You are browsing the archive for 2013 June 17.

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Sen. Paul Introduces ‘Secure the Vote’ Amendment

June 17, 2013 in Politics & Elections

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sen. Rand Paul today introduced the ‘Secure the Vote’ Amendment to S. 744, which he previously announced on June 5. ‘Secure the Vote’ ensures that individuals on work visas or given status under the bill are not allowed to vote in federal elections until they become citizens. The amendment will provide new procedures to enable states to check that individuals gaining status or a work visa are not illegally registered to vote.
‘Not only would this amendment prevent voter fraud, it would also clear up the problem created by today’s Supreme Court decision. My amendment requires states to check citizenship before registering people to vote in federal elections,’ Sen. Paul said.

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Source: RAND PAUL

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Sen. Paul Statement on Supreme Court Ruling on Mandatory Minimum Sentencing

June 17, 2013 in Politics & Elections

Sen. Rand Paul today released the following statement in response to the United States Supreme Court ruling in Alleyne v. United States, which requires that facts underlying a mandatory minimum sentence must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury.
‘Today’s Supreme Court decision is a promising step forward in reining in mandatory minimum sentencing in our courts. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and I recently introduced the Justice Safety Valve Act, which is designed to combat the injustice in many federal criminal laws, which have mandatory minimum penalties attached. Mandatory minimum sentences violate the bedrock principle that all people should be treated as individuals – not grouped in to a one-size-fits-all mandate.’

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Source: RAND PAUL

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Melissa Etheridge: Pot got me through

June 17, 2013 in PERSONAL LIBERTY

By drosenfeld …read more

Source: DRUG POLICY

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North Korea: From Hyperinflation to Dollarization?

June 17, 2013 in Economics

By Steve H. Hanke

image

Steve H. Hanke

For years, North Korea has been crushed by a communist command economy, producing little besides mass starvation. More recently, the plight of North Korea’s economy has been exacerbated by harsh, foreign economic sanctions — which only seem to have driven the regime to double down on its nuclear ambitions.

Following North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-il’s death in December 2011, many around the world had high hopes that his successor (and son), Kim Jong-un, would launch economic and political reforms. Unfortunately, in the year and a half since he assumed power, the new supreme leader has not delivered on his advertised economic reforms,and misery continues to grip all but those in North Korea’s communist ruling class.During the past few months, North Korea has been the subject of out sized news coverage. The recent pea cocking by the Supreme Leader — from domestic martial law policies to tests of the country’s nuclear weapons capabilities — has successfully distracted the media from North Korea’s economic woes.

Indeed, behind the saber-rattling, the missile tests, and the basketball games with Dennis Rodman, is an economic story— one with important geopolitical implications, not only for North Korea, but also for China.

North Korea’s Hyperinflation
For years, North Korea’s currency, the won, has been officially pegged to the U.S. dollar. That said, exchange controls and a plethora of associated regulations and harsh penalties have rendered the won in convertible. This, of course, has given rise to a healthy black market for foreign currency. North Korea’s monetary dysfunction has been accompanied by severe inflation problems.

In 2009, the North Korean government attempted to address these problems by implementing a phony currency”reform” program, which it promptly bungled. The so-called reform was actually just a currency redenomination program,which arbitrarily lopped two zeros off every won note. North Koreans were given less than two weeks to exchange all of their won for new notes. And, the government set limits on the quantity of old won a family could exchange for new won.For those North Koreans who had saved a few too many won,the redenomination program was effectively a wealth tax program,too.

It should come as little surprise that Pyongyang’s bungled currency reform sparked a panic in North Korea’s primitive,underground markets for goods and services. The price of rice, for example, promptly skyrocketed during this period (see the accompanying chart).

These markets, which developed out of necessity during the famine of the 1990s, primarily …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Wasting Time in Belfast

June 17, 2013 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

It’s time for another G-something meeting. Is it the G-20? The G-2? The G-47? No, it’s the G-8. Its members are the world’s most important industrialized states. And they gather to discuss the most pressing issues of the day.

This meeting, located in Northern Ireland’s Belfast, is being chaired by British prime minister David Cameron, as his nation holds the group’s presidency this year. The Economist proclaimed that “The British agenda is ambitious.” London’s three main goals are trade, taxation and transparency.

Despite the usual flurry of ponderous public statements and breathless press analyses, the meeting likely will be a waste. Consider the official agenda.

Trade. This is an important issue, especially given the collapse of the World Trade Organization’s Doha round of trade liberalization. However, the G-8 is unlikely to achieve much. One of the main stumbling blocks to Doha was agricultural subsidies by the United States and the European Union. Yet nothing here has changed or will change. To the contrary, Congress is moving forward on an expensive new “Farm Bill,” and the EU maintains the even more expensive Common Agricultural Policy.

America is broke and cannot be expected to forever subsidize its many prosperous and populous allies.”

Proposals for Asia-Pacific and trans-Atlantic trade liberalization remain ever complicated and perhaps impossible. America is pursuing the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but including Japan while excluding China creates significant political complications. France’s objections are reducing the likelihood of reaching a meaningful U.S.-EU pact. Europe is involved in a no-win trade tiff with China.

There would be enormous benefit if the G-8 participants could iron out at least some of their many differences on these issues. But the disputes run deep and the time available is limited. The meeting is more likely to generate more lofty rhetoric about the possibilities of increased commerce than meaningful progress overcoming barriers to trade liberalization.

Taxation. If there is one issue on which politicians of every nation agree, it is the need to squeeze their peoples ever more tightly. Hence the concerted attack on “tax havens” and “aggressive tax planning,” especially by multinational corporations. The European Union issued a press release dryly opining on how “Tax fraud and tax evasion limit the capacity governments to raise money and implement their economic and social policies.”

Of course, the latter usually can be summarized as paying off influential interest groups and turning citizens into dependents. If politicians were not so avaricious and special interests were not so domineering, productive people …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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The Biggest Fool of All

June 17, 2013 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Despite his evident reluctance to take America into the Syrian civil war, President Barack Obama appears to be traveling down that road step-by-step. He has decided the U.S. will provide weapons to the insurgents. If that action fails to transform the conflict, he will face increasing pressure for Washington to do more. And if he does, he risks involving the country in another senseless conflict — and ruining his presidency in the process.

It may be pure coincidence, but the president acted only after Bill Clinton warned that the current occupant of the Oval Office could end up looking like a “total wuss” and being “lame” if he did not intervene in the Syrian killfest. Clinton compared the latter to his decision to bomb Serbia over its rule in Kosovo. If he hadn’t acted, said the former president, critics might have complained: “You could have stopped this by dropping a few bombs. Why didn’t you do it?” Of course, Clinton ignored the fact that the triumphant ethnic Albanians then engaged in their own campaign of ethnic cleansing — while U.S. troops were occupying Kosovo.

Clinton also said that the president risks looking like “a total fool” if he acts cautiously in response to opinion polls. In Clinton’s view, overwhelming public opposition only means people want the president to be cautious. But if Americans really believe a military action to be stupid — that there is no reason for their sons, brothers, husbands, and fathers to die in a Quixotic crusade cooked up by ivory tower generals — any military adventure will be unsustainable and will fail, perhaps disastrously.

Who is Vietnam-evading Bill Clinton to call anyone a wuss?”

Of course, former president Clinton always has had a curious view of the purpose of war. He once expressed his frustration that he likely would not be considered a great president without prosecuting a war. And Kosovo didn’t count. Leading the world’s most powerful alliance against lonely Serbia, bombing for 78 days from high altitudes to avoid casualties while killing hundreds or thousands of civilians, and ignoring atrocities by America’s allies didn’t make him into a hero anywhere other than downtown Pristina, where his statue stands.

Apparently President Obama took Clinton’s remarks seriously. Presidential press secretary Jay Carney said the latter had offered “valid” opinions and that the president “welcomes the input of every individual out there.” That’s yet another …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Rothbard in the New Yorker

June 17, 2013 in Economics

By Mark Thornton

Not exactly correct on all point, but worth a read.

In fact, there is one anarchist who could be considered influential in Washington, but he wasn’t among the activists who participated in the Occupy movement—he died nearly twenty years ago. His name is Murray Rothbard, and, among small-government Republicans, he is something of a cult hero. He was Ron Paul’s intellectual mentor, which makes him the godfather of the godfather of the Tea Party.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Robert William Fogel (July 1, 1926 – June 11, 2013)

June 17, 2013 in Economics

By Robert Higgs

Robert Fogel died a few days ago. He was a prominent figure in the academic economic history profession for five decades, virtually from the time he burst onto the scene with the publication of a polished-up version of his Johns Hopkins Ph.D. dissertation, Railroads and American Economic Growth, in 1964. This book was the most impressive accomplishment to date of the type of research espoused by those who participated in a research program known as the new economic history, econometric history, or cliometrics, which had begun to take shape in the late 1950s. The hallmark of this program was the systematic application of neoclassical economic theory and the methods of statistical inference in the study of economic history.

In his book, Fogel undertook to determine how important the railroads had been as contributors to U.S. economic growth by calculating what he called their “social saving,” essentially the amount by which GDP would have been diminished if they had not existed and Americans had been compelled to use the next best means of transporting goods—by horse-drawn wagons on the land and by canal boats on a national system of canals. His conclusion that the social saving had been equal to less than 3 percent of the national product in 1890 cast great doubt on the beliefs historians had previously held about the railroad’s great importance. Although many objections were raised subsequently to Fogel’s approach, his specification of the no-railroads counterfactual, and his data, the book became an instant cliometric classic.

Having entered the economic history profession at the very top, Fogel then proceeded, along with his Johns Hopkins classmate Stanley Engerman, to tackle the subject of slavery in the United States. This time the target was the widely accepted idea that prior to the War Between the States slavery had been on its economic last legs, and therefore had the war not led to slavery’s destruction, this labor system would have died a natural death before long. In 1974, Fogel and Engerman brought their findings together in Time on the Cross: The Economics of American Negro Slavery, a book that probably made a bigger splash than any economic history book ever published in the United States. The main claims this time were that slavery had been economically thriving on the eve of the war, slave-plantation productivity had exceeded the productivity of comparable free-labor production, slaves had received much better treatment than generally believed, and the …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE