Joe Biden's inexorable march toward the fanatical left continued this week, as he and Bernie Sanders…
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Biden Drug Plan Would Slash Innovation and U.S. Consumer Access

Joe Biden's inexorable march toward the fanatical left continued this week, as he and Bernie Sanders (D - Vermont) introduced their "unity platform" in anticipation of this year's Democratic convention.  We can thus add weaker U.S. patents and drug price controls imported from foreign nations to Biden's existing dumpster fire of bad ideas.

Here's the problem.  As we've often emphasized, and contrary to persistent myth, American consumers enjoy far greater access to new lifesaving drugs than people in other nations, including those in "other advanced economies" (Biden's words) whose price controls Biden seeks to import:

Of all new cancer drugs developed worldwide between 2011 and 2018, 96% were available to American consumers.  Meanwhile, only 56% of those drugs became available in Canada…[more]

July 10, 2020 • 04:52 PM

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Don't Go Wobbly on Criminal Justice Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, June 02 2016
[I]t's simply not true that our prisons are teeming with otherwise innocent citizens caught smoking a joint.

Senator Tom Cotton (R - Arkansas) recently created controversy by observing that, contrary to fashionable opinion on both the political left and right, the United States suffers an "under-incarceration problem": 

"Take a look at the facts.  First, the claim that too many criminals are being jailed, that there is over-incarceration, ignores an unfortunate fact.  For the vast majority of crimes, a perpetrator is never identified or arrested, let alone prosecuted, convicted and jailed.  Law enforcement is able to arrest or identify a likely perpetrator for only 19% of property crimes and 47% of violent crimes.  If anything, we have an under-incarceration problem." 

Before highlighting the merit of Sen. Cotton's observation, it should be noted that he does champion several criminal justice system reform proposals.  Most saliently, Cotton supports measures to reduce the alarming proliferation of criminal statutes and regulations at the federal, state and local levels.  He also supports measures to make our prison system more humane. 

But on the issue of tough criminal incarceration policies, Sen. Cotton stands on firm ground, while those reflexively clutching their pearls - including many conservatives and libertarians - get it wrong. 

To understand why, we must recognize the public policy changes that played such a central role in what constitutes our greatest public policy success since winning the Cold War:  the dramatic and unexpected reduction in American crime rates.   More vigilant policing and tougher sentencing measures were a core element of that success.  

Between 1960 and 1990, a period characterized by liberalization of American criminal justice policies under Earl Warren's Supreme Court and like-minded politicians, murder and other violent crime rates more than doubled.  When we finally got fed up and reversed that liberalization, the trend reversed.  Amazingly, since 1990, our murder and violent crime rates have been cut in half. 

Much of the credit for that remarkable reversal must be attributed to tougher policing and sentencing policies, particularly the "broken windows" theory advanced by social scientist James Q. Wilson and implemented most visibly by former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.  Recognizing that a small number of people commit the overwhelming number of the nation's crimes, incarcerating criminals for longer periods and for crimes that previously might not have resulted in incarceration cut crime  by taking potential lawbreakers off the streets. 

In other words, more proactive police tactics and incapacitation of criminals had a multiplier effect.  Because subway turnstile jumpers, petty burglars or vandals are exponentially more likely than other citizens to also commit murder, rape or armed robbery, getting them off the street for longer sentences creates an outsized reduction in crime while they're away.  In New York City alone, the murders fell from 2,445 in 1990 to just 328 in 2014. 

But now we're already beginning to witness a reversal of that achievement. 

Ignoring the lessons of recent history and taking our successes for granted, political leaders increasingly demonize police and seek to rein in criminal sentencing.  At the federal level, the Obama Administration even seeks to penalize employers who screen job applicants for criminal convictions.  And across the country, the "Ferguson Effect" (referring to the aftermath of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri after he attacked an officer and even discharged his firearm) has resulted in "pullbacks by lots and lots of police officers" according to none other than FBI Director James Comey. 

As a result, homicides in America's largest cities have increased an appalling 17% since 2014.  To place that in perspective, the murder rate hasn't increased by double digits in the U.S. since we suffered a 10% rise all the way back in 1979. 

Accordingly, now is not the time to pursue incarceration reductions that undermine our hard-won achievements of the past twenty years. 

In that vein, the notion that our prisons are full of low-level recreational drug users - the mythical "guy in prison for smoking a joint" - must be put to rest.  According to Obama's own Department of Justice, the overwhelming number of U.S. prisoners were convicted of violent crimes such as murder, armed robbery, rape and assault.  Only 16% of state prisoners were convicted of drug offenses, and among that small segment fully 75% were guilty of trafficking and distribution, not minor possession.  And even at the federal level, which constitutes a small portion of the total U.S. prison population, less than 1% of prisoners were convicted of simple possession. 

So it's simply not true that our prisons are teeming with otherwise innocent citizens caught smoking a joint. 

It bears reemphasis that criminal justice reform is a good idea in some forms - particularly the uncontrolled increase in criminal laws at the federal, state and local levels.  But targeting proactive policing and tough sentencing laws threatens to reverse the invaluable gains of the past two decades. 

We've come too far to throw it all away in the name of transient political fashion. 

Question of the Week   
In which one of the following years was the National Park Service established?
More Questions
Quote of the Day   
"The National Basketball Association is now blocking fans from customizing jerseys to include 'FreeHongKong,' while allowing a range of gross activist slogans on its merchandise. Through its online store, the league has long let fans create jerseys with personalized messages on the back. In fact, the feature recently become a key part of the NBA's push to allow players to sport activist statements…[more]
—Jonah Gottschalk, The Federalist
— Jonah Gottschalk, The Federalist
Liberty Poll   

Do you currently expect your local schools to reopen on time in the fall?