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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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.

President Trump: Cancel Your Saudi Trip, Play More Golf – Article by Ron Paul

President Trump: Cancel Your Saudi Trip, Play More Golf – Article by Ron Paul


The New Renaissance Hat
Ron Paul
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President Trump is about to embark on his first foreign trip, where he will stop in Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the Vatican, before attending a NATO meeting in Brussels and the G-7 summit in Sicily. The media and pundits have loudly wondered why hasn’t he gone on a foreign trip sooner. I wonder why go at all?

What does the president hope to achieve with these meetings? This is a president who came into office with promises that we would finally start to mind our own business overseas. In December, he said that the policy of US “intervention and chaos” overseas must come to an end. Instead, he is jumping into a region – the Middle East – that has consumed the presidencies of numerous of his predecessors.

On Saudi Arabia, President Trump has shifted his position from criticism of the Saudi regime to a seemingly warm friendship with Saudi deputy crown prince Mohammad bin Salman. He has approved weapons sales to Saudi Arabia that President Obama had halted due to Saudi human rights abuses, particularly in its horrific war on Yemen.

While visiting Saudi Arabia, one of the most extreme theocracies on earth – where conversion to Christianity can bring the death penalty – President Trump will attend a meeting of Muslim leaders to discuss the threats of terrorism and religious extremism. No, not in Saudi Arabia, but in Iran, where Christianity is legal and thriving!

Perhaps President Trump’s flip-flop on Saudi Arabia was inspired by the ten separate Washington, D.C. public relations firms the Kingdom keeps on the payroll, at a cost of $1.3 million per month. That kind of money can really grease the policy wheels in Washington.

From there, the US President will travel to Israel. Does he believe he will finally be able to solve the 70 year old Israel-Palestine conflict by negotiating a good deal? If so, he’s in for a surprise.

The problem persists partly because we have been meddling in the region for so long. Doing more of the same is pretty unlikely to bring about a different result. How many billions have we spent propping up “allies” and bribing others, and we’re no closer to peace now than when we started. Maybe it’s time for a new approach. Maybe it’s time for the countries in the Middle East to solve their own problems. They have much more incentive to reach some kind of deal in their own neighborhood.

Likewise his attendance at the NATO meeting is not very encouraging to those of us who were pleased to hear candidate Trump speak the truth about the outdated military alliance. We don’t need to strong-arm NATO members to spend more money on their own defense. We need to worry about our own defense. Our military empire – of which NATO is an arm – makes us weaker and more vulnerable. Minding our own business and rejecting militarism would make us safer.

Many pundits complain that President Trump spends too much time golfing. I would rather he spend a lot more time golfing and less time trying to solve the rest of the world’s problems. We cannot afford to be the policeman or nursemaid to the rest of the world, particularly when we have such a lousy record of success.

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.

Against War, the Greatest Enemy of Progress – Presentation by G. Stolyarov II

Against War, the Greatest Enemy of Progress – Presentation by G. Stolyarov II

The New Renaissance HatG. Stolyarov II
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Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman of the U.S. Transhumanist Party and Chief Executive of the Nevada Transhumanist Party, articulates the view that war is not acceptable by any parties, against any parties, for any stated or actual justification.

This presentation was delivered to the Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) Chapter at University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), on April 24, 2017.

Read “Antipolemus, or, the Plea of Reason, Religion, and Humanity against War” by Desiderius Erasmus.

Read the Wikipedia page on the Free Syrian Army, in particular the section entitled “Allegations of war crimes against FSA-affiliated groups”, here.

Visit the Nevada Transhumanist Party Facebook group and see its Constitution and Bylaws.

Become a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free here.

What the Atlanta Highway Collapse Signals about American Infrastructure – Article by Lili Carneglia

What the Atlanta Highway Collapse Signals about American Infrastructure – Article by Lili Carneglia

The New Renaissance Hat
Lili Carneglia
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Atlanta is already known for having some of the worst traffic in the world, and the recent collapse along a major interstate will only make congestion worse. On March 30, in the middle of rush hour traffic, a fire began under the I-85 Northbound that quickly erupted into a massive blaze, eventually causing a section of the bridge to collapse.

Less than 24 hours later, with the rubble still smoldering, the US Department of Transportation announced a $10 million award to begin emergency repairs. Despite the quick response from the DOT, it will take millions more dollars before I-85 can resume carrying 400,000 vehicles daily.

With the nation’s Highway Trust Fund rapidly approaching insolvency, the I-85 collapse and the subsequent Atlanta traffic chaos exemplify the overwhelming cost and inefficiency of public infrastructure in America.

Why So Expensive?

In the United States, transit projects are chronically expensive and time-consuming. The country’s outdated method of allowing most highways to fall under federal care, and cumbersome regulatory obstacles, is part of the reason that we continue to lag behind when it comes to international standards. Regulatory burdens also contribute to other countries’ outranking the US when it comes to securing construction permits, making new projects and maintenance even more complicated.

Policy relics of the Obama administration weigh particularly heavy on this type of progress. Specifically, Executive Order 13502, which encourages labor agreements for federal construction projects. Because these agreements require union labor, this E.O. severely limits the number of firms that can accept a federal contract, since only 13.9 percent of the construction workforce is unionized. Additionally, many researchers have found that this practice is estimated to increase the costs of projects anywhere from 13-18 percent.

As the small fraction of construction firms that benefit from this order continue to lobby for similar policies that land them more federal projects at the expense of taxpayers and industry innovation, we can expect the cost of infrastructure projects to continuously rise.

This issue is nothing new, with politicians from both sides of the aisle eager to point fingers and  offer their own solutions. President Trump is no exception. He has made a repeated pledge to invest $1 trillion in the nation’s infrastructure. While the Trump administration has announced that those plans will be revealed later in the year, the details, including the amount of federal funding available for the project, remain a mystery. In part due to this opacity, most people remain skeptical of promises, released alongside a proposed budget, that would cut DOT spending by 13 percent.

However, even if the Trump administration were to pump $1 trillion of pure federal funds into infrastructure projects, it would do little to fix the country’s severely broken system. The best chance of improving America’s infrastructure lies in removing the red tape standing in the way of private firms when it comes to federal projects – or better yet, ending the government monopoly on transit altogether.

Corporate Welfare

One of the most promising international trends in infrastructure development involves moving away from public transportation and towards private transit systems. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reports that in many countries, private investment in infrastructure is on the rise as government investment declines due to “constraints on public finance and recognized limitations on the public sector’s effectiveness in managing projects.” The US should take note of the global trend.

Transitioning to privatization is quickly becoming a necessity in the face of rapidly-expanding maintenance costs and Trump budget cuts. Even without the option of public funding, privatization offers massive benefits for taxpayers.

Some of the biggest users of public roads, like logistics companies, create billions more dollars in transportation expenses than the average car-owner. However, road costs are passed on to taxpayers en masse, subsidizing companies that use public roads the most. The current system effectively results in corporate welfare. Private toll roads help mitigate the unfair cost burden and appropriately account for maintenance.

American infrastructure is on the brink of complete disaster. While the I-85 collapse was an unpredictable event, prior to last month, the road was not even listed among the 56,000 structurally deficient bridges in the country. Infrastructure expenses will continue to drain federal and state budgets until public funds can no longer keep up. Sudden highway collapses are a disquieting reminder of what is at stake if we fail to change the way the US approaches transportation.

Lili Carneglia is a student at the University of Alabama where she is getting a joint bachelor’s and master’s degree in Economics. She is a Young Voices advocate.

This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.