You are browsing the archive for 2014 January 02.

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ASSC Reminder

January 2, 2014 in Economics

By Jeffrey Herbener

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The tenth annual ASSC is taking shape. Of the nearly twenty accepted proposals, we have a student from Harvard who will rebut criticisms of Austrians and another from Tbilisi, Georgia who will discus free-market health care. With Tom Woods and Nikolay Gertchev as keynote speakers, the conference can’t help but be a sensation. Details follow:

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 6. To be eligible for the cash prizes, finished papers should be submitted to the director by January 20.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Block, the Austrians, and the Catholics

January 2, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

Concilio_Trento_Museo_Buonconsiglio

Normally, I wouldn’t bother examining an article like this, but the author of the piece tries to score some points using Walter Block and the Austrian School as examples, so I’ve commented. My remarks in brackets:

ANALYSIS: Are free-market Catholics ignoring Pope Francis?

(RNS) On one level, the recent clash over Catholic University of America’s decision to accept $1 million from billionaire industrialist Charles Koch underscored the stark divide many see between Catholic social teaching and the libertarian-tinged economics championed by Koch and other conservatives. [Basically, this article is founded on the proposition that capitalism is the philosophy of modern Robber Barons as the repeated references to Koch make clear.]

But the controversy also pointed to another, counterintuitive reality: vocal free-market advocates are gaining traction in the Catholic Church, [that's debatable] even as Pope Francis repeatedly condemns a capitalist system [unfortunately, Pope Francis is greatly confused about what capitalism even is, as explained here, and here.] that he says is hurting the poor and increasing the gap between the haves and have-nots.

In the political world, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is both a practicing Catholic and a devotee of the libertarian icon Ayn Rand [First of all, Paul Ryan, advocate of multiple tax increases, bailouts, and other huge-government programs is hardly a "devotee" of Ayn Rand. Ryan may say so to score points with gullible libertarians, but that hardly proves Ryan's bona fides. Secondly, given the nature of Rand's philosophy, it's impossible to be both a practicing Catholic and a Randian, and one wonders if the author of this piece even understands that. Thirdly, Rand condemned libertarians and libertarianism.] — as well as the face of GOP proposals for cutting welfare programs and taxes that have drawn fire from U.S. bishops and other church leaders.

In the media, CNBC’s Larry Kudlow is a Catholic convert who has taken to the airwaves to scold the pope on economics while pushing the kind of “trickle-down” theories that Francis has derided. On Fox News, Stuart Varney, also a Catholic, has labeled the pope’s views as “neo-socialism.” [I'm not sure what's so "neo" about it.]

Similarly, Catholic thinkers and pundits like Michael Novak, George Weigel and Tim Worstall have used the opinion pages of National Review, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes and other outlets to defend market economics against church criticisms, or to interpret the pope’s writings in a way that makes …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Hayek and the Mont Pèlerin Society

January 2, 2014 in Economics

By Peter G. Klein

Friedrich_Hayek_portrait

Two items of note:

1. Ross Emmett’s EH.Net review of The Great Persuasion: Reinventing Free Markets since the Depression by Angus Burgin (Harvard, 2012), which focuses extensively on Hayek and the Mont Pèlerin Society. Ross calls it  ”a subtle and nuanced history,” much better than recent similar books by Stedman Jones (2012) and Mirowski and Plehwe (2009).

2. A piece in National Affairs on Irving Kristol and Gertrude Himmelfarb which discusses Himmelfarb’s interactions with Hayek in London in the 1930s (HT: Nicolai Foss). “Himmelfarb and Hayek discussed, among other intellectual topics, his forthcoming launch of ‘an international Acton Society to promote the ideals of liberty and morality,’ which became the Mont Pelerin Society. . . . Himmelfarb admired Hayek for having linked Acton to Adam Smith and the ‘Manchester school.’ . . . [S]he recapped Hayek’s 1945 lecture at University College Dublin, in which he differentiated between the ‘true individualists’ of the Anglo-Scottish Enlightenment and the ‘false individualists’ of the Continental Enlightenment. . . . This sharp distinction between the two Enlightenments would later prove fundamental to both Himmelfarb’s and Kristol’s own work.”

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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How the Drug War Makes Drugs Less Safe

January 2, 2014 in Economics

By Mises Updates

6627

Benjamin Wiegold writes in today’s Mises Daily: 

Unlike users of prescription drugs, users of illegal drugs such as heroin are necessarily ignorant of where it has been produced, the extent of its purity — such as whether or not the drug is heroin, krokodil, or a combination — and of its potency and health risks. On the other hand, the consumer benefits of drug legitimacy are enormous. When drugs are legal on the open market there is recourse to a court of law should the drugs prove to be unsafe. In a legal drug environment, there is no fear of the law turning against anyone for admitting prior use of illegal drugs. Such legitimacy is lacking when purchasing illegal drugs on the black market, where there are no paper trails, no guarantees, no refunds, and no manuals, not to mention no doctors involved.

The legal incentives created by prohibition lead to artificially restricted production, decreasing the supply for sale, and causing the price to skyrocket. As a result, prohibition transforms users into criminals, not only by definition, but by making their drug use a larger financial burden, enticing many to commit real crimes. All of this is a disaster for the addicts.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Putting Headlines Ahead of Science

January 2, 2014 in Economics

By Patrick J. Michaels

Patrick J. Michaels

On Dec. 10, Randy Schekman, a UC Berkeley professor, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. The day before, he published an op-ed in London’s Guardian, titled “How journals like Nature, Cell, and Science are damaging science,” in which he announced that he will henceforth refuse to send manuscripts for peer-reviewed consideration to these prestigious science journals.

Schekman’s accusation is that these journals are distorting science by being biased towards the “flashiest” research, i.e. papers that generate headlines such as “Global Warming Will Kill Billions, Scientist Finds,” rather than the best research.

Do science journals’ propensity for flashy research result in biased research?”

This matters more than one might think, because governments and universities disproportionately make their award and funding decisions based on the research published in the prestige journals.

So, if Science and Nature differentially publish flashy research, and publishing there will deliver funding and tenure, scientists are naturally going to gravitate toward trendy topics and produce flashy research. It’s a cycle that perpetuates Armageddon-style headlines that compel politicians to disburse more money, for more research, ultimately buying a beach house for the doom-saying scientists.

This leads to the question: do the journals’ propensity for flashy research result in biased research?

Unfortunately, yes; especially when it comes to climate science.

Just take a look at Science’s “Perspectives” pieces, which are really opinion pieces posing as literature reviews. Despite the fact that global warming has been prominent for about 25 years now, Science has yet to publish one Perspectives piece summarizing the body of refereed science indicating that far too much warming may have been predicted.

That should not be the case, because every new forecast of climate change should have an equal probability of producing a more or less dire result. That’s what happens with weather forecast models as new information comes in. Once it has been established that increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide should raise surface temperature a certain amount, each new piece of information should either raise or lower the forecast.

But scientists aren’t incentivized to look under the less-flashy rock. In fact, they threaten their own well-being if they do.

If scientists aren’t doing their due diligence, is Schekman right that the journals aren’t doing theirs either? It’s easy to find out. I reviewed 13 months of both Science and Nature, and sorted every article or story about climate change or its impact into three piles: worse, …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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The Coasian Cult

January 2, 2014 in Economics

By Thomas DiLorenzo

Contrary to Milton Friedman’s dogmatic ruminations about “positive economics,” the Coase Theorem was accepted by the entire University of Chicago economics department based on Friedman’s acceptance of it after a dinner party at his home with Coase and members of the department.  This is according to Coase himself.  There was no “testable hypothesis” in “The Problem of Social Cost,” and no ”empirical testing” of any kind.  Friedman announced the idea to be acceptable, and so it was, without question, by the Chicago “positivists.”  Very cult-like, wouldn’t you say?

In fact, there are quite a few “libertarians” today who view Coase not only as one of the most influential economists of his time, which he certainly was, but as a Cult Leader Whose Views Should Never Be Questioned. 

(By the way, Friedman’s book, Essays in Positive Economics is, oddly enough, an entirely normative work filled with policy recommendations stating that government SHOULD do this and that, but is devoid of any empirical testing).

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE