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We've Got to Find a Way to Stop the Imperial Presidency Before It Permanently Destroys Our Great Country

May 4, 2013 in Blogs

By Ralph Nader, AlterNet

Killing innocent men, women and children abroad creates blowback that lasts for generations.


In watching the massive media coverage and the reaction to the brutal bombing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, the wise poem “To A Louse…” composed in 1785 by the Scottish poet Robert Burns came to me:

“O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us

To see oursels as ithers see us!”

English translation:

“And would some Power the small gift give us

To see ourselves as others see us!”

What must the “others” in the Middle East theatre of the American Empire think of a great city in total lockdown from an attack by primitive explosives when Iraqis, Afghans, Pakistanis and Yemenis experience far greater casualties and terror attacks several times a week? Including what they believe are terror attacks by U.S. drones, soldiers, aircraft and artillery that have directly killed many thousands of innocent children, women and men in their homes, during funeral processions and wedding parties, or while they’re working in their fields.

Here’s what they are thinking: that America is very vulnerable and ready to shake itself upside down to rid itself and protect itself from any terror attacks. The Bush regime, after 9/11, sacrificed U.S. soldiers and millions of innocents in the broader Middle East, drained our economy, so as to ignore the necessities of saving lives and health here at home, and metastasized al-Qaeda into numerous countries, spilling havoc into Iraq and now Syria. We have paid a tremendous price in blowback, because of Mr. Bush’s rush to war.

Why is the reaction to the events in Boston viewed by some as bizarre? Our president said “We will finish the race.” Do we really think that the attackers are doing this to disrupt our pleasure in foot racing?

The attackers, be they suicide bombers over there or domestic bombers here, are motivated by their hatred of our invasions, our daily bombings, our occupations, our immersion in tribal preferences leading to divide-and-rule sectarian wars. Studies, such as those by the University of Chicago Professor Robert Pape, and former adviser to Barack Obama and Ron Paul during …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Famous Harvard Professor Gay-Bashes John Maynard Keynes, Suggests People Without Children Do Not Care About Future Generations

May 4, 2013 in Blogs

By Lynn Stuart Parramore, AlterNet

Niall Ferguson may have just committed academic suicide in an act of breathtaking bigotry.


Austerity hawk and Harvard historian Niall Ferguson is known for his love of the media and his enthusiasm for the now-discredited austerity scholarship of fellow Harvard professors Reinhart & Rogoff, who were recently exposed in the homework assignment of a U Mass-Amherst grad student. Not content with this embarrassment, Ferguson has just distinguished himself with a homophobic rant in which he claims that John Maynard Keynes' economic theories are invalid due to his sexuality. He also managed to suggest that anyone who does not have children (this would include, among others, Jesus) does not care about future generations.

Tom Kostigen of Financial Advisor broke the story on Saturday:

“Speaking at the Tenth Annual Altegris Conference in Carlsbad, Calif., in front of a group of more than 500 financial advisors and investors, Ferguson responded to a question about Keynes' famous philosophy of self-interest versus the economic philosophy of Edmund Burke, who believed there was a social contract among the living, as well as the dead. Ferguson asked the audience how many children Keynes had. He explained that Keynes had none because he was a homosexual and was married to a ballerina, with whom he likely talked of 'poetry' rather than procreated. The audience went quiet at the remark. Some attendees later said they found the remarks offensive.

It gets worse.

Ferguson, who is the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University, and author of The Great Degeneration: How Institutions Decay and Economies Die,says it's only logical that Keynes would take this selfish worldview because he was an 'effete' member of society. Apparently, in Ferguson's world, if you are gay or childless, you cannot care about future generations nor society.”

Since the story hit the Internet, commenters have noted that Keynes was actually bi-sexual, and that his wife suffered a miscarriage. But facts apparently matter less than ad hominem attacks to Professor Ferguson. 

Niall Ferguson apologized on Twitter, calling his remarks “stupid and tactless.”

