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Google Joins the Kochs in Pumping Funds into the Conservative George Mason University

April 14, 2014 in Blogs

By Andrew Leonard, Salon

A new article reveals the notorious university is deep in the pockets of the Internet search giant.


Here’s how the free market works. Libertarian think tanks get paid by private corporations to host conferences designed to push industry-friendly regulation. It’s a beautiful thing to watch.

The emergence of Google as a major lobbying force in Washington is a generally well-reported story. But the Washington Post added fresh, intriguing details over the weekend that reveal the search engine company has been deeply involved with financing and organizing conferences on Internet regulatory policy at a major center of libertarian research — George Mason University.

Since at least the 1990s, George Mason has been sucking up millions of dollars of libertarian funding — from the likes of the Koch brothers and others — and has in the process established itself as a major, perhaps even preeminent, player in the world of libertarian thought. The Washington Post article, with the help of emails discovered through a public records request, details how Google helped set up two conferences devoted to “Internet search competition” in 2011 and 2012 that were attended by “regulators from the Federal Trade Commission, federal and state prosecutors, top congressional staffers.”

What the guests had not been told was that the day-long academic conference was in large part the work of Google, which maneuvered behind the scenes with GMU’s Law & Economics Center to put on the event. At the time, the company was under FTC investigation over concerns about the dominance of its famed search engine, a case that threatened Google’s core business…

On the day of the conference, leading technology and legal experts forcefully rejected the need for the government to take action against Google, making their arguments before some of the very regulators who would help determine its fate.

For the past several years, reports the Post, the George Mason Law and Economics Center has received an annual donation of $350,000. In the first of the two conferences, Google was listed as a co-sponsor. For the second, however, “Google’s involvement was not publicly disclosed.”

Even as Google …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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More Photos from Friday’s Inflation Seminar

April 14, 2014 in Economics

By Mises Updates

picstitch

Featuring some students from Andrew College (of Georgia):

(Thanks to Breanna.)

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Video: ‘What is Money?’ with Mark Thornton

April 14, 2014 in Economics

By Mises Updates

Presented at “Inflation: Causes, Consequences, and Cure”: a free seminar for high school and college students. Hosted at the Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama, on 11 April 2014.

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Another Phony Budget Debate

April 14, 2014 in Economics

By Mises Updates

spending

By Ron Paul

Anyone watching last week’s debate over the Republican budget resolution would have experienced déjà vu, as the debate bore a depressing similarity to those of previous years. Once again, the Republicans claimed their budget would cut spending in a responsible manner, while Democratic opponents claimed the plan’s spending cuts would shred the safety net and leave vital programs unfunded. Of course, neither claim is true.

The budget does not cut spending at all, and in fact actually increases spending by $1.5 trillion over ten years. The Republicans are using the old DC trick of spending less than originally planned and calling that reduced spending increase a $5.1 trillion cut in spending. Only in DC could a budget that increases spending by 3.5 percent per year instead of by 5.2 percent per year be attacked as a “slash-and-burn” plan.

The budget also relies on “dynamic scoring.” This trick is where the budget numbers account for increased government revenue generated by economic growth the budget will supposedly unleash. The claims are dubious at best. Of course, reducing government spending will lead to economic growth. But real growth requires real cuts, not this budget’s phony cuts.

As important as reducing spending and balancing the budget is, focusing solely on budget numbers ignores the root of the problem. The real problem is that too many in Washington — and the nation as a whole — refuse to consider any serious reductions in the welfare-warfare state.

I have always maintained that the logical place to start reducing spending is the trillions wasted on our interventionist foreign policy. Unfortunately, there are still too many in Congress who claim to be fiscal hawks when it comes to welfare spending, but turn into Keynesian “doves” when it comes to spending on the military-industrial complex.

These members cling to the mistaken belief that the government can balance it budget, keep taxes low, and even have a growing economy, while spending trillions of dollars policing the world, and propping up some governments and changing others overtly or covertly. Thus, President Obama is attacked as soft on defense because he only wants to spend $5.9 trillion over ten years on the military. In contrast, the Republican budget spends $6.2 trillion over the next decade. That is almost a trillion more than the budget’s total so-called spending cuts.

If there are too many fiscal conservatives who refuse to abandon the warfare state, there are too many liberals who act as if any reduction in welfare …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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If You Can ‘Speak’ with Your Money, Then Why Is It Illegal to Ask For It?

April 14, 2014 in Blogs

By Andrew Small, Economic Hardship Reporting Project

McCutcheon bolsters the conservative ideal of money-as-speech, so why don't our laws protect the poor for asking for pocket change?


Money may be protected speech but apparently, speech that asks for money is not.

Two recent legal cases about money and free speech unveil a contradiction in our application of the First Amendment. One deals with the right of the rich to influence politics with a lot of money, the other deals with the right of the poor to ask for a little to buy a meal or bus ticket.

On October 8, the Supreme Court heard arguments in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission (FEC) that could open the floodgates on unlimited campaign contributions. If McCutcheon succeeds, the case could lift limits on how much money an individual can spend in an election cycle.

If the Court sides with McCutcheon, it could strike down aggregate limits on campaign contributions in the name of free speech. Currently, the donation limit is $48,000 per cycle, which enables giving the maximum amount of money to 18 national candidates per election. Even if the FEC could still limit donations to a single campaign, rich donors would see a new rush of power, gaining influence in more elections. Every politician in the country would basically need to beg this small group to finance their next job interview with the American people.

If the court overturns years of campaign finance reform, it will take a constitutional amendment to distinguish unlimited campaign money from protected speech.

Meanwhile, the homeless and unemployed are experiencing the right to express their need for money taken away.

In Arizona, a 77-year-old woman was arrested for asking an undercover cop for a bus fare under a state law that forbade panhandling. This law was subsequently challenged in federal court and overruled, but other similar laws exist nationwide.

Since the recession, the U.S. has passed a litany of laws making it illegal to ask for even a small amount of cash. Cities and states across the country have banned panhandling and “loitering to beg” in response to increased poverty.

The state of Michigan faces a similar challenge to its panhandling law. Even some …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Beginning Tomorrow: Understanding Monetary Chaos at Mises Academy

April 14, 2014 in Economics

By Mises Updates

SalernoFreeBookAd

SPECIAL OFFER: Enroll before the first lecture, and receive a free hardback copy of course text The Mystery of Banking by Murray N. Rothbard, signed by Joseph Salerno, author of the introduction, and instructor of this course.

After enrolling, just email your name and address to academy@mises.org. (This offer applies to students who enrolled before this announcement as well.)

The purpose of this course is to illustrate how Austrian monetary economics is used to analyze historical and current events and policies. The course will also cover controversies between Austrian and mainstream monetary theorists in interpreting the causes, consequences, and remedies for important episodes of monetary disorder. Topics will include:

  • Rothbard Versus Friedman: Were the 1920s Inflationary? Were the 1930s Deflationary?
  • Deflation: Good or Bad?
  • The War on Cash
  • Who or What Caused the Financial Crisis and Great Recession?
  • Beware of False Gold Standards: From Bretton Woods to the Dollar Bill Standard
  • World Currency Wars: Who Will Win and Who Will Lose?

Lectures

Lectures will be Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m. Eastern time.  They will be recorded and made available for enrolled students to download.

Register here. 

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Audio: Joseph Salerno Talks Monetary Chaos

April 14, 2014 in Economics

By Mises Updates

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Interviewed by host Tom Woods, Joe Salerno talks about the Fed, the Great Depression, currency wars, deflation, and why governments hate cash.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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TurboTax Maker Linked to 'Grassroots' Campaign Against Free, Simple Tax Filing

April 14, 2014 in Blogs

By Liz Day, ProPublica

Intuit and its allies are continuing to work against proposals for what’s known as return-free filing.


Over the last year, a rabbi, a state NAACP official, a small town mayor and other community leaders wrote op-eds and letters to Congress with remarkably similar language on a remarkably obscure topic.

Each railed against a long-standing proposal that would give taxpayers the option to use pre-filled tax returns. They warned that the program would be a conflict of interest for the IRS and would especially hurt low-income people, who wouldn't have the resources to fight inaccurate returns. Rabbi Elliot Dorff wrote in a Jewish Journal op-ed that he “shudder[s] at the impact this program will have on the most vulnerable people in American society.”

“It's alarming and offensive” that the IRS would target the “the most vulnerable Americans,” two other letters said. The concept, known as return-free filing, is a government “experiment” that would mean higher taxes for the poor, two op-eds argued.

Op-Eds and Letters Opposing Return-Free Tax Filing

Compare eight letters and op-eds against return-free tax filing have been written by community leaders over the last year.

The letters and op-eds don't mention that, as ProPublica laid out last year, return-free filing might allow tens of millions of Americans to file their taxes for free and in minutes. Or that, under proposals authored by several federal lawmakers, it would be voluntary, using information the government already receives from banks and employers and that taxpayers could adjust. Or that the concept has been endorsed by Presidents Obama and Reagan and is already a reality in some parts of Europe.

So, where did the letters and op-eds come from? Here's one clue:

Rabbi Dorff says he was approached by a former student, Emily Pflaster, who sent him details and asked him to write an op-ed alerting the Jewish community to the threat.

What Pflaster did not tell him is that she works for a PR and lobbying firm with connections to Intuit, the maker of best-selling tax software TurboTax.

“I wish she would have told me that,” Dorff told ProPublica.

The website of Pflaster's firm, …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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The Lesson of Tax Day

April 14, 2014 in Economics

Over the past week, those Americans frantically filling out their returns have been reminded of the tax system’s increasing complexity and inefficiency. But it is also important to remember that the root cause of this woe is out-of-control government spending. Cato Institute scholars have long been pushing for cuts in spending and a renewed commitment to fiscal responsibility.

…read more

Source: CATO HEADLINES

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Abusive Civil Asset-Forfeiture Laws

April 14, 2014 in Economics

By Richard W. Rahn

Richard W. Rahn

Do you think the Internal Revenue Service and other government agencies should have the right to seize your assets, including your bank accounts, when you have not been convicted of wrongdoing? The fact is, the IRS and other government agencies do this all of the time, and often without even a formal accusation of wrongdoing.

Anyone who is awake knows that the IRS has been politicized — and thus critics of the administration live in fear that their property will be taken for the mere act of speaking out against the government.

The American Founding Fathers well understood that if the government was given too much power, it would almost certainly abuse it. Unfortunately, the elaborate system of checks and balances they devised has been steadily eroded by weak-kneed and intellectually bankrupt judges, members of Congress and presidents over the past two centuries, and thus, the United States increasingly resembles an authoritarian state rather than a republic that protects individual liberties.

Government seizure of property without due process should cease.”

The government has always been able to seize private property that was used to perpetrate a crime or produced by a crime. Under the Constitution, every American has the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty.

Thus, in criminal cases, the government has to convince a judge and jury beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime has been committed. Under civil asset-forfeiture laws, no such proof is required — and, as a result, many innocent people have had their property taken by agents of the federal government.

As people become increasingly aware of the abuses, individual citizens and organizations formed to protect individual liberty are fighting back and beginning to win some cases. There was the widely publicized case of Terry Dehko and his daughter, who had owned a supermarket in Fraser, Mich., since 1978.

The IRS seized their entire bank account of more than $35,000 in April 2013, without arguing before a court of law that the Dehkos had committed a crime. In fact, they had committed no crime. Fortunately, the Dehkos were able to enlist the help of the Institute for Justice, a civil-liberties law firm that works on the behalf of individuals. After a year of expensive litigation, the government did return their money.

Institute for Justice lawyers have noted that the “federal civil forfeiture law features an appalling lack of due process: It empowers the government to seize private property from Americans without …read more

Source: OP-EDS