You are browsing the archive for 2014 June 16.

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My Oxford Union Debate Team

June 16, 2014 in Economics

By Mark Thornton

VLUU L110, M110  / Samsung L110, M110

At the Oxford Union, debates are carried out in teams. My team consisted (from left to right) of a Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament from Cambridge, Julian Huppert, myself, David Browne, the student member from Merton College, and Richard Cowan, the former Director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). We were opposed by Joseph Miles from Wadham College, Kathy Gyngell fo the Centre for Policy Studies, Neil McKeganey, the Director of the Centre for Drugs Misuse Research, and Sarah Graham who is on the U.K. Advisory Council of the Misuse of Drugs. The Oxford Union is one of the oldest and most prestigious debating societies and is strongly committed to the principle of free speech. Past debate presenters include the Dali Lama, Mother Teresa, Albert Einstein, former US Presidents, UK Prime Ministers, and other leading politicians and diplomats, as well as leaders from the field of art and entertainment.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Governor Undermines Negotiations on Medical Marijuana, Makes Last-Minute Series of Demands in Disappointing Effort to Sink Legislation

June 16, 2014 in PERSONAL LIBERTY

By drosenfeld

For Years, Governor Ignored Pleas by Patients and Advocates to Work Together on Legislation

Outraged Patients and Families Demand Governor to Stop Playing Politics With Peoples Lives; Senate Should Vote Immediately

Albany – Today Governor Cuomo leaked to the media his list of changes he wants made to New York’s comprehensive medical marijuana bill – the Compassionate Care Act – before he’ll support it. The full list of changes – obtained by advocates – includes many demands already addressed in the current legislation. Additionally, bill sponsors have already agreed to make a number of changes to satisfy the governor.

June 16, 2014

Drug Policy Alliance

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Source: DRUG POLICY

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The Data Is Clear: Free Markets Reduce Poverty

June 16, 2014 in Economics

By Mises Updates

6781

 Mises Daily Monday by D.W. MacKenzie:

It is a fact that severe poverty has disappeared in the most industrialized countries. The wealth of the first-world welfare states was made possible by those countries’ turn toward free markets in the past. Likewise, the turn toward more free markets in the developing world has reduced poverty there.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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America: Stay out of Iraq

June 16, 2014 in Economics

President Obama has been deciding whether to use the U.S. military to help Iraq’s government repel Sunni Islamist rebels—the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)—who recently took Mosul and swaths of other territory in northern and central Iraq. In new commentary, Cato scholar Benjamin H. Friedman outlines several reasons why the U.S. should stay out of Iraq’s turmoil. “Surge mythology notwithstanding, our efforts to reorder Iraq have always been misguided. The goal – a multiethnic, democratic, stable Iraq – was a nice idea but never vital to U.S. national security or worth thousands of U.S. lives and vast stores of our wealth.”

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Source: CATO HEADLINES

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'Don't Do Stupid Stuff' Is Smart Foreign-Policy Advice

June 16, 2014 in Economics

By Gene Healy

Gene Healy

On Feb. 28, 2003, a few weeks before launching the “shock and awe” aerial assault on Iraq, President George W. Bush outlined his vision for “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” His administration had “set a goal,” he told the crowd at the American Enterprise Institute’s annual dinner: “We will not allow the triumph of hatred and violence in the affairs of men.”

An ambitious enough goal, you’d think, but he didn’t stop there: “A liberated Iraq can show the power of freedom to transform that vital region,” Bush insisted, “it would serve as a dramatic and inspiring example of freedom for other nations” in the Middle East.

The United States paid a heavy price in pursuit of that dream: some 4,500 U.S. troops killed, tens of thousands more with traumatic brain injuries, hundreds of limb amputations, $1.7 trillion in direct budgetary costs so far and nearly half a trillion to come in veterans’ care and disability. Yet today, with Sunni jihadists pushing towards Baghdad, Iraq looks less like a Middle Eastern “City on a Hill” than a sectarian thugocracy, rapidly degenerating into a dystopian hellscape.

‘DDSS’ is a sound, even noble, foreign policy goal, one that can help us avoid further sacrifice of American blood and treasure — even as we try to extricate ourselves from past stupidities.”

Given that history, perhaps there’s something to be said for President Obama’s latest foreign-policy maxim: “don’t do stupid stuff.” At the very least, you wouldn’t think a “first, do no harm” approach to foreign policy would prove quite so controversial.

Yet “DDSS” has been greeted with contempt by the D.C. commentariat.

“How far we have come from the audacity of hope, yes we can” moans David Rothkopf, publisher of Foreign Policy magazine. “DDSS” just isn’t an “elevating notion,” he complains. (Neither, I suppose, is the Hippocratic Oath.) “A crude, meaningless phrase cannot substitute for statecraft,” sniffs former Bush aide Karl Rove in the Wall Street Journal.

“Crude,” maybe; but “meaningless”? The concept of avoiding catastrophic error shouldn’t be hard to grasp. Then again, Rove’s the guy who once blustered that “we’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality,” so it’s not surprising he finds it counterintuitive.

David Brooks, who once condemned Iraq War opponents for being “tolerant of tyranny,” and too skeptical of America’s “ability to serve as a force for good in the world,” takes a different tack. In his latest New York Times column, he accuses Obama …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Institutions in Crisis, Now Online

June 16, 2014 in Economics

By David Howden

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In the heat of the crisis back in 2011, I edited the book “Institutions in Crisis.” The emphasis was on the policy failings at the root of the European crisis, and how they were exacerbating the situation rather than bettering it.

Three years on much of the analysis still stands. In fact, a number of chapters have proven quiet prescient, for example:

1. Anthony Evans´ discussion about how not all of Ireland´s economic rise was fake – much was real, and caused by a favorable tax and business policy. As it meanders its way to a slow recovery much of this real economic growth is coming back, while the malinvestments caused by low interest rates still languish.

2. My own chapter focused on Europe´s black markets as a silver lining amidst the unemployment crisis. As periphery European countries today see their unemployment rates normalize again, the role of the black market as a source of jobs cannot be overstated.

3. Antonio Zanella pointed to accounting rules as favoring some investments (mostly unstable ones) over more sustainable practices. These problems persist to this day and endanger the recovery.

4. In his now well-known analysis, Philipp Bagus pointed out the problems with the Eurosystem and the tragedies that can befall disparate countries all sharing a common currency.

5. Fernando Ulrich and Malte Kähler pointed to the fiscal ruin being fostered by discretionary and needless government policies.

6. Brian Ó Caithnia elaborated how the European Union´s single biggest fiscal policy – the Common Agriculture Policy – was a source of tension and reason why growth would remain sluggish. Today the policy remains fundamentally unreformed and is a source of political consternation and wasted euros.

Edward Elgar has just made the book available online at an affordable price.

As an added bonus, the preface by Jesús Huerta de Soto is available for free here.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Reducing the Risk of Oil Price Spikes

June 16, 2014 in Economics

By Richard W. Rahn

Richard W. Rahn

You may have noticed gasoline prices are rising. If the Middle East situation gets much worse, gasoline prices will rise even more. The good news is that we are likely to avoid long gas lines as we had in the late 1970s under President Carter, because fracking and other new technologies have lessened our dependence on foreign oil and gas. The bad news is that a major rise in oil prices could easily tilt Europe and other places back into a recession, which could kill the little growth the United States is now experiencing.

The tragedy is all of this was unnecessary, but brought about by the Obama administration, letting short-term political considerations and ideology override good economics and global security.

A few basics: As a result of the revolution in oil- and gas-production technology, the United States is just about self-sufficient in natural-gas production and is in a position to be a net exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) by 2016, provided the administration gives the necessary permits. The nation has more than sufficient oil and gas reserves to be the world’s largest producer and even a net exporter of crude oil. Oil production has grown very rapidly but not nearly as rapidly as it could because the administration has put so many restrictions on oil production on federal lands and made the permitting process so slow. The United States is already a net exporter of petroleum products.

Oil and gas production in the United States is increasing more rapidly than the existing infrastructure can handle it, leading to transportation bottlenecks and, hence, higher prices. There is a shortage of pipeline capacity and new-generation rail cars. The administration has been very slow to provide the necessary permits for new pipeline construction of which the Keystone XL pipeline is the best known.

Why has the administration slowed or in some cases stopped the permitting processes? There is a combination of reasons. One is that it has an ideological prejudice against fossil fuels, even though so-called renewables make no economic sense in many cases and are not sufficient to provide more than a very small portion of our energy needs. Another reason is the Democrats prefer to cater to some of the big donors who are either environmental extremists or have a vested interest in the status quo. Warren Buffett controls major railroads and hence, benefits from shipping crude oil by railroad rather than by pipeline even though rail is more expensive, …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Measuring Unemployment

June 16, 2014 in Economics

By David Howden

The employment picture in America today is as bleak as it was  at the worst of the dot-com recession. In my recent Mises Canada daily I explain why the common unemployment measures that are paraded around give a false depiction of the true employment picture. I also argue that using the steady-state unemployment rate (SSUR) more ably deals with the tricky issues of part-time workers and discouraged job seekers:

Today the SSUR is hovering around 8%. It’s not such as a rosy picture as the U3 paints, but it’s quite a bit better than the U6. Notably this SSUR is the worst that America has faced in the past 14 years. The dot-com bust that led to a recession in 2001 found its bottom with an unemployment rate a hair over 8%, just like today. There has been a slow economic recovery, but the average Joe or Jill still has only as great a chance at getting a job than at the bottom of the second-worst recession of the past 30 years.

Read more here.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE