Monthly Archives: October 2007

A Victory For Economic Liberty In Minnesota

The guys at the Institute for Justice are among the unsung heroes in the fight for liberty.

Here are a bunch of lawyers dedicated to little more than fighting laws and regulations that restrict the ability of people to run their business, or even to go into business. They’ve been on the winning side and the losing side of more than a few legal battles where liberty was at stake, including representing the homeowners in the infamous Kelo v. City of New London case.

This time, they helped break up a taxicab cartel in Minneapolis, Minnesota:

Minneapolis, Minn,—Can an entrenched cartel of Minneapolis taxi drivers violate the civil rights of entrepreneurs and consumers?

No, according to U.S. Magistrate Judge Franklin L. Noel. In an opinion released today, the judge recommended that a lawsuit brought by members of the taxi cartel to overturn the city’s free-market reforms be dismissed.

“This is a victory for both aspiring taxi entrepreneurs and for Minneapolis consumers,” said Scott Bullock, a senior attorney at the Institute for Justice who argued the case. “Established businesses should not be able to use the law to quash competition and close the marketplace. Today’s ruling ensures that does not happen.”


The Institute for Justice Minnesota Chapter (IJ-MN) intervened in the case on the side of the city of Minneapolis to defend its free-market reforms that removed a cap on the number of taxis allowed to operate within city limits. The reforms, finalized on March 30, 2007, will open the market to entrepreneurs who are fit, willing and able to serve the public, increase the number of cabs by 180 in the coming years, and eliminate completely the cap on the number of cabs in Minneapolis by 2010.

In response to the free-market and consumer-friendly reforms, the established taxicab cartel sued the city, demanding the reversal of reforms and proclaiming its owners should be able to keep the spoils of the old law that excluded new competitors from the taxi market in Minneapolis for more than 10 years.

The Institute represents taxi entrepreneur Luis Paucar, who had tried for nearly four years to provide service in Minneapolis. He has received 22 licenses under the new law.

“I am thrilled!” said Paucar. “All I ever asked for was the ability to enter the market and to compete.”
“The cartel violated the civil rights of entrepreneurs like Luis,” said Nick Dranias, an IJ-MN staff attorney. “We got involved in this case to defend the city’s free-market reforms because taxicab entrepreneurs have the right to earn an honest living in the occupation of their choice free from the anti-competitive barriers to entry that the taxi cartel wants to preserve.”

In his opinion, Judge Noel determined: “The [established] taxi vehicle license holders do not have a constitutionally protected freedom from competition.”

Good work guys.

Ron Paul and the Nazis: My Take

Lately there has been a great deal of brouhaha about Ron Paul’s support amongst white-supremacists and the, er, “racially aware” types that frequent Stormfront. Make no mistake, the support is real. Now, these guys support Ron Paul because they like his policies. The white supremacists are actually making a serious mistake in supporting Ron Paul; their conclusion that his policies are advantegous to the advance neo-Nazi cause is the result of very shallow thinking.

To a Nazi, Ron Paul’s policies at first seem great: he’s against the Federal Reserve banking cartel and against open borders.

The support for his Federal Reserve policy comes from the populism and anti-capital attitudes of the main forms of white-supremacism. Add to that the frisson from the meme “bankers = jews”, and the deluded idiots think that Ron Paul is going to strike a blow against race-enemies.

Then there’s Ron Paul’s opposition to open immigration. I think the Nazis view immigration, especially of hispanics, as a brown sea of untermenschen that are going to drown the white race or somesuch.

Thus they think that, in the current political environment, Ron Paul’s proposed courses of action and the white-supremacist desired courses of action are tangential.

It is clear to me that Ron Paul’s policies should be anathema to white-supremacists. The fact is to make the racist policies work, particularly one modeled on the National German Socialist Workers Party, you have to have a central bank, and you have to have a militant foreign policy and a government that confiscates property at a whim.

Ron Paul wrote a book that explains why he entered into politics, and what his goals are, and frankly any white-supremacist supporters are in for a nasty surprise:

I decided to run for Congress because of the disaster of wage and price controls imposed by the Nixon administration in 1971. When the stock market responded euphorically to the imposition of these controls and the closing of the gold window, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and many other big business groups gave enthusiastic support, I decided that someone in politics had to condemn the controls, and offer the alternative that could explain the past and give hope for the future: the Austrian economists’ defense of the free market. At the time I was convinced, like Ludwig von Mises, that no one could succeed in politics without serving the special interests of some politically powerful pressure group.

The book quotes extensively from Paul’s hero Ludwig von Mises’ comprehensive textbook on economics, Human Action:

Men must choose between the market economy and socialism. The state can preserve the market economy in protecting life, health, and private property against violent or fraudulent aggression; or it can itself control the conduct of all production activities. Some agency must determine what should be produced. If it is not the consumers by means of demand and supply on the market, it must be the government by compulsion.


Aggressive nationalism is the necessary derivative of the policies of interventionism and national planning. While laissez faire eliminates the causes of international conflict, government interference with business and socialism create conflicts for which no peaceful solution can be found. While under free trade and freedom of migration no individual is concerned about the territorial size of his country, under the protective measures of economic nationalism nearly every citizen has a substantial interest in these territorial issues. The enlargement of the territory subject to the sovereignty of his own government means material improvement for him or at least relief from restrictions which a foreign government has imposed upon his well-being. What has transformed the limited war between royal armies into total war, the clash between peoples, is not technicalities of military art, but the substitution of the welfare state for the laissez-faire state.

and finally,

Interventionism generates economic nationalism, and economic nationalism generates bellicosity. If men and commodities are prevented from crossing the borderlines, why should not the armies try to pave the way for them? . . . The root of the evil is not the construction of new, or dreadful weapons. It is the spirit of conquest.

The book makes it clear that Ron Paul is devoted to adopting the policies of Ludwig von Mises. What is the relationship of Ludwig von Mises to Nazism? Well, in Austria in the 1920’s and 30’s, Ludwig von Mises prevented the nation from adopting the economic platform of the NDASP. His speeches and essays were so devastatingly critical of Hitler’s economic policies that when the Nazis entered into Vienna one of the first things they did was to break into the offices of a the Jewish economist and confiscate his papers and books. Had he not wisely fled to Swizerland, they likely would have arrested and liquidated him. To the Nazis, Paul’s hero was an enemy to be eliminated if they ever could get their hands on him.

Should Ron Paul repudiate the support of Nazis, white supremacists, bull-dykes and Methodists,and return their money? I don’t think he needs to. Ron Paul has made it quite clear that he is advocating a set of principles and he is not seeking power for power’s sake. thus, I don’t think you will see him adopting Nazi policies in order to maintain his grip on power. On the other hand, it would probably be to his advantage to make light of their support in a humorous way, for example by saying something like “these guys must not have even glanced at my position papers if they think my policies will help their cause, but if they want to give me money to make a less-racist society, I’ll take it.”

Certainly, Ron Paul’s tireless advocacy of Misesian principles is a sufficient repudiation for me.

Update :

My response to some of the commenters, including Mr Duke is posted here.

I am an anarcho-capitalist living just west of Boston Massachussetts. I am married, have two children, and am trying to start my own computer consulting company.

The Giuliani Bubble Could Pop By January, And Ron Paul May Be Holding The Needle

The oft-repeated mantra of Rudy Giuliani’s Presidential campaign is “electablity” — the idea that, of all the Republican Presidential candidates, he’s the only one capable of beating the presumptive Democratic nominee in November 2008.

But the early primary calendar poses a challenge to Giuliani that could put a big hole in the electability argument and go a long way toward erasing the lead that he has in the national polls.

First, there’s Iowa, where Giuliani is a distant fourth behind Romney, Thompson, and Huckabee.

Then, there’s New Hampshire, where he trails Mitt Romney by at least 6 percent and the possibility of a surprise performance by someone like Ron Paul could turn the primary into one of those tales of the unexpected.

Finally, there’s South Carolina where both Thompson and Romney have made significant inroads on what was once a Giuliani lead.

Poor performances in all three of these early primaries could by a serious problem for a campaign that would like for the rest of the GOP to think of as the inevitable winner.

Which is why, I’m betting Giuliani is spending a lot of time lately in New Hampshire:

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Rudy Giuliani, whose presidential campaign strategy originally downplayed New Hampshire, is now making a major bid to win the Granite State primary.

The new push includes spending four days in the state this week, the culmination of an effort which had him more in New Hampshire in October than in any other traditional early state.

The shift in strategy is motivated by both opportunity and fear

As well as no small degree of risk:

It increasingly looks likely that the GOP contest, like the Democratic one, may be virtually over by the trumpeted arrival of “Tsunami Tuesday” on Feb. 5.

That day, when 20 states will hold primaries or caucuses, had been the foundation of Giuliani’s strategy.
In a precedent-shattering playbook, Giuliani’s team has been gambling he could lose in the early states but score big in California, New York, New Jersey, Illinois and other states in a de facto national primary.

The risk: He’d be 0-3 after Iowa, New Hampshire and Michigan, meaning that Mitt Romney, his chief Republican rival, might have the momentum, the magazine covers and the frenzied media coverage, with the bonanza of volunteers and money that can follow.

So, it looks like the Giuliani camp may be writing off Iowa (a wise choice given both his standing in the polls and the relative unimportance of Iowa historically to who wins the nomination) and building a firewall in New Hampshire.

Ironically, while they concentrate on Romney and McCain, they may be forgetting the lesson of New Hampshire — which that it’s often the maverick candidate that ends up stealing the show. The maverick doesn’t need to win outright, though that has happened, just do better than expected.

The names should be familiar — Ronald Reagan (1980), Gary Hart (1984), Paul Tsongas (1992), Pat Buchanan (1992 and 1996), John McCain (2000). The maverick this year, of course, is Ron Paul and he’s making a move of his own in the Granite State. Should he do well enough to wreck Giuliani’s firewall strategy, it could have devastating consequences for the rest of Giuliani’s campaign.

Couldn’t happen to a more well-deserving apparatchik.

Sometimes, Intellectual Property Laws Are Just Plain Nuts

Take, for example, the story of the 9 year old girl who sent a letter to Apple only to get a cease-and-desist letter in return:

CBS 13) Like any nine-year-old, Shea O’Gorman spends a lot of time listening to her iPod Nano. So much so, that when her third grade class started learning about writing letters she thought, who better to write to than the man whose company makes her iPod.

“I decided to write to Mr. Steven Jobs,” said Shea. Jobs is the president of Apple Computers.

“She just came home and said ‘mom I have some ideas about the iPod Nano,’ and said ‘I’m going to write Steven Jobs a letter’,” said Shea’s mother. “We were just very impressed and very proud of her.”

In her letter, Shea outlined her ideas for improving iPods like adding song lyrics.

“Have the words on the screen so they could sing along and stuff,” said Shea.

She got a response, all right, from Apple’s lawyers:

The letter was not from Steve Jobs, it was signed the senior counsel, Apple Law Department.

That’s right, apple’s legal department, telling a nine year old that apple does not accept unsolicited ideas. Apple’s legal department told her not send them her suggestions, and if she wants to know why, she could read their legal policy on the Internet.

“We were stunned, we just were stunned, is the best word to say. It just wasn’t the appropriate type letter to send to a third grader who had the initiative to write to them,” said Shea’s mom.

And just what does that unsolicited ideas policy say ? Well, here it is:

Apple or any of its employees do not accept or consider unsolicited ideas, including ideas for new advertising campaigns, new promotions, new or improved products or technologies, product enhancements, processes, materials, marketing plans or new product names. Please do not send any original creative artwork, suggestions or other works. The sole purpose of this policy is to avoid potential misunderstandings or disputes when Apple’s products or marketing strategies might seem similar to ideas submitted to Apple. So, please do not send your unsolicited ideas to Apple or anyone at Apple. If, despite our request that you not send us your ideas, you still send them, then regardless of what your letter says, the following terms shall apply to your idea submission.

You agree that: (1) your ideas will automatically become the property of Apple, without compensation to you, and (2) Apple can use the ideas for any purpose and in any way, even give them to others.

Sounds harsh, I’m sure, and especially so when applied to a 9 year old girl who just thought it would be cool if she could read lyrics on her iPod Nano. But you can thank the state of intellectual property law for that.

If it weren’t for the policy noted above, and the cease-and-desist letters like the one this girl got that I’m sure are sent out on a legal basis, Apple could be subjecting itself to countless lawsuits — some of them with merit, most of them without — from people — some of them sane, most of them not — claiming that they came up with a given idea before Apple did. The costs of the litigation alone can be enormous, not to mention the potential costs of a court ruling ten years after the fact.

So, before you go condemning Apple for upsetting a 9 year-old girl, maybe you need to ask yourself why the company feels the need to protect itself like this.

Originally posted at Below The Beltway

Ron Paul And Alex Jones: A Partial Clarification

In a post that generated much heated comment, co-contributor Kevin Boyd noted the questions that had been raised over the weekend about a $ 1,300 payment from Ron Paul’s Presidential Campaign to a person who appeared to be Alex Jones of the so-called 9/11 Truthers.

It seems that those questions have been answered:

The “payment” to Jones (and yes, it is that same Jones) was not a payment at all, but a partial refund of Jones’s $2,300 contribution. It is clearly marked as such, if you look in the right place on the electronic FEC forms. Paul’s spokesman said he put a line in to the campaign treasurer when he noticed it being discussed on the blogosphere, but that’s the answer he’s going to get.

And that’s from the conspirators against our freedoms guys at NRO’s The Corner.

As the linked blogger notes, it still raises the question of why the campaign is accepting contributions from a guy like Jones but that is not quite as serious as the implication raised by the initial FEC report that Jones was performing services of some kind for the campaign.

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