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Statement from McConnell, Paul and Whitfield on Paducah DOE Site

May 13, 2013 in Politics & Elections

WASHINGTON, D.C. -Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul and Congressman Ed Whitfield today released the following statement regarding their letter to the Department of Energy (DOE) concerning the reindustrialization of the Paducah site.
‘Last year we fought hard to save the federal government money and preserve 1,200 jobs at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant. Now it is time for DOE to come up with a long-term plan that will maximize job retention and growth for the foreseeable future. We refuse to stand idly by while DOE runs out the clock on potential private sector job investment that would create jobs here in Paducah.
‘We also made clear to the Department that we will refuse any proposal to move the depleted uranium tails out of state, which would only transfer economic development that may result from them elsewhere. We will continue to urge DOE to come up with a solution that is in the best interest of the people of Paducah and the taxpayers as a whole.’
McConnell, Paul and Whitfield’s letter to the DOE can be viewed here.
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Source: RAND PAUL

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Subjective Value in One (Hip-Hop) Lesson

May 13, 2013 in Economics

By Joseph Salerno

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwNLRNpVbN8

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Canada’s Space Celebrity Comes Home

May 13, 2013 in History

By Barbara Maranzani

Chris Hadfield juggling

Canadian Space Agency

On Monday evening, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield will wrap up his stay aboard the International Space Station when he and two fellow crewmembers touch down in eastern Kazakhstan. A veteran of two previous missions, Hadfield has become a media sensation—and an inspiration to millions—during his five months in space thanks to a regular stream of Tweets and photos and nearly 70 videos that covered a wide array of topics; from what it’s like to brush your teeth and how difficult it is cry in space to how to play the guitar and clip your fingernails—in zero-gravity.

For Hadfield, who’s now a civilian astronaut after a 25-year career in the Canadian Armed Forces, reviving popular interest in space exploration is a deeply personal mission—his own career path was set at the age of nine when he, like millions of others around the globe, watched the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing. And while many fans have only recently gotten to know him, his social media, space-marketing plan has been in the works for nearly three years. Already the first Canadian to walk in space, Hadfield was slated to become the first of his countrymen to command the International Space Station when the program’s Expedition 34 embarked on December 19, 2012. Hadfield decided that the mission was an ideal opportunity to get Canada, and the rest of the world, excited about space again after programs around the world suffered substantial cutbacks in recent years. With the help of his two sons, he established a presence on Twitter that grew from 20,000 followers around the start of his mission to more than 800,000 by its end yesterday. In addition, his videos have received more than 22 million video videos to the Canadian Space Agency’s YouTube channel, with millions more visiting the agency’s site itself for more information on Hadfield.

The 53-year old Hadfield has clearly enjoyed his stint 230 miles above Earth. He’s installed a Zero-G Christmas Tree, talked with Star Trek icon William Shatner, sang a tune dedicated to the ISS with the group Barenaked Ladies and, like every …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Stockman on Friedman

May 13, 2013 in Economics

By Thomas DiLorenzo

One chapter of David Stockman’s new book, The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America” that will be of special interest to Austrians is chapter 13 entitled “Milton Friedman’s Folly.”  Here are a few snippets:

“Friedman’s single variable-fixed money supply growth rule was basically academic poppycock” (p. 262).

“[B]y unshackling the Fed from the constraints of fixed exchange rates and the redemption of dollar liabilities for gold, Friedman’s monetary doctrine actually handed politicians a stupendous new prize.  It rendered trivial by comparison the ills owing to garden variety insults to the free market, such as rent control or the regulation of interstate trucking” (p. 264).

“The very idea that the FOMC would function as faithful monetary eunuchs, keeping their eyes on the M1 guage and deftly adjusting the dial in either direction upon any deviation from the 3 percent target, was sheer fantasy” (p. 265).

“[T]he Greenspan and Bernanke Fed have been wholly preoccupied with manipulation of . . . interest rates, and have relegated Friedman’s entire quantity theory of money to the dustbin of history.”

“Friedman jettisoned the gold standard for a remarkable statist reason” (p. 267).

“Friedman thoroughly misunderstood the Great Depression and concluded erroneously that undue regard for the gold standard rules by the Fed during 1929-1933 had resulted in its failure to conduct aggressive open market purchases of government debt, and hence to prevent the deep slide of M1 during the forty-five months after the crash” (p. 268).

“Friedman thus sided with the central planners” (p. 269).

“At the end of the day, Friedman’s monetary treatise offers no evidence whatsoever and simply asserts false causation; namely, that the passive decline of the money supply was the active cause of the drop in output and spending” (p. 271).

“For all practical purposes, then, it was Friedman who shifted the foundaton of the nation’s money from gold to T-bills” (p. 273).

“It was Friedman who first urged the romoval of the Bretton Woods gold standard restraints on central bank money printing, and then added insult to injury by giving conservative sanction to perpetual open market purchases of government debt by the Fed.  Friedman’s monetarism thereby institutionalized a regime which allowed politicians to chronically spend without taxing.”

 And on top of this, I might add, it was Milton Friedman who, as a U.S. Treasury Department statistician during World War II, was responsible for the institution of income tax withholding.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Mises: “Friedman Is Not an Economist”

May 13, 2013 in Economics

By Joseph Salerno

In an interview on The Lew Rockwell Show, economist Harry Veryser of the University of Detroit-Mercy and author of It Didn’t Have to Be This Way shared the following recollection:

I remember being in a conference with Ludwig von Mises in the sixties at FEE [the Foundation for Economic Education]. And I asked him about Friedman and economics. And he waved his hand in the typical Austrian way and he said: “Friedman is not an economist. He’s a statistician.”

Now in describing Friedman in these terms, Mises was not name calling but had a very specific meaning in mind. For Mises (pp. 247-48) a “statistician” was someone “who aim[s] at discovering economic laws from the study of economic experience.” But Mises maintained that statistics is not a method useful for research in economic theory because it deals with historical facts. According to Mises:

Statistics is a method for the presentation of historical facts concerning prices and other relevant data of human action. It is not economics and cannot produce economic theorems and theories. The statistics of prices is economic history. The insight that, ceteris paribus, an increase in demand must result in an increase in prices is not derived from experience. Nobody ever was or ever will be in a position to observe a change in one of the market data ceteris paribus. There is no such thing as quantitative economics. All economic quantities we know about are data of economic history.

Indeed in his magnum opus, A Monetary History of the United States, co-authored with Anna Schwartz, Friedman confirmed the accuracy of Mises’s characterization. In their Preface (p. xxii), Friedman and Schwartz stated that their aim in writing the book was “to provide a prologue and a background for a statistical analysis of the secular and cyclical behavior of money in the United States and to exclude any material not relevant to that purpose.” In the final chapter, entitled “A Summing Up,” the authors (Friedman and Schwartz, p. 676) listed three propositions regarding money that they discovered to be “common” to U.S. monetary history and concluded, “These common elements of monetary experience can be expected to characterize our future as they have our past.” It would be difficult to find a better expression of the statistician’s view of the social world.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Crony Capitalism: Legacy of the New Deal

May 13, 2013 in Economics

By Mark Thornton

Here is chapter 9 of David Stockman’s book Deformation: The New Deal’s True Legacy: Crony Capitalism and Fiscal Demise

Stockman Seminar

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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The Perils of Religious Persecution in Iran

May 13, 2013 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

The Islamic Republic of Iran often is in the news, and usually for all the wrong reasons. Tehran is suspected of developing nuclear weapons, though U.S. intelligence agencies see no evidence of an active nuclear weapons program. Iran also has a deteriorating human rights record.

The Islamic state is a particularly inhospitable home to religious minorities—Christians, Baha’is, Jews, Sunni Muslims. Iran is Exhibit #1 for the threat posed by Islamic fundamentalists gaining control of government.

Iran is not the most tyrannical government in the Middle East. America’s ally Saudi Arabia may deserve that title. Syria is the most dangerous, having slid into a full-scale civil war.

Nevertheless, Iranian repression is increasing and the space available to regime opponents is diminishing. Observed the Washington Post: “the anti-establishment energy that drove violent protests four years ago has disappeared, quashed by the heavy-handed crackdown in 2009 that followed Mahmud Ahmadinejad’s contested reelection.”

Iranian repression is increasing and the space available to regime opponents is diminishing.”

Genuine liberals long have been beyond the pale. Even respected Muslim leaders who differ from the dominant ruling faction face barriers to participating in the political process. Indiana University Professor Jamsheed Choksy recently warned that Iran was “expanding its crackdown on political, religious and social freedoms in advance of the June 14 [presidential] election.”

Even the United Nations has taken note. Last December the General Assembly approved a resolution, its 25th since 1985, criticizing Tehran for its brutal repression.

In February the UN released a highly critical 79-page assessment: “Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran.” The Special Rapporteur, Ahmed Shaheed, concluded “that there continues to be widespread systemic and systematic violations of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Reports communicated by nongovernmental organizations, human rights defenders, and individuals concerning violations of their human rights or the rights of others continue to present a situation in which civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights are undermined and violated in law and practice.”

Naturally, the government refused to cooperative. After the report was published Iran’s Chief Justice Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani denied everything and said ratification of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 had been a mistake.  Unsurprisingly, the Special Rapporteur learned of intimidation and reprisals, when witnesses were tortured and threatened with death for reporting Tehran’s abuses. Such an environment creates a particularly dangerous environment for any …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Immigration's Clear Benefits

May 13, 2013 in Economics

By Alex Nowrasteh

Alex Nowrasteh

As the Senate considers a comprehensive immigration reform package, fiscal conservatives are riven on the budget effects of the legislation. The Heritage Foundation has released a study claiming an immigration amnesty will cost the U.S. Treasury $6.3 trillion. Many other free-marketeers — of which I am one — decry that report’s methodology as ignoring the economic growth effects and resulting tax revenues of open immigration.

While the Senate bill is not perfect, it’s an improvement over the current immigration system — but the Heritage study’s gargantuan price tag does not hold up in the face of ample evidence of the economic benefits of immigration.

The Congressional Budget Office plans to “dynamically score” the fiscal impact of the Senate’s bill. This is a major win for rational analysis of any legislation, and something that free-marketeers have pushed for years — including analysts at Heritage.

Peaceful and healthy people are a boon for the economy and don’t bust government budgets.”

A proper dynamic score will capture the economic benefits and analyze their impact on tax revenues — not just taxes paid by immigrants, but by Americans who become more productive because of reform. More immigration will increase the size of the economy by adding more workers and entrepreneurs, which will then increase the amount of capital and construction, thus boosting gross domestic product. That larger economy will then increase tax revenues, all else remaining equal.

But how much bigger would the economy be?

A 2009 study prepared for the Cato Institute employed a dynamic economic model called USAGE to estimate the economic change caused by immigration reform. It found that a bill similar to that proposed in the Senate added $180 billion to U.S. household income a year.

Another paper commissioned by Cato employed a similar analysis using a model called the GMig2. The study found that immigration reform would increase U.S. GDP by $1.5 trillion in 10 years.

That model also ran a simulation in which all unauthorized immigrants were removed from the U.S. economy — a policy favored by Heritage’s study. The result was a $2.6 trillion decrease in estimated GDP growth over the same decade, confirming the commonsense observation that removing workers, consumers, investors, and entrepreneurs from America’s economy will make us poorer.

The Cato studies provide dynamic tools that count the unambiguous economic gains from increased immigration as part of any reform. The consensus among economists is that immigration is …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Electoral College Was Framers' Antidote to Popular Vote

May 13, 2013 in Economics

By Robert A. Levy

Robert A. Levy

Article II of the Constitution gives states broad authority to decide how their electoral votes are selected and divided among the candidates. In 48 states, the candidate who gets the most votes wins all of the state’s electoral votes.

The Framers meticulously crafted an electoral model that reduced sectionalism and reinforced minority rights.”

But the Constitution doesn’t require that rule. Maine and Nebraska have implemented district-by-district voting. One electoral vote goes to the winner in each congressional district, and the remaining two electoral votes are awarded to the winner of the statewide popular vote…

But is it a good idea? The Framers meticulously crafted an electoral model that reduced sectionalism and reinforced minority rights. Instead, popular voting would favor regions with high voter density and large states over small. “One man, one vote” may be the rallying cry of a democracy; but that is not our form of governance.

We are a constitutional republic; political outcomes are not always determined by majority rule. … For example, it takes two-thirds of Congress to override presidential vetoes, approve treaties, impeach a president, or expel a member of Congress.

Yes, there are downsides to district-by-district voting. First, it would increase the number and influence of marginal candidates who have little chance to win statewide majorities. Recall 1992, when Ross Perot captured nearly 19 percent of the national vote, but not a single state. If he had won a significant percentage of electoral votes, the election would have been thrown into the House of Representatives.

Second, winner-take-all eliminates the pernicious effect of gerrymandering from presidential elections. Under a district-based system, gerrymandering would impact presidential outcomes as well as congressional results. Third, less populated and closely divided states might attract candidates if the law provided for winner-take-all, but not if electoral votes were narrowly split.

Finally, a practical problem: district-by-district voting would have to be enacted by state legislatures. Because the dominant party would probably lose electoral votes, repeal of winner-take-all would be an uphill battle.

Robert Levy is chairman of the board at the Cato Institute and author of The Dirty Dozen: How 12 Supreme Court Cases Radically Expanded Government and Eroded Freedom.

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Source: OP-EDS