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Nestlé Recall and Mafia Connections: 5 Things You Should Know As Horse Meat Scandal Grows

February 19, 2013 in Blogs

By Tara Lohan, AlterNet




By now you’ve likely heard about the horse meat scandal that is rocking Europe. As far as food scandals go, this one is intriguing. Of course, this is not the first time we’ve learned that the meat we buy may not be everything we thought it was. Remember “pink slime”? The only good news here is that, so far, it doesn’t seem to be an imminent health threat, although it does raise some very alarming questions. 

As food politics expert Marion Nestle wrote, “The unfolding drama around Europe’s horsemeat scandal is a case study in food politics and the politics of cultural identity. Cultural identity? They (other people) eat horsemeat. We don’t.”

As Nestle explains, “Most Americans say they won’t eat horsemeat, are appalled by the very idea, and oppose raising horses for food, selling their meat, and slaughtering horses for any reason.” Horse meat, however, is eaten in numerous countries around the world like China, Japan and Indonesia, as well as countries in Europe, including France and Switzerland. 

It’s one thing to knowingly eat horse meat; it’s quite another to have it slipped into your food. This opens a pandora’s box of questions about the food we're buying. For starters: What else is in there (donkey and pig, and the list may grow)? What does it reveal about food safety and our complex food chain? Who is responsible for duping consumers, and how did they get away with it?

It turns out there is a lot we can learn from Europe’s surplus of horse burgers.

1. The Mighty Fall

The most recent news surfacing today is that Nestlé, one of the largest food companies in the world, has now been entangled in the scandal. The New York Timesreports that Nestlé is pulling two products sold in Italy and Spain: Buitoni Beef Ravioli and Beef Tortellini, as well as Lasagnes à la Bolognaise Gourmandes sold to catering companies in France.  

Nestlé is just the latest in the list of Europe’s top food companies involved. The story first broke in the UK and Ireland when major supermarket chains …read more
Source: ALTERNET

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Sen. Paul Announces 2013 Service Academy Nominations

February 19, 2013 in Politics & Elections

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sen. Rand Paul today announced his nominations to the U.S. service academies, consisting of 41 individuals from across the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and offered the following statement:
‘As the junior Senator from Kentucky, it is an honor to nominate young men and women from across the state to attend our nation’s prestigious service academies. I would like commend these students for their desire to serve in the United States military and to furthering their education. These students have shown strength in character and leadership and I wish them the best through the remainder of the selection process. I have no doubt, if chosen, that they will proudly represent the Commonwealth of Kentucky in the service academies,’ Sen. Paul said.
Sen. Paul nominated the following individuals to the U.S. Air Force Academy, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, the U.S. Military Academy, and the U.S. Naval Academy:
United States Air Force Academy
• Benjamin Basham – Hawesville
• James Bradford – Louisville
• William Davis – Frankfort
• Joel Estes – Ekron
• Connor González – Louisville
• Logan Hall – Taylorsville
• Daniel Hunt – Lexington
• Hunter Lewis – Crestwood
• Dallas Moore – Crestwood
• Thomas Moriarty – Prospect

United States Merchant Marine Academy
• Timothy Braden – Louisville
• Dustin Crain – Clarkson
• Andrew Eaton – Crestwood
• Thomas Hanna – Lexington
• Christopher McAskill – Bowling Green
• Dallas Moore – Crestwood
• Thomas Moriarty – Prospect
…read more
Source: RAND PAUL

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Coolidge and 1920s Prosperity: Some Cautions

February 19, 2013 in Economics

By John P. Cochran

Amity Shlaes in today’s Wall Street Journal provides  “The Coolidge Lesson on Taxes and Spending” makes the argument that those, as has been done at Mises Daily here, and here who want to “make government smaller” and “ to lower taxes” as a means to “yield prosperity” should look not to Ronald Reagan but to “Silent Cal” Coolidge.

Coolidge’s record:

“The 30th president cut the top income-tax rate to 25% (lower than the 28% of the historic Reagan cut of 1986). Coolidge reduced the national debt and balanced the budget. When he departed the White House for his home in Northampton, Mass., he left a federal budget smaller than the one he found.

Shales points out Coolidge had a governing philosophy, “It is much more important to kill bad bills than to pass good ones,” which would be an ideal counter to today’s knee jerk “urge to action”, the overactive animal spirits of the political class. He had a strategy on budget cuts that would be appropriate today; he “understood that ambitious budget cuts would be accepted if he could ‘align’ them with ambitious tax cuts.”

Rothbard’s America’s Great Depression is a good place to get additional insight into Silent Cal, the good, the bad, and perhaps even the ugly. A quick word search for Coolidge of the pdf  yields some gems worth considering.

Some good: Paul Johnson from the introduction to the 5th edition (xvi) on Hoover and Coolidge:

Hoover’s was the only department of the U.S. federal government which had expanded steadily in numbers and power during the 1920s, and he had constantly urged Presidents Harding and Coolidge to take a more active role in managing the economy. Coolidge, a genuine minimalist in government [emphasis added]“For six years that man has given me unsolicited advice—all of it bad.”

Some bad and ugly all per RothbardL:

Coolidge and low discount rate and inflationary policy(121):

An inflationary, low-discount-rate policy was a prominent and important feature of the Harding and Coolidge administrations. Even before taking office, President Harding had urged reduction of interest rates, and he repeatedly announced his intention of reducing discount rates after he became President. And President Coolidge, in a famous pre-election speech on October 22, 1924, declared that “It has been the policy of this administration to reduce discount rates,” and promised to keep them low. Both Presidents appointed FRB members who favored this policy.

As a cheerleader for the stock market boom (125):

Another …read more
Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Armen Alchian (April 12, 1914 – February 19, 2013)

February 19, 2013 in Economics

By Robert Higgs

Arline Alchian Hoel reports that her father, Armen Alchian, “passed away peacefully in his sleep early this morning at his home in Los Angeles.” He was 98 years old.

Armen Alchian was a major figure in the economics profession for more than half a century. At UCLA, where he spent his academic career as a faculty member in the department of economics, he was a legend to generations of graduate students, who were required to take the price theory course he taught in the first year of the program. He used the Socratic method: he simply walked into the class each day and asked a student a question. From that point, the discussion went back and forth between teacher and students. Woe to any student who had arrived unprepared—and sometimes to those who had prepared. Public embarrassment was the price such students had to pay. But in the end, the students came away from the course with a healthy measure of their teacher’s mastery of applied price theory.

And master he was. Besides having a knack for making sense of countless aspects of economic and social life by viewing them as relative-price problems, Alchian helped to blaze trails toward extremely valuable improvements in microeconomic analysis by bringing into the analysis careful treatments of information, uncertainty, transaction costs, and property rights. For him, little difference existed between micro and macro; both were to be understood by using the same basic economic analysis of individual choice.

Alchian’s textbook, written with Bill Allen, differed from existing texts. It was, for one thing, not dumbed down. In addition, it included many questions at the end of each chapter, some of which were quite difficult. At the University of Washington in the late 1960s and 1970s, we used the Alchian and Allen book at every level: introductory, intermediate, and first-year graduate. The only difference came in the level of sophistication we expected in the answers to the questions. Although Alchian did not lack mathematical skills—from 1942 to 1946 he worked as a statistician for the Army Air Corps—his work did not display much mathematical formality. For the most part, he said what he meant in straightforward English prose, spiced with wit and sparkling asides.

Many of Alchian’s students and friends believed that he well deserved a Nobel prize in economics, but this recognition never came to him. Yet, aside from Ronald Coase, no one had a greater influence in …read more
Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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John Tate Tells Senators: There’s Nothing Fair About an Internet Sales Tax

February 19, 2013 in Uncategorized

By Tim Shoemaker

Last week, C4L President John Tate sent a letter to Senators urging them to oppose S. 336, the so-called “Marketplace Fairness Act,” or as C4L refers to it, the “Internet Sales Tax Mandate.”

On behalf of over half a million Campaign for Liberty grassroots activists across the country, I urge you to oppose S. 336, the misnamed “Marketplace Fairness Act.”

The false premise behind this legislation is that current law gives online retailers an unfair competitive advantage. However, both traditional “brick and mortar” stores and online retailers have entered into the marketplace clearly knowing the pros and cons to the business model for each. Since the 1992 Supreme Court decision in Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, the rules regarding taxation for both business models have been quite clear. Businesses that do not have a “physical presence” in a state cannot be forced to collect that state’s sales tax.

The bill sponsors try to claim the Quill decision unfairly gives an advantage to online retailers. That is simply not the case.

Instead, this is another example of politicians creating a problem where none exists so they can “solve” it with new legislation.

The rapid growth of the online retail industry can at least be partially attributed to consumers’ ability to shop online without paying exorbitant state sales taxes. While consumers themselves are responsible for paying sales taxes for online purchases in some states, most consumers are unaware of this. The real reason for legislation such as the so-called “Marketplace Fairness Act” is that big-spending governors don’t think it’s “fair” they can’t force out-of-state retailers to collect their taxes for them.

While some governors may think imposing new taxes on the Internet will solve their economic woes, in reality, it will only temporarily postpone the urgency for states like California to put their fiscal houses in order.

For years, the largest online retailer of them all, Amazon.com, opposed an Internet sales tax. Unfortunately, since they’ve become large enough to have a physical presence in many states, they’ve switched sides and hired lobbyists to impose a sales tax on their competitors that lack a national infrastructure.

While companies as large as Amazon could easily absorb the cost of complying with an Internet sales tax, smaller online retailers will likely find the cost of compliance too high and be driven out of business. Legislation like S. 336 may well prevent the emergence of the next great American success story.

Again, on behalf of Campaign for Liberty’s members, …read more
Source: CAMPAIGN FOR LIBERTY

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Sen. Paul on Fox News Sunday- 2/18/13

February 19, 2013 in Uncategorized

…read more
Source: RAND PAUL

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Texas City to Charge Car Accident Victims Up to $2,000 for the Cost of First Responders

February 19, 2013 in Uncategorized

By Alex Kane, AlterNet




A Houston suburb in Texas is set to implement a plan to charge drivers the cost of the first responders who come to the scene of car crashes. Missouri City will charge drivers up to a few thousand dollars to respond to crashes, according to a report by KHOU 11 News.

The plan will be instituted starting March 1, and residents of Missouri City are none too happy.

“That really ticks me,” resident Meredith Johnson told the news outlet. And what ticks Johnson even more off is that “drivers involved will be charged even if they don't call for help,” according to KHOU 11.

“I think of how often they show up. I see them show up and everyone's walking around. I'm freaking out,” said Johnson.

The fees range from $500 to $2,000, depending on the severity of the accident. While the city says the fees will target drivers at fault, residents remain skeptical.

The fire chief of the Houston suburb explained to KHOU that the move is intended to plug the city’s budget deficit. The city estimates that the plan will bring in an additional $50,000 a year.


Tue, 02/19/2013 – 08:42

…read more
Source: ALTERNET

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America’s Great Depression Quote of the Week: Hayek and Keynes in a single paragraph

February 19, 2013 in Economics

By John P. Cochran

My introduction to Austrian economics began over 30 years ago when my mentor Fred R. Glahe handed me a couple of pages of handwritten notes on the Hayek-Keynes debate which he had prepared for commentary at a Mont Pelerin Society meeting sometime in the late 1970s and suggested I turn the notes into a dissertation. The ultimate result was the publication (with Fred) of The Hayek-Keynes Debate: Lessons for Current Business Cycle Research, a 200 page attempt to make Hayek-Keynes and ABCT intelligible to a traditional trained neoclassical who in the process became a self-taught Austrian. I recently revisited the debate when Chris Coyne asked me to complete a chapter (40 more pages) on Keynes and the Austrians for a forthcoming handbook on Austrian economics. Roger Garrison in Time and Money does a masterful multiple chapter comparison of Hayek-Keynes (and an excellent power point as well). More recently David Sanz Bas provides a new look at the debate in a QJAE article “Hayek’s Critique of The General Theory: A New View of the Debate between Hayek and Keynes.” Videos, “Fear the Boom and the Bust”and “Fight of the Century”, by John Papola and economist Russell Roberts  popu­larized the idea that Hayek and Keynes (and their differing views on the virtues of markets and individual planning versus government intervention and more centralized planning) are crucial for understanding the current economic stagnation and policy debates. All are useful but lengthy. For those with limited time, Rotbard, in AGD, was able to capture the essence of the debate in a single paragraph (note 1 page 37):

 Hayek subjected J.M. Keynes’s early Treatise on Money (now relatively forgotten amid the glow of his later General Theory) to a sound and searching critique, much of which applies to the later volume. Thus, Hayek pointed out that Keynes simply assumed that zero aggregate profit was just sufficient to maintain capital, whereas profits in the lower stages combined with equal losses in the higher stages would reduce the capital structure; Keynes ignored the various stages of production; ignored changes in capital value and neglected the identity between entrepreneurs and capitalists; took replacement of the capital structure for granted; neglected price differentials in the stages of production as the source of interest; and did not realize that, ultimately, the question faced by businessmen is not whether to invest in consumer goods or capital …read more
Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Marijuana Consumers Test Their Driving Skills

February 19, 2013 in Uncategorized

By Johnny Green CNN may have just posted their best piece of investigative journalism in years. In the following video, three drivers of varying ages got incredibly high on marijuana and test-drove cars around a course. A driving-ed instructor accompanied them to avert any chance of an accident, and police watched from the sidelines to spot any visible [Continue Reading]

…read more
Source: THE WEED BLOG

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Alabama GOPer: A Baby Is “The Largest Organ in the Body”

February 19, 2013 in Uncategorized

By Jillian Rayfield, Salon



 

In defending her bill to crack down on abortion clinics, Alabama state Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin argued that abortions should be more strictly regulated because “When a physician removes a child from a woman, that is the largest organ in a body.”

McClurkin, a Republican, added: “That’s a big thing. That’s a big surgery. You don’t have any other organs in your body that are bigger than that.”

From the Montgomery Advertiser:

The legislation, sponsored by [McClurkin], would require physicians at abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at local hospitals; require clinics to follow ambulatory clinic building codes and make it a felony — punishable by up to 10 years in prison — for a nurse, nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant to dispense abortion-inducing medications.

“This alarming level of noncompliance among abortion and reproductive health centers in Alabama puts abortion patients at unreasonable risk,” the bill says.

As Amanda Terkel from Huffington Post points out, McClurkin’s argument runs counter to the many “personhood” bills that have been popping up throughout the country:

McClurkin’s argument actually undermines the “personhood” bills being pushed around the country by other like-minded Republican lawmakers. Those pieces of legislation argue that undeveloped zygotes are people too and should therefore be given full legal rights, thus making abortion — and even certain forms of birth control — illegal.

Nikema Williams, the vice president of public policy for Planned Parenthood Southeast, told the Advertiser: ”The real purpose of this bill is to make safe and legal abortion in Alabama unavailable under any circumstance.”

 


Tue, 02/19/2013 – 06:55

…read more
Source: ALTERNET