Sunday, December 10, 2017

Libertarian land reform in South Africa

Restoring Property Rights to Generational Apartheid Victims - Atlas Network:

"Maria Mothupi held the official deed to her land for the first time.... Until she was 99 years old, she had never experienced living in her own home or in a home legally owned by her family, because she was only two years old when the 1913 Land Act banned land ownership by black people in South Africa — a law that continues to have consequences today, despite its repeal more than two decades ago....

"This unlikely happy chapter toward the end of a hard life came about thanks to the Free Market Foundation (FMF) of South Africa’s Khaya Lam (My House) Land Reform project. FMF’s pilot project focused on the Ngwathe municipal area of the Free State province, where FMF Director Eustace Davie estimates that there are about 20,000 houses for which the ownership rights have not been documented and registered.

"The Khaya Lam project has already provided resources to carry out the conversion of some of these properties — out of an estimated 5 to 7 million that are eligible countrywide — to freehold title ownership.... Progress, however, has been slow.... Distrust, ambiguity, and prohibitive costs have all worked together to prevent a more rapid transfer of otherwise available titles. Through bulk processing and other cost reduction measures, FMF has reduced the cost from about $378 to $122 per title deed.

"The major purpose of the Ngwathe pilot project was to determine the most rapid and cost-efficient method of registering the rights of the homeowners and placing them in possession of title deeds that prove their rights and enable them to trade with their property legally, in any way they please.... More than 800 of the Ngwathe houses had either already been converted or were in the process of being converted by the end of October 2015, and by January 2016 FMF had 300 conversions sponsored in Cape Town and another 60 in the town of Grabouw.

"'Our task is to make everyone in the country aware of how the country will change for the better if we can extinguish the effects of one of the greatest crimes of apartheid: depriving black South Africans of property rights for 78 years,' Davie said. 'Calls for information are coming in from all over the country'....

"FMF is one of Atlas Network’s more-than-450 global partners working to restore and strengthen property rights.... Liberty Institute in New Delhi, India ... developed an innovative project that provides villagers with GPS devices and satellite mapping technology in order to prove their farming claims to the government and establish legal title to their own ancestral lands..... [I]in Honduras, where some believe uncertainty in property rights accounts for as much as 4 percent of their prohibitive loan interest rates, Atlas Network partner Fundación Eléutera has worked during the past year to help government leaders transform an ongoing and costly land titling digitalization effort by using blockchain technology....

"By protecting property rights, FMF through its Khaya Lam land titling project and these other projects by Atlas Network partners all strengthen individual liberty and prosperity."

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Saturday, December 9, 2017

Capitalism was built on ideas, not capital

The Great Enrichment Was Built on Ideas, Not Capital - Foundation for Economic Education - Working for a free and prosperous world - Deirdre N. McCloskey:

November 22, 2017 - "The ... modern world was made not by material causes, such as coal or thrift or capital or exports or exploitation or imperialism or good property rights or even good science, all of which have been widespread in other cultures and other times. It was made by ideas from and about the bourgeoisie — by an explosion after 1800 in technical ideas and a few institutional concepts, backed by a massive ideological shift toward market-tested betterment, on a large scale at first peculiar to northwestern Europe.

"What made us rich are the ideas backing the system — usually but misleadingly called modern 'capitalism' — in place since the year of European political revolutions, 1848. We should call the system  'trade-tested progress.' Or maybe 'innovationism'?...

"The upshot of the new ideas has been a gigantic improvement since 1848 for the poor.
The greatly enriched world cannot be explained in any deep way by the accumulation of capital, despite what economists from the blessed Adam Smith through Karl Marx to Thomas Piketty have believed, and as the very word 'capitalism' seems to imply. The word embodies a scientific mistake.

"Our riches did not come from piling brick on brick, or bachelor’s degree on bachelor’s degree, or bank balance on bank balance, but from piling idea on idea. The bricks, B.A.s, and bank balances — the 'capital' accumulations — were of course necessary. But ... [s]uch materialist ways and means are too common in world history and, as explanation, too feeble....

"The bettering ideas arose in northwestern Europe from a novel liberty and dignity that was slowly extended to all commoners (though admittedly we are still working on the project), among them the bourgeoisie. The new liberty and dignity resulted in a startling revaluation by the society as a whole of the trading and betterment in which the bourgeoisie specialized. 

"The revaluation was derived not from some ancient superiority of the Europeans but from egalitarian accidents in their politics between Luther’s Reformation in 1517 and the American Constitution and the French Revolution in 1789. The Leveller Richard Rumbold, facing his execution in 1685, declared, 'I am sure there was no man born marked of God above another; for none comes into the world with a saddle on his back, neither any booted and spurred to ride him.' Few in the crowd gathered to mock him would have agreed. A century later, many would have. By now, almost everyone.

"Along with the new equality came another leveling idea, countering the rule of aristocrat or central planner: a 'Bourgeois Deal.' In the first act, let a bourgeoise try out in the marketplace her proposed betterment, such as window screens or alternating-current electricity or the little black dress.... [C]ompetitors will imitate her success, driving down the price of screens, electricity, and dresses. But if the society lets her in the first act have a go, enriching her for a while, then, by the third act, the payoff from the deal is that she will make you all rich....

 "In other words, what mattered were two levels of ideas: the ideas for the betterments themselves (the electric motor, the airplane, the stock market), dreamed up in the heads of the new entrepreneurs drawn from the ranks of ordinary people; and the ideas in the society at large about such people and their betterments — in a word, liberalism, in all but the modern American sense."

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Friday, December 8, 2017

Musician gets back $91K seized via civil forfeiture

Wyoming police took an innocent man's $91,800. After a Vox report, he will get it back. - Vox - German Lopez:

December 1, 2017 - "Phil Parhamovich is getting his $91,800 in cash back — just hours after Vox broke the story of how the Wyoming Highway Patrol seized the money without charging him with a serious crime....

"Parhamovich was stopped in March this year while traveling on the I-80 in Wyoming during a concert tour with his band, the Dirt Brothers. Parhamovich, who has no criminal record, was not accused of or charged with a serious crime; he only got a $25 ticket for improperly wearing his seat belt and a warning for 'lane use.'

"But Wyoming law enforcement officers found and eventually seized the $91,800 in cash, as it was hidden in a speaker cabinet — by getting Parhamovich, under what he claims was duress, to sign away his interest in the money through a waiver. According to Parhamovich, police pushed him to sign the waiver after he said the money was not his, following aggressive questioning that he said made him fear that carrying that much cash is illegal. (It is not.)

"Parhamovich intends to use the money as a down payment to buy a music studio in Madison, Wisconsin, called Smart Studios, where Nirvana and the Smashing Pumpkins recorded songs. Without the cash, Parhamovich was worried that the deal for the studio could fall through after a nine-month lease expired. But now he’s able to move forward with closing the deal.

"Parhamovich and Anya Bidwell, one of his attorneys with the Institute for Justice, showed up at a Friday court hearing not quite sure what to expect. They were met by legislators from Wyoming, who had read Vox’s story and reached out to the Institute for Justice to see what they could do to help. According to Bidwell and one of the state legislators who was present, the judge agreed that if Parhamovich was willing to testify that the money was his, he would order the state to give the money back. When Parhamovich agreed to that, the judge ruled in his favor....

"Parhamovich’s case was unique in that police seemed to bypass civil forfeiture law — including reforms enacted by Wyoming in 2016 — by getting him to sign a waiver that supposedly gave up his interest in the cash. Despite the waiver, the state will now be forced to give Parhamovich his money back....

"While Parhamovich and his attorneys were celebratory following the judge’s decision on Friday, Bidwell offered a cautionary note.

"'Not everybody can find the Institute for Justice, and not everyone can just raise hell about this kind of stuff,' she told me. 'So even though today’s hearing was very successful, it still doesn’t remedy the bigger issue. Civil forfeiture is still a problem. They shouldn’t be able to take anybody’s property without accusing them of a crime.'"

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Thursday, December 7, 2017

Libertarian enters Newfoundland byelection

Shane Stapleton running for Libertarian Party in Bonavista-Burin-Trinity | Local | News | The Beacon:

December 6, 2017 - "Shane Stapleton of Marystown will run in the upcoming federal byelection under the Libertarian Party of Canada banner.

"'I wanted to give a Libertarian voice to the voters in this riding,' he said in an e-mail to The Southern Gazette. 'An alternative to the Liberal or Conservative parties'....

"Stapleton said he has been a member of the party for a little over a year.

"According to the party’s website, the Libertarians’ mission 'is to reduce the responsibilities and expense of government … so that we may each manage our lives to mutually fulfill our needs by the free and voluntary exchange of our efforts and property for the value that best realizes our happiness.'

"'I became involved in the Libertarian party because I am passionate about freedom,' said Stapleton. 'I got angry, (and) after witnessing big government failures both at home and away, I became convinced that less government was the solution....

'I'd like to make this area more favorable to entrepreneurs,” he said. 'Government doesn’t create prosperity or sustainable jobs. I want to facilitate an environment of prosperity by getting Ottawa out of the way and talking to the community. Ask them what government policies prevent them from prospering and expanding. These proprietors know what to do and how to make money, Ottawa doesn't.'”

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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

GOP calls It's a Wonderful Life screenings illegal

GOP to Libertarian Legislator: Your It's a Wonderful Life Screening Is Against the Law - Hit & Run : - Brian Doherty:

December 5, 2017 - "Could it be a crime to give your fellow Americans a chance to enjoy a theatrical screening of that modern American myth, It's a Wonderful Life? The Nebraska Republican Party thinks it is. Or at least it thinks it of political benefit to say it is, in their quest to unseat one of America's few sitting Libertarian state legislators, state Sen. Laura Ebke.

"Ebke switched her party allegiance from GOP to L.P. in 2016, and she's up for reelection as a Libertarian in 2018. The Republicans are running Al Riskowski, a man who formerly ran the Nebraska Family Alliance. That's a conservative activist group obsessed with the legalities of gambling, gender identity, suicide, and 'human trafficking'....

?Ebke sponsored two screenings of the movie to celebrate the revival of a local theater in her hometown that had gone under when the switch to digital projection swept the industry. On Friday, the state GOP denounced the events in a press release. 'Not only is Ebke in potential violation of state law herself for attempting to bribe voters,' the email declared, 'but she is also putting those who attend the screenings at risk of committing a violation as well.'

"By giving voters a free movie, the Republicans claim, Ebke is bribing voters. That's a class II misdemeanor under state law, punishable by six months in jail and a thousand-buck fine. And so is accepting such a bribe.

"Undeterred, Ebke held two more screenings in other towns after the threat went out, and she has two more planned.... Ebke says that 'we read the rules' and that the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission (NADC) 'says that it's acceptable to use campaign contributions for social events for constituents.' She notes that the governor does something comparable when he hosts tailgate parties.....

"The Omaha World-Herald reports that the Republicans 'are reviewing the situation to determine whether to pursue any legal action'.... Ebke says neither she nor any constituent she's met takes this threat at all seriously, though she wouldn't put it past the GOP to go ahead and file some sort of complaint with the NADC. If they do, she's confident that it will go nowhere."

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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Young Americans for Liberty sue UC Berkeley

Libertarian Student Group Sues UC Berkeley for Refusing to Grant It Official Club Status - Rachel Frommer, Washington Free Beacon:

December 5, 2017 - "A libertarian student group has sued the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) for refusing to grant it official club status, alleging political discrimination.

"Young Americans for Liberty (YAL), which describes itself as 'not political, or partisan,' has challenged the university's explanation that it denied the club recognition because YAL is 'too similar' to an extant campus organization, the Cal Libertarians.

"The federal lawsuit, filed Monday, charges that Berkeley's policies governing status recognition are 'arbitrary and without justification and result in and from content and/or viewpoint discrimination.'

"Lacking official status, YAL cannot reserve space, invite speakers, or receive university funding drawn from the $694 per-semester campus fee, according to the suit.

"In the absence of Berkeley support, YAL members say they have spent over $100 to fund their activities.....

"YAL says multiple clubs exist that "appear almost identical," such as the Queer Alliance & Resource Center, the Queer Student Union, and the UNITY Resource Center."

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Monday, December 4, 2017

Catholicism and Islam

by George J. Dance

When I joined the Libertarian Party of Canada, conspiracy theory was in vogue. One book that used to be circulated a lot was Gary Allen's None Dare Call it Conspiracy. Naturally I read it. I was struck by the constant references to Carroll Quigley's Tragedy and Hope, which Allen considered the Bible of the conspirators; so, a copy being in the LPC library, I read that too.

Years later, I have forgotten most of Quigley's book. But one thing that stood out was Quigley's theory of the "Peru to Pakistan Axis", which stuck in my head and which contemporary events keep reminding me of.

Quigley's idea was that the roughly 1,000-year Muslim occupation of Spain and southern Italy turned those 2 regions culturally Muslim. Even after the Christians regained them, the culture remained essentially Muslim, and its fundamentalist Catholicism essentially the same as fundamentalist Islam, with things like the subordination of women and the killing of "heretics" and "infidels."

When a strong Catholic state emerged in Spain, it, too, was culturally Muslim, and its foreign policy was the Islamic policy of jihad. We all know the history: the invasion of and massacres in the Netherlands; the attempted invasion of England; 100 years of war, looting, and killing in Germany; and - worst of all - the jihad in South America, with the almost total extermination of the "infidel" population. Through it all, the Spanish state was stauchly supported by the official Catholic church, with its own power base in culturally Islamic southern Italy.

Spain emerged as a world power in the 16th century, due to the massive gold reserves looted from South America. It collapsed as a power less than 100 years later, for the same reason: rampant inflation caused by too much money chasing too little real wealth. But only in the 19th century did Spain start emerging from the cultural Islamic paradigm, and only in the anarchist revolution of the 20th did it shake off the Catholic Islamist hegemony. (Note that almost the first act of the Spanish anarchists in any community, as George Orwell noted in Homage to Catalonia, was to kill the priests.)

The Catholic church itself has largely shaken off the Islamist paradigm, at least in northern Europe and North America. But many are still infected by it, including those who grew up in the culturally Islamic areas of Italy, Spain, and the Spanish-occupied parts of South America (such as Argentina, the birthplace of the present Pope).

Which explains one motivation - not the only motivation, of course - for the hostility of some in the Catholic church to libertarians and libertarianism. They see us too as heretics or infidels, suitable only for killing the bodies to save the souls, as with the people of the Netherlands, Germany, and Spanish-occupied South America. Fortunately, with the Church tamed by the Enlightenment, they lack the power, and can only rant and rave about the 'libertarian invasion." But there is nothing but lack of power stopping them from reverting to their previous methods of persuasion.

It is time to identify the Catholic anti-libertarian "crusade" as what it is: a continuation of the historical pattern of Catholic jihadism.