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Coming in February 2014

January 24, 2014 in History

January 24, 2014 6:00 p.m.

Watch American Experience Executive Producer Mark Samels describe what’s coming in February to PBS. The Amish: Shunned centers on seven people who have been shunned as well as voices from the Amish community defending the practice. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were emblematic figures that became legend. The Rise and Fall of Penn Station is about a railroad company’s effort to conquer Manhattan.

The Amish: Shunned
In 2012 we aired a program called The Amish, which was actually the highest-rated show we’ve had on American Experience in ten years. There was one part of the story that had only gotten a light treatment, and that is the Amish practice of shunning. The Amish believe that once you have been baptized as an adult, if you decide to leave, that you should have no contact with the community, and that means your family. So our story centers on seven characters who create different pieces of the mosaic of this picture of shunning as well as voices from the Amish community itself, defending the practice. It’s an emotional roller coaster through a set of universal experiences.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Another installment of the Wild West, this is a terrific story about Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. For years, you have Butch and Sundance out there robbing trains. They were lone individuals robbing from these wealthy corporations at the time — railroads. They weren’t redistributing their money. And they become sort of emblematic figures, slightly endearing figures, very flawed figures in some ways, but these are mythological characters because there is something about them that seems to be bigger than themselves. They seem to represent a time and a place and, in some ways, some ideals.

The Rise and Fall of Penn Station
The story of the Penn Station project, which is the story of The Pennsylvania Railroad’s effort to, in a way, conquer Manhattan. They were the dominant railroad of the time, but they had no direct route into Manhattan. So The Pennsylvania Railroad and Alexander Cassatt set out to solve that problem. So they built these amazing tunnels underneath the Hudson and the East Rivers to connect with the extension of the line up into New England. They built really one of the monuments of American architecture — the original Penn Station. This is a story …read more

Source: AMERICAN EXPERIENCE

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Sen. Paul Again Calls for the Release of Pastor Abedini

January 24, 2014 in Politics & Elections

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sen. Rand Paul today issued the following letter to President Hassan Rouhani of Iran urging the release of American Pastor Saeed Abedini. The text of the letter can be found below:

LETTER TEXT:
January 24, 2014
His Excellency Hassan Rouhani
President
The Islamic Republic of Iran
Sa’dabad Palace
Tehran, Iran

President Rouhani,
I am writing to you today to urge you to commute the sentence of Pastor Saeed Abedini and release him from prison. I have recently met with his wife, Naghmeh, and she is very concerned for her husband’s well-being. His health is deteriorating and he is apparently under constant threat of harm from both prison personnel and other inmates at Rajaei Shahr prison.
I wish to remain cautiously optimistic regarding the recent diplomatic progress between our two nations. However, I must point out that if something were to happen to Pastor Abedini while he is incarcerated, any good will forged over the past few months would likely evaporate. Conversely, granting clemency to Pastor Abedini and allowing him to return to the United States would do much to create a positive atmosphere that would reflect well on future discussions.
Cooperation and trust are built one gesture at a time and actions speak louder than words.
Sincerely,

Rand Paul, M.D.
United States Senator
###

…read more

Source: RAND PAUL

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Minimum Wage: Ron Unz's Proposal Aims to Stop Illegal Immigration

January 24, 2014 in Economics

By Alex Nowrasteh

Alex Nowrasteh

Stranger things have happened in politics, but this ranks right up there: Conservative activist and Silicon Valley entrepreneur Ron Unz is sponsoring a ballot initiative to raise California’s minimum wage to $10 per hour in 2015 and $12 in 2016.

This has fueled a debate over how such a law would impact employment, with most economists agreeing that it would increase unemployment by raising the cost of employing the least skilled. Unz’s response? He agrees. In fact, Unz is counting on a minimum-wage increase to kill millions of jobs.

Unz’s motives are despicable compared to those of his liberal opponents because he is right about his proposal’s economic impact.”

Unz laid out his motives for his so-called “Higher Wages for California Workers Act of 2014” proposition in the September 2011 issue of The American Conservative magazine, where he wrote, “[I]in today’s America a huge fraction of jobs at or near the minimum wage are held by immigrants, often illegal ones. Eliminating those jobs is a central goal of the plan, a feature not a bug.”

This month in an interview with the Washington, D.C. based Daily Caller, Unz repeated his reasoning: “A $12 minimum wage will force companies to lay off some workers, but most of those workers will be the low-skilled illegal immigrants.”

Unz continued, “…[p]rogressives and many Americans view illegal immigration as a victimless crime, but readily see wage-cheating as a drastic violation. That means progressives, journalists and unions will rise to defend defrauded $12 workers, instead of welcoming vibrant and Democratic-backing illegals.”

Unz explains multiple times that he wants a high minimum wage to deter immigration.

Stranger still, Unz’s motives have gone relatively unchallenged.

Some have expressed concern over his past sponsorship of Proposition 227, which outlawed bilingual education in California. “After what happened with Prop. 227 and a lot of the anti-immigrant sentiment that was around then, I think people are concerned,” said Nikki Fortunato Bas, executive director of the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy.

In other interviews, Unz has cloaked his reasons in standard social justice jargon. When asked how his initiative would benefit low skilled immigrant workers, Unz said: “[W]e’re probably talking more than half of all the Latino workers in California would get a wage increase under this measure, which would be a tremendous boost to struggling working people.”

Never mind that this directly contradicts economic reality. If consistently applied, a high minimum would …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Is Strategy a Branch of Praxeology?

January 24, 2014 in Economics

By Matt McCaffrey

Praxeology and Thymology

In popular writings on Austrian economics, the terms “praxeology” and “economics” are sometimes used interchangeably, although economics is only one branch of the broader logic of human action. However, in The Ultimate Foundation of Economic Science (1962), Mises did observe that economics is the best developed branch of praxeology, and this has certainly remained true over time. But the question often arises what the other branches of praxeology might be.

In a 1951 article in the American Economic Review, Rothbard listed several types of praxeological theory:

A. The Theory of the Isolated Individual (Crusoe Economics)

B. The Theory of Voluntary Interpersonal Exchange (Catallactics, or the Economics of the Market)

1. Barter

2. With Medium of Exchange

a. On the Unhampered Market

b. Effects of Violent Intervention with the Market

c. Effects of Violent Abolition of the Market (Socialism)

C. The Theory of War—Hostile Action

D. The Theory of Games (e.g., Von Neumann and Morgenstern)

E. Unknown

Recently, Jakub Wiśniewski has developed the following diagram to further explain not only the different parts of praxeology, but also their relation to what Mises calls thymology, or the study of the precedents and causes of action.

The relations between the different branches are often complex, as they often overlap, and there are numerous grey areas. There are also controversies about whether certain branches, such as praxeological ethics, can be developed (see here for one take). What is certain though is that there is relatively little research on the non-economic branches of praxeology.

I’ve been exploring some of these branches in my own research, especially regarding the fields of strategy and war making. I recently had the opportunity to talk about some of these ideas at the Ludwig von Mises Institute Romania, in a lecture titled “From the Science of Praxeology to the Art of War.” You can find a video of the seminar here.

What I argue in the lecture is that some classic writings on strategy (especially military …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Does Stephen Moore's Appointment Indicate a Thaw in Heritage's Stance on Immigration Reform?

January 24, 2014 in Economics

By Alex Nowrasteh

Alex Nowrasteh

Talk is the cheapest commodity in Washington D.C. Politicians, pundits, and lobbyists live off rhetoric the way the rest of us live off of oxygen. Because talk is cheap, we have to look for other signs to indicate actual conviction or a shift in position. One such sign is staffing. For instance, if an organization hires a new staff member who has publicly disagreed with it on an issue, that organization may be attempting to shift its position. That might apply to the Heritage Foundation’s recent hiring of Stephen Moore and the potential for that organization to shift its immigration policy.

If Heritage changed its position, it would change back to the way it used to be.”

First, a little background on Moore, who has free-market economics credentials that stretch back to the 1980s. He was a fellow at the Cato Institute, a senior economist under Dick Armey’s Joint Economic Committee, and was instrumental in creating the FairTax proposal. He founded and was president of the Club for Growth, founded the Free Enterprise Fund, and has been on the editorial board of the Wall Street Journalfor almost a decade.

Like his pro-market credentials, Moore has major pro-immigration bona fides. He was a research fellow under Julian Simon, the famed economist most well-known for his work showing that people and their creativity are the ultimate economic resource, and that commodity prices trend downward in the long run. Simon was also famous for his work on immigration when he was a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation in the 1980s.

Simon supported the Reagan amnesty bill and debated with population control environmentalists who saw immigration as a source of harm to our planet. After Simon’s untimely death, Moore wrote, “The weight of the facts that Simon brought to bear against the doomsayers was simply so overpoweringly compelling that I, like so many others, became a Julian Simon fanatic.” That fanaticism — a devotion to economic liberty founded on evidence — clearly colors all of Moore’s economic writing.

Heritage recently posted an interview with Moore where he acknowledged differences with Heritage President Jim DeMint and others at the think tank over the issue of immigration. Moore said, “Our goal will be to develop an immigration policy that’s in the best interest of America, our economy, and allows the United States to get the best and brightest people to come here.”

If Heritage changed its position, it …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Legislating Banking Confusion through Conflicting Laws

January 24, 2014 in Economics

By David Howden

My article over at Mises Canada yesterday outlines why there is so much confusion when it comes to banking relations. It´s a product of the laws.

In a bank run there are two sets of people – depositors and bankers – who both think they have a legal claim on one sum of money. Laws that allow for fractional-reserve banking ingrain this confusion in law. Both parties are in the right – bankers get to use the deposit and depositors get a right to withdraw a predefined sum of money whenever they choose. Any debates (or fights) concerning is the rightful owner of the deposited sum actually are a product of bad laws that promote conflict.

How can we make banking less confusing? Just redraft the laws to remove the conflict, in other words, end fractional reserve.

Read more here.

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Mussolini’s Idea of the State and Its American Defenders

January 24, 2014 in Economics

By Mises Updates

6645

Lew Rockwell writes in today’s Mises Daily

But it would be foolish to pretend that America is the very opposite of the fascist dystopias. Whether it’s the emphasis on centralization, the glorification of the police and the military, the yearning for a “third way” between capitalism and socialism, the elevation of “public service” above the services we freely provide one another on the market, the creepy and incessant references to “my president” or “our president,” or the depiction of the state as a quasi-divine instrument, the commonalities are neither trivial nor few.

Americans no doubt recoil from or laugh at that passage from the Italian fascists I shared with you a few moments ago. But few Americans are in a position to render such a judgment. Most have absorbed the idea that their government, far from a merely utilitarian contrivance established to provide them with some basic services, as many early Americans doubtless conceived of it, is a redemptive force in the world

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Growth without Poverty Reduction: The Case of Costa Rica

January 24, 2014 in Economics

Even though Costa Rica has enjoyed a healthy growth rate for over 25 years, the proportion of Costa Ricans living below the poverty line remains pretty much the same as it did in 1994. A new paper from Cato scholar Juan Carlos Hidalgo analyzes this phenomenon, and concludes that Costa Rica’s economic model is still in significant ways based on a mercantilist system that is biased in favor of certain sectors of the economy. Hidalgo argues, “Costa Rica needs genuine market reforms that eliminate the government’s power to pick winners and losers or otherwise bestow favoritism.

…read more

Source: CATO HEADLINES