You are browsing the archive for 2013 September 26.

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Podcast with Peter Klein: How Online Learning Threatens Traditional Universities

September 26, 2013 in Economics

By Mises Updates

Daniel J. Sanchez interviews Peter G. Klein, Executive Director and Carl Menger Research Fellow at the Mises Institute, about the history of higher education and the prospects for online and market-based education, which are the topics of his recent Lewrockwell.com article “Universities to MOOCs: We Will Assimilate You” (“MOOC” stands for Massively Open Online Course.), reprinted at the Mises Academy blog (academy.mises.org/blog/)

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Syria’s Other Problem: Inflation

September 26, 2013 in Economics

By Steve H. Hanke

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Steve H. Hanke

Wars wreak havoc; life, property, and dreams are destroyed. In the process, wars — including civil wars, like Syria’s— progressively consume a country’s accumulated capital stock, too. In other words, as wars rage on, the destructive war economy gradually eats away at productive assets like land, factory capacity, and raw materials. Just where this process leads was well illustrated by the great Austrian economist, Prof. Fritz Machlup, in a 1935 article about Austria’s World War I inflation:

A dealer bought a thousand tons of copper. He sold them, as prices rose, with considerable profit. He consumed only half of the profit and saved the other half. He invested again in copper and got several hundred tons. Prices rose and rose. The dealer’s profit was enormous; he could afford to travel and to buy cars, country houses and what not. He also saved and invested again in copper. His money capital was now a high multiple of his initial one. After repeated transactions — he always could afford to live a luxurious life — he invested his whole capital, grown to an astronomical amount, in a few pounds of copper. While he and the public considered him a profiteer of the highest income, he had in reality eaten up his capital.

In Machlup’s parable, “copper” represents the capital in an economy. Over time, war consumption and inflation eat up the economy’s physical capital. And, without capital, peoples of war-torn lands face a bleak future. Alas, when the dust finally settles in Syria, new questions will have to be addressed. Indeed, Syrians will be left asking, “where’s our capital?” Yes, Syria’s “seed corn” will be nowhere to be found.

Indeed, Syria’s inflation rate is currently one of the highest in the world.”

Some of the costs of war are hidden under a shroud of inflation. But, inflation, too, is a problem — one that always accompanies civil wars. But, why?

Let’s start with a typical bogus explanation for inflation troubles — one that is often trotted out by governments dealing with civil-war induced inflation — shifting the blame. True to form, the Syrian Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs, Qadri Jamil, claimed that Britain, Saudi Arabia, and the United States were engaged in a conspiracy to undermine the Syrian pound by flooding Lebanon and Jordan with counterfeit Syrian pound notes.

Indeed, a similar claim was made …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Sen. Paul Appears on Fox's Hannity- September 25, 2013

September 26, 2013 in Politics & Elections

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Source: RAND PAUL

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The IPCC Political-Suicide Pill

September 26, 2013 in Economics

By Patrick J. Michaels

Patrick J. Michaels

On Friday, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is going to release its much-anticipated fifth “scientific assessment” of global warming. Like its 2007 predecessor, the document will be a ready poison pill for those contemplating political suicide.

Each iteration of this document becomes the reigning go-to document for climate pests, including legislatures and governments. For example, the fourth version was cited repeatedly by the U.S. House of Representatives as the putative factual basis for its 2009 cap-and-trade legislation, which passed that body on June 26 of that year.

Whoever legislates or promulgates climate policies based upon the new report will be putting his political career in very serious jeopardy.”

Three days later, Rasmussen’s generic congressional ballot switched from Democrat to Republican, and it remained there continuously through the Democrats’ electoral debacle of 2010, when they lost 65 seats and their majority. Virtually every close race was lost by a Democrat who had voted for the legislation.

Meanwhile, U.S. Senate staffers noticed the polls and wisely counseled their bosses to make sincere noises but no law. In the fall, every close Senate race was won by a Democrat.

The carnage in Australia has been even more serious. In 2009, when the Labor party ran the country, Australia’s Liberal (i.e., conservative) party leader, Malcolm Turnbull, was thrown out on his ear because of his support for cap-and-trade, and he was replaced by Tony Abbott, who is now Oz’s new prime minister. Turnbull was fond of quoting the IPCC’s authoritative “consensus” on climate change.

Two years ago, Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd was deposed for implementing his cap-and-trade program (pretty much the same one that cost Turnbull his Liberal leadership) and replaced by Labor’s Julia Gillard, who vowed to scrap his program and also to never impose the alternative, a tax on carbon-containing fuels.

When I asked Mr. Rudd, after running into him in the men’s room at Washington’s tony Café Milano, why he did what he did, he got all huffy, saying for all to hear: “My scientists told me, I say, my scientists told me that this is a terribly important problem.”

Those “scientists” would include the Aussies on the IPCC, where their membership is as disproportionate to the country’s population as is its quadrennial haul of Olympic medals.

Unfortunately, after the 2010 parliamentary election, the Green party held the balance of power in a divided senate, and it agreed to …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Understanding Culinary Disasters–and Miracles

September 26, 2013 in Economics

By Dalibor Rohac

Dalibor Rohac

Why is food in some countries so much better than in others? In a classic essay, Paul Krugman hypothesized that British food turned bad as a result of the rapid urbanization accompanied with 19th-century technological improvements in the preservation of food. Moving millions of people into cities required changing their diet to canned goods, meat pies and vegetables that didn’t need refrigeration. And by the time Brits could afford to eat fresh food, they no longer remembered what it tasted like. In contrast, in France, urbanization progressed more slowly, and most households retained strong links to the countryside and farming—and therefore a collective memory of what good food tasted like.

To explain the American culinary decline, Tyler Cowen suggests that prohibition played an important role by damaging the restaurant industry. No booze meant that profit margins of restaurants shrunk, forcing many of them out of business and preventing others from cross subsidizing culinary experimentation. After the War, the advances in food supply made junk food and frozen dinners widely available and cheap. And with the rise of female labor participation, the demand for these items grew as well. Finally, the baby boom meant that American households started to defer more frequently to children’s tastes in food—hence the ubiquity of ketchup, fried foods, and mac and cheese.

When it comes to food, a simple opening up of markets, followed by an emergence of an increasingly discerning class of consumers, does miracles.”

We are fortunate to be living at the turning of the tide. On both sides of the Atlantic, “real food” is making a return. While the foodie movement often comes with a lot of nonsense—especially when policymakers and their spouses get involved—it is abundantly clear that both British and American food is vastly superior to what it was just ten years ago.

However that may be, the real culinary catastrophe of past hundred years occurred elsewhere—namely in the former Soviet Union and in its many satellites. Throughout the decades of central planning, local culinary traditions were trampled by bland, sad, greyish food, produced on an industrial scale. During my childhood years in Czechoslovakia, this was epitomized by ghastly mayonnaise-drenched “salads”—in which chopped onions were typically the only fresh ingredient—or by the flour-thickened concoction of indistinct origin, commonly referred to as UHO, or univerzální hnědá omáčka (“universal brown gravy“), which was served with any plate of hot food.

While in the West the …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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How Procrastination Can Lead to a Job…

September 26, 2013 in History

September 26, 2013 7:19 a.m.

If you had asked me in 2006 where I saw myself in seven years, I wouldn’t have said “working for a television history series”.

In 2006, I was a student at the University of Arizona in Tucson, majoring in nutrition science with the goal of becoming a registered dietitian. That summer, I was taking the first of two Organic Chemistry classes I would have to take to complete my degree.

During extended periods of procrastination – which were frequent – I would go to the local video rental store and scan the documentary aisle for anything that would further distract me from my studies. One day I came across American Experience’s “The Kennedys“. I didn’t know much about the Kennedy family aside from what was taught in school and what I had read in People Magazine, so I decided to rent it.

I sat through all four hours, riveted by the history of the family and the personal stories told by close friends and colleagues. The use of the family’s home movies showed happy, leisurely moments that added a human element to this iconic American family. I also enjoyed watching young JFK trying to make the most of television in outtakes from his 1952 senate campaign commercials. I watched the film a few more times before I returned it and loved it so much that I eventually bought the DVD.

At the end of that summer, I decided to leave the University of Arizona and take a year off to figure out what I wanted to do. I ended up in Boston, studying film at Suffolk University — a minor deviation from my original plan! I landed an internship with American Experience, and was hired as a research assistant after I graduated. I have worked for American Experience ever since.

A year ago, our series manager asked me if I would be interested in being the production assistant for a biographical documentary being produced here in our office (most of our films are produced by small outside production companies). He described the details of the job and everything it would entail, and I said “yes.” Only later did I think to ask the subject of the biography; it turned out to be an in-depth biography of JFK.

Now I find myself screening footage for our film that was …read more

Source: AMERICAN EXPERIENCE

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Sen. Paul Responds to Kentucky Attorney General’s Letter on Industrial Hemp

September 26, 2013 in Politics & Elections

In response to Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway’s advisory letter on industrial hemp, Sen. Paul issued the following statement:
‘Kentucky law provides for the production of industrial hemp in the Commonwealth and we are ready to move forward. The Obama Administration has weighed in on laws in other states and I would expect for Kentucky to be treated equally in this process. I support Agriculture Commissioner James Comer’s efforts on this issue and I will continue to do all I can to secure this new industry for Kentucky.’ …read more

Source: RAND PAUL