You are browsing the archive for 2013 March 05.

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Venezuela after Chavez

March 5, 2013 in Economics

Hugo Chávez, socialist president of Venezuela and the defining figure of Latin American politics in the last decade, has died. While his authoritarian populism didn’t differ much from other Latin American leaders, his influence on regional politics has been unparalleled. Comments Cato scholar Juan Carlos Hidalgo, “Hugo Chavez’s legacy of economic nationalism and authoritarian rule will haunt Venezuela and its neighbors for years to come. …The faster Venezuela and Latin America turn the page, the better.”

…read more
Source: CATO HEADLINES

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Henry Manne on His Intellectual Influences

March 5, 2013 in Economics

By Peter G. Klein

Henry Manne is a brilliant and original scholar who made important contributions to the literatures on takeovers, insider trading, higher education, and other fields and is a key figure in the modern law-and-economics movement. His contributions were featured in a session of the 2010 Austrian Scholars Conference. Henry has given an interview to the Securities and Exchange Commission Historical Society as part of its oral history project. There is an audio file and an edited transcript. He mentions in particular the influence of Mises and Hayek on his thinking:

Because of my dissatisfaction with what developed as my program at Yale, I began doing considerable reading in areas mainly I’d learned from Aaron Director, works of Hayek, whom I had met at Chicago, and Mises. I always used to joke that I was one of the few people in the world who probably sat down and read the whole of Human Action, Mises’ great work on philosophy and economics, which later on, you’ll see, played a role in my intellectual development.

And:

Just before the ’62 article ["The 'Higher Criticism' of the Modern Corporation," Columbia Law Review], probably the seminal intellectual event in my life occurred. I was invited to a small conference for young professors at Claremont College, in which three very distinguished people held seminars for these young professors. One was John Jukes from Oxford, who had taken a very strong position against British socialism, then the Labour government. Another was Felix Morley, who was a political opponent of Roosevelt during the New Deal, a distinguished journalist and political theorist. The third was a then somewhat young economist from UCLA by the name of Armen Alchian. I mentioned before that the Mises I read at Yale in 1952 or 1953 came back in the early sixties, because Alchian began his seminar by reading a paragraph. It was a paragraph about property, and he asked if anyone in the group could identify it. I was the
only one; I recognized immediately that that was from Mises’ Human Action. As he developed that first lecture – which became I think one of the most important economic articles of the twentieth century, “Economics of Property Rights” – it was like a light bulb went off in my head, it was incredible. All of a sudden, everything that I had done intellectually for thirteen years came together, with this one …read more
Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Hugo Chávez Dies of Cancer

March 5, 2013 in Blogs

By Jonathan Watts, The Guardian



 

 

Hugo Chavéz, the president of Venezuela, has died in a military hospital after a long battle against cancer, Reuters has reported, prompting a wave of mourning in the country he ruled since 1999 with a globally distinctive and influential style of leadership.

The symbol of Latin American socialism succumbed to a respiratory infection on Tuesday evening, 21 months after he first revealed he had a tumour. He had not been seen in public for three months since undergoing emergency surgery in Cuba on 11 December.

He will be given a state funeral in Caracas, likely to be attended by millions of supporters and leftwing leaders from across the globe who have been inspired by Chavéz's doctrine of “Bolivarian 21st-century socialism”, grateful for the subsidised energy he provided or simply impressed by his charisma.

His death will also trigger a presidential election, which must be held within 30 days, to decide who controls the world's greatest untapped reserves of oil. Chavéz's designated successor is vice-president Nicolás Maduro, who is likely to face Henrique Capriles, the losing opposition candidate in the most recent presidential election. Until then, according to the constitution, the interim president should be the head of the national assembly, Diosdado Cabello.

Replacing one of most colourful figures on the global political landscape will be an immense challenge. Born to a poor family on the plains, Chavéz became a tank commander and a devotee of South America's liberator, Simón Bolívar. A failed coup in 1992 propelled him into the limelight but it was his ballot box triumphs that made him a inspiration for the resurgent Latin American left and the most outspoken – and often humorous – critic of the US, the war in Iraq and former president George W Bush, whom he described as a “donkey” and a “devil”.

Formerly one of the most dynamic political leaders in the world with a globe-trotting schedule and a weekly, unscripted TV broadcast that usually went on for hours, Chavéz shocked his countrymen in June 2011 when he revealed that Cuban surgeons had removed a baseball-sized tumour from his pelvic region,

After that, he underwent several rounds of chemotherapy and two more …read more
Source: ALTERNET

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Sen. Paul appears on Fox's You World with Neil Cavuto- 3/5/2013

March 5, 2013 in Politics & Elections

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Source: RAND PAUL

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AG Holder Asserts Authority to Conduct Drone Strikes on U.S. Citizens

March 5, 2013 in Politics & Elections

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Sen. Rand Paul received two pieces of correspondence regarding the legality and constitutionality of the U.S. government using lethal force, including drone strikes, on Americans and in U.S. territory. Sen. Paul sent three inquires on the matter to President Obama’s nominee to be Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, John Brennan (HERE, HERE and HERE). He finally received responses from both Mr. Brennan and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder on one item of inquiry.
Attorney General Holder stated in a letter to Sen. Paul dated March 4, 2013: ‘It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States.’
‘The U.S. Attorney General’s refusal to rule out the possibility of drone strikes on American citizens and on American soil is more than frightening – it is an affront the Constitutional due process rights of all Americans,’ Sen. Paul said.
Sen. Paul also received a letter in response from Mr. Brennan, clarifying the CIA does not have the power to authorize such operations. Notably missing from Mr. Brennan’s response are answers to the myriad other questions Sen. Paul posed to him in previous correspondence.

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…read more
Source: RAND PAUL

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Senate Votes to Increase Office Spending on Fifth Day of Sequester

March 5, 2013 in Politics & Elections

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sen. Paul today introduced an amendment to S. Res. 64 that would strike funding for an annual $700,000 slush fund that allocates additional staff funding to nine Member and Leadership offices under the guise of the Senate National Security Working Group. The Working Group was created in 1985 to provide the Senate with observers to treaty negotiations between the Soviet Union and the U.S. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the Working Group was extended, yet there is little evidence of any work done by the group. In fact, there is no record of this group meeting within the last three years.

In the wake of sequestration, this amendment would save up to $2.8 million over a four year period. Special treatment should not be given to nine Senate Offices when the rest of the federal government is facing sequester cuts. It is time for our elected officials to lead by example and stop spending as though we have possession of a credit card that we don’t have to pay for.

The amendment failed passage with a bipartisan vote of 44-53.

Prior to the vote, Sen. Paul took to the Senate floor to urge his colleagues to vote in favor of striking the funding for the Senate National Security Working Group.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH SEN. PAUL DISCUSS THE AMENDMENT

TRANSCRIPT:
As some of you may have heard, we’re a bit short of money. We’re borrowing $50,000 every second. We borrow over $4 billion every day. In a year’s time, we borrow over $1 trillion. There are ramifications to that. Some economists now say the burden of our debt is costing us a million jobs a year. What I’m asking is in the midst of this sequester, when people say we have no money to cut, to take this small item.
Now why would I want to cut this small group? A couple of reasons. It’s called the national security working group. It’s about $2.8 million, not much money in terms of Washington, but why would I want to cut it? Well, the first reason would be there are no records of them meeting. We heard about the start treaty. That was in 2009 when they were last meeting. There are no public records that this group that spent $700,000 a year has met in the last three years.
There are …read more
Source: RAND PAUL

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Florida Walmart Shopper Pulls Out Gun After Her Coupon Is Rejected

March 5, 2013 in Blogs

By Tana Ganeva, AlterNet



A 61-year-old woman in Crawfordville, Florida was arrested last week after threatening a Wal Mart employee with a gun, according to the Wakulla County Sheriff's office. The altercation began when the staffer refused to accept Mary Frances Alday's Internet coupon. Alday attacked them with a shopping cart, prompting others to escort her out of the store. But Alday wasn't done. According to the Sherriff's office:

Alday went to her vehicle and retrieved a firearm in a holster. She removed the firearm from the holster and began waving it at the victim and three other store employees who had joined the investigation.

Alday was arrested during a traffic stop at East Ivan Road and Wakulla Arran Road. During the arrest process, Alday refused to follow the commands of Sgt. Danny Harrell during the traffic stop. Sgt. Harrell was forced to use his Taser to get Alday to comply with commands to get out of the vehicle. During the arrest process, Sgt. Harrell was struck several times by Alday and she was also charged with battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest with violence. Deputy Sean Wheeler, Detective Rachel Wheeler, Deputy Clint Beam and Sgt. Danny Harrell investigated.

The NRA and its supporters have improbably argued that arming teachers and school staff could prevent tragic school shootings like the mass killing in Newton. Next up, arming Wal Mart staffers to protect them from pissed-off customers?

h/t Daily Kos. 


Tue, 03/05/2013 – 09:49

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Source: ALTERNET

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Christian Megachurch in Foreclosure After Preacher Paid Himself Millions in Donated Cash

March 5, 2013 in Blogs

By Sarah Posner, Religion Dispatches



 

A headline caught my eye this morning: “Indiana’s Largest Megachurch Faces New Foreclosure Proceedings.” It made me think of Steve Munsey, an Indiana prosperity preacher I watched in a Decatur, Georgia television studio in 2007, pleading for audience members and viewers to give their money to the Trinity Broadcasting Network.

As it turns out, the story is about Munsey’s church, Family Christian Center, which claims to have a weekly attendance of 15,000, making it one of the largest churches in the country. According to an investigation by the NWITimes.com, a paper covering northwestern Indiana, the judge presiding over the foreclosure proceedings told attorneys in court, “When I saw some of the expenditures being made in this church when there was a mortgage not being paid, I was astounded.” NWITimes reports that even as the church owed close to $100,000 a month in mortgage payments (not to mention mortgage payments on condos the church claimed to use for visiting clergy, and other unspecified bills in excess of half a million dollars), Munsey and his wife Melodye raked in “$2.9 million in total compensation from 2008 through 2011 from organizations connected to Family Christian Center, IRS records show.” In all, “The church annually spent $3.5 million in leadership compensation and had a $900,000 budget for travel and meals, a $500,000 housing allowance and $500,000 for jet fuel and other expenditures, according to the transcript. In 2010, the church paid $1 million for property in Illinois, the transcript states.” There’s more: an IRS investigation and tax liens, for starters. You can read the whole investigative story, for which Munsey declined to be interviewed, here.

Count me as not astounded—well, not surprised, anyway. This is an old story in the prosperity gospel world. Lavish spending, compensation through a web of for-profit and non-profit entities connected with a church—these are only some of the factors that provoked a Senate Finance Committee investigation, launched by Sen. Chuck Grassley, in 2007. The investigation took more than three years but ultimately produced nothing in terms of government oversight. Instead, after pressure from the religious right, the Committee opted for “self-reform” within …read more
Source: ALTERNET

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The Feds Promote Hunger and Poverty in America but the Kids Are Alright

March 5, 2013 in Economics

By Joseph Salerno

The tasty little lunch pictured above conforms to newly proposed federal regulations aimed at foods and drinks served in the nations’s public schools. Among other mandates, these regulations would cap serving sizes and calorie counts. Ironically, these proposals are part of the second round of regulations deriving from the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, a laughable bureaucratic misnomer if ever there were one. (It makes one long for the bygone days of the 1960s-era welfare state when liberals actually thought that children performed better when they were well fed rather than starved.)

The proposed regulations will also place a hefty fiscal burden on school districts and their long-suffering taxpayers. It is estimated that they will cost $127 million and require 926 thousand hours of paperwork to comply with, thus leaving tax-burdened parents with even less money in this stagnant economy to buy the foods that they choose to serve their children as meals and snacks at home.

And, of course, the regulations will not work. For example, schools are already struggling to comply with the existing mandate that every student take a serving of a fruit or vegetable for his lunch. But even when the students take the healthy fare, there is no guarantee at all that they will eat it, which after all is the whole point of the regulations. In one West Philadelphia high school the food is disposed of creatively as part of the new sport of “food basketball.” As one student explained the game:

Like, if you have an orange or an apple, you take it, and you have a trash can, shoot it in the trash can and see if you can make it.

As the great rock band The Who sang in the 1960s, “The kids are alright.”

…read more
Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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$1.5 Trillion for the Drug War? 5 Outrageous Areas of Gov't Spending That Should be Cut Instead of Social Services

March 5, 2013 in Blogs

By David Sirota, Salon



Let’s assume that the New York Times was right this week when it asserted that in 2013, “the only issue that truly unites Republicans is a commitment to shrinking the federal government.” Even though there’s ample evidence that the GOP doesn’t actually want to shrink the government, let’s nonetheless assume that Republicans are trying to rhetorically brand themselves to the concept of small government, past votes be damned. And let’s assume that gerrymandering means the GOP will control at least one house of congress for the remainder of the Obama presidency.

Does that, then, mean the next four years will automatically be mired in stalemate? Not necessarily, if Democrats call Republicans’ bluff and use the GOP’s small government argument for progressive ends. Indeed, with House Speaker John Boehner showing a penchant for violating the so-called Hastert Rule and allowing transpartisan bills to pass, the “small government” argument could be a perfect instrument for congressional Democrats to pick off just enough Republican votes to pass meaningful legislation in five key areas:

1. Ending – or at least limiting – the Drug War: To know the Drug War has been a disastrous failure at the policy level, take 10 seconds and look at this animated graph. And it hasn’t just been any run-of-the-mill policy failure involving unjust incarcerationsnegative health consequences and little success in combating drug addiction – it’s also been an extremely expensive Huge Government boondoggle. Yes, depending on how you count it, government has spent somewhere between $1 trillion and $1.5 trillion on the Drug War over the last 40 years. According to the conservative Reason magazine, the Drug War now costs about $120 billion a year in direct expenditures. With Republicans showing awillingness to at least entertain questions about America’s existing drug policy, the “small government” argument could be the key to ending America’s longest war.

2. Reducing the military budget: As recently as last May, Republican leaders were still trying to add money to a defense budget that is already one of the largest in American history. But in just a few months, austerity mania opened up the real possibility that progressives have a chance to achieve their goal of a smaller Pentagon. …read more
Source: ALTERNET