You are browsing the archive for 2013 May 08.

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Sen. Paul Introduces Defense of Environment and Property Act of 2013

May 8, 2013 in Politics & Elections

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, Sen. Rand Paul introduced the Defense of Environment and Property Act along with Sens. Mike Lee (Utah), Marco Rubio (Fla.), David Vitter (La.) and Mitch McConnell (Ky.). This act will bring common sense back to federal water policy by redefining ‘navigable waters,’ excluding ephemeral or intermittent streams from federal jurisdiction, and restraining the powers that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers hold over American landowners.
‘Environmental protection must be balanced with the constitutional right to private property,’ Sen. Paul said. ‘I have spoken with several Americans who have fallen victim to the EPA and Army Corps’ aggressive breach of power. This act will restore common sense to the federal jurisdiction over navigable waters, place necessary limitations on out-of-control government agencies and protect our right to private property.’
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Source: RAND PAUL

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Resist the Data Siren Song

May 8, 2013 in Economics

By Neal McCluskey

Neal McCluskey

It seems easy: collect data, process data, publish data, and everyone becomes better informed and wiser. It’s seductive, and it was clear listening to President Barack Obama and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) that both are under data’s spell when it comes to budget-busting higher education. But the main college problem isn’t a shortage of useful information — it’s massive federal student aid discouraging its use.

In his State of the Union address, Obama celebrated federal student aid but then lamented that “taxpayers cannot continue to subsidize the soaring cost of higher education.” His solution? Change college accreditation to include measures of “affordability and value,” and publish information such as loan default rates to help consumers become better informed.

Rubio’s take on the affordability problem was almost identical: laud student aid, lament price inflation, and declare that “we must give students more information on the costs and benefits of the student loans they are taking out.”

Our root college problem isn’t too little information. It is too much federal government.”

But Rubio is doing more than talking. He has co-sponsored a bill with Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) that would create a massive database of individual-level education and earnings information. The data would eventually be used to tie student outcomes to schools. But useful information is already in abundance, yet every year millions of students major in things with little prospect for good pay, or attend schools with poor outcomes.

The infamous U.S. News and World Report rankings have many flaws, but a degree from a top-25, national university almost certainly carries more weight than from a 30th-ranked regional. U.S. News also furnishes four- and six-year graduation rates for most schools, as well as lots of financial aid information. And U.S. News is hardly alone in the college-evaluation game, with numerous outlets ranking schools based on varying criteria.

What about the employment and earnings prospects for different fields of study? In addition to the Bureau of Labor Statistics furnishing data for myriad occupations, PayScale.com provides breakdowns of starting and mid-career earnings for numerous majors. Bachelor’s in psychology? The average starting salary is $35,200. Music? That kicks off at $34,600. Petroleum engineering? $98,000.

Despite such information being readily available, every year throngs of new grads walk off with diplomas in poorly paying areas. According to federal figures, in the 2009-10 academic year there were 97,216 bachelor’s degrees awarded in psychology, 91,842 in performing and visual arts, but only …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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The May ‘Free Market’ is Now Available

May 8, 2013 in Economics

By Mises Updates

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The May issue of The Free Market is now available at Mises.org. This month: Judge Andrew Napolitano, who will be teaching at Mises University this summer, talks with us about Constitutional Law:

The Free Market: When it comes to Supreme Court cases, what do you think were some of the most damaging to the cause of liberty?

Judge Napolitano: …Almost all of them.

Meanwhile, Christopher Westley builds on Walter Blocks’s work on the so-called “pay gap.”

Moreover, the economics literature strongly suggests that, corrected for productivity, the differences between male and female compensation shrink considerably. As Loyola University economist Walter Block often points out, if wages of certain classes of workers (such as women) were actually less than the revenues generated by those workers, employers would be foolish not to have employment biases in favor of those workers in the first place.

In addition, David Gordon provides a sneak peek into Ralph Raico’s commentary on the libertarian movement for the Oral History Project at the Mises Institute:

While still in high school, Raico and Reisman became interested in Mises, and Raico describes their hilarious attempt to meet Mises, in the guise of door-to-door salesmen for The Freeman. The attempt failed, but they soon were able to join Mises’s famous seminar at New York University. Here Raico met someone who became one of the dominant intellectual influences on his life—Murray Rothbard.

See May’s issue for the latest in news and events at The Ludwig von Mises Institute and other Mises Institutes across the globe.

By the way, you can get these in your mailbox every month by donating to the Mises Institute.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Fear, Paranoia and Loathing: Inside the NRA's 2013 Convention

May 8, 2013 in Blogs

By Alexander Zaitchik, Media Matters

To swing the door on a National Rifle Association annual meeting is to enter a world where Freedom comes from a gun.


HOUSTON – To swing the door on a National Rifle Association annual meeting is to enter a world where Freedom comes from a gun. The gun's purpose is not important. It doesn't have to be American made. It can be any number of shapes, so long as it has a grip, a trigger, and a barrel. But only from a gun barrel can Freedom flow. In the words of multiple NRA members who confronted protestors this past weekend, “The Second Amendment is the one thing protecting the First.”

Last May in St. Louis, NRA leaders pounded away at this idea in a torrent of Apocalyptic warnings about the consequences of failure in the November elections. A year later, gathering two weeks after helping defeat the biggest effort to strengthen gun laws in a generation, the same men delivered the NRA's Second Amendment gospel with a newfound swagger. Unchanged was the primacy of guns and gun rights in the NRA's understanding of the world and everything in it. In his opening speech, Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre described the gun enthusiasts before him as “Freedom's biggest army, greatest hope, and brightest future.” The group's chief lobbyist-strategist, the boyish Tennessean Chris Cox, celebrated the convention as “the biggest celebration ever of American values,” whose 86,000-plus attendees embodied “the essence of participation in American democracy.”

NRA summits involve leadership votes and platform debates, but NRA-style democracy isn't about those things alone. It's also about the guns that make it possible. Which is why NRA conventions feature an exhibition hall packed with hundreds of booths displaying Freedom's latest fashions – what the group calls “the most spectacular displays of firearms, shooting and hunting accessories in the world.”

The big story on the floor this year was the post-election sales bounce following Sandy Hook and a revitalized gun violence debate. Companies that had reduced production to normal post-election levels in November were blindsided by second buying frenzy and have yet to …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Did Make-Up Give My Wife Breast Cancer? The Ugly Truth Hidden by the Cosmetics Industry

May 8, 2013 in Blogs

By John Wasik, The Washington Monthly

The virtually unregulated beauty industry puts potential carcinogens in their products. Then they shower us with “pink ribbons” to broadcast their support for a cure.


When Kathleen felt a lump in her right breast she began a journey that millions have experienced—or, sadly, will experience. After a painful biopsy and other tests confirmed it was cancer, my wife was thrown into a cauldron of tears, doubt, and fear for herself and her loved ones. Our two daughters were then just eight and twelve.

Like many cancer patients, Kathleen also experienced a stranglehold of guilt. Was it something she did or didn’t do that fed the tumor? Was it the meat in our diet? Our water? The air? Her genes? I assured her that we couldn’t be at fault. We had banned soda pop and anything with high-fructose corn syrup from our house more than a decade before. We tried to eat organic food, we were transitioning to more vegetarian fare, and she did yoga and took regular walks. We didn’t even have cable.

After a test showed that Kathleen didn’t have the BRCA breast cancer gene, her surgeon, Dr. Sonya Sharpless, suggested that environmental factors might be implicated. But what could they be? Kathleen had already thrown out a bevy of household cleaning products and plastic containers.

Then she discovered the work of the Breast Cancer Fund, a San Francisco-based advocacy group that for the last ten years has been focusing on cancer-causing agents in personal care products. Through a coalition of health and environmental groups called the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (of which the Breast Cancer Fund is the principal sponsor), the organization has been drawing attention to the fact that known carcinogens—substances like formaldehyde—are used as preservatives in everything from suntan oil to makeup. Kathleen frantically threw out her all her expensive Clinique and Shiseido cosmetics.

Did a lifetime of using cosmetics cause or contribute to Kathleen’s breast cancer? We don’t know. But here are some facts that every American woman and her loved ones should absorb. The European Union bans nearly 1,400 chemicals from personal care products …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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5 Shocking Revelations from the Cleveland Kidnapping

May 8, 2013 in Blogs

By Kristen Gwynne, AlterNet

New details from the decade-long nightmare reveal a true house of horrors and puzzling police incompetence.


After nearly a decade of imprisonment, Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight were finally rescued on Monday from their alleged captors, Ariel Castro and his two brothers, Pedro and Onil, in Cleveland, Ohio. The horrifying case has shocked Americans and set off a frenzied search for answers and information. Now, the gruesome details of their captivity– as well as failed opportunities to rescue them sooner — are becoming apparent. Here are five stunning things we know about the case so far:

1. Merciless Abuse 

Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight endured almost a decade of astounding physical and sexual abuse at the hands of the Castros, who appear to have forced the girls into years of sex slavery in a nightmarish dungeon in Ariel Castro's home. Police Chief Michael McGrath told NBC's Today Show that they had been bound, and that  “there were chains and ropes in the hall.” Raped repeatedly, the women reportedly endured up to five pregnancies, during which they were also beaten. The fetuses did not survive, with one woman reportedly suffering three miscarriages at the hands of her attackers. It appears, however, that one of the brothers fathered Berry’s six-year-old girl, who was found, terrified, in the home.  

2. Missed Opportunities

Neighbors of Castro say they told police about horrific evidence of abuse — naked women crawling on leashes, banging on windows for help — years before the rescue came. Elsie Cintron, who lives three doors down, told USA Today her daughter once saw a naked woman crawling on her hands and knees in the backyard, prompting her to call police. “But they didn't take it seriously,” she said. Cintron also said she once saw a little girl gazing out of the attic window.

According to USA Today, another neighbor, Israel Lugo called police about two years ago after his sister told him she heard a woman who seemed to need help banging on a window at Castro’s home. “When his …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Sen. Paul Introduces Bill to Repeal Anti-Privacy Provisions in FATCA

May 8, 2013 in Politics & Elections

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, Sen. Rand Paul introduced a bill to repeal anti-privacy provisions of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) and put an end to a defective bill that does not accomplish its objective of ending tax evasion. FATCA infringes upon basic constitutional rights, for under FATCA, private data of anyone considered a ‘U.S. Person’ would have details of their financial assets provided to the IRS without a warrant requirement, suspicious activity report (SAR), or any allegation of wrongdoing at all. Stated in its simplest form, FATCA would require every non-American financial institution (such as banks, credit unions, pension funds, stock and investment firms, etc.) to register directly with the IRS and agree to provide specified financial data on the accounts of any ‘U.S. Person.’ Perhaps even more troubling, the implementation of FATCA has allowed the Treasury Department to make independent decisions with respect to the sovereignty of foreign nations and the privacy of United States citizens. In order to implement this law, Treasury has initiated intergovernmental agreements (IGAs), citing the intent to engage in reciprocal information sharing with other nations. In other words, the Treasury Department, without the consent and authority of Congress, will force U.S. financial institutions to provide the bank account information of private customers to foreign nations.
‘FATCA is a textbook example of a bad law that doesn’t achieve its stated purpose but does manage to unleash a host of unanticipated destructive consequences,’ Sen. Paul said. ‘FATCA’s harmful impacts cover the spectrum. It is a violation of Americans’ constitutional protections, oversteps the limits of Executive power, disregards the mutual respect of sovereignty among nations and drains money from the federal treasury under the guise of replenishing it, and discourages overseas investment in the United States.’
‘Tax evasion is a problem that should be addressed, but not in such an egregious way. FATCA violates important privacy protections, disregards the sovereign laws of other nations and will cost the U.S. economy hundreds of billions of dollars in compliance costs,’ he continued. ‘FATCA should be repealed, and Congress should consider less onerous means of enforcing tax laws.’

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Source: RAND PAUL

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Right-Wing Media Myths about Benghazi

May 8, 2013 in Blogs

By Justin Berrier, Hannah Groch-Begley, Eric Hananoki, Andrew Lawrence, Ellie Sandmeyer, MediaMatters

Fox and others just keep dredging up lies about embassy attack in time for today's hearings.


 

Right-wing media are using a congressional hearing to push new myths about the Obama administration's response to the September 11, 2012 attacks on a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya. In fact, these myths are discredited by previous congressional reports and testimony, which show that the politicized nature of the hearings come from right-wing media and Congressional Republicans, that the military could not have rescued personnel from the second attack, that the administration was in constant communication at all levels during the attacks, and that the intelligence community believed there was a link to an anti-Islam video at the time of the attacks.

MYTH: Latest Benghazi Hearing Is Apolitical

Fox News' Brian Kilmeade Attacks The Claim That Benghazi Hearings Are “Politically Driven.” On Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade claimed that because self-identified whistleblowers are testifying at congressional hearings on Benghazi at a time that elections are not being held, the hearings can't be politically driven, saying “politics is out, and whistleblowers are in”:

KILMEADE: [A]nyone who says this is politically driven, or it's against the president, that's out the window. Because if there's a non-political season in this world in American politics, it's now. The mid-terms aren't close –

STEVE DOOCY [co-host]: Sure.

KILMEADE: And the president is not running. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 5/7/13, via Media Matters]

FACT: Right-Wing Media And Congressional Republicans Have Politicized The Hearings

Fox News' John Bolton: “I Hope [Benghazi] Is A Cover Up … If It Was Merely A Political Cover-Up Then There Can Be A Political Cost To Pay.” On Your World, Fox News contributor John Bolton said he hoped the hearings found that despite all evidence to the contrary, the Obama administration had engaged in a “political cover up” by altering CIA talking points to suggest that the attacks came in response to an anti-Islam video:

BOLTON: I'd have to say for the good of the country, I hope it is a cover up rather than the alternative, which is the Obama administration was so blind to the reality of the threat of Islamic terrorism, the continued threat from Al Qaeda… If that's …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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"Austerity" Debate Far from Over

May 8, 2013 in Economics

Critics of “austerity” budget measures claimed victory recently when a group of researchers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst discovered a small error in a widely cited paper by Carmen Reinhart and Ken Rogoff that showed economic growth was lower in countries with higher debt loads. But according to Cato scholar Michael D. Tanner, those critics need to face a few facts before they declare the war won.

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Source: CATO HEADLINES

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Krugman's Still Wrong

May 8, 2013 in Economics

By Michael D. Tanner

Michael D. Tanner

Paul Krugman has never been shy about proclaiming that he is right and everyone else is wrong — and not just wrong, but “knaves and fools.” Lately, however, one begins to worry that he might actually hurt himself, so vigorously has he been patting himself on the back for his opposition to “austerity” (defined as any cut in government spending, anytime, anywhere).

On his latest victory lap, Krugman is celebrating two things. First, a group of researchers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst discovered a small error in a widely cited paper by Carmen Reinhart and Ken Rogoff that showed economic growth was lower in countries with higher debt loads. Many of those who favor reduced government spending (including me) have cited Reinhart and Rogoff positively. Therefore, Krugman declares, the entire idea of austerity has been “sold on false pretenses.”

Professor Krugman should pause briefly from congratulating himself to take a look at a few unfortunate facts.”

Second, European economies have sputtered. Krugman blames this on sharp spending cuts, which would be the opposite of the Keynesian stimulus spending that he favors. If only European governments had listened to him, Krugman suggests, instead of to all those knaves and fools, and spent more, their economies would be humming along by now.

Professor Krugman should pause briefly from congratulating himself totake a look at a few unfortunate facts.

Let’s deal with the Reinhart and Rogoff kerfuffle first.

For all the attention it has received, the Amherst researchers did not actually disprove Reinhart and Rogoff’s conclusion. Reinhart and Rogoff found that economies grew slower during periods of high debt (defined as government debt greater than 90 percent of GDP) than they did during times of lower debt.

The researchers from UMass, on the other hand, found that — wait for this — economies grew slower during periods of higher debt than they do during times of lower debt.

The UMass researchers did find a smaller difference in growth rates (one percentage point versus 1.3 points for the preferred median rates in Reinhart and Rogoff), but that hardly suggests that we are in dire need of more debt.

Besides, Reinhart and Rogoff’s model always provided a sort of faux precision to the debt argument. While the UMass researchers agreed that higher debt is correlated with lower growth, they found no evidence of Reinhart and Rogoff’s assertion that growth drops off dramatically above 90 percent of GDP. …read more

Source: OP-EDS