9 Reasons Libertarians Should Love Switzerland


  1. Switzerland has the fourth-freest economy in the entire world and is only surpassed by Hong Kong, Singapore, and New Zealand.
  2. Considering that Switzerland has one of the most free-market economies on the planet, it’s no wonder the country has the ninth-highest per capita income in the world. Indeed, research suggests that the freer a market economy is, the faster it grows.
  3. The Swiss have the third-highest median household income in the world, which means the median Swiss household is slightly richer than the median American household.
  4. Switzerland has the fourth-lowest level of government spending as a share of the economy among the 34 OECD countries. (OECD refers to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, a group of developed countries.)
  5. The Swiss have genuine federalism and decentralized government. Their central government is responsible for around 15 percent of total government spending, which is lower than that of any other OECD country.
  6. The Swiss have a long history of armed neutrality and haven’t been involved in war since 1815. Switzerland is like a porcupine: it won’t bother you, but it would be a huge mistake to mess with it.
  7. Switzerland has the fourth-highest gun ownership rate in the world. It also has the 11th-lowest homicide rate in the world (out of 195 countries).
  8. Marijuana is decriminalized.
  9. Switzerland is the third-happiest country in the world.
The Swiss are rich, happy, gun-owning, peace-loving people. The country has one of the freest market economies in the world and a relatively small and very decentralized government that hasn’t waged war since the early 19th century. Switzerland just might be one of the most libertarian countries in the world.

An earlier version of this article appeared on Liberty.me.

You can find an Italian translation of this article here.

Corey Iacono
Corey Iacono is a student at the University of Rhode Island majoring in pharmaceutical science and minoring in economics. He is a FEE 2016 Thorpe Fellow.
This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

Meals on Wheels: Anatomy of a Fake Budget Cut

The annual budget for our bloated and sclerotic federal government consumes about $4 trillion of America’s economic output, yet President Trump so far has not proposed to reduce that overall spending burden by even one penny.

A few programs are targeted for cuts, to be sure, but I explained last week, that “taxpayers won’t reap the benefits since those savings will be spent elsewhere, mostly for a bigger Pentagon budget.” More worrisome, I also pointed out that his budget proposal is “silent on the very important issues of tax reform and entitlement reform.”

All things considered, you would think that statists, special interest groups, and other denizens of the D.C. swamp would be happy with Trump’s timid budget.

Not exactly. There’s so much wailing and screaming about “savage” and “draconian” budget cuts, you would think the ghost of Ronald Reagan is haunting Washington.

Much of this whining is kabuki theater and political posturing as various beneficiaries (including the bureaucrats, lobbyists, contractors, and other insiders) make lots of noise as part of their never-ending campaigns to get ever-larger slices of the budget pie.

And nothing demonstrates the vapidity of this process more than the imbroglio over the Meals on Wheels program. Based on news reports, the immediate assumption is that Trump’s budget is going to starve needy seniors by ending delivery of meals.

Here’s how CNN characterized the proposal.
The preliminary outline for President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget could slash some funding for a program that provides meals for older, impoverished Americans.
“Slash”? That sounds ominous. Sounds like a cut of 40 percent, 50 percent, or 60 percent!

And a flack for Meals on Wheels added her two cents, painting a picture of doom and despair for hungry seniors.
…spokeswoman Jenny Bertolette said, “It is difficult to imagine a scenario in which they will not be significantly and negatively impacted if the President’s budget were enacted.”
Oh no, “significantly and negatively impacted” sounds brutal. How many tens of thousands of seniors will starve?

Only near the bottom of the story do we learn that this is all nonsense. All that Trump proposed, as part of his plan to shift some spending from the domestic budget to the defense budget, is to shut down a pork-riddled and scandal-plagued program at the Department of Housing Development. However, because a tiny fraction of community development block grants get used for Meals on Wheels, interest groups and leftist journalists decided to concoct a story about hungry old people.

In reality, the national office (appropriately) gets almost all its money from private donations and almost all the subsidies to the local branches are from a separate program.
About 3% of the budget for Meals on Wheels’ national office comes from government grants (84% comes from individual contributions and grants from corporations and foundations)… The Older Americans Act, as a function of the US Department of Health and Human Services, …covers 35% of the costs for the visits, safety checks and meals that the local agencies dole out to 2.4 million senior citizens, Bertolette said.
In other words, CNN engaged in what is now known as fake news, publishing a story designed to advance an agenda rather than to inform readers.

My colleague Walter Olson wrote a very apt summary for National Review.
The story that Trump’s budget would kill the Meals on Wheels program was too good to check. But it was false. …it wouldn’t have taken long for reporters to find and provide some needed context to the relationship between federal block grant programs, specifically Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), and the popular Meals on Wheels program. …From Thursday’s conversation in the press, it was easy to assume that block grant programs — CDBG and similar block grants for community services and social services — are the main source of federal funding for Meals on Wheels. Not so.
And if you want some accurate journalism, the editorial page of Investor’s Business Daily has a superb explanation.
What Trump’s budget does propose is cutting is the corruption-prone Community Development Block Grant program, run out of Housing and Urban Development. Some, but not all, state and local governments use a tiny portion of that grant money, at their own discretion, to “augment funding for Meals on Wheels,” according to the statement. …So what’s really going on? As Meals on Wheels America explained, some Community Development Block Grant money does end up going to some of the local Meals on Wheels programs. But it’s a small amount. HUD’s own website shows that just 1% of CDBG grant money goes to the broad category of “senior services.” And 0.17% goes to “food banks.” …All of this information was easily available to anyone reporting on this story, or anyone commenting on it, which would have prevented the false claims about the Meals on Wheels program from spreading in the first place. But why bother reporting facts when you can make up a story…?
The IBD editorial then shifted to what should be the real lesson from this make-believe controversy
…this fake budget-cutting story ended up revealing how programs like Meals on Wheels can survive without federal help. As soon as the story started to spread, donations began pouring into Meals on Wheels. In two days, the charity got more than $100,000 in donations — 50 times more than they’d normally receive. Clearly, individuals are ready, willing and eager to support this program once they perceive a need. Isn’t this how charity is supposed to work, with people donating their own time, money and resources to causes they feel are important, rather than sitting back and expecting the federal government to do it for them?
At the risk of being flippant, Libertarian Jesus would approve that message.

But to be more serious, IBD raises an important point that deserves some attention. Some Republicans think the appropriate response to CNN‘s demagoguery is to point out that Meals on Wheels gets the overwhelming share of its federal subsidies from the Older Americans Act rather than CDBG.

In reality, the correct lesson is that the federal government shouldn’t be subsidizing Meals on Wheels. Or any redistribution program that purports to help people on the state and local level.

There’s a constitutional argument against federal involvement. There’s a fiscal argument against federal involvement. There’s a diversity argument against federal involvement. And there’s a demographic argument against federal involvement.

But there’s also a common-sense argument against federal involvement. And that gives me an excuse to introduce my Third Theorem of Government. Simply stated, it’s a recipe for waste to launder money through Washington.



P.S. For those interested, here is the First Theorem of Government and here is the Second Theorem of Government.

P.P.S. I started today’s column by noting that Trump hasn’t proposed “even one penny” of lower spending. That’s disappointing, of course, but the news is not all bad. The President has  endorsed the Obamacare reform legislation in the House of Representatives, and while that legislation does not solve the real problem in our nation’s health sector, at least it does lower the burden of taxes and spending.
Republished from International Liberty.
Daniel J. Mitchell

Daniel J. Mitchell
Daniel J. Mitchell is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute who specializes in fiscal policy, particularly tax reform, international tax competition, and the economic burden of government spending. He also serves on the editorial board of the Cayman Financial Review.
This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

3 Common Immigration Myths Debunked



In this past election, Trump’s supporters embraced his calls for increasing immigration restrictions in a country that already has restrictive immigration policies. Now that he is in office, President Trump is planning to “publicize crimes by undocumented immigrants; strip such immigrants of privacy protections; enlist local police officers as enforcers; erect new detention facilities; discourage asylum seekers; and, ultimately, speed up deportations.”

The fear of immigration is commonly based on three basic assumptions: “immigrants are not assimilating into our culture,” “illegal immigrants are hurting our economy and stealing our jobs,” and “illegal immigrants are criminals and terrorists.” All of these assumptions are myths.

Myth #1: Immigrants are not assimilating to our culture

Those who support restrictive immigration policy believe that current immigrants are changing our values and our politics, and are not assimilating like the previous generations of immigrants.

Assimilation is a process that takes time, but the claim that current generations of immigrants are not assimilating like they did in the past is false. Recent research from the National Academies of Sciences shows that current immigrants are assimilating as well as or better than previous generations.

Some Americans are concerned that immigrants are more inclined to support leftist views. However, like Americans, a plurality of immigrants identify as independent. Although immigrants tend to lean Democrat when they must choose between the two parties, this is primarily due to the Republican Party’s anti-immigration stance.

When it comes to specific policy issues, immigrants, like Americans, tend to align with the moderate position like the rest of America. For example, immigrants do not disproportionately support a larger welfare state, as Republicans claim. A Cato Institute study shows that 1st generation non-citizens and naturalized immigrants hold similar moderate policy positions as native citizens.

Myth #2: Illegal Immigrants Hurt our Economy and Steal our Jobs

The economic benefits of immigration, both legal and illegal, are vast. Immigrants fill shortages in the job market and pay taxes.

Some immigration opponents claim that they are a drain on government programs. However, research shows that immigrants contribute more in taxes than they receive in government benefits. Although the variables are too ambiguous to have a definite answer on whether they have a positive or negative impact on government spending, the positive economic benefits are unambiguous.

Since 2012, Mexican workers have been leaving the U.S. at a higher rate than they are arriving. This drop in Mexican immigration has had a negative effect on our economy. The National Association of Homebuilders estimated that the number of unfilled construction jobs in the U.S. almost doubled between 2014 and 2016.

The lack of available talent to fill these jobs has led to increased construction costs and depressed home building. Allowing only 5,000 working visas for foreign immigrants seeking lower-skilled jobs year-round makes it difficult to find legal workers.

Five years ago, 53 percent of skilled-trade workers were more than 45 years old, and nearly 20 percent were aged 55-64. The skilled-trade workforce continues to increase. Trump's plan for stronger immigration restrictions and deportations will only exacerbate labor shortage problems in the skilled trades.

Myth #3: Immigrants are Criminals and Terrorist

Research shows immigrants and illegal immigrants are less likely to be criminals than the native-born. Immigration surged in the 1990s as the crime rate plummeted. In fact, higher immigration can correlate with lower crime rates, because an influx of low-crime immigrants added to the population creates a lesser chance to encounter a criminal.

The dramatic decrease in crime in Buffalo is a good example. In the run-down areas of west side Buffalo where Bangladeshi immigrants arrived, crime fell by 70%. Denise Beehag of the International Institute of Buffalo told NPR that immigrants, “were pretty much the only group that was moving into the west side of Buffalo.”

Also, immigration is not affecting the likelihood of being attacked by terrorist. Your chance of being murdered by anyone is 1 in 14,000. A Cato study found that over the last 41 years, your chances of being killed by a foreigner in a terrorist attack are 1 in 3.6 million per year. The chance of being murdered in an attack committed by an illegal immigrant is much less likely, 1 in 10.9 billion.

You are more likely to win the lottery (1 in 258.9 million) or die in a plane crash (1 in 11 million) than be murdered in a terrorist attack by an illegal immigrant.

Anti-immigration policies are based on myths about immigrants and their contributions to our country. We cannot claim to be the land of the free by closing our borders to those seeking to improve their lives by economically serving ours.

Brenden Weber

Brenden Weber
Brenden Weber is a recent graduate of the University of Iowa, with a degree in political science and a minor in philosophy. He has worked for various non-profit organization and is the founder and editor of Libertarian Reports. Follow him on Twitter @brendenweber3.
This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

Argentina Already Tried Trumponomics

Try to think of a country that elected a populist president: someone who wanted to boost manufacturing jobs, insists that domestically-sold products should be made domestically, and threatens to use tariffs to shut off foreign competition. How would that work out?

I am, of course, referring to President Cristina Kirchner of Argentina, not President Donald Trump.

It’s too soon for Trump to have implemented his economic plans, but we can see how Trumponomics will work by looking southwards to Argentina. It is a portent of the doom that awaits us.

Argentine Protectionism

President Kirchner pushed through laws mandating that certain items sold in Argentina must be made there. Presumably, if you try to sell a foreign made product at market value then the strong arm of the Argentine state will use violent force against you, including deadly force if necessary, similar to how Eric Garner was slain by the state for selling untaxed tobacco. That is the Trumponomics promise.

For one example, the Argentine law mandated that cell phones be built domestically. Imports faced a 35% tariff, exactly the same amount Trump has suggested would work for America. How did this turn out?

Results

As should be a surprise to no one, Apple completely pulled out of Argentina. This doesn’t mean Argentines can’t have the latest Apple gadgets since, of course, banning something never makes it go away: agorist-supplied black market iPhones now go for the bargain price of $3,500.

But some cell phone makes stayed. Remember BlackBerry? It’s the company that remained on the cutting edge of 20th-century technology, supplying the highest end 1999’s era communications gadgets while Apple was rolling out the iPhone. This eidos of mediocrity saw a Trumpian opportunity to keep their beacon of failure burning brightly.

They opened a factory on the tip of South America near Antartica where the manufacturing cost was 20 times more expensive than Mexico. The Argentine factories were so slow and inefficient that the fastest they could get models out was two years behind the Mexican-made product line, making the black market BlackBerries from Mexico leaps and bounds better than what could be purchased legally.

Naturally, keeping the superios Mexican BlackBerries from crossing the Argentine border was about as ineffectual as keeping Mexican Marijuana from crossing the US border.

It’s worth noting at this point a hidden cost to society to enforce all this economic destruction: the border and customs agents. I’m sure the Argentine taxpayers were forced to fund an army of well-paid agents doing an ineffectual job at preventing Argentines from enjoying low cost Mexican electric goods!

Muh Jobs!

Maybe I’m being unfair. The promise of Trumponomics isn’t lower cost goods. The promise is jobs. Did it live up to its promise in Argentina?

In a word: no.

With all the black market BlackBerries crossing the border, legal sales of the BlackBerry crashed until all the factories closed up. This happened within two years of the first Argentinian BlackBerry coming to market. The end result was higher prices, worse products, a lower standard of living, and massive job losses. So much for all those jobs the government promised!

So that’s Trumponomics in a nutshell: economic recession, unemployment, cell phones north of $1,000, and still no iPhones. But at least President Kirchner didn’t bankrupt Argentina by building a giant futile wall along its border.
Republished from Libertas.Liberty.Me.


David Libertas
David Libertas is a writer for Libertas.Liberty.me.
This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

The Shotgun Marriages Forced on Breweries

Relationships should be built upon voluntary choice, promoting mutual respect and mutually beneficial outcomes. In these unions, both parties are better off with each other than they are alone. Voluntary relationships can create tremendous value to this world; however, these only exist when parties are free to associate, finding cooperation at the right time, place, and manner.

If this makes perfect sense in personal relationships, why is there a disconnect when we think about business relationships, such as between breweries and distributors? More specifically, why does North Carolina impose a distribution cap on local brewers?

Forced Affiliation

North Carolina law forces brewers to hand over 100 percent of their distribution rights to a third party once they produce 25,000 barrels.

In a voluntary market, breweries frequently find themselves in need of distribution services outside of their own capacity. Breweries may be growing too fast for their self-distribution efforts, they may be unfamiliar to a new market, or decide they can cut costs by using a third party.

Other entrepreneurs see this opportunity and offer their expertise in distribution, competing against other distributors to help solve the problems that breweries confront. Often forgotten, in a voluntary market, distributors are also competing with the breweries’ right to say “no” and keep distribution in-house.

Forcing relationships between breweries and distributors makes at least one party in the relationship worse off. But that is exactly what North Carolina has mandated upon brewers via multiple antiquated regulations. Wholesaler and big-beer company lobbyists are using the law to benefit themselves at the expense of smaller brewers and consumers. These groups have framed the debate, pitting what should be two mutually beneficial parties against each other.

Lobbyists and legislators have utilized adversarial tactics to make brewers and distributors look as if they are at war with each other. There really is no other outcome if policy continues to use the strong arm of the government to penalize and take away the rights of brewers to self-distribute their product over 25,000 barrels.

Relationships in which one party benefits only at the expense of the other party are usually called “zero-sum.” A zero-sum mentality fails to see how both parties benefit from voluntary interactions.

Absent coercion, zero-sum relationships rarely if ever exist. If one party were to suffer or be made worse off in a relationship, then it wouldn’t happen or it would quickly end. Mistakes are made and bad things do happen, though in a voluntary market there are always choices elsewhere.

It’s “Greedy” to Control Your Own Creation

In addition to self-distribution, there are many other liquor- and beer-related laws in need of reconsideration. As it stands now, breweries have few rights if they make a mistake when forced to pick a distributor. Laws supported by the wholesalers make ending a relationship with a distributor either illegal or so expensive the brewer is forced to maintain the inefficient partnership.

Trouble is, no brewer wants to make it look like distributors aren’t wanted. In a free and voluntary market, the two industries can benefit tremendously from each other.

However, wholesale union leaders are very happy to make it look like the breweries are the problem. Wholesalers fought raising the alcohol limit cap that passed in 2006. Now they allege that brewers who operate at the 25,000 barrel cap are trying to push out smaller brewers and destroy public health. All because, apparently, it is “greedy” for business owners to sell and market their own creation the way they see fit.

It seems hypocritical to insinuate that another party is controlling or greedy when in fact it’s wholesalers who use government force to push brewers around. And it’s not just in North Carolina. Check out wholesaler claims in FloridaMassachusetts, and Texas over the past few years.

As long as we allow government the power to destroy beneficial relationships, lobbying will go on. It is time for brewers to get their rights back, to choose their own methods of distribution. Then, once the government is out of the way, distributors and brewers can finally find the relationship they are looking for, at the right time for both, ensuring our beer is made and distributed by a happy marriage–not one born of cheap political tricks.
Reprinted from Opportunity Lives.
Greg Pulscher

Greg Pulscher
Greg Pulscher is a contributor for Opportunity Lives and works for the Civitas Institute. Hear more from Greg on his weekly podcast Free to Brew, available on Stitcher and iTunes, or follow him on Facebook.
This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

PHOTOS: Fights erupt at pro-Trump rally

Pro-trump participant John Vander Loop reaches in to pull down a sign held by anti-trump protesters as the two sides clash during a pro-trump rally in Huntington Beach, California, U.S., March 25, 2017. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon

Pro Trump demonstrators pretend to put hand cuffs on a fellow demonstrator dressed as Hillary Clinton during a beach rally in support of U.S. President Donald Trump in Huntington Beach, California, U.S., March 25, 2017. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon

Police detain anti-Trump demonstrators during a pro Trump rally in support of U.S. President Donald Trump at Huntington Beach, California, U.S., March 25, 2017. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon

Police detain anti-Trump demonstrators during a pro Trump rally in support of U.S. President Donald Trump at Huntington Beach, California, U.S., March 25, 2017. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon

Demonstrators send off white doves from the beach as they protest in support of U.S. President Donald Trump during a rally in Hunginton Beach, California, U.S., March 25, 2017. REUTERS/Patrick Fallon

Demonstrators protest at the beach in support of U.S. President Donald Trump during a rally in Huntington Beach, California, U.S., March 25, 2017. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon

Demonstrators send off white doves from the beach as they protest in support of U.S. President Donald Trump during a rally in Huntington Beach, California, U.S., March 25, 2017. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon

A pro-Trump rally participant is punched in the face by an anti-Trump protester as the two sides clash at a Pro-Trump rally in Huntington Beach, California, U.S., March 25, 2017. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon

A pro-Trump rally participant is punched in the face by an anti-Trump protester as the two sides clash at a Pro-Trump rally in Huntington Beach, California, U.S., March 25, 2017. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon

A pro-Trump rally participant is punched in the face by an anti-Trump protester as the two sides clash at a Pro-Trump rally in Huntington Beach, California, U.S., March 25, 2017. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon

Pro-Trump rally participants mix with Anti-Trump protester as the two sides clash during a Pro-Trump rally in Huntington Beach, California, U.S., March 25, 2017. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon

Pro-Trump participant John Vander Loop reaches in to pull down a sign held by Anti-Trump protesters as the two sides clash during a Pro-Trump rally in Huntington Beach, California, U.S., March 25, 2017. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon
Pro-Trump rally participants grab an Anti-Trump protester as the two sides clash during a Pro-Trump rally in Huntington Beach, California, U.S., March 25, 2017. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon


By Patrick T. Fallon

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (Reuters) - Supporters of President Donald Trump holding a rally on a popular southern California beach clashed with counter-protesters on Saturday and four people were arrested, law enforcement said.

Multiple fights broke out and at least one Trump supporter was doused with pepper spray when pro-Trump demonstrators marching along Bolsa Chica State Beach encountered a small group opposed to the Republican president who had gathered to denounce the rally.

Four counter-protesters were arrested, three for illegal use of pepper spray and one for assault and battery, Kevin Pearsall, a spokesman for the California State Parks Police said on Saturday evening.

The fights appeared to start in the early afternoon when around a dozen anti-Trump protesters dressed in all black refused to move from a bike path to allow a larger group of pro-Trump supporters taking part in the Make America Great Again rally to pass. The confrontation escalated into a fight with more skirmishes quickly breaking out.

At least one person was pepper-sprayed by an anti-Trump protester, Pearsall said. Park police estimated that 2,000 Trump supporters flocked to the stretch of coastline located south of the ocean-side community of Huntington Beach. Around 20 counter-protesters attended, Pearsall said.

Known as Surf City, U.S.A., Huntington Beach is located some 40 miles (64 km) south of Los Angeles.

Video footage from social media uploaded to the Los Angeles Times' website showed a chaotic scene with men fighting in the sand and a group of around 20 Trump supporters, some carrying Trump flags, chasing a man in a black mask away from the beach and on to a freeway. The man was stopped by members of the California Highway Patrol, the newspaper said.

The masked man had used pepper spray on a female rally organizer and was set upon by a group of Trump supporters, the newspaper reported.

Demonstrations denouncing the Trump administration have drawn hundreds of thousands since he took office in January. Smaller rallies have been staged across the country in support of Trump.

On Saturday, Trump praised his supporters.

"Thanks you for all of the Trump Rallies today. Amazing support. We will all MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!" He said in a message on Twitter.



 (Reporting by Patrick T. Fallon; Writing by Timothy Mclaughlin; Editing by Sandra Maler)

Two thirds of cancers caused by random genetic mistakes: U.S. study

By Julie Steenhuysen

CHICAGO (Reuters) - About two thirds of cancers are caused by random typos in DNA that occur as normal cells make copies of themselves, a finding that helps explain why healthy individuals who do everything they can to avoid cancer are still stricken with the disease, U.S. researchers said on Thursday.

"These cancers will occur no matter how perfect the environment," said Dr. Bert Vogelstein, a cancer geneticist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore whose study was published in the journal Science.

The new findings are based on genetic sequencing and cancer studies from 69 countries around the world. They follow a controversial 2015 study published in Science by the same researchers at Johns Hopkins that looked just at cancers in the United States.

That study, by Vogelstein and mathematician Cristian Tomasetti, asserted that random DNA mistakes accounted for a lot more of the risk of developing cancer than previously thought. The finding caused an outcry from cancer experts, who have traditionally held that most cancers were caused by preventable lifestyle and environmental factors or inherited genetic defects.

Although most people know about the hereditary and environmental causes of cancer, such as smoking, few appreciate the risk from random mistakes that occur each time a normal cell divides and copies its DNA into two new cells, Tomasetti said.

Such mistakes are "a potent source of cancer mutations that historically have been scientifically undervalued," Tomasetti said in a statement.

The new work offers the first estimate of what proportion of cancers are caused by these random mistakes. To get there, the team developed a mathematical model using DNA sequencing data from The Cancer Genome Atlas and disease data from the Cancer Research UK database, looking specifically at mutations that drive aberrant cell growth in 32 different cancer types.

Although there was variation within specific cancers, overall, the researchers estimated that 66 percent of mutations in these cancers resulted from copying errors, 29 percent were caused by lifestyle and environmental factors, and the remaining 5 percent were inherited.

Although most of these mutations cannot be prevented, the team stressed that early detection and treatment can prevent many cancer deaths, regardless of the cause.

Though most cancers are due to bad luck, people should not ignore sound public health advice that can help people avoid preventable cancers, including maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding environmental risk factors such as smoking, the team said.



 (Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen; Editing by Leslie Adler)

Venezuela's Maduro asks UN to help ease medicine shortages

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro (C) speaks during a meeting with doctors and ministers in Caracas, Venezuela March 15, 2017. Miraflores Palace/Handout
CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Friday he has asked the United Nations to help the South American nation alleviate medicine shortages, which have become increasingly severe as the oil-producing nation's economic crisis accelerates.

Triple digit inflation and a decaying socialist economic model have left medications ranging from simple anti-inflammatory drugs to chemotherapy medication out of reach for most Venezuelans.

Maduro did not specify the type of aid he requested, although he stressed that the U.N. has knowledge of the pharmaceutical industry.

"I have asked them for support to continue making permanent progress in the regularization of medicines for hospitals," he said.

Maduro earlier on Friday met with Jessica Faieta, Assistant Administrator and Director of the U.N. Development Program, according to state television.

The Venezuelan Pharmaceuticals Federation estimates some 85 percent of drugs are unavailable to the country's citizens.

Maduro often blames the deteriorating economy and widespread shortages of goods on an "economic war" led by opposition politicians with the help of the United States.

Critics say the problems are the result of dysfunctional price and currency controls that have decimated private industry.



 (Reporting by Deisy Buitrago, Writing by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)

4 Ways to Know If An Opportunity Is Worth Your Time

Sometimes life is just a bunch of decisions being thrown your way. We’ve all been presented with opportunities we weren’t sure if we should take. It could be something small, like a university course or an evening networking event. Or it could be something huge, like a risky job at a startup, a chance at a new career path, or even a chance to travel the world.

The decision tree below will help you in those times when you’re not sure if you should take on something new. But, before that, here are 4 principles to deciding if an opportunity is worth your time:

1. When you’re just starting out, do everything.

Derek Sivers tells the story of when he was 18 and just starting out as a musician. His bandmate was offered a gig to play at a pig show which he turned down (because it’s a pig show…) but Derek said yes because it was a paying gig! It only paid $75, which basically broke even after the bus ticket he bought to get out the gig.

The booking agent was impressed and one gig led to another. Eventually, the agent got him into a circus where he worked for the next 10 years. The pig show opportunity was worthless in itself but when you’re just starting out, there’s no opportunity cost! There’s nothing you’re sacrificing to say yes because you’ve got nothing else.

Here’s a piece of advice from Derek:
So I said yes to everything, which is gonna come up later with the “hell yeah or no” thing, but I think it’s a really smart to switch strategies. When you’re earlier in your career I think the best strategy is you just say yes to everything, every piddly little gig, you just never know what are the lottery tickets.”
When you’re just starting out, you’re just looking for the lottery tickets. And to increase your chances of finding one, you’ve got to “buy” as many as possible by taking advantage of every single opportunity.

2. Just do it.

When you know what you want, and you’ve got something standing in your way that you’ve just got to do to continue your journey, just do it. There’s no decision there.

You’re not at a crossroads, you’re on a single path with an obstacle in your way. For example, if you want to be a lawyer, you’ve got to take the LSATs. There’s no decision about whether it’s worth your time, or other things you could be doing to get you closer to achieving your dreams. There’s only the one thing to do, the LSATs, and there’s no getting around that.

3. If you don’t know what you want to do, do everything.

I’ve written about this in an earlier post, Creating Dots: How To Find Ourselves. We figure out what we want to do or be, by doing and being. When you don’t know what to do, you’ll figure it out by going out there and doing everything that life throws your way. Even things you’re hesitant about. Even things that are completely out of your comfort zone. It's the cumulation of those experiences where you’ll learn what you like and don’t like, what’s important to you, and what you want to spend your time doing.

4. Don't close doors.

We change our minds often. Every new experience and every piece of information that we consume shapes us a little bit and sometimes, we just decide that we want something completely different. Remember all those amazing career goals you had in elementary school? You’ve probably changed your mind since then. You may have even changed your mind about what you want from life since a year ago. Knowing that we tend to change our minds and prove ourselves wrong, it’s best to keep as many doors open as possible.

If you’re given the choice between closing a door shut, or keeping it open, always keep it open. Even if you think you’ll never go through it, you never know. Why give it up if you don’t need to?



Reprinted from The Ascent.

Jess Chan

Jess Chan

Jess Chan is a digital marketer who is in love with good design. She believes that life is about adding value however you can.


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Flashback: Donald Is in Denial about Social Security

In the Republican debate last week, CNN’s Dana Bash pressed the candidates on how they would deal with Social Security. Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz gave solid answers, explaining that the system was headed toward insolvency, suggesting ways to slow spending growth, and scolding candidates who denied the need for cost-saving reforms. 

One of the candidates in denial is Donald Trump. He said, “And it’s my absolute intention to leave Social Security the way it is. Not increase the age and to leave it as is.” Trump is a smart man, who presumably understands accounting, so either he hasn’t bothered to examine the finances of the government’s largest program, or he is willfully providing a false narrative about it.

The chart below compares Social Security and defense spending in real 2016 dollars, including Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projections going forward. For decades, the two programs have vied for the title of the government’s largest, but the battle is now over. Social Security spending has soared far above defense spending, and it will keep on soaring without reforms.

Defense is a “normal” program, with spending fluctuating up and down over the years in real, or inflation-adjusted, dollars. But Social Security has taken off like a rocket, and it is consuming more taxpayer resources every year. The government spent the same amount on defense and Social Security in 2008, but it will be spending twice as much on the latter program by 2023.

When the next president enters office in 2017, he will start planning his 2018 budget. In that year, Social Security will become the first trillion-dollar program, and it will be gobbling up an additional $60 billion or so every single year.

Where will all the money come from? Pointing only to “waste, fraud, and abuse,” as Trump does, wastes our time, abuses our intelligence, and is a fraudulent story line to peddle.


Data notes: CBO baseline projections to 2026, then real defense spending assumed fixed after that, while real Social Security spending is assumed to increase at the same rate as CBO projects for 2026 (3.8 percent). For ways to cut Social Security, visit DownsizingGovernment.org, where a version of this post first appeared.


Chris Edwards

Chris Edwards

Chris Edwards is the director of tax policy studies at Cato and editor of DownsizingGovernment.org.


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5 Tips for the Young and Unemployed

Most of the career advice young people receive today is staggeringly bad. We’re told to take out large amounts of student debt (an average of 35k) to get a degree, apply for jobs at tons of different companies, and spend all our time making sure our resume has the right format.

We’ve spent the last 4 years in school usually accumulating nothing but theory and developing few skills that make us competitive in the job market.

I was lucky enough to avoid most of this. I left college early and never had anyone fill my head with stale career advice. Over the last few years, I’ve figured out a few simple things that will help you land more opportunities than you know what to do with.

Once you know them, your life will change forever. Not only will your standard job be easier to get, you’ll also have more control over the kind of work you do and when, and where you do it.

1. You need a value proposition, not a resume.

Most applicants make the job application process all about them. It’s all about their skills, their interests, their achievements, and their goals. They never ask themselves the only question that matters which is “how can I create value for this employer? What does this employer need to justify hiring me?”

Consider two people who apply to a job. Person A has a resume that lists off his academic achievements, his internships, and some random professional “skills.”

Person B has something different. He spend a few hours thinking through what he wanted to do for the company in question and how he could create value. He put together a one page document outlining a list of deliverables for him to work on during his first 30 days on the job and why he thinks they’ll justify the salary the company is offering.

Who do you think gets the job?

Here’s a simple value proposition template that you can adapt for your own purposes.

2. You should consider working for free.

Most young people are so obsessed with getting a good salary right after they graduate that they price themselves out of the market early. When you’re young and inexperienced though, one of the only things you have to offer competitively in the hiring process is your pay rate.

When I dropped out of college, I figured out that I could get tons of opportunities that would otherwise be closed to me by simply offering to do the job in question for free for the first month or two until I could prove that I was worth paying.

If you’re scared about being exploited, here’s the thing: employers are scared too. They’re terrified of hiring the wrong person because it can cost them tens of thousands of dollars in lost time and expenses and it may be really hard to fire you.

Free work is an easy way to get your foot in the door. Just set a fixed amount of time where you’ll let them get to know and trust you. Once you’ve proven your value, you’ll get paid.

This can pretty much guarantee you an opportunity over other college graduates.

3. You should look outside of college career fairs.

Oftentimes the best opportunities, and incidentally the easiest ones to get, come from businesses that you’d never see doing any traditional recruiting.

The truth is that most companies can’t afford the time and money it costs to recruit on campus. College students get funneled to the same opportunities and those opportunities thus become highly competitive.

You can sidestep all of this by applying to any one of the tens of thousands of small businesses and startups around the country.

The other reason to do this is that, at smaller companies, you’ll often have the chance to get to know the owner and executive team more closely. Interacting with them regularly and seeing how they do their jobs can have a huge payoff in terms of skill development and building a professional network.

4. Choose People, Not Companies

Instead of searching for the most prestigious brand names to apply to, consider instead who you’ll be working with. An opportunity to work with a founder or a CEO of a small unknown company will help you grow much faster than being a compartmentalized cog at a larger firm.

You learn from people, and it’s people who will push you into bigger and better opportunities. When I started my career I was fortunate to work with a number of successful entrepreneurs who played huge roles in my development as a professional. I simply could not have gotten this if I’d taken a standard career path.

5. You don’t need to know what you want to do in life now.

Lastly, don’t stress too much. In all likelihood, your first job will not limit your options later in life. Your goal should be to get real world work experience and to develop transferable skills. That’s it.

The best way to learn what you want to do is to get out and start doing things. Through that process you’ll slowly start to see what interests you and what doesn’t, what you’re good at and what you aren’t good at, and where those two things intersect.

More and more the world is rewarding, not those following a conveyor belt path, but those who jump around and tackle multiple, diverse fields and industries throughout their career.

Want More?

If you found this article valuable and want to learn more, I’m always available to connect. You can find me on Facebook, my blog, and the Praxis website.

Derek Magill

Derek Magill

Derek Magill is a college dropout, marketer, business strategist and career expert. He is currently the Director of Marketing at Praxis and has consulted with companies such as Voice & Exit, the Foundation for Economic Education, Glockstore, Colliers International, Daily Caller, and Undertech.
Derek is the author of How to Get Any Job You Want.


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Retirement Is Nobody’s Business but Your Own

As someone who works around a lot of economists in Washington, DC, I am privy to a lot of big talk about the problem of retirement policy. The overwhelming consensus among the learned is that Americans, as a group, aren’t saving enough money for retirement, and that if we can gather sufficiently clever people in a room, we can figure out a way to coerce, trick, or otherwise induce workers to be more responsible with their incomes.

I tend to be the odd man out in these meetings: my contribution is generally the radical proposition that we leave people alone and let them make their own choices.

People aren’t saving enough? How absurd. How much is enough, and who comes up with that number? Like most attempts at social engineering, this one appears to only work in one direction.  Curious that no one ever laments when someone saves too much, and dies with an unspent fortune. If there is a “correct” amount of saving, than it would be logical to assume that it’s just as possible to exceed it as to fall short, yet it would appear that the “correct” amount of saving has a lower bound, but not an upper one.

The overriding assumption in these talks is that people are irrational and short sighted, and that if they had as much knowledge and intelligence as economists, they would save more. Okay, maybe this is the case for some people (although I agree with Ludwig von Mises that the concept of irrational action is a contradiction in terms), but shouldn’t we stop and consider that people make their financial decisions for a reason?


People Differ

Some people may have short life expectancies, and want to use their money while they can still enjoy it. If a worker expects to die by the age of 65 due to medical conditions or lifestyle choices, can we really call it rational for him to save enough money to sustain a lengthy retirement?

Some people have urgent needs in the present, that outweigh their potential needs in the future. If you have bills to pay today, it’s hard to see how forcing you to pay into a retirement account at the expense of making a mortgage payment or keeping up with the electric bills would make you better off.

Some people expect to make much more money in the future than they do now, and choose to defer their retirement savings for when they will be able to afford it.

Some people simply prefer present consumption to future consumption, and that is their right. Time preferences are personal, and no one can say that there is anything wrong with prioritizing the present over the future, whatever the reason may be.

Now, to be fair, much of the concern over retirement policy arises due to the fact that in our current system, taxpayers are frequently compelled to bear the burden of those who fail to adequately plan for their old age. This is indeed an injustice, but pointing that out is not an indictment of individual decision-making, but rather of a system that forces some people to pay for other people’s choices.

Instead of trying to control what workers do with their own money, it would make far more sense to make individuals bear the costs of their own actions, which would have the additional effect of increasing the incentives for saving. When you know that the government isn’t going to bail you out, you tend to be a little more cautious in how you manage your money.

I have a radical idea for retirement policy. Let’s allow people to keep their own money, make their own decisions, and get government out of the business of telling people how to save. After all, your retirement should be nobody’s business but your own.

Logan  Albright

Logan Albright

Logan Albright is the Director of Research at Free the People. Logan was the Senior Research Analyst at FreedomWorks, and was responsible for producing a wide variety of written content, research for staff media appearances, and scripts for video production. Logan also managed the research and interviews with congressional candidates used for endorsements by FreedomWorks PAC. He received his Master’s degree in economics from Georgia State University in 2011, before promptly setting out for DC to fight for liberty. 



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One Bill Could Massively Improve Access to Lifesaving Drugs

Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) have just introduced a bill that would implement an idea that I have long championed: making drugs, devices, and biologics that are approved in other developed countries also approved for sale in the United States.

Highlights of the “Reciprocity Ensures Streamlined Use of Lifesaving Treatments Act (S. 2388), or the RESULT Act,” include:
  • Amending the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act to allow for reciprocal approval of drugs, devices and biologics from foreign sponsors in certain trusted, developed countries including EU member countries, Israel, Australia, Canada and Japan.
  • Encouraging the FDA to expeditiously review life-saving drug and device applications, this legislation would provide the FDA with a 30-day window to approve or deny a sponsor’s application….
  • The HHS Secretary is instructed to approve a drug, device or biologic if the FDA confirms the product is:
    • Lawfully approved for sale in one of the listed countries;
    • Not a banned device by current FDA standards;
    • There is a public health or unmet medical need for the product.
  • If a promising application for a life-saving drug is declined Congress is granted the authority to disapprove of a denied application and override an FDA decision with a majority vote via a joint resolution.
In explaining why he introduced the bill, Senator Cruz argued:

We continue to lose far too many of our loved ones to the “invisible graveyard,” as economist Alex Tabarrok has described: lives that could have been saved but for a bureaucratic barrier that rejects medical cures and innovation…

The bill I am introducing takes the first step to reverse this trend. It provides for reciprocal drug approval, so that cures and medical devices that are already approved in other countries can more expeditiously come to the U.S.

Alex Tabarrok

Alex Tabarrok

Alex Tabarrok is a professor of economics at George Mason University. He blogs at Marginal Revolution with Tyler Cowen.


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Why One-Size-Fits-All Infrastructure Spending Doesn't Work

On the campaign trail, Donald Trump promised to spend twice as much on infrastructure as whatever Hillary Clinton was proposing, which at the time was $275 billion. Doubling down again in a speech after winning the election, Trump now proposes to spend a trillion dollars on infrastructure over the next ten years.

President Obama had proposed to fix infrastructure with an infrastructure bank, though just where the bank would get its money was never clear (actually, it was perfectly clear: the taxpayers). Trump’s alternative plan is for the private sector, not taxpayers, to spend the money, and to encourage them he proposes to offer tax credits for infrastructure projects. He says this would be “revenue neutral” because the taxes paid by people working on the infrastructure would offset the tax breaks. In short, Trump is proposing tax credits in lieu of an infrastructure bank as a form of economic stimulus.

America’s infrastructure needs are not nearly as serious as Trump thinks. Throwing a trillion dollars at infrastructure, no matter how it is funded, guarantees that a lot will be spent on unnecessary things. As Harvard economist Edward Glaeser recently pointed out in an article that should be required reading for Trump’s transition team, just calling something “infrastructure” doesn’t mean it is worth doing or that it will stimulate economic growth.

Three Kinds of Infrastructure

Infrastructure more or less falls into three categories, and Trump’s one-size-fits-all plan doesn’t work very well for any of them. First is infrastructure that pays for itself, such as the electrical grid. Private companies and public agencies are already taking care of this kind, so if Trump’s plan applied to them, they would get tax credits for spending money they would have spent anyway. That’s not revenue neutral.

The second kind of infrastructure doesn’t pay for itself. Rail transit is a good example, and this tends to be the infrastructure that is in the worst shape. It won’t suddenly become profitable just because someone gets a tax credit, so under Trump’s plan it will continue to crumble.

The third kind of infrastructure consists of facilities that could pay for themselves but don’t because they are government owned and politicians are too afraid of asking users to pay. Local roads fit into this category. Simply creating tax credits doesn’t solve that problem either. 

Trump may think that local governments and transportation agencies will jump at the chance to borrow money from private investors to fix infrastructure, and then repay that money out of whatever tax sources they use to fund that infrastructure. But those government agencies can already sell tax-free bonds at very low interest rates. It isn’t clear how taxable bonds issued by private investors who get tax credits are going to be any more economical.

Most public-private partnerships for projects that have no revenue stream are entered into by the public party to get around some borrowing limitation. If the infrastructure spending is really necessary, it makes more sense to simply raise that borrowing limit than to create a byzantine financial structure that, Trump imagines, will have the same effect.

In short, whether funded by municipal tax-free bonds or taxable private bonds, those bonds will ultimately have to be repaid by taxpayers. We know from long experience that politicians are more likely to ask taxpayers to pay for new projects than maintenance of existing projects, and Trump’s plan will do nothing to change that.

The problem with a top-down solution such as Trump’s proposal is that one size doesn’t fit all. Different kinds of infrastructure have different kinds of needs, and the financial solution will be different for each one. Trump’s plan is more likely to result in new construction of pointless projects than whatever maintenance is needed for existing infrastructure.

Fortunately, a lot of people know this, so there is already criticism of Trump’s plan, including from conservatives in Congress. No doubt Trump’s plans will get refined between now and when he actually takes office. The question is whether Trump will realize that bottom-up solutions work better than ones that are top down.

Republished from The Cato Institute.
Randal O’Toole

Randal O’Toole
Randal O’Toole is a Cato Institute Senior Fellow working on urban growth, public land, and transportation issues.
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