Category Archive: Politics & Policy

  1. Featured On Demand Program of the Week: The War on Drugs Part 2

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    Can you believe that drugs in the US were initially banned partly because of fears of miscegenation (interracial relationships)? But that’s not the only reason. Other reasons included alarmist films like Reefer Madness (see program image!), fear of conspiracies, and the notion that government has a right to determine the productivity of its citizens. If these are the arguments on which the drug war was founded, can we be sure it’s a war worth fighting?

    The War on Drugs has created a laundry list of perverse incentives for both sellers and buyers, leading to unintended and even dangerous consequences. This program attempts to analyze the history and net effects of drug prohibition. Press play, and GET SMART!

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  2. Discussion Question of the Week: On Social Contracts

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    Does a ‘social contract’ between the people and their government truly exist? If so, what is contained in the social contract, and does it justify the size and scope of our current government?. If not, what is the best justification for government, and does it apply to our current government?

  3. Featured On Demand Program of the Week: The War on Drugs Part One

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    Can you imagine which country would imprison more of its citizens than China or Russia? If you’re an American, you’re living in it. In fact, more people are in prisons in the United States than in all other developed countries combined. In this program, we’ll show you how the criminal justice system is becoming an enemy of the people. The U.S. prison population began to grow dramatically in the 1970s, and this alarming increase shows that much of the growth in the last 40 years has been driven by the War on Drugs.

    Learn Liberty On Demand offers you a series of videos on new and exciting topics in the world of policy and ideas that you can watch any time, anywhere, on your schedule. Have you ever considered that maybe the worst part about drugs is the war against them and on those who use them? If so, this is the place for you.

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  4. Libertarians Can’t Believe in Closed Borders

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    This piece by Christopher Freiman originally appeared in Bleeding Heart Libertarians on October 28th, 2015. Read an excerpt below but be sure to head over to BHL to read the whole thing.

    Patrick Lynch wrote an interesting and provocative piece the other day arguing that immigration restrictions are consistent with libertarianism. An earlier post of mine explains why I disagree but I wanted to take the chance to say more on the issue. Lynch says:

    Support for open borders implies the elimination of national boundaries for the purposes of political organization and is much more consistent with anarchism than with classical liberalism— both of which are now commonly referred to as libertarian. It’s a position that rejects the entire experiment in constitutional governance and different political systems that has been a foundational belief in liberalism for hundreds of years.

    I’m not sure why support for open borders implies support for the elimination of meaningful national boundaries. Think of it this way: there’s an open border between Virginia and West Virginia but that doesn’t mean that we’ve eliminated state boundaries for the purposes for political organization. It just means that the state of Virginia can’t forcible exclude West Virginians from entering.

  5. A Five Minute Crash Course on the Greek Crisis

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    The economic and financial turmoil in Greece has been in and out of headlines frequently over the last few months. The Greeks claim austerity measures have only made things worse, while the EU claims Greece continues to fail the austerity measure put in place to receive future bailouts. In this video, we explain what has led to this point and how it’s a problem not likely to go away anytime soon. Check out parts one and two of our videos on Greece below.


    What do you think? Are the Greek people and the Greek government being treated unfairly by the European Union?

  6. Greece Should Default

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    Newly reelected Greek Prime Minister Alex Tsipras expects that by early 2017 Greece will be able to access bond markets, from which it has been virtually cut off since it lost investor confidence in 2010. If it is unable to meet this timeline, it will be forced to rely on further bailouts or go bankrupt.

    In the new Learn Liberty video below, George Mason University professor Garrett Jones argues that the bankruptcy option may be the best route for Greece to take. Going bankrupt, he argues, is not some horrible crime. Sometimes you make promises that you just can’t keep.

    Jones explains that Greece should discharge its obligations so that it can start fresh with supply-side reforms like a simple tax system and strict rules against corruption that the global investor class love. In other words, rather than continuing to kick the can down the road, Greece should crush the can and crack a new one!

  7. Featured On Demand Program of the Week: The Immigration Debate

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    With presidential contenders like Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders making a fuss about foreign laborers coming to the country and depressing wages or murdering our women and children immigration reform has once again moved to the front lines of presidential politics. Have you ever wanted to cut through the demagoguery and fear-mongering and get plain economic analyses of the immigration debate? Well now is your chance. This week the Learn Liberty Blog is featuring our On Demand program, “The Immigration Debate.”

    Take this On Demand program to get smart about the current immigration debate in America. The button is hot on this issue, so get your info while the fire’s still cooking!

