Nativists Refuse to Learn from History

Proponents of more restrictions on immigration—legal and illegal—talk a big game, suggesting more penalties for lawbreakers, more assets for the border, and more surveillance for the workforce. These, restrictionists say, will restore the rule of law. Yet while occupying the White House is new for them, the fact is that restrictionists largely dictated U.S. policy until recently. Not only have their ideas failed on their terms, they have backfired, creating more lawlessness than before.

Creating the Problem

Under the Bracero guest worker program, illegal immigration almost vanished.

Before the 1920s, America had no numerical restriction on the number of immigrants, so legal immigrants poured in. As a share of the population, total annual immigration flows were
four times as great then as they are today. Restrictionists—members of the progressive wings of both parties—won the election of 1920 and immediately imposed a numerical cap. This reduced legal immigration by 80 percent, barring immigrants regardless of their health, wealth, or skills.

This fateful decision spawned all of the problems that restrictionists have blamed on their opponents ever since. “While legal immigration has been curbed to the extent that advocates of the new policy expected, that of the illegal—the ‘bootlegging’—kind has probably increased greatly,” the New York Times reported in 1925. “Some officials estimate that immigrants have been coming in clandestinely at a rate of at least 100 a day.”
Border patrols and deportations were increased to stop the flow of unauthorized immigrants, but they had little effect. “I’ve no doubt whatever that the man finally deported is back here,” the Assistant Secretary of Labor told the Times. “Easily 50 per cent of them return.” In July 1929, Congress gave in and provided “amnesty” or citizenship to the undocumented immigrants. Then, the Great Depression dried up demand for workers, temporarily resolving the issue.
When the economy finally picked up again following World War II, illegal immigration returned. This time, Congress opted for a different approach: admit more workers legally. Under the Bracero guest worker program, illegal immigration almost vanished as the number of Braceros soared to almost a half a million in the early 1960s (Figure 1). Apprehended Mexicans were directed to border stations to receive cards to enter legally.
Figure 1: Aliens Apprehended at the Border and Low-Skilled Guest Workers (Braceros & H-2s)

Sources: Border Patrol; INS

But the restrictionists wouldn’t allow the fix to last. Over the vigorous objections from the Border Patrol, they cancelled the program under the guise of protecting U.S. workers. Over the next decade, the entire legal flow (and then some) was replaced with immigrants entering illegally. By the 1980s, over a million people were crossing the border each year. 

A Parade of Phony Solutions 

If enforcement efforts had remained at pre-1986 levels, there would have been 5.3 million fewer net undocumented entries.”

Restrictionists refused to accept responsibility for this chaos and demanded a new law to restrict the flow and fine employers who failed to check workers’ IDs. In 1986, President Ronald Reagan, who believed in more open legal immigration,
signed the law, while extracting a legalization concession for unauthorized immigrants.

But the law backfired. Before 1986, workers—first as legal guests or later as illegal migrants—would return home at the end of each harvest, and as Figure 2 shows, the total illegal population in the country grew only very slowly throughout the decade. (The drop after 1986 occurred due to the legalization.) But with more border guards, it became too risky and costly to circulate each year. Instead of not coming at all, immigrants came and built their lives here. “If enforcement efforts had remained at pre-1986 levels,”
concluded Princeton University’s Douglas Massey, “there would have been 5.3 million fewer net undocumented entries.”

Figure 2: Unauthorized Immigrant Population and Number of Border Patrol Agents

Sources: Warren and Passel (1980); Census Bureau (14 and up only, 1983); Congerssional Research Service (1986-1988); Pew Research Center (1990-2006); Border Patrol

The illegal population rose as fast as the number of border agents—both tripled between 1986 and 2000 (Figure 2). Not acknowledging their failure, restrictionists tried again, doubling the border agents over the next decade, which brought the level to ten times the amount in 1985. Immigrants continued to enter by the millions and the shadow population hit
12.2 million in 2007. As the cost of each crossing rose, cartels swooped in to capture the smuggling profits.

At the same time, the requirement that employers check IDs only created another black market in fake documents. Ignoring past failure, restrictionists doubled down in 2008, demanding a border fence and pressuring employers to use E-Verify, an employment verification system that checks Social Security numbers against federal databases. Rather than expunging the black market in jobs and documents, E-Verify has only ballooned yet another black market in identities.

Restrictionists have never admitted that their core policy—restricting legal immigration—was the cause of all the others.

Illegal immigration finally nosedived after the housing bubble burst, and the illegal population 
shrunk from 2007 to 2014. Meanwhile, ignoring the restrictionists, the Bush and Obama administration quietly resumed issuing many more work visas to Mexican workers. The result has been that just as many people were entering from Mexico in 2016 as in 2006, but most of them were doing so legally.
The Trump administration might want to undo this progress. With each new failure, restrictionists have never admitted that their core policy—restricting legal immigration—was the cause of all the others. Never mind that the Obama administration set records for deportations, it was never enough. Enforcement is the only tool in the restrictionist shed. Their many botched attempts to clean up their own mistakes is proof that they simply cannot fix the problem today.
Republished from The Cato Institute.
David J. Bier
David J. Bier
David J. Bier is an immigration policy analyst at the Cato Institute’s Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity.
This article was originally published on Read the original article.

The DEA Is to Blame for America’s Opioid Overdose Epidemic

Heroin overdose rates doubled in 28 states between 2010 and 2012, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A record-breaking 28,000 Americans died of opioid overdoses in 2014. In 2000, the age-adjusted drug overdose death rate was 6.2 per 100,000 persons. By 2014, it had increased to 9, according to the CDC.

What happened?

The truth is that many of those deaths are completely preventable and result not from painkillers, but from the Drug Enforcement Administration’s war on painkillers.

This week, the Senate is likely to pass the 21st Century Cures Act. Among other things, it allocates $1 billion to help states “combat heroin and painkiller addiction and recovery.” Policymakers would be wise to make sure that states don’t use that $1 billion to make the problem worse.

Who’s Taking Opioids?

Marine corporal Craig Schroeder served in Iraq. In the so-called “Triangle of Death” region, south of Baghdad, a makeshift-bomb explosion left him with traumatic brain injury. Schroeder returned home with a broken foot and ankle and a herniated disc in his back. He suffers from chronic pain in addition to hearing and memory loss.

And the regulations keep coming.

A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that half of all troops who return from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from chronic pain.

This isn’t a new phenomenon. During maneuvers in Germany in 1979, retired Army corporal Mike Davis shattered his left arm from the elbow to the fingertips when he fell from a Pershing missile. He’s needed painkillers ever since.  

Accidents, failed surgery, degenerative conditions, or all of the above can cause chronic pain. It can hit anyone at any time. In an unpublished paper, Dr. Harvey L. Rose told the story of a 28-year-old man with persistent leg pain caused by a work accident that lumbar disc surgery couldn’t fix. Rose also treated a 78-year-old woman left with chronic back pain after surgery for degenerative cervical disk disease didn’t work.

Forcing Users into the Black Market

The Drug Enforcement Administration actively prevents patients from getting the prescription painkillers they need. It started in the 1970s, when the DEA’s reporting requirements made many doctors decide to stop prescribing painkillers altogether. Why go through the hassle of ordering triplicate forms and turning them over to the government? Many others stopped out of fear. The DEA sent armed men to arrest Ronald Blum, associate director of New York University's Kaplan Comprehensive Cancer Center. It turned out he’d done nothing wrong, other than accidentally filling out his forms incorrectly. That mistake cost him $10,000 in legal fees.

Even in 1973, pain undertreatment was endemic, according to Psychiatrists Richard M. Marks and Edward J. Sachar, writing in the February Annals of Internal Medicine.

And the regulations keep coming. In 2015, the DEA decided to require patients to see their doctor, in person, every month in order to get refills for hydrocodone-based medicine. Earlier this year the CDC released guidelines that discourage clinicians from prescribing opioids. The agency recommended doctors prescribe the “lowest effective dose” and “no greater quantity than needed.”

The Black Market Solution

Opioids work by mimicking chemicals our brains produce naturally. The problem for long-term users is that the brain stops producing them if it doesn’t have to. Stopping medication leaves  sufferers “constantly sore, sensitive to pain, depressed, fatigued but unable to sleep,” according to Siegel.

Thanks to the DEA, men and women who lost limbs serving in Iraq and Afghanistan are needlessly entering withdrawal.

Chronic pain sufferers who can’t get their medication experience withdrawal symptoms that “feel like a panic attack and the flu at the same time,” according to the Washington Post.

Going without painkillers isn’t an option for many people who need them. Dr. Rose’s 28-year-old patient turned to alcohol and street drugs after his doctor prescribed an antidepressant instead of a painkiller.

He later hanged himself in his garage.

The 78-year-old woman Rose got into her bathtub with an electric mixer after a series of physicians refused to prescribe an effective dose of painkillers. In all she tried to kill herself four times, slashing her wrists and overdosing on Valium and heart medication.

Thanks to the DEA, men and women who lost limbs serving in Iraq and Afghanistan are needlessly entering withdrawal. After the DEA rules change, Schroeder’s VA doctor couldn’t see him for nearly five months. This isn’t unusual. Schroeder spent those months bedridden in crippling pain and opioid withdrawal. Another Iraq vet can’t drive due to shrapnel in his femur and pelvis. Getting his medications requires a monthly two-hour bus ride for “a one-minute consult.”

Patients who can’t find legal opioids because of the DEA turn to heroin and other black market opioids. With legal prescription opioid medication, chronic pain sufferers know their dose. Without accurate labeling, they must estimate their drugs’ purity, which varies according to source. When they guess wrong, they overdose. Even worse, heroin has a smaller margin of error than prescription opioids. Meaning if you guess wrong with heroin, you’re more likely to die.

The CDC suspects that many, if not most, of the people who died of opioid overdoses in 2014 were taking black-market fentanyl. Many drug dealers add fentanyl to heroin without letting users know.
When the CDC reports on opioid deaths, that includes street drugs like heroin and synthetic opioids. Toxicology tests used by coroners and medical examiners can’t distinguish black-market fentanyl and prescription fentanyl. But we do know that there was more of the illegally-manufactured, synthetic opioid-derived fentanyl available in 2014 than in previous years, according to law enforcement reports. This coincided with the 2014 jump in deaths from opioid overdoses.

Yet the DEA keeps patients from getting methadone and buprenorphine treatment.

In addition, we know that patients combine drugs when they can’t get enough painkiller. Combinations of opioids and drugs like alcohol make up 60% of deaths ruled opioid overdoses by the CDC. New York City government data shows that more than 90% of opioid overdose deaths involve mixtures of opioids with other drugs.

The toxicology tests did reveal that almost none of the opioid deaths involved methadone. Methadone and buprenorphine are synthetic and semi-synthetic opioids that are proven to divert patients away from the black market. Whether a person is no longer in chronic pain, doesn’t like the side effects of opioids, or is caught in a lifestyle they don’t enjoy, these drugs safely keep withdrawal symptoms at bay.

The key, again, is dosing. Under close medical supervision, methadone activates your brain’s opioid receptors just enough to prevent withdrawal, but not enough to get the user high.

Zachary Siegel is a MA candidate at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and has been treated for opioid addiction.

“This gives the brain, and most importantly, one’s connection with the world, a chance to rebuild,” Siegel wrote of his experience with the drugs. “Simply put, these medications hydrate a thirsty system. Synthetic and semi-synthetic opioids help stabilize users and stanch these side effects while giving the brain a chance to heal. On these drugs we can work, drive, and behave virtually indistinguishably from ordinary Janes and Joes.”

Yet the DEA keeps patients from getting methadone and buprenorphine treatment. The DEA forbids doctors outside of highly regulated clinics to prescribe these drugs. The DEA meddles in buprenorphine prescriptions to an unprecedented degree. Even in those clinics, only doctors who’ve completed an eight-hour course and applied for a special license from the DEA are legally allowed to prescribe buprenorphine. And even those doctors can only prescribe it to 275 patients. This is all part of why three-quarters of U.S. opioid-use disorder patients don’t get these medicines.

Dependence Isn’t Addiction

Jacob Sullum pointed out that bureaucrats accept “dependence” on heart or cholesterol medicine. Nobody talks about being addicted to Lipitor. But the government is willing to make criminals of people who depend on certain types of painkillers.

This moralizing and dearth of empathy fuels policies that spend tax dollars to make our lives more difficult and painful.

This is nothing new. In 1973, Drs. Marks and Sachar looked at why patients were complaining about pain after doctors gave them medication. They found that, in “virtually every case.” doctors and nurses were under-prescribing pain medication. Further surveys of patients and doctors found "a general pattern of undertreatment of pain with narcotic analgesics, leading to widespread and significant distress." The problem was, and is, that doctors don’t understand the difference between tolerance and physical dependence, causing "excessive and unrealistic concern about the danger of addiction."

An article in a 1993 National Institute on Drug Abuse newsletter said narcotics “are rarely abused when used for medical purposes" and lamented that "thousands of patients suffer needlessly."
“It’s just insulting to the veteran to assume they are abusing these drugs,” Linda Davis said of her husband Mike Davis. “I’m fully aware that people doctor-shop, some docs overprescribe. But I think they need to realize that there’s a real difference between addiction and dependence.” VA patients suffer nearly double the overdoses of the national average, according to a 2011 American Public Health Association study.

This moralizing and dearth of empathy fuels policies that spend tax dollars to “make our lives more difficult and painful,” Sullum wrote.

