You are browsing the archive for 2014 July 17.

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Regime Uncertainty: Washington’s Attack on Property Rights

July 17, 2014 in Economics

By John P. Cochran

Without mentioning it, Michael Boskin provides supports Robert Higgs’s contention the Regime Uncertainty is a, if not the, major contributing factor to the current stagnating economy. Per Higgs, regime uncertainty is a “pervasive lack of confidence among investors in their ability to foresee the extent to which future government actions will alter their private-property rights.” Boskin Boskin in “How Washington Whittles Away Property Rights” makes a similar argument. He states what should be obvious, but is too often neglected in Washington and state capitals, “Property rights and the rule of law are essential foundations for a vibrant economy. When they are threatened, or uncertain, the result is inefficiency, rent-seeking, a larger underground economy and capital flight.”

Boskin then provides ample reasons for why worried investors would eliminate, postpone, or reduce investments necessary for recovery and sustained prosperity creating economic growth such as:

1. A Supreme Court decision which “gutted the Constitution’s “public use” restriction on eminent domain (Kelo v. City of New London, 2005), allowing local governments to take the property of some individuals for the benefit of others, especially private developers.”

2. President Obama’s decision to trample “the legal rights of secured Chrysler bondholders to transfer billions of dollars to unions.”

3. EPA wetlands compliance freezing land use.

4. With the “biggest future threat” coming from unfunded entitlements coupled with massive government spending which places the right to “the fruits of one’s labor” at great risk.

5. “Taxes explicitly designed for redistribution—instead of revenue”… .

He then argues, “Ultimately, behind this and other attacks on property rights is the notion that the government owns all income, leaving to you only what it doesn’t demand.”

I argued elsewhere, even before it was apparent that the stagnation would stretch over 5 years, the correct road to a “free and prosperous commonwealth” would include a return to sound money, competitive markets, and the rule of law with a total level of government spending and tax burden that, as suggested by Gwartney, Holcombe, and Lawson (The Scope of Government and the Wealth of Nations) is no more than 15% of GDP.  Mises would most likely go even lower. As Adam Smith put it many years ago in a 1755 paper,

Little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism, but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice; all the rest being brought about the natural course …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Giant Mystery Hole Appears in Siberia, But No One’s Sure What Caused It

July 17, 2014 in Blogs

By Lindsay Abrams, Salon

Scientists think global warming might have something to do with it.


A 250-foot crater of unknown depth mysteriously appeared in Siberia’s Yamal peninsula,the Siberian Times reports, and scientists today are headed over to investigate.

Researchers have already ruled out a meteorite as a potential cause. Same goes, presumably, for UFOs, as some suggested. A more likely explanation, according to Anna Kurchatova, with the Sub-Arctic Scientific Research Centre, could have to do with the thawing of Siberia’s permafrost, a consequence of global warming. The rapid release of gas previously trapped in the ice, she said, could have combined with sand beneath the surface to form an underground explosion.

University of New South Wales polar scientist Chris Fogwill agrees that global warming is the likely cause. In his opinion, provided by the Sydney Morning Herald, he explained that what we’re looking at might be a collapsed “pingo,” a natural geological phenomenon associated with the melting permafrost. “We’re seeing much more activity in permafrost areas than we’ve seen in the historical past,” he said. “A lot of this relates to this high degree of warming around these high arctic areas which are experiencing some of the highest rates of warming on earth.”

The Siberian Times first posted footage of the hole, set to funky music: watch it here, if you insist. But here’s a better version of the video from the Sydney Morning Herald, which features Fogwill’s comments instead:

 

Related Stories

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Source: ALTERNET

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Report: 23 Americans On Board Malaysia Airlines Jet That Was Shot Down

July 17, 2014 in Blogs

By Cliff Weathers, AlterNet

The plane, carrying 295 souls, went down near the Russia/Ukraine border.


A Malaysia Airlines passenger plane was shot down in Ukraine near the Russian border. An advisor to the Ukraine's Interior Minister confirmed the report at 11:40am. The plane was flying at an altitude of 33,000 feet when it was shot down by a surface-to-air missile, Ukraine officials reported this morning.

A Russian aviation industry source told Reuters news service that the 777 did not enter Russian airspace when it was expected, but crashed in eastern Ukraine.

The Boeing 777 had 280 passengers and 15 crew members, Interfax reported citing an an aviation industry source. It is reported that all passengers and crew have been killed. Twenty-three Americans were reportedly on the flight. 

Political tensions and violence have been high in eastern Ukraine near the Russian border. The Ukranian government is alleging that separatist rebels shot down the plane, and the separatists are blaming Kiev. 

Flight Aware shows the flight had departed from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, the main airport in the Netherlands, for Kuala Lumpur International Airport outside Kuala Lumpur, the most populous city in Malaysia.

Both Ukraine and Russia have the BUK surface-to-air missiles that are believed to have downed the airplane. U.S. officials are saying it is unlikely that Russian-backed Ukrainian separatists have the Cold War-era missile. 

Last night, a Russian plane shot down a Ukrainian jet as it was flying on military operations over east Ukraine, according to a Ukrainian military spokesperson. It was the third Ukrainian plane that had been fired upon in the past week. The plane was downed by a rocket strike, but the pilot ejected safety, according to the Ukrainian government. 

Last Monday a Russian missile allegedly shot down an Ukrainian transporter plane. Two of the eight people on board were killed, according to the Ukrainian government. 

Earlier today, the Russian government reacted strongly to new unilateral sanctions by the U.S., with a spokesman for the country's Foreign Ministry decrying them as “bullying” tactics by the Obama administration. 

“We consider the new round of American sanctions against Russia as a primitive attempt to take vengeance for the fact that events in …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Mises Summer Fellows 2014

July 17, 2014 in Economics

By Mises Updates

fellows2

We’re very happy to have another great group of international young scholars with us this summer. Mises Fellows are graduate students and faculty who come to the Mises Institute during the summer to spend more time working on research in the field of Austrian economics with our senior faculty.

This year’s Fellows:
Front Row: Ludvig Levasseur, Matei Apavaloaei, Peter Klein (faculty), Jeff Deist (Mises President)
Second Row: Joseph Salerno (faculty), Audrey Redford, Jingjing Wang, Arkadiusz Sieron
Third Row: Dante Bayona, Kyle Marchini, Peter St. Onge
Back Row: Jonathan Newman, Mark Thornton (faculty)

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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The Neo-Mercantilist Hysteria Over US Trade Deficits

July 17, 2014 in Economics

By Mises Updates

imports2

Mises Daily Thursday by Joseph Salerno:

Keynesians are fond of overstating both the magnitude of the trade deficit and its alleged negative effects. In spite of the fact that trade deficits are not an actual problem for our economy, Keynesians propose to “fix” the problem by devaluing the dollar.

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Reform Conservatism's Blind Spot: Foreign Policy

July 17, 2014 in Economics

By Justin Logan

Justin Logan

Should conservative foreign policy be reformed? If so, you wouldn’t know it by reading Reform Conservatives.

For those poor souls outside the conservative wonkosphere, a brief explanation may be in order. Reform Conservatives, or “reformocons,” have been designated a conservative genus by the New York Times’ chronicler of conservatism, Sam Tanenhaus. (One might quibble with Tanenhaus’ credential as a conservative taxonomist, considering he labeled Bill Clinton, David Souter, and Barack Obama “Burkean conservatives,” but never mind that.)

Reformocons’ founding document arguably was Ross Douthat’s and Reihan Salam’s Grand New Party, a tome that was as much political wake-up call as it was policy manifesto. The book’s first page declared that “a bollixed war and a record of domestic mismanagement [had] cost [Republicans] both houses” of Congress, and that as a result, the GOP needed to regroup intellectually and politically.

The book, like the reformocon writing that followed, said nothing about how to reform conservative foreign policy. But any Reform Conservatism worthy of the name ought to have something to say about the matter. The reasons are both political and substantive.

The arguments for reforming conservative foreign policy are strong. So why aren’t they being made?”

First, the political: the public loathes neoconservative foreign policy and has learned more from its follies than have elites. While many Republicans have a special place in their hearts for Dick Cheney, due in part to his virtuoso ability to aggravate liberals, the substance of Cheney’s foreign policy views are deeply unpopular, among Republicans, Democrats, and independents, especially.

The political terrain for neocons is perhaps most favorable on Iran, but even there it isn’t very favorable. The most recent poll indicated 61 percent of Americans support a diplomatic resolution of the Iranian nuclear program that would leave it with enrichment capability, compared to 35 percent who support the hawkish alternative of zero enrichment and sanctioning third-party nations who do business with Tehran. More generally, Americans tend to ask impertinent questions of the foreign policy elite, like why they should pay for the defense of wealthy clients and allies who can defend themselves. On Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere, the armed Wilsonianism favored by the entire GOP foreign policy elite is unpopular.

It’s true that foreign policy is rarely electorally decisive, but giving neocons control over it is a good way to increase its salience to the public. In the 2006 and 2008 elections, the GOP crippled itself …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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A Case for the Libertarian

July 17, 2014 in Economics

By Jeffrey Miron

Jeffrey Miron

As the American political scene becomes ever more polarized, citizens of all political views have tired of both the liberal and conservative perspectives. The two “mainstream” perspectives strike many as inconsistent and hypocritical, and far more similar than different. Both advocate large and intrusive government, albeit in different arenas, despite rhetoric that claims otherwise.

What these disillusioned Americans really want is libertarianism, which advocates small government across the board. Misleading or one-sided characterizations notwithstanding, libertarianism is precisely the “third way” that many Americans desire.

Libertarianism is not the claim that individuals are always rational, or that markets are always efficient, or that the distribution of income under laissez-faire capitalism is always “fair.” Rather, it is the claim that, despite the imperfections of private arrangements, government interventions usually make things worse. Thus, non-intervention is the better policy.

Libertarians, for example, oppose drug prohibition because it generates more harm — violent black markets — than drug use itself. Libertarians oppose many economic regulations because they entrench the large existing firms that can more easily absorb the added costs, thereby reducing competition and harming consumers. Libertarians oppose foreign interventions because they cost far more than initially acknowledged while failing to help either America or the target countries. Libertarians also oppose numerous interventions, such as trade restrictions or agricultural subsidies, because they distort market efficiency while arbitrarily enriching some Americans at the expense of others.

Neither liberals nor conservatives recognize their inconsistencies.”

A crucial feature of libertarianism is consistency: It applies a skeptical lens to all aspects of government, whether economic, social or foreign. In every case, libertarianism asks calmly but rigorously whether intervention actually yields better outcomes, regardless of whether that implies a “conservative” or “liberal” policy conclusion. Libertarianism sticks to its principles.

Conservatism, in contrast, claims allegiance to individual freedom yet happily endorses drug prohibition and bans on homosexual marriage. Conservatism asserts affection for free markets, but endorses crony capitalism, such as the Export-Import Bank. Conservatives are enthusiastic about foreign policy interventions when a Republican controls the White House, but far more skeptical otherwise. Conservatives endorse states’ rights regarding gun control, but not abortion, drug policy or same-sex marriage.

Liberalism is no better. It defends a woman’s right to choose an abortion, yet challenges parents’ right to choose parochial schools for their children. Liberals rant about poverty yet object to greater low-skill immigration, which would help people far poorer than most existing residents. …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Yet Another College Under Fire for Mishandling Rape Case

July 17, 2014 in Blogs

By Angus Johnston, RH Reality Check

Sunday’s NYT report on an incident at Hobart and William Smith Colleges comes at a time when the failure of U.S. colleges to address campus rape is under high scrutiny.


The latest evidence that many U.S. colleges are badly bungling their responsibility to effectively investigate and address sexual assault on campus came Sunday in the form of a lengthy New York Times report on a 2013 incident at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in upstate New York.

In that incident, a student named Anna (she gave the Times permission to use her first name) who was two weeks into her first semester on campus, reported she was sexually assaulted twice in one night by members of the college football team. Despite witness testimony and physical evidence, however, the college took just ten days to exonerate all three of the accused. Worse, the process by which it did so was slapdash, biased, and riddled with error.

The Times investigation of Hobart and William Smith comes at a time when the failure of U.S. higher education to address campus rape is coming under high scrutiny. In January of this year, President Obama created a Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault, and in April that task force released its first report, along with resources aimed at strengthening colleges’ sexual assault policies.

The standards for sexual assault investigation promulgated by the task force so far are preliminary and partial, but even these initial materials make clear that Hobart and William Smith’s policies were deficient in the most basic ways.

The task force’s Checklist for Campus Sexual Misconduct Policies, for instance, says such policies should be organized in a “clear, logical” way, and offers no-contact orders as an example of the “immediate steps” colleges should use to “protect complainants.” At Hobart and William Smith, however, the disciplinary panel overseeing Anna’s complaint apparently misread its own policies when advising her on appeals procedure and …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Infrastructure Investment: A State, Local, and Private Responsibility

July 17, 2014 in Economics

Despite huge and ongoing budget deficits, some policymakers are proposing to increase federal spending on infrastructure. President Obama on Thursday will unveil a new federal infrastructure initiative, and has been campaigning for Congress to pass a long-term highway bill. The president and other leaders believe that more federal spending on roads, rail, and other assets will boost growth and create jobs. Cato scholar Chris Edwards, however, argues for devolving infrastructure activities to the states and the private sector.

…read more

Source: CATO HEADLINES