Author Archive | Radley Balko

Criminalization Doesn’t Curb Drug Use

The great journalist H.L. Mencken was a fierce critic of alcohol prohibition. He wrote in 1925: “Five years of Prohibition have had, at least, this one benign effect: they have completely disposed of all the favorite arguments of the Prohibitionists. None of the great boons and usufructs that were to follow the passage of the […]

Mugged By The State

Dan Peruchi, father of four, enjoyed fixing up old cars and reselling them. Because the dealers he worked with dealt mainly in cash, he usually had lots on hand. Peruchi was driving home to Ft. Worth, Texas when he noticed the flashing lights of a police car behind him. After pulling him over, the officer […]

Communist Memorial Museum: A Monument to Murder

One of the most powerful museums in Washington, D.C., is the Holocaust Memorial Museum. It’s the one site I always recommend to people visiting the city, even though it takes a couple of days to shake off the malaise that settles in after you’ve seen it. It’s a fitting memorial that accurately documents and catalogues […]

Greed Makes the World Go Round

“Most of the harm in the world is done by good people, and not by accident, lapse or omission.” — Isabel Paterson, “The God of the Machine” Now that we’re in the thick of the holiday season, we’re again being warned to be wary of the commercialization, corporatism and greed that comes with Christmas. In […]

Airline Deregulation Revisited

Ever wondered how the whole airline fare system works? Why is it, for example, that the guy you sat next to on that flight to Schenectady got a fare that was half of what you paid? Why is it that fares booked a month out are cheaper than fares booked two weeks out, but not […]

The Fat Police and Mandatory Menu Labels

The fat cops are on the prowl again. Not content with the current spate of obesity-inspired lawsuits, “nutrition” interests have taken to the state legislatures, looking to pass “menu labeling” laws that will pave the way for, yes, even more lawsuits. The state of Maine recently introduced legislation requiring all restaurant chains with 20 or […]

“Sweatshops,” Boycotts, and the Road to Poverty

Two reporters relay this anecdote from Thailand: One of the half-dozen men and women sitting on a bench eating was a sinewy, bare-chested laborer in his late 30′s named Mongkol Latlakorn. It was a hot, lazy day, and so we started chatting idly about the food and, eventually, our families. Mongkol mentioned that his daughter, […]

Ralph Nader: Public Shakedown Artist

“Big business never pays a nickel in taxes, according to Ralph Nader, who represents a big consumer organization that never pays a nickel in taxes.” — Dave Barry Crystal Lewis hadn’t the slightest idea what “MOPIRG” was. Each semester, she says, the mysterious phrase was listed on her tuition bill at Meramac Community College in […]

Who’s Bankrolling The Left?

A reader of this column e-mailed an interesting question a few months ago: “We hear all about Richard Mellon Scaife,” he wrote, “but we never hear about who funds the left. Who’s bankrolling the vast left-wing conspiracy?” It’s an interesting question, and you’ll probably be surprised at the answer. The oddest source of the left’s […]

‘Affirmative Casualties’ in War: Equal Death Among the Races! (Parody)

Editor’s note: This is a parody, similar in style to the Onion. Rep. Charlie Rangel (D- NY) took his “fairness in the military” proposal a step further this month. The congressman is now calling for what he calls “affirmative casualties” in war, a move he says will “ensure that the dead and maimed statistics coming […]

The Swedish Invasion: Does a Mixed Economy Lead to Domestic Bliss

“We want to produce the soundtrack to the ongoing war against capitalism.” That’s the creed of Sweden’s new garage band The (International) Noise Conspiracy. They’re avowed socialists, to the point of caricature. A comically self-indulgent manifesto posted on the band’s official website attempts to justify, for example, how a band so averse to capitalism could […]

End the Massachusetts State Income Tax

This month, American voters will head to the polls for midterm elections. Though the names on the ballots have changed since the last election, proponents of limited, accountable government will again be forced to choose between the same contenders: Candidate No Way and Candidate Even Worse. In Massachusetts, both the Republican and Democrat nominees for […]

Capitalism Key to Ending Poverty

At about the same time a hodgepodge of protesters descended on Washington, D.C. last month to protest capitalism, globalization and free trade, the United Nations and the Institute for International Studies released a triad of studies declaring that humanity is, for the most part, in the best condition it’s ever been. World poverty is down. […]

America’s State Sponsored Terrorists: The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency

This time, it’s a traveling museum exhibit entitled “Target America: Traffickers, Terrorists and You.” The exhibit harmonizes chunks of World Trade Center rubble and pictures of the scarred Pentagon with paraphernalia seized in international drug busts, and offers a “history” of the links between the drug trade and terrorism. The aim? Stain the hands of […]

Whacking Google: The Church of Scientology vs. Search Engines

Several decades ago, mathematician Edward Kasner conceived a number so large, it would exceed the total number of elementary particles in the known universe, with room to spare. He asked his nine-year-old nephew to name this new number, a one followed by one hundred zeros. The young Milton Sirotta called it “googol.” About five years […]

Department of Everything

In 1992, Congress passed the Energy Policy Act, a big, honking piece of legislation that sought to codify into federal law the thousands of administrative laws put forth by the Department of Energy. It set crucial, national-security-affecting policies such as how cold refrigerators were permitted to be. Also included in that massive bill was a […]

Fun-with-Dim-Activists Day: A Day At The IMF/World Bank Protests

I’d planned on writing a snarky, mocking narrative of my day at last weekend’s IMF/World Bank protests. A friend and I had set our sights on infiltrating the great unwashed activists, blending in, then collecting great stories to tell about the twisted logic, misplaced anger and market ignorance of the far left. They gave us […]

Steel Tariffs: President Bush Put Politics Above Principle

President Bush last week showed Clintonesque skill in the art of political triangulation. An alleged champion of free markets and free trade, the Bush White House last week announced plans to impose tariffs as high as 30% on steel imports to the U.S. next year. The tariffs would theoretically phase out over the next three […]