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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

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

16 hours ago

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?

3 days ago

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

4 days ago

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?

5 days ago

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

11 days ago

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

11 days ago

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

18 days ago

"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

20 days ago

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

21 days ago

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

21 days ago

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

27 days ago

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

29 days ago

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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Automobiles Freed Us from the Tyranny of Horses

December 22, 2017

Thanks to the automobile, Americans live in an age of extremely inexpensive transportation, by historical measures. In the United States in 2015, there was approximately one motor vehicle per 1.21 people. With the exception of the small, wealthy city states of San Marino and Monaco, the United States employs more motor vehicles than any other country. Even if we make similar calculations using just "passenger cars," the number of vehicles per person remains quite high: fewer than 2.3 people per passenger car. People who don’t like automobiles tell us this is a symptom of bad urban planning and a dysfunctional American obsession with cars. This may or may not be the case, but the number of automobiles is also a function of a society’s wealth. It’s not a mere coincidence

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Free Parking Isn’t Free

December 21, 2017

How much off-street parking should a restaurant have? This of course, is a pretty important question for the owner of the restaurant, since he or she will need to make sure that people can easily access the building in order to eat there. Any entrepreneur who wants to run a profitable restaurant will need to guess how many parking spots are needed, based on a variety of factors — such as proximity of housing, public transportation, and the personal preferences and demographics of the clientele.If the owner supplies too little parking, then motorists will simply drive on by, opting to dine somewhere that offers an easily-accessible parking space. On the other hand, the owner doesn’t want to provide too much parking because parking spaces use up square footage that could

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In a Stateless World, Can You Grow Veggies In Your Front Yard?

December 14, 2017

The Miami Herald reports that a local couple is going all the way to the state supreme court to fight a local ordinance banning front-yard vegetable gardens: Hermine Ricketts and her husband Tom Carroll may grow fruit trees and flowers in the front yard of their Miami Shores house…Vegetables, however, are not allowed.Ricketts and Carroll thought they were gardeners when they grew tomatoes, beets, scallions, spinach, kale and multiple varieties of Asian cabbage. But according to a village ordinance that restricts edible plants to backyards only, they were actually criminals.“That’s what government does – interferes in people’s lives,” Ricketts said. “We had that garden for 17 years. We ate fresh meals every day from that garden. Since the village stepped its big foot

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Net Neutrality and the Problem with “Experts”

December 11, 2017

The FCC is preparing to vote this week to roll back "net neutrality" regulations adopted in 2015. Supporters of net neutrality claim the regulations protect internet traffic from discrimination and ensure broadband providers don’t abuse their power as gatekeepers to the internet. Supporters also claim "[n]et neutrality is the principle that all traffic on the internet should be treated equally."The problem, of course, is that net neutrality regulations do none of these things. In the past, we’ve explored how government regulatory panels cannot and do not ensure fairness. In fact, they encourage abuse by the most powerful actors in the marketplace. Moreover, as Peter Klein has noted, it is impossible to allocate goods "neutrally" even if government regulators were untouched

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The US Constitution Was Never Necessary for Military Defense

December 7, 2017

Before the US Constitution of 1787 was ratified, its proponents have claimed a centralized and powerful American state was necessary for the purposes of military defense.But, as the Anti-Federalists of the time pointed out, the older constitution (known as the Articles of Confederation) had already been sufficient to allow the colonies to defeat what was the most powerful state on earth — the British Empire.By the time the Federalists were advocating for a new, stronger, more costly constitution, the US was, as Richard Henry Lee put it, "in no immediate danger of any commotions; we are in a state of perfect peace, and in no danger of invasions."Then as now, though, advocates for more government intervention wrapped up their agenda in calls for more "security" through a

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Why James Madison Hated Democracy

December 1, 2017

Why was James Madison so critical of democracies? Moreover, why was he so concerned about them when, according to the definition he provided, "democracies" basically don’t exist anywhere, either in his time or in our own. Today, many conservatives like to claim that "the Founding Fathers" opposed democracy and supported less majoritarian republics. However, as is nearly always the case whenever "the Founding Fathers" are involved, a more accurate statement would be "some Founding Fathers" condemned democracy. Indeed, many of the Founding Fathers — especially among the Anti-Federalists, openly described themselves as being in favor of "democracy" and "the democratical spirit." This is no coincidence. By attacking democracy, Madison was attempting to discredit the more

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Eliminating the State and Local Tax Deduction Is a Terrible Idea

November 29, 2017

The tax "reform" currently being discussed in Washington is mostly a political exercise for politicians who can use the process to extract more campaign contributions from supporters, and punish non-supporters. The actual tax burden imposed on Americans overall will change little. The proposed elimination of the deduction for state and local taxes (SALT) is an excellent illustration of how the tax reform is really about playing political games. Forever in pursuit of "revenue neutral" tax reform, the GOP is simply turning to the elimination of the SALT deduction so it can raise federal revenues, and this allow for a tax cut for some other well-heeled special interest group. Using bizarre "logic," supporters of the deduction’s elimination claim that an increase in the

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Thanksgiving: A Celebration of Domestic Life

November 23, 2017

If recent years are any indication, this year we’ll be treated, yet again, to a smattering of articles about the supposed politics behind Thanksgiving, and how the bad guys (whether on the left or right) are opposing all things decent by refusing to celebrate the holiday in a way that promotes the correct political agenda. On one side are the leftists who feel compelled to use Thanksgiving as an extension of Columbus Day, in which we’re all reminded that it’s a bad thing to steal from indigenous tribes. One the other side are the conservatives who insist on making Thanksgiving into a day celebrating a national origin story. July 4, it seems, isn’t enough for them. Unfortunately, both of these efforts at hijacking the holiday for political battles refuse to go away.

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