Economic Liberalization Stammers in Latin America

In Analysis by Michael Rae

Liberalization is taking a back seat. Almost everywhere you look in Latin America, the left is running the show—or on the verge of doing so if Gustavo Petro wins the soon-to-be presidential elections in Colombia and Lula da Silva (yes, the corrupt former president who presided over a vast empire of graft and spent time in jail) is elected again in October in Brazil.  From Mexico to Chile, it is the archaic, not the social-democratic, version of the left that is in control and steering the subcontinent away from the path of liberalization it had …

Surveillance Transparency Report Documents Wide FBI Reach

In Analysis by Michael Rae

The U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) has released its Annual Statistical Transparency Report disclosing the use of national security surveillance laws for the year 2021—and to no one’s surprise it documents the wide-ranging overreach of intelligence agencies and the continued misuse of surveillance authorities to spy on millions of Americans. Specifically, the report chronicles how Section 702, an amendment to the Foriegn Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), that authorizes the U.S. government to engage in mass surveillance of foreign targets’ communications, is still being abused by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to spy on Americans without a warrant. Specifically, the report reveals …

You Are a Soul

In Analysis by Michael Rae

The ontology of the human being is elusive. But let’s say: You are a soul and you own your person.  The soul and the person together constitute the human being. It is also apt, of course, to say you are a human being. But here, I use ‘you’ to address just you, the soul, as a way to jolt us into a way of thinking.  Souls and persons are one-to-one, so it is natural that ‘human being’ be signified as either ‘soul’ or ‘person,’ each serving, according to my formulation, as a synecdoche for the …

A Proposed Amendment to California’s Constitution to Resolve the Housing Affordability Crisis

In Analysis by Michael Rae

Despite much hand-wringing by California politicians and bills in the state legislature with lofty goals and rhetoric, home prices in California continue to set new records. Apartment rental prices also continue to soar in Southern California, the Central Valley, and Northern California. A decades-old crisis of this magnitude demands bold action. California had a Tax Revolt in the 1970s when homes were seized because homeowners could not afford to pay outrageously high property tax increases. Today, California needs an Unaffordable Housing Revolt in the form of a ballot initiative led by Californians to overcome government …

Coastal Commission Ramps Up State Water Deficit

In Analysis by Michael Rae

As expected, on May 12, the California Coastal Commission voted unanimously to reject the Poseidon Water desalination plant in Orange County. As the California Globe noted, the plant was “decades in the works during a time when California needs more freshwater to combat a drought in the state.”  The plant would have provided 50 million gallons of freshwater a day. The commissioners’ reasons for rejecting the plant included salt discharge, electricity costs, and something else that is hard to quantify.  “The ocean is under attack from climate change already,” proclaimed commissioner Dayna Bochco, a television producer and president …

What Makes You My Enemy?

In Analysis by Michael Rae

Increasingly, it seems, people are quick to escalate what might be viewed as differences into animosities. This has manifested itself in a number of different ways in recent years. It is evident in politics, where people view those with political views different from theirs as enemies. Politics is becoming less an arena where compromise and negotiation can smooth over differences and more an arena where one side wins and the other loses. If one side claims the other is their enemy, does that imply that the other side should also view them as enemies? That …

View Post

Biden’s Deficit Shrinking Claim Fails Fact Check

In Analysis by Michael Rae

After his first year in office, President Biden doesn’t have much to brag about. That’s especially true when it comes to the economy. So much so that he’s reached into his bag of political tricks and pulled out an old one. He’s trying to make himself look better by fudging facts. Fact Fudging The latest fact-fudging comes in the form of claims his policies are successfully reducing the U.S. government’s budget deficit. But as CNN’s Daniel Dale reports, while the numbers are accurate, his claims of success in reducing the deficit rely on distorting the …

Protecting Unalienable Rights

In Analysis by Michael Rae

A leaked Supreme Court draft opinion denying the constitutional legitimacy of the Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade opinion has piqued interest concerning “unalienable” individual rights: (i) whether such rights logically exist; (ii) if so, then how are they to be reified; and (iii) which branch and level of government is constitutionally authorized and best equipped to defend them.  Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence (1776) promised individuals a prospective right to enjoy all the worldly fruits “to which the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God entitle them”:  We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all …

My Thank You to David Theroux

In Analysis by Michael Rae

I was deeply saddened to hear that David Theroux recently passed away. Being a huge fan of the Independent Institute since college and someone who benefited from David’s encouragement and support for years, the loss is especially difficult. I first met David shortly after getting my first academic job at San Jose State University in 2017. Knowing the Independent Institute was nearby, I sheepishly asked a mutual contact to see if David would meet with me. David graciously made time. He asked me about my research after introducing me to much of his staff and …

Conflicts of Interest at the National Institutes of Health

In Analysis by Michael Rae

On May 11, acting National Institutes of Health (NIH) director Lawrence Tabak conceded that $350 million in undisclosed royalty payments to Dr. Anthony Fauci, his deputy Clifford Lane, former NIH director Francis Collins, and hundreds of NIH employees presented “an appearance of a conflict of interest.” Tabak, deputy ethics counselor of NIH since 2010 and in 2009 acting principal deputy director, seemed unaware of developments at his own agency.  Francis Collins received 14 royalty payments, Dr. Fauci 23 payments, and his deputy, Clifford Lane, eight payments, but the NIH heavily redacted the information. Adam Andrzejewski …

The Myth That Sports Stadiums Create New Jobs and Tax Revenues

In Analysis by Michael Rae

Over the last few weeks, rumors have been circulating that the Kansas City Chiefs are considering moving from Kansas City, Missouri to Kansas City, Kansas. Chiefs prez Mark Donovan, when asked this AM about potential new stadium options, said the team has considered options in state of Kansas. They like Arrowhead and legacy of Lamar Hunt’s stadium, but have been pitched by Kansas developers on a bunch of options. Something to watch. — Kevin Clark (@bykevinclark) March 29, 2022 https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js The Chiefs have been one of the most dominant teams in the NFL for the …

Treasury Secretary Admits Biden Spending Programs “Feed” Inflation

In Analysis by Michael Rae

Last week, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen became the first member of President Biden’s administration to acknowledge its spending policies are feeding inflation in the U.S. economy. That admission came during an interview with the Wall Street Journal‘s editor in chief Matt Murray. The video clip below is cued to start with the question he asked that led to her admission. The relevant portion of the exchange starts at the 7:30 mark and takes place in less than a minute. In her continuing remarks, she point to other factors that contribute to today’s high inflation, which …