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The Evolutionary Perspective
Daily Archives: July 23, 2021
Posted: July 23, 2021 at 4:24 am
Virtually every person wants access to quality healthcare at an affordable price. Libertarians think the best way to achieve this is by removing government interference and enabling free markets.
Government inappropriately controls our healthcare in many ways:
Currently, the healthcare industry is virtually monopolized by the government and a handful of insurance companies. They hold the checkbook and wield it for their own benefit.
Each year, the government sets prices that they will pay providers including doctors and hospitals. Each year, these payments increase at less than the cost of inflation, while the cost of providing medical care increases by a far greater amount. This has unpleasant consequences for everyone.Providers are incentivized to do what is quick and cheap, not what is in the best interest of a particular patient. Doctors are forced to reduce the time they spend with patients, and this reduces quality of care. Hospitals are discouraged from upgrading facilities, and this reduces quality of care. Worse yet, insurance companies often set their payments according to the governments prices. This regular ratcheting down on payments to providers, while actual costs to provide care increases, makes providers less able to provide high quality healthcare.
Government also regulates where medical facilities can be built, who can build them, and when. The process for applying for permission to build facilities is very costly and very slow, thus it favors the biggest corporations and prevents smaller organizations from opening new facilities that could serve patients. This greatly limits patients access to medical care and increases costs compared to a system where government permission was not required.
Institutions such as the Food and Drug Administration also limit cost-effective access to quality care. The approval processes for new drugs and technology is lengthy and expensive. Because of this, the process favors the biggest companies with the most lawyers. There are many stories of patients dying while waiting for approval of a new device or medicine. Instead, Libertarians call for free-market testing which will be inherently incentivized to be efficient and fair in their processes. Additionally, Libertarians believe in the Right to Try, especially in situations with a terminal diagnosis. The government must not be permitted to deny patients access to new medical advances.
Tort reform would also greatly reduce the cost of health care. The current tort system raises the cost of care byencouraging unnecessary testing and procedures which increase the costof medical care by forcing medical teams to devote significant time and resources to preventing or defending against unwarranted legal actions. When legitimate claims arise, they should be taken seriously and resolved fairly through the courts. However, frivolous and fraudulent claims should not be tolerated, as our current system does. These disparage our healthcare providers and the quality of medical care they can provide and that we can receive. Libertarians oppose fraud in all forms.
In short, Libertarians believe that each personhas the right to make their own medical decisions. Libertarians support removing government meddling from healthcare. We think this and tort reform arethe best ways to improve quality of healthcare, increase access to healthcare, and decrease prices of healthcare in our country.
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Posted: at 4:24 am
Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer's campaign is in a dispute with state officials over whether he can be listed as the city's retired mayor on the ballot for the recall election of Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Each candidate is listed with a job title or other descriptor, but they are not allowed to use the word former. Faulconer's campaign requested he be listed as San Diego's retired mayor, which state officials are now disputing, Faulconer spokesman John Burke said. He left the office in 2020, and referencing his prior role would help boost his name identification.
Burke said the campaign plans to sue the Secretary of State's office.
"It defies common sense that KevinFaulconerwouldnt be allowed to use retired San Diego Mayor as his ballot designation, where he was elected and re-elected, leaving office only at the end of last year," Burke said in a written statement. "This is not fair to voters who should be given accurate information as to who the candidates for this recall actually are. Our campaign is suing the Secretary of State to ensure that this is rectified."
Faulconer isn't the only candidate upset with the list of 41 candidates released Saturday by the state. YouTube creator Kevin Paffrath said he planned to sue to get his YouTube nickname on the ballot.
And, conservative talk radio host Larry Elder was left off the ballot because state officials say he submitted incomplete tax returns, a requirement to run. Elder maintains he should be included and says he'll go to court to get his name on the ballot.
The list of candidates includes 21 Republicans and eight Democrats, one Libertarian, nine independents and two Green Party members. The list has a range of candidates from the anonymous to the famous, including an entertainer known for putting herself on Los Angeles billboards in the 1980s and others with eye-catching names, like deputy sheriff Denver Stoner, and Nickolas Wildstar, who lists himself as a musician/entrepreneur/father.
Also listed is Olympian-turned-reality-TV-star Caitlyn Jenner, who was reportedly in Australia filming a reality show at the time the list was released, though she tweeted Friday that she and her campaign team are "in full operation."
Voters will be sent a ballot with two questions: Should Newsom be recalled, and who should replace him. If more than half of voters say yes to the first question, then whoever on the list of potential replacements gets the most votes is the new governor of the nations most populous state. With numerous candidates and no clear front-runner, its possible the someone could win with less than 25% of the votes.
Ballots will start going out next month in the mail, and the official election date is Sept. 14.
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Posted: at 4:24 am
Recently, there have been increased calls to boycott or otherwise penalize the Federalist Society (a conservative, libertarian, nonpartisan, nonprofit legal organization). The grounds for the boycott are straightforward: Without question, some of the Societys leaders and most prominent members took part in the shameful efforts to overturn the 2020 election, and fuel the January 6, 2021 insurrection. In a piece for Slate, Nicolas Wallace contends that because the Federalist Society, as an organization, has not condemned the insurrectionist in its ranks, it should not occupy a place of respect in the legal community.
