You are browsing the archive for 2013 May 01.

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The Morality of the Market

May 1, 2013 in Economics

By Peter G. Klein

“The seeds of this moral defense of free markets were planted by John Locke, Adam Smith and Ludwig von Mises,” writes Steven Pearlstein in the Washington Post. He emphasizes the work of Ayn Rand in popularizing the moral case for the market, but could have also mentioned Hazlitt, Hayek, Baldy Harper, Edmund Opitz, Rothbard, and other Austrians and libertarians who justified free markets on ethical grounds, both consequentionalist and natural-rights based.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Wikipedia’s Sexist Turn: Men Are Novelists, Women Are ‘Women Novelists’

May 1, 2013 in Blogs

By Sandip Roy, New America Media

The latest Wikipedia flap is a reminder that sub-categorizing by minority creates implicit bias.


At 5:44 PM on April 1, John Pack Lambert, a 32-year-old student of history at Wayne State University took a small step for one man which proved to be a giant leap for mankind.

And I mean MANkind, not humanity.

Lambert moved Patricia Aakhus, author of The Voyage of Mael Duin’s Curragh from American novelists to the category American women novelists.

Two minutes later, teen romance author Hailey Abbott suffered the same fate.

Then Megan Abbott.

At 8:51 PM Lambert, the one-man army to engender order in the universe, created a new category, Nigerian women novelists and put Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie there.

James Gleick’s account in the New York Review of Books of how Wikipedia fell into the great gender gap is a riveting read, a sort of detective story for category-geeks. (Read the full storyhere).

The next day Lambert was briefly sidetracked by a discussion of whether there should be a Category:Jeans enthusiasts (for “celebrities and famous people who are always wearing or frequently spotted wearing jeans”), but then he got back to work and A. L. Kennedy, till then a Scottish novelist, became a Scottish woman novelist. On April 3 he created a category for Greek women screenwriters; so far it has only one member.

The rest of the world cried “Sexism.” Leading the charge was Amanda Filipacci, one of the women writers who suddenly found herself banished to the ante-chamber while the men hogged the living room. (Sounds like an old-fashioned Indian wedding.)

Filipacci complained in a post on The New York Times:

People who go to Wikipedia to get ideas for whom to hire, or honor, or read, and look at that list of “American Novelists” for inspiration, might not even notice that the first page of it includes far more men than women. They might simply use that list without thinking twice about it. It’s probably small, easily fixable things like this that make it harder and slower for women to gain equality in the literary world.

Even Wikipedia’s founder Jimmy Wales was gobsmacked. In a post titled WTH, he wrote:

My first instinct is …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Uh Oh, Almost Half of Republicans Think an Armed Revolution "Might Be Necessary"

May 1, 2013 in Blogs

By David Sirota, Salon

What does it mean for guns and democracy?


There’s plenty of proof of an authoritarian streak and animus toward democratic ideals in today’s conservative movement. There was the movement’s use of its judicial power to halt a vote recount and instead install a president who had lost the popular vote. There is the ongoing GOP effort to make it more difficult for people to cast a vote in an election. There is the GOP’s record use of the Senate filibuster to kill legislation that the vast majority of the country supports. There is a GOP leader’s declaration that what the American people want from their government simply “doesn’t matter.”

Up until today, you might have been able to write all that anti-democratic pathology off as one infecting only the Republican Party’s politicians and institutional leadership, but not its rank-and-file voters. But then this morning Fairleigh Dickinson University released this gun control-related poll showing that authoritarianism runs throughout the the entire party.

Take a look at the cross-tabs on page 3 of the national survey. That’s right, you are reading it correctly: Almost half (44 percent) of all self-described Republican voters say they believe “an armed revolution might be necessary to protect our liberties.” Just as bad, more Republicans believe an armed revolution might be necessary than believe one isn’t necessary.

This poll raises two obvious questions, each more disturbing than the next.

The first question is about gun control and gun ownership, and more specifically, what the latter is all about.

Typically, GOP leaders say that their opposition to minimal gun regulations has nothing to do with helping arm those who want to commit acts of violence, and everything to do with wanting to make sure people can defend themselves. Based on the poll, of course, it is certainly likely that many are buying such weapons in an effort to defend themselves, both for day-to-day life and in the event of a sudden armed revolution. But here’s the scary part: How many are buying weapons to arm themselves in order to foment an armed revolution? Maybe none, but maybe a lot. I don’t have an answer, …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Budget Cuts Devastate Meals On Wheels: Enrollment Slashed, Services Cancelled

May 1, 2013 in Blogs

By Bryce Covert, Think Progress

Heads of these programs described facing deep cuts after having already slimmed down in response to lean times over the past few years.


 

Congress recently passed a bill to undo furloughs at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) caused by sequestration, but it left cuts to many other programs intact, including Meals on Wheels. The program brings hot meals to homebound seniors and adults with disabilities, thus providing them with nutrition and helping many of them live independently.

Directors of Meals on Wheels programs across the country spoke with ThinkProgress about how they are coping with decreased funding. Some, like Meals on Wheels of Western Broome in New York, are private nonprofits that don’t rely on government funding and will therefore be shielded. But by and large, the heads of these programs described facing deep cuts after having already slimmed down in response to lean times over the past few years.

Contra Costa County, California: Meals on Wheels of Contra Costa will need to reduce its program by about 13 to 15 percent, which means it will reduce its current 1,500 delivered meals by 200 a day, treasurer A. Paul Kraintz told ThinkProgress. The program had already been struggling with cuts, and then “we get hit with a thousand dollar sequestration cut and it just shoved us over the cliff,” he said. As of May 1 it will freeze new enrollees to the program except for those in the most critical need who have no other means of getting a daily meal. The program usually adds about 50 people a month as vacancies occur, so it will reduce its rolls to a more sustainable level through attrition over three or four months.

If the picture doesn’t improve by next year it will have to consider cutting back on routes and staff. It also risks drying up its contingency fund in a year or two if funding isn’t restored. “And that’s a real problem because when you’re providing a service like this you should have a contingency fund,” he added.

The financial troubles at the Contra Costa program will simply mean a greater …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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16-Year-Old Girl Arrested and Charged With a Felony For Science Project Mistake

May 1, 2013 in Blogs

By Steven Hsieh, AlterNet

No one was hurt. Nothing was damaged. The criminalization of school kids has gone too far.


A Florida teen with an exemplary record is facing federal charges after conducting what a classmate calls “a science project gone bad.”

16-year-old Kiera Wilmot is accused of mixing housing chemicals in a small water bottle at Bartow High School, causing the cap to fly off and produce a bit of smoke. The experiment was conducted outdoors, no property was damaged, and no one was injured.

Not long after Wilmot’s experiment, authorities arrested her and charged her with “possession/discharge of a weapon on school property and discharging a destructive device,” according to WTSP-TV. The school district proceeded to expel Wilmot for handling the “dangerous weapon,” also known as a water bottle. She will have to complete her high school education through an expulsion program.

Friends and staffers, including the school principal, came to Wilmot’s defense, telling media that authorities arrested an upstanding student who meant no harm.

“She is a good kid,” principal Ron Richard told WTSP-TV. “She has never been in trouble before. Ever.”

“She just wanted to see what happened to those chemicals in the bottle,” a classmate added. “Now, look what happened.”

Polk County Schools stands by its decision to expel Wilmot, asserting in a statement, “there are consequences to actions,” and calling Wilmot’s experiment a “serious breach of conduct.”

h/t Reason

 

 

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Source: ALTERNET

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GOP Lawmakers Want to Stop a Gun Conspiracy So Absurd Even the NRA Doesn't Buy It

May 1, 2013 in Blogs

By Steven Hsieh, AlterNet

Apparently, Obama is stockpiling bullets to keep them out of gun owners' hands.


Republican lawmakers introduced legislation to stop gun conspiracy so ridiculous, that even the NRA has disputed its credibility.

The bill, introduced by Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) and Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK), would restrict federal agencies from purchasing ammunition for a six-month period if their stockpiles exceed monthly averages prior to the Obama administration. The conspiracy goes like this: Obama is trying to buy up the nation’s ammo supply to keep bullets away from civilians.

“President Obama has been adamant about curbing law-abiding Americans’ access and opportunities to exercise their Second Amendment rights,” said Inhofe in a press statement. ”One way the Obama Administration is able to do this is by limiting what’s available in the market with federal agencies purchasing unnecessary stockpiles of ammunition.”

The Obama stockpiling conspiracy didn’t come out of thin air. Last year, Alex Jones’ Infowars repeatedly questioned bullet purchases from Obama’s Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration. The conspiracy went to Capitol Hill last month, when 15 members of Congress wrote the president a letter questioning the administration’s “extraordinary level of ammunition purchases.”

“The extraordinary level of ammunition purchases made by Homeland Security seems to have, in states such as my own, created an extreme shortage of ammunition to the point where many gun owners are unable to purchase any,” LaMalfa wrote in the letter.

As TPM’s Sahil Kapur points out, even the adamantly pro-gun NRA disputes the notion that Obama is trying to buy up the nation’s commercial ammunition supply. In a statement released last year, the NRA accused said the “Internet rumor mill” had a “lack of understanding of the law enforcement functions carried about by officers in small federal agencies.” 

The SSA and DHS both corroborate with the NRA, asserting that they’re utilizing the purchased ammunition for law enforcement purposes.

h/t Talking Points Memo

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Access to Medical Marijuana for Patients with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in New Mexico is Protected

May 1, 2013 in PERSONAL LIBERTY

By drosenfeld

In a Surprise Move, the New Mexico Department of Health announced that PTSD will remain a qualifying condition

Drug Policy Alliance Will Continue to Call on the Martinez Administration to Support Access to Medical Marijuana

(SANTA FE, NM) – After months of deliberation, yesterday, the New Mexico Department of Health upheld a recommendation by the Medical Cannabis Program’s Medical Advisory Board and announced that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) will remain a qualifying condition for New Mexico’s medical marijuana program.

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Source: DRUG POLICY

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Pregnant T-Mobile Employee Forced to Take Vacation Time to Use Bathroom, Fired Over 12 Cent Error

May 1, 2013 in Blogs

By Steven Hsieh, AlterNet

Don't you dare relieve a basic biological need on company time!


T-Mobile forced a pregnant employee to clock out every time she used the restroom, even after she obtained, by company request, a doctor’s note urging her to drink more water, ABC reports.

Kristi Rifkin worked at company call center in Nashville for four years before she became pregnant with her third child. As she explained in a blog post for MomsRising.org, “it was a very, very rough pregnancy” that required special medication, twice weekly visits to the doctor, and high water intake.

As Rifkin naturally started using the restroom more often, her employers warned her that trips to the toilet were at the expense of company time. In her post, Rifkin describes the pressure she felt to keep her job, even going so far as putting her physical well being at risk by eating and drinking less.

“Essentially the message was, ‘You can go, but understand that if you don’t meet that metric at the end of the day, week and month, we have the opportunity to fill your seat,’” Rifkin writes. “They didn’t tell me that I couldn’t use the toilet. But the reality was that this is a metric on how your job is measured and if you don’t meet it, then you do not have your job.”

As her increased restroom use persisted, Rifkin’s supervisor asked her to get a doctor’s note saying she needed to fulfill a basic biological necessity.  “And my doctor thought I was crazy,” Rifkin writes. “She told me, ‘I’m sure one person going to the toilet wouldn’t mean the collapse of an entire T-Mobile customer service center!’” However crazy the idea, Rifkin got the note to satisfy her employer.

But that wasn’t enough for the bosses. Rifkin’s supervisors asked her to clock out everytime she used the restroom, effectively punishing a pregnant employee for being pregnant. Rifkin needed every penny, so she continued eating and drinking less, and even used vacation time to use the restroom. Seven weeks before she gave birth to baby boy on May 14, 2010, Rifkin went …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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5-Year-Old Get .22 Caliber Birthday Rifle, Shoots and Kills 2-Year-Old Sister

May 1, 2013 in Blogs

By Steven Hsieh, AlterNet

The Pennsylvania-based weapons maker markets its signature product as “My First Rifle.”


A 5-year-old-boy shot and killed his 2-year-old sister with a .22 caliber rifle he received for his birthday, said police in Cumberland County, Ohio, where the incident occurred.

“It's a Crickett,” said Cumberland County coroner Gary White. “It's a little rifle for a kid. …The little boy's used to shooting the little gun.”

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports the shooting happened around 1 p.m. with the mother at home. The family says they didn’t know the gun was loaded.

“Just one of those crazy accidents,” said White.

Crickett .22s are manufactured and sold by Keystone Sporting Arms, LLC. The Pennsylvania-based weapons maker markets its signature product as “My First Rifle.”  

As Gawker’s Taylor Berman notes, the “crazy accident” in Cumberland County is just at least the third time this month an American child shot and killed someone with a firearm.

 

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Source: ALTERNET

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Summary of Stockman’s Deformation

May 1, 2013 in Economics

By Mark Thornton

Detlev Schlichter reviews David Stockman’s new book The Great Deformation. It provides a nice summery of the book.

The New York book signing event is May 21st.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE