By Adam Dick
Legal marijuana in Colorado has been a boon for freedom, allowing people to make, transfer, and consume marijuana products free from the threat of arrest by state or local police. At the same time, there is an unfortunate side-effect of the liberalization of marijuana laws in the state — the government scooping up great amounts of money via marijuana “sin taxes.”
The high marijuana taxes punish people who purchase marijuana by depriving them of money to save, to give away, or to spend on other goods or services. The sin taxes also are a means of controlling people’s behavior. Facing high taxes, some people will forgo or reduce their purchases of products containing the plant.
Proponents of the sin taxes claim the taxes are justified because using marijuana is a sin that should be discouraged. But, even if it is granted that there is some truth in that claim, a much greater sin is the use of government force via taxation to control people’s nonviolent activities.
There is plenty of marijuana sin tax to roll back in Colorado. Ethan Wolff-Mann calculates in Money magazine that sales and excise taxes increase the price of marijuana by 27.9% in the state.
The gouging of marijuana purchasers is reason enough to oppose the high taxes. In addition, there is the concern that all this tax revenue feeds the government machine that tramples on individual rights, including through enforcing laws against other drugs that are still illegal and even through clamping down on marijuana activities that take place outside the marijuana regulatory system. Recall that New York City cops killed Eric Garner on a Staten Island sidewalk last year in a confrontation predicated on stopping the evasion of one of the highest-in-the-nation cigarette tax rates. Protection of sin tax money streams can be very nasty.
There is indeed much government revenue from marijuana-specific taxes in Colorado. The Marijuana Policy Project places the total for the 12 months ending June 30 at nearly $70 million — 67 percent more than the nearly $42 million in revenue from alcohol-specific taxes during the same period.
How about the government stops taking this money from marijuana purchasers? Let them spend the money on what they choose. Refrain from using the new respect for marijuana freedom as an excuse for imposing oppressive new taxes, manipulating people’s behavior, and funding violations of individual rights.
A one day marijuana tax holiday occurred in Colorado on September 16. The interaction of a state government “accounting error” and state tax law provisions resulted in people in Colorado experiencing that day the freedom of purchasing marijuana free from the compulsion to pay much of the taxes on marijuana. But, freedom is for every day, not just for one day a year. Let’s make every day a holiday from marijuana sin taxes.
This article was originally published at The Ron Paul Institute For Peace & Prosperity.
By Paul-Martin Foss
Ludwig von Mises was born on September 29, 1881 in Lemberg, Austria-Hungary (now Lviv, Ukraine). A member of the third generation of the Austrian School of Economics, Mises’ major contributions were in the field of monetary theory. His writings on money and the Austrian theory of the business cycle continue to open the eyes of many people. If there is one book to read today to celebrate Ludwig von Mises’ birthday, it would be his early book, The Theory of Money and Credit. Its insights into money and credit are still highly relevant today.
Not only that, but this particular edition also includes additional material written by Mises decades after its first publication. The reader is able to compare the early Mises, who was more trusting of government control over the monetary system, with the later Mises who was much less so. Unlike Keynesians and other mainstream economists who ignore experience and continue to maintain a religious belief in the ability of governments to administer and control monetary policy, Mises experienced the horrors of the 20th century and saw what governments were able to do in all matters monetary. Governments abandoned the gold standard for fiat money, abandoning sound monetary systems and enabling the growth of government that culminated in the dictatorial regimes and wholesale slaughter of innocents in the mid-20th century.
Mises knew the dangers of continued unfettered money creation and was relentless in his devotion to principle and educating about the importance of sound money. His distrust of government control over money was carried on by his students and followers, including Murray Rothbard, and found its culmination in Congressman Ron Paul’s efforts to end the US government’s legal barriers to the use of gold and other currencies. If policymakers would only open their eyes to Mises teachings and absorb his lessons, we wouldn’t have to deal with financial crises and the continued boom and bust of the business cycle.
