You are browsing the archive for 2014 October 03.

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Arturo Alas for Congress

October 3, 2014 in Blogs

By Political Zach Foster

Let me start by saying that I hate political commercials and I hope you do too. This isn’t a commercial; it’s information you need to know.

After the painful 2012 election cycle I’m largely inactive in electoral politics. I’m making an exception for Arturo Alas (Art, as I know him).

I got in trouble a lot on the campaign trail for my brutal honesty. After a few minutes of speaking with someone, I can tell if they’re full of it or not (and I often let them know). I’ve met and spoken with Art multiple times and he’s genuine.

One of the reasons I detest most politicians is twofold. First, too many of them skip the real world. They go from university to a political internship to running for office (and usually paid for by special interests). Second, these professional bureaucrats are so arrogant to tell us that THEY know how to create jobs.

Art, on the other hand, is the son of immigrants and a self-made businessman. He knows firsthand how jobs are (and aren’t) created.

“As long as taxes are high and regulations are literally written by corporate lobbyists, small businesses will never be able to grow and employ more people.” Art also says, “As long as government is the creating jobs when private business can’t, taxes will continue to go up and lobbyists will write more regulations.”

Art Alas is right on the money with his pro-free market, pro-liberty, and international-non-interventionist ideas. Art represents a libertarian-leaning platform that, when applied, will be an excellent starting point for scaling back big government and government-made oppression. These are practical avenues for political solutions.
Better yet, I believe in Art and what he stands for. I left the Republican Party months ago but I’ve always placed principles over personality. I share Art’s principles and so I’ll support this Republican because I believe he represents me during a time when most “leaders” don’t deserve to represent you …read more


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Mises Weekends with Joseph Becker: Economic Liberty Denied

October 3, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken


Jeff Deist and Joseph Becker discuss the illusion of judicial remedies for most Americans; how Becker is attacking cronyism in Nevada; how a Rothbardian legal system might deal with torts, crimes, and externalities; and how the statist 20th century courts created a phony legal distinction between fundamental liberties and economic liberties.

Also available at and Stitcher.


…read more


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Ayn Rand's Continued Influence Adds a Bizarre Twist to Conservative Politics

October 3, 2014 in Blogs

By Evan McMurry, AlterNet

Despite her clearly psychopathic theories and actions, she is still celebrated by leading right-wingers.

On Last Week Tonight, perhaps to balance out his less-than-friendly main segment on Obama’s drone policies, John Oliver asked a question that has bothered people about Ayn Rand since she first emerged in the middle of the twentieth century: why are people into this dreck?

Rand was the founder of Objectivism, a sub-Nietzschean philosophy that glorified selfishness and denigrated altruism, aggressively detailed in two novels bearing both the weight and prose style of a cement brick. Not surprisingly, this organized atavism never gained serious purchase: during her lifetime she was rejected by everyone from literary critics to philosophy professors to Frank Lloyd Wright, who didn’t appreciate her cribbing protagonist Howard Roark from his biography.

But her views achieved both outsider chic during the rise of the Great Society and some establishment cred when Alan Greenspan smuggled them into economic policy. Her tomes were bestsellers. And, in a vulgarized form Rand would almost certainly reject, they have spread even further since her death in 1982. Lawmakers cite her; celebrities namedrop her; fringe movements style themselves her heirs; scores of Twitter users swipe her visage as their avatar. A film adaptation of Atlas Shrugged lasted three installments (and outlasted its budget). There’s even going to be an off-Broadway musical this fall.

Rand’s political and pop cultural cache has risen even as her ideas fail basic empirical challenges. The 2008 