California’s Vaccine Lottery is a Sucker Bet

As ABC News reports, California has selected the first 15 winners of a $50,000 grand prize as part of the state’s “Vax for the Win” program. The lottery is part of Gov. Newsom’s $116.5 million effort to persuade people to get vaccinated. Ten Californians who got at least one vaccination split a $15 million pot and vaccinated Californians will be automatically entered for chances to win $50,000. The first winners have yet to be identified, and some Californians have a problem with the lottery approach.

Professor Uri Gneezy of UC San Diego thinks the lottery sends the wrong message, that the vaccination might be risky. He would prefer gift cards for those getting vaccinated, which would promote spending at local businesses, “especially given the money comes from California’s taxpayers.” Professor Gneezy has a point, but the messaging problem has another side. 

“Amtrak Joe” Tries to Resuscitate California’s Zombie Bullet Train

President Joe Biden is well known for having a choo choo fetish. It’s little surprise he wants to expand the already heavily subsidized Amtrak passenger rail service. If he’s successful, today’s toddlers will come to know why their grandparents came to reject the inconvenience of commuting between cities by rail.

Aside from the unique combination of extremely high infrastructure costs, extremely high operating costs, and extremely low demand by commuters that make passenger rail unattractive as an investment, today’s passenger trains are also slow. Joe Biden knows this, so he is promoting faster passenger rail service.

What we’re really doing is raising the bar on what we can imagine. Imagine a world where you and your family can travel coast to coast without a single tank of gas on a high-speed train close to as fast as you can go across the country in a plane.

Tax Havens, or Intergovernmental Competition

President Biden and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen have convinced the other G-7 countries to implement a 15% minimum global corporate tax rate. The argument in favor is that some countries (the linked article names Ireland) are establishing themselves as tax havens–lowering their tax rates to attract businesses from higher-tax countries.

Another way to view countries offering lower tax rates is that this is the result of intergovernmental competition. Countries want to attract businesses, and lower tax rates is one way to do this. Ireland’s low corporate tax rate is one of the policies that have produced the nation’s high rate of economic growth.

Normally, economists (and politicians) argue that competition is beneficial because it disciplines companies to provide good products to people at low prices. The exception is government, where they argue that competition is bad. They seem to like it when Wal-Mart offers customers everyday low prices, but when Ireland does the same for its taxpayers, it’s called a race to the bottom.

Pandemic Unemployment Fraud Tops $400 Billion

In early 2020, state governments across the country reacted to the arrival of the coronavirus epidemic by imposing lockdowns. By forcing businesses to close and ordering residents to stay at home, their aim was to “flatten the curve” and limit the spread of Covid infections. It was supposed to be for just 15 days, but turned into months.

It didn’t take long for the politicians’ lockdowns to crush the nation’s economy. As soon as lockdown measures were mandated by state governments, they threw their economies into deep recession. Millions of Americans lost their jobs. Millions of Americans needed unemployment benefits.

Federal Judge Draws Fire for Striking Down California Assault Weapons Ban

“A stone cold ideologue. He is a wholly owned subsidiary of the gun lobby of the National Rifle Association.” That was California Gov. Gavin Newsom on federal judge Roger Benitez, who recently overturned California’s longstanding ban on “assault weapons.” Second Amendment advocates might find the “ideologue” description puzzling.

As we noted, in 2019 the Cuban-Born Benitez, an appointee of George W. Bush, struck down a California law that banned high-capacity rifle magazines, arguing that it prevented law-abiding citizens from defending themselves against violent criminals. Attorney general Xavier Becerra complained directly to Benitez, who reversed his own ruling. So much for the judge’s contention that “individual liberty and freedom are not outmoded concepts.”

Surveillance Going Postal–USPS’ Ever Growing Spy Role Expands to Internet Traffic

On April 21, investigative reporter Jana Winters broke the news that the United States Postal service was running a “covert operations program” that was monitoring American’s social media. She found that the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) Internet Covert Operations Program (iCOP) was trawling posts and online activity pertaining to a number of planned protests as part of a “World Wide Rally for Freedom and Democracy.” 

The subjects of the protest ranged from “everything from lockdown measures to 5G.” This story has to be one of the most alarming new chapters in the growth of America’s surveillance state—a creature, it needs to be pointed out, of both major political parties. The implications for the First Amendment freedoms of all Americans are dire.

New Alzheimer’s Drug Approval Could Change the FDA’s Approval Process for the Better

After the experimental treatment for Alzheimer’s named aducanumab failed a futility test, its producers Biogen and Eisai lost hope the Food and Drug Administration would ever approve it. Despite promising clinical results through the approval process, the producers abandoned their project in 2019. 

Eight months later, Biogen developed an expanded dataset to reassess aducanumab’s impact on patients taking larger doses. To the producer’s amazement, the data indicated that some patients receiving treatment were able to reverse the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. 

Ending of a Needle Exchange Program Shows How Government is Addicted to Failure

In 2015 Scott County, Indiana made headlines for all the wrong reasons. With a population of fewer than 10,000 people, the county was the center of an HIV outbreak of more than 230 cases. Most of those infected were individuals who engaged in intravenous drug use.

Recognizing the public health emergency, officials acted and implemented a needle exchange program. The program, as the name implies, allows for people who inject drugs to acquire clean syringes and safely dispose of used ones. The logic of such a program is straightforward. When individuals inject drugs without access to clean syringes, they are more likely to reuse them. Needles dull with every use, and can even break off under a person’s skin. Reusing syringes also increases infection risk. When clean supplies aren’t readily available, those who use intravenous drugs are also more likely to share needles. This dramatically increases infection risks—including the risk of contracting HIV or Hepatitis C. Providing clean syringes and a safe means of disposal decreases the likelihood that people will reuse or share needles.

More U.S. Intelligence Failure – and a Possible COVID Coverup

On May 23, Dr. Anthony Fauci told reporters he was “not convinced” that COVID-19 developed naturally. The next day, the chief White House medical advisor contended it was “highly likely” that the virus “occurred naturally before spreading from animal to human.” This reversal, one of many from Dr. Fauci, prompted action from the White House. Joe Biden ordered U.S. intelligence agencies to “redouble their efforts” to investigate the origins of COVID-19, including “specific questions for China.” That raised a serious question for Grant Newsham, a former reserve head of intelligence for Marine Forces Pacific.

“Shouldn’t the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)—the crème-de-la-crème of the intelligence community—already know about COVID?” Newsham wondered. “In fact, shouldn’t they have known in late 2019 when the virus first appeared? That is the CIA’s job after all—to know what’s going in China and what Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party leadership are thinking and doing.” So “perhaps the CIA is just not very good at spying.” Angelo Codevilla, a former staffer with the Senate Intelligence Committee, was thinking along the same lines.

Ecstasy Nears FDA Approval to Treat Severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

In a heart-wrenching story written in 2017, Rachael Kaplan details her lifelong struggles with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Enduring chronic and severe abuse as a child, Rachael strongly considered ending her life and found herself “praying to die.”

She worked with several therapists and numerous multiple treatment methods to improve her condition. Unfortunately, her traumas were so severe that she wasn’t able to address them during therapy without inflicting severe mental hardship directly. In her own words: 

“I was still terrified most of the time. I would have flashbacks leaving me debilitated, having nightmares, dissociated, and self-harming... I had some of the best therapists, but I was so terrified from childhood trauma that my system would not let its guard down enough to let anything from the outside affect it.” 

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