We Know How to Cure Addiction and Save Lives

If the goal is to prevent overdoses, we already know how to do that.

The data is clear. By making methadone or buprenorphine harder to get, the DEA has caused death, disease, and crime.

A 2015 U.K.-based study found that opioid-dependent patients treated with medication like methadone and buprenorphine were half as likely to die of an overdose within four years as counseling-only patients. Australia found similar results in their 2014 study of opioid-dependent patients leaving prison. Methadone or buprenorphine treatment reduced their risk of overdose death by 75 percent.

The World Health Organization calls methadone or buprenorphine “essential” for keeping people out of the black market for opioids, which besides saving lives, also reduces crime and the spread of infectious diseases. France allowed doctors to prescribe methadone and buprenorphine when they deemed it necessary during the 1995 HIV outbreak. In the years since, France reduced their overdose deaths by 80 percent. Baltimore cut overdose deaths by 66% by 2008 after making methadone or buprenorphine move available in 1995.

The data is clear. By making methadone or buprenorphine harder to get, the DEA has caused death, disease, and crime.

Will this Money Fund More of the Same?

The DEA wants you to think that overprescribing opioids leads to addiction. Even Huffington Post reporters are buying the story, reporting that the pharmaceutical industry has spent billions of dollars over the last decade encouraging doctors to prescribe OxyContin and other opioids. True as that may be, that’s not the reason opioid pain reliever deaths are up.

This causes overdoses. Not only is it intuitively obvious to anyone who bothers to think about it, it’s even backed up by CDC data.

The irony of blaming prescriptions of OxyContin for opioid deaths is twofold. First, opioids are still underprescribed. Jacob Sullum reports that prescription painkiller has declined recently.
Second, opioids are actually safer than most other pharmaceuticals. The most serious common side effect of long-term opioid use? Constipation.

Aggressive DEA enforcement causes opioid underprescribing. This means patients can’t access safe pain medicine. Facing chronic pain and withdrawal, patients take black-market opioids. The reduction in prescription painkiller use has been accompanied by an increase in heroin use.

A 2014 JAMA Psychiatry study found that most young heroin addicts entering treatment had previously been on prescription painkillers, and more than 90% of them switched to heroin because it was cheaper and easier to get.

This causes overdoses. Not only is it intuitively obvious to anyone who bothers to think about it, it’s even backed up by CDC data.

People simply don’t overdose on prescription painkillers under medical supervision. They overdose when they can’t get the medicine they need and turn to the black market for help. The DEA’s efforts to keep chronic pain sufferers from accessing prescription painkillers and methadone is literally  killing them.

And yet lawmakers and reporters keep buying the DEA’s lies that prescription opioids cause overdose deaths. New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen said of the 21st Century Cures Act, “My goal has been trying to get funding to address the heroin and opioid epidemic. And there is significant funding in this bill.” She also supports increasing federal funding “for all aspects of Drug War.”

The 21st Century Cures Act looks likely to pass, with bipartisan support and the Obama administration’s blessing. But if we want to end the opioid overdose epidemic, we don’t actually need to spend $1 billion. We could just abolish the DEA, which would also free up $28 billion.

Think that sounds crazy? Portugal decriminalized heroin, along with every other drug, in 2001.

Check out what happened to their overdose deaths:

In Portugal, three out of a million people die each year by overdosing on any drug. Just as a reminder, each year in America 9 out of every 100,000 people die of an opioid overdose. Sure, decriminalization demonstrably and unambiguously saves lives. But won’t it lead to more drug use?
No. In Portugal after 2001, fewer people reported doing drugs in the past year and the past month. 

New HIV infections are also significantly down.

The other key to preventing overdose deaths is legalizing over-the-counter sales of naloxone nationwide. In the same way that you use an EpiPen to reverse anaphylactic shock, naloxone reverses opioid overdoses. It still requires a prescription in most states and is outright banned in three. We should also make sure people who call the ambulance when their friend overdoses won’t face criminal charges.

Since most opioid-related deaths involve alcohol or other drugs, awareness campaigns about the dangers of combining opioids could help. But more important than teaching people not to combine is giving them access to enough safe drugs that they aren’t tempted to.

The best thing the Trump administration could do to end the overdose epidemic is to stop the war on painkillers. Psychiatrist Jerome H. Jaffe, Richard Nixon's drug czar, himself said, “No patient should ever wish for death because of his physician's reluctance to use adequate amounts of potent narcotics."

Cathy Reisenwitz

Cathy Reisenwitz
Cathy Reisenwitz is a D.C.-based writer. She is Editor-in-Chief of Sex and the State and her writing has appeared in The Week, Forbes, the Chicago Tribune, The Daily Beast, VICE Motherboard, Reason magazine, Talking Points Memo and other publications.

This article was originally published on Read the original article.

13 Essential Books to Shape the Libertarian Worldview

There are books that every libertarian should read and books every libertarian has read, but those circles don’t perfectly overlap. Here are 13 diverse book recommendations for well-rounded thinkers.

Economic Sophisms
– Frederic Bastiat

The great French liberal and economist Frederic Bastiat is best known for his pamphlet The Law — a scathing indictment of the threat that socialism poses to justice and the rule of law. But he produced another great work in Economic Sophisms, a collection of essays meticulously exposing and ridiculing the economic fallacies committed by his fellow deputies in the French National Assembly.

includes his satirical “Petition From the Manufacturers of Candles, Tapers, Lanterns…and Generally of Everything Connected with Lighting” to the French legislature, asking for the government to blot out unfair foreign competition from a cheaper source of light — the sun.

Ahead of his time in many fields, he ruthlessly demolished fallacious arguments for protectionism, socialism, and redistribution with wit, humor, and incisive analysis.

Basic Economics
+ Applied Economics – Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell’s Basic Economics is one of the clearest introductions to the economic way of thinking and how it can be applied to a vast number of real world problems. Don’t be intimidated by its brick-like dimensions — it’s written with common sense and plain English. It’s highly readable and easy to digest in pieces, if you don’t finish it off in one sitting. If you get to the end and want more, don’t worry — you can continue “thinking beyond stage one” with Sowell’s Applied Economics.

Beyond Politics: The Roots of Government Failure
– Randy Simmons

Public Choice is the most important branch of economics for understanding how and why governments work the way they do. Public Choice is essentially the science of political skepticism: using economic analysis to examine how the incentives of democracy guide the decision making of politicians, bureaucrats, voters, and special interests.

Randy Simmons’ Beyond Politics is the best and most accessible survey of Public Choice, explaining in clear and concrete terms just what things government cannot do — and what the consequences are when it tries to do them anyway.

The Problem of Political Authority
– Michael Huemer

In this text, philosopher Michael Huemer exposes the shaky foundations of the most basic premises of government. Carefully tracing the implications of basic moral tenets that nearly everyone accepts, Huemer shows that the authority of the state is a chimera: there is no way to get from the ethical rules that govern how individuals should treat each other to a system that empowers a few people — “the state” — with the privileged moral position to issue coercive commands, while imposing on everyone else the moral duty to obey them. Huemer throws down the gauntlet and challenges the very notion of political authority — and with it, the special standard to which government actions are held.

The Myth of the Rational Voter
– Bryan Caplan

The biggest reason why democracies choose bad policies is not selfishness, corruption, or lobbyists — it’s the voters themselves. Bryan Caplan documents the overwhelming empirical evidence that voters are not just ignorant about the most basic aspects of law, government, and economics, but they are also actively irrational in their preferences. In other words, voters are not just wrong but passionately and systematically wrong.

Worse, Caplan shows that these problems are inherent to the democratic system: voters have no incentive to be rational, well-informed, or coolheaded, and politicians have every reason to stoke prejudice and exploit voters’ ignorance. Limiting the scope of democratic power is the only sure way to limit the damage irrational voters can do.

The Theory of Moral Sentiments
– Adam Smith

Everyone knows Adam Smith’s magisterial work The Wealth of Nations, but his first book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, is essential for laying the ethical, psychological, and sociological groundwork for his later work in economics and philosophy. Today, Adam Smith is frequently demonized as the patron saint of greed and selfishness, but Moral Sentiments shows that Smith had a nuanced and deep understanding of human nature, our drives for virtue and vice, and the spirit and sympathies that help human beings thrive.

This book, published in 1759, was vastly ahead of its time in many fields, foreshadowing later developments in social science, moral philosophy, and social psychology. But it is also packed with deep and practical insights for any student of human nature. If you find Smith a little too daunting on the first attempt, Russ Roberts’ How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life is a short and friendly introduction to some of the insights in Moral Sentiments.

The God of the Machine
– Isabel Paterson

First published in 1943, The God of the Machine was one of four books that emerged in the depths of World War II — along with Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead, F.A. Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom, and Rose Wilder Lane’s The Discovery of Freedom — that launched the modern libertarian movement and helped turn the intellectual tide against collectivism.

At a time when socialism and fascism were conquering whole continents, Paterson set out a defense of individualism, the free market, and limited government that remains powerful and timely to this day. By tracing the role of individual freedom in the rise and fall of civilizations, the book re-centered the discussion of human history on its true subject: the individual.

No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority
– Lysander Spooner

Legal theorist Lysander Spooner wrote this devastating critique of the U.S. Constitution in 1867. It remains one of the most thoughtful and hard-hitting criticisms of the American government and federal power. Spooner illustrates why the Constitution can carry no binding authority as a “contract” among “we the people.” At most, he argued, it could only bind and apply to the people who were actually alive at the time of its adoption, and then only to those who explicitly consented to its adoption. Therefore, breaking away from the union of states is “no treason.”

No Treason
is also one of the most quotable individualist anarchist works. Any anarchist worth his or her salt knows by heart Spooner’s concise indictment of the Constitution: “But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain – that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist.”

Radicals for Capitalism
– Brian Doherty

Radicals for Capitalism
is a weighty tome, summarizing centuries of classical liberal and libertarian history in one book. Reason magazine senior editor Brian Doherty goes to great lengths to capture the varying influences and factions within the broader libertarian movement. This book is an essential part of any collection on American political history, and friends of liberty will find a lot to learn and enjoy in its eyewitness histories and firsthand accounts of the motley crew that created and compose the modern American libertarian movement.

Democracy in America
– Alexis de Tocqueville

Alexis de Tocqueville came to the United States to study prisons for the French government, but he ended up making his most important contributions by studying America’s free society in action. De Toqueville toured the country for nine months, observing how U.S. political, economic, religious, and social institutions worked together to foster human cooperation, and how that process of cooperation led to a thriving social order.

As Daniel J. D’Amico explains, “America’s early and rapid rate of economic development and its functioning social order resulted from a life spring of vibrant civil society. Families, clubs, churches, and various community groups provided early Americans with diverse opportunities to practice the art of association.”

The text, first published in 1835, endures as an influential and insightful account of American society and culture — it has been called the best book ever written about America — but more importantly, it describes the principles underlying social order itself. “In democratic countries the science of association is the mother science,” De Tocqueville wrote, “the progress of all the others depends on the progress of that one.”

The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress
– Robert Heinlein

This novel explores a futuristic society in which a lunar colony revolts against rule from Earth. It is widely regarded as one of the best science fiction novels of all time, but its compelling portrait of a dystopian future and discussion of libertarian ideas make it an essential part of a libertarian bookshelf. Characters in the book range in their politics from self-proclaimed anarchist to would-be authoritarian, and the novel touches on libertarian themes such as spontaneous order, natural law, and individualism. Harsh Mistress would go on to win various awards, including the Hugo Award for best science fiction novel.

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
– Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

“The days rolled by in the camp — they were over before you could say ‘knife.’ But the years, they never rolled by; they never moved by a second.”

In this short novel, Russian author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn lays out — in brutal detail — an ordinary day in the life of one prisoner held in Stalin’s Siberian gulags: the bitter cold, the pervasive hunger, the savage punishments, the powerlessness, despair, and fear. Solzhenitsyn himself spent ten years in the gulag for insulting Stalin, and his own personal experience sharpens the story with heartbreaking detail. Tens of millions were churned through the gulags and slave labor camps in the Soviet Union; more than one million people would die there. Ivan Denisovich helps to humanize an ocean of terror and human suffering that all too easily blurs into a pile of statistics.

This piece ran at the LearnLiberty Blog
Daniel Bier
Daniel Bier
Daniel Bier is the editor of the LearnLiberty blog, and contributing editor of FEE. He writes on issues relating to science, civil liberties, and economic freedom.
This article was originally published on Read the original article.

Global Trade Is Why Your Television Did Not Cost $6,200 Like It Did in 1964

Pictured above are some color TVs from the 627-page 1964 Sears Christmas Catalog, from the Wishbook Web website (no longer available). The original prices are listed ($750 for the Sears Silvertone entertainment center and $800 for the more expensive one), and those prices are also shown converted to today’s 2016 dollars using the BLS Inflation Calculator: $5,800 for the basic 21-inch color TV model and $6,200 for the more expensive model.

To put that in perspective, the pictures below illustrate what about $5,800 in today’s dollars would buy in the today’s 2016 marketplace using current prices from the Sears and Best Buy websites:

For an American consumer or household spending $750 in 1964, they would have only been able to purchase the 21-inch color TV/entertainment center from the Sears Christmas catalog pictured above (includes phonograph and AM/FM radio).

An American consumer or household spending that same amount of inflation-adjusted dollars today ($5,800) would be able to furnish their entire kitchen with five brand-new appliances (refrigerator, gas stove and oven, washer, dryer, and freezer) and buy seven state-of-the-art electronic items for their home (a Toshiba Satellite 15.6″ laptop computer, a Garmin 5 Inch GPS, a Canon EOS Rebel T5i DSLR Camera, a Sony 1,000 Watt, 5.1-Channel 3D Smart Blu-Ray Home Theater System, a Samsung 55 inch Smart HDTV, an Apple iPod Touch 64GB MP3 Player (6th generation), and an Apple iPhone 7 Plus.

Measured in terms of the “time cost” of purchasing household and electronic items working at the average wage, there’s a huge difference between 1964 and today. To purchase the $750 Sears TV in 1964 would have required 293 hours of work for the average American at the average hourly wage of $2.56 in November 1964 — that’s 7.33 weeks, or almost two full months of work to earn the income required to purchase the TV.

Today, the average American need only work about 23 hours at the average wage of $21.73 to earn enough to purchase a $500 Samsung Smart HDTV. A $400 laptop would have a “time cost” of only about 18 hours of work today (2.25 days), and a iPod touch would require only 13 hours of work (1.63 days).

And isn’t it an amazing sign of the economic progress achieved over the last half century that even a billionaire in 1964 wouldn’t have been able to purchase most of the items above that even a teenager working at the minimum wage can afford today like a laptop computer, iPhone, iPod and Smart TV?

And because many of the low-cost manufactured goods we have access to today in the US — like TVs, laptops, and appliances — are manufactured or assembled overseas, where labor costs are cheaper, the powerful forces of international trade and global competition are an important part of the “magic of the global marketplace” and the “miracle of global manufacturing” illustrated above.

American consumers benefit enormously both directly from lower-cost imported manufactured goods and also indirectly because foreign rivals discipline U.S. manufacturers to behave more competitively and provide us with lower prices, higher quality products, and better service.

As Don Boudreaux pointed out recently, trade is simply the wonderful opportunity to take advantage of the “lowest-cost method of production” — and it doesn’t matter whether that production takes place on the same side, or the other side, of imaginary lines we call city, state and national borders vis-à-vis the location of the consumer:

…when consumers buy imports, they are simply choosing to make things for themselves and their families using the lowest-cost methods of production available to them: they ‘make’ their consumer goods using the roundabout method of working at their specialties and then transforming through trade some of their incomes into these goods. Sometimes consumers trade with fellow citizens; other times they trade with foreigners. But in all cases the trades are the lowest-cost methods of production available to consumers for provisioning themselves and their families with the goods and services that they desire. Why should the making of such choices ever be blocked?

Bottom Line: As much as we might hear people complain about a slow economic recovery, the lowest labor force participation rate in nearly 40 years, the decline of the middle class, stagnant median household income, and rising income inequality, we have a lot to be thankful for, and we’ve made a lot of economic progress in the last 52 years as the example above illustrates, thanks to the “magic of the global marketplace” and the “miracle of global manufacturing.”

Looking forward, let’s hope that the economic progress we’ve experienced over the last half century continues, unimpeded by consumer-impoverishing trade policies that would prevent or restrict American consumers from having access to goods manufactured at the “lowest-cost method of production” – whether that’s across the street or on the other side of the world.

Mark J. Perry
Mark J. Perry

Mark J. Perry is a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a professor of economics and finance at the University of Michigan’s Flint campus.

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This Nashville Deli Is Closing in Part Because of Obamacare

If you ask Tom Loventhal, a deli is no more than a place to provide customers with comfort food.
Whether it’s breakfast—served all day—soup or a sandwich, Loventhal’s motto has always been that at his Nashville, Tenn.,-based deli, “anyone is welcome here from ages 0 to 99, because you’ll find something on the menu.”
And for nearly two decades, Loventhal has stayed true to his motto at his restaurant, Noshville Authentic New York Delicatessen (“nosh” meaning to eat), where he’s kept more than half of the same employees on the payroll for at least 10 years and one-quarter of his workers for nearly 15 years.
Loventhal of course has his regulars, who he says come into the deli at least four times a week and take their usual seats at the counter, and he’s seen three generations of customers—the parents had kids, and now those same kids are having kids.
“The loyalty, people just come back,” he told The Daily Signal. “We have good service and consistent good food. It’s just a fun place to come in and eat.”
But come Dec. 27, the midtown Nashville location of the restaurant, one of two Loventhal owns, will be closing its doors in part because of Obamacare, he said.
“Having more than 50 full-time employees means you have to comply with the Affordable Care Act, and it was an unknown risk of how much it was going to cost,” he told The Daily Signal. “But it was going to be significant, and take a lot of time and labor to take care of the transition and the reporting and the forms.”
Loventhal originally planned to shutter the location within the first few months of 2016 after a developer purchased the building where Noshville’s has sat for the last 19 years.
But when Loventhal learned he would be faced with the added expense of providing his more than 50 employees with health insurance come Jan. 1—he estimated it would cost between $70,000 and $100,000 annually—Loventhal decided to close Noshville’s doors before the provision of Obamacare overseeing businesses, the employer mandate, goes fully into effect.
“It’s an onerous bill, and for a small business, it’s a lot of time [to comply],” he said. “I’ve been studying this for three years, and I really couldn’t come up with a good answer, and I feel sorry for closing this business.”
A ‘Healthy Dose of Reality’
Under Obamacare’s employer mandate, businesses with more than 50 employees working more than 30 hours per week will be required to provide health insurance to its workers.
On Jan. 1, 2015, the employer mandate went into effect for businesses with more than 100 employees, and on Jan. 1, 2016, those rules will apply for those with more than 50 employees.
So far, the effects of the law differ according to who one talks to: President Obama and congressional Democrats argue Obamacare has caused the uninsured rate to drop to unprecedented levels. Republicans, meanwhile, say Americans are facing higher premiums and deductibles because of the law, and businesses are grappling with how to abide by its costly mandates.
“I want to go to their districts and hear what their constituents are saying,” Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., told The Daily Signal of her democratic colleagues. “They can’t be saying things so differently than what I’m hearing in my district. Are they really listening? Are they going out in the community and listening to the everyday working person and the small business employers? Are they going out and hearing it?”
Black, who represents Nashville’s neighboring 6th Congressional District, spoke about Noshville on the House floor earlier this week and said the deli serves Democrats a “good meal and a healthy dose of reality” regarding the impact of the Affordable Care Act.
“I hear from especially the small business owners about how difficult the health care coverage is for them. They’re trying their best, but they’re also having insurance companies come into the office saying they’re going to have to increase their employees’ premiums by 35 percent which means they have a decision to make,” she said. Black continued:
Do they pass that [added cost] onto the employee? Do they take that up themselves? And many of them are saying, ‘Look, we’ve done that for the last couple of years where we absorb these increases, but we can’t afford to keep on doing that.’ And so they’re having to pass them on to the employees.
In addition to Noshville’s decision to close, Black pointed to a recent report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office as further proof of Obamacare’s negative effects on the labor market.
According to the CBO, 2 million workers will decide to leave the workforce in 2025 because of the health care law and the incentives it gives people not to work.
Some people would choose to work fewer hours; others would leave the labor force entirely or remain unemployed for longer than they otherwise would,” the CBO said in its report.
In an interview with The Daily Signal, Ed Haislmaier, a health policy expert at The Heritage Foundation, said the employer mandate’s impact on smaller businesses, or those with more than 50 employees, will likely vary by company.
A 55-person law firm, for example, may not feel the effects of the law too strongly, particularly if the cost of health care goes up for its employees. By contrast, businesses like a restaurant with lower-wage workers and smaller margins would be impacted more.
“It’s a significant increase in the business’ labor cost, and that may have an adverse affect on the economics and profitability of the business,” Haislmaier said.
Some businesses, he continued, may be forced to alter their hiring practices or scheduling of employees to ease the burdens of the employer mandate.
“That’s where the squeeze comes,” he said. “Can you do what you’re doing today by reducing your labor elsewhere, getting by with fewer people, shifting them from full time to part time, or do you think that the customers can bear a price increase to cover the cost?”
To mitigate the negative effects of the employer mandate, Haislmaier said the entire health care law would have to be dismantled, which Republicans in Congress have come one step closer to doing.
Black and her fellow GOP lawmakers have been working to roll back the health care law since its implementation, and for the first time, the Senate passed a reconciliation package repealing key provisions of Obamacare, including the employer mandate.
The Tennessee Republican said she’s confident the House will take up and pass the Senate’s version of the bill, sending the Affordable Care Act’s repeal to Obama.
“We’ll be taking that back up and passing it and putting it onto the president’s desk and letting him make that decision about how this is hurting people,” Black said. She continued:
The government shouldn’t be telling people that this is what we’re going to require you to have when they know best what they need. One size does not fit all, and you shouldn’t be pushing everybody into this pipeline. Different needs, different costs, all of that should be considered by the individual, not the federal government.
Report by Melissa Quinn. Originally published at The Daily Signal