Free Minds & Free Markets

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Tennessee Decides It's Not Actually Dangerous for a Cosmetologist to Do House Calls

A salon owner complained about "highly disturbing" competition from an app, and the state cosmetology board threatened fines. That won't happen anymore.

JGI/Jamie Grill Blend Images/NewscomJGI/Jamie Grill Blend Images/NewscomLawmakers in Tennessee passed a bill this week that would permit licensed cosmetologists to practice outside of salons, opening the door for on-demand services that connect makeup artists and hair stylists with clients who want service in their own homes.

This is common sense. Someone licensed by the state as a cosmetologist doesn't suddenly lose that knowledge and training—a lot of training, since becoming a cosmetologist in Tennessee requires 2,000 hours of classes—the moment he or she steps outside a salon. But such common sense didn't factor into the Tennessee Board of Cosmetology and Barber Examiners decision, nearly two years ago, to order a brand new on-demand beauty service to immediately shut down and pay a $500 fine.

The board targeted that business, Project Belle, after a brick-and-mortar salon in Nashville complained about its online ads. "I find this type of competition highly disturbing," the salon's owner wrote to the board.

Although the board eventually backed down from pursuing Project Belle, formally legalizing on-demand cosmetology services ensures that other startups won't face the same legal pressure over something as silly as competing with salons.

The bill passed the state Senate unanimously and cleared the state House with an 81–6 vote. Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, is expected to sign it.

"Tennesseans will now have the right to enjoy concierge cosmetology services just like many other Americans," said Armand Lauzon, CEO of Belle, in a statement. "Beyond that, it grants tens of thousands of cosmetologists access to the American dream by legalizing entrepreneurship in the industry."

The convenience of something like Project Belle is the obvious selling point for customers, but Lauzon told Reason in 2016 that cosmologists using his service benefit too. They can set their own schedules, they don't have to pay fees to rent space in a salon or spa, and they determine their own pricing. Project Belle takes 15 percent off the top, similar to how Airbnb operates.

"This important reform," says Daniel Horowitz, an attorney who represented Lauzon in his dealings with the state board, "ensures that the Board of Cosmetology will be prevented from engaging in such lawless behavior ever again."

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The War on Waze

Politicians cause traffic jams, scapegoat an app.

Ericsch/Dreamstime.comEricsch/Dreamstime.comFrom coast to coast, prickly local residents are up in arms about commuters clogging their once-quiet neighborhood streets with bumper-to-bumper traffic, all to shave a few minutes off their daily commute.

This white-hot rage has largely fallen on Waze, a navigation app that alerts motorists to alternative routes on residential roads, away from the clogged and congested highways. The media have been quick to play up this angle. "Navigation Apps Are Turning Quiet Neighborhoods Into Traffic Nightmares," cried one New York Times headline from last year. "Waze, please stop ruining Los Angeles," implored GQ in 2016. Similar stories have popped up in USA Today, CityLab, and countless local papers.

Capitalizing on this resentment are local politicians, who are happy to shift the blame for traffic congestion onto Waze's shoulders and are now experimenting with strategies for blunting the app's effectiveness and punishing its users.

The epicenter of this fight is the nightmarishly congested Los Angeles, where the city government is mulling a lawsuit against Waze.

Last week City Councilmember David Ryu imploring the city's attorney to take some form of unspecified legal action against the app. "Waze has upended our City's traffic plans, residential neighborhoods, and public safety for far too long," he thundered in a press release. "If we do nothing, Waze will lead us on a race to the bottom—where traffic plans are ignored and every street is gridlocked."

It is true that it is inefficient to shift large amounts of traffic from L.A.'s highways and boulevards to neighborhood streets not designed to carry that kind of flow.

But Adrian Moore, a transportation expert at the Reason Foundation (the nonprofit that publishes this website), points out that these criticisms are a remarkable exercise in blame-shifting. Rather than causing traffic jams, Waze is giving drivers some opportunity to escape worsening congestion on city highways that planners and politicians have proven ineffective at addressing.

"Cities and states are not adequately managing their transportation systems and so they experience severe congestion, things don't work the way they're supposed to, including neighborhood streets," says Moore. "It's not really the app's fault, it's the congestion's fault."

The cause of worsening congestion, says Moore, is pretty simple: more people wanting to drive on the same amount of road.

This description fits Los Angeles pretty well. In 2001, Los Angeles County boasted 21,085 lane miles of maintained highways. In 2016, that number had not budged much, growing to only 21,826 lane miles. In the same period of time, the number of vehicle-miles traveled by Los Angeles commuters rose by some 10 million per day.

Consequently, congestion has gone nowhere but up. The TomTom Traffic Index estimates that congestion made Angelenos' commute times 45 percent longer in 2016, up from 31 percent in 2008. In 2017, the average L.A. commuter spent 102 hours in rush hour traffic, making it the most congested city in the world.

Prior to the rise of smartphones and navigation apps, commuters were more or less resigned to a fate of long, slow slogs on clogged highways. Now more and more commuters are being directed down previously unknown short cuts through neighborhood streets.

The predictable result has been a backlash of neighborhood residents against the commuters and their apps. At first this resistance was a purely grassroots phenomenon. One Los Angeles woman put up an angry sign aiming to shame commuters passing through her neighborhood. App users in places as diverse as Takoma Park, Maryland, and Tel Aviv, Israel, have reported fake accidents and speed traps in an attempt to fool Waze into redirecting traffic.

This has proven an ineffective strategy. Erroneous information reported to Waze is quickly contradicted by other app users finding free-flowing conditions, and the offending user is then suspended from the system.

But where private individuals have failed, the government is now stepping in. Their bizarre strategy: making those neighborhood streets worse to drive on.

Fremont, a Silicon Valley suburb that abuts the heavily congested Interstate 680, delayed traffic signals on its main boulevards and imposed rush-hour turn restrictions in an explicit attempt to scare away Waze users. The New Jersey town of Leonia—situated at the base of the heavily trafficked George Washington Bridge, which connects drivers to Manhattan—has taken this approach to an extreme by banning non-residents from driving on its roads.

Where they are not trying to scare drivers off certain roads, cities have been trying to coax them out of their vehicles by dropping speed limits and converting car lanes into bike paths and splurging on public transportation. Los Angeles has been leading the way with these kinds of "road diets," with city officials turning over whole lanes of its busy boulevards to bikers.

Often these plans have backfired.

Leonia's blanket prohibition has managed to reduce traffic on its residential streets. It's also managed to reduce traffic to its local businesses, with some reporting as much as a 40 percent drop in sales. The town is now being sued for closing off public roads to members of the public.

San Francisco spent $3.1 million to make a busy intersection in the Glen Park neighborhood more bus- and bike-friendly. In response, drivers skipped the intersection—to use narrower nearby roads.

Los Angeles has gone through a similar experience with its road diets. Instead opting for bikes and public transit—relied on for about 6 percent of the city's commutes—drivers have bailed off the boulevards and onto residential roads.

"If traffic doesn't flow any better on them then on the neighborhood streets, what's the incentive not to drive on the neighborhood streets?" says Moore.

Unless traffic flows better on these four- and six-lane boulevards and arterial roads, they will continue to be congested, and navigation apps will continue to direct people into residential areas.

Doing this, says Moore, requires a mix of road redesign to better handle thru traffic, congestion pricing (whereby drivers pay a variable toll depending on the number of cars on the road on existing road capacity), and building new roads to meet demand.

One possible objection to congestion pricing is that it might have the same effect as congestion: Drivers could react to new tolls by taking residential shortcuts. This is a fair concern, but there are reasons to think tolls could still reduce the number of people traveling through people's neighborhoods, even if it doesn't reduce the problem entirely. The drivers taking these shortcuts do not typically take residential and arterial roads for their entire trip. Thet're just trying to get around a particularly congested section of highway—the approach to the George Washington bridge, for instance. If congestion pricing is applied to a long enough section of road, most drivers would end up paying the tolls. Those who choose to do otherwise will suffer the consequence of longer travel times.

Some metro areas are already putting these ideas to the test. Washington, D.C., has built what are known as queue duckers—basically lanes that duck under an intersection—on some of its heavily trafficked roads, allowing motorists simply passing through an area to skip waiting and lights, thus improving traffic flow. Bakersfield, California, and Tampa, Florida have tried out similar designs.

L.A. and D.C. have likewise implemented a limited sort of congestion pricing in a couple of badly congested freeway lanes, but the idea's implementation is still very much in its infancy.

Ultimately, Moore says, Los Angeles needs to redirect its transportation dollars away from a little-used public transit system—which eats up about half of the city's transit budget—and into building more roads and adding lane-miles to meet increasing demand.

"When you are spending only about 50 percent of your money on a system that is carrying 90 some percent of your travel, how can you be surprised that's it not working well?" he asks.

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Joy Reid Blames Mystery Hackers for the Anti-Gay Stuff on Her Old Blog

The MSNBC host kind of sucked on gay issues 10 years ago. So did most Democratic moderates.

To the extent that I know who MSNBC host Joy Reid is, it's generally due to some really dumb tweets like this one:

To be honest, it wasn't until I started getting pulled into libertarianism many years ago that I even heard the term "classical liberal" myself. But I also wouldn't presume to confidently define terms that I'm unfamiliar with. It's not clear if she even knows how wrong she was, despite the reams of responses from people correcting her, and the tweet remains online.

Joy ReidJIM RUYMEN/UPI/NewscomBut she has deleted some decade-old blog writing from when she was a radio host in Florida, and now it's coming back to haunt her.

Mediaite has taken note of some homophobic posts from Reid's blog back around 2005 through 2007. Rather than taking responsibility for the posts and apologizing, Reid, via a cybersecurity consultant, is claiming that the now-defunct site was hacked or somehow manipulated to make it appear that she had written commentary that indicated discomfort with gay affection and gay marriage.

Reid has an admitted history of gay-baiting from the left as a way to attack politicians on the right. She apologized back in December when old blog posts were unearthed in which she frequently speculated that Charlie Crist, a former Republican governor from Florida, was gay. She's far from the only person to make such speculations, but she did it in a nasty, sarcastic way to attack those she saw as ideological opposition.

Back when those Crist posts were unearthed and exposed, she responded, "It was insensitive, tone deaf and dumb. There is no excusing it—not based on the taste-skewing mores of talk radio or the then-blogosphere, and not based on my intentions."

This time, though, she's insisting the newly unearthed homophobic posts were not written by her and that somebody went through the effort to manipulate the history of the site's content—even interfering somehow with the pages archived on the Wayback Machine—in order to "taint [her] character with false information."

Here is Mediaite's summary of some of the uncovered blog posts (and there's a Twitter thread by the person who unearthed the content here):

A 2006 Reid Report post included a compilation of the top five "totally not gay celebrities of the year," which was a satirical attempt—albeit, a lazy one—at suggesting everyone on the list was secretly gay. Singer Clay Aiken and CNN pundit Anderson Cooper both made the list, which—if the publishing date is correct—was posted years before they had come-out publicly.

In another post dated to 2005, the author said Cooper is the "gayest thing on TV" and noted that they have it "on good authority that Cooper is totally gay." He didn't come out publicly until 2012.

Other mentions on the list included the stars of Brokeback Mountain, the previously noted film that the author didn't see because "two male characters having sex" was "too out there."

I have no way of definitively determining whether these posts are real or fake. I certainly wasn't reading her blog at the time.

But if some shadowy force was going through the effort to destroy Reid's reputation, it apparently put in the time to make sure the posts were relevant to the discussions of the time. Who remembers NBA basketball star Tim Hardaway's anti-gay comments from 2007 anymore?

At The Intercept, Glenn Greenwald points out that the baiting, attacking language in the posts Reid insists are fabricated resembles the kind of language she had admitted and apologized for.

Greenwald also rapped the left for ignoring the story, but that seems to be shifting. Mainstream media outlets are picking it up, particularly because the organization that handles the Wayback Machine put out a statement yesterday that it can find no evidence of tampering with their versions of the posts. Furthermore, the well-known national LGBT advocacy and support organization PFLAG has announced that it's withdrawing an award it had planned to give Reid for her support of LGBT issues in the media.

There are two cultural trends the Reid story puts on display. The first is the overwhelming desire in the current culture war to claim the scalps of your ideological foes. We saw it most recently with Kevin Williamson, when those who disagree with Williamson's conservatism managed to get him fired from The Atlantic almost immediately after he was hired. Reid and Reid supporters are in fact using this cultural trend as a defense, stating outright that this is all part of an attempt to get her fired.

The second cultural trend is a weird attempt to purge from history that a good number of liberals have only recently come around on certain gay issues. The scandal isn't really what Reid said 10 years ago. The scandal is that there was an audience for it among Democratic partisans as little as 10 years ago. That history makes some people squirm. It's a reminder that, for all the attacks on conservatives for being anti-LGBT, the Democratic Party didn't fully embraced same-sex marriage until one whole president ago.

Reid's defensiveness is strange, because it's not like gay people—even gay progressives—have forgotten. It took a lot of hard work by gay activists (and gay people just willing to live their lives openly) to change straight people's attitudes and make them less uncomfortable at the prospect of gay couples and families. Now that those attitudes have shifted, some leaders (both political and cultural) want to act as though they were "evolved" all along.

In the event that anybody cares (they do not), I'm not interested in claiming Reid's scalp here, even if it turns out she's lying about her old blog being hacked or manipulated. An NBC spokesperson said this afternoon that they are not planning to take her off the air.

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FDA Investigation of Adolescent Juuling Could Endanger Adult Smokers

What if the e-cigarette features that appeal to teenagers also appeal to grownups?

Juul LabsJuul LabsJuul, a discreet, streamlined e-cigarette developed by the innovative vaporizer company Pax Labs, is pretty cool. That's a problem for Juul Labs, which spun off from from Pax last year, because teenagers like cool things. Yesterday the Food and Drug Administration, responding to anecdotal reports of students who juul during school, announced that it is investigating whether the company is marketing its products to minors.

New York Times reporter Kate Zernike already seems to have made up her mind. She says the FDA wants to "get manufacturers to stop marketing e-cigarettes to young people," which implies that manufacturers are in fact doing that.

With respect to Juul, that charge seems pretty implausible. The company's website, which asks visitors to affirm that they are at least 21 (the minimum purchase age for e-cigarettes in some jurisdictions), emphasizes that the rectangular vaping devices, which resemble elongated flash drives and can be charged via USB ports, are "for design," delivering nicotine doses similar to those from conventional cigarettes. "JUUL was created to be a satisfying alternative to cigarettes," the website says. "JUUL was founded by former smokers...with the goal of improving the lives of the one billion adults smokers. We envision a world where fewer people use cigarettes, and where people who smoke cigarettes have the tools to reduce or eliminate their consumption entirely, should they so desire."

Juul is clearly positioning its e-cigarettes as harm-reducing alternatives for grownups who smoke, which the FDA itself has recognized as a potential boon for public health. The models on Juul's website are all in their 20s or older, and so are the consumers featured in the video testimonials. The selling points touted by Juul—"simple," "clean," "satisfying"—are consistent with the market the company says it is trying to reach. There is nothing about Juul's pitch that seems geared to adolescents or even adult nonsmokers. "Our ecommerce platform utilizes unique ID match and age verification technology to make sure minors are not able to access and purchase our products online," Juul says.

Some of the retailers selling Juul vaporizers have been less punctilious. The FDA says it is conducting "a large-scale, undercover nationwide blitz to crack down on the sale of e-cigarettes—specifically JUUL products—to minors at both brick-and-mortar and online retailers." So far the agency has sent 40 warning letters to retailers, including convenience stores across the country, for selling e-cigarettes to customers younger than 18, the minimum age under FDA regulations.

In her Times story, Zernike erroneously reports that the retailers "violated the law preventing sales of vaping devices to anyone under 21." There is no such federal law, although a few states and cities, including California and New York City, have enacted that rule. In most places the minimum purchase age is 18.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb worries that "e-cigarettes have become wildly popular with kids." Whether that is true depends on your definition of "wildly popular." In 2016, the most recent year for which data from the National Youth Tobacco Survey are available, 11 percent of high school students reported using e-cigarettes during the previous month, down from 16 percent in 2015. Less than 3 percent of high school students use e-cigarettes "frequently," meaning they report use on 20 or more of the previous 30 days.

If e-cigarettes did not exist, teenagers would not be using them. In that sense, companies such as Juul are absolutely responsible for underage vaping. (Then again, teenagers who vape might otherwise be smoking, which would expose them to much bigger hazards.) Juul likewise can fairly be charged with making sleek, convenient electronic gadgets that appeal to teenagers as well as adults. The same goes for the flavors of its e-liquid pods.

"Juul comes in kid-friendly flavors like mango and crème brûlée," Zernike says. But these are also adult-friendly flavors, as demonstrated by surveys in which grownups say they like them and report that flavor variety is an important factor in switching from smoking to vaping. Banning e-liquid flavors in the name of deterring adolescent vaping therefore would endanger adult smokers by making e-cigarettes less appealing to them.

The FDA is asking Juul for "documents related to product marketing; research on the health, toxicological, behavioral or physiologic effects of the products, including youth initiation and use; whether certain product design features, ingredients or specifications appeal to different age groups; and youth-related adverse events and consumer complaints associated with the products." Juul promised to cooperate with the FDA and "continue working with all interested parties to keep our product away from youth." Gottlieb says he is determined to figure out "why kids are finding these products so appealing—and address it."

What if the things that make Juul products appealing to teenagers are the same as the things that make them appealing to adults? No doubt high school students would be less likely to use bad-tasting, ugly, clunky, inconvenient, and inefficient e-cigarettes. But so would adult smokers. Mandating less appealing e-cigarettes means discouraging smokers from making a switch that would dramatically reduce the health risks they face. The FDA should not sacrifice the lives of adult smokers on the altar of child protection.

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What It’s Like To Be a Workplace Harassment Trainer in the #MeToo Era: New at Reason

Heightened vigilance about sexual harassment has ushered in overdue changes and overreactions.

Nyul/Dreamstime.comNyul/Dreamstime.comMany of the changes brought by #MeToo are long overdue. More vulnerable people now know that they have the right to say "no" forcefully and have a reasonable expectation that they will be taken seriously when they report misconduct. Only now are there finally enough strong, capable women in positions of power—in politics and in the corporate world—to take complaints seriously and make changes stick.

But with headway comes the potential for abuse. Without proper protections in place, a minor accusation can cause unnecessarily life-ruining fallout, writes ArLyne Diamond, a workplace harrassment trainer in California.

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Shocker! American Steel Prices Spiked in April.

Hmm, I wonder why....

In the days and weeks after President Donald Trump slapped 25 percent tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, it was widely reported that American steel-consuming companies were bracing for higher prices. Some said they were already seeing those higher prices reflected in contracts to purchase steel from suppliers, but no one was sure how significant those price increases would turn out to be.

Now, a little more than six weeks since the tariff announcement, we have a better picture of the consequences of Trump's trade policy. It looks like this:


This chart—published by SteelBenchmarker, a firm that tracks the price of the commodity across different markets—shows the average price (in dollars per metric tonne) of hot-rolled band (HRB), one of the most commonly used types of steel. The dark blue line represents the United States' average price, while the light blue represents the price of steel produced in Western Europe, the red line represents China, and the pink line shows what SteelBenchmarker refers to as the "World Export" market: steel produced in other places, including Japan and South Korea.

The chart is notable because it shows how American-made steel has fluctuated in price relative to foreign-made alternative supplies. It's pretty plain that American steel historically has been a bit more expensive than steel made anywhere else in the world, but also that the price of American steel typically follows the same ebbs and flows as other markets. That's because steel is a globally traded commodity and price fluctuations in one place are going to affect pretty much everyone equally.

Until the last few weeks. American HRB steel has skyrocketed in price while steel made in other markets has experienced only a slight uptick.

The same is true for cold rolled coil (CRC), another common form of raw steel. According to SteelBenchmarkers, American CRC steel has seen a dramatic increase in recent weeks and is now priced more than 50 percent higher than Chinese or European options:

Is this good news for American steel manufacturers? Well, they are now able to charge higher prices for their product. But steelmaking is a relatively small part of the American economy. According to 2015 Census data, steel mills employed about 140,000 Americans and added about $36 billion to the economy that year, but steel-consuming industries employed more than 6.5 million Americans and added $1 trillion to the economy.

As a result, a large sector of the American economy—businesses that consume steel to make everything from beer kegs to automobiles—are stuck with a difficult choice. Buy cheaper foreign steel and pay 25 percent import taxes to the federal government, or turn to American suppliers and get stuck with a significantly higher purchase price.

"We see hot rolled steel up on average 30 percent on foreign and domestic pricing. No one is leaving prices 30 percent below an artificial market price," says Mike Schmitt, CEO of The Metalworking Group, an Ohio-based parts manufacturer.

Schmitt says he's also worried about American steel producers being able to keep up with demand. One large order from a domestic mill has been delayed several times already. "We don't even have a firm date," he says, "but it will be at least 6 weeks late."

It's not easy to bring additional steel production facilities online, so increasing supply (to reduce prices, or at least to ensure everyone is getting the steel they need) is not a immediately available remedy.

It's also worth noting that Trump's steel tariff applies only to steel in a raw or unprocessed form. American businesses that turn raw steel into, say, steel wheels for use on trucks and RVs have to pay higher prices for their supplies, but a foreign competitor that makes steel wheels and ships them to the United States does not. A trade policy that was intended to protect some American businesses from foreign competition ends up giving other foreign businesses a huge advantage over American ones.

That's exactly what's happened to Americana Development, Inc., which employs about 400 people in three states making steel wheels for trucks, RVs, garden equipment, and the like. Jeffrey Pizzola, the company's COO, tells Bloomberg that his company is paying 25 percent more for steel, something that creates "an unfair price advantage for Chinese companies that sell finished steel wheels" into the United States. Unless something changes, Pizzola warns that his company will have to reduce staffing or production.

They likely won't be alone. A projection released by the Trade Partnership, a Washington-based pro-trade think tank, says Trump's steel and aluminum tariffs will cause 146,000 net job losses—five jobs lost for every job gained. Even protectionist think tanks like the Coalition for a Prosperous America project a net decline in American jobs as a result of tariffs. The only point of disagreement seems to be how bad things will get.

Tariffs don't merely misalign economic incentives. They screw with political incentives too. Faced with what it sees as "unfair price competition" from China as a result of American tariffs, Americana Development is one of several companies now petitioning the U.S. Trade Representative to impose more tariffs on imported goods.

"All we're asking is that the table be leveled and the field balanced so the competition is fair," Pizzola tells Bloomberg.

There is an economic cost to protectionism, and it is spelled out plainly in the price of hot-rolled steel. The moral cost is more difficult to calculate.

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How The Simpsons Fights Fake News: Podcast

Journalism prof Michael Socolow has three simple rules to up your social-media literacy.

In an age of bots, trolls, and "fake news," we need to up our media-literacy game like never before, says Michael Socolow, a journalism professor at University of Maine and the author of Six Minutes in Berlin: Broadcast Spectacle and Rowing Gold at the Nazi Olympics.

In a wide-ranging conversation with Reason's Nick Gillespie, Socolow gives three easy rules that keep "smart people from spreading dumb ideas:" Don't share news that doesn't have substantiating links, be wary of stories that perfectly confirm your pre-existing biases, and (for god's sake!) always ask yourself why you're talking in the first place.

Socolow and Gillespie discuss past eras of moral panic and hysteria over new forms of media, such as the 1990s, when shows such as The Simpsons, Beavis and Butt-head, and Mystery Science Theater 3K, were attacked as anti-social even as they provided viewers new tools to critically process information overload just as cable TV and the internet became ubiquitous.

Subscribe, rate, and review our podcast at iTunes. Listen at SoundCloud below:

Audio production by Ian Keyser.

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This is Your Brain Thinking About the Drug War

Trump wants to spend "a lot of money" on a new round of anti-drug commercials.

During a rally in New Hampshire last month, President Trump promised that the federal government would "spend a lot of money" on a new anti-drug campaign that would scare kids "from ending up like the people in the commercials."

We'll make them "very, very bad commercials," Trump told the crowd. "We'll make them pretty unsavory situations."

Yet research on the effectiveness of past anti-drug campaigns, including a 2014 meta-analysis of 19 studies, concluded that these efforts had little to no effect on use of illicit substances.

Isn't it time to just say no?

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College Official on Why We Must Believe Alleged Crime Victims: It May Not Be the Truth, 'But It Is That Person's Truth'

"Let's believe what that person said."

ClackamasTedder / Wikimedia CommonsThe mask slips yet again. When challenged to defend flyers posted around an Oregon campus that warn of a widespread sexual assault problem, a college official said the following: "Believing survivors means let's sit down and understand each other's experience. Let's believe what that person said, he or she has experienced, that we have experienced. It may not be the truth, as has been determined, but it is that person's truth and what they were going through."

Clackamas Community College Dean of Human Resources Patricia Wieck reportedly made the comments during an interview with The College Fix's Autumn Berend, who had been seeking more information about sexual violence prevention flyers that had recently appeared on campus. Wieck did not respond to a request for comment.

The posters call on students to plant 1,201 flags, each representing a survivor of sexual assault at Clackamas. But Clackamas's main campus has just 6,000 female students, and the last reported sexual assault—a fondling—took place in 2014.

The flyers, apparently posted by the Associated Student Government, referenced the oft-cited statistic that 1 in 5 women on college campuses are sexually assaulted. But even if that accurately reflects the average female student's odds of being raped (and there are good reasons to doubt that it does), it probably wouldn't apply to Clackamas, which lacks on-campus housing.

But accuracy doesn't seem to matter much in the eyes of Clackamas's Title IX office, which is responsible for investigating sexual misconduct claims. After all, one person's "truth" is as valid as anybody else's.

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His DACA Dismantling Rejected, Trump's Travel Ban Now Faces the Court: Reason Roundup

Plus: racist "promposal" is protected speech and how protectionism is killing democracy

Jim West/agefotostock/NewscomJim West/agefotostock/NewscomDACA down, travel ban on trial. Calling the Trump administration's moves "arbitrary and capricious," a federal judge yesterday blocked the White House's plans to deport young immigrants who had been allowed to stay here under the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative. U.S. District Judge John D. Bates said the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) didn't adequately justify its declaration that DACA is illegal, and he gave the agency 90 days to "better explain its view." If it can't, DHS "must accept and process new as well as renewal DACA applications," ruled Bates.

Now another signature part of Donald Trump's anti-immigration scheme faces a judicial test. Today the Supreme Court will consider Trump's ban on travel to the U.S. by people in a handful of majority-Muslim countries.

"Lower courts have struck down each of the three iterations of the president's proclamation, the first of which was issued just a week after he took office in January 2017," notes The Washington Post. "But the conservative-leaning Supreme Court may be Trump's best hope, and it gave the administration a boost by allowing the ban to go into effect in December while considering the challenges to it."

This is the third iterations of Trump's travel ban. Issued last fall, it originally banned visitors or immigrants from six majority-Muslim countries (Syria, Lybia, Iran, Yemen, Chad, Somalia) and two others, North Korea and Venezuela. Chad has since been removed the ban list, and North Korea and Venezuela are not part of the challenge to the ban.

As Reason's Shikha Dalmia points out, immigrants from these countries "have killed precisely zero Americans in terrorist attacks on U.S. soil between 1975 and 2015. And countries that have sent terrorists—most notably Saudi Arabia, the home of many 9/11 hijackers—aren't on the list." But Dalmia also notes that the Supreme Court isn't tasked with deciding "whether the ban is sound policy but whether it is legally valid and constitutionally permissible," and "there is a pretty good chance that it will find that it is."

Some are summing up the case as being about more than just immigration policy. "The travel-ban case is uniquely tied up with Trump's haphazard policymaking process, and with the tug of war between the president and his administration," says Axios. "The justices will even have to decide how much they care about Trump's tweets."

"In many ways, litigation arising out of the travel ban has been the biggest test case for the courts in the Trump age," suggests Texas law professor Steve Vladeck:

There are still powerful statutory, constitutional and moral arguments against even this third version of the travel ban (David Cole, the ACLU's legal director, offers a concise summary). But, unlike the first two versions, the ban is now plausibly—if superficially—defensible.

Outside of Trump's fan club, there's been surprisingly diverse antipathy to the bans—a reaction "astounding in terms of both numbers and gravitas," says NPR's Nina Totenberg. "Among those lending their expertise to three friend-of-the-court briefs are more than 55 former officials from Republican and Democratic administrations, including CIA directors, national intelligence and counterterrorism chiefs, top diplomats with long records working in the Middle East, secretaries of state, some two dozen top-ranked retired admirals and generals, a former Republican attorney general and even the Republican chairman of the 9/11 Commission."


Slavery-referencing 'promposal' sparks free-speech lesson for high schoolers (and media). A high school student in Florida apparently sought to secure a prom date with a homemade sign, posted to Snapchat, reading: "If I was black I'd be picking cotton, but I'm white so I'm picking U 4 prom?" Stories in national news outlets let to outrage over the distasteful "promposal" that went far beyond Sarasota, Florida's Riverview High School.

In a startling show of restraint (by high-school-administrator standards), the district said while the 18-year-old student, Noah Crowley, will "more than likely" face some sort of punishment, "this incident is a gray area," since Crowley's actions did not take place at school. The school's policy only prohibits certain social-media speech if leaders "reasonably believe the conduct or speech has caused or will cause actual, material disruption of school activities or a staff member's ability to perform his or her job duties." Yet a lot of the press is framing this as some sort of First Amendment failure, like the goal of public education is to punish young people for any missteps using the harshest means available.

"Just like the rest of us, students have the ability to say things that are offensive," Fred Smith Jr., an associate law professor at Emory University, tells The Washington Post. "Given that he was off of the school campus, the mere fact that his speech was offensive would strike me as an insufficient basis for the school to punish him."

On Tuesday, Crowley released a statement saying, "It was a completely joke and it went too far. After reading the texts and Snapchat's I truly see how I have offended people and I'm sorry." His family said, through a spokesperson, that he won't be attending prom. They also offered "sincere apologies for the terrible words used in his 'promposal.' As a family, we truly recognize this incident is a very difficult but important life lesson and pledge to do all we can to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again."


Saving democracy and capitalism from short-sighted leaders. Against a backdrop of the weakening of social cohesion, "liberal democratic capitalism is in retreat," writes economist Dambisa Moyo in a new book, Edge of Chaos: Why Democracy Is Failng to Deliver Economic Growth and How to Fix It. "After the fall of the Berlin Wall, this political and economic model—characterized by universal suffrage, civil rights and personal freedoms, and the individual control of capital and labor—had seemed ascendant. But now alternative models, such as authoritarianism, state capitalism, and illiberal democracies, have proliferated, offering formidable challenges to liberal democratic capitalism's model of achieving growth."

At the same time, "liberal democratic capitalism itself has become weak, corrupt, and oblivious to its own ailments," argues Moyo. "As they confront these challenges, leaders of liberal democratic capitalist nations are hobbled by the quirks of their own political systems," like satisfying the short term demands of the masses. This leads to short-term thinking and responses. And "the short-termism that clouds policymaking leads politicians to embrace inferior policies"—such as protectionism in trade and capital flows and the growth of welfare policies.

"The defining challenge of our time is to create solid and sustained economic growth that continues to meaningfully improve people's lives," suggests Moyo. "Edge of Chaos argues that liberal democracies of the sort prevalent in the West simply cannot deliver this growth without substantial reform," yet it "insists on the promise of liberal democracy."

Rather than turning away from liberal democracy, nascent democracies need to prioritize creating growth over the immediate devotion of some paradigm of democratic perfection. And established democracies must put their own houses in order by passing aggressive constitutional reforms. Above all, policymakers must face up to the facts of the twenty-first century. In an interconnected world of anemic growth, other countries' crises will become our crises, whether they take the form of terrorism, income inequality, refugees, the resurgence of infectious diseases, or illegal immigration, and governments will grow ever more fragmented and weak, further undermining an already fragile international community. For Americans, and policymakers in the world at large, protectionism and isolationism are no remedy.


  • U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D–N.H.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D–R.I.) sent a letter yesterday to three U.S. megabanks (Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, and Citibank) along with several European banks pressuring these finanical institutions to disclose any business with Russian oligarchs or political leaders.
  • Maryland just banned not just guns with so-called "bump stocks" but even owning bump stocks on their own. The package of laws also creates a process for family members to request gun seizure of someone deemed to be a danger to themselves or others and one that would make people convicted of domestic violence provide evidence that they don't own any (legal) firearms. Gov. Larry Hogan called them "common sense, bipartisan measures."
  • Coming out of its worst quarter yet, Bitcoin may be back on an upswing, having jumped in value by about 20 percent in the past week.
  • Pennsylvania's Supreme Court has ordered that musician Meek Mill be released on bail. "As we have said all along, Meek was unjustly convicted and should not have spent a single day in jail," said his attorney.
  • The Treasury Department is congratulating itself on the deregulatory direction it says it has been taking under Secretary Steve Mnuchin. But outside observers are skeptical there's as much going on there as Mnuchin and company claim.
  • Finland is ending an experiment with universal basic income.
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Why All Libertarians Should Hope that the Supreme Court Throws Out Trump's Travel Ban

Giving the government blanket power to check the Bill of Rights at the border won't serve the interests of citizens or immigrants

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Trump vs. Hawaii, the Trump "Muslim" travel ban 3.0 case today. If it were to rule solely onTrump Nose the basis of whether the ban is good policy, it would be an easy call: "Nyet." Indeed, not even the uber-hawkish Wall Street Journal editorial page believes that the ban will do zilch to keep America safe from terrorist attacks. "We've disagreed with the need for the sweeping travel restrictions," the Journal's august editors opined. "The post 9/11 screening process for the most part has been effective in keeping out foreigners with jihadist links and sympathies. Most immigrants who have committed terrorist acts in the U.S. were radicalized after admission."

That is completely true. As I've noted in the past, immigrants from the seven banned countries have killed precisely zero Americans in terrorist attacks on U.S. soil between 1975 and 2015. And countries that have sent terrorists—most notably Saudi Arabia, the home of many 9/11 hijackers—aren't on the list.

But the Supreme Court will consider not whether the ban is sound policy but whether it is legally valid and constitutionally permissible. There is a pretty good chance that it will find that it is given that it overturned a lower court injunction preventing the ban from going into effect by a 7-2 vote pending a final ruling. As South College of Texas Law Professor Josh Blackman has pointed out, in the Roberts court, only once in the more-than-a-decade have the justices granted a stay without later reversing the opinion of the lower court.

Still, there are really strong arguments for nixing the ban, especially if the court were inclined to uphold individual liberty while strictly limiting state power—in other words, engaging in the kind of principled judicial activism that my Reason colleague Damon Root has advocated rather than slavishly deferring to the will of the elected branches.

The main argument why the Supreme Court cannot nullify the ban is that it's not its place to do so. Keeping the country safe is constitutionally an executive function and therefore actions taken by the president in the name of national security are not subject to judicial review. Furthermore, the thinking goes, he has "plenary power" to keep out foreigners—even entire classes of them—who he thinks might pose a threat to the country.

But, as I have noted before, the problem is that the plenary power doctrine as it applies to immigration has its basis not in the Constitution but very flawed 19th Century case law. The underlying rationale for this doctrine is that, in order to protect itself, the government of a sovereign nation like America must be able to exclude any foreigner from its soil without constitutional objections from courts. The only "rights" foreigners are entitled to when it comes to their ability to enter or stay in the country are those that the elected branches decide to extend to them. So, actions that might be illicit when applied to citizens may be unobjectionable when it comes to foreigners.

But there are several problems with this argument.


Chicago Is Trying to Pay Down Its Debt By Impounding Innocent People’s Cars: New at Reason

How a uniquely punitive impound program combined with the drug war and asset forfeiture to deprive people of their vehicles for years at a time.

Reason/Joanna AndreassonReason/Joanna AndreassonOn June 21, 2016, Chicago police pulled Spencer Byrd over for a broken turn signal. Byrd says his signal wasn't broken, but that detail would soon be the least of his worries. Ever since, Byrd has been trapped in one of the city's most confusing bureaucratic mazes, deprived of his car and his ability to work. He now owes the city thousands of dollars for the pleasure.

Byrd, 50, lives in Harvey, Illinois, a corrupt, crime-ridden town south of Chicago where more than 35 percent of the populace lives below the poverty line. He's a carpenter by trade, but until the traffic stop, he had a side gig as an auto mechanic. Byrd says he's been fixing cars "ever since I was 16 years old and blew my first motor." Sometimes he did service calls and would give clients rides when he couldn't repair their cars on the spot.

On this early summer night, Byrd was giving a client, a man he says he had never met before, a ride in his Cadillac DeVille. Police pulled both of them out of the car and searched them. Byrd was clean, but in his passenger's pocket was a bag of heroin the size of a tennis ball.

The two were hauled off to the precinct house. Police released Byrd after a short stint in an interrogation room without charging him with a crime. But when Byrd went to retrieve his car, he found out the Chicago Police Department had seized and impounded it.

Byrd had run afoul of Chicago's aggressive vehicle impound program, which seizes cars and fines owners thousands of dollars for dozens of different offenses. The program impounds cars when the owner beats a criminal case or isn't charged with a crime in the first place. It impounds cars even when the owner isn't even driving, like when a child is borrowing a parent's car.

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Are Cop-Assisted Promposals Charming or Alarming? New at Reason

Stopping drivers without a legal justification is unconstitutional, even in the name of young love.

South Congaree Police DepartmentSouth Congaree Police DepartmentAfter a police officer pulls over a teenaged girl without any legal justification and frightens her to the verge of tears, the local press portrays the incident as charming rather than alarming. You know what that means: Prom season is upon us.

The cop-assisted promposal, in which police help a teenager carry out a prank that ends with an invitation to the big dance, has become a familiar springtime ritual, documented in online videos and feel-good newspaper stories. But beneath the warm and fuzzy images of adolescent couples, Jacob Sullum sees a disturbing willingness to tolerate abuses of power by police officers as long as their motives are pure.

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Teachers With Guns: New at Reason

Ratha Grimes / Foter.comRatha Grimes / Foter.comWhat should be done about school shootings?

After the horrible shooting in Parkland, Florida, President Trump suggested that some teachers carry guns. "We need to let people know, you come in to our schools—you're gonna be dead."

Anti-gun activists were horrified. But as John Stossel observes, many teachers have brought guns to work with them for years. Some teachers at the Keene Independent School District in Texas, for example, carry concealed weapons at school.

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Brickbat: A Teaching Opportunity

Teacher with megaphoneAndrey Popov / Dreamstime.comNew Jersey's Brookdale Community College says it is investigating after sociology professor Howard Finkelstein was caught on video shouting the f-word at a student in class.The student he was shouting at, Christopher Lyle, says it was one of many times Finkelstein has attacked him in class for expressing conservative ideas. The student who shot the video, Joey Smith, says he was tired of Finkelstein singling out Lyle for abuse. "He is basically just lecturing this one student for the whole period," Smith said.


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