You are browsing the archive for 2014 June 23.

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Time for America to Set Its Foreign-Policy Priorities

June 23, 2014 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

In the Middle East, for instance, the president should drop his policy of incremental escalation in Syria. The battle is tragic, but no one knows what would emerge if Bashar al-Assad were ousted. Almost certainly, fighting would continue, reprisals would be made and radical forces, such as ISIS, would be empowered. The assumption that administration officials can craft just the right approach, giving the right weapons to the right groups to ensure a liberal, democratic, unified pro-American state, qualifies as a fairy tale worthy of the Brothers Grimm. Washington should back away from the conflict.

The U.S. government is financially bankrupt and can ill afford to police the world.”

In Europe, Ukraine remains far from the continent’s population and economic centers that the United States spent decades defending. Kiev’s situation is unfortunate, but Washington cannot change Ukraine’s geographic destiny. American policy makers never viewed Ukraine’s status as vital when it was incorporated into the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. The country matters even less strategically to America today. There should be no thought of military involvement by the United States or NATO, nor should Washington foreclose the possibility of cooperation with Russia on more important issues—Iran’s nuclear program and withdrawal from Afghanistan, for example—in a vain attempt to dissuade Moscow from acting on interests Russia views as vital.

In Asia, nowhere is there more dramatic disparity than on the Korean peninsula, where the South has a GDP and population respectively forty times and twice those of the North. The Republic of Korea could deploy a military capable of deterring North Korean adventurism. Instead of concentrating on defense, in the past, Seoul has instead shipped cash, food and other goods north in an attempt to buy goodwill—even as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was building nuclear weapons. In Korea, Washington can rightly claim, “mission accomplished”: South Korea is populous and prosperous, and should take over responsibility for its own defense.

These issues are just the start. In a world of diminishing resources (Washington faces a debt tsunami in the years ahead, with more than $200 trillion in accumulated unfunded liabilities), the United States can no longer be expected to solve every international problem, especially through military means. American policy makers should begin to make tough choices. Now.

Doug Bandow is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute and a former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan. …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Measuring Unemployment

June 23, 2014 in Economics

By David Howden

Over at Mises Canada, my Saturday article worked through the finer points of a better way to discuss unemployment. One problem with current measures is that the actual unemployment rate has little bearing on how difficult it is to get a job. There are periods with high numbers of unemployed masses but with many people finding a job, and stagnant periods where not many people lack work, but not many unemployed people are able to find work either.

I previously discussed some of the other problems with the common measures of unemployment here.

Even though the unemployment rate was still north of 8% in early 2012, the average number of unemployed finding work was a healthy 2%. Today the unemployment rate is lower, but there is also a lower percentage of unemployed people finding work. In short, even though the total employment situation might be better today than it was two years ago, the average unemployed worker is going to have a more difficult time finding a job.

In fact, the average unemployed worker today has about as good a chance of becoming

Read more here.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Don't Be Fooled: 5 Traits Uber Shares With Exploitative Old School Capitalist Companies

June 23, 2014 in Blogs

By Allegra Kirkland, AlterNet

It's time to take a more skeptical look at what the NY Times calls the hottest start-up on earth.


Now that Uber has received an $18.2 billion valuation from investors, making it worth more than rental car giants Hertz and Avis combined, it would seem the ride-sharing company’s days as a scrappy young tech startup are done. But in the days since the valuation was made public, the Uber hype machine—which insists that the company is revolutionizing the monopolistic, overly bureaucratic taxi industry—has gone into overdrive.

In one of the eight articles on Uber that the New York Times has published in the last two weeks alone, Farhad Manjoo refers to the company as “the hottest, most valuable technology start-up on the planet.” In the opinion of Mitchell Moss, director of the Rudin Center for Transportation at New York University, “Uber is transforming mobility in big cities and has been one of the great innovations in transportation in the last decade.”

With its revolutionary “disruptive” potential, app-based technology and clever marketing—one campaign involved a kitten delivery service in honor of National Cat Day—the service is almost a parody of the quintessential millennial company. But make no mistake: despite the populist, user-focused language of Uber promoters and company reps, the ride-sharing service is a prime example of the neoliberal economic model at work. Uber’s brand of tech sector neoliberalism relies on deregulation, an absence of government oversight and a healthy amount of political spending to sway the rules in their favor. By adhering to the narrative of innovation, efficiency and market disruption, for the good of the people, powerful tech companies can avoid discussing other topics: how their services compromise existing industries, fair labor practices, the security of passengers and drivers. Here are five ways that Uber is just like any other exploitative capitalist enterprise,

1) Regulation Free

Uber and other ride-sharing services have fought for an astonishing lack of regulation in most of the cities where they operate. Unlike traditional taxi drivers, Uber operators don’t have to file for licenses, adhere to fixed rate standards, or comply with other …read more

Source: ALTERNET