Category: Individual & Economic Liberty

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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America’s Growing Qualms About Banks

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“I will lose my vehicle if I don’t get my money. My car note is past due.”

“They (Rushcard) make 94 cents every time a direct deposit hits, $2.50 every time you withdraw money and $1.00 every time you use the card.”

“No access to my money. Been waiting since Oct. 9th”

“This card only preys on poor folks who have messed up their credit and can’t get a regular bank account.”

These are among the comments posted on social media in response to technical issues facing RushCard, a prepaid debit card program founded by iconic hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons. This highly popular alternative to traditional banking has recently faced major criticism among its members due to paychecks and direct deposits failing to appear in their accounts. It also raises questions about whether services such as those offered by RushCard take advantage of people who, due to myriad reasons, may be unable or unwilling to secure a traditional bank account. “

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.

A Rush to Objectivism: Fueling the Message of Ayn Rand

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“No, his mind is not for rent
To any God or government
Always hopeful yet discontent
He knows changes aren’t permanent
But change is”

These are lyrics in a song Tom Sawyer produced for the rock group Rush (Spirit of the Radio: 1974-1987).

Unlike most African-American men, I grew up on rock music. Groups like Journey, Boston, Foreigner, AC/DC and Kansas were a constant part of my listening experience. But there is one group that really stood out for me, due to their edgy themes and powerful lyrical messages; that group was Rush.

Originating in Canada, this musical troupe featured guitarist Alex Lifeson, singer/bass and keyboardist Geddy Lee and drummer extraordinaire Neil Peart. Of this trio, Peart probably had the most thematic impact as he is apparently the the one who single-handedly integrated Ayn Rand’s Objectivist philosophy into many of their musical scores. While in recent years Peart has reputedly distanced himself from Rand’s thinking, the legacy of her work still lives on through the music of this iconic group.

2112 – the band’s 1976 album – was dedicated to the “Genius of Ayn Rand.” It was inspired by Rand’s novel, ‘Anthem’, which explores a dystopian world where totalitarianism is threatened by the rediscovery of the guitar. Interestingly, Rush has the distinction of being the only music group ever to be cited in the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies. “

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

Unlimited Vacation – Would it be Used or Abused?

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During my years as an HR Director, I was amused at the number of employees who would accrue massive amounts of unused vacation, as though they were storing nuts for the winter. These were often the same people who seemed chronically stressed out, displaying a lack of creativity in problem-solving and lacking the energy to get through an entire day. Clearly, they were not well-rested individuals.

Why do so many people refuse to take their vacation, I wondered? Could it be that their work was so fulfilling and engaging that they simply couldn’t drag themselves away? Or maybe there was a concern about being passed over for a raise or a promotion, a fear of being seen as a slacker by management.

Enter the Time-Off-When-You-Damn-Well-Please Approach

What would it look like if a company began offering their workforce unlimited vacation time, a protocol where employees are allowed to flee to enjoy leisure time in order to relax and reinvigorate their productive swagger? Certainly, this would be predicated on the employee being caught up with current work tasks. And anyway, most will be unable to resist the temptation to check in at work and maybe send an email or twenty while they’re off. So what the heck?

Questions such as these are being asked while the business networking site LinkedIn recently became the latest company to adopt the idea by offering what is affectionately known in the HR