You are browsing the archive for 2013 March 04.

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Howard Buffet to Murray Rothbard

March 4, 2013 in Economics

By Mark Thornton

Dear Murray: I need a copy of your book, The Panic of 1819 to send to my son so he can understand panics and similar phenomena. Sincerely yours, Howard Buffet

Letter of Howard Buffet to Murray Rothbard

I guess it must have got lost in the mail.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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How I Got Sober and Converted to Atheism

March 4, 2013 in Blogs

By John Gordon, The Fix



 

I stood on a mountaintop and looked out over the sea. A thousand feet below me, eagles soared on thermals. Wind blew through my hair and I felt dizzy. I fell to my knees and cried. I didn't realize it at the time, but this “white-light” experience was the moment I realized there was no God—I had been struck atheist.

To be accurate and appropriately less dramatic, my atheist conversion was far from immediate. It was a process that began when I got sober about five years earlier. 

I finally stopped drinking and drugging at age 30, in the summer of 2004, after about 15 years of relatively high-functioning abuse. I took to 12-step recovery like a fish to water and was especially drawn to Alcoholics Anonymous’ message of a spiritual solution.

 

I was perfectly comfortable with spirituality. I had been exposed from an early age to a hodge-podge of spiritual ideas by Goldwater Republican parents who baptized me Episcopalian but referenced Joseph Campbell and the Buddha in casual conversation and sent me to an astrologer in lieu of a child psychologist. 

Not that I had an entirely rosy view of religion—far from it. I was raised in the Bible Belt and had plenty of run-ins with all manner of unpleasant kooks throughout my life. My parents also saw fit to send me to a Catholic school for my primary education, where I experienced first-hand how religion could be used to repress individuality and creativity, and it filled me with loathing and terror. At least I can times stuff and write good in cursive. 

But instead of turning me off entirely to religion, these negative experiences instilled in me the idea that there was a right way and wrong way to do spirituality. And that was an idea I was willing to go to the mat for. 

In my drinking days, I was known to get in passionate religious conversations with anyone unlucky enough to sit next to me at the bar, beseeching “GOD IS LOVE!” through a haze of whiskey and cheap cocaine as my quarry gingerly backed away. 

By the time I’d reached my bottom in the winter of 2003–2004, I’d become intrigued by the …read more
Source: ALTERNET

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Warren Buffett: Keynesian

March 4, 2013 in Economics

By Daniel J. Sanchez

Briggs Armstrong emails:

Buffet says “Keynes would be proud”

Then he goes on to heap praise on Helicopter Ben, saying he saved the global financial system and is “absolutely terrific as Chairman.”

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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No Baby Formula for Poor Kids? Sequester Cuts Are Tragic Blow to the Poor

March 4, 2013 in Blogs

By Ed Kilgore, The Washington Monthly



 

One of the broad generalization you hear about the sequester is that it exempted the big programs that benefit the poor and elderly, notably Social Security, Medicare (the benefits, not the provider payments), Medicaid, CHIP and SNAP (a.k.a. food stamps). It’s largely true, and progressive unhappiness over the erroneous belief in the White House that sequestration would never actually happen should be balanced with appreciation that the president (and more specifically, his chief negotiator Jack Lew) insisted on these exemptions.

But as the New York Times’ Annie Lowrey explains today, the exemptions hardly insulated needy Americans from the sequester’s willy-nilly destructiveness:

The $85 billion in automatic cuts working their way through the federal budget spare many programs that aid the poorest and most vulnerable Americans, including the Children’s Health Insurance Program and food stamps.

But the sequestration cuts, as they are called, still contain billions of dollars in mandatory budget reductions in programs that help low-income Americans, including one that gives vouchers for housing to the poor and disabled and another that provides fortified baby formula to the children of poor women.

Unless a deal is reached to change the course of the cuts, housing programs would be hit particularly hard, with about 125,000 individuals and families put at risk of becoming homeless, the Department of Housing and Urban Development estimated. An additional 100,000 formerly homeless people might be removed from emergency shelters or other housing arrangements because of the cuts, the agency said….

Other programs that assist low-income families face similarly significant cuts, including one that delivers hot meals to the elderly and another that helps pregnant women. Policy experts are particularly concerned about cuts to the supplemental nutrition program for women, infants and children known as WIC, which provides food and baby formula for at-risk families.

It is considered one of the most effective social programs in government, reducing anemia and increasing birth weights. But up to 775,000 low-income women and their children might lose access to or be denied that aid because of the mandatory cuts, according to calculations by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonprofit research group.

These are effects from mandated cuts that Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) calls a “pittance,” which …read more
Source: ALTERNET

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Chinese Real Estate Bubble on 60 Minutes

March 4, 2013 in Economics

By Mark Thornton

Here is the link to a Bloomberg story that contains a link to the “60 Minutes” story. We have been following the story of this bubble for a while but nothing makes something “real” as when it turns up on “60 Minutes.” Economist Stephen Roach says that the ghost cities will someday be “thriving metropolitan areas.” He may well be right, but the key question is what will happen between now and then.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Christian School Fires Teacher for Pre-Marital Sex, Offers to Hire Her Boyfriend

March 4, 2013 in Blogs

By Annie-Rose Strasser, Think Progress



A teacher in San Diego is suing the Christian college where she worked after they fired her after she became pregnant. Had Teri James not become pregnant, the school never would have found out that she was having sexual intercourse with her boyfriend. Nevertheless, they now claim that pregnancy is key evidence she violated the school’s “moral codes,” which include a ban on premarital sex.

What’s worse, after the school fired the woman, they then offered to hire her boyfriend — who, by most assumptions, must have been engaged in premartial sex, as well:

“I had to go into the office with all of my co-workers and say I’m leaving,” James told NBC’s “Today.” “I never came back so I don’t know what my co-workers thought, but for me, it was humiliating. I felt like I was in trouble.“[...]

In the college’s “community covenant,” employees and students agree to stay away from drugs, alcohol and tobacco. They are also required to abstain from “abusive anger, malice, jealousy, lust, sexually immoral behavior including premarital sex, adultery, pornography and homosexuality,” according to Allred’s statement.

“It does not say that you will be fired if you do not comply,” Allred told “Today.”

There is an inherent discrimination in trying to persecute a woman for having pre-martial sex. Since no man’s body will demonstrate his sexual history in the way a woman’s will, there’s no evidence that could lead a man to being fired for engaging in the same activity a woman does.

But it’s not just humiliating to publicly embarrass a woman for becoming pregnant from sex, it’s also likely illegal under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978. That law “prohibit[s] sex discrimination on the basis of pregnancy.”


Mon, 03/04/2013 – 08:19

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Source: ALTERNET

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The 7 Patty Burger? Diner Chain Flips Off Nutritionists With Greasy Monstrosity

March 4, 2013 in Blogs

By Steven Hsieh, AlterNet



Steak n’ Shake just dropped what it hopes will be the ace of spades of novelty fast food items.  

The diner chain’s new 7 x 7 Steakburger stacks seven patties of burnt, beefy gunk alternated with seven slices of processed American “cheese,” all stuffed between two oily buns. Rounding out the numerical congruity, Steak n’ Shake’s towering burger will cost customers a precious $7.77. The producers of Sesame Street would be proud.

Steak n’ Shake’s middle finger to nutritionists everywhere will infuse its consumers with 1,330 calories,more than halfthe FDA’s recommended daily intake. The 7 x 7 contains more than double the calories of famed fast food burgers, including McDonald’s Big Mac and Burger King’s Whopper.

In addition, BurgerBusiness reports the septuple Steakburger contains 98 grams of fat, 290 mg of cholesterol, 34 grams of carbohydrates and a terrifying 4,490 mg of sodium. The FDA recommends the average American consume less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day.

Steak n’ Shake’s tower of salty, fatty cow parts headlines its brand new AllNighter Menu, available for your consumption between the hours of midnight and 6 AM. As BurgerBusiness reports, the move is likely a response to competitive pressure from other chains like Denny’s and McDonalds who’ve also introduced nighthawk menus.

Steak n’ Shake unveils its monster burger just after the United States once again topped the most obese nations list and Las Vegas’ Heart Attack Grill’s most famous patron died of a heart attack.


Mon, 03/04/2013 – 07:06

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Source: ALTERNET

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6 Most Absurd Things the Romneys Said in Their First Post-Election Interview

March 4, 2013 in Blogs

By Alex Kane, AlterNet



Mitt Romney is back. The former Massachusetts governor and failed Republican presidential candidate gave his first post-election interview to Fox News, and the results weren’t pretty–though they were absurd.

Mitt and Ann Romney gave Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday the honor of hearing them babble. From blaming minorities’ love of Obamacare to whining about their election loss, the interview was chock full of ridiculous moments and quotes.

Here are 6 of them.

1. Blaming Minorities’ Love for Obamacare

Given the fact that the Republican Party staked out a totally anti-Obamacare political position throughout the 2012 campaign, it’s striking to see their former standard-bearer blame the legislation for his loss. It is admitting political failure of the highest degree.

Mitt Romney told Fox News’ Wallace that “We did very well with the majority population, but not with minority populations, and that was a failing, that was a real mistake.” After Wallace asked him why, Romney added: “I think the Obamacare attractiveness and feature was something we underestimated, particularly among lower incomes.” As Think Progress points out, this comment “is reminiscent of the explanation he gave his donors for his defeat shortly after the election — Obama won because of ‘the gifts’ he gave to African-Americans, Latinos and young voters.”

2. Romney’s Heart Lies to Him

During the election, Mitt Romney was living in an alternative universe–the same universe where most of the Republican base lived. Romney told Wallace that his “heart” told him he was going to win the election. His heart lied to him, then–all the polls in the run-up to the election accurately showed that Obama would win.

“We were convinced we would win. We saw that the polls were very close, but we knew that the energy and passion was with our voters. My heart said we were going to win,” Romney said on Fox News. “It was a slow recognition, until ultimately when the Ohio numbers began coming in and they were disappointing, I said, 'Look, this looks like we lost.' Wasn't certain. Some people said 'Oh, look, if this number comes in you could win,' but by 8 or 9 o'clock it was pretty clear that we were …read more
Source: ALTERNET

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The Myth that Immigrants Drain Social Welfare Programs

March 4, 2013 in Economics

Some anti-immigration groups have claimed that immigrants use more public benefits than the native born, creating a serious and unfair burden for citizens. In a new study, Leighton Ku and Brian Bruen provide updated analysis of immigrant and native-born utilization of public benefit programs, and find that low-income non-citizen adults and children generally have lower rates of public benefit use than native-born adults or citizen children whose parents are also citizens.

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Source: CATO HEADLINES

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Republicans Mislead Their Base with Handwringing over Sequester Defense Cuts

March 4, 2013 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Over the last decade the Republican Party put militarism before limited government. The Bush administration foolishly invaded Iraq. Presidential candidates John McCain and Mitt Romney sounded even more extreme. GOP politicians denounced the coming budget sequester for reducing military as well as domestic outlays.

However, conservative Republicans are beginning to acknowledge that the Defense Department, too, wastes money. And that the U.S. must take drastic steps to reign in government spending, deficits, and debt. Explained Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK): “Fiscal questions trump defense in a way they never would have after 9/11.”

No doubt, the sequester is a blunt, inefficient, arbitrary, even stupid way to cut outlays. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel complained of the consequences “when managers are not given the flexibility and the opportunity and the tools to manage, with complete uncertainty as to what’s ahead.”

However, the results need not be disastrous, as some Pentagon officials claim. Simply allowing the Pentagon to transfer money among accounts would moderate the impact.

Moreover, the Defense Department is playing the usual Washington game of threatening to make ostentatiously unpopular reductions. Noted columnist George F. Will: “the Navy is saying it cannot find cuts to programs or deployments less essential than the [aircraft carrier USS] Truman deployment. The Navy’s participation in the political campaign to pressure Congress into unraveling the sequester is crude, obvious and shameful, and it should earn the Navy’s budget especially skeptical scrutiny by Congress.”

Despite the despairing rhetoric of Republican hardliners, the sequester is but a scalpel when a meat-ax is required.”

Much money could be saved through better management, which would be warranted with or without the ongoing budget crisis. It is a scandal that the Pentagon’s books long have been essentially impossible to audit.

However, the far greater problem is over-ambitious DOD objectives. Defense is a core constitutional responsibility for the federal government, but that means protecting America, not the rest of the globe.

Congress should rethink American foreign policy. And then reduce outlays accordingly. Secretary Hagel understands, explaining that “The current strategy could not be met with the significantly diminished resources that sequester would impose,” meaning that the Defense Department would “need to revise” its approach.

The Pentagon budget is the price of America’s foreign policy. If Washington hopes to run the world, it must maintain a large and expensive military. That is why the U.S. accounts for close to half of the globe’s military outlays. In real terms Washington has been spending more …read more
Source: OP-EDS