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  8. ‘Loonie’ Canadians Elect Spendthrift Regime Despite Success with Cutting Spending

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    Last week, Canada elected a new Liberal Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, who has vowed to massively boost public spending and run several years of deficits, arguing that the “infrastructure deficit” is bigger than the fiscal deficit. He claims that such stimulus spending will spur economic growth.

    But in the video below, economist Stephen Davies looks at recent Canadian history – as well as that of other countries – to explain that the exact opposite is true: economic growth occurs when governments cut spending. He says that Canada, whose economy rebounded after significant public sector cuts in the 1990s, is the “obvious case.”

    That’s because cutting public spending means that money that otherwise would have gone to the government becomes available for productive purposes that create more wealth and a higher standard of living for everyone.

    In other words, like their currency, Canada’s new plan is downright loony.

  9. Republican Debate: More of the Same?

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    Last night’s Republican debate was two hours of 10 candidates doing their best to distinguish themselves from the many people hoping to win the 2016 presidential election. While there were some generally agreed-upon winners (Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz) and losers (Jeb Bush, and for some the CNBC moderators), the debate itself was underwhelming. Was it just us, or did all the candidates sound…the same?

    The problem of politicians sounding the same isn’t just limited to primary elections. Even once candidates receive their party’s nominations, we’re likely to hear a lot of the same talking points from both Republicans and Democrats. But why do all politicians end up sounding the same?

    In the video below, Professor Diana Thomas explains why politicians from both parties use the same talking points. The phenomenon can be explained by the median voter theorem, which states that in two-party, majority-rule democracies, each candidate has to appeal to the voter in the middle—the median voter—in order to win the majority. Instead of catering to their right or left-leaning base of supporters, like we see in the current debates, candidates in general elections have to appeal to the average American.

    “In fact, if you want to win,” Thomas explains, “you will have to aim for the position of the median voter—the guy right in the middle of the spectrum—because he’s the last voter you have to convince to get the majority you need.”  

  10. Art Carden: Illegal Immigrants Don’t Lower Our Wages Or Take Our Jobs

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    The following post appeared at on August 28th, 2015. Below is an excerpt.

    According to an April 2015 symposium on the effects of illegal immigrants in the Southern Economic Journal, illegal immigrants actually raise wages for documented/native workers. Meanwhile, rules preventing illegal immigrants from getting driver’s licenses raise our car insurance premiums and E-Verify requirements raise the cost of doing business and reduce employment.

    Using data from Georgia, Julie Hotchkiss, Myriam Quispe-Agnoli, and Fernando Rios-Avila find that documented workers’ wages rise with increases in the share of undocumented workers in a worker’s county and employed by their employers. The biggest boosts are for workers in low- and medium-skill firms that hire a lot of undocumented immigrants with an even larger boost for workers in low-skill firms with a lot of undocumented workers in the county and industry.

    Why? The law of comparative advantage says we get more productive when we have more trading partners, and the arrival of undocumented workers with limited English skills frees up low-skill American workers who can then specialize in tasks that require better English. In July, I had the honor of sharing the stage with Ann Coulter, and fellow Forbes contributor Rick Ungar on Fox Business’s Stossel show, and I got to explain how unskilled immigrants make us more productive at the end of the show.

    Head over to Forbes to read the rest of the article.

  11. New York Times’ Solution to Fiscal Problems: Eat the Rich

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    The New York Times came out with an article last weekend claiming how much good raising taxes on the country’s wealthiest could do:

    [W]hat could a tax-the-rich plan actually achieve? As it turns out, quite a lot… the government could raise large amounts of revenue exclusively from this small group, while still allowing them to take home a majority of their income.

    The article then proceeds to detail the “whopping” hundreds of billions of dollars that could be generated were the government to raise taxes.

    But this soak-the-rich argument ignores history. As Professor Antony Davies explains in the video below, over the last half-century tax revenue has held steady at around 18 percent of GDP no matter where tax rates were set. In other words, higher tax rates, like the Times article calls for, have had little-to-no historical success in raising tax revenue.

    Based on this history, Davies argues that the best way to raise tax revenue is not to raise tax rates but to grow the size of the economy as a whole — 18 percent of a big pie is a lot more revenue than 18 percent of a small pie. The recipe for a bigger pie? To use the Times’ phraseology: “allowing” people to keep more of what they earn.

  12. Deficit Day

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    What happens when the government spends all of the tax revenue it collects? In 2013, the U.S. budget deficit was $680 billion dollars! Who eventually pays for this difference in tax revenue and government spending? Professor of Economics at Duquesne University Antony Davies explains in the following video on the worst fiscal milestone of every year, Deficit Day.