Archive for July, 2013

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Two views on growth

July 24, 2013

Jeff G sent links to a couple of interesting TED talks about economic growth. Each is about 12 minutes long.


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The Army of the State

July 20, 2013

What a coincidence: yesterday I posted an article about a St. Louis cop who had been fired for assaulting a suspect but then found not guilty (of 3rd degree assault) by a judge who hadn’t seen the video of the event. Watching that video, it’s hard to see how justice was served by that decision.

That same day, I got e-mail from Jeff G. containing an article from Infowars.com. Not a sterling source, IMO, but in this case I had no problem believing the article: Florida Nurse Terrorized by US Marshals in Warrantless Raid.

Update: The Infowars article appears to be based on this article from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Those articles read like one of Radley Balko’s "Raid Of The Day" posts at his blog The Agitator.

The subject line of Jeff’s e-mail read: "This stuff is not supposed to happen in the U.S. folks. This is not unusual anymore. What the heck is going on?"

As I replied to Jeff, what’s going on is described in Balko’s new book, Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces.

Balko also described this problem in Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America, his 2006 white paper for the Cato Institute.

Radley’s been on this beat for years (along with others) and he’s documented many cases like the one reported by Infowars, the Herald-Tribune, and by KSDK in St. Louis.

If you haven’t checked out his writing on the topic, you’re missing an important trend.

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Into a black hole

July 20, 2013

I’m not a big fan of Vsauce but this clip about traveling into a black hole was very good, I thought. If you’ve ever been curious, this is the straight dope (an opinion based on my layman’s reading about astrophysics).

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Office Bruce wants his job back

July 19, 2013

I ran across this news today but hadn’t heard of the case before. The video mentioned below can be seen at the link.

Rory Bruce cleared of assault charges

ST. LOUIS (KSDK) – A former St. Louis police officer has been cleared of assault charges and wants his job back.

Rory Bruce was accused of punching a handcuffed teenage suspect in the face in February 2012. Prosecutors say the assault was caught on video.

A judge found Bruce not guilty last Thursday.

Now, the St. Louis Police Officer Association is asking the chief to reinstate Bruce.

Tuesday, after a Freedom of Information Act request by KSDK, St. Louis Police released video from a police vehicle of the incident in question.

Prosecutors say the video shows Bruce abusing his power, but they say Associate Circuit Judge Theresa Burke never watched the video before acquitting the officer of assault charges. […]

Bruce was fired for his actions but last week a judge cleared him of 3rd degree assault. But the video was not allowed as evidence in the bench trial.

Since I know very little about this case, I’ll refrain from comment. Watch it and form your own opinion.

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12 Years a Slave

July 17, 2013

There’s a new movie of Solomon Northup’s autobiography 12 Years a Slave.

I learned that there was an earlier film made from the book that I haven’t seen. I’d like to see this film because I found the book very interesting.

Via Clayton Cramer

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Seven surprises

July 16, 2013

By Ron Bailey at the Reason.com blog. (This article also appears in Reason’s latest print edition.)

Seven Surprising Truths about the World
A lot of the bad news you think you know is wrong.

Did you know that the incidence of cancer in the United States has been declining for nearly 20 years? That the spread of pornography correlates with a decline in rape? That average IQs are going up substantially all around the world? These are just some of the truths that are well-known to the scholars who study those subjects but generally come as a surprise to even the best-educated among us.

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Shedding no light

July 15, 2013
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Back to basics (2)

July 11, 2013

As I mentioned last month, "You’d think the lessons from letting governments mismanage economies would be apparent to people by now and that they wouldn’t let their governments try that. But you’d be wrong."

Here’s Ron Bailey writing at Reason’s blog about the demagogues on the Washington DC City Council, who’re fixing to shoot themselves (and everyone else) in the foot.

Again.

DC City Council Shake Down of Walmart Epic Fails

Yesterday, I marvelled at the chutzpah of the Washington, DC City Council’s effort to shake down retailers like Walmart by boosting the city’s minimum wage by nearly 50 percent just for them. As I opined:

The economic ignorance of the city mothers and fathers of Washington, DC never ceases to flabbergast me. Years ago, the city’s solons decided that not enough people were choosing to work at house-cleaning and other domestic chores, so they sought to solve this “shortage” by voting to boost the minimum wage for such work. Surely, increasing the price of an activity will increase the demand for it.

In another boneheaded move, the city council voted earlier this year for legislation, the Large Retailer Accountabliity Act, that would hike the minimum wage for workers at “big box” stores to $12.50 per hour. This is a big increase over the city’s $8.25 minimum wage. Evidently the city council believes that this is the way to entice retailers like Walmart, Target, and Wegmans to open businesses in the city.

The amazing part is that such a group of economic illiterates thinks it can fine tune the local economy with laws for business-specific minimum wages. Their schemes remind me of Wile E. Coyote’s – i.e., they’re hilariously impractical.

But even if this crew were economic geniuses, and their schemes worked as planned, those laws would still be a violation of economic freedom in DC. The laws would be wrong in principle even if they were practical. But back to the news…

When Walmart wrote about re-evaluating its plan to build six stores in DC – due to the friendly reception it got from the City Council, councilman Vincent Orange responded (“its” and “them” refer to Walmart):

What does Orange say now? From today’s Post:

Vincent B. Orange (D-At Large), a backer of the bill, said the announcement revealed its “true character.”

“For them to now stick guns to council members’ heads is unfortunate and regrettable,” he said.

Who is sticking what gun to whose head? In this case, it is Orange who has revealed his true character as an economically ignorant demagogue. Let’s hope that DC’s voters will hold Orange and the other seven council members accountable for the loss of jobs, convenience, and affordable shopping.

Bailey asks the right question about that remark: Who’s the thug in this picture?

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Because it will feel so good when we stop (2)

July 7, 2013

End drug prohibition now. From Mark Perry’s blog Carpe Diem.

US-incarcertaion-rate

Thanks to the Drug War, the US incarcerates more of its own people than any country in the world except maybe N. Korea

The chart above shows the breakdown of the current federal inmate population by type of offense, according to the most recent data from the Federal Bureau of Prisons. There are currently 90,043 Americans serving time in federal prisons for drug crimes, which is by far the No. 1 offense that results in a federal jail sentence (see chart). Drug offenders make up almost half (47.1%) of our federal inmate population of 218,171, and that helps explain why the US retains its status as the World’s No.1 Jailer with a prison population of 713 per 100,000 population, more than even any of the world’s most notorious and oppressive regimes like Myanmar (120 per 100,000 population), Cuba (510 per 100,000 population), and Iran (333 per 100,000). The only country that might challenge the US as the world’s No. 1 jailer is North Korea. Although information is limited, North Korea’s incarceration rate is estimated to be between 600-800 per 100,000 population.

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What Fifth Amendment?

July 7, 2013

Gwinnett County, Georgia has a “no refusals” policy when it comes to testing for DUI/DWI.

No one wants to defend drunk drivers. If a drunken driver harmed a member of my family, I’d be thirsting for blood.

But the Fifth Amendment reads, "No person […] shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself […]." Gwinnett County’s policy seems a pretty clear violation of the Fifth Amendment to me.

Here in Missouri, the first refusal to take a breathalyzer (or urine) test results in a one-year suspension of the driver’s license. Georgia’s law appears to be similar (or harsher). Both states base their laws on the ‘implied consent’ drivers grant to obtain a license in the first place.

The lawmen in Gwinnett County might want to read up on Missouri v. McNeely: Trouble for Implied Consent Laws?

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