You are browsing the archive for 2014 April 04.

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Five Libertarian Ideas #12 – The Russian New World Order, US/Mexico militias

April 4, 2014 in Blogs

By Political Zach Foster

It's still taboo to admit that most jobs are unspeakably dull.

If you want a vision of the future, imagine a wage slave typing: “I hate my job. I hate my job. I hate my job,” on a keyboard, for ever. That's what a Manhattan court typist is accused of doing, having been fired from his post two years ago, after jeopardising upwards of 30 trials,according to the New York Post. Many of the court transcripts were “complete gibberish” as the stenographer was alledgedly suffering the effects of alcohol abuse, but the one that has caught public attention contains the phrase “I hate my job” over and over again. Officials are reportedly struggling to mitigate the damage, and the typist now says he's in recovery, but it's worth considering how long it took the court officials to realise he hadn't been taking proper notes at all.

You can't help but feel a small pang of joy at part of the story, though. Surely everyone, at some point, has longed, but perhaps not dared, to do the same. In a dreary Coventry bedsit in 2007, I read Herman Melville's Bartleby the Scrivener, the tale of a new employee who calmly refuses to do anything he is paid to do, to the complete bafflement of his boss, and found myself thinking in wonder: “This is the greatest story I have ever read.” No wonder it still resonates. Who hasn't sat in their office, and felt like saying to their bosses: “I would prefer not to,” when asked to stuff envelopes or run to the post office?

For some bizarre reason, it's still taboo to admit that most jobs are unspeakably dull. On application forms, it's anathema to write: “Reason for leaving last job: hated it”, and “Reason for applying for this post: I like money.” The fact that so many people gleefully shared this story shows that many of us, deep down, harbour a suspicion that our jobs aren't necessarily what we want to be doing for the rest of our lives. A lot of us aren't always …read more


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Why Americans Are Losing Their Religion at a Startling Rate

April 4, 2014 in Blogs

By Sarah Gray, Salon

Here are some of the factors contributing to the massive decline in religiosity in America.

New research from Allen Downey, a computer scientist at Olin College of Engineering in Massachusetts, shows a startling correlation between the rise of the Internet and the decline of religious affiliation in the United States.

According to MIT Technology Review, back in 1990 only eight percent of the U.S. population did not have a religious affiliation. Twenty years later in 2010 that number was up to 18 percent. That is a jump of 25 million people. Americans seem to be losing their religion, and from Downey’s research we may have an answer.

The data Downey looked at is from the General Social Survey, which according to MIT Technology Review is “a widely respected sociological survey carried out by the University of Chicago.” Since 1972, the survey has been measuring the population’s demographics and attitudes.

The approach to looking at the survey material was to see how socioeconomic status, education, religious upbringing and other factors correlated with the drop in religious affiliation. This is a good time to talk about the difference between correlation and causation. The data from the survey shows a relationship between these factors and decreased religious affiliation, but not direct causation.

Downey’s findings show that religious upbringing is the largest influence on religious affiliation. However a drop in religious upbringing starting in 1990, does not account for the entire drop of religious affiliation. According to the analysis, religious upbringing was important, but only explicated 25 percent of the drop.

Higher education at the college level also has a relationship with the drop in religiosity. But the study shows that rates of the college education from the 1980s to 2000s only went up a little under 10 percent (from 17.4 to 27.2). Statistically, this can only account for five percent of the drop.

The internet, if you can believe it, has a much higher correlation than college education. According to the study, Internet use went from near zero percent in the 1980s, to 53 percent of the population spending up to two hours a week online in the …read more


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10 Reasons to Raise the Minimum Wage (with Charts)

April 4, 2014 in Blogs

By Cap Action War Room, Think Progress

Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 would create economic prosperity and put more money into the pockets of hard-working Americans.

There have been rumors lately that Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) is trying to broker a smaller minimum wage increase. The offer is a non-starter for Democratic leaders, and would in fact lock low-income workers into poverty wages for the indefinite future. Here at CAP Action, we agree. The Senate’s plan to vote on a minimum wage increase has been pushed back several times, but what matters most is that it stays at $10.10. Here are ten reasons why raising the minimum wage to $10.10 is the right thing for America’s workers and for our economy:

1. It Will Put Money Into The Pockets Of Hard-Working Americans. Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 will raise wages for 28 million workers by $35 billion in total. Since many of those workers will turn around and spend that money, that is a huge boost for the economy.

2. It Will Reduce Income Inequality. The average CEO shouldn’t make 933 times more than a full-time minimum wage worker.


3. It Won’t Hurt Job Creation. States have raised the minimum wage 91 times since 1987 during periods of high unemployment, and in more than half of those instances the unemployment rate actually fell. Over 600 economists signed a letter agreeing that a minimum wage increase doesn’t hurt job creation.

4. It Is Unlikely To Significantly Impact Prices. A higher minimum wage would mean a DVD at Walmart will cost just one cent more.


5. It Would Help People Get Off Of Food Stamps. A study by the Center for American Progress found that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 would help 3.5 million Americansget off food stamps.

6. It Will Save The Government Money. The same CAP study found that, in conjunction with helping people get off of food stamps, raising the minimum wage would save the government $46 billion over 10 years in spending on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) as people earn enough on their own to no longer …read more


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Exaggerating the Damage Caused by Climate Change

April 4, 2014 in Economics

By Randall Holcombe


Here is a link to the abstract of a peer-reviewed article in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics. (You may be able to download the full article. I could, from my university computer.)

The abstract says, “It appears that news media and some pro-environmental organizations have the tendency to accentuate or even exaggerate the damage caused by climate change. … We find that the information manipulation… induces more countries to participate in an IEA [International Environmental Agreement], which will eventually enhance global welfare.”

The article argues that by exaggerating the harmful effects of climate change, advocates can gain more support for government climate change policies.

The article says, “Linking climate change to extreme weather may be a powerful way to motivate people.” Referring to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, it says, “The IPCC has tended to over-generalize its research results and accentuate the negative side of climate change. Following its lead, the mainstream media has gone even further.”

Later, “…it may be better for the countries to hold a pessimistic view of the climate problem, as it will induce more countries to participate in the IEA…” The paper then goes on to develop a mathematical model to demonstrate why this is the case.

The paper’s conclusion begins, “This article offers a rationale for the phenomenon of climate damage accentuation or exaggeration on the part of the international mainstream media or other pro-environmental organizations.” And then to show the bias of the authors, “Forming a binding IEA to curb climate change is a matter of urgency… When the media or pro-environmental organizations have private information on the damage caused by climate change, in equilibrium they may manipulate the information to increase pessimism regarding climate damage, even though the damage may not be that great. Consequently, more countries (with overpessimistic beliefs about climate damage) will be induced to participate in an IEA in this state, thereby leading to greater global welfare…”

The paper concludes, “This article further explores how the mass media may manipulate the information it privately has to influence behavior related to the environment … this article introduces a novel mechanism, ‘information manipulation.’”

This article is noteworthy because it is published in a peer-reviewed academic journal. This is not right-wing political propaganda, and it is apparent from reading the article that the authors are sympathetic to the idea that more global action needs to be taken to combat what they believe are the negative effects of …read more


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Obama Administration "Willing to Work" With Congress to Reschedule Marijuana

April 4, 2014 in PERSONAL LIBERTY

By drosenfeld

Drug Policy Alliance: Rescheduling Is Small Step In Right Direction, But Wouldn’t Protect People From Being Arrested or Punished for Marijuana Possession

DPA Supports De-Scheduling Marijuana and Legally Regulating It

Attorney General Eric Holder said Friday that the Obama administration would be willing to work with Congress if lawmakers want to reschedule marijuana.

Re-categorizing marijuana would not legalize the drug under federal law, but it could ease restrictions on research into marijuana's medical benefits and allow marijuana businesses to take tax deductions.

April 4, 2014

Drug Policy Alliance

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Majority of Law Enforcement Officers Support Marijuana Policy Reform

April 4, 2014 in Blogs

By Neil Franklin, LEAP

Former cop: the war on drugs changed the very nature of policing for the worse.

Though not conducted with the methodological rigor of the Pew poll that came out yesterday showing 54% of Americans support the legalization of marijuana and two-thirds believe drug policy should focus on treatment rather than prosecuting drug users, Law Officer magazine has provided LEAP a poll of its own showing an even more surprising finding: a majority of law enforcement officers also support marijuana policy reform.

Though some of the provided answers seemed to overlap, the overall effect is one indicating broad support for change among the readership of the publication, 97% of whom indicated they are or had been in law enforcement.  Some of the most surprising results include 66% saying marijuana possession should be legalized, decriminalized, legalized for medical reasons or illegal but only punished with fines, with the largest plurality (37%) supporting legalization. Even more surprising, almost 27% supported legalizing “the sale of marijuana in large quantities” with 36% calling for some form of change from the current model. While support for decriminalizing possession of other drugs was significantly lower, 14% of this population (generally thought to be the most opposed to reform) supported changes in policy.  

Below is a response by Law Enforcement Against Prohibition’s executive director, Major Neill Franklin (Ret.) addressed to the law enforcement readership of Law Officer:

Before Nixon declared the war on drugs in the early 1970s, policing was a different creature altogether. Police were the “good guys” going after the “bad guys”–the rapists, the murderers, the child molesters–most people could agree society was better without. Since that time, the very nature of policing has changed.

Today enforcing drug laws not only occupies a huge portion of police time, it forms much of the identity of the profession and of individual officers who dedicate their lives to serving the public. That’s why, to me, the finding that more officers support the legalization of marijuana possession than support the status quo is remarkable. Who among us questions such things lightly?  

But in other ways, this finding is unsurprising. I have always believed that those in …read more


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Mother Sentenced 20 Years for Killing Daughter with Morphine in Breast Milk – The Latest Drug War Tragedy

April 4, 2014 in Blogs

By Jan Frel, AlterNet

Sad stories like these are preventable.

A South Carolina judge has sentenced a former nurse to 20 years in prison for killing her six-week-old daughter with what prosecutors say was an overdose of morphine delivered through her breast milk. It appears to be the first prosecution of a mother killing her child with illegal toxins in her breast milk. 

From the AP:

An autopsy found a level of morphine in the baby's body that a pathologist testified could have been lethal for an adult. With no needle marks on the child's body, authorities decided the drugs must have gotten into the infant through her mother's milk, prosecutor Barry Barnette said.

A review of her medical records showed [Mother Stephanie] Greene carefully hid her pregnancy from her primary doctor. After a home pregnancy test showed she was pregnant, she told her primary doctor she needed to go to a gynecologist for a birth control. She then got prenatal care from that doctor while not telling her all the painkillers she was taking. She also skipped appointments with her primary physician when it was obvious she was pregnant and sent her husband to pick up her painkiller prescriptions, Barnette said.

It's a tragic story, and it could have been prevented in a society that doesn't stigmatize opiate addiction, jails chronic drug users, ostracizes pregnant addicts, and lacks the capacity to help mothers make important decisions and the health of their children. How did Greene's addiction start? 

Greene spent more than 10 years racked with chronic pain after a car wreck before her unexpected pregnancy with her husband in 2010, attorney Rauch Wise said. Society wants to portray people who need painkillers as drug addicts and horrible people, but Greene and others often are just trying to get through each day without debilitating pain, her lawyer said. ”She needed those meds to get up in the morning and function. … She was on total disability because of her pain, her fibromyalgia and all the other things wrong with her.”

As Jag Davies recently wrote for AlterNet, the time is nigh — tragedies …read more


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Public Schools Can’t Help but Curb Freedom of Expression

April 4, 2014 in Economics

By Neal McCluskey

Neal McCluskey

It was trending on Twitter all day on Tuesday: #ReligiousFreedomForAll. The impetus was the Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby case being argued before the Supreme Court, and disgust over government forcing people to pay for medical treatments they find immoral. But if people cared about public schooling as much as they do Obamacare, hashtags defending all kinds of freedom would be the daily norm on Twitter.

Just like Obamacare, public schools — government institutions for which all people must pay — regularly violate basic rights. They have to: Among many curbs on freedom, to avoid chaos schools have to have rules about what students and teachers can say, and decisions must be made about what is — and is not — taught.

If people cared about public schooling as much as they do Obamacare, hashtags defending all kinds of freedom would be the daily norm on Twitter.”

Consider the nationally covered Easton Area School District v. B.H. case (colloquially known as “I (Heart) Boobies”), which the Supreme Court refused to hear a few weeks ago. It involved two students in Easton, PA, who were suspended for wearing pink, breast-cancer-awareness bracelets that carried the “boobies” message. The district argued that the bracelets, with their intentionally attention-grabbing message, threatened school“decorum” and “the civility of discussion in the classroom.”

As the appeals court ruled, punishing the students violated their speech rights. But the position of the district is understandable: Schools must draw a line so that student behavior doesn’t kneecap their ability to provide the education for which citizens are paying. Indeed, while the speech rights of the Easton students was upheld, Supreme Court precedent limits student speech, allowing public schools to curb it if they decide it is either promoting illegal activities — as they ruled in the recent “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” case — or being too disruptive.

Teachers, too, have had their speech rights curbed. A high school teacher in Batavia, IL, for example, was suspended last year for telling students they had a Fifth Amendment right not to fill out surveys with questions on their alcohol and drug use. Several teachers, in recent years, have been punished for things they’ve expressed on social media, or in class. Some has been insulting about students generally, but written on private blogs of Facebook accounts. Some has been class discussion considered too political or one-sided. All has pitted teachers’ speech rights against either school effectiveness, or taxpayers’ rights not …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Ludwig von Mises’s ‘Erinnerungen’ Is Back in Print

April 4, 2014 in Economics

By Thorsten Polleit


Ludwig von Mises’s Erinnerungen is back in print! Publisher Lucius & Lucius, Stuttgart, has produced a very nice format, including a foreword written by yours truly.

This German-language book is available on Amazon here, and is from Mises’s original manuscript, written in German.

English-language readers will know this book as Memoirs or Notes and Recollections.

[From Guido Hülsmann's foreword to the 2009 English version (written prior to the completion of Last Knight of Liberalism):

"Much if not most of what we know is based on the present autobiographical recollections, which Mises started to write upon his arrival in the United States in August 1940. By the end of that year he had finished a first draft of the German-language manuscript and then polished his memoirs for another two years. Finally he gave the handwritten text to his wife Margit for custody and eventual publication. In 1978, five years after his death, she published both the German original and an English translation..."]


…read more