You are browsing the archive for 2013 October 22.

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Private Security = Less Crime, Lower Cost

October 22, 2013 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

KHOU reports that a Houston subdivision has hired private security to replace government police. The result? Half the crime for half the cost.

And while it’s not reported, incidents where the police shoot unarmed neighborhood residents have also likely been cut to zero.

Dave Albin recently covered the issue of private security for Mises Daily.

But why stop there? Why not get a private legal system too? Robert Murphy explains here and here.

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Bylund reviews Gilder’s ‘Information Theory of Capitalism’

October 22, 2013 in Economics

By Mises Updates

Writing in Barron’s, Associated Scholar Per Bylund reviews George Gilder’s The Information Theory of Capitalism and How It Is Revolutionizing Our World.

Parts of Knowledge and Power are well argued. Gilder’s treatment of John Maynard Keynes and his disciple Paul Krugman is quite accurate, although it may seem intemperate and blunt. Considering Krugman’s unsubstantiated rants on the New York Times blog, one might even say that he earned it. However, a lot of the book’s arguments are strikingly hollow or simply old lore in new packaging. Dressing up economics in the language of information theory doesn’t make an argument for abandoning economic theory. It only raises the question of what value the relabeling brings.

The author’s supply-side economics, which entails emphasis on production rather than consumption, is presented as something very different from existing economics or “demand side” theories. But in order to accept Gilder’s claim, we must forget both historical and contemporary theories.

The author struggles to show why Knowledge and Power is not simply a watered-down version of insights from the Austrian school of economics associated with Ludwig von Mises and Nobel laureate F.A. Hayek. Mises’ and Hayek’s disciples ironically include Gilder himself, as well as economist Thomas Sowell, whose lengthy treatise Knowledge and Decisions cites Hayek’s 1945 essay “The Use of Knowledge in Society” as inspiration.

Read the whole thing (scroll down to third review).

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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The Selfish Gene, Social Darwinism, and Human Cooperation

October 22, 2013 in Economics

By Mises Updates

6564

In Mises Daily today, Toby Baxendale explains that when it comes to survival of the fittest, the fittest are those who can work peacefully with others.

Social Darwinism has nothing, seemingly, to do with Darwin himself. He never advocated a social policy of promotion of the natural tendency to the survival of the fittest. He thought that appropriation by others was the key in advancing man in society.

The Descent of Man is his book that touches most on these issues. Darwin himself imagines that primeval man was “influenced by the praise and blame of his fellows,” and that for individuals, there were many social rewards in avoiding purely selfish behavior since the “tribe would approve of conduct which appeared to them to be for the general good, and would reprobate that which appeared evil.” Primeval individuals knew that the acceptance of the group was important to survival, so, Darwin concludes, “[i]t is, therefore, hardly possible to exaggerate the importance during rude times of the love of praise and the dread of blame.”

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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The State is more Dangerous than Anarchy

October 22, 2013 in Economics

By Robert Higgs

Most people fear that without government (as we now know it), social and economic conditions would be horrible, with rampant crime, including theft, extortion, robbery, rape, and murder; chronic fighting among warlords and organized criminal gangs; and low rates of saving and investment, hence little or no economic growth, owing to people’s inability to form reliable expectations about the future, even for the intermediate term, in an atmosphere of great threats to private property rights.

Yet, with government (as we now know it), all of these social and economic conditions prevail nonetheless, and many of them, especially the death and destruction caused by war and constant preparation for war and the domestic extortion and threats to private property rights, are institutionalized and carried out on a vast scale that almost certainly could not exist without government’s huge resources to maintain them. Moreover, with a traditional government in place – a government that ruthlessly smashes any rivals for its monopoly of “legitimate” coercion and brooks no competitors to coexist alongside it — people have virtually no ability to protect themselves against the entrenched threats to life, liberty, and property posed by the government itself.

Ah, government, blessed government – all the evils and costs of anarchy — many of them greatly compounded — with none of anarchy’s virtues and benefits and scarcely any of its individual freedoms.

(If the foregoing sounds wildly implausible, please consider my thesis seriously, as spelled out more fully in the lecture below and much more fully in the literature referenced there.)

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Red Alert Politics: America needs a leader who will stop the downward spiral of spending

October 22, 2013 in Politics & Elections

Last week, the Senate voted to suspend the debt ceiling until Feb. 7, 2014, and fund the government through Jan. 15, 2014. I opposed this deal because it does not begin to address the fiscal problems that got us here in the first place.
Our country faces a problem bigger than any deadline: a $17 trillion debt. I am disappointed that Democrats would not compromise to avoid the looming debt debacle.
This deal neither balances the budget, nor makes any reforms to a broken government. This is just another example of the ‘kicking the can down the road’ mentality that has taken over Washington. Our nation currently faces a debt that is approaching $17 trillion; meanwhile, we will not be offered any relief from the economic harm being imposed by Obamacare. This is a real problem that will affect our children, grandchildren and the future of America.
Debt ceiling deadlines have been averted, but the real problem remains: a $17 trillion dollar debt and a President who continues to pile on new debt at a rate of a million dollars a minute. How did we get here?
The government shutdown occurred because Sen. Harry Reid allows the Senate to lurch from deadline to deadline without passing a single appropriations bill. Had Reid passed each of the 12 appropriations bills, the government could have stayed open.
Opening government has not resolved the big picture because we are still left with an unsustainable debt.
In March of 2006, then-Sen. Barack Obama took to the Senate floor to oppose raising the debt ceiling. He stated, ‘Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here.’ Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. America deserves better.’
When Obama opposed raising the debt ceiling in 2006, it was $8 trillion. Today, it has more than doubled to $17 trillion. If we are to survive this breakneck spending that has become the norm in Washington, it must be stopped and reversed. We need a leader that is willing to negotiate for the betterment of our nation, not someone who harbors a ‘my way or the highway’ mentality. Raising the debt ceiling proves failure in leadership.
Americans want leaders who are willing to rein in a government that is completely out of control. Americans want leaders with solutions.
There are …read more

Source: RAND PAUL

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Is Iraq Becoming a Failed State?

October 22, 2013 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

For the people of Iraq, 2013 has been a very bad year. With the partial exception of Kurdistan, violence has soared throughout the country, reaching levels not seen since the bloody convulsions of 2006 and 2007. And the nature of the new bloodshed often resembles the sectarian conflicts of that earlier period, as Sunni Arabs and Shiite Arabs engage in nasty attacks on each other’s communities and holy sites. The goal of a united, peaceful, democratic Iraq seems as elusive as ever. Indeed, given the nature and extent of the carnage, some observers now wonder whether Iraq could be on the verge of becoming another Somalia or Syria—a “failed state” in which national political authority collapses.

It is probably premature to reach such a dire conclusion, but the trend is extremely ominous. And there are indications that Iraq could be caught up in a larger regional maelstrom of a Sunni-Shiite power struggle. Certainly, what has occurred next door in Syria is having a destabilizing effect on Iraq. The Syrian civil war largely pits a Sunni-dominated insurgency against a coalition of ethnic and religious minorities backing the government of Bashar al-Assad. The two most prominent factions in that coalition are Assad’s own Alawite community (a Shiite offshoot) and Syria’s beleaguered Christians. Other ethno-religious minorities (especially the Kurds) tend to be caught in the middle.

It is probably premature to reach such a dire conclusion, but the trend is extremely ominous.”

The fighting in Syria has caused numerous problems for Iraq. One has been the influx of tens of thousands of Syrian refugees, placing an enormous logistical and financial burden on both the national government in Baghdad and the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). But the conflict has also exacerbated the already festering Sunni-Shiite tensions inside Iraq. It is probably not a coincidence that Iraq’s sectarian conflicts re-ignited as the Syrian civil war intensified. Not only has the violence in Syria had that effect, Iraq is under growing pressures from Iran, the leading Shiite power in the region, and Saudi Arabia and Turkey, the leading Sunni powers and the principal sponsors of the anti-Assad insurgency, to take sides in Syria’s civil strife. All of these factors have contributed to greater instability in Iraq.

Thus far, Iraqi Kurdistan has managed to avoid the worst of the violence, but in recent weeks, there are signs of a worsening spillover effect. And …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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When Shutdown Orders Overrule the Constitution

October 22, 2013 in Economics

By Richard W. Rahn

Richard W. Rahn

If you were a U.S. National Park Service ranger, would you have kept disabled World War II veterans from going to their privately funded, open-air memorial in Washington? A congressman confronted a park ranger and told her she should be “ashamed.” The congressman has apologized, but should he have done so?

The ranger was obeying a questionably lawful order from a higher-up. Whoever was at the top of the chain giving the order ought to be ashamed because government is not supposed to create unnecessary misery and hardship, which is obviously what the Obama administration attempted to do with the recent government “shutdown.”

The reason for the dysfunction in Washington is that the government is trying to do too many things that are not authorized by the Constitution, or that governments are incapable of doing competently at all.”

In a number of cases, officials of the Obama administration appear to have given unlawful orders during the shutdown, such as to put up barricades to prevent people from going to nonfederal attractions such as Mount Vernon, and keeping open nonessential activities like federally owned golf courses that serve the “well-connected.” The Uniform Code of Military Justice Section 892, Article 92 makes it clear that military personnel have an obligation and a duty to obey only lawful orders and, indeed, have an obligation to disobey unlawful orders, including orders by the president that do not comply with the code. The moral and legal obligation of the military is to the U.S. Constitution and not to those who would issue unlawful orders, especially if those orders are in direct violation of the Constitution and the code. Civilian employees also have an equal obligation to disobey unlawful orders.

The illegitimate orders that government workers followed during the shutdown might seem like minor infractions, but those who committed them should think about where they would draw the line. Authoritarian regimes often start by demanding that their staffs make minor infringements of civil liberties, but these tend to grow quickly until the people are cowed. Soon, government workers who are doing what they know to be wrong become too frightened of the monster they helped create to stop.

Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution makes it clear that only Congress can authorize and appropriate funds, yet it is estimated that during the shutdown, only 17 percent of government spending was temporarily halted. A substantial portion of the other 83 percent was …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Antitrust Enforcement in the Obama Administration’s First Term

October 22, 2013 in Economics

A new paper from William F. Shughart II and Diana W. Thomas investigates how and in what ways antitrust enforcement has changed since President Obama took office in 2009. Shughart and Thomas find that the administration’s shifts in policy have transformed antitrust law enforcers into regulatory agencies, a mission for which they are not well-suited, resulting in the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission being more vulnerable to rent seeking.

…read more

Source: CATO HEADLINES

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How the Affordable Care Act Hurts the Poor

October 22, 2013 in Blogs

By Political Zach Foster