You are browsing the archive for 2014 March 27.

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Of Course Corporations Like Hobby Lobby Have Rights of Conscience, and You Probably Shop at One

March 27, 2014 in Economics

By Trevor Burrus

Trevor Burrus

This week, the Supreme Court heard a challenge to the birth control mandate of the Affordable Care Act. The mandate in question requires that companies with over 50 employees must provide health insurance that covers certain contraceptive devices that some believe are abortifacients, or pay a stiff fine.

Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties challenged the mandate as a violation of the freedom of religion. The Court now must answer the questions of whether for-profit corporations can have a religious conscience and whether the birth control mandate substantially burdens the businesses’ free exercise of religion.

When government expands into new, values-laden areas, it is best to realize that while today it may be them, tomorrow it could be you.”

These two cases come to the Court at a time when corporate conscience is more important than ever. Companies are marketing themselves as stewards of the environment, supporters of fair labor practices, of fair trade, and of the poor, and consumers are increasingly paying a premium for goods that align with those values. The market has fostered environmental stewardship and social justice products (e.g. Toms) because people are willing to pay for them.

Big and intrusive government threatens all types of rights of conscience. When government expands into new, values-laden areas, it is best to realize that while today it may be them, tomorrow it could be you. Those on the left who are opposing Hobby Lobby’s suit as an attempt to undercut women’s rights or as an attempt to let your boss choose your health care, should be thinking instead about the next big government mandate that could affect a business’s right of conscience that they actually care about.

Whole Foods, for example, is a corporation with a conscience. On their website they list the core values that are “truly important to us as an organization” and that “do not change from time to time, situation to situation or person to person, but rather are the underpinning of our company culture.” These include advancing environmental stewardship, a commitment to GMO labeling, and creating “win-win partnerships with suppliers” to treat them with “respect, fairness, and integrity at all times.”

Likewise, New Belgium Brewing Company, the maker of Fat Tire, also has a well-defined corporate conscience. The third object on their website menu is “sustainability,” and they discuss their “heart-felt approach to business” that has existed since the company was founded. …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Global Warming Scientists Scrap Real Science, Bow before President Obama Instead

March 27, 2014 in Economics

By Patrick J. Michaels

Patrick J. Michaels

On the corner of 12th Street and New York Avenue, conveniently located midway between the White House and Congress, sits a slate eminence housing the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). It’s not there because science bureaucrats enjoy Washington’s unbearable summers.

The Guardian got it right last week, in its coverage of the latest AAAS screed on the horrors of climate change, mistakenly calling it the American Association for the Advancement of Scientists. How fitting, for that is what it is, the lobby for Big Science that behaves as all good DC lobbies do, which means kissing up to the Administration in return for taxpayer largesse. In the most recent example, AAAS has just released an awful report on climate, “What We Know: The Reality, Risks, and Response to Climate Change.” Bad grammar, even worse science.

Has anyone noticed that the Administration is obsessed with climate change and that Congress is not?”

AAAS and Big Science have been in the Washington tank since the end of World War II, when President Roosevelt recognized the utility of addicting scientists, via their academic institutions, to federal money. The blueprint for this artifice was a report he commissioned called “Science, the Endless Frontier,” which proposed the nationalization of science. Even when it first came out in 1945, wags labeled it “Science, the Endless Budget.”

Addiction often causes co-dependence, and so the Universities, which rake off 50% of the research money as “overhead,” became politically correct, espousing everything believed in Big Washington and punishing those who deviate.

Universities pretty much do anything they want with this vigorish, but sometimes they go a bit far. Stanford used it to buy walnut paneling for its yacht, and for literally feathering its president’s bed. The ensuing scandal cost Donald Kennedy his job. Not to worry though, as he was hired as the chief editor for Science, the influential weekly journal published by AAAS. That made him the biggest gatekeeper in American science, and Science quickly became known for its one-sidedness when it came to publishing and reporting on climate change.

In 2007, the senate was debating whether to force Americans to burn up a substantial percent of the world’s food supply by converting corn to ethanol. Even at the time, there was a plethora of scientific arguments noting that this was silly, but instead, AAAS draped a huge sign from the side of their building.

The sign featured an …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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McCaffrey to University of Manchester

March 27, 2014 in Economics

By Mises Updates

Former Mises Fellow Matt McCaffrey (blog archive here) has accepted a position as Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of Manchester (which, by the way, houses a collection of the letters of Richard Cobden).

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Could Immigration Reform without 'Amnesty' Be on the Table This Year?

March 27, 2014 in Economics

By Alex Nowrasteh

Alex Nowrasteh

If you think immigration reform is at an impasse, you’re wrong. Yes, a massive legislation like the bill passed by the Senate last June won’t be voted by the House this year, but this roadblock, strong as it may appear, does not block reform from happening. A bipartisan compromise is already forming.

The main holdup of the Senate bill in the House was the creation of new visas which would legalize unauthorized immigrants and provide them with a path to citizenship — known colloquially as “amnesty.” However, anything resembling legalization has become far too controversial for House Republicans to take up this election year.

A piecemeal approach is likely the only way that immigration reform will move forward in 2014 — if at all.”

Republican hesitancy on legalization does not mean that the party is unwilling to undertake any reforms that could help unauthorized immigrants. As a matter of fact, key members of the House Judiciary committee, which oversees immigration issues, have already endorsed a proposal that would do just that without a legalization or “amnesty.”

The new proposal would alter portions of a 1996 law known as the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA). The law requires that any immigrant who stays in the United States illegally for more than six months but less than one year may not leave and reenter for three years. Any immigrant who illegally stays for more than a year may not leave and reenter for 10 years. Also known as the 3/10-year bar, any immigrant who violates it triggers a twenty-year ban from reentering the United States — for any reason.

Some unauthorized immigrants, mainly the spouses and parents of U.S. citizens, can currently apply for a green card. However, they can only do it after leaving the country. Since most unauthorized immigrants have been here for more than a decade and leaving would make the 3/10-year bar apply to them, this legislative catch-22 prevents current law from legalizing many of them.

Moreover, a recent report by the National Foundation for American Policy found that if these bars were removed, more than a third of the 11 to 12 million unauthorized immigrants here could become legal over the next several years without any special rule designed to legalize or “amnesty” unauthorized immigrants.

Eliminating these blocks is not only good policy, it is also politically possible. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), the GOP Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said that “If you …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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The “Pro-Russian” Libertarian Position of Richard Cobden

March 27, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

Richard_Cobden (1)

Richard Cobden, the great libertarian of the 19th century, man of peace, leader of the Anti-Corn Law League, and anti-imperialist, was once considered in line to be Prime Minister. Yet, like so many libertarians after him, he was destroyed for his opposition to nationalism and war. In Cobden’s case, his opposition to the Crimean War sent his political capital into a tailspin as not only the ruling classes savagely attacked him, but he was also abandoned by the liberal rank and file and who had supported his economic positions, but who shunned Cobden once he refused to jump on the war-hysteria bandwagon. One of Cobden’s great “crimes,” according to his critics, was that he was an apologist for the Russian Empire. Cobden was no such thing, of course, but Cobden’s recognition of the motivations behind Russian actions in Europe and Crimea earned him condemnations from narrow-minded liberals who were more concerned with criticizing the Russians (who of course couldn’t have cared less what the British liberals thought) than with criticizing the British Empire, a leading source of political instability and despotism worldwide.

Writings like this, in which Cobden simply examines the Russian point of view on the Polish and Crimean questions, while pointing to the British Empire’s own imperialism, did not earn Cobden any friends:

Lord Dudley Stuart (whose zeal, we fear, without knowledge, upon the subject of Poland, and whose prejudice against Russia have led him to occupy so much of the public time uselessly upon the question before us), in the course of his long speech in the House of Commons (February 19th) upon introducing the subject of Russian encroachments, dwelt at considerable length upon the lust of aggrandisement by which he argued that the government of St. Petersburg was so peculiarly distinguished; and he brought forward, at considerable cost of labour, details of its successive conquests of territory during the last century. Where the human mind is swayed by any passion of however amiable a nature, or where the feelings are allowed to predominate over the reason, in investigating a subject which appeals only to the understanding, it will generally happen that the judgment is defective. We attribute to the well-known fervour of Lord Stuart’s sentiments upon Russia and Poland, the circumstance that, during the fortnight which he must have employed in collecting the dates of the several treaties by which the former empire has wrested its possessions from neighbouring states, the …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Lange Anticipates Higgs

March 27, 2014 in Economics

By John P. Cochran

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Over at Econlog Bryan Caplan explains “Socialism Was Born Bad: The Case of Oskar Lange” Both Don Boudreaux (at Café Hayek on March 25, 2014) I (on a Facebook share of the post) noticed  that the “clarity of thought [which] led him [Lange]directly to a totalitarian vision that he gladly embraced” also provided arguments that support regime uncertainty as a potential major culprit in generating economic stagnation and preventing normal recovery from a recession.

My comment:

Lange’s quotes on why gradualism in the transition to socialism would fail in the economic sphere -undermine property rights and cause economic collapse – support Robert Higgs’s concept of regime uncertainty.

Don Boudreaux’s comment:

Bryan Caplan reflects on the origins of “market socialism.” (The excerpts in Bryan’s post from Oskar Lange suggests that, had he lived long enough, Lange perhaps would have – and certainly should have – endorsed at least the thrust of Bob Higgs’s account of regime uncertainty.)

The argument which appears to be a pre-endorsement of regime uncertainty is from Lange’s “On the Economic Theory of Socialism” (Review of Economic Studies, 1937 HT to Bryan Caplan):

Unfortunately, the economist cannot share this theory of economic gradualism. An economic system based on private enterprise and private property of the means of production can work only as long as the security of private property and of income derived from property and from enterprise is maintained. The very existence of a government bent on introducing socialism is a constant threat to this security. Therefore, the capitalist economy cannot function under a socialist government unless the government is socialist in name only.

Robert Higgs provided clarification on what regime uncertainty entails that is highly relevant in today’s lawless policy environment as evidenced most recently in two Wall Street Journal editorials; ObamaCare Delay Number 38 and The Suh-and-Settle Nominee. People and rhetoric matter. Per Higgs:

Regime uncertainty pertains to more than the government’s laws, regulations, and administrative decisions. For one thing, as the saying goes, “personnel is policy.” Two administrations may administer or enforce identical statutes and regulations quite differently. A business-hostile administration such as Franklin D. Roosevelt’s or Barack Obama’s will provoke more apprehension among investors than a business-friendlier administration such as Dwight D. Eisenhower’s or Ronald Reagan’s, even if the underlying “rules of the game” are identical on paper. Similar differences between judiciaries create uncertainties about how the courts will rule on contested …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Sen. Rand Paul Appears on Hannity- March 26, 2014

March 27, 2014 in Politics & Elections

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Source: RAND PAUL

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Climate Alarm

March 27, 2014 in Economics

By Paul C. "Chip" Knappenberger

Paul C. “Chip” Knappenberger

In its new report on the risks from human-caused climate change, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) sets climate science back rather than “advancing” it. The report, counterfactuallytitled “What We Know,” is more an account of what the scientific community thought it knew about a decade ago than an up-to-date telling of current understanding.

Climate science moves in one direction, the AAAS moves in the other.”

Not surprisingly, the group ignores the fact that climate science is moving in a direction that increasingly suggests that the risk of extreme climate change is lower than has been previously assessed. Instead, the AAAS continues to play up the chance of extreme outcomes with the intent of scaring us into taking action — action that would have little impact on either future climate change or the risks therefrom.

The AAAS largely appeals to its own authority in trying to persuade us to believe its conclusions and yet informs its authority with old and obsolete science.

Nowhere is this more true than in its justification for highlighting the risks of “abrupt climate change” and in its faith in the ability of climate models to provide reliable and informed guidance regarding the probability of extreme climate changes’ occurring in the future.

The new report asserts:

Below are some of the high-side projections and tail risks we incur by following the current path for CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions. Most of these projections derive from computer simulations of Earth and its climate system. These models apply the best understanding science has to offer about how our climate works and how it will change in the future. There are many such models and all of them have been validated, to varying degrees, by their ability to replicate past climate changes.

However, the best and most recent science shows the AAAS assessment to be outdated and badly misplaced. In fact, climate models have done remarkably poorlyin replicating the evolution of global temperature during the past several decades, and high-end climate-change scenarios from the models are largely unsupported by observations.

For example, in January, researchers John Fyfe and Nathan Gillett published an article in the prominent journal Nature Climate Change that found that “global warming over the past 20 years is significantly less than that calculated from 117 simulations of the climate by 37 models.” And last year, scientists Peter Stott and colleagues published a …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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England’s Levellers: The World’s First Libertarian Movement

March 27, 2014 in Economics

By Mises Updates

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Roberta Modugno writes in today’s Mises Daily:

One of the most important of the Levellers’s contributions to the theoretical foundation of the libertarian doctrine was, according to Rothbard, that they, “transformed the rather vague and holistic notions of natural law into the clear cut, firmly individualistic concepts of natural rights of every individual human being,” including fundamental tenets of libertarianism. This included the right to self-ownership, methodological individualism, individual natural rights theory, sound property rights, and economic freedom.

Lilburne defended natural law as “Nature and reason” and “the grounds of all just laws” and that “therefore against this Law, prescriptions, statutes, nor customs may not prevail. And if any be brought in against it, they be no prescriptions, statutes nor customs, but things void, and against justice …”

In 1646 while Lilburne was imprisoned for high treason, Overton wrote A Remonstrance of Many Thousand Citizens, and other Free-Born People of England, to their own House of Commons, urging that Lilburne be freed. The Remonstrance became a great Leveller manifesto.

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE