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The Spirit of Independence: How Culture Drives Politics

July 2, 2014 in Blogs

By Robin Koerner

To a first approximation, American political history before the 18th century is British political history. As most American schoolchildren know, in the 17th century, John Locke crystallized the idea that human law should reflect Natural Law, but the idea that Law must serve the well-being of the people on whom it is imposed goes back at least to the Anglo-Saxons.

Since tyranny must shape to itself both the law and the political institutions of its day, it stands to reason that when a governing elite has gone too far in abusing its power, the fight back for liberty by the people at large does not start directly in the political realm or in legislation, itself.

Throughout history, changing a country’s politics and statutes has been the final goal of forceful popular attempts to contain power, but mass-refusal to accept political abuses has always begun in the culture. “Culture” is a vague term so let us define it as the sum of actions of the citizens of a country, the attitudes that drive their responses to events, their expectations of what they may do and the memories of what they, and perhaps their ancestors, have always done.

The founding of the United States is just one example of this process. In 1776 (American Independence), as in 1689 (the original Bill of Rights), 1628 (Petition of Right), 1215 (Magna Carta), and even 1014 (Anglo-Saxon Charter), freedoms that citizens already believed they had were codified and concretized to shape political institutions. And in each case, this shaping of political entities with the purpose of increasing or protecting the rights of free individuals that were already recognized in the culture has been invariably triggered by the over-reach of the country’s governing elite (or, at least, part of it).

Seen in this light, the American Revolution was not so much an American Revolution as a British evolution – another turn in the ratchet of Anglo political liberty, driven by the kind of cultural conservatism that all liberals should celebrate.

As William Pitt the Elder, statesman and former British prime minister, said as he spoke against the Stamp Act in the year of the American founding.

I rejoice that America has resisted. Three million people so dead to all feelings of liberty as voluntarily to submit to be slaves would have been …read more

Source: ROBIN KOERNER BLOG

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The Intellectuals’ Hostility to the Market Economy

July 2, 2014 in Economics

By Matt McCaffrey

Further to Joe Salerno’s post on “Hayek and the Intellectuals,” it’s worth adding that Hayek was not alone in thinking of the intellectual class as naturally hostile to the market economy. In particular, there are many similarities between Hayek’s ideas and those found in Schumpeter’s “Sociology of the Intellectuals.”

Schumpeter famously argued in Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy (1942; three years before Hayek’s essay) that the entrepreneurial economy creates wealth and improves social conditions to such an extent that it eventually undermines itself and is replaced with socialism. Entrepreneurs are so successful that people take them for granted; in fact, people resent entrepreneurship and innovation, because the constant transformation of the economy gives them feelings of instability and uncertainty.

[T]he ever-rising standards of life and particularly the leisure that modern capitalism provides for the fully employed workman…well, there is no need for me to finish the sentence or to elaborate one of the truest, oldest and most stodgy of all arguments which unfortunately is but too true. Secular improvement that is taken for granted and coupled with individual insecurity that is acutely resented is of course the best recipe for breeding social unrest.

However, this “hostility” to the market economy is insufficient to produce a full-blown transition to socialism. In addition, “For [a revolutionary] atmosphere to develop it is necessary that there be groups to whose interest it is to work up and organize resentment, to nurse it, to voice it and to lead it.” Enter the intellectuals.

The intellectuals are a paradoxical product of the market economy, because “unlike any other type of society, capitalism inevitably and by virtue of the very logic of its civilization creates, educates and subsidizes a vested interest in social unrest.” Like Hayek, Schumpeter described intellectuals broadly as “people who wield the power of the spoken and the written word.” More narrowly, “one of the touches that distinguish them from other people who do the same is the absence of direct responsibility for practical affairs.” That is, intellectuals do not participate in the market (at least not in the areas they write about), and do not generally rely on satisfying consumers to earn a living. Add to this their naturally critical attitude—which Schumpeter argues is the product of the essential rationality of the market economy—and it is easy to see why intellectuals would be hostile to the market.

In other words, intellectuals are often out …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Repression No Cure for Challenge of Political Islam

July 2, 2014 in Economics

By Dalibor Rohac

Dalibor Rohac

The events in Iraq, where the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has been mounting an offensive against the ill-prepared Iraqi army, raises important questions about political Islam and about the response to it by both Middle Eastern governments and the West.

After the attacks of September 11, 2001, the increased perception of political Islam as a major security threat led Western governments to boost support to authoritarian regimes in the Middle East as long as they were secular and therefore seen as superior to their theocratic alternatives. When the Egyptian military brought down President Mohamed Morsy of the Muslim Brotherhood in July 2013, there was a sense of relief among many observers in Washington.

We need a careful and dispassionate analysis of why Islamic political organizations succeed in some Middle Eastern countries.”

Some of them may be willing to give Egypt’s current military regime a pass even after its judiciary convicted three Al-Jazeera journalists for seven years for “aiding terrorists” — not to mention recently upholding death sentences for 183 Muslim Brotherhood supporters, who allegedly organized an attack on a Cairo police station last year. Yet the repression of Islamic political movements, such as the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, often backfires, with consequences that could be as dire as the current bloodbath in Iraq.

Instead of rushing to alarmist conclusions, we need a careful and dispassionate analysis of why Islamic political organizations succeed in some Middle Eastern countries. Somewhat surprisingly, this may have little to do with religion. In survey data from Muslim-majority countries, religious beliefs seem to be only weakly related to voting patterns or opinions about specific policy issues. Instead, the appeal of Islamists lies in the credibility with which they can make electoral promises, which itself has to do with their history and organization.

Before the coup, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood was the prime example of the success of Islamic politics in the Middle East and North Africa. The group was originally founded in 1928, and over time created a loose network of Islamic parties throughout the region and a widely emulated model of organization combining political and religious activism with the provision of social services.

Secular Arab regimes typically allowed the Brotherhood and similar groups to run hospitals and schools and to provide assistance to the poor. In 2006, the Brotherhood was running hospitals and schools in every governorate in Egypt. Islamists …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Sen. Rand Paul Defends Israel on Fox's Hannity with Eric Bolling – July 2, 2014

July 2, 2014 in Politics & Elections

…read more

Source: RAND PAUL

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Breitbart Op-Ed: The USA is Currently a Beacon for Illegal Immigration

July 2, 2014 in Politics & Elections

I voted no on the Gang of Eight’s recent immigration reform bill for one reason-it did not include border security first.

Any immigration reform plan that does not include border security is not real reform, precisely because any plan that does not increase security insures that we will revisit this problem again in the future.

Right now we have a situation where people are rushing to our southern border because our current policy makes us a beacon for illegal immigration. Our hearts go out to these people, many of whom just want what’s best for themselves and their families.

President Obama now threatens to enact immigration reform by executive fiat. He says he’s got his phone and his pen and he will use them. If he takes his royal pen in hand and beckons the world to come across our borders without adequate border security, it will be a disaster for the country, and it will be the death knell for any meaningful bipartisan immigration reform.

Thanks to our current system, we have no way to properly accommodate people who want to come to this country to work. This is a failure of Washington, not the average American and certainly not would-be immigrants.

Our problem now is that we have 12 million illegal immigrants in this country. If steps are not taken to secure our border, 12 million more will come illegally. This is unacceptable. Any plan that encourages more illegal immigration is no plan at all.

But we also shouldn’t leave 12 million people in limbo.

My ‘Trust But Verify Act’ would’ve made immigration reform possible only once Congress voted on the efficiency of our border security every year for five years, completed a double-layered border fence, and created two new national security visa screening programs.

My plan would have also prevented the Obama Administration from trying to create national ID cards. America has never been a ‘papers please’ country, and it never should be. Illegal immigration or any other issue should never trump our personal privacy rights and other individual liberties that have always made our country one of the freest on earth.

My plan would have attached restrictions to federal welfare and federal motor voter money to require states to actively discover and prevent guest workers from receiving welfare or voting.

My amendment would have given us substantive immigration reform that conservative Republicans could’ve also agreed to …read more

Source: RAND PAUL

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What's Wrong with the Neoconservative Case for the Ex-Im Bank

July 2, 2014 in Economics

By Justin Logan

Justin Logan

As befits a guy who tries to sell prudence and restraint to the American foreign policy elite, I appreciate people who are willing to make unpopular arguments. So it’s with some irony that I approach AEI scholar Tom Donnelly’s case for expanding the Ex-Im Bank.

Donnelly is swimming upstream politically on the Right, siding with President Obama against the Tea Party, but he tries to reframe the debate not as being about the worst sort of crony capitalism, but rather about American foreign policy. Ruing the “green eyeshade” view of the Bank, Donnelly replies to the charge of crony capitalism by shrugging, “so what?” referring obliquely to its “strategic value.” For him, the Ex-Im Bank is all that’s standing between the world we live in today, and a world in which the United Arab Emirates has to purchase Boeing airplanes at market rates.

The Ex-Im debate is a smaller analog for the grand strategy debate the country needs.”

To which the casual reader might respond, “huh?” For Donnelly, there are three sorts of states: “allies, adversaries, and clients.” Client states like the UAE need to be bribed, in this case, with cheap loans from Ex-Im, in order to get them to help the United States pursue its foreign policy goals. So let’s look at what the options for the UAE would be if we stopped using U.S. taxpayer dollars to subsidize their aircraft purchases. First, they would get the private financing they needed to buy aircraft, which Donnelly concedes they “certainly” can afford. Then…well, it’s not clear what happens differently.

Donnelly vaguely refers to the capture of an al Qaeda cell in Abu Dhabi and Dubai’s status as a “critical ‘node,’” by which he presumably means its use for American spying on Iran, but it’s not clear why any of that would change if we do away with Ex-Im and the welfare it lavishes on the wealthy, Sharia-law practicing autocrats of the UAE.

Donnelly’s way of thinking is pandemic across the American foreign policy community. From Poland to Japan to the UAE, our foreign policy elites warn that our allies, partners, friends, and clients have options and may go elsewhere if we don’t bribe them to stay attached to us. And when they do, bad things will happen to us.

But this gets the equation exactly backwards. Every American ally needs us far more than we need them. Failing …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Economists Across the Political Spectrum Agree . . .

July 2, 2014 in Economics

By Joseph Salerno

“War Is Bad for the Economy.”  Of course, this is no surprise to those familiar with basic economics–but it may come as a surprise to Tyler Cowen and Paul Krugman, NYT columnists and “public intellectuals,” who have argued (here and here) that “major wars” promote economic stability and prosperity.

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Why the Mainstream Fails to Understand Recessions

July 2, 2014 in Economics

By Mises Updates

6797

Mises Daily Wednesday by Hal Snarr.

Mainstream economists often still maintain that nobody predicted the 2008 financial crisis and recession. Many Austrians saw it coming, of course, and thanks to the work of Roger Garrison and other Austrians, we also better understand the details of how booms and busts work.

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Suddenly More Americanized Supreme Court Has Long Way Ahead to Do More

July 2, 2014 in Economics

By Nat Hentoff

Nat Hentoff

As rarely as I celebrate decisions of the Roberts Supreme Court, I certainly agree with its unanimous ruling last week that protects the privacy rights of cellphone users from government searches without due process. I also agree with last week’s unanimous decision that ends the no-free-speech buffer zones on public streets alongside abortion clinics, which penalized the speaking presence of pro-lifers (“The Court’s Powerful New Consensus,” Neal K. Katyal, The New York Times, June 27).

But, as happens almost daily in his press releases and analyses, Rutherford Institute founder John Whitehead keeps reminding us of brazen Supreme Court violations of the Constitution during this and past administrations.

In a June 23 commentary, this constitutional lawyer performed a needed public service and hopefully awakened much of the media.

Did you know that “police officers can stop cars based only on ‘anonymous’ tips”?

Whitehead continues: “In a 5-4 ruling in Navarette v. California (2014), the court declared that police officers can, under the guise of ‘reasonable suspicion,’ stop cars and question drivers based solely on anonymous tips, no matter how dubious, and whether or not they themselves witnessed any troubling behavior.

“This ruling came on the heels of a ruling by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in U.S. v. Westhoven that driving too carefully, with a rigid posture, taking a scenic route and having acne are sufficient reasons for a police officer to suspect you of doing something illegal, detain you, search your car and arrest you — even if you’ve done nothing illegal to warrant the stop in the first place” (“The U.S. Supreme Court Is Marching in Lockstep with the Police State,” John Whitehead, rutherford.org, June 23).

This is the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Whitehead goes on to explain another startling contempt of the Constitution, which the great majority of our students are not learning about in school: “Police can break into homes without a warrant, even if it’s the wrong home. In an 8-1 ruling in Kentucky v. King (2011), the Supreme Court placed their trust in the discretion of police officers, rather than in the dictates of the Constitution, when they gave police greater leeway to break into homes or apartments without a warrant.

“Despite the fact that the police in question ended up pursuing the wrong suspect, invaded the wrong apartment and violated just about every tenet that stands between us and a police state, the court …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Congress Wants to Double Down on VA Failures

July 2, 2014 in Economics

By Michael D. Tanner

Michael D. Tanner

Bipartisanship has broken out in Washington. This isn’t usually a good sign.

Faced with the ongoing scandal in the VA health-care system, Democrats and Republicans have joined together to rush through legislation in near-record time.

The Senate passed legislation, sponsored by Bernie Sanders and John McCain, in early June — just two months (or a blink in D.C. terms) — and the House has followed suit. The margins in both chambers were overwhelming: 93–3 in the Senate, and 421–0 in the House. A conference committee will now work out the differences between the two bills.

The legislation sounds great: bipartisan, about veterans, reacting to a scandal that Americans are demanding be addressed. It’s overwhelmingly popular. What could possibly go wrong?

Bipartisanship doesn’t mean good legislation; it often means overspending.”

Pretty much everything.

First, neither the House nor the Senate bill would fundamentally change the way that government provides health care to our veterans. The VA would continue to operate one of the world’s largest health-care systems, building and owning hospitals, hiring doctors, and providing care directly to millions of veterans — regardless, in many cases, of whether or not their ailments are service-related.

Of course, it may well be that some traumatic combat injuries require specialized treatment that is not widely available outside the VA system. If so, the VA may have to continue providing such care. But the vast majority of injuries and illnesses, even combat-connected ones, can be treated elsewhere.

Both the House and the Senate bills appear to recognize this, allowing veterans to seek outside health care at VA expense if they experience long wait times for appointments or if they live more than 40 miles from a VA hospital or clinic. But both bills leave the ultimate decision about which veterans can go outside the VA system to VA administrators. Thus, the same bureaucrats responsible for the current waiting lists and other problems will be in charge of deciding when and if veterans should be given a choice. Isn’t that a bit like letting the fox guard the henhouse?

What the bill will do is spend lots of money. The initial three-year pilot program allowing veterans to seek care in non-VA facilities in the Senate bill would cost $35 billion, according to the CBO. Among other things, the bill would open 26 new clinics in 18 states, as well as hire additional VA doctors and nurses. The outpatient-treatment …read more

Source: OP-EDS