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Americans' Faith in Government Is Waning – and That's Good

September 18, 2013 in Economics

By Tad DeHaven

Tad DeHaven

A Gallup poll released last week revealed good news: Americans’ confidence in the federal government’s ability to handle foreign and domestic problems has reached an all-time low. In both areas, a minority of those polled said that they had either a great deal or fair amount of confidence in Uncle Sam.

Yes, I said that’s good news.

Skepticism of government is as American as apple pie. The experiment that is the United States was borne out of a colonial revolution against an overbearing master. As the decades have passed, however, the federal government has steadily acquired powers that are vastly beyond what was intended by our founding Constitution. And like a frog in pot of water that is slowly brought a boil, Americans have become acclimated to a world in which the federal government intrudes into every nook and cranny of our lives.

Skepticism of government is as American as apple pie.”

In his seminal work, Crisis and Leviathan, economist Robert Higgs demonstrated that government grows in times of crisis — perceived or real. When the crisis abates, however, the government does not fully recede to pre-crisis levels. In recent years, this upward “ratcheting effect” was exemplified by the massive expansion of federal power in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2011 terrorist attacks. Indeed, the Gallup poll shows that faith in the federal government’s ability to handle foreign problems peaked following 9/11. Angry and scared, Americans instinctively turned to the politicians in Washington and said “do something.” Now, we live in a country where the government can read our emails, listen to our phone conversations, and monitor our every move with satellites and drones.

The public’s “do something” mentality resurfaced with the onset of the economic crisis. Once again, angry and scared, Americans turned to Washington for a solution to a problem that was engineered, in large part, by misbegotten federal policies. With unemployment rising, policymakers rushed to implement policies that they promised would “create jobs.” The result was annual federal deficits in excess of $1 trillion, mounting federal debt, and the rise of so-called “crony capitalism.” In sum, a heavy price was paid by current (and future) Americans for what is widely considered to be an exceptionally weak economic recovery.

I would like to believe that, having been badly burned in recent years, the Gallup poll reflects a growing recognition by the public that there is no Wizard of Oz …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Sex Shocker: Men and Women Are Not so Different

September 18, 2013 in Blogs

By Lisa Wade PhD, Salon

Especially when you compare us to the rest of the animal kingdom.


Somewhere in the deep, dark depths of the ocean a male anglerfish is hungry. He lacks the artificial, bioluminescent lure that females use to attract prey. This is a rather insignificant problem compared to the fact that he is incapable of digesting food. The only bite he’ll ever take will be a love bite. He’ll latch on to a female anglerfish with his teeth, triggering a chemical reaction that will dissolve his face, fusing it permanently. Eventually he’ll lose every organ in his body to this process, except his testicles. Those will stick around, literally. A happy female anglerfish will be dotted with pairs of balls. They are safe deposit boxes of sperm that she draws on at will.

This is sexual dimorphism. The phrase refers to the degree to which males and females of a species differ. Anglerfish are obviously strongly dimorphic. Other animals are less so. Males and females of some species, like the ring-necked dove, are almost impossible to tell apart. In the big scheme of things, humans are more like the ring-necked dove than the anglerfish, and that is a really important fact that we seem hell-bent on ignoring.

Instead, we obsess over gender differences. We search for them in scientific studies, scour religious texts for hints from a higher power, and extrapolate from the behavior of our friends and loved ones. We write and read a seemingly endless stream of books counting and discounting the evidence. We argue over whether the differences we think we see are caused by nature or nurture.

When it all comes down to it, though, how much difference are we talking about? Let’s put it in perspective.

If we were as sexually dimorphic as the elephant seal, the average human male would tower six feet above the average woman and weigh 550 pounds. If we were like gorillas, men and women would be about the same height as they are now, but the average man would outweigh the average woman by over 166 pounds.

If we were as sexually dimorphic as the blanket …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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While Miss America is Subjected to Racial Slurs, French Senate Outlaws Beauty Pageants For Kids

September 18, 2013 in Blogs

By Jodie Gummow, AlterNet

Judging children under 16 on their physical appearance in beauty contests is now a crime under French law.


The French Senate has voted to ban beauty pageants for children under 16 in an effort to protect young girls from “hyper sexualisation” too early in life, France’s The Localreported.

Under the new laws, anyone who organizes or enters a child under the age of 16 into a pageant may now face up to two years imprisonment and a fine of up to €30,000 ($40,000 USD).

The Senate backed the move by 196-146 votes as a amendment to a law on women’s rights proposed by conservative lawmaker Senator Chantal Jouanno, author of “Against Hyper-Sexualisation: A New Fight for Equality””

 “Let’s not let our daughters think from such a young age that they will be judged according to their appearance. Let’s not let commercial interest impact on social interest,” Jouanno told the Senate.

However, not all were in favor of the move with Michel Le Parmentier who has organized the “mini-Miss” pageants in France since 1989 saying that regulations rather than a ban would have been a more appropriate solution.

Beauty contests in France and worldwide have been rife with controversy and subject to public outrage in recent months following a number of incidents including a contest dethroned for posing in semi-naked photographs; a Vogue magazine cover which featured a provocative image of a 10-year-old girl and the recent disappearance of a beauty queen and her mother days before she was to compete in a competition.

Such pageants which involve dressing girls up to look like adults with extreme hair and makeup have been criticized for sending a negative message to young girls – namely that they are sexual beings that should be judged by their physical appearance. 

Furthermore, advertising and marketing campaigns have been guilty of promoting children as sexual objects with some designers even selling lingerie for girls as young as 4.

Yet, the problem is not isolated only to child beauty contests.  This week, the newly crowned Miss America, Nina Davuluri, was subject to numerous cruel and racial taunts on social media based …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Could Republican Senator Rand Paul Win the White House?

September 18, 2013 in Politics & Elections

Tough talk and fearless politics have made Senator Rand Paul a leader in the Republican Party. Could he-and his charming, secret-weapon wife, Kelley-win the White House?
On a sunny Saturday in July, Rand Paul and his wife, Kelley Ashby, are taking a long drive across Kentucky horse country. When their white SUV, bearing a ‘Stand with Rand’ sticker on the rear windshield, pulls up to a small political rally in rural St. Catharine, the state’s junior senator climbs out with pursed lips, mussed hair, and a generally weary look on his otherwise boyish face. A bluegrass band strikes up a tune, and Paul gets into character, which is to say, he acts exactly the same as when he lumbered out of the car or, for that matter, stopped on the road for pretzels.
‘Well, hello,’ Paul says mildly to one attendee. ‘I think I’ve been to your house before.’ A supporter approaches to congratulate Paul on the ‘fine job’ he did during his blockbuster filibuster in March, when he railed against President Obama’s use of drones for nearly thirteen uninterrupted hours on the Senate floor.
‘My feet hurt for days,’ Paul deadpans.
Wearing dad jeans, a snail-patterned tie, and cuff links fashioned from gold coins given to him by his mother and father, the former congressman and libertarian folk hero Ron Paul, the senator accepts another compliment on his resistance to government surveillance. ‘I appreciate it,’ says Paul in his Texas drawl. ‘I’m a strong supporter of the Constitution.’
The speech he’ll deliver here is replete with polished laugh lines about wasteful government spending on a ‘$325,000 robotic squirrel’ to study animal behavior, zingers about Washington’s being run by people with ‘big hearts and small brains,’ and red meat such as his refusal to give ‘one penny more for countries that are burning our flag.’
None of this is particularly new. But what has changed since Paul first shocked the political establishment by winning his Senate seat in 2010 is the air of expectancy around him-one that becomes palpable as the banjos stop, the crowd hushes, and a local official comes to the podium to introduce Paul as ‘our senator, considered by many to be the next president of the United States.’
The notion of President Rand Paul would …read more

Source: RAND PAUL

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Sen. Paul Testifies Before the Senate Judiciary Committee

September 18, 2013 in Politics & Elections

Sen. Rand Paul today testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on ‘Reevaluating the Effectiveness of Mandatory Minimum Sentences.’ Below is the video and text of his testimony.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH SEN. PAUL’S TESTIMONY

TRANSCRIPT:
Good morning. Thank you for allowing me to testify about mandatory minimums.

If I told you that one out of three African-American males is forbidden by law from voting, you might think I was talking about Jim Crow 50 years ago.

Yet today, a third of African-American males are still prevented from voting because of the War on Drugs.
The War on Drugs has disproportionately affected young black males.

The ACLU reports that blacks are four to five times more likely to be convicted for drug possession although surveys indicate that blacks and whites use drugs at similar rates. The majority of illegal drug users and dealers nationwide are white, but three-fourths of all people in prison for drug offenses are African American or Latino.

Why are the arrest rates so lopsided? Because it is easier to go into urban areas and make arrests than suburban areas.

Arrest statistics matter when applying for federal grants. It doesn’t take much imagination to understand that it’s easier to round up, arrest and convict poor kids than it is to convict rich kids.

The San Jose Mercury News reviewed 700,000 criminal cases that were matched by crime and criminal history of the defendant.

The analysis revealed that similarly situated whites were far more successful than African Americans and Latinos in the plea bargaining process;

In fact, ‘at virtually every stage of pretrial negotiation, whites are more successful than non-whites.’

I know a guy about my age in Kentucky, who grew marijuana plants in his apartment closet in college.

Thirty years later, he still can’t vote, can’t own a gun, and when he looks for work he must check the box, the box that basically says: ‘I’m a convicted felon and I guess I’ll always be one.’

He hasn’t been arrested or convicted for 30 years-but still can’t vote or have his Second Amendment rights. Getting a job is nearly impossible for him.

Today, I’m here to ask you to create a safety valve for all federal mandatory minimums.

Mandatory sentencing automatically imposes a minimum number of years in prison for specific crimes – usually related to drugs.

By design, mandatory sentencing laws take discretion away …read more

Source: RAND PAUL

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Capitalism's Triumph

September 18, 2013 in Economics

By Michael D. Tanner

Michael D. Tanner

‘Entrepreneurial capitalism takes more people out of poverty than aid.” That statement came not from a tea-party leader or a congressional Republican, but from Bono, singer, celebrity, and global anti-poverty activist, speaking to Georgetown’s Global Social Enterprise Initiative last year.

As we mark the second anniversary of Occupy Wall Street this week, it is worth recalling just how much Bono is right and OWS, at its anti-capitalist core, is deeply and profoundly wrong.

Occupy Wall Street did have a point when it took to criticizing the crony capitalism that helped precipitate the economic crisis of 2008 and the recession that followed. But that unholy alliance of Big Business and Big Government, a dog’s breakfast of regulation, guarantees, and bailouts, has nothing in common with free markets and entrepreneurial capitalism.

OWS was and remains hostile to the very idea of capitalism. “Capitalism is tyrannical, exploitative and dehumanizing; it’s intolerable … Capitalism IS the problem,” proclaims the main OWS website.

Yet capitalism has done more to empower people and raise living standards than any other force in history.

Throughout most of human history, nearly everyone was poor. Even our wealthiest ancestors enjoyed lower standards of living than ordinary people in America today. It was not until the beginning of the 19th century that the masses started to enjoy real and growing prosperity.

What was the difference? Capitalism and its offspring, the Industrial Revolution. As Charles Murray explains, “everywhere that capitalism subsequently took hold, national wealth began to increase and poverty began to fall. Everywhere that capitalism didn’t take hold, people remained impoverished. Everywhere that capitalism has been rejected since then, poverty has increased.”

The transformation occurred first in the West, which was quickest to embrace capitalism, but is spreading now to the rest of the world. In the last 20 years, for instance, capitalism has lifted more than a billion people worldwide out of poverty, while the share of people in developing countries living on less than $1.25 a day has been cut in half. In China alone, 680 million people have been rescued from poverty, and the extreme-poverty rate has gone from 84 percent in 1980 to less than 10 percent today. In Africa, inflation-adjusted per capita incomes rose by an astonishing 97 percent between 1999 and 2010. Hunger in India shrank by 90 percent after the country replaced 40 years’ worth of socialist stagnation with capitalist reforms in 1991.

