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Preview: Nick Gillespie: Reason Magazine articles.

Nick Gillespie: Reason.com articles.





Updated: 2017-11-20T00:00:00-05:00

 



Bitcoin and the Blockchain Will Stomp Out Wall Street Fraud

2017-11-02T14:00:00-04:00

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 higher today, a lot, than they would be if we lived, than they are today, if we actually had a free market in money, no question, because you'd have to compensate sav[...]



The Trump Tax Plan Is Government as Usual

2017-11-01T15:38:00-04:00

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

2017-11-01T12:00:00-04:00

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 reason.com. [...]



Comrade Detective

2017-11-01T12:00:00-04:00

(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.

2017-10-26T15:27:00-04:00

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 later I was on the 'Today Show,' MSNBC, Fox News and NPR. I got described as America's worst mom. I struggled with why for a long time because whenever I was in ... be[...]



Harvey Weinstein's Downfall Marks the Rise of Sexual Equality

2017-10-25T14:23:00-04:00

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

2017-10-21T12:21:00-04:00

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 there are countries like Venezuela, which seems to really be in very- Calzada: Collapsing. Gillespie: ... deep threat. Yeah. Then also in Brazil, as well as elsewhere,[...]



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

2017-10-12T16:30:00-04:00

"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 ccmixter.org http://ccmixter.org/files/Javolenus/56235 Under CC BY NC license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/ 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 regulating us, and so this is not an argument against regulation. We can debate the merits of particular regulations. But rather, it's an argument against having th[...]



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

2017-10-09T17:00:00-04:00

"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 cases that were blurry. And they weren't blurry in terms of the way we might have once thought about sexual assault, where a woman just kind of protests and says, [...]



'Buy American' Is Un-American

2017-10-01T17:40:00-04:00

President Donald Trump loves to encourage people to buy products "made in America." It makes for a good slogan, but it's bad and incoherent policy. And it will do little or nothing to help Americans who have been put out of work by a straggling economy or by technological change.

For starters, it's hard even to get a clean definition of what it means for a product to be made in the United States. Dozens of items that carry a "made in America" tag were largely assembled or sourced elsewhere, with only a little bit of labor added within our borders. The Jeep Patriot pushes nationalism in its very name, but the model's transmissions are made in Japan, Germany, and Mexico.

Rightly so. The U.S. often has much higher labor costs than foreign countries, which means the same thing created solely in America would have an astronomical price tag. According to one estimate, iPads would be $967 apiece, about three times what a basic one goes for now. The resulting fall in sales would mean the loss of about 67,000 manufacturing jobs.

To hype his "made in America" policy, Trump invited 50 companies to the White House for a photo op. It turns out that 21 of them received federal, state, and local subsidies worth about $600 million. If you're taxing Peter to subsidize Paul, chances are you're not creating much real economic benefit.

Virtually all economists agree that protectionism dampens economic activity and growth by increasing prices and keeping workers and resources in sunset industries that will need more and more help to stay afloat. A Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis study that looked at industry-specific protectionist policies in the 1980s found that trying to make people "buy American" led to consumer losses of over half a million dollars per job "saved."

There's no question that many Americans are having trouble finding rewarding work in a global economy that demands that people be constantly improving. But the best way to help them is to pursue policies that produce the sort of economic growth that creates new jobs, new opportunities, and new wealth for all of us: lower government spending, flatter taxes, and less regulation.

"Buy American" is a cheap slogan best left on cheap baseball caps produced overseas.