Mr. Wallace has personal experience with Society members behaving badly, and he pens an interesting and intelligent piece. On its own, it drives me to deeper reflection. But his opinion is likely not an outlier. It is already being echoed by law professors I respect immensely, and whose opinions I normally share. Whats more, on top of 2020s parade of horribles, the Federalist Society's key role in identifying, vetting, and pushing forward President Trumps federal judicial nominees has already made it a top-tier villain for many Democrats and progressives. The Federalist Society has become one of the few secular non-profit organizations to penetrate the everyday political discourse of ideological and partisan foes.
The Federalist Society was founded in 1982 in response to the domination of liberals and progressives in the legal academy and the practice of law. It now includes more than 75,000 law students, professors, lawyers, and judges. Here in Nevada, the Federalist Society has Reno and Las Vegas chapters for Nevada lawyers. And UNLVs Boyd Law School, the states only law school, has a robust student chapter as well. All three chapters regularly host speaking events and meetings.
I serve as a board member for the Las Vegas chapter, and the Society had a positive influence on my years as a student and a lawyer. My long association with the organization and my past service as a Republican election law attorney, notwithstanding, I spent most of 2020 publicly challenging and condemning President Trumps efforts to disenfranchise voters, sow distrust in our elections, and ruin democracy in Nevada and across the country.
On this news site alone, I wrote at least eight different pieces in praise of Nevadas electoral system, its officials, and its results, while also critiquing President Trumps legal positions and efforts. I defended Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske and her team. I also wrote pieces in support of expanding the franchise, the value of voters, moderation, immigration, waiting on confirming Justice Ginsburgs replacement until after the election, Gov. Steve Sisolak, and U.S. Sen. Harry Reid. I endorsed and voted for President Biden, too.
I left the Republican Party in August of 2020 specifically because of President Trumps anti-democratic actions and rhetoric, and the harm it was causing Nevada. Given my previous partisan work and affiliations, you can imagine how my opinions and efforts were received. I have walked away from my party, and much of my former political life, but I did not and will not walk away from the Federalist Society.
The Society played an important part in my intellectual growth. I disagree regularly, and I know that my personal politics diverge sharply from the vast bulk of its members. But the Federalist Society taught me important lessons: personal politics and judicial duties need not (and probably shouldnt) be the same thing. The rule of law should transcend and restrain a judges partisan inclinations and preferred policy outcomes. In America, we accept no kings, whether they wear gold crowns or black robes. These are fundamental truths the Federalist Society has instilled in me and that will not change even as other Society members sail on sour ideological winds.
Furthermore, I like having ideas and preconceptions tested especially my own. Just last week, I spent my lunchtime enjoying too much meat from Fogo de Chao and listening to the brilliant Georgetown Law School Professor (and longtime Society member) Randy Barnett. He has a new book coming out in November titled The Original Meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment: Its Letter and Spirit. Based on his presentation, it looks like the book will attempt to get the radical history behind the 14th Amendment right and challenge conservatives and libertarians to actually embrace the fight for justice under the law. I cant wait to read the book.
But it is not just the Federalist Societys intellectual airs that makes it worthy of defense. Many of the Societys members erred tremendously in 2020, but many stood strong as well. Quite a few of the judges who rejected Trumps efforts to overturn the election were members of the Federalist Society. These judges often rejected President Trumps specious argument on grounds rooted in Federalist Society principles. In Nevada, many Republican state court judges all of whom are elected and some of whom I know largely agree with the Federalist Societys philosophy also held fast under intense pressure. Law, not politics, ruled.
Among the many things the 20th Century got wrong was the idea that you could solve complex problems by drawing lines on maps and separating people.Whether it was an effort to untangle some of the horrors of Colonialism, or to preempt some of the expected problems of the Cold War, world leaders thought partitioning countries, communities, and persons a useful remedy. In hindsight, such division proved catastrophically poor medicine, and almost always made things worse.
This history of geopolitical and human partition provides an admittedly crude (and limited) caution about social partitioning today. It is not new borders between countries that worry me, but the new metaphorical borders we are erecting between each other. We are engaged in all sorts of voluntary and involuntary sorting along political and ideological grounds. And we Nevadans are no exception. More and more of our civil, social, religious, and even private lives are quarantined from non-believing outsiders.
I would hate for groups like the Federalist Society to voluntarily or involuntarily exit Nevadas polite legal community. In the long term, such separation rarely works, and usually backfires. Life is messy, and so is the practice of law. None of us know as much as we think we do. Like it or not, all we have is each other. And mixing together, even to passionately disagree, might be the most pro-democracy step we can take.
Daniel H. Stewart is a fifth-generation Nevadan and a partner with Hutchison & Steffen. He was Gov. Brian Sandovals general counsel and has represented various GOP elected officials and groups.
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Why a 19th-century Russian anarchist is relevant to the mask and vaccine debate – The Conversation US
Posted: at 4:24 am
Americans who refused to don masks or get vaccinated during the pandemic dont have an easy task constructing a valid philosophical defense of their behavior.
The go-to philosophical authorities typically cited to defend individual liberty in the U.S. John Locke and John Stuart Mill do not provide compelling reasons for ignoring public health messages.
Lockes doctrine of natural law states that people are endowed with natural rights to life, liberty, and estate, premised on duties to God of self-preservation, and any behavior that risks survival constitutes a violation of that natural law. As such, there is no justification to refuse a safe and effective vaccine during a deadly pandemic.
Similarly, Mills harm principle which broadly states that people are allowed to do whatever they want provided they do not directly harm others doesnt help those opposed to vaccines and masks. Their actions might prolong the pandemic, allowing the virus an opportunity to mutate and potentially render vaccines ineffective behavior that puts everyone at risk.
There is, however, another ethical framework that people refusing to be vaccinated or wear masks might turn to, although it comes from an unlikely source: the 19th-century Russian anarcho-communist Mikhail Bakunin.
Perhaps most famous for his lengthy and bitter tiff with German philosopher Karl Marx, Bakunins philosophy of anarcho-communism consisted of the abolition of government, private property and indeed all means of coercion.
As a professor of political theory, I believe Bakunin has been overlooked in the current debate about masks and vaccines. Some of his views are consistent with at least the libertarian-based criticisms of mask and vaccine requirements. Indeed, despite meaningful differences, many libertarians in the U.S. share with Bakunin the belief that freedom is the most important value and governments are by nature coercive. They may distrust Bakunins insistence on linking freedom and rationality and certainly would reject his embrace of communism, but libertarians would likely nevertheless admire his skepticism of authority.
Bakunin might not be an obvious source of support for many in the anti-mask and anti-vaccine camp. His classic 1871 text, God and State, begins in a manner sure to offend certain elements of the religious right, who make up a sizable number of those refusing to follow public health advise on vaccines.
Bakunin attacks Christianity as the enemy of rationality and freedom. If humans wish to be free, he argues, they should learn the physical laws of the universe and social laws of society to inform their decision-making. If guided by genuine knowledge, Bakunin says, people can make smart decisions and become rational agents in charge of making choices for themselves.
But science, too, can be a great threat to freedom, Bakunin suggests and it is here that many of those opposed to mask and vaccine mandates may warm to his argument.
Beyond the fact that there are limits to scientific knowledge, Bakunin believed that there is always the possibility that scientists themselves will be invested with coercive authority.
If rationality and knowledge are requisite for freedom, Bakunin argued, then those with knowledge are in a position to force people to do, or not do, certain things.
As such, Bakunin worried that scientists, emboldened by their importance in society, will arrogantly claim the right to govern life.
We must respect the scientists for their merits and achievements, but in order to prevent them from corrupting their own high moral and intellectual standards, they should be granted no special privileges and no rights other than those possessed by everyone for example, the liberty to express their convictions, thought and knowledge. Neither they nor any other special group should be given power over others. He who is given power will inevitably become an oppressor and exploiter of society, he wrote in 1873.
Bakunins solution to the risk of coercion by scientists was to lessen their authority without diminishing the value of scientific knowledge. To do so, he makes each individual responsible for learning and acting on whatever knowledge they have. The idea is for people to consult scientists for knowledge with the understanding that no one scientist has all the answers and that the accumulated knowledge of all scientists likewise is limited and cannot give perfect answers.
To apply Bakunins theory of freedom to pandemic America, no one should be required to get a vaccine. Rather, the population should be encouraged to investigate the efficacy and safety of the vaccines.
For its part, the scientific community needs to vigilantly scrutinize itself and present knowledge in an honest fashion, eagerly volunteering to the public what it knows and does not know.
Bakunin would be highly critical of both nave optimists and doom-and-gloom pessimists in the scientific community. People need the unvarnished truth presented in simple and clear terms. If the answer is we scientists dont know, then so be it.
Bakunins theory of freedom asks much of the population. It requires individuals to know something of the nature of scientific knowledge, ask sensible questions and then make a rational analysis of the available evidence. It requires scientists to check their egos and desire for quick celebrity and soberly present their knowledge in accessible and honest terms.
And granted, Bakunin did not account for disinformation campaigns of the sort found on the internet that undermine access to reliable scientific data. He did, however, have faith in people to sort through information and make rational decisions. This ability, according to Bakunin, is a precondition for freedom.
Vaccine skeptics, thus, might find comfort in Bakunin. If they ask good questions and do not find satisfactory answers, then his philosophy suggests they should absolutely refuse a vaccine. The same goes for masking: If the scientific community cannot effectively communicate why masks are still needed, then people should not be expected to wear them, Bakunin might argue.
At the same time, those opposing masks and vaccines need to sincerely follow the science and allow themselves to be convinced by data, Bakunins philosophy suggests. Refusing to wear a mask based on an uneducated hunch or because of a belief that the government wants to control me constitutes folly, not freedom. In short, anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers, to claim their freedom, need to be reasonable.
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Viewpoint: If not the Municipal Auditorium, what could become the next City Hall? – Uptown Messenger
Posted: at 4:24 am
The Plaza Tower is one of many under-utilized buildings that could be converted to a new City Hall.
While Mayor LaToya Cantrell told members of the Save Our Soul (SOS) coalition Tuesday that she was good with the Municipal Auditorium not becoming the next City Hall, the historic structure remains her first choice probably because of the $38 million allocation from FEMA that comes with it.
Cantrell has given SOS a 90-day deadline to come up with a solid, fully funded plan to renovate, operate and maintain the auditorium. In the event that SOS successfully meets that goal, city officials might want to start looking at other suitable locations across New Orleans.
If the prevailing sentiment is to stay in the downtown area, the Plaza Tower could be ripe for the picking. The 485,000-square-foot building features 45 floors, 13 elevators and its own parking garage. Theres even a separate parking lot for sale directly behind the building. Of course, the Plaza Tower is loaded with asbestos, but a gut renovation would certainly cure that.
The former A to Z Paper Co complex on Tchoupitoulas Street and the neighboring Market Street Power Station might also be viable locations.
Two other locations close to the Ernest N. Morial Convention Centers proposed entertainment district might work: the former A to Z Paper Co. site and its adjoining parking lot or A to Zs next-door neighbor, the Market Street Power Station. All three would be readily accessible via the Tchoupitoulas Street exit.
If a view of the Mississippi River is important, the Jackson Avenue Wharf which the state donated to the Dock Board two years ago might hit the spot.
Whether the overpass stays or comes down, perhaps there is even land along Claiborne Avenue that could be assembled for the next City Hall. If the Claiborne and St. Bernard corner, across from Circle Foods, was the epicenter of a new complex, residents and businesses along both avenues could benefit.
Perhaps the most likely and best location for City Hall is somewhere almost anywhere in New Orleans East. On the site of the former Plaza in Lake Forest? By Banner Chevrolet or Household of Faith? What about at the Morrison exit or along the Chef?
When traffic along the interstate is running smoothly, New Orleans East is only a hop, skip and a jump away. The residents of New Orleans East could benefit from the project in so many ways as an emotional lift and as a catalyst for economic growth including fine dining and upscale entertainment.
With the City Council having created a new zoning process for City Halls future, it may be 2022 before a final decision is made on the relocation. That will give the SOS coalition leaders more time to put all the development pieces together at the Armstrong Park site.
Until then, interested citizens can keep their eyes and ears open to possible locations for New Orleans third City Hall.
WHO QUALIFIED FOR THE OCTOBER MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS?
Seventy-three diverse candidates from across New Orleans paid their qualifying fees last week for mayor, council, assessor, sheriff, coroner, clerks of court and state representative.
Of that group 46 are male and 27 female. Forty-eight are Black, 20 are White and five are Hispanic or Asian. Two are Republicans, 55 are Democrats, six are Independents. Eight are registered as No Party, and one each belong to the Libertarian and Green parties
Yeisha McFarland, a Black female Democrat who qualified against Clerk of Court Chelsey Richard Napoleon, has already withdrawn from the race. At press time, no legal challenges have been filed against any of the candidates who qualified last week.
Danae Columbus, opinion columnist
Danae Columbus, who has had a 30-year career in politics and public relations, offers her opinions on Thursdays. Her career includes stints at City Hall, the Dock Board and the Orleans Parish School Board and former clients such as former District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, City Councilman Jared Brossett, City Councilwoman at-large Helena Moreno, Foster Campbell, former Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, former Sheriff Charles Foti and former City Councilwomen Stacy Head and Cynthia Hedge-Morrell. She is a member of the Democratic Parish Executive Committee. Columbus can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Posted: at 4:24 am
Every time there are crowds of protestors in a foreign land, theres a rush of U.S. commentators hoping to spin your perceptions of the protests purpose and meaningnot so much for or against the protestorsasin favor of the U.S. commentators own political agendas.
Inlast weeks column, I mentioned the odd spectacle ofTheNew YorkTimescorrectly calling (some of)Cubas current wave of protests anti-government while Fox News (and libertarian Anthony Fisher) were uncharacteristically eager to tamp down the implications of the protests, their rough consensus being that the protestsmight be anti-communistbut were not per se anti-government, as if it makes much sense to split hairs about that in a place like communist-run Cuba.
The bland Biden administration initially appeared to endorse the view that the protests were narrow inscopeobjecting to COVID lockdowns, COVIDspread, and shortagesbut the administrationhassince, to its credit, clarified that (some of) the protests are both anti-government and anti-communism and that communismand socialism to bootare failing systems. Good for Biden.
But awave of lefty academics on Twitter was quick to assert that the real meaning of the protests (as supposedly attested by a few flags and placards in the crowds) ispro-communist(at least one big rally has been)and thatthe problem with the current Cuban regime is that it hasntheld true to the principles of the revolution. The tweeters can hope thats true, and you cant blame them for spotting the flags and slogans they prefer, but keep in mind that rebellious crowdsoften express their outrage in the language of the current regime, even ifthey dont particularly want that regimesticking around.It gives them a sort of common language and decreases their odds of getting shot.
The Tiananmen Square protests of 1989in China were a jumble of pro-democracy denunciations of the Communist Party and almost-Maoist-sounding accusations that the Party had betrayed the core precepts of Marxism and thus fallen into corruption. Accusations of hypocrisy are powerful stuff for protest purposes, even when the protestorswouldnt necessarily like consistent adherence to the principles being violated. The Tiananmen protestors abutted thoroughly Chinese calls for social democracy to the occasionalU.S.-friendlyStatue of Liberty symbol, and(to the bafflement of some leftists) there have been American flags amidst the Cuban protestors, too.
Confusion on the leftshouldntbe taken as a sweeping endorsement of the U.S. governments policies toward Cuba,either,which at the moment include a wrongheaded triple-whammy of economic blockade, patrol boats preventing refugee emigration, and the occasional very-quiet murmur in favor of military intervention (which coincidentally or not might be made easier by the toppling of the nearbygovernment of Haiti bywhat appear to be fighters trained in Colombia with U.S. aidpartlyduring Haiti-molesting Bill Clintons presidency).None of those policies are libertarian or market-friendly.
If journalism is, as they say, the first draft of history, that first draft is a mess compared to what tends to solidify in the history books years later,isnt it?For now, you can choose among major media telling you the Cuba protests are anti-government, pro-government, anti-communist, pro-communist, anti-U.S.-blockade, or a purely internal matter depending on your political preferences, especially if you steer clear of uncertainty and nuance.
Is the mainstream consensuscoincidentally or not the sort of consensus the moderatesat the U.S. intelligence agencies tend to likethat we want gentle pressure on the Cuban government, not sudden violentupheaval, and forgoodnesssake not so much upheaval that the masses everywherein the worldmight start getting revolutionary ideas?
There have been trickier analytical morasses across the world in the past decade or so,though,including theories galore about what the Arab Spring meant for the future of freedom in that region, whether the Obama administration dropped the ball by not supporting massive Iranian anti-government protests on its watch (Biden and his colleagues being eager at the time towork out an expensive arms control bribe/agreement with the regime), and whether various subsets of the broader Chinese population from Tibet to Taiwan have any hope of making common cause against Beijing. (Given how reluctant people are to make sweeping,abstract anti-Communist arguments today, we may have to make do with little empirical tidbits of what the future could hold such asthe new documentary about unrest in Hong Kong that was unexpectedly unveiled at Cannes.)
The global struggle against communismleaves us with countless tricky strategic, pragmatic questions, from whether the Color Revolutionsof Eastern Europe were authentic (and how much that matters) to whether William Shatners new talkshow on RT (formerly Russia Today),calledI Dont Understand, will make him an unwitting tool of Russian propaganda. Im inclined to think he shouldnt do the showon that channel, butthen, I think PBS should cease to exist, as a matter of anti-governmentprinciple.
The world makes so much more sense if you drop the right/left tribalism and the nationalist tribalism and adopt consistent anti-government principles:End the blockadeof Cuba. End communism. End government of all stripes, everywhere, including here, even if means saying no to some charming,flag-waving social democrat protestors.Stick to property rights, a functioning price system, and no or, if you insist, very littlegovernment.
Along the way, watch for new protest-and-rebellion opportunities. A study suggests two-thirds of Southern Republicans would like to secede from the U.S. Let them go, and encourage others from all factions to follow. Surely,weariness with lockdowns is also turning into a political-spectrum-spanning educational opportunity about the limits of the publics patience with regulation. Does anyone (who is not a pro-government fanatic) relish the thought of an immense government crackdown on, say,bootleg liquor orhomes with peeling paint on their exteriors after all that government has already put us through in the past year and a half?Itshould leave us alone now.
New talk of the U.S. requiring women to register for the draft could somehow turninto just another right vs.left moment, but it wouldmake a lot more senseif it became amoment that united the left (out of anti-militarism), the right (out of anti-feminism), the far right (out of anti-imperialism), libertarians (out of opposition to all coercion), and conventional civil libertarians against government (and particularly against the military-industrial complex).I look forward to all the usual bland intellectuals and media outlets trying to spin that one if it gets out of control, struggling to book the two sides of the issue on the usual TV shows.
Itsenough to make you hope Selective Service triesand if the surprise result is the whole world united against establishment-liberal feminists-for-the-military(Hillary hawks,if you will), so be it. The hippies of old wouldve understood. Even me admitting that and seeing those hippiesas natural allies means a wall of some kind is crumbling.Be rebel girls, notanyonesestablishment weapons.
Todd Seavey is the author ofLibertarianism for Beginnersand is on Twitter at@ToddSeavey.
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Posted: at 4:22 am
Catch up on all our #forumfedcast episodes!
How do governments in federations coordinate responses to emergency situations like COVID-19?
We examine the intergovernmental coordination practices used in Germany and Australia - two countries that received international attention for their success in controlling the first wave of Coronavirus - and assess what lessons might be learned from these experiences.
Professor Nathalie Behnke, Professor of Public Administration and Policy at the Institute of Political Science of the Technical University Darmstadt, Germany.
Professor Alan Fenna, Professor of Politics at Curtin University, Western Australia
Listen here: forumfedcast.podbean.com/e/forumfedcast-episode-2-policy-coordination/ ... See MoreSee Less
Catch up on all our Forum of Federations podcast episodes!
We explore how the Coronavirus pandemic has impacted federal governance dynamics in Canada, the United States, and Mexico, and assess the implications of the crisis on the federations in North America.
The Honourable Bob Rae, Former Premier of Ontario.
Professor John Kincaid, Robert B. and Helen S. Meyner Professor of Government and Public Service, President of the Center for the Study of Federalism, Lafayette College, Pennsylvania.
Professor Laura Flamand, Research Professor at the Center for International Studies and Founding Director of the Network for the Study of Inequalities, El Colegio de Mexico, Ciudad de Mxico.
Listen here: forumfedcast.podbean.com/e/episode-1-federalism-and-coronavirus-in-north-america/ ... See MoreSee Less
Dr. Alan Fenna, Curtin University of Technology Dr. Marlene Kammerer, Universitt Bern Dr. Sean Mueller, Universit de Lausanne Dr. Peter Eckersley, Nottingham Trent University Prof. Araz Taeihagh University of Singapore Dr. Lili Li, National University of Singapore Mr. Charles Berthelet, Universit du Qubec Montral
The Forum of Federations hosted a panel at International Political Science Association 2021 discussing the opportunity for federal entities state, local and federal; to advance policy options addressing climate change.
Forum of Federations Senior Director, Phillip Gonzales, chaired the panel on climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts in federal and decentralized countries. The panel brought together experts and papers from across the globe presenting country case studies on approaches to address climate change and create and enforce environmental policies in the context of how federated units such as states and provinces are implementing policy to address climate change across jurisdictions.
It is increasingly evident that multilevel systems are able to address these challenges in a more nuanced and effective manner given the nature of policy implementation as noted by the Paris agreement, specifically by allowing for local and regional governments to better adapt their plans to their specific situations in order to meet the Paris Agreement targets for 2030 and 2050, as well as permitting policy experimentation in different jurisdictions, engaging in the creation of the classic federal idea of federal entities as laboratories for policy experimentation.
Case studies from Australia, China, Germany, Switzerland, and the United States, illustrated how provincial and local actors are taking massive strides to address climate change within the mechanism of federations.
Across all cases, the impacts of various political, geographic, economic, and industry factors were detailed as to their influence and impact on national efforts to address climate change and meet environmental emissions targets.
The conclusion of the panel was that all federal entities have a substantial role to play in efforts to mitigate climate change, furthermore, it was suggested provinces and local entities are, in many instances, well placed and vital actors in any national effort to implementing effective climate governance policy.
The presentation from each author was followed by an in-depth analysis and questions from the panel discussant, George Stairs, Project Officer at the Forum for Policy Research Programs. Healthy discussion among the panellists helped tease out different arguments and facets of their research, and will hopefully help to deepen the strength of the papers and the ultimate goal of influencing policymakers in federated units toward better climate mitigation practices.
The Forums ongoing research into Climate Change and Federative Governance is made possible through the support of the Gouvernement du Qubec
Upcoming Forum work in this area of federative governance is further research and support in efforts towards better climate governance at decentralized levels of government across Global South-South countries. Importantly there is the forthcoming comparative volume on this issue bringing together 14 different case studies anticipated to come in early 2022, Climate Governance and Federalism: A Forum of Federations Comparative Policy Analysis
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With its verdict overturning a good part of the Constitution (97th Amendment) Act of 2011, the Supreme Court has done two things: one, strengthened the quasi-federal nature of the Indian polity, stopping any abridgement of the rights of the states, and, two, clarified the ambit of the working of the new Union ministry of cooperation. To the extent the court struck down the 97th Amendment based on procedural deficiency, it is still open to the Centre to initiate action to mend that defect and restore the force of the 97th Amendment.
The 97th Amendment to the Constitution, brought in by the UPA government during the days of policy paralysis in 2011-12, made the right to form cooperatives a fundamental right, on par with the right to assemble and form associations, and incorporated a mandate to encourage cooperatives in the chapter on Direct Principles. Further, it added Part IXB to the Constitution, laying down a set of norms for state legislation on cooperatives. It was challenged in the Gujarat High Court and, in 2013, the court rendered the 97th Amendment invalid on the ground that it had not been ratified by at least 50% of state legislatures, a precondition for a constitutional amendment on subjects that figure on the State List. The Supreme Court endorsed this view, in its verdict, and reinforced the judicial defence possible in Indias scheme of governance against additional degrees of centralisation of the polity. Of the three judges who heard the case and delivered the verdict, all concurred on the illegality of the amendment with regard to the states right to formulate laws on cooperatives as they deem fit, rather than as laid down in a legal change made only at the level of Parliament, and two held that the amendment would still hold with regard to multi-state cooperatives, such as Amul, Iffco and Kribhco.
The central government can initiate a process of getting the amendment ratified by at least 15 states, and, in the meantime, focus on multi-state cooperatives. RBIs right to regulate large cooperative banks remains intact.
Federalism is the answer, after all – Part 39 Opinion The Guardian Nigeria News Nigeria and World News – Guardian
Posted: at 4:22 am
Not a few believe that Nigeria is being governed on the whims and caprices of state actors who have the least respect for the rule of law but in surplus of expression of ethnic bigotry and partisan disposition to running the affairs of the country. It is in this respect that happenings in South Africa have meaning for our call for restructuring of the country for equity and justice and for the general wellbeing of the commonwealth.
On June 29, the former South African President, Jacob Zuma, was jailed over contempt of South Africas Constitutional Court order to testify before a judicial panel probing corruption during his presidency in a separate process. This is besides subsisting charges of corruption over the 1999 weapons sale. His imprisonment over issues of constitutionalism sparked off deadly riots in a country where primordialism and poverty subsist alongside modernity. At the last count, thousands of businesses were ruined and over 200 lives were lost.
It is important to note that at independence, the South Africans chose liberal democracy and gave themselves a constitution that was engendered and seen as a beckon of hope for a continent, for the most part, badly governed. For South Africans, the jailing of the former president ought to have been seen as a practical demonstration of the supremacy of the rule of law and that no one is above the law, and that the rule of law must prevail over any individual in the society. The positive aspect of legal positivism was somewhat sullied by the violent protest underlined by looting and arson.
We believe that years after, South Africans if they learn to go off the beaten track of most African countries run by tin-pot dictators, nepotists, and kleptocrats, they will recall the day that former President Zuma was jailed for contempt of court, marked the consolidation of their liberal democratic process and the entrenchment of constitutionalism in the polity.
But the riots as informed observers have argued brought out all the limitations of a packed transition in which the Blacks hold the political power while the Whites maintain their stranglehold over the economic base of society, nurtured and consolidated by the historical exploitation of the Blacks since 1652. While Mandelas leadership tried to address this historical impoverishment as well as enhance the unity of the country, subsequent leaderships have not fared well in navigating the strictures of neoliberalism that have deepened the misery of the population. This reality has found expression in the series of riots and xenophobic killings since 2008.
The ANCs policies have yet to address the cruel economic structures of apartheid fuelling disillusionment in the liberal democratic process in South Africa. Beyond bemoaning the deliberate, coordinated and well-planned attack on our democracy, President Cyril Ramaphosa, who promised to address the historical inequality in his countries such as better service delivery and land reform, should do the needful and deliver the dividends of democracy to a distraught 30.4 million people on the margins of society. Above all, he should also fight corruption.
Obviously, South Africas predicament is a useful lesson for Nigeria in the context of the continuing call for restructuring in the midst of obstinate state elite inclined towards self-damnation. Basic principles of our grundnorm, the 1999 Constitution as amended with its entire shortcomings, are flagrantly violated. The executive sees itself as above the law destroying both the legal and moral foundations of society. Its treatment of those it sees as threats to constituted order is dictated by ethnic belonging and religious affiliation. The overall consequence implies that the centre cannot hold with profuse separatist impulse streaming across the country.
The first principle of the social contract over which the political community was set up is the protection of lives and property and the reclamation of the sovereignty that the people invest in the state when the latter fails to fulfill that historical role. The social contract is not tolerant of dictatorship but enamoured of democratic values.
However, the minders of the state in Nigeria have failed to live up to this expectation, hence the processes in motion including the call for restructuring, to reclaim the political sovereignty that belongs to the people and re-route the country on a democratic path with no citizens living on the margins of society but empowered for self-actualisation.
South Africa has a historical opportunity aforementioned to thread the path of constitutionalism, address inequality in its society and avoid the accentuation of primordialism and descent into anarchy, a fate that has currently befallen our country over which we seek restructuring as a rescue device.
As Samuel Huntington once noted, the truly helpless society is the one that is capable of change but that which is incapable. The Nigerian state minders must act to embrace our clamour for the restructuring of the country to move the country forward in a century that may be well underlined by social Darwinism, which implies that Nigerians want to thrive in a competitive environment where only the fittest persons or organisations prosper.
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Our expenditure is increasing because of COVID and special schemes to help people, while income has stagnated; without increased borrowings no State can survive
With States finances in the doldrums after the second COVID-19 wave, Kerala Finance Minister K.N. Balagopal has urged Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to allow States to borrow up to 5% of their Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) this year, without any reform conditions. The GST regime needs urgent fixing as revenues are declining and the structure and functioning of the GST Council needs more democratisation, he said. Excerpts:
The Centre recently released 75,000 crore of GST dues, of which over 4,100 crore was to Kerala. Will this alter your borrowing plans?
I personally met the Union Finance Minister that day when they released around 4,200 crore to us. Even though it is belated, it is good. Due to the financial crisis in the State due to the second COVID wave, whatever money we are getting from these means are not enough for facing our requirements. Actually, the financial situation for the last five years has been stagnant, not only for Kerala but other States also. The annual borrowing limit this year has been fixed at 4% of GSDP, but only 0.5% of this is untied. An equal amount is permitted for achieving certain levels of capital expenditure and, separately, for undertaking electricity reforms. We are now discussing the latter but its difficult to meet all these formalities. So we have urged the Finance Minister to allow States to borrow up to 5% of GSDP, without any conditions, but they have not accepted that. So our options are limited in this scenario.
Our expenditure is increasing because of COVID expenses and special schemes introduced to help people and income has stagnated for the last few years. Without increased borrowings no State can survive, at least in the present situation.
Last years compensation dues are still pending and the FM had promised a GST council meet to discuss all compensation related issues. What is your stand?
The compensation issue is a serious one. We have already asked for States protected revenue under GST to be extended for another five years, because theres actually a very serious fall in income since GSTs inception. Theres a systemic failure; the COVID situation and, for Kerala, floods and other natural disasters have also hit income. Almost all States are seeing a decline in income. So, the compensation should continue for another five years. The GST regime is showing some systemic failure as the income is not going up. Our average income as a percentage of sales has fallen from 16% four years back, to only 11%... prices havent fallen for the consumer.
This means that if we are getting 50,000 crore tax now, it would have been another 18,000 crore in the earlier kind of taxation system and [if] buoyancy had continued.
There will be a very serious discussion about the future of compensation and on the taxation policy to see if some more plugging is needed and actual taxes [need to] go up. Moreover, the devolution theory of the Central government would also have to be discussed, separately.
Could you explain this a bit?
Up to the last Finance Commission, we were getting 2.45% from the divisible pool of taxes. Now, we are getting only 1.92%. In the 1980s, our share was 3.92% so that is the fall now. That means we are not getting our rightful part from the central pool. Earlier, the 1971 population was the base, now it is 2011. Because of our development in education, health... we have some improvement and feel we are being penalised for that.
The Tamil Nadu FM has raised concerns about the constitution and functioning of the GST Council. What is your view?
The predominance of the Central government in the GST Councils functioning was expected earlier some of us in the committee on GST in the Rajya Sabha had given a dissent note that this will affect States taxation powers. Even the AIADMK was very strongly against it. The Central government is getting maximum control in the administration of the Council, and if theyre managing some States [to back them], nobody can change that decision. So, the prerogative of the Central government will succeed. Now, fortunately other parties are understanding or accepting the points which we raised. The GST experiment will not be successful. Brexit happened because Britain wanted to go out of the European Union taxation and migration laws that it felt will not be helpful. United States, which is considered business-friendly, does not have this kind of a tax system. Our counterpart from Tamil Nadu may be speaking from his experience... This is an important debate for the States and more democratisation in the true spirit of cooperative federalism should be there in the GST Councils functioning.
Almost all States have issues with some attitude of the Central government. In the last meeting, the Centre said it has the power to tax extra-neutral alcohol. Alcohol and petroleum are not under the GST. Theres a provision in the constitution that ethanol for human consumption is under States. But they are saying that ENA is not for human consumption, so central GST will be charged. In the Council, there was a very strong protest from almost all States, whether it was BJP [ruled] or Congress [ruled].
You were part of the GoM set up by the Council on Sikkims demand to levy a special cess... What was the issue?
Sikkim is a very small State that is having very serious financial trouble now, because of COVID and they wanted to raise a small cess on power production and pharma. There is no special provision for that. This is the plight of the States; even a State which wanted only 300 crore is struggling. All the States in the GoM requested the Central government to give some additional amount to Sikkim. I said in my dissent note in the GoM that the State governments will finally have to go to the Central government with a begging bowl for their day-to-day expenditure because their entire power is going to the Centre. This will be the situation in the future for some other States too.
Infections continue to remain high in Kerala and Maharashtra, but restrictions are hurting the economy. How do you balance this?
This is a tricky question and a tricky situation. People wanted to have some relief after sitting for a year and a half Small and medium traders are frustrated because their income is suffering. Except government officials, all others are not getting a proper income. So, naturally, they wanted to start their business. But at the same time, if all the people go about like free flies, the COVID situation will alarmingly go up and Kerala is seeing a continuous trend of more than a particular number of patients every day. So, this is a serious situation. Slowly, the market is opened up, industry is opened up. Some unrest is there, complaints are there. But the relaxations are linked to the COVID situation in local panchayat areas. There is a scientific approach to the relaxations, otherwise it will be in the doldrums.
As the Finance Minister, you are responsible for driving investments. Weve had one investor saying publicly that he doesnt want to invest in Kerala and is creating a fear among other investors. What is the State planning to do to correct the investment narrative?
Actually, that particular incident, we were astonished by hearing from him. Their investment plans, business model or share value these kind of things are business decisions. It is unfortunate that a businessman openly said that he has problems in the State. No such situation was prevailing in the State. The State as well as the entire country is looking for investments. In the last year, we accepted all the proposals for improving the ease of doing business and now we are planning to bring a Bill in the Assembly for giving more help to the investors. Many big companies have shown that Kerala is a very good place for investment. That is the picture so this kind of a bad negative remark is not correct. For bringing more investors, we are giving maximum support to them, whatever is legally possible.
Remember one thing, from 1957 onwards, Left Governments in Kerala have had the same attitude to the investors. Even in recent decades, we have got investments. Even now, many people are coming and we are trying to bring more investment by using the new online work situation. Be it back offices or other operations, now you can do a lot of things here. We want more investors to come in these areas. Not only that, we know one thing for the Kerala economy, when we need to have money for all the social sectors, we have to improve our industrial productivity, the value-added production in agriculture, and our services sector, including tourism. We are giving more emphasis on these fronts now and more measures will be taken to attract investors.