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Ron Paul’s ‘Liberty Defined’ Now in Portuguese

March 17, 2014 in Economics

By Mises Updates

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Thanks to Helio Beltrão and Instituto Ludwig von Mises Brasil for Definindo a Liberdade, the new Portuguese-language translation of Ron Paul’s book Liberty Defined: 50 Essential Issues That Affect Our Freedom. From the summary: 

O termo “liberdade” é tão comumente usado que se tornou um mero clichê. Mas será que sabemos o que significa liberdade? No que ela implica? Como ela afeta a nossa vida cotidiana? E mais importante, será que podemos reconhecer a tirania quando ela nos é vendida disfarçada de liberdade?

Em Definindo a liberdade, o congressista e autor best-seller Ron Paul retorna com seus mais provocativos e convincentes argumentos a favor da liberdade individual. O livro é organizado por tópicos, em ordem alfabética, possibilitando uma leitura agradável, porém, o que é realmente notável é o conteúdo. Lúcido e sutil, profundo e radical, surpreendente e polêmico, o objetivo do doutor Paul foi transcender todas as suposições da política moderna e repensar o que significa viver num ambiente de liberdade. Não se trata de algo instituído ou concedido pelo governo, mas o contrário: é a ausência do controle governamental.

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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The Leveraging of Corporate America

March 17, 2014 in Economics

By Peter G. Klein

A new NBER paper documents a strong, secular increase in US corporate borrowing during the Keynesian era.

Unregulated U.S. corporations dramatically increased their debt usage over the past century. Aggregate leverage – low and stable before 1945 – more than tripled between 1945 and 1970 from 11% to 35%, eventually reaching 47% by the early 1990s. The median firm in 1946 had no debt, but by 1970 had a leverage ratio of 31%. This increase occurred in all unregulated industries and affected firms of all sizes.

Not surprisingly, this change reflects government policy:

Changing firm characteristics are unable to account for this increase. Rather, changes in government borrowing, macroeconomic uncertainty, and financial sector development play a more prominent role.

Further evidence for the long-term lengthening of the economy’s capital structure, not from technological improvement, but from the government’s policy of always keeping interest rates below their market levels.

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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If Spying on Senate is So Bad, Why is it OK For Them To Spy On Us?

March 17, 2014 in Economics

By Mises Updates

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by Ron Paul

The reaction of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to last week’s revelations that the CIA secretly searched Senate Intelligence Committee computers reveals much about what the elites in government think about the rest of us. “Spy on thee, but not on me!”

The hypocrisy of Sen. Feinstein is astounding. She is the biggest backer of the NSA spying on the rest of us, but when the tables are turned and her staff is the target she becomes irate. But there is more to it than that. There is an attitude in Washington that the laws Congress passes do not apply to Members. They can trample our civil liberties, they believe, but it should never affect their own freedom.

Remember that much of this started when politicians rushed to past the PATRIOT Act after 9/11. Those of us who warned that such new powers granted to the state would be used against us someday were criticized as alarmist and worse. The violations happened just as we warned, but when political leaders discovered the breach of our civil liberties they did nothing about it. It was not until whistleblowers like Edward Snowden and others informed us of the abuses that the “debate” over surveillance that President Obama claimed to welcome could even begin to take place! Left to politicians like Dianne Feinstein, Mike Rogers, and President Obama, we would never have that debate because we would not know.

Washington does not care about our privacy. When serious violations are discovered they most often rush to protect the status quo instead of defending the Constitution. Senator Feinstein did just that as the NSA spying revelations began to create pressure on the Intelligence Community. Her NSA reform legislation was nothing but a smokescreen: under the guise of “reform” it would have codified in law the violations already taking place. When that fact became too obvious to deny, the Senate was forced to let the legislation die in the committee.

What is interesting, and buried in the accusations and denials, is that the alleged CIA monitoring was over an expected 6,000 page Senate Intelligence Committee report on the shameful and un-American recent CIA history of torture at the “gulag archipelago” of secret prisons it set up across the world after the attacks of 9/11. We can understand why the CIA might have been afraid of that information getting out.

When CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou exposed the CIA’s role …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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The Outrageous Reason Stephen Colbert Shouldn't Visit Ohio (And So Can't You!)

March 17, 2014 in Economics

By Ilya Shapiro

Ilya Shapiro

“I am not a crook.”

“Read my lips: no new taxes!”

“I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”

“Mission accomplished.”

“If you like your healthcare plan, you can keep it.”

While George Washington may have been incapable of telling a lie, his successors haven’t had the same integrity. The campaign promise (and its subsequent violation), as well as disparaging statements about one’s opponent—whether true, mostly true, mostly not true, or entirely fantastic—are cornerstones of American democracy.

Laws which criminalize “alse” speech, don’t replace truthiness, satire, and snark with high-minded ideas and “just the facts.” Instead, they chill speech such that spin becomes silence.”

Indeed, mocking and satire are as old as America, and if you don’t believe me, you can ask Thomas Jefferson, “the son of a half-breed squaw, sired by a Virginia mulatto father.” Or perhaps you should ponder, as Grover Cleveland was forced to, “Ma, ma, where’s my pa?” (Answer: Gone to the White House, ha ha ha!)

In modern times, “truthiness”—a “truth” asserted “from the gut” or because it “feels right,” without regard to evidence or logic—is also a key part of political discourse. It’s difficult to imagine life without it, and our political discourse is weakened by Orwellian laws that try to prohibit it.

After all, where would we be without the knowledge that Democrats are pinko-communist flag-burners who want to tax churches and use the money to fund abortions so they can use the fetal stem cells to create pot-smoking lesbian ATF agents who’ll steal all the guns and invite the UN to take over America? Voters have to decide whether we’d be better off electing Republicans, those hateful, machine-gun-wielding maniacs who believe that George Washington and Jesus Christ incorporated the nation after a Gettysburg reenactment and that the only thing wrong with the death penalty is that it isn’t administered quickly enough to secular-humanist professors of Chicano studies.

Everybody knows that the economy is better off under Republican/Democratic presidents (circle as appropriate)—who control it directly with big levers in the Oval Office—and that:

  • President Obama is a Muslim.
  • President Obama is a Communist.
  • President Obama was born in Kenya.*
  • Nearly half of Americans pay no taxes (47 percent to be exact, though it may be higher by now).
  • One percent of Americans control 99 percent of the world’s health.
  • Obamacare will create death panels.
  • Republicans oppose immigration reform because they’re racists.
  • The …read more

    Source: OP-EDS

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The Dogs of Inflation

March 17, 2014 in Economics

By John P. Cochran

Keynesians Again Revive the Phillips Curve Folly

Robert Higgs has provided a most applicable biblical passage that very aptly describes the continuing knee jerk revival of the Keynesian follies during this Fed-Bush-Obama
Great Recession and Great Stagnation
:

“As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.” Psalm 26:11.

Frank Shostak, in his excellent Mises DailyInflation Does Not Produce Economic Growth,” identifies another culprit, Chicago Federal Reserve Bank’s Charles Evans.

For an in depth critic of the Phillips Curve from an Austrian perspective see Adrian Ravier’s excellent Dynamic Monetary Theory and the Phillips Curve with a Positive Slope.

The “more inflation” argument keeps coming back which is why it continually must be whacked down. Salerno’s and my attempts from two years ago are here  and here. Krugman, Mankiw, Bernanke and Company were then the dogs of more inflation. How soon given hidden rot in labor market news before Ms. Yellen joins them?

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Out of Poverty: Powell’s Most Recent Work in the Misean Tradition

March 17, 2014 in Economics

By John P. Cochran

Pete Boettke at Coordination Problem highlights the excellent work by Ben Powell in the Misesian tradition (links added).

Ben Powell‘s Out of Poverty, is a classic example of praxeological reasoning and the purpose of political economy in the hands of a skilled thinker influenced by Mises’s approach. Listen to his discussion of the book, he treats the ends of the critics of sweatshops as given, he deploys straightforward analysis of the effectiveness of the chosen means for the attainment of those given ends, and demonstrates in a non-normative yet powerful way how the critics and policy makers influenced by the critics are in fact engaged in counter-productive policies from their own point of view. Graduate students and young economists take notice, this is how you are supposed to be doing (as opposed to talking) praxeology.

Don’t get me wrong, it is vitally important for young scholars (and old) to engage in pure theory, and to also engage in intellectual history and methodological discussions to refine our understanding of praxeology, but ultimately the purpose of theory is found in the application to history and contemporary history (also known as public policy). Ben Powell is demonstrating to young scholars (and old) how to engage in sound economic reasoning and engage a hot-botton issue in contemporary public policy. Mises, no doubt, would be thrilled to see how his approach to the sciences of man is being developed and utilized by a masterful economist.

For the video of Powell’s presentation of his new book go here

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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How the Greens Help Putin in Crimea Incursion

March 17, 2014 in Economics

By Richard W. Rahn

Richard W. Rahn

A primary duty of a sovereign nation is to put policies in place to protect the country from both military and economic aggressors.

This normally includes the creation of a capable military force (and protective military alliances) and competent economic policies to make sure the country is not dependent on key resources from or exports to potential enemies. Ukraine, for a variety of reasons, some outside its control, violated these defensive principles.

The eco-left’s opposition to oil and gas use leaves Ukraine at the mercy of Russia.”

After the breakup of the old USSR, Ukraine was left with a large nuclear-missile force, but the country was financially bankrupt. The United States made a deal with Ukraine to give up all of its nuclear weapons and missiles in exchange for major financial payments, to allow it to get through an economic transition period and for a guarantee of future sovereignty.

On Dec. 5, 1994, the presidents of Ukraine (Leonid Kuchma), Russia (Boris Yeltsin) and the United States (Bill Clinton), and the prime minister of the United Kingdom (John Major) signed three memorandums to provide security assurances to Ukraine, in exchange for Ukraine agreeing to relinquish its nuclear weapons.

The memorandums read, in part: Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States “reaffirm their commitment to Ukraine to respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine reaffirm their obligation to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine to refrain from economic coercion designed to subordinate to their own interest the exercise by Ukraine of the rights inherent in its sovereignty.”

Russia now stands in clear violation of the agreement. Other than going to the United Nations (which the Russians just vetoed), no enforcement mechanism was created for Ukraine’s protection.

The United States and the United Kingdom have no military obligation to protect Ukraine, but having signed the 1994 agreement, they appear to be obligated to take other actions to try to enforce Ukraine’s borders and independence — which, in effect, means economic actions that will hurt Russia

When a country engages in economic sanctions or other forms of economic warfare, it must be sure that it will do more damage to its enemy than itself.

The Russian economy is highly dependent on oil and gas exports, and reducing Russian oil and gas exports would be the most direct way to cause pain to the Russian leadership. However, Europe is heavily dependent on Russian gas and oil, particularly gas.

Six European Union countries — Finland, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Bulgaria — are 100 percent dependent on Russian gas. Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Slovenia and Greece depend on the Russians …read more

Source: OP-EDS