72 years ago today
Japanese aircraft attacked Pearl Harbor, launching the United
States into World War II. As Craig Shirley argued during a
2011 ReasonTV interview, not only did the attack push America into
the war, but it steered U.S. foreign policy away from its long
history of non-interventionism.
Here is the original text from the Dec. 7, 2011
The bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese on December
7, 1941 killed over 2,400 Americans and led directly to the entry
of the United States into World War II.
In his powerful, thickly researched new book, December 1941: 31
Days That Changed America and Saved the World, Craig Shirley
chronicles the day-by-day shifts in American culture, politics, and
national identity through that horrible month. Before December,
Shirley tells Reason's Nick Gillespie, a solid majority opposed
entry into World War II and the "eminently respectable" America
First movement was poised to help select the next president of the
United States. Non-interventionism was so universal that Franklin
Roosevelt himself had campaigned for his third term as president on
a promise to keep "American boys" out of European
By the start of 1942, says Shirley, the long tradition of
isolationism was over, never to be seen again. The nation that had
rejected the League of Nations after World War I helped create the
United Nations and America quickly became not simply a global
economic, political, and military power but the dominant player on
The author of many books, including two biographies of Ronald
Reagan and a forthcoming book on Newt Gingrich, Shirley talks with
Reason's Nick Gillespie about what was gained - and lost - in the
historical hinge point that was December 1941.
is a huge day for college football as various
conference-championship games will decide just who gets to play for
a national title in January.
My latest column for Time.com is about all the rotten subsidies
that the college and professional game squeezes out of taxpayers
who don't give a rat's ass about the gridiron. Stadium deals in
which even craptacular teams (Vikings!) get sweetheart arrangements
are well-known. The extent of direct and indirect subsidies to
Division I college teams - even powerhouses - is less
well-publicized. Here's a snippet:
With the exception of a tiny handful of programs – Ohio State,
University of Texas, LSU, and perhaps three or four more –
virtually every athletic program at every public NCAA Division I
school is subsidized even
as administrators plead poverty when it comes to resources for
faculty and, as you know, education. Especially in an age of
busted government budgets, even the most rabid sports fan should
agree that it’s an outrage that the highest-paid public
a majority of states is a college football coach (in
another 13, it’s a basketball coach). It’s far better to be
broke and have a cellar-dwelling NFL franchise, right?
If you watch football this weekend, recognize that most of the
drama and meaning is taking place off the field. The way the
college and pro games are built on subsidies and giveaways neatly
encapsulates crony capitalism at its worst – and helps to explain
why taxes go up even as it seems there’s never enough money for
basic government functions.
It's Reason's annual webathon and we're looking to raise $150,000 over the next few
days. We're over the $100,000 mark, so the goals is in sight.
Click above to watch a 75-second donation pitch packed with more
(and better!) stars than the Dumbbell Nebula! (And yes, the
start-screen is supposed to kinda sorta look like a late-'60s or
early '70s album cover).
Do you love Reason - the print magazine, Reason TV, the
And are you tired of politicians, pundits, and rent-seeking
bastards (as Reason TV's Paul Feine likes to put it) of all sorts
telling you what to do?
With your donation, we'll keep dishing up award-winning
libertarian journalism and commentary for years to come.
But we DO need your help.
If you give $100, you'll get a print or digital subscription to
Reason magazine and a classic black Reason T-shirt or this nifty
one of our recent special drone issue of the print mag. For $1,000,
you'll get a private lunch in DC with a Reason editor. For more
details on giving levels and associated swag, go here.
But regardless of the amount, you'll get our undying gratitude
and a tax write-off for whatever you can afford to send our
All contributions will help us beat back ever encroaching
statism in Washington and elsewhere.
From everyone at Reason, thanks for reading, for giving, and for
Yuya-Tamai-CC-BYThis week, the American Civil Liberties Union
(ACLU) filed a federal lawsuit alleging mistreatment of a woman in
the days leading up to her miscarriage at a Catholic hospital in
Michigan. The ACLU accuses Mercy Health Partners of negligence for,
among other things, failing to direct Tamesha Means to a hospital
that could have safely terminated her nonviable pregnancy after her
water broke at only 18 weeks gestation. John K. Ross points out
that Means could not have easily gone to another hospital, perhaps
one offering the full range of women’s health services, because
there is no such hospital, thanks to a stupid law preventing
competing facilities from opening.
a few days into Reason's annual webathon and we're asking readers
of this site to pony up $150,000 in
support of our fearless libertarian journalism in Reason print,
online, and video editions.
The contributions are tax-deductible and you can pay in Bitcoin
if you got 'em.
Why should you help us out? Click on the interview above. It's
with David Simon, the man behind The Wire, widely recognized as one
of the very best TV shows of all time, and Treme, which
begins its final season this week on HBO . Despite many areas of
agreement, it's a contentious interview and it sparked
a hostile response from Simon that led to our posting of the
full audio version of our conversation.
Let me suggest that this sort of interaction is one of the
unique things we do: We engage the world - and the people we admire
- in a way that is not only rare but invaluable. Across all of our
platforms, Reason journalists are testing the world, probing,
kicking the tires and finding out what's what. And we're also
always constantly trying to interrogate the limits of the
libertarian perspective so that we're presenting the best arguments
and visions for a better world. Finally, we also try to do all this
with a sense of fun and adventure and brio rather than out of grim
duty or terror and apprehension about what might come next.
If you like reading and watching Reason - if you find our
content stimulating, provocative, infuriating, inspiring, valuable
- please consider helping us reach our target goal for the 2013
And give the final season of
Treme a shot. Set in post-Katrina New Orleans, the show is a
fascinating meditation on the tension between a reverence for the
past and "authenticity" and the absolute need to change and
progress into the future. The trick - and I'm sure the final season
will explore this in a way that only a master like Simon can do -
is how to respect and learn from the past without becoming
hopelessly stuck in it.
What would happen if
authors and publishers could not count on copyright to protect them
from piracy? History hints at the answer, Tom Bell writes. From the
founding of the United States until well into the 20th century,
domestic copyright laws generally denied foreign authors any form
of legal redress. Yet as the legal scholar Robert Spoo explains
in Without Copyrights, they developed other
stratagems to recoup the costs of writing, producing, and marketing
Foter.com / CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) Public Domain DedicationThis week marked the launch of
new rules in Washington, DC, that are intended to put an end to
years of rancor between the District’s food trucks and their
supporters on the one hand, and regulators and the restaurant lobby
in the District on the other. If the first week under the new
regulations is a harbinger of the long-term impact of the rules,
then Baylen Linnekin sees reason to be cautiously optimistic.
Don't go all complacent on us now, o
Hit & Run faithful! That big donation yesterday
challenge, not an excuse to take a long nap off a short
pier. Our original goal in this year's annual webathon—in which we
ask the irascible assembled to help fund another
year of kickass libertarian journalism and commentary—was $100,000;
then we got that $50,000 bump, so we
changed the goal to $150,000, and now we're...THIS JUST
IN: We have inched above the $100,000 line (including at
Bitcoin!), thanks to 300 donors and counting. I just
knew you wouldn't punish us for being greedy!
Need a raison d'Reason? How about this
fancy new TV show? Or this recent testimonial and conversation
on an existing TV show on the same network?
Or if you prefer, this exchange between Nick Gillespie and
We're out there wherever they'll have us, keeping people on
their toes with incisive and/or just plain weird arguments that
champion Free Minds and Free Markets. Help us get more libertarian
viewpoints out there in the public arena! Let's get that orange all
the way up to $150,000! (We promise, no more jacking it northward.)
Won't you please donate to Reason
right the hell now?
The New York Police
Department keeps on giving the middle finger to the community it
allegedly serves. It’s latest war against oversight is a doozy.
cutting off open access to local station crime reports. Via
DNAinfo New York:
The NYPD has ordered the city's 77 police precincts to stop
giving out any information to the media about crimes taking place
in their neighborhoods, cutting off a long-standing source of
information for New Yorkers.
According to a terse NYPD edict transmitted citywide, precinct
commanders were instructed: “Any requests by media to view
complaint reports be referred to the office of the Deputy
Commissioner For Public Information.”
The NYPD's public information office, known as DCPI, typically
disemminates only select major crimes such as murders, sexual
assaults and grand larcenies, but often does not include lower
level neighborhood crimes. Those complaints could traditionally be
found at the precinct, a reliable source for information of
interest for residents.
According to sources, the latest media restriction was sent last
week to the precinct supervisors from their borough commanders, who
received the transmission from the NYPD’s Chief of Patrol James
So to get access to info about a crime in New York City –
any crime in New York City (population 8.3 million) – a
person has to call their public affairs office. And beyond that, it
means media folks might not even know a crime happened unless the
police tell them or a witness or victim contacts the media.
Spice up your blog or Website with Reason 24/7 news and
Reason articles. You can get thewidgets
here. If you have a story that would be of
interest to Reason's readers please let us know by emailing the
24/7 crew at email@example.com, or tweet us stories
Bitcoin: hasn't crashed yet
(though below 1,000 as I write)! A roundup of some interesting
recent tidbits from that world.
•One of the big undertold, and by the nature of it will likely
remain undertold since the potential subjects of those stories have
every incentive to keep it to themselves, tales of the Bitcoin boom
are specific details of the specific visionary liberty and tech
types who found their belief in an agorist free future paying off
in literal millions for literal half hours of effort.
has a nice profile of early adopted and Bitinstant entrepreneur
Charlie Shrem, who without details admits he's living the high life
Many Bitcoiners are fervent libertarians: They believe that
because Bitcoin is a decentralized currency, the government can’t
touch it. Shrem tells me he stays away from all that “libertarian
stuff”—and yet his world view is pretty starkly libertarian.
“I don’t care about politics,” Shrem says. “I don’t care for the
Fed—I mean, I do. It sucks. I hate our current monetary policy, and
I hate our current fiscal policy. I think that technology can
change the world, and that technology will trump whatever the
Shrem, who is also the vice chairman of the Bitcoin Foundation,
a nonprofit that spreads the word about Bitcoin, plans to
re-launch his site in the next few weeks. In the meantime, he’s
enjoying life—and his fat stockpile of Bitcoin.
“A lot of what I do is making deals, closing deals, getting
people to like me. It’s impressing people. I have to take a lot of
people out to clubs, buying bottles, buying dinners. BitInstant is
my day job. Bitcoin is my life. I drink for free, I eat for free.
It’s a good life so far.”
•What did lots of Bitcoin holders spend their Bitcoins on on
Business Insider, $900,000 in Bitcoin value was spent at
one gold and silver exchange, Amagi Metals, over Thanksgiving
that Bank of America is now "the first major
financial institution to initiate analyst coverage of Bitcoin" and
"declared a maximum fair value of $1,300."
reports on homeless men (and they aren't alone) who regret
spending any of their Bitcoin on food now that they realized if
they'd saved it it would be far, far more valuable now.
Between April and September, while living on the streets of
Pensacola, Florida, they
used their laptops and smartphones to collect a total of about four
or five bitcoins. Some of it arrived through donations. Some of
it came from rather unsophisticated online services that dole out
tiny fractions of the digital currency if you spend some time
looking at videos and ads. And over the course of the summer, this
free money bought them a pretty steady supply of pizza and chicken
Today, after finding a house they can rent with a little help
from the government, the trio is off the streets, and life is even
better than it was before — except that a bitcoin is now
$1,000. “The $600 we spent would now be worth $6,000,” says
Angle. “I wish we had gone hungry.”
His buddy Kantola feels much the same way. “We’re definitely
kicking ourselves. We spent $5,000 or $6,000 on food!” he says.
“Back in 2009, you could have bought four bitcoins for a dollar. If
I could go back [and buy some then], I wouldn’t be here right now.
I’d probably be in a mansion.”
The Washington Post’s
Fact Checker called out President Obama for his recent
claim that there is "no solid evidence that a higher minimum wage
Riana/Wikimedia CommonsObama delivered the
questionable remarks at a
Center for American Progress-hosted event in the nation's
capital on Wednesday. His speech touched on the importance of
upholding Social Security and Medicare entitlements, the insiduous
threat of growing inequality, the 1 percent, and minimum wage
I agree with those voters, and I’m going to keep pushing until
we get a higher minimum wage for hard-working Americans across the
entire country. It will be good for our economy. It will be
good for our families.
He then assured the audience that enacting such a policy would
not result in the unintended consequences for the poor that they
might have heard about:
Now, we all know the arguments that have been used against a
higher minimum wage. Some say it actually hurts low-wage
workers -- businesses will be less likely to hire them. But
there’s no solid evidence that a higher minimum wage costs jobs,
and research shows it raises incomes for low-wage workers and
boosts short-term economic growth.
The Post Fact Checker, which is a non-partisan blog
checking politicians' claims for accuracy, said they approached the
president's statement with caution:
The Fact Checker generally hesitates to wade into messy economic
debates [since economists have a hard time reaching a
consensus]...But here’s the president of the United States,
essentially saying that the debate has been settled. Is that really
The White House, in support of the president’s comment, pointed
to a section of the 2013 Economic Report of the President (pages
120-121). The report noted that most economists had once
believed an increase in the minimum wage would reduce employment
but that “the consensus view among economists has since
shifted as more evidence has accumulated.” It also
2009 meta-analysis of 64 studies of the minimum wage that
found “no evidence of a meaningful adverse employment effect” of
the minimum wage.
The problem is that while there may be a new consensus emerging
on the left-leaning side of economic theory, there is an equally
fierce response from other economists.
In 2006, economists David Neumark and William Wascher
survey of more than 100 studies, and came to an opposite
conclusion, directly contradicting the results of the so-called New
Minimum Wage Research. They found that the majority of the studies
showed that “raising the minimum wage leads to economic distortions
and often has unintended adverse consequences for the employment
opportunities of low-skilled workers.”
Economist Arindrajit Dube and others came up with a new
approach in 2010, looking at the impact in counties adjacent at
different states, that bolstered the findings of the new minimum
wage forces. But economists Jonathan Meer and Jeremy West this
back with a study that found that minimum wage hikes
reduce net job growth because of the effect on expanding companies.
(In October, Dube responded that
their supposed job losses were occurring in the sectors without
minimum wage workers, which in turn prompted this
rebuttal by Meer and West.) And a 2011
study from economists at the London School of Economics
and the Central Bank of Turkey found higher minimum wages increased
In conclusion, the Fact Checker, said, "To flatly declare the
debate is over is misleading. He did not quite say there was
no evidence–but he came close." They awarded Obama two
The president also implied that higher wages wouldn't result in
higher prices for consumers:
Others argue that if we raise the minimum wage, companies will
just pass those costs on to consumers. But a growing chorus of
businesses, small and large, argue differently.
The Post did not tackle this claim, but it is also
dubious. At least one meta-analysis
on the price effects of the minimum wage found that a 10% minimum
wage increase in the US raises food prices by 4% and overall prices
by 0.4%. Other recent
research found that a 10% minimum wage increase raised prices
couple of years ago The New York Timesnoted
that the percentage of criminal cases ending in plea bargains has
increased during the last few decades as mandatory minimum
sentencing laws have raised the potential penalty for going to
new report from Human Rights Watch highlights the tremendous
leverage that such laws give federal prosecutors in negotiating
plea deals with drug offenders. Under Title 21, Section 841(b)(1),
for example, prosecutors have complete discretion in deciding
whether to mention prior felony convictions in connection with a
drug offender's sentencing, which can have a jaw-dropping impact on
the penalty he receives:
If a prosecutor decides to notify the court of one prior
conviction, the defendant’s sentence will be doubled. If the
prosecutor decides to notify the court of two prior convictions for
a defendant facing a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence on the
current offense, the sentence increases to life.
That is what happened to Sandra Avery, who in 2005 was
arrested for possessing 50 grams of crack cocaine—less than two
ounces—with intent to deliver. That amount alone triggered a
10-year mandatory minimum sentence, and that is the penalty she
would have received if she had pleaded guilty. Instead she went to
trial, was convicted (as are 90 percent of federal drug offenders
who insist on their right to trial), and received a life sentence
after the prosecution called the court's attention to Avery's three
prior convictions in Florida for possessing small amounts of crack.
The crack involved in those earlier offenses was for personal use,
and it was worth less than $100 all together. "Among
defendants who were eligible for a sentencing enhancement because
of prior convictions" in 2012, Human Rights Watch
found, "those who went to trial were 8.4 times more likely to have
the enhancement applied than those who pled
Another powerful source of prosecutorial leverage is Title
18, Section 924(c), which prescribes mandatory minimums for
possessing a gun in connection with a drug offense. The first such
offense triggers a five-year sentence, each additional instance
triggers a 25-year sentence, and the sentences must be served
consecutively. That is how
Weldon Angelos ended up with a 55-year mandatory minimum
sentence for three small-time marijuana sales during which he
possessed a gun, even though he never threatened or hurt anyone.
Before Angelos was convicted and received what may well amount to a
life sentence, prosecutors offered him a plea deal that would have
resulted in 40 fewer years behind bars. "Among drug
defendants with a weapon involved in their offense," Human Rights
Watch reports, "those who went to trial were 2.5
times more likely to receive consecutive sentences for §924(c)
charges than those who pled guilty."
The impact of such disparate treatment is dramatic:
In 2012 the average sentence of federal
drug offenders convicted after trial was three times higher
(16 years) than that received after a guilty plea
(5 years and 4 months)....Among first-time drug
defendants facing mandatory minimum sentences who
had the same offense level and no weapon involved
in their offense, those who went to trial had
almost twice the sentence length of those who pled guilty (117.6
months versus 59.5 months).
Prosecutors have always offered lenience in exchange for
guilty pleas; that is what makes such arrangements possible. But
the huge differences in punishment documented by Human Rights Watch
make demanding a trial so risky that almost no one chooses that
option. "Only three percent of federal drug defendants go to
trial," the report notes. "Plea agreements, once
a choice to consider, have for all intents
and purposes become an offer drug defendants
cannot afford to refuse."
In the July 2011 issue of Reason, Timothy
Lynch explained the
pernicious impact of plea bargaining, noting that the popular
understanding of American justice "is wildly off the mark" because
only a small percentage of cases actually go to trial.
U.S. GovernmentOn November 29, as most
Americans staggered through a tryptophan-induced haze, the federal
final rules (PDF) for the Health Insurance Providers Fee—or
Health Insurance Tax, to be more honest. It's a strange fee; one
for which the amount to be collected is predetermined, and then
parceled out among each "covered entity" that charges premiums for
health coverage, proportionate to the insurer’s share of net
premiums. Which is to say, it's a tax that hits individuals, and
small-to-medium-sized businesses that have to pool risks, but
explicitly excludes the sort of "self-insured plan" offered by
large employers. Unless you work for a large company that
self-insures, you can expect the fee to be passed on and to add a
couple of percent to the cost of your health coverage.
U.S. GovernmentHow much the tax will add to your bill is a bit
of a guessing game, since the government has already decided how
much it will collect, but the size of the market is a bit up in the
air in the age of crashing government Websites and legally required
policy cancellations. Buried on page 832 (yes, really) of the
Protection and Affordable Care Act (PDF) is Section 9010(e),
which announces, bluntly, that the IRS will collect:
$8 billion in 2014
$11.3 billion in 2015
$11.3 billion in 2016
$13.9 billion in 2017
$14.3 billion in 2018
After that, "the applicable amount shall be the applicable
amount for the preceding calendar year increased by the rate of
It's good to have confidence in how much revenue you'll collect,
isn't it? I'll bet the health insurance providers who will be
passing this tax on to their customers wish they had the same
In fact, the new tax is enough of a concern that insurers, like
distributing brochures (PDF) explaining why premiums are
subject to a somewhat unpredictable new levy. "Because the new
federal fee will impact the cost of plans going forward," cautions
Aetna, "we feel it’s important for you to understand this fee. By
doing so, you can better anticipate and plan for the expected
How much will the new tax add to the average health coverage
bill? The Heritage Foundation's David R. Burton
says it "will increase individual and small group health
insurance premiums by an additional 2–3 percent."
My new col at Time.com is about
the huge amounts of public dollars that are shoveled at college and
As someone who enjoys following both levels of competition, it
pisses me off that people who never bought a ticket or even watched
a game are on the hook for something that is in no way a core
function of government.
Here's the start of the col:
As we enter the drama-filled final week of the regular college
football season and the final month of the National Football
League’s schedule, forget about GM and Chrysler, Solyndra, or even
cowboy poetry readings. Fact is, nothing is more profitable, more
popular, and more on the public teat than good old American
football. That’s right. You, dear taxpayer, are footing the
bill for football through an outrageous series of giveaways to
billionaire team owners and public universities that put pigskin
It’s just not right when governments shovel tax dollars at
favored companies or special interests, even when those firms are
called, say, the Minnesota Vikings or the Scarlet Knights of
Rutgers University. ...
Especially in an age of busted government budgets, even the most
rabid sports fan should agree that it’s an outrage that the
highest-paid public employee in
a majority of states is a college football coach (in
another 13, it’s a basketball coach).
downplayed the IRS targeting of Tea Party groups in defending
the job his administration has done and the trustworthiness of the
federal government in an interview with MSNBC’s Chris
A federal judge
ruled Greenville County Schools did not have to stop
student-led prayers or activities being held at places of worship
while a lawsuit against the practices goes to court.
A DC police officer, Linwood Barnhill, is being
investigated for allegedly running a prostitution ring after a
missing 16-year-old girl was found in his apartment. He has not
been arrested or charged, but police executed a search warrant for
alleged child pornography and sex trafficking of a minor.
carrying an unknown payload for the National Reconnaissance
Office, which manages the government’s space-based spy
satellites, launched successfully off the coast of California.
At a summit of African leaders being held in Paris, French
President Francois Hollande
urged the creation of a regional security force to deal with
crises like the one in Central African Republic to which France is
responding with its latest intervention.
take the UN Security Council seat previously rejected by Saudi
A private company
wants to land a micro-spacecraft on the surface of the moon in
You could always detect a pinch of socialistic seasoning in the
church's theological stew. But in this case, the pope doesn't
simply point out that the wealthy aren't doing enough to help
alleviate poverty. He uses the recognizable rhetoric of the
political left to accuse free market systems of generating and
nurturing that poverty. For starters, it's troubling that the pope
fails to make any genuine distinction between Western poverty
(terrible) and the poverty of the Third World (unimaginably
terrible). But is it really true that "absolute autonomy of markets
and financial speculation" are the driving reasons for poverty and
inequality? David Harsanyi says the Pope should recognize the
powerful role that markets have had in alleviating global poverty
and furthermore, he should not conflate poverty with
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are reporting
that the number of measles cases so far this year are running three
times higher than the recent average. As USA Today
The USA is experiencing a spike in measles, with 175 confirmed
cases and 20 hospitalizations so far this year, according to the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
That's about three times the usual number of cases of measles,
CDC Director Thomas Frieden said Thursday. The USA has seen nine
outbreaks this year, with the largest in New York, North Carolina
More than 98% of measles patients were unvaccinated, Frieden
"This isn't the failure of a vaccine; it's the failure to
vaccinate," Frieden said....
The country's safety net has become more porous in recent years,
as like-minded parents who refuse vaccines have clustered in the
In August, for example, a visitor who had traveled abroad
infected 15 people at a Texas megachurch. One of those infected was
a 4-month-old baby, too young to have received a first measles
Credit: US NavyThe Guantanamo Bay detention camp has
changed its protocol. Undeterred by criticism about transparency
and humans rights violations, officials at the camp will no longer
disclose information about detainees on hunger strike.
Despite bearing the
motto "safe, humane, legal, transparent detention," Guantanamo
Bay “officials have determined that it is no longer in their
interest to publicly disclose the information,” the Associated
Press reported on Tuesday.
Until then, the camp released daily information about the
detainees, many of whom have never
been charged for crimes and are being held indefinitely without
trial. Others, as Reason's J.D. Tuccille
points out, remain at the facility despite being cleared for
release years ago.
The AP points out the significance of the military's new silence
on the matter, as hunger strikes have acted as an “unofficial
barometer of conditions at the secretive military outpost” and the
“number of hunger strikers” can be seen “as a measure of discontent
at the prison.”
“Guantanamo allows detainees to peacefully protest, but will not
further their protests by reporting the numbers to the public. The
release of this information serves no operational purpose and
detracts from the more important issues, which are the welfare of
detainees and the safety and security of our troops,” stated Navy
Cmdr. John Filostrat, who oversees the camp's public relations.
Carol Rosenberg, who covered the number of hunger strikers daily
for the Miami Herald, reports that he asked
Filostrat to “elaborate on how the daily report interfered with
troop security and detainee welfare,” but Filostrat refused.
The most recent (and likely final) report stated that 15
prisoners were on strike. All of them were in poor enough condition
that they had to be force-fed, a process that has been
considered a form of torture.
Earlier this year, in a mass protest the hunger strike reached
a peak participation rate of 106 of the 166 being held at the
facility. The numbers dropped and officials declared the strike
over in July. This is not exactly accurate, though, as there was
a day without multiple prisoners on strike.
Jacobin is steamed at the supposed "deletion of the left"
by supposedly dominant "cyberlibertarians."
He starts off going wrong with a rather gross misunderstanding
of what being "of the left" in American terms means these days:
The digital revolution, we are told everywhere today, produces
democracy. It gives “power to the people” and dethrones
authoritarians; it levels the playing field for distribution of
information critical to political engagement; it destabilizes
hierarchies, decentralizes what had been centralized, democratizes
what was the domain of elites.
Most on the Left would endorse these ends. The widespread
availability of tools whose uses are harmonious with leftist goals
would, one might think, accompany broad advancement of those goals
in some form. Yet the Left today is scattered, nearly toothless in
most advanced democracies. If digital communication technology
promotes leftist values, why has its spread coincided with such a
stark decline in the Left’s political fortunes?
What the left really wants is a centralized elite authority that
pursues particular ends it claims to desire, often allegedly on
behalf of "the people"; people who really want dethroned authority,
free flow of information, and decentralization are
Why would a left that wants to see a world shaped to its own
particular desires--about income distribution, market and personal
choice and behavior, and forced change in people's transportation,
energy, and consumption choices, embrace a world of greater
decentralization and choice?
Rather than engaging the real reasons why the mentality implied
by the "digital revolution" hasn't lad to a resurgent leftist world
of policy, Golumbia decides to blame those who actually recognize
that there is a pretty natural connection between digital practice
and ideology and libertarianism. What's more, he gets mad at
leftists in the digital realm who even hold any truck with
When computers are involved, otherwise brilliant leftists who
carefully examine the political commitments of most everyone they
side with suddenly throw their lot in with libertarians — even when
those libertarians explicitly disavow Left principles in their
This, much more than overt digital libertarianism, should
concern the Left, and anyone who does not subscribe to libertarian
politics. It is the acceptance by leftists of the largely
rhetorical populist politics and explicitly pro-business thought of
figures like Clay Shirky (who repeatedly argues that representative
democratic and public bodies have no business administering public
resources but must defer to “disruptive” forces like Napster) and
Yochai Benkler (whose Wealth of Networks is
roundly celebrated as heralding an anticapitalist “sharing
economy,” yet remains firmly rooted in capitalist economics) that
should concern us....
The first line above is wonderful: markets and most especially
the Internet (where no one knows you are a dog, if you don't want
them to) are wonderful realms for mutually pleasurable and valuable
interactions where, blessedly, ancient obsessions about agreement
on religions, or race or culture, are irrelevant. They are even
places where political belief can be glossed over, to get to where
what I'm implying will stop making sense to many people even though
the beautiful advantages for peace and mutual advantage of just
treating certain things as irrelevent to civilized
interaction are the same as in the old Enlightenment project
of getting over race, religion, and gender, and nationality in
deciding who we'll tolerate.
But to the leftist, one must "carefully examine the political
commitments of most everyone they side with...." and act
Yesterday, Naomi Brockwell and I attended a demonstration
demanding that fast-food restaurants boost their minimum wage to
$15 per hour, or a little more than double the current federal
minimum wage. The strike, which was led by a group called Fast Food Forward that’s
affiliated with the Service Employees International Union
(SEIU), was one of more than a 100 similar demonstrations held
in cities across the country.
The New York demonstration had about 150 people, but the number
of actual fast food employees participating in the strike was
small. It was business as usual at every restaurant we dropped
by yesterday morning and, at a McDonald’s restaurant on 23rd
Street and Madison Avenue in Manhattan, employees behind the
counter said they had heard nothing about a strike.
Candybox Images: dreamstimeA significant proportion of
Americans believe it is perfectly all right to put other people at
risk of the costs and misery of preventable infectious diseases.
These people are your friends, neighbors, and fellow citizens who
refuse to have themselves or their children vaccinated against
contagious diseases. Reason Science Correspondent Ronald
Bailey explains why there is no principled libertarian case for
For those concerned about National Security Agency interception
of commercial data—information that you might share with Facebook,
Google, and other online outfits—the Electronic Frontier Foundation
keeps a running tally of encryption measures implemented by such
firms. Since the NSA often hacks into
data links without any legal niceties, such encryption has the
potential to dramatically improve security. Even when government
officials come with
rubber-stamp court authorization in hand, or other tools for
compelling compliance, tools like the perfect forward secrecy
recently implemented by Twitter can limit the snoops' take. It
can even make it impossible for companies to do as the official
eavesdroppers ask. That's important for American firms that find
ability to compete both locally and globally seriously hindered
by assumptions that their data storage systems are effectively
reading rooms for the NSA.
According to the EFF, the table below shows where major online
firms stand at the moment in their encryption efforts. This is a
moving target, of course, so keep checking back with the EFF for
Definition-wise, encrypted data centerlinks
are important, because the NSA has been tapping into the free flow
of information between servers owned by companies like Google.
Encrypting that flow means snoops will nab scrambled and
incomprehensible information (unless they crack the
provides a secure connection to Web pages, so that your activity is
less easily observed.
Perfect Forward Secrecy encrypts each session
you spend on a service like Facebook independently, so that even if
snoops or hackers get access to one encryption key, they can't
retroactively decrypt everything you've done in the past.
