Author: Max Bibeau

Amazon Selects New York City and Northern Virginia as New HQ2 Locations

By Max Bibeau | USA

After months of city bidding, Amazon has finally selected its HQ2 locations, as reported by the New York Times. The new headquarters will appear in New York City and Crystal City, bringing with it an estimated $5 billion in investment and 50,000 new jobs.

These selections come as a surprise to many, as previous analytics, such as Bank of America’s, found cities like Washington DC, Boston, and Atlanta to be much better contenders for the new HQ.

The decision comes after months of intense bidding from cities across the country, including tax cuts and subsidies. It’s no secret that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was extremely interested in attracting the HQ to New York, even jokingly offering to change his name to Amazon Cuomo “if that’s what it takes.”

While Cuomo will get to keep his birth name, the city is offering upwards of 1.5 billion in direct subsidies and tax cuts in exchange for Amazon’s HQ.

Crystal City’s incentives, however, are much less publicized, being drafted and proposed behind closed doors. While we can imagine the immense bargaining that must have taken place, it is not currently known what Virginia offered Amazon, outside of a booming location with a highly educated workforce. 

It’s unsure when exactly construction on the new HQs will begin, but after the selection of the cities, it is likely Amazon will waste no time in beginning the process. The new HQs should be a huge boon for both New York and Virginia, providing a huge economic stimulus to both regions.


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Christie Could Be Worse on Marijuana Than Jeff Sessions

By Max Bibeau | United States

On November 7, in the aftermath of an intense midterm election season, Americans could finally breathe a sigh of relief. And, as if this relief wasn’t enough, Trump decided to give America a little gift: Jeff Sessions’ resignation.

While many have been celebrating this news, it may still be a bit too soon. Trump is reportedly considering his longtime friend and fellow 2016 Presidential Candidate to replace Sessions – Governor Chris Christie.

Christie, who ran for the Republican nomination in 2016, did not have much success during the primaries and ended up endorsing President Trump after dropping out of the election in February. Christie has been repeatedly criticized for his long absences from his home state and for his “Bridgegate” scandal, which began as long ago as 2013.

Sessions is well known for his anti-drug stances, advocating for a resurgence in drug education such as in the 80s and 90s, stating that marijuana is “slightly less awful” than heroin, and that “using drugs will destroy your life.” Needless to say, Sessions adamantly opposes the legalization or even decriminalization of any currently illegal drug. He even reversed an Obama era policy in order to encourage federal law enforcement agents to crack down on marijuana use, even in legal states.

Christie, while almost 20 years younger than Sessions, seems to share his hyper-traditionalist mindset. Christie has repeatedly stated that marijuana should never be legalized for medicinal or recreational purposes, and has deemed any profits made from the legal marijuana industry “blood money.” He made it clear back in 2015 that he would never put the “lives of children and citizens at risk to put a little more money into the state coffers,” which might be a noble sentiment if marijuana had caused even a single overdose death in the last year. 

Sessions and Christie both share a similar anti-drug sentiment. But given a few past statements, it’s very possible that Christie may take a more direct approach to opposing marijuana legalization, even in states that have already legalized the drug for medicinal or recreational purposes.

In 2015, Christie was asked whether or not he would enforce federal drug laws. His response was “absolutely. I will crack down and not permit it.” He went on immediately to say that “marijuana is a gateway drug. We have an enormous addiction problem in this country. And we need to send very clear leadership from the White House on down through the federal law enforcement. Marijuana is an illegal drug under federal law. And the states should not be permitted to sell it and profit from it.”

While Sessions was more bark than bite, only implementing one or two federal changes to marijuana policy, Christie seems like he will plan to take a much more aggressive route, actively stopping businesses and farms from supplying their product. If Christie follows through on his word, direct conflict between federal law enforcement and marijuana institutions could be likely in the future.

So, while many considered Sessions the worst possible Attorney General for drug legalization, none should celebrate his resignation yet – his replacement could be far worse.


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How You Can Be in the World’s First LSD Microdosing Study

By Max Bibeau | United States

Since its first dose in 1943, countless people have used lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) for intense, life-changing “trips”. While many studies explain the impacts of these large trips, there is a shocking lack of scientific research on the other side of LSD: microdosing.

LSD microdosing, the practice of taking small amounts of LSD during the day (between 10ug and 20ug), is becoming increasingly common in tech communities like Silicon Valley. Microdosing is said to have a multitude of positive effects. For example, it treats depression and anxiety and increases cognitive ability. However, there has been little to no actual research on LSD microdosing. Therefore, all of these claims are anecdotal, not conclusive.

The Beckley Foundation, working in tandem with Imperial College London, is looking to change that. By crowdsourcing participants around the world, the organizations are creating the most expansive study yet on microdosing.

LSD is still widely illegal. Thus, the study has made it clear that participants will not be sent any substances. Instead, they will need to obtain and handle all doses independently.

LSD Microdosing: How to Participate

To participate in the study, one must be at least 18 years of age, have had prior experience with psychedelics, and be willing to follow the study’s manual in order to ensure accurate data. Given the relatively low barrier to entry, the groups hope that the study will garner many participants around the world.

The study will be self-blinding and placebo-controlled in order to ensure the best results. Participants must create their own doses and placebos and not know which they are taking each day. They also must self-report the results on a daily basis.

While there are obviously many sources of error (impure street LSD, inaccurate self-reporting, difficulty in self-blinding) the study hopes to pave the way for future clinical studies of LSD microdosing. From the study’s page:

“[The study is] neither a conventional clinical trial nor plain personal experimentation. Rather, it is somewhere in between and as such the strength of the resulting evidence will be also somewhere in between.”

Thus, this study will not conclusively prove anything regarding microdosing. Rather, it will provide backing to advocate for future clinical studies. However, given the dramatic lack of information on LSD microdosing, the psychedelic community will likely welcome any research on the practice with open arms.

To sign up to participate in the study, and to receive more information, you can go to the organization’s website HERE.


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How the United States Can Increase Market Freedom

By Max Bibeau | United States

The American Dream, as outlined by the Founding Fathers in the Declaration of Independence, has long been the shining beacon of hope for citizens and foreigners alike, offering a chance to be successful on an even playing field. Unfortunately, that beacon has been dimming in recent decades, leading the World Economic Forum to bluntly mourn that the American Dream is broken.

As class mobility continues to fall and the economic gap between rich and poor only seems to expand, many Americans are starting to give up hope in American capitalism. This has led to mass calls for change among the general populace, with everyone desperately looking for solutions. Some, such as Vermont Senator and 2016 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, propose that it is time to look towards “democratic socialism” in the United States. Others, such as Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, seem to be denying the problem completely, still claiming that “the circumstances of your birth do not determine the outcome of your life.”

As much as we might wish for Paul Ryan’s statement to be true, the facts stand against him. Since we are in grave need of a solution, and one does not appear to be coming anytime soon, we must ask how America can improve competition in modern capitalism. Luckily, it is not too late for capitalism to be saved and for America to recover, but the country needs to act fast. While there are many potential solutions, there are three primary ones which will specifically target major problems in the US economy. In order to address current problems in the economy, the United States should target inefficiencies in regulatory organizations like the FDA, foster blockchain development around the country, and crack down on state preference policies.

FDA Inefficiency

The problem of skyrocketing drug prices was first brought to the forefront of American politics in 2015 when the infamous Martin Shkreli increased prices on a lifesaving drug by over 4000%, from $18 a pill to $750 a pill, making the cost of treatment virtually impossible to cover. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case, as the Center for American Progress describes how American pharmaceutical prices have “continued to skyrocket” in recent years, with manufacturers of Medicare-covered drugs raising prices 12% per year on average. Another study shockingly found that over the past 14 months, 20 different prescription drugs had their prices increased by 200% or more.

Price increases, especially of these unprecedented proportions, are a clear indicator of a lack of competition within the pharmaceutical industry, as confirmed by a Government Accountability Office study. To counteract price increases, the United States must directly tackle the sources of the problem: inefficiency and over-regulation, which leads to monopolistic markets. All of the prescription drugs that saw drastic price increases have one thing in common: they have little to no competition making the same substances. This is because of how unreasonably difficult and expensive it is to get a new drug approved for manufacturing by the FDA.

The Journal of Health quantifies just how expensive the process can be, totaling it at over $1.395 billion in out-of-pocket costs. That number skyrockets up to $2.870 billion when post-approval research and development costs are factored in. These astronomically high development costs make it extremely difficult for anybody looking to create a new drug to even get their business off the ground. High startup costs are one of the top reasons that new companies and drugs never find success, as it’s virtually impossible for new companies, even with perfect scientific viability, to raise nearly $3 billion in investments just to allow their drug to be widely sold.

Because of complex regulations and red tape encircling the pharmaceutical industry, it’s no surprise that the market is nearly devoid of competition. By removing excessive regulation on the industry and streamlining the FDA, new drugs could be approved faster and cheaper. This would dramatically lower startup costs for new businesses trying to develop drugs and would promote increased competition throughout the entire industry, making life-saving substances much more affordable.

Blockchain Growth and Development

The blockchain, developed and made popular by cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, is currently a buzzword in American Congress. Politicians are scrambling to implement the budding technology into their cities and states, and have even formed the Congressional Blockchain Caucus to craft policy surrounding it. Luckily, the potential benefits of the blockchain, especially when it comes to increasing competition, cannot be overstated. To quickly summarize a complex technology, the blockchain is a completely digital, decentralized ledger of information, constantly being confirmed and updated by computers around the world. This has plenty of business applications.

Specifically, since the National Bureau of Economic Research contends that the blockchain removes almost all need for trust in a transaction, small businesses will no longer have to compete with larger businesses when it comes to reputability. Trust, especially when it comes to internet retail, is one of the largest problems that businesses face, preventing up to 30% of internet users from utilizing online retail at all.

However, as the blockchain expands and becomes more widely used, retailers, especially small, newer businesses, will be granted the same level of trust as established companies. The Pew Research Center has found that many consumers soon “expect to see improved technology emerge that will allow people to have confidence in the organizations and individuals with whom they interact online,” specifically through the blockchain. Once the blockchain and cryptocurrency have become mainstream, the issue of trust will be eliminated from the equation, promoting widespread competition in online retail by allowing small retailers with no reputation to provide legitimate competition to retail giants.

While many are afraid to buy from anywhere other than Amazon due to the threat of scams, the blockchain will almost completely mitigate that problem, giving startups a chance, and opening up the online retail industry to everyone. To promote this, the government should focus on effectively regulating and investing in blockchain companies. These regulations would allow them to thrive and innovate in the near future, while still protecting the safety of consumers.

Ending State Preference Policies

While it is commonly agreed upon by economists that international protectionism damages all parties involved, what is criminally under-discussed when it comes to increasing domestic competition is state-by-state protectionism, more commonly known as preference policies. These policies are outlined by the Mercatus Center, which describes that preference policies, often enacted by state or local governments, give a significant advantage to companies residing in-state when bidding on government projects.

When a state government wishes to have a project completed, whether it be building military bases or providing a government building with computers, they allow companies to bid on the project. In theory, this practice would reduce costs as much as possible, as competition drives prices lower. Unfortunately, as the Mercatus Center furthers, even if an out-of-state company bids with a significantly cheaper offer, the more expensive in-state company will still almost always get the job. Aside from drastically raising the costs of government projects on taxpayers, in-state preference policies are almost identical to international protectionist policies, and have almost identical impacts, especially when it comes to decreasing competition.

Essentially, these programs enable companies to raise their prices due to the lack of competition from other states. Similar to international protectionism, these policies are put in place with the goal of stimulating domestic growth. However, this growth often comes at the cost of cheap prices and quality services. While it may appear that this would only discourage competition when it comes to government services, that is not quite true. Because most of these state and local policies are very strict, they only give preference to companies that have a state/local business license, pay all state/local taxes, and hire only state/local employees.

Since these policies are so rigid, and only apply to exclusively state or local businesses, it often discourages companies, especially those which rely on government business to remain profitable, from expanding outside of state borders, given that they know this will likely cost them their government business. This has much more broad impacts, affecting competition around the entire nation.

An Increase in Market Freedom

The United States, viewed as a pioneer of capitalism around the world, has found itself entrapped by red tape and ineffective policies, all of which are hindering one of the key benefits of capitalism: competition. However, while the United States does have some dire problems, they can be addressed.

First, the country needs to crack down on inefficient and ineffective regulations, specifically in the pharmaceutical industry. Second, the US should encourage and foster blockchain development by establishing fair regulations that don’t stifle the technology. Finally, the unfair problem of in-state preference policies must be addressed. While hope may be in short supply for capitalists in the United States, some common sense changes to economic policy would allow the beacon of the American Dream to shine brightly once again. 


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Lil Pump Is a True Libertarian Icon

By Max Bibeau | Satire

Gazzy Garcia, better known by his stage name Lil Pump, was recently arrested for driving without a license in Miami. Despite the mild nature of his charge, Lil Pump’s personality, lyrics, and actions all prove his libertarian tendencies.

A known drug user, Pump’s first clear endorsement of libertarianism comes from his disrespect of drug laws. In his recent hit “Drug Addicts,” Pump brags not only about his habit, but his lack of care when his drug use is brought into legal question.

I ain’t never listen to nobody (no!)
In the courthouse off of ecstasy (god damn!)

Drug legalization is a core tenet of libertarianism, and Pump clearly recognizes this. He engages in civil disobedience against the state. Pump, clearly, is taking drugs as a form of peaceful protest, and ignoring laws that limit his bodily autonomy. Many average libertarians advocate drug legalization. However, Pump takes this to the next level, practicing civil disobedience daily, bragging about his agorist tendencies through buying substances, and disrespecting authority that he deems illegitimate.

Second, Pump’s personality and lyrics promote a rebellious lifestyle, influencing his listeners and fans towards the libertarian ideology. Pump’s hit song “Crazy” is a libertarian anthem, promoting rebellion and an anti-state lifestyle.

I pop hella Molly, I drive Maserati
Then shut down your party, I air out the shawty
We drink hella water, we run through your daughter

I do this sh*t on the daily, yeah
I do this sh*t on the daily, ayy

In the song, Pump’s aggressive lyrics vividly describe his everyday life, taking drugs and driving fast cars, presumably breaking the speed limit and other statist driving regulations. He follows the description up by reassuring his listeners that “[He] does this sh*t on the daily”. This proves that he lives an anti-state lifestyle and urges his supporters to do the same.

Pump even proves that he lives this life outside of his songs through his recent Florida arrest. Police pulled him over in a Rolls Royce for speeding. But not long after, the officer discovered that Pump did not have a valid license or license plate. After his arrest, Pump smiled in his mugshot. Surely, this proves he truly enjoys these non-violent, anti-state protests.

Lil Pump Mugshot
Lil Pump’s Mugshot

Finally, the title of Pump’s upcoming album, the “Harvard Dropout” tape, demonstrates his hatred of the establishment. In particular, he despises the elitist nature of modern colleges. It’s no secret that college campuses are increasingly opposing free speech. Pump does not stand for this, thus advocating for students to drop out of oppressive institutions. The stereotypical American life now includes going to college for 4 years or more, but Pump wishes students to break out of the oppressive status quo, protecting their rights and allowing them to follow their dreams.

Libertarians have largely ignored the increasing threat to the First Amendment on college campuses. However, Pump realizes the problem and directly addresses it. He even goes so far as to give the younger generation a way to protect their rights. Pump also serves as a role model to many of his supporters. For example, one man could have followed the stereotypical American life of going to college and getting a 9-to-5 job. Instead, he chose to drop out and “save the rap game.”

After examining some of Lil Pump’s lyrics and actions, we can clearly see that he is a dedicated libertarian. Through his drug use and disrespect of illegitimate laws, Pump protests with civil disobedience and agorism. Pump also promotes a rebellious and anti-state lifestyle in his supporters through his songs and actions, influencing his fans. Finally, Pump demonstrates a proactive approach towards protecting his rights by dropping out of oppressive institutions like Harvard to follow his dreams. Lil Pump may seem like an everyday rapper, but that is part of the genius. A deeper analysis immediately proves Pump’s libertarian tendencies.


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