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Mises Academy: The Economics of Obamacare Begins Tonight!

November 20, 2013 in Economics

By Mises Updates

There’s still time to enroll. 

Economist Robert P. Murphy explains the economic folly of ObamaCare. The course will also cover the standard arguments for government intervention in health care and health insurance, including the common claim that “socialized medicine works in Europe.” See Dr. Murphy’s article on the topic here.

Lectures

Lectures will be Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. Eastern time, skipping the week of Thanksgiving.  They will be recorded and made available for enrolled students to download.

Reading

All readings will be free and online. A fully hyper-linked syllabus with readings for each weekly topic will be available for all students.

Grades and Certificates

The final grade will depend on quizzes. Taking the course for a grade is optional. This course is worth 3 credits in Mises Academy. Feel free to ask your school to accept Mises Academy credits. You will receive a digital Certificate of Completion for this course if you take it for a grade, and a Certificate of Participation if you take it on a paid-audit basis.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Senators: Congress Should Vote on Keeping Troops in Afghanistan Past 2014

November 20, 2013 in Politics & Elections

Washington, DC – Today, Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Mike Lee (R-UT), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Mark Begich (D-AK) introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) urging Congressional approval as a condition for any American troop presence in Afghanistan past 2014. The Administration is reportedly negotiating an agreement that could keep as many as 10,000 American troops in Afghanistan for another ten years.
‘It is long past time to end the longest war in American history and bring our sons and daughters home,’ Senator Merkley said. ‘The American people deserve to weigh in and Congress should vote before we decide to commit massive resources and thousands of troops to another decade in Afghanistan. These are resources that could be used here at home creating jobs, improving education, and cutting the deficit.’
‘With our military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, it is vital for the elected representatives of the American people to approve or disapprove of further involvement past the 2014 timeline,’ Senator Lee said. ‘This amendment protects the democratic rights of the American people to shape our foreign and military policy.’
‘When Congress authorized the war in Afghanistan it was not intended to last forever,’ Senator Wyden said. ‘It has now become the longest war in American history. If the president believes there are compelling national security reasons to require a U.S. military presence in Afghanistan after 2014 he should come to Congress and make that case.’
‘After spending over a decade at war in Afghanistan, it is time to transition our troops home,’ Senator Paul said. ‘This bipartisan amendment reinforces the fact that the president needs to consult the American people and their representatives in Congress before increasing our troop involvement in Afghanistan.’
‘After over a decade of war and thousands of American casualties, we need to focus on supporting our veterans and doing some nation-building here at home,’ Senator Tester said. ‘This amendment makes sure Congress and the American people have a say when it comes to our national priorities.’
‘After years of war in which thousands of soldiers lost their lives and billions of dollars have been spent, Americans have the right to expect checks and balances should the President deviate from the current plan to end combat operations in Afghanistan by the end of 2014.’ said Sen. Begich. ‘This amendment ensures that the President can’t make unilateral decisions …read more

Source: RAND PAUL

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Fed Minutes Released

November 20, 2013 in Economics

By Mark Thornton

The latest release of the minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee were released today. See here. This is the meeting where they decided not to tamper. The link below takes you to a chart that shows what happened in the bond market after the release. You can see the impact of the release as the rate went from 3.8% to 3.9%. You can click through the various time ranges at the bottom of the chart. The gold horizontal lines represent “resistant lines” which are the highs and lows of the time period in question. Technical analysts see resistance lines as something that contains the range of market prices. However, if the resistant lines are breached then they believe it triggers an eventual price movement up or down to the next resistant lines. Stock markets also turned slightly negative at the announcement. Could be trouble for the mortgage market ahead.

30 Year Bond Quote (interest rate)

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Austrian Student Scholars Conference Feb. 7-8, 2014

November 20, 2013 in Economics

By Jeffrey Herbener

Grove City College will host the tenth annual Austrian Student Scholars Conference, February 7-8, 2014. Open to undergraduates and graduate students in any academic discipline, the ASSC will bring together students from colleges and universities across the country and around the world to present their own research papers written in the tradition of the great Austrian School intellectuals such as Ludwig von Mises, F.A. Hayek, Murray Rothbard, and Hans Sennholz. Accepted papers will be presented in a regular conference format to an audience of students and faculty.

Keynote lectures will be delivered by Drs. Tom Woods and Nikolay Gertchev.

Cash prizes of $1,000, $750, and $500 will be awarded for the top three papers, respectively, as judged by a select panel of Grove City College faculty. Hotel accommodation will be provided to students who travel to the conference and limited stipends are available to cover travel expenses. Students should submit their proposals to present a paper to the director of the conference (jmherbener@gcc.edu) by January 1. To be eligible for the cash prizes, finished papers should be submitted to the director by January 15.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Largest County in New Mexico Bucks Medical Marijuana Law, Prohibits County Employees From Using Medical Marijuana

November 20, 2013 in PERSONAL LIBERTY

By drosenfeld

New Policy Follows Firing of Iraq Veteran

Veterans, Patients, Physicians and Advocates Fighting Back

(Albuquerque, NM) – New Mexico’s largest county is bucking the state’s medical marijuana law by prohibiting any use of marijuana by county employees, following a new policy issued on November 12 by Bernalillo County Manager Tom Zdunek. The county memorandum cites federal prohibition and county policy as the reason for prohibiting the use of marijuana.

November 20, 2013

Drug Policy Alliance

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Source: DRUG POLICY

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Oh, SNAP: Congress Hasn't Gone Far Enough to Cut Food Stamps

November 20, 2013 in Economics

By Michael D. Tanner

Michael D. Tanner

Reports from Congress indicate that a conference committee has agreed to roughly $10 billion in cuts over the next 10 years to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, better known as food stamps. That is far less than the $39 billion in cuts sought by House Republicans but still large enough to stir up opposition on Capitol Hill.

Before listening to the coming outcry that will claim the proposed cuts will lead to mass starvation and other calamities, recall that as recently as 2000, this program cost just $18 billion annually and covered just 17 million Americans. Today, roughly 48 million Americans receive food stamps at a cost of almost $83 billion per year.

That amount already is scheduled to decline to roughly $73 billion by 2023, in part because increases included in the 2009 stimulus bill expired last month. The reported compromise would reduce this spending by an additional 1.3 percent, which still would leave total food-stamp spending at $72 billion in 2023. That’s roughly the same level as it was in 2011, not a year known as “the Great American Famine.”

The program is no longer a temporary safety net but increasingly is becoming a way of life.”

Moreover, the vast majority of the proposed cuts come from closing the so-called Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, loophole, which allows states to increase benefits for individuals who also receive utilities assistance. Approximately 16 states have used this loophole to leverage nominal (as little as $1) LIHEAP payments into an increase in a household’s SNAP benefits. Reports indicate that the congressional compromise would require states to provide LIHEAP benefits of at least $20 in order to qualify for the exemption, preventing them from manipulating the system to increase federal payments.

TOO MODEST

If anything, the compromise SNAP reductions are far too modest. Currently, 44 states have waivers that allow them to forgo the program’s requirements that food-stamp participants work, or at least be actively looking for work. As a result, in 2011, the most recent year for which data is available, only 27.7 percent of nonelderly adult participants were employed, while another 28 percent reported that they were looking for work. This compromise does nothing to strengthen work requirements.

For all the hullabaloo surrounding food stamps, one might think they’re a worthwhile investment. Unfortunately, no one is really sure about that. In fact, the Government …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Mises’s ‘Theory and History’ Now in Japanese

November 20, 2013 in Economics

By Mises Updates

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Tatsuya Iwakura in Japan has translated numerous works by Austrian scholars into Japanese in recent years. Today he writes:

I translated Theory and History of Mises in Japanese and published it as a digital book.

It is available on Amazon.

Readers of Japansese are encouraged to review the book on Amazon.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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No 'A' for Effort

November 20, 2013 in Economics

By Michael D. Tanner

Michael D. Tanner

Writing for Salon, Brian Beutler speculated that if President Obama was lying about whether people could keep their current insurance plans under Obamacare, it was a “noble lie.” Several other commentators have made similar observations. Obamacare may be a mess; it may be built on a framework of legal, political, and economic distortions; and it may have been pushed through by playing the hardest of political hardball. But the president’s heart was in the right place.

Obamacare’s fiascos can’t be excused on the grounds that the president meant well.”

So many defenses of big government in the face of repeated failure seem to boil down this: Don’t judge us by results, judge us by our good intentions.

In this case, there clearly was a problem before Obamacare. Health care in America cost more than in any other country, and that cost did not always correlate with results. At the same time, too many Americans lacked health insurance, making it difficult for them to get the care they needed.

The president’s inclination was to ignore possible market-based fixes and turn to a government solution — despite the fact that many of the problems in the health-care system could be traced to earlier government interventions, and despite the government’s long track record of failure in addressing other social and economic problems. That he was trying to do something was good enough.

The president continues to make this case, arguing that he won’t reconsider the health-care law because “I’m not going to walk away from 40 million people who have the chance to get health insurance for the first time.” Yet even by this standard, Obamacare fails. According to the Congressional Budget Office, by 2023, long after the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented (and the website is presumably working), 31 million Americans will remain uninsured.

Sometimes good intentions are not enough.

Of course, Obamacare is hardly the only government program that’s failed to live up to its good intentions. Take government’s efforts to lift Americans out of poverty. No one can deny that trying to reduce poverty and help those in need is a worthy goal. But the federal government spends $680 billion per year on 126 anti-poverty programs. State and local governments spend an additional $280 billion. That’s close to $1 trillion. In fact, since Lyndon Johnson declared the War on Poverty half a century ago, we’ve spent more than $15 …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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U.S. Prisons Thriving on Jim Crow Marijuana Arrests

November 20, 2013 in Economics

By Nat Hentoff

Nat Hentoff

A startling scandal in our so-called criminal justice system is largely unnoticed by most Americans because the media in all their forms ignore it. But the American Civil Liberties Union does not.

According to a June 3 report from the ACLU, the “over-policing” of marijuana use combined with “staggering racial bias” are leading to appallingly high numbers of incarcerated African-Americans:

“Between 2001 and 2010, there were over 8 million pot arrests in the U.S. That’s one bust every 37 seconds and hundreds of thousands ensnared in the criminal justice system … Marijuana use is roughly equal among blacks and whites, yet blacks are 3.73 times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession” (“The War on Marijuana in Black and White: Report,” aclu.org, June 3).

Citing the ACLU’s grim statistics, an August report from The Economist says, “blacks are almost four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession … in some places their arrest is over eight times more likely.

“People with criminal records risk losing public benefits, being kicked out of public housing and suffering permanent gaps in employment and earning prospects” (“Waking life,” The Economist, Aug. 24).

In other words, their lives could be essentially over.

The leading, continuing source of documented information on this brazen American prejudice is marijuana-arrests.com, “an online library about marijuana possession arrests, race and police policy in New York City and beyond.”

The site is part of the Marijuana Arrest Research project, which examines “race, police policy, and the growing number of arrests for marijuana possession and other victimless crimes in large U.S. cities, especially New York City.” The organization’s co-director is Harry G. Levine, a professor of sociology at Queens College and the Graduate Center at City University of New York.

Furthermore, Levine, whom I interviewed when I was at The Village Voice for more than 50 years, has definitively reached a national audience in the Nov. 18 edition of The Nation magazine with his story, “The Scandal of Racist Marijuana Arrests — and What To Do About It.”

I admire The Nation for publishing this extensive array of revelations, but since its circulation is not extensive, I have chosen vital parts of it here as a public service. (As I used to tell my journalism students, I sure enjoy breaking scoops, but when another source has a crucially important story, it’s my responsibility to help circulate it.)

Writes Levine: “The vast majority (76 percent) of these arrested and …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Sen. Paul Appears on CNN's Out Front with Erin Burnett- November 19, 2013

November 20, 2013 in Politics & Elections

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Source: RAND PAUL