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Letter to Gov. Brewer: Oppose HB 2549 Restricting Open Communication via the Internet

UPDATE: HB 2549 was actually STOPPED before reaching the Governor.

The Arizona Legislature is about to send HB 2549 for your signature. I strongly encourage you to veto the law as written.

The bill attempts to update Arizona’s stalking and telephone harassment laws for the digital age—in itself, perhaps a worthy goal—but the law as written is extremely and unconstitutionally broad. By simply substituting “electronic…device” for the word telephone, the law moves beyond regulating private, direct, person-to-person communications and threatens open, public communications via the Internet. The proposal dangerously omits any standard of reasonableness, and leaves critical terms undefined.

The constitutions of both the United States and the State of Arizona recognize and guarantee our freedom to speak and write freely—A law that criminalizes potentially annoying or offending someone stifles that freedom.

This bill should be returned to the legislature to be rewritten more narrowly to include only communications directed to a particular individual and which would cause a reasonable person to fear for one’s life, safety, or property.

Review: Ferguson’s Ascent of Money

Niall Ferguson, The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World (New York: Penguin, 2008).

Niall Ferguson gives us an important and readable history of the financial institutions that have shaped the world.

In his introduction, Ferguson shares some startling statistics: horrendously high percentages of Americans have demonstrated gross ignorance of how their credit cards work and a majority fail to understand the foundational concept of compound interest.  A disturbingly large minority of respondents in Britain could not determine whether a £30 discount were better than 10% off £250, nor could they appreciate the impact of an inflation rate higher than their savings account’s interest rate.

We cannot afford such ignorance:

Despite our deeply rooted prejudices [against financiers], money is the root of most progress. …Financial innovation has been an indispensable factor in man’s advance from wretched subsistence to the giddy heights of material prosperity that so many people know today. The evolution of credit and debt was as important as any technological innovation in the rise of civilisation…

…Behind every great historical phenomenon, there lies a financial secret…

Ferguson, in a brief, but compelling narrative, demonstrates the financial forces behind the lasting influence of the Roman empire, the Crusades, the fall of the Aztecs, the European Renaissance, the fall of the Spanish empire, and so on.

The core of his book traces the history of coinage, bonds, stocks, insurance, the politically driven push for home ownership, and finally the growing tension in America’s financial system and the concurrent rise of China. Continue reading Review: Ferguson’s Ascent of Money