Wrong Paul – pt 1

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For most people, our music preferences have little influence on our lives beyond giving us that extra burst of energy to bang out another rep, or giving us that inspiration to sing at the top of our lungs in the shower, or bob our head to the beat in traffic.  This is not the case for Paul Ryan, who is approaching his first week as Mitt Romney’s running mate and quickly learning how elusive privacy can be for a Vice Presidential candidate.  In addition to the growing pains that most any candidate for such high profile office will experience, Ryan is also going through his own personal growing pains tied to his oblivious self-perception.  Ryan says that Rage Against the Machine is one of his favorite bands (even playing the band’s song, ‘Panic Switch’ at campaign rallies), which prompted a response from Tom Morello guitarist and founder of the band, “Paul Ryan’s love of Rage Against the Machine is amusing, because he is the embodiment of the machine that our music has been raging against for two decades.”  Morello responded with a number of other sharp barbs that struck at the heart of Ryan’s contradictory view of himself.

Your Lying Eyes

Despite the tut-tutting from proponents of limited government, the Republicans are painting Paul Ryan as the antithesis to big government; it would appear that Ryan has partaken in the Kool-Aid drinking too.  Paul Ryan is being presented as a Tea Party darling, portending that he is economically circumspect, fiscally conservative, and liberty minded.  As John Stewart highlights, this is an optimistic perspective – at best.  Many Ryan critics take issue with his record.  Fiscal conservatives consider Ryan’s voting record economically abysmal (voting for TARP, MMA, stimulus, extension of unemployment benefits, and other entitlements).  Despite the long shadow Ryan’s euphonious budget ‘savings’ casts on our economy (which extends beyond even today’s youngest politician’s career/retirement), Republicans champion his mischief as fiscally savvy.

Liberty minded voters consider his record equally problematic (voting for making PATRIOT Act permanent, allowing warrantless electronic surveillance, NDAA, SOPA – which he eventually conceded due to social media pressure, CISPA, outlawing protests via HR 347, DOMA, and a variety of costly war and interventionist actions abroad.  Given Ryan’s wolf in sheep’s clothing voting record, he has miraculously garnered support from at least one prominent libertarian voice, David Boaz of CATO, begging the question if Mr. Boaz’s support is more execration of Ron Paul or legitimate support for the Wrong Paul given that Ryan’s platform is largely void of any meaningful libertarian perspectives.

Evil of Two Lessers

Many of Ryan’s supporters assert that he is better than 99% of Congress, but relative comparisons mean little when the temple has be infiltrated by scoundrels.  If Ryan embodies the best of what the obdurate Republicans have to offer then then we need to consider another option because the Democrats are equally obstinate in their plans to play their violin as Rome burns.  Our country is in its current predicament because for too many years we have tolerated evil and corruption of the less and Paul Ryan embodies this reality.  He is clearly better than most, including our President and the Republican Presidential candidate, but he is only the evil of two lessers, as evident by his aforementioned voting record.  I suppose we should be thankful that Ryan is such a big fan of Morello.  One can only imagine how bad Ryan’s policies would be if he wasn’t raging against the machine.  To paraphrase one of Morello’s other piercing barbs, ‘Ryan would be better off if he spent less time in the mosh pit [of big and powerful government] and spent more time listening [to the Right Paul or Gary Johnson].’


Erik Chavez is a graduate of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and the University California Los Angeles, where he studied Economics, Policy & Finance.  He has written on and taught a variety of policy and economic subjects.  In addition to being a finance professional, Erik is a Mont Pelerin Society Fellow (2008), an Professor of Economics and Finance , and a member of the American Economic and Finance Associations.  Erik can be followed on Twitter @lethalodor.

April Cruels

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Last month Forbes named the members of its 2012 Billionaire list and two notable Mexicans were stand outs; number one, Carlos Slim Helu and Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loara (leader of one of Mexico’s most notable drug cartels).  Notably, El Chapo was reported to issue an April Fools’ mocking of several U.S. Presidents, including current President Obama, for their ridiculous and long-term support for the War on Drugs.

What is interesting about both men is that they both received tremendous amounts of wealth as a result of direct government assistance.  In the case of Mr. Helu, he has relied on a variety of techniques to secure government support of his companies and projects.  In contrast, El Chapo has relied on apparently the “opposite,” a complete unwillingness for the government (primarily in theU.S.and inMexico) to support his actions, to garner his tremendous wealth.

