Archive for the ‘Publications’ Category

Weapons Laws of the Russian Federation

Posted on: June 12th, 2012 by admin No Comments

IP-7-2012 (May 2012)
Author: Margot Van Loon

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Introduction:
The following is a translation into English of the weapons laws of the Russian Federation. The translation is not an official translation by the Russian government. Accordingly, if you intend to use or possess firearms in Russia, you should consult with a Russian Embassy or Consulate in order to ascertain the lawfulness of what you plan to do.

In general, this Issue Paper directly and closely translates the Russian statutes into English, rather than re-phrasing the statutes as if they had been originally written in English.

Amending the Constitution by Convention: Practical Guidance for Citizens and Policymakers

Posted on: May 26th, 2012 by admin No Comments

IP-6-2012 (May 2012)
Author: Robert G. Natelson

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Introduction:
This third Issue Paper offers guidance and recommendations for those seeking to implement the state application and convention process. The guidance and recommendations are based on the findings of the two earlier Papers, additional Founding-Era evidence unearthed since the first Paper was published, and on authoritative court cases issued at all stages of our history.

Boulder’s proposed grocery bag fee is garbage. It trashes our liberties

Posted on: May 25th, 2012 by Brian T. Schwartz No Comments

A version of this article was printed in the Boulder Daily Camera on May 19, 2012.

By Boulder’s standard of “zero waste,” the City Council’s plan to restrict plastic bag use is garbage. Regardless, such restrictions are foul rubbish. They empower bag bullies to self-righteously trash our liberties.

Plastic bags contribute just 0.4 percent of Boulder County’s municipal solid waste, says a recent Waste Composition Study.  By weight, there’s more than ten times as much recyclable plastic, “clean dimensional lumber,” and items accepted at the Center for Hard to Recycle Materials. Instead of shaking down shoppers, bag banners should wade through dumps to extract these items for reuse or recycling.

Bag restrictions stifle reuse and recycling trends. Consumers reuse plastic grocery bags at home, and restrictions increase sales of thicker, single-use plastic bags. Plastic bag recycling has increased by 50% since 2005, yielding durable plastic and lumber products,reports Moore Recycling Associates. RecycleYourPlasticBag.com lists local places to recycle bags. The City Council should add its meetings to this list.

Meanwhile, durable bags meant for reuse “are seldom if ever washed” and “almost all” contain bacteria, concludes a Loma Linda University study. Just last week MSNBC reported that one such bag spread “nasty … norovirus infections” to a youth soccer team.

Comparing various bag types, the British Environment Agency found that plastic bags had the lowest “environmental impact,” which is most determined by resources required for manufacturing, rather than transport and disposal.

Regardless of which bag is best, retailers have a right to distribute bags, and customers have a right to discard them through voluntary means. Boulder City Council, stop your bag bullying.

If you say government authorities can justly restrict voluntary exchange of a plastic bag, then you’re conceding that can justly restrict any other type of voluntary exchange. You can no longer you can no longer oppose any government action by arguing that it violates people’s right to liberty.

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See also:

Plastic Bag Ban Will Put Los Angeles In Landfill: Proposal would provide no environmental benefits and deepen city’s economic depression.

“Free” parking isn’t free, and the benefits of charging for it

Posted on: May 19th, 2012 by Brian T. Schwartz No Comments

This piece originally appeared in the Boulder Daily Camera in response to the question:

[A] proposed test program was tentatively approved for Chautauqua, which would have time-limited parking for areas within the landmark, but outside of the parking lot near the green. The test program will run in June, July and August. What do you think? What do you think about parking and parking restrictions in Boulder?

Since demand for “free” parking spaces near Chautauqua exceeds supply during popular hiking months, clearly the monetary price to park is too low.  With “free” parking, the monetary price is zero, but non-monetary prices become costly: time, inconvenience, and frustration.  Many Chautauqua hikers would happily pay some money to avoid such hassles – if the price is right. Hence, the City should certainly find a way to charge for parking.

