You are browsing the archive for 2014 July 29.

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Will the State Save Us From Ebola?

July 29, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

ebola

The Drudge Report and other media outlets have  done their best to create a panic over the spread of Ebola in western Africa. It’s a safe bet that, if it hasn’t happened already, some devoted interventionists will point to disease epidemics as proof of the indispensable role of states in halting the spread of the disease.  While television and movies have trained people to believe that one person on an airplane can start off a virulent epidemic, the reality appears to be rather different. Ebola is transmitted through direct contact with blood and bodily fluids. Moreover, debilitating Ebola symptoms show up quickly, before the infected can unknowingly  infect large numbers of others, and the conditions in western Africa, where Ebola is most successful, could hardly be more unlike those in Europe and North America where, thanks to relatively free markets, there is easy access to clean water and health care services.

Not surprisingly, we also find that the governments of region where Ebola thrives have paved the way themselves for the spread of the disease, with endless wars and the destruction of capital:

As Dionne notes, all three countries have poor health infrastructure, due in part to years of civil war in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Liberia has just .014 doctors per 1,000 people, and a common joke is that JFK Medical Center, Monrovia’s main hospital, has long had the unflattering nickname “Just For Killing.”

In addition, we can be sure that if any political stability is achieved in Liberia or Sierra Leone, that the local regime would loot any moderately successful private health-care operation. The lack of restrained political systems and private property all but ensure a lack of access to the very things that making disease prevention successful.

Global epidemics have occurred before and the track record of states have not been exemplary.

Perhaps the textbook illustration of this  is the influenza epidemic of 1918. Not only did the First World War generate conditions more favorable to the spread of the disease (by destroying the infrastructure and hygiene, quality food, and good health in general) but the governments of the time ensured worldwide transmission by crowding infected WWI troops with the uninfected, and then shipping them on boats to various cities.

Government incompetence is most certainly not confined to the days of yore, of course. In recent years, there’s been news of another flu epidemic every few years. Predictably, the federal plans for mass …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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The War on Poverty and the War on Drugs

July 29, 2014 in Economics

By Randall Holcombe

111031.ICE.HSI.OperationPipelineExpress.herb_08

As an apparently war-minded people, Americans (or at least, our American political leaders) have been comfortable framing parts of the domestic policy agenda as wars for decades. Two of the most prominent have been the War on Poverty and the War on Drugs.

Despite the similarity in their names, there is an important difference between the two. The War on Poverty is not a real war. The War on Drugs is.

The War on Poverty is not a real war because there is no enemy that we are attacking to fight poverty. Quite the opposite. The War on Poverty identifies poor people and them gives them stuff. Sometimes it is income. Other times it is food, or health care, or education.

If some analogy to war is made, the War on Poverty is more like the Marshall Plan that provided aid to the victims of war regardless of any fault in causing the war. If people are victims of poverty, the War on Poverty gives them stuff, perhaps with the idea that the stuff can help them escape poverty.

The official poverty rate in the United States has not fallen since the late 1960s, so if the idea of the War on Poverty was to reduce poverty, then according to the government’s own statistics, it hasn’t worked. But that’s a different issue. The point here is that the War on Poverty is not actually a war.

The War on Drugs is a real war. It’s name obscures the people who are the combatants. It is actually a war on the buyers and sellers of drugs. The police are arming themselves with military-style weapons and using military tactics to attack the enemy—drug buyers and sellers—and the members of the declared enemy are also taking up arms to defend themselves and their property, partly against the police, but also partly against other citizens. Obviously, the police will not protect the people with whom they are at war, or their property.

Indeed, with civil forfeiture laws, the police will not only seize the property they have declared war against,but all property associated with those they treat as enemy combatants.

For the most part, laws in the United States are written and enforced to protect minorities of any type, whether defined by race, gender, age, sexual preferences, or religion, but the one big exception to protection of minorities is that the War on Drugs has singled out people for persecution based …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Re: Mises University

July 29, 2014 in Economics

By Peter G. Klein

David, I liked this Facebook post from another student, on opening night: “I had the opportunity to listen to a very insightful discussion between an Israeli journalist and a Muslim business owner. They were discussing the challenges of extremists in both their cultures and how government intervention only exacerbates those extreme views. Only at Mises. I love it here already!”

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Video: Joseph Salerno Explains Gold Standards: True and False

July 29, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

Archived from the live broadcast, this Mises University lecture was presented at the Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama, on 25 July 2014.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Mises University

July 29, 2014 in Economics

By David Gordon

A young man who attended Mises University last week posted the following on Facebook:

At Cato U in San Diego. Just saying: between the two there is NO COMPARISON. Mises remains the gold standard of ideas. The intellectual conversations, the overall decency of the people, and just the welcoming attitude just isn’t the same. Miss you guys

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Ukraine Crisis Reminds Americans Why NATO Should Not Expand: Not to Ukraine, Georgia, Or Anyone Else

July 29, 2014 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

The bitter conflict in Ukraine drags on. Russia appears to have decided against trying to conquer its neighbor. However, Moscow continues to destabilize Kiev by supporting Russian separatists. NATO remains divided on how to respond.

Most Europeans have little stomach for confronting Russia. Economic ties with Moscow are profitable, there is no treaty obligation to Ukraine, and no alliance member desires war. So Washington has taken the lead against Moscow even though America has little at stake in Russia’s misbehavior.

In fact, the crisis has generated a spate of U.S. proposals for military action. Some analysts and politicians advocate direct support for Ukraine and other potentially embattled states. Also popular are proposals to expand NATO.

For instance, ever belligerent Sen. John McCain urged adding Ukraine to the “transatlantic” alliance. Former UN ambassador John Bolton suggested putting “both Georgia and Ukraine on a clear path to NATO membership.” Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates similarly called for making NATO association agreements with Georgia, Ukraine, and Moldova. Other proposed candidates for the alliance include Armenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Finland, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Sweden.

Efforts to expand NATO are strikingly misguided. Traditional military alliances were created to advance a nation’s security. They were not intended to act as clubs for international business, associations for shared values, or tools for political integration. Military alliances were supposed to prevent and win wars.  During the Cold War the U.S. established the alliance to protect the war-ravaged European states from America’s hegemonic adversary, the Soviet Union, and its satellite-allies.

The end of the Cold War eliminated the reason for creating NATO. America’s dangerous global enemy had disappeared while Washington’s prosperous and populous allies had recovered economically and developed internationally. The U.S. no longer needed to protect Europe.

However, alliance advocates acted like nothing had changed and proposed new justifications for the old organization, such as promoting student exchanges, fighting the drug trade, and encouraging environmental protection. None of these dubious suggestions won much support, however, so member governments turned NATO into a mechanism to integrate Central and Eastern European states. This task should have been left to the European Union, but Washington wanted to “lead” even when America was not directly concerned. The alliance expanded up to the borders of Russia, the shrunken successor state to the Soviet Union.

Efforts to expand NATO are strikingly misguided.”

Included as new members were countries in the Baltic region, Eastern Europe, and the Balkans, areas that …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Back in Iraq?

July 29, 2014 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Little more than a decade ago, the United States invaded Iraq. The promised cakewalk turned out far different than expected. Today its government and entire state, created by Washington, are in crisis. Yet the same voices again are being raised calling for military intervention, with the promise that this time everything will turn out well.

Social engineers never seem to learn. It is hard enough to redesign and remake individuals, families, and communities in the United States. It is far harder to do so overseas.

Nation-building requires surmounting often vast differences in tradition, culture, history, religion, ethnicity, ideology, geography, and more. Doing so also requires suppressing people’s natural desire to govern themselves.

It doesn’t matter if Americans could do it better. With positions reversed they would insist that the foreigners, however well-meaning, leave them alone. Imagine if the French offered to—nay, insisted on—sticking around at the end of the Revolutionary War to “help” the backward colonials make a new nation. Guns would again be pulled down from fireplace mantles across the land!

The obvious—indeed, only—policy for Americans is to run, not walk, away from the mess.”

Yet these days Washington continues to try to fix the world’s problems. In recent years the United States has deployed forces to Haiti, Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Occupying these lands was in no case a military necessity. Nation-building has not turned out particularly well.

However, until now Washington at least has limited itself to one bout of society-molding per country. Reentering Iraq would be an attempted redo barely a decade after the first go. Rarely has a victorious war proved to be so fruitless and counterproductive so quickly.

Remember the original promises surrounding the Iraq operation? A quick, bloodless war would destroy dangerous weapons of mass destruction and “drain the swamp,” eliminating terrorism.The United States would guarantee a friendly, compliant government by imposing as president an exile who hadn’t lived in the country for decades. The new Iraq would implement democracy,eschew sectarian division, protect women’s rights, and even recognize Israel, while providing America bases for use in attacking neighboring states, including Iran, which with its Shia majority shared manifold religious, cultural, and personal ties with Iraq.

It was a wonderful wish list. Alas, it turned out to be pure fantasy. The conflict killed thousands and wounded tens of thousands of Americans, while killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and displacing millions more. The ancient …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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A Case against Child Labor Prohibitions

July 29, 2014 in Economics

Provisions against child labor are part of the International Labor Organization’s core labor standards. Anti-sweatshop groups almost universally condemn child labor and call for laws prohibiting child employment or boycotting products made with child labor. But a new paper from Benjamin Powell argues that much of what the anti-sweatshop movement agitates for would harm the very children they intend to help. Powell contends that the process of economic development, in which sweatshops play an important role, is the best way to raise wages and improve working conditions.

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Source: CATO HEADLINES