In the past, however, Ferguson has commented on Keynes' sexuality in his …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Slow Recovery: Bad Policy or the Norm Following a Financial Crisis

May 4, 2013 in Economics

By John P. Cochran

Reinhart-Rogoff Revisited

The recent release of GDP data continues to show a weak recovery which many who contribute here have attributed regime uncertainty and inappropriate policy. The Wall Street Journal (“A Jobs Fillip”) comes to a similar conclusion:

Left to its own devices, the U.S. economy will grow as individuals and businesses try to improve their lot and expand. The tragedy of the last four years is that Washington tried to supplant or interfere with those decisions with a wave of regulation, spending and taxation.

John B. Taylor also sees the slow recovery as caused by “ineffective policy interventions” in this comment on the data (“Another Take on Reinhart-Rogoff Controversy”) :

The updated charts below incorporate last Friday’s release of the first quarter GDP data. They continue to tell the story of a weak recovery which, in my view, is largely due to ineffective government policy interventions. There is, of course, an alternative view: that the recovery is weak because the recession and the financial crisis were severe.

This view takes the onus off bad policy as the cause of the slow recovery and bolsters the argument (erroneous in my view) that without stimulus things would have been worse. This alternative view is based on empirical work by Reinhart-Rogoff (This Time Is Different). Reinhart and Rogoff have been in the news recently because of errors in their empirical work on the impact on economic growth from large debt/GDP ratios (see here and here). This error has received lots of press lately, as Taylor points out, because the correction of the error provides data that can be used to “support more fiscal stimulus and less consolidation.”

Michael Bordo has provided strong evidence that Reinhart-Rogoff were also mistaken in their empirical research in This Time Is Different. U. S. data does not support the Reinhart-Rogoff conclusion that that slow recovery following a financial crisis is the norm. Despite the fact that “Bordo wrote about his findings (which are based on his joint research with Joe Haubrich of the Cleveland Fed) in a September 27, 2012 Wall Street Journal article, ‘Financial Recessions Don’t Lead to Weak Recoveries’”, this error has received minimal coverage in the press and the blogosphere especially compared to mountains of positive press of covering the exposure of errors in their work on debt and growth.

Bordo’s correction is, as Taylor speculates, largely ignored because it lends support to the bad policy–slow recovery causal …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Whom do you trust: Bitcoin or Bernanke?

May 4, 2013 in Economics

By John P. Cochran

For those following Bitcoin, this interview with Gavin Andresen, the 46-year-old lead software developer for the Bitcoin project in today’s Wall Street Journal should be of interest.

Bitcoin vs. Ben Bernanke

“The chief scientist for the digital currency talks about its appeal—and pitfalls—in a world of fiat money.”

Highlights:

As for the upside, small online merchants would welcome a global payment standard. For this reason Bitcoin or a similar technology could threaten the power of not just central banks, but banks, period. Unlike online payment services that give people with credit cards easier ways to transact business, Bitcoin works best when avoiding the traditional financial system completely.

And

Politicians and their appointees are entirely cut out of Bitcoin’s monetary loop. This is a significant difference between Bitcoin and government-issued fiat currencies. Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas President Richard Fisher calls the U.S. dollar a “faith-based currency.” In other words, its value rests on the belief that the government will not print so many dollars that each one becomes nearly worthless.

And

This [deflation that is predicted to be a consequence of Bitcoin’s fixed nature ] is  portrayed as a recipe for economic disaster by those who like to inflate currencies to relieve the burden on borrowers, including spendthrift governments.

It’s true that deflations have sometimes accompanied economic disaster, but also economic triumphs. For example, in “Money, Markets & Sovereignty,” Benn Steil and Manuel Hinds describe the second phase of the Industrial Revolution in the U.S. between 1870 and 1896. Prices fell by 32% over the period, but real income soared 110% amid robust economic growth, expanded trade and enormous innovation in telecommunications and other industries.

The conclusion:

It’s almost time for Mr. Andresen to get back to work. He shares some useful advice about Bitcoin: “I tell people it’s still an experiment and only invest time or money you could afford to lose.” If only investors could as easily follow that advice with fiat currencies.

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE