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We’re Doubling the Offer

Last month, Young Voices announced the launch of our Campus Pundit Program, offering current U.S. students a $50 commission to publish a pro-liberty op-ed in their student newspaper. Today, I’m pleased to announce that we’re doubling the offer for articles promoting free speech.

There’s no question that the 2015-16 school year was one of the most depressing for student activism in recent history. From Yale to Mizzou and beyond, students across the United States have started calling for “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings” over free speech and the exchange of ideas. Now, more than ever before, it is critical that pro-liberty student writers are empowered to make the moral case for freedom.

That’s why Young Voices will reward any current undergraduate or graduate student in the United States $100 for successfully publishing an op-ed in his or her student newspaper defending the principles of free speech. Click here to learn more.

tax

Here’s why ‘Red Ahead’ deserves a red light.

Lawmakers in Chicago are forcing citizens to fear their tax burden more than the inevitable winter cold.

In addition to boasting one of the highest sales tax rates in the country, the infamous “Netflix tax,” and a pending tax increase on water, Chicagoans will now see an increase in both property and fuel taxes for the purposes of funding the “Red Ahead” program. The program seeks to “rebuild vital infrastructure for Chicago’s future,” but rests upon a premise shakier than a rusting portion of “El” tracks.

City officials claim that monies levied from these specific tax increases will go exclusively to fund the Red Ahead project. However, constituents should raise their eyebrows reading this statement, given the pension debacle occurring within the state. Both the State of Illinois and the City of Chicago have misappropriated funds to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. Why should Chicagoans trust city lawmakers to handle these funds appropriately amidst an ongoing financial crisis? City officials in Washington, D.C., certainly did not handle funds for their streetcar program well — $200 million over the last 10 years on a streetcar system that barely functions.

Continue reading at Watchdog.

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If you don’t vote your conscience, you’re throwing your vote away

Figures from Bernie Sanders to Paul Krugman to Elizabeth Warren, worried that millennials will support a third party candidate, are bombarding us with appeals to vote for Clinton. Their message: this election is too important to vote your conscience.

But this appeal ignores the reality of voting. Voting your conscience won’t hand the election to Trump, because your individual vote doesn’t matter.

Bryan Caplan, economics professor at George Mason University, calculated the odds of your vote mattering. The fact is that it’s very improbable, because for your vote to affect an election, the two candidates have to be within one vote of each other without you. If Trump earns 2,000,000 votes in a given state without your vote and Clinton earns 2,000,002, then it doesn’t matter whether or not you voted. The outcome wouldn’t change.

If you’re in one of the 39 non-swing states in the United States, your vote has no chance of changing the outcome. If you’re in California, it won’t matter if you vote for Trump; your electoral votes are going to Clinton.

But what about swing states? Even in the closest contest possible, the odds of your vote mattering are much less than the odds of you getting struck by lightning.

Let’s take the example of Colorado. In 2012, 2.56 million people in Colorado cast a vote for president. Even if Colorado’s a very competitive swing state this year (say, 51 percent odds that Clinton will win), your vote has less than a 1 in 10^100 (that’s 1 followed by 100 0s) chance of mattering. To put that in perspective, it’s much less likely than the odds of you getting struck by lightning on the way to the polling booth, while also winning the Powerball this year….twice.

And that’s assuming that Colorado is a very competitive state.

Continue reading at Rare.

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New Driverless Car Rules Will Stifle Innovation, Cost Lives

Three numbers: 35,200 people were killed in auto accidents last year; 94 percent of car crashes are due to human error; 613,501 lives have been saved by advances in auto safety over the past 50 years. Thesenumbers form the basis of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration head’s argument for autonomous vehicles and a friendly regulatory environment.

Ironically, though, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is also considering premarket approval and post-sale regulations that would restrict the development and improvement of autonomous vehicles even more than “dumb” vehicles, potentially leading to the unnecessary loss of life.

In a speech on Monday at the Automated Vehicles Symposium in San Francisco, NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said that his agency’s goal is to create “a framework that will speed the development and deployment of technologies with significant lifesaving potential.” However, the very next day, his agency released the long-promised NHTSA guidelines for autonomous vehicles, proposing two new authorities that would do the exact opposite. These new authorities are only options, and the NHTSA is seeking public comment.

The first proposal, the “Considered New Authority” of premarket approval, would require manufacturers to have their models approved before hitting showrooms for sale — a departure from the current process of self-certification. A premarket approval process, the guidelines say, would help the public accept autonomous vehicles. However, this is a long-term solution to a short-term problem; and this new authority not only goes against Rosekind’s own expressed approach but also the way automobiles are made.

Continue reading at RealClearPolicy.

Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir, the president of Sudan, listens to a speech during the opening of the 20th session of The New Partnership for Africa's Development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Jan. 31, 2009. The partnership's primary objective is to eradicate poverty in Africa and bring long-term and sustainable political, economic, and social change to the continent. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jesse B. Awalt/Released)

Outsourcing European border security – ‘at the whim of foreign dictators’?

Martin Schulz recently travelled to Turkey for the first time since the country’s failed coup in July. One of the main talking points on the agenda was the continuation of the European Union’s refugee deal with Turkey.

While Schulz and Erdoğan discussed how to protect Europe’s borders to the east, Angela Merkel hinted at a plan to outsource the protection of the Union’s southern borders against refugees to the states of North Africa.

While these plans can be helpful in taking short-term pressure off the EU’s external and internal borders, they are also very dangerous. Not only do they make European states susceptible to blackmail, as we have seen already with Libya and most recently Turkey, but they might also be a hindrance to the creation of a stable and endogenous border protection through the EU itself.

The idea of outsourcing the nasty job to secure borders against refugees is understandably compelling, in particular for politicians who are faced with an increasingly restless electorate. It takes the pressure off them to agree on and implement their own mechanisms and instead allows them to pay others to do so.

They have to care less about refugee rights, because atrocities happening far away might create outrage on Facebook, but have little impact on the mood of their electorate. While this might help politicians get re-elected, it should not be what guides our politics.

Continue reading at Euractiv.

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The Comparative Advantage of the U.S. Economy

Recently, there has been a large amount of media attention focused on Donald Trump’s hatred of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).  This animosity has also been targeted at CEO Mark Fields’ to move parts of Ford’s manufacturing to Mexico. Sadly, logic and fact have taken a backseat in both of these discussions. Clichés from Trump dominate the media scene, including a recent quote highlighted on CNN, “NAFTA has destroyed our country.” This statement is far from the truth. No matter what clichés Trump or any other political candidate throw at NAFTA, the American people should not be fooled: NAFTA allows the U.S. to succeed in attracting higher-paying jobs, which is currently the country’s comparative advantage on the international market.

Trump’s main argument  is that NAFTA allows for jobs to easily move from the United States to Mexico, thus hurting the U.S. economy. Trump’s proposed solution includes destroying the NAFTA pact and the implementation of a hefty 35% tax on all imported cars.  Not only will Trump’s proposed solution harm the U.S. economy, he also has incorrect premises involving NAFTA. NAFTA encourages some manufacturers to leave the U.S., but this does not necessarily hurt our economy, especially if the U.S. is importing other jobs as well as increasing its consumption and investment through the open trade environment that NAFTA creates. Some honest, hard-working Americans will lose their jobs in the short run, but if a system of free trade is protected, the long-run will produce lower unemployment rates and an increase in the well-being of every consumer.

The law of supply and demand applies to the job market just as strongly as it applies to other economic goods. In the Ford case, the company has a demand for low-paying, unskilled labor, which Mexico can supply with ease. Therefore, it makes sense that Mark Fields would move some of his manufacturing plants to Mexico where Ford can make a larger profit and where workers are willing to work for less. This is one comparative advantage that the working class in Mexico has, the ability to work low-skilled jobs at a cheaper rate. Mexico’s lower cost of living allows for this comparative advantage to exist.

Continue reading at the Liberty Conservative.