This article was originally published at The Carl Menger Center
By Thomas DiLorenzo
Now that Catalonia has voted to secede from Spain, the U.S. government must be contemplating a response. Fresh off the pope’s worshipful quoting of Abe Lincoln before Congress, and giving a speech from one of Abe’s own lecterns in Philadelphia, our politicians must be asking themselves (and answering): What would Lincoln do?
The answer is obvious. If he were the Spanish government, he could call up an army of at least a million men to invade Catalonia, bomb and burn its cities and towns, plunder everything of value, burn its crops, gang rape its women (especially gypsies), and generally terrorize and wage total war on the civilian population. He would probably have trouble getting Spaniards to treat their fellow citizens in this way, so he would have to invoke conscription, order daily firing squads of deserters, and employ many thousands of foreign mercenaries by promising them free land in conquered Catalonia.
Some freedom-loving Spaniards might criticize all of this, so in order to save the mystical Spanish union, all opposition newspapers would have to be shut down, their editors and owners imprisoned, and all communication censored. Citizens would be hired as spies to report on dissenters, who would be imprisoned without due process. “Treason” would be redefined as “criticizing the government.”
Any Spanish politician bold enough to speak out against all of this would be deported, and then falsely blamed for organizing draft riots from abroad. A blockade of Catalonia would be enforced, depriving it of food, medicine, and other essentials of life, while its infrastructure would be bombed back to the stone age. Generations of public school children would then be forced to sing a song about how all of this was a sign of “the glory of the coming of the Lord.'”
That’s what Lincoln did.
This article was originally published on LewRockwell.com.
By Ron Paul
At least 50 intelligence analysts as U.S. Central Command have lodged formal complaints that their analysis is being altered as it goes up the chain of command, ultimately to the President. How can a President make serious military decisions based on faulty and manipulated intelligence?
This is yet another reflection of how things are going so badly in the Middle East. Our policies over there are lousy and have nothing to do with our national defense. They're devastating to our financial situation, and hurt our civil liberties here at home. Americans, unfortunately, are apathetic and have not sent people to Congress demanding that the troops come home.
It's well past the time to mind our own business and protect our own country from attack. For too long we've been trying to remake the Middle East. Until it happens that we have the people over there behind us on this, we're going to continue to see a stream of crisis and tragedy.
It's about time that we all woke up and decided that it was time for a change. And when say the word "change," I don't mean a change of political party, but a real change to the ideas of non-intervention and protection of liberty here at home.
Thank you, and be sure to tune in to tomorrow's Liberty Report!
By Ron Paul
This month marks the seventh anniversary of the bursting of the housing bubble and the subsequent economic meltdown. The mood in Congress following the meltdown resembled the panicked atmosphere that followed the September 11th attacks. As was the case after September 11th, Congress rushed to pass hastily written legislation that, instead of dealing with the real causes of the crisis, simply gave the government more power.
Just as few understood the role our interventionist foreign policy played in the September 11th attacks, few in Congress understood that the 2008 meltdown was caused by the Federal Reserve and Congress, not by unregulated capitalism. Not surprising to anyone familiar with economic history, the story of the 2008 meltdown starts with the bursting of the Fed-created tech bubble.
Following the collapse of the tech bubble, the Fed began aggressively pumping money into the economy. This money flooded into the housing market, creating the housing bubble. The Bush Administration and the Republican Congress also added fuel to the housing bubble. These so-called “free-market” conservatives expanded federal housing programs in hopes of creating an “ownership society.”
If Congress understood the Austrian theory of the business cycle, it would have allowed the recession that followed the housing bubble’s inevitable collapse to run its course. Recessions are the economy’s way of eliminating the distortions caused by the Federal Reserve. Attempts by Congress and the Fed to end a recession via inflation and government spending will only lead to future, and more severe, economic downturns.
The corporate bailouts, government spending, and money creation via quantitative easing that Congress and the Fed have engaged in since the fall of 2008, have failed to produce even the illusion of prosperity. The daily experience of most Americans shows that the government’s doctored statistics drastically understate both unemployment and inflation.
This is not to say that no Americans have benefited from Federal Reserve policies. Even Donald Trump has called quantitative easing “a great deal for guys like me.” Much of the growth of government over the past seven years, from the bailouts to the increases in military and domestic spending to Obamacare, has also benefited politically-connected crony capitalists.
