You are browsing the archive for 2014 June 17.

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Nader Book Pays Tribute to Work of Mises, Rothbard

June 17, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

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Robert Wenzel reports:  

Ralph Nader is out with a new book,Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State.  The Washington Times reports:

Among the “convergers,” he includes people “who call themselves conservatives, Libertarians, liberals, progressives, Republicans, Democrats, independents, Third Partiers, capitalists, socialists, or anarchists, or any other labels free-thinking American choose for themselves.”

He treats these designations with respect, with special attention to conservatism, which “has received a bad rap over the past century, with its philosophers misused, distorted and sometimes willfully mischaracterized .” In a chapter devoted to those thinkers, he pays special tribute to the economist Ludwig von Mises, whose work is kept alive at the renowned Ludwig von Mises Institute in Auburn, Ga., [sic] under the able and active direction of Lew Rockwell.

Mr. Nader also commends the work of Murray Rothbard, Frank Meyer and Russell Kirk…

It’s unclear whether it’s Nader himself or the Wash Times reviewer who is associating Ludwig von Mises, Rothbard, and the Mises Institute with conservatism. Mises himself vehemently denied being any sort of conservative, and thought it was unfortunate that Americans who claimed to be laissez-faire called themselves conservatives.

From Last Knight of Liberalism: (p991)

When Buckley announced National Review as “frankly, conservative,”  old-world men such as Mises must have thought that, frankly, Buckley did not know what he was talking about. Mises did contribute a few pieces in the course of the first few years of National Review’s existence. But on more than one occasion, he emphasized the difference between libertarianism and conservatism. In response to birthday greetings in 1957, he wrote: “Unfortunately this cannot be changed. I am a surviving contemporary of Karl Marx, Wilhelm I, and Horatio Alger, in short: a paleo-liberal [Paläo-liberaler].”

In October 1954, Mises declined an invitation from Yale University to participate in a series called “Conservative Lectures” which was promoted with the promise that “each lecturer will work consciously toward restoration of . . . the power of the word conservative.” He noted that the word “conservative” had no political roots in America and that in Europe it meant the very opposite of the principles for which America stood:

To conserve means to preserve what exists. It is an empty program, it is merely negative, rejecting any change. . . . To conserve what exists is in present-day America tantamount to preserving those laws and institutions that the New Deal and the Fair Deal have bequeathed to the nation.

The sudden emergence of the word “conservative” highlighted a more general unease of the counter-revolutionary forces in the United States. They were quite …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Meats and Poultry at Record Prices

June 17, 2014 in Economics

By David Howden

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ index of meats, poultry, fish and eggs just hit an all time high. Nor are these higher prices confined to just food items. Consumer prices across the board are registering their sharpest price increases in over15 months. Inflation is accelerating on a variety of goods, from airline fares to vegetables.

This must be good news to the Fed, as it has unleashed the most expansionary monetary policy of all time over the past five years. The explicit goal of all the QE programs was to prevent prices from falling.

According to USA Today, it’s not just the Fed that should be happy with higher prices. Consumers too should be upbeat about the rising cost of living:

The recent pick-up in consumer prices is generally considered good news for the economy because annual inflation was well below the Federal Reserve’s 2% target last year. Low inflation reflects a weak economy and can lead to deflation, or falling wages and prices, which often foreshadows recession.

Never mind that low inflation would be the norm if the Fed wasn’t constantly inflating the money supply. And never mind that deflation is beneficial as it means we can buy more goods with the same amount of money (who doesn’t love sale season?). We’ll also overlook the fact that there are many workers who can’t get a job because minimum wage bars them from lowering their wages to a competitive level. Deflation in wages would vastly improve these peoples’ lives by getting them off the dole.

Lastly, while the Fed may think rising prices are a boon to the economy, perhaps Janet Yellen should trying telling that to the masses of unemployed Americans. Over 10 million Americans are officially unemployed today, and millions of others are discouraged and have given up all hope of finding a job. Rising prices for the food they buy is anything but positive news for this sizable group.

(Originally posted at Mises Canada.)

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Walter Block: Against Taxation (Radio Interview CKNW AM 980)

June 17, 2014 in Economics

By Walter Block

Summary By Luis Rivera III:

As Lysander Spooner said before him, Walter Block calls “taxes” what it is…highway robbery. Host Mike Smyth asks Dr. Block how would services such as fire fighting, roads, police, courts etc. be funded. He uses a reductio ad absurdum to elucidate his point. Dr. Block holds no punches and tells listeners of this Canadian radio station that North America practices a lot of fascism. Smyth commits a common mistake when debatin an Anarcho Capitalist, the appeal to tradition fallacy, listen in to learn how to respond with an effective rebuttal to this. This and much more below!

Walter Block is interviewed on CKNW AM 980

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Military Bureaucracy, the F-35, and the “Price of Freedom”

June 17, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

800px-Flickr_-_The_U.S._Army_-_Young_patriot

Back when I was an undergrad, I took a class called something like “The Politics of National Defense.” This was not a class about international relations, but about the bureaucracy behind the U.S. Military. It was taught by a retired Army officer.

It quickly became clear that all those chest-thumping military enthusiasts who think the US Military is some kind of well-oiled machine helmed by brilliant minds live in an absolute fantasy land. But you certainly don’t need to take a college class to figure this out.

The U.S. Military is, for lack of a better term,  an extremely well-funded cluster f$%#k. It is characterized by infighting among the branches, massive waste, backroom deals for favored contractors, political ambition among the generals, sycophancy, and extreme short-term thinking. To the extent that it has achieved military success (it hasn’t won a major war in 70 years), success has been due to the advantage gained by the sheer volume of dollars that can be poured into military hardware, thanks to the wealth produced by an industrialized relatively free-market system.

The beleaguered taxpayers, who already pay through the nose for all that military expense,  are then told – to add insult to injury- that in addition to the huge sums they pay in federal taxes, that they should thank the thieves who extracted the money. That is, the taxpayers are lectured about how “freedom isn’t free” and that they should be thanking the US government for being so generous.

In fact, it is the military and its personnel who should be getting down on their knees and thanking the taxpayer for making US military operations such low-casualty affairs. The reason that the US suffers so few casualties in combat is that the US always has the military enemies massively out-gunned. It is not better strategy or the alleged razor-sharp efficiency of well-trained forces. It is, in fact, the air support, drones, armored vehicles, limitless ammunition, limitless gasoline, and overwhelming wealth of the military that makes military operations far less deadly for American soldiers than for anyone else. This in turn makes endless militarism more politically palatable because it keeps casualties, even in full-blown wars, so relatively low.

The fact that it is all made possible by the the American worker, who slaves away at his humdrum job to send a third of his income to the feds, is of course totally ignored on Memorial Day, Veterans …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Lew Rockwell on the Military Domination of the American Mind

June 17, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

Tom Woods writes:

Lew and I spoke on my show again today, this time focusing primarily on war, the military culture in American society, state propaganda, and other juicy topics. Click here for the audio of the show, and below is the show on YouTube.

(N.b.: My last public event before heading to the Mises Institute for the summer Mises University program is this Thursday in St. Paul, Minnesota.)

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Legislators Amend Medical Marijuana Bill to Address Concerns of Gov. Cuomo

June 17, 2014 in PERSONAL LIBERTY

By drosenfeld

As End of Session Nears, Patients, Families and Advocates Push Senate and Cuomo to Finally Pass Compassionate Care Act

Healthcare Providers Travel to Albany to Demonstrate Support for Medical Marijuana; Available for Interviews

Albany – Today, healthcare professionals and patients continued their response to Governor Cuomo’s demands on medical marijuana. Patients and healthcare professionals are gathering in Albany today to push lawmakers to vote on the Compassionate Care Act, and healthcare professionals who couldn’t travel to Albany issued strong statements in support of the bill.

June 17, 2014

Drug Policy Alliance

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Source: DRUG POLICY

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LA Times Op-Ed:How to end the NSA dragnet

June 17, 2014 in Politics & Elections

One year ago this month, Americans learned that their government was engaged in secret dragnet surveillance, which contradicted years of assurances to the contrary from senior government officials and intelligence leaders.

On this anniversary, it is more important than ever to let Congress and the administration know that Americans will reject half-measures that could still allow the government to collect millions of Americans’ records without any individual suspicion or evidence of wrongdoing.

For years, in both statements to the public and open testimony before the House and Senate, senior government officials claimed that domestic surveillance was narrow in focus and limited in scope. But in June 2013, Americans learned through leaked classified documents that these claims bore little resemblance to reality. In fact, the NSA has been relying on a secret interpretation of the USA Patriot Act to vacuum up the phone records of millions of law-abiding citizens. Under a separate program, intelligence agencies are using a loophole in the law to read some Americans’ emails without ever getting a warrant.

Dragnet surveillance was approved by a secret court that normally hears only the government’s side of major cases. It had been debated only in a few secret congressional committee hearings, and many members of Congress were entirely unaware it. When laws like the Patriot Act were reauthorized, a vocal minority of senators and representatives – including the three of us – objected, but the secrecy surrounding these programs made it difficult to mobilize public support.

And yet, it was inevitable that mass surveillance and warrantless searches would eventually be exposed. When the plain text of the law differs so dramatically from how it is interpreted and applied, in effect creating a body of secret law, it simply isn’t sustainable. So when the programs’ existence became public last summer, huge numbers of Americans were justifiably stunned and angry at how they had been misled and by the degree to which their privacy rights had been routinely violated. Inflated claims about the program’s value have burst under public scrutiny, and there is now a groundswell of public support for reform.

Benjamin Franklin once warned that a society that trades essential liberties for short-term security risks losing both. That is still true today, and even the staunchest defenders of mass surveillance concede that reforms are inevitable.

The debate over exactly what reforms should be made is likely to continue for …read more

Source: RAND PAUL

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U.S. Doing Too Much and Doing It Badly

June 17, 2014 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

At West Point, President Barack Obama found it hard to defend the incoherent mess representing his foreign policy. The president has resisted persistent neoconservative demands for multiple new wars and interventions. But he usually rushed to the inconsistent middle, entangling the U.S. unnecessarily without achieving even his limited ends.

Despite sharp criticism of his speech from the right, Barak Obama got a lot right. For instance, the constant complaint by uber-hawks that the world is dangerous misses the fact that the world is not that dangerous for the U.S.

“By most measures, America has rarely been stronger relative to the rest of the world,” not the president. Indeed. “Our military has no peer,” he said. “The odds of a direct threat against us by any nation are low, and do not come close to the dangers we faced during the Cold War.”

Why does America spend so much on “defense” when it has so little to defend against?”

Yet Barack Obama failed to answer the obvious question: Why does America spend so much on “defense” when it has so little to defend against? In fact, the Department of Defense has little to do with protecting America and mostly with subsidizing prosperous and populous allies in Asia and Europe, which have become the international equivalent of welfare queens.

The president did point to “new dangers,” such as terrorism, the most serious ongoing security threat to the U.S. However, terrorists do not target Americans because we are so free, but because our government bombs, invades and occupies — and otherwise intervenes all over the globe. This is not to justify, but to understand. The more Washington intervenes, the more it exposes its citizens to terrorist threats.

The president warned that Moscow’s aggressive actions have unnerved “capitals in Europe” — which he failed to acknowledge has a collective GDP and population bigger than America’s and much bigger than Russia’s. Barack Obama cited China’s growing economy and “military reach” which “worries its neighbors.” But Beijing has neither the ability nor desire to battle America. China’s neighbors should develop the means to defend themselves.

As was inevitable, President Obama attacked the straw man of “isolationism.” Yet the president inadvertently articulated an argument for nonintervention when he spoke movingly of promoting a “world of greater freedom and tolerance” while adding “to say that we have an interest in pursuing peace and freedom beyond our borders is not …read more

Source: OP-EDS