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Election 2016 Reminder: Who Needs Whom? PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by Thomas L. Knapp   
Wednesday, 30 September 2015 19:29

Memory has a way of playing tricks on the mind, but my recollection is that each of the seven presidential elections since I reached adulthood (I turned 18 the week after Ronald Reagan was re-elected in 1984) has been advertised – by the parties, by the candidates, by the media – as “the most important election of our lifetimes.”

Here comes the eighth. Same shtick, even if the Jerry Springer atmospherics have been turned up a little. The world will end if Candidate X is elected. Americans will starve in the streets if Candidate Y isn’t elected. You know what I’m talking about.

Of course, each presidential election is incredibly important to the parties, the candidates, and the media. Elections are their bread and butter. But are they really that consequential to the rest of us? On close examination, the only plausible answer is “no.”

How Dangerous Is It to Be a Cop? PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by Daniel Bier   
Wednesday, 16 September 2015 08:14

It’s “war on copsseason again, in which politicians and pundits toss around the political football of officer safety. So now is an opportune time to look at the dangers of police work.

First, the big headline numbers: fatalities and homicides.

The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) keeps track of all the officers who have died on the job, from any cause, going back to the 19th Century.

Looking at officer fatalities per million residents since 1900, the broad sweep of history shows that police work has been getting a lot safer since Prohibition ended (with a temporary reversal during the 1960s and 1970s).

But, of course, not all fatalities are homicides. In fact, in recent years, only about a third of work-related police deaths have been from murder.

NLEOMF doesn’t separately track homicides, but the FBI has its own database for felony killings of police in the past few decades. The Bureau of Justice Statistics has also conducted a national police census every four years since 1992, giving us some reliable estimates for the total number of sworn officers up through 2008.

And no matter how you slice it, police work has been getting a lot safer. Fatalities and murders of police have been falling for decades – per resident, per officer, and even in absolute terms.

World’s Poor: “We Want Capitalism” PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by Iain Murray   
Thursday, 03 September 2015 07:37

In the forests of India, something exciting is going on. Villagers are regaining property taken from them when the British colonial authorities nationalized their forests. Just as exciting, in urban Kenya and elsewhere, people are doing away with the need for banks by exchanging and saving their money digitally. All over the world, poor people are discovering the blessings of bottom-up capitalism.

Sadly, though, developed-country governments and anti-poverty activists ignore this fact and insist that developing nations need a paternalistic hand up. Both are missing an opportunity, because there are billions of capitalists in waiting at the bottom of the pyramid.

Later this month, the United Nations will formally announce the successors to its Millennium Development Goals, the global body’s approach to poverty alleviation since the year 2000. These new goals will be touted as “sustainable.” The event will coincide with a visit by the pope, at which he is expected to concentrate on climate change and materialism as the greatest threats to the welfare of the people of the developing world.

Don’t expect to hear much on the way people in the Western world lifted themselves out of poverty: free-market capitalism.

Abortion: The “Rape and Incest Exception” is Demagoguery PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by Thomas L. Knapp   
Wednesday, 26 August 2015 13:50

Whenever abortion comes up in a political context, pro-choice advocates highlight pro-life candidates’ refusal to support a “rape and incest exception” to any proposed ban on, or regulation of, abortion. The 2016 presidential campaign is no exception. Recently CNN anchor Dana Bash handed the hot potato to former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee. Huckabee’s response: “A 10-year-old girl being raped is horrible. But does it solve a problem by taking the life of an innocent child? And that’s really the issue.”

Pro-choice publications predictably erupted, painting Huckabee as cold-hearted for his position. But that position flows inexorably from the logic of his larger pro-life stance, and is in fact a libertarian argument.

Notice that I said “a” libertarian argument, not “the” libertarian argument.

Judge Denies Homeowners Their Due Process PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by Scott E. Stafne   
Wednesday, 19 August 2015 08:54

Editor’s note: While the following blog posting from Washington attorney Scott Stafne (born and raised in Bettendorf, and online at concerns Washington state jurisdiction, it is still highly instructive for all of us on how the courts contribute to foreclosure inequities, resulting in the destruction of not only the middle class but of property rights under our Constitution.

In Washington state, there are thousands of families having their homes fraudulently foreclosed on, most without due process from the courts – which are tasked with protecting due process under the state and federal constitutions. Recently an appeals judge in Washington ruled in favor of bypassing due process, further enabling nonjudicial foreclosures.

Nonjudicial foreclosures allow a lender to foreclose on a property without a court proceeding. The only way for an owner to fight this type of foreclosure is to file a lawsuit. Often, nonjudicial foreclosures occur without the participation, or even knowledge, of the owners(s). Only 32 states permit nonjudicial foreclosures. While Iowa and Illinois are not among them, Iowa has a provision known as “alternative nonjudicial foreclosure,” which permits the owner(s) to request a nonjudicial foreclosure to avoid court (

It is important to understand these remedies that exist for lenders and how they impact property owners’ rights, because legislators could eventually allow their use without us (Iowans and Illinoisans) knowing, especially if we are not paying attention. Most mortgages contain language that provides mortgagees’ consent to these remedies, but sadly most buyers are clueless about what they are actually agreeing to.

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