You are browsing the archive for 2013 July 11.

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Sen. Paul Introduces Bill to End Foreign Aid to Egypt

July 11, 2013 in Politics & Elections

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sen. Rand Paul today introduced legislation to prohibit the United States from sending foreign assistance to the government of Egypt, as a result of the country’s military coup d’état on July 3, 2013. Click HERE to read Sen. Paul’s legislation in its entirety.
This week, it was reported that the Obama Administration was moving forward with plans to deliver four F-16 fighter jets to Egypt despite the political unrest in the country. Earlier this year, the Senate voted against an amendment introduced by Sen. Paul that would have prohibited the U.S. government from selling F-16 military aircraft, M1 tanks, and similar military weapons to the Egyptian government.
‘Egypt is the latest example of the Obama Administration’s misguided foreign policy,’ Sen. Paul said. ‘The overthrow of the Egyptian government was a coup d’état, and the law is clear that when a coup takes place, foreign aid must stop. But, the President still plans to continue to send aid to Egypt, at a pace of more than $1.3 billion per year. By the President’s refusal to call the situation in Egypt a ‘coup’ and continuing the flow of foreign assistance to Egypt, he is forthrightly saying ‘I am ignoring the rule of law.”

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…read more

Source: RAND PAUL

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Man Has Home Ransacked by Police for Paying Cash

July 11, 2013 in Economics

By Joseph Salerno

Of the many crimes that have been committed by governments against their citizens in their global war on cash (also here), perhaps this is the most bizarre. Here is the story

It all started one Saturday morning when Jarl Syvertsen, a 59-year-old disabled Norwegian man, purchased a PC, TVs, and washing machines for 80,000 kroner (roughly US$13,000) which he paid in cash. The store immediately alerted the police about the large cash payment. On Sunday a male and a female police officer appeared on Mr Syvertsen’s doorstep. Upon seeing them, Mr. Syvertsen at first feared that something may have happened to his mother, who is 86 years old and resides in a nursing home. But the police were there with a warrant to search his home, charging that the cash he had spent was money that “came from a criminal offense.” In fact, the money was actually part of an approximately one-million dollar advance on an inheritance he had received. Mr. Syvertsen attempted several times to explain to the officers where the money had come from and to show them a letter confirming that fact, but they would have none of it and proceeded to invade his home and his privacy. Eventually the police realized their error and left his home.

Although the police now admit that they investigated Mr. Syvertsen prior to the warrant being issued and found that he had never been implicated in any criminal activity, they insist that “there were reasonable grounds to suspect” criminal activity given the “sum of the information available,” that is,  the large cash payment. As Mr. Syvertsen points out, however, had the police waited until Monday, the matter could have been resolved “in a single phone call to the bank.” But the police are unrepentant and have the unmitigated gall to lecture law abiding citizens against carrying large sums of cash on their persons for their own safety–against private thugs, not police thugs of course. According to acting station commander Jarle Kolstad:

It is far safer to pay such large amounts [with] cards than to go with 80,000 [kroner] in cash on the body. Not because you risk getting the police at the door [really?], but because it is safer to use the cards. . . .

Mr Syvertsen’s reply to such self-serving nonsense?

It’s not stamped on my forehead that I have 80,000 [kroner] on the inside pocket, so I judge [it] as …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Sen. Paul Appears on Fox's On the Record with Greta Van Susteren- 7/10/2013

July 11, 2013 in Politics & Elections

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Source: RAND PAUL

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Time for Washington to Create a Policy Support Program

July 11, 2013 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

For years I’ve been working within the beltway, attempting to promote limited government and individual liberty. I believe that we all would benefit from shrinking the state—its regulatory reach, budgetary demands, and various other controls, impositions, and exactions.

However, I have noticed one problem that requires government attention. It’s time for a determined national effort to improve the policy process. Over the (many) years I’ve been at work, I’ve seen the quality of policy arguments decline. Perhaps that’s why the laws enacted are getting so much worse. Heck, Uncle Sam of IRS and post office fame is taking over America’s health care system. Something has evidently gone very wrong.

I think the basic problem is the surplus of would-be policy advisers. Almost anyone believes himself or herself to be qualified to write an op-ed piece or concoct a policy study. The result is a flood of material, most of which is not worth the spot of cyberspace it occupies. At the same time—not that this would influence my thinking, of course—compensation for writing and thinking has dropped. Most websites want you to write for free, while newspapers increasingly seem to think of themselves as websites in this regard.

The first step is to limit the supply by licensing policy practitioners. If we shouldn’t have incompetent lawyers and hairdressers, then obviously we shouldn’t have incompetent policy analysts. The government should set minimum educational standards. A Ph.D. or equivalent should be required. No more half-baked proposals from people with just a masters!

Putative policy mavens also should have to pass a test, the political equivalent of the lawyer’s bar exam. They should have to answer questions on the Constitution—heck, most congressmen would fail such an exam today. There also should be questions on economics, history, and geopolitics. Policy people should know that restricting the price lowers the supply and that sort of thing.

Finally, the government should require membership in a public policy association to regulate the profession. Should anyone be found to make persistently unsound proposals, he or she should be disbarred, as it were. A lawyer stealing a client’s money is bad. A certified policy expert misleading the public is far worse. Repeat offenders would earn a ban for life, forbidden from ever again entering the field.

Of course, those of us already in practice should be grandfathered in. It doesn’t make sense for existing policy analysts to have to interrupt their careers to go …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Sheikh-Up in Qatar

July 11, 2013 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

The U.S. may be the colossus that bestrides the globe, but Qatar is the pipsqueak that dominates the Middle East. An overstatement, perhaps, but the tiny kingdom of Qatar, essentially a family-owned energy company with some territory and a few people attached, has been destabilizing nearby nations. The new emir should concentrate on freeing his own people.

Qatar won its independence from Great Britain only in 1971, after which it was a pleasant backwater. But in 1995 Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani overthrew his father in a palace coup.

Sheikh Hamad had grand ambitions for his nation of about 250,000 citizens (and 1.7 million expatriate workers with no political rights). A year after taking power he created the Arab world’s premier television channel, Al Jazeera.

The government now hosts the annual Doha Forum, an internationally renowned gabfest. The emir and his cousin, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabr al-Thani, opened this year’s event, which I attended. The formal sessions could be a little dry, but coffee breaks afforded world-class networking possibilities for leaders in business, politics, and journalism from around the world.

Qatar has gained outsize international influence, but risks blowback from its increasingly violent intervention in other nations’ affairs”

Most dramatically, noted Karim Makdisi, a professor at the American University of Beirut, “For the past few years they’ve clearly taken a strategic option to try and assert their foreign policy.” Doha has played a balancing role, attempting to moderate and resolve several regional disputes. Christopher Blanchard of the Congressional Research Service noted “Qatar’s willingness to embrace Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Taliban as part of its mediation and outreach initiatives.”

Indeed, the government allowed the Taliban to open a controversial mission in Doha. Hamas political head Khaled Meshaal left war-torn Damascus to take up residence in Qatar. (He expressed his appreciation toward his new hosts when I interviewed him in May.) The government also has worked closely with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Doha hasn’t always found it easy to balance its divergent “friends.” Qatar’s relationship with Tehran has been strained by the former’s campaign to undermine the government of Syria, Iran’s ally. Sultan Barakat of the University of York noted that Tehran has accused “the ruling al-Thani family of acting on behalf of the United States in an effort to install anti-Iran regimes throughout the Middle East.” Nor has Washington always appreciated Doha’s eclectic approach. Indeed, pre-9/11 …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Egypt's Coup Conundrum

July 11, 2013 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

There are many grand failures of U.S. foreign policy. Egypt has joined the pantheon, with Washington seemingly under attack by every faction in Cairo.

Egypt long has been a national wreck. Its recent history featured rule by an indolent king and a leftish Arab nationalist. A couple of authoritarian generals followed. The economy was ruined by dirigisme economic plans, endless bureaucratic incompetence, and pervasive political corruption.

Washington was only too happy to go along in the name of “stability” since Cairo backed U.S. policy and preserved peace with Israel. This ugly Realpolitik persisted even after the Cold War ended and the Bush administration launched a war to end tyranny and promote democracy.

The people of Egypt finally had enough, forcing the Obama administration’s opinion to shift from “Mubarak is our friend” to “Mubarak should leave in an orderly fashion” to “Mubarak should go—now!” However, the end of autocracy loosed Islamist forces.

This was not what Washington desired, but Egyptians weren’t concerned with what Washington desired. Mubarak’s fall led to the election of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi and approval of an Islamist-oriented constitution. Both were flawed, but both were approved democratically. Washington had no choice but to accept Morsi’s rule, after spending decades supporting autocrats who had suppressed the Brotherhood.

Alas, President Morsi failed politically. He failed to accept government limits, especially checks on executive authority. He failed to ensure accountability for government. He failed to accommodate religious minorities and political opponents who feared centralization of power. He failed to reassure those who feared the Brotherhood was determined to Islamicize Egyptian society.

He also failed economically. He failed to open and deregulate the economy. He failed to encourage foreign investors. He failed to offer opportunity to impoverished Egyptians.

After just one year of Morsi’s presidency, millions of Egyptians answered a variant of Ronald Reagan’s famous question: they believed they were worse off than before. They wanted Morsi gone, staging massive demonstrations fortified by appeals for the army to act.

Compromise was possible—bringing opposition figures into government, providing for constitutional reform to check the executive, setting an election date for the lower house of parliament, accelerating elections for the upper house, shortening Morsi’s term. Such a pact would have satisfied no one, but it would have reflected the sort of give-and-take typical in democratic systems.

Can democracy arrive on the back of tanks? Not bloody likely.”

Moderation was in short supply, however, so the …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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The Internet Needs a 'No Spy Zone'

July 11, 2013 in Economics

By Simon Lester

Simon Lester

As the scope of NSA spying becomes clear, Internet users around the world — i.e., just about all of us — are feeling vulnerable and wishing for more privacy in their emailing, social networking, web browsing, etc. Unfortunately, their current options for a more private online existence are limited. This needs to change, and hopefully it soon will. The demand for privacy is there, and there is an opportunity for profit. The question is: which companies and countries will lead the way in creating a “no spy zone” on the Internet?

Due to various historical circumstances, U.S. companies dominate the Internet today. As we now know, the U.S. government took advantage of the unique role these companies play in providing online services, and most of these major American companies have been implicated in the recent spying revelations.

Companies need to step in to meet the demand for a more private Internet, and governments need to adopt policies that respect privacy rights and limit government intrusion.”

If the U.S. government’s response so far is any indication, no major changes are in order, and the spying will continue. So if we can’t look to America for help, is there anywhere else people can turn for privacy protection in what has become a necessary part of daily life?

China has a large domestic market, and many of its Internet companies provide the same services. But no one thinks that the Chinese government is going to be better on privacy issues. Over in Europe, it turns out that France has been spying on its Internet users as well. Will any country step up to create an Internet zone free of government snooping? Germany? Iceland? Anyone?

Hopefully some government will take this path soon. They may not realize it, but they have a financial incentive do so. Beyond the goal of respecting the privacy of citizens and others — which should be enough — this is also about the bottom line. Strong privacy protections can provide a competitive advantage. Better privacy policies can encourage companies to locate to a specific territory, as it will allow them to offer a service that competitors located in countries without such guarantees cannot provide.

Change will not come easily, however. It will need to involve a combination of government and private sector actions.

First, governments need to offer strong privacy protection for information stored and transmitted in their territory. …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Why Nations Fail

July 11, 2013 in Economics

By Walter Block

Peter Klein mentioned the Acemoglu-Robinson book, so I thought my review of it might be of interest:

Block, Walter E. 2013. “A 1,000-Year Tour,” Book review of Why Nations Fail: The Origins
of Power, Prosperity and Poverty,
by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson. Crown Business, 544 pages; Barron’s,
February 4; http://online.barrons.com/article/SB50001424052748703892404578269870031384986.html (when you link to this url, first, you’ll see a review by Mark Skousen; to see this review of mine, go to page 4)

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Editorial job opening

July 11, 2013 in Economics

By Walter Block

Are you interested in becoming an editor of a prestigious journal? The founder of the American Review of Political Economy is now looking for a successor. This is not an Austrian economics journal, nor it is one solely dedicated to libertarianism, my own two major interests. Instead, while it is very much open to these perspectives and will continue to be, its pages are available, also, to other heterodox viewpoints as well as to orthodox ones. The new editor would have to undertake to be true to this long-established mission of the American Review of Political Economy.  However, I think this is altogether a good thing. It is important for us Austro libertarians not only to focus on our own interests (happily, there are now many journals that do precisely that), but also to be open to the views of others, and have a vehicle that will introduce our own viewpoints to them.

I myself have since 2008 been involved with publishing in this journal, under the splendid editorship of

Zagros Madjd-Sadjadi, Ph.D.

Professor of Economics &

Chair, Department of Economics and Finance

RJR 120-A

Winston-Salem State University

(336) 750-2398

manuscripts@arpejournal.com
zagrossadjadi@yahoo.com

sadjadizm@wssu.edu

Here are my own publications in this journal:

Block, Walter and Patrick Tinsley. 2008. “Should the Law Prohibit Paying Ransom to Kidnappers?” American Review of Political Economy; Vol. 6, no. 2, December, pp. 40-45; http://www.arpejournal.com/ARPEvolume6number2/Block_Tinsley.pdf

 

Block, Walter and William Barnett. 2009. “Monopsony Theory.” American Review of Political Economy June/December, Vol. 7(1/2), pp. 67-109; http://www.arpejournal.com/ARPEvolume7number1-2/Block-Barnett.pdf; http://www.arpejournal.com/

Anand, Shashank, Tiffany Fleming, Barbie Frie Hotard and Walter E. Block. 2010. “Competing Catholic Views on Private Property and Free Enterprise.” American Review of Political Economy, June, Volume 8(1), pp. 80-109.

 

Block, Walter E. and William Barnett II. Forthcoming, 2013. “Milton Friedman and the financial crisis,” American Review of Political Economy, December

Block, Walter E. 2013, forthcoming. Book review essay of McCloskey, Deirdre N. 2006. The Bourgeois Virtues: Ethics for an Age of Commerce. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, American Review of Political Economy

Here is a message from Prof. Zagros Madjd-Sadjadi:

It has been 12 years since I founded the American Review of Political Economy. I have nurtured this from a one-man labor of love into a respected journal that serves as one of the top worldwide outlets for heterodox economists. I have paid all expenses, never taking a dime from contributors or readers. The journal has always been published as a PDF, taking on the …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE