan Sanchez
******************************

Just how close are we to repeating the political violence of interwar Germany? How bad is it, and how bad can it get?

Populist-right demonstrators and radical-left protesters clashed in Berkeley, California, on April 16, 2017. The belligerents used such weapons as fists, feet, rocks, pepper spray, smoke bombs, barricades, and a trash dumpster/battering ram. There was one reported non-lethal stabbing.

At one point, the left-radicals ill-advisedly threw a smoke bomb while they themselves were standing downwind. The smoke wafted back in their faces causing them to flee. Today, right-populists are crowing online about having “won the Battle of Berkeley,” because, after a concerted charge, they managed to seize and hold a major downtown street.

Berkeley has become a favorite battleground for these budding political street warriors. Two months ago, a scheduled speech at UC Berkeley by Alt-Right darling Milo Yiannopoulos speech was canceled due to riots, arson, and assaults on Milo-supporters. Weeks later, a “March 4 Trump” was held off-campus in Berkeley, and this too was attacked by militant leftists, using metal pipes, baseball bats, two-by-fours, and bricks.

Yesterday, the occasion was another pro-Trump rally in Berkeley celebrating “Patriot’s Day.” As usual, it was the leftists who were the main instigators. That doesn’t alter the fact that these gradually-escalating street conflicts signal a two-pronged threat to liberty.

Nationalists Versus Communists

The brawls seem like a half-hearted, semi-play-acting reenactment of the street fights of Germany’s Spartacist uprising of 1919. The “Spartacists” were Marxist insurgents who sought to overthrow the new Weimar government, take power themselves, and expropriate the bourgeoisie. The government, which itself was made up of milder Marxists, relied on nationalist militias called Freikorps to crush the uprising. Then, as yesterday, nationalists trounced communists in the streets. Yet this did not yield a happy ending.

As Ludwig von Mises points out in Omnipotent Government, when the Freikorps first arose, they were modeled after the armed bands of communist revolutionaries that they would later suppress.

“The November Revolution brought a resurgence of a phenomenon that had long before disappeared from German history. Military adventurers formed armed bands or Freikorps and acted on their own behalf. The communist revolutionaries had inaugurated this method, but soon the nationalists adopted and perfected it. Dismissed officers of the old army called together demobilized soldiers and maladjusted boys and offered their protection to the peasants menaced by raids of starving townsfolk and to the population of the eastern frontiers suffering from Polish and Lithuanian guerrilla invasions. The landlords and the farmers provided them in return for their services with food and shelter.”

The Freikorps, like today’s budding right-wing street militias, arose in response to leftist aggression. That didn’t make them any less dangerous. Mises continued:

“When the condition which had made their interference appear useful changed these gangs began to blackmail and to extort money from landowners, businessmen, and other wealthy people. They became a public calamity. The government did not dare to dissolve them. Some of the bands had fought bravely against the communists. Others had successfully defended the eastern provinces against the Poles and Lithuanians. They boasted of these achievements, and the nationalist youth did not conceal their sympathy for them.”

The Road to Nuremberg

These Freikorps were then integrated into the army, and the problem of rival armed bands subsided for a while, although it did not disappear. As Mises wrote:

“War and civil war, and the revolutionary mentality of the Marxians and of the nationalists, had created such a spirit of brutality that the political parties gave their organizations a military character. Both the nationalist Right and the Marxian Left had their armed forces. These party troops were, of course, entirely different “from the free corps formed by nationalist hotspurs and by communist radicals. Their members were people who had their regular jobs and were busy from Monday to Saturday noon. On weekends they would don their uniforms and parade with brass bands, flags, and often with their firearms. They were proud of their membership in these associations but they were not eager to fight; they were not animated by a spirit of aggression. Their existence, their parades, their boasting, and the challenging speeches of their chiefs were a nuisance but not a serious menace to domestic peace.

After the failure of the revolutionary attempts of Kapp in March, 1920, that of Hitler and Ludendorff in November, 1923, and of various communist uprisings, of which the most important was the Holz riot in March, 1921, Germany was on the way back to normal conditions. The free corps and the communist gangs began slowly to disappear from the political stage. They still waged some guerrilla warfare with each other and against the police. But these fights degenerated more and more into gangsterism and rowdyism. Such riots and the plots of a few adventurers could not endanger the stability of the social order.” [Emphasis added.]

But then, feeling threatened by the continued existence and activity of nationalist armed bands, the embattled socialist government created a new armed force consisting of loyal Marxists. As Mises explains, this caused many in the public to throw their support behind Adolf Hitler’s personal militia, the Nazi Storm Troopers.

“But these Storm Troopers were very different from the other armed party forces both of the Left and of the Right. Their members were not elderly men who had fought in the first World War and who now were eager to hold their jobs in order to support their families. The Nazi Storm Troopers were, as the free corps had been, jobless boys who made a living from their fighting. They were available at every hour of every day, not merely on weekends and holidays. It was doubtful whether the party forces—either of the Left or the Right—would be ready to fight when seriously attacked. It was certain that they would never be ready to wage a campaign of aggression. But Hitler’s troops were pugnacious; they were professional brawlers. They would have fought for their Führer in a bloody civil war if the opponents of Nazism had not yielded without resistance in 1933.” [Emphasis added.]

And the rest is History Channel programming. Once in power, the nationalist brawlers proved to be just as deadly foes to liberty as the communists they trounced in the streets and drove from power.

It’s Never Too Early to De-Escalate

We’re a long way from Weimar. The Alt-Knight and his merry band are a far cry from the brutal Storm Troopers. And the black-clad waifs of Antifa are a pale shadow of the homicidal Spartacists. In fact, there is distinctly ridiculous and even comical vibe to the scuffles, which the late, great Will Grigg aptly described as “political cosplay.” But these things have a way of escalating. The foot soldiers of the Spartacists and Storm Troopers may have gone through a harmless, posturing early phase as well. As Grigg wrote:

“…through political cosplay people can become habituated into thinking in eliminationist terms: The “other side” is not merely gravely mistaken, but irreducibly evil, and since reason is unavailing the only option that remains is slaughter.”

He also warned:

Unlike the wholesale violence that our country saw in the late 1960s and early 1970s, contemporary street-level political conflict is heavy on posturing and pretense and light on actual bloodshed – but it does whet degenerate appetites that will grow to dangerous proportions as times get leaner and meaner.

Just as the right-populists were not content to accept their “defeat” in the First Battle of Berkeley, the left-radicals will not just lick their wounds after the Third Battle of Berkeley. The right is reporting chatter among the left of bringing firearms next time. Such militarization will only breed more polarization and radicalization on the left and the right, both which are driven by a desire to wield state power. And it will provide the police state with a welcome excuse to further assault our already-decimated liberties.

The left-wing combatants claim to be anarchists, and yet are furthering centralized power. The right-wing combatants claim to be for liberty, and yet are putting liberty in danger. If these conflicts continue to escalate, no matter which side “wins,” liberty will lose.

EDIT (4/18/17): Some of the interesting responses to this article made me realize one of the key problems. Too many people are more anti-leftists and anti-communists than they are anti-leftism and anti-communism. For them, it’s more about the enemy tribes that hold pernicious ideas than the pernicious ideas themselves. This breeds a tribal warfare mentality that will only make things worse.

dan-sanchez

Dan Sanchez

Dan Sanchez is Managing Editor of FEE.org. His writings are collected at DanSanchez.me.

This article was originally published on FEE.org and may be freely distributed, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which requires that credit be given to the author. Read the original article.

Will the Trump Administration Overdose on Authoritarianism? – Article by Ron Paul

Will the Trump Administration Overdose on Authoritarianism? – Article by Ron Paul

The New Renaissance HatRon Paul
******************************

Last week Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered federal prosecutors in drug cases to seek the maximum penalty authorized by federal mandatory minimum sentencing laws. Sessions’s order represents a setback to the progress made toward restoring compassion and common sense to the sentencing process over the past few years. Sessions’s action also guarantees that many nonviolent drug-law offenders will continue spending more time in prison than murderers.

Sessions’s support for mandatory minimums is no surprise, as he has a history of fanatical devotion to the drug war. Sessions’s pro-drug-war stance is at odds with the reality of the drug war’s failure. Over forty years after President Nixon declared war on drugs, the government cannot even keep drugs out of prisons!

As was the case with alcohol prohibition, the drug war has empowered criminal gangs and even terrorists to take advantage of the opportunity presented by prohibition to profit by meeting the continued demand for drugs. Drug prohibition enables these criminal enterprises to make profits far above the potential profits if drugs where legalized. Ironically, the so-called “law-and-order” politicians who support the drug war are helping enrich the very criminals they claim to oppose!

The war on drugs also makes street drugs more lethal by incentivizing the creation of more potent and, thus, more dangerous drugs. Of course, even as Sessions himself admits, the war on drugs also leads to increased violence, as drug dealers cannot go to the courts to settle disputes among themselves or with their customers.

Before 9/11, the war on drugs was the go-to excuse used to justify new infringements on liberty. For example, laws limiting our ability to withdraw, or even carry, large sums of cash and laws authorizing civil asset forfeiture were justified by the need to crack down on drug dealers and users. The war on drugs is also the root cause of the criminal justice system’s disparate treatment of minorities and the militarization of local police.

The war on drugs is a war on the Constitution as well. The Constitution does not give the federal government authority to regulate, much less ban, drugs. People who doubt this should ask themselves why it was necessary to amend the Constitution to allow the federal government to criminalize drinking alcohol but not necessary to amend the Constitution to criminalize drug use.

Today, a majority of states have legalized medical marijuana, and a growing number are legalizing recreational marijuana use. Enforcement of federal laws outlawing marijuana in those states is the type of federal interference with state laws that conservatives usually oppose. Hopefully, in this area the Trump administration will exercise restraint and respect state marijuana laws.

Sessions’s announcement was not the only pro-drug-war announcement made by the administration this week. President Trump himself, in a meeting with the president of Colombia, promised to continue US intervention in South and Central America to eliminate drug cartels. President Trump, like his attorney general, seems to not understand that the rise of foreign drug cartels, like the rise of domestic drug gangs, is a consequence of US drug policy.

The use of government force to stop adults from putting certain substances into their bodies — whether marijuana, saturated fats, or raw milk — violates the nonaggression principle that is the bedrock of a free society. Therefore, all those who care about protecting individual liberty and limiting government power should support ending the drug war. Those with moral objections to drug use should realize that education and persuasion, carried out through voluntary institutions like churches and schools, is a more moral and effective way to discourage drug use than relying on government force.

Ron Paul, MD, is a former three-time Republican candidate for U. S. President and Congressman from Texas.

This article is reprinted with permission from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

He Was a Middle-School Loan Shark – Article by Jeffrey A. Tucker

He Was a Middle-School Loan Shark – Article by Jeffrey A. Tucker

The New Renaissance HatJeffrey A. Tucker
******************************

It came out in passing last night, in discussions with a smart 17-year old, that he got in deep trouble in middle school. He was accused of loan sharking, and forced to do detention.

See if you think there is anything wrong with what he did.

The middle-school cafeteria had candy machines. Every candy cost a dollar. My friend carried extra ones with him. He would buy candy, and immediately people would ask if he could loan them money. He did. More and more people asked. He continued to loan people money, and only some would pay him back. His charity was losing him money.

