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McCutcheon, the Majority, and the Challenge of Our Time

April 6, 2014 in Blogs

By Richard Eskow, AlterNet

Today's ruling points us to the defining struggle of today's generation.


The Supreme Court's McCutcheon ruling will be remembered as a decisive battle in a determined and wealthy minority's war against the popular will. It is not the first such battle, nor will it be the last. And the people will continue to lose — unless and until the rules of engagement are changed.

One compelling way to look at this ruling is by contrasting its immediate and long-term effects with the American people's aspirations for their government. They are at cross purposes. Even before this ruling, 64 percent of those polled believed that our country's economic rules unfairly favor the rich. This ruling will rig the game even further.

(Unless otherwise noted, polling results were drawn from PopulistMajority.org.)

People vs. Money

The immediate effect of this ruling is to give the wealthy even more political power than they have today. That's diametrically opposed to the people's will, since the public clearly wants money out of politics. Seventy-nine percent of those polled in one study support limiting the amount of funds that political candidates can raise and spend. Seventy-one percent believe the candidate with the most money wins. And, despite the fact that neither party is advocating public financing of elections, a Gallup study shows that the idea already has the support of 50 percent of the voters (while only 44 percent oppose it).

In the most striking statistic of all, 97 percent of voters in one poll believe it is important to get corruption out of politics. In his withering dissent, Justice Stephen Breyer makes it clear that this ruling will have the opposite effect. Breyer writes that “the plurality relies heavily upon a narrow definition of 'corruption' that excludes efforts to obtain 'influence over or access to' elected officials or political parties.'”

Justice Breyer notes that, by design, the majority's definition of corruption does not include efforts to “garner 'influence over or access to' elected officials or political parties.” Adds Breyer: “We specifically rejected efforts to define 'corruption' in ways similar to those the plurality today accepts.”

The public is already feeling alienated from …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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8 Things Mainstream Media Doesn't Have the Courage to Tell You

April 6, 2014 in Blogs

By Paul Buchheit, AlterNet

News sources speak for the 5%.


The following are all relevant, fact-based issues, the “hard news” stories that the media has a responsibility to report. But the business-oriented press generally avoids them.



1. U.S. Wealth Up $34 Trillion Since Recession. 93% of You Got Almost None of It.



That's an average of $100,000 for every American. But the people who already own most of the stocks took almost all of it. For them, the average gain was well over a million dollars — tax-free as long as they don't cash it in. Details available here.





2. Eight Rich Americans Made More Than 3.6 Million Minimum Wage Workers



A recent report stated that no full-time minimum wage worker in the U.S. can afford a one-bedroom or two-bedroom rental at fair market rent. There are 3.6 million such workers, and their total (combined) 2013 earnings is less than the 2013 stock market gains of just eight Americans, all of whom take more than their share from society: the four Waltons, the two Kochs, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett.





3. News Sources Speak for the 5%



It would be refreshing to read an honest editorial: “We dearly value the 5 to 7 percent of our readers who make a lot of money and believe that their growing riches are helping everyone else.”


<br style="font-family: arial, sans-serif;font-size: …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Kirzner on Rothbard

April 6, 2014 in Economics

By David Gordon

What did Israel Kirzner think of Murray Rothbard? Robert has linked to a video interview of Kirzner that answers this question. http://www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2014/04/israel-kirzner-on-murray-rothbard.html Kirzner calls Rothbard  “an extraordinarily brilliant person” and says that “genius is perhaps not too extravagant a word to use” about him.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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A Golden Fiscal Rule Nurtures Prosperity

April 6, 2014 in Economics

By Daniel J. Mitchell

Daniel J. Mitchell

The current debate between advocates of “austerity” and “growth” is frustrating for anyone who supports limited government. Austerity folks assert that deficits are economic poison and that balanced budgets, largely achieved with higher taxes, should be the goal of fiscal policy. So-called growth advocates believe more government deficit spending will boost economic performance.

Both miss the point. What matters, as Milton Friedman taught us, is the size of government. That’s the measure of how much national income is being redistributed and reallocated by Washington. Spending often is wasteful and counterproductive whether it’s financed by taxes or borrowing.

Rather than fixating on deficits and debt, I suggest another goal: Ensure that government spending, over time, grows more slowly than the private economy. Evidence from economies around the world shows this is the best path to bring down deficits and nurture prosperity.

What matters, as Milton Friedman taught us, is the size of government.”

Call it the golden rule of fiscal policy. Here’s how it would work in the United States. The White House projects nominal GDP will climb 4.7% annually over the next 10 years, while the Congressional Budget Office estimated average growth of 4.5% over that time period. The golden rule simply requires that the burden of government spending climb at a slower rate. Even if the federal budget grew 2% each year, about the rate of projected inflation, that would reduce the relative size of government and enable better economic performance by allowing more resources to be allocated by markets rather than government officials.

A golden rule has several advantages over fiscal proposals based on balanced budgets, deficits or debt control. First, it correctly focuses on the underlying problem of excessive government rather than the symptom of red ink. Second, lawmakers have the power to control the growth of government spending. Deficit targets and balanced-budget requirements put lawmakers at the mercy of economic fluctuations that can cause large and unpredictable swings in tax revenue. Third, spending can still grow by 2% even during a downturn, making the proposal more politically sustainable.

Nations that followed versions of the golden rule have enjoyed significant improvements in fiscal aggregates. Data I’ve crunched from the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook database—which includes all spending at all levels of government—show several notable examples of countries that imposed genuine spending restraint for multiyear periods. They’ve reaped big benefits, with reductions in the …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Even More Photos From the Austrian Economics Research Conference (#1)

April 6, 2014 in Economics

By Mises Updates

P1040584

Some more photos from the AERC:
P1040653 P1040632 P1040544 P1040394 P1040324 P1040308 P1040279

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE