Death by Regulation: The Price We Pay for the FDA

by  Dr. Mary J. Ruwart   A Matter of Life and Death Have you lost a loved one to breast cancer recently? If so, you probably wished with all your heart that your sister, mother, or wife had detected it earlier. Perhaps they would have – if the device that clinicians are calling “one of the most effective weapons against breast cancer” hadn’t been banned from the US market by the FDA. The Sensor Pad, developed in Decatur, Illinois, is simply two sealed plastic sheets with lubricant in between. When a woman or her doctor places the pad over her breast, friction is reduced, making lump detection easier. The FDA has refused to approve this simple medical device for over a decade, even though the product is sold in Japan, Singapore, Korea, and most West European countries. The reason? The FDA wants this $7 device to go through the same testing procedures that it demands for expensive pharmaceuticals. After such testing, the FDA will take up to six years to decide whether or not the device should be approved. Because drug manufacturers are required to spend much more time and money getting US approvals than offshore ones, Americans get new, life-saving drugs and devices years later than citizens of other countries – if they get them at all. Sometimes this delay protects us from side effects not readily detected in animal studies. The sedative thalidomide, for example, was marketed in Europe for several years while awaiting FDA approval. In the early 1960’s, the sensitivity of an unborn child to the deforming effects of drugs was not widely appreciated, so doctors began prescribing thalidomide to pregnant women. Consequently, approximately 12,000 European children were born with deformed limbs. Few American babies were affected because only a few test samples had been distributed in …

Juries: New Hope for Freedom: Fully Informed Juries

by Larry Dodge & Don Doig edited by Mark Valverde & Larry Dodge “For more than six hundred years – that is, since Magna Carta, in 1215, there has been no clearer principle of English or American constitutional law, than that, in criminal cases, it is not only the right and duty of juries to judge what are the facts, what is the law, and what was the moral intent of the accused; but that it is also their right, and their primary and paramount duty, to judge of the justice of the law, and to hold all laws invalid, that are, in their opinion, unjust or oppressive, and all persons guiltless in violating, or resisting the execution of such laws.” Lysander Spooner “An Essay on The Trial By Jury,” 1852 Jury Veto Power America’s founders worried that the government they created might someday grow too powerful, passing and enforcing laws which would violate the rights of the very people it was intended to protect: ordinary, peaceful, productive folks. So they kept an “ace in the hole,” a trump card they believed citizens could and would use to hold this new, experimental government in check. That ace was the right to a trial by a jury of one’s peers. How can a jury restrain a government? Answer: Juries can just say “no” to bad laws and to arbitrary and unjust prosecutions. It’s that simple! The Founders realized that the temptations of power and corruption would eventually prove to be too much for any of the three branches of our government to resist, let alone check and balance the other branches. They knew that to have a government “of, by and for the people”, the people would routinely have to assert their authority over the leadership, and would need the power to …

Is Your Freedom In Danger: Destruction of the Bill of Rights

by Jarret B. Wollstein What defines the character of America and makes this country a good place to live? For over 200 years, our prosperity and liberty had been the envy of much of the world. But prosperity is inseparable from our liberty. Take away freedom of speech, association, religion and enterprise, and our country would be neither free nor prosperous. Unique among modern nations, the United States was literally conceived in liberty. The guiding philosophy of Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, George Mason and our other Founders was the inalienable rights of the individual. As the Declaration of Independence states, WE hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness – That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it . . . . America’s Founders had experienced horrible demonstrations of the power of unlimited government: destructive taxation, forcible invasions of homes by government agents, interference with free trade, government spying on citizens, corruption and debasement of the legal system, imprisonment and murder of dissenters, and government destruction of churches. To avoid these evils, our Constitution and Bill of Rights (the first ten Amendments) were created, as strict limitations on the power of government. The Bill of Rights protects freedom of speech, press, religion, and assembly. It guarantees our right to keep and bear arms. It prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures. It guarantees due process in a court of law, a speedy hearing, and trial by jury. It prohibits excessive bail, fines and punishment. Most …

¿Libre Comercio o Proteccionismo?

Razones en contra de las restricciones comerciales por Vincent H. Miller y James R. Elwood traducido por Alberto Mansueti El señuelo del proteccionismo El argumento en pro del llamado “proteccionismo” (que algunos llaman comercio “justo” o “leal”) puede sonar atractivo al principio. Los partidarios de las leyes “proteccionistas” sostienen que dejar fuera los artículos extranjeros conservará puestos de trabajo, dará a las industrias achacosas oportunidad de recuperarse y prosperar, y reducirá los deficits comerciales. ¿Son válidos esos argumentos? Proteccionismo: sus costos John Stuart Mill “el filósofo liberal clásico del siglo pasado” observó agudamente que “las barreras comerciales infieren graves daños a los países que las imponen.” Y eso es verdad hoy como entonces, por las siguientes razones: Empleos Perdidos: Las leyes proteccionistas erigen impuestos (derechos) sobre los bienes importados, y/o decretan límites (cuotas) sobre las cantidades que de los mismos se permite ingresar al país. Son leyes que no sólo restringen la elección de bienes de consumo, sino que también contribuyen grandemente al costo superior tanto de bienes como de hacer negocios. De esta manera, bajo el “proteccionismo” Ud. termina más pobre, con menos dinero para comprar otras cosas que Ud. quiere y necesita. Además, las leyes proteccionistas que disminuyen la capacidad de gasto del consumidor, terminan realmente destruyendo empleos. En EE.UU. por ejemplo, y de acuerdo a las propias estadísticas del Departamento del Trabajo, el “proteccionismo” destruye 8 puestos de trabajo de la economía en su conjunto por cada 1 que salva de una industria protegida. Precios Mayores: Los consumidores japoneses pagan su arroz 5 veces por encima de su precio mundial, debido a las restricciones que protegen a los agricultores de su país. Los consumidores europeos pagan “cariñosos” costos por las restricciones de la CE sobre los bienes importados, y pesados impuestos por los subsidios internos a los …

It’s Time To End Social Security

Why the System is Bankrupt – and How We Can Replace It by George L. O’Brien edited by Mark Valverde and James R. Elwood      “If the US government were required to keep its books the way businesses are required to keep theirs, the national debt wouldn’t be $5 trillion. It would be $17 trillion, an amount equal to 2½ times the nation’s gross domestic product.” Forbes, “The Legal Ponzi Scheme,” October 9, 1995 The Legal Ponzi Scheme Discussions of Social Security remind me of the joke about a man who jumps from the top of a fifty-story building and after falling half-way is asked, “How are you doing?” He answers, “Fine, so far.” The issue of Social Security has long been considered the “third rail” of politics – as on the electrified subway: “touch it and you die.” But like the falling man, Social Security is not really “fine.” There are many reasons for the popularity of Social Security. It is the only part of the welfare state which promises benefits to nearly every person. It is also seen to relieve adult children of the responsibility of supporting their elderly parents, and it helps the elderly poor for whom there is a great deal of sympathy. There is only one problem: the system is a fraud. In theory, Social Security is a form of “insurance.” In practice, it is a “Ponzi scheme.” Historian Mark Knutson, writes that in the summer of 1920, [Charles K.] Ponzi claimed he was giving investors just a portion of the 400% profit he was earning through trade in postal reply coupons. As Ponzi paid the matured notes held by early investors, word of enormous profits spread through the community, whipping greedy and credulous investors into a frenzy. Investigation later revealed that there were no coupons or …

How To Sell Liberty

by Jarret Wollstein   Why Liberty Must Be Sold In folklore, to succeed all you need to do is come up with a great idea or product. “Invent a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door.” Unfortunately, the world almost never beats a path to anyone’s door. Countless brilliant inventors, artists, and scientists have died in abject poverty. On the other hand, thousands of people who developed modest improvements have become wealthy and successful. What is the difference between these two groups? Why have so many ordinary people with so-so ideas succeeded while many brilliant people with great ideas have failed? Certainly there are factors outside of your control which contribute to success or failure. But one of the most important factors is something you can learn and develop: effective salesmanship. Salesmanship simply means presenting your product in a way that is attractive and emotionally compelling to your audience. If you want your ideas or products to be accepted, you must beat a path to the world’s doors. This is particularly true if your product is a new or misunderstood idea, such as liberty. Like any other product, liberty must be sold. Selling Liberty Below are some of the most important, basic principles involved in selling. Potential candidates for recruitment, contributions, etc., are referred to as “prospects.” 1. Set Realistic, Numerical Goals.If you don’t have realistic goals, you probably won’t accomplish much. In selling liberty, your goals could be how many new people you get to come to your meetings each month, how many activities you sponsor, or how much money you take in. When it becomes easy to meet an initial goal, set new, more ambitious ones. 2. Be Professional.Selling liberty is a serious business and you need to adopt a serious, professional attitude. …

Creating a Successful Libertarian Outreach Organization

by Jarret Wollstein WHY START A LIBERTARIAN OUTREACH GROUP? First, because it’s fun and emotionally-rewarding. Libertarians like to associate with other libertarians – as friends, lovers, business associates, and activity-partners. Starting a group and holding regular meetings makes it easier to find each other. Another reason is to advance the cause of liberty. Today liberty is under siege throughout the world. Taxes consume some 50% to 70% of your income, drastically reducing your standard of living. Possession of sexually-explicit pictures or unapproved drugs can put you in prison for decades. Small businesses are being taxed and regulated to death. Attempting to keep your finances private is now the “crime” of money-laundering. Parents who don’t send their children to government approved indoctrination centers – known as public schools – are subject to arrest and fines. Medicine is increasingly monopolized by the state and police confiscations are growing like an unchecked cancer. There’s plenty to be concerned about, and an urgent need to build effective outreach organizations. And we can win. Groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) – begun by two women operating out of a spare bedroom, and now a national movement – demonstrates that with determination and courage, a few people can change the course of a nation. WHAT SHOULD MY GROUP DO? Get together and have fun. Your meetings should be entertaining and enjoyable or few people will show up. So have tasty snacks, meet at restaurants, or in a quiet area of the park. Eat, drink, dance, socialize, enjoy life. Once you’ve done that, you can start recruiting new members. In fact, people will seek you out. For several years, my Libertarian Social Club in the Washington, DC area was listed by several singles groups as one of the most enjoyable clubs in town. We regularly drew …

To Create Order, Remove the Planner

by Sheldon Richman Unplanned Order Which came first, the chicken of economics or the egg of economic action? Did the discipline of economics precede the object of its interest? The obvious answer is no. To say yes would be like saying that astronomy preceded the planets and stars – or that before Newton, apples didn’t fall from trees. Yet, there are people who speak as though they believe that there was no economy before there were economists. This isn’t just an interesting intellectual exercise. It bears on how we understand the economic process and ultimately how we view government involvement in that process. The first people who could be called economists were descriptivists rather than prescriptivists. They were concerned with what people do, not with what they should do. The discipline of economics began as a riddle to be solved. At least as far back as the Middle Ages, some perceptive observers noticed a kind of order – things were produced and placed in proximity to the people who were willing to make trades to obtain them. Yet this order was undesigned. No one planned the overall scheme. How did it happen? How could there be unplanned order? It was a paradox. The people who first set out to answer those questions were the first economists. The classical school of economics (for all its faults) focused on resolving that paradox. Adam Smith used the metaphor of the invisible hand to point out unplanned order to readers of The Wealth of Nations. Later, Frederic Bastiat saw that the task of economics was not to prove the existence of unplanned order. One needed only to draw attention to it. Rather, it was necessary to explain how such order comes about and how it works. Israel Kirzner, in his book The Economic Point of View, …

The Looting of America (Civil Asset Forfeiture)

How over 200 Civil Asset Forfeiture Laws Enable Police to Confiscate Your Home, Bank Accounts & Business Without Trial by Jarret B. Wollstein “A police dog scratched at your luggage, so we’re confiscating your life savings and you’ll never get it back.” Police stopped 49-year-old Ethel Hylton at Houston’s Hobby Airport and told her she was under arrest because a drug dog had scratched at her luggage. Agents searched her bags and strip-searched her, but they found no drugs. They did find $39,110 in cash, money she had received from an insurance settlement and her life savings; accumulated through over 20 years of work as a hotel housekeeper and hospital janitor. Ethel Hylton completely documented where she got the money and was never charged with a crime. But the police kept her money anyway. Nearly four years later, she is still trying to get her money back. Ethel Hylton is just one of a large and growing list of Americans – now numbering in the hundreds of thousands – who have been victimized by civil asset forfeiture. Under civil asset forfeiture, everything you own can be legally taken away even if you are never convicted of a crime. Suspicion of offenses which, if proven in court, might result in a $200 fine or probation, are being used to justify seizure of tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of property. Totally innocent Americans are losing their cars, homes and businesses, based on the claims of anonymous informants that illegal transactions took place on their property. Once property is seized, it is virtually impossible to get it back. Property is now being seized in every state and from every social group. Seizures include pocket money confiscated from public-housing residents in Florida; cars taken away from men suspected of soliciting prostitutes in Oregon; …

Just Say No to “Extortion Futures!”

Why buying government bonds is a bad investment for yourself, and our future by James R. Elwood Most people think that buying government bonds is the safest investment you can make, and that the money is used for beneficial purposes. The truth is that lending money to governments causes more harm than good. It leads to higher taxes and wasteful spending. And, bondholders almost always lose money. Encouraging Waste and Corruption Politicians tell us that buying government bonds is “an investment in the future,” but giving government more money causes great economic harm. Most national government borrowings are designed to cover operating deficits – to subsidize wasteful spending. So long as the money flows, bureaucrats don’t have any profit-or-loss-incentives to control their expenditures. Indeed, success in government is measured by how large you can make your department budget and staff! The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) spends 80% of its budget on administrative overhead, while private charities are prosecuted for fraud if more than 20-30% of donations goes for staff. In California, there are an average of 132 administrators for every 100 teachers in the public schools, while there are only 18 per 100 teachers in the parochial schools. Average cost per high-school student: $5200 public vs. $2200 private. Billions of tax dollars are wasted, and are thus unavailable for creating productive private businesses and jobs. Many city or state bond-financed infrastructure projects are riddled with lavish fees for contractors and payroll “featherbedding.” Contractors and unions recycle large sums into corrupt politicians’ campaign accounts to ensure their re-election. These politicians then propose more projects. The special interests also use the loot to finance slick advertising campaigns to convince gullible voters that they should approve bond measures for projects of dubious public value, like fancy new sports stadiums. Bond …