Ryan McMaken

Ryan McMaken has 38 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.

There Are Fewer School Shootings Now Than During The 1990s

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… Keep Reading


The Myth Of America’s “Stingy” Welfare State

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… Keep Reading


Stop Blaming Mexican Violence On American Guns

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.  Keep Reading


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

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… Keep Reading


Shootings: Why Don’t Schools Have Better Security?

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.” Keep Reading


Secession Movements In Mexico Challenge Federal Power

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… Keep Reading


Toxic Masculinity, 1920s-Style

A recent headline at Politico begins, “Don’t Blame Mental Illness for Mass Shootings; 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… Keep Reading


Why California Has The Nation’s Worst Poverty Rate

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. Keep Reading


The FBI’s Attacks On MLK, Jr. Are Helpful Reminders For Today

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.” Keep Reading


Now’s a Great Time To Stop Meddling In Haiti

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.”  Keep Reading


Thanks, Government — Nearly Half Of Puerto Rico Is Still Without Power

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… Keep Reading


No, We Don’t Need A Federal “Solution” To Infrastructure Problems

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… Keep Reading


Net Neutrality And The Problem With “Experts”

The FCC voted 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. Keep Reading


The US Constitution Was Never Necessary For Military Defense

Before the US Constitution of 1787 was ratified, its proponents had 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 enough 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… Keep Reading


Why James Madison Hated Democracy

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… Keep Reading


Eliminating The State And Local Tax Deduction Is a Terrible Idea

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 allows for a tax cut… Keep Reading


Hey GOP Establishment, Want To Cut The Burden Of Government? Cut Spending

Washington, DC is currently in the middle of a the “tax reform” process, which as Jeff Deist, points out, is ” a con, and a shell game.” Tax reform proposals, Deist continues “always evade and obscure the real issue, which is the total cost — financial, compliance, and human — taxes impose on society.” Tax reform is really about which interest groups can modify the current tax code to better suit their own parochial interests. The end result is not a lessened tax burden overall, and thus does nothing to boost real savings, real wealth creation, or real economic growth. It’s just yet another government method of… Keep Reading


Can President Trump And Rand Paul Save Healthcare?

Last week, Donald Trump signed a new executive order facilitating more flexibility for consumers of health insurance. The order allows for more flexibility in purchasing insurance across state lines, and greater freedom for both small businesses and groups of consumers in creating “association health plans” (AHPs). In theory, this will broaden access to the benefits currently enjoyed only by those with employment-based insurance, and other types of group insurance. The order also paves the way for healthcare reforms long favored by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) who believes the reforms will help bring down healthcare costs. Keep Reading


Europe’s Secession Problems Aren’t Going Away

Earlier this week, The New York Times noted that movements for greater local autonomy appear to be spreading throughout Europe. In some ways, the conflict in Catalonia is just the tip of the iceberg. The Times reports: Coming on the heels of the Catalan vote, the Lombardy and Veneto referendums are yet another signal of the homegrown conflicts that persist in many of the European Union’s member states. Separatist movements are also simmering in Britain — where voters in Scotland rejected independence in a 2014 referendum but continue to debate the issue — as well as France, Germany, Belgium and Romania. Like Catalonia — and unlike Scotland… Keep Reading


Does Ethnic Heterogeneity Make Homicide Worse In The Americas?

When gun-control advocates make international comparisons on homicide rates, they generally employ an assumption that places with more stringent gun control laws have lower homicide rates. Unfortunately for them, this only holds up when countries with both high levels of gun control and high homicide rates are excluded from the analysis. By recognizing the need to exclude most of the world’s nations from this analysis, the gun control advocates are of course implicitly admitting they recognize that gun control cannot explain low homicide rates in many areas. The case of Mexico, for example, illustrates quite well that simply imposing gun control… Keep Reading


After Vegas Shooting, It’s Time To Take Private Security Seriously

In the wake of the Aurora Theater shooting, I suggested that private sector establishments ought to be expected to be more concerned about the safety of their customers. In the case of the Aurora Theater, this was magnified by the fact that the theater was a “gun free zone” and did not allow patrons to carry their own firearms as self defense. At the same time, the theater owners themselves couldn’t be bothered with taking even the most rudimentary steps against allowing a gunman to casually carry multiple weapons from his car into one of the theater’s back doors.  The issue came up… Keep Reading


Fed Chair Yellen: The Economy May Be Weaker Than We Thought

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen this week cast doubt on the Fed’s announced plan to continue Fed rate hikes and reverse its years of “unconventional” monetary policy. “My colleagues and I may have misjudged the strength of the labor market,” Yellen announced on Tuesday, adding that they’d also misjudged “the degree to which longer-run inflation expectations are consistent with our inflation objective, or even the fundamental forces driving inflation.” Yellen also “noted that the labor market, which historically has been closely linked to inflation, may not be as tight as the low unemployment rate suggests.” In other words, Fed economists are… Keep Reading


Trump’s China-Sanctions Madness Imperils The Dollar

Last week US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin warned the US will impose new sanctions on China if it doesn’t conform to UN sanctions on North Korea: “If China doesn’t follow these sanctions, we will put additional sanctions on them and prevent them from accessing the U.S. and international dollar system, and that’s quite meaningful.” In other words, the administration wants to sanction one of the US’s biggest trading partners, and the world’s second-largest economy. China is the world’s third-largest recipient of Americans exports, behind only Canada and Mexico. China is the world’s largest source of imports for Americans, slightly ahead… Keep Reading


Why Natural Disasters Are Worse For Poor Countries

In the wake of hurricane Harvey, disaster experts were shocked by how few deaths resulted from the storm: ““It was astounding that we didn’t have a much larger loss of life,” said Phil Bedient, co-director of a Rice University effort to research severe storms and evacuations. A recent count puts total storm-related deaths at 82, out of a metropolitan population of more than 6.5 million. The relative lack of lives lost is being attributed to a variety of factors including luck, the timing of evacuation orders, and “swift action by first responders.” There’s no doubt that these factors contributed to… Keep Reading


The Neoconservatives Have Declared War On The Realists

In recent years, I’ve increasingly suspected that when it comes to foreign policy, the realists offer some of the most sane observations. These suspicions were confirmed earlier this year when after the election of Donald Trump, John Mearsheimer, one of modern realism’s current standard bearers, wrote in The National Interest that Trump should “adopt a realist foreign policy” and outlines a far better foreign policy agenda that what we’ve seen coming from Washington. Keep Reading


Think Gentrification Is Bad? The Opposite Is Worse

We’ve long been told that gentrification is the scourge of many communities, and we’ve become very familiar with the scenario: a stable middle-class community is destroyed when wealthy (usually white) people move in, drive up home prices, and force out the “diverse” population that had been there previously. There are problems with this narrative of course. Very often, the working-class homeowners who leave the neighborhood experience a windfall from selling their property to the incoming “up and comers” who buy out the aging homeowners. There is an upside. On the other hand, there are indeed downsides to gentrification. There are… Keep Reading


Grant Statehood To America’s Core Cities

The battle over sanctuary cities is not just a matter of pitting some cities against federal policy. The conflict is also pitting cities against state governments. More than 30 states have moved with varying degrees of success to rein in so-called sanctuary cities that have pledged to not assist federal agents with rounding up and prosecuting suspected illegal immigrants. So far, though, Texas appears to have taken the biggest step with new legislation that “requires local law enforcement agents to honor requests by federal immigration agents to detain jailed immigrants suspected of being in the country without proper documentation. It… Keep Reading


Southern Secession Was One Thing — And The War To Prevent It Was Another

There’s an old saying that “he who distinguishes well teaches well.” In other words, if one’s going to talk about an important subject, one should be able to define his terms and tell the difference between two things that are not the same. This wisdom, unfortunately, is rarely embraced by modern pundits arguing about the causes of the American Civil War. A typical example can be found in this article at the Huffington Post in which the author opines: “This discussion [over the causes of the war] has led some people to question if the Confederacy, and therefore the Civil… Keep Reading


The Eclipse: How Markets Could Have Prevented The “Traffic Nightmare”

In a typical illustration of how the news media resorts to exaggeration and hyperbole in order to seem relevant, the national media promised us “chaos” and a traffic “nightmare” in cities and towns where a total eclipse could be viewed yesterday. A month ago, USAToday suggested that too many hikers and forest-fire danger “could cause eclipse-watching chaos during solar eclipse.” The Oregonian reported last month that the presence of public lands invite “eclipse watching chaos across Oregon.” And then the event came and went. The media, which had promised “chaos” ended up reporting little more than the so-called “traffic nightmare”… Keep Reading


Privatize The Public Monuments

When I was a student at the University of Colorado, I regularly walked by the Dalton Trumbo memorial fountain which was named after the communist Stalin-sympathizing novelist and screenwriter. Once upon a time, the fountain had been simply known as “the fountain,” but around 25 years ago, it was unnecessarily renamed after a controversial person. The reason for the renaming the fountain was the same as it is with any memorial or monument designed to honor a person or idea—to create an emotional connection and familiarity with the person or idea connected to the place; to communicate a certain view… Keep Reading


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.… Keep Reading


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… Keep Reading


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.”… Keep Reading


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… Keep Reading


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… Keep Reading


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… Keep Reading


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… Keep Reading


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… Keep Reading

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