The Federal Reserve’s continued delay of an interest rate increase suggests that, contrary to its public statements, the Fed understands that the economy has not recovered from the meltdown and is on the brink of another major recession. Fear that the Fed is not being fully forthcoming with its view of the economy is one reason the stock market declined following the Fed’s recent decision to once again postpone increasing interest rates.
Learning the full truth about how the Fed evaluates the economy and its plans to respond to another downturn are two reasons why it is important to pass the Audit the Fed bill.
A vote on Audit the Fed would probably be the only good thing to occur in Congress this year. A Congress that cannot defund Planned Parenthood is unlikely to make any serious cuts in spending. Instead of waiting for politicians to do the right thing, those who know the truth must spread the ideas of liberty as far and wide as possible. Only when the teachings of the Austrian school are embraced by a critical mass of Americans will Congress cut warfare spending, cut welfare spending, and audit, and then end, the Fed.
By Ron Paul
I have a lot of mixed feeling about the Pope's recent visit to Congress. I'm not necessarily opposed to it, but I really don't like it when spiritual leaders get involved with promoting ideas that I believe are detrimental to the people.
When the Pope promotes big government programs and government co-opting charity, it reflects a lack of understanding of how markets work. If you're really concerned about the poor, you're not looking for government redistribution of wealth.
At one time, the churches and synagogues in the U.S. fought hard for separation from government. They did not want to be co-opted in helping those in need.
I can relate to this with my own experience. My parents were always involved with Meals-on-Wheels. They were involved for many years, and it was always voluntarily done through the church. But towards the end, when my Dad was in his 80's or 90's and still making the trips, he became disappointed because he said: "You know...now government's getting involved." It didn't collapse Meals-on-Wheels, but to my Dad, it was part of his church work.
Think about our hospitals. How were the great hospitals started? Through the churches and voluntarism. There was no great federal funding for our hospitals. The same goes for our universities. So many of us have sadly given up on the fact that this stuff happens without the force of the government.
A real understanding of free markets and voluntary transactions is sorely lacking today. We've lost the ability to believe in ourselves, and have fallen for the lie that governments can solve our problems. The trend can be reversed, and it has to be reversed, in order for us to get out of the giant mess that we're in.
Thank you, and please tune in Monday to the next Liberty Report!
By Chris Rossini
One of the most successful political myths in America may finally be hitting a wall. The myth is that the Republican Party stands for small and limited government, as compared to the Democrats, who just spend and bury the nation in debt.
The truth is that both parties stand for growing the government as much as they possibly can. This truth has been hiding behind a thick smoke screen erected by members on both sides.
Republicans (yet again) are campaigning as the "good cop". Just trust them, elect them, and they'll shrink the government monster this time. Obama has gone off the deep end, and you need a good Republican to reign it all in.
Of course, it's all a lie.
On the Democratic side, the myth is perpetuated by the likes of Paul Krugman, who writes today:
But Ronald Reagan insisted that government is always the problem, never the solution, and this has become dogma on the right.
This is how the myth continues to maintain its strength. Both sides perpetuate it and treat it as truth. Let's look at the numbers, shall we?
Here is a chart that displays the spending habits of the Presidents. The so-called "limited government" Presidents are in red:
Looks like a one-way street, doesn't it?
What about the debt? Again, the "good guys" are in red:
Republicans and Democrats have pulled it off! People all over the country are fighting over why we need a Republican, or why we need a Democrat, and yet the truth is very clear....It doesn't matter! Both parties are taking everyone to the cleaners!
As government grows (and we see that it only grows) it means that our liberties are steadily being taken away. You can't have it both ways. You can't have the biggest government in the history of mankind, and remain free. It has to be one or the other. Government and Liberty are mutually exclusive.
The great two party myth may be hitting a snag though. A new Fox News poll was released showing that 60% of Republicans feel betrayed by the party. One must wonder what the other 40% are thinking...
Should enough people see through the fog though, you can expect a ramping up of the propaganda. Republicans will really bring the sweet talk, and Democrats will continue to re-enforce it.
Don't fall for it. It's just a fairy tale.
Please enjoy this tribute that my son Rand gave for Carol:
I'd like to say a few words about the non-aggression principle. If people would reject the use of aggression in order to achieve their aims, it would solve so many of the problems we experience today. No one should have the right to initiate the use of force against others.
Republicans and Democrats all have their so-called solutions, but they're all based on the use of aggression. People seek to use the government to achieve their ends. They want to gain control of the apparatus that wields force. They want to redistribute wealth, help their political friends, and bailout their cronies.
Eventually, a country that takes this path goes bust. That's what we're facing today in America.
While I fear that there will be more violence in America in response to the economic crisis and increased government controls, I am not an advocate of coups or forcefully overthrowing the government. The government is going to overthrow itself.
The Soviet system didn't collapse because of a coup. The perceptions of the people had changed. Those in power, like Gorbachev, just had to give up. Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.
That is what has to happen in America. The ideas and ideology of Americans must change. We'll get our liberties back if enough Americans understand the non-aggression principle.
Thank you, and be sure to tune in to tomorrow's Liberty Report!
By Ryan McMaken
When George W. Bush was in the White House, left liberals were the ones denouncing war, calling for less intrusive government, and generally striking an anti-government pose. That all abruptly stopped when Obama was sworn in. And now that Obama is president, it's the conservatives who are talking about secession and denouncing violations of civil liberties. There's no sign of conservative opposition to interventionism foreign policy, though. Indeed, it seems that Obama's big sin here is not being interventionist enough.
If that was the impression you had of partisan politics over the past 16 years, you're not alone. Pew has recently updated its analysis of Americans who say that government is an "immediate threat." And sure enough, there is a very large correlation between one's suspicion of government, and if one is in the same political party as the sitting president. In other words, people only seem to notice that government is a problem when their political party is out of power. The graph looks pretty much like you'd expect:
Fewer than a quarter of Republican-leaning respondents thought that government was a threat when Bush was president. At the same time, a near majority of Democrats and Democrat leaners thought so. Then, when the occupant in the White House changed, the respondents reversed their views of government power, with only about a quarter of Dems and Dem leaners fearing government, with over 60 percent of Republicans and Republican leaners saying the same.
So, when out of power, it does appear that Republicans are more anti-government, but when in power, they're even more pro-government than the Democrats surveyed.
The take away from this is that, while there is a nice baseline of people who do in fact consider government power to be a dangerous thing, the make-up of that group is dependent on capricious reasoning about whether or not "my team" or the "other team" is in power. Says Pew:
The fact that almost half of Americans see the federal government as an immediate threat to their lives and freedoms may appear alarming at first, perhaps conjuring an image of Americans worrying that the government will be breaking down their doors and engaging in random arrests of private citizens.
In other words, the anti-government rhetoric we hear from many corners of the partisan media generally overstates actual laissez-faire sentiment. The people who are denouncing the government today will change their tune if their guy gets elected.
In a separate Pew survey, they concluded that 11 percent of respondents both self-identify as "libertarian" and know what "libertarian" means. This is especially strong among young people, non-Hispanic whites, and Hispanics. This is pretty good news for libertarians.
The problem, however, is this: will some of these people stop self-identifying as such when the White House changes its occupant? That's unclear given the nature of the data, and it's unclear how many of the people who today self-identify as libertarian are really just Republican leaners who will switch sides the day Jeb Bush is sworn in. That is, we need data that distinguishes between short-term libertarians and long-term ones. There are whose who are suspicious of the political system consistently, and there are those who are only fearful when the other party is in power.
Interestingly, there's something to be said here in favor of a permanent, unelected executive. The rotating presidency acts to convince the voters that, at least occasionally, one of the "good guys" will be in power. This helps maintain a baseline of support for the institutions by convincing out-of-power opponents that they should never really double down on opposition to the government. They might eventually get to run it again. Here, again, we see the democratic mechanism as the great opiate of political opposition.
This article was originally published by The Mises Institute.