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Senators McConnell and Paul Introduce Legislation Preventing Administration from Blocking Fishing Access on Cumberland River

February 28, 2013 in Politics & Elections

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Rand Paul joined their colleagues from Tennessee, Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, in introducing the Freedom to Fish Act today. The legislation would prevent the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from installing physical barriers along portions of the Cumberland River, which would block fishing access to the tailwaters of the Barkley and Wolf Creek Dams.

‘I have heard from many Kentuckians, including County Judge Executives and officials at the Kentucky Division of Fish and Wildlife, who are concerned with the Corps plan to block access to areas which are popular with anglers from across the Commonwealth. They have expressed their opposition to the proposal, which they say would have a major impact on the communities near the dams and to Kentucky’s economy,’ Sen. McConnell said. ‘Instead of imposing burdensome federal regulations, which this Administration believes is the solution to every problem, I believe the Corps should work with these communities on alternative proposals that ensure safety, but allow anglers access to waters they have safely fished for years.’

‘There is a deep love for fishing in the tailwaters of the Cumberland River, and to deny the public this recreational activity would not only disappoint thousands of fishermen across the country, but lead to detrimental impacts on the area’s economy,’ Sen. Paul said. ‘Safety can be promoted in this area without completely blocking all boating below the dams, and by working together I believe we can come to a solution without imposing burdensome regulations that seek to hurt local businesses and residents.’

Senators McConnell and Paul have heard from local officials who told them that one such alternative is for the Corps to focus their efforts on the rare occasions when the dam gates are open and spilling, apparently the only time when the waters themselves present an active danger.

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Source: RAND PAUL

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How the Economic Quacks Promoting Austerity Will Increase the Deficit

February 28, 2013 in Blogs

By Marshall Auerback, AlterNet



Congress will not avert the dreaded sequester – the government’s latest wheeze to deal with the phony “deficit crisis.” Never mind that the very same deficit is projected to fall under $1 trillion this year for the first time since 2008, according to the CBO. Politicians and the chattering classes rail about the deficit, while in the meantime, Americans can’t find jobs. Our neighbors, friends and fellow citizens have suffered from a persistently high unemployment rate of 8 percent through 2012, and worse, an underemployment situation of around 15 percent. Why doesn’t this very real crisis generate concern? Why all of the fuss about a nonexistent emergency?

Conservatives talk indignantly about government profligacy to justify their deficit obsession. But our large deficits (which peaked some three years ago) can almost always be expected to result from recessions because of what economists call “automatic stabilizers.” These are safeguards that have been in place since the Great Depression – things like unemployment insurance, welfare, food stamps and the like. These programs were introduced precisely to avoid the kind of human misery a great many of our citizens experienced during that earlier catastrophe. These income transfers are also the reasons — not the bailouts to our banks — why the economy has escaped the kind of freefall experienced in the early 1930s.

A major consequence of this policy choice, which is supported by the vast majority of Americans, is that budget deficits in the US are largely automatic and non-discretionary. So recessions create budget deficits, much as private sector booms reduce deficits.

True, we are not booming by any stretch today. But even against this sluggish backdrop, over the last three years, the deficit has experienced a 30 percent drop as a percentage of GDP. That suggests the patient is slowly recovering, but not fast enough. The current rate of job creation is not only insufficient to replace the jobs lost since the crisis, but can’t even keep up with labor force growth. At the recent pace of job creation, we only fall further behind. Withdrawing the medicine prematurely risks creating a relapse in the economy.

And there is much more to do. We need to use …read more
Source: ALTERNET

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High Heels Hurt Like Hell: Do Women Wear Them to Signify Class and Status?

February 28, 2013 in Blogs

By Lisa Wade PhD, Sociological Images



I don’t know about you, but whenever I go shopping for shoes, I’m always stunned by the incredible disproportion of high heels.  I’m just gonna guestimate here, but I’ll bet 85% of the shoes at the average store are high heels so impractical that most women only wear them on special occasions that involve a lot of sitting down.  These shoes, moreover, seem to be pushed to the front of the display.  Women’s shoe stores beckon shoppers by putting their most outrageous shoes out front.  You have to go digging for a practical pump.

A quick Google image search for “women’s shoes” reveals the same bias in favor of the four-inch or higher, spindly heeled shoe:

How is it that a shoe that gets 1% of feet time takes up 85% of retail space?  I’m gonna take a shot at offering an answer.

In a previous post I reviewed the history of the high heel.  Originally a shoe for high-status men, it was adopted by the lower classes.  Elites responded by heightening the heel.  The higher the heel, the more impractical the shoe.  Eventually the working classes couldn’t keep up with the escalation because they had to, you know, work.  Sociologically, this is an example of what Pierre Bourdieu famously called “distinction.”  The rich work to preserve certain cultural arenas and products for themselves.  This allows them to signify their status; you know, keep them from getting confused with the masses.

I think something similar is going on today among women.

Certain class advantages make it easier for upper middle class and wealthy women to don high heels.  High heels can really only be worn routinely by women who don’t work on their feet all day (I’ll grant there are dedicated exceptions).  Valet parking makes it a whole lot easier to wear shoes that hurt to walk in, so does not having to take the bus.* Having money, in itself, means that nothing stands between you and buying things that are impractical.

So, high heels function to differentiate women who can afford to be impractical with their footwear — both monetarily and in practice — from women who can’t.

This, I think, is why the …read more
Source: ALTERNET

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The Rothbard Birthday Sale: Save 25%

February 28, 2013 in Economics

By Daniel J. Sanchez

Save 25% Offer expires 3/04/13 at 11:59 p.m. Central Time Enter Coupon Code: Murray87

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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White House Adopts Directive from Sen. Paul’s Alternative Sequester Plan

February 28, 2013 in Politics & Elections

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, following a plan introduced by Sen. Rand Paul, the White House announced their intention to meet sequestration spending targets by directing all federal agencies to freeze new hires and curtail travel. Last week, Sen. Paul unveiled his sequester alternative plan, ‘A Sequester Without Layoffs,’ which would offset the sequester’s anticipated spending cuts by reducing the travel budget and preventing new hire in federal agencies. Sen. Rand Paul issued the following statement:

‘Our nation has a serious spending problem that must be re-evaluated. Last week I unveiled a plan that would reduce the anticipated layoffs by cutting spending, such as government travel budgets and the rehiring of federal employees. I am encouraged to hear that the White House is adopting these two measures in their assessment of the sequester cuts, but these cuts barely begin to scratch the surface of the problem,’ Sen. Paul said. ‘If we are serious about addressing our debt crisis, sequestration is only the beginning. We need much larger cuts and we need them sooner rather than later.’

Click HERE to read Sen. Paul’s ‘Sequester Without Layoffs’ in its entirety.

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Source: RAND PAUL

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The Sequester Will Be Good for the Economy

February 28, 2013 in Economics

By Jeffrey A. Miron

Jeffrey A. Miron

Politicians, pundits and economists are all forecasting horrific impacts on the U.S. economy as sequestration hits Friday. The basis for this view is the standard — Keynesian — claim that spending cuts slow economic growth, perhaps even causing a recession.

This claim is false.

The Keynesian model of business cycles is taught in most college and high school economics courses around the world. It is accepted wisdom in the halls of government. But its value as a guide for policy depends on a key but under-emphasized assumption.

The Keynesian model does not evaluate government expenditure using the standard microeconomic concept of economic efficiency (cost-benefit analysis). Instead, the model assumes policy should target increased GDP. This sounds reasonable, and consistent with efficiency considerations, until one examines government expenditure in detail.

This expenditure has two components: purchases of goods and services (e.g., roads, education, research, and the military) and transfer payments (e.g., unemployment insurance, welfare, food stamps, Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security).

Across all categories, federal expenditure is far greater than necessary to achieve the legitimate goals of government intervention.”

The efficiency concern with government purchases is that the National Income and Product Accounts value them as equal to the expenditure on these items. This means that bridges-to-nowhere or a military buildup aimed at an imaginary alien invasion are both desirable from the Keynesian perspective because such expenditures increase measured GDP. Yet this expenditure is pure waste.

More broadly, the fact that some government expenditure generates benefits in excess of costs (the economy needs some roads) does not mean additional expenditure generates value in excess of costs (the economy does not need to re-pave its roads every year). At some point additional expenditures hit diminishing returns and make no sense in cost-benefit terms.

Transfer payments are also problematic from an efficiency perspective because they distort economic incentives. Unemployment insurance discourages work effort. Social Security subsidizes early retirement for people who are still able-bodied. Medicare and Medicaid create moral hazard, thereby generating excess health costs. Thus even if transfers help stimulate consumer spending, their net effect on the economy is unclear.

This implies that whether the sequester will harm or help the economy depends on whether cost-benefit considerations can justify the existing level of government expenditure. And on this question, the answer is clear. Across all categories, federal expenditure is far greater than necessary to achieve the legitimate goals of government intervention.

National defense is a classic public good — something that …read more
Source: OP-EDS

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Former Catholic Priest on "The Pope’s War" and Clergy's Child Molestation

February 28, 2013 in Blogs

By Juan Gonzalez, Matthew Fox, Democracy Now!



JUAN GONZÁLEZ: As Pope Benedict formally stepped down on Thursday, speculation mounts over who will become the next pope. On Wednesday, Pope Benedict bid an emotional farewell at his last general audience, saying he understood the gravity of his decision to become the first pontiff to resign in nearly 600 years. The 85-year-old pope cited ill health as the reasons for his departure. Addressing an estimated 150,000 supporters in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Benedict said he is resigning for the good of the church.

POPE BENEDICT XVI: [translated] In these past months, I have felt that my strength has decreased, and I have asked God, earnestly in prayer, to enlighten me and, with His light, make me take the right decision, not for my good, but for the good of the church. I have taken this step in full awareness of its gravity and also its rarity; however, with a profound serenity of spirit. Loving the church also means having the courage to take difficult and anguished choices, always having in mind the good of the church and not oneself.

[in English] I was deeply grateful for the understanding, support and prayers of so many of you, not only here in Rome, but also around the world. The decision I have made, after much prayer, is the fruit of a serene trust in God’s will and a deep love of Christ’s church. I will continue to accompany the church with my prayers, and I ask each of you to pray for me and for the new pope.

AMY GOODMAN: Pope Benedict’s tenure was marked by several scandals, perhaps most notably his handling of sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church, including allegations he ignored at least one case of abuse while serving as a cardinal. Documents show in 1985, when he was known as Cardinal Ratzinger, he delayed efforts to defrock a priest convicted of molesting children. Meanwhile, last year he oversaw an assessment from the Vatican that found the largest and most influential group of Catholic nuns in the United States had, quote, “serious doctrinal problems” because it had challenged the church’s teachings on homosexuality and the male-only priesthood, among other things. More recently, Italian news sources say an …read more
Source: ALTERNET

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The Neo-Confederate Supreme Court Gearing Up to Restore White Rule Over America

February 28, 2013 in Blogs

By Robert Parry, Consortium News



 

If white rule in the United States is to be restored and sustained, then an important first step will be the decision of the five Neo-Confederate justices on the U.S. Supreme Court to gut the Voting Rights Act, a move that many court analysts now consider likely.

The Court’s striking down Section Five of the Voting Rights Act will mean that jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination in voting – mostly in the Old Confederacy – will be free to impose new obstacles to voting by African-Americans, Hispanics and other minorities without first having to submit the changes to a federal court.

Already, the Republicans’ aggressive gerrymandering of congressional districts has ensured a continued GOP majority in the U.S. House of Representatives although Democrats outpolled Republicans nationwide in Election 2012.This green light to renew Jim Crow laws also would come at a time when Republican legislatures and governors across the country are devising new strategies for diluting the value of votes from minorities and urban dwellers in order to protect GOP power, especially within the federal government.

Some GOP-controlled states, which also have tended to vote Democratic in presidential elections, are now considering apportioning presidential electors according to these gerrymandered districts to give Republican presidential candidates most of the electoral votes even if they lose the state. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Return of Three-Fifths of a Person."]

On Wednesday, the five partisan Republicans on the U.S. Supreme Court showed that they wanted to do their part in devaluing the votes of blacks, Hispanics, Asian-Americans and young urban whites. So the key GOP justices indicated during oral arguments that they are looking for excuses to strike down the heart of the Voting Rights Act.

Right-wing Justice Antonin Scalia shocked the courtroom when he dismissed the Voting Rights Act as a “perpetuation of racial entitlement,” suggesting that the right of blacks to vote was some kind of government handout.

But almost as troubling was the remark from Justice Anthony Kennedy who insisted that the Voting Rights Act, which was first enacted by Congress in 1965 and was renewed overwhelmingly in 2006, was an intrusion on Alabama as an “independent sovereign,” states’ rights language reminiscent …read more
Source: ALTERNET

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The Constitutional Case for Marriage Equality

February 28, 2013 in Economics

The idea of equality under the law dates back to the foundations of democracy and the ancient Greek word “isonomia.” “Equal justice under law” remains so essential today that it is engraved in the cornice of the Supreme Court building. With the case Hollingsworth v. Perry, now before the U.S. Supreme Court, the Cato Institute has joined the Constitutional Accountability Center (CAC) on an amicus brief that focuses on supporting marriage equality under the Equal Protection Clause.

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Source: CATO HEADLINES

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The Constitutional Case for Marriage Equality

February 28, 2013 in Economics

By Doug Kendall, Ilya Shapiro

Doug Kendall and Ilya Shapiro

The Cato Institute and Constitutional Accountability Center don’t always agree politically, but we both pride ourselves in following where the Constitution leads. Several years ago, that led us to argue together for the enforcement of the right to keep and bear arms against state laws. It leads us this week to file joint briefs in the landmark Supreme Court cases on marriage equality. For us, these cases aren’t a matter of politics or ideology; they are a fight for the true meaning of one of America’s most sacred constitutional rights.

The constitutional case for marriage equality begins with the sweeping and universal text of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, which guarantees “equal protection of the laws” to “any person.” Drafted in 1866 and ratified in 1868, the Clause wrote into the Constitution the ideal of equality first laid out in the Declaration of Independence. The text protects all persons from arbitrary and invidious class-based discrimination, whether black or white, man or woman, gay or straight, native-born or immigrant. It gives to all persons, as individuals, the guarantee of the equal protection of the laws.

Constitutional history shows that the breadth of the Equal Protection Clause was no accident. It is clear from the drafting history of the Clause that the framers were determined to strike out against more than simply discrimination on the basis of race. The framers wrote the constitutional guarantee broadly to ensure, for example, that white supporters of the Union in the South as well as Asian immigrants in the West were protected from arbitrary and invidious discrimination. As a result, the framers repeatedly rejected proposals that would have prohibited racial discrimination, and nothing else.

These cases aren’t a matter of politics or ideology; they are a fight for the true meaning of one of America’s most sacred constitutional rights.”

The Fourteenth Amendment’s framers also recognized the right to marry the person of one’s choosing as a crucial component of freedom and liberty — a right that had long been denied under the institution of slavery. Slaves did not have the right to marry, and slaves in loving relationships outside the protection of the law were time and again separated when one slave was sold to a distant part of the South. As Senator Jacob Howard — the leading sponsor of the Amendment in the Senate — explained, …read more
Source: OP-EDS