One can simply look at the difference between …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Incumbents Try the Borg Strategy

September 18, 2013 in Economics

By Peter G. Klein

320x240

The internet has the potential to revolutionize higher education, as new providers and platforms such as Khan Academy, TED, the various MOOC providers, and our own Mises Academy offer modular, flexible, and specialized alternatives to the medieval model that continues to dominate the establishment universities. The early — and predictable — reaction of the incumbents was to denounce the entrants as cheap, inferior, fly-by-night operations. After all, the last thing mainstream universities want is actual diversity. Lately some have been trying a new strategy, namely trying to incorporate the best features of the new platforms into the established models, a sort of Borg-like, assimilation strategy. An article in today’s Slate describes this trend, focusing on a “flipped” model in which students watch lectures at home, online, and do problems and exercises in class, with the help of instructors and classmates. I personally like the flipped model a lot and use these techniques myself. But the Slate writer misses the broader point. The expensive, cumbersome, and rigid university structure is not particularly well suited for the flipped model. Most highly paid, tenure-track faculty are not trained to be in-class coaches and problem solvers, and there is little connection between their research and this kind of classroom activity, at least for undergraduate education. The coaching sessions can themselves be organized by lower-cost entrants; you don’t need a huge university campus with a library, dorms, and football stadium to organize problem-solving sessions.

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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VIDEO: Jon Stewart Slams CNN for Chaotic, 'Vomit-like' Coverage of Mass Shooting in Washington

September 18, 2013 in Blogs

By Jodie Gummow, AlterNet

“It’s time we kicked those bastards to the curb.”


John Stewart ripped CNN apart on Tuesday night’s Daily Show for it’s appalling coverage of the Washington Navy Yard Shooting – specifically for drawing speculative conclusions in the absence of concrete facts.

“All of yesterday's confusion in the reporting is not a mistake, because sadly the one thing in this country they should have great practice in covering are these horrific shooting tragedies and there are a ton of really smart people and good journalists who work at CNN and this is only five months after all the criticism of CNN ‘s chaotic Boston terrorism coverage including when they announced on air an arrest that had not happened,” he said.

Stewart concluded by saying that the “chaos and vomit onto the screen” that CNN displayed is a deliberate “feature, not a bug”: 

“The lesson they take from this is, it doesn’t matter how much they betray our trust, we’ll keep coming back. We’re in an abusive relationship with CNN!” he said.

Watch the video:

 

Related Stories

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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A New Book on Mises from Hoppe, Hülsmann, Polleit, and Bagus

September 18, 2013 in Economics

By Mises Updates

Leben-und-Werk

Now Available in German: Ludwig von Mises: Leben und Werk für Einsteiger

This book is an introduction to Ludwig von Mises, or a book for “beginners,” people new to the Austrian School, and others unfamiliar with Mises and his work.

Writes Thorsten Polleit:

Ludwig von Mises – an Introduction Into Life and Work is a new book, containing four articles. Hans-Hermann Hoppe provides and in-depth account of Mises’s personal development and academic achievements.  Philip Bagus outlines Mises’ critic of interventionism. Jörg Guido Hülsmann sets out Mises’s innovative and path-breaking contributions to monetary theory. Thorsten Polleit gives an account of Mises’s methodology of economics. The book is meant to provide the non-expert reader with a fairly easy access to Mises’s and the Austrian School of Economics’s teachings.

Here is more on the book from the Mises Institute of Germany (in German).

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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‘Mises Daily’ Monday: Frank Shostak on Growth

September 18, 2013 in Economics

By Mises Updates

house

A study from the KC Fed suggests that Fed purchases of housing debt can drive economic growth. In his latest article, Frank Shostak explores why this is not true.

Eventually even the government’s own data such as GDP will start displaying weakness. Remember that changes in GDP are a reflection of changes in monetary pumping: the more is pumped the greater the rate of growth of GDP.

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE