Tag Archives: United States

White Oak, Maryland
Seeding LEED, Public Domain image

David Friedman, Generic Drugs, Papal travels, and other links

I’ve got a couple interesting things in development, but in the meantime here are some links I’ve come across recently with some short analysis tacked on.

I don’t consider myself an anarcho-capitalist, although I agree with some of the arguments ancaps make.  I don’t find them too crazy if, for example, you accept the premise that even a well constrained government slowly escapes its constitutional shackles (debatable).  The result of this premise that the only option that would keep a government from expanding and infringing on freedom is to never have one at all. But I find it mostly uninteresting since I’m into politics and the political reality is that we have a government, we’ve had one for a long time, and we’re going to have one for quite some time into the future. Moreover, because I’m a consequentialist and most ancaps are deontological, some of the outrage at the government’s existence is also dulled. But despite all of that, this video by consequentialist anarcho-capitalist David Friedman summarizing his argument in The Machinery of Freedom (reviewed by Slate Star Codex here and more here) is excellent and well worth the 20 minute watch. Continue reading

Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0, Gage Skidmore

Why We Should Stop Talking About Trump

I made a pledge not to talk about Donald Trump about a month ago. I felt that he was getting too much media coverage, and since I believed he had no chance to win the nomination, I felt that every person discussing him was to his benefit…and to the detriment of everyone else on Earth. I made that prediction based on a few factors (Nate Silver does a good job talking about them here), mostly that Trump has no campaign infrastructure, no party support, terrible favorability ratings, and early polling is essentially meaningless. Of course, he also doesn’t have any cohesive platform and the ideas he does have are atrocious, but because the conversation about Trump never died down, his terrible ideas have stuck around despite his inevitable campaign collapse. Continue reading

Corporate Tax Avoidance and Inversions

After a discussion about corporate tax avoidance, I made an interesting discovery that equating corporate inversions with moving profits overseas to avoid tax burdens is a common misconception.  In case anyone was wondering, that’s clearly untrue. Inversions are a uniquely American phenomenon since the US is the only developed country to force its home-based corporations to pay not only taxes in a foreign country, but also American taxes on profits earned abroad.  This is one of the more bizarre elements of the tax code and also results in Americans living overseas being forced to renounce their citizenship to avoid back taxes. Moreover, the State Department has tried to make it far more difficult to renounce your citizenship in order to keep people paying taxes.  Yes really. Continue reading

What doesn’t kill you makes you…colder

Recently, it has become fashionable to douse yourself in freezing cold ice water. Since the Ice Bucket Challenge has gone viral these past few weeks, I’ve wondered about the economic efficiency of the phenomenon.  The marketing method has been highly successful; the ALS Association has raised over $15 million, obliterating the $1.8 million from the same period last year.

Source: www.stockphotosforfree.com. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.

People are pretty excited to participate in a big cultural movement, especially if it’s as easy as shooting a 30 second video.  Partaking in a cultural movement where not participating means not donating or raising awareness for charity pushes even more people to do it.  It’s also easy (and important) for PR conscious celebrities (and also celebrities who care) to get in on the action. Continue reading

A Libertarian Foreign Policy

An important criticism of both libertarian political ideology and practical policy is the lack of positive goals in international relations.  Libertarians are often derided as isolationists, and even Ron Paul’s self-classification as a “non-interventionist” perpetuates the perception that libertarians can only talk about foreign policy in terms of “doing less”. But this criticism can be broadly rebutted on two fronts.  The first is that the libertarian opposition to military engagement and advocacy for military reduction is not only a healthy and needed reality check, but ultimately better for our national security.  The second is that there are other paths besides military power which should be emphasized, notably free trade, which policy in the past decade has largely ignored.  I should note that my goals in this post are pretty modest.  It is my belief that any foreign policy position labelled as libertarian would have difficulty finding mainstream acceptance, yet given these two moderate positions, I believe I can construct a foreign policy platform most ideological libertarians (and actually most Americans) would agree with. Continue reading