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Preview: Nick Gillespie: Reason Magazine articles.

Nick Gillespie: articles.

Updated: 2018-01-17T00:00:00-05:00


Matt Taibbi on Misogyny, the Left vs. Free Speech, and the Killing of Eric Garner


Few journalists have tossed more hand grenades or built more of a reputation for themselves than Matt Taibbi, who covers politics and culture for Rolling Stone when not writing bestselling books, such as Griftopia, Insane Clown President, and most recently I Can't Breathe: A Killing on Bay Street, a powerful account of the death of Eric Garner, who died in police custody after being arrested for selling loose cigarettes in Staten Island. In 2008, Taibbi won a National Magazine Award for his columns and commentary at Rolling Stone. With fame comes controversy. A 2005 piece for the defunct free weekly The New York Press was titled "The 52 Funniest Things About the Upcoming Death of the Pope." It was denounced by everyone from Hillary Clinton to Matt Drudge to Michael Bloomberg to that paragon of good taste, Anthony Weiner. With the publication of I Can't Breathe last fall, Taibbi has come under attack in a wide array of places ranging from Twitter to Facebook to The Washington Post for work that critics say is flat out misogynistic and sexist. Taibbi has published at least two apologies about past work (much of which appeared in The eXile), but the firestorm has barely abated. He says that his support for Bernie Sanders throughout the 2016 campaign—even after Hillary Clinton won the Democratic nomination—is part of what's motivating the attacks on him, and is leading to something approaching a media blackout on his book about Eric Garner. Reason's Nick Gillespie spoke with Taibbi about his new book, free speech and the left, the recent negative attention that his work has received, and issues on which progressives and libertarians overlap in powerful, if always uneasy, ways. Interview contents: 1:48 - I Can't Breathe and the Eric Garner case 9:55 - Cell phone videos and their effect on criminal justice reform 11:43 - New York City and the origin of "stop and frisk" policing 18:37 - George Kelling and the origin of "broken windows" policing 22:44 - Crime reduction since the 90s 32:15 - Erica Garner's activism and death 34:56 - How libertarians and progressives can work together 37:29 - Journalism and "the new anti-speech movement on the left" 44:04 - Political tribalism and third party candidates 48:23 - Russian politics and U.S. election interference 51:49 - The sexual harassment allegations against Taibbi and his view of #MeToo 1:00:35 - How to promote heterodox, independent thinking Edited by Justin Monticello and Todd Krainin. Camera by Jim Epstein and Andrew Heaton. "Blammo" by Podington Bear used under a Creative Commons license. Erica Garner, credit: Raffe Lazarian/ZUMA Press/Newscom George Kelling Photo, credit: David Swanson/MCT/Newscom DIEGO OGAVE Notimex/Newscom George Kelling Photo, credit: David Swanson/MCT/Newscom Subscribe to our YouTube channel. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. Subscribe to our podcast at iTunes. This is a rush transcript. Check all quotes against the audio for accuracy. Nick Gillespie: So let's start with I Can't Breathe, which is immensely moving, powerful, and comprehensively reported account of the various social, cultural, legal, and law enforcement forces that left Eric Garner dead at the hands of the police in July 2014. Remind us of who Eric Garner was and why he was being hassled by the police on the day he died. Matt Taibbi: Eric Garner was this really interesting guy. He was an ex-con who was known in the neighborhood in Staten Island, not far from here, a place called Tompkinsville. He was a little bit older. He was 43 years old. He had a number of children, and he was for a living selling untaxed cigarettes on the street. Obviously, we have the highest consumption taxes in the universe- Gillespie: This is part of Bloomberg, right? Taibbi: Yeah, exactly. Gillespie: Bloomberg's legacy of 'I hate smoking, I'm going to raise taxes.' And Garner was part of a large group of people who were bringing lower or untaxed cigarettes from Virginia, from Indian reservations. Taibbi: Exactly, yeah. Bloomberg sort of single-handedly created this whole subculture of arbi[...]

Resolved: 15 Million Americans Would Be Better Off Without Welfare


Fifteen million able-bodied adults on government welfare would have a better chance at economic betterment if they were taken off welfare.

That was the provocative proposition debated at the most recent Soho Forum debate, held on December 11 at New York's Subculture theater in the East Village. Sponsored by Reason and moderated by Gene Epstein, the Soho Forum is a monthly, Oxford-style debate series that explores issues of particular interest to libertarians.

At the December 11 event, the Foundation for Government Accountability's Tarren Bragdon defended the proposition while Neera Tanden of the Center for American Progress opposed it. As an Oxford-style debate, the audience (including those watching via Reason's Facebook live stream) voted before and after the debate, with the winner being the person who moved more people to his or her side. It's a lively conversation that features audience questions toward the end.

The next Soho Forum takes place on January 16 and features the proposition that "selfishness is a virtue." Yaron Brook, the executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute, will defend selfishness and Gene Epstein will move from moderator to debater in opposing the resolution. Moderating the debate is Fox News' chief legal analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano. Tickets for the event are $18 ($10 for students) and must be purchased in advance. To buy tickets, go here now.

Produced by Kevin Alexander.

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What the GOP Tax Bill Means for Libertarians


With Republican tax reform almost a sure thing, the nation is poised to experience the most sweeping and significant changes to the tax code since the late 1980s. But are those changes—including lower corporate and individual rates, reductions in some longstanding deductions, and almost certainly trillions of dollars in new national debt—good from a libertarian perspective. Chris Edwards, director of tax policy at the CATO Institute, likes most of what he sees on the corporate side of reform. But when it comes to individual tax policy, he tells Reason's Nick Gillespie, "It's basically reassembling deck chairs on a really messy and horribly complex system." Edited by Ian Keyser. Cameras by Meredith Bragg and Mark McDaniel. Music by _ghost, lisenced under Creative Commons CC BY 3.0 US. Subscribe to our YouTube channel. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. Subscribe to our podcast at iTunes. This is a rush transcript. Check all quotes against the audio for accuracy. Nick Gillespie: Hi, this is Nick Gillespie for Reason. Today we're talking with Chris Edwards. He's the Director of Tax Policy at the Cato Institute and we're talking about Republican tax reform and the implications for the economy and what it means for libertarians. Chris, thanks for talking to us. Chris Edwards: Thanks a lot for having me, Nick. Gillespie: Give us your general score card. Is this good? Is it bad? Is it somewhere in between? Edwards: The main driver here is the corporate tax reforms. The United States has the highest corporate tax rate in the world. The Republicans would slash the corporate tax rate down pretty dramatically down to 20% at the federal level. Gillespie: And that's from 35%? Edwards: From 35 down to 20%. That sounds pretty low, but actually the global average rate is only 24% today. If you think about the United States, we've got our federal rate, but we've got state corporate taxes on top up to about 10% or more. Even with the Republican cuts, we'd only just barely start getting competitive globally. That's the corporate stuff. Gillespie: Before we get to the individual side, with the corporate stuff, one of the things that opponents of tax reform say is, 'So, corporations make a huge amount of money. They're solelists literally and figuratively.' Why are we cutting taxes on corporations and what is the thinking behind that? Why is that a good thing? Edwards: You'll hear critics say, 'American corporations are usually profitable today. A lot of them are sitting on a big pile of cash. Why do they need tax cuts?' The reason is because corporations are forward looking. They think about building a new factory here versus in Mexico or China, and they look at that stream of future profits and they look at how much the government tax grab on that will be. They might be sitting on cash now, but the reason they're not investing it is because the U.S. corporate tax rate is so high. You cut the corporate tax rate, corporations at the margin, there would be more factories, more hiring will make more sense in the United States versus our competitors. They will invest more in the long run, and they'll build more factories. You build more factories, you got to hire more workers, the demand for U.S. workers will go up and then wages will rise. Gillespie: This sounds like Trump's, but this is Trump's nightmare, because then suddenly people from Mexico are going to start coming back to the United States instead of leaving, which is what's happening. Edwards: You know the demand for labor will go up a lot. The reality, Nick, is that even though the U.S. unemployment rate is pretty low now, our participation rate in the labor force has been falling, especially for middle-aged men for a number of decades now. We want to get a lot of those folks off the sidelines back in the workforce. I think the corporate tax cut really goes to that issue. Gillespie: There's also a shift, and I guess this affects both the corporate as well as the individual rates. The U.S. currently taxes [...]

Grover Norquist: GOP Tax Bill Is Good Enough For Now (He's Planning to 'Whine Later')


Tax reform bills have been approved by both the Republican-controlled House and Senate. Most observers believe the different versions will be reconciled into legislation representing the most thoroughgoing and consequential changes to the U.S. tax code since the late 1980s. To get a sense of the good, the bad, and the ugly of tax reform (there's plenty of each) Reason's Nick Gillespie sat down with Grover Norquist, the longtime head of Americans for Tax Reform and arguably the most influential activist over the past 30 years when it comes arguing for lower taxes. Edited by Mark McDaniel. Introduction and graphics by Meredith Bragg. Cameras by McDaniel and Bragg. Music by Krakatoa, licensed under Creative Commons, CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 US. Subscribe at YouTube. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. Subscribe to our podcast at iTunes. This is a rush transcript. Check all quotes against the audio for accuracy. Nick Gillespie: When the Senate passed its version of tax reform you wrote, "This is big, a bigger deal than Obamacare. Big job creation, big middle class tax cuts, big changes in an outdated tax code." What do you like about tax reform as it's shaping up generally? What are the large contours? Grover Norquist: There are things that happen immediately and then there's secondary effects. We eliminate the tax deductibility of state and local taxes. It's a pay for. Rates go down, broaden the base. Gillespie: That's in both the House and the Senate. Norquist: It's in the House and the Senate, they're the same. $10,000, you can deduct up to $10,000 of property tax at that state and local level but not income taxes. You go, okay, that's lower rates, broaden the base, who cares? What you just did was dramatically remove an incentive for higher taxes at state and local level. This reform packages is going to result in 1,000 tax increases that didn't happen at the state and local level and a 1,000 tax cuts that do. As California with a 13.3% top income tax rate, it's going to have to take that down. Gillespie: California's also a net donor to the federal government so is this going to kill the golden goose if California's a high tax state when people are wealthy there? They kick a lot of money into the federal government, shouldn't they be getting tax relief from the federal government? Norquist: No. Gillespie: Okay. Norquist: Because it is California senators and congressmen and New York senators and congressmen, New Jersey senators and congressmen and Connecticut senators and congressmen who vote for the very high tax rates at the federal level which is why those states are donor states. They also have politicians at the state and local level who have high taxes as well. They damage the country when they raise our personal income taxes for everyone in the country. But they also damage the whole country when their state politicians have high state taxes that are subsidized by being tax deductible at the federal level. Gillespie: What are the other tax expenditures or tax breaks that get lost here? That you're good about? The Senate version doesn't do anything with the mortgage interest deduction so it allows homeowners and the people who take the mortgage interest deduction overwhelmingly wealthy, they can deduct up to a million dollars or interest on loans up to a million dollars for two houses. The House version caps that at 500,000 for one. Which is better? And why shouldn't it be zero for this? Norquist: We should take it to zero. Some of these things are how far can you get. Any three senators could kill the whole project. There are limits to how far you can go. Any 25 congressmen can kill the whole project. When you begin to push around the edges and we called it pretty close in both cases. We had two votes to spare in the Senate and maybe 10, 15 votes to spare in the House and now we're going to do this again. Given the rules we were living under, the Senate rule, the Bird Law, and the fact that we had narrow majorities. This i[...]

Kill the Mortgage Interest Deduction Now!


Thankfully, one of the biggest scams in the American tax code is finally under attack in the House version of Republican tax reform. It's the mortgage-interest deduction, which currently lets homeowners deduct interest paid on mortgages of up to $1 million for two houses. Ever since owning a home has been a central tenet of the American Dream since the end of World War II and the rise of suburbia, it's been a given that deducting mortgage interest from your taxes is as American as apple pie. The House plan would limit filers to deducting interest on the first $500,000 of a mortgage on just one house, sending a blind panic through wealthy home owners, realtors, and the building trades, all of whom are terrified that a government subsidy is being yanked away from them. But the real problem with the House bill is that it doesn't go far enough. We should scrap the mortgage-interest deduction altogether and let housing prices reflect real market values. The mortgage-interest deduction is typically justified by claiming that it lets people—especially vaguely defined "middle-class" people—afford homes. But it also increases the price of housing by making it artificially cheap to borrow, meaning homebuyers are willing to pay more. England, Canada, and Australia don't let their taxpayers deduct their mortgage interest and they all have higher rates of homeownership than the United States. The mortgage-interest deduction disproportionately benefits the wealthiest Americans, who soak up almost all the $70 billion a year it costs in foregone revenue each year. Reason Foundation's director of economic research, Anthony Randazzo calculates that only 20 percent of tax filers claim the mortgage-interest deduction. That group by and large are part of six-figure households in a country where the median household income is just $57,000. Killing the mortgage-interest deduction might cause a one-time 7 percent drop in real estate prices, according to one estimate, with wealthy homeowners feeling most of the pain. As a homeowner myself, that seems like a small price to pay to end a policy that distorts the real estate market, complicates the tax code, and benefits mostly wealthier Americans on the false promise that it makes home-owning affordable for the middle class. The mortgage-interest deduction is just special-interest pandering wrapped in a gooey story that equates "the American Dream" with having a mortgage. The tax code should be designed to raise the revenue necessary to pay for essential services, not to nudge and prod us into spending money on something the government decides is good for us. Produced by Todd Krainin. Written and narrated by Nick Gillespie. Subscribe to our YouTube channel. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. Subscribe to our podcast at iTunes. [...]

How to End Human Stupidity


José Luis Cordeiro is a founding faculty member at Singularity University, a Silicon Valley–based futurist think tank devoted to the idea that science may soon allow humans to transcend aging and death. At this year's Freedom Fest in Las Vegas, Cordeiro sat down with Reason's Nick Gillespie to discuss immortality, artificial intelligence, and why he's so optimistic. Q: What are you most excited about right now? A: Medicine is being radically transformed. We are going to be living longer lives, healthier lives, probably indefinite life spans, very soon. Q: Define very soon. A: At the latest by 2045. I do not plan to die. Even more interesting, in 30 years, I will be younger than today, not older. Q: How? A: Because we are going to have rejuvenation techniques, and these experiments are beginning right now. Q: What are some of those treatments, and how do we know that they'll work, either immediately or in the long term? A: Well, one of the things being experimented with is increasing the telomeres at the end of the chromosomes [which protect our genes from degrading]. Actually, this is what cancer does—cancer cells are biologically immortal. They do not age. So scientists are trying to understand [how to] apply that to the rest of the body. There is already one human patient that has undergone this kind of treatment for over one year, and her cells are becoming younger, according to the length of the telomeres. They are regrowing, they are becoming longer. Q: What are the regulatory angles that affect this kind of advancement? A: This experimental treatment cannot be done in the USA right now. It is illegal. In order to do an experimental treatment, even on yourself, with your own money, you need approvals. So the person that is undergoing this treatment, she actually had to fly to South America. In the USA, the medical industry is highly regulated, and that is a tragedy. Q: The singularity is where a network of machines that have human minds starts multiplying exponentially, and change becomes almost instantaneous and in a positive direction. Do you worry at all about negative consequences? A: I am very optimistic in general. I realize that there are always negative outcomes, and we have to be prepared for those, but I am not worried about artificial intelligence. The problem is not artificial intelligence, the problem is human stupidity. And sadly, human stupidity is very natural. What we need is to enhance our intelligence, and artificial intelligence will help us do that. Q: Elon Musk, the entrepreneur behind Tesla and a variety of other things, recently warned about dangers with certain types of artificial intelligence. A: He talks about colonizing Mars. Maybe he wants to get people scared here on planet Earth, so we all go to Mars. On the other hand, he just started a new company called Neuralink, to link our brains, our neurons, to the cloud. He's investing himself in artificial intelligence. So I guess he's not too worried. Also, he's a personal friend of [Google founders] Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who are betting everything on artificial intelligence. I think Google knows what it is doing. Q: Many people are opposed to the idea of immortality because they say it's unnatural. What is your response? A: Average life span about 2,000 years ago was 20 years. Then in the 19th century we hit 40 years. Today, we are at 80 years. So this is increasing very fast, and we are living longer, healthier lives. This is what humans do. We want to improve the world, improve our human condition. What is not natural is to want to die at age 20. This interview has been condensed and edited for style and clarity. For a video version, visit [...]

Bitcoin and the Blockchain Will Stomp Out Wall Street Fraud


Bitcoin, the world's first and largest cryptocurrency, and the blockchain, which is its underlying technology, have the potential to change everything from record keeping to the global financial system. The blockchain is a decentralized database that allows individuals to trade directly without the need for a third-party intermediary. Bitcoin is free-market money that runs on the internet, and it isn't controlled by a political entity or central bank. It's easy to see bitcoin and the blockchain as logical extensions of the internet, with the potential to shift power from governments to individuals. It's also not clear how a fully decentralized money and public-ledger system are going to be implemented and brought to bear on everyday life. Reason's Nick Gillespie sat down with Caitlin Long, one of Inc. magazine's "10 business leaders changing the world through tech," a former managing director at Morgan Stanley, and the current president of Symbiont, which is bringing blockchain technology to Wall Street. Interview edited by Mark McDaniel. Introduction edited by Jim Epstein. Cameras by Jim Epstein and Sarah Siskind. "Modum" by Kai Engel is licensed under Creative Commons. Subscribe to our YouTube channel. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. Subscribe to our podcast at iTunes. This is a rush transcript. Check all quotes against the audio for accuracy. Nick Gillespie: You became interested in the Austrian School of economics in 2008 during the financial crisis. Caitlin Long: Yes. Gillespie: Why did it take the financial crisis to make you interested in the Austrian School, and what are its essential insights into kind of Bitcoin or blockchain technology? Long: Sure. I was in the industry for 16 years before the financial crisis happened, and the system worked pretty well. Even today, it still does, but that hiccup, I knew there was a bigger story than what we were reading in the mainstream press, and it was, ironically, Tim Geithner's interviews that he gave very close together, in the first one of which he said interest [rates] were too low, and that's why the mortgage market imploded. The second one, he said we should lower interest rates even more, and that- Gillespie: So you had somebody who clearly was talking out of both sides of his mouth- Long: Yes. Gillespie: ... or didn't understand from minute to minute what was going on. Long: Potentially both. I don't know, but that's what got me curious, and I started asking all of my big thinker friends, who were more thoughtful about the way the system really worked, and one of them said, "Start reading the Mises Daily [emails], and you'll figure out how the Fed works." Because by that point, I knew the Fed was at the center of the financial system, and there was something that just didn't quite make sense, so I went deep down the rabbit hole. Gillespie: What is it about the Fed's role that you think was central to the financial crisis, and then how does the Austrian School kind of respond to that, or clarify that for you? Long: Sure, and by the way, I didn't just go into Austrian School. I looked at everything, because I just didn't accept the mainstream explanation, but what I figured out was that we didn't have a free market in money. The most important price in the economy that should absolutely never be tampered with is the price of borrowing money. In other words, the interest rates. Specifically, it's the money market rate of interest that should always be free, because that's what gives entrepreneurs the red, yellow, green signals as to which sector to invest in, and over what tenor to invest, short term versus long term, and- Gillespie: And so the Fed, by manipulating interest rates and the money supply and things like that, it screws with, we don't really know what money costs at any given point. Long: That's exactly right. I am confident in saying that interest rates would be a lot hi[...]

The Trump Tax Plan Is Government as Usual


Donald Trump has declared "with tax reform, we can make it morning in America again" and that "revising our tax code is not just a policy discussion — it is a moral one, because we are not talking about the government's money – we are talking about your money, your hard work." The Republican tax plan, which would cut rates for individuals and small businesses, sounds like good policy, but it's not. Before we get lost in details and political infighting, it's worth laying out what effective tax reform actually looks like. The hallmark of a good tax code is that it doesn't attempt social engineering via revenue collection.. It's our money and the government shouldn't be telling us how to spend it or what to spend it on. And yet our tax code is larded up with all sorts of incentives for certain types of purchases—such as the mortgage-interest deduction, which is defended on the grounds that owning a home is morally and culturally superior to renting. It's not by the way, and the result is market distortions that saddle families that would be better off renting with mortgage debt. Trump's tax plan keeps the mortgage interest rate deduction--and the one for charitable giving, which is another example of social engineering. Another distortion in the tax code is that individuals can deduct the cost of their state and local taxes from their federal bill, effectively allowing jurisdictions like New York and California to get away with charging their residents more than they would otherwise. To its credit, the Trump plan at least attempts to do away with this practice, although it's doubtful this idea will survive the legislative process.. The most important principle for tax reform is that revenue should cover the actual costs of government so that citizens can actually make an informed decision about what services they're willing to pay for. On this score, Trump's plan is sadly business as usual. First, it would take even more people off the tax rolls. There are already over 40 million households that pay no federal income tax at all and the president brags that his plan would add another 31 million to that total. As Chris Edwards of the Cato Institute writes, "taking more people off the tax rolls is not a good way to keep the government limited. If something is 'free,' people will demand more of it." And the problem is much bigger than that. For decades now, the feds have been spending far more in any given year than they take in via taxes. Last year, for instance, the government spent 20 percent more than it took in and between 2009 and 2013, it spent 33 percent more than it brought in. Hence annual deficits and ballooning national debt. This is like government by Groupon: Every year, we're getting such a great deal, of course we want more and more stuff. We'd be stupid not to. Where does Trump's plan land on this topic? Who knows? Every tax reform promises to either be revenue neutral or to increase the government's haul. In many cases, neither outcome is close to being truthful. More to the point, after years of accumulating debt we need to focus on government spending first and foremost. In 2016, the feds took in about $3 trillion in taxes. That should be the absolute spending limit—instead of the nearly $4 trillion Congress is talking about. Taxes aren't the price we pay for civilization—they're the price we pay for government. And until we bind the two together, we'll be spending more and more money that we don't have on things we almost certainly wouldn't want if we had to pay full price for them. Produced by Todd Krainin. Written and narrated by Nick Gillespie. Cameras by Jim Epstein. Subscribe to our YouTube channel. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. Subscribe to our podcast at iTunes. [...]

Steve Forbes Talks Shop


A hundred years ago, financial columnist B.C. Forbes started an eponymous business magazine. In 2017, his grandson, the erstwhile Republican presidential hopeful and Forbes editor in chief, is overseeing the publication's centenary while celebrating his own 70th birthday. This summer at Freedom Fest in Las Vegas, Reason's Nick Gillespie sat down with Steve Forbes to discuss the past, present, and future of his family's financial mag and American politics as a whole. Q: What is the essential role that Forbes magazine plays? A: I think we're unique from other business publications, and this is one of the reasons entrepreneurs around the world identify with Forbes. We don't see business as evil. We don't see them as miscreants having to be sat on lest they wreck the world and kill all of us with pollution and bad dog food. We see it as a noble undertaking. And yes, human beings being what they are, some are going to go off the rails. To [my grandfather], what we call "entrepreneurial capitalism" today is how you enable people to do great things, be creative, learn from your mistakes. And if you're doing well, you make other people better. Q: Are you optimistic about the next 100 years? A: Yes. Despite two world wars, the Great Depression, 9/11, all the catastrophes, inflation in the 1970s, the disaster of 2008–2009—by the way, all of these disasters have their roots in government. It's not that markets are inherently unstable. Governments are inherently unstable. But when you look at all of that, look how far we've come. In the last 30 years, people living in dire poverty—down half as the world has become more integrated. Look at longevity. No big deal these days if people live into their 80s or 90s. Another little factoid: people dying from natural disasters—down 98 percent. Q: Rate the Donald Trump presidency. A: We used to grade mutual funds A through F for performance, but right now he hasn't completed a year yet, so I would give him an incomplete. Q: Where is he falling short? A: Despite all the good stuff on regulations and getting [Supreme Court Justice Neil] Gorsuch through, [he's falling short on] three big things. One is health care. You can't build Rome in a day, but there's some basics they've gotta get done to create a more patient-oriented system. Q: And the second thing? A: They're not going to get tax reform. I think the body snatchers got [House Speaker] Paul Ryan. He came up with this crazy 20 percent border sales tax. Just make across-the-board rate cuts like Reagan did. After next year's election, go to something like a flat tax. Meanwhile, if you get the rates down, it'll have a positive ripple effect throughout the economy. One of the things I hope they realize is, they're gonna be accused of pandering to the rich. Get over it. When the economy starts to have real life, nobody cares. And then on money. Sound money. Stable money. We have 16 ounces in a pound, 12 inches in a foot, 60 minutes in an hour. No one would suggest we change that to stimulate the economy. Money, the measure of value, is worthless in and of itself, but because of trust we use it to do huge, complicated transactions every day. Q: But we are not going to a gold standard. A: No, but in the meantime, don't manipulate the currency. No more zero interest rates. These free marketeers say, "Price controls are bad!" But when the Fed does it, "Oh, that's necessary." One thing we've got to hammer home hard is [that] economies are not machines. They are people. The idea that you can guide economies like a pedal in a car is preposterous. This interview has been condensed and edited for style and clarity. For a video version, visit [...]

Comrade Detective


(image) Billed as "the greatest '80s Romanian detective show you've never seen," Comrade Detective is one of the smartest and funniest shows to grace whatever we call the small screen these days. Ostensibly a recently recovered and just-dubbed-into-English program from Nicolae Ceausescu's brutal fiefdom but in reality an Amazon Original production shot on location last year with leading Romanian actors, Comrade Detective follows Bucharest cops Gregor Anghel (voiced by Channing Tatum) and Iosif Baciu (voiced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) as they track down the killer of their mutual friend and former partner, search for an elusive murderer in a Ronald Reagan mask, and bust black marketeers giving away Jordache jeans (pronounced "Jor-dah-kee") to stoke insatiable Western-style materialism among Romanians.

The show deftly parodies conventions of both cop shows and Cold War thrillers while lampooning the phony national pride that inevitably mars state-sanctioned cultural products. "Not even the excellent Romanian health care system can help him now," muses a doctor upon finding a patient who has hung himself in a hospital room. Says Detective Anghel, "You don't become a good communist by going to meetings, or by memorizing the manifesto; you do it on the streets, you do it with your fists."

The genius of the show is that it doesn't simply mock ridiculous communist boasts (even the U.S. ambassador grants that Romanians have the "best tripe soup" in the world) but forces American viewers to think about the ways in which unexamined jingoism and exceptionalism can seep into the artistic offerings of even a free people.

Are Your Kids Too Fragile? How to Make the Next Generation More Resilient.


If you're a parent of a child under the age of 12, here's a question for you: When is the last time you let them walk to school by themselves, have an unscheduled play date, or—God forbid!—let them to go to the store to pick up a gallon of milk by themselves? Kids today are tagged, surveilled, and tracked like endangered species. Is it any wonder that our college campuses now rush to provide safe spaces and panic rooms to protect young adults from speakers and materials they might find disturbing? To discuss the changes in American childhood—and what to do about them—Reason's Nick Gillespie sat down with Lenore Skenazy, the author of Free-Range Kids: How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry) and a contributor to Reason. Skenazy is launching a new non-profit called Let Grow, along with psychology professors Jonathan Haidt and Peter Gray, and Daniel Shuchman, who's the chairman of Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. Skenazy and Haidt make the case for Let Grow in a feature story in Reason's December issue. Produced by Todd Krainin. Cameras by Jim Epstein and Meredith Bragg. Subscribe to our YouTube channel. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. Subscribe to our podcast at iTunes. This is a rush transcript. Check all quotes against the audio for accuracy. Gillespie: What has changed and what defines American childhood now? Skenazy: Kids are supervised all the time and the idea of letting a kid out unsupervised has become so unusual that that's when people ... when people see a kid walking outside, sometimes they call 911 'cause they don't know. I mean, should a child ever be unsupervised? Then the cops come and they don't know, isn't that dangerous? It's constant supervision of one sort or another. Gillespie: In the story, you mention an incident where a kid was outside chopping wood and the police end up showing up. Skenazy: Right. So a kid was outside chopping wood in the suburb of Chicago, which is, I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. He was in his teens and a person walked by, saw the kid, thought, 'Oh my God, a child, an axe, anything terrible could happen.' Called 911, the police came, 'Why do you have an axe, why are you chopping wood here?' And he's like, 'I wanted to build a fort, me and my friends were going to build a fort.' Well, they confiscated, the police confiscated, the axe and he had another tool and they gave them to his parents for safe keeping. To me, that's the land of Lincoln. There's a history of- Gillespie: Abe Lincoln would have been picked up on the first of 12 miles he was walking to school and put in the pokey until his parents came to pick him up. Skenazy: Right, or given a little extra homework and some reading or something that would really develop him because chopping wood and building something and doing something with your friends and having any autonomy, all those are terrible. What's really important is a little more homework. Gillespie: You've been writing about this for years now, calling attention to it and the story that got you started on this was when you let one of your kids ride the subway home in New York, which made you into the 'World's Worst Mom.' Skenazy: Right, first it made me America's Worst Mom and then it grew. Gillespie: Now you're battling it out to be the World's Worst Mom on Mars and the gas giant planet. Skenazy: Yeah, yeah, yeah, those aliens planets. Gillespie: Tell us about ... what was that story and why was that emblematic really of what you're talking about with Let Grow? Skenazy: I let my nine-year-old ride the subway alone because he had been asking if he could do it and we decided it was safe and smart and good cause he was familiar with the subways and so are we. We let him go, I wrote a column about it and two days lat[...]

Harvey Weinstein's Downfall Marks the Rise of Sexual Equality


As disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein half-asses his way through sex-addiction rehab, more and more women, ranging from Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o to former teen star Molly Ringwald, keep coming forward with stories about his abusive and sometimes criminal behavior. Even his brother and longtime business partner Bob Weinstein has disowned him, calling him "indefensible," "crazy," and "remorseless." But the Weinstein story is not just about the end of a career. It's about the end of an era. The Miramax co-founder is only the latest in a long line of powerful older men whose professional lives ended with revelations of long-term harassment and worse. Fox News cashiered its founder Roger Ailes and star host Bill O'Reilly because of similar charges and Bill Cosby's 2014 comeback was destroyed after claims surfaced that he drugged and raped over a dozen women. The head of Amazon Studios was forced to resign last week after he was accused of "repeatedly and insistently" propositioning the producer of the streaming service's acclaimed series, The Man in the High Castle. Weinstein was widely (and rightly) derided for blaming his decades-long behavior on having "come of age in the 60's and 70's, when all the rules about behavior and work places were different." Among other things, such a defense ignores the inconvenient fact that the Seventies ended nearly four decades ago. But he is right that workplace expectations have changed--and that's largely because the workplace itself has changed. About 60 percent of women are in the workforce--compared to just 43 percent in 1970--and they are more likely to hold managerial or leadership roles than ever before. In fact, more than half of management, professional, and related positions are held by women. The pay gap has also essentially vanished. A study of 33 countries, including the United States, found that when comparing workers doing the same job, men made just 1.6 percent more than women. With higher pay, positions, and status comes more workplace power--power that is amplified by social media and other technologies that empower dissent and make it harder and harder to maintain a sexist status quo. There's a real issue that in the aftermath of the Harvey Weinstein revelations, behavior that is merely boorish or one-time-only will be conflated with systemic sexism and far-more-reprehensible crimes. That's something we will sort through as a society. But surely it's more than coincidence that the Weinstein scandal broke just after Hugh Hefner, the absolute personification of old-school, pre-equality male sexual identity was being lowered into the ground. The old days--and the old ways--are being laid to rest. And that's a very good thing, for all of us regardless of gender. Produced and edited by Todd Krainin. Written and narrated by Nick Gillespie. Subscribe to our YouTube channel Like us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Subscribe to our podcast at iTunes [...]

Students Are Bringing Capitalism to Latin America


President Trump's move to raise "barriers to people, to goods, to services," says Gabriel Calzada Alvarez, executive president of Guatemala's Universidad Francisco Marroquín (UFM), "is a danger not just for Central America [but] for the U.S. and for the world." The great irony, Calzada says, is that the U.S. has benefited immensely from free trade and immigration and "now wants to raise barriers." Calzada sat down with Reason's Nick Gillespie at Freedom Fest 2017 to talk about the impact of trade restrictions on Latin America, the changing role of higher education, and how students are bringing capitalism to the region. UFM, a private, secular university in Guatemala City, teaches free market economics and emphasizes the importance of intellectual debate on campus. "Being uncomfortable because of the ideas of others is one of the experiences you have to have," says Calzada. Edited by Paul Detrick. Shot by Justin Monticello and Meredith Bragg. Subscribe to our YouTube channel. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. Subscribe to our podcast at iTunes. This is a rush transcript. Check all quotes against the audio for accuracy. Nick Gillespie: You run a university in Guatemala that was established in 1971, and it's rare there because it's a private university. What is the essential mission of higher education in the 21st century? Gabriel Calzada: Well, I think in the 21st century, since you have basically all the content in your mobile device, universities have to move the focus from giving content–they have been doing this for many years–to creating experiences, interactions. We will see a shift from grades, from having focus in the grades, to have a focus in a portfolio of experiences that you can show. The universities that will survive are universities that will create safe space, but not safe space in the sense that we usually hear, that are places where you have the right not to be offended or bothered, but the safe places in the sense that you create a space where students can commit errors and can learn from those errors without the problems of these errors in real life. Gillespie: In the United States, a lot of the discussion and discourse about higher education has to do with this encroachment of safe spaces, of political correctness, of speech codes, and the inability of faculty and students and outside speakers who come to enrich the environment are not allowed to speak freely. Is that also a problem in Guatemala, or does it take a different form there? Calzada: Not at all. In Guatemala, students speak freely. We try to foster debate. We think that being uncomfortable because of the ideas of others is one of the experiences you have to have at the university. Gillespie: You're opening a campus in Spain. How will that help fulfill the vision that you were talking about, about having a portfolio of experiences? What will be going on there? Calzada: Going to a different culture is already a great experience, but fundamentally, going to a place where regulation has been going so far, so that the students can learn what are the results of big government. Then, of course, we want to offer the European public an opportunity to have a classical liberal, libertarian education that is currently very difficult in the European space. I think with the UFM experience, we can offer new programs that will be very original, very different from the type of programs that Spaniards and Europeans are used to. Gillespie: Does it make sense to talk about a direction for Latin America, and is that direction going in the right way or the wrong way? I mean, there seem to be so many different things. There's your experiences in Guatemala. There are certain countries that are liberalizing. Then the[...]

'Administrative State Is THE Leading Threat to Civil Liberties of Our Era.'


"The administrative state is the leading threat to civil liberties of our era," says Philip Hamburger, the Maurice and Hilda Friedman Professor of Law at Columbia Law School and author of the recent books, Is Administrative Law Unlawful? (2015) and The Administrative Threat (2017). "We have a system of government in which our laws are made by the folks that we elect, and these laws are enforced by judges and juries in the courts, but we have within that an administrative state, a state that acts really by mere command and not through law." Hamburger argues that by reducing the role of elected officials to set policy, the administrative state, which has grown rapidly since World War II, disempowers blacks, women, and other minorities who have only recently gained full voting rights and political power. Before he left the Trump administration, former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon famously vowed to "deconstruct" the administrative state—the collection of bureaucrats, agencies, and unelected rule-making bodies who decrees and diktats govern more and more of our lives. And many of the president's picks at places such as the FCC, the FDA, the EPA, and the Department of Education seem to be doing just that: cutting regulations and policies that come not directly from Congress but from administrators who decide, say, that the FCC has the ability to regulate the internet as a public utility, and that so-called net neutrality is a good idea. Trump's appointee to the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, is widely understood to be a critic of the administrative and some of best-known ruling challenged the validity of rules laid out by federal bureaucracies. Reason's Nick Gillespie sat down with Hamburger to discuss why the administrative state is unconstitutional, and what, if anything, can be done reduce its power. Edited by Ian Keyser. Introduction produced by Todd Krainin. Cameras by Jim Epstein and Andrew Heaton. Music "Integration Blues" by Javolenus Available at Under CC BY NC license Subscribe to our YouTube channel. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. Subscribe to our podcast at iTunes. This is a rush transcript. Check all quotes against the audio for accuracy. Nick Gillespie: Let's start by defining administrative law in the administrative state. What does it do and where does it come from? Philip Hamburger: Administrative power can be administered many different ways. Some people use the phrase to describe all government power in executive, and that's rather too broad. It's indiscriminate. I use the phrase to describe extra-legal rulemaking and adjudication. Exercise of power to bind Americans, to control Americans, not through the pathways set out by the Constitution and acts of Congress and acts of the court, but through other edicts, typically from agencies. Gillespie: In your recent book, Is Administrative Law Unlawful, you liken the practice of administrative law to off-road driving, and you write, 'The problem examined here is thus not where the government is heading, but how it drives. To leave the roads laid out by the Constitution can be exhilarating, at least for those in the driver's seat. All the same, it is unlawful and dangerous.' So, administrative power, it's not that Congress doesn't make a law and then it gets implemented. That's not administrative power. Congress passes a law that says, 'we want clean air.' And then the EPA says, 'okay, in order to implement that law, we're coming up with all of these different aspects.' Hamburger: Right. The danger is what the agencies do. Congress certainly has power to enact all sorts of laws r[...]

Vanessa Grigoriadis on the 'Blurred Lines' of Consensual Sex and Assault on Campus


"Young women are really putting their foot down and saying, 'These are our bodies,'" says Vanessa Grigoriadis, author of the new book, Blurred Lines: Rethinking Sex, Power, and Consent on Campus. "'We don't care what you, 55-year-old college president, think is consent.'" From the conviction of Vanderbilt University football players for raping an unconscious student to the he-said-she-said story behind Columbia University's "mattress girl" to the discredited Rolling Stone account of a gang rape at the University of Virginia, few topics generate more emotion and outrage than sexual assault on college campuses. Grigoriadis's book is a deeply researched and nuanced take on campus relationships and the often-fuzzy boundary separating consensual sex from assault. Over the past three years, she interviewed over 100 students and 80 administrators on 20 different campuses, and her findings further complicate an already complicated story. Millennial college students are actually having less sex than their baby boomer and Gen X counterparts did, writes Grigoriadis, but today's encounters take place in a hyper-sexualized and "pornified" social media context that has rewritten the rules of consent and privacy. The result is confusion and recriminations from all sides when it comes to sex and assault on campuses. Are assault rates and rape culture out of control, or have we entered what left-wing Northwestern Professor Laura Kipnis has called a new era of "sexual McCarthyism?" In a wide-ranging interview, Reason's Nick Gillespie and Grigoriadis, a National Magazine Award-winning journalist who writes for Vanity Fair and The New York Times Magazine, grapple with this question, the proper role of campus tribunals in administering justice, what constitutes due process for alleged offenders as well as victims, and whether a "yes means yes" affirmative-consent standard should be the norm. Edited by Justin Monticello. Cameras by Jim Epstein and Andrew Heaton. Music by Silent Partner. Subscribe to our YouTube channel. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. Subscribe to our podcast at iTunes. This is a rush transcript. Check all quotes against the audio for accuracy. Gillespie: Your book is not only richly reported, it's filled with interviews with dozens, if not hundreds of students, administrators, researchers ... It's a deeply nuanced look as a subject that typically evokes really sharply polarized positions. But you write, 'It's tempting to chant "believe woman" and simply leave it at that, but there's a mushy middle here or a blurry middle.' Describe what you mean by that mushy middle or blurry middle. Grigoriadis: I went to 20 campuses. I talked to students themselves, tried to interact as a peer, not as an adult coming, asking weird intrusive questions, right? I'm kind of a gonzo journalist out of the Rolling Stone mold. I put on a backpack, I look relatively young, not like a gen X mother of two, which is what I actually am. And went to campus food courts, went to frat parties ... I took my babysitter's ID, she's 24-years-old. So I would take that with me to campuses so I could show that to bouncers at college bars, and at frat parties to get in, so that the person wouldn't think that I was using the worst fake ID in the world of my actual age in the 1970s. So, I spoke with these students and what I learned is, yes, of course, there is rape on campus. And I'm talking about physically violent rape, where a woman's will is overridden, and also, rape of women and men who are passed out from drinking, right? Almost like a necrophilia kind of thing. It's really repulsive. But much more often, what I was finding is people, kids, talking to me about[...]