You are browsing the archive for 2014 March 26.

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Rory Sutherland: ‘Ludwig von Mises Is My Hero’

March 26, 2014 in Economics

By Mises Updates

In this TED Talk, Rory Sutherland discusses the the value of Mises and praxeology in understanding the important of subjective value and human psychology.

The Mises comments begin at 13:00.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Mises, Rothbard, and Machlup

March 26, 2014 in Economics

By Joseph Salerno

Pete Boettke has an interesting post arguing that Rothbard’s interpretation of Mises’s method although currently more popular is inferior to that of Fritz Machlup,  a student of Mises’s  in Vienna who  later became a  prominent member of the U.S. economics profession.  Boettke also argues that the Rothbard’s  interpretation will eventually be displaced by the operation of a putative “market for ideas.”  For those who are interested, there follows my response.

Pete’s post raises some provocative questions, most of which go unanswered. I will restrict myself to comments on the following passage:

“Let me be clear about something, Rothbard’s reading is a plausible one. If it wasn’t at all plausible, it could not have been a contender and it could not have persisted as long as it has in the contestation of ideas. But that contestation isn’t a smooth a process of intellectual progress as we might like to believe due to institutional impediments and intellectual path dependencies, etc. Still, the market for ideas is not wildly inefficient either — it is just a process that has a lot of slack in the system. But being a plausible reading doesn’t mean it is a correct reading, let alone the most productive reading for contemporary scholars. Machlup’s reading of Mises might actually be more correct, it also might be more productive.”

This is a very strong claim yet Pete does not provide any argument in support of it.  I raise two points in challenging his claim.

First, the sole purpose of reasoning about method is to employ the protocol deduced in actually formulating a system of economic theory that is applicable to analyzing real-world phenomena. Methodological discussions are empty rhetoric unless they refer to the fruits of scientific investigation achieved by using the prescribed method. In short, the proof of the pudding is in the eating—and Pete does not supply the pudding.

Now, as far as I know, no one has thought to develop a system of economic theory based on a Machlupian reading of Mises’s method. If I am wrong and someone—perhaps Pete himself—has done so, then I would ask Pete to point to an application of this system to interpreting some significant real-world event such as the recent monetary chaos in Euroland, the housing bubble, the financial crisis, the Great Recession, the recent Argentine currency “devaluation,” etc. There are plenty of explanations of these events based on the Rothbardian reading of Mises. In the …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Surprise, Surprise — ObamaCare Deadline Extended Yet Again

March 26, 2014 in Economics

By Michael D. Tanner

Michael D. Tanner

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty told Alice, ”it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.” 

To which, Alice responded, ”The question is whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

Clearly Alice had not yet experienced the Wonderland that is ObamaCare.

This week the Obama administration changed the rules once again. It announced that the March 31 statutory deadline for enrolling in insurance under ObamaCare’s individual mandate actually meant sometime in the middle of April, the exact date to be determined later.

What this means is that it will now be possible to sign up after March 31 as long as you check a box on the online form saying that you started or tried to start signing up before the deadline. There will be no mechanism to determine whether or not you actually did start the process before March 31; the administration will take your word for it.

Since the Affordable Care Act’s enactment in 2010, President Obama has unilaterally acted at least 27 times to postpone, alter, or do away with at least 16 parts of the law.”

The extension comes despite the fact that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which oversees the program, has repeatedly stated that there is no legal authority to delay the deadline, and just last week HHS Secretary Kathleen Sibelius testified before Congress that the administration had no intention of doing so.

Still, one should hardly be shocked.  After all, it was only last month that the administration announced that the January 1, 2014 deadline for the health care law’s employer mandate really meant, January 1, 2015 for some businesses and 2016 for others…maybe.

In fact, since the Affordable Care Act’s enactment in 2010, President Obama has unilaterally acted at least 27 times to postpone, alter, or do away with at least 16 parts of the law. These include scheduled cuts to Disproportionate Share Hospitals, the Basic Health Plan option, out-of-pocket caps (in some instances), and small-business-exchange enrollment (Small Business Health Option Programs, or SHOP).

He even repealed an entire program, the CLASS Act (a long-term care program), although that action was subsequently ratified by Congress. And none of these include the more than 3,000 waivers granted along the way to individual companies or unions.

Indeed, at the same time that the administration was announcing this latest change, its lawyers were in the DC Circuit Court of …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Paolo Bernardini on the Venice Secession Vote

March 26, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

477px-Veneto_in_Italy.svg

In spite of widespread coverage by the UK Guardian, NBC, and The Atlantic, some readers have suggested that the vote on secession in Venice did not actually happen. So, to clear things up, I contacted Prof. Paolo Bernardini, a friend of the Mises Institute,  a local supporter of the vote, and professor of European history at the University of Insubria in Como, Italy.

Bernardini writes:

Dear Ryan,

The vote did indeed happen. International agencies are working to certify the numbers of voters and the results. Once certified, and if and only if no fraud whatsoever will be detected, we will formally ask (in the legal capacity of provisional government of the Veneto) the UN and other international agencies to formally recognize the Venetian Republic, according to the binding principle of the UN 1966 Declaration, art. 1, or the principle of self-determination of the nations. The UN declaration became an Italian law in 1977 and 1978, in a two-step legal process, while the Italian law recognizes the status of “people” (popolo) to the Venetian nation, with a national law of 1971 never repealed. So, there is no legal ground to deny the self-determination of the Venetian people, although I suspect there will be a number of international arbitrations immediately after independence. (The same will happen for Scotland, should she become independent, for instance, as for the disputed ownership of a number of platforms in the Northern sea, and the relevant rights of exploitation of oil and natural gas).

So the British press did not make up the case.

As a libertarian at heart, I dream of a future with no states. As a political realist, well in line with Mises (e.g. in his early work “Liberalismus”), Rothbard, Hoppe, and the Italian libertarians Carlo Lottieri, Marco Bassani, and Alessandro Vitale, I envisage a (near) future world of small states, free to interact in a global, free market.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Was Hy Minsky a Blockian?

March 26, 2014 in Economics

By Christopher Westley

Hardly, especially given his endorsement of the view that markets are inherently unstable and prone to failure, thus requiring extra-market supervision and control.  But I couldn’t help but to think of Walter Block when listening to this part of Duncan Weldon’s recent segment about Minsky on BBC 4 (around the 6:00 mark):
Weldon:  [Minsky] sounds like someone not afraid to challenge authority.  I mean, can you see that in his work as well?
Laurence Meyer:  Well, yes, because I think he always felt that he was treated like an outsider.  Okay?  He wasn’t really part of the mainstream.  And he took great joy in taking on that mainstream for how simplistic their views were and failing to pay attention to something that seems so obvious.
One can’t help but to think that part of the reason mainstream central bankers like Meyer and Janet Yellen appreciate Minsky today because Minsky not only missed the role of central banks in causing financial instability, he also endorsed their expanded role in addressing the adverse economic effects of bubbles they themselves helped inflate.  Today, this role takes the form of (faddish) “macroprudential” policies that assume central banks are capable of seeking out and eliminating sector bubbles all while pumping new money into the economy so desired by the political class and the cronies attached to it.  It’s not what Minsky got right that makes him relevant to them, but actually what he got so wrong.
Minsky may have had something of a Blockian spirit that we can admire, but such a spirit can prove damaging when backed more by ideology than logical consistency and right reason.
Here’s the Google Books version of the Elgar Companion to Hyman Minsky.
Here’s Frank Shostak on Minsky from 2007.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Audio: Misesian Insights for Modern Macroeconomics

March 26, 2014 in Economics

By Mises Updates

In this talk (Mp3 format), J. Huston McCulloch discusses a variety of insights that Mises’s works offer to macroeconomics. From 2014′s Austrian Economics Research Conference.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Albany Today: Faith Leaders Join Patients and Families in Calling on Legislature to Show Compassion and Immediately Pass Medical Marijuana Bill

March 26, 2014 in PERSONAL LIBERTY

By drosenfeld

Dozens of Patients, Caregivers, Providers and Faith Leaders Travel from Across the State to Demand Passage of Compassionate Care Act

Advocates Call on New York Senate Leaders to Stop Delays and Allow a Vote to Stop the Needless Suffering of Sick New Yorkers

NOTE: Likely press conference today at 2:30 outside the LCA with Faith Leaders, Patients, Healthcare Providers and Families.

