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Ryan McMaken

Ryan McMaken

Ryan W. McMaken is the editor of Mises Daily and The Austrian. He has degrees in economics and political science from the University of Colorado, and was the economist for the Colorado Division of Housing from 2009 to 2014.

Articles by Ryan McMaken

Manufacturing Jobs Are Overrated

March 13, 2018

One of the reasons that Donald Trump gives for slapping new protectionist tariffs on steel and aluminum is that it will create manufacturing jobs, and by extension, greatly enhance income growth and standards of living in the United States. Trump is capitalizing on an enduring myth of American economic history in which it is believed that declines in manufacturing jobs are accompanied by drops in standards of living as well.What is often forgotten, however, is that manufacturing jobs, in proportion to the population overall, dropped significantly from the end of World War II through the 1950s and 1960s. And yet, during this time, real median incomes in the United States increased. 

Incomes stagnated somewhat during the 1970s, but then grew substantially again

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Not Even the Pentagon Thinks Tariffs Are Needed for National Defense

March 10, 2018

When politicians run out of good arguments, their last refuge is often the claim that what they want is "necessary for national defense." Given that there are no economic arguments in favor of tariffs, it makes sense that the administration has resorted to the political "national defense" argument instead. So, even if the Trump administration were forced to admit that, yes, tariffs are bad for the incomes and standards of living for most Americans, they could still argue that everyone must make sacrifices for the sake of national security. But do these arguments hold any water?In a Defense Department memo, in response to the President’s tariff proposal, the Secretary of Defense states that the tariffs are not necessary:… the US military requirements for steel and

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Police: We’re the Experts — Don’t You Dare Criticize Us

March 5, 2018

One of the most surprising developments in the wake of February’s Florida school shooting is the willingness by many generally police-friendly commentators to denounce the lack of action by local police against the shooter. From National Review, to The Federalist, to Donald Trump, many of the law enforcement officers involved in the shooting are being accused of outright "cowardice." Part of this is agenda-driven. The inaction on the part of law-enforcement organizations demonstrates that it is not enough to "call 911" and hope the police show up to protect the victims. As Michael Graham notes, the Florida situation is part of a "pattern of police cowardice" which was also apparent at the 2016 Orlando shooting and at the Newtown, Connecticut shooting. In both cases,

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The Myth of America’s “Stingy” Welfare State

March 2, 2018

According to the usual news sources, Donald Trump’s new budget proposal "envisions steep cuts to America’s social safety net" and will "gut social programs." Most of the cuts were proposed to pave the way for more Pentagon spending. In truth, Trump’s proposal doesn’t matter, and Congress will set to work piling on more deficit spending for both social programs and for the Pentagon. But, the debate of "gutting" social programs will no doubt be used to perpetuate, yet again, the myth that the United States is ruled by libertarian social Darwinists who ensure that no more than a few pennies are spent via social programs for the poor. Now setting aside the question of whether or not social programs are the best way to address poverty, the fact is that the United States

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There Are Fewer School Shootings Now Than During the 1990s

March 1, 2018

Now that I have several children, I’m often in the company of other parents who talk about the way things "used to be." When the issue of child safety comes up, I hear parents sadly shake their heads and say things like "it’s not like it was when we were kids…the world is so much more dangerous now." Usually, the sentiment behind this idea is that there are more murders now than there used to be. Now, I’m not exactly known for being a Pollyanna, but I am willing to admit when things are not, in fact, getting worse. And when it comes to things like homicides, there is no evidence that things are getting worse. It is indeed true that things aren’t like they were "when we were kids," but that’s a good thing. There were far more homicides in the United States during the

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Lack of Police Accountability Shows the “Social Contract” Isn’t Working

February 27, 2018

In the wake of the Florida school shooting earlier this month, Broward County police deputies are being accused of hiding outside the school while students were being murdered inside.Moreover, both the Sheriff’s department and the FBI are being accused of failing to follow up on clear and repeated threats made by the school shooter against others. The FBI already admits it failed to follow its own protocol when it failed to pass on key information to the Miami field office.The details in this specific case have yet to be analyzed and investigated. But, even if it is shown that both the Sheriff’s Office and the FBI were incompetent or indifferent in taking action against the perpetrator, it will still remain exceedingly unlikely that any specific government agents or

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Mexican Gun Control Ensures Cartels Outgun the Good Guys

February 23, 2018

2017 may have been the worst year for homicide in Mexico since the government began keeping track in the 1990s. It’s a safe bet that the homicide rate isn’t coming anywhere near what it was in the years surrounding the revolution. But it may be the worst rate in several decades. German news site DW reports: The Interior Ministry said authorities … put the country’s [2017] homicide rate at 20.5 per 100,000 inhabitants.The highest figure ever recorded in Mexico before last year was in 2011, during the peak of the Mexican government’s war on drugs. Unfortunately, some observers think the Mexican state is fudging the numbers:Mexican security analysts Alejandro Hope told AP news agency that the [official] figure is based on the number of murder investigations opened last

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Stop Blaming Mexican Violence on American Guns

February 23, 2018

2017 may have been the worst year for homicide in Mexico since the government began keeping track in the 1990s. It’s a safe bet that the homicide rate isn’t coming anywhere near what it was in the years surrounding the revolution. But it may be the worst rate in several decades. German news site DW reports: The Interior Ministry said authorities … put the country’s [2017] homicide rate at 20.5 per 100,000 inhabitants.The highest figure ever recorded in Mexico before last year was in 2011, during the peak of the Mexican government’s war on drugs. Unfortunately, some observers think the Mexican state is fudging the numbers:Mexican security analysts Alejandro Hope told AP news agency that the [official] figure is based on the number of murder investigations opened last

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Security Works at Disney — But Can’t Work at a Public School?

February 19, 2018

An odd thing has happened. Advocates for gun control have actually begun arguing against practical measures addressing school security. Rather than take strategies that can be implemented virtually immediately, and which address the dangers in a specific place in a common-sense way, gun control advocates would rather focus on a political victory at some point in the future and continue to leave schools without proper security measures. The general argument is that any effort at meaningful security is unacceptable because it turns schools into "fortresses." Numerous examples of this line of reasoning can be found on Twitter. They are often remarkably similar in message which is "forget school security, just ban guns!" Ah yes, the "ban guns" solution. It certainly worked

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Why Don’t Schools Have Better Security?

February 17, 2018

Whenever there is a mass shooting in the media, commentators rush to figure out on what to blame the latest violence. Predictably, those who want gun control blame gun control. Others blame mental illness — and perhaps a lack of government programs related to it. Some others blame racism or ideology, as was the case with the Aurora theater shooting when one ABC talking head concluded the shooter must a “Tea Party” member within hours of the shooting. And then there’s the Republican politician who blamed the same shooting on “the ongoing attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs.”
The odds of dying in a mass shooting remain amazingly small, as Healthline notes “The lifetime risk of dying in a mass shooting is around 1 in 110,154 — about the

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For the Dreamers: No Deportation, No Citizenship

February 16, 2018

The current wrangling on Capitol Hill over the so-called Dreamers has come down to the usual political deal-making. Trump has signaled he’s willing to compromise on deportations — that is, initiate fewer of them — if he can get funding for his border wall.Also at issue is whether or not Dreamers already in the US ought to be able to sponsor their parents for legal residency or for citizenship. Dreamers are current illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. Opposition to deportation of the Dreamers — especially those who are still minors — has been significant, with much of the opposition geared around the idea that some minors are being deported to foreign countries where they don’t even know the language or local culture after having been in

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Shootings: Why Don’t Schools Have Better Security?

February 15, 2018

Whenever there is a mass shooting in the media, commentators rush to figure out on what to blame the latest violence. Predictably, those who want gun control blame gun control. Others blame mental illness — and perhaps a lack of government programs related to it. Some others blame racism or ideology, as was the case with the Aurora theater shooting when one ABC talking head concluded the shooter must a "Tea Party" member within hours of the shooting. And then there’s the Republican politician who blamed the same shooting on “the ongoing attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs.”The odds of dying in a mass shooting remain amazingly small, as Healthline notes "The lifetime risk of dying in a mass shooting is around 1 in 110,154 — about the same chance of dying from a dog

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From Abortion to Circumcision, Democracy Won’t Save Minorities from the Majority

February 9, 2018

The UK Independent reported last week that legislators in Iceland have proposed a ban on circumcision of boys. In practice of course, a ban on male circumcisions essentially outlaws Judaism. Anticipating opposition from advocates for religious freedom, the legislation "insists the ‘rights of the child’ always exceed the ‘right of the parents to give their children guidance when it comes to religion’."1Iceland is not alone in considering laws that pit the majority against the allegedly barbaric practices of a minority group. In the Netherlands, for example, animal rights activists are hard at work trying to outlaw kosher and halal meats. The laws will, as one Jewish activist noted "make Europe more uncomfortable for Jews, because the essence and centrality of our life

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Central Banks Holding Steady, But Promise More Rate Hikes

February 8, 2018

On February 5, the Reserve Bank of Australia held its key rate steady at 1.5 percent. The Bank of Canada raised its benchmark interest rate to 1.25 percent in January.At its February Meeting, the Federal Reserve announced it would hold the Federal Funds Rate steady at 1.5 percent.The Bank of England in January warned that it plans to hike rates this year, possibly as early as May. But its policy committee unanimously voted to keep the key rate at 0.5 percent earlier this month. The Bank of Japan announced it is keeping its key rate steady at -0.1 percent. In all cases — The Fed, the Bank of Canada, the BofE, the BOJ, and the Bank of Australia — central bankers said they expected to raise rates more in the near future. Even at the Bank of Japan, which has been

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Toxic Masculinity, 1920s-Style

February 2, 2018

"Don’t Blame Mental Illness for Mass Shootings" a recent headline at Politico begins, "Blame Men." To be fair to the author, Laura Kiesel, she probably didn’t choose that title. And to be doubly fair, she doesn’t blame men in general for mass shooting. She does — correctly — point out that the overwhelming majority of people who shoot other people are men. These nuances, however, have done little to shield Kiesel from what was probably the expected response. "Politico Blames Masculinity for Mass Shootings. Here’s Why That’s Ridiculous," an article in The Federalist fires back. Many other responses were less polite. When it comes to mass shootings, it seems that "toxic masculinity" rears its head yet again. Many readers, even those not prone to thinking up defenses of

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Secession Movements in Mexico Challenge Federal Power

January 31, 2018

Earlier this month, The New York Times reported on a remarkable development in Mexico. In an article titled "Losing Faith in the State, Some Mexican Towns Quietly Break Away" we discover that some municipalities in Mexico are turning to de facto secession in order to put a stop to the rampant drug-cartel violence that has become so problematic:Tancítaro represents a quiet but telling trend in Mexico, where a handful of towns and cities are effectively seceding, partly or in whole. These are acts of desperation, revealing the degree to which Mexico’s police and politicians are seen as part of the threat.Visit three such enclaves — Tancítaro; Monterrey, a rich commercial city; and Ciudad Nezahualcóyotl, just outside the capital — and you will find a pattern. Each is a

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Why States Don’t Require Blood Tests for Marriages Anymore

January 30, 2018

In one of her more incoherent columns in 2011, Ann Coulter attacked then-presidential candidate Ron Paul for his laissez-faire position on marriage. Coulter praised government regulations imposed on marriage, stating that Paul’s position is "chicken-s**t" and "[t]here are reasons we have laws governing important institutions, such as marriage. As in landscaping, it’s never a good idea to remove a wall until you know why it was put there."Specifically, Coulter praised government mandated blood tests for marrying couples, stating "Under Paul’s plan, siblings could marry one another." This statement was apparently intended as some sort of great "gotcha" comment. "Why, if it weren’t for government, we’d all marry our sisters!" is the implied sentiment. Coulter’s comment

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Marriage Licenses: Alabama Legislature Moves Toward Less Government Meddling

January 29, 2018

According to a variety of sources, Alabama’s state legislature may "end marriage licenses" if a bill now being heard in the legislature goes forward. On it’s surface, this would certainly appear to be a step in the right direction. The idea that the state should be in a position to decide who can be married — and who cannot be — requires a high degree of trust in the state and its ability to regulate and control societal institutions that ought to be regarded as far beyond the state’s level of competence. As Andrew Syrios has noted, the government takeover of the institution — in the West, at least — is largely a modern invention1: The institution of marriage has been a bedrock of civilization, but that had nothing to do with government. In fact, it’s important to note

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Before Roe v. Wade, Abortion Had Always Been a State and Local Matter

January 24, 2018

In recent decades, anti-abortion advocates have increasingly claimed that the US Constitution provides protections to babies in utero via the 14th Amendment. That is, the Amendment would guarantee that no state may "deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."This argument was used by the state of Texas which claimed in the case of Roe v. Wade that “the fetus is a ‘person’ within the language and meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment.”The Supreme Court rejected this claim, but not on the grounds that the 14th Amendment did not potentially apply. The court simply denied that a fetus is a person. Furthermore, the court admitted that if personhood were legally

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The Shutdown: The Last Thing We Need is a Government Where Everyone Works Together

January 22, 2018

The Chinese state’s "news" service Xinhua on Sunday mocked the United States for the current federal-government non-shutdown, called a "shutdown." The Chinese agency claimed the current legislative stalemate — which has hardly "shut down" the federal government — demonstrates "chronic flaws" in the US federal political system. Even worse — from Xinua’s point of view — is that " the spirit of non-cooperation across party lines" is the only aspect of the previous administration that has survived into the current one. A lack of continuity, it seems, is a problem for the Chinese ruling-party hack writing the piece, as he or she notes the current administration has "backtracked" on policies implemented by the previous one. In the mind of a Chinese propagandist, it seems,

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Switzerland Bans Welfare Recipients

January 19, 2018

Swiss news site The Local reports that new laws taking effect this month will make it even more difficult for immigrants to obtain citizenship.
It has apparently been established law for some time that immigrants collecting social benefits are barred from naturalization. The new law, however, now also prohibits naturalization if an applicant has accepted social benefits at any time during the previous three years.
An exception is made if the benefits “are paid back in full.”
On the other hand, applicants for citizenship now must only have resided in Switzerland for ten years instead of 12, as was the case before the new law took effect.
It’s important to make a distinction here. The change in law is not saying the recipients on social

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Why California Has the Nation’s Worst Poverty Rate

January 17, 2018

Earlier this week, the LA Times reminded its readers that California has the highest poverty rate in the nation. Specifically, when using the Census Bureau’s most recent" Supplemental Poverty Measure" (SPM), California clocks in with a poverty rate of 20 percent, which places it as worst in the nation.To be sure, California is running quite closely with Florida and Louisiana, but we can certainly say that California is a top contender when it comes to poverty:

This continues to be something of a black eye for California politicians who imagine themselves to be the enlightened elite of North America. The fact that one in five Californians is below this poverty line doesn’t exactly lend itself to crowing about the state’s success in its various wars on

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The FBI’s Attacks on MLK, Jr. Are Helpful Reminders for Today

January 15, 2018

Writing for the Wall Street Journal in 2005, federal judge and former U.S. deputy attorney general Laurence Silberman recalled how he was "shocked" to discover the extent the FBI abused its power to spy on Americans. Speaking of the first time he reviewed the files of J. Edgar Hoover, Silberman writes how Hoover tasked "his agents with reporting privately to him on any bits of dirt on figures such as Martin Luther King or their families — information Hoover sometimes used as blackmail to ensure his and the bureau’s power."Silberman was writing of having first learned of these abuses of power back in the 1970s. Using a well-worn Hollywood cliché, one might say those days were a "more innocent time." Nowadays it is widely known that the FBI was the personal playground of

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Now’s a Great Time to Stop Meddling in Haiti

January 13, 2018

Earlier this week, President Trump allegedly disparaged Haiti, describing it as "sh*thole." The response has been what you might expect. It’s been a torrent of demands for apologies from the Trump administration and commentary on how "troubling" Donald Trump’s views are. Upon hearing of such comments supposedly directed at Haitians, a well informed person might be tempted to think "if only this were the worst thing a US president has inflicted upon the Haitian people." But, as is typical for the American left and the mainstream media, uttering mean words is the worst thing a politician can do. Actively meddling in another country’s internal affairs and undermining its elections? Well, that’s no big deal — unless you’re Russia, of course. Indeed, anyone who has any

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Thanks, Government — Nearly Half of Puerto Rico Is Still without Power

January 12, 2018

In the wake of Hurricane Maria, most of Puerto Rico lost electricity. Since electronic transactions were not longer possible under these conditions, the Federal Reserve was forced to fly a planeload of cash to the island to avoid a total breakdown of the economy there. But even then, we were assured that the loss of power was a momentary blip. Everything would be back to normal soon. But as of December 29 (more than three months after the hurricane hit) only 55% percent of power-company customers actually have power again.The good news is that the "Army Corps of Engineers has projected that power will be restored for most people by March, but those in very remote areas might have to wait until May because of the difficulty in moving supplies."So, in some parts of the

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On-Duty Police Deaths Were Near a 50-Year Low in 2017

January 9, 2018

The number of police officers killed on duty dropped to near a 50-year low in 2017. As of December 28, 2017, 128 officers died in the line of duty. That’s down 10% from 2016, when 143 officers died, according to new data from National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.The only other year with fewer deaths in the past five decades was 2013, when 116 officers were killed. These deaths should not all be interpreted as the result of attacks from members of the public. Traffic accidents are the leading cause of police-officer deaths, although shootings play a significant role. Although we continue to hear complaints about a "war on cops" from police labor unions, government institutions, and their allies, there is no evidence to support the claim. As Tate Fegley noted

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No, We Don’t Need a Federal “Solution” to Infrastructure Problems

January 8, 2018

On December 19, an Amtrak train in Washington State killed three people and injured 100 others when it derailed and crashed into traffic lanes on a nearby highway.The day before, Atlanta’s international airport suffered a disastrous power outage:the whole airport, the world’s busiest, went dark for 11 hours. Thousands of flights were disrupted. For many hours nobody in authority attempted to explain—or even seemed able to explain—what had happened.Both cases have been used to bolster claims that the US federal government needs to spend more on infrastructure. In the wake of the Washington derailment, President Trump quickly took to Twitter to call for more government spending:The train accident that just occurred in DuPont, WA shows more than ever why our soon to be

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Cannabis Tax Revenues Will be a Roadblock to Sessions’s Drug War

January 5, 2018

Through November of 2017, the State of Colorado collected more than $226 million in revenues from cannabis taxes, licenses, and fees. That’s a lot for a state government with total discretionary spending of about $10 billion. This doesn’t count tax revenues produced by industries that serve cannabis industries — but aren’t cannabis businesses per se. Like other businesses, cannabis businesses also hire bookkeepers, lawyers, landscapers, janitors, and construction workers. In other words, cannabis employs people, produces tax revenue, and is as much a part of the local economy as any other industry. (The industry employs more than 30,000 people.)What’s happening in Colorado, though, is likely to be dwarfed by the new cannabis industry in California where there are far

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School Vouchers Are Basically Food Stamps

January 4, 2018

In modern America, government schools are one of the last remaining truly socialist institutions. And when I use the term socialism, I’m using the technical and old-school definition: government ownership of the means of production. Although private schools do exist in America, schooling in general — especially at the pre-college level — is overwhelmingly delivered by government-owned institutions called "public schools." Few other industries in America are operated this way, and this is true even when we include products and services essential to human life and safety, such as food and housing. While the US did flirt with creating a large number of government-owned housing projects during the 20th century, housing is nearly all privately owned in the US today. Most

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Was Scrooge the Victim in A Christmas Carol?

December 23, 2017

In the past, a few brave iconoclasts have taken exception to the treatment Ebenezer Scrooge of A Christmas Carol has received from his critics. While a fictional character created by Charles Dickens, Scrooge has become, in the minds of many, a representative of the imagined miserly financiers who serve as caricatures of capitalists everywhere. This has led some defenders of markets to step in and offer a defense of Scrooge.Butler Shaffer writes that Scrooge is one of "the true heroes of the time of which [Dickens] wrote, namely, the industrialists and financiers who created that most liberating epoch in human history: the Industrial Revolution."And Michael Levin avers: "Dickens doesn’t mention Scrooge’s satisfied customers, but there must have been plenty of them for

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