At this year’s FreedomFest, which starts in two weeks, we will put “The Police on Trial.”
In recent times, law enforcement has gotten out of control. Police have been emboldened by SWAT teams, aggressively discriminate against minorities and engage in abusive tactics such as “no knock” raids, “stop and frisk,” asset forfeiture laws and a variety of other ways to trample upon our sacred Bill of Rights.
The result is that the United States has the largest prison population in the world. Larry Elder, the Los Angeles-based Salem Radio talk show host, will have his hands full defending the police. (Kennedy of Fox News fame is the judge this year. It is not to be missed.)
One good example of overreaching police action is asset forfeiture. In the name of catching drug dealers, tax evaders, terrorists, or just plain law breakers, police can confiscate cars, houses and cash without a court order or without even charging someone with a crime. The feds this year confiscated an entire skyscraper, a 36-floor building at 650 Fifth Avenue in New York, because the part-owner was linked to a money-laundering scheme of an Iranian terrorist group.
For the first time in 2014, the government seized more property than burglars stole from private homes and offices! According to the Institute for Justice (a sponsor at this year’s conference), the Treasury and Justice Departments deposited more than $5 billion into their respective asset forfeiture funds. That same year, the FBI reports that burglary losses topped out at $3.5 billion.
Fortunately, citizens have had enough and many legislators are repealing these clear violations of our right to property. In states like Texas and North Dakota, the legislatures are curbing these outrageous practices. Sadly, President Donald Trump is unfamiliar with the abuses and is a supporter of asset forfeiture laws.
In case you missed it, I encourage you to read my e-letter from last week about what U.S. can learn from Canada’s bi-partisan problem solving.
New Speakers at FreedomFest:
James O’Keefe, Andy Puzder and Bill Baldwin
In just two weeks, July 19-22, we will be gathering at the five-star Paris Resort in Las Vegas for the “world’s largest gathering of free minds.” So far, 1,500 investors and concerned citizens have signed up, and I fully expect over 2,000 attendees this year to celebrate our big 10th anniversary and Steve Forbes’ 70th birthday party.
Note: There will be no live streaming this year, so I urge you to join me in person. Our entire agenda of more than 300 speakers, panels and debates are now posted online, and I really think it’s the best FreedomFest we’ve ever organized: www.freedomfest.com/agenda. Just scroll down and look through our impressive lineup.
Good news: We just added three new speakers: Bill Baldwin, the long-time editor of Forbes magazine (1999-2010), will join Steve Forbes to talk about “100 Years of Forbes.” He told me some incredible “behind the scenes” stories about the Forbes 400 Richest List, and how Forbes and forbes.com have become the dominant business magazine today. He also will give an in-depth session on “Tax Wise Investing.” Baldwin has a brilliant mind. He will join a faculty of top investment writers and advisers, including Jim Rogers, Alex Green and Nicholas Vardy. (See the full list under “speakers”).
Andy Puzder, former CEO of Carl’s Jr. restaurants and Trump’s choice for Secretary of Labor before withdrawing from consideration on Feb. 15, will be joining us on Wednesday, July 19, for the opening ceremonies to talk about “What Trump Must Do to Make America Great Again.” Plus, on Thursday, July 20, he will join Steve Moore and John Fund on “Trump’s Washington: Off the Record Insider Revelations.” It’s selling out fast.
Also joining us will be James O’Keefe, the controversial undercover journalist, who had just released his video of a top CNN producer admitting privately that there was no evidence connecting the Russians to the Trump campaign, and that it was all “a witch hunt.” President Trump called O’Keefe on the telephone last week, and then O’Keefe called us, confirming that he will be a keynote speaker on Wednesday, July 19. See you there!
My wife Jo Ann has done this interview on what we have planned at the Anthem film festival: http://blogcritics.org/interview-anthem-film-festival-founder-on-william-shatner-mr-spock-and-liberty/.
Finally, we have a lot of fun things going on at our conference. This year, we are bringing in the exhibit hall tech experts from Hollywood to show you the latest in Virtual Reality, or VR. Put on a 3-D VR headset and be blown away!
You Blew It!
Minimum Wage, Maximum Unemployment
The first academic study is out on the effect of the sharp increase in the minimum wage in Seattle, and the results are predictably bad.
Economists always talk about trade-offs, and the impact of artificially raising wages is a perfect example. When you raise wages above the market rate, the unintended consequences are profound — unemployment and a shift toward machines instead of labor.
Seattle became one of the first major cities to approve an eventual $15 minimum wage back in 2014, more than double the current federal minimum wage of $7.25.
The National Bureau of Economic Research unveiled a working paper that found the number of hours worked in low-skill professions dropped more than 9% in Seattle during the first three quarters of last year, while low-wage jobs declined by 6.8 percent, or by more than 5,000 positions. That all coincides with Seattle raising its minimum wage to $13 per hour in 2016 amid the city’s gradual push to boost floor-level pay to $15. The University of Washington researchers who authored the study pointed to this wage increase as the root cause of the hourly and employment declines.
“There is widespread interest in understanding the effects of large minimum wage increases, particularly given efforts in the U.S. to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour and the adoption of high minimum wages in several states, cities and foreign countries in the past few years,” the authors said in the report. “These results suggest a fundamental rethinking of the nature of low-wage work.”
Politicians are making a mistake interfering with the labor markets by artificially raising wages. It is better to focus on legitimate ways to raise wages. For example, companies that are highly profitable naturally tend to pay their workers more money. By cutting taxes and regulations, companies can be more profitable and thus able to hire more workers at higher wages. Or legislatures can encourage training and education with tax credits. These are indirect, natural ways to improve the wage levels of workers that are far superior to artificial methods such as the minimum or living wage laws currently in vogue.