STARTTLS is a
means on encrypting communications between email servers. Those
with their status listed in red, above, provide email to the
public, making it a bigger deal than those whose status is in grey,
and provide only internal email.
hooray! The Hill is
reporting that Patriot Act author Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr.
(R-Wis.) wants Director of National Intelligence James Clapper
fired and prosecuted for lying to Congress. From The
"Lying to Congress is a federal offense, and Clapper ought to be
fired and prosecuted for it," the Wisconsin Republican said in an
interview with The Hill.
He said the Justice Department should prosecute Clapper for
giving false testimony during a Senate Intelligence Committee
hearing in March.
During that hearing, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) asked Clapper
whether the National Security Agency (NSA) collects data on
millions of Americans. Clapper insisted that the NSA does not — or
at least does "not wittingly" — collect information on Americans in
After documents leaked by Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA
collects records on virtually all U.S. phone calls, Clapper
apologized for the misleading comment.
Misleading comment? Really?
Sensenbrenner also called for firing National Security Agency
director Keith Alexander who oversaw the unconstitutional mass
surveillance of Americans' electronic communications. It's way past
both Clapper and Alexander were gone.
Microsoft Corp.'s digital crime unit has teamed up with
the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and its European
counterpart to fight software that infected more than 2 million
computers to steal revenue from online advertisers.
They’re working to track down computers that have been taken over
with the malicious software known as ZeroAccess or Sirefef, and get
rid of the malware, Microsoft said in a statement. While the effort
won’t eliminate the threat, it should significantly reduce the
fraud, which has cost online advertisers an estimated $2.7 million
a month, the Redmond, Washington-based company said.
announced new measures to protect user privacy from both
malware and government.
Follow these stories and more at Reason 24/7 and don't forget you
can e-mail stories to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and tweet us
Healthcare.govMany of Obamacare's defenders have argued that
the law works where there's political support to make it work,
particularly in states like California, which chose to create its
own health insurance exchange under the law. The
experience in states like Maryland and Oregon, both of which
were proactive in creating their own exchanges but had serious
trouble anyway, complicates that narrative.
this report in today's Politico, which notes that the
state based exchanges may be subject to some of the problems with
834 transmissions, which contain enrollment data, between the state
exchanges and participating insurers—the same sorts of problems
plaguing the federal exchange system.
Insurers in Kentucky and New York, for example, say they’ve
received flawed 834 enrollment forms from their local exchanges,
though the extent of the errors is unclear. Washington state has
already had to correct thousands of 834s with faulty information
about federal tax credits.
Several state exchanges waited until late last month to even
start sending application data to insurers, meaning potential
errors haven’t had much time to surface.
Right now it's too early to say how serious or widespread the
problem is within the state-run insurance portals. But even in
Kentucky, which is widely viewed as one of if not the best-run
exchange in the country, there appear to be problems.
“In general, the situation is the same for the state-run
exchanges as it is for the federally facilitated exchanges,” said
Tony Felts, a spokesman for Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, one
of Kentucky’s major insurers. “As far as the quality of the data
that’s coming in, I can’t say that everything has been completely
accurate. Nor has everything been completely inaccurate.” It’s too
early, he added, to know if the problems have been solved.
The existence of these data transmission errors means that even
in states where the exchanges are reportedly working fairly well,
some consumers who believe that they have enrolled in
exchange-based insurance may eventually find out that they are not
enrolled, or that their enrollment data is incorrect.
Are these problems fixable? Perhaps. An administration source
tellsThe New Republic's Jonathan Cohn that the error
rate within the federal exchange system was one in four in October,
but has since been lowered to one in ten. That's an improvement,
but it's still a huge problem, especially since sign-ups are
happening at a much faster rate this month than they were in
October. Certainly it's nothing for the administration, or the
law's defenders, to be proud of. Imagine if, a few weeks prior to
the October launch of the exchanges, it had become clear that the
exchanges would incorrectly transmit 10 percent of applications,
and in at least a few cases, not transmit any information at all.
It would have been viewed as a significant problem. That it's now
viewed as a sign of improvement only shows how poorly the initial
Even if the system eventually ends up working perfectly for new
enrollees, there were still be a large group of people whose
information wasn't transferred accurately. Cohn's administration
source guessed that the number of people in that category is
somewhere in the tens of thousands. Depending on how long long the
errors take to fix, how many sign-ups occur in the meantime, and
how widespread the transmission errors are in the state-run
exchanges, that number could turn out to be a lot higher.