However, the apparent contrast between these two men’s reliance on government is actually quite congruent.  They both rely on the government to outlaw competition; collateral damage and unintended consequences be damned!  The primary difference is how far the government is willing to go to outlaw competition and the subsequent effects of that legislation.  In the case of Mr. Helu, the unintended consequences don’t even approach those dire results related to El Chapo line of work.

Painfully, even when our leaders oppose the War on Drugs, as President Obama has stated that he feels “the War on Drugs has been an utter failure” and calls for revisiting how we criminalize them, they still support and actively support it.  The Obama Administration has been aggressively persecuting and prosecuting people, even in states where voters have legally mandated their medical use, such as in California.

This begs the question, why isn’t Paul S. Walsh, the CEO of Diageo PLC, the noted proprietor of wine and spirits, similarly ranked on Forbes Billionaire list?  More importantly, why isn’t he ranked near El Chapo on Forbe’s global power list, where El Chapo holds the position of the 55th most powerful person in the world, despite only being worth $1 billion (#1153 on the wealth list)?  Almost any rigorous analysis of drug vs. alcohol shows that alcohol is far more costly.

Despite Prohibitions record of failure earlier this century, our leaders are stuck on stale/failed policies in the hope of mandating morals, all-the-while outsourcing corruption and violence south of our border.  Some (read many) argue that the 800 pound gorilla in the room (legalization) is the answer.  After all, it was the answer to the violence that evolved due to alcohol prohibition.  However, there is one stark difference.  Alcohol prohibition only lasted a few years so interest groups (Bootleggers and Baptists) had little time to develop and build strong foundations to fight undoing Prohibition 1.0.  After several decades of War on Drugs, interest groups are solidified (and so are their lobbyists).

Given all the vested interest in maintaining this war, it is unlikely thatU.S.politicians will move toward legalization in any meaningful way, even if it is how they truly feel, as President Obama’s citation above highlights.  The driving force must be a market oriented incentive and it will come from people who have a vested interest in repairing theU.S.’ broken drug policy.

Latin American leaders are increasingly open to the discussions of legalizing drugs.  Recently Guatemala’s President Perez penned an op-ed explaining his position.  And while these leaders don’t have lobbyists in DC to secure political support for legalizing drugs in theU.S., they carry a far bigger stick than our lobbyists’ carrots.

Legalizing drugs in their home countries will effectively shift more of the cost burden of the drug war ontoU.S.soil.  The current violence and corruption subsidies that many Latin American countries endure because of our failed policy will shift both the violence and corruption deeper into our home turf.  Perhaps then our leaders will turn a blind eye to the bribes, fancy dinner, donations, etc… lobbyists provide.  The 40 year April Cruels joke theU.S.has been playingLatin Americais almost over.  Sadly, asU.S.citizens, the joke will soon be on us.


Erik Chavez is a graduate of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and the University California Los Angeles, where he studied Economics, Policy & Finance.  He has written on and taught a variety of policy and economic subjects.  In addition to being a finance professional, Erik is a Mont Pelerin Society Fellow (2008), an Professor of Economics and Finance , and a member of the American Economic and Finance Associations.  Erik can be followed on Twitter @lethalodor.

Welcome to the Muso Society! Bienvenidos a la Sociedad Muso!

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Welcome to the Muso Society, the first online publication dedicated to promote Latino policy and libertarian perspectives.

The Muso Society was established to honor the legacy of Muso Ayau and to continue his work to educate and enlighten people about the virtues of liberty and how moving away from free markets can often negatively impact some of society’s cohorts that are least able to respond to economic shocks.  By fostering open discussion the Muso Society hopes to create a stronger awareness about the values of Classical liberalism (often viewed by many as synonymous as libertarianism) and how promoting free markets, strong private property rights and limited government within minority communities in the U.S. and Latin America will actually benefit these cohorts by removing the destructive interventionist policy from the left.  Economic development and growth for these cohorts will be best addressed with more liberty, not less.  Muso leaves an enormous legacy because he successfully combined clear thinking, entrepreneurship, intellectual curiosity, and a belief in the potential of free individuals to create what has become the center of classical liberal thinking in Latin America.