Bootleggers & Baptists LXVII- California Banning Skittles (Taste the Rainbow)

The case Thames v. Mars, Inc (2022) filed in the district court of Northern California, brought to light safety concerns regarding the ingredients of the popular candy, Skittles. Thames alleged that the fruit-flavored candies contained “..contain titanium dioxide (‘TiO2’), a known toxin..” which Mars claimed they would phase out of using in their products back in 2016. The plaintiff listed several California consumer protection measures justifying their suit against the candy maker. But in the end, the plaintiff voluntarily dismissed his claim against the company.

However, the concerns of Thames have not been ignored by the state of California. As the state legislature proposes AB-418 (2023-2024), which seeks to amend “SECTION 1. Chapter 17 (commencing with Section 109025) is added to Part 3 of Division 104 of the Health and Safety Code, CHAPTER 

17. Food Safety to ban the use of Titanium dioxide in food products by January 2025. But keeping the Bootlegger and Baptists (1983), who benefits from banning Titanium dioxide as an ingredient of edible merchandise?

The company under fire (Mars) is the true beneficiary of the soon-to-be California law. Why? A company like Mars (arguably the largest candy company in the world) has the resources to accommodate the regulatory requirements imposed by California lawmakers. Mars can (at little cost to their profits) substitute Titanium dioxide for a legal ingredient. But smaller candy producers may not be flexible and will go out of business due to these new requirements. Therefore, Mars a silent Bootlegger in this scenario.

Bootleggers & Baptists: LXVI- DeSantis, Liquor Licenses, & Christmas Drag Shows

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida has recently drummed up some controversy last week when he revoked the liquor license of Hyatt Regency Miami for hosting a Christmas drag show displaying sexually explicit performances. So, what was the controversy? Not all of the attendees, were over the age of 18 (per the State Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation complaint). [1]. The DeSantis administration in Florida has expressed normative concern about insulating children from “lewd” content. Per the State of Florida’s grievance:

“…As a result, minors attended and were knowingly admitted into the Show by Respondent, including children appearing less than 16 years of age. See Exhibit 5. 9. During the Show and in the presence of persons less than 16 years of age, performers appeared on stage wearing sexually suggestive clothing and prosthetic female genitalia…”

However, viewing this situation through the prism of Bruce Yandle’s Bootleggers and Baptists (1983) framework, who benefits from this decision? Anyone familiar with the city of Miami knows that the city has no shortage of bars and restaurants licensed to serve alcoholic beverages. While DeSantis and those working for the state of Florida may be our Baptists; it is evident that bars throughout Miami are the Bootleggers of the Hyatt having its liquor license pulled. Why? Because alcohol sales equal more revenue and business. Some patrons might even avoid venues that do not serve alcohol. Other local venues stand to profit handsomely from the loss in the competition since alcohol has the highest markup of any item on a restaurant or bar’s menu.


1.) We cannot rule out the possibility of partisanship in this policy decision. It is not evident that if a father brought his 16-year-old son to a female strip club (colloquially known as a “Titty Bar”) DeSantis would have reacted with the same amount of gusto. However, considering the implicit partisanship of the American “culture war” it would be fair to suggest that California Governor Newsom would more harshly penalize the “Titty Bar” over the Drag Show. The inequitable application of the law based on the ideological leanings of elected officials is an unfortunate excess of the current American political climate.

Bootleggers & Baptists: LXV- Randy McNally, TN LGBTQ Laws, & Political Optics

Trafalgar Square – gay rights protest by Chris Allen is licensed under CC-BY-SA 2.0

The current controversy surrounding Tennessee Lt. governor Randall McNally is a boon to the Left-wingers in this political climate amid America’s “Culture War”. He has tacitly supported several laws that the Human Rights Campaign believes targets the LGBTQ+ community [1]. Notably, SB0003 (2023) which places restrictions on drag performances, has been a hotly debated topic on editorial pages coast to coast. Why has McNally’s stance on Anti-LGBTQ+ legislation recently come under fire? McNally has recently interacted with a gay social media figure liking several sexually provocative posts, creating a gap between his political positions and his personal opinions. The TN Lt. Governor has expressed; that his replies were misinterpreted and did repudiate the perception that he was anti-LGBTQ, but never stated that he wasn’t a homosexual [2].

In the context of Bruce Yandle’s Bootleggers and Baptists (1983) framework, who benefits from these laws regulating sexuality and gender? We don’t need to look too far to see who the Baptists are, clearly the Conservative (most likely religious) lawmakers, because they are enacting these laws in the name of morality and the wellbeing of the youth. McNally himself is probably the most salient beneficiary of these laws. Why? Since he either sympathizes with the LGBTQ community or is a closeted member, he can easily refute any association with this enclave of sexual minorities within the state by pointing (free-riding) to the laws he implicitly endorsed. The optics of McNally not appearing to be openly pro-LGBTQ is imperative in a staunchly conservative state like Tennessee. If his open support is off-putting to state voters, he might as well kiss his cushy seat in the state house goodbye.  


  1. This essay is merely an application of Bruce Yandle’s coalition model and is not a commentary on Tennessee state laws, McNally, or the LGBTQ+ community.
  2. Interesting observation, but speculating about the nature of McNally’s sexual orientation is slightly outside the bounds of my analysis. 

Bootleggers & Baptists- LXIV- Section 230 & Gonzales v. Google (2023)

The debate on reforming  Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act (1996) is one of the few issues in US public policy that has bipartisan support. Both parties have different objectives for abolishing or amending the law. Conservatives want social media platforms to be regulated as common carriers, to avoid the “censorship” of conservative users[1]. There may be some veracity to the claim of social media bias towards conservatives, since 35 % (the highest percentage of any other ideology polled) of participants identifying as “strong conservatives”, in a survey conducted by researchers at the Cato Institute, have experience having content penalized by social media companies. On the other hand, liberals challenge the status quo of Section 230 on grounds that social media firms are not sufficiently blocking the dissemination of misinformation. Despite their conflicting interests in reforming the law, both parties form an “odd bedfellow” coalition for Section 230 reforming. Making the bipartisan zeal for change an example of a Bootleggers and Baptists (1983) coalition.

