Author: Max Bibeau

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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Cryptocurrency Is Alive and Better Than Ever

By Max Bibeau | United States

With the prices of cryptocurrencies continuing to plummet across the board, some have been quick to assume that the “crypto wave” has passed and that its time in the spotlight is over. Some articles even go so far as to claim that the Bitcoin bubble has popped and that the technology may not recover for some time, if ever.

These claims could not be farther from the truth.

What Drives Markets?

To understand why cryptocurrency’s price is so far down in the first place, we must first understand that the prices of all cryptocurrencies are driven by FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt). Through the second half of 2017, crypto experienced a surge of FOMO, with Bitcoin being in the headlines day after day with incredible price jumps. FOMO breeds more FOMO – until it doesn’t. A series of events occurring in a very short time in January of 2018 broke the FOMO and entered the market into a period of FUD. A combination of a regular dip in the market, the exposure of Bitconnect as a scam, FUD surrounding crypto being banned in countries such as China and India, and a series of highly publicized cryptocurrency thefts drove price dips, increasing FUD even more.

Price Is Irrelevant To Developers

Now that we understand how exactly we got to this point, we can explore why crypto is not dead. The key thing to remember is that price doesn’t affect developers. Sure, many of them hold a significant amount of their own cryptocurrency, and the crash has affected their personal holdings – but very few, if any developers are solely reliant on cryptocurrency, and can be supported by grants, jobs, donations, or other factors.

Since developers work independently of price, innovation has continued at breakneck speed, even though the market appears to have crashed. Almost every single major cryptocurrency continues to develop and grow, some of them at an even faster pace than during the FOMO.

Bitcoin

Bitcoin has finally started to deliver on its long-awaited lightning network, expanding the technology and resolving some major bugs that caused problems on the new network. The technology is continually being developed, with hundreds of developers working on Bitcoin regularly.

Fees are also down drastically from their peak last year, due in part to fewer transactions occurring, but also in part to the lightning network paired with other developments in the technology’s efficiency. Bitcoin Core has also been successfully able to solve the famed coffee example, with the lightning network being utilized commercially in a Swiss cafe just a few days ago.

Ethereum

Ethereum, while it may seem quiet, has been booming. The whole point of Ethereum is to support decentralized applications, or dapps, and it has been extremely successful in recent months. Thousands of new Ethereum dapps have been put on the blockchain since 2017, and more are being added daily.

After the unprecedented success of the dapp game “CryptoKitties,” which led to users paying up to $100,000 for a single digital cat, countless other games and dapps have sprouted up in recent months. New games, such as Etheremon, are attracting hundreds of users daily and can be played for free. While no huge breakthroughs have been seen in Ethereum recently, there’s no doubt that its blockchain is becoming more and more filled out with dapps, ranging from gambling to gaming.

Stellar

Stellar, often seen as Ripple’s primary competitor, has seen radically increased adoption, specifically among banks. The coin’s list of partners is also continually growing, including big names like IBM. The two have committed to environmental efforts, by using a blockchain solution to create a carbon credit program.

While Stellar may not be seeing strides as great as some other cryptocurrencies I’ve discussed, it’s slowly but surely becoming more and more influential in financial markets, and is increasing its credibility through a plethora of partnerships and improvements.

VeChain

Arguably the most well-maintained on this list, VeChain has undergone an entire rebrand, transitioning from VeChain (VEN) to VeChain Thor (VET). VeChain also added a token to be paired with their main coin called THOR. The token is obtained by simply holding VeChain, similar to how one can obtain GAS from holding NEO.

Along with their new token, VeChain has launched a new wallet in the form of an iOS/Android app that can be downloaded on the app store. With a simple UI and automatic flow of THOR for holding VET in the app, the wallet is one of the most user-friendly programs out there. The VeChain team has clearly been busy with a new wallet and token, not to mention their new partnerships with big names like BMW.

Crypto Lives

Clearly, after examining only four of the top cryptocurrencies on the market, we can see that while prices have fallen dramatically, the technology behind cryptocurrency surely lives on. Developer teams are still working hard to improve their technologies, and partnerships between mainstream companies and cryptocurrencies are becoming more and more common.

Nobody can fully predict when the market will rise again – it will undoubtedly take a series of important and “good news” events to break out of the current FUD in the market – but the technology is there, even if the prices remain low. While crypto is largely out of the mainstream media due to the loss of FOMO, that hasn’t stopped innovation and partnerships from occurring throughout the entire market.

Cryptocurrency has been out of the spotlight for months now, and it may be a long time yet before the FOMO catches back on. However, when the FOMO returns, the technology will be ready and waiting.

 


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Texas Border Patrol Agent Juan Ortiz Charged with Murders

By Max Bibeau | United States

Juan Ortiz, a 35-year-old U.S. Border Patrol Supervisor has been charged with four counts of murder, aggravated assault, and unlawful restraint.

Ortiz is reportedly the killer of four separate women. The attacks took place over a period of two weeks.

At this time, authorities believe that all four of the women were sex workers. At least two of them were definitely United States citizens. Ortiz was caught after a fifth woman, who is believed to have been his next target, managed to escape at a gas station, and find a state trooper to help.

After the woman escaped, police found and arrested Ortiz, who was hiding in a hotel parking lot in Laredo at 2:00 Saturday morning.

The names of the women are not publicly available, and neither are the nationalities of the other two. However, police can confirm that one of the victims was a transgender woman.

All of the women are believed to have been killed since September 3rd, though the motive and method of the killings is still unclear. Authorities believe that the suspect was acting alone.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has announced it will fully cooperate with the investigation.

This article will update as more details come to light.


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New Studies Find Few Costs, Many Benefits to Carbon Tax

By Max Bibeau | United States

In the aftermath of an outpouring of scientific research in recent years warning against the negative environmental impacts of carbon dioxide on the environment, legislators and institutions alike have proposed countless ways to reduce emissions. While many exist, one is a clear frontrunner for many: the carbon tax.

The idea is simple – tax the emissions of carbon at a set rate per ton. Theoretically, this monetary incentive should cause companies and individuals to avoid causing high levels of emissions. They could either streamline and modernize factories or by driving more fuel-efficient cars. However, many criticize the economic impacts of such a plan. The libertarian Cato Institute, for example, believes it would discourage economic growth.

The Carbon Tax Studies

In July of this year, a series of new studies came out that should suppress such concerns. The studies make up the Carbon Tax Research Initiative, which began in early 2018. The initiative is spearheaded by four different, independent think tanks (The Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University, The Rhodium Group, The Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, and The Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University). All of these groups are nationally renowned for their nonpartisan research and analysis.

The studies, made public on July 17th, came to similar conclusions – a carbon tax would have negligible negative economic costs, yet a plethora of positive environmental and economic benefits.

The studies analyzed three levels of taxation in order to analyze all possible policy options. The studies all simulated a low level of $14/ton, a medium level of $50/ton, and a high level of $73/ton.

Increased Revenue

The first area to examine is government revenue that the tax itself will generate. On the low level of taxation ($14/ton), government revenue was not outstanding, but was far from meager, raising an estimated $650 – $750 billion over a 10 year period. The high level of taxation ($73/ton), however, could raise enough revenue to completely change the US budget, raising between $1.5 – $3 trillion over a 10 year period. This government revenue could be critical to solving the ever-growing budget problem in the United States, providing a new and reliable stream of revenue when the state most desperately needs it.

Lowered Carbon Emission

When it comes to reducing emissions, the carbon tax also performed extremely well, lowering them across the charts. The low level of taxation reduced emissions by around 27% by 2030, coming close to, but not quite reaching the goals set by the Paris Climate Accord (28% reduction in emissions). The medium level surprisingly performed the best of all three levels, decreasing emissions by up to 46% by 2030, reaching and surpassing the Paris Accord’s goal. The high level of taxation reached a plateau in the late 2020s, reducing emissions by a still impressive 41%.

Economic Impact

As for economic criticisms, the series of studies found that most, if not all claims about a hurting economy would not occur. Almost all emissions reduction (over 80%) would take place in the power sector of the economy. The tax would have an extremely minimal impact on gas prices, increasing the price of gas by around 1¢ /gallon, per dollar added to the tax. This impact would be only temporary, however, and would actually serve as a beneficial incentive to push individuals towards electric cars.

The only market severely affected is the coal market, which would fall between 28% and 84%, depending on the rate of taxation. However, this makes sense, as there are many alternatives to coal that are already in use today. The tax would simply expedite their use. Other industries, such as oil and natural gas, would not see much of a dip at all, especially as petroleum will likely still be the primary fuel for transportation in 2030.

In stark contrast to the claims of an economic downturn, some of the studies even found potential economic benefit from the carbon tax. In the early years of the tax, GDP growth would likely stagger. However, later on, GDP is expected to increase up to 0.5% as the new revenue from the carbon tax is able to lower other taxes, such as the corporate income tax, and reduce the national deficit.

A Beneficial Policy in Nearly Every Way

While definitive research surrounding the impacts of a carbon tax on the United States were previously in short supply, the information that the groups provide paints a clear picture of the US under the policy. Government revenue could see a critical new source, bringing in up to $3 trillion in only 10 years under the tax. Also, depending on the rate of taxation, emissions could be reduced by up to 46%, far surpassing the goals of the Paris Climate Accord. Finally, the economic impacts of the carbon tax could be, contrary to popular belief, extremely beneficial, raising the GDP of the US in the long run.

Read the full studies here:

General Page

The Rhodium Group

The Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center

The Baker Institute for Public Policy

The Center on Global Energy Policy


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Democrats’ and Republicans’ Morals Prevent Compromise

By Max Bibeau | United States

As a species, humans are genetically predisposed to experience a negative reaction when they perceive something going on that is considered “unfair,” even if it doesn’t impact them directly. This makes evolutionary sense, as an unfair action, such as working with others to gather food and then not sharing the product, would bring the whole group down. This, of course, reduces chances of survival for each person in the group.

It would then appear logical for early humans to refuse to work with the individual who committed the unfair action in the future. They may even go so far as to punish him for his actions. Even in modern society, these genes linger. Humans experience an extremely passionate reaction when they detect unfair actions in their society.

What’s Unfair and What Isn’t?

Applying this to politics, it makes sense how infuriated individuals get when they see an unfair action. For example, there has been widespread Democratic outrage at Trump’s recent Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which drastically slashed taxes for the upper class. Similarly, since Obamacare’s enactment in 2010, Republicans have been fighting against it, commenting on its unfair premises.

So all humans can agree – we hate unfair actions. But what Jonathan Haidt examines in his insightful book The Righteous Mind, is why individuals of different political leanings have such drastically different ideas on the concept of “fair.” He boils it down to two essential stances: equality and proportionality.

Democrats’ and Republicans’ Morals

Democrats, he describes, see fairness as equal to equality. Generally, he is referring to equality of rights, which is why Democrats and liberals are often much more active in fights for civil rights and human rights than conservatives. However, he also recognizes that many Democrats also advocate for equality of outcome. This explains the liberal goals of higher taxes for the rich and more public services among others.

In stark contrast to the Democrats, Haidt explores the Republican idea of fairness: proportionality. This concept, which revolves around equity theory, holds simply that people deserve what they work for. If someone does little to no work, Republicans ask, why do they deserve money from other hard working Americans? This aptly explains common Republican principles such as lowering taxes, ending entitlements, and decreasing regulations.

Haidt’s moral foundations theory, popularized in his 2012 book, explains this difference. Liberals rely on the care/harm foundation much more heavily than conservatives. As a result, they tend to neglect the fairness/proportionality foundation that conservatives treasure.

A Bad Day for Compromise

For this simple reason, Democrats and Republicans may never find compromise. The two groups simply have extremely different views on the concept of “fair.” The two interpretations, equality and proportionality, are radically different, and the interpretation that one follows depends heavily on which moral foundations are strong within a person.

This explains why many Republicans are stumped as to how Democrats believe they have a right to someone else’s hard earned money. It also explains why Democrats often think Republicans have such little care for their fellow human beings.

Politics now are extremely partisan, and many wonder why Congress is never able to find common ground. The simple but unfortunate answer may be that Republicans and Democrats have drastically different concepts of morality. Therefore, they share completely different goals when it comes to crafting policy.

Using Haidt’s theory, we can also uncover why classic Republican arguments are ineffective in persuading Democrats, and vice versa. Republicans naturally appeal to the moral foundations that are important to them, and Democrats do the exact same thing. So, when a Republican attempts to make an argument in favor of proportionality to a Democrat, it almost always fails – because that’s not the Democrat’s primary concern.

Using Moral Foundations to Win

To be successful in persuading a Democrat, the Republican must utilize their moral foundations, specifically the care/harm foundation. A Democrat will be much more likely, psychologically, to respond to an argument that revolves around minimizing harm than an argument that attempts to promote fairness through proportionality.

Thus, we can see how the simple definition of “fair” is so radically different between the parties, and why that causes so many problems when it comes to creating and passing policy in America. Different people have fundamentally different moral pillars that they rely on. The current American political gridlock may be hardwired within us, and will remain unresolved unless the different parties learn how to appeal to the others’ sense of morality instead of their own.


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