Why Civil Defense Still Matters

Doctors for Disaster Preparedness is a small group of top scientists and doctors who publish a newsletter and hold an annual meeting at different defense and nuclear sites. At meetings speakers cover issues relating to civil defense, diseases, new chemical/technological discoveries, and global climate issues. Speakers offer varied viewpoints and the group is often bitterly criticized for its unorthodox challenges to the medical establishment. Their last program, described in more detail below, shows the variety of speakers and topics covered. I have been attending meetings since the 1980s when I first wrote about nuclear war survival. Personally, I have always been interested in civil defense since studying in Germany in 1952, taking shortcuts to my classes through still bombed out city blocks. I was always amazed that “only” a million German civilians died from the bombing that flattened every single city. I even saw East Berlin, which was just rubble as far as the eye could see. Human beings are amazingly resilient. But the Germans also had built good bomb shelters. After 9/11, Dr. Jane Orient, who runs the Doctors for Disaster Preparedness, explained how American city fire departments were being supplied with useless radiation detectors measuring Millirem instead of Rems. They were based on the EPA’s incoherent threat levels, which have been obsolete since the 1950s. The EPA has since modified its threat levels by a factor of hundreds. Dr. Orient then donated higher-scale measuring detectors to her local Phoenix fire department. I attended the last meeting in Omaha, site of the Strategic Air Command, the military unit in charge of two-thirds of the Nuclear Triad. It had the usual complement of fascinating speakers and topics. Lectures at the meeting included “Freedom of Information Act in Climate Science,” “An Update on Emerging Diseases,” “Police, Fire and Civilian Emergency Medical Preparedness,” “Combatting …

Why Trump won

The media elite, who have proven themselves to be hilariously wrong about everything in this election, are scrambling to come up with an explanation for how Donald Trump was elected to become the 45th President of the United States.  Everything about this carefully crafted election narrative has since fallen apart in the wake of what was an unimaginable Trump victory just weeks ago. Journalists, politicians, and social media warriors everywhere are trying to make sense of such a spectacular failure on the part of the ruling class to control the outcome of this election, which was considered an easy victory for Clinton.  I, too, must admit that I never expected Trump to stand a chance against such a broad coalition of the 4th estate united for the singular purpose of denying Trump the presidency. So how did we get here? First, we must analyze the election narrative that existed PRIOR to Clinton’s stunning defeat at the hands of the most reviled character in modern American politics.  Indeed, many are still conforming to this narrative of “racism,” “bigotry,” and “misogyny” and “3rd parties” as an explanation for Trump’s victory.  Countless articles were written to this effect by journalists on both the left and the right.  That Trump was anti-woman and therefore would do terrible among women was a foregone conclusion.  And yet, 42% of American women (including a majority of white women), voted for Donald Trump.   That amounts to 25 million women who were not convinced by the media narrative that Trump hates women.  Do these women also hate women?  Are they less intelligent than the rest of us?  What could possibly explain how 25 million women would vote for a woman-hating “misogynist?”  If Sarah Palin or Barbara Bush were the Republican nominees, does anyone here seriously believe that Republicans would have stayed home and not voted Republican because they are all “sexist bigots?” “I’ve never …

Trade Talks, the Jones Act, and the International Cost of Protectionism

[alert style=”grey”] This article was originally published on the Grassroot Institute website, you can view the original article here. [/alert] For years now, the US has been involved in two important trade talks: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Both seek to provide new market access, expand existing markets, and provide regulatory transparency and consistency among European and Asia-Pacific markets. Many different industries and policies are being discussed in the TPP and TTIP negotiations. One policy that is often mentioned in such trade talks is the Jones Act, more formally known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920. While the TPP and TTIP are unlikely to reform the Jones Act due to a strong pro-Jones Act lobby, the these trade talks remind one of the great domestic and international cost of the Jones Act and protectionism in general. The Jones Act is a protectionist policy that restricts foreign competition from domestic coastal shipping and, in doing so, keeps prices artificially high, especially in America’s non-contiguous states and territories. For goods shipped between US ports, the Jones Act requires that ships be 1) built in the US, 2) crewed largely by American citizens 3) owned largely by Americans, and 4) be registered US vessels. With up to 90% of goods transported by sea,1 protectionism in the shipping industry can have massive, widespread costs. For America alone, the Jones Act costs “at least $2.8 billion [$4.37 billion in 2014 inflation-adjusted dollars] annually and its removal would lower domestic shipping prices by 26%,”according to a 1995 report from the U.S. International Trade Commission.2 More recent research by Justin Lewis of Tulane University has shown that “a full repeal of the Jones Act would yield economic benefits of up to $682 million per year” with domestic coastal shipping “approximately 61% …

Our experience at “The Best Liberty Show on Earth!”

Ruwart Minimum Wage

Mark Skousen’s Freedom Fest is truly the most spectacular gathering of free minds in the world. Spectacular? Of course! Barnum and Bailey had exotic animals, clowns, and acrobats to promote…how hard can that be? But Mark turns intellectuals and academics into a scintillating 3-ring circus with a gala film awards showcase, fiery debates, testy courtroom trials, glorious musical theater, and glitzy Vegas dancing. ISIL speakers made nearly dozen appearances during this 3-day liberty extravaganza, opening on Wednesday, July 9 with eight speakers in three sessions: 1) Ken Schoolland, “School & Land in India: Fighting Poverty, Socialism, & Caste”; Glenn Cripe, “Johnny Appleseed of Liberty: Reaching Hundreds of Youth Leaders Worldwide”; Jan Kuban, “Tigers and Outsiders: Avoiding the Polish Way to Tyranny”. 2) Barbara Kolm, “Looming Crises in Europe”; Mary Ruwart, “How Liberty Can Save the Environment?” 3) Li Zhao Schoolland, “From Mao to Hayek: An Introduction to the Free Market Movement in China,” Leon Louw, “Looming Economic Crises in Africa,” and Katya Akudovich, “Liberty: From Fear or From Courage?” Mary Ruwart’s debate with a university labor professor over the minimum wage was shown nation-wide on C-Span and had a very good impact. Appearing on the big stage, she smashed her opponent who came across as a disconnected academic completely in the clouds. Mary politely cut him down to size and the audience was completely ours. On another forum during concurrent sessions, ISIL filled the house with these respective topics: Doug Casey, “Don’t Cry for Me: Living Dangerously in Argentina”; Mary Ruwart “Do Cry for Me: Living with Big Brother in the Former Land of the Free”. Doug advised people of great ways to find places to live free. Mary’s speech focused on the tragic impact of the FDA. She was the only one on such a hot topic with Obamacare looming on the political horizon. Li Zhao Schoolland made her second appearance and a very positive impact on the grand stage with Steve Forbes, …

The Town that Privatized Everything

Sandy Springs, Georgia may look like any other town in America. It has parks, roads, and beautiful places to live. But there’s one thing that separates this town from every other town: Sandy Springs privatized almost everything. In 2005, Sandy Springs outsourced almost all functions of the city government (with the exception of police and fire) to a single company, which runs the town. That company is in charge of running all the vital functions of government, from the running the parks, to paving the roads, and even 911 calls! The town is run very efficiently, with zero backlogs in permit requests. Call the city, and you’ll be surprised to find that you actually get a friendly person on the other line! The city has a 24/7 non-automated customer service hotline which fields about 6,000 calls per month. It also has a state of the art traffic system with cameras and a high tech command center. When people come to Sandy Springs, they usually have no idea that it’s privatized, says Sharon Kraun, media relations director for the city. There are no signs with corporate logos or anything like that. According to Sharon, “What people can tell is that the city is well taken care of, and the residents who live here or individuals who work here, like being here and are happy with the level of service provided.” When the project first started, the University of Georgia estimated that the city would need 828 employees. But because the town is managed by a private company, they’ve cut their workforce down to just 471 people.  Besides fire and police, the city only has eight full-time public employees. Because of this efficiency, Sandy Springs generates huge surpluses. They have no unfunded liabilities. The city specifically decided not to use the traditional …

ISIL at Freedom Fest 2014

From Mark Skousen, producer of FreedomFest: I woke up this morning thinking about “Why We Need to Get Together Once a Year.”  Over the years, I’ve been impressed with the proliferation of free-market think tanks and freedom organizations which are doing their part to make a difference:  publishing websites, special reports and books; holding meetings and conventions; influencing elected officials or using the court system to overturn bad legislation. ISIL is doing a great job reaching out to an international group of hard-core libertarians with your Liberty Camps, China conferences on Austrian economics, publications like JG, and your own annual international conference.  Reason, Cato, Heritage, FEE, ISI, Manhattan Institute, and all the other state think tanks do much the same to make a difference. That’s where FreedomFest comes in. Our mission is simple: to bring together once a year all the freedom groups and provide a place to learn, network, socialize and celebrate liberty.  And we do it in the nation’s most libertarian city, Las Vegas. We are a for-profit organization, so we don’t compete for fundraising with all these good causes. We try not to promote one organization over another. We support them all. In Hayekian terms, it’s a spontaneous order, with every think tank and freedom organization deciding for themselves what to talk about. FreedomFest is not “my” conference, it’s “our” conference. The idea came to me when I was president of the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), the country’s oldest free-market organization. Why not have an annual reunion, I thought, and bring together all the think tanks and freedom organizations from around the world, to talk about philosophy, history, science & technology, healthy living, music & dance, investments, and geo-politics?  We would create an intellectual feast in a fun town, the entertainment capital of the world. And …

Truant in America

Have you ever heard of anybody who never went to school? No, I don’t mean ‘home schooled’. I’m talking about no school at all. No curriculum. No home school course. No online accredited program. Never went to Kindergarten, or any other grade. In America, that is rare, because education is compulsory.  Kids are forced by law to go to school. Christian’s mom learned that lesson well. She said when Christian was six years old, “They came out with a police officer, and wanted to inspect the home environment. We eventually moved out of the state because of it . . . because they wanted him to be tested, and they wanted this, and that . . .” “They were going to get him?” I asked. “Yeah. They were going to reel him into the system. I said, ‘That’s not happening!’” The family fled to Hawaii, where it was easier to hide a kid from the truancy laws. After all, how could anyone distinguish a truant kid from a tourist kid? It was the perfect plan. “My parents were upfront with me,” Christian said, “It’s like, ‘You’re supposed to be in school. But we’re not going to make you do it. So, if you don’t want to school, you should keep your mouth shut about it.’” Christian Regan, now 22 years old, has never gone to school in his life. Yet, you would never know by meeting him. He reads more than most adults. Christian’s dad said, “He basically taught himself how to read. There was no ‘A is Ahh, B is Buhh’. We would just read books to him. He’d watch us reading him books, and before long, he was reading them instead of us.” Christian learned to read and write when he was only five years old. “I remember …

The Mariel Boatlift: Voting With Boats

It is said that freedom always wins when people are allowed to vote with their feet…they move from locations of high tyranny to places of relative freedom—always in very great numbers. 34 years ago today, on April 20, 1980, Fidel Castro announced that any Cubans who wanted to leave could do so without punishment from the port town of Mariel. In the clearest possible expression of their hatred of Castro’s rule, Cubans voted by boat. More than a hundred thousand took to rickety, makeshift vessels in what came to be known as the Mariel Boatlift. Americans in Miami grabbed whatever boats they could find to reunite with friends and relatives across the channel. Braving hurricane winds, exposure at sea, pirates and sharks, desperate refugees crowded aboard anything that floated, regardless of seaworthiness, because freedom seemed so worth it. At first the U.S. government of Jimmy Carter lived up to the ideals of the Statute of Liberty and embraced these refugees. The U.S. Coast Guard didn’t actually go to the port of Mariel to provide safe transportation for those eager to leave, but the U.S. armed services did a commendable job of rescuing many of those who became stranded on the high seas. After all, the U.S. had sanctioned Cuba for 20 years, condemning Castro’s regime for the brutality of his communist dictatorship, for the forced economic squalor and repression of free speech and civil liberties. The U.S. had even attempted to overthrow or assassinate Castro. So why wouldn’t Americans at least welcome those who tried to flee Cuba? Then the mood turned against refugees when it was rumored that Castro’s trick was to release “undesirables” from prisons and mental hospitals, sending them all to America. Jimmy Carter, in an election year, then agreed with Castro that they would both put …