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The Making of an AMERICAN EXPERIENCE Film

June 30, 2013 in History

June 30, 2013 11:44 a.m.

Just as the weather starts heating up, many offices start slowing down, but not here at AMERICAN EXPERIENCE! With five hours of new programming, including our epic two-part documentary on JFK premiering in the fall, our staff has been hard at work. In June alone we have already had five screenings for various films in different levels of production. While this has become old hat to everyone here on staff, we realize that our viewers may not always be aware of the process our films go through before they air.

For most of our films we work with independent producers (JFK notwithstanding – more on that later). The filmmakers, along with their amazingly talented teams, are charged with the production, from writing the script to filming and editing to post. Our core staff works with our filmmakers as needed, helping with collecting materials, finalizing budgets and ultimately getting the programs ready to air on PBS.

Because we usually work with outside production companies, the filmmakers make trips to our office in Boston to show their progress to our Executive and Senior Producers. Eventually our VP of National Programming will sit in as well. They do this so everyone can see where the film is going and provide comments and feedback.

The process begins with the Assembly Screening, which is the first attempt to piece together the narrative. At this point the filmmaker may not have all of their footage shot or interviews conducted, just the bare bones. The next step is the Rough Cut. At this stage the film starts to take its final shape. The notes from the Rough Cut are used to guide the Fine Cut. And then, any final changes are made before the Picture Lock. This means exactly what it sounds like, the images in the film are locked and the film is ready for animation, final narration and music.

This year we have had the exciting opportunity to produce a film in house – JFK is being produced by our Series Producer with support coming from members of our staff. With Picture Lock coming up next month, the team has been working diligently to get everything just right. The office is abuzz with activity. And it is great for us here on staff to get a taste of what our outside filmmakers deal with on the day to day.

Keep checking back to learn …read more

Source: AMERICAN EXPERIENCE

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Crisis: Interventionism or Free Markets?

June 30, 2013 in Economics

By John P. Cochran

Shawn Ritenour, author of Foundations of Economics, channels Mises to dispute the “sad narratives of the financial meltdown of 2008 and its aftermath .. that it was and remains the result of unbridled capitalism. Too much freedom spoiled the economic broth” is his excellent commentary  Is the Economic Crisis an Indictment of Capitalism?” His conclusion:

In a free market rooted in private property, the only way entrepreneurs are able to sustain profits is by serving customers better than anyone else. It is only when they receive special privileges through preferential regulation, subsidies, bailouts and the like that they are able to reap profits for which they have not sowed productive activity.

I was struck by how much of what Mises said about the response of many to the Great Depression applies closely to our current situation. Just like Mises, we must never tire of explaining the fallacies in the thinking of those who think the Great Recession is a clear case of the failure of capitalism. In fact, it is a quintessential example of the failures of interventionism to bring about anything other than economic destruction and relative impoverishment.

Pierre Lemieux’s Somebody in Charge: A Solution to Recessions? “debunks the “markets caused the problem” literature in “The Laissez-Faire Scapegoat,” and “The Crime Scene”.”

From my review:

The U.S. reforms were truly incomplete and were being reversed. Prior to the 2007–2009 recession, the U.S. system was an entrenched mixed economy with, as Lemieux puts it, “the line between politicians and bureaucrats on one hand and tightly regulated private companies on the other hand . . . blurred” (p. 82). The regulatory climate, from at least the mid- to late 1990s, was not pro-business, free market, or antiregulatory. In fact, the George W. Bush years were “one of the most regulation-heavy periods in American history,” with an “American banking system and financial system that certainly could not be described as laissez-faire. It was tightly supervised and controlled by the authorities—in the spirit of the times” (p. 102, emphasis added). One major financial institution of central control was mostly unaffected by the liberalizations of the 1980s and actually ended the era with enhanced prestige and power—the Federal Reserve System (the Fed).

Once the crisis hit, many economists (pp. 83–102), pundits, and political opportunists such as the democratic majority on the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission jumped to the conclusion that “the banks led …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Egyptians Have Lost Faith in Morsi

June 28, 2013 in Economics

By Dalibor Rohac

Dalibor Rohac

As Mohamed Morsi prepares to mark his first anniversary as president Sunday, Egypt is bracing for a fresh wave of protests.

The Tamarod (or Rebel) campaign has reportedly collected more than 15 million signatures demanding Morsi’s resignation and an early presidential election. In response, the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated ruling Freedom and Justice Party is organizing rallies in support of the government. Last week, tens of thousands of FJP supporters were brought in on buses from rural areas to Cairo’s Nasr City neighborhood, where they chanted slogans such as “Islam is the solution” and “The Koran is the constitution.”

Things could take a nasty turn; after all, the Rebel campaign headquarters were burned down on June 7, and attacks on local FJP offices have been reported. The government is talking of a conspiracy aimed at bringing it down. “There is information about an arrangement among certain former MPs and Mubarak’s National Democratic Party thugs to cause violence and mayhem in the June 30 demonstrations,” said an FJP media advisor.

But that’s just fear-mongering, Magdy Samaan, a Cairo-based journalist for London’s Daily Telegraph, told me in an interview. “The constant talk about violence is aimed at keeping people at home on June 30…. Egyptians have never been more upset with their government than now, and the Muslim Brotherhood is afraid that more people will come to the streets than during the Arab Spring.”

The popular discontent with Morsi is understandable. There has been crisis after crisis — economic and political — with many of the goals of the Arab Spring seemingly forgotten.

Over the last year, the government has done little to address the country’s economic problems. The economy is expected to grow at 2.5% in the current fiscal year — barely half of pre-2011 growth rates — and the budget deficit is now at 11.5% of GDP.

The deficit is overwhelmingly driven by wasteful subsidies to fuels and food, accruing mostly to wealthy households and big businesses, while the poor face shortages. The imports of subsidized commodities are draining the country’s foreign reserves — now at one-third their 2010 levels. Instead of proceeding with systemic reform of the subsidy system, Morsi’s government has a pattern of announcing partial reform initiatives but with very little, or no, follow-through.

The unemployment rate has been rising steadily since 2010. The current rate is 13.2%, with 77% of the unemployed between the ages of 15 and 29. The lack of private-sector-led job …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Letter to the Editor: Ecuador Clings to the Greenback

June 28, 2013 in Economics

By Steve H. Hanke

Steve H. Hanke

Dear Sir,

The reportage by John Paul Rathbone and Andres Schipani (“Ecuador’s starring role as champion of human rights beset by contradictions,” June 25) states that “… Ecuador’s economy is pegged to the US dollar.” No. Ecuador is dollarized.

On 9 January 2000, President Mahuad announced that Ecuador would abandon the hapless sucre and replace it with the US dollar. By 2002, the process of official dollarization was complete. Since then, Ecuador has endured a great deal of political instability. But, thanks to dollarization, the economy has turned in a most respectable performance. That’s why President Correa, for all his bluster directed towards the US, clings to the greenback.

Steve H. Hanke is a Professor of Applied Economics at The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C.

…read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Washington Times Op-Ed: Obamacare ‘is still unconstitutional’ one year after Supreme Court approval

June 28, 2013 in Politics & Elections

One year ago, the Supreme Court upheld a law that radically transforms our health care system in a way that continues to frighten and beleaguer most Americans.
Friday is the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court upholding the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare. The 5-4 decision declared that the federal government could force Americans to buy health insurance. Not just any insurance, but insurance covering procedures dictated by the federal government. Obamacare established a new labyrinth of red tape and bureaucracy, colossal even by Washington standards, and most importantly-penalize the uninsured through the Individual Mandate.
Writing the Majority Opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts declared that individual mandate could be considered a tax, and that the power to tax was also the power to enforce the law. Dissenting Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito vehemently disagreed, writing in their dissent: ‘(W)e cannot rewrite the statute to be what it is not… (W)e have never-never-treated as a tax an exaction which faces up to the critical difference between a tax and a penalty, and explicitly denominates the exaction a ‘penalty.’
I believed that Obamacare is still unconstitutional. I still believe that Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas and Alito got it right.
One year later, the federal health care law is even more concerning. In addition to potentially causing upwards of 20 million Americans to lose their private health insurance policies, estimates say it could destroy 800,000 jobs.
The particular jobs that Obamacare creates are perhaps the most troubling.
Obamacare creates 16,000 new jobs at the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS is also given the authority to enforce and police compliance with Obamacare. The same agency that admittedly targeted groups with ‘tea party’ or ‘patriot’ in their names is now given the responsibility of making sure our individual health plans fall under the guidelines and restrictions imposed by this administration.
Last June, many considered Obamacare a nightmare. Surveying the ramifications of this law a year later, it looks even worse. Even Democrat Senator Max Baucus calls it a ‘huge train wreck.’
After the IRS scandal became public, President Obama declared his ‘outrage’ and vowed that those responsible would be held ‘fully accountable.’ Yet nothing has been done.
Instead, we are using taxpayer dollars to reward IRS agents with $70 million in bonuses. So, the IRS gets millions in bonuses and thousands of new jobs. Meanwhile they and the other Washington bureaucrats implementing Obamacare, along with the Supreme …read more

Source: RAND PAUL

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Good News on the Budget Deficit?

June 28, 2013 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

If you’re a big spender, there’s good news in Washington. The deficit is down. The budget crisis is over. So Uncle Sam can go back to his wastrel ways!

Indeed, the usual suspects insist, it’s time to spend more. The federal government should provide more stimulus spending to put people back to work. Food Stamps should not be cut despite nearly doubling in cost over the last five years. Every state should expand Medicaid. Social Security benefits should be increased, not reduced. After years of horrible, painful austerity, it’s time to party!

Only in Washington.

A normal person could be forgiven for believing the U.S. faces a budget crisis of extraordinary proportions. Uncle Sam has run up $5 trillion in red ink over the last four years. The national debt now approaches $17 trillion. Economist Laurence Kotlikoff figured total federal debts, unfunded liabilities, and other obligations exceed $220 trillion.

But no. The Congressional Budget Office has delivered us from a life of pessimism and tears, of penury and privation. It recently issued new budget projections, which put Uncle Sam’s red ink this year at $642 billion.

That’s one-sixth of total federal outlays. It is 50 percent higher than that pre-Obama record deficit in 2008. It is adding huge obligations for tomorrow’s taxpayers to pay.

But no matter. It is less than previously predicted. So no more need for “austerity.” No more necessity for “draconian” budget cuts. No more cause to balance the budget “on the backs of the poor.” Now Washington can get back to what Washington does best — spending taxpayers’ money on clamorous interest groups.

In fact, the CBO’s latest report, “Updated Budget Projections: Fiscal Years 2013 to 2023,” actually demonstrates that we face a continuing, enduring, and potentially catastrophic budget crisis. The near term is slightly less disastrous than originally thought. But without a genuine change of direction, the federal Leviathan remains headed over an economic cliff.

There is one bit of good news. The deficit is falling. Earlier this year CBO figured the likely 2013 deficit at $845 billion. Now the organization estimates $642 billion.

However, this reduction does not reflect spending restraint. Rather, tax collections are up and the housing revival has at least temporarily stopped the fiscal bleeding of Washington’s boondoggle housing agencies. Explained the agency: the deficit estimate dropped significantly from February “mostly as a result of higher-than-expected revenues and an increase in payments to the Treasury by Fannie …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Sen. Paul Appears on Fox's Your World with Stuart Varney- 6/27/2013

June 27, 2013 in Politics & Elections

…read more

Source: RAND PAUL

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Salerno Interview on the Fed

June 27, 2013 in Economics

By Mark Thornton

Joseph Salerno appeared on Russia Today’s TV show Prime Interest to discuss money, the Fed and the future economic crisis. He comes on at about the 3 minute mark.

Link to show

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Senators Reject Department of Interior’s Federal Hydraulic Fracturing Regulation with Introduction of FRESH Act

June 27, 2013 in Politics & Elections

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a senior member of the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, today reintroduced the Fracturing Regulations are Effective in State Hands (FRESH) Act of 2013 (S.1234) for the 113th Congress. The bill is cosponsored by the EPW committee’s Ranking Member Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) along with Sens. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), John Boozman (R-Ark.), and John Hoeven (R-N.D.). Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) has reintroduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

‘States have been safely and effectively regulating hydraulic fracturing since it was first done in Duncan, Oklahoma in 1949,’ said Inhofe. ‘Since then, a robust regulatory structure has emerged in every state where hydraulic fracturing occurs. States and industry have developed strong working relationships so that today’s regulations match the industry’s practices and provide effective environmental protection. The Department of Interior’s foray into this space is simply an attempt to further hinder oil and gas production on federal lands and makes it more difficult for us to achieve domestic energy independence.

Streamlined regulations are critical if we are going to achieve this important goal, but the DOI’s rules are duplicative and add unnecessary layers of complication and compliance to the already frustrating business of developing energy in the federal mineral estate. The DOI should abandon its rulemaking effort and simply defer to the states to continue effectively regulating the process when it occurs on federal lands.’

Sen. Vitter added, ‘All too often we see the federal government using flawed science on hydraulic fracturing, even though the states have shown they are capable of regulating themselves. There has been such positive progress with hydraulic fracturing – clearly the brightest spot in our otherwise slumping economy – and this bill gives states the freedom they need to be effective in providing proper safety protocols while growing American businesses. Just recently the EPA was forced to step aside in Wyoming and allow the state to take the lead, and we want this to be the case nationwide.’

‘Hydraulic fracturing has allowed for an unprecedented increase in the production of domestic sources of oil and …read more

Source: RAND PAUL

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Thwarting America's Crude Awakening

June 27, 2013 in Economics

By Scott Lincicome

Scott Lincicome

The American “shale boom” is poised to revolutionize global energy markets. It could transform the nation from a longtime net oil importer into an export powerhouse. Consider that the 2012 increase in U.S. crude oil production, announced last week, was the largest not just in U.S. history but the world.

To help this transformation, a bipartisan swath of federal and state officials is pressing for new infrastructure, like the Keystone XL pipeline, to move a glut of domestic oil from the center of North America to Gulf ports. This is a crucial step, but unless Congress reforms archaic restrictions on crude oil exports, all that black gold’s going nowhere.

These restrictions not only contradict global trade rules and national trade and energy policies, they also threaten to derail the American energy revolution. Yet, unlike similar restrictions on natural gas, almost no one in Washington is talking about them.

Archaic restrictions on crude oil exports threaten to derail the American energy revolution.”

In a free market, the answer to the key question of where to sell all this new American oil would be simple: wherever demand takes it. Unfortunately, the U.S.crude oil market is anything but free.

Instead, the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 authorized an export licensing system that, though intended to address temporary conditions, remains in place. It prohibits almost all crude oil exports — even in this time of abundant supply.

Exports today require a license from the Commerce Department that, except for shipments to Canada and a few other narrow circumstances, is only approved if the proposed transaction is “consistent with the national interest.”

Non-Canadian exports of U.S. crude oil are effectively banned. No license applications were approved under the “national interest” exception between 2000 and mid-2012, and subsequent data confirms that this unfortunate streak remains intact.

This de facto ban creates a host of problems. First, by curtailing exports and subjecting license approvals to the whims of bureaucrats, the current system slows domestic production, breeds economic distortions, discourages investment and destabilizes energy markets.

U.S. oil producers, for example, lose an estimated $10 billion a year due to their inability to sell crude in foreign markets. They’ve also spent hundreds of millions of dollars building “mini-refineries” in the Midwest and Gulf region to circumvent the current restrictions and export a slightly processed, cheaper product — leaving another $1.7 billion in potential profit on the table.

As Rube-Goldbergian as this sounds, producers have few alternatives, given that …read more

Source: OP-EDS