You are browsing the archive for 2013 April 03.

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Holcombe on Wealth Creation and Cantor on Space Aliens

April 3, 2013 in Economics

By Mises Updates

The April issue of The Free Market is now online. The monthly publication of the Mises Institute is now in its more expanded format with more updates on Institute events, scholars, donors and alumni.

This month, economist Randall Holcombe writes on the true nature of wealth creation, and the right way to study it. Also, Paul Cantor discusses his latest book on popular culture, flying saucers, and more.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Austrians Don’t Blow Bubbles

April 3, 2013 in Economics

By Mark Thornton

Harry Veryser’s new book It Didn’t Have to Be This Way: Why Boom and Bust Is Unnecessary—and How the Austrian School of Economics Breaks the Cycle is reviewed by John Zmirak. He write:

What boggles the mind is how Harvard MBAs, Wharton professors, Federal Reserve chairmen, and other types who convene at places like Davos to plan the global future could have believed things would turn out differently. What would make someone think that worthless loans, all mooshed together then sliced thin and sold, would somehow acquire value? Did these people believe in magic? Statists like Paul Krugman and Alan Blinder who failed to see this catastrophe coming are emerging from the woodwork now to explain in retrospect that this implosion was the result of too little regulation—the natural outcome of free-market greed, unguided by the visible hand of Uncle Sam. Veryser shows that this diagnosis is pristinely, perfectly wrong, like an autopsy report that blames a lung cancer death on “not enough cigarettes to kill the tumor.”

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Guest Worker Visas Key to Immigration Reform

April 3, 2013 in Economics

Union and business negotiators have supposedly reached a deal on the major aspects of the guest worker visa program, and the Senate’s bipartisan “Gang of Eight” appears close to releasing a comprehensive immigration reform bill. Cato has long argued that a key component of politically feasible immigration reform is increased numbers of guest workers and legal immigrants. Based on the broad policy outlines in numerous news stories on the proposed guest worker deal, Cato scholar Alex Nowrasteh has offered some preliminary observations.

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Source: CATO HEADLINES

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Keeping Low-income Students from Being Throwaway Kids

April 3, 2013 in Economics

By Nat Hentoff

Nat Hentoff

In many cities, as well as rural areas, low-income students — not only blacks and Hispanics — very soon get to feel unconnected to school. They may figure they’re stupid or they just don’t care. Dropping out, more than a few get involved with neighborhood gangs and wind up in prison cells.

But, as I’ve reported previously in “Teachers and Education Reformers Bypass Individual Students,” Richard Weissbourd, a lecturer in education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, is showing — through active research in a range of classrooms — how teachers, principals, school boards and legislators can rescue such kids from dead-end lives before they give up on schools.

Activating the pleasures and surprises of actually learning how to learn requires teachers who know more about each student than their collective scores on group achievement tests.

In his article “The ‘Quiet’ Troubles of Low-Income Children” in the Harvard Education Press book Spotlight on Student Engagement, Motivation and (individual) Achievement, Weissbourd delves deeply — and for me, alarmingly — into many teachers’ lack of concern or just plain inability to recognize individual students’ vision and hearing problems. He also discusses the blurringly disorienting effect sleep deprivation has on the many students who are afflicted by it.

Though I’ve spent many years reporting from failing classrooms around the nation, I learned a lot more from that article about those deprivations while Weissbourd also taught me about other weighty “quiet problems” of low-income students I didn’t know about.

“Frequent mobility,” for example. How many of you, including me, have not taken this into account concerning the dropout statistics? Weissbourd writes:

“It’s not uncommon in urban schools for about 20 percent of the student body to change schools in a given year. A U.S. Government Accountability Office report revealed that ‘One-sixth of the nation’s third graders — more than half a million children — have attended at least three different schools since starting first grade.’

“In areas of highly concentrated poverty, that number is often far higher. As a result, students may bounce between schools that have entirely different curricula and teaching practices, putting them at risk of school difficulties and reducing the chance that they will stay in school.”

Nor had I thought of “caretaking responsibility” as a considerable “quiet problem.” Weissbourd has the figures to point out the effect of “having to take care of a depressed or sick parent or look after younger siblings. One study of …read more
Source: OP-EDS

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I Survived Sequestration

April 3, 2013 in Economics

By Michael D. Tanner

Michael D. Tanner

This week marks the one-month anniversary of one of the most terrifying events in American history: the sequester. So, with great trepidation, I have climbed out of my bunker to survey the devastation and send off this column.

I was shocked to discover that somehow mankind had survived. Government spending had been cut, or at least the rate of growth had been slowed, yet everywhere I looked people were going about their daily lives as if nothing had happened. There has been no outbreak of diseases from tainted, uninspected meat. Airplanes have not fallen from the sky; indeed, they continue landing and taking off more or less on schedule. The American military is still conducting operations around the world, in countries both important and obscure. Al-Qaeda has not established the caliphate in Kabul, let alone New York. Mass starvation had been held at bay, for the time being.

Several federal agencies were forced to impose hiring freezes, but the federal government is hardly closing its employment business. In just one week last month, nearly 4,600 job listings were posted on USAJobs.gov, the federal government’s recruiting site. These include, according to Senator Tom Coburn, a counsel for the Morris K. Udall Scholarship Foundation with a salary of up to $155,000, a director for the Air Force History and Museums Policies and Programs with a salary of up to $165,300, law librarians at the Justice Department with salaries reaching $115,742, a Department of Labor assistant to answer phones at a salary of up to $81,204, four public-affairs specialists earning up to $116,000, and 23 recreation aides.

As usual, the doomsday predictions about lower government spending haven’t come true.”

There has been some real pain, of course, depending on where you look. The White House cancelled some public tours. The National Archives was forced to return to the hours of operation it maintained prior to 2008. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s staff apparently could no longer afford “high quality” meals in the Capitol cafeteria. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) released thousands of undocumented immigrants from detention centers — wait, actually, that happened before the sequester started. Meanwhile, some federal officials continue to warn that eventually terrible things really will happen.

The dreaded furloughs of federal workers have turned out to be less than advertised. The Continuing Resolution passed by Congress a couple of weeks ago provided federal agencies with additional flexibility to …read more
Source: OP-EDS

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Behind the Success of Political Islam

April 3, 2013 in Economics

By Dalibor Rohac

Dalibor Rohac

It’s been over two years since the beginning of protests that led to the fall of authoritarian regimes across North Africa and the Middle East, and the Arab Spring is not what most observers hoped for. Egypt is in shambles, a nasty civil war rages in Syria, and political Islam is on the rise throughout the region. It looks as if the Arab revolutions will end up replacing bad governance and authoritarianism of secular dictators with bad governance and authoritarianism of would-be theocrats.

Worrying as it is, could the rise of political Islamism in places such as Egypt, Tunisia or Algeria have been avoided? Should the West have been tougher with the Muslim Brotherhood or the Salafists? Or perhaps more accommodating?

Not so fast. Before making sweeping judgments about failures of U.S. or European foreign policy, it’s helpful to look at the roots of political Islam. Perhaps its success has little to do with religion. Available data on voting behavior from Muslim-majority democracies, such as Indonesia, show that the links between being religious and actually voting for religious candidates is weak. In short, religiosity is a poor predictor of whom people vote for and why. While similar data from Arab countries is limited, it suggests that Islam has only a small impact on political attitudes.

The success of religious parties in the Middle East and North Africa is both good and bad news.”

What’s more, the Islamist policy agenda is indistinguishable from other political platforms. Consider the Ennahda movement in Tunisia, which has had the most detailed economic program of all Islamic parties in the region. Still, it offered few specifics, besides an endorsement of market economy and a pledge to fight inequality. Egypt’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) is even worse. Back in June 2011, the chairman of the FJP tried to shrug off specific questions about his party’s economic platform with a smile, saying that he “did not know much about the economy.”

At the heart of Islamic politics in the Arab world lies the Muslim Brotherhood, a group originally founded in 1928 in Egypt, and involved in politics, proselytizing and provision of social services. Over time, it has become a loose network of Islamic parties throughout the region, and also a widely emulated model of organization that combines political and religious activism with the provision of social services.

What makes the Brotherhood distinctive is its involvement …read more
Source: OP-EDS