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Preview: Nick Gillespie: Reason Magazine articles.

Nick Gillespie: Reason.com articles.





Updated: 2017-10-20T00:00:00-04:00

 



'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 the executive or independent agencies, or more or less, a part of executive agencies, make rules that bind us in the same manner as laws enacted by Congress. Gillespie: Right. But, they're not s[...]



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, 'No, no, no,' but the guy knows that this is just a faux thing. Gillespie: Right. I mean, it's not the Hollywood fantasy of the '40s or even the '60s of where, 'No, no, no,' and then the kiss[...]



'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.

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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 a failure on the Senate floor that has my name attached to it. I should just withdraw." He said, "Let me see, let me make sure that we don't have it, because we'd love you to do this, but let[...]



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.

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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: Right. Kron: If we were natural, our hair would be, our nails would never be cut and our hair would be down to the floor. And we would all be naked. Gillespie: And change is very frightening to [...]



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. [...]



Forget Price Gouging: Businesses React Altruistically To Disasters

2017-09-15T12:12:00-04:00

With Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Harvey in the news, the country is being treated to a real-time debate over the sins of so-called price gouging, or sharp hikes in the cost of food, water, fuel, and other essential items in affected areas.

Defenders of gouging, including many libertarians, stress that price hikes force customers to prioritize their purchases while incentivizing suppliers to bring necessities to market. So if jugs of water are selling at $10 a gallon, businesses have a motivation to truck them in. And at that price, no one's going to use them to wash their cars.

Critics, however, say that it's immoral to use the price mechanism to meter out essentials in a crisis.

Both sides ignore a far more-important reality: Local and national businesses routinely give away goods and services more efficiently than public-sector responders or charities can manage.

In the immediate wake of Hurricane Harvey slamming Texas, businesses pledged over $72 million in aid, with over three dozen giving more than $1 million a piece. Airbnb used its home-sharing network to set up places for people to stay, and the crowd-sourced mapping app Waze helped the displaced find shelters. Walmart, the left's favorite corporate bogeyman, pledged more $20 million and brought water and food to the needy. A dozen years ago, during Hurricane Katrina, the world's largest retailer trucked in relief long after FEMA convoys stopped running.

Private sector aid gets less press than empty shelves and gouging accusations, but it also makes good business sense.

In some cases, price hikes during a crisis are appropriate, but most retailers know they're better off showing that they care about their customers and aren't out to take advantage of a bad situation. Successful businesses safeguard their reputations.

In The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith wrote that he had "never known much good done by" people motivated by charitable aims, but providing aid in disasters is every bit as much a part of the free market as more obvious forms of profit seeking.

If critics and defenders of gouging are really interested in creating a better society, they'd do well to help make this part of the Invisible Hand visible to all.

Edited by Mark McDaniel. Written by Nick Gillespie. Cameras by Jim Epstein and Alexis Garcia.

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The Vietnam War Is the Key to Understanding Today's America: Q&A with Filmmakers Ken Burns and Lynn Novick

2017-09-13T14:05:00-04:00

The Vietnam War led to more than 1.3 million deaths and it's one of the most divisive, painful, and poorly understood episodes in American history. Documentarians Ken Burns and Lynn Novick have spent the past decade making a film that aims to exhume the war's buried history. Their 10-part series, which premieres on PBS next week, is a comprehensive look at the secrecy, disinformation, and spin surrounding Vietnam, and its lasting impact on two nations. The 18-hour film combines never-before-seen historical footage, with testimonies from nearly 80 witnesses, including soldiers on both sides of the conflict, leaders of the protest movement, and civilians from North and South Vietnam. A two-time Academy Award winner, Burns is among the most celebrated documentary filmmakers of our time, best-known for the 1990 PBS miniseries The Civil War, which drew a television viewership of 40 million. He and Novick are longtime collaborators, and in 2011 she co-directed and produced with Prohibition with Burns. In 2011, Reason's Nick Gillespie interviewed Burns that film and the role of public television in underwriting his work. With the release of The Vietnam War, Gillespie sat down with Burns and Novick to talk about the decade-long process of making their new film, and why understanding what happened in Vietnam is essential to interpreting American life today. Produced by Todd Krainin. Cameras by Meredith Bragg, Austin Bragg, Mark McDaniel, and Krainin. This is a rush transcript. Check all quotes against the audio for accuracy. Nick Gillespie: This is an exhaustive comprehensive look at America's involvement in the Vietnam War, which you note began in secrecy and ended in failure. What prompted the project for you and why should we be talking about Vietnam now? Ken Burns: I think it's time to talk about it. It's some repressed memory for many of us and deliberately avoided subject for perhaps the rest of us. Lynn and I were finishing a film on the second world war called simply 'The War' and before it was done in 2006, we already knew intuitively that we would have to jump into Vietnam. We think it's the most important event in American history in the second half of the 20th century. If we want to know a little bit about the political divisions and the lack of civil discourse that beset us and bedevil us today, we think that a lot of the seeds of that were planted in Vietnam. If you could unpack, literally 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's taken place, and also to triangulate with the South Vietnamese and North Vietnamese perspectives which are almost always left behind, that you have an opportunity to perhaps understand it better and maybe pull out some of these fuel rods of discourse and sort of get back to what we often do very well. Gillespie: Early on, and I think it's in the first episode, I can't remember if it's one of the commenters or the narration but- Burns: Our narration would never do that. We want to be strictly neutral, it is a talking head. Gillespie: Okay, so somebody likens the experience of Vietnam to living with an alcoholic father. How does that speak to this idea of a repressed memory or a ghost that's hovering everywhere but can never be fully acknowledged? Lynn Novick: When you're talking about a family living with an alcoholic, there's a lot of shame and not knowing what to say and just avoiding it and pretending it's not happening. I think those are very common to just work that metaphor that he uses, Karl Malantis, who's a marine. That was his personal experience of coming home and finding that no one talked about the war and you just shut that door and just move on, and if you really try to unpack that like Ken and I have done, [...]



Nicholas Sarwark on the Future of the Libertarian Party

2017-09-10T11:31:00-04:00

"The Republican Party hates libertarians," says Libertarian Party national chair Nicholas Sarwark. "And as they show their disgust and distaste, and try to punish their legislators, what they're doing is driving them into our arms." Sarwark sat down with Reason's Nick Gillespie at Freedom Fest in Las Vegas to discuss the Libertarian Party's plans for 2018, Gary Johnson's impact as a presidential candidate, and Donald Trump's effect on libertarianism. "The Trump presidency so far has been tremendous," explains Sarwark. "It is pretty much the best recruiting tool for the Libertarian Party we've ever had." Edited by Andrew Heaton. 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, I'm Nick Gillespie with Reason, and today I'm talking with Nicholas Sarwark. He is the chairman of the Libertarian National Committee, or the LP, as we like to call it around here. Nicholas, thanks for talking to us. Sarwark: Thanks for having me, Nick. Nick Gillespie: The Trump presidency so far, does it bear out your worst fears of what he was going to wrought? Sarwark: The Trump presidency so far has been tremendous. It is pretty much the best recruiting tool for the Libertarian Party we've ever had. It's much better than anything I could develop inside the party. He's shown that the success of Republicanism is the death of liberty, which is a good way to show people that there's an option from the two-party system. Nick Gillespie: What are the things that he's done so far that particularly, you think, drive that message home? Sarwark: The nomination of Jeff Sessions as attorney general, a man who walked himself into lying to a senator during a hearing, which shows his incompetence as an attorney, and wants to bring us back to the failed policies of prosecuting the racist war on drugs, using civil asset forfeiture to steal money and things from citizens who haven't been convicted of a crime- Nick Gillespie: Or necessarily haven't even been indicted or charged with anything. Sarwark: Exactly. Basically highway robbery. Through bringing back an old failed program of adoption, he's able to work around state laws to try and prevent civil asset forfeiture abuse. Those sort of things are really putting a lie to the idea that the Republican Party or the Trump presidency is going to be any friend to somebody who favors individual liberty or small government. Nick Gillespie: What is the LP strategy for the midterm elections and 2020? Sarwark: We're laser-focused on the 2018 midterm elections. That's going to set the stage for 2020. Our goal right now is to have over 2,000 candidates running across the country as Libertarians to really show our presence as a national political party, to bring in a full-time person at the national office for candidate support and recruitment, to really go out there and take advantage of what's going to be a very unsettled midterm election. There are going to be a lot of people who voted for Trump, who had previously voted for Obama, looking for an alternative. Some of them will go back to the Democrats, but I think a lot of them will realize that that back-and-forth between right and left is not a productive strategy. Nick Gillespie: Do you see any high-profile Republicans or Democrats who might defect to become Libertarians either in the midterms or in 2020? Sarwark: Yes, we're already seeing that at the state legislative level with legislators in New Hampshire, Nebraska, Utah, Nevada, flipping over to being Libertarians. Oftentimes, it's not even them changing. What they're doing is more coming out of the closet and removing some of the baggage that they've been carrying in their old [...]



Libertarian Comedian Dave Smith on the Alt-Right, Christopher Cantwell, and How the Left 'Went Off the Rails'

2017-09-08T10:52:00-04:00

New York comedian Dave Smith says he "became a libertarian through the Ron Paul movement. "He challenged all of my preconceived notions about what government was [and]...inspired me to read all of these people, like Rothbard, Mises, and Friedman." When Bernie Sanders became a national figure, what Smith hated most about the Vermont senator was that he was aesthetically like a carbon copy of Paul—"a kind of disheveled, older guy who's just a truth teller." "[The difference was that] Bernie would go around to these kids and be like, 'Hey, so you're a college kid in 2017, you're among the richest, freest, most privileged people who have ever existed, [so] billionaires should be paying your bills for you'...It was the difference between a propagandist and a truth teller." Smith, 34, is a regular on the New York City stand up circuit and hosts two popular podcasts on the GaS Digital Network, Legion of Skanks and Part of the Problem. On September 11, he'll release his first comedy special, Libertas, which will be available for download here. You can watch teaser clips of the special here and here. Smith sat down with Reason's Nick Gillespie to talk about how Trump manipulates the left, why the media's reaction to the Syria bombing was "the most disgusting thing I've ever seen in my life," how to turn millennials libertarian, and his decision to have alt-right lightning rod and "racist shock jock" Christopher Cantwell as a recent guest on his podcast. "I have to play this left-wing game," Smith says. "When I go on a Fox News panel with...a CIA killer, or somebody who's advocating for the next war...I never get accused of being chummy with them." Edited by Mark McDaniel. Cameras by Jim Epstein and Andrew Heaton. 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. Dave Smith: Thank you for having me. It's good to be here. I've made it. The libertarian Super Bowl. Nick Gillespie: Yeah, this is it. Well, the libertarian Buzz Bowl, which is a much maligned and ignored Reason TV video starring Chuck Schumer and Four Loko versus Juice back when they were caffeinated. Never mind. Talk about "Libertas." Smith: It's my first comedy special. I've been doing stand up for 11 years. I'm very proud of it. It was produced by GaS Digital Network, which is my Podcast network and Luis J Gomez, who is a hilarious comedian. Just a great entrepreneur, he's the guy who started GaS Digital and he directed it. Yep, it's out September 11th. He chose that date, not me, but I'm excited and I appreciate the nice words. Gillespie: So this is going to do for libertarian comedy what September 11th did for libertarian comedy? Smith: That's libertarian comedy. Yes, exactly. Gillespie: It was a redevelopment project according to Paul Krugman who literally, like less than a week after the 9/11 attacks said, "You know, the silver lining in this is that there's going to be a lot of building down there now." Smith: That's right. Why does Paul Krugman never give George W. Bush credit for being such a great president? I mean, the record high spending, the wars, what could you not love? I mean, how was it that we were left with such a wonderful economy? Gillespie: A crappy economy. It is strange. Well, talk about "Libertas." Why is it called that? And, I've watched and it's very funny. Smith: Thank you. Gillespie: What I love about it is that it's a critique both of Trumpism and anti-Trumpism. Smith: Yes. Gillespie: So, talk a little bit about how you came to say, "Okay, this is the set that I want to commemorate in a special." Smith: I think the special is, it's really ... like the first half of it is my take on the last ye[...]



Hey Libertarians for Trump, How Much More #Winning Can You Take?

2017-09-06T14:35:00-04:00

It's almost nine months into Donald Trump's presidency and here's a question for the old "Libertarians for Trump" crowd: How much more winning can you take? There was a small but vocal band of limited-government folks who vocally supported the billionaire real estate mogul on the grounds that he couldn't possibly be as bad as Hillary Clinton or even most of the other Republican candidates, especially when it came to foreign policy. Leading the pack was economist Walter Block, who beat me in a competitive debate in New York City right before the election. Block's argument was that "the perfect is the enemy of the good" and "the Donald is the most congruent with [the libertarian] perspective" especially on foreign policy. Trump has turned out to be anything but an isolationist. He promised to bring fire and fury to North Korea, "the likes of which this world has never seen before." He bombed Syria on the same humanitarian grounds he explicitly denounced during his campaign. He escalated war efforts in Yeman and Iraq, And more recently, announced plans to "win" in Afghanistan. His secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, declared that while the United States might not walk away with a "battlefield" victory in the graveyard of empires, neither will the Taliban. That's not inspirational, it's stupid. Apart from his foreign policy follies, this anti-free-trader and nativist has turned out to be even less libertarian than advertised during the campaign. He's continued giving mealy-mouthed support to white supremacists and pardoned Joe Arpaio, "America's toughest sheriff," who was found in contempt of court after he continued to illegally racially profile and detain Latino suspects. And his attorney general is walking back a decade of incremental progress on criminal justice reform. There's no question that the Trump administration is doing some good things, such as deregulatory moves related to the FCC, the FDA, and the EPA. His Education department is supporting school choice to the extent that the federal government can do so. His deregulatory push is all to the good, but it's overwhelmed by Trump's other policies. There's also no question that at this point Trump is doing virtually everything else he can do to alienate libertarians who believe in shrinking the size, scope, and spending of government. And the excuse that Hillary Clinton would have been worse is getting older than Bernie Sanders. The perfect is the enemy of the good, but what Donald Trump has shown us so far just isn't good enough. Produced by Todd Krainin. Written by Nick Gillespie. Cameras by Jim Epstein. Production assistance by Andrew Heaton. Subscribe to our YouTube channel. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. Subscribe to our podcast at iTunes. [...]



Why Libertarians Should Want *More* Trust in Government

2017-08-28T13:30:00-04:00

According to Gallup and most other other polling organizations, Americans have record or near-record low rates of confidence in government. Just 39 percent of us approved of Donald Trump's performance in his second quarter as president, almost 25 points off the historical average. A mere 36 percent have a lot of faith in publis schools. Only slightly more than a quarter of us trust the criminal justice system and just 12 percent of us say we have a "great deal of" or "quite a lot of" confidence in Congress. Trust in most major institutions is lower than it was a decade ago. A lot of libertarians and other skeptics of government see this trend and believe that people are finally waking up to reality. But there are good reasons to be concerned about persistently low levels of trust and confidence in government. Researchers routinely find that "people in countries with bad governments want more government intervention" in all aspects of their lives, even though they don't trust the government to be fair or effective. One 2010 study found that 82 percent of former East Germans and 92 percent of Russians--two famously "low-trust" populations--favored wage controls. Residents in Scandinavia and North America--which are "high trust" regions--were far more trusting of market forces. So it turns out that government may be growing not in spite of our lack of confidence in it, but because of our lack of confidence in it. This self-defeating spiral will only get worse if the United States fails to stem its slide toward being a low-trust country. The solution to this doesn't have to be nihilism or anarchy. Instead, we need a government that does fewer things but does them better. Government spending is at an already swollen 21 percent of GDP and is predicted to climb to 30 percent over the next three decades. Libertarians rightly want a limited government and we should fight like hell to end cronyism, drug prohibition, and regulatory overreach that does nothing but increase the cost of doing business. We need to keep pushing back against defense spending wasted on elective wars and national security measures that put us under surveillance without making us safer. But we should also point to places where government action is both legitimate and effective and praise policies--like school choice, for instance--that deliver better results at cheaper costs. Ironically, if we can get more people to trust the government, it just might be easier to shrink the size, scope, and spending of the state. Produced by Todd Krainin. Written 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. [...]



Can Science Reverse Aging?

2017-08-24T12:15:00-04:00

"In 30 years, I will be younger than today, not older," says José Luis Cordeiro, who's a founding faculty member at Singularity University, a Silicon Valley-based think tank devoted to futurism. "Why? Because we are going to have rejuvenation techniques, and these experiments are beginning right now." A mechanical engineer with a degree from MIT, Cordeiro has worked in fields ranging from monetary policy to petroleum engineering, and he created the first formal "future studies" course at the Austrian School of Economics in Venezuela, his birth country. Cordeiro is an extreme optimist, who says technological progress will solve most of the world's problems. He sat down with Reason's Nick Gillespie at the annual libertarian conference Freedom Fest in Las Vegas to discuss immortality, artificial intelligence, and the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela. Edited by Ian Keyser. Cameras by Meredith Bragg and Zach Weissmueller. Music: "Aspirato" by Kai Engel, Creative Commons. 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: Let's talk about the future of two things. One about Singularity University, and then also about Venezuela, your home country. Singularity University is a place that is dedicated to exploring, and analyzing, and coming up with what the future looks like, especially in terms of, kind of, life enhancements, human life enhancement, longevity, life extension. What's the most, what are the things that you're most interested about right now? José Cordeiro: Well, things are accelerating. We really live in exponential times, and medicine is being radically transformed. There is a disruption, and we are going to be living longer lives, healthier lives, probably indefinite life spans, very soon. Gillespie: Define very soon. Cordeiro: Well, we talk, delayed as by 2045. Gillespie: Okay. Cordeiro: Ray Kurzweil, who is the chairman of Singularity University, he says that he plans to become immortal by 2045, and I believe in that as well. In fact, I do not plan to die. Even more interesting, in 30 years, I will be younger than today, not older. I will be younger. Gillespie: Oh, so– Cordeiro: Why? Gillespie: Yeah. Cordeiro: Because we are going to have rejuvenation techniques, and these experiments are beginning right now. There are patients that are being rejuvenated with experimental treatments. Gillespie: What are some of those treatments, and how do we know that they will work, either immediately, or in the long term? Cordeiro: Well, one of the things that are being experimented with is increasing the telomeres at the end of the chromosomes. Actually, this is what cancer does. Cancer cells are biologically immortal. They do not age, so scientists are trying to understand why cancer has discovered how not to age, so that we can apply that to the rest of the body. This is one of the most interesting things that are being experimented, and there is already one human patient that has undergone this kind of treatment for over one year, and her cells, actually, are becoming younger, according to the length of the telomeres. They are regrowing, they are becoming longer, which means she is younger today. Gillespie: Wow. From a policy angle, what are the regulatory angles that most intersect and block this kind of research, or this kind of advancement? Cordeiro: Well, this is an excellent question because this experimental treatment cannot be done in the USA right now, because it is illegal. In order to do an experimental treatment, even in yourself, with your own money, you need approvals. So, this[...]