What is Section 230

Many readers may be wondering what Section 230 is. Section 230 was the 1996 amendment to the Telecommunications act which has been dubbed by the media as the “.. 26 words that created the internet..”. These twenty-six words state:

“…(c) PROTECTION FOR GOOD SAMARITAN’ BLOCKING AND SCREENING OF OFFENSIVE MATERIAL- (1) TREATMENT OF PUBLISHER OR SPEAKER- No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider…” (p.101).

This section of the law insulates platforms from being liable for the content created by users. Effectively, there is a certain degree of rent-seeking implied; by this immunity, this privileged separation between the platform and the user is the proverbial glue that holds the internet together. Message boards, social media platforms, pornography, video-sharing websites (YouTube), and even blog-hosting websites would not exist without 230. These protections provide platforms with the incentive to be more permissive with what they allow users to post. If users find the content moderation from current social media applications restrictive, a world with this section nullified would be even worse. Freely allowing users to post any content they wish; would be a costly risk.


Gonzales v. Google (2023)

The public debate over Section 230 is now coming to fruition in the form of two twins (based on the same facts) in Supreme Court cases. The first case Gonzales v. Google concluded the oral argument on February 21st,2023. The facts detail how the father of Nohemi Gonzales, Reynaldo Gonzalez, a U.S. citizen killed in a terrorist attack (2015) orchestrated by Isis in Paris filed a lawsuit against Google. Gonzalez asserts that Google (the parent company of YouTube) was complicit in the attack for YouTube’s algorithms leading users to terrorist recruitment videos posted on the platform. The next day after the attack, ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack in a YouTube video. The district court dismissed Gonzales’s claim against Google based on Section 230 and the court of appeals affirmed. The U.S. Supreme court granted certiorari on October 3rd, 2022.

In the oral argument, the attorney on the side of Gonzales, Eric Schnapper, argued (p.17) that Google so much didn’t fail to take down the content, but actively encouraged it through their algorithms. Schnapper implies that driving viewers to such content is outside of the scope of Section 230[2]. However, in the process of questioning Schnapper, the Court was seeking to determine if Section 230(c)(1) applies when platforms utilize “targeted recommendations” predicated on “..information provided by another information content provider..” The verdict is still pending on the case; only time will tell what the fate of Section 230 will be.

Twitter, Inc. v. Taamneh (2023)

In the twin case for Gonzales,  Twitter, Inc. v. Taamneh, was only argued a day apart from Gonzales (02/22/23). The facts of the case were a copy-and-paste of  Gonzales, but the scope of the argument was to determine if Google, Facebook, and Twitter were liable in the context of anti-terrorism statutes. Per Oyez:

“…The district court dismissed the claims based on aiding-and-abetting liability under the Anti-Terrorism Act, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed…”

The court was attempting to validate whether the above-listed platforms assist terrorist organizations by not having an extensive prevention plan (in the context of 18 U.S.C. § 2333 ). Also, the SCOTUS attempted to answer if “..internet platform whose services were not used in connection with the specific “act of international terrorism” that injured the plaintiff still be liable for aiding and abetting under Section 2333..”.

Bootleggers & Baptist Analysis

While the SCOTUS deliberates on the future of Section 230, it is still worthwhile to evaluate who truly benefits from reforming this law. The bipartisan support for amendment/abolishment of this law; makes this determination a close call. The assignment of the role of Bootlegger and Baptist can be determined by ideological preferences, like in the scenario of Qualified Immunity reform. In the name of objectivity (for the sake of positive analysis), one faction within this coalition has more to gain than the other. While liberals get to cloak themselves in the robes of the white knight saving us from misinformation, this pales in comparison to what conservatives have to gain from overturning or revising this law. Social media platforms have an obvious left-leaning bias; conservatives are disproportionately penalized for their content. If social media companies block conservative content, right-wingers gain substantially through having more forums for disseminating their ideological message.

However, it would be shrewd to warn conservatives about pursuing this end too aggressively. This is the conservative version of the Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Why? In the Masterpiece case liberals were hoping the court would rule in favor of violating the rights of the bake shop owners by legally forcing them to bake the gay wedding cake. Thankfully, the court ruled in favor of the bake shop; but making liberal social media platforms host conservative posts is just as transgressive as forcing right-wing Christian bakers to make gay wedding cakes. Firms operating in the private sector; have the right to exclude users for any reason they deem fit. It is frequently unwise to discriminate against platform users, but that is the Firm’s prerogative. If conservatives cannot see the irony of this inverted scenario, I am at a loss for words and can only believe that such obtusity is the byproduct of partisanship.


1.) There is a wide variety of views from conservatives on how they desire to reform Section 230 reform. Ranging from a tear-it-down methodology to a moderate approach to amending it. In his article Section 230—Mend It, Don’t End It, Klon Kitchen, former Director at the Heritage Foundation recommends an amendment strategy over abolishment. 

2.) At many points in the oral argument, it appears that Schnapper fails to convey a convincing argument upon further scrutiny from the Justices. Schnapper obtusely justified culpability peripherally through JASTA. Justice Sotomayor calls him out on deviating from the initial complaint of YouTube being derelict for failing to remove ISIS videos when at oral argument, he shifted to claiming the algorithms were the issue (p.19-20). She further prods at the veracity of the claims of YouTube aiding and abetting ISIS; when the algorithms on their face are neutral and not tailored to support explicitly pro-ISIS videos (p.25). Justice Thomas also struggled to see how “inaction” ultimately led to “aiding and abetting” (p.33).

Bootleggers & Baptists LXIII- The US Tiktok Ban H.R. 1153

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

The Chinese social media app TikTok is currently in the crosshairs of U.S. lawmakers. Representative Michael McCaul (R., TX.) has proposed bill H.R. 1153 that confers to President Biden the authority to ban application in the United States. On Wednesday (03/01/23), “..the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee..” approved the bill; however, per Reuters:

“…The fate of the latest measure is still uncertain and faces significant hurdles before it can become law. The bill would need to be passed by the full House and U.S. Senate, which is controlled by Democrats before it can go to Biden…”.

The bill still has a few bulwarks to clear before becoming law. The content of H.R. 1153 justifies the prohibition of social media applications on the grounds of national security concerns. The bill cites “..espionage action..” from data collection, election interference, and the use of algorithms to target content to promote the interests of the Chinese government. There may or may not be any veracity to these concerns.

In the context of a Bootleggers & Baptists (1983)  coalition, who truly benefits from the United States restricting TikTok? Our Baptists in the effort to ban TikTok are the Republicans. This is not an endorsement of the political party; but an objective acknowledgment that a national security argument could be considered moralistic.

Now, this begs the question, who are the Bootleggers? The most obvious answer would be competing social media platforms, but these firms are tangential actors in this scenario. If American-based social media companies conspired with Republicans in the house to propose this bill, that is next-level four-dimensional chess. A more likely situation would be that the Democrats are the real beneficiaries of the nascent stages of outlawing TikTok. Why? If a politician’s objective is to retain their seat in office, then Democrats have a lot to gain; because Gen-Z is the largest constituency of voters who use TikTok. An estimated 60% of all TikTok users are members of Generation Z. Only to up the stakes, the fact that Gen-Z is more likely to vote for Democratic candidates.  Since Gen-Z also is the majority of TikTok users, pandering to this patch of voters through opposition to the ban is imperative.

Outside of Democratic politicians, there is an additional agent(s) that could stand to benefit from the direct fallout from H.R. 1153, and that is the ACLU. There is the possibility that the organization spoke out against the bill for reasons of ideological leanings (left-wing proclivities), but it is more likely the ACLU desired positive publicity. The ACLU is an organization that defends civil rights, publicly denouncing the proposed law as a threat to the First Amendment and perpetuating its public image. More positive publicity may entice donators to give more to the nonprofit and assist them in furthering the ACLU’s advocacy goals.

Bootleggers & Baptists: Volume 4

Essays 1-10:

Bootleggers & Baptists: Volume 1

Essays 10-20:

Bootleggers and Baptists: Volume 2

Essays: 20-30

Bootleggers & Baptists: Volume 3

Essays 30-40:

Bootleggers and Baptists- XXX: USB-C Mandate in Europe

Bootleggers and Baptists-XXXI: Microchip Shortage

Bootleggers and Baptists XXXII: The Bootleggers of Mask Mandates

Bootleggers and Baptists XXXIII- The Three-Tiered Distribution of Beer in the “Bible Belt”

Bootleggers & Baptists: XXXIV: The Supervisor Spot at Work

Bootleggers & Baptists-XXXV: Multiple Listing Services & Real Estate

Bootleggers & Baptists: XXXVI- Woke Capitalism and Coalitions of Opportunity

Bootleggers & Baptists: XXXVII: Salmon in Alaska (The Fight Against GMO Food)

Bootleggers & Baptists: XXXVIII- Prop. 5 (California, 1998)- Tribal Gaming

Bootleggers & Baptists XXXIX- AB-5 and Uber

Bootleggers & Baptists: XL- Joe Rogan: Team Spotify v. The Medical Establishment

Supplemental Content:

Editorial Graveyard- Part III: The Bootlegger and Baptists of Woke Capitalism

Bootleggers & Baptists: XL served as the rough draft for Censorship Isn’t the Answer to “Misinformation.” But Retrodiction Markets Might Be- Published by The Foundation for Economic Education”.

Bootleggers & Baptists: LXIII- Walmart Raises Wages

Walmart has decided to raise its starting wage to $14 per hour. This seems contrary to conventional wisdom, as firms strive to minimize labor costs. Walmart may appear to be the proverbial white knight in this scenario. By the end of 2023, less than ten states will have minimum wage requirements that exceed Walmarts starting wage. In the context of a Bootleggers and Baptist (1983), is Walmart the Baptist? Is Walmart meeting Progressive politicians and the American public (51 % support a $15/hr. minimum wage) halfway? By offering slightly less than what the left-wing populists want, are they providing voluntary compromise?

Not so fast. On a superficial level, Progressive politicians would be the Baptists for championing the moral concern of the quality of life experienced by low-skill workers. It is important to note that their normative position does not account for the potential negative consequences of raising the minimum wage. Walmart is most likely not enacting this new corporate policy out of the kindness of its own heart. It is important to remember the insights made by Adam Smith (the butcher, the baker, and the brewer) in The Wealth of Nations (1776), business is not charity, Walmart executives need to act in the interests of the firm to survive in the marketplace. Walmart might be upping wages to retain employees, which would be the best-case scenario.

However, there may be a more oblique strategy the firm is circuitously implementing. This is purely speculative and not a conspiratorial claim. The following statements are merely conjecture. If a firm seeks to reduce labor costs; why would the company voluntarily increase wages? Indirectly, such a policy could assist in reducing labor costs. How? Through urging companies to automate operations. The St. Louis Federal Reserve even notes; when the minimum wage increases, the greater the potential for worker displacement.

Per the St. Louis Fed:

“… Increasing the minimum wage is a controversial issue. Although a higher minimum wage can provide higher income for low-wage workers, it can also reduce the number of job opportunities for those workers. Some of the reduction in jobs occurs because a higher minimum wage increases production costs, causing firms to shift away from, or stop, production of some goods…”

While the public would be disgusted by this realization, reviling such business tactics ignores the role of incentives in decision-making. If you were a Walmart executive, you would take the same measures to reduce operational costs.

Bootleggers & Baptists LXII: The Cartel Wants to Get in on Legal Weed

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The War on Drugs waged by the United States since the 1970s has created a myriad of Bootlegger and Baptists (1983) dynamics. Few people question who stands to benefit from the legalization of currently prohibited drugs. This question becomes more prominent as more jurisdictions globally legalize recreational Marijuana. What happens when the most evident Bootlegger of the illicit drug trade (the Sinaloa Cartel) works to legitimatize commercial Marijuana sales? Does this strategic move shift their position in the coalition to that of the Baptists

This essay will examine this point to determine if the bad boys of the illegal dope game have turned over a new leaf. The legal status of Marijuana in Mexico is not as loose as the laws of their northern neighbors,  California and Arizona. Medical cannabis has been legal in Mexico since 2017, but what about the recreational consumption of pot? Mexico has decriminalized possession of up to  28 grams of Marijuana; recreational cannabis is still not legal. The staunch competition from the United States has caught the attention of various cannabis vendors in Mexico.

American dispensaries have achieved immense success considering sales for recreational weed are projected to hit “.. $25.1 billion in sales in 2025, with an average yearly growth of %23.60 from 2019 to 2025…”. It is self-evident that the illicit drug cartels would want a piece of the action. Yes, the most infamous cartel in Mexico has been watching. In the city of Culiacan, those left in charge since the incarceration of “El Chapo” Guzman, the “Narcosjuniors”, have established quasi-legal dispensaries. Selling various products ranging from edibles to best-sellers (manufacturing around 1,200 to 1,500 a week); pre-rolled joints. However, the cartel creating formal business networks, does this mean they are making sincere inroads to legalizing a drug with relatively few societal externalities? The transparent motive profit, leading them to create a commercial channel transitioning to a legal market.

If Sinaloa is once again the proverbial Bootlegger, who are our Baptists? We need to look at whom the cartel is employing to ensure quality control. After all, the cartels do not have the best reputation; when it comes to producing primo Marijuana. El Chapo’s successors will not be the Baptists, but they have enough sense to enlist the help of the passionate pot aficionados to cultivate higher-quality weed. They have hired weed-loving growers who have previously lived in California. Their love for cannabis urges them to:

“..We only have the permit to produce. The organization is giving us their money, their trust, and the green light to make the best product. But we can only sell to one client: the organization. We get good pay for our job, not in the millions, but enough to live off well, but more than that, the opportunity to develop top-notch weed,” one of the producers said..”

As usual, the cartel is still chasing profits, but the growers they employ want to grow the best pot in the world. Because of their love for the product, they want to dominate the global market (Canada, United States, and the Netherlands being the current movers and shakers). Only time will tell; once legalization takes full effect, if Mexico can overtake the California market. It would be nice to see an aggressive resurgence of high-caliber Acapulco Gold as a result of market competition.

Bootleggers & Baptists: Volume 3

Essays 1-10:

Bootleggers & Baptists: Volume 1

Essays 10-20:

Bootleggers and Baptists: Volume 2

Essays 20-30:

Bootleggers & Baptists: XX- The Death Penalty

Bootleggers & Baptists- XXI: Qualified Immunity, New Mexico, Cherry Garcia, and an Oil Barron

Bootleggers & Baptists: XXII- Opposition to Joe Biden’s Mentholated Cigarette Ban

Bootleggers & Baptists: XXIII- National Eviction Freeze

Bootleggers & Baptists XXIV: Budweiser versus The Stonewall Inn

Bootleggers & Baptists: XXV- The Energy Drink Crusader

Bootleggers & Baptists: XVI: Terrorism and Prediction Markets

Bootleggers and Baptists: XVII- Prediction Markets and Regulation (Gambling?)

Bootleggers and Baptists-XVIII- Fiat Currency

Bootlegger’s and Baptists XXIX- Arkansas and “Wet Counties”

Bootleggers and Baptists- XXX: USB-C Mandate in Europe

Bootleggers & Baptists: LXI- SBF and the Fall of FTX

Photo by Crypto Crow on

Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of the cryptocurrency exchange FTX, once masqueraded as the regulation-friendly face of the crypto markets. SBF was known for his openness to regulation and willingness to work with lawmakers; he not only wanted to graciously assist our elected officials in Washington with guiding policy but was also “socially conscious”. Sam was a vocal proponent of effective altruism and possessed a Benthamite concern for maximizing social benefits to help the most people. This wunderkind 30-year-old was too good to be true

Whether it was Bankman-Fried donating large sums of money to the Democratic party (the purported political advocate for the economically disadvantaged) or his views on veganism and charity, it was all a façade, a thin veneer masking his actual conduct. Per Reuters:

“… The turmoil at FTX has seen at least $1 billion of customer funds vanish from the platform, sources told Reuters on Friday. Bankman-Fried had transferred $10 billion of customer funds to his trading company, Alameda Research, the sources said.

New problems emerged on Saturday when FTX’s U.S. general counsel Ryne Miller said in a Twitter post that the firm’s digital assets were being moved into so-called cold storage “to mitigate damage upon observing unauthorized transactions.”

Cold storage refers to crypto wallets that are not connected to the internet to guard against hackers…”

As investors fled the platform and Binance pulled the plug on bailing out FTX, it is clear that SBF misrepresented the financial health of the exchange and its business practices. All of these developments are reminiscent of the Enron scandal. A corporation rubbing elbows with congress to engage in regulatory capture and foster a positive public image. While concurrently; creating a smoke screen obscuring the company’s off-color conduct.

The economist Bruce Yandle’s theory of Bootleggers and Baptist (1983) coalitions perfectly describes the Machiavellian tactics utilized by Mr. Bankman-Fried. After all, perception is what matters. If investors were not distracted by his social advocacy and success, they might have spotted the red flags. As observed by Yandle, there is often a demand for regulation. Often from parties that prima facie would oppose such measures (p.13). Why? This gives industry elites the to help shape rules that will benefit their bottom line and yield good publicity. Frequently, these scenarios are win-win for the firms involved. SBF proposed a licensing system for Defi (decentralized financial technology); per Erik Vorhees

“..self-enforced rules and blacklists would only serve established exchanges that could afford to pay for compliance…”

SBF simultaneously worked to craft regulation that FTX would benefit from while appearing to share some of the concerns of crypto-phobic politicians like Elizabeth Warren. Progressive politicians are the Baptists in this scenario. SBF’s arrogance ended up being his own Achilles Heel, ultimately revealing his true colors, those of a covert Bootlegger (p.190). 

Bootleggers & Baptists: LX- Arizona Senate Race

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In recent Arizona election news, Libertarian senate candidate Marc Victor has withdrawn from the race and openly endorsed Republican Blake Masters. Much like other circumstances in politics, there is a moralizing rationale for Victor’s capitulation and an obvious beneficiary of his exiting the race. There is Bootlegger and Baptists (1983) dynamic in this development in the Arizona mid-term election.

Victor left the race and lent his support to Master to avoid a spoiler effect; a phenomenon where third-party siphons off votes from a major party candidate. This is an enduring problem for Arizona Republicans for a while, hence the passage of HB 2608 (2015). This has only been exacerbated; by the fact that the Democratic party made numerous donations to Marc Victor’s campaign. By any metric, Victor calling it quits to avoid a spoiler effect has the normative underpinning of moralistic reasoning [1].; he is a Baptist in this scenario.

The Bootlegger in this situation is indisputably clear, Blake Masters. One less candidate in the race means more votes for Blake. Masters has been after the Libertarian vote before Victor even dropped out of the race. He has been dog-whistling and pandering to certain Libertarian sensibilities that are still congruent with the new strain of right-wing populism (no one will accuse him of being soft for wanting to “End the Fed”). Even leaning on his ties to the Ron Paul movement back in college. His strategy to capture the voters of a right-wing leaning third-party is a shrewd move on his part; if the polls are accurate, this will be a tight race. Per Five-Thirty-Eight, Mark Kelly currently holds a meager lead over Masters, Kelly polling in at 48.4 % and Masters trailing behind at 46.8%.


  1. Victor may have been concerned about the effect of his third-party campaign on the election results, he may only be a superficial Baptist. Why? Per Reason, Victor did receive threats from supporters of his opposition. This fact cannot be dispensed with when evaluating his decision to exit the Arizona senate race.

2. Data source Five-Thirty-Eight. Figure A.

3. Figure B. data was processed in Microsoft Excel.

Figure A

Figure B

Contra-Populism: Part III

Do not let the hollow promises of populist ideology fool you! Populism of the right or left is antithetical to the individual liberty cherished in Classical Liberalism and Libertarian philosophy. For one, populism frames policy in collectivistic terms rather than individualism. Populism tends to advocate for policies that support Positive rights (a right to an economic good, e.g. Social Security) over Negative rights to protect the individual from interference with exercising their rights (free speech). Much of what populists advocate for is the retribution of wealth and market privilege instead of individual freedom. Policies such as Single-Payer Healthcare and tariffs impose costs on all voters. This is because populism holds the interests of the group; without unanimous consent. Sure, by choosing to live within a certain jurisdiction you may be tacitly consenting to the laws. However, the rise in populism has spurred an increased demand for state intervention to provide more economic privileges. The problem is that the preferences of the “average voter” cannot be known, as every voter has their own opinions and preferences (p.20). Ordinary voters are not unitary actor, but many individuals with different political proclivities; populism assumes too much about what is best for all of society (p.16).

It is not just the threat of majoritarian tyranny that makes populism perilous to liberty, but populism also requires conferring more authority to the state. This may seem ironic with all the “drain the swamp” rhetoric of the Trump presidency. Even in applying rudimentary logic, more collectivism requires a more centralized authority to be enforced and implemented. The unified will of the people is not recognizable; it takes the personified form of a “strongman” leader embodying the general will (p.20). They generally shift towards autocratic regimes (p.20) since implementing and justifying factually flawed and illiberal policies necessitates large sums of political authority. Beyond the threats of authoritarianism, the elites still benefit from waves of populism. The elites can hide behind the fluid nature of populism and allow majoritarian sentiment to shape crony policies that benefit narrow interests (p.171-172). For example, the supervillain of retail Walmart’s (not the author’s opinion, but a commonly held belief)CEO publicly stated the minimum wage was too low. Raising the minimum wage has been a longstanding talking point of the populist left. In true Bootlegger and Baptist (1983) fashion, Walmart stands to gain. Why? Because a higher minimum wage means more automation and fewer salaries. The bonus is that not only will the firm gain monetary from saving money while maintaining the veneer of having concern for those in the lower income brackets. 

Bootleggers & Baptist- LIX: California Fast-Food Bill (Did Someone Say Automation?).

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The advocates of worker rights have always been in a precarious position; reforms often do not align with the interests of employers. This is an enduring pattern that supporters of California Assembly Bill 275 need to consider. Most initiatives for economic equality tend to be more moralistic than practical and do not account for how firms will respond to such measures. Depending on how establishments defined in the bill as Fast-Food Restaurants (only the larger companies with 100 + stores) adjust to the requirements set by AB 275.

The law aims to establish a governor-appointed council (comprised of workers, union representatives, etc.) that reviews and amends workplace standards and wages. Even boasting a requirement where any measures would need signatures from 10,000  (consent of the governed?) fast food workers employed in California to move forward. On the surface, this new bill sounds like it will provide reforms that will improve the lives of millions of workers struggling to make ends meet on a low salary. However, the lofty aspirations of AB 275 may have the exact opposite effect.

When analyzed from the framework of Bruce Yandle’s Bootleggers & Baptists (1983) theory of coalitions, it is easy to see the fast-food workers as the proverbial Bootleggers. But such an assumption is flat-out erroneous; the hourly employees at the local Jack In The Box are the ones who will pay the price for this new labor reform.

Prima Facie, it sounds like the hourly fast-food employees of California make out like bandits. The prospect of escaping penury wages and making $22/hour. Then there is the bonus of having a voice in shaping the regulation that will impact your work life. These benefits will be short-lived; because the titans of the drive-thru will eventually respond to the monetary and transaction costs of fulfilling these new legal mandates. Few (if any) companies in any sector of business can whether a significant increase in labor costs ( there is a potential for labor costs to increase by 60 %). Depending on how large the increase in worker compensation becomes, menu prices stand to increase by 22 %. (p.7). Some may speculate that firms such as Mcdonald’s would benefit from passing along labor costs to the consumers at higher prices; there is a strong likelihood that patrons may just opt for cheaper or higher quality alternatives. There is also an increase in transaction costs because of the additional layers of complexity added to the relations between the management of franchise owners and hourly employees. AB 275 may discourage smaller regional fast-casual restaurants from expanding to avoid the onerous conditions of this new law.

Ultimately, our Bootleggers, the established fast-food eateries will gain from decreased labor costs. How? These firms will decide to automate operations and benefit from long terms savings in not having to pay salaries and benefits or cope with the loss in productivity from theft or employee absence. Only increasing the minimum wage is enough to drive many firms to reduce costs. Creating a price floor is a price control that causes disruption throughout the market. Because businesses will attempt to avoid the artificial increase in labor costs. For the workers that are lucky enough to keep their jobs, certain nonmonetary forms of compensation disappear (p.10-11); no more free coffee in the breakroom.

Bootleggers & Baptists-LVIII: The War on Whipped Cream Dispensers

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Efforts to shield the public from the negative externalities and pharmacological effects of drugs have been unavailing. One example of this has been the dismal failure of the decades-long War on Drugs spearheaded by President Nixon. Most of these fruitless measures go up in smoke since they attempt to suppress human nature; we like to feel pleasure ( hence why neurotransmitter receptors exist) and the desire for money. As long as both characteristics remain true, the drug war will never prevail.

The languishing policies pushing for a “drug-free” America are not limited to the federal level of government.  60 % of all states prohibit recreational Marijuana sales. Despite that, Cannabis is believed to impose fewer social costs than hard drugs. Considering the powers conferred to the states under the Tenth Amendment, there is still plenty of room for lower levels governments to enact ineffectual drug laws [1].

One recent example of this was Legislation (S.2819-A) a bill sponsored by New York Senator; Joseph Addabbo, Jr. S.2819-A, requiring an individual purchasing a “whipped cream charger” to be 21 years old. The restricted device depicted in the laws as being “.. steel cylinder or 5 cartridges filled with nitrous oxide (N2O) that is used as a whipping 6 agent in a whipped cream dispenser…”. However, there are several issues with this legislation. First (minor issue), the bill lacked clarity. Several stores and NY-based news outlets stoked public confusion by declaring that these age requirements applied to cans of aerosolized whipped cream ( e.g. Reddi Wip). From the perspective of the Bootleggers and Baptists (1983) model of coalitions, makers of non-aerosolized whipped cream (Cool Whip)may have temporarily made out like bandits. However, once this misinterpretation of the law is cleared up, these temporary and meager gains will fizzle out. The Kraft Foods corporation is far from being the biggest beneficiary of this new law, especially considering how whatever the organization gained was negligible.

The true Bootlegger in this scenario would be Addabbo himself. This law will have a minuscule impact on public health and safety, but by being the lead advocate, the senator fosters a positive public image. The fact that S.2819-A will be virtually ineffectual is the most notable shortcoming of this law. Inhalant abuse only comprises a small percentage of all drug use in the United States. It was exceedingly difficult to find specific data on inhalant abuse in the state of New York, but we can always extrapolate from national data. This would only be untenable if New York (specifically Queens) had an outrageous epidemic of young people huffing nitrous oxide.

Here are some numbers:

  • 0.9% of Americans 12+ years old have reported abusing inhalants in the past year.
  • Only 4.8 % of eighth graders, 2.0 % of tenth graders, and 1.8% of twelfth graders reported using inhalants in the past year.
  • In 2015,  97.3 % of teenagers (ages 12-17) did not use volatile vapors/industrial chemicals or other solvents to get intoxicated.
  • 1.8 % of individuals who reported having a major depressive episode in 2022; admitted to using inhalants (12 + years old).

Unless an overwhelming number of young Americans abusing inhalants happen to be residing in Addabbo’s district, it is difficult to see why there is such an exigent need to remedy the issue of youth inhalant use. If anything, he merely reached for the low-hanging fruit; regulating a legal product is far easier than mustering the resources to combat a thriving black market. He avoids jumping through the hoops of justifying the expenditures for drug-related taskforce and all the associated red tape. Simply, slap a fine on the vendors who do not comply. For Addabbo to grapple with the opioid crisis that most likely impacts his district would require more tax dollars and coordination with multiple levels of government and agencies (after all the heroin and fentanyl supply chain is international). The kind senator gets to sidestep all this mess and still look like a hero.


  1. This statement is not a critique of Federalism but a pointed observation of flawed policies implemented by individual state governments.

Bootleggers & Baptists: LVII: The Downfall of Georgetown Cupcakes (Damn Health Inspector)

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Many believe that food saf­­­ety measures are necessary for promoting public health. We do not consider these desiderata as conferring a benefit to competing eateries. The renowned Washington D.C. bakery Georgetown Cupcake was shut down due to several health code violations. For a licensing issue, mouse dropping, and mold on consumable items. It is easy to become disgusted by these findings; there are several questions we need to answer. Outside of the cost of internalizing the externalities of a food-borne illness outbreak; (estimated at a scale of “…$4,000 for a single outbreak in which 5 people..” and 1.9 million for a single outbreak in which 250 per person). Even if no patrons become ill after consuming baked goods from Georgetown Cupcake, they still stand to lose business from the bad publicity alone.

While most people wallow in the grotesque of such hygienic incompetency of this bakery, it is easy to lose sight of the covert beneficiaries of their misfortune. One man’s loss is another’s gain. Per Superpages, there are at least thirty bakeries of the high esteem in the Georgetown section of Washington D.C. At a minimum, there at least thirty Bootleggers stand to gain from the bakery’s momentary lapse in cleanliness. It would be rational to apply Bruce Yandle’s framework of Bootleggers and Baptist (1983) coalitions to this situation. While the Washington D.C. metro health inspectors emerge as the white knights shielding the public from deleterious dining options, their published findings effectively divert business to other food vendors. Who wants to eat at a restaurant where there are rat feces everywhere? Many of the giddy Bootleggers may not be as squeaky clean as they seem. Since budgets for health inspections have decreased most restaurants are only inspected annually. There is a correlation between the number of health evaluations and instances of outbreaks of food poisoning originating in restaurants. Georgetown Cupcakes may have gotten the short end of the stick this time; next time, one of their callous competitors may pay the price.

Bootleggers and Baptists-LVI: The War of the Wok

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Labor Unions have historically held anti-immigration and nationalistic sentiments on their platforms. This makes the fact Progressives romanticize organized labor somewhat puzzling, as both factions of political actors often have conflicting objectives. One example of the prevailing nativism in the labor movement was Cesar Chavez’s hostility towards immigrants; how contemporary liberals square this cognitive dissonance when they proudly proclaim they are “Pro-Labor” is beyond the veil of reason. It should not be shocking that labor unions were one of the driving forces in implementing anti-Chinese legislation in the early 20th Century. 

The article THE ‘WAR’ AGAINST” CHINESE RESTAURANTS, published in 2017 by Regulation Magazine, provides a historical example of the anti-Chinese sentiments of organized labor. In the early-1900s, the United States excluded Chinese immigrants from most spheres of economic life in the United States; since many jobs required licensing that was only available to U.S. Citizens (p.32). The growing communities of Chinese immigrants in cities like San Francisco were able to enter the food service industry and laundry services. Chinese restauranteurs succeeded in providing a quality and low-cost dining option; birthing the American love affair with chop-suey. This was not without resistance since these new exotic restaurants were siphoning away business from eateries owned and operated by native-born citizens. The American Federation of Labor affiliated, The Cooks’ and Waiters’ Union, was a staunch supporter of anti-Chinese legislation (p.33). Various food service unions boycotted Chinese Restaurants and advocated for laws to loosen their gripe on the restaurant industry.

After the boycotts failed to achieve the Union’s anti-competitive objectives, they decided to lean on the legislature’s pen to reclaim the market share lost by Caucasian restaurant proprietors. The unions had the perfect pretext for demanding regulation (p.13); that was the moral concern of white women. As detailed by Chin and Ormond:

“..Newspapers offered lurid reports that Chinese restaurants were fronts for opium dens, and that Chinese men used opium “as a trap for young girls.” The idea of white female victimization became a media trope. In 1899, King of the Opium Ring, by Charles E. Blaney and Charles A. Taylor, played at the Columbus Theater and the Academy of Music in New York. Later produced around the country, it featured a clown who rescues a young white woman from the balcony of a Chinese restaurant. Movies depicted similar scenes and renowned “realistic” artists painted Chinatown vistas… (p.34).

At the time, there was a profuse amount of propaganda suggesting that Chinese men would try to lure white women into their establishment and then take advantage of them. The upper-class habit of “slumming” made trips to Chinatown a popular destination. There remained a lingering fear that white women would be enticed by the food but would decline into exploitation and degeneracy. Organized labor capitalized on this perception of Chinese immigrants and utilized it to provide the pretext for creating laws that would derail the success of Sino-dining establishments. Most of these measures varied by state and municipality, the majority of these laws either restricting or barring white women from entering or being employed in Chinese restaurants (p. 34-37). The unions have since given up on these measures once Chinese restaurants no longer appeared to be a threat and have since moved on to other policy issues (p.37). This chapter in American history perfectly embodies the incentives and dynamics of Bruce Yandle’s Bootleggers and Baptists (1983) model of coalitions. Regardless of the veracity of the claims of Chinese men seducing white women, it is still a “moralistic” concern as it posits a normative motive for enacting such ordinances and state legislation. Some of the holy-rollers included missionaries who entered Chinese neighborhoods proselytizing Christianity, who purportedly witness this moral impropriety (p.34). It should be conspicuous who the Bootleggers are in this scenario, as a union in themselves are nothing more than glorified lobbyists whose pedigree of rent-seeking can be traced back to the medieval guilds.

Bootleggers & Baptists- LV-Gun Control

***Special thanks to Dylan, proprietor of the Onlookers blog! He pointed out a few typos and the necessary edits have been made.

Check out his blog (Click Here).

Few issues in the current political scene are as divisive as the Second Amendment; as articulated in the SCOTUS case District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), an individual right. Anytime a mass shooting occurs or restrictions are purposed, gun rights advocates tend to double down. After all, regulating firearms is a prisoner’s dilemma in which neither side of the aisle is interested in making any concessions. Prima facie, it does seem that guns have become increasingly regulated over the years. Potentially vindicating the slippery slope logic expressed by Second Amendment proponents. The fear of prohibitively strict gun regulations or outright bans weighs on the minds of gun owners. A point substantiated by the fact that 59 % of polled gun owners indicated that gun control advocates desire to outlaw private ownership of firearms. Many gun enthusiasts view this right as sacrosanct and a vital component of living in a free society.

Number of Mass Shootings in the United States 1982-2022. Courtesy of Statista.

How do the reactionary sentiments of slow and grinding decline to an outright gun grab correlate with patterns in gun sales? There does seem to be a connection between precipitating events and increases in transactions related to procuring firearms (including background checks). Analogous to how macroeconomic events impact trading on the stock market, the prospect of regulation after events such as mass shootings results in abnormally high gun sales. For example, gun sales in California soared by 168 % between 1996-2015. 50 % of all mass shootings within the past 50 years transpired after 2000.  20 % of the mass shootings in this timeframe occurred within the past five years.

Gun control proposals; are often formulated in the wake of a mass shooting; there does seem to be at least a superficial correlation between mass shootings, gun control proposals, and gun sales. But, are politicians and political activists concerned with decreasing the number of guns in the hands of the citizenry shooting themselves in the foot? It is inherently human for people to purchase large quantities of a commodity facing a ban. A clear example of this was before JFK enacted the Cuban Trade Embargo; he stocked up on his favorite brand of Cuban cigars. It isn’t outlandish to believe that gun owners would seek to stock up on accessories, ammunition, and firearms after a mass killing or the announcement of gun control legislation. In effect, this would encourage people to obtain more guns. Rendering the bluster of tough-on-guns rhetoric to being counterproductive. Unwittingly, when politicians like Beto O’Rourke are telling us that he is coming after our AR-15s he’s saying “.. Everyone run to the gun shop now!..”. O’Rourke is blinded by political gamesmanship; he overlooks that his firebrand comments have only created a cobra effect; people panic and buy more guns.

If progressive politicians are inadvertently increasing the number of guns owned by the American public, who benefits from gun-grab-mania? Gun store owners. In applying the logic of Bruce Yandle’s Bootleggers and Baptists (1983) model, it becomes clear that gun control advocates are indirectly helping the proprietors of gun stores. By sending all of their patrons into a frenzy, the moral arguments of the anti-gun crowd end up drumming up more business for gun vendors. While neither party is intentionally working together and does not even share the same goals, they have a synergistic relationship. Beto is waving the flag of the gun shops without even knowing it.

Bootleggers & Baptists: LIV- Going Cashless

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In an age of digital banking, physical cash has become a cumbersome relic of a bygone era in the eyes of most Americans. It is easy to assume that we would all be better off in a cashless society, taking the lead of nations such as Sweden. The belief is that we would be better off in a digital monetary regime that would facilitate tax collection and tracking of criminal activity (p.2). Only demonstrating the tensions between law enforcement interests and the Fourth Amendment rights regarding financial crimes (p.3). Does the question become who benefits from the United States eliminating the use of money? It should be abundantly clear that it is axiomatically true that every policy selects winners and losers. The decision to abolish physical cash transactions is no different.

In the fashion of Bruce Yandle’s Bootleggers and Baptists (1983) theory of political coalitions, for every policy prescription; there is a moralizing agent and a beneficiary. In his 2018 paper, Norbert J. Michel, Special Interest Politics Could Save Cash or Kill It, details the parties that stand to benefit from the relinquishment of cash transactions. Some of the most conspicuous parties that prosper from a cashless society would be law enforcement, with a digital record of every economic transaction, it is hard to obscure illicit conduct. There are parities in the private sector that would find the move to electronic transactions advantageous. The credit card companies are likely one of the most salient groups of Bootleggers of anti-cash policies. The CEO of Mastercard has been a vocal exponent of getting rid of cash; it was even the first company to openly lobby on “… the behalf of bitcoin..” (p. 8). Any move towards digital payments over tangible currency would fatten the pockets of creditors. All credit card transactions are digital; it is not that farfetched to suspect that individuals who use cash would be more apt to use their Mastercard.

Other than law enforcement officials, who are the holy rollers of killing the dollar? One needs to look no further than the late Arizona senator John McCain, as he was an advocate of the COINS Act. This was a measure that was purposed to suspend production of the penny for approximately a decade. McCain defended this policy because it cost more than the actual monetary value of a penny to produce the coin. Very few American consumers would miss the penny; only twenty-six percent of transactions in 2018 patrons used pennies. Why would anyone miss a burdensome form of currency that cost more than what was worth to produce? It is important to note that McCain’s COINS bill did not dispense with copper coinage.

“ In addition, the bill provides for: (1) modifications to the composition of the five-cent coin; and (2) the replacement, in circulation, of $1 notes with $1 coins.”

The legislation would merely shift production towards the presumably more lucrative seigniorage of dollar coins. It would be naïve to not consider the local business interests in McCain’s home state of Arizona. Arizona has long held the reputation as a top copper producer and is the second-highest producer of natural minerals of any of the states. For a state that constitutes seventy percent of all cooper output, the COINS Act provides these firms with concentrated benefits. The COINS Act and the Arizona cooper industry are even Bootlegger and Baptists dynamic outside of the cashless society debate.

Bootleggers & Baptists-LIII: Condom Prohibition???

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Arizona senate candidate Blake Masters is signaling that he wants to double down on the rhetoric of the draft of the Dobbs decision. Per Business Insider, stated that Masters does not want to ban contraceptives outright; but believes that Griswold v. Connecticut was flawed. His response to the publication lacks any substantive explanation. He will have plenty of time on the campaign trail to elucidate his position on Griswold. When I first heard about Masters’ position, it was framed as a “condom ban”. The words of a politician tend to be hollow, but only time will tell if his policy scope will veer into prohibiting contraceptives. As we all know, like dishonesty, political figures also have a penchant for engaging in policy mission creep.

If we were to apply the Bootleggers and Baptists (1983) lens to Masters stance on Griswold, the question arises, who benefits? Masters is a Baptist for advancing the normative objective of supporting a Pro-life platform. Arguably, this hard-right political candidate is also Bootlegger for pandering to the highly religious populous right. It is entirely possible that he has gone too socially conservative.

The undisputable Bootleggers are Democratic candidates in Arizona. Why? Independent voters and moderate Republicans might be turned-off by Masters’ social policies. Especially, considering the vagueness of his explanation for wanting Griswold overturned lends itself to misinterpretation. Leading many to assume that his position is equal to a contraceptive ban. Condom bans in the works? Not 100% sure at this point, but it seems like many people are jumping the gun. In the meantime, it will make for some great political theater. For those in Texas, never fear; Ted Cruz has vigorously defended the use of prophylactics; needless to say, 2022 will make for an intriguing midterm cycle.

Bootleggers & Baptists: LII- Pro-Gun and Pro-Roe Actvists Form a Coalition

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The Dobbs draft leak has seemingly added more fuel to the abortion debate over the past week. The real point of contention stilting the embers of the current renaissance in the commentary on Roe v. Wade was the passage of the Texas Heartbeat Bill (Senate Bill 8) last year. The state legislature passed a law that would effectively operate as an informal ban that skirts judicial review; since enforcement was being handled through the deputization of private citizens. Senate Bill 8 is a spectacle of legislative ingenuity; even knowledgeable detractors must admit this point. The design of the Bill is particularly pernicious and could be manipulated for partisan retaliation. For example, last year, California Governor Gavin Newsom talked of engineering his variant of SB 8 tailored to target ghost guns and semi-automatic rifles. The only thing gun owners have going for them in defense against such an action is that the Second Amendment is an enumerated right, meaning they do not need to only rely on stare decisis.

An unlikely coalition formed in 2021 to combat the passage of Senate Bill 8. The kind of coincidental political union that only further justifies the utility of Bruce Yandle’s concept of Bootlegger and Baptist (1983) coalitions. The California-based Firearms Policy Coalition joined the Texas pro-choice faction to oppose the legislation. Even going so far as to author an amicus brief critical of SB 8. Per Statista, of the Republicans, polled 50% owned a gun; 61% lived with a gun owner. Odds are, members of the Firearms Policy Coalitions are right-wingers that would not typically work with the pro-Roe camp. The flawed structure, logic, and versatility of SB 8 could put gun rights in jeopardy. Who would be the Bootleggers and the Baptists in this scenario? Anytime there is a collaboration between different stripes of political activists, these roles are interchangeable depending on the observer’s ideological proclivities. A more even assessment would be that both merging factions are Dual Role Actors (2020). As the pro-gun and the pro-Roe camps, both are defending moral arguments but simultaneously benefit from achieving their own separate policy goals.