“My One-Item Christmas List: A Government That Stops Playing Santa”

I’ve got a
new column up
at Time’s Ideas section. Here’s the opening:

Forget a new car, Beats by Dre, or even affordable health care. You know
what I really, really, really want for Christmas?

I want a government that spends less money. I’m not alone in
such a wish. Even President Obama, who has asked for more and more
spending in each of his annual budget proposals, has called the
nation’s long-term spending patterns “unsustainable.”

We should be cutting small-ticket, medium-ticket, and big-ticket
items, and we can do it in a way that doesn’t kick out Tiny Tim’s
crutches or leaves us open to terrorist attacks. But first we need
to understand the magnitude of the growth in spending over the past
10 years.

In 2003, the federal government shelled out about $2.2 trillion
in nominal dollars. In 2013, it spent about $3.5
trillion
. I have trouble figuring out exactly where that extra
$1.3 trillion a year is going, but I do know that whatever money is
spent by the generous souls in Washington, D.C. isn’t
printed by elves. It comes from current and future taxes that you
and I—or our children and grandchildren—will pay. According to the
Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projections for the next 25 years,
the government will never come close to matching outlays with
revenues (which CBO already assumes will be significantly higher
than the historical average for the past 40 years).

So the only path to sustainability is to cut spending. But where
to cut?


Please read the whole thing.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/24/my-one-item-christmas-list-a-government
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"My One-Item Christmas List: A Government That Stops Playing Santa"

I’ve got a
new column up
at Time’s Ideas section. Here’s the opening:

Forget a new car, Beats by Dre, or even affordable health care. You know
what I really, really, really want for Christmas?

I want a government that spends less money. I’m not alone in
such a wish. Even President Obama, who has asked for more and more
spending in each of his annual budget proposals, has called the
nation’s long-term spending patterns “unsustainable.”

We should be cutting small-ticket, medium-ticket, and big-ticket
items, and we can do it in a way that doesn’t kick out Tiny Tim’s
crutches or leaves us open to terrorist attacks. But first we need
to understand the magnitude of the growth in spending over the past
10 years.

In 2003, the federal government shelled out about $2.2 trillion
in nominal dollars. In 2013, it spent about $3.5
trillion
. I have trouble figuring out exactly where that extra
$1.3 trillion a year is going, but I do know that whatever money is
spent by the generous souls in Washington, D.C. isn’t
printed by elves. It comes from current and future taxes that you
and I—or our children and grandchildren—will pay. According to the
Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projections for the next 25 years,
the government will never come close to matching outlays with
revenues (which CBO already assumes will be significantly higher
than the historical average for the past 40 years).

So the only path to sustainability is to cut spending. But where
to cut?


Please read the whole thing.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/24/my-one-item-christmas-list-a-government
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Washington Post Interview: Edward Snowden Defends the Constitution Against Clapper, Alexander, Feinstein, Rogers, and Obama

SnowdenObamaThe Washington Post is
running a terrific article in which former NSA contractor
Edward Snowden explains
why he revealed how far the NSA and
other federal agencies had gone toward constructing a national
security surveillance state. Short answer: Because it’s
unconstitutional. The Post interviewed Snowden for 14
hours in Moscow and he comes off much better than the pack of liars
who run the NSA or the enablers who “oversee” its activities in
Congress or in the Administration.

And by liars, I mean Director of National Intelligence James
Clapper who lied to Congress
about the NSA’s bulk collection of data involving essentially every
American’s phone calls. By liars, I mean NSA Director
Keith Alexander
, and Congressional Intelligence Committee
chairs
Sen. Dianne Feinstein
(D-Calif.) and Rep. Mike
Rogers
(R-Mich.) who all claimed that the massive phone
surveilance program was crucial to disrupting more than 50
terrorist attacks.

In June,
President Obama
described the NSA’s bulk data collection as a
“circumscribed, narrow” program that thwarted at least 50 terror
threats. “Lives have been saved,” asserted the president.

All lies.

In fact, the new report from President’ Obama’s handpicked
review committee earlier this week flatly said that the NSA’s
dragnet spying program was “not
essential to preventing attacks
” and that “there has been no
instance in which NSA could say with confidence that the outcome
[of a terror investigation] would have been any different” without
the program.

From the Post article:

“For me, in terms of personal satisfaction, the mission’s
already accomplished,” [Snowden] said. “I already won. As soon as
the journalists were able to work, everything that I had been
trying to do was validated. Because, remember, I didn’t want to
change society. I wanted to give society a chance to determine if
it should change itself.”

“All I wanted was for the public to be able to have a say in how
they are governed,” he said…

The pack of liars accuses Snowden of breaking his oath to the
NSA and calls him a traitor who
should be hanged
.

