You are browsing the archive for 2014 May 05.

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Chicago School Choice Event- April 22, 2014

May 5, 2014 in Politics & Elections

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Source: RAND PAUL

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Walter Block on Gary Becker

May 5, 2014 in Economics

By Mark Thornton

Here are Walter Block’s reflections on Gary Becker’s Nobel Prize in economics, “The Economist as Detective: Reflections on Gary Becker’s Nobel Prize.” Here is a block quote:

Professor Gary S. Becker, the winner of the 1992 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, is like Professor Moriarty of Sherlock Holmes fame. Holmes said of Moriarty, “Again and again in cases of the most varying sorts — forgery cases, robberies, murders — I have felt the presence of this force.”

In like manner, Dr. Becker has cast his hand into virtually every nook and cranny of not only economics, but also social science in its broadest definition. And just as the fictional victims in Arthur Conan Doyle’s novels trembled when Professor Moriarty was about town, almost no scholar is safe in the fields of history, law, sociology, psychology, criminology, political science, or philosophy while Gary Becker’s word processor is turned on.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Debunking Free Market Materialism

May 5, 2014 in Economics

By Gary Galles

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Murray Rothbard once noted that “One of the most common charges leveled against the free market is that it reflects and encourages unbridled ‘selfish materialism’…it distracts man from higher ideals. It leads man away from spiritual or intellectual values and atrophies any spirit of altruism.”

Ludwig von Mises may have laid out the issue even more clearly in Liberalism.

Liberalism is a doctrine directed entirely towards the conduct of men in this world. In the last analysis, it has nothing else in view than the advancement of their outward, material welfare and does not concern itself directly with their inner, spiritual and metaphysical needs. It does not promise men happiness and contentment, but only the most abundant possible satisfaction of all those desires that can be satisfied by the things of the outer world.

Liberalism has often been reproached for this purely external and materialistic attitude…There are higher and more important needs than food and drink, shelter and clothing. Even the greatest earthly riches cannot give man happiness; they leave his inner self, his soul, unsatisfied and empty. The most serious error of liberalism has been that it has had nothing to offer man’s deeper and nobler aspirations.

At first glance, Mises seems to be adding fuel to the fire of the selfish materialism allegation against freedom. But that is not so. At issue is whether the allegation is true. To that, Mises answered with a resounding “no.”

[T]he critics who speak in this vein show only that they have a very imperfect and materialistic conception of these higher and nobler needs. Social policy, with the means that are at its disposal, can make men rich or poor, but it can never succeed in making them happy or in satisfying their inmost yearnings. Here all external expedients fail. All that social policy can do is to remove the outer causes of pain and suffering…It is not from a disdain of spiritual goods that liberalism concerns itself exclusively with man’s material well-being, but from a conviction that what is highest and deepest in man cannot be touched by any outward regulation. It seeks to produce only outer well-being because it knows that inner, spiritual riches cannot come to man from without, but only from within his own heart. It does not aim at creating anything but the outward preconditions for the development of the inner life.

In other words, the freedom at the heart of liberalism …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Why We’re No Longer Number One

May 5, 2014 in Economics

By Mises Updates

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By Ron Paul

Last week World Bank economists predicted that China would soon displace the United States as the world’s largest economy. The fact that this one-time economic basket case is now positioned to surpass the US is one more sign of the damage done to American prosperity by welfare, warfare, corporatism, and fiat money.

Some commentators have predicted that China’s reign as the world’s largest economy would not last long. This may be true. While China has made great strides since adopting free-market reforms in the 1970s, China is still run by an authoritarian government whose economic policies distort the market in order to benefit state-favored industries. These state-favored businesses are often controlled by politically-powerful individuals.

What many of these commentators fail to notice is that the American government pursues many of the same flawed policies as the Chinese. For example, because of the increase in regulations, subsidies, and bailouts, many American businesses are putting more resources into manipulating the political process than producing goods and services desired by consumers. Many big businesses even lobby Congress and the federal bureaucracy for new regulations on their industries. They do this because big business can more easily absorb the costs of complying with the new regulations that force their smaller competitors out of business.

China is regularly criticized by American protectionists for subsidizing its export industries. However, the US government does the same thing via programs such as the Export-Import Bank. China is also criticized for manipulating the value of its currency to make its exports more attractive to foreign consumers. This may well be true, but China is hardly unique in this respect. Throughout its history, the Federal Reserve has manipulated both the domestic and international economy, often working in partnership with foreign central banks.

The Federal Reserve’s inflationary policies benefit big banks, politically-connected businesses, and big-spending politicians at the expense of the American people. Anyone interested in helping improve the American people’s economic situation should focus on changing America’s monetary policy, not China’s.

Ironically, many of the same politicians who denounce China’s monetary policy benefit from Chinese purchases of America’s debt. If China stopped making large purchases of US debt, the Federal Reserve would be forced to monetize even more debt, thus risking hyperinflation. So the best thing Congress could do to make it more difficult for China to manipulate the global economy is cut federal spending.

One advantage China has over the US is that …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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10 Facts About Marijuana

May 5, 2014 in PERSONAL LIBERTY

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Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the U.S. and the world, and was a well-established medicine until it was federally criminalized in 1937. A majority of Americans believe marijuana should be legally regulated.

Marijuana Arrests

749,825

Number of people arrested for marijuana law violations in 2012.

Get Involved

You can help end the drug war by visiting our Action Center.

Take action.

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Source: DRUG POLICY

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Do You Remember the Sixties?

May 5, 2014 in Economics

By Robert Higgs

Visit_of_President_Johnson_in_Vietnam

Do you remember the Sixties? I do, vividly. The latter half of that decade was the worst time of my life so far as the enveloping social and political conditions were concerned: endless, horrifying war; unraveling civil rights movement; urban riots and violence; political assassinations and mass protests; university upheavals and bombings; police brutality at every turn; political leaders—the cosmically offensive LBJ above all, with Nixon a close second—so foul that one had to avert his eyes from their hideous visage and pinch his nose to keep out their stench of death and moral putrefaction.

Yet amid all of this social and political horror, the time was pervaded by a bizarre hopefulness, especially among young people. Caught up with one basis or another for optimism and personal commitment—New Leftism, anti-Establishmentism, communitarianism, hippy love-harmony, anti-militarism, anti-imperialism, and so on—many of us became convinced that the future would be better, that never again would we be fooled by the “new boss,” that in some fundamental way we were living through an irreversible revolution. Before long, of course, most of these youthful optimists ran off the rails into violence, drug-dazed escapism, abandonment of social engagement for more personal goal-seeking, and a thousand other forms of personal accommodation to the defeat of all attempts at sweeping societal transformation.

Thus, the new world we anticipated and worked to create never arrived, and so we went on to make our separate ways through a world that in its essentials remained the same as the old: war after war; political corruption that stinks to heaven’s heights; spiritual anxiety and rootlessness; fascination with culturally superficial and ephemeral foolishness.

We now have, of course, some things that we lacked then—personal computers, the Internet, the Web, and an abundance of electronic gizmos—and some of us fancy that these things will allow people to congeal in the creation of a truly better world. I have my doubts. The Establishment is stronger than ever: more pervasive and inescapable in its surveillance; more lethal and invasive in its police presence; more lavishly funded; stronger in its ability to lock hundreds of millions in helpless dependency; and no less ruthless than it was then. Against these immense forces of the Establishment, we can only send, at most, a few million mostly youthful optimists, unorganized and mutually quarrelsome, easily distracted by the vibrations of the latest tweet or twerk. This scenario is not a promising portent of genuine …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Mises in Swedish

May 5, 2014 in Economics

By David Howden

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Soon Ludwig von Mises´ magnum opus, Human Action, will be available in Swedish.

From founder and Vice President of the Swedish Ludwig von Mises Institute, Joakim Kämpe:

We have just started a campaign to raise money for a Swedish translation of Mises’ Human Action. It is a huge project, and a very important one for spreading Mises further around the world.

 For 500 SEK (approx. 100 USD) you get mentioned in the back of the book and for 1000 SEK (approx. 200 USD) you get mentioned in the beginning, but any sum is of course possible to donate and will do a lot to help us reach our goal. You can also donate in Bitcoin and we will convert it into fiat money, since our translator prefers government paper.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Close the Export-Import Bank: Cut Federal Liabilities, Kill Corporate Welfare, Promote Free Trade

May 5, 2014 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Nothing brings out the well-tailored lobbyists in Washington quite like a threat to corporate welfare. With the Export-Import Bank’s legal authorization set to run out this year, the Chamber of Commerce recently led a Big Business march on Capitol Hill to protect what is known as Boeing’s Bank. Over the last eight decades ExIm has provided over a half trillion dollars in credit, mostly to corporate titans. Congress should close the Bank.

ExIm was created in 1934 to underwrite trade with the Soviet Union. The agency piously claims not to provide subsidies since it charges fees and interest, but it exists only to offer business a better credit deal than is available in the marketplace. The Bank uses its ability to borrow at government rates to provide loans, loan guarantees, working capital guarantees, and loan insurance.

The result is a bad deal for the rest of us. For instance, ExIm is not free, as claimed. Recently made self-financing, the agency has returned $1.6 billion to the Treasury since 2008. However, economists Jason Delisle and Christopher Papagianis warned that the Bank’s “profits are almost surely an accounting illusion” because “the government’s official accounting rules effectively force budget analysts to understate the cost of loan programs like those managed by the Ex-Im Bank.”

In particular, the price of market risk is not included, even though doing so, explained the Congressional Budget Office, would provide “a more comprehensive measure of federal costs.” Delisle and Papagianis figured ExIm’s real price to exceed $200 million annually. Indeed, both the Government Accountability Office and ExIm Inspector General raised questions about the accuracy of the agency’s risk modeling.

Federal Reserve economist John H. Boyd took another approach, explaining: “For an economic profit—that is, a real benefit to taxpayers—Eximbank’s income must exceed its recorded expenses plus its owners’ opportunity cost, a payment to taxpayers for investing their funds in this agency rather than somewhere else.” If ExIm was private, he added, “one must suspect that its owners would have pulled out long ago in favor of a truly profitable enterprise.” He figured the Bank’s real cost averaged around $200 million a year in the late 1970s but had increased to between $521 million and $653 million by 1980. Given the recent explosion in Bank lending the corresponding expense today could be much higher.

Moreover, ExIm’s financial exposure continues to rise. Annual credit authorizations climbed from $12.37 billion in 2007 to $35.73 billion in …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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No Western Counter to Russia’s Ukraine Gambit

May 5, 2014 in Economics

By Richard W. Rahn

Richard W. Rahn

Most wars result from at least one side overestimating its chances of success and one or more of the sides not having a clear “endgame.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin has a clear goal, which can be discerned from his own statements and actions, and from discussions with those who know him well. It is to leave as his legacy the re-establishment of the Russian Empire.

The Russian Empire existed from 1721, when Peter the Great proclaimed it, until its collapse in 1917. At its high point in 1866, the Russian Empire included all of modern-day Russia plus Alaska, Finland, the Baltic nations, much of present-day Poland, parts of other Eastern European countries, the Central Asia “-stans,” part of Mongolia, and the shores of the Caspian Sea.

Obama won’t undercut Putin’s expansionism with energy resources.”

Mr. Putin, a master of strategy and timing, sees that he has a 2-year window of opportunity to grab or control much of the former Russian Empire. He correctly sees President Obama as weak and indecisive, and hence unwilling to stand in his way — giving him a window before Americans likely elect a stronger president.

Mr. Putin knows that the financial situation in most of the southern European countries is so precarious they fear anything that will damage their economies more than they fear Russian expansionism. He understands that many of the German business people and politicians are more concerned about maintaining profitable economic relations with Russia than they are about Russian expansionism, at least up to a point. This leads him to again conclude that the sanctions the West will impose upon Russia will be modest and not so damaging that he cannot easily get around them.

To carry out his plan, he must first secure Ukraine, which Russia originally obtained from Poland in 1654. He cannot allow a legitimate election scheduled for May 25 to take place because of the danger that his allies might lose it. So it is almost a sure bet that Russia will take more and more of Ukraine, either directly or indirectly, before May 25 so the election either will not happen or will be meaningless. Transnistria, Belarus and the “-stans” will then increasingly be brought under Russian control — through the threat of, or actual use of, military pressure and subversion.

The open question is this: Will Mr. Putin then go after the Baltics, even though they are members of NATO? If the West does nothing to stop Mr. Putin in his initial …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Poem: Chillin’ in the Afternoon (in California)

May 5, 2014 in Blogs

By Political Zach Foster