In the minds of many people around the world, including in the United States, the term “capitalism” carries the idea of unfairness, exploitation, undeserved privilege and power, and immoral profit making. What is often difficult to get people to understand is that this misplaced conception of “capitalism” has nothing to do with real free markets […]
When you type a website address into a browser, you might have noticed that the letters “http” appear at the front. “HTTP” stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. In typing a Web address, you are actually sending an HTTP command to transmit that website to you. Hypertext Transfer Protocol is the means by which information is […]
Some people are saying it is just what the doctor ordered. Others are saying that the cure is worse than the disease.The Affordable Care Act? Reengagement in Iraq? Tea Party bullying in the GOP?Not this time. Just as protracted in the corridors of Congress and the White House is the debate over the proposed reform […]
In 2012, money mandarins running the European Union chose stagnation over restructuring. Here’s a consequence of that choice: expectations for a self-sustaining economic recovery keep getting crushed.Two years ago, European Central Bank (ECB) chief Mario Draghi promised to do “whatever it takes” to hold the eurozone together. He bluffed nervous investors into believing in a […]
Picture the scene. It’s 2020. You’re at the checkout in a convenience store with a carton of milk. But you’ve got no cash and you’ve left your cards at home. No problem. You scan your right index finger; the green light flashes. Purchase approved and you leave. Easy.Is this a realistic vision of the future, […]
“In the beginning, all the world was America.” — John Locke“The Garden of Eden was a perfect place,” my friend Manuel explained. “Man had free will. He could live in harmony with nature and God — and everything would be fine. But if he defied God, the stain of original sin would be on his […]
After a week of reckoning about the American oil and gas boom… I’ve got to get something off my chest.I can’t stand it when a coworker takes credit for something I did.Whether it’s a special report I wrote or just a little investing trick I found on my own — if someone takes it and […]
It might sound like the latest new product from Apple, but IPAB is actually the newest major legal challenge to Obamacare.Recently, a three-judge panel in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco heard arguments about the Independent Payment Advisory Board, or IPAB, a 15-member panel created by the Affordable Care Act and empowered […]
Americans have come to believe that the IRS and the income tax are inevitable parts of our lives. After all, most everyone alive today has lived his entire life under federal income taxation.It wasn’t always that way. For some 125 years, the American people lived without having any tax imposed upon their income.The obvious question […]
Here’s a fun fact: Although we all hate the U.S. dollar, as it continues to hemorrhage wealth, its foothold as the world’s reserve currency isn’t going to disappear overnight.A Russian gas deal with China won’t change that — as we’ll highlight below.But before we get to the nitty-gritty, let’s dive into a story that’s right […]
Franklin Delano Roosevelt famously used the term “forgotten man” in a 1932 speech to describe those at the bottom of the economic pyramid who, he felt, government should aid.But the originator of the phrase “forgotten man” had a whole different meaning in mind. He aimed to expose the seeming good intentions of government to reveal […]
“As the nation’s central bank, the Federal Reserve derives its authority from the Congress of the United States. It is considered an independent central bank because its monetary policy decisions do not have to be approved by the President or anyone else in the executive or legislative branches of government, it does not receive funding […]
The Keynesian disaster recovery plan has been to lower rates, force people to take more risk in search of yield, and entice others to borrow and spend and, magically, more jobs will be created. If people won’t buy stocks, central banks will.Back in 2011, Ben Bernanke, when asked if QE2 was driving up stock prices, […]
In September 2009, when President Obama made a primetime speech pitching his not-yet-passed health care overhaul, he made the following promise: “I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits — either now or in the future. Period.” To prove his seriousness, he further promised that “there will be a provision […]
Whatever your views on the role of government, one thing is clear: There will be no way to pay for it if the economy doesn’t grow. And I’m not talking by a measly percentage point or two. If we can’t find our way back to 5% annual economic growth or above soon, America’s accumulated federal […]
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, consumer prices are rising at a 2.1% annual rate. This suggests to us that the current stock market boom will die with a bang, rather than a whimper.Fed economists say they don’t think inflation rates are rising. They think the most recent reading is a fluke. But why […]
Real progress happens through real people, ideas, and innovations. Not by legislation argued and debated in Congress. Right now, one of the most influential technologies is changing the way people do business. And reinventing the future in the process.
Innovation can change the world… if the world lets it. Unfortunately, society’s gatekeepers make it a point to constrain, regulate, and control these ideas. But their power is limited, and the power of innovation is too great. Unfortunately for regulators, there are some technologies they can’t control.
“Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen.” — Emperor Palpatine, The Return of the JediJon Stewart made great comedic hay during the Bush Administration out of the enormity of Dick Cheney’s “Sith Lord” malevolence. Events in Iraq in the past week have made especially palpable Cheney’s Palpatine-like quality.As Iraq unravels, you may suspect that Cheney might now […]
Entrepreneurs are high-tailing it out of the United States, and it’s the politicians’ faultThe U.S. government is driving some of its most productive citizens abroad. The only beneficiaries are countries such as Singapore and Switzerland, which offer sanctuary to Americans fleeing avaricious Uncle Sam.Three years ago Eduardo Saverin, one of Facebook’s founders, joined 1,780 other […]
Politicians love raising the minimum wage because they don’t have to ask voters to pay more in taxes. They just dump the costs onto shop owners. But they don’t act like politicians and go into debt to pretend like they have all the money in the world. They face real world situations. And sometimes that means replacing workers with more affordable options...
A cushy job in Hawaii that pays six figures. A beautiful girlfriend/boyfriend. Job security and professional experience that gives you plenty of future opportunities. Would you throw that all away to do what you think is right? Last year, one government contractor did just that. And now you see the world the government tried to hide from you.
As the world gets more digital, people forget about the benefits of transacting in cash. And government officials know that.
Regulation is supposed to keep you safe and make the economy function smoothly. At least that’s what they tell you in the news. But there’s another cost to regulation. One that you won’t hear about unless you have to deal with directly. And for the people in the economy who do, they’re the ones who have to pay the final cost.
The experts will tell you the recession is over, but they’re only torturing the data to hide the truth. The economy never recovered from the downturn it experienced. But the downturn happened in 2000, not 2008. The country’s been in the middle of a 14 year recession and hardly anyone knows the truth.
All paper currency has a shelf life. It could be 5 years or 500 years, but at some point, the value of any paper currency eventually reaches zero. That's why, for centuries, people have turned to one shiny metal to safeguard their personal store of wealth. And, as Jim Rickards explains, you still have that option. Read on...
Edward Snowden’s one year visa in Russia expires at the end of next month. With only a few weeks left before he finds himself without a safe country to live in, he sat down to give an exclusive interview. Here are the most important things he wants you to remember from his recent sacrifice.
As the old saying goes, no good deed goes unpunished. The chronicling of my courtroom rant against drug laws has prompted a few readers to question my libertarian bona fides and label me as statist, self-righteous grandstander.
My piece has given these readers a reason to take their eye off the state for the moment and focus their energy on the real enemy: me. For example, one reader calls for me to repent and search my soul. He has even produced graphics to spread all over the Web the describe me as an evil menace to society, the very cause of the tyranny of our times.
By way of background, as explained in my piece last week, I was called to jury “duty” for a marijuana case. I told the judge outright that to my mind, no crime occurred, that I would not convict and, further, that I would attempt to nullify that laws that would otherwise convict the defendant. The incident created a notable courtroom stir. I was not chosen for that jury.
One reader writes in:
“Your piece in Laissez Faire show how you knowingly and willfully abandoned your fellow man to the thugs and their gulag. Why should anyone be on a jury to rescue you when you come into their cross hairs for one of the ‘three felonies a day’ that you commit? You self-righteously abandoned that kid and allowed aggressors to ruin his life forever… How will we ever have juries nullify anything if we are unwilling to suffer the crap necessary to rescue our fellow man? I hope you get charged with some federal crime and some ‘libertarian’ juror openly abandons you. Closing your heart toward this innocent man is despicable. You need to repent and write him a public letter of apology and circulate it to everyone that read your article in Laissez Faire.”
In the view of my interlocutor, my mission was to lie under oath, like those in the French underground. He is sure that I would be selected for the jury, despite there being less than a 25% chance. Then, once on the jury, I would need to lie under oath again. Next, my job would be to steer 11 other Southerners who oppose the legalization of marijuana into believing that it should be legalized. I would then talk them into defying the judge’s order and risk a contempt of court charge. Presto, after all of those stars have lined up, the marijuana trafficker is found not guilty, the drug war is over, and we all live happily ever after.
That’s his scenario. I suspect that this writer and those who sympathize with him have never stepped foot in a courtroom. But I may be wrong and I invite them to write in and tell us their jury nullification stories. How is it done in the real world? What did you say to the 11 other jurors to make them see it your way and risk a contempt of court charge?
Sure, if you don’t nullify, at least you can hang the jury and make the state try the case again. Again, you risk a contempt charge, all for delaying the inevitable. If you think that’s a good use of your time, great, go for it when you have a chance. But why take me to task for telling the truth? There are occasions when a nullification scenario can work, and I defended nullification to the judge. But it really is a matter of judgment and it varies case by case.
Regardless, I didn’t write the piece to pat myself on the back. More than a few people liked the story. Maybe they too have the fantasy of telling a judge, “The law is an ass.” It sounds easy on paper. Put yourself in a position to do it sometime. See if you pull the trigger. Those settings can be extremely intimidating.
Some question why I showed up in the first place, implying that its risk-free to just throw the summons away. But it’s not. Again, you risk a contempt of court charge. And besides, if libertarians think they can do good in the world, maybe it’s by providing a reasoned voice to a jury.
In the second week of jury duty, despite my admissions and outburst, I was still picked for a jury. It was a rape case. Go ahead and stop reading if you think that 1) I should be ashamed of providing slave labor to the state or 2) I should have worked to nullify rape laws.
The prosecutor told us repeatedly the case was simple. It was anything but. The state made it hard. The evidence offered prompted as many questions as it answered. Key witnesses provided testimony that was impossible to follow. We all wanted to raise our hands and ask questions during the proceedings, but that is not allowed. The state didn’t provide certain key witnesses or even inspect the crime scene.
So 12 strangers were left to sort this out. A man’s future was at stake. The state was at best lazy or at worst incompetent in its investigation and prosecution of the case. However, this didn’t matter. After two hours of spirited discussion, the group couldn’t have been further apart. I wondered how we could ever arrive at a verdict. When we left for the evening, the group was almost equally split. The state’s shoddy work was enough to convince more than half the jury.
The next morning, we began deliberations again. The same points were made all over (and over) again. After a sleepless night, three jurors had a change of heart. Another vote was taken, introducing a third verdict option. The group was still very far apart. We had deliberated for four hours. More discussion ensued, positions softened.
Ultimately, after five hours, a dozen strangers came to a verdict all could live with. We will likely never see each other again. But over two days, 12 reasonable people, although untrained, listened, considered, and came together to do a job.
The 12 people on that jury had nothing in common. Yet under the most difficult circumstances, they worked together as reasonable people to complete a task. They did this despite, not because of, the state-sponsored venue — a wonderful microcosm of the possibilities of leaving matters of justice and adjudication to society, rather than nationalizing the process to the state. The same decorum and reason should be common to those who purport to love liberty.