So he had an idea. He would loan anyone a dollar. However, the next day they had to pay him two dollars. This was great because it weeded out people who were not serious about their candy needs, and got rid of those who had no intention of paying him back. His idea helped to ration his scarce resources. It had the additional advantage of making him some money, which incentivized him to make funds available.

Everyone was happy. He made money. They got their candy. Most everyone paid him back. If he began the week with $5, he ended the week with $10. This was nice. No one was hurt.

If a person was late in paying, he added an additional dollar for each day. Otherwise, why would people pay sooner rather than later? So if you borrowed one dollar on Monday, and didn’t pay until Friday, you would owe $5.

Of course he did have to start keeping books on who borrowed from him. He would sometimes have to hunt them down the next day. Sometimes people need gentle reminders, of course. Mostly people paid.

He was also rather merciful. Once a person got behind by three full weeks. She technically owed $15 on a $1 loan. He came to her and said, “let’s settle this debt today. I’ll take $10 and we can call it even.” She was relieved and happily paid.

My friend was making lots of money. And why? Because many students wanted candy and failed to make the proper financial preparations to purchase it. He was there to facilitate an exchange. They would get candy now, which is what they wanted, and he would be rewarded for anticipating their desires.

So far, I see nothing wrong with this at all.

However, you could express this in more severe terms. People often criticized payday loans for charging an annual percentage rate of 100-700%. Scandalous, right?

Well, think about the rate my friend was charging. It turns out to be 26,000%, based on $1 per weekday.

Keep in mind that we are talking about a 13-year old kid here. This is not exactly a member of the Medici banking family here. He was just trying to help people with a two-party win.

But as his financial holdings grew, and his practices became more formalized, his business became ever more lucrative. That’s when news of his empire began to leak to teachers and parents.

Predictably, there was mass outrage. He was hauled in and accused of “loan sharking.” There was a trial. He was declared guilty. He was put on detention and humiliated publicly.

Once he was out of the picture, kids no longer had any means of getting financing for their candy fixes. They just stood in front of the machines staring blankly. It’s hard to see how the overall middle-school economy was improved by this crackdown.

The response of the parents and teachers was a typical example of mob behavior against intelligent capitalist practices. It’s been going on for hundreds of years, particularly hurting people who make money with their minds through financial savvy.

This was the basis of anti-Semitism from the Middles Ages through the Nazi period, since, as Milton Friedman has explained, Jews have traditionally specialized in the enterprise of money-lending.

And it goes on today, with all the frenzy against usury, payday loans, pawn shops, and so on. Even the Occupy movement sampled some of this populist outrage against money-making.

Damnant quod non intellegunt. They condemn what they do not understand.

Jeffrey Tucker is Director of Content for the Foundation for Economic Education. He is also Chief Liberty Officer and founder of Liberty.me, Distinguished Honorary Member of Mises Brazil, research fellow at the Acton Institute, policy adviser of the Heartland Institute, founder of the CryptoCurrency Conference, member of the editorial board of the Molinari Review, an advisor to the blockchain application builder Factom, and author of five books. He has written 150 introductions to books and many thousands of articles appearing in the scholarly and popular press.

This article was published by The Foundation for Economic Education and may be freely distributed, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which requires that credit be given to the author. Read the original article.

Can We Take Back Our Election Process and Make the Parties Listen to Us? – Article by Tom DeWeese

Can We Take Back Our Election Process and Make the Parties Listen to Us? – Article by Tom DeWeese

The New Renaissance HatTom DeWeese
******************************

The clamor is growing louder every day. “They don’t listen.” “We have no real choice of candidates.” “The system is rigged for the elite.” “There’s no difference between the two parties.”

You hear it every election. Endless talk about the need to create jobs, build the economy, make the nation a “better place to live for our families,” and, my favorite – “restore trust!”  Who’s not for those wonderful things?! The slogans work for Democrat and Republican alike. These so-called issues are interchangeable. They are, in fact, nothing more than empty rhetoric.

Meanwhile, do we hear a discussion about our money becoming more worthless every day from federal-government spending and rampant inflation? What about the destruction of our education system as it is used for behavior modification while true academics are eliminated for the curriculum? Does any candidate dare mention the hopelessness taking over our inner cities as federal welfare policies are enslaving whole generations to the ever-expanding government plantation? And of course there is the fear campaign in every city in the nation about the need to control development and population, leading to the utter destruction of private property.

None of these issues are ever mentioned in local, state, or federal campaigns. Any candidate who tries is immediately labeled an extremist!

So our political parties choose for us candidates that are “acceptable,” middle-of-the road, not rocking the boat, and not too extreme. In short, we are forced to choose the lesser of two evils. Election after election the drone goes on. And what are we to do? These are the candidates those in charge have chosen for us for city council, county commission, state legislature, Congress, and President. Yes, we have primaries to choose, but I think we all know those are pretty much rigged to assure the powers in charge get whom they want – just ask Bernie Sanders.

Is it any wonder that there are millions of Americans who don’t vote or participate in our nation’s debate because they think it doesn’t matter anyway? The “average voter” increasingly feels that the decisions have been made for them.

Those who hold conservative points of view that our nation should live within the Constitution now believe socialism is inevitable, so why bother going to the polls?

The poor think they are simply pawns in a vice grip between big money and special interests which control the elections. Why bother? Helplessness now rules the world’s greatest representative democracy. As people stay home or trudge to the polls to unenthusiastically vote for the next lesser of two evils, 93% of incumbents are routinely returned to office – year after year after year.

The instant a candidate is elected and joins the ranks of the incumbents, he/she begins the dance. Get the money for the next campaign. How? Special-interest groups, corporations, and foreign interests flood into their offices to make deals, promote their personal agendas, and show the way to fame, fortune, and perpetual office – if only the incumbents go along. They have the whole process well in hand. Campaigns become little more than big PR projects, promoted in positive platitudes, specifically designed to assure nothing negative sticks. Just get through it and keep the gravy train running.

Above all, do not talk about controversial subjects like dollar values, global trade, or immigration; just stick to issues like health care and the environment – coincidentally, two issues bought and paid for by the special interests. See how it works?

So year after year, we officially hold elections and politicians pontificate about how our going to the polls is a revered right, a valued tradition, the underpinning of a free society. And they wonder why there is such division in the nation. How did we end up in such a mess? We voted for these guys. But did we enjoy it? Are we satisfied with the results? Would we like to demand a do-over?

So is it hopeless? Is there any way to change it? Do you want the people to, again, have control of the election process and of the choice of candidates offered? Do you want to force the power elites to listen to you? I’ve got a solution.

Don’t despair. Don’t give up. There is a logical, effective way out of this. But it won’t happen by depending on political parties to lead the way. We have to take things into our own hands. We need an effective, binding form of protest to say “NO” to bad candidates. There is such a way.

Imagine going into the voting booth and looking down the list of candidates offered. None really appeal. None seem to offer satisfaction as an answer to the issues that concern you. If only there was something else you could do. A write-in won’t help. It would take such a difficult, expensive effort. It rarely works.

Then you look further down the ballot. Something new. It says “NONE OF THE ABOVE.” It’s a final choice after each of the candidates in every category, from president, to congress to city council. What does it mean?

It means you have the power to decide who will hold office – not the power brokers. When the votes are tallied, if “NONE OF THE ABOVE” gets a majority of votes over any of the candidates listed, then “NONE OF THE ABOVE” wins. And that means none of those candidates will win the office. The office will remain vacant until a new election is held. To set up another election and fill the spot would work exactly like the process provided in the Constitution when an incumbent dies or resigns, and a special election is held. Now new candidates will have to try to win the public’s support.

Fixing the election process could be that simple. You, the voter, would be completely in the driver’s seat with the power to reject candidates, forcing a new election with new choices. The political parties would be forced to provide candidates the people want — or face being rejected. They would have to talk about real issues – or face being rejected. Incumbents would have to answer for their actions in office – or face being rejected. “NONE OF THE ABOVE.” Period. The power of labor unions and international corporations would be broken.

Think of the consequences. No longer would voters have to settle for the lesser of two evils. If all the candidates are bad – none would be able to force their way into office. It would mean that powerful special interests could no longer rely on their money to buy elections. They could buy all the ads they wanted, spend millions on “volunteers” going door to door and sling their dirt, but if the voters aren’t buying, none of it will save their candidate from being rejected by “NONE OF THE ABOVE.”

Moreover, the power of entrenched incumbents who have been unbeatable because of their massive war chests and party ties would be broken. Picture John McCain or Nancy Pelosi unable to run for office because they were rejected by “NONE OF THE ABOVE.”

However, in order to work, “NONE OF THE ABOVE” would have to be binding. It would have to have the power of law behind it. It cannot be just a “protest” vote that has no other meaning.

“NONE OF THE ABOVE” is completely non-partisan. There is no way to control its outcome. There is no need for a massive campaign chest to support “NONE OF THE ABOVE,” although it could certainly be done. But the option, once permanently placed on the ballot, would always be there. America’s representative system would be restored.

To get the job done, activists in every state would have to begin a campaign to demand that “NONE OF THE ABOVE” be given a permanent spot on the ballot. It would not require a Constitutional Amendment. It would have to be done state by state. Some states have ballot referendums and initiatives using petition drives to get an issue on the ballot so the people can decide. It’s difficult and expensive to do, but popular ideas have a chance.

In other states, “NONE OF THE ABOVE” advocates would have to find a friendly state representative or senator to introduce the idea before the state legislature and then get enough votes to pass it in both houses and then have it signed by the governor. The main drawback to that effort is that, if the effort is successful, then every one of those legislators is an incumbent who will have to face “NONE OF THE ABOVE” on the ballot for their re-election. They probably won’t be too excited about the idea.

So why would they support the idea? It would be only because supporters succeed in creating a strong movement of voters who demand it. No one is saying this will be an easy process. But such movements have succeeded before. For example, local activists could begin by demanding that candidates support the measure much like they now sign “no tax” pledges. In short, they would support it because there is strong popular support, and they simply have no choice.

Of course, one of their main objections to the “NONE OF THE ABOVE” idea would be the requirement for holding a new election, should it win. “Too expensive,” our responsible public servants would say as they dismissed the idea. However, if it means getting better candidates, isn’t it worth it to hold a new election, especially considering how much a very bad candidate would cost us if he actually got into office?  The fact is, such a need for a new election would probably not arise often once political power brokers began to understand that they must offer candidates acceptable to the people rather than to the special interests. That’s all they really have to do. It’s all we want. It only takes a couple of “None of the Above” victories to see that the electorate is back in charge.

The idea of “NONE OF THE ABOVE” has been around for a long time. Over the years, most states have had some kind of legislation introduced supporting the concept. Nevada actually has it on the ballot – but it is not binding. It doesn’t force a new election. It is just a measure of protest. That’s not good enough to make it effective.

One of the reasons it has not been successful is because there has never been a serious national drive to promote the idea. However, with the growing dissatisfaction voters are feeling with the lack of quality candidates seeming to get worse every election, perhaps there has never been a better time to start a national discussion on the issue.

The best part is that “NONE OF THE ABOVE” isn’t a conservative or liberal idea. It’s not a Republican of Democrat proposal. In fact, Republican leadership might see it as a good way to break the back of big labor’s influence over elections. Equally, Democrats could see it as a way to stop the power and influence of the Republicans’ big-business money. However the parties want to look at it, the bottom line is that the voters win.

This will be a long-term process and is primarily aimed at local, state, and congressional candidates. While it should certainly be used in presidential elections as well, the real power comes from rejecting the lower-level candidates.

But all of that depends on the voters. Do you want to take back control, or are you satisfied to have your choices made for you behind closed doors? Because that’s what we have now. How’s that working for you?

Tom DeWeese is President of the American Policy Center and one of the nation’s leading advocates of individual liberty, free enterprise, private property rights, personal privacy, back-to-basics education and American sovereignty and independence.

The Evidence Weighs in Favor of Immigration – Article by Luis Pablo de la Horra

The Evidence Weighs in Favor of Immigration – Article by Luis Pablo de la Horra

The New Renaissance HatLuis Pablo de la Horra
******************************

In a previous article, I analyzed the economics of immigration from a theoretical perspective. I concluded that economic theory clearly supports immigration-friendly policies since they benefit all parties involved. In this article, I will examine the empirical evidence on the effects of immigration on host countries and immigrants themselves.

Effects on Employment, Wages, and Public Finances

High immigration rates are often associated with rises in unemployment. The logic behind this (flawed) reasoning is straightforward: if an economy can only absorb a fixed number of jobs and the labor force increases, the unemployment rate will inevitably rise. What’s wrong about this statement? Simple: the economy is not a zero-sum game.

In other words, the number of jobs available increases as the economy grows. After World War II, the US labor force increased dramatically due to immigration and the massive entry of women into the labor market. It moved from 60 million in 1950 to around 150 million workers in 2007. And yet, the unemployment rate in 2007 was as low as 4.6 percent, near full employment.

In a survey paper on the economic effects of immigration, published in 2011, Sari Pekkala Kerr and William R. Kerr concluded that the long-term impact of immigration on employment is negligible. In their own words,

The large majority of studies suggest that immigration does not exert significant effects on native labor market outcomes. Even large, sudden inflows of immigrants were not found to reduce native wages or employment significantly.

As suggested by the research conducted by Giovanni Peri, professor of Economics at UC Davis, immigration has positive effects on productivity since it expands the productive capacity of the economy, which in turn results in higher wages in the long run. Nonetheless, there are certain disagreements on how immigration affects native, low-skilled workers (mainly high school dropouts).

Different studies point at a wage decline between 0 (no effects at all) and 7 percent for this segment of population. Even when assuming the worst-case scenario of a 7 percent decline (which does not consider the investment in capital undertaken by companies to compensate for a decline in the capital-labor ratio), low-skilled immigration has net positive economic effects for host societies, allowing native workers to perform more productive jobs and increasing the specialization of the economy.

One of the most popular arguments against immigration is the issue of welfare benefits. Immigrants are believed to pose a burden on the host economy. Their net fiscal impact (defined as taxes paid by immigrants minus public services and benefits received) is thought to be overwhelmingly negative when compared with the fiscal impact of natives. Yet the evidence does not support this idea. As pointed out by Kerr and Kerr,

It is very clear that the net social impact of an immigrant over his or her lifetime depends substantially and in predictable ways on the immigrants’ age at arrival, education, reason for migration, and similar […] The estimated net fiscal impact of migrants also varies substantially across studies, but the overall magnitudes relative to the GDP remain modest […] The more credible analyses typically find small fiscal effects.

Therefore, there are no good reasons to impose tough restrictions on labor mobility in the name of fiscal sustainability.

The Place Premium: How to Reduce Poverty by Lowering Immigration Barriers

Wage differentials among countries can be explained by drawing on the concept of Place Premium, that is, the increase in earnings that a worker automatically experiences when moving to a high-productivity country. This increase is due to several factors: differences in capital stock, infrastructure, proximity to other high-productivity workers, etc.

The Place Premium of potential immigrants moving to the US has been estimated for a few countries. A Haitian worker that were to relocate to the US would see her PP-adjusted earnings automatically rise by 700% when compared to the same worker in Haiti performing an equivalent job (or a job that requires the same skills and education). Similarly, a worker from Guatemala or Nicaragua would more than triple her earnings, while a Filipino would increase her purchasing power by 3.5 times. In other words, relaxing barriers and letting more immigrants into higher-productivity countries seems to be one of the most effective ways to improve the life of millions of people worldwide.

All in all, the economic benefits of immigration seem obvious for both host countries and immigrants. The data shows that restrictive immigration policies have adverse effects on host economies and prevent would-be immigrants from increasing their income by migrating to higher-productivity countries. Thus, the path to take is clear: we should gradually reduce immigration barriers so that more and more people can take advantage of the benefits of capitalism.

Luis Pablo de la Horra is a Spanish finance graduate from Vlerick Business School.

This article was published by The Foundation for Economic Education and may be freely distributed, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which requires that credit be given to the author.

Economic Theory Really Is Pro-Immigration – Article by Luis Pablo de la Horra

Economic Theory Really Is Pro-Immigration – Article by Luis Pablo de la Horra

The New Renaissance HatLuis Pablo de la Horra
******************************

In his now-classic work The Myth of the Rational Voter, Bryan Caplan identifies four systematic biases about economics held by the average citizen: make-work bias (an inclination to overestimate the disadvantages of temporary job destruction due to productivity increases), anti-market bias (a tendency to overlook the benefits of the market as a coordination mechanism), pessimistic bias (an inclination to underestimate the present and future performance of the economy), and anti-foreign bias (a tendency to underestimate the economic benefits of interaction with foreigners).

Widespread biases on economics are far from being harmless. Wrong ideas held by voters usually lead to catastrophic policies due to the inherent nature of the democratic process. In other words, in most cases, politicians undertake those policies that they deem popular among voters in order to get reelected. If those policies beget pernicious consequences for the economy, harmless beliefs turn into lower living standards for all.

Of those four biases, the most potentially harmful is the anti-foreign bias. This inclination to underestimate the benefits of economic cooperation with foreigners manifests itself politically in two main ways: protectionism and anti-immigration policies. Despite the recent surge of protectionism in some developed countries, free trade is now the rule rather than the exception in most parts of the world. However, when it comes to immigration, only a few steps have been taken worldwide over the last few decades in a direction of liberalization (even though the consensus about the benefits of more open borders in the economics profession is probably as strong as the consensus around free trade).

As I will show in this series of two articles [see the second article here], anti-immigration policies reduce the well-being of both potential immigrants and host societies, as shown by economic theory and empirical evidence. Or, to put it differently: even a partial liberalization of immigration restrictions would, in the long-term, contribute to improving the standards of living globally.

Economic Theory Supports Immigration-Friendly Policies

The economic case against less restrictive immigration policies rests on shaky pillars. The most common anti-immigration arguments are related to the supposedly negative effects that immigration has on the host country’s labor market, and, more specifically, its impact on employment and wages. According to advocates of immigration restrictions, immigrants do not only take natives’ jobs, but also have a depressive effect on wages.

However, economic theory does not support these assertions. First, the economy is not a zero-sum game: the numbers of jobs available is not finite. As pointed out by Alex Tabarrok (here and here), immigrants are not only producers but also consumers, which implies that an increase in demand triggered by the expansion of the immigrant population goes hand in hand with an increase in total employment. Also – and contrary to conventional wisdom – not only highly-qualified immigrants create positive externalities on host economies. Low-skilled immigrants tend to take lower-productivity jobs (as they often either lack higher education or do not speak the language), allowing the native-born to access higher-productivity jobs (assuming free trade and a flexible labor market).

All said above can be also applied to wages. All else equal, the law of supply and demand says that an increase in the supply of labor would inevitably cause lower wages. However, more immigrants also mean a higher demand for goods and services, which in turn results in a higher demand for labor, preventing a generalized decrease in salaries. Even in those cases when wages in a particular sector are temporarily pushed down, lower wages lead to lower costs for companies, which usually results in lower prices for consumers due to the process of competition.

Immigration-friendly policies can also help tackle the demographic problem that many developed countries have been experiencing over the last years. For instance, the progressive demographic ageing of the American population is already having an impact on the US Social Security system. According to the Population Reference Bureau, the number of Americans over 65 years old will have moved from 15% in 2014 to 24% of the population by 2060. As a result,  the worker-to-beneficiary ratio will decrease by 32%, from 3.4 in 1990 to 2.3 in 2030. This problem could be mitigated by adopting a more flexible immigration policy that increases the working population, reversing the trend that will otherwise end up with significant spending cuts in Social Security benefits.

Benefits for the Sending Countries and Immigrants

The discussion so far has focused on the benefits of immigration for receptor countries. How do the sending countries and immigrants benefit from the migratory phenomenon? Immigrants usually transfer part of their income to their countries of origin with the aim of economically supporting their families and friends. These so-called remittances are flows of capital from developed to developing countries which assist in the economic development of sending countries.

The main beneficiaries of eliminating barriers to labor mobility would be, no doubt, immigrants themselves. This is due to the concept of Place Premium. This concept, first introduced by Michael Clemens, Claudio E. Montenegro, and Lant Pritchettin in a 2008 paper, refers to the automatic increase in earnings (PPP adjusted) that a worker experiences by moving from a low-productivity country to a high-productivity country, without increasing the worker’s human capital. The factors behind this phenomenon are multiple: differences in capital accumulation, quality of infrastructures, technology, proximity to high-productive workers, different legal frameworks, etc. The empirical evidence (which will be dealt with in the second and final article of this series) shows that wage differences among countries due to Place Premium are immense. The corollary is simple: more open borders would bring about a substantial reduction in poverty levels across the world.

Potential Gains from Reducing Global Migration Barriers

What would happen if migration barriers were partially or totally eliminated on a global scale? In his paper Economics and Immigration: Trillion-Dollar Bills on the Sidewalk, Michael Clemens, senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, reviews the academic literature on the topic. If all barriers to labor mobility were to be removed, world GDP would increase in the range of 50% to 150%.

Even partial liberalizations would bring about considerable gains. For instance, a reform that allowed 7% of the population to emigrate to higher-productivity countries would result in an efficiency gain of 10% of world GDP. To put this into perspective, if all remaining trade barriers were eliminated, world GDP would grow by just 2% or 3%. As shown, the impact of relaxing migration barriers on the world economy would be extremely positive, especially for the poorest segments of population.

The theoretical analysis above clearly supports the adoption of more immigration-friendly policies as a way of increasing economic growth and improving the welfare of millions and millions of people, including those in receptor countries. However, economic theory needs to be supported by facts. In my next article, I will provide empirical evidence in support of eliminating barriers to immigration.

Luis Pablo de la Horra is a Spanish finance graduate from Vlerick Business School.

This article was published by The Foundation for Economic Education and may be freely distributed, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which requires that credit be given to the author.

President Trump: Toss Your Generals’ War Escalation Plans In the Trash – Article by Ron Paul

President Trump: Toss Your Generals’ War Escalation Plans In the Trash – Article by Ron Paul

The New Renaissance HatRon Paul
******************************

By the end of this month, Defense Secretary James Mattis and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster will deliver to President Trump their plans for military escalations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. President Trump would be wise to rip the plans up and send his national security team back to the drawing board – or replace them. There is no way another “surge” in Afghanistan and Iraq (plus a new one in Syria) puts America first. There is no way doing the same thing over again will succeed any better than it did the last time.

