You are browsing the archive for 2014 June 10.

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First Photos From the Rothbard Graduate Seminar

June 10, 2014 in Economics

By Mises Updates

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The first of a full week of seminars.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Sen. Paul Unveils the Bipartisan Repatriation Tax Plan on CNBC with Sara Eisen – June 10, 2014

June 10, 2014 in Politics & Elections

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Source: RAND PAUL

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The American State and the Postal Service’s Arsenal

June 10, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

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The political scientist and sociologist Max Weber defined the state as  any “human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory.” There are variations on this definition, with historian of the state Charles Tilly preferring the word “coercion”  to “legitimate use of physical force.”

In any case, historians such as Tilly, Murray Rothbard, Weber, and Martin van Creveld can all probably agree that a central function of the state is to obtain and maintain a monopoly on the use of violence/coercion/physical force within its territory. Naturally, there is a long spectrum along which the fullness of this monopoly can exist. The Chinese state, for example, enjoys a near total  monopoly, and is thus a textbook example of the state while the current Iraqi state is barely a state at all (using this definition) since its monopoly is constantly (and often successfully) challenged from both inside and outside the country.

States know that any sustained challenge to its monopoly spells immense trouble for the state since such challenges invariably lead at the very least to declines in revenues, and perhaps to successful secession or even to revolution.

In the tradition of Thomas Hobbes, guardians of the state believe that you can never be too careful and you can never have too many tools of coercion. A state that cannot easily crush any and all dissent, as Hobbes contended, is not a functional state.

So, we should of course not be surprised at all when we see every US government agency from the Postal Service to the Consumer Product Safety Commission buying ammunition by the truckload and staffing themselves with a vast array of well-armed agents who can detain and force compliance from average citizens. The monopoly on force must be maintained and strengthened.

The well-entrenched American tradition of private gun ownership, mixed with easy access to ever-growing and seemingly limitless government budget increases is employed by government agencies to justify larger and larger arsenals as the agencies themselves have adopted a paranoid persecution complex of sorts and imagine themselves besieged on all sides by barbarians known as the “American public.” This is the natural progression of the “thin blue line” doctrine in which the state is the only thing that stands between order and chaos. The American public is largely accepting of this idea, (although not to the same extent that Europeans unquestioningly accept it) so any …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Marijuana-Infused Products ("Edibles")

June 10, 2014 in PERSONAL LIBERTY

By drosenfeld

June 10, 2014

No

Marijuana-infused products, often referred to as “edibles”, are an important part of the burgeoning marijuana market. However, proper regulation is necessary to ensure reliability and safety. DPA believes that marijuana-infused products should be regulated and tested to ensure safety, quality and accuracy of information, that they should be labeled with detailed information to ensure that consumers are informed about what they are consuming and educated on how to safely consume, and that all edibles should be kept away from children.

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Source: DRUG POLICY

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The Snowden Files, One Year Later

June 10, 2014 in Economics

One year ago, Glenn Greenwald wrote a news story that would change the world forever. In it, we learned that the National Security Agency had been secretly collecting enormous amounts of telephone metadata on what were presumably ordinary American citizens. In the June 2014 Issue of Cato Unbound, Cato scholar Julian Sanchez reviews what we know and where the public policy debate now stands. Joining the discussion/debate are Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Benjamin Wittes, Georgetown University Professor Carrie F. Cordero, and independent journalist Marcy Wheeler.

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Source: CATO HEADLINES

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Who Would Hillary Clinton Bomb?

June 10, 2014 in Economics

By Gene Healy

Gene Healy

Judging by the early reviews, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s new memoir, “Hard Choices,” is a cautious, poll-tested tome, drafted with an eye toward 2016.

But she says at least one interesting thing in the book.

On her 2002 vote to authorize the Iraq War, Secretary Clinton writes: “I thought I had acted in good faith and made the best decision I could with the information I had. … But I still got it wrong.”

Clinton’s role in the worst foreign policy disaster in 30 years is highly relevant to her fitness for higher office.”

What a strange formulation! Was then-Senator Clinton dissociated from her own mental state in the post-9/11 fog of war? “I thought I had acted in good faith,” but … I later found out my motives were base and mercenary?

Well, as the lady herself noted some 20 years ago, it’s not easy to figure out “who we are as human beings in this post-modern age.”

“What difference, at this point, does it make?” you might ask. Actually, Clinton’s role in the worst foreign policy disaster in 30 years is highly relevant to her fitness for higher office.

In her October 2002 speech on the resolution, Senator Clinton declared: “the facts that have brought us to this fateful vote are not in doubt,” among them, the vitality of Saddam Hussein’s nuclear program and his record of harboring al Qaeda. But she wasn’t interested enough in the facts to bother reading the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq — portions of which cast serious doubt on those claims.

After her vote, Clinton embarked on a decade-long journey of self-discovery on Iraq. In 2004, she declared, “I don’t regret giving the president authority,” It wasn’t a vote to go to war, anyway.

In 2008, she accused “Meet the Press’ ” Tim Russert of getting all “Jesuitical” when he pointed out that the measure she voted for said “Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002” right there at the top. Still, Clinton maintained, “it was a sincere vote at the time”; now, however, she’s not so sure.

I can’t help Clinton in her Boomerish quest for authenticity, but her vote seems entirely consistent with her record. In her long career, she’s rarely met a war she didn’t like — or a constitutional limit she deems worth respecting.

In 2007, asked by reporter Charlie Savage about the limits of presidential war powers, candidate Clinton replied: “the …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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How The Modern Politician Advertises His Pork-Bearing Skills

June 10, 2014 in Economics

By Chris Edwards

Chris Edwards

Congressional websites are a useful resource to gain insights into today’s politics. So let’s take a look at the website of Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) to see what we can find out. Maloney was elected just in 2012, but his website reveals that he is a fast learner in the modern ways of Washington.

Let’s start with Maloney’s press release section, which contains key messages for his constituents and media in his district. It is chock full of statements discussing how the congressman is bringing federal benefits home, and how local leaders think that he is awesome for doing that.

To politicians and subsidy recipients, Washington is Santa Claus providing free gifts with no apparent costs.”

Maloney has recently scored $1 million for airport funding, $1.86 million for hurricane clean-up, $130,000 for arts grants, $6.7 million for bike paths, $3.8 million to fix highways, $200,000 for one fire department, and $2.4 million for another one.

My research has found that such federal aid undermines good governance and is often wasteful. The nation would be better off if airports, hurricane clean-up, arts, bike paths, highways, and fire departments were funded locally.

But members of Congress are political entrepreneurs, not policy experts, and they see it differently. Their goal is to get community leaders on their side, and federal aid is a great tool for gaining support from local businesses, arts groups, union heads, mayors, and other people who hold sway in their districts. To politicians and subsidy recipients, Washington is Santa Claus providing free gifts with no apparent costs.

Politicians wrap a narrative around each subsidy program. Most of Maloney’s press releases propagate the idea that federal aid is crucial to jobs and growth. The $2.4 million fire grant was a “strategic investment that not only creates jobs, but adds valuable personnel to make our community safer.” Even the arts grants were “strategic investments in jobs and the Hudson Valley economy.”

However, members know that many citizens are concerned about overspending and rising debt in Washington. So Maloney has a “Budget and Fiscal Responsibility” section on his website. It says “we must get our fiscal house in order. If so many New York families struggle to balance their household budgets, Congress should also live within its means and balance its budget.”

That sounds good. But look right underneath that paean to fiscal rectitude …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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More from France’s Bloated Public Sector

June 10, 2014 in Economics

By David Howden

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The public sector in France is among the best financed in Europe. Taxes claim around 45% of all income earned in the country, but even that is not enough to finance all the government projects. The country also runs a public budget deficit of over 3% of GDP, putting the whole output of the French government around 50% of the whole economy.

With such largesse one would think that the services are quite good. Furthermore, coming from a country whose motto is “liberté, égalité, fraternité” one would also guess that the spending is directed at the little people.

Wrong on both counts.

In one embarrassing recent admission, a French government searching for ways to get its budget under control admitted that its justice minister’s office employs 22 chauffeurs for a staff of only 17. Apparently the number of drivers is necessary because, despite working long days, they each get to take every other week off.

The Ministry of Justice responded by noting that it has already made cuts, and that “in the past four years, we’ve removed three drivers from our staff.”

France’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls is searching for an excuse to cut 12,000 civil servants from the payroll this coming year. Maybe while he’s at it he should make it easier to become a taxi driver in Paris to help some of the more obvious redundant staff to find new jobs.

(Originally posted at Mises Canada.)

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Unemployment and A Tale of Two Financial Crises

June 10, 2014 in Economics

By Mises Updates

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Mises Daily Tuesday by D.W. MacKenzie:

Politicians have blamed the current lackluster economy on everything from the weather to the severity of the last recession. They won’t admit that quantitative easing and fiscal stimulus are failed policies and that these policies have unquestionably failed to produce a rapid recovery over the past five years.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE