You are browsing the archive for 2014 May 13.

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Video: Peter Klein Explains How Entrepreneurs Help Shape Our Economy

May 13, 2014 in Economics

By Mises Updates

In this excerpt from his recent “Liberty on the Rocks” interview with Justin Longo, Peter Klein explains the importance of entrepreneurship.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Audio: Mark Thornton Explains Easy Money Policy

May 13, 2014 in Economics

By Mises Updates

Mark Thornton discusses Martin Wolf’s support for continued easy money policy, and also the latest push by the central bankers and their friends in the media to try to convince us that rising prices are good for us.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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The Right Way to Avoid the Transportation Cliff

May 13, 2014 in Economics

By Randal O’Toole

Randal O’Toole

President Obama’s visit this week to the Tappan Zee Bridge in New York is intended to push Congress to approve billions of dollars in infrastructure spending increases. But throwing more money at transit just puts more cash into the hands of government contractors, while doing little for commuters.

The federal Highway Trust Fund is expected to run out of money in a few months, and unless Congress replenishes it, state highway projects will supposedly grind to a halt. Special interest groups are working overtime to create a crisis atmosphere about the so-called “transportation cliff.”

In fact, this is more of a pothole than a cliff. Even if Congress doesn’t immediately restore the fund, states will get by with their own funds and through short-term loans.

The real issue is what happens after the cliff. On September 30, Congressional authority for the federal gas tax and highway and transit programs is set to expire. The artificial handwringing over the cliff is really just posturing for the debate over the reauthorization of those programs.

Most of the handwringing is coming from groups that want to see a huge increase in spending on transit. Transit carries just 1 percent as much travel as highways, yet 20 percent of federal gas taxes are diverted to transit, and many groups want even more.

Such subsidies do little for transit ridership. Since 1970, this country has spent around a trillion dollars subsidizing transit, yet ridership has fallen from 49 annual trips per urban resident in 1970 to just 44 trips today.

The push for transit spending comes partly from contractors who profit from building expensive new transit lines. The average light-rail line being planned or built today costs more per mile than a ten-lane freeway, yet will carry fewer people than one freeway lane.

Rail transit is also promoted by social engineers who want to reform American lifestyles by reducing per capita driving and increasing the share of Americans living in multifamily housing from today’s third to more than half. New rail lines provide an excuse to rezone neighborhoods along those lines to higher densities.

The debate over reauthorization deals with more than questions of highways vs. transit, whether to raise federal gas taxes, or whether to spend more than revenues or keep within our means. In fact, this debate goes straight to the heart of the American dream: should all Americans have access to affordable single-family homes and the mobility they need …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Sen. Paul Opening Statement at HELP Committee Hearing

May 13, 2014 in Politics & Elections

Sen. Rand Paul offered the following opening statement at today’s Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing, while serving as the Committee’s Ranking Member. The hearing today was held to examine strengthening of minority serving institutions, primarily focusing on the best practices and innovations for student success. Below is the video and text of his statement.CLICK HERE TO WATCH SEN. PAUL’S OPENING STATEMENT TRANSCRIPT: Thank you Senator Hagan and Senator Alexander for allowing me to be the Ranking Member today. I get an unusual promotion to do this but I appreciate the opportunity, you know Kentucky is famous for a lot of, both good things and bad things that happened in education over time. We’re proud of our historically black colleges, Kentucky State, were proud of the fact that Berea College was one of the first integrated colleges in the South. We’re not so proud of the fact that after about 50 years of being integrated they passed a law in the Kentucky State Legislature banning integration, which continued to be the law until I believe until Brown v. Board. But Kentucky is essentially been a microcosm of both good and bad things happening, Kentucky State University is our main historic black college and the president has been Dr. Sias who’s been the president for the last 10 years and she’s retiring. I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate her on a great term being Kentucky states’ first female public university president. Kentucky states had several famous graduates, I’d like to mention a couple, a few. Marion Kelly was the first Undersecretary of the Department of Labor under President George Herbert Walker Bush. Ersa Hines Poston was the first African American to head the United States Civil Service Commission and Whitney M. Young a graduate was a famous civil rights leader and head of the National Urban League. Also in Kentucky in the 19th century we had a University by the name of State University which was one of the first university’s to educate African Americans when there were no other opportunities its recently been resurrected and re-chartered and reaccredited. Thanks really to the leadership of Dr. Kevin Cosby in Louisville and it’s been a great asset to rejuvenating part of our town of Louisville. One of its famous graduates was William Warley. Who I think really has been underappreciated in history, but there was a case in 1917 …read more

Source: RAND PAUL

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EU High Court Takes the Defamation Morass a Step Further

May 13, 2014 in Economics

By Jeff Deist

456px-Court_of_Justice_of_the_European_Union_emblem.svg

The European Court of Justice in Brussels issued a preliminary ruling today that appears to have underlying implications for intellectual property and defamation concepts.

Under this ruling, search engines like Google operating in Europe may be required to remove links to online content deemed unflattering by a user– even if true. And while the article focuses on European attitudes toward privacy, the underlying issue is defamation, i.e. damage to one’s reputation.

If the company in question refuses to remove such links, will the aggrieved party’s remedy be a tort suit for damages? Or will the EU simply provide the regulatory/legal means for compelling specific performance on the part of the company?

Note that search engines don’t “own,” host, or control the unflattering content in question, they merely direct searchers to a list of results from a particular query.  So what, precisely, is the legal theory that justifies compelling a search company not to direct eyeballs to content which exists anyway? American common law recognizes third-party tort liability concepts (e.g. tortious interference with contract)  and third party defamation concepts (e.g. liability for republication), but neither directly apply here even if this was a US case.  In the absence of a common law theory, the court relies on a vague 1995 “privacy” directive, but undoubtedly the court (at least to some extent) is making law on the fly.

Social media sites, by contrast, do host their own content.  But does that content– however unflattering– become the website’s “property” by virtue of user agreements? If so, does the site’s right to control dissemination of its intellectual property outweigh an individual’s “privacy” rights?  In Europe, I’m guessing the answer is no.

As usual, IP and defamation provide an unworkable framework for resolving disputes.  We’re back to well-trodden, fundamental arguments about defamation law, which attempts to grant property rights in one’s own reputation.  But of course one’s reputation is nothing more than the thoughts, opinions, feelings, and attitudes of others– which cannot be owned by the aggrieved party.  Intellectual property concepts don’t help much either, especially when applied to non-scarce online content (i.e. we’re not running out of Instagram photos).

Austrians are not monolithic on IP and defamation.  See Rothbard, Rothbard againKinsella, and Shaffer.  Decide for yourself.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Audio: Mark Thornton Discusses Gun Control

May 13, 2014 in Economics

By Mises Updates

Mark Thornton discussed  gun control under the Nazis on Freedom Works Radio yesterday. (17 minutes.)

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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May 13, 2014 in Politics & Elections

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Source: RAND PAUL

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Guns and Supreme Court: Is Second Amendment a Privilege, Not a Right?

May 13, 2014 in Economics

By Trevor Burrus

Trevor Burrus

The Supreme Court unwisely declined to review Drake v. Jerejian, last week, a case that challenged New Jersey’s discretionary system of concealed-carry permitting.

By denying review, the Court failed to resolve a nationwide split about the meaning of the Second Amendment.

Eventually, the Court will have to face the issue and decide if it was serious when it held that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to keep and bear arms.

Both Heller and McDonald made it clear that the government cannot ban or effectively ban guns, but lower courts are still struggling to define what restrictions are allowed under those rulings.

In 2008, in the landmark case of D.C. v. Heller, the Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment protects the individual right to keep and bear arms.

Eventually, the Court will have decide if it was serious when it held that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to keep and bear arms.”

Later, in 2010’s McDonald v. Chicago, the Court held that the Second Amendment protects citizens from not just federal prohibitions, as Heller said, but also from state and municipal prohibitions.

Since that time, the Court has not heard another Second Amendment case. Both Hellerand McDonald made it clear that the government cannot ban or effectively ban guns, but lower courts are still struggling to define what restrictions are allowed under those rulings. The Supreme Court needs to clear up the uncertainty.

Gun controllers in cities and states across the country are taking advantage of that uncertainty to test the limits of gun control. After McDonald struck down Chicago’s de facto gun ban, the city created a restrictive permit system requiring one hour of range training. But the city also banned gun ranges. The Seventh Circuit struck down the ban on ranges.

More recently, a judge struck down Chicago’s ban on virtually all sales and transfers within the city because the Second Amendment right “must also include the right toacquire a firearm.”

The current situation is similar to the politics of abortion. Roe ruled that acomplete prohibition on abortion is unconstitutional while allowing certain restrictions, and Heller ruled similarly on the Second Amendment. After Roe, Prolifer supporters immediately began enacting barriers to abortion, seeing what would stick. Subsequent guidance from the Court, however, cleared up the constitutional rules surrounding abortion.

The Second Amendment is sorely in need of similar guidance from the Court. Drake gave them that opportunity.

In 2012, in …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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The Mythology of the Supreme Court

May 13, 2014 in Economics

By Mises Updates

Supreme Court Washington DC USA

Ryan McMaken writes in today’s Mises Daily:

If there was ever any doubt that public schooling has been an immense success when it comes to conditioning children to blindly accept even the most implausible myths of governance, we only need look to the high regard in which most Americans hold the Supreme Court. The fact that nine modern philosopher kings are empowered to sit in judgment of every American law and custom, right down to whether or not a city council meeting, in a town virtually no American could find on a map, can include some bland prayer time. It troubles no school child that he is taught that democracy is the source of legitimacy for all governments one minute, and then the next minute is told he should fully trust nine lawyers in robes in Washington, D.C. to have the final word on law for 300 million Americans.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Removing Bad Presidents from Office Should Be Easier

May 13, 2014 in Economics

By Gene Healy

Gene Healy

“Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow,” commands the relentlessly chirpy Fleetwood Mac tune that served as Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign theme.

But last week, in an exclusive article for Vanity Fair, “that woman,”Monica Lewinsky, forced Bill, Hill and the rest of us to take a look back.

There’s essentially no way to remove a president for misbehavior, neglect, or incompetence.”

Lewinsky, now 40, is someone who definitely didn’t “love the ‘90s.” “The Clinton administration, the special prosecutor’s minions, the political operatives on both sides of the aisle” and the emerging new media turned Lewinsky’s youthful indiscretion into a life-wrecking mistake, making her the permanent punchline to a dirty joke.

It seemed like great fun at the time, I’m embarrassed now to admit, digging through the Starr Report and cackling over the naughtiest footnotes. With the benefit of 15 years of mature hindsight, what should we make of the Clinton impeachment imbroglio?

Clinton figured out what he thinks long ago: he’s the hero of this sordid little drama. “I am proud of what we did [on impeachment]” he proclaimed in April 2000: “I think we saved the Constitution of the United States.”

To borrow George Will’s signature line: Well.

Clinton saved something, alright, but the national charter isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Still, there is a constitutional lesson we can draw from the Clinton impeachment: Our system makes it far too hard to remove a president.

In an important new book, The Once and Future King: The Rise of Crown Government in America, legal scholar F.H. Buckley argues that our presidential system of government lacks important “safety valves” present in parliamentary regimes. The president’s fixed term makes it nearly impossible to remove him. We manage fewer than one presidential impeachment per century, and in 225 years, the Senate has never successfully removed one. In contrast, “prime ministers may be removed at any time when Parliament is in session through a nonconfidence motion”; weak leaders can even be dumped by their own party without bringing down the government.

“Impeachment, observed Jefferson in his old age, was not even a scarecrow,” Buckley writes; if anything it’s an even weaker check today.

In the view of the impeachment clause that currently dominates the legal academy, there’s essentially no way to remove a president for misbehavior, neglect or incompetence. During the Clinton imbroglio, scads of concerned law professors dutifully advanced an interpretation …read more

Source: OP-EDS