March 26, 2014

Drug Policy Alliance

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Source: DRUG POLICY

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Let's Fight Back vs. Government Throttling of Constitution

March 26, 2014 in Economics

By Nat Hentoff

Nat Hentoff

In 1975, Frank Church, a Democratic senator from Idaho, told the American people that a government intelligence agency most of them had never heard of — the National Security Agency — “had the capability to secretly monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide.”

Like many Americans, regardless of their political party, I was startled at this news.

At the time, Church was the chairman of the Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations With Respect to Intelligence Activities, better known as the Church Committee. He worked hard to spread this frightening news as fully as he could, which I reported in columns and my book, The War on the Bill of Rights and the Gathering Resistance (Seven Stories Press, 2003).

This exemplary patriot assured us that “never again will an agency of the government be permitted to conduct a secret war against those citizens it considers threats to the established order.”

But he could not predict the coming of a Congress wholly forgetful of the Church Committee and absorbed in internal wars to gain political party ascendancy, not to mention a two-term president who largely exterminated the separation of powers.

However, as I’ve been reporting, the revelations of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and Democratic. Sen. Dianne Feinstein have partially reawakened Congress.

Meanwhile, Frederick A.O. (“Fritz”) Schwarz Jr., who was chief counsel for the Church Committee and is currently the chief counsel for the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, challenges us to rescue our fading identity as a self-governing citizenry. In his column, “Why We Need a New Church Committee to Fix Our Broken Intelligence System,” from the March 31 issue of The Nation, he writes:

“Now it is time for a new committee to examine our secret government closely again, particularly for its actions in the post-9/11 period.

“This need is underscored by what has become a full-blown crisis, with Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein accusing the CIA of spying on the committee, possibly violating the Constitution’s separation-of-powers principles, the Fourth Amendment and other laws” (Schwarz, The Nation, March 31).

In a spectacularly unexpected fusion of warring public figures, Feinstein, who had accused Edward Snowden of being a traitor, has now joined with him to expose government secrecy and make us Americans again.

And so will this Church Committee revival.

But how will this new committee actually operate to accomplish this mission? In a …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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The Medicaid Mess

March 26, 2014 in Economics

By Michael D. Tanner

Michael D. Tanner

Even as those parts of Obamacare that have not yet been postponed stagger toward the finish line on March 31, one part of the president’s health-care law continues to build momentum. As of this writing, 25 states and the District of Columbia have chosen to expand their Medicaid programs in accordance with Obamacare. This includes several states governed by Republicans, including Arizona, New Jersey, New Mexico, and Ohio (Governor John Kasich has described the expansion as part of his duty as a Christian).

The Obama administration claims that nearly 7 million Americans have been added to the Medicaid rolls as a result of the Affordable Care Act, but those numbers are wildly inflated.

The Washington Post’s fact checker has given the claim “four Pinocchios,” and firms that track the data, such as Avalere, suggest that the real number is somewhere between 1.1 and 1.8 million at last count. The rest of the enrollments are simply the normal turnover and reenrollments that occur in the program.

Now isn’t the time for Republican governors to go wobbly on these fraudulent arguments.”

Yet the expansion could get a lot bigger over the next few months if several additional states decide to expand their programs. Among those expected to make a decision in the next few weeks: New Hampshire, where the Republican-controlled senate voted to pass a version of expansion earlier this month; Pennsylvania, where Republican governor Tom Corbett has proposed expanding the program in exchange for some overall Medicaid reforms, including a work requirement; staff for Utah governor Gary Herbert traveled to D.C. last week to discuss proposals for Medicaid expansion, with their boss expected to make the trip himself in April; and Virginia, where new governor Terry McAuliffe is pushing for expansion, though the Republican-controlled house has blocked him. Other states looking at the idea include Florida, Missouri, and Montana; expansion is also expected to be a key issue in gubernatorial campaigns this fall.

Supporters of expanding the program, along with much of the media, portray opposition to the idea as essentially political. It’s about governors and state legislators who simply oppose Obamacare and refuse to do anything that would help implement it, they contend. No doubt there’s a certain amount of truth to this claim.

But expanding Medicaid also raises serious policy concerns: It would increase government dependency, cost state taxpayers millions if not billions of dollars in new taxes, squeeze other …read more

Source: OP-EDS