Author Archives: Ari Armstrong

Are Those Worried about Third-Party Spoilers Ready to Consider Approval Voting Yet?

Consider a couple of basic facts about the presidential election.

First, Donald Trump won the primaries with around 45 percent of the vote—and that includes votes taken after he’d effectively secured the nomination. Through the primaries, Trump’s opponents destroyed each other by splitting similar constituencies, while Trump skated through with minority support.

Second, minor parties won more votes than Trump’s margin of victory in some key states, including Florida, as Eli Watkins reviews for CNN. Watkins thinks third parties may have cost Clinton the election, but he may be wrong about what voters otherwise would have done. (Update: Sasha Volokh thinks Gary Johnson helped Clinton in the end.)

If it’s true either that Trump would have lost the primaries against a single amalgam of his opponents, or that Hillary Clinton would have won various key states and thus the electoral college in a two-way race, then Trump owes his victory to America’s system of winner-take-all plurality voting.

The way we vote is not a law of nature. It can be changed. Continue reading

The Political System is Rigged—But That’s Not Our Main Problem

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton each have their cheerleaders. Most of us, though, regard these candidates as horrid and this year’s presidential race as an “international embarrassment,” as Vincent Carroll puts it. How did we get here?

Part of the problem is that our political system really is substantially “rigged,” meaning that the rules are inherently unfair in certain ways. Continue reading

Cubs Victory Illustrates the Difference between Reasonable Rules and a Rigged System

As millions saw last night, the Chicago Cubs beat “the curse” and won their first World Series since 1908. Congratulations to the Cubs as well as to the Cleveland Indians, who despite their amazing performance come up a run short.

There’s an interesting lesson to be gleaned from this series about how the rules of the game affect the outcome and about the dangers of casting reasonable rules as “rigged.” Continue reading

My 2016 Colorado Ballot

I originally composed these notes for Facebook. -AA

What to do about the Colorado ballot? I had a request to reveal how I’m voting. I’m happy to oblige, with links to my articles where relevant. (I’d appreciate no comments here, as those quickly could get unruly. Yes, I realize there are people in the world, as strange as it may seem, who do not always agree with me.) Continue reading

Colorado’s Amendment T and the Meaning of Involuntary Servitude

How did slavery and involuntary servitude become active issues in the 2016 Colorado election? What is the significance of Amendment T, the ballot measure that addresses slavery and involuntary servitude with respect to criminals? Would Amendment T affect current criminal justice practices regarding in-prison work, work release, community service, or mandatory employment for parolees? Continue reading

Reply to the Denver Post on Open Presidential Primaries

To expand “choice,” the Denver Post supports Proposition 107 on the Colorado ballot to create a presidential primary in which unaffiliated voters help pick the major parties’ nominees.

But open primaries let nominally independent voters try to sabotage the party they hope will lose. Countless Democratic supporters voted for Donald Trump in other states’ primaries because they judged him a weak candidate. Continue reading

Why I Oppose the Colorado End-of-Life Options Act, Proposition 106

In principle, I support an individual’s moral right to choose whether to commit suicide for the purpose of alleviating profound suffering, as may be caused by a terminal illness.

I oppose Colorado’s end-of-life ballot measure, Proposition 106, primarily because it flagrantly violates people’s moral rights to freely associate, to dispose of their property as they see fit, and to operate their businesses as they see fit. Whatever one’s views about other aspects of the measure, it is clear that in the ways mentioned the measure violates rights and undermines liberty. Continue reading

Legatum’s Mismeasure of Freedom in the United States

“The U.S. isn’t one of the top 10 most free countries in the world, study says.” So blares the headline of a recent McClatchyDC story. If a “study” says it, it must be true, right? Well, not exactly. But, even though the study in question is deeply flawed, clearly people in the United States are not fully free by the standard of individual rights. How free are we, really? Continue reading

Clinton and Trump Should Both Drop Out for the Good of the Country

After the vice-presidential debate between Tim Kaine and Mike Pence, it is even more painfully obvious that neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump is fit to be the next president of the United States. As I Tweeted, I’d vote for either Kaine or Pence over either Clinton or Trump. I even found myself wishing for a Pence-Kaine ticket. And I have substantial disagreements with the policies of both men. Continue reading

When It’s Wrong for Lawyers to Help Guilty Clients Go Free

Philosopher Michael Huemer makes a claim that will surprise many attorneys and observers of the legal system: With some important exceptions, lawyers should not help a clearly guilty client go free or otherwise evade justice. This runs counter to the common notion that attorneys can or even should help their guilty clients go free (within the boundaries of the law). Huemer presented his case, based on his 2014 paper on the subject, at a September 12 meeting of Liberty on the Rocks in Westminster, Colorado. Continue reading

The Irrationality of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Rationalia

If only society could be governed by a rational elite, what a wonderful world it would be. Or at least various theorists have speculated since Plato penned the Republic.

Astrophysicist and science popularizer Neil deGrasse Tyson is the latest in a long line of utopian theorists. He set off a spirited debate when, on June 29, he Tweeted: “Earth needs a virtual country: #Rationalia, with a one-line Constitution: All policy shall be based on the weight of evidence.” Continue reading

Hurting the World’s Poor in the Name of Helping Them—Poverty, Inc.

The vast sums of money transferred by the governments of wealthy nations to the governments of poor nations do not help the world’s poor, for the most part. Rather, such foreign aid serves to prop up corrupt dictators, finance a giant network of Western nonprofits, disrupt local markets, and keep many of the intended beneficiaries dependent and poor. Even private aid often has deleterious effects. Or at least Poverty, Inc., a 2014 film by Michael Matheson Miller of the Christian, free-market Acton Institute, plausibly argues those points. Continue reading

The Statist Convergence of Trump and Clinton

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are vastly different in terms of style, background, and platform. But, at a more fundamental level, the candidates are remarkably similar: Each embraces policies to violate people’s freedom of contract and, more broadly, their freedom of association. Both candidates are essentially statist in orientation: They want to employ government force to achieve perceived benefits for some at the cost of others’ wealth and liberty. Continue reading

Ted Cruz

You Might Be Outraged at Ted Cruz If . . .

Sore loser. Snake. Self-absorbed. Traitor. These are just a few of the stones cast at Ted Cruz following his Republican National Convention speech of July 20.

After congratulating Donald Trump for winning the nomination, Cruz nevertheless noticeably did not endorse Trump or ask people to vote for him. Instead, nearly twenty minutes into his speech, Cruz told those assembled to “vote your conscience”—eliciting noticeable boos.

What reasons might Trump’s supporters have to turn on Cruz? Here are a few. You might be outraged at Ted Cruz if . . . Continue reading