Why Bernie Sanders' Medicare for All Is a Bad Idea

2017-09-28T12:38:00-04:00

Bernie Sanders, the independent senator from Vermont, can't stop talking about Medicare For All which he says will finally solve all of America's health insurance problems. In fact, creating a national single-payer plan is a truly terrible idea that will likely bankrupt the country, drive down the rate of health-care innovation, AND not really improve health outcomes. Established in the late 1960s, Medicare is the nation's health-insurance program for people 65 and over. It is a single-payer system—the government pays participating service providers--and it's also the single biggest driver of the national debt. The taxes levied to pay for the program don't come anywhere close to covering its costs and the number of beneficiaries is expected to grow massively over the coming decade. Payroll taxes and premiums paid by beneficiaries pay for less than half the program's costs, which are expected to double from $700 billion per year to almost $1.4 trillion. Sanders has proposed a 7.5 percent payroll tax and a new 4 percent tax on income to pay for his plan, but it's not at all clear that such hefty new taxes would come close to covering its costs, which are unknown. This much we know: His home state of Vermont pulled the plug on a less generous universal plan after it became clear that an 11.5 percent payroll tax and a 9 percent income tax wouldn't cover costs. For all the problems with the U.S. health care system, it sets the pace for innovation and new treatment options in a way that no single-payer system on the globe does. That's because innovators can expect to earn back the cost of developing new treatments in a way that's foreclosed by most single-payer systems, which inevitably come with all sorts of price controls that discourage new products and services *and* rationing that reduces access to the same. Does having health insurance mean you'll be healthier? That's the implicit promise of Bernie Sanders' Medicare For All program—and Obamacare too. But surprisingly, the evidence for this is thinner than you might think. The two big studies on the link between having insurance and actual health—one conducted by the Rand Corporation and one by the state of Oregon—suggest that merely having insurance doesn't lead to better outcomes. Having insurance can relieve financial and emotional stress, but it's not exactly clear that it will leave you physically better off. All of which makes the case against expanding Medicare to all. If single-payer couldn't even make it out of Bernie Sanders' home state of Vermont, there's no reason to try it out on all of America. Subscribe to our YouTube channel. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. Subscribe to our podcast at iTunes. Written by Nick Gillespie. Edited by Paul Detrick. Graphics by Meredith Bragg. [...]



Puzder on Minimum Wage, Automation, and Withdrawing as Trump’s Labor Secretary Nominee

2017-09-27T15:00:00-04:00

When the minimum wage goes to $15 an hour "you kill jobs," says Andrew Puzder—"businesses close, businesses reduce staff and automate, and businesses reduce the hours of the employees they have." But "what you can't measure, which is really what hurts economic growth...is the number of restaurants that don't open." Puzder is best known as the former head of CKE Restaurants, the parent company of fast fast-food chains Hardee's and Carl's Jr. When he was named CEO in 2000, the company was on the verge of bankruptcy. Puzder focused his attention on improving the customer experience, improving the food quality, simplifying the menu, and emphasizing good service. Ten years later, CKE had quadrupled in value. Puzder is known for his free-market views on labor issues, and in 2010, he co-authored Job Creation: How It Really Works and Why Government Doesn't Understand It. Last year, Donald Trump nominated Puzder as U.S. Secretary of Labor, but his confirmation was broadly contested by progressive groups, and he ultimately withdrew. Puzder was born in 1950 and grew up in a working-class family in northeastern Ohio. He dropped out of Kent State to do what every Cleveland area Baby Boomer kid dreamed of—playing in a rock and roll band. Reason's Nick Gillespie sat down with Puzder at FreedomFest 2017, the annual libertarian conference in Las Vegas. Edited by Ian Keyser. Cameras by Meredith Bragg and Justin Monticello. Music by Kai Engel. 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: Andrew Puzder, thanks for talking to Reason. Andrew Puzder: Great to be here Nick, thank you. Gillespie: You were nominated for labor secretary and withdrew your nomination. What happened there? Puzder: After Betsy DeVos went through such a litigious confirmation process, senators who had voted for her, like Susan Collins, from liberal states, were then inundated with emails, phone calls, they would go home and they had protesters in their offices or at their town halls, people who had never really seen protesters before. Schumer identified me as the target of the left, and so they put on a lot of pressure. The media was horrific, this fake news thing that Trump talks about is so true, and when you're a nominee for the cabinet you can't defend yourself on TV. You can't tweet. I think I sent out a tweet once thanking Jeb Bush for supporting me, and everybody came down on me like I'd done something horrific. You can't even defend yourself, you've got to depend on surrogates. That went on for a longer period of time than it should have, because while the press said, "Puzder didn't file his ethics documents, there must be a problem," the reality is, I was probably the first guy to file. I filed January 3rd, but the Office of Government Ethics wouldn't respond. For six or seven weeks my document sat there, and the Democrats wouldn't let the committee, wouldn't let Lamar Alexander's committee, schedule a hearing until they got something from OGE on my ethics documents. They've let Betsy DeVos go through without that, but me they wouldn't let go through. For six weeks the left got to beat up on me, Schumer identified me as their target, as I said, and near the end some of the more liberal Republicans got nervous, and when you don't have 50 votes you can't win. I got a call from Vice President Pence telling me that Mitch McConnell told them that they had fallen, I think, a vote or two below 50. We knew we were never going to get more than 50, because there were two who, they didn't vote for Betsy, they weren't going to vote for me. I said, "Look, I'll withdraw. I don't want the president to have [...]



Why We Need To Shrink the National Debt, And Fast!

2017-09-25T13:39:00-04:00

It was big news when our national debt recently passed the $20 trillion mark. What's less understood is exactly why having such a massive debt is a bad thing. The short answer is that too much debt slows economic growth, reducing living standards. The sheer size of the existing debt is deeply worrying to economists on both the left and the right, who agree that when debt reaches 90 percent of GDP for five years in a row it means painfully slow growth, creating what's called a "debt overhang." A group of progressive economists affiliated with the University of Massachusetts predicted in 2013 that a debt burden at that level would result in an annual growth rate of just 2.2 percent, which means economic stagnation and anemic job growth. (Earlier this year, one of those researchers co-authored a paper walking back that claim; read it here). So when will our debt load cross the 90 percent threshold? It's actually been at more than 100 percent of GDP for years now. Periods of slow growth associated with debt overhangs almost always last more than a decade and sometimes stretch out over a quarter century. That means that in 25 years, the overall economy will be about 75 percent the size it would have been if the government had only gotten the debt in check. That's not much of a future to look forward to. Countries like New Zealand, Canada, and Germany have demonstrated that when governments reduce debt good things happen. U.S. spending, by contrast, has been above 20 percent of GDP for years, which is well above the historical average. No wonder the Congressional Budget Office predicts that the economy will grow less than 2 percent annually over the next decade. Compare that to growth rates of more than 3 percent for much of the post-World War II period. Barack Obama, and George W. Bush were leaders who lacked the integrity to do what's best for the country by keeping spending and debt in line. President Donald Trump also shows no interest in explaining to the public how runaway debt chokes off the future. That's a failure which we'll all be paying for for a very long time to come. Edited by Mark McDaniel. Written by Nick Gillespie. Graphics by McDaniel and Meredith Bragg. Cameras by Jim Epstein and Alexis Garcia. Subscribe to our YouTube channel. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. Subscribe to our podcast at iTunes. [...]



Getting Nose Jobs with Comedians: Joan Kron's Powerful Argument for Plastic Surgery

2017-09-20T11:20:00-04:00

What do you think of when you think of plastic surgery? Fish-lipped women on the Real Housewives shows? Or maybe aging Hollywood actors who look like burn victims. Michael Jackson's disappearing nose? Or Lindsay Lohan's rubberized lips? When internet slideshows of plastic surgery fails are only a click away, it's easy to think about facelifts, eye jobs, liposuction, Botox injections, and all the rest as a mark of narcissistic people who refuse to grow old as nature intended. But that's not the only—and certainly not the best—way to think about plastic surgery, as the new documentary, Take My Nose...Please!, which will be premiering in Los Angeles and New York City this weekend, makes abundantly clear. Directed by the nearly 90-year-old journalism legend Joan Kron, Take My Nose...Please! follows two actresses as they contemplate getting work done. Along the way, viewers learn the history of modern plastic surgery and are exposed to a powerful argument that plastic surgery is just one more way of improving ourselves, like diet, exercise, and education. Kron's wide-ranging, funny, and suspenseful movie drives home the libertarian point that nips and tucks are about self-actualization and self-realization, not immature fears of growing old or insatiable narcissism. If there's one thing Joan Kron knows, it's self-reinvention. Born in 1928 and raised in New York City, Kron studied costume design at Yale's graduate school (she skipped undergrad) before getting married to a Philadelphia doctor. She joined the city's Arts Council in the 1960s and soon enough brought Andy Warhol and the Velvet Underground to perform at a YWHA. She only began her journalism career at 41, writing for Philadelphia magazine. After the collapse of her marriage, she moved to New York, where she became the Wall Street Journal's first fashion writer and wrote for New York magazine in its early years. She was in her 60s when she started writing a beauty column for Allure, a slick magazine aimed at 20-something women. And in 2000, she wrote Lift: Wanting, Fearing and Having a Facelift, an account of her own experience with plastic surgery. Reason's Nick Gillespie sat down with Kron in her art-rich Upper East Side apartment, where Warhols compete with Lichtensteins for the visitor's attention. To spend time with Kron is to be granted an audience with a woman who has blazed a unique trail through the last century of American life. Intro video produced by Todd Krainin and written by Nick Gillespie. Interview produced by Mark McDaniel. Cameras by Kevin Alexander and Jim Epstein. 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: What do you hope to accomplish? Is it to make plastic surgery either more acceptable or to have a wider conversation about it? Joan Kron: No. No. I didn't do this for a cause. I wanted to make a movie. Gillespie: But you are- Kron: I wanted to make a movie about something I knew about. Gillespie: What is it about plastic surgery that people find both compelling and yet they resist it at the same time? Kron: It's a fascinating subject because it's about science. It's about psychology. It's about horror in a way because it's the fear that a person could change their appearance. It's about deception. It was also about making yourself better looking but it's also capable of making you worse looking. Gillespie: Why do so many people draw the line at surgery to enhance or to make yourself feel better about yourself? Kron: they attach it to an idea that it's better to be natural. There is no such thing as natural. Gillespie: Rig[...]



Documentarian Ken Burns on How Vietnam Explains the Current Political Moment

2017-09-17T06:00:00-04:00

Filmmaker Ken Burns is best known as the disembodied voice accompanying black-and-white photographs of everything from baseball players to whiskey bootleggers to Confederate soldiers. This fall, he's back with a new 10-part documentary for PBS, The Vietnam War, created with longtime collaborator Lynn Novick. In June, Reason's Nick Gillespie sat down with Burns to discuss the project. Q: Why should we be talking about Vietnam now? A: We think it's the most important event in American history in the second half of the 20th century. If we want to understand the political divisions and the lack of civil discourse that bedevils us today, the seeds of that were planted in Vietnam. If you could unpack the fraudulence of the conventional wisdom, and repack it benefiting from the testimony of people who lived through it and the recent scholarship that has taken place—and also to triangulate with the South Vietnamese and North Vietnamese perspectives, which are almost always left behind—you have an opportunity to understand it better and maybe pull out some of these fuel rods of discourse. Q: In one scene from the documentary, General Westmoreland goes on TV and says, "I can give you a bunch of statistics on how we're winning," and it's like, "We're shooting this many bullets." But there was no real indicator of what success would look like. A: Part of the tragedy is that many people in government, at high policy levels, understood this and did not reflect it. You can hear in the tapes the anguish of [Lyndon Johnson] or the anguish of Richard Nixon, and then they both go out the next day and say the exact opposite of what's going on. Q: Looking back, the access that reporters got to troops in the field during Vietnam is stunning. A: This is the key ingredient. During World War II, [press access] was really limited. In Vietnam, you got your credentials, you promised not to betray ongoing operations, and you were free. What happened is that the Vietnam War revealed itself to the press and they reported it back to the United States. What the military learned is: We're not doing that anymore. So the "embed" idea is a way of babysitting a journalist. You're not going to ever get to watch [the war] as Morley Safer did: soldiers burning a village in retaliation for the fact that they'd received some fire from there, and then quite frankly saying, "We have no feeling for these people," even though the obvious calculus is that if you destroy the village you are creating more enemies. Q: In one episode, the Marine Karl Marlantes says, "Think about how many times we get ourselves into scrapes as a nation because we are always the good guys. Sometimes I think that if we thought we weren't always the good guys, we might actually get into less wars." Has America changed its self-image when it comes to military interventions? A: You know, we learned some lessons, and the military was very anxious to apply those lessons with Desert Storm [the 1991 invasion of Iraq]: to have a very clear rationale, a very clear sense of beginning, and middle, and end. Q: And the importance of having a wide, multinational consensus. A: Right, and we had a clear enemy who had done a bad thing, invaded another country, so it hearkened back to other very clear, delineated world wars that we fought. But it's the policy makers who actually succumb, for domestic political considerations, but also because of sentimentality.…Our memories are very short with regard to the cost of war. This interview has been condensed and edited for style and clarity. [...]