Of the approaches described in the City Council’s April 17 agenda packet, a combination of parking permits and time-limited parking sounds best. However, this proposal limits permit sales to only Chautauqua guests, Boulder residents, and those who work in Boulder. Why not sell permits to any willing buyer?  The City could discount permits to Chautauqua guests, residents, and local employees to roughly account for taxes they pay.

Also, how about earmarking the Chautauqua revenues for trail maintenance?

For per-hour parking, in Chautauqua or elsewhere, the City should consider pay-by-phone methods, which would allow hikers to extend their meter time via text message or smartphone app. CU-Boulder uses ParkMobile, while San Francisco’s SFpark project uses PayByPhone.com.

The City Council should also consider leasing its parking lots and curbside parking areas to for-profit or non-profit operators. Several cities have made such arrangements, as discussed in the Reason Foundation’s recent Annual Privatization Reports [2010, 2011]. Such leases bring cash-strapped cities significant non-tax revenue while freeing them from financial risk and maintenance costs. Cities have also retained the power to approve or reject leasers’ proposed rate increases.

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In the video above, UCLA professor Donald Shoup explains Pasadena revitalized a shopping district by charging for curb-side parking.

Thanks to Harris Kenny at the Reason Foundation for pointers to the Reason reports & suggestion on how to use fee revenue at Chautauqua.

Why college costs so much: government financial “aid” is more harm than “aid”

Posted on: April 13th, 2012 by Brian T. Schwartz No Comments

This originally appeared in the Boulder Daily Camera on April 9, 2012.

Are tax-funded student loans and grants financial “aid” or financial harm?  ”Harm,” political scientist Gary Wolfram would say. Tax-funded financial aid “results in increased tuition, leading to political pressure to further increase aid. This in turn leads to higher tuitions,” he writes.

Basic economics predicts that subsidizing the purchase of a product increases demand for it, and hence increases the price.  For example, in four-year public schools, a one dollar increase in student loans was associated with a 93-cent increase in average tuition students paid, writes Dr. Andrew Gillen in his study “Financial Aid in Theory and Practice.”

Dr. Gillen shows that since 1986, the federal government’s financial “aid” has nearly tripled. During this time per-student fees and tuition have almost doubled, Gillen shows. Student debt “has generally outpaced inflation” and family incomes, reports US News and World Report.

Educational opportunity hasn’t faired well, either.  In 1972, students in the top income quartile were six times more likely to earning a bachelor’s degree by age 24 than those in the bottom quartile. Today, upper income students are eight times more likely, notes economist Richard Vedder, author of Going Broke by Degree.

Politicians win points for being “pro education.” But politically-driven financial “aid” for college is truly harmful.  Low graduation rates show that “aid” distorts people’s career choices by encouraging them to attend college, even though learning valuable skills in an unsubsidized apprenticeship might be wiser. They drop out after realizing they’ve wasted time learning unmarketable skills. Then they must pay off debt, if they can find a job in today’s “stimulated” economy.

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See also:
Higher Education Subsidies” at DownsizingGovernment.org.
The Center for College Affordability and Productivity

Telecommunications Modernization Act of 2012: Is the Cost of Deregulation Worth the Cost of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians?”

Posted on: April 9th, 2012 by admin No Comments

IP-3-2012 (April 2012)
Author: Amy Oliver Cooke

PDF of full Issue Paper
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Introduction:
A bipartisan group of lawmakers have introduced Senate Bill 157, titled the “Telecommunications Modernization Act of 2012.” The 71-page bill deregulates some local phone service and makes new assumptions about public policy. It redefines service providers and eliminates some corporate subsidies. It also repurposes an existing funding mechanism to achieve newly assumed public policy goals, and reshuffles winners and losers in the telecommunications industry. While the deregulation of some local
phone service may be tempting and long overdue, the cost of SB 157 as it is currently written is quite high. This well-meaning bill has some troubling unintended consequences.

Your health care: Don’t trust the Colorado Trust

Posted on: April 3rd, 2012 by Brian T. Schwartz No Comments

Colorado TrustThis article originally appeared in the print edition of the Boulder Daily Camera on March 31, 2012.

The Colorado Trust is a statewide grant-making foundation with assets exceeding $400 million. It claims to be “dedicated to achieving access to health for all Coloradans.”  The Trust and its grantees use shifty arguments to support ObamaCare’s individual mandate, which requires Americans to purchase a politically-approved health plan. With the Supreme Court’s hearings on the mandate’s Constitutionality just completed, it’s time to reveal the flaws and deceptions behind the Trust’s advocacy.

(more…)

How Peyton Manning could increase your income

Posted on: March 24th, 2012 by Brian T. Schwartz No Comments

This article originally appeared in the print edition of the The Boulder Daily Camera on Saturday, March 24, 2012.

The Broncos’ quest for world championships now “starts with Peyton,” says executive VP John Elway.  If you don’t follow the Broncos, should you care?

Yes, say economist Michael C. Davis and psychologist Christian M. End, co-authors of the journal article “A Winning Proposition: The Economic Impact of Successful NFL Franchises.” They find a positive correlation between an NFL team’s winning percentage and local per-capita income.

Last season the Broncos won eight games, four more than the previous season. Professors Davis and End conclude that such an increase correlates a $120 local per-capita income gain, adjusting for inflation.  How do the authors explain this?

They examine the possibility that higher local incomes contribute to a team’s winning, or that team salaries push up the per-capita income, and conclude that neither is significant. Instead, they suggest that winning teams increase local workplace productivity. The authors then present psychology research supporting this effect.

One study found that a team’s victory or defeat affected how ardent fans perceived their “personal competencies on mental, social, and motor skill tasks.” The positive response to a team’s victory is what psychologists call “BIRGing”: basking in reflected glory. The authors note research showing that positive self-regard and mood contributes to job satisfaction and performance. Meanwhile, ardent fans also report lower self-esteem after their team lost.

Janet Lever’s 1969 study in São Paulo, Brazil illustrates the phenomenon: After a popular local soccer team lost, productivity decreased and workplace accidents increased.

Apathetic about the Broncos? Maybe you shouldn’t be.

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Thanks to Michael C. Davis for his assistance with this article.
Photo courtesy of TheBigLead.com.

Concealed carry allowed at Colorado’s public universities

Posted on: March 15th, 2012 by Brian T. Schwartz No Comments

A version of this article was printed in the Boulder Daily Camera on Saturday, March 10, 2012. It’s in response to the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision that CU regents cannot prevent conceal-carry permit holders from being armed on campus.

The “make my day” moniker for House Bill 12-1088 trivializes the traumatic stress of defending one’s life. It also reflects baseless prejudice against gun owners.  Like the fictional Dirty Harry who popularized “make my day,” arguments against self-defense rights fit in Hollywood scripts, but not in reality. (Continues below video.)
Jim Manley of the Mountain States Legal Foundation was the lead attorney in the case to overthrow the concealed-carry ban at the U. of Colorado. He explains the basic facts & rationale regarding the decision.

CSU has allowed concealed-carry since 2003, while Colorado community colleges have since 2010. Writing in the Camera that year, Jimmy Calano of the Camera’s editorial advisory board opposed campus concealed-carry by describing horrors that could occur — but never have.  In its amicus brief for the case, County Sheriffs of Colorado say they “are not aware of any incident since 2003 involving firearms misuse on a Colorado state campus by a person with a licensed carry permit.” Or in Utah, which also allows campus conceal-carry. Nor has opposition to campus conceal-carry cited an incident.

Also in 2010, board member Dave Ensign says he “cannot understand the obsession with carrying at all times a weapon that’s sole purpose is to kill people.” But killing is not the purpose. Like police officers, civilians carry guns for self-defense against violent criminals, as documented in the Cato Institute’s “Tough Targets” study and books by Robert A. Waters.

These civilians include heroic life-savers Joel Myrick and Tracey Bridges, who thwarted school shootings after retrieving guns from their vehicles, notes scholar Dave Kopel in “Pretend ‘Gun-free’ School Zones: A Deadly Legal Fiction.”
Self-defense is a basic human right. Abridging this right is morally equivalent to disabling seat-belts in someone’s car.


Here’s an excerpt from my longer article on this topic, published in the Denver Post:

Here’s a challenge for the CU Regents and Boulder Faculty Assembly. They’re OK with armed campus police, but not armed citizens with the training and qualifications to have earned a concealed-carry permit. Then why not issue special campus gun permits to those who, at their own expense, undergo the same firearms training as the CU Police?

If this is not acceptable, how about more rigorous training, or limiting permits to faculty and staff? If a regent or CU faculty member opposes this, you should wonder about his actual motives for opposing concealed carry on campus.

See also: Students for Concealed Carry.

Is a Balanced Budget Amendment “Delusional?”

Posted on: March 15th, 2012 by admin No Comments

By Barry Poulson, PhD, Representative Spencer Swalm and Representative Ed Casso

During the past year both the House and Senate failed to pass a resolution calling for a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution. Resolutions proposing a Balanced Budget Amendment have failed numerous times in Congress over the past half century; in 1995 the Amendment passed the House and came within one vote of passage in the Senate.

Critics argue that this approach to fiscal discipline is ‘delusional’ because even if a Balanced Budget Amendment were incorporated in the Constitution politicians would find ways to evade these fiscal rules. But, these critics ignore the fact that 49 states have incorporated balanced budget provisions in their constitutions, and that with few exceptions these fiscal rules have effectively constrained the growth in state spending, enabling state governments to pursue a sustainable fiscal policy.

Congress, the President, and the American people understand that in the long run we must constrain the growth in federal spending in order to achieve a sustainable fiscal policy, and that this is a necessary condition to restore economic growth and prosperity.

It is because politicians have an incentive to increase spending at an unsustainable rate that balanced budget rules should be incorporated in the U.S. Constitution as well as state Constitutions.

This is a classic case of Arrow’s impossibility theorem. Assume that outcome A is current fiscal policies with unconstrained growth in deficits and debt; outcome B is a Democrat proposal to balance the budget by cutting defense spending; and outcome C is a Republican proposal to balance the budget by cutting non-defense spending. Democrats prefer outcome B to A, but prefer A to C. Republicans prefer outcome C to A, but A to B. Majority voting rules will result in voting cycles with no stable outcome, so the government is likely to muddle along increasing deficits and debt until the country experiences a fiscal crisis, such as that currently experienced in Europe.

The Founding Fathers may not have understood Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem, but they certainly understood the potential for unconstrained growth in federal spending to bankrupt the country. Thomas Jefferson stated that if there is one thing that he would have incorporated in the Constitution it is a Balanced Budget Amendment. “It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one half of the wars of the world.” Jefferson also anticipated how this flaw in the Constitution could lead to the current fiscal crises. “Unless the mass retains sufficient control over those entrusted with the powers of their government, those will be perverted to their own oppression, and to the wealth and power in the individuals and their families selected for their trust”.

The Founding Fathers provided a solution to this fiscal crisis by incorporating Article V in the Constitutions, giving the states as well as Congress the power to propose amendments to the Constitution. As James Madison states in Federalist #43, The Constitution “equally enables the general and the state governments to originate the amendment of errors, as they may be pointed out by the experience on one side, or on the other”.

It is clear that unconstrained growth in federal spending is precisely the failure in the federal government for which Article V was designed. Submitting budget decisions to the constraints imposed by a Balanced Budget Amendment would require that politicians forego their power of the purse. But the ability to slice and dice the federal budget, spending money to the benefit of special interests who can get them elected and keep them in office is the life blood of politics. In the absence of an effective balanced budget constraint this rent seeking game is biased toward continual deficit spending and accumulation of debt.

It is time to fulfill the Founding Fathers vision of a prudent federal government pursuing sustainable fiscal policies that will ensure our economic growth and prosperity. We can no longer wait for Congress to enact a Balanced Budget Amendment. The states can enact a Balanced Budget Amendment through an amendment convention under Article V of the Constitution. Federal fiscal policies could be constrained by the same fiscal rules that have proven effective in our state governments. To argue that this is ‘delusional’ is to ignore our constitutional history and more than two centuries of experience with balanced budget rules incorporated in state Constitutions.

Originally published in the Denver Business Journal, March 9-15, 2012