Both Left and Right agree that the country is doing poorly these days, that something has gone profoundly wrong in our body politic. A progressive impulse is to blame the Constitution as an outmoded, backwards instrument of government that keeps the country from becoming what it could be. The experts should not be bogged down by a document that is “confusing” because it is “over 100 years old,” as Ezra Klein — the 21st-century embodiment of the progressive technocrat — once put it.
Phil Magness continues to expose the sheer absurdity and appalling tendentiousness of much of today’s ‘scholarship’ – here, on ‘research’ purporting to find that the bubonic plague in the mid-14th century struck with differentially greater severity on black people. As Phil concludes, at his Facebook, page “it appears that the woke left accidentally reinvented phrenology so they could project CRT ideology onto the London plague of 1348.”
His [Javier Milei’s] campaign speeches focused on the importance of freedom, long lost under the weight of an oversized Argentine state. Before a national public, he incessantly repeated his definition of liberalism (in the classical sense), borrowed from the distinguished Argentine liberal Alberto Benegas Lynch Jr., whom he cites as a sort of national hero: “Liberalism is the unrestricted respect for the life project of others based on the principle of non‐aggression and the defense of the right to life, liberty, and private property.”
Guided by this vision, Milei proposes to shrink the state and expand the role of the private sector and civil society. In practice, he proposes a significant reduction in public spending and taxes; dollarization and the elimination of the central bank; free trade; the elimination of bureaucratic obstacles; the reform of public administration; labor sector flexibility; and education reform that includes increased competition and school vouchers, among other proposals.
Will he be able to accomplish this ambitious agenda? It will not be easy. The economy is in crisis and the outgoing government has left an economic time bomb that any incoming government would have to deal with. Argentina has an annual inflation rate above 140 percent, a fiscal deficit exceeding 5 percent of GDP (or about 10 percent of GDP depending on how it’s measured), poverty above 40 percent of the population, a bankrupt central bank, interest rates over 130 percent, government debt at an all‐time high, a recent splurge in public spending, debt payments coming due soon, and a shrinking economy. Any adjustment—which will include significant hikes in the price of gasoline, electricity, transportation, and so on—will be harsh.
Under civil asset forfeiture laws, police can seize property suspected of being connected to criminal activity, even if the owner is not charged with a crime. Law enforcement says civil asset forfeiture is used to disrupt drug trafficking and other organized crime by targeting illicit revenue. But Wayne County was using its less fortunate residents as a piggy bank.
In a concurring opinion, U.S. Circuit Judge Amul Thapar wrote that Wayne County’s scheme “is simply a money-making venture—one most often used to extort money from those who can least afford it.”
Wayne County seized over 2,600 vehicles between 2017 and 2019 and raked in more than $1.2 million in asset forfeiture revenues, according to public records obtained by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a free market Michigan think tank. Of those seizures, 473 were not accompanied by a criminal conviction. In 438 of those cases, no one was even charged with a crime.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out the kinds of solutions needed to address this fiscal problem. The answer is some combination of raising taxes, reducing benefits, and/or increasing the number of working-age people who pay into the system (i.e., immigration). But politicians have effectively ruled out all these options.
In fact, perhaps the only area of bipartisan agreement in Washington these days is that none of these fixes are worth pursuing. Each, after all, might inflame voters — especially older voters, to whom these unsustainable benefits were promised, and who don’t evenseem to realize a fix is needed. Many are unaware of the enormous wedge between what they will receive and the taxes they’ve personally paid — which is perhaps understandable given the opacity of our tax and benefits system.
Apply the Precautionary Principle to the Precautionary Principle.