Category: Government

Apple’s Strong Stance on Data Protection

iphonepicAfter being asked by the court to access data stored on an iPhone as evidence for a case, Apple stated that accessing data on iPhones with the two latest versions of iOS (iOS 8 and 9) would be impossible. Apple is one of many companies that have responded to the growing privacy and security concerns that plague our modern world by increasing its focus on protecting users’ data. The recent versions of iOS require a passcode in order to access data kept on the device; a passcode that Apple does not store and cannot access.

The case Apple was responding to happened to involve an iPhone that was not running either of the iOS versions that include this passcode feature but, interestingly enough, Apple asked

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Harriet Tubman: New Face of the $20 Bill?

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The abolitionist Harriet Tubman has long been admired for her civil rights legacy. And if a grassroots organization has its way, she will one day adorn the front of a $20 bill.

The group, Women On 20s, recently asked the public to vote to get Tubman on U.S. printed currency. She garnered nearly 34% of the vote, edging out former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt for the distinction of replacing Andrew Jackson. If this is codified by the Department of Treasury, Tubman would make history as the first woman and the first African-American to be represented on American paper currency.

A little history about Tubman. She was arguably the most influential figure in the Underground Railroad Movement, a network of routes that facilitated slaves fleeing to northern free states as well as Canada. Tubman, who herself escaped slavery in Maryland, made it her personal cause to free hundreds of slaves out of bondage. In addition to her work to free slaves, she was a passionate advocate for women’s equality and suffrage.

As she noted about her abolitionist work, “I was a conductor on the Underground Railroad, never running my train off the track and never losing a passenger.”

This campaign to highlight women via U.S. paper currency has gained a ton of political support, including U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire), from a state that has a prominent history in the freedom movement. Women on 20s has delivered a petition to President Obama, asking him to instruct Treasury Secretary Lew to circulate these bills in anticipation of the women’s suffrage centennial in 2020. This will be an unprecedented move if executed; one with rich historical significance for the cause of liberty.

 

 

Rocky Times for Obamacare: What’s Next

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A few of my friends here in the Rocky Mountain State recently had a jagged boulder heaved their way. Sadly, I had warned them that this would be likely to occur, but they wouldn’t listen. Now, after drinking the health care reform Kool-Aid, they are the ones whining about the very initiative for which they had high hopes.

So here’s the scoop…..

Colorado HealthOp, a non-profit co-op that has been a key element of Obamacare in this state, announced last week that it will not be offering health care plans in 2016, becoming the seventh of 23 taxpayer-funded co-ops to shut down across the country. This comes on the heels of the $2 billion-plus in government funding that has already been distributed to insurance cooperatives across the nation to fuel a more competitive environment for Obamacare marketplaces.

This decision to close down is due in large part to a ruling from Colorado’s health insurance regulator, decertifying the insurer from Connect For Health Colorado, the state’s Obamacare marketplace exchange. Reports suggest that the move is linked to financial troubles at the co-op, attributed in large part to the federal government reneging on its commitment to provide $10 million for operational support under the Obamacare Risk Corridor program. As a result, it is estimated that nearly 83,000 Coloradans will struggle to find alternative

Irwin Schiff – A Man of Conviction

Irwin SchiffIrwin A. Schiff just passed away on October 16th, at the age of 87, still under lock and key as a political prisoner. Most people know Irwin Schiff as the father of investor and fellow gold advocate, Peter Schiff. Irwin Schiff was also known as the most prominent tax protester of our time, a man who stood up to the IRS and was imprisoned as a result. But the legacy he leaves is much deeper than his fight with the IRS, and there are some valuable lessons we can learn from his life and teachings.

For those unfamiliar with Irwin Schiff, he was the son of Jewish immigrants. He served in the Korean War and later opened his own insurance brokerage. He read Henry Hazlitt and F.A. Hayek in college, gaining exposure to Austrian economics. He was a staunch supporter of liberty and limited government, undertaking grassroots campaigns and later staging an (unsuccessful) write-in campaign for Governor of Connecticut. He was also a candidate for the Libertarian Party Presidential Nomination in 1996.

