Sheriff Takes Food from Prisoners, Locks up WhistleBlower

A sheriff in Alabama bought a house using money that was budgeted to feed jail inmates. When I saw this headlined a week ago I assumed that this was a run-of-the-mill story about white collar fraud and I ignored it. Yesterday, prodded by new developments, I investigated further. The truth is much worse than I had imagined. What the sheriff did was perfectly legal.

Alabama has a Depression-era law that allows sheriffs to “keep and retain” unspent money from jail food-provision accounts. Sheriffs across the state take excess money as personal income — and, in the event of a shortfall, are personally liable for covering the gap.

Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin told the News that he follows that practice of taking extra money from the fund, saying, “The law says it’s a personal account and that’s the way I’ve always done it.”

Sheriffs across the state do the same thing and have for decades. But the scale of the practice is not clear: “It is presently unknown how much money sheriffs across the state have taken because most do not report it as income on state financial disclosure forms,” the Southern Center for Human Rights wrote in January.

And if that isn’t bonkers enough. It gets worse. The primary source for the story, written by journalist Connor Sheets, was Sheriff Entrekin’s lawnmower, Matt Qualls. Qualls has since been arrested and is now in a jail overseen by Sheriff Entrekin.

Sheets’ initial story was published on Feb. 18. On Feb. 22, Qualls was arrested and charged with drug trafficking after an anonymous call complained of the smell of marijuana from an apartment.

Qualls, who had never been arrested before, faces six charges and is being held on a $55,000 bond, Sheets reports. He is detained in a jail that Entrekin oversees.

…The sheriff’s office denies involvement in Qualls’ case, noting that the landscaper was not arrested or charged by the sheriff’s office. The extra charges were added by the Drug Enforcement Unit, which consist of agents drawn from the sheriff’s department, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies.

Addendum: You may be reminded of the story that Tyler and I use to open our principles of economics textbook. Ship captains in the 18th century were paid to ship convicts to Australia according to a very similar procedure as used today (!!!) to fund prisoner food in Alabama–and the results were equally predictable.


Law enforcement routinely harass and arrest immigrants, or what look like immigrants, unless they can produce "papers". I don't carry "papers", do you? Tabarrok chose the milk money scheme to demonstrate an economics lesson. Does the "papers" scheme have a similar economics lesson? When I was growing up in a small Southern town, the local law enforcement would arrest black men for such offenses as passing on a hill. While walking. The purpose wasn't to satisfy some deeply-held bigotry (although they were bigots), but to clean the jail. Yep, whenever the jail needed a good cleaning, passing on a hill while walking became a serious crime, punishable by an afternoon at the jail cleaning it.

Everyone is certain your stories are true!

Because they sound like they have so much truthiness!

Yeah, and Rambo was a documentary. In reality this story ought to mention the problems some states have with enforcing Roosevelt's New Deal requirement that they ask for ID

Well, since we are talking about Alabama, here is an example of how going beyond federal rules can work out.

'TUSCALOOSA, Alabama — A German manager with Mercedes-Benz is free after being arrested for not having a driver's license with him under Alabama's new law targeting illegal immigrants, authorities said Friday, in an otherwise routine case that drew the attention of Gov. Robert Bentley.

Tuscaloosa Police Chief Steven Anderson told The Associated Press an officer stopped a rental vehicle for not having a tag Wednesday night and asked the driver for his license. The man only had a German identification card, so he was arrested and taken to police headquarters, Anderson said.

The 46-year-old executive was charged with violating the immigration law for not having proper identification, but he was released after an associate retrieved his passport, visa and German driver's license from the hotel where he was staying, Anderson said.

The length of his detainment and the status of his court case weren't immediately known.

Mercedes-Benz, which is a division of Daimler AG, builds sport-utility vehicles at a large plant in Vance, about 20 miles east of Tuscaloosa. The automaker's decision to open a factory in Alabama in 1993 was considered a major coup for the state's economic development efforts and launched a trend of other foreign automakers and suppliers who opened major factories in the state, including Honda, Toyota and Hyundai.

Bentley, a Republican who signed the illegal immigration law earlier this year, called the state's homeland security director, Spencer Collier, after hearing of the arrest to get details about had happened, Collier said in an interview.'

So you are complaining that the law in Alabama applies to rich White Upper Middle Class types? That being wealthy and White is not an excuse that means the law is ignored? As in, say, New York? Just ask Harvey!

I can see why you might be upset.

"I don’t carry “papers”, do you?"

I have something called a "driver's license."

Why would anyone except a chauffeur need those kinds of papers?

what if its just another dirty sandwich narrative of perverse incentives and power imbalance?
you cant design a system that gives the people in charge the choice between a new house and putting a poor fella in jail without some of the people in charge choosing to
get a new house and put a poor fella in jail. its not so much about immigration papers.

your john prine record collection wont get you into heven anymore
don't let the sociology dept. handle your john prine records

What were they passing on the hill? Kidney stones? Walnuts and other undigested foods? I'd say that's an arrestable offense, personally.

Papers! I don't need no stinking papers!

Yeah every adult carries papers. Except a few who fear the possibility of being arrested for past crimes if identified. This is a reality and it is why when a policeman in the normal execution of his duties asked someone for ID and they don't have any that the police become suspicious.

Southerner. Not that there's anything wrong with that!

Is that a question? Born in Boston.

I occasionally leave my wallet to home when I go out for a spin on my bike and I am not planning to buy anything.

Well, very few people who grew up in the U.S. outside of Alabama have ever considered Alabama to have really caught up to the 20th century, so using late 18th century practices seems perfectly understandable.

But one can be confident that Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III will be all over this outrageous case from his birth state, right?

Thank you for not being bigoted about entire states filled with millions of people!

Because we all know bigotry is a bad thing!

I'm curious - did you grow up in Alabama? And if you didn't, were you at all surprised that in Alabama, a man running for the U.S. Senate credibly of accused of dating 16 year old girls (along with sexually assaulting a 14 year old girl), lost the election by 2%?

The funny thing is, according to one person I know living in Alabama, many of the normally staunch Republican voters in the suburbs of places like Birmingham were extremely concerned that if Moore actually had won, that many of the companies Alabama has attracted (and would like to continue to attract) would not consider Alabama in the future, simply in terms of just how out of step the state would be seen with the modern world.

Almost as if those voters were more worried about facts than bigotry in terms of Alabama's reputation. But one assumes that native Alabaman Republicans cannot be accused of bigotry for having such a perspective about their home state and its reputation

Who am I kidding? Of course there would be commenters here willing to say just that.

I am puzzled as to why you think dating 16 year old girls is in the same sort of category as sexually assaulting a 14 year old girl.

It isn't, of course. It is perfectly legal for a man in his 30s to date or have sex with a 16 year old woman in Alabama. Moore was not breaking any laws in those cases. Of course, sexually assaulting a 14 year old is a separate category, and thus set aside with (). Generally, either would be enough to destroy the political campaign of anyone running for office in most of the U.S., but in Moore's case, both are credibly reported to have occurred in his past. And 48% of the voters in Alabama were just fine with having such a man represent them in the U.S. Senate.

I suppose Clockwork had no problem with the voters in Massachusetts repeatedly re-electing a congressman who had an affair with a 17 year old page.

"Thank you for not being bigoted about entire states filled with millions of people!"

You'll note that instead of apologizing for being an obvious bigot, that prior just doubles down. It's his standard behavior. At best he'll spout a non-apology apology, where he makes a one line mea culpa and the follows up with an entire paragraph explaining how he's not really wrong anyway.

Of course if you mean pointing out that one of the main reasons that Moore lost was that a number of Republican voters in the parts of Alabama that have benefitted from companies considering Alabama a good place to put in factories were concerned about Alabama's image, well, sure, call it doubling down.

Here is some reporting from the bigots at - 'The golf trail, which has been called Alabama's most significant economic project in the past 40 years, is just one aspect of how Alabama's senate campaign may be affecting - and could affect - business, both now and in years to come. Bronner, as well as others, worry allegations that the ex-judge behaved inappropriately with teenage girls when he was in his 30s and serving as a prosecutor in Etowah County could stymie growth and development.

Moore has denied those allegations.

"What people don't understand is that industry as a whole, everyone that I know, that I'm associated with - they don't want to be in a place that's known for extreme positions," Bronner said. "That's left or right or anywhere. Business comes because they're going to get a good workforce and more importantly, make money. They don't want to run the risk of insulting their clients."'

And here are couple of more bigots from that article - 'Neal Berte, president emeritus of Birmingham-Southern College, was at the event and is a member of the alliance's executive committee. He said the Tuesday night program highlighted many of the positives going on in Alabama - the strength of its automotive industry, the development of downtown Birmingham. But the "sordid dimensions of the allegations" around Moore are "simply not good for our state," he said.

"I cannot help but think it really would not be good," he said of a possible Moore win. "All the negativity, the nature of the allegations, but also the heavily charged political environment we're seeing. I don't think it would be good if a company looking outside Alabama for expansion sees this. I don't think it would be a positive, and I'm not the only one that has said that."

Sen. Richard Shelby said similar things in an interview with the Wall Street Journal on the potential economic impact.

"The business community has concerns about the image of Alabama because we have attracted a lot of domestic and foreign investment," he was quoted as saying.'

Do you elsewhere maintain saved these lengthy comments and cut and paste them? Or, do you one-off, each time ingest, digest and type such large quantities of bull shit?

So true to form clockwork_prior, when faced with a rebuttal to your obvious bigotry you attempt to dodge the charge by changing the subject.

"Well, very few people who grew up in the U.S. outside of Alabama have ever considered Alabama to have really caught up to the 20th century, so using late 18th century practices seems perfectly understandable."

This is obvious bigotry. You're never content to just target the bad behavior of a person. Instead when your bigotry and mood affiliation rear it's head, you attempt to spin the bad behavior as a characteristic of the broad group you despise. Do you really think that people will ignore your atrocious behavior by such obvious finger pointing? You're behavior is similar to my 4 year old child when confronted with something she did wrong. She invariably tries to point out some other bad behavior a sibling did to deflect attention from her bad behavior. . The 7 year olds have outgrown it.


Social pressure is a moderating force - it helps constrain the impulses that are culturally inappropriate. The idea that one group is more virtuous is held by those ignorant of modern neuroscience and psychology.

'This is obvious bigotry.'

As you wish.

'You’re never content to just target the bad behavior of a person.'

Those 48% percent that voted for Moore are certainly shining examples of individuals clearly in tune with the 21st century.

'Do you really think that people will ignore your atrocious behavior by such obvious finger pointing?'

You did read the quotes from Alabamans, and their finger pointing, right? Alabamans were concerned about how people view them. Oddly, they did not consider those views bigotry. Much the same way that the residents of Taxachussets don't cry 'bigot' when someone uses that terms, or complain that their fellow Americans consider them residents of a high tax state.

Do you even know anyone living in or from Alabama? They know what their image among other Americans - it is not precisely a secret. Particularly the views of those Alabamans who voted for Moore.

Of course, it is to the credit of the 52% of Alabamans that did not vote for Moore that one can say that Alabama might shed its reputation in the future..

"‘This is obvious bigotry.’ As you wish."

No it's not as I wish. I don't wish you were a bigot.

"Those 48% percent that voted for Moore ..."

There you go again. The topic of the post is about a bad depression era Alabama law that leads to clearly bad results and possible framing by a local police department of a complainant. Instead you attempt to change the topic.

You're behavior is identical to racists who attempt to turn every story about the bad behavior of a specific black person into a discussion of racial IQ differences.

Prior, you could have been amazingly unbiggoted if you used the best words, like this. You could have shown yourself to be the least bigoted person alive...

People from Alabama are not our friends, believe me. They’re making meth... they’re committing crime. They’re rapists. But some, I assume, are good people.

Yes, clockwork_priors statements are every bit as bigoted as Trump's statements were. And you'll note that Trump was widely criticized for making such statements.

So anyone who thought Trump's statements were objectionable, should find clockwork_prior's statements just as objectionable.

No actually it wasn’t quite as bad. He gave credit to 48% of the population being opposed to full grown adult male seeking to “date” 16 year old girls. If he said Alabamians are not to be trusted because they are pro-rape, meth making, opiate abusers... but that he assumes some of them are probably decent people... then it would have been as bad.

And while President Trump was condemned by many... it wasn’t coming from the right side of the spectrum very commonly.

Look by backing a candidate that launched his candidacy by appealing to people’s worst... you kind of give up the ability to call anyone a bigot. Full stop.

But proceed as you will. You are just a complete fraud when doing so.

"Look by backing a candidate that launched his candidacy by appealing to people’s worst… you kind of give up the ability to call anyone a bigot. Full stop."

Yeah, I didn't vote for Trump. He was an awful candidate. In any case, you are desperately trying to change the topic. This topic isn't about Trump. It's about clockwork_prior's bigoted comments.

It's noteworthy that you haven't condemned clockwork_prior's comments. Indeed, your posts could be interpreted as a defense of his comments.

So, just for the record, Do you condemn clockwork_prior's bigoted comments?

As you want,

clockwork_prior is a bigot and a horrible person. I didn't mean to come across as defending his behavior or statements.

Genuine argumentation would instead point out that some people there do not hold irrational prejudice. For example, to point out that it's a good thing that some people have grown beyond the irrational hate that persisted for generations after slavery, and after black people began to have rights like the rest of us humans.

Their lack of bigotry should not be used as cover for one of the most stereotypically racist places around.

Roy Moore didn't know she was underage since he hadn't seen her papers.

What looks corrupt and is not included here is that the Sheriff’s Department added the felony drug trafficking charge after the arrest on simple possession. They managed to charge a felony by claiming that by adding some grams of marijuana to some pounds of butter, the entire mass became marijuana. To quote Sheriff’s captain/full-time buffoon Phil Sims, “Once that marijuana was mixed with the butter then the whole butter becomes marijuana, and that's what we weighed”. Many have joked in response that people found with marijuana plants in their backyards are charged with possession of 6 x 10^24 kgs of marijuana, as once you add the marijuana to the earth, the earth becomes marijuana. Sadly, despite what seems to be an incorrect reading of the law, which allows for inclusion of marijuana derivatives but not solutions, Matt has taken a plea. One can imagine that he received extremely fair treatment inside of the Sheriff’s personal “for profit” jail.

“Once that marijuana was mixed with the butter then the whole butter becomes marijuana, and that’s what we weighed”

That rates right up there with a practice in Michigan:

Michael Komorn alleges scientists were told to report an unknown origin for THC contained in oil, wax or perhaps a brownie if no visible plant material was present. The THC would then be declared a synthetic substance rather than marijuana - turning a misdemeanor pot charge to a two-year felony.

Fortunately, there was ultimately a happy ending for Mr Komorn -- a judge tossed out his felony conviction. I'm not sure if prosecutors have stopped trying to pull this particular stunt in other cases, though. But hopefully, come this November, marijuana will be legal and the point will be moot.

(But how do prosecutors sleep at night? Has anybody checked to see how they rate on 'dark triad' personality traits?)

> They managed to charge a felony by claiming that by adding some grams of marijuana to some pounds of butter, the entire mass became marijuana.

This gets especially ridiculous in the case of LSD. One standard dose is 100 micrograms (1/20,000 the weight of a paperclip). Obviously having people deal with dosages this small would be insane. So the producer has to dilute the raw crystal. Either by spreading it on blotter paper, diluting it into droplet size doses, or mixing it into a sugar cube.

Take the latter case. If you add 1 dose of LSD to 4 grams of sugar, US law now considers you to be in possession of 40,000 doses of LSD. Obviously this approach incentives reckless behavior. The best legal approach is to deal with raw LSD crystal across the entire supply chain. But because of the potency this can be very dangerous. US law should incentive dilution of potent drugs, not discourage it.

"US law should incentive dilution of potent drugs, not discourage it"

Interesting point.

Hey, look everyone!

Alex has managed to find an instance where the government is corrupt and wasting money -- and he even wrote about it!!

Sure, it had to relate to a case where convicted criminals are the victims.... and it had to take place in a deep red state.... but still!

I think he may be coming around!

....well, i would expect an economics professor to at least state some type of politco-economic conclusion about this little anecdote. What does it illustrate? What are the basic economic and political principles in play here? What is the basic cause of this problem?

Consolidating all police law enforcement functions under direct state or federal control is the obvious solution, right.

Taxpayers are also victims in this. Also, not everyone in jail is a criminal.

"Alabama has a Depression-era law that allows sheriffs to “keep and retain” unspent money from jail food-provision accounts. Sheriffs across the state take excess money as personal income — and, in the event of a shortfall, are personally liable for covering the gap."

A lot of bad laws were written in that period. This law clearly needs to be removed and all the local police agencies involved in the arrest should be investigated.

If only we could trust the FBI or the Justice Dept, but as we all know, those are swamps of pure corruption too. At least according to our twittering president.

Flynn has been charged with lying. Scooter Libby went to prison. McCabe has not even been charged. Nor has Comey. Or Huma. Or Hillary.

So yeah, if only we could trust the FBI and the DoJ.

Most FBI agents are decent people and dedicated public servants.

The rogues are the venal, political agents, like Comey and McCabe, planted by Obama/Holder/Lynch.

In addition to the being devoid of the facts, what is lost on liberal idiots [redundant] is that Mueller, et al could not indict Flynn or Manafort for RUSSIA COLLUSION!!!!, but, selective enforcement, prosecuted Flynn for misspeaking to gestapo, er, FBI agents and M for white collar crimes completely unrelated to the 2016 election.

So, who did the chimeric colluding?

Why are Mueller et al permitted to conduct a wasteful (deep state) coup d'état to reverse the glorious 2016 election?

Why? Precedent. See Ken Starr vs Bill Clinton. When this whole partisan shitshow got going.

"Why? Precedent."

+1, glad to see someone who understands the difference between precedence and what-aboutism.

" See Ken Starr vs Bill Clinton. When this whole partisan shitshow got going."

No, this kind of thing started earlier. Carter was investigated 3 times, Reagan was investigated 7 times, Bush Senior 4 times.

Then in a fit of irony, the Republicans killed the independent counsel in 1992, but Clinton re-instated it in 1994.

"Vowing to head up an administration with the highest ethical standards, President Bill Clinton took the step of being the first president since Carter
to endorse the institution of the independent counsel. On July 1, 1994, Clinton signed the reauthorization bill, and called the law "a foundation stone
for the trust between the Government and our citizens." He dismissed charges that it had been a "tool of partisan attack...and a waste of taxpayer funds."
Instead, he said, the statute "has been in the past and is today a force for Government integrity and public confidence." In testimony before Congress,
Attorney General Janet Reno stressed the government's and her own support for the bill, noting that it served "as a vehicle to further the public's
perception of fairness and thoroughness...and to avert even the most subtle of influences that may appear in an investigation of highly-placed executive

Yes, there is no question that Sessions is a tool of the hard left when it comes to charging people.

And you might, just might, think that lying about your conversations to people looking at transcripts of those calls you deny having with the Russian ambassador, particularly after being the head of an American intelligence agency, would be at a slightly different level.

But hey, these days America has no better friend than Putin, right? And clearly, anyone who then headed the NSC lying about having conversations with the Russian ambassador is pure as the driven snow.

no, Scooter didn't go to prison

"Bush commuted the sentence hours after a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected Libby's request to postpone his prison term while he pursued appeals."

An excellent showcase for reducing the power of the state.

What it shows is that one-party rule leads to corruption. Chicago, Alabama, Washington, D.C. (both local and federal for once).

Trump called for the death penalty for these same sort of crimes. Reduce away.

Trump called for the death penalty for 1 ounce of plant marijuana?

Yes, if as above you can claim this was a dealer. Not only that,he said we have too many legal restrictions on such punishments.

It's funny, after the first wave of Trump lunacy some people said "this is just a reason to reduce the power of the presidency." Fine. I have not seen one damn proposal to do that.

Instead "the base" has bought in.

I'd say a number of the things Trump has done has been to reduce the power of the Presidency, from removal of unlawful presidential orders to reduction in regulations that were by agencies, under the president's control, usurping Congress' legislative rights.

Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty for anything other than murder is unconstitutional a while back, so what's the point?

That is not completely accurate. Certain offenses against the state [like treason] with no specific victim may still be punished by death.

Is drug pushing such an offense case? No one knows.

A Libertarian in 1995: "Legalize all drugs!"

The same guy today, in a Trump hat: "Kill them all!"

Legalize the drugs and kill the producers, dealers and consumers.

The same guy today, in a Trump hat: “Kill them all!”

You need either less drugs (hallucinogens) or more drugs (anti-psychotics)

Where legit libertarians stand:

Seems a reasonable law to me. It gives the people running the program an interest in efficiency and value for money.

The problem is the railroading of the whistle blower. But Obama made that sort of retaliation cool so I am not much concerned.

... so obviously we need more laws to protect whistleblowers -- then some more laws after that to make sure government officials obey those whistleblower laws

ink-on-paper (laws) never peak and stabilize -- they increase exponentially because most people think ink solves real world problems

A law without enforcement is like having no law at all.

'But Obama made that sort of retaliation cool '

Yeah, no one ever considered Nixon cool, that is for sure.

Please! Don't read this further if you don't love America.

Those are trying times and we can see that America is at the crossroads. Many hostile international actors (China, Japan, North Korea, Russia, etc.) have made bold moves against our country. We are in a new Cold War and our leaders may already have unwittingly decided to lose it. Scary, right? There is, though, a battleground where we can turn the tide of this conflict.

Brazil is a South American country, an old and (so far) reliable ally of ours. Leftism run amok, however, took its toll in Brazil's economy and political organization. A weakened Brazil can fall in China's orbit, giving it a foothold in our Hemisphere. Brazil is bigger than Western Europe, has one of the biggest economies in the world and its fertile agricultural lands and valuable minerals are higly coveted. Rockets launched from Brazil's privileged localization spend much less fuel to hit their targets (New York City, for instance).

China is already Brazil's biggest source of money with their soy and iron purchases and investments. There are lots of Confucius Institutes (Chinese espionage/lobby) in Brazil. Red China controls key political and media players.
Congressman Bolsonaro is a presidential candidate. He is fiercely pro-American. He is anti-communist. His motto is, "Brazil above everything. God above everyone". He has vouched to beat Chinese influence in Brazil back and cooperate with America. Will we betray our friends and allies in Brazil? Wouldn't it be betraying ourselves?

Please, remember that former President Richard Nixon said, "As Brazil goes, so goes Latin America". Truer (and scarier) words were never spoken. If Brazil falls, will Agentina stand? What about Chile? What about MEXICO? America has profited from a quiet continent and peaceful neighbours and the protection of the oceans. Will America share a border with a satellite of an anti-American, aggressive power? Would our liberties survive such a situation? Would our economy? Would our country? What about your family? If America's freedomaps die through your innaction and complacency, what will you tell your children? "Ooops"? Ooops does not start covering it, man (madam).

Please, write to you Represenative, your Senator, the (for now) Secretary of State Pompeo and your friends, if you have any, and tell them in no uncertain terms that you think America must take a stand. America must officially support our allies in Brazil. There is too much at stake here to allow partisanship, petty interests and mindless bickering to prevent us from doing what we know it is the right thing.

Thank you,

God bless America!

This is a weird post, even for you Thiago Ribeiro.

It is not me. It is clear an America patriot, concerned with all that is at stake for America and for the world. If Brazil falls, it will Munich all again.

Whatever weird quest you are on, it doesn't help your case to blatantly lie like this.

I am not lying. Maybe not all Americans want to exchange their dignity for cheap Chinese trinkets. Maybe some people in America still can look beyond this quarter's profitability.

No, you are lying about that post not being from you. It insults our intelligence when it's so obviously you. So you lose support for your cause by insulting your readers.

" So you lose support for your cause by insulting your readers."


I am not insulting anyone. You just want an excuse for your rabid anti-Brazilian stance.

As strange as this post may seem, much of it is true. The last time I went to Brazil I took a ferry from the harbor out to an Island, as I had done a few times before. The difference was a once moribund harbor was choked with so many Chinese ships the ferry boat had to weave a path around them, something I have never seen before. The big problem, discussed at length in the local newspapers, was a lack of harbor capacity - even more Chinese vessels we're queued up outside the harbor. There was much talk of annihilating mangrove forests to increase harbor capacity.

I used to collect Brazilian musical instruments. Unknown to many people, for whom the image of Brazil is Carnival in Rio, soccer, and gang warfare in the favelas, the usual fare served by US media, Brazil has a rich and diverse musical heritage - classical, jazz, samba, forro, baiao, chorinho, condemble ( a religion with associated music), maracatu, and on and on and on .... They make beautiful classical guitars and too many percussion instruments to count, however, for the first time almost every instrument I looked at had the same label - Made in China.

So yes, it is true, China has made serious in inroads into Brazil. The corrupt politicians in Brazil have sold out the heavily protected Brazilian manufacturing industry to China. It has hard to imagine how strange that is unless you are familiar with the historical tariff protection given to Brazilian manufacturing. Middle and upper class Brazilians used to travel to the US with massive luggage in order to shop till they drop and then circumvent the import taxes. My in laws are no exception. Whenever they come to to the US they want to see Carmel, CA, Big Sur, the Golden Gate Bridge, and then shop shop shop.You can spot the Brazilians at the airport - they are the people with luggage the size of a Toyota Corolla. Getting to the airport requires a moving van.

Brazil is now a commodities provider for China. It is rich with natural resources - oil, timber, metals, precious metals, water, and a climate that produce tremendous quantities of agricultural products. The Wall Street Journal celebrates the mechanization of Brazilian agriculture, but I can't shake the images of the masses of black people, the "sem terras" (landless), living in cardboard "invasoes" (invasions) between the freeway on ramps. They have fled the poverty of the now mechanized rural areas and have migrated to the cties without any marketable skills. Crime anyone? How about murder for $1? There aren't even any low skill manufacturing jobs anymore - those are in China. The best they can hope for is a job as a laborer or a maid. The public schools are dumps so there's no way up and out via education. There isn't enough tax revenue to support that population. Trouble ahead.

One final thing. I was amazed by the anti-american sentiment. No one was ever rude or aggressive towards me about politics, but I heard a few anti-American rants and read many in the op-ed pages and the letters to the editor sections of the local newspapers - I love reading the Brazilian newspapers. With a little digging I discovered the Brazilians have negative views about the US because they perceive we meddle in their use of the Amazon, interfere in Latin American politics, and have punished them via the World Bank and the IMF and, worst of all, we are just too damn rich and cocky. Resentment.

So even as the Brazilian people struggle to evict corruption from their capitalist democracy, the make a deal with the devil. They know Americans - the have relatives living in the US (like my wife and her sister), some have traveled (shopped) in the US, they have married Americans, but China is remote, abstract, and not American. So they cozy up to China, almost out of revenge.

China now has a "President for Life". China put down a protest with tanks and gunfire - no more protests. And with an Orwellian single-mindedness China executes an economic plan to dominate the world, and they do it in the backyard of the US.

There is no Antifa in China.

It seems stupid to me that we don't have a better, mutually productive, relationship with Brazil. We should be very tight with every nation in America - North, Central, and South.

The economists love to slobber all over the zippers of the Chinese - all that good food and impressive civil engineering, big cities and tall buildings. Wow! Ignore the tyrannical politics, the lack of civil liberties.They distract us with magic while they pick our pockets.

Meanwhile, we ignore our democratic neighbors, with enlightenment values similar to ours.

China is digging in our backyard.

"They make beautiful classical guitars and too many percussion instruments to count, however, for the first time almost every instrument I looked at had the same label – Made in China."

There's a reason for that.

"On Aug. 24, 2011, federal agents executed four search warrants on Gibson Guitar Corp. facilities in Nashville and Memphis, Tenn., and seized several pallets of wood, electronic files and guitars. One of the top makers of acoustic and electric guitars, including the iconic Les Paul introduced in 1952, Gibson was accused of using wood illegally obtained in violation of the century-old Lacey Act, which outlaws trafficking in flora and fauna the harvesting of which had broken foreign laws.

The feds in return agreed to let Gibson resume importing wood while they sought "clarification" from India.

The feds say they acted to save the environment from greedy plunderers. America is a trivial importer of rosewood from Madagascar and India. Ninety-five percent of it goes to China, where it is used to make luxury items like $800,000 beds. So putting Gibson out of business wasn't going to do a whole lot to save their forests."

That's bad. Even worse, criminals burn precious woods in Brazil on behalf of ranchers so they can overgraze the land with cattle. The wood is just wasted.

I'd rather it be cut down - and replanted - and be used for guitars than be burned to ashes to make room for the beef industry. Beef exporting is big busines in Brazil, and the Chinese are jonesing for beef big time. Say bye bye rainforest!

Oh, I forgot to write, don't believe anything you read about laws to protect the forests in Brazil. There is no enforcement, so the laws are meaningless.

"The last time I went to Brazil I took a ferry from the harbor out to an Island, as I had done a few times before. The difference was a once moribund harbor was choked with so many Chinese ships the ferry boat had to weave a path around them, something I have never seen before. The big problem, discussed at length in the local newspapers, was a lack of harbor capacity – even more Chinese vessels we’re queued up outside the harbor. There was much talk of annihilating mangrove forests to increase harbor capacity."

They are buying everything they can put their hands on. Infrastructure (energy, highways, railways), ore, manufacture, agricultural land, services, niobium, logistics, oil, start-ups. So many people are invested in doing business with Red China, a powerful fifth-column has arisen in Brazil.

China controls languge departments at Brazil's most prestigious universities, Chinese business and Brazilians working with Red China control publicity funds, which means they have great leverage with newspapers, magazines and TV channels. China is not buying the Rockfeller Center or Van Gogh's paintings as crazy Japanese billionaires used to do. They are buying Brazil's blood, Brazil's voice, Brazil's spirit itself. Brazil's democracy is being smothed with piles of cold, hard cash.

Brazil's independent life is at risk. It means America's survival is at risk, too. Former American President John F. Kennedy famously said that this Hemisphere wants to remain master of its own house. Is it still true? Or will we, Brazilians and Americans alike, exchange our hard-won freedoms for a mess of Chinese pottage?


I may be the only person who doesn't think you are crazy! You are funny, but not crazy.

It will be difficult for a capitalist, democratic republic to deal effectively with a massive, single-minded, totalitarian state like China. I don't think China wants to compete - China wants to defeat.

So far, China is winning.

"It will be difficult for a capitalist, democratic republic to deal effectively with a massive, single-minded, totalitarian state like China."
Alone, yes. Will Brazil fight alone? In America's times of need, when Americans fought against monsters such as the Kaiser, Hitler, Mussolini and Bosch, Brazilian soldiers fought alongside them and many died. Will Brazil be left alone in its time of need to fight alone and bare-handed? Our enemy at least supports its Brazilian friends...

So the world will stand by and watch a merciless totalitarian machine swallow a peaceful people. Again.

An innocent people will disappear behind the Bamboo Curtain. Again.

Mention of the FBI? Corruption, then.

Perhaps legal in AL, but failure to report it to the IRS would not be.

Wow, it's as if profits incentivize people to do terrible things to other people. Breaking news! Up until now we thought markets could only produce positive outcomes.

"Up until now we thought markets could only produce positive outcomes."

A government official taking tax money to use for their own personal expenses is hardly a failure of the market.

The reason why markets work is that they provide unfettered scope for incentives to drive people's actions. Broadly speaking, any time someone acts based on situational incentives rather than legal coercion, it's a market mechanism.

"any time someone acts based on situational incentives rather than legal coercion, it’s a market mechanism."

So, if I shoot you because I don't like you, that's a market mechanism?

No, just no. That's just a completely ridiculous supposition. It's twisting the term market mechanism to such a broad extent that it defies the standard definition and makes the term meaningless.

Transactions that result in profits is hardly stretching the definition of a market mechanism. It is the definition of a market. The impermeable wall that you imagine exists between governmental and non-governmental actions is just that, imaginary.

Frankly, that's an idiotic statement.

A government official spending tax money for personal purposes is not an example of a "market mechanism". Sure, his purchases probably involved some market transactions. But that's tangential to the matter.

Its weird that the economists who run this website posted an accompanying video about incentives, but everything I say related to incentives is idiotic.

Incentives and markets are not the same thing. Rewatch the videos. I suggest the "A Price Is a Signal Wrapped Up in an Incentive" video. A key component is cooperation.

It's kind of a semantic argument. Libertarian economists very frequently point out how governments are infested with perverse incentives due to the fact that they rely on force rather than customer satisfaction to acquire their funds. You can go ahead and define every sort of incentive as a "market" but then you have to distinguish the kind of market actually advocated by libertarians - free markets - from the everything-is-a-market definition you are using. Otherwise you are moving the goalposts. Libertarians don't advocate handing taxpayer dollars to prison wardens for their personal use. No libertarian anywhere thinks that government officials responding to the incentives produced by being allowed to spend tax money on themselves is an example of the free market at work.

This is why it's a terrible idea to let the people who control the guns and the prisons also control the money.

You mean capitalists?

That is why you need guns and money!

Ammo is very expensive!

I couldn't help my bad self. :)

Can you please let us know what the market was in this instance?

They name their lawnmowers. Probably a southern thing.

I bet none of those mowers are named "Sherman"! :)

Not being facetious:
How does this change our priors (to coin a phrase) regarding capitated payments in medicine?

To understand the real problem, think about your reaction to a report that the Director of Food Services at GMU was offered a bonus equal to 5% of the money saved in 2018 relative to 2017. No big deal, right? Just another boring example of incentive based pay. This one bothers us because the prisoners have no market power. In fact, the prisoners aren’t the market at all—the market is the people who vote for sheriff.

So let’s assume the people of Alabama are as upset by this as Alex and want to fix it. How could they turn prisoners into consumers? Easy. Just give prisoners vouchers that could be used at any approved institution. The approved list would have to maintain certain minimal standards for security and so forth and we might want to require prisoners to accept some added costs (e.g., paying for multiple transfer requests or paying for damages to facilities).

I’m actually kind of serious about the suggestion. I don’t know if it’s been tried before but I can see how it could work in a lot of areas. In Dallas where I live, there are multiple jurisdictions and multiple jails. Prisoners get moved all the time for all kinds of reasons. And even within one jurisdiction there are multiple lockups. (In fact, Dallas County Jail is a huge facility and it should be easy to have, say, the West Wing and East Wing as separate entities competing for prison vouchers.) Private prisons have a bad reputation. I don’t know if that’s deserved but we shouldn’t be surprised to learn that they’re nasty places since their customers aren’t the prisoners, they work for the jailers.

Let the prisoner’s pick their prisons.

Clever. I don't think the Prison Choice movement is going take off though.

There's also the Danish approach that gives prisoners a budget to spend at a prison store, and they cook their own food in a kitchen.

This is one of the things that makes it a lot easier for people who are incarcerated to succeed (defined as not getting found guilty of further offenses, and earning higher income) after exiting prison.

We should have charter prisons and "prison choice". Then prisons would have an incentive to be nice. Prisoners could boycott bad prisons and use their prison allowance to select high performing prisons. If jails were nice, criminals would stay inside them and leave the rest of us alone. Problem solved! So easy! Free markets work!

Law enforcement is a public good. It does not arise naturally on the open market. Schooling is a fee-for-service enterprise that most certainly does. Opponents of school choice are shills of the teachers colleges who want to keep discretion as far away from parents as possible. Nothing they say is in good faith.

Here's why I don't like "school choice" as a Conservative.

I'm a taxpayer. I have no children.

We all pay taxes for public schools because public schools benefit the Nation. Why should someone get more of a say on how taxes are spent for schools simply because he has children? Perhaps those spending the money should have some say, too.

For millennia people depended on private security (a market solution). Poilice firces are a fairly modern thing.

It's an emolument of the office.

Stuff happens, like the Manhattan DA takes regular bribes to fix celebrity crime, I think it is legal beck in NYC. The guy is Cyrus Vance, elected DA.

Need I go on?

All the commenters here probably voted fir federal law that provides money licenses to special TBTF bankers.
Everyone here apparently agrees that Senators can engage in insider trading.
How many agree that unelected California unions have oversight on local legislators? It is the law.

We vote to cheat ourselves out of property so that special political actors are favored. We tax little brown people and give humongous checks to Elon. We agreed to subsidize Amazon with cheap postal service.

We always vote to give our stuff to the specially connected, we do it because some nutty politician tells us to. Everyone here who complains abut the Alabama sheriff no doubt is responsible for much worse laws and not aware of how they voted.

I must quibble with “perfectly legal,” a characterization that NPR attributed to state and local officials. The sheriff’s interpretation of the law does seem to be a common one. But there has been litigation over the years, and some courts have blocked sheriffs from keeping the money.

379 comments on yesterday's "The sons of well-off black families do not do so well" MR item, but now the MR commenter caravan has moved on.
However, Steve Sailer now has weighed in, at his iSteve blog. Check it out. Lots of good comments there too.

Chetty: Affluent Black Males Much More Crime-Prone, Whites at Fault

Actually, unless Sailer's boards are unusually civil and circumspect today, the comments will be what they typically are: variations on a theme of 'fu!* you, niggaz'. (Only their 2d favorite theme. Their favorite is 'fu*! you, yids").

I usually think your comments are insightful. This one is really stupid, though. Check out the comments on this iSteve post to see how stupid.

I keep it to 2 or 3 feedings a week for that crew. They're over the limit as is.

There is no indication in Tabarrok's account that the Sheriff is not complying with the law or that the Sheriff had the whistleblower arrested. So, you have a policy enacted into law by the legislature and you have an arrest instigated by a unit which includes federal law enforcement and you expend your pixels complaining about the Sheriff. I think we understand what's going on here.

"...or that the Sheriff had the whistleblower arrested."

The person who made a true & public comment that embarrassed the Sheriff is arrested 4 days later based upon an anonymous tip. Furthermore, he's never been previously arrested.

That's a pretty huge coincidence.

So, a few prisoners don't eat well.

Who cares.

Do you care if, as an emolument of office, a President's business takes in money from foreigners who have an interest in influencing his behavior.

Apparently not, either.

Do you care if, as an emolument of office, a President’s business takes in money from foreigners who have an interest in influencing his behavior.

He owns a business. So did Jimmy Carter. That doesn't trigger the emoluments clause. Suck it up.

If it didn't bother the Founders, then it shouldn't bother you (unless of course you're afflicted with Trump Derangement Syndrome).

Thank you for highlighting this important issue, AT.

On another note, please moderate your use of exclamation points.

What's the difference between America and Russia again?

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