Henry Ford was an Austrian School Economist at Heart

Former Clinton Administration Labor Secretary Robert Reich and Harvard educated economist Paul Roderick Gregory are not getting along right now. Reich fired the first shot in his piece “Higher wages can save America’s economy – and its democracy” on Salon.com to which Gregory immediately replied with a scathing critique and a failing letter grade.

Reich’s argument is that “for much of the past century, the basic bargain at the heart of America was that employers paid their workers enough to buy what American employers were selling.” He laid out the virtues of this agreement and drew the conclusion that given the current state of the economy, “the bargain has been broken”.

Henry Ford is the model that Reich believes modern day corporations should follow. Pay a wage that allows workers to buy the products they make is his battle cry. With an amazing feat of mental gymnastics, Reich blasted the wealthy for seeking the highest profits possible and made the wild claim that the middle-class are the true job creators “whose spending drives the economy and creates jobs.”

Gregory caught wind of this economic blasphemy and took to the task of grading Reich’s work. In his rebuttal piece: “Robert Reich’s F Minus in Economics: False Facts, False Theories” Gregory did not pull any punches.  He provided the logical counter-arguments to raising the minimum wage and explored the consequences of such policies.

First, he spiked the legend of Henry Ford in to the ground.

“Ford’s $5 wage to convert his workers into Model T customers is an urban legend that thinking economist dismiss as nonsense. Henry Ford’s employees would have had to buy forty cars each to absorb the half million Model T’s rolling off his assembly line in 1916.”

He then moved on to Ford’s true motivation for paying higher wages.

“Ford raised the wage to $5 because labor productivity was soaring, not because he wanted to create customers,” Gregory continued. “Wages were rising throughout the economy because of massive increases in productivity, not because Ford and other employers wanted to pay workers enough to buy their products.”

The back and forth between Reich and Gregory is the classical battle that plays out when a Keynesian economist (Reich) and an Austrian School economist (Gregory) clash over whether you can spend your way out of debt, and regulate your way to financial prosperity. Reich says yes, Gregory says no.

The subsequent exchanges between the two have degraded in to ad hominem attacks, but the principles are there if you dig a bit. Fortunately, I have a shovel handy.

Paying workers based on their ability to buy the products they produce is based in fantasy. The true value of labor, the cost of production, and current market conditions are foolishly left out of the thought process. A larger problem still is how to determine how much workers need. Should a person who makes a Ford get paid less than a worker making a Porsche because the Ford is cheaper to purchase? The workers in the Ford plant would likely answer with a resounding “NO!”

Moving on to the larger question of whether or not it is good fiscal policy to set a minimum wage, Henry Hazlitt’s “Economics in One Lesson” is a great resource that follows the Austrian School’s position and warns of the problems that occur when the government interferes with paychecks.

“You cannot make a man worth a given amount by making it illegal to offer him anything less. You merely deprive him of the right to earn the amount that his abilities and situation would permit him to earn, while you deprive the community even of the moderate services that he is capable of rendering,” wrote Hazlitt.

In other words, a minimum wage that is higher than the true value of the labor will lead to unemployment. Some, like Reich, would argue that raising prices and passing the costs of the higher wages to the consumer prevents unemployment, however; this is not the case.

When prices are artificially inflated – like what happens when wages are set to an arbitrary level by the government – consumers will buy less of the impacted product.  When consumers buy fewer products, companies make less money. Remember, the higher price covers mandated wages so profits are not increased. Less profit has historically led to…unemployment!

Worse yet, the unemployed workers turn to government programs that pay less than what the job they had paid them. This is a truly terrible deal for the former workers and very costly for tax payers. Not only have the former workers lost the satisfaction of providing for his family, they are receiving less than what they would have gotten had the wages not been impacted by government regulations.

It’s clearly a vicious cycle that unfolds when the government decides to interfere with the market. Detroit is an excellent example of these concepts playing out to their logical conclusions. Wages were inflated higher than the value of labor. This led to mass unemployment. The increased demand on public assistance programs led to higher taxes to cover the rising costs. Those with marketable skills left the city, which shrunk the pool of tax payers. Under the strain of diminished funding, Detroit crumbled and was eventually forced to file for bankruptcy. This once proud city – known for its production – is in mediation where creditors are working out how best to pick apart the assets of the city.

In the end, we must give both Reich and Gregory failing grades. While I agree with the Austrian School of economics that Gregory supports, he missed out on the opportunity to educate others why the government’s current fiscal policies are wrong-minded and detrimental to the economy. For those interested in learning more, you cannot go wrong with Hazlitt’s classic. For those who love economic nerd fights, this one seems like it might have legs.

Simplicity is Key for Congressman Massie

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Buried amongst the news of scandals and possible wars in the middle east was an interesting piece in The Independent on Congressman Thomas Massie. For those of you not familiar with Massie, he holds multiple engineering degrees from MIT, founded (and later sold) a tech company, and now lives on a farm in Kentucky where he and his family live “off the grid” in a home that he designed and built.

While talking to The Independent, Massie proposed that a simple way to radically change how congress works is to limit the size and topics in a piece of legislation. It’s a deceptively easy idea that would change the way congress works for the better.

“The only way to reform Washington is to get people to vote on single individual issues instead of putting them into one big giant bill and passing them,” Massie said. “You are never quite sure what your congressman is for or against if it is one big conglomeration.”

It seems too simple to ever actually happen, but this is exactly why we need more engineers and fewer lawyers in congress. Massie explained that lawyers are trained to take a position and then gather facts to support it. This is opposite of how problems are actually solved.

“Engineers are taught to collect facts and then come up with an answer based on the facts, Massie told Xconomy. “That’s the kind of thought process we need more of in government.”

Massie also talked about his belief that constituents can still have an influence on their government, whether calling congressional offices or visiting with their representatives during legislative breaks.

“They do listen in Washington, D.C., and 10 phone calls in one day can change their vote,” he said.

The short attention span in congress was also a hot topic:

When a batter hits the ball into the outfield, he asked, “Where do they all go? They all go to the outfield, the pitcher, the first baseman the catcher; they are all going after that ball.”

“That happens a lot of times in Congress. If you see something on the news, that is where all the congressmen go. It is somewhat frustrating to me. We have had a lot of scandals to investigate this summer. I’m on the oversight committee, so this is actually my job. I play outfield. I’m actually supposed to be there when these things come up, like Benghazi hearings, like the IRS hearings.

“It seems to me like the guys who are doing tax reform, they want to run to the outfield whenever there is a Benghazi hearing. They will show up and talk about it on the news. I wish people would sort of play their positions more in Congress. It would make it easier to get things done — and if we had a longer attention span,” Massie said.

Massie’s perspective is interesting for many reasons. He attacks problems with facts and principles, not predetermined goals. He’s also willing to pull back the curtain and explain how congress works today and how things can change for the better. It’s a level of transparency that too few representatives take the time to provide. As the nation continues to work through the countless scandals and persistent wars we will rely more and more on representative s like Massie to get to root of the problems facing the country and to hopefully solve them… assuming that congress can keep its collective eye on the ball.

The Shill Report Page 2: Episode 9 Additional Content

On episode 9 we discussed the launch of Al Jazeera America and what kind of impact the new network could have on the national news narrative and on how other networks present the news. We moved on to the 1st amendment crisis playing out in Britain as journalists do not seem to enjoy the same protections over the pond that we do domestically. From there we pivoted to the interesting case of Barrett Brown who is imprisoned for post a URL on a website. Finally, Jay Carney was on vacation this week, so we introduced a new game – BEAT THE TWEET. Congrats to Chris on finally winning!

We covered quite a bit last week, but there’s always more going on in the world of journalism. Read on to see what didn’t make it in to the pod, but is still fit for print.

You can find the latest episode here and past episodes on iTunes and WAL-Radio. The Shill Report also plays every Sunday night on Indiana Talks radio.

WHAT IS THE NEWS VALUE OF ANONYMOUS LETTER SAYING ‘EUTHANIZE’ AUTISTIC CHILD?

Mediaite’s Tommy Christopher questions whether or not the recent ‘letter’ news story is more outrage porn and less newsworthy. He makes a compelling point that if the media truly wishes to portray people with autism correctly they should start by dispelling the false information that they have allowed to spread.

“One of the ethical principles of journalism is to minimize harm, but all this story has done is to amplify the hurt, with nothing in return but the furrowed brows of news personalities. If the media wants to do some good here, they can start by correcting all the lies they’ve told about people with autism.”

LINK: http://www.mediaite.com/tv/what-is-the-news-value-of-anonymous-letter-saying-to-euthanize-autistic-child/

VICE GIVEN A VALUATION OF $1 BILLION WHILE THE WASHINGTON POST SOLD FOR $250 MILLION

Interesting plans for the future of Vice are in the works and if they can hit their targets this valuation *might* make sense. For now, it’s clearly out of line compared to recent sales, but things can and do change.

“I look at Tom, who built MTV, and essentially, we’re doing the same thing, just cheaper,” he adds. “I want to be the next CNN and the next ESPN and the next MTV, digitally, and I know that sounds grandiose, but when we do our Google channels and our Chinese channels, we’re going to be one of the largest networks in the world. We will get there.”

LINK: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffbercovici/2012/01/03/tom-frestons-1-billion-revenge-ex-viacom-chief-helps-vice-become-the-next-mtv/4/

REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC) LIKENS AMERICAN MEDIA TO NAZI PROPAGANDISTS

Clyburn expressed his concerns about the media on “The Morning Briefing” – a program on Sirius XM’s POTUS channel.  The crux of his argument is that comments are typically taken out of context and twisted to hurt reputations. He was especially critical of right-wing bloggers who he says are not “media people”.

“The people of Germany believed Hitler’s foolishness that led to the Holocaust. They believed that stuff,” Clyburn said. “People will tend to believe what they hear through the media.”

LINK: http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/318089-clyburn-likens-extreme-right-wing-media-to-nazi-propagandists

These are the kind of stories that Ryan Ripley (me), Chris Spangle, and Joe Ruiz break down on #TheShillReport.  We record weekly and can be heard on WAL Radio and the online radio station – Indiana Talks. We strive to review journalism and dig in to the stories of the week. We expand and explain the narrative and crack wise in the process. It’s a lesson in managing your media with the examples you are bombarded with every day. We like to say that the media breaks the news and we fix it.

If you would like to send in a story for us to possible use on the show, send a message to @werlibertarians on Twitter and use the #TheShillReport hashtag. You can also leave us a message on the We Are Libertarians FaceBook page.

The Shill Report Page 2: Episode 8 Additional Content

On episode 8 we invited Rob Kendall, author and host of the Rob Kendall Show, on to discuss writing a book, political activism, and working in radio. The conversation shifted to Libertarian candidates being included in debates nationwide, and then we tacked the declining ratings that David Gregory seems to have brought with him to “Meet the Press”. Finally, we played WAL’s favorite game:  JAY CARNEY SAID WHAT!?!!?  For those keeping score, Joe is up on Chris 2-0.

Read on to see what didn’t make it in to the pod, but is still fit for print.

You can find the latest episode here and past episodes on iTunes and WAL-Radio. The Shill Report also plays every Sunday night on Indiana Talks radio.

REASON: THE THIRD PARTY CATCH-22

Article from A. Barton Hinkle discussing the race for governor in Virginia and how the Libertarian candidate being left out of the media narrative is not only bad journalism, but also bad politics.  Below is excerpt:

“The article then moved on with its main theme: the “negative tone” of the fight between Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli. It never pointed out that voters actually do have a third choice: Robert Sarvis, who is running for governor on the Libertarian ticket, will be on the ballot as well.”

The article also discusses the use of polling limits to exclude 3rd party candidates and debunks some of the more common defenses for that practice.

LINK: http://reason.com/archives/2013/08/14/the-third-party-catch-22

JAMES RISEN STORY RENEWS FEAR OF JOURNALISM BEING CRIMINALIZED

A court has ruled that journalist James Risen must reveal his source in open court in the criminal trial of former CIA official Jeffery Sterling. Sterling was indicted for leaking classified information to Risen for his book – State of War. The 4th circuit court of appeals has ruled that Risen could not claim 1st amendment protections and must testify.

The setting of these decisions has come in to question. These rulings have taken place in Maryland and Virginia — setting an unsettle precedent in two states that are also home to the NSA and CIA. Rosen has refused to co-operate and could face time behind bars. More stunning is the utter lack of interest from the mainstream media especially given the ramifications of this case for the entire industry.

LINK: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/aug/10/james-risen-prison-journalism-criminalised?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487

**RELATED**  

This story is contradictory to Eric Holders promise to not prosecute reporters… James Ball is watching the Risen story closely as he too has been investigated by the government for his involvement with WikiLeaks.  From the article:

“Such reassurances are false. What happens to WikiLeaks today happens to New York Times reporters tomorrow.

There are two reasons I can say this so starkly. The first is that we’ve had time to see it happen. In the last year, AP reporters learned their phone records had been secretly subpoenaed and analyzed in a bid to uncover their confidential sources. A Fox News reporter was surveilled. And veteran New York Times reporter James Risen faces jail for refusing to disclose a source.”

LINK: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/aug/12/eric-holder-prosecute-reporters-fbi

EDWARD SNOWDEN Q&A with PETER MAASS

Peter Maass [New York Times] conducted an encrypted interview with Edward Snowden. Laura Poitras served as an intermediary. Some of the more interesting quotes:

ES: “After 9/11, many of the most important news outlets in America abdicated their role as a check to power — the journalistic responsibility to challenge the excesses of government — for fear of being seen as unpatriotic and punished in the market during a period of heightened nationalism. From a business perspective, this was the obvious strategy, but what benefited the institutions ended up costing the public dearly. The major outlets are still only beginning to recover from this cold period.”

ES: “I was surprised to realize that there were people in news organizations who didn’t recognize any unencrypted message sent over the Internet is being delivered to every intelligence service in the world. In the wake of this year’s disclosures, it should be clear that unencrypted journalist-source communication is unforgivably reckless.”

ES: “Laura [Poitras] and Glenn [Greenwald] are among the few who reported fearlessly on controversial topics throughout this period, even in the face of withering personal criticism, and resulted in Laura specifically becoming targeted by the very programs involved in the recent disclosures.”

LINK: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/18/magazine/snowden-maass-transcript.html?_r=0

 

These are the kind of stories that Ryan Ripley (me), Chris Spangle, and Joe Ruiz break down on #TheShillReport.  We record weekly and can be heard on WAL Radio and the online radio station – Indiana Talks. We strive to review journalism and dig in to the stories of the week. We expand and explain the narrative and crack wise in the process. It’s a lesson in managing your media with the examples you are bombarded with every day. We like to say that the media breaks the news and we fix it.

If you would like to send in a story for us to possible use on the show, send a message to @werlibertarians on Twitter and use the #TheShillReport hashtag. You can also leave us a message on the We Are Libertarians FaceBook page.

All Eyes on Amash: Show Me the Documents

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This piece is part of a weekly series in which WAL Contributor Ryan Ripley follows the moves of libertarian Republican Justin Amash.

Although Congress is on recess this month, there have been some fireworks between Congressman Justin Amash and the House Intelligence Committee. It all started with a FaceBook post from Amash that alleged that the House Intelligence Committee withheld important documentation from Congress about the NSA surveillance programs.

Less than two weeks ago, the Obama administration released previously classified documents regarding NSA’s bulk collection programs and indicated that two of these documents had been made available to all Members of Congress prior to the vote on reauthorization of the Patriot Act. I can now confirm that the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence did NOT, in fact, make the 2011 document available to Representatives in Congress, meaning that the large class of Representatives elected in 2010 did not receive either of the now declassified documents detailing these programs.

The House Intelligence Committee responded to the allegation by reiterating that representatives were invited to classified briefings and had every opportunity to learn about these programs.

“Prior to voting on the PATRIOT Act reauthorization and the FAA reauthorization, Chairman Rogers hosted classified briefings to which all Members were invited to have their questions about these authorities answered,” said HPSCI spokesperson Susan Phalen.

However, questions about the withheld documents have gone unanswered by HPSCI Chairman Mike Rogers (R-MI) and the committee. While on recess, Amash returned to Michigan and held multiple town hall meetings with his constituents. In the first town hall he reiterated his charge against the House Intelligence Committee and explained that their offer to hold briefings in lieu of the documents was not enough.

“We would go to congressional briefings, and they’ll talk about the Patriot Act, for example, in pretty plain terms,” Amash said. “But they won’t tell you about the uses of the Patriot Act.”

During his second town hall meeting, Amash continued the discussion on the Patriot Act by announcing new legislation that he crafted with John Conyers (D-MI) called the Liberty Act. This legislation is designed to return the implementation of the Patriot Act back to its original intention and in line with the 4th amendment.

“What the Liberty Act would do would be to narrow the scope of the Patriot Act so that the government can only collect information that actually pertains to a person that is the subject of an investigation under the Patriot Act,” Amash said.

While on CNN’s The State of the Union host Candy Crowley asked Amash if he would try to pass his amendment again in light of the recent articles about the NSA privacy violations.

“The system’s not working,” said Amash. “Americans were told by the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee that there were zero privacy violations and we know that’s not true.”

The conversation shifted to Obamacare where Amash argued that increasing competition among insurance companies would drive down healthcare costs far more than Obamacare possibly could.

“You have to have a competitive marketplace, and you can’t have the regulations in place that mandate specific types of insurance policies are available and no other types of policies,” Amash said. “If you had that in any other industry, you’d see costs go up.

That’s a full schedule for being on recess. Watch the video below to see Congressman Amash’s interview with Candy Crowley where the topics include the NSA surveillance programs and Obamacare.

The Shill Report Page 2: Episode 7 Additional Content

On episode 7 we discussed the potential prime-time shake-ups at cable news outlets, the Bezos purchase of the Washington Post, CNN’s reach for relevance, and when to use inside information. Finally, we played WAL’s favorite game:  JAY CARNEY SAID WHAT!?!!?

Read on to see what didn’t make it in to the pod, but is still fit for print.

You can find the latest episode here and past episodes on iTunes and WAL-Radio. The Shill Report also plays every Sunday night on Indiana Talks radio.

ALEX WAGNER MOCKS RAND PAUL

MSNBC’s Alex Wagner called Rand Paul out for mounting one of the “right wing” presidential bids in modern history and mocked him for his assertion that the federal deficit is at a “staggering” trillion dollars. She was quick to point out that the CBO estimates that the deficit is *ONLY* at $640 billion.

While Rand Paul’s inevitable campaign ramps up, it certainly looks like MSNBC’s full court press on Senator Paul is already in full swing.

JONATHAN KARL PRESSES OBAMA ABOUT AL QAEDA

ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl questioned the president’s use of the work “decimated” when describing Al Qaeda during the NSA reform press conference last Friday. President walked back his previous language by stating that “core Al Qaeda is on its heels” and reiterated the threat that other global terrorist groups pose to America.

Here’s the question that caught our attention: “Now that we have seen this terror threat that resulted in embassies closed throughout the Arab world, much of Africa,” Karl asked, “do you still believe that Al Qaeda has been decimated?”

DONALD TRUMP WISHES HE COULD FIRE CHUCK TODD

MSNBC’s Chuck Todd rolled his eyes at the idea of Donald Trump considering a 2016 presidential run and pondered how long it would it be until Trump’s “sideshow” charade is over. Trump in response took to Twitter and had a mini-meltdown.

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These are the kind of stories that Ryan Ripley (me), Chris Spangle, and Joe Ruiz break down on #TheShillReport.  We record weekly and can be heard on WAL Radio and the online radio station – Indiana Talks. We strive to review journalism and dig in to the stories of the week. We expand and explain the narrative and crack wise in the process. It’s a lesson in managing your media with the examples you are bombarded with every day. We like to say that the media breaks the news and we fix it.

If you would like to send in a story for us to possible use on the show, send a message to @werlibertarians on Twitter and use the #TheShillReport hashtag. You can also leave us a message on the We Are Libertarians FaceBook page.

Ripley: House Intelligence Committee Blocking NSA Oversight?

The staunchest defenders of the NSA have insisted from day one that Congress was aware of the NSA surveillance programs and the representatives provide through oversight over these activities. President Obama sought to reassure the American people with such sentiments after the initial NSA stories first broke:  “These programs as subject to congressional oversight and congressional reauthorization and congressional debate,” the President explained. “And if there are members of Congress who feel differently, then they should speak up.”

Congressman Justin Amash has just spoken up.  Last night he provided proof that information about these programs has been withheld by the House Intelligence Committee.

 

AmashConfirmation

This is a cover letter addressed to Chairman Mike Rogers and ranking committee member Dutch Ruppersberger sent on February 2, 2011 by the Office of the Assistant Attorney General. The letter was sent along with documents that detail the bulk collection activities (phone records) authorized by Section 215 of the Patriot Act and Section 402 of FISA. The second paragraph clearly notes that the declassification and release of information was intended to give Congress information to perform oversight on the programs:

We believe that making this document available to all Members of Congress, as we did with a similar document in 2009, is an effective way to inform the legislative debate about the reauthorization of Section 215.

However, the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Rogers (R-MI) never bothered to release the information. According to a post on Amash’s FaceBook page, the documents declassified and released by the Office of the Assistant Attorney General were never made available to Congress:

“Less than two weeks ago, the Obama administration released previously classified documents regarding NSA’s bulk collection programs and indicated that two of these documents had been made available to all Members of Congress prior to the vote on reauthorization of the Patriot Act. I can now confirm that the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence did NOT, in fact, make the 2011 document available to Representatives in Congress, meaning that the large class of Representatives elected in 2010 did not receive either of the now declassified documents detailing these programs.

This is not the first time the House Intelligence Committee has been criticized for a lack of transparency. The Guardian reported that Alan Grayson (D-FL) had similar issues with getting documentation from the committee.  Grayson requested information in June about FISA court opinions related to the collection of American telephone records and details about the PRISM program:

On June 19, Grayson wrote to the House Intelligence Committee requesting several documents relating to media accounts about the NSA. Included among them were FISA court opinions directing the collection of telephone records for Americans, as well as documents relating to the PRISM program.

But just over four weeks later, the Chairman of the Committee, GOP Rep. Mike Rogers, wrote to Grayson informing him that his requests had been denied by a Committee “voice vote”.

In response to his request being rejected, Grayson approached Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MA) who told Grayson that “he was unaware of any committee action on this matter.” After asking for the details of the “voice vote” Grayson received the following response:

Thanks for your inquiry. The full Committee attends Business Meetings. At our July 18, 2013 Business Meeting, there were seven Democrat Members and nine Republican Members in attendance. The transcript is classified.”

By hoarding information, the House Intelligence Committee has made it difficult for representatives on “the outside” to provide oversight to the NSA surveillance programs. Perhaps that is the point. They clearly want an iron grip on the NSA narrative, but withholding declassified documents and denying information on FISA and PRISM to representatives could bring that control to a halt. When people realize you are keeping information from them that they have a right to know, they typically want to know why.

This kind of behavior from the House Intelligence Committee begs the question:  By how large of a margin would the Amash amendment have passed had all 435 representatives known all of the facts? Hopefully we get an answer to this question in the not too distant future.

Ripley: Mark Zuckerberg Can Stop the NSA – Will He?

Mark Zuckerberg , Facebook

During this week’s episode of The Shill Report, Chris, Joe, and I talked about the abrupt shutdown of Lavabit. Ladar Levison explained the shutdown in a message on the company’s website: “I have been forced to make a difficult decision — to become complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly ten years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit.”

Lavabit is a cloud based service with approximately 350,000 customers that is known for providing secure email to their clients. Thought to be among the subscribers is NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Levison rejected a court order from the US government to conduct surveillance on its customers. Rather than comply with demands for user data as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo, Apple, Verizon and many others have; Levinson shut the entire service down.

This led to an important question during the podcast: What would happen if Mark Zuckerberg shut down Facebook for 24 hours in protest of the NSA’s domestic spying program?

Can you imagine how long it would take for the Capitol Hill switchboards to melt down? Zuckerberg could spark a grassroots movement to stop the illegal surveillance of American citizens and restore the 4th amendment rights that our Constitution guarantees each and every one of us. That’s an amazing upside for only 24 hours of downtime.

