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The Economics of Offensive Trademarks

June 26, 2014 in Economics

By Randall Holcombe

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Reflecting on the Patent and Trademark Office’s decision to rescind protection of the Washington Redskins’ name, whether some people view a trademark as offensive should not be a criterion for determining whether it should be protected.

If a large number of people are offended by a trademark, then it will be a liability rather than an asset to whomever uses it, and economic forces will limit its use. People of a certain vintage will recall Sambo’s Restaurants, which were forced into a name change (and perhaps bankruptcy) because people were offended by the name.

The purpose of a trademark is to identify a firm’s products. If people like the firm and its products, the trademark will attract customers. If people are offended by the firm and its products, the trademark will alert customers to avoid that firm. The market system works to weed out offensive trademarks, and the U.S. government should not be in the business of determining whether trademarks are offensive.

Ironically, if Redskins really is an offensive term, then denying the team trademark protection will allow others to use the term, and the offensive term could see even more widespread use.

But while I’m discussing the subject, I will admit to being a bit sensitive to the issue myself, because my own heritage is being demeaned by being used as a team mascot by a different team.

I’ve lived in the South most of my life, and am proud to be on the faculty at Florida State University (home of the Seminoles), but (and I rarely share this bit of my background with others), I was born in the North, in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Yes, I am a Yankee. I didn’t have any say in the matter; I was born a Yankee. But I admit to being sensitive to this part of my background, and find it demeaning to have a sports team mocking my heritage.

If the Redskins lose their trademark protection, the Yankees should too.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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The Rise of a Right-wing Quack: Faux Historian David Barton's Shocking New Influence

June 26, 2014 in Blogs

By Heather Digby Parton, Salon

The ascent of Glenn Beck's favorite “historian” is terrifying.


Back when Glenn Beck was one of the most admired men in America and Fox News’ No. 1 celebrity, he introduced to the nation at large a “historian,” well known among the Christian right, by the name of David Barton, who claims to have documentary evidence that the founders based the Constitution explicitly on the Bible. Beck often referred to a group known as the “black-robed regiment,” which was composed of priests and clergy who were revolutionary sympathizers, comparing today’s conservative preachers to what he implied were clergymen-soldiers in the secular liberal war on the Constitution.

Beck called upon David Barton to head what he called Beck University, an online course for those who wanted to educate themselves in the Beck school of thought. Let’s just say it wasn’t the curriculum you’d find at most schools of higher learning.   (You can hear one of David Barton’s “lectures” here, where he tells the Beck U students that American exceptionalism springs from its Christian theocratic principles.)

Barton quickly became the toast of Wingnuttia. He was invited to participate in Tea Party events all over the country and even held a constitutional seminar for the 2010 incoming freshman class at the invitation of congresswoman Michele Bachmann.  The New York Times featured him in a glowing profile that only mentioned in passing that his alleged scholarship was, shall we say, controversial:

[M]any professional historians dismiss Mr. Barton, whose academic degree is in Christian education from Oral Roberts University, as a biased amateur who cherry-picks quotes from history and the Bible.

“The problem with David Barton is that there’s a lot of truth in what he says,” said Derek H. Davis, director of church-state studies at Baylor University, a Baptist institution in Waco, Tex. “But the end product is a lot of distortions, half-truths and twisted history.”

That’s a very generous way of putting it. Unfortunately, his notoriety also brought new scrutiny to his alleged scholarship and that didn’t work out too well as you might imagine. Here’s just one example of his so-called scholarship being debunked …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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VIRAL VIDEO: If Black People Said the Kinds of Things that White People Do

June 26, 2014 in Blogs

By Janet Allon, AlterNet

'Can I touch your hair?'


This short hilarious video produced by Buzzfeed Yellow is something you might have to view more than once, if you're white. Black viewers will most likely be nodding knowlingly or laughing hysterically.

In short, if you recognize yourself in any of these comments, stop. Just stop it right now.

WATCH:

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Source: ALTERNET

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Jeff Deist Explains How The Fed Distorts Everything

June 26, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

Jeff Deist discusses how the Fed creates a perilous landscape in which there is no honest pricing—everything has been distorted—even at the consumer level.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Sen. Paul: Supreme Court Right in Cell Phone Case

June 26, 2014 in Politics & Elections

Sen. Rand Paul issued the following statement in response to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Wednesday that requires government to obtain a warrant to search a cell phone: “The Supreme Court was absolutely right to recognize how invasive searches are of people’s digital lives and that the Fourth Amendment protects Americans from this type of activity by our government,” said Sen. Paul. “This decision has a direct bearing on what the NSA is doing. As our technology evolves, our Constitution endures, and I will continue to fight for these vital civil liberties.” …read more

Source: RAND PAUL

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4 Ways Your Constitutional Right to Privacy Has Been Gutted Since 9/11

June 26, 2014 in Blogs

By Peter Van Buren, TomDispatch

The Fourth Amendment no longer seems to apply.


To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from TomDispatch.com here.

Here’s a bit of history from another America: the Bill of Rights was designed to protect the people from their government. If the First Amendment’s right to speak out publicly was the people's wall of security, then the Fourth Amendment’s right to privacy was its buttress. It was once thought that the government should neither be able to stop citizens from speaking nor peer into their lives. Think of that as the essence of the Constitutional era that ended when those towers came down on September 11, 2001. Consider how privacy worked before 9/11 and how it works now in Post-Constitutional America.

The Fourth Amendment

A response to British King George’s excessive invasions of privacy in colonial America, the Fourth Amendment pulls no punches: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

In Post-Constitutional America, the government might as well have taken scissors to the original copy of the Constitution stored in the National Archives, then crumpled up the Fourth Amendment and tossed it in the garbage can. The NSA revelations of Edward Snowden are, in that sense, not just a shock to the conscience but to the Fourth Amendment itself: our government spies on us. All of us. Without suspicion. Without warrants. Without probable cause. Without restraint. This would qualify as “unreasonable” in our old constitutional world, but no more.

Here, then, are four ways that, in the name of American “security” and according to our government, the Fourth Amendment no longer really applies to our lives.

The Constitutional Borderline

Begin at America's borders. Most people believe they are “in” the United States as soon as they step off an international flight and are thus fully covered by the …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Supreme Court Throws Out Abortion Clinic Sidewalk Buffer Zones, Saying Free Speech Includes Bullying Women

June 26, 2014 in Blogs

By Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet

Chief Justice John Roberts writes another opinion for the religious right.


In a dramatic blow to reproductive rights, the Supreme Court has ruled that sidewalk buffer zones outside clinics intended to keep protesters from verbally assulting women seeking abortion services are unconstitutional and violate the protesters' free speech.

The ruling, McCullen vs.Coakley, overturns a 2000 Massachusetts law that imposed a 35-foot protest-free zone on “the public way or sidewalk” near the entrance to reproductive health facilities to ensure that women seeking abortions would not be verbally hounded by anti-abortion activists—or even be targeted for sidewalk counseling not to have a planned abortion.

The decision, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, found the sidewalk restrictions were too broad and violated the First Amendment.

“In short, traditional public fora are areas that have historically been open to the public for speech activities. Thus, even though the Act [buffer zone law] says nothing about speech on its face, there is no doubt—and respondents do not dis­pute—that it restricts access to traditional public fora and is therefore subject to First Amendment scrutiny,” he wrote. “Consistent with the traditionally open character of public streets and sidewalks, we have held that the gov­ernment’s ability to restrict speech in such locations is very limited.”

The case centered around three Planned Parenthood clinics in the Boston area where anti-abortion protesters have spent years trying to discourage and intimidate women from seeking abortions. Roberts distinguished between more aggressive protesters and a group of elderly women who want to offer “comfort” to women entering the clinics—and talk them out of abortions. The lead plaintiff was such an elderly woman. The Chief Justice wrote:

“Some of the individuals who stand outside Massachu­setts abortion clinics are fairly described as protestors, who express their moral or religious opposition to abortion through signs and chants or, in some cases, more aggres­sive methods such as face-to-face confrontation. Petition­ers take a different tack. They attempt to engage women approaching the clinics in what they call “sidewalk coun­seling,” which involves offering information about alterna­tives to abortion and help pursuing those options.”

Roberts said that Massachusetts’ buffer zone had been …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Productivity Declines, Fewer Startups, and Regime Uncertainty

June 26, 2014 in Economics

By John P. Cochran

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In today’s Wall Street Journal, Edward C. Prescott and Lee E. Ohanian provide some important commentary on the causes of continuing slow recovery, the Bush-Obama-Fed Great Stagnation. Their conclusion:

Surveys of small-business owners clearly indicate that changes in economic policy are required to reverse this trend. Chamber of Commerce surveys show that roughly 80% of small-business owners believe that the U.S. economy is on the wrong track and that Washington is a major problem. Surveys by John Dearie and Courtney Gerduldig, authors of “Where the Jobs Are: Entrepreneurship and the Soul of the American Economy” (2013), show that entrepreneurs report being hamstrung by difficulties in finding skilled workers, by a complex tax code that penalizes small business, by regulations that raise the costs of doing business, and by difficulties in obtaining financing that have worsened since 2008.

There are clear solutions to these problems. Immigration reform that increases the pool of skilled workers and potential new entrepreneurs. Tax reform that reduces and equalizes marginal tax rates on capital income, including reducing the corporate income tax, which currently exceeds 40% in some states. Reforming Dodd-Frank to make it easier and cheaper for small business to obtain loans. Reducing the regulatory burden on all businesses.

In the absence of these reforms, there is little reason to believe that the depressed rate of new business creation will reverse itself. And if the trend is not reversed, then the current shortfall of $1 trillion per year in lost output due to lost productivity will continue.

Conspicuously absent from the list of culprits─The Federal Reserve’s zero interest rate policy (ZIRP) and quantitative easing. Salerno (A Reformulation of Austrian Business Cycle Theory in Light of the Financial Crisis, p. 38) explains:

The rise in the natural interest rate that overcomes the pandemic demoralization among capitalists and entrepreneurs and sparks the recovery is reflected in the credit markets. For recovery to begin again, there needs to be a steep rise in the “real,” or inflation-adjusted, interest rate observed in financial markets. High interest rates do not stifle the recovery but are the sure sign that the readjustment of relative prices required to realign the production structure with economic reality is proceeding apace. The mislabeled “secondary deflation,” whether or not it is accompanied by an incidental monetary contraction, is thus an integral part of the adjustment process. It is the prerequisite for the renewal of entrepreneurial boldness and the …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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MUST WATCH VIDEO: Daily Show Takes on the Absurd Leniency Colleges Show to Sexual Assaulters

June 26, 2014 in Blogs

By Janet Allon, AlterNet

“Expelled upon graduation? Isn't that graduation?”


Jon Stewart and his team tackled the subject of college sexual assault in Wednesday's show, opening with a case at James Madison University, where 3 frat brothers tore off a girl's bathing suit top and then circulated the video.

With ironclad video proof, must have been an open and shut case resulting in a stiff punishment, the comedian surmised.

Yeupp. The three perps were expelled upon graduation.

Wait, Stewart asks, “Isn't that just graduation?”

Surely other schools have taken the problem far more seriously. Maybe some, but, then again, 55 universities are under investigation for mishandling sexual assault allegations, and punishment has been pretty lax across the board. Some perpetrators have been suspended for a month or a semester.

“You know what the rest of us call taking 30 days off and the chance to read a book?” Stewart says. “A vacation!”

Jordan Klepper and Jessica Williams then gave some helpful tips to their respective peers on steering clear of trouble at college”

“Don't pass out on the couch, someone might draw a dick on your face,” Klepper advised the bros.

“Don't pass out on the couch, someone might put his dick on your face,” Williams told the gals.

It gets worse. Watch:

 

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Source: ALTERNET

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China's Participation in RIMPAC Exercise: Model for Future Cooperation?

June 26, 2014 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

The Rim of the Pacific Exercise has begun in waters near Hawaii. For the first time, China is joining the drills. That’s a small but positive step for integrating Beijing into more international institutions.

RIMPAC started in 1971 with the U.S., Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and United Kingdom. Now held every two years, the exercise was broadened to include ships from allied and friendly nations. This year there are 23 participants, including the original nations as well as France, India, Indonesia, and South Korea.

It will be up to Beijing, its Pacific neighbors, and the U.S. to find other opportunities to further invest the PRC in the existing geopolitical order.”

And the People’s Republic of China. The PRC has sent four ships, a destroyer, hospital ship, missile frigate, and oiler. China’s Defense ministry explained that the maneuvers are “an important mission of military diplomacy” and a means to strengthen “friendly relations with countries of the South Pacific through public diplomacy.”

Beijing’s participation comes at a time of significant regional tension. Most of which is maritime. The PRC’s more aggressive stance in asserting its territorial claims in the South China Sea and Sea of Japan have led to threatening confrontations with Japan, the Philippines, and Vietnam. It is widely believed that China’s military has been particularly vocal internally in pressing more extreme demands on the PRC’s neighbors. 

RIMPAC offers an opportunity to create at least some countervailing pressure in favor of a less threatening regional naval environment. At the political level inviting Beijing to participate demonstrates respect for China’s increased military power and international role.  Doing so also counters the charge that Washington is seeking to isolate and contain the PRC.

Moreover, inclusion hints at the benefits for Beijing of a civil if not necessarily friendly relationship with its neighbors as well as America. No doubt, the direct pay-off for China from RIMPAC is small. But to be treated as an equal and regular participant in international affairs is advantageous. Especially since the PRC increasingly is being looked at as a potential adversary, especially by surrounding nations.

Although any great power must be prepared to accept unpopularity when necessary, in general a friendly environment is more conducive to ensuring both peace and prosperity. Better that neighboring states view Chinese ships as potential partners than as likely threats.

Military cooperation also is important. As the PRC grows wealthier and the Chinese military grows more …read more

Source: OP-EDS