“The oath of allegiance is not an oath of secrecy,” he said.
“That is an oath to the Constitution. That is the oath that I kept
that Keith Alexander and James Clapper did not.”

Correct. The Post further reports:

Snowden is an orderly thinker, with an engineer’s approach to
problem-solving. He had come to believe that a dangerous machine of
mass surveillance was growing unchecked. Closed-door oversight by
Congress and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court was a
“graveyard of judgment,” he said, manipulated by the agency it was
supposed to keep in check. Classification rules erected walls to
prevent public debate.

Toppling those walls would be a spectacular act of transgression
against the norms that prevailed inside them. Someone would have to
bypass security, extract the secrets, make undetected contact with
journalists and provide them with enough proof to tell the
stories.

The NSA’s business is “information dominance,” the use of other
people’s secrets to shape events. At 29, Snowden upended the agency
on its own turf.

“You recognize that you’re going in blind, that there’s no
model,” Snowden said, acknowledging that he had no way to know
whether the public would share his views….

Six months ago, a reporter asked him by encrypted e-mail why
Americans would want the NSA to give up bulk data collection if
that would limit a useful intelligence tool.

“I believe the cost of frank public debate about the powers of
our government is less than the danger posed by allowing these
powers to continue growing in secret,” he replied, calling them “a
direct threat to democratic governance.”

In the Moscow interview, Snowden said, “What the government
wants is something they never had before,” adding: “They want total
awareness. The question is, is that something we should be
allowing?”

Snowden likened the NSA’s powers to those used by British
authorities in Colonial America, when “general warrants” allowed
for anyone to be searched. The FISA court, Snowden said, “is
authorizing general warrants for the entire country’s metadata.”

The difference with the NSA’s possession of the data, Snowden
said, is that government has the power to take away life or
freedom.

At the NSA, he said, “there are people in the office who joke
about, ‘We put warheads on foreheads.’ Twitter doesn’t put warheads
on foreheads.”

It is way the past time for Clapper and Alexander to be fired
and tried for lying to Congress and to the American people.
Congress should
act immediately on legislation
to restore Fourth Amendment
protections against government agents spying on Americans.

The whole Post article is well worth your attention and
outrage.

I’ll say it again: Thank
you Edward Snowden
.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/24/edward-snowden-understands-constitution
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Kurt Loder Reviews The Wolf of Wall Street

Martin
Scorsese’s new movie hits the ground running with a montage of
dwarf tossing, sex grappling, and extreme drug behavior of a sort I
don’t believe I’ve ever seen on-screen before. Then it gets really
crazy. Frantically edited down from four hours to three, and now
arriving at the last moment for Oscar consideration, The
Wolf of Wall Street
 is hilarious and appalling and, by
the end, a little exhausting. Kurt Loder says it’s hard not to get
caught up in these people’s demented exuberance.

View this article.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/24/kurt-loder-reviews-the-wolf-of-wall-stre
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Zach Weissmueller on Anarchy in Detroit

Detroit’s future, to put it mildly, looks bleak.
About one-third of its 138 square miles are deserted, it has no tax
base, and its schools are horrendous. Last year, one in every 1,800
residents was murdered. The answer may be anarchy, says Zach
Weissmueller, who points out cases where spontaneous order seems to
be helping Motor City.

View this article.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/24/zach-weissmueller-on-anarchy-in-detroit
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Brickbat: This Would Make a Great Movie with Kevin Bacon

The Norfolk,
Virginia, fire marshal has apparently been keeping a close eye on
social media platforms, looking for businesses that are
planning holiday
parties
. A fire marshal visits them to warn there can be no
dancing at those parties unless they have a nightclub permit. Then
the fire marshal’s office bills them for the “inspection.”

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/24/brickbat-this-would-make-a-great-movie-w
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Pedantic Pediatricians Panic over Raw Milk

They should outlaw black markets, too, just to be extra safe!Anybody susceptible to
bacteria or infections should be careful about their food
consumption. The American Academy of Pediatrics cannot seem to
deliver medical advice, though, without having to get nanny state
about it. Advising against raw milk consumption by pregnant women
and small children isn’t enough. They want the government to step
in and ban raw milk sales nationally. From a Los Angeles
Times

report
:

The American Academy of Pediatrics on Monday warned that
pregnant women and children should not drink raw milk and said it
supports a nationwide ban on the sale of raw milk because of the
danger of bacterial illnesses.

The group’s statement said it supports federal health
authorities “in endorsing the consumption of only pasteurized milk
and milk products for pregnant women, infants and children.”

The academy also “endorses a ban on the sale of raw or
unpasteurized milk and milk products throughout the United States,
including the sale of certain raw milk cheeses, such as fresh
cheese, soft cheeses and soft-ripened cheeses.”

How serious is the problem?

The pediatricians estimate that 1 percent to 3 percent of dairy
products consumed in the U.S. are not pasteurized. From 1998 to
2009, that led to 1,837 illnesses, two resulting in death.

Two deaths in 11 years. Two. Using this standard, how
is it legal to sell nuts for human consumption at all?

Read the whole story
here
, including defenses of raw milk that point out outlawing
raw milk sales entirely turns it into a black market and makes it
impossible to put together a system to produce it safely.

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from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/23/pedantic-pediatricians-panic-over-raw-mi
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No Stay for Utah Gay Marriages, Inventor of AK-47 Dies, Colo. Resorts Prep for Pot Tourism: P.M. Links

  • A moment of RATTA-TATTA-TAT! please.A judge has
    declined to order a stay
    in the demand that Utah start
    licensing and recognizing same-sex marriages while the appeals
    process begins. Meanwhile in Ohio, a federal judge has ruled that
    the state’s ban on recognizing same-sex marriage is also
    unconstitutional, but wrote the ruling in such a way that it

    applies only to death certificates
    .
  • Edward Snowden, in an interview with Brazilian television
    clarified that he is
    absolutely not offering
    to share US intelligence to foreign
    countries in exchange for amnesty.
  • Mikhail Kalashnikov, inventor
    the AK-47
    , is dead at age 94. Please do not fire your guns in
    the air as a form of salute.
  • Dennis Rodman has
    left North Korea
    . He did not meet Kim Jong-Un, who is probably
    off doing his King Joffrey bit elsewhere.
  • Colorado resorts are preparing for
    marijuana tourism
    , a little bit worried that visitors won’t
    know the rules and think they can just toke up wherever.
  • President Barack Obama has allegedly
    enrolled for Obamacare coverage
    but it’s all symbolic and
    doesn’t actually apply to him.

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from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/23/no-stay-for-utah-gay-marriages-inventor
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Ira Stoll Tried, and Failed, To Sign Up For Obamacare

Ira Stoll made a concerted effort to try to use the Obamacare
exchange in his state. He says, “I probably spent about seven hours
on the site in four or five sessions over the past few months.
Theoretically, I’m the sort of person who might benefit from the
program. I don’t work for a big company that provides health
insurance for its employees. We had been getting our family health
insurance by paying for a “cobra” policy that extended the benefits
my wife had gotten from her former job, but that has an 18-month
time limit. So we need new health insurance for our family
effective January 1, 2014. In the past, I had bought health
insurance through the Authors Guild. But because
Obamacare outlawed individual policies of the sort that
had been available through the Guild, that is no longer an option.”
Stoll says he really did try to get a policy, but the website was
simply “non-functional.” He puts the finger on Obama, who himself
admitted that he “screwed it up.”  

View this article.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/23/ira-stoll-i-tried-and-failed-to-sign-up
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The Times of India: “Almost Every Passenger on a Flight from Dubai to Calicut Was Found Carrying 1kg of Gold”

Watching Indian bureaucrats attempt to halt more than one billion human beings’ desire for gold has been one of the more entertaining and pathetic stories of all of 2013. It is one that I have covered on many occasions, the latest being my post from earlier this month:  Gold Smuggling Increases 7x in India and Surpasses Illegal Drug Trade.

Well it appears the trend continues, potentially at an accelerated rate, as we just learned that, incredibly, “almost every passenger on a flight from Dubai to Calicut was found carrying 1kg of gold.” As I have said many times in the past, if an Indian wants their gold, they will have their gold. 

CHENNAI: Faced with curbs on gold imports and crash in international prices leaving it cheaper in other countries, gold houses and smugglers are turning to NRIs to bring in the yellow metal legally after paying duty. Any NRI, who has stayed abroad for more than six months, is allowed to bring in 1kg gold.

It was evident last week when almost every passenger on a flight from Dubai to Calicut was found carrying 1kg of gold, totalling up to 80kg (worth about Rs 24 crore). At Chennai airport, 13 passengers brought the legally permitted quantity of gold in the past one week.

“It’s not illegal. But the 80kg gold that landed in Calicut surprised us. We soon got information that two smugglers in Dubai and their links in Calicut were behind this operation, offering free tickets to several passengers,” said an official. The passengers were mostly Indian labourers in Dubai, used as carriers by people who were otherwise looking at illegal means, he said. “We have started tracing the origin and route of gold after intelligence pointed to the role of smugglers,” he said.

continue reading

from A Lightning War for Liberty http://libertyblitzkrieg.com/2013/12/23/the-times-of-india-almost-every-passenger-on-a-flight-from-dubai-to-calicut-was-found-carrying-1kg-of-gold/
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