While Zuckerberg has semantically denied that the NSA has direct access to the Facebook servers, the world knows that its Facebook data is consumed by the NSA. The leaked PRISM program documents outline how the data is seized. A recent story on XKEYSCORE confirmed that Facebook chats and messages – along with majority of anyone’s online activity – is also collected and indexed by the intelligence community.

To move the conversation forward, the We Are Libertarians team has created a Facebook event on the We Are Libertarian page that calls for Mark Zuckerberg to shut down Facebook for 24 hours in protest of the NSA domestic spying programs. Being compelled by law to comply with an illegal court order is no longer a defense that the tech giants can stand behind. If the little guy – like Lavabit – can do it, why can’t they?

Please share this event with your Facebook friends and help us spread the word that there ARE ways that the tech giants can protect our privacy.

The Shill Report Page 2: Episode 6 Additional Content

We Are Libertarians took a week off which gave episode 6 of the Shill Report  an opportunity to shine in front of the WAL listening audience. This week we discussed Chris’s man crush on Jake Tapper, the lack of coverage being thrown towards the Bradley Manning trial, and what citizen journalism means in a world where everyone can be a source of news.  Finally, we played WAL’s favorite game:  JAY CARNEY SAID WHAT!?!!?  Read on to see what didn’t make it in to the pod, but is still fit for print.

You can find the latest episode here and past episodes on iTunes and WAL-Radio. The Shill Report also plays every Sunday night on Indiana Talks radio.

TOMMY CHRISTOPHER ON RUSH/HANNITY

Tommy Christopher didn’t seem worried about the rumors that Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity could be dropped by major radio broadcasters. In fact he seemed to have quite a distain for listeners of conservative talk radio. Cenk Uygur, on the other hand, could not hide his excitement over this possible development.

Christopher added during the interview:  “I don’t really share your glee in this, because it’s not as if there’s a shortage of young conservative a**holes.”

THE SAD STATE OF JOUNALISM

Thom Nickels participated on a journalism panel at Temple University and came back with a less than rosy outlook on his profession.

FROM THE ARTICLE:

“As a journalist you have to be incredibly flexible,” I told the panel.

This means you may have to work a part-time job. It also means that if there are no journalism jobs in the city you have to be prepared to move out and find a city where there are jobs. Journalism jobs are out there but they tend not to be in glamorous cities like New York, Los Angeles or Chicago, but in places like Salt Lake City, Phoenix and New Mexico. Or even in Montana or South Dakota.

LINK: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/thom-nickels/the-sad-state-of-journali_b_3673509.html

CNN REPORTER AMBUSHES CALIFORNIA HEALTH SECRETARY

Amid allegations that California’s drug rehab clinics have been defrauding the state government, CNN reporter Drew Griffin demanded answers from California Health and Human Services Secretary Diana Dooley. Griffin did not take no for an answer and eventually Dooley answered his questions.

These are the kind of stories that Ryan Ripley (me), Chris Spangle, and Joe Ruiz break down on #TheShillReport.  We record weekly and can be heard on WAL Radio and the online radio station – Indiana Talks. We strive to review journalism and dig in to the stories of the week. We expanded and explained the narrative and crack wise in the process. It’s a lesson in managing your media with the examples you are bombarded with every day. We like to say that the media breaks the news and we fix it.

If you would like to send in a story for us to possible use on the show, send a message to @werlibertarians on Twitter and use the #TheShillReport hashtag. You can also leave us a message on the We Are Libertarians FaceBook page.

All Eyes on Amash: Bigger Than Bieber?

amashslider

This piece is part of a weekly series in which WAL Contributor Ryan Ripley follows the moves of libertarian Republican Justin Amash.

“The American people have an expectation of privacy. If you go back to your district and talk to the American people as I’ve done, they will tell you that they expect this information to be kept private.”

–Justin Amash

Last week the story was about Congressman Amash’s attempt to pass an amendment that would have forced the federal government to specifically identify targets and produce probable cause before warrants could be issued to spy on American citizens under section 215 of the Patriot Act. While the amendment failed 205-217, the vote was surprising close and sparked a national debate that few could have predicted.

The question on the minds of many in Michigan is whether or not Amash will parlay his new found fame in to a Senatorial campaign. Politico reported that while he has not made any decisions, Amash downplayed the speculation that he’s interested in the open Senate seat currently held by retiring Senator Carl Levin (D-MI). He did say that a decision would have to be made by the fall.

“Otherwise it becomes a very difficult battle and it’s already a difficult battle, no matter what,” Amash said. “This is a Democratic state, still, and for a Republican to win a Senate race you have to have a very good year for Republicans, so…”

It may end up being a battle for Amash regardless of the office he decides to run for next. The Hill reported that his fellow Michigan representative, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, took a swipe at him and called efforts to halt the NSA gathering phone data “dangerous.”

“What you’re doing is taking away the one tool that we know will allow us the nexus between a foreign terrorist overseas talking to someone in the United States,” Rogers said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “It has saved real lives; real folks have come home with their legs…because of this program.”

This argument made its way around the nightly news shows this past week and is indicative of the “security over liberty” position that establishment Republican lawmakers insist on making. Even New Jersey Governor Chris Christie jumped in to the fray and invoked 9/11 as he attacked the “strain of libertarianism” that he believes threatens the NSA surveillance programs.

“As a former prosecutor who was appointed by President George W. Bush on Sept. 10, 2001, I just want us to be really cautious, because this strain of libertarianism that’s going through both parties right now and making big headlines, I think, is a very dangerous thought,” Christie told Politico.

Amash was especially critical of this tactic when talking to Mike Wallace on Fox News Sunday. He clearly stated that the “security over liberty” line of thought is counter to the spirit and intention of the Fourth Amendment.

“It’s precisely because we live in this dangerous world that we need protections like the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. The Framers of the Constitution put it in place precisely because they were worried that you would have national security justifications for violating people’s rights,” Amash explained.

During the interview with Wallace, Amash also confirmed his position that Edward Snowden is a whistleblower. His opinion was based largely on Snowden providing information that both Congress and the American people needed to know.

“He may be doing things overseas that we would find problematic, that we would find dangerous,” Amash said. “We’ll find those facts out over time, but as far as Congress is concerned, sure, he’s a whistleblower. He told us what we needed to know.”

The oversight problem was amplified this week by Glenn Greenwald’s recent piece in the Guardian that demonstrates how difficult it is for congressmen to get answers from the NSA about surveillance programs and the policies that they follow. Amash explained to the Washington Post that such gaps in knowledge make it nearly impossible for true congressional oversight to occur.

“Members of Congress were not really aware, on the whole, about what these programs were being used for — the extent to which they were being used,” Amash said. “Members of the intelligence community were told, but members who are rank-and-file members didn’t have the information.”

Following the revelation from the Guardian that the majority of our online activity is being captured under the XKEYGEN program, Amash discussed this program and other NSA activities with Anderson Cooper on CNN. Topics ranged from privacy to how different types of whistleblowers are treated. When Cooper asked whether or not Director of National Intelligence James Clapper lied to congress, Amash did not hold back.

“Yes, he did lie. He lied to Congress. He lied to the American people,” Amash continued. “I have called for him to step down, and I think he should face the same consequences any American would face who came to Congress and gave false testimony or did so in a court proceeding and any ordinary American might be facing prison time for that.”

On The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, Congressman Amash and Jane Harman debated the constitutionality of how the NSA interprets and implements section 215 of the Patriot Act. Amash rejected the notion of meta-data and put the problem in to proper perspective.

“It would be no different if someone came in to your house and made copies of all of your documents and said ‘Hey don’t worry, we’re just collecting these documents. We’re not going to look at them. We just want to have copies of them in case we need them in the future.’ That’s a violation of the 4th Amendment.”

Wrapping up the week, Amash appeared at a liberty rally at George Mason University which was billed as “The Political Conference Where Justin Amash Is Bigger Than Bieber” by Time Magazine. That’s not a bad way to round out a week of arguing with the talking heads over the NSA. Having 300 college students show a frenzied appreciation of your work must be humbling and hopefully indicative of the rising acceptance of libertarian principles and the growing support for Congressman Amash and like-minded representatives in Washington.