You are browsing the archive for 2014 May 15.

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Sen. Paul Issues Statement on Barron Nomination

May 15, 2014 in Politics & Elections

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sen. Rand Paul today issued the following statement regarding the nomination of Professor David Barron to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit:

‘I’ve read David Barron’s memos concerning the legal justification for killing an American citizen overseas without a trial or legal representation, and I am not satisfied. While the President forbids me from discussing what is in the memos, I can tell you what is not in the memos.

There is no valid legal precedent to justify the killing of an American citizen not engaged in combat. In fact, one can surmise as much because the legal question at hand has never been adjudicated. Therefore, I shall not only oppose the nomination of David Barron, but will filibuster,’ Sen. Paul said.

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Source: RAND PAUL

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Piketty’s Capital and Actual Capital

May 15, 2014 in Economics

By Randall Holcombe

Thomas Piketty’s book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, has received lots of press and been reviewed dozens of times, so I’m not going to write a general review, but I do want to comment on his depiction of capital, contrasting it with a more Austrian approach.

Piketty’s main conclusion is that the return on capital is greater then the overall growth in income, so owners of capital will see their incomes and wealth rising faster than the general population, causing rising inequality over time.  He has an impressive data set, and his analysis shows fairly convincingly that inequality has been rising since 1980.

There are a number of issues one could raise regarding Piketty’s analysis, but I will just raise one here: the way he identifies the relationship between the stock of capital and the income that is generated by it.

Piketty identifies what he calls “the first fundamental law of capitalism” as α=rxβ, where α is the income derived from capital, r is the return on capital, and β is the value of the capital stock.  (As Piketty defines them, both are divided by income, but we can safely ignore this by multiplying both sides of the equation by income, which simplifies the discussion that follows.)

As Piketty sees it, the return paid on capital is determined by the value of the capital times the rate of return, as the equation shows.  Piketty confirms that this is his view in examples he gives in the book.  But this is backwards.  The return on capital isn’t determined by the value of capital; the value of capital is determined by the return it produces.  The correct view on this is clearly stated in Carl Menger’s Principles of Economics.

While Piketty measures capital by the value of the capital stock, in fact capital is a collection of heterogeneous inputs into production processes, and capital only earns a return if it is employed productively.  The value of capital is determined by the return it earns, and the return it earns depends on the value it adds to the economy.

If capital is productive and earns a high return, it will have a high value.  If it is used unproductively and earns little or no return, its value may be low, and may go to zero.  The capital employed by Wal-Mart has been productive, giving the company value, while the capital used by Circuit City was not, …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Feds Not Enforcing Legal Immigration Laws

May 15, 2014 in Economics

By Alex Nowrasteh

Alex Nowrasteh

House Republicans have declined to schedule a vote on any immigration legislation this year, citing a lack of trust in President Barack Obama.

“The American people, including many of my members, don’t trust that the reform that we’re talking about would be implemented as it’s intended to be,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in February. “It’s going to be difficult to move any immigration legislation until that changes.”

Democrats have countered by pointing to the president’s aggressive enforcement of certain aspects of the law, such as record deportations and employer fines. But Republican supporters of reform are not just talking about enforcement of the immigration laws. They want to roll back unnecessary regulations that hamper legal guest worker visas.

Tea Party Congressman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), who favors giving “legal status” to immigrants here illegally, is very concerned about regulations that obstruct guest worker visas.

“One of the big concerns that many have is if we pass another law, will it be fully enforced?” he said last month. “The H-2A [Ag] program doesn’t have a cap, and yet we have agricultural workers who are here undocumented. There is no cap on that kind of program. Why is it not working?”

It’s not working because the H-2A visa is stymied by regulations promulgated and “enforced” by four different federal agencies.

The H-2A visa is stymied by regulations promulgated and “enforced” by four different federal agencies.”

As George W. Bush’s former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao said, “Many who have tried [the H-2A visa] report such bad experiences that they stopped using it altogether.”

However, since Chao’ statement, the Obama administration has piled even more rules on to the H-2A farm program. On one hand, the United Farm Workers union said that it was “deeply thankful” for the regulations that they viewed as protection. But farmers tell a different story.

In a recent survey of Georgia farmers, only 3.4 percent of respondents used the H-2A program. Most were not eligible to apply because of overbearing regulations. The rest didn’t even bother because they had heard negative things about it. As one farmer wrote in the survey, “My H-2A workers visa [sic] were cut from 75 requested to 35. This is an impossible program the way it stands.”

Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho), another Tea Partier, argues the same.

“The president has a year to prove to us that he is willing to actually …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Republican Support for Medical Marijuana Grows as GOP Gathers for Convention in Westchester

May 15, 2014 in PERSONAL LIBERTY

By mfarrington

Attendees Include Erie County GOP Chair Nick Langworthy, Who is Calling on GOP to Support Compassionate Care Act
Patients, Families and Advocates Applaud Langworthy and Encourage GOP Leaders to Follow

New York : As Republicans gather in Westchester this week to nominate their statewide ticket, they should congratulate Erie County Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy for supporting the Compassionate Care Act. Chairman. Langworthy’s leadership on medical marijuana should make it easier for other Party leaders to do the right thing, for the right reasons.

May 15, 2014

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Source: DRUG POLICY

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No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State

May 15, 2014 in Economics

Journalist Glenn Greenwald, who along with other journalists at The Guardian and the Washington Post was recently awarded the Pulitzer Prize for their reporting on the National Security Agency, visited the Cato Institute to record an extended podcast and videocast about his new book, No Place to Hide:  Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State. The book and podcast recount his meetings with Edward Snowden, the broader implications of the NSA’s surveillance, and offers new information on the NSA’s unprecedented abuse of power.

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Source: CATO HEADLINES

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‘What are states but warlord organizations?’

May 15, 2014 in Economics

By Robert Higgs

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Anarchists are constantly tempted to respond to their critics in a way that verges on the tu quoque fallacy — in children’s playground lingo, “it takes one to know one” — because often a critic’s claim about the horrors that anarchy would bring is essentially a claim that it would bring about a condition that already exists under the rule of states. Why the warlords would take over, the critic claims. But what are states but warlord organizations in their most developed expression? Why we’d have no protection against thieves and marauders, the critic claims. But today’s police provide no such protection. They are either marauders themselves or, at their best, worthless note takers who show up long after a private crime has been committed and pretend to go about bringing the wrongdoer to justice. But there would be no justice under anarchy, the critic declares. Such claims ignore the absence of real justice today in the state’s so-called criminal justice system, a machine for punishing people who have violated no one’s natural rights and dishing out arbitrary and senseless punishments through plea bargains extracted from hapless victims caught in the state’s unjust web of lies and arrogant pretense.

Of course, no sensible anarchist expects that the abolition of the state will create heaven on earth. Such an anarchist understands full well that even the best feasible form of human social organization will be vulnerable to any number of crimes and other wrongs — after all, we’re dealing with real flesh-and-blood human beings here. But under anarchy, voluntary cooperation, peace, and justice have, so to speak, at least a fighting chance, which is one helluva lot more than we can say about social life under state domination.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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The World Bank Admits No One Reads Its Research

May 15, 2014 in Economics

By Christopher Westley

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The World Bank is a secretive multilateral organization that wastes many billions of dollars a year siphoning taxpayer dollars to foreign governments as part of a loan portfolio that emphasizes loan volume over loan profitability. Under normal circumstances, banks that reward volume over profit would not last long, but when the institution is protected from market forces and has access to conscripted capital emanating from member governments’ access to tax dollars, it can last many decades with the grateful support of crony firms that are the actual beneficiaries of its loans. (Seven years ago, I chronicled some of the World Bank’s waste and corruption in this book review of Jeffrey Hooke’s pithy book, The Dinosaur Among Us: The World Bank and its Path to Extinction.)

Among the many individuals working at the Bank include an army of economists producing policy report after policy report, all made available publicly in the form of PDF documents. Two of these economists, Doerte Doemeland and James Trevino, wondered whether anyone actually reads these documents and decided to investigate, with the result being yet one more report, entitled “Which World Bank Reports Are Widely Read?”

The answer: Not as many as you think. Studying a dataset of 1,611 policy reports written from 2008 to 2012, Doemeland and Trevino found that 31 percent were downloaded exactly zero times, while another 40 percent had been downloaded fewer than 100 times. While 13 percent of the reports were downloaded 250 times or more, some 87 percent were never cited in the academic literature (based on citation counts in Google Scholar). Twenty five reports, comprising 2 percent of all the reports, were downloaded over 1000 times.

The World Bank’s revelation that the many millions of dollars it devotes to research each year contributes to the occupation of its server space and little else does not exactly compare with the 2003 International Monetary Fund paper that found countries following IMF suggestions often suffer a “collapse in growth rates and significant financial crises.” But it’s close. In the World Bank’s case, maybe the intended recipients of its research have advance knowledge about its actual value. Regardless, both cases illustrate how when funding is assured outside of the market, the social utility of productive activities greatly declines.  Although I’m sure this is true, perhaps the World Bank will write a paper about it, just to be sure.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Breitbart Op-Ed: With Barron Nomination, Does Obama Even Believe We Have a 5th Amendment?

May 15, 2014 in Politics & Elections

In 2013, I filibustered the nomination of CIA Director John Brennan. I did so to defend a core constitutional principle that has made America a leader among nations for as long as we have been a nation-the right to due process.

I wanted to know if President Obama believed he had the power to kill an American citizen without due process. It took me almost 13 hours to get my answer, but the Obama Administration finally relented.

They seemed annoyed I had even asked the question. I was flabbergasted that it took them so long to answer it.

I’m still not sure they completely get the message.

President Obama’s nomination of Judge David Barron to the U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals is troubling because it relates directly, again, to the issue of whether this Administration believes we have a Fifth Amendment.

In 2010, Barron was the head of the Office of Legal Counsel, a group that dispenses legal advice to executive branch agencies. That year, Barron circulated a memo that authorized the extra-judicial killing of two American citizens, radical Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and Islamic extremist Samir Khan. Both would be assassinated by a CIA drone the following year.

I have no sympathy for al-Awlaki, Kahn, or others like them. But that does not mean the president or anyone else in government has the authority to kill an American citizen without due process where there isn’t an imminent threat.

Awlaki had been on a presidential ‘kill list’ before his death, something Senator Ron Wyden had been trying to determine the legal rationale for. Sen. Wyden waited for over a year to see the Barron memo, and it was never fully disclosed.

To date, over 30 members of Congress have made multiple attempts to see this memo, and most have never seen it.

What is this Administration trying to hide?

On April 21, 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ordered that the Department of Justice disclose a redacted version of the Office of Legal Counsel memorandum that authorized the targeted killing of Anwar al-Awlaki. David Barron was one of the principal writers of this memorandum. He has spoken openly about his role in crafting the Administration’s legal position that it can kill Americans abroad without due process.

It would be irresponsible for the Senate to move forward on this nomination until the Department of Justice has …read more

Source: RAND PAUL

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Legalization Puts Drug Cartels Out of Business

May 15, 2014 in Economics

By Mark Thornton

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The Washington Post explains that drug legalization in Colorado and Washington, along with Medical Marijuana Legalization in many other states has hurt the illegal marijuana growing business in northern Mexico. However, the Mexican drug cartels have been bailed out by America’s drug warriors who have cracked down on prescription pain killers. Prescription pain killers and heroin are both very addictive and deadly dangerous so that legalization would not only put the cartels out of business, but would open opportunities to address the problems of pain and addiction in a medical format rather than the black market.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE