Politicians proclaim the benefits of small business while on the campaign trail. But when they meet in the seedy halls of Congress, they have no problem doing whatever they can to stifle, regulate, and subdue their progress. Instead of siding with entrepreneurs, these politicians often side with political allies and cronies that helped put them into office.
Just because you’re retired doesn’t mean you have to stop working. Especially now that you have all the time in the world to do what you really want. Entrepreneurs don’t only come out of Silicon Valley. They come from all walks of life, from all different ages. If you’re retired and want to stay active while you relax, then find out the steps you need to take in order to start, manage, and grow your next small business.
Technology brought the world together. But has it gone too far? Decades ago, mail was delivered by hand. Now it’s delivered in seconds. How has that changed the way you live your life? How has it changed the way people act with each other? These are just some of the questions we need to ask.
The U.S. dollar has been the world's reserve currency for almost a century, and already there are signs it may be in decline. But that doesn't mean it's not still valuable. On the contrary... As Chris Mayer explains, there are many reasons the U.S. dollar will remain relevant on the world stage for years to come. Read on...
Gun control isn’t a modern idea. The rise of gun control laws and limits on your 2nd Amendment freedom go hand in hand with the increase in the size and scope of government. Politicians want you to think the only people who can keep you safe are government forces. But as one renown libertarian economist and thinker will show you, their misguided laws do nothing but take away your freedoms and leave you less safe.
The government will do whatever it takes to make sure it has enough of your money to fund itself. On the surface you might think that means enduring a grueling audit. But the IRS and the government is more than willing to ignore your privacy in the cold relentless pursuit of the money they think they deserve. As they get bigger and bigger every year, the smaller and smaller your paycheck becomes as they leach off it.
The Congressional Budget Office said the government needed to reach 7 million people by the end of March. They claim to have reached the goal and now the debate about Obamacare is over. But what does this milestone really mean in the ongoing healthcare discussion? And more importantly, how will it affect reforms going forward?
If you’re good at something should you be penalized so others have a chance at success? Should award winning actors and actresses be barred from future Oscar ceremonies to give other men and women the chance to succeed? Success should always be rewarded and encouraged. But what happens when you have a government that wants to even the playing field and take away the spoils of success. Gregory Bresiger finds out...
In an effort to cut costs and keep track of patients' records, governments could institute a medical guideline cookbook. Bureaucrats might think they have the best of intentions in mind, but these new rules would drag down the medical process and destroy whatever quality is left in our current system.
Practical people often pooh-pooh fiction reading as a time wasting dalliance, dominated by a Marxist coloring of the world. However, fiction readers were given a scientific reason recently for spending hours absorbing fanciful figments of someone’s imagination.
Argentina is suffering the ravages of government debasement of the currency -- i.e., inflation, the process by which government pays for its ever-increasing debts and bills by simply printing more paper currency. The expanded money supply results in a lower value of everyone’s money, which is reflected in the rising prices of the things that money buys.
When government expansion is allowed to continue unabated or when it casts a heavy regulatory shadow on America’s entrepreneurial spirit, the freedoms that we’ve come to know, and perhaps take for granted, slowly begin to slip away.
The saga of All Saints could soon be coming to a community near you. Thanks partly to the scandal surrounding the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups, the agency has proposed a new set of rules for a huge number of social-welfare groups that claim tax exemption under Section 501(c)4 of the tax code.
The new reality of Obamacare’s tax credits has left finance reporters to pen articles warning readers to “take care” when considering a tax credit and providing strategies for how best to “protect yourself.” So what do finance reporters know that the White House doesn’t?
Nihilo ex nihilo fit. Out of nothing, nothing comes. First put forward by ancient Greek philosopher Parmenides in the fifth century B.C., Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine later used this axiom to prove that the universe needed a “first mover” to get things going. Even if the whole thing began with some kind of “Big Bang” moment, it still needed a banger to bang it. Who? God, of course.
What positive steps can we take? The energy that is now expended by well intentioned, freedom-seeking individuals on the destructive course of politics can be turned into powerful steps that will have a positive effect on the future. All are moral, right and just. None require aggressing. Consider the following...
The Affordable Care Act creates a new health insurance marketplace (the exchange). But because of the great uncertainty about what buyers will enter the market and who will buy what product, the law creates three vehicles to reduce insurance company risk.
Politicians and bureaucrats are notorious for manufacturing euphemisms -- clever but deceptive substitutes for what they really mean but don’t want to admit. That’s how the phrase “revenue enhancement” entered the vocabulary. Some of our courageous friends in government couldn’t bring themselves to say “tax hike.”
“It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future,” says a proverb often attributed to Yogi Berra. Imagine the world of freedom, or lack of it. Who could foresee the technologies that make our lives so rewarding and convenient? The same technologies have us all under the government’s giant microscope. Thankfully, the brave have turned the microscope around.
In the months since Edward Snowden revealed the nature and extent of the spying that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been perpetrating upon Americans and foreigners, some of the NSA's most troublesome behavior has not been a part of the public debate.
National Treasury Union President Colleen M. Kelly recently described the 2014 IRS budget allocation as “woefully inadequate.” But the agency has not proven itself to be an efficient steward of taxpayer dollars. Here are ten ways the IRS lost the trust of the American people.
It’s easy to be negative about the U.S. economy these days. Find a glint of silver, and folks come running to point out all of the dark clouds looming about. This, of course, is what we got last week when the monthly jobs report was released from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Folks pooh-poohed the number of jobs and whining that they’re not enough or that it’s less than a bunch of economists thought that it might be. But you know what? Stuff ’em.
Given how poorly states like California and Illinois have funded the pension funds for their own employees, one would think that this would stop dead in its tracks any plan to have the government assist in managing private sector funds too. The spate of recent activity, however, suggests otherwise.
Facts are easy. You can check facts. What supporters of the Affordable Care Act are doing, on the other hand, transcends factual bungling. It’s far more advanced: a warping of reality so debauched it looks like something out of a tale by H.P. Lovecraft.
The problem for NSA apologist is that when guys like Snowden disclose that the government conducts comprehensive surveillance in ways that would have made 1984’s O’Brien drool, it puts the entire progressive agenda in jeopardy.
The east coast and parts of the southern U.S. were to varying degrees paralyzed by blizzards a few weeks ago. The snow as expected rendered the roads treacherous, and in anticipation of slick streets, shoppers flocked to the grocery stores in advance.The rush into grocery stores, and its aftermath, offers worthwhile lessons in economics.First up, […]
The financial world is plodding along like a drunken sailor avoiding debt collectors by keeping no cash in his wallet. It’s not the kind of calm that’s going to last or end well. But the storm will have to wait until after the Olympics.What a game! We’ve never watched ice hockey closely before. But watching […]
Until last week, I had managed all of my adult life to avoid jury duty. As a young adult in Topeka, Kan., I was never summoned. For my two decades living in Las Vegas, I was able to call in a couple times declaring economic hardship. Most of the time, I seemed to be off their radar screen. I always suspected it was because I hadn’t registered to vote.
But finally in my new home in this small Southern town, the state got me. There seemed to be no reasonable way out. Alabama finds its victims to serve by choosing from driver’s license records.
My plan was to show up, be asked a couple questions that reveal my hatred of the state, and especially the criminal justice system, be judged as unreliable for the jury box, and be sent on my way.
Unfortunately that’s not how the system works. I’m to serve a two-week hitch. That doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll be picked as a juror, but I’m on call with my local county court system, all for $10 a day and a nickel a mile. The jury coordinator was quick to inform us that we could sign a form and waive payment. “After all,” she said, “the state of Alabama requires that your employers pay you your normal wage for these two weeks.”
She pleaded her case by saying that the county had paid out a couple million dollars in expenses for jurors the previous year and it would be great if we could help them with their budget. Many staff members at the court had been laid off, and even the bailiffs worked on a volunteer basis.
I provided no such waiver.
I was part of a group that seemed to be around 80-90 people. The group was a normal cross section of occupations. I was struck by the half dozen or so self-employed truck drivers that were stuck working for the state for two weeks rather than hauling loads. They had no employer paying them their normal wage.
The largest employer in the city, the local university, was well represented, with various professors, maintenance people, and even the head track coach. They were working for the court, but still getting paid by the taxpayers — a double hit, if you will.
A young, blond woman eyed us impassively as we filed into the courtroom, chewing her gum at a slow, rhythmic pace. She turned out to be the head assistant district attorney. The judge administered the oath and asked some questions. Only in the South would a judge address a jury pool as “all y’all.”
Soon the assistant DA started asking questions to weed out inappropriate juror prospects, and I began to think that I was the perfect candidate. I didn’t know anyone involved in the case, anyone who worked for the DA or the defense attorney’s firm. I hadn’t heard about the attempted murder or the discharge of weapon in an occupied building. I was thinking I might just get selected. I was a blank slate.
Then the question was asked, “Do any of you believe marijuana should be legalized?” As I raised my card with my juror number, I’m wondering what does this have to do with an attempted murder? Shockingly, I was one of only five or six out of 80-90 who believed (or at least would admit it) marijuana use should be legalized. The follow-up question was then, “Those that answered yes just believe marijuana should be legalized, not other drugs, right?”
I quickly interjected, “No, everything should be legalized.”
“What was your number again, sir?”
Remember, 17 states have legalized marijuana for medical use. In a couple weeks, voters in Washington and Colorado will decide if recreational use of marijuana will be legal in their states. In the city of Denver, there are over 200 stores that sell medical marijuana, more than three times the number of Starbucks and McDonald’s combined.
I wasn’t selected for the attempted murder trial and was allowed to leave about 2:30 in the afternoon. “But make sure you call in after 5:00 to see if you have to report tomorrow,” the unselected were told.
The next day, I didn’t have to report, but the following day, I was to be at the jury waiting room at 9:00 a.m. About 9:30 (the court is always running late, it seems), they herded us into the courtroom for voir dire.
This case was a DUI charge along with assault. The questions were similar to cull through the pool to select 13 people (a jury of 12 plus an alternate) to decide guilt or innocence. For those not wanting to answer the questions in front of the other jurors, you are allowed to tell the court your answers without the other jurors present. Also, the judge can ask you to remain for follow-up questioning to clarify the answers provided during voir dire.
Again, I didn’t make the cut. “Please return at 2:00,” was the command.
About 2:20, we filed into the courtroom. The defendant, a small man in his 40s, calmly looked us over as we filed in, as did his attorney, who was nattily dressed in a brown suit accented with an orange tie and pocket scarf.
The assistant DA was again a young woman wearing what seemed to be the standard DA uniform, dark pantsuit with white blouse.
The defendant was charged with trafficking more than 2.2 pounds of marijuana.
The typical questions ensued, and then the big one came from the assistant DA: “Is there anyone here who thinks marijuana is no big deal and should be legalized?” I again held up my card with a half dozen others.
But the DA pressed on. “Of those of you who answered yes, will you be able to put your feelings aside and rule on the facts of the case, recognizing that trafficking marijuana is against the law in the state of Alabama?”
“No,” I said.
“If the facts show that the defendant did indeed traffic more than 2.2 pounds of marijuana, will you be able to rule on the basis of Alabama law, complying with the judge’s order, recognizing that trafficking marijuana is against Alabama statute?”
“No, I believe in jury nullification.”
“OK,” said the DA as she jotted something in her notes.
I figured that would be it. I was wrong again. The questioning was completed and the respective counsels conferred with the judge, who then rattled off a series of numbers: jurors who needed to stay behind for further questioning. My number was among those called, and we were ushered into the hallway.
Waiting in the hallway, I heard one of the jury veterans say to someone, “They’ve got us for two weeks. You might as well find a case you like and shut up, ’cause eventually you’re gonna get picked. You might as well serve on a case you like.”
One at a time, each of us was called into the courtroom for follow-up questions.
When called in, I walked to a designated spot that faced the judge, from which I was to answer questions.
The judge began. “Mr. French, you answered that you couldn’t serve as an impartial juror in this case, is that correct?”
“Yes, your honor. I don’t believe the defendant did anything wrong, even if he did what the state alleges.”
The defense attorney quickly said, “I want this guy.”
“You understand that it is against the law in the state of Alabama to traffic marijuana. Are you saying you cannot uphold the law?”
“I would say, using a famous quote, the law is an ass.”
Once those words left my lips and no rebuke came from the judge, I kept going.
“I would remind this court that if it weren’t for jury nullification, we would still have slavery in this country,” I said while spinning around directing the comments to the defendant and his attorney, both African-Americans, and the district attorney’s team. “I will not be the juror, and this will not be the case, but one of these days a jury must nullify these crazy drug laws.”
This comment produced a wide smile from one of the court’s staff.
The judge was unmoved by my outburst.
“Have you ever served on a jury?” the defense attorney asked.
“No, of course not,” I said. “I’ve never made it this far before. There is nothing she can say,” I said, pointing at the assistant DA, “that will change my mind.”
“I dunno, I’m pretty good,” she replied.
“I’m sure you are, as are your colleagues,” I said. “But the defendant did nothing wrong.”
The judge interjected again, “Are you sure you cannot listen to the evidence and judge the innocence or guilt of the defendant applying the law of the state of Alabama.”
“No, your honor. That man,” I said while pointing to the defendant, “did not do anything wrong. I assume if he did what the charges allege, he was only carrying out a commercial transaction with a willing buyer or seller. It is no different than if he were selling popsicles on a street corner.”
The defense attorney winced and asked, “What do you mean commercial transaction?”
Before I could explain, the judge directed me out of the courtroom.
I waited patiently in the jury room to be excused for the day. After half an hour, the jury coordinator rattled off 13 numbers. None was mine.
“Please call after 5 and see if you must report tomorrow.”
A couple days later, it was front-page news that the defendant in this case was found guilty. He had never laid eyes on or touched the reported 154 pounds of marijuana seized during the police investigation. He accepted delivery of packages delivered via UPS. The packages would remain on his porch and be picked up by a friend. He said he thought the packages contained auto parts. He was merely doing his friend a favor.
“Y’all ever hear of partners in crime? That’s what we got there,” the assistant DA told the jury, according to the local paper.
A police narcotics officer posed as a UPS driver, and when the defendant signed for the delivery of 70 pounds of what turned out to be marijuana, he was arrested and charged with trafficking.
“We’re here because UPS got suspicious,” the assistant DA said. “This is because normal, everyday people smelled something funny.”
The state never proved the defendant wasn’t ignorant of the boxes’ contents or that he had opened a box. They didn’t need to. The state found a dozen normal, everyday people ready and willing to do the state’s drug war bidding.
In his book For a New Liberty, Murray Rothbard questions the legitimacy of compulsory jury duty. “What is this but prison and involuntary servitude for noncriminals?” Rothbard asked. Plenty of people believe jury duty to be a vital civic function. After all, judges are part of the same justice system that the prosecutors are and thus will tend to be biased. Therefore, a fair system depends upon being judged by one’s peers.
But Rothbard points out that slave labor is not efficient labor. Compulsory juries stand the division of labor on its head. Since when would you pick people randomly to do something as important as weighing evidence and determining guilt and innocence? This is a job someone should be trained in. To pick people randomly gives the appearance of being unbiased, but in fact, it accentuates the state’s advantage in the courtroom.