Author

Ryan McMaken

Ryan McMaken has 8 articles published.

Ryan McMaken
Ryan McMaken is the editor of Mises Wire and The Austrian. Ryan 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. He is the author of Commie Cowboys: The Bourgeoisie and the Nation-State in the Western Genre.
Politics

Jeff Sessions’s Drug-War Fanaticism Shows a Growing Gap Between DC And The States

In recent years, numerous states have been passing new reforms of the long-abused civil asset forfeiture in which police agencies seize private property without any due process. At least 11 states, plus the District of Columbia, have passed new reforms. Some reforms, such as those in New Mexico and Nebraska, prohibit asset forfeiture altogether in the absence of a criminal conviction. Other states have opted for a more incremental approach, and have settled for new mandates in which law enforcement agencies must publicly report what has been seized — with the intent of identifying abuse for possible additional future reforms. The Heritage Foundation has noted the significance of these reforms: Keep Reading

Economics/Politics

Even Partial Drug Legalization Goes a Long Way In Protecting Property Rights

The partial legalization of marijuana has not been particularly ideal. Thanks to high regulatory burdens on the marijuana-production industry, limitations on production volume, and high taxes, black markets have persisted within those states that have adopted a variety of legalization measures. Perhaps most burdensome has been ongoing federal banking regulations that essentially prohibit marijuana producers from using commercial banking services. The resulting reliance on physical cash has led in many cases to more robbery and inefficiencies within the cannabis industry. Nevertheless, even partial legalization has brought at least some of the benefits that one would expect. Cannabis products are now subject to commercial quality control. That is, a customer who walks into a dispensary or storefront now has a much better idea of what he’s buying. When cannabis sales took place only in the black market, one could only guess at the provenance of the product, and customers had no legal recourse in cases of fraud. One of the greatest benefits, from a laissez-faire perspective, has been the fact… Keep Reading

Politics

Net Neutrality Strengthens Monopolies, Invites Corruption

When it imposed its net neutrality rules on the telecom industry, the FCC was fixing a problem that didn’t exist. While proponents of Net Neutrality have long claimed that the regulations are necessary to impose fairness for Internet usage, access to the Internet has only become more widespread and service today is far faster for users—including “ordinary” people—than it was twenty years ago. Nevertheless, when the FCC in recent months—now under pressure from the Trump Administration—announced that it may step back from net neutrality, supporters immediately began claiming that net neutrality was necessary to keep Internet access affordable and “fair.” In truth, net neutrality has never fostered fairness or better access for consumers, and has instead created conditions that will encourage less competition and more monopolistic power for large firms within the industry. Instead of relying on the marketplace to allocate goods, net neutrality ensures that politics will determine who gets what, instead. This is hardly a recipe for fairness or neutrality. In the marketplace, goods and services tend… Keep Reading

Politics

Abolish The ATF

Although Donald Trump portrayed himself as an anti-gun control candidate on the campaign trail, the president apparently has no problem with sending federal agents into Chicago to more fiercely enforce gun laws. The New York Times reported late last month that the Trump administration has sent in federal agencies to partner with local law enforcement in Chicago, in order to confiscate more guns: Anthony Riccio, the chief of the Police Department’s Bureau of Organized Crime, said the new team would “significantly help our efforts to trace and stop the flow of illegal guns.” The phrase “illegal guns” makes it sound like we’re only dealing with very sinister elements within society. But in Chicago, where gun control laws are among the most stringent in the country, the phrase “illegal guns” might as well be interpreted as “most guns, whether owned by peaceful people or not.” Thus, it appears that the Trump administration is using federal agents to assist local politics in what is one of the most anti-gun jurisdictions in… Keep Reading

Politics

The US Is Not “One Nation” — And It Never Was

Patrick Buchanan is an informative and interesting writer. On foreign policy, especially, he’s long been one of the most reasonable voices among high-level American pundits. When it comes to cultural matters, however, Buchanan has long held to a peculiar and empirically questionable version of American history in which the United States was once a mono-culture in which everyone was once happily united by “a common religion,” a “common language,” and a “common culture.” Now, he’s at it again with his most recent column in which he correctly points out that the United States is culturally fractured, and speculates as to whether or not Thomas Jefferson’s call to “dissolve political bands” in the Declaration of Independence might be sound advice today. Buchanan is correct in noting that the US is culturally divided today. But, he appears to have a selective view of history when he contends there was a time when this was not so. If there ever was such a period, it’s unclear as to when exactly it was. Keep Reading

Economics

Beware The Predictions Of “Experts” Like Janet Yellen

Speaking in London, Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen predicted recently that the “the system is much safer and much sounder” and explained that the Federal Reserve is prepared to deal with numerous enormous shocks to the economy. In her conversation with Lord Nicholas Stern, Yellen also went on to list the reasons that, thanks to central bank intervention, there is unlikely to be another financial crisis “in our lifetimes.” For those who have lived through more than one business cycle, however, alarm bells tend to go off every time an economist, central banker or high-ranking government official declares that there’s little to no danger of economic turmoil in the near future. There is a long history of spectacularly bad predictions being made shortly before economic crises. Famously, shortly before the Crash of 1929—one of the earlier crises that occurred on the Federal Reserve’s watch—Herbert Hoover proclaimed that “We in America today are nearer to the final triumph over poverty than ever before in the history of any land.” But,… Keep Reading

Philosophy/Politics

If We Want “Unity,” Government Must Become Weaker

Last week, a gunman opened fire on a group of Republican members of Congress. Letters sent by the gunman to his local newspaper suggest he was obsessed with Republican policies, and concluded that Donald Trump “Has Destroyed Our Democracy” [sic] and that “It’s Time to Destroy Trump and Co.” In the wake of the attack, there have been the usual predictable calls for “unity.” These calls, of course, fail to address a central reason why unity appears to be a problem, and why many feel the need to manufacture it where it does not exist. In the wake of the 2016 election, it was not uncommon to read in both the mainstream media, and in social media, predictions that with a Republican victory, a fascist police state would soon be bringing the hammer down on all the enemies of the regime. In this case, “enemy of the regime” was anyone other than the alleged troglodytes who had voted Trump into office. Keep Reading

Politics

The Real Reason To Oppose The Dakota Access Pipeline

The ongoing protest over the Dakota Access Pipeline near Standing Rock Indian Reservation makes for some good theater, but the protesters have as yet been unable to demonstrate that the pipeline actually trespasses on Indian lands or that it will likely lead to groundwater pollution. Both trespassing and water pollution are serious issues that would rightly open up the owners — in this case, Energy Transfer Partners — to crippling lawsuits. In North Dakota, however, the pipeline passes through private property and a likelihood of groundwater pollution has not been established. Defenders of the pipeline like to point all this out. But, those same defenders also conveniently ignore that other parts of the pipeline, including parts that pass through Iowa, rely on eminent domain to secure land rights for the pipeline owners. Keep Reading

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