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The Libertarian Case for Corporate Social Responsibility

May 2, 2013 in Economics

By Joseph Salerno

The AEI, a centrist-establishment think tank, published a compelling policy study this week by Timothy P. Carney. The Case against Cronies: Libertarians Must Stand Up to Corporate Greed is a hard-hitting critique of crony capitalism that goes beyond merely recounting the ubiquitous and shameful instances of gigantic U.S corporations seeking and obtaining subsidies and monopoly privileges from Big Government at the expense of taxpayers, consumers and more efficient competitors. Indeed, Carney calls into question the conservative mantra as classically enunciated by Milton Friedman: ‘The social responsibility of business is to increase its profits.” Not so fast, Carney says. For what if investing in lobbying for a government subsidy or political barrier to entry is the best way for a corporation to increases its profits? Isn’t such behavior not only ethically dubious, but also inconsistent with the free market? While Carney does not formulate a libertarian standard of corporate responsibility to replace Friedman’s, he does make a powerful case that it should include explicit prohibitions against violating the principles of the free market. As Carney concludes:

Conservatives are good at criticizing the government for picking winners and losers — and they’re right to do so. Politicians and bureaucrats cannot allocate resources as efficiently as the market. The free market is the greatest welfare program ever invented.

But if the free market is worth protecting, conservatives must do a better job calling out corporations that participate in cronyism, as well. Doing so will raise tricky questions for conservatives. To what standard must we hold companies? What is ethically acceptable and what is not? . . .

When the ethanol industry writes an ethanol mandate, or H&R Block hatches a policy that crushes its small competitors, it’s legal. But it’s also a naked attempt to extract money from unwilling payers, restrict the freedom of competitors, and deny options to customers. This is the sort of behavior conservatives and libertarians need to denounce.

While Carney concedes that there is a grey area in practically judging corporate behavior in a mixed economy that raises some tough questions, he insists “these are questions free-market folks need to start discussing. . . . even if it means using the language of corporate social responsibility.”

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What Some Call 'Isolationism,' Others Call Common Sense

May 2, 2013 in Economics

By Christopher A. Preble

Christopher A. Preble

In a recent op ed, former Senators Joseph Lieberman and Jon Kyl darkly warned of the dangers of “isolationism.” They never actually define what isolationism is, nor who supposedly believes in it, aside from a link to a single speech delivered earlier this year by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., at the Heritage Foundation. The article raises a host of questions, and answers none. Here are just a few:

Are those people who believe that the primary object of the U.S. military is to defend the United States and its vital interests isolationists? Is it “isolationist” to believe that a government’s most sacred obligation is to defend its people from harm, and therefore that other countries should take responsibility for their own security?

If we continue on our current path, with other countries growing more and more dependent on U.S. military power and less inclined to develop their own, the burdens on American taxpayers and U.S. troops will only grow heavier.”

When people point out that many of our Cold War-era alliances amount to a particularly generous form of foreign aid, with Americans paying to defend other countries that could defend themselves, is that isolationism? Many of these free riders — most recently France — have chosen instead to plow money into bloated welfare states, generous old age pensions, and subsidized transportation, housing and health care. Is it isolationist to observe that such an arrangement imposes unfair burdens on the Americans who pay the bills?

Or what about other forms of foreign aid? Are the people who question the wisdom of sending tens of billions of dollars to foreign governments isolationists? The late economist Peter Bauer characterized foreign aid as “a process by which poor people in rich countries help rich people in poor countries.” Others have shown that a few trillion dollars spent over the course of five decades has had little, if any, impact on stimulating long-term economic growth, and more likely retards it. Do Lieberman and Kyl disagree?

How would Lieberman and Kyl describe those Americans who oppose U.S. military intervention in Syria? A recent Rasmussen Poll finds that just 17 percent of Americans want the U.S. to become more involved, while 50 percent want us to leave the situation alone. A New York Times/CBS News Poll found that 24 percent of Americans believed that the United States had a responsibility to …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Chomsky: The Boston Bombings Gave Americans a Taste of the Terrorism the U.S. Inflicts Abroad Every Day

May 2, 2013 in Blogs

By Noam Chomsky, AlterNet

“It's rare for privileged Westerners to see, graphically, what many others experience daily”


April is usually a cheerful month in New England, with the first signs of spring, and the harsh winter at last receding. Not this year.

There are few in Boston who were not touched in some way by the marathon bombings on April 15 and the tense week that followed. Several friends of mine were at the finish line when the bombs went off. Others live close to where Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the second suspect, was captured. The young police officer Sean Collier was murdered right outside my office building.

It's rare for privileged Westerners to see, graphically, what many others experience daily – for example, in a remote village in Yemen, the same week as the marathon bombings.

On April 23, Yemeni activist and journalist Farea Al-Muslimi, who had studied at an American high school, testified before a US Senate committee that right after the marathon bombings, a drone strike in his home village in Yemen killed its target.

The strike terrorized the villagers, turning them into enemies of the United States – something that years of jihadi propaganda had failed to accomplish.

His neighbors had admired the US, Al-Muslimi told the committee, but “Now, however, when they think of America, they think of the fear they feel at the drones over their heads. What radicals had previously failed to achieve in my village, one drone strike accomplished in an instant.”

Rack up another triumph for President Obama's global assassination program, which creates hatred of the United States and threats to its citizens more rapidly than it kills people who are suspected of posing a possible danger to us someday.

The target of the Yemeni village assassination, which was carried out to induce maximum terror in the population, was well-known and could easily have been apprehended, Al-Muslimi said. This is another familiar feature of the global terror operations.

There was no direct way to prevent the Boston murders. There are some easy ways to prevent likely future ones: by not inciting them. That's also true of another case of a suspect murdered, …read more


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Time for Obama to Own Up to Drug Violence

May 2, 2013 in Economics

By Juan Carlos Hidalgo

Juan Carlos Hidalgo

When President Obama visits Mexico and Costa Rica this week, the elephant in the room will be the drug violence that is wreaking havoc there. Unfortunately, there is every reason to believe that Obama will downplay the problem and sidestep a glaring truth: Central America has become the most violent region in the world largely thanks to Washington’s hemispheric war on drugs, according to the UN.

In a press conference Tuesday, President Obama reiterated that on his visit to Mexico “a lot of the focus is going to be on economics.” Unfortunately, he will find a helping hand in President Enrique Peña Nieto, who is trying to focus the narrative of his presidency around economic reform. This doesn’t mean that crime is abating in Mexico. In the first four months of the year, 4,249 people have been killed in drug-related violence.

Washington has more than a “shared responsibility” in the mayhem that afflicts Mexico and Central America.”

Indeed, according to the Global Study on Homicide published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, four of the six most violent nations in the world are in Central America. In Mexico, the murder rate has more than doubled since 2006 when then-President Felipe Calderón launched an offensive against drug cartels.

For the most part, President Obama has ignored the problem. Not once has Obama mentioned drug violence in Mexico or Central America in any of his State of the Union addresses. And besides some perfunctory statements about shared responsibility and the need for greater cooperation between governments, Washington has largely stayed away from the issue.

Costa Rica’s President Laura Chinchilla has also stated that she wants to move the discussion away from drug trafficking. Energy and economic development will be the main topics in the meeting between Obama and his six Central American peers in San José.

That would be an enormous missed opportunity. Central America is the greatest casualty in Washington’s hemispheric war on drugs. Moreover, the region is ill-prepared to fight organized crime. In 2010 all seven Central American countries combined spent nearly $4 billion on their security and justice apparatuses. This is pocket money compared to the revenues of Mexican and Colombian cartels, which according to estimates from the Justice Department could reach $39 billion annually.

Not surprisingly, the first head of state to call for drug legalization as a way to fight the cartels …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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High School Rapper Arrested and Facing Terrorism Charges For Rap About Boston Marathon Bombing

May 2, 2013 in Blogs

By AlterNet

The suburban teenager is being held on $1 million bail, and faces possibly 20 years.

A Massachusetts high school student faces felony charges for allegedly posting on social media rap lyrics that police say amount to terrorist threats, the Valley Patriot reports.

“He posted a threat in the form of rap where he mentioned the White House, the Boston Marathon bombing, and said ‘everybody you will see what I am going to do, kill people,” said Joe Solomon, who is police chief of Methuen, a city in north Massachusetts.

According to a press release from the Methuen Police Department, 18-year-old Cameron D’Ambrosio posted the alleged threatening rap on Facebook. Police investigated the teenager after one of D’Ambrosio's classmates reported to Methuen High School authorities the “disturbing verbiage” on his Facebook page. The press release notes that the alleged threats “were in general and not directed towards another person or the school.” 

According to the Eagle Tribune, D’Ambrosio was charged with communicating a terrorist threat and faces up to 20 years in jail. He is being held on $1 million bail. All this, for writing some scary rap lyrics on Facebook.

In addition to arresting D’Amrbosio, police searched the teenager’s home and confiscated a computer and Xbox. They searched the Facebook page for additional clues to the amateur rapper's activities. The Valley Patriot has their findigs:

D’Ambrosio also had disturbing photos and posts on his Facebook page including “Fuck politics, Fuck Obama and Fuck the government!!”

He also had a “disturbing satanic photo posted as well as a photo of himself on a “Wanted Poster” that reads “Wanted Dead or Alive” a quick perusal of his Facebook page shows D’Ambrosio’s unusual interest in gangs, violence and a criminal lifestyle. 

The 18-year-old alleged “terrorist,” whose only crime in this case appears to be posting rap lyrics on Facebook, will be arraigned Thursday.  



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The False Attack on Jason Collins by the Coward Howard Kurtz

May 2, 2013 in Blogs

By Steven Hsieh, AlterNet

Apparently, CNN's veteran media “reporter” can't read.

The Daily Beast’s Howard Kurtz thought he scooped the world yesterday. The veteran media “reporter,” and host of CNN's Reliable Sources, wrote a blog post based on the premise that Jason Collins, the first ever openly gay NBA player, left out a vital detail in his Sports Illustrated coming-out story: that he was once, hold your breath, engaged to a woman.

“…he left one little part out,” Kurtz wrote. “He was engaged. To be married. To a woman.”

Well, as it turns out, the world scooped Kurtz. Anyone who actually reads the Collins’ piece will quickly learn the NBA center not only disclosed his engagement in perhaps the biggest sports story of the year; it's right up top. On the first page. In the eighth paragraph:

“When I was younger I dated women. I even got engaged. I thought I had to live a certain way. I thought I needed to marry a woman and raise kids with her. I kept telling myself the sky was red, but I always knew it was blue,” Collins said.

There are three possible explanations for Kurtz’s false column: (1) He didn’t read Collins’ piece, (2) He skimmed Collins’ piece, or (3) He read Collins’ piece and honestly thought he could lie without anyone noticing. Any of these scenarios should seriously contest Kurtz’s continued employment as a journalist.

But it gets worse. After several media outlets jumped on Kurtz, and his own commenters called him out, someone quietly changed the story to say Collins “downplayed,” rather than “left out,” his engagement. Later, The Daily Beast printed a correction. But somehow, the piece headlined, “Jason Collins’ Other Secret,” remains on the site. Never has there been a looser definition of “secret.” 

Kurtz apologized on Twitter, but stands by his story, based on the fact that Collins didn’t disclose every detail of his personal life:

And here’s the ugliest part …read more