Saturday, November 18, 2017

Amazon opts for private package delivery

Your New Mailman Works for Amazon - Foundation for Economic Education - Working for a free and prosperous world - Jeffrey A. Tucker:

November 17, 2017 - "There he was dropping off packages in the mail room. I picked up mine and walked away. Then I did a double take. The patch on his shoulder was not USPS, FedEx, or UPS. It was the familiar lower case 'a; of Amazon.

"'Wait, do you actually work for Amazon?... The company that sells things online now has its own warehouse-to-doorstep delivery service?”

"'Yes, it’s been around for a year, but expanding by the day. I love my job. It’s a great company'....

"We should take time to appreciate what this means. For many decades, the government monopolized mail, crushing competitors at every turn.... When the US government cracked down on private mail services in 1834, two thirds of existing services were private. Criminal penalties were imposed and they all gradually went away.

"The rise of FedEx and UPS crawled through a loophole in the law. The government maintained its monopoly on first-class mail, but permitted exceptions for packages and special deliveries. Then came email. Once the monopoly was shattered, the government’s protected sector became nearly worthless, as we all know. People under the age of 30 hardly even go to their mailboxes anymore ... the government’s long-held control over mail was shattered not through reform or privatization but by technology, entrepreneurship, and the forward motion of history itself.

"But the entry of Amazon into the delivery space is just incredible.... Today, Amazon is a job machine. You can go to Flex.amazon.com and get a job delivering packages, doing exactly what the government has been trying to prevent since 1834.

"Forgive the term but capitalism is working.... All this competition is making everyone better off, and bringing new levels of consumer service to the market. CVS has announced that it is offering prescription delivery services just on the rumor that Amazon will enter the market. And the package delivery service will keep price pressure on everyone else.

"The real drama of our times is embedded inside these seemingly small improvements in how we live, all being delivered by private enterprise. Forgive the term but capitalism is working, despite its poor reputation. It’s not the political parties that are doing this. It’s not the bureaucracies. It’s not even the Ivory Tower. The world is being made more beautiful by the profit-and-loss system that is working to serve you and me every day."

Read more: https://fee.org/articles/your-new-mailman-works-for-amazon/
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Friday, November 17, 2017

Roy Moore allegations boost Libertarian's write-in campaign

Libertarian has 'Most Awesomest' Plan in Alabama Senate Race - Rod Kackley, PJMedia:

November 17, 2017 - "Libertarian Ron Bishop told PJM his write-in campaign for Senate has skyrocketed since the line of women accusing former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore of sexual harassment and assault started forming. Bishop is one of two candidates running write-in campaigns in the Dec. 12 special election to fill the seat of former Sen. Jeff Sessions....

"'We’ve gotten more press. We have more people looking at us now. Our social media sites are getting a lot more hits,' Bishop said. 'There are a lot more messages from people who say, "Thank God there’s a third party out there."’

"Bishop, who works as a 'self-taught IT professional' in Birmingham, said even before the Roy Moore sexual misconduct scandal engulfed the special election there were plenty of people who were not fans of Justice Moore.

"'He’s a character here in Alabama. He’s been thrown out of the Alabama Supreme Court twice, and folks just weren’t happy (with Moore),' Bishop said....

"Bishop said there is an active core group of Republicans who will vote in GOP primary elections. But he maintained that most of Alabama voters are independents who don’t care for either the Democrats or the Republicans....

"He just has to convince GOPers who don’t like Roy Moore but can’t stomach the idea of voting for Democrat Doug Jones to pick the Libertarian. Bishop also needs to woo independents who dislike both the Democratic and Republican parties and convince them that it’s worth the time and trouble to get to a polling place and write the name 'Ron Bishop' on the ballot....

"Bishop also pointed out the only reason he has to run a write-in campaign is Alabama’s 'draconian law, enacted after Ross Perot’s presidential campaign' that makes it all but impossible for a third-party candidate to break the Republican-Democrat duopoly of power.

'Scenarios like the Alabama special election are why ballot access is so very important,' said Libertarian National Committee Ballot Access Committee Chair Ken Moellman. 'The election is a train wreck, and the people of Alabama are in this pickle partially because of intentionally onerous ballot access laws meant to prevent voters from having other choices – including Libertarian choices,' Moellman added."

Read more: https://pjmedia.com/election/libertarian-awesomest-plan-voters-salvation-alabama-senate-race/
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Thursday, November 16, 2017

SCOTUS agrees to hear 3 free-speech cases

Supreme Court Takes Free Speech Cases on Abortion, Property Rights, Gadsden Flag, and Voter ID - Ken Kuklowski, Breitbart:

November 13, 2017 - "The Supreme Court added three political-speech cases on Monday to its oral argument docket this year, granting review in one involving pro-life pregnancy centers, another where a man was arrested while criticizing his local government for corruption at a public meeting, and a third where state law prohibited a man from wearing the Gadsden flag or a voter-ID button when he went to his polling place to vote.

"The first case is National Institute of Family and Life Associates v. Becerra. California law requires licensed pro-life pregnancy resource centers to post ads for free or low-cost abortions.... NIFLA sued, arguing that the California law violates its rights under either the Free Speech Clause or the Free Exercise Clause of the Constitution’s First Amendment....

"The second case is Lozman v. City of Riviera Beach.... Fane Lozman was sounding off on local government corruption during the public comment period of a city meeting when the presiding councilmember tried to cut him off. Lozman refused to be silenced, at which time he was arrested and removed from the microphone. The question is whether this violated Lozman’s free speech rights under the Constitution....

"The third case is Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky. A Minnesota man, Andrew Cilek, entered his polling location in 2010 to vote ... wearing a T-shirt displaying the Gadsden flag ('Don’t tread on me' with a rattlesnake — popular during the American Revolution in the 1770s). He was also wearing a button that said, 'Please ID Me,' supporting voter-identification laws.

"Minnesota law forbids voters wearing anything at a polling location that contains a political message. While the Supreme Court in 1992 upheld “buffer zone” laws wherein people could not actively campaign at a polling location or try to persuade voters within a certain number of feet from the ballot box, the justices have never said that these buffer zones can exclude every message that includes a political element.

"All three cases will be heard early next year, with decisions handed down by the end of June 2018."

Read more: http://gdspoliticalanimal.blogspot.ca/2017/11/scotus-agrees-to-review-3-freedom-of.html
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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

NY cannabis legalization bill includes resentencing

New York turns an eye toward recreational marijuana legalization:

"The political winds blowing around marijuana have shifted and New York should be the next state to legalize marijuana, argued one state senator in a recent panel [at] Brooklyn Law School.... The school's Center for Urban Business Entrepreneurship (CUBE) on November 6 hosted ... the largest cannabis policy reform event ever held in New York.

"State Senator Liz Krueger said ... prohibition prevents the state and private entrepreneurs from capitalizing on the full economic potential of cannabis.... Krueger has proposed legalizing marijuana statewide.

"In June, Krueger re-introduced New York State Senate Bill S3040A, dubbed the 'Marihuana Regulation and Taxation ACT' (MRTA). It’s currently idling in committee where the two previous iterations of the bill died, she said.

"New York is one of 29 states which have legalized medical marijuana.... It initially only allowed patients with illnesses including cancer, AIDS, epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease to consume smokeless forms of cannabis. The state added chronic pain as a qualifying condition last March, and Saturday ... post-traumatic stress disorder....

"Krueger’s latest push at marijuana legislation would establish a legal market for adult-use cannabis in the state, with the product taxed and regulated like alcohol. However, the latest version also frames legalization as a matter of criminal justice reform....

"The bill would expand resentencing and reclassification of crimes for people previously convicted for marijuana, remove a positive marijuana test as justification for violating a person’s parole or probation and protect against discrimination in housing and employment based on a prior marijuana arrest or off-the-clock marijuana use."

Read more: http://gdspoliticalanimal.blogspot.ca/2017/11/ny-state-senator-wants-legal-cannabis_15.html
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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Libertarians get major party status in New Mexico

With easy ballot access, Libertarian Party seeks N.M. candidates; Dunn eyes bid for governor | Local News | santafenewmexican.com - Morgan Lee, Associated Press:

November 13, 2017 - "A new political avenue toward statewide elected office and Congress may be opening in New Mexico as the Libertarian Party achieves major party status, giving its candidates ready access to the ballot in 2018.

"Failed presidential candidate Gary Johnson in 2016 won a historic consolation prize for the Libertarian Party by surpassing 5 percent of the popular vote in his home state of New Mexico, thereby lowering daunting signature requirements for Libertarian candidates.

"Strong showings at 2016 elections in Iowa, Kentucky and Massachusetts also are making it easier for the Libertarians to get on next year’s ballot.

"New Mexico State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn, elected in 2014 as a Republican, is giving 'heavy consideration' to a run for governor under the Libertarian Party, his son and campaign adviser Blair Dunn said Monday.

"State Libertarian Party Chairwoman Elizabeth Hanes says at least five people have expressed interest in the Libertarian nomination for governor, though she declined to name them....

"A year ahead of the general election, the Libertarian Party in New Mexico has about 7,100 registered voters and just one declared candidate in a major race — who has yet to file a nominating petition. The filing deadline for federal and statewide candidates is Feb. 6.

"Grady Owens, a 32-year-old undergraduate astrophysics student in the tiny crossroads community of Mayhill, has begun collecting signatures for what he acknowledges as a longshot campaign to win New Mexico’s southern congressional district, where Pearce will not run for re-election. He has high hopes for the party that espouses minimal government and maximum personal freedom, but also said it has not been easy to track down signatures from registered Libertarians in rural Otero and Lincoln counties....

"Independent candidates have to gather about 15,000 signatures to run for governor in New Mexico, and about 6,800 for the state’s southern Congressional district. Minor-party candidates have to gather one-third of that amount. Under major-party status, Libertarian candidates would need just 230 signatures to enter the primary for governor, and as few as 77 for congress. They also need approval at a pre-primary Libertarian convention."

Read more: http://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/with-easy-ballot-access-libertarian-party-seeks-n-m-candidates/article_d07c2d59-8e80-52dc-9036-2ef6adb66c88.html
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Monday, November 13, 2017

Senators try to defund civil forfeiture expansion

Senators Push To Defund Jeff Sessions’ Civil Asset Forfeiture Expansion - Hit & Run : Reason.com -  C.J. Ciaramella:

November 8, 2017 - "A bipartisan group of senators wants to defund Attorney General Jeff Sessions' expansion of the Justice Department's civil asset forfeiture program, following similar efforts by ... the House earlier this year.

"Sessions announced in July that he was scrapping a 2015 directive by former Attorney General Eric Holder that severely curtailed when federal authorities could 'adopt' asset forfeiture cases from local and state authorities. Such adoptions, civil rights group said, allowed local police to skirt stricter state forfeiture laws by taking their cases to federal court.

"In September, the Republican-led House of Representatives passed several amendments to a large appropriations bill that would prohibit the Justice Department from using any funds to enact Sessions' directive...

"In a letter to Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), one of the lawmakers hammering out the difference between the House and Senate versions of the appropriations bill, Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Angus King (I-Vt.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and Tom Udall (D-N.M.) pushed to include at least one of the amendments in the final version.

"'Adoptive forfeiture and equitable sharing are particularly egregious elements of civil asset forfeiture because they not only violate due process but also attack principles of federalism,' the senators wrote. 'DOJ's reinstated policy allows state law enforcement officers to circumvent state limitations on civil forfeiture by turning seized property over to federal officials for forfeiture in exchange for up to 80 percent of the proceeds of the property. This perversely incentivizes local law enforcement to confiscate suspect property even where state laws forbid the practice.'

"Asset forfeiture — a practice that allows police to seize property suspected of being connected to criminal activity, even when the owner is not charged with a crime — has come under criticism in recent years.... Police groups and prosecutors, as well as law-and-order conservatives like Sessions, argue it is an essential tool to disrupt organized crime by cutting off illicit proceeds. Civil liberties advocates say it leaves far too few protections for property owners and creates perverse profit incentives for law enforcement."

Read more: http://reason.com/blog/2017/11/08/senators-press-for-defunding-of-jeff-ses
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Sunday, November 12, 2017

Remembering 100 years of Communism

Remembering Communism | Winnipeg Sun - Hendrik van der Breggen, Providence University College,:

November 11, 2017 - "Fall 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the 1917 Russian Revolution, the beginning of a grand experiment in communism. This social experiment had bitter fruit that shouldn’t be forgotten.

"Influenced by Karl Marx, the leaders of Soviet communism — Lenin, Stalin, and Co. (Comrades) — strived to create a utopian society. After taking power, the communists abolished private property and took control of the means of production (factories, farms). Their promise was that state control (a 'dictatorship of the proletariat') would be temporary. Eventually, new men and women would come into being.... A socialist heaven would finally come to earth....

"It turns out that the temporary dictatorship by the communist elite wasn’t temporary. And the Soviet experiment was a disaster.... Soviet communism’s killing of its own people makes Nazi death camps pale in comparison. Whereas 6 or 7 million died in the Nazi holocaust, ... historians estimate the Soviet death toll was 20 million, whereas Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (who lived in the Soviet Union) estimates 60 million.

"Of this total, approximately 5 or more million died at a result of the Soviets’ 1932-33 deliberate starvation of Ukraine.... Millions of Soviets also died in slave labour camps (a.k.a. Gulags, made famous by Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago). Underfed and living in sub-zero temperatures, citizens were worked to death or were murdered in the woods.... [M]any Soviet citizens were simply arrested, tortured, and shot.... for criticizing government or for suspicion of being a saboteur, other times to fill government quotas....

"According to The Black Book of Communism (Harvard University Press 1999), other communist regimes had similar disastrous results.
  • China: 65 million deaths
  • Vietnam: 1 million deaths
  • North Korea: 2 million deaths
  • Cambodia: 2 million deaths
"In total, over the past 100 years communist regimes have been responsible for about 100 million deaths (of their own people)....

"[C]apitalist societies have done wrong, of course. (And crony capitalism is especially problematic.) Nevertheless, ... governments in capitalist societies tend to be limited in their power. They protect private property, voluntary exchange, and individual freedoms; they do not tend to murder their own people en masse.

"It remains, then, that the killing of one’s own people has been extraordinarily huge in — and a salient feature of — communist societies.... The 2008 film The Soviet Story (available on YouTube) provides additional historical perspective on the bitter fruit of the 1917 Russian Revolution — bitter fruit that should never be forgotten."

Read more: http://winnipegsun.com/opinion/columnists/remembering-communism
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