“States vote to take away my marriage rights, and even though I don't want to get married, it tends to hurt my feelings. I guess what bugs me is that it was put to a vote in the first place. If you don't want to marry a homosexual, then don't. But what gives you the right to weigh in on your neighbor's options? It's like voting whether or not redheads should be allowed to celebrate Christmas.”—David Sedaris
“The Obama administration should terminate any practice, such as the reported signature strikes, that does not comply with principles of international humanitarian and human rights law. It must also introduce transparency to the drone program, including its governing rules, how targets are selected and how civilian damage is weighed.”—from Crisis Group’s recent report, Drones: Myths and Reality in Pakistan
“...already Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., says he will insist that any federal disaster aid be paid for with cuts elsewhere.”—Roll Call
Global Capital and the Nation State
As global capital becomes ever more powerful, giant corporations are holding governments and citizens up for ransom — eliciting subsidies and tax breaks from countries concerned about their nation’s “competitiveness” — while sheltering their profits in the lowest-tax jurisdictions they can find. Major advanced countries — and their citizens — need a comprehensive tax agreement that won’t allow global corporations to get away with this.
Google, Amazon, Starbucks, every other major corporation, and every big Wall Street bank, are sheltering as much of their U.S. profits abroad as they can, while telling Washington that lower corporate taxes are necessary in order to keep the U.S. “competitive.”
Baloney. The fact is, global corporations have no allegiance to any country; their only objective is to make as much money as possible — and play off one country against another to keep their taxes down and subsidies up, thereby shifting more of the tax burden to ordinary people whose wages are already shrinking because companies are playing workers off against each other.
I’m in London for a few days, and all the talk here is about how Goldman Sachs just negotiated a sweetheart deal to settle a tax dispute with the British government; Google is manipulating its British sales to pay almost no taxes here by using its low-tax Ireland subsidiary (the chair of the Parliamentary committee investigating this has just called the do-no-evil firm “devious, calculating, and unethical”); Amazon has been found to route its British sales through a subsidiary in low-tax Luxembourg, and now receives more in subsidies from the British government than it pays here in taxes; Starbucks’ tax-avoidance strategy was so blatant British consumers began boycotting the firm until it reversed course.
Meanwhile, At a time when you’d expect nations to band together to gain bargaining power against global capital, the opposite is occurring: Xenophobia is breaking out all over.
Here in Britain, the UK Independence Party — which wants to get out of the European Union — is rapidly gaining ground, becoming the third most popular party in the country, according to a new poll for The Independent on Sunday. Almost one in five people plan to vote for it in the next general election. Ukip’s overall ratings have risen four points to 19 per cent in the past month, despite Prime Minister David Cameron’s efforts to wrest back control of the crucial debate over Britain’s relationship with the European Union.
Right-wing nationalist parties are gaining ground elsewhere in Europe as well. In the U.S., not only are Republicans sounding more nationalistic of late (anti-immigrant, anti-trade), but they continue to push “states rights” — as states increasingly battle against one another to give global companies ever larger tax breaks and subsidies.
Nothing could strengthen the hand of global capital more than such breakups.
Libertarian Link Roundup
Some interesting reading I’ve come across while sitting on a chair in the sky…
- Lew Rockwell’s manifesto of peace.
- Aeon Skoble’s thoughtful contributions to the subject of libertarianism and war.
- Glenn Greenwald on the endless war on terror.
- Has the Left made peace with the warfare state?
- John Whitehead on the war on terror and the surveillance state.
- Jeffrey Tucker on the dangerous “witchcraft” of central banking.
- Hunter Lewis on the essence of Keynesianism.
- Walter Williams notes that taxes destroy transactions and thus jobs.
- The Minimum Wage: An Unfair Advantage for Employers
- The Minimum Wage Harms the Most Vulnerable
- “Economics isn’t rocket science; it’s a lot harder. We should admit as much and when asked to measure things we cannot measure, we should admit our ignorance.”
- Richard Ebeling: The Federal Reserve’s “Exit Strategy” is just more monetary manipulation
- George Smith defends the non-aggression principle: “Libertarianism is a political theory that deals with the concept of justice. It does not deal per se with establishing what is and is not “morally permissible.” That is the realm of ethics, or moral theory, which is a much broader discipline than political theory.”
- Tom Woods on progressive confusion of “society.”
- David Friedman on democracy, partisanship, rational ignorance, and why he believes things.
- Jonah Goldberg admits that the president probably didn’t ask the IRS to target political opponents - but they were an agency after his own heart.
- Tim Lynch and George Will offer some “empirical evidence” on IRS political manipulation.
- Doug Ross compiles a timeline on the IRS scandal and concludes: “1. Steve Miller lied to Congress, 2. Lois Lerner lied to Congress, 3. Barack Obama lied to the American people”
- Audit reveals disturbing new information on IRS abuse scandal.
- The IRS has a long history of political abuse.
- Obama apologetics in full force: New Republic blames the Tea Party for the IRS Scandal, NY Times claims that IRS targeting of Tea Party only proves Republicans are desperate, Nancy Pelosi thinks people are making a big deal about this because “the president is such a great president.”
- Mike Riggs shares the Drug Policy Aliiance’s “An Exit Strategy for the failed War on Drugs”, noting 75 ways in which to make the Drug War less awful (of course, there solution is much more simple: end prohibition of all peaceful activity. Period.).
- Shikha Dalmia on the Myth of the Scientific Liberal: “The core trait of a scientific mind is that when its commitments clash with evidence, evidence rules. On that count, what grade do liberals deserve? Fail, given their reaction to the latest evidence on universal health care, global warming, and universal preschool.”
- “[C]ollege students run up big bills to pay for educations unlikely to deliver payoffs to match the money invested. It’s no surprise that delinquency rates on those student loans are soaring. So, what’s the federal government’s response [included in Obama’s budget next year]? [I]t plans to expand a program that encourages students to take on debt with promises that taxpayers will assume the burden.”
- Americans who favor gun control incorrectly believe gun crime has increased.
- The case for legalizing horse meat.
- How zoning kills affordable housing.
- Read this if you still think teachers’ unions and educrats care about kids.
- Missouri Legislature Nullifies All Federal Gun Control Measures by a Veto-Proof Majority
- John Stossel notes: “Forty-three million Americans moved from one state to another between 1995 and 2010 — about one-seventh of Americans. … [They] have moved away from high-taxed, heavily regulated states to lower-taxed, less-regulated states. Most don’t think of it as a political decision. They just go where opportunities are, and that usually means where there’s less government.”
- How big business depends on big government.
“The missile hits, and after the smoke clears there's a crater there and you can see body parts from the people. [A] guy that was running from the rear to front, his left leg had been taken off above the knee, and I watched him bleed out. These guys had no hostile intent. In Montana, everyone has a gun. These guys could have been local people that had to protect themselves. I think we jumped the gun.”—
Former drone operator Brandon Bryant, on his first drone strike.
Bryant quit the drone program after realizing its disregard for life and how numb strikes made him feel, saying he “couldn’t do it anymore.”
“The other point...which we're not hearing frequently or loudly enough...is a real scandal: 'the social welfare tax exemption is being used by existing 501(c)(4) organizations, including some very large ones, to promote partisan political interests—the very activity Congress has explicitly prohibited for a century.' In other words, Karl Rove and Crossroads. This is a serious issue, one deserving of investigation. But Republicans could be biting off more than they can chew if it causes a bright light to be shone on how politically partisan organizations, like Rove's, are exploiting the law.”—Joan McCarter at Daily Kos
“At Bloomberg, reporters could sit at their desks and use a keyboard function to see the last time an official of the Federal Reserve logged on. And the Justice Department obtained the records of The Associated Press from phone companies with no advance notice, giving it no chance to challenge the action. The absence of friction has led to a culture of transgression. Clearly, if it can be known, it will be known.”—David Carr, Snooping and the news media: it’s a two way street
Allowing Non-citizens to Vote
I came across this story the other day about New York City considering allowing green card and visa holders to vote in municipal elections. The story also noted several cities in Maryland and Massachusetts allow non-citizens to vote. Apparently this was the case many states until the 1930’s. Intrigued, I decided to read up on the issue a little more, and this paper by Jamin Raskin caught my attention. According to Raskin’s research, alien suffrage was common in the early United States and was part of the Northwest Ordinance, which was reenacted in 1789 by the First Congress. The Annals of Congress for this time show no debate on the issue in either the Senate or the House. Just some interesting history I learned this week that I thought I’d pass along.