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Test Your Freedom Summer Knowledge

June 24, 2014 in History

June 24, 2014 12:21 p.m.

PBS Black Culture Connection created a quiz about Freedom Summer. How much do you know about that historic summer in 1964?

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Sen. Paul Speaks in Defense of Women and Christians Around the World

June 24, 2014 in Politics & Elections

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sen. Rand Paul today offered remarks at the Senate Foreign Relations Human Rights Subcommittee Hearing regarding the global situation of violence against women. A transcript and clip of Sen. Paul’s remarks can be found below.


The great Pakistani poet, Parveen Shakir, wrote:

‘They insist upon evaluating the firefly in daylight. The children of our age have grown clever.’

Malala Yousufzai never met the great Urdu poet Parveen Shakir. She could not have, as their lives missed each other by several years, with Shakir’s life cut short in an accident in 1994.

But Malala’s courage, vibrancy and wit would have made Shakir proud. It would have made her proud that a young woman was standing up so strongly. It would have made her smile that the young woman is only 15 years old.

Unfortunately, now, because of the actions of extremists in the Pakistani Taliban, young women must fight for the right to simply attend school.

Malala, in her young life, has insisted on exposing the firefly to daylight. Her ‘crime,’ as seen by the Taliban, is to believe in enlightenment, to believe that out of the darkness tolerance can glow and overpower ignorance.

Shakir would have been both pleased by Malala’s actions and saddened that they were necessary. You see, Shakir was highly educated in the pre-Taliban Pakistan, earning two undergraduate degrees, two Masters’ and a Ph.D. from the University at Karachi in Pakistan. She taught and published poetry to widespread acclaim.
Contrast this with the battle Malala has led in the Western provinces of Pakistan against the Taliban, whose dictates included that girls should not be educated formally at all.

Malala knew that if the Taliban won, there could never be another Perveen Shakir to come out of Pakistan. Nor could there be another Benazir Bhutto. That is why she fought, and why we should all be paying attention right now to struggles such as hers.

Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian, sits on death row for blasphemy. She says it all began when she drew water from a Muslim well. As she was filling her bowl with water, a crowd formed chanting, ‘Death! Death to the Christian!’

She pleaded for her life.
She was pelted with stones, punched in the face and dragged through the streets. The local Imam finally intervened only to say, …read more


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GO: J.M. Keynes Versus J.-B. Say

June 24, 2014 in Economics

By Steve H. Hanke


Steve H. Hanke

In late April of this year, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) at the U.S. Department of Commerce announced that it would start reporting a new data series as part of the U.S. national income accounts. In addition to gross domestic product (GDP), the BEA will start reporting gross output (GO). This announcement went virtually unnoticed and unreported — an unfortunate, but not uncommon, oversight on the part of the financial press. Yes, GO represents a significant breakthrough.

A brief review of some history of economic thought will show just why GO is a big deal. The Classical School of economics prevailed roughly from Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations time (1776) to the mid-19th century. It focused on the supply side of the economy. Production was the wellspring of prosperity.

Reporting gross output (GO) is a big deal.”

The French economist J.-B. Say (1767-1832) was a highly regarded member of the Classical School. To this day, he is best known for Say’s Law of markets. In the popular lexicon — courtesy of John Maynard Keynes — this law simply states that “supply creates its own demand.” But, according to Steven Kates, one of the world’s leading experts on Say, Keynes’ rendition of Say’s Law distorts its true meaning and leaves its main message on the cutting room floor.

Say’s message was clear: a demand failure could not cause an economic slump. This message was accepted by virtually every major economist, prior to the publication of Keynes’ General Theory in 1936. So, before the General Theory, even though most economists thought business cycles were in the cards, demand failure was not listed as one of the causes of an economic downturn.

All this was overturned by Keynes. Kates argues convincingly that Keynes had to set Say up as a sort of straw man so that he could remove Say’s ideas from the economists’ discourse and the public’s thinking. Keynes had to do this because his entire theory was based on the analysis of demand failure, and his prescription for putting life back into aggregate demand — namely, a fiscal stimulus (read: lower taxes and/or higher government spending).

Keynes was wildly successful. With the publication of the General Theory, the supply side of the economy almost entirely vanished. It was replaced by aggregate demand, which was faithfully reported in the national income accounts. In consequence, aggregate demand has dominated economic discourse …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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End QE and Pop the Stock Bubble

June 24, 2014 in Economics

By David Howden

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Writing in the Financial Times this weekend, John Authers is concerned with the lack of volatility in the stock market.

More remarkable than the market’s level has been its consistency. The US not seen a correction (a top-to-bottom fall of 10 percent or more) since the turbulence in the summer of 2011 that followed the decision by Standard & Poor’s to downgrade US sovereign debt from triple A…. This is strange. Markets seldom go up in a straight line like this. Progress is made bumpily, with rallies interrupted by sharp selloffs.

Since the Fed started its QE programs the stock market has been pretty buoyant. This is especially true with the latest and ongoing round known as QE3, which covers most of the period Authers is concerned with.

Indeed, the upward trajectory in the stock market follows the Fed’s quantitative easing programs almost perfectly. With the recovery on Main Street still sluggish, the Fed can at least claim that it has given Wall Street some relief.

Indeed, the relationship between the M1 money stock and the Dow has been about as good as any statistician could hope for upon first glance.

Of course, with the Fed starting to taper its easing program there is a fear that the luck of the stock market might run out. Of course with the Fed still committed to increasing the money supply by $65 bn. a month, it doesn’t look like Wall Street’s stimulus package is over quite yet.

None of this bodes well for the rest of us.

A stock market artificially propped up by the Fed’s loose money policies is sure to end badly. Ending the seemingly endless credit creation and popping this bubble is the lesser of two evils.

(Originally posted at Mises Canada)

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The Iraq War Was a Bipartisan Disaster

June 24, 2014 in Economics

By Gene Healy

Gene Healy

“Sorry” seems to be the hardest word for neoconservatives who championed the Iraq War, but sometimes they manage to squeeze it out.

Here, for instance, is former Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen in Wednesday’s Washington Post: “Sorry, but this is a mess of President Obama’s making.”

It’s a common refrain among unrepentant hawks. In a piece titled “What Obama Has Wrought in Iraq,” Thiessen’s American Enterprise Institute colleague Danielle Pletka insists that “when the United States fled Iraq in 2011, the country was stable, reasonably integrated, and on the road to new prosperity and unprecedented freedom.”

We tend to think of the Iraq War as a neoconservative project, and with good reason. But they weren’t alone.”

“We had it won,” declares Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. Thanks to the 2007 troop surge, Obama had inherited “a strong Iraq,” only to squander it rushing to the exits.

Watching the ongoing collapse of the Iraqi state not three years later, you have to wonder just how “strong” and stable it could have been in the first place. We’ve spent $25 billion over the last decade building up the Iraqi security forces, only to get an updated version of the old gibe about the South Vietnamese Army: “want to buy some ISF rifles? Never been fired and only dropped once!”

But Iraq wasn’t “lost” in 2011, when Obama failed to broker a deal that would let U.S. troops stay. Iraq was a losing proposition from the start.

In April 2003, as U.S. forces rolled into Baghdad, the Carnegie Endowment’s Minxin Pei and Sara Kasper warned that “historically, nation-building attempts by outside powers are notable mainly for their bitter disappointments, not their triumphs.” Democratization-at-gunpoint is nearly always a fool’s errand, and especially foolish in a socially fractured basket case like the Iraq of 2003.

In 14 cases of nation-building in underdeveloped societies, Pei and Kaplan noted, the United States achieved its aims only in tiny Panama and Grenada: “a success rate of just 14 percent.” Moreover, they cautioned, “ethnically fragmented countries, such as Iraq, pose extraordinary challenges to nation builders because, lacking a common national identity, various ethnic groups … tend to seize the rare opportunity of outsiders’ intervention to seek complete independence or gain more power. This can trigger national disintegration or a backlash from other ethnic groups, with the outside powers caught in the middle.”

Indeed, “despite what interveners hope,” writes George Washington University’s Alexander B. …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Another Economist’s Anti-Economics

June 24, 2014 in Economics

By Per Bylund

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Ha-Joon Chang, development economist at Cambridge University, has published a new book: Economics: The User’s Guide. The Huffington Post publishes a selected excerpt that makes for utterly terrifying reading. Not only does this book “on economics” appear to be written as some form of dismissive narrative (?), but it makes assertions and produces stacks of baseless or misleading statements about economics that supposedly comprise “arguments.” And, to top it off, Chang claims open-mindedness in his narrow-minded “takedown” of economics.

I couldn’t resist going through the statements in the HuffPo excerpt one by one and put light on this shady reasoning. Chang seems happily ignorant of what economic analysis entails. He never produces an argument in the excerpt; the only thing he accomplishes is to advertise how limited his understanding of the field he represents must be.

From my commentary, Ha-Joon Chang, Yet Another Economics Skeptic:

At first glance, this may seem like a worthy criticism – look, economics is supposed to be value-free, but not even its supposed value-free methods are value-free. But it really just amounts to a dishonest application without much relevance even to neoclassical economists. As readers of this blog know all too well, neoclassical economists tend to use “models” based on rather absurd and highly simplified assumptions such as “perfect information.” Well, they also commonly assume “perfect competition,” but Chang somehow misses this point. Instead, he assumes that the use of the Pareto criterion in abstract models under such assumptions is applied directly and thoughtlessly on empirical analyses.

Granted, if we take the Pareto criterion without thinking about it and apply it on an empirical situation akin to the ones we find in the developing world, then it appears rather outrageous. There’s nothing “natural” or equal or just with the starting point, which means the Pareto criterion only cements this situation – where radical change may be more just. In this sense, one can only agree with Chang. Except, of course, for the fact that economists don’t use the Pareto criterion inductively; they use it deductively, which in fact means that it is a criterion only from a starting point that is accepted as “untainted” by politics, privilege, etc.

More here: Ha-Joon Chang, Yet Another Economics Skeptic

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