Archive for March, 2011

An End To Big Sugar’s Sweet Deal?

Posted by on Mar 31 2011 | Corporate Welfare, Government Largess, PPC

Senator Dick Lugar (R-IN) calls the New Deal-era federal sugar subsidy program “one of the worst forms of government interventionism in America,” and wants to undo the corporate welfare scheme between Big Sugar and Uncle Sugar with his “Free Sugar Act of 2011.”

Here’s Lugar writing in the Washington Times:

In sugar land, as in communist countries, prices are set by the government, not the market. Agriculture Department central planners determine “marketing allotments” to assure domestic producers at least 85 percent of the market. They limit imports to keep prices inflated far above world levels. The planners set the split between cane and beet sugar and mandate a sales limit for each processor and mill.

If prices fall below the official level, a price-support system of “loans” to processors ensures that Big Sugar gets its federal share. The recipients get their loans in taxpayer dollars, but can repay them in (what else?) sugar.

It’s about time this command and control economy relic go away.

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Civil Unions And Beer Wars On Devil’s Advocate

Posted by on Mar 31 2011 | Gay Marriage, Idiot Box (TV Show), PPC

It’s civil unions and Colorado’s beer wars this Friday on the Independence Institute’s television program, Devil’s Advocate. Same half-hour of top-notch public affairs programming, but in two segments. First, host Jon Caldara is joined by Troy Ard of the Colorado Federation of College Republicans and Jimmy Sengenberger of the Seng Center radio show for a debate over civil unions versus full marriage equality for gays and lesbians in Colorado. Then, Jon jumps into the battle over where beer can be sold in Colorado with Eric Wallace of Left Hand Brewing Co. and Dennis Dinsmore of Wilbur’s Total Beverage liquor store. So grab your main squeeze and a couple cold beers and tune in Friday, April 1 at 8:30 PM on Colorado Public Television 12. Re-broadcast the following Monday at 1:30PM.

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Is Health Insurance “Commerce?”

Posted by on Mar 31 2011 | Constitutional History, Constitutional Law, Kopelization, PPC, The Founders, U.S. Constitution

Our resident constitutional scholars, Dave Kopel and Rob Natelson, joined forces to write an article for the National Law Journal titled, “Health insurance is not ‘commerce.” In the article, Kopel and Natelson make the case that one solitary and erroneous Supreme Court case from 1944 is to blame for the false idea that buying insurance does indeed qualify as “commerce.” Commerce that the federal government — congress — can regulate. But as the authors state,

But that assumption is wrong: In fact, the congressional power to regulate “Commerce…among the several States” does not include authority to regulate health insurance. Under the Constitution, health insurance is a matter of state, not federal, jurisdiction.

Kopel and Natelson believe that when the case is brought before the Supreme Court, the court will have an opportunity to overturn this erroneous precedent and return to an original understanding of our founder’s definition of the word commerce. Therefore, insurance markets will rightly be placed back in the hands of state and local governments.

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Health insurance is not ‘commerce’

Posted by on Mar 30 2011 | Commerce Clause, Health Care

(David Kopel)

From 1789 until 1944, the Supreme Court adhered to the original understanding of the Constitution that insurance is not “commerce” that is subject to the congressional power to regulate interstate commerce. A 1944 opinion by Justice Black, Southeastern Underwriters, reversed that approach, while claiming to base its opinion on original understanding. In an article in the National Law Journal, Rob Natelson and I argue that the Southeastern Underwriters should be over-ruled.


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Kopel on the Right of Self-Defense

Posted by on Mar 30 2011 | Constitutional History, Constitutional Law, guns, iVoices.org, Kopelization, PPC, Property Rights, U.S. Constitution

My minion Justin Longo wonders whether, in the absence of our Constitution and thus our Second Amendment, how we could make a positive case for our human right of self-defense, which comes with it, our right to bear arms. In this iVoices.org podcast, Research Director Dave Kopel answers that question and provides some background in the origins of the wide consensus view that we do indeed have a human right of self-defense. Kopel also discusses how that right is extended to owning firearms, protecting our property, and protecting others who are unable to protect themselves from violence.

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Dick Wadhams on the Role of the GOP Chair, Last Election Cycle

Posted by on Mar 29 2011 | Idiot Box (TV Show), PPC

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Colorado Public TV CEO Talks Taxpayer Funding

Posted by on Mar 29 2011 | Idiot Box (TV Show), PPC

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Colombian firearms policy bleg

Posted by on Mar 25 2011 | guns

(David Kopel)

One of my research interns is writing a paper on firearms law in Colombia. He has done an excellent translation of the statutes, and of analyzing the treatment of arms in the current and previous Colombian constitutions. But one issue that remains difficult is finding out about the actual operation of Colombia firearms laws. How are they actually applied in practice? By analogy, if you read the Mexican Constitution and firearms control statute, you wouldn’t know that there is only one legal gun store in the entire nation of Mexico, or that the government is generally reluctant to license calibers other than .22, even though the statute authorizes most calibers under .38.

So I am appealing for assistance for commentators who have knowledge of the actual situation for law-abiding Colombian gun owners. If they comply with the statute, will they be issued a license within a reasonable time, or will they have to pay a bribe? Does this vary by region? And any other practical information that informed people can supply.


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Natelson: Military Action in Libya is Unconstitutional

Posted by on Mar 25 2011 | Idiot Box (TV Show), PPC, U.S. Constitution

Our resident Constitution scholar Rob Natelson has been on fire lately! He wrote a really interesting blog post the other day on why our military involvement in Libya is unconstitutional. He also sat down with one of my minions for an iVoices.org podcast to elaborate on the points he made in his blog post. Head on over to iVoices.org to learn from the best, Professor Rob Natelson.

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Dick Wadhams and PBS Funding

Posted by on Mar 24 2011 | Idiot Box (TV Show), PPC

Tune in to Colorado Public Television 12 this Friday night for a double helping of the Independence Institute’s public affairs show, Devil’s Advocate.  It’s the same half-hour of public affairs television excellence with me, but in two different segments.  First, I am joined by outgoing Colorado State Republican Party Chairman Dick Wadhams for a discussion about the role of the state party chairman, and a look back at the last election cycle.  Then Colorado Public Television 12 president and CEO Wick Rowland joins me for a debate over taxpayer funding for pubic broadcasting.   That’s Friday March 25 at 8:30 PM on Colorado Public Television 12.  Re-broadcast the following Monday at 1:30PM.

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