Archive for the 'Russia' Category

“Failure: Why We Need It”

Posted by on Oct 30 2012 | Growth of Government, Paternalism, Russia

That was the provocative title of a seminar earlier this month organized by the Istituto Bruno Leoni, Italy’s free market think tank. The event was the IBL’s 9th annual Mises Seminar. As is common at multinational seminars in Europe, the event and the papers were in English, which is today’s lingua franca among well-educated Europeans.

My favorite paper was presented by Kaetana Leontjeva, who is a Senior Policy Analyst at the Lithuanian Free Market Institute. Her paper, Old-age state social insurance: may its failure be averted?, examines the history of old-age pension systems throughout Europe, with a special focus on the USSR, Lithuania and Georgia. She shows how these programs, initially of modest size, grew to an unustainable  level that is financed by borrowing. She argues that there are only two realistic alternatives:

1. Continuing the present systems, with only “technical” reforms. This will eventually lead to complete failure of the old-age pension system, as occurred in the USSR. “ This would lead to a sudden and dramatic change in conditions of the elderly, bringing about poverty and chronic insecurity.” OR

2. “managed failure.” This means starting to shrinking the existing pension systems, by requiring that they operate on a balanced budget. Young people should not be told to depend on the current system, but should be encouraged to start making plans for their own retirement, by setting aside some of their current income to provide for their retirement. “For the ‘managed failure’ approach to work, one generation has to concede and make a sacrifice by paying for the pensions of the current retirees and for their own. In the absence of such a consent and solidarity, the generation to make the sacrifice would emerge spontaneously, and the process of an unexpected old-age social insurance failure would be much more painful.”

Another interesting paper came from Peter J. Boettke (Mercatus Center, George Mason University) and Daniel J. Smith (Manual H. Johnson Center for Political Economy, Troy University). “Monetary Policy and the Quest for Robust Political Economy” examines the failures of economists in thinking about the Federal Reserve. It is possible to imagine a Federal Reserve which conducts its affairs in an economically sound and apolitical fashion. But in practice, the Fed has often been a pump-priming engine of inflation, for political reasons. In other words, “Technical optima are nonoperational in a contemporary democratic setting.” In the wake of the Great Recession, the economics profession has been busy dissecting recent technical mistakes by Fed. Boettke and Smith argue that economists instead ought to be analyzing the only solutions which can put an end to a century of Federal Reserve failures: the adoption of a monetary policy (e.g., based on an external standard, such as a commodities bundle) which removes Fed discretion to promote inflation. While such a policy might not be politically feasible in the short run, it is the only constructive alternative, and would become more politically feasible if economists did not self-censor their recommendations based on short-term political viability.

In “Bankruptcy: Why are Banks Treated Differently Anyway?,” Mathieu Bédard (Ph.D. candidate in economics, Aix-Marseille Université, and a Fellow at the Institute for Humane Studies) classifies and analyzes the 29 different forms of government intervention into bank failures. He argues that ordinary bankruptcy is often superior to liquidations managed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

Even if you don’t agree with the policy recommendations in these papers, they are worth reading for their thoughtful analysis.

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Weapons Laws of the Russian Federation

Posted by on Jun 12 2012 | guns, International Human Rights Law, Non-firearms Arms, Registration, Right to carry, Russia, Uncategorized

For those of who have been waiting for an English translation of Russia’s arms statutes, your wait is over. Independence Institute intern Margot van Loon is the author of the new Issue Paper, Weapons Laws of the Russian Federation. Here is a synopsis:

  • No permission or registration is needed to purchase and carry chemical defense weapons (e.g., tear gas guns) or electric defense devices such as stun guns.
  • Citizens have the right to acquire shotguns for self-defense and sport.
  • After five years of lawful ownership of a shotgun, a citizen may obtain a permit to purchase and use rifles for sporting purposes.
  • An individual may own up to five rifles and five shotguns.
  • Handguns are prohibited.
  • All firearms must be registered.
  • Before obtaining one’s first firearm, one must receive instruction in firearms laws and safety. Every five years, the firearms owner must pass a test demonstrating continuing knowledge of these subjects.
  • The first-time owner must also obtain a medical certification that he or she does not have any disqualifying conditions, such as mental illness or alcoholism.
  • In order to use a firearm for lawful self-defense, the crime victim must first attempt to give the criminal a warning, if practicable. Defensive use of firearms against women, the disabled, and minors is prohibited, unless they are attacking as part of a gang.

On the whole, the Russian Federation’s arms laws show considerably greater respect for the fundamental human right of self-defense than do the laws of some other European nations, such as the United Kingdom or Luxembourg.

The Russian Federation paper is part of continuing series of research papers from the Independence Institute providing full English translations of the arms laws of other nations. Other papers in this series are:

Colombia’s National Law of Firearms and Explosives. Full translation of the Colombian statutes, along with historical and narrative explanation. By Jonathan Edward Shaw.

Hungarian Weapons Law of May 2004. English translation and explanation, plus Hungarian text. By Crecy Azincourt.

Mexico’s Federal Laws on Firearms and Explosives.  By David Kopel.

If you would be interested in writing a paper for this series, please contact me using the information at the bottom of this page.

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Debate on Libya and the War Powers Act

Posted by on Jun 08 2011 | Constitutional Law, Global Governance/World Government, International Human Rights Law, International Law, libya, Russia, War Powers Act

(David Kopel)

Featuring British NGO representative Leslie Vinjamuri (pro-intervention, sees no legal problem), American peace activist Robert Naiman (anti-intervention, considers the intervention unconstitutional), and me (pro-intervention, but opposed to Obama doing it in violation of the Constitution and the War Powers Act). On the RT (formerly, “Russia Today”) television program “Crosstalk.” 27 minutes.


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