All Your Data Belongs to DOJ: Amy Peikoff Analysis of FTC Facebook Settlement

Writes Amy:

What follows is an excerpted and annotated version of the FTC’s “Stipulated Order” representing its “Settlement” with Facebook. It’s dated July 24. I’m giving you the lowlights, as I see them, plus my “translations.” If you like, and if you have a strong stomach, I invite you to read the whole order here.

Link: FTC-Facebook “Settlement”: All your data are belong to DOJ

 

Salsman and Bernstein Speak Live at TOS-Con

Richard Salsman and Andrew Bernstein will be speaking live at TOS-Con this August in Park City Utah.

If you are in the area don’t miss out on a chance to hear these amazing speakers.

Dr. Salsman will be speaking on “Democratic Socialism”: The Whitewashing of Evil and Dr. Bernstein on The Trader Principle and the Harmony of Rational Values. Here are the descriptions:

“Democratic Socialism”: The Whitewashing of Evil by Richard Salsman
Socialism has been proposed and practiced in numerous forms since the 1830s, including “utopian” socialism, Marxian socialism, national socialism, Christian socialism, and agrarian socialism. In its most virulent forms—as enacted in Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany, Red China, North Korea, Cuba, and Venezuela—the result has been mass misery, mass poverty, and mass murder. Some dismiss such cases as unrepresentative of “true” socialism, claiming that “real” socialism is peaceful, progressive, and morally correct. Many socialists in America today aim to enact it slowly, consensually, and electorally, calling their version “democratic socialism.” This ruse has taken hold already in Europe and is now fast-gaining adherents in America, especially among the young. In this talk, Richard Salsman will examine the means by which so-called “democratic socialism” is gaining ground. He will also zero in on the fundamental principles that people must understand and embrace to defeat it and to advance the only genuinely moral and practical social system: laissez-faire capitalism.

The Trader Principle and the Harmony of Rational Values by Andrew Bernstein
An important moral principle underlying civilized society is that of trade: All exchange of values must proceed by mutual consent and to mutual advantage of all parties involved. This principle applies not only to material values, such as food and medicine, bt also to spiritual values, such as friendship and romance. To the extent that people understand and uphold the trader principle, they can live in harmony. To the extent that they don’t, they suffer discord and sometimes violence. In this talk, Andrew Bernstein will examine the trader principle from multiple perspectives, concretizing it in myriad ways and showing its ubiquity in rational relationships. Whatever your current understanding, you will leave with a greater ability to apply the principle in your own life, to articulate it to others, and to advance civilized society.

Link:  TOS-Con 2019

Below are videos of talks by the dynamic duo of philosopher and economist from last year’s conference.

Rand Was Right to Testify Against Hollywood Communism

Writes Elan Journo on Why Rand Was Right to Testify Against Hollywood Communism:

In 1947, during what some call the “McCarthy Era,” Ayn Rand was asked to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) on the influence of Communism in Hollywood. She appeared as a “friendly witness.” The standard verdict on these hearings, and on Rand’s participation, is unequivocal condemnation: The hearings were an inquisition that destroyed the careers of “blacklisted” filmmakers, ruined lives, and trampled the First Amendment. And the “friendly witnesses,” such as Rand, who testified voluntarily, were guilty of abetting an anti-Communist witch hunt.

The only problem with this standard assessment is that it’s totally wrong.

Journo also notes:

While the HUAC hearings are sometimes placed in the “McCarthy Era” — tarring Rand and other participants with the accusation of “McCarthyism” — this is factually wrong. Sen. Joseph McCarthy had no part in HUAC, which was formed in 1938; Ayn Rand testified in 1947. McCarthy began his investigations in 1950 and focused on Communist penetration, not of Hollywood, but of the US government.

Furthermore, while Rand was no admirer of McCarthy or his methods, she identified early on that the term “McCarthyism” was an illegitimate concept coined as a deliberate smear. Its alleged meaning, she wrote, was “unjust accusations, persecutions, and character assassinations of innocent victims.” But its real meaning, she argued, was “Anti-Communism,” with the aim of discrediting as necessarily unjust and irrational any uncompromising opposition to Communism.

Link:  Why Rand Was Right to Testify Against Hollywood Communism New Ideal


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Democrats Denounce Obamacare Tax Provision — That they Created

From House Votes to Repeal Obamacare Tax Once Seen as Key to Health Law – The New York Times:

In the heat of the legislative fight over the Affordable Care Act, Obama administration officials argued that including a steep tax on high-cost health insurance plans would hold down soaring costs by prompting employers to rein in such plans and force employees to spend more of their own money on their care.

 

On Wednesday, that feature, once considered central to Obamacare, was dealt a blow by an unlikely foe: Democrats.

 

The House voted almost unanimously to repeal the tax, not only a key cost-containment provision in Barack Obama’s signature health law but also one of the main ways it was supposed to pay for itself.

[…]

The tax is supposed to take effect in 2022, after being delayed twice. But the overwhelming vote in the House — 419 to 6, with only three Democrats opposed — increased the likelihood that it never does. Indeed, the debate on the House floor was striking, with one Democrat after another denouncing the provision as if Democrats had nothing to do with its creation.

[…]

But for Democrats, a key constituency is demanding repeal — organized labor. For decades, unions found it easier to bargain for richer benefits than higher wages, producing labor-sponsored health plans that now could face the tax.

On Monday, the A.F.L.-C.I.O., which represents more than 12 million workers, sent a letter to House members saying the tax was “driving employers to hollow out the health care benefits they provide, making medical care less affordable and creating serious access barriers for millions of workers.”

 

Police use Forfeiture: Fighting Crime or Raising Revenue?

A new Institute for Justice study (PDF), made possible through the support of the John Templeton Foundation, finds the nation’s largest forfeiture program does not help police fight crime. Instead, the study indicates police use forfeiture to boost revenue—in other words, to police for profit. The IJ study, “Fighting Crime or Raising Revenue? Testing Opposing Views of Forfeiture,” combines local crime, drug use and economic data from a variety of federal sources with more than a decade’s worth of data from the Department of Justice’s equitable sharing program. Equitable sharing lets state and local law enforcement cooperate with the Drug Enforcement Administration and other DOJ agencies on forfeiture cases and receive up to 80% of the proceeds.

The study—the most extensive and sophisticated of its kind—calls into question whether distributing billions of dollars in forfeiture proceeds improves police effectiveness. The new evidence undercuts claims by prominent forfeiture supporters, such as former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who called forfeiture an “important tool that can be used to combat crime, particularly drug abuse,” and Attorney General William Barr, who, while acknowledging “problems and potential abuses,” called forfeiture “a valuable tool in law enforcement.”

Specifically, the study finds:

  • More forfeiture proceeds do not translate into more crimes solved, despite claims forfeiture gives law enforcement more resources to fight crime.
  • More forfeiture proceeds also do not mean less drug use, even though forfeiture supposedly rids the streets of drugs by crippling drug dealers and cartels financially.
  • When local economies suffer, forfeiture activity increases, suggesting police make greater use of forfeiture when local budgets are tight. A 1 percentage point increase in local unemployment—a standard proxy for fiscal stress—is associated with a statistically significant 9 percentage point increase in seizures of property for forfeiture.

“These results add to a growing body of evidence suggesting that forfeiture’s value in crime fighting is exaggerated and that police do use forfeiture to raise revenue,” said Dr. Brian Kelly, associate professor of economics at Seattle University and the study’s author. “Given this evidence and the serious civil liberties concerns raised by forfeiture, forfeiture proponents should bear the burden of proof when opposing reforms that would keep police focused on fighting crime, not raising revenue.”

The scale of federal forfeiture is vast. Between 2001 and 2017, the federal government’s two main forfeiture funds took in close to $40 billion, and the funds’ net assets have surpassed $4 billion in every year since 2013. From 2000 to 2016, the DOJ’s equitable sharing program made more than 660,000 distributions totaling over $6.8 billion to state and local law enforcement. Distributions fell following modest reforms introduced by former Attorney General Eric Holder in 2015. However, former Attorney General Sessions reversed the Holder reforms in 2017. Detailed data following this reversal are not yet available.

“This study shows policymakers can undertake serious and much-needed forfeiture reforms without jeopardizing police effectiveness,” said Lee McGrath, IJ’s senior legislative counsel. “Congress should abolish equitable sharing, and in the meantime, states should opt out of the program. And lawmakers should eliminate the financial incentives in both state and federal forfeiture laws that encourage the pursuit of revenue over the pursuit of justice.”

Since the Institute for Justice began its End Forfeiture initiative in 2010, 32 states and the District of Columbia have enacted forfeiture reforms. Seven states and the district have largely opted out of equitable sharing, limiting law enforcement’s ability to receive funding through the program and making it harder for law enforcement to circumvent state civil forfeiture laws. And in 2015, New Mexico abolished civil forfeiture, replacing it with criminal forfeiture and requiring that all forfeiture proceeds be deposited in the state’s general fund. In February, IJ secured a landmark victory in Timbs v. Indiana, where the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that state civil forfeiture cases are bound by the Eighth Amendment’s ban on “excessive fines.” – Made available through ij.org

 

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