Irwin Schiff was also a supporter of sound money, testifying in 1968 before the Senate Committee on Banking and Currency against the removal of gold-backing for our currency. My personal exposure to Irwin Schiff was through his book ‘How an Economy Grows and Why It Doesn’t’. Originally written as a children’s book in an illustrated comic-book style, it is accessible to everyone, yet contains high-level economic and political concepts that most adults do not understand.

The book starts off with an island economy, and it logically illustrates how that economy grows only through savings and capital goods investment. It then shows the disastrous results that occur when the government inflates and devalues the island’s currency. The book has been updated by his sons, Andrew and Peter, and I would highly recommend it to everyone. It is truly a joy to read. Irwin also wrote a similar book called ‘The Kingdom of Moltz’, which is also very clever.

Of course, most people who know anything about Irwin Schiff focus on his tax theories and, unfortunately, many write him off as a tax cheat who was eventually imprisoned for his actions. But his story is much more nuanced.

Patent Laws Take a Bite Out of Apple

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UPDATE 10/17/15:

The Daily Mail reported the actual cost of the suit to be ruled at $234 Million.

Apple was charged with patent infringement this week, says PC Mag. The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, or WARF, is the body behind the charges. WARF manages patents for The University of Wisconsin-Madison (UWM). The cost of the patent suit they are pursuing against the tech giant could reportedly reach $862 million.

WARF previously settled out of court with Intel, who they also sued over their Core 2 Duo processor back in 2008. In this case, the jury has already ruled that Apple was guilty

Fare Well with Wealth-fare

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What if there were a simple way to reduce poverty in America? In this scenario, the government would give everyone money, so that no one would be poor. Outside of proving your U.S. citizenship, there would be no screening mechanism or ‘need’ test required. Everyone would be provided with the same monthly amount, even if they were middle class or wealthy.

This is the essence of a new policy model being proposed which is called Universal Minimum Income or Guaranteed Basic Income where, in lieu of myriad government assistance programs, there would be just one program dispensing a monthly or annual payment to all citizens, irrespective of income level, background, social status or other factors. While this idea seems nutty at first, given the federal budget deficit, it does offer some interesting arguments when you consider its full implications.

Personally, I have never been a fan of government handouts. But this one caught my curiosity because of its egalitarian approach. Besides, who wouldn’t want a little (or a lot) more money in their pocket each month for basic necessities like rent, food, gas and booze. I added booze in there because life in a society of equals would be truly boring.

Of course, the use of a handout for alcohol consumption would pique the wrath of those who believe that poverty is largely the result of an irresponsible lifestyle. As one of my Twitter trolls commented, responding to my recent tweet on guaranteed basic income:

“So there’s no reason to improve yourself? You have nothing to worry about? That has never worked. It didn’t work for the French. It didn’t work for the USSR. It won’t work now. I’d rather be free and poor than a slave to a State that meets my needs. Any liberal/progressive program will ALWAYS have the opposite outcome of it’s stated goal.”

What’s the Rationale for Guaranteed Basic Income?

At the risk of being branded a Bernie Sanders socialist, for kicks let’s explore the arguments in favor of Guaranteed Basic Income. For starters, today’s jobs economy is not what it used to be. Many workers are powering through 50+ hour work weeks, despite the fact that it’s still not providing them with enough money on which to live. Some might attribute this to greed on the part of employers; others might believe that it’s directly related to the decline of unionization. Nevertheless, a fact is a fact: for many, employment no longer provides a sustainable income because the wages of most American workers have stagnated or declined since the 1970’s. Moreover, about a quarter of all workers rely on some form of public assistance to supplement what they earn. Ultimately, advocates of the Guaranteed Basic Income proposition claim that it offers all Americans the opportunity to create a foundational base for living akin to the bottom level requirements of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. “