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All Videos from ‘Inflation: Causes, Consequences, and Cure’

April 15, 2014 in Economics

By Mises Updates

From the April 11 Seminar: Inflation: Causes, Consequences, and Cure. A seminar for High School and College Students

(Six Videos)

Click here for the Youtube playlist of the event.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Did the US Provoke the Axis Powers?

April 15, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

758px-The_USS_Arizona_(BB-39)_burning_after_the_Japanese_attack_on_Pearl_Harbor_-_NARA_195617_-_Edit

In her latest hit piece on the Mises Institute, WaPo’s Jennifer Rubin quotes a David Weigel hit piece on the Mises Institute in which Weigel attacks David Gordon and Ralph Raico for daring to criticize Winston Churchill.  The occasion for these remarks is a comment made by Rand Paul about American policy before 1941:

“There are times when sanctions have made it worse,” Paul said. “Leading up to World War II, we cut off trade with Japan. That probably caused Japan to react angrily. We also had a blockade on Germany after World War I that probably encouraged some of their anger.”

It’s not my job to defend Rand Paul, but as Weigel notes, these ideas are likely influenced by this article, and this article.

Rubin’s purpose in mentioning it is to imply that merely mentioning established facts about the pro-war behavior of the American regime prior to world War II somehow constitutes sympathy for the Axis powers. Such an assertion is nonsense, of course, since the Japanese and Nazi states are responsible for the actions of the Japanese and Nazi states. Pointing out that Roosevelt’s regime was doing everything it could to provoke a war with the Japanese, on the other hand, simply highlights the barbarity of the American state in putting its own citizens in danger and seeking a conflict that led to the placing of Japanese Americans in concentration camps, and the enslavement of millions of Americans through conscription. Reducing every conflict to a comic-book-like battle between good guys and bad guys, on the other hand, is just the sort of thing that people like Rubin live for.

For those who actually seek to learn something from history, and for a more complete view of the lead-up to the Second World War, see Robert Higgs’s article based on this video:

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Washington in Libya: A Case Study in How Not to End Violence in a War-Torn Land

April 15, 2014 in Blogs

By Nick Turse, Tom Dispatch

Sending more armed men is not the solution.


To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from TomDispatch.com   here.

Is the U.S. secretly training Libyan militiamen in the Canary Islands? And if not, are they planning to?

That’s what I asked a spokesman for U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). “I am surprised by your mentioning the Canary Islands,” he responded by email.  “I have not heard this before, and wonder where you heard this.”

As it happens, mention of this shadowy mission on the Spanish archipelago off the northwest coast of Africa was revealed in an official briefing prepared for AFRICOM chief General David Rodriguez in the fall of 2013.  In the months since, the plan may have been permanently shelved in favor of a training mission carried out entirely in Bulgaria.  The document nonetheless highlights the U.S. military’s penchant for simple solutions to complex problems — with a well-documented potential for blowback in Africa and beyond.  It also raises serious questions about the recurring methods employed by the U.S. to stop the violence its actions helped spark in the first place.   

Ever since the U.S. helped oust dictator Muammar Gaddafi, with air and missile strikes against regime targets and major logistical and surveillance support to coalition partners, Libya has been sliding into increasing chaos.  Militias, some of them jihadist, have sprung up across the country, carving out fiefdoms while carrying out increasing numbers of assassinations and other types of attacks. The solution seized upon by the U.S. and its allies in response to the devolving situation there: introduce yet another armed group into a country already rife with them.    

The Rise of the Militias

After Gaddafi’s fall in 2011, a wide range of militias came to dominateLibya’s largest cities, filling a security vacuum left by the collapse of the old regime and providing a challenge to the new central government.  InBenghazi alone, an array of these armed groups arose.  And on September 11, 2012, that city, considered the cradle of the Libyan revolution, experiencedattacks by members of the anti-Western Ansar al-Sharia, as well …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Why I Am Totally Hooked on the Oscar Pistorius Murder Trial

April 15, 2014 in Blogs

By Hadley Freeman, The Guardian

Televised celebrity trials are nothing new, but watching this male star sob and squirm is extraordinary.


The only person who will ever know for certain whether Oscar Pistoriusmeant to kill Reeva Steenkamp, or knew he was shooting her but didn't consider the consequences, or simply did not realise he was shooting anyone because she managed to stay superhumanly silent while being shot through a bathroom door with brutal expanding bullets, is, of course, Pistorius himself. But everyone who has been gripped by Pistoration for the past week – a state of being when one has plenty of work to get on with but instead spends all day watching the Pistorius trial – will have some pretty strong opinions on the subject. Especially now that state prosecutor Gerrie Nel's cross-examination of the athlete has, after five pitiless (Nel) and retch-filled (Pistorius) days, come to an end.

The public is now so used to the idea of wealthy and well-protected male celebrities being accused of committing crimes against vulnerable women that it often feels like the news value of such stories lies in the exposure of the crime, rather than the crime itself. What is more novel is to watch the accused male celebrity be called to account for it, and to see him wriggle and squirm. Pistorius once felt overwhelmingly ”agitated” that a police officer had dared to ask to see his gun. He once had a friend take the blame when he shot a gun in a restaurant – which wasn't his fault anyway because, according to Pistorius, the gun was “unsafe” and so, as often seems to happen with guns in Pistorius' hands, must have gone off by itself. To watch Pistorius sob and bleat “m'lady” at the end of each of his answers in court is to watch a man appear to confront the results of his actions for the first time in his life.

I can mark my life stages by the celebrity trials I have watched on TV during odd hours of the day: OJ Simpson's, of course, as …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Cognitive Dissonance on Minimum Wages and Maximum Rents

April 15, 2014 in Economics

By Mises Updates

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Gary Galles writes in today’s Mises Daily:

Both the minimum wage and rent control, despite the fact that the first forces prices up and the second forces prices down, reduce the quantity of the good in question exchanged. That makes them counterproductive “solutions” to the problems faced by those who are unable to sell enough of their labor services or unable to purchase enough housing services. But the rhetoric employed disguises the fact that they make the central problem worse rather than better.

For the low-skilled, minimum wage advocates frame the issue as “If you could earn more per hour, you would be better off.” But that sneaks in the false assumption that wanting to work more at higher wages means you will be able to work more, when those wages are imposed by government.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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I’m Ambivalent on the Bundy Ranch Case

April 15, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

800px-Cattle_near_the_Bruneau_River_in_Elko_County,_Nevada

[A follow-up this Mises Daily article.]

I think we can all agree the Feds, in their usual fashion, have employed unwarranted thuggery in their attempts to shut down the Bundy Ranch. Just as the Feds could have arrested David Koresh when he left his compound (which he often did) they instead chose to employ the usual shock-and-awe tactics that are so beloved by federal agents.

Bundy lost his case in federal court, and he lost the appeal, so as Judge Napolitano points out here, the feds could simply have put a lien on the property, but they instead resorted to violence by stealing cattle and knocking around protestors.

As far as the legal case goes, however, it’s pretty clear that Cliven Bundy has unambiguously lost his case as far as federal law goes. Bundy has already made it clear that, at least at some point, he thought the feds had a right to charge management fees, since he did it for many years before stopping twenty years ago.  He has tied his refusal to pay fees not to the fact that the feds own or manage the land, but that it now manages in a way that does not meet his approval. In other words, a government entity that manages the land properly, would deserve payment, according to Bundy’s own account.

Meanwhile, the issue of government ownership itself is not an issue, it seems, since Bundy has declared that he would pay fees if the land were administered by the state of Nevada.

While I delight in the images of  federal troops being thwarted in their recent attempt to bully Bundy and his allies, I’d be more understanding if Bundy were calling for outright privatization rather than what he appears to be calling for: a mere modification of the status quo in which Nevada rather than the US takes control of the land in question. Remember that Bundy only disputes ownership by the federal government. Government ownership in general is apparently fine. Bundy then attempts to base this assertion on his belief that the US government cannot legally own land, which is a sketchy argument at best.

This is a fool’s game, of course, as understood by anyone who realizes that the US Constitution (apart from the Bill of Rights) is not now and (and possibly never has been) designed to actually limit the power of the federal government. (As Rothbard explains here.)

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Police Charge High School Student with Disorderly Conduct for Using an iPad to Prove He's Being Bullied

April 15, 2014 in Blogs

By Elias Isquith, Salon

The teen sought proof that school administrators were ignoring his plight. So they had him arrested.


Trigger-warning if you hate incompetent bureaucrats and the abuse of power.

Photography Is Not A Crime has flagged a story out of McDonald, Pennsylvania about a high school student whose attempts to prove he was the victim of bullying ended up landing him in front of a judge and charged with disorderly conduct.

According to reports, a high school sophomore at South Fayette High School had grown so sick of having teachers and administrators look the other way whenever he was being bullied that he decided to record some of the routine abuse with his iPad. When school administrators found this out, they took swift action — against him, not his bullies.

Officials at South Fayette High School allegedly told the student to delete the recording and threatened to have him arrested on charges of felony wiretapping. By the time the police arrived at the school, however, the student had already deleted the file.

But rather than leave it there, the police chose to charge the student for disorderly conduct. About a month later, a judge convicted him. No disciplinary actions have been taken against either the administrators and teachers who ignored the bullying or the bullies themselves.

In her remarks defending her decision to convict the bullied child, Judge Maureen McGraw-Desmet claimed that the student’s recording of his abusers’ taunts was an “extreme” move. It would’ve been better, the judge said, if the child had opted to “let the school handle it” instead.

Here’s her full statement, which Photography Is Not A Crime describes as “almost incoherent”:

Normally, if there is — I certainly have a big problem with any kind of bullying at school. But normally, you know, I would expect a parent would let the school know about it, because it’s not tolerated. I know that, and that you guys [school administrators] would handle that, you know. To go to this extreme, you know, it was the only alternative or something like that, but you weren’t made aware of that and that was kind of what I …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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100,000 Likes!

April 15, 2014 in Economics

By Mises Updates

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Like us on Facebook, Follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Robert Reich: Happy Tax Day VIDEO—Why the 1% Pay a Much Lower Rate than You

April 15, 2014 in Blogs

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog

The former labor secretary explains why the rich pay less, and how we can change it.


It’s tax time again, April 15, when our minds turn toward paying the taxes we owe or possibly getting a tax refund. But what we don’t think about enough is whether our tax system is fair. The richest 1 percent of Americans are now getting the largest percent of total national income in almost a century. So you might think they’d pay a much higher tax rate than everyone else. 

But you’d be wrong. Many millionaires pay a lower federal tax rate than many middle-class Americans.

Some don’t pay any federal taxes at all. That’s because they‘re allowed to deduct from their taxable income such things as large interest payments on mortgages for huge homes, also the costs of business entertainment and conferences  (aka vacations at golf resorts), and gold plated health care plans.

Some also take advantage of tax loopholes that let them park some of their earnings in offshore tax havens like the Bahamas or the Netherlands Antilles.

And other loopholes that allow them to treat some income as capital gains – subject to a much lower tax rate than ordinary income. If you happen to be a hedge-fund or private-equity manager, there’s a capital gains loophole designed especially for you.

Consider the Social Security payroll tax and the situation is even more lopsided. That tax applies to every dollar of income up to a cap — which this year is $117,000. Anything earned above the cap is not subject to Social Security taxes at all – meaning anyone with a high income pays a much smaller percentage of it in Social Security taxes than most people do.

Put these all together and you see why Warren Buffet, the second richest person in America, pays a lower tax rate than his secretary, as he readily admits.

State and local taxes are even more regressive. The poorest fifth of Americans pay an average state and local tax rate of over 11 percent, while the richest fifth pay only 5.6 percent. This isn’t small change. State and local taxes account for about 40 percent of …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Justice Stevens Is Right: Good or Bad, Death Penalty Is Constitutional

April 15, 2014 in Economics

By Ilya Shapiro

Ilya Shapiro

Justice John Paul Stevens has been getting lots of attention lately for his views on the Second Amendment—he still doesn’t like the individual right to keep and bear arms, and would amend the Constitution to get rid of it—but it’s his views on the death penalty that have provoked the more troubling reaction.

Here’s the back-story: Justice Stevens has published a book, Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution. Three of these amendments are structural: (1) requiring state officials to enforce federal law; (2) eliminating state sovereign immunity; and (3) doing away with political gerrymandering. The other three are from the populist-progressive playbook: (4) the aforementioned Second Amendment tweak (which doesn’t make sense as drafted); (5) allowing Congress and state legislatures to censor political speech limit the money people can spend on election campaigns; and (6) outlawing the death penalty.

The Atlantic’s Andrew Cohen latched onto this last one, lamenting that Stevens is:

a man who consistently upheld capital convictions and the death penalty itself for over 35 years, who helped send hundreds of men and women to their deaths by failing to hold state officials accountable for constitutional violations during capital trials, who more recently endorsed dubious lethal injection standards because he did not want to buck up against court precedent, now wants the Eighth Amendment to read this way, with five new words added: “…nor cruel and unusual punishments such as the death penalty inflicted.”

(The reference to lethal-injection standards relates to the 2008 case of Baze v. Rees, which upheld Kentucky’s particular method of execution. Stevens concurred in that ruling but wrote separately to question “the justification for the death penalty itself.”)

Now, I don’t have any particular ax to grind regarding the death penalty as a policy matter—it’s probably warranted for serious crimes, but there are real problems with the way our justice system administers it—but as a question of law, it’s hard to argue that it’s always unconstitutional. The Fifth Amendment references “capital” crimes and outlaws putting someone’s “life” in jeopardy twice for the same crime, and both the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments protect against being deprived of “life” without due process of law.

Too many commentators conflate that with which they agree with that which the constitution requires.”

To be sure, the Eighth Amendment does prohibit “cruel and unusual punishments,” but that just means that the death penalty can’t …read more

Source: OP-EDS