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Intro to Bitcoin

June 18, 2013 in Economics

By Mark Thornton

Mark Thornton is interviewed about the basics of Bitcoin

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Nothing but Blood in Syrian Intervention for U.S.

June 18, 2013 in Economics

By Gene Healy

Gene Healy

The American people, chastened by the long Iraq entanglement, oppose another intervention, but the lesson has been lost of the leadership class

A “red line” has been crossed, deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told the media last week: U.S. intelligence has determined with “high certainty” that the Bashar al-Assad regime used sarin gas against Syrian rebel forces.

Assad denies the charge, but we’re told that blood samples from multiple Syrians test positive for the nerve agent, and that perhaps 150 people have died from the attacks in a civil war that’s claimed some 90,000 victims thus far.

What in the world are we trying to achieve here?”

“The president has said that the use of chemical weapons would change his calculus, and it has,” Rhodes declared. So the Central Intelligence Agency will begin funneling military aid, starting with small arms and ammunition, to elements of the Syrian Opposition Coalition we think we can trust.

I may be one of those “cynics” President Obama has warned our impressionable young people about, but when I hear the White House telling us we should get embroiled in yet another Middle Eastern conflagration based on “high certainty” about WMD, I start backing slowly toward the door.

“He gassed his own people” sounds all too familiar. (Also, is it really a “Weapon of Mass Destruction” if you have to wait for the blood work to figure out whether it was used?)

The polls show overwhelming opposition toward intervening in the Syrian Civil War. The American people seem to have learned something from our fruitless, decade-plus Iraq entanglement, but the leadership class, apparently, has not. So it’s once more into the breach — gingerly, this time. Trust us.

Sorry — no. What in the world are we trying to achieve here?

The rebels insist that light weapons won’t turn the tide: “They should help us with real weapons, anti-tank and anti-aircraft, and with armored vehicles, training, and a no-fly zone,” says a spokesman for the Free Syrian Army. Senators John McCain, R-AZ, and Lindsey Graham, R-SC, the Bobbsey Twins of knee-jerk interventionism, favor the latter.

The Pentagon brass is much less gung-ho: “I don’t think at this point I can see a military option that would create an understandable outcome” Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in March.

We’re asked to believe that our intelligence is good enough to allow us to distinguish “good” rebels from bad. But …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Sen. Paul Appears on Fox's Hannity- 6/17/2013

June 18, 2013 in Politics & Elections

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Source: RAND PAUL

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Tyranny of the Taxers

June 18, 2013 in Economics

By Richard W. Rahn

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Richard W. Rahn

There is an all-too-common tendency for humans (particularly members of the political class) to blame or scapegoat others when they bungle their jobs. We are now being treated to the meeting of the Group of Eight — where the “leaders” of eight major countries are looking for excuses for why they have made such a mess of their own economies. Rather than acknowledge that the reason for such poor performance is excessive government spending, taxation and regulation, members of the G-8 are blaming their ills on lower-tax jurisdictions, which they pejoratively label “tax havens.”

In fact, all of the so-called tax havens have substantial taxes and significant government sectors. They also tend to have lower marginal tax rates on capital and labor income, which has enabled them to make their citizens rich and healthy. Many studies show that when government spending exceeds approximately 25 percent of gross domestic product, economic growth tends to slow, fewer jobs are created and the general welfare ultimately declines. If the G-8 had responsible leaders, the group’s summit would have as an agenda item “ways to downsize government.” Instead, their agenda includes how to increase tax revenue by going after jurisdictions with low tax rates. They disguise these schemes by using the phrases “increasing tax-base harmonization,” “tax information sharing” and “tax transparency.”

As can be seen in the accompanying table, low unemployment rates tend to be associated with smaller government sectors, and vice versa. This relationship can be shown with most governments over time and with cross-sectional studies. Many British overseas territories such as the Cayman Islands are attacked because they have no corporate and individual income taxes, and never have. They are not shown in the table because they are not totally independent from the United Kingdom.

Hong Kong and Singapore, which are former British colonies, have been successful by maintaining the British common-law legal system, coupled with low maximum marginal tax rates on income — 15 percent in Hong Kong and 20 percent in Singapore — low levels of economic regulation and limited government. Forty years ago, these jurisdictions were poor and without natural resources. They did have economic freedom, though, and relatively low levels of corruption. Now Hong Kong has a per-capita income close to that of the United States, and Singapore’s real per-capita income is substantially higher than that of the average American.

If big government were the key to economic success, France, with more than half of its GDP accounted for by government, would have rapid economic growth rather than an unemployment rate of …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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10 Reasons the Farm Bill Makes No Sense

June 18, 2013 in Economics

By Chris Edwards

Chris Edwards

Congress is gearing up to pass a major farm bill for the first time since 2008, and this year’s bill threatens to be much larger than the last one.

Farm subsidies make political sense for many members of Congress. But they make no practical sense because they damage the economy, hurt the environment, and are grossly unfair.”

Farm subsidies make political sense for many members of Congress. But they make no practical sense because they damage the economy, hurt the environment, and are grossly unfair.

So in the hopes that the practical will prevail over the political, here are 10 reasons why both the House and Senate should go back to the drawing board with their legislation:

1.) The farm bill is far too costly. George W. Bush vetoed the 2008 farm bill because it “would needlessly expand the size and scope of government.” Unfortunately, Congress overrode his veto and enacted that bill, costing $640 billion over 10 years. Today, the House is considering a farm bill that would cost taxpayers $940 billion over 10 years — 47 percent more than the one that even big-spending President Bush couldn’t stomach.

2.) Food stamp costs have exploded. About four-fifths of the cost of the farm bill is for food stamps. The House bill would trim food stamps by about $2 billion a year — but the costs of food stamps have quadrupled over the last decade from about $20 billion to $80 billion a year. The cut in the House bill is far too tiny after such a huge expansion.

3.) Farm subsidies are reverse Robin Hood. Farm subsidies transfer the earnings of average taxpaying families to well-off farm businesses. In 2011, the average income of farm households was $87,289, or 25 percent more than the $69,677 average of all U.S. households. Farm subsidies even go to millionaire farmland owners such as Mark Rockefeller and Ted Turner.

4.) Subsidies are very concentrated. Although politicians love to discuss the plight of small farmers, the vast majority of farm subsidies go to the largest farms. In recent years, the biggest 10 percent of farm businesses have received three-quarters of farm subsidies, according to the Environmental Working Group.

5.) Subsidies damage the economy. In most industries, market prices balance supply and demand and encourage efficient production. By short-circuiting the market mechanism in agriculture, subsidies cause overproduction, land price inflation, and other distortions.

6.) Subsidies harm the environment. Farm programs draw marginal farmland into production and encourage the overuse of fertilizers. Lands that might otherwise be …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Improving Incentives for Federal Land Managers: The Case for Recreation Fees

June 18, 2013 in Economics

While national parks and wildlife refuges can charge entry fees, managers of other federal lands can only charge for developed recreation, such as campgrounds, not dispersed recreation, such as hiking and backpacking. In a new paper, Cato scholar Randal O’Toole argues that Congress should allow federal land agencies to charge market rates for all forms of recreation.

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Source: CATO HEADLINES