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Econometrics Attacked from the Left

August 15, 2014 in Economics

By Jeff Deist

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In this interesting article published in Economia (a trade journal for Chartered Accountants), we find a left-progressive argument against math and its overly prominent role in neoclassical economics:

This discontent was born in the post-autistic economics movement, which started in Paris in 2000, and spread to the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. Its adherents’ main complaint was that the mainstream economics taught to students had become a branch of mathematics, disconnected from reality.

The revolt made little progress in the years of the Great Moderation of the 2000s, but was revived following the 2008 crisis. Two important links with the earlier network are US economist James Galbraith, the son of John Kenneth Galbraith, and British economist Ha-Joon Chang, author of the best-selling 23 Things They Don’t Tell You about Capitalism.

In a manifesto published in April, economics students at the University of Manchester advocated an approach “that begins with economic phenomena and then gives students a toolkit to evaluate how well different perspectives can explain it,” rather than with mathematical models based on unreal assumptions. Significantly, Andrew Haldane, executive director for financial stability at the Bank of England, wrote the introduction.

The Manchester students argue that “the mainstream within the discipline (neoclassical theory) has excluded all dissenting opinion, and the crisis is arguably the ultimate price of this exclusion. Alternative approaches such as post-Keynesian, Marxist, and Austrian economics (as well as many others) have been marginalised. The same can be said of the history of the discipline.” As a result, students have little awareness of neoclassical theory’s limits, much less alternatives to it.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Freak Show: Politicians Throw Woman Out of Work Because She Looked Unusual

August 15, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

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Credit: Longmont Times-Call

The County Commissioners of Boulder County, Colorado have thrown a woman out of work because they didn’t like the way she looked. According to the local CBS affiliate:

An “ick factor” led to the closure of “The World’s Smallest Woman” exhibit at the Boulder County Fair last week, officials said.

Visitors hoping to see an attraction starring Little Liz, who exhibitors say is the world’s shortest woman at 29 inches, were denied after Boulder County officials shut down the show following two complaints from parents.

The Longmont Times-Call first reported the story. “There was kind of an ‘ick factor’ to it. When I talked to our open space director and one of our county attorneys about it, we had the gut check of ‘This is not the sort of use we want to encourage.’ … We just didn’t feel it was appropriate to a family show,” Carrie Haverfield of the Boulder County Commissioners’ office told the Times-Call.

It’s fairly outrageous that county officials possess the ability to simply declare some people unemployed by fiat. But, that is what happened in Boulder County because, at least according to County officials, two people complained.

The County should have responded: “If you don’t like looking at small women, don’t do it.” But, in a world where it is deemed appropriate for government officials to micromanage every aspect of American life, this is seen as just another day at the County Commissioner’s office.

Little Liz, who might be scratching out a subsistence living in Haiti (where she is from)  if it weren’t for her unique talent, can now report to her relatives back home that the people of Boulder County, Colorado are so intolerant that they demanded the local government shut down her small business.

At 29 inches tall, it’s unknown how many industries Little Liz is qualified to work in, but if she finds that working in a sideshow is the most lucrative line of work for her, she wouldn’t be the first to opt for a career in separating suburban gawkers from their money.

Being a sideshow “freak” has a long and storied history in the United States. Certainly predating the 19th-century, the industry nonetheless first attained a mass market under the entrepreneurial genius P.T. Barnum who turned the sideshow into a nationwide phenomenon for mass consumption with his circus. The sideshow was very profitable and the “unusually-abled” people (performers are of diverse opinion …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Barack Obama: The New Woodrow Wilson?

August 15, 2014 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

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On April 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson stood before Congress and called for a Declaration of War against Germany. His eloquence carried an audience already decided for war, but his unreasonable policies regarding submarine warfare long before made America’s entry well nigh inevitable.

When President Barack Obama first spoke to the nation about Iraq, he sounded reluctant to be the fourth straight president to intervene militarily. He suggested a very narrow mission, saving trapped civilians and acting “to protect our American personnel.” However, the conditions he set on Washington’s participation guarantee a much broader and longer campaign.

President Wilson was a modern liberal in the Obama mold, a foreign-policy activist who took the nation into war after promising to keep the peace and sacrificed domestic liberties for the national-security state. Wilson’s partiality to the Entente powers was obvious, but he offered a juridically narrow justification for entering the conflict—Berlin’s submarine warfare. He told Congress: ”I advise that the Congress declare the recent course of the Imperial German Government to be in fact nothing less than war against the Government and people of the United States.”

That Wilson never criticized Great Britain’s illegal starvation blockade demonstrated he was more interested in results than principles. More important, he implemented a policy that ensured war would result if Germany used the only maritime weapon it possessed capable of contesting London’s overwhelming naval advantage.

Britain used passenger liners for war. They carried munitions and were ordered to ram submarines that surfaced to inspect their cargoes. Some were reserve cruisers and armed, and those were ordered to fire on U-boats. It didn’t take the Germans very long to start sinking passenger ships without notice. A great cause celebre was the Lusitania, which was listed as an auxiliary cruiser, had been fitted for guns, and carried bullets along with babies, some of whom died when it was sunk by a sub near the British coast in 1915.

Wilson’s position was that Americans had an absolute right, enforceable by the U.S. government (in the name of “strict accountability”), to book passage on belligerent vessels carrying munitions through a war zone. The position was ludicrous, but Berlin reluctantly respected Washington’s position until January 1917, when it decided to unleash unlimited submarine warfare in an attempt to starve Britain into submission. The U-Boats turned out to be less effective than hoped and America’s entry doomed Germany and its alliance partners. Wilson got …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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What Women Want

August 15, 2014 in Blogs

By Robin Koerner

I don’t know anyone of any political stripe in the United States who doesn’t believe that for exactly the same job, a woman should be paid the same as a man, or that a woman should have the same standing as a man in law; that she should have the same political representation and equal social influence. If these more-or-less ubiquitous truisms are the fruits of feminism, then we all – men and women alike – have much to thank it for.

But I am sensing a tectonic shift away from feminism as an assertive philosophy. Whereas Millennials, in particular, are starting to reject the former because of its failures, they are perhaps starting to transcend the latter because of its successes.

Generalizing from anecdotes is always dangerous but there’s little alternative to drawing on personal experience and conversations in observing the relationship between men and women and the meaning of gender in our culture.

I remember distinctly as a young teenager having no idea what to do with girls except to be nice to them – just as I was supposed to be nice to everyone. I recall thinking that any kind of physical advance on a girl was by definition aggressive, and therefore I was a better person for not making them. I realize now, of course, that that may well have been a convenient rationalization of my own cowardice, but all the same, it was the rationalization that most naturally made itself available as I was growing up.

In my 14-year old mind, there was a compelling logic to “if men and women are equal, then I should treat men and women in exactly the same way”. By the other end of my teenage years, I had no more idea about what to do with girls – except to continue being nice to them.

By my last year of university, I had been with only one girl – my first girlfriend, whom I’d actually met before I arrived at university. That relationship had finished a few years before, and by my last year, I’d had none of that sexual fun that students were supposed to be having – and that window was about to close with my upcoming graduation. Nevertheless, many of the most attractive women at my college would often take advantage of my open …read more

Source: ROBIN KOERNER BLOG

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Mises Weekends: Jeff Deist and Marc Abela Discuss Abenomics and Japan’s Narrowing Horizons

August 15, 2014 in Economics

By Mises Updates

Jeff Deist and Marc Abela discuss the Bank of Japan’s failed twenty-five year program of monetary stimulus, the resulting creation of insolvent zombie banks, and the impossibility of “Abenomics”. You’ll enjoy hearing about Toshio Murata—a Japanese student of Mises in the 1950s—who painstakingly translated Human Action into Japanese, who is still alive today. And, you might be surprised by Marc’s revelations about the Japanese mindset, culture, and disturbingly high suicide rate.

Mises.org: http://bit.ly/12_MW_Abela
Stitcher: http://www.stitcher.com/s?eid=35117294
Youtube: youtu.be/zgs82z9t7Mw

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Rothbard on Policing the Streets

August 15, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

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As a “police officer” dressed  in military fatigues, and armed with military equipment, threw everyone out of a McDonald’s restaurant and arrested journalists for no legitimate reason, I wondered to myself if the owner of the McDonald’s was fine with the police coming in and needlessly using violence against  the restaurant’s own customers. Indeed, had the owner actually wanted everyone out of the store, he or she would have been well within his or her rights to simply close the store. Instead, a scrum of government agents show up and rough up the customers.  (Maybe the owner was fine with this, in which case the owner is not a very smart businessperson.) 

This is part of the larger police tactic we’ve all seen on television in which the police protect no one’s property, but instead wander up and down streets in a phalanx attempting to provoke violence from the protesters. There is no effort made by police to discriminate among anyone at all. Everyone is assumed to be a criminal, and treated accordingly. Obviously, any effort to actually protect the lives and property of citizens, were such a thing allowed to exist by state monopolists,  would look very, very different. 

In his For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto, Murray Rothbard examines the nature of policing of streets and private establishments and how this would function in a free society:

[From Chapter 11] Abolition of the public sector means, of course, that all pieces of land, all land areas, including streets and roads, would be owned privately, by individuals, corporations, cooperatives, or any other voluntary groupings of individuals and capital. The fact that all streets and land areas would be private would by itself solve many of the seemingly insoluble problems of private operation. What we need to do is to reorient our thinking to consider a world in which all land areas are privately owned. Let us take, for example, police protection. How would police protection be furnished in a totally private economy?Part of the answer becomes evident if we consider a world of totally private land and street ownership. Consider the Times Square area of New York City, a notoriously crime-ridden area where there is little police protection furnished by the city authorities. Every New Yorker knows, in fact, that he lives and walks the streets, and not only Times Square, virtually in a state of “anarchy,” dependent solely on the normal …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Don’t Assume What Is “Unseen” Doesn’t Exist

August 15, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

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Mises Daily Friday by Gary Galles:

Economists often rely on the assumption of “other things equal” to construct simple economic models. This is fine. The problem arises when politicians and their allies use similar assumptions to simply ignore the complexity of the economy and unintended results of public policies in real life.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE