Category: campaignforliberty.org

Liberty at the Movies: Spider-Man Homecoming

Spider-Man: Homecoming is the latest, and best, Spider-Man movie. It is also provides a case study in crony capitalism that illustrates why so many Americans are rejecting the big government status quo.

Homecoming is not just a reference to the high school dance that serves as the setting for the films climactic battle, but to the fan this movie represents Spider-Man’s homecoming to Marvel Studios.

In the nineties, Marvel comics licensed film rights to some of its most popular characters—including Spider-Man— to other film studios. Because of this agreement, Marvel was unable to use Spider-Man in any of its own films until 2015 when Sony negotiated a deal where Marvel would make the movies while Sony would distribute it. Ironically, the reason Sony rebooted Spider-Man in 2012 was to keep the rights to the character from reverting back to Marvel. Sony’s second film with the new Spider-Man  underperformed at the box offices, so in order to save their franchise Sony made a deal with Marvel.

The film is also a Homecoming in that it returns Spider-Man to his comic book roots as a shy, bullied high school student. Instead of retelling his origin story, the film kicks off during the events of Civil War, last year’s Marvel blockbuster where the Avengers split into two sides over the government’s attempts to register and control them. In Civil War Tony Stark (Iron Man) requires Peter Parker to fight on the pro-government side.

Homecoming begins with Peter Parker getting ready for Civil War’s slug-fest and setting up his camera to put Spider-Mans exploits on YouTube (in the comics Peter Parker set a camera to photograph Spidey, now he YouTubes him). Parker is then taken back to New York by Tony Stark and told to not call the Avengers, they’ll call him.

The film is a combination of “coming of age” teen comedy and super hero action flick. Peter has to deal with all the challenges of the science-focused high school he goes to—like trying to get the girl he has a crush on to notice him—with the challenges of mastering his super powers. Some of the films funnest moments involve his early missteps, like when he tries to stop a guy from breaking into his own car.

What makes Homecoming is the performances. Tom Holland is the perfect Spider-Man and could serve as the foundation for the Marvel Cinematic Universe if, as rumored, many of the top stars are soon leaving. Other stellar performances are given by Jacob Batalon as Peter’s best friend Ned, Zendaya as Michelle, Peter and Ned’s fellow mathlete whose aloof exterior and mocking tone hide true affection for Peter (and who may be a reinvention of an iconic Spider Man character) and Marisa Tomei as a younger, hipper version of Peters beloved Aunt May. John Favreau also gives a great performance as Tony Stark’s assistant Happy Hogan. Happy is tasked with dealing with Peter’s endless phone calls asking if Stark has any assignments for him and giving updates on his activities.

Two performances that deserve special mention are Robert Downey Jr. and Michael Keaton as the movie’s big bad Vulture. Downey is only in a few scenes but he shines in every one showing why he is Marvel’s MVP. With a few words and facial expressions Downey conveys both true affection for his new protégé and exasperation that Peter will not follow his instructions to keep his exploits to the “small stuff.”

Keaton makes us sympathize with the Vulture. At the beginning of the movie Adrian Toomes is a small business man who thinks his salvage company is going to strike it big cleaning up the debris from the battle of New York from 2012’s Avengers. But he is forced out by the government who has been given exclusive rights to the clean up by Stark industries. So Toomes turns to dealing in alien arms (and assumes the identity of the Vulture) not because he wants to conquer the world but because he wants to feed his family and keep his business afloat. Keaton manages to move from besieged small business owner to managing super villain to concerned Dad in a blink of an eye.

More than one critic has noticed how Vulture is a reflection of the times in which we live. This is a monster created by crony capitalism. Keaton’s Vulture is someone you might meet at a Donald Trump rally or (if he understands the real cause and solutions to his problems) a Ron Paul event. Vulture/Toomes even chides Spider-Man/Peter for siding with rich guys like Stark who rig the system to hurt people like them.

It would be interesting to see the theme of Tony Stark as crony capitalist developed over the next few Marvel movies and maybe even have that as a source of conflict between Stark and Peter. Speaking of Stark’s relationship with the government, the one flaw I saw was that the Sokovia accords that formed the basis for Civil War were never mentioned. Isn’t Spider-Man required to sign the accords? And since Iron Man was the leading champion of them shouldn’t he be pushing him to do so? It is possible that Stark has Peter sign them in a manner protecting his identity or used his influence to keep Spidey off the government’s radar. This may be why he was so adamant that Spidey stay small.

That criticism aside, Homecoming is an excellent and entertaining film that illustrates how our mixed economy allows the politically connected to gain extra market advantages over small businesses.

If you buy or rent Homecoming here Campaign for Liberty gets part of the proceeds.

Vía Campaign for Liberty » National Blog http://ift.tt/2Bsmp3K

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Ron Paul: Trump Must Tackle the Renewable Fuel Standard

Campaign for Liberty Chairman Ron Paul recently penned an op-ed for Fox News urging President Trump and Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt to work to repeal, or at least modify, the renewable fuel standard (RFS). This is the federal mandate that our gas contain a certain percentage of “renewable fuels.” The RFS raises gas prices for the end of a select group of producers and- by diverting corn production from food to fuel- increases food prices here and abroad.

As Dr. Paul details, some Senators and special interests are so devoted to the RSF that they fight any reforms, even when they would benefit renewable fuel producers.

Campaign for Liberty will continue to work to end all renewable fuel mandates.

Here and below is Dr. Paul’s Op-Ed:

President Trump and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt will have an opportunity in coming weeks to increase manufacturing jobs and bolster U.S. exports by simply cutting back on the red tape of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

Although every source of energy – wind, solar, renewable, carbon-based and the rest – has a place on the market, the RFS includes a government-imposed requirement mandating that a specified amount of renewable fuels are mixed into at least 15 billion gallons of America’s diesel fuel and gasoline annually.

Refiners blend ethanol made from corn into fuel to meet this RFS requirement, and as a result farmers who grow corn and politicians from corn-growing state support the RFS. More corn is produced in Iowa than any other state.

No one said that draining the swamp would be easy. While lobbyists and officials representing corn states have been fighting President Trump’s EPA every step of the way, I am still hopeful that the White House will make the decision that benefits the economy at large.

To satisfy Washington bureaucrats, refineries and distributors must either produce the mix of fuel containing ethanol on their own; purchase credits – called Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) from someone who can blend it; or import renewables from overseas that qualify for RINs credits.

For the many who cannot afford to mix themselves, purchasing the RINs – “Big Brother Compliance Certificate” of sorts from another company – suffices. These smaller refineries are not buying a tangible product; rather, just the ability to comply with the RFS on their regulatory forms.

Since it is difficult to blend to meet the RFS’s requirements, many small refiners at the mercy of large refiners. They must purchase RINs credits from them. The price of the credits constantly fluctuates.

A price hike of 200 percent came just from February to August. In many instances, the big winners from this policy are not corn farmers, but hedge fund managers. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, pointed out that “when RINs prices are highest, corn prices are often lowest,” suggesting that RINs are the darling of Wall Street, not corn states.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds left for Texas on Nov. 14 – what she called “hostile territory” – to lobby for the removal of Sen. Cruz’s hold on a Department of Agriculture nomination. Cruz promptly sent a letter to her clarifying his motives.

Cruz noted that he is far from an enemy of Iowa; he is just trying to look out for the long-term interests of the country, all while remaining open to finding a “mutually beneficial outcome.”

While I am sure many Republicans would love to see the RFS repealed entirely – myself included – some have proposed a simple compromise that would seemingly benefit even the ethanol lobby: allow exported renewables made within our borders to count towards the RINs compliance system.

According to one columnist at US News, this amendment has the potential to increase U.S. exports by 1.2 gallons and create over 26,000 U.S. jobs, allowing “the U.S. to achieve its goal of 15 billion gallons of blended fuel in a way much more compatible with the free market.”

It would shock me if this opportunity to beat back the RFS red tape did not at least intrigue the Trump administration. I support free trade, but there is a clear policy issue when a burdensome government mandate forces the country to prioritize foreign imports while shutting off many American exports artificially. That is exactly what is occurring under the current RINs program.

Some believe that members of the Trump administration fear amending the RFS would upset residents of Midwestern states. But contrary to what the ethanol lobby wants you to believe, it does not speak on behalf of any state.

For example, it is important to remember that like me, Sen. Cruz managed to win the Iowa presidential caucus because he convinced the Hawkeye State that less, not more, government intervention is the key to unleashing the economic growth needed to raise wages and boost employment.

The last few years have proven that wishy-washy politics do not play well with voters. Let’s hope the Trump administration does what is in the best interest of the American economy rather than entertain the bidding of a few politically well-connected special interests.

 

Vía Campaign for Liberty » National Blog http://ift.tt/2o4LGeW

The Feds should leave online gambling to the states

Joey Bradford, campaign consultant and former staffer for Rand Paul and Gary Johnson, has penned an op-ed at the Foundation for Economic Education explaining why a federal ban on online gambling is both dangerous to liberty and unconstitutional:

Say what you will about the claims of Internet gambling opponents, the state level is the proper forum for this discussion. States must decide whether to have Internet gambling. There is no reason for the federal government to dictate state gambling policy. If New Jersey and Pennsylvania want Internet gambling, so be it. If Utah and Hawaii, two states that don’t allow any gambling, never legalize it, that is fine too. This is how federalism works.

Unfortunately, a federal threat to these state laws still looms strong. Despite pledging fidelity to the Constitution, retiring Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) and his fellow Keystone State colleague, Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick (R-PA) are trying to dictate gambling policy for their home state and 49 others. Mr. Dent wants to enact legislation overturning state laws, while Mr. Fitzpatrick is pushing for the DOJ to reverse half a decade’s progress in one fell swoop.

As Dent explores ways to attach an amendment to the budget that would impose a federal ban on online gambling, Fitzpatrick is busy trying to convince the Department of Justice to again outlaw the practice on its own. Meanwhile, Sheldon Adelson hired a lobbyist to move DOJ decision-makers, all while he likely continues to push Congress to resurrect his anti-online gambling legislation that would circumvent the Tenth Amendment.

Read the entire op-ed here.

As Congress works on the end-of-year spending bill there may yet be an attempt to shove a ban on online gaming into the bill. Campaign for Liberty members should call their representatives and senators and tell them to oppose any attempts to attach a ban on online gaming to the end-of-year spending bill.

Vía Campaign for Liberty » National Blog http://ift.tt/2AlHyZA

This Week in Congress

The House is in session Monday through Thursday this week. Among the bills the House will consider is H.R. 3971 which creates “safe harbors” for small financial institutions to exempt them from some federal regulations.

The House will also consider H.R. 1638, which requires the Treasury Department to make regulations regarding financial institutions legal obligations to comply with sanctions laws easier to understand. It also requires the Treasury Department to file yearly reports on:

  • the funds or assets held in U.S. and foreign financial institutions that are directly or indirectly controlled by specified Iranian officials;

  • any equity stake such official has in an entity on the Treasury’s list of Specially Designated Nationals or in any other sanctioned entity;

  • how such funds, assets, or equity interests were acquired and used;

  • new methods used to evade anti-money laundering and related laws, including recommendations to improve techniques to combat illicit uses of the U.S. financial system by each such official;

  • recommendations for revising U.S. economic sanctions against Iran to prevent Iranian officials from using funds or assets to develop and procure ballistic missile technology;

  • how Treasury assesses the effectiveness of U.S. economic sanctions against Iran;

  • recommendations for improving Treasury’s ability to develop and enforce additional economic sanctions against Iran if so ordered by the President.

The House will also consider H.R. 4324, which requires the Treasury Secretary to annually certify that the US and foreign financial institutions are complying with federal laws regarding Iran sanctions.

The House will also consider H.R. 2396 which exempts financial institutions that post changes to their privacy policies on their website and by mail and makes consumers aware of the change and where they can get information on the new policy.

The House will consider a number of bills under suspension of the rules including:

  1. H.R. 3369– Makes a number of changes to streamline airline security, most of which are technical. The most interesting  one authorizes screening of passengers on charter airlines in an area separate from where general commercial airline passengers are screened. It also requires the Homeland Security Department to prepare a study on the feasibility of identifying security threats who sign up for flight school training….like someone who says they don’t need to learn how to land.

  1. HR 2706– Forbids banks form closing an account based on the account holders reputation as a risk. Seems like this could increase taxpayer liability to bail out banks when there risky depositors default.

  1. H.R. 3093– Amends the Volker rule which prohibits banks from conducting certain trading activities and being involved in hedge or private equity funds to allow certain banks to share a name with a private equity fund.

For more on the Volker Rule see here.

  1. H.R. 1730– Makes it a federal crime to not just commit an act of violence or vandalism against a religious institution but to threaten to do so. This raises First Amendment issues as well as a question of why this is a federal matter.

  1. H.R. 1733– From the official summary:

This bill directs the Department of Energy to update its report on the energy and environmental benefits of re-refining used lubricating oil and submit to Congress a strategic plan to increase the beneficial reuse of lubricating oil.

Cause the private sector would never study the beneficial effects of a product excerpt when they do.

  1. H.Res. 407–Condemns persecution of religious minorities and calls on the President to uphold religious liberty around the world. The resolution ignores how U.S. intervention has been responsible for much of the persecution faced by religious minorities.

  1. H.Res. 336– Reaffirms commitment to a strong U.S.-Mexican relationship, including cooperation on security matters.

  1. H.Res. 357– Reaffirms the relationship between U.S. and Canada and calls for increased economic and security cooperation between the two governments.

So two resolutions supporting mercantilism and imperialism.

The Senate will be considering nominations.

 

Vía Campaign for Liberty » National Blog http://ift.tt/2iZ1fzD

Government Should Leave Bakers Alone

Last week the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The case stems from the refusal of Masterpiece Cakeshop, a bakery, to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. The bakery was found guilty of a civil rights violation and ordered to stop refusing to bake and design cakes because they are for same-sex weddings. The bakery was also required to file reports on the steps it takes to comply and whether it turns down any prospective customers.

The decision to force the bakery to change its business practices reflects a mistaken concept of rights. Those who support government intervention in this case view rights as a gift from government. Therefore, they think politicians and bureaucrats can and should distribute and redistribute rights. This view holds it is completely legitimate to use government force to make bakeries bake cakes for same-sex weddings since the government-created right to a cake outweighs the rights of property and contract.

This view turns the proper concept of rights on its head. Rights are not gifts from government, so the government cannot restrict them unless we engage in force or fraud. The bakery did not use force to stop any same-sex couple from getting a wedding cake. It simply exercised its right to decide who it would accept as a customer. No one would support private individuals forcing bakery employees to bake a cake at gunpoint, so why is it right for the government to do it?

Some people claim that forcing the bakery to bake the cake is consistent with libertarianism. The reason they make this claim is they view the bakery’s actions as rooted in bigotry toward homosexuals. But even if this were true, it would not justify government intervention. Bigots and others with distasteful views have the right to use their property as they choose. The way to combat bigotry is through boycotts and other means of peaceful persuasion.

Instead of considering whether Colorado has violated the bakery’s rights of property and contract, the Supreme Court is considering whether Colorado’s actions violate the bakery’s religious liberty. The argument for a religious liberty violation is based on the fact that the bakery owner’s refusal to bake the cake was rooted in his religious objection to same-sex marriage. Looking just at this argument means that a victory for the bakery would implicitly accept the legitimacy of laws dictating to whom private businesses must provide services, as long as an exemption is made for those with religious objections. This reduces property and contract rights to special privileges held by business owners with “sincere religious convictions.” It also allows judges, bureaucrats, and politicians to determine who is really acting on sincere religious convictions.

Just as business owners have the right to decide who to do business with, individuals have the right to form any arrangement they wish as long as they do not engage in force or fraud. This includes entering into what many consider unconventional or even immoral marriage contracts. What no individual has the right to do is use government to force others to accept his definition of marriage.

Even if the bakery wins in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, its victory will only protect those businesses acting on a “sincere religious conviction.” Those who oppose forcing bakers to bake cakes and who support private business owners’ right to decide who to accept as customers should work to restore respect for everyone’s rights.

Vía Campaign for Liberty » National Blog http://ift.tt/2iU8dWq

Liberty at the Movies: Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman is the latest super-hero blockbuster and is one of the best “comic book” movies ever. It is certainly the best DC movie — and, yes, I am including the Christian Bale Dark Knight trilogy and the early nineties Tim Burton-Michael Keaton movies in that comparison.

The movie succeeds doing what what last year’s Batman v Superman failed to do: tell a compelling, coherent story that fuses some interesting philosophical and political issues without allowing the philosophy and politics to get in the way of the action.

Wonder Woman is an origin story, telling the tale of Diana, an Amazonian princess who leaves her island paradise when Steve Trevor (played by Chris Pine) lands on the Island, pursued by German soldiers.

Steve is a U.S. spy assigned to work with the British in World War I. Diana sees Steve’s tales of the “war to end all wars” as the work of Ares, the God of war. According to the movies’s mythology, the God Zeus created man. Man was peaceful until corrupted by Ares. Ares killed all other Gods, including Zeus, who sacrificed himself to destroy Ares, but not before giving the Amazons a secret weapon to destroy Ares if he ever arose again.

Diana is convinced the great war resulted from Ares corruption of the German people, and that she can end the war by killing Ares. So, defying her mother (who is also the Amazon Queen), she helps Trevor escape. Trevor is seeking to return to the Allies HQ to deliver secret information about a deadly new gas being developed by the Germans.

The rest of the movie combines humor, action, and drama. The humor comes form Diana’s exposure to the morals and fashion of early twentieth century London (when trying on dresses, she wonders how someone fits in them). The drama comes when Diana and Steve, aided by a groups of misfit fighters, go off in search of the secret German laboratory manufacturing the gas. Diana goes because she believes Ares, having assumed the identity of an evil Russian general, is behind the gas.

During their journey, Diana sees the horrors of war, and how it impacts innocents. In one gripping scene, she demands the team help rescue villagers held as slaves by the Germans. Steve says they do not have time to take the no-man’s land separating them from the villagers and that “in war you can’t save everyone.”

Diana decides she can save everyone and leads a rescue in one of the most exciting scenes in a modern super-hero movie. rescues the trapped civilians. Of course, those of us who know history understand the causes of World War I are a bit more complex than the simple-minded “Germans did it” view presented here.

While the movie does not examine the true causes of the war, Diana does come to see that evil is not concentrated in one specific nation or race, but is endemic to all of humanity.

(Spoilers Below)

In the movie’s twist, Ares turns out to be not the evil German general, but the British parliamentarian who secretly financed their mission. It turns out Ares is not causing men to make wars, he simply provides the tools.

Ares also says the reason he is so anxious to pass an armistice is that it will lead to perpetual war. The movie thus may seem to offer a pessimistic view of humanity, but it does recognize that there is also good and heroism in humanity and provides hope that someday we may defeat the “gods of war.”

My friend, Dan Sanchez, has a different view of the movie in his column for Antiwar.com “Is Wonder Woman pro-war propaganda?”

Dan sees parallels between Diana and “humanitarian inventionists” who use the suffering caused by war to justify more wars. I think Dan may have a point (which I will address below), but there are a number of significant differences between Diana and the humanitarian interventionists.

Unlike the humanitarian interventionists, who use the suffering caused by war to justify more war (and run an extensive propaganda machine to presented a one-sided view of foreign countries to the American people) to justify war, Diana seeks a world without perpetual war.

In fact the main theme of the movie, as explained above, is about rejecting the notion that there is one side that is pure and thus can be trusted with the tools of war because they will use it for good — whereas the belief in the virtue of the American state are such that they are justified in waging “perpetual war for perpetual peace” that underpins both humanitarian interventionism and neoconservatism.

Dan also criticizes Ares for suggesting that armistice can lead to war. But the historical fact is that the harsh terms imposed on Germany by the World War I armistice was a major factor in creating the conditions that led to the rise of Hitler. Of course, World War I was also responsible for the communist revolution seizing power in Russia.

Dan makes a good point in criticizing the idea that human beings are incapable of proceeding peace themselves but instead must look to super beings who stand both as part of, and above humanity. This is a problem with all superhero tales, and one that has been directly dealt with in recent moves — like Civil War and Batman v Superman*, as well as the TV show Marvel’s Agents of Shield. It is a theme I hope more superheroe movies examine in the future. In conclusion, Wonder Woman is a must see movie, with great action, great performances, and raises some interesting philosophical and political questions.

While Wonder Woman is no longer showing at most live theaters, you can (and should) download it or buy  it on DVD or Blue Ray. And if you click here to  download it or here to buy it, you will help out Campaign for Liberty.

 

* While I am among those who consider Batman v Superman a  failure I do appreciate Zach Snyder’s attempts to deal with these squadrons.

Vía Campaign for Liberty » National Blog http://ift.tt/2iJveLv

Classic Ron Paul: Let’s Have Free Trade in Pharmaceuticals

At his hearing of the Senate Health, Education, and Labor (HELP) Committee, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul Paul told Health and Human Services Nominee Alex Azar that he could not support his nomination unless he presented a plan to allow importation of prescriptive drugs, as detailed in the following press release:

Dr. Rand Paul to HHS Nominee: Convince Me You Have a Plan to Safely Reimport Drugs, or I Cannot Support Your Nomination

WASHINGTON, D.C. – During today’s U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing, U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) stated that he cannot support the nomination of Alex Azar to be the next Secretary of Health and Human Services unless he can convince Dr. Paul that he is open to the idea of reimporting prescription drugs and can lay out a plan to do so safely.

“If you’re open to it, and not just say it’s unsafe, will say, ‘This is how I would do it, and this is how I would reimport drugs and make it safe,’ that’s an honest reform. If you can’t do that, I can’t support you,” said Dr. Paul. “So I hope you will come back with an answer that says, ‘This is how I would make reimportation safe.’”

Earlier in the exchange, Dr. Paul urged Azar to represent the American people over the interests of Big Pharma, saying, “Big Pharma manipulates the system to keep prices high. It is not capitalism, and it’s big government, and we’ve got to fix it.” He went on to add, “You need to convince those of us who are skeptical that you’ll be part of fixing it and won’t be beholden to Big Pharma.”

In 2016, then-candidate Donald Trump called for eliminating “barriers to entry into free markets for drug providers that offer safe, reliable and cheaper products” as part of his seven-point health care plan, also declaring, “Allowing consumers access to imported, safe and dependable drugs from overseas will bring more options to consumers,” a statement Dr. Paul highlighted during his remarks.

Campaign for Liberty Chairman Ron Paul championed free-trade in pharmaceuticals and introduced legislation, the Perspiration Drug Affordability Act, that would have allowed Americans to purchase affordable pharmaceuticals from overseas.

Here and below is his official statement on the bill:

 

HON. RON PAUL

                               of texas

                   in the house of representatives

                      Wednesday, January 5, 2011

 Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, I rise to introduce the Prescription Drug

Affordability Act. This legislation ensures that millions of Americans,

including seniors, have access to affordable pharmaceutical products.

My act removes needless government barriers to importing

pharmaceuticals and it protects Internet pharmacies, which are making

affordable prescription drugs available to millions of Americans, from

being strangled by federal regulation.

The Prescription Drug Affordability Act brings competition to the

market for pharmaceutical products by allowing anyone wishing to import

a drug to simply submit an application to the FDA, which then must

approve the drug unless the FDA finds the drug is either not approved

for use in the U.S. or is adulterated or misbranded. This process will

make safe and affordable imported medicines affordable to millions of

Americans. Mr. Speaker, letting the free market work is the best means

of lowering the cost of prescription drugs.

I need not remind my colleagues that many Americans impacted by the

high costs of prescription medicine have demanded Congress reduce the

barriers which prevent American consumers from purchasing imported

pharmaceuticals. Congress has responded to these demands by repeatedly

passing legislation liberalizing the rules governing the importation of

pharmaceuticals. However, implementation of this provision has been

blocked by the federal bureaucracy. It is time Congress stood up for

the American consumer and removed all unnecessary regulations on

importing pharmaceuticals.

The Prescription Drug Affordability Act also protects consumers’

access to affordable medicine by forbidding the federal government from

regulating any Internet sales of FDA-approved pharmaceuticals by State-

licensed pharmacists.

As I am sure my colleagues are aware, the Internet makes

pharmaceuticals and other products more affordable and accessible for

millions of Americans. However, the federal government has threatened

to destroy this option by imposing unnecessary and unconstitutional

regulations on Web sites that sell pharmaceuticals. Any federal

regulations would inevitably drive up prices of pharmaceuticals, thus

depriving many consumers of access to affordable prescription

medications.

 In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to make

pharmaceuticals more affordable and accessible by removing barriers to

the importation of pharmaceuticals and protecting legitimate Internet

pharmacies from needless regulation by cosponsoring the Prescription

Drug Affordability Act.

Vía Campaign for Liberty » National Blog http://ift.tt/2BcY3vk

Stupid and Evil

There is a saying that there is stupid party and an evil party and sometimes they team up to do something stupid and evil. That’s what came to mind when I heard the Republican Senator Lindsay Graham and Democrat Senator Diane Feinstein had teamed up to urge Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reinstate the pre-2011 interpretation of the Wire Act criminalizing online gambling.

A federal ban on online gambling would trample on the tenth amendment, giving the federal government a new excuse to spy on us all for the benefit of one powerful donor. Campaign for Liberty members should call their Representative and Senators and tell them to oppose a federal ban on online gaming.

Vía Campaign for Liberty » National Blog http://ift.tt/2ABtKve

This Week in Congress

The big item this week is passage of a two week government funding bill to give Congress more time to work on a longer term funding bill. This bill is not expected to contain any policy “riders” like an extension of Section702 of the FISA Act. However those riders will be in the longer term bill.

The short-term bill is expected to pass without controversy although there is some talk the Democrats might oppose it to force a government shutdown, which they believe will give them a stronger hand in negotiating on the final bill. Some conservatives may also oppose it because they think having the deadline so close to Christmas gives the upper hand to the bipartisan spending caucus— and history shows these concerns are well-founded.

The House will also consider H.R. 38. This bill allows anyone with a legal concealed carry permit to carry a firearm anywhere in the country. This may seem like a win for gun rights, but it does violate the 10th amendment and could open the door to future federal “regulations” of gun ownership. In fact, the bill requires anyone carrying a firearm to own a gun under federal as well as state law and carry a valid ID at all times. Anything requiring us to carry an ID is not pro-liberty.

The bill may also be amended to require states to report criminal violations to the federal database used to determine if someone is legally eligible to buy a gun— of course this database is completely unconstitutional and a threat to our liberties.

The House will also consider several bills under suspension of the rules including:

  1. S. 1266- Authorizes the Veterans Administration to contract with private accrediting agencies to investigate VA medical centers.

  1. H.R. 259– Expresses concerns over the situation in Venezuela and encourages the President to act to resolve the crisis, including by imposing sanctions “against individuals in the Venezuelan government responsible for the deterioration of democratic institutions and the rule of law.” In other words it encourages the President to wage war on the government of Venezuela.

  1. H.R. 2658– directs State Department to intervene in Venezuela under the guise of providing “humanitarian” aide. The bill also supports U.N. involvement in Venezuela but does not specify how to pay for all this intervention.

  1. H.Con.Res. 99– Condemns attacks in Burma and calls for sanctions and other interventions in the area.

The Senate will also consider nominations, including the nomination of Kristen Nielsen as Secretary of Homeland Security.

Vía Campaign for Liberty » National Blog http://ift.tt/2jSRXFb

Good News: Young Americans Want a New Political Party

Do we need a third major political party? I often joke that I’d be happy if we actually had a second party, as when it comes to the big issues – war, monetary policy, civil liberties – the Republicans and Democrats are more alike than different. Perhaps that’s why a recent NBC News poll has found that nearly two-thirds of young people surveyed do not believe either the Republicans or Democrats are doing a good job and that a third major political party is needed.

I think this is an encouraging sign. I suspect the NBC News poll result reflects the fact that young people are not as easily hoodwinked by the mainstream media and by the two-party duopoly charade in Washington. This generation has grown up with the Internet and the abundance of alternative media that challenges what really is a one-party system in the United States. They have been exposed to many new ideas, including good ones like libertarianism and non-interventionism.

Currently, mainstream politics in the US is all about power – how to get it and how to keep it – and not at all about philosophy or ideology. It is about selling out principles at every turn in order to chalk up another point in the “win” column. On issues like war and spending, it’s incredible how easily the two major parties are able to “compromise.”

A serious effort to create a new political party could be very exciting, but only if that new party is based on real ideas rather than simply the desire for power. Creating a viable third party will not be easy. While there is plenty written in the media about foreign collusion in US elections, the real collusion is between the Republican and Democratic Parties to prevent new parties from joining them on the national stage and the ballot.

Unfortunately the Libertarian Party has failed to live up to what should have been its role as an ideological alternative to Washington’s one-party system. As was quite obvious in the 2016 presidential election, the Libertarians yielded to prevailing attitudes on war, welfare, the Federal Reserve, and more. In believing that winning was more important than standing for something, they ended up achieving neither.

I would still like to have some hope for the Libertarian Party, but to really fill its role as a challenger to our two party system (that is actually a one party system) it would need a major overhaul. It would need to actually embrace the core libertarian principles of non-aggression and non-intervention in the affairs of others.

At the end of my 2008 presidential campaign, I brought together the candidates of the “minor” political parties and proposed that we agree on some basic principles regardless of whether we are libertarians, conservatives, progressives, or greens. Among those was the idea that we should never go to war unless we were directly attacked or threatened, that the Federal Reserve should not be allowed to benefit the rich by creating money out of thin air, and that we should not endorse deficit spending.

If a new party could come together and agree on these basic principles while agreeing to disagree on other, less important priorities, we could begin a formidable movement toward peace and prosperity.

Let us hope that this NBC News survey provides the inspiration to a real pro-peace, pro-prosperity movement in the United States. I have much confidence in the youth of our country!

Vía Campaign for Liberty » National Blog http://ift.tt/2jed3y9