Posts tagged with: united states

President Eisenhower signed the first Captive Nations Week into law on July 17, 1959. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia.

President Eisenhower signed the first Captive Nations Week into law on July 17, 1959. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia.

On July 17, 1959, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued a proclamation declaring the third week of July “Captive Nations Week” for that year and every year “until such time as freedom and independence shall have been achieved for all the captive nations of the world.” At the time, Eisenhower was condemning the unjust and oppressive Soviet regime and lending a voice to those countries trapped under Soviet rule. The threat of the Soviet Union no longer exists today. Still, we have celebrated Captive Nations Week every year since 1959, and are doing so this year, because, unfortunately, threats to freedom persist today.

President Obama released a beautiful proclamation this week that extols the value of liberty and the power of the American commitment to the ideals of democracy and freedom at home and abroad.

Since our earliest days, the United States has worked to uphold the rights enshrined in our founding documents. The ideals that sparked our revolution find their truest expression in democracy, and our enduring belief in the right to self-govern is not limited to our borders — we believe the human impulse toward freedom is universal. During Captive Nations Week, we recognize the inherent dignity of all people, and we renew our support for those struggling under oppressive regimes and striving to secure the blessings of liberty for themselves and their posterity.

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fight-for-15-and-a-union-672x372Sometimes predicting the future is difficult (ask anyone who thought we’d have flying cars by now). But sometimes foreseeing what is going to happen — at least to a high degree of probability — is all too easy.

For example, it’s fairly simple to ascertain that sometime in 2017 or 2018 we will see a huge spike in the unemployment for the working poor and increasing the replacement of low-skilled jobs with automation (i.e., robots). The reason: the $15 minimum wage.

Earlier this year the first and fourth most populous states in the U.S. — California and New York — adopted the increase to $15. Numerous cities have also adopted the higher wage floor. But perhaps the most significant step forward for the “Fight for $15” movement is that it is being adopted by the entire Democratic Party.

On Friday, the Democratic National Committee released a draft of the proposed party platform that includes a number of economically destructive proposals, including a federal minimum wage of $15:
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4th-of-July-1819-Philadelphia-John-Lewis-Krimmel

Fourth of July Celebration in Centre Square, Philadelphia (1819)

“Liberty is not the power of doing what we like, but the right to do what we ought.” – Lord Acton

Today, people across the United States will march in parades, set off fireworks, and don red, white, and blue to huge family cookouts, all in celebration of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. In the years since those first Americans pledged their loyalty to the philosophy of natural rights and the equality of all men, the document has remained a national symbol of pride and freedom.  However, in the years since the founding of the country and the later drafting of the Constitution, the true intentions of the Founders and the spirit of their work has become intermittently lost and misunderstood.

Among the most common and consequential misunderstandings is the idea that the Founders were worshipers of rights for their own sake, radical individualists with the goal only to secure those liberties to which humans believe, through reason or instinct, they are entitled. In truth, even among libertarian heroes like John Locke or Founder Thomas Jefferson, the spirit of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were not in pursuit of license.  In fact, many of those who formed and secured the natural rights tradition of the American Founding outright rejected the idea that rights exist for their own sake, without a higher purpose or end.  Our freedoms were thought to exist and were secured for much more than a pleasure-guided exercise of free will. (more…)

rules-and-regulationsIn the Old Testament there are 613 commandments. Apparently, God deemed those to be enough to regulate almost every aspect of the lives of his people for thousands of years. You could read all of them in less than 30 minutes.

The American federal government, however, is not so succinct. There are over 1 million restrictions in the federal regulations alone (i.e., not counting the statutory law). And thousands more are added every year.

Each year the Competitive Enterprise Institute puts out annual survey — Ten Thousand Commandments — that reveals the size, scope, and cost of federal regulations. Here are some highlights from the 2016 edition:
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cronyIt’s never easy becoming a billionaire, but the path to achieving a 10-figure level of wealth is smoother when you have the government as a business partner.

Crony capitalism is a general term for the range of activities in which particular individuals or businesses in a market economy receive government-granted privileges over their customers or competitors. Certain industries (like casinos and real estate) and some nations (Russia, the Philippines) are more prone to cronyism than others. So if you want to become get ultra-rich it helps to be an business and country (e.g., an energy company in Mexico) where the government will you gain an advantage in the market.

The Economist has put together an interesting interactive infographic showing where crony capitalist billionaires live around the world. As they explain:
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minimum-wage-15Since 1938, when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt introduced the first federal minimum wage in the U.S., a debate has raged about whether wage floors help or hurt workers. But thanks to a radical economic experiment in California, we may be only a few years away from having a definitive answer.

California Gov. Jerry Brown and state legislators have reached an agreement to raise California’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022. Under California’s plan, its minimum wage — already one of the highest in the nation at $10 an hour — would rise to $10.50 in 2017, $11 in 2018 and a dollar each year through 2022.

By 2022 we should know for sure how the change will affect California. In the meantime, here are ten things you should know about the ongoing minimum wage debate:

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isis persecutionWhat did Secretary Kerry say about Islamic State and genocide?

In a speech on Thursday, Secretary of State John Kerry said that the U.S. has determined that the actions of Islamic State (aka ISIS) against Christians and other minority groups in Iraq and Syria constitutes an act of genocide.

My purpose in appearing before you today is to assert that, in my judgment, Daesh [Islamic State] is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control, including Yezidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims. Daesh is genocidal by self-proclamation, by ideology, and by actions – in what it says, what it believes, and what it does. Daesh is also responsible for crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing directed at these same groups and in some cases also against Sunni Muslims, Kurds, and other minorities.

[…]

We know that Daesh’s actions are animated by an extreme and intolerant ideology that castigates Yezidis as, quote, “pagans” and “devil-worshippers,” and we know that Daesh has threatened Christians by saying that it will, quote, “conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women.”

[…]

The fact is that Daesh kills Christians because they are Christians; Yezidis because they are Yezidis; Shia because they are Shia. This is the message it conveys to children under its control. Its entire worldview is based on eliminating those who do not subscribe to its perverse ideology. There is no question in my mind that if Daesh succeeded in establishing its so-called caliphate, it would seek to destroy what remains of ethnic and religious mosaic once thriving in the region. 

Why does Secretary Kerry refer to Islamic State as “Daesh”?

Daesh is a loose acronym of the Arabic for “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (al-Dawla al-Islamiya al-Iraq al-Sham).

According to France 24, the term was first used in April 2013 by Arabic and Iranian media that were hostile to the jihadist movement and wanted to send the message that the group is neither truly “Islamic” nor a “state.” Daesh became a name commonly used by the enemies of the IS group, and was later adopted by the governments of France and the UK.

Why was the announcement made today?
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