Near the tenth anniversary of the US war on Afghanistan – seven years ago – I went to the Floor of Congress to point out that the war makes no sense. The original authorization had little to do with eliminating the Taliban. It was a resolution to retaliate against those who attacked the United States on September 11, 2001. From what we know now, the government of Saudi Arabia had far more to do with the financing and planning of 9/11 than did the Taliban. But we’re still pumping money into that lost cause. We are still killing Afghanis and in so doing creating the next generation of terrorists.

The war against ISIS will not end with its defeat in Mosul and Raqqa. We will not pack up and go home. Instead, the Pentagon and State Department have both said that US troops would remain in Iraq after ISIS is defeated. The continued presence of US troops in Iraq will provide all the recruiting needed for more ISIS or ISIS-like resistance groups to arise, which will in turn lead to a permanent US occupation of Iraq. The US “experts” have completely misdiagnosed the problem so it no surprise that their solutions will not work. They have claimed that al-Qaeda and ISIS arose in Iraq because we left, when actually they arose because we invaded in the first place.

General David Petraeus is said to have a lot of influence over H.R. McMaster, and in Syria he is pushing for the kind of US troop “surge” that he still believes was successful in Iraq. The two are said to favor thousands of US troops to fight ISIS in eastern Syria instead of relying on the US-sponsored and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces to do the job. This “surge” into Syria would also lead to a lengthy US occupation of a large part of that country, as it is unlikely that the US would return the territory to the Syrian government. Would it remain an outpost of armed rebels that could be unleashed on Assad at the US President’s will? It’s hard to know from week to week whether “regime change” in Syria is a US priority or not. But we do know that a long-term US occupation of half of Syria would be illegal, dangerous, and enormously expensive.

President Trump’s Generals all seem to be pushing for a major US military escalation in the Middle East and south Asia. The President goes back and forth, one minute saying “we’re not going into Syria,” while the next seeming to favor another surge. He has given the military much decision-making latitude and may be persuaded by his Generals that the only solution is to go in big. If he follows such advice, it is likely his presidency itself will be buried in that graveyard of empires.

Ron Paul, MD, is a former three-time Republican candidate for U. S. President and Congressman from Texas.

This article is reprinted with permission from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

Oregon Man Fined $500 for Challenging Timing on Red-Light Cameras – Article by Melissa Quinn

Oregon Man Fined $500 for Challenging Timing on Red-Light Cameras – Article by Melissa Quinn

The New Renaissance HatMelissa Quinn
******************************

Mats Jarlstrom’s trouble all began with a red-light camera.

In April 2013, Jarlstrom’s wife, Laurie, received a ticket after driving her Volkswagen through an intersection in Beaverton, Oregon, that was equipped with a traffic camera.

His wife paid the fine, but the timing of the traffic lights at the intersection piqued Jarlstrom’s interest, so he decided to look into a formula created in 1959 to calculate the length of yellow lights.

Jarlstrom says he realized the original formula failed to take into account the extra time it takes for a car to slow before making a right-hand turn safely.

“Currently, people are getting tickets for running red lights because they’re slowing down when they’re making turns,” he tells The Daily Signal. “It’s a safety issue because any time we run a red light, we’re in the intersection for the wrong reason, and there is cross traffic, and especially pedestrians are in danger.”

Jarlstrom, an electronics engineer from Sweden, revised the formula to take the deceleration into account, and decided to take his findings public.

But doing so, he quickly learned, came with a risk, and a costly one at that.

Jarlstrom shared his findings with local media, policymakers, the sheriff, and Alexei Maradudin, who helped craft the original mathematical formula in 1959. He also emailed his theory to the Oregon State Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying, in hopes it would take a look at his research.

The Oregon panel said it didn’t have any jurisdiction over traffic lights. But it did have jurisdiction over the state’s engineering laws. And it decided to open an investigation into Jarlstrom because of “his use of the title ‘electronics engineer’ and the statement ‘I’m an engineer,’” according to an order from the board.

After investigating Jarlstrom for two years, the board fined him $500.

The reason?

Jarlstrom, according to the board, practiced engineering without a license each time he “critiqued” the traffic-light system and identified himself as an engineer in correspondence with the panel.

“You don’t need to be an engineer to understand this,” Jarlstrom says in an interview with The Daily Signal, adding:

I read something that was already public and understood it, and I wanted to share that information with the public talking about it. I felt completely shocked when I contacted them that they weren’t interested in listening to the problems that I presented to the board. They accused me of being illegal by saying I was a Swedish electronics engineer.

Jarlstrom paid the $500 fine, and the board closed its investigation. But now, the public-interest law firm Institute for Justice is fighting alongside the Oregon man in federal court to challenge the state’s engineering laws.

“The issues are classic First Amendment issues,” Sam Gedge, an Institute for Justice lawyer who is representing Jarlstrom, tells The Daily Signal. “The government can’t punish people for expressing their concerns. The government can’t take words and redefine them and then punish people for using them in a way the government doesn’t like.”

‘Unusual’

Jarlstrom does have education and experience in engineering.

He has a degree in electronics engineering from Sweden, which is the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree in engineering in the United States.

Jarlstrom, 56, also worked for Luxor Electronics before immigrating to the United States in 1992.

But in Oregon, anyone who engages in “creative work requiring engineering education, training, and experience” under the state Professional Engineer Registration Act is required to be licensed as a professional engineer.

Nearly every state requires professional engineers to have a license. However, those licenses typically are reserved for engineers who build skyscrapers or design electrical plans for buildings.

The Institute for Justice is challenging the vague definition of what constitutes a professional engineer in Oregon, which in effect allows the board to regulate the exchange of ideas and of the word “engineer,” Gedge says:

What makes Oregon so unusual is they’ve taken the licensing regime for professional engineers and are applying it to people like Mats, who are talking about issues that concern them. That’s unusual.

There are two issues for Jarlstrom, Gedge says: He used the word “engineer” to describe himself, and he talked about technical topics.

“There have been a number of instances about the board going after people simply because they used the word engineer to describe themselves,” the lawyer says. “There are also examples of the board going after people who have never used the word engineer to describe themselves, but are nonetheless going out in public and speaking about technical topics.”

“That word isn’t off-limits to people,” he says. “The laws can’t be used to stop people from sending an email to his sheriff for safety.”

Other Incidents

Indeed, Jarlstrom’s experiences with Oregon’s Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying aren’t exclusive to him.

Last year, the board opened an investigation into Allen Alley, a Republican gubernatorial candidate, who stated in campaign ads: “I’m an engineer and a problem solver.”

Alley received a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering from Purdue University and worked as an engineer for Ford and Boeing. But he isn’t a licensed professional engineer in Oregon.

The board’s investigation into Alley is ongoing.

In another instance, the panel investigated a woman profiled in Portland Monthly’s “Oregon Woman 2015” edition.

Included in the magazine was an article about Marcela Alcantar and a headline about “the incredible story of the engineer behind Portland’s newest bridge.”

The board opened a “law enforcement case” against Alcantar based on the line, since she wasn’t a registered professional engineer.

Ultimately, the case was closed after the board’s staff spoke with the journalist who wrote the article. The board determined “engineer” was a designation given not by Alcantar, but by the article’s editors.

“The definition of the practice of engineering is so broad according to the board, and the board has shown itself to be so aggressive,” Gedge says. “Expressing your concerns on technical topics certainly leaves you at the risk of being investigated.”

‘Whistleblower’

Although Jarlstrom ultimately paid the fine, he says he believes the board’s decision violated his freedom of expression.

And while he does have engineering experience, Jarlstrom contends the skills he used to craft his revised formula relied on 6th- and 7th-grade math:

It’s interesting that just because students here in Beaverton or elsewhere are using math and looking at some traffic-flow issues in school, they would be considered practicing engineering according to the board. We can’t have laws having that kind of power or overreach.

Jarlstrom says he considers himself a whistleblower and is surprised something like this could happen in the United States. But he vows to continue working to “improve our civil rights and freedom of speech so individuals like myself can share ideas, whether they’re good or bad.”

“We still need to be able to express them,” he says. “If we can’t, there won’t be any ideas to choose from.”

Melissa Quinn previously worked for The Daily Signal as a senior news reporter.

This article was originally published by The Daily Signal. It is reprinted here with permission.

Disagreement Is a Bad Reason to Unfriend – Article by Sarah Skwire

Disagreement Is a Bad Reason to Unfriend – Article by Sarah Skwire

The New Renaissance HatSarah Skwire
******************************

I have an interesting meeting next week. A young woman in my community is working very hard on a set of policy suggestions for environmental measures, and she wants a libertarian perspective on the ideas she has drawn up. So we’re going to get together over coffee and talk about her plan and about what I think libertarians might think of it.

But I don’t want to write about her plan today.

I want to write about her invitation to talk about it.

I want to write about it because I think it’s an enormously important counterpoint to something that I see more of every day on my Facebook feed, in the media, and in the small daily interactions of people around me.

That’s the obstinate insistence that people who disagree cannot be friends or colleagues—that they cannot even be reasonably expected to communicate with one another.

Some disagreements, we are told, are just so profound, so deeply seated, so indicative of the other person’s moral turpitude that no reaching over the division is possible.

Shunning? Really?

That may be true, in some cases. Cultures all over the world have long had methods for shunning those whose behavior was so counter to cultural norms that they were viewed as potentially destructive threats to the culture’s continuation. I’m not saying that such threats don’t ever exist.

But in the last little while, I’ve seen claims that anyone who voted for Trump should be “cut off” from communication with “civilized society.” I’ve heard people argue that voting against the continuation of the ACA reveals people to be morally bereft and outside the bonds of normal human interaction. I’ve heard college students and faculty argue not that they should not have to attend or listen to speakers with whom they disagree, but that no one else should be allowed to do so.

That’s a lot of people to vote off the island.

Excluding Others Isn’t Brave

Worse than the sheer numbers involved, though, and even worse than the ever-expanding list of offenses that are considered dire enough to excise whole swathes of people from civil discourse, is the insistence that all of this exclusion is being done because the excluders are brave.

The rhetoric is familiar. “Stand up” against this offense. “Speak out” against that one. “Refuse to tolerate” X. “Give no quarter and make no compromises” with Y. “Shut down” the language of the other side. “Refuse to even entertain” opposing views. “Give no platform” to this person.

I think there’s bravery in resistance to wrongs. I don’t think there’s anything brave about shutting down speech and debate and refusing to interact with people with opposing views.

I think it’s much braver, and much harder, to look for ways to cross those barriers, to find the humanity in the people with whom you disagree most strongly, and to work to solve the problems that plague us rather than retreating to separate camps.

I think it is a brave thing to contact someone with whom you disagree politically and say “Let’s have coffee and talk about stuff. I want to understand how you see this problem.”

And I think we all ought to do it more often.

Sarah Skwire is the poetry editor of the Freeman and a senior fellow at Liberty Fund, Inc. She is a poet and author of the writing textbook Writing with a Thesis. She is a member of the FEE Faculty Network.

This article was published by The Foundation for Economic Education and may be freely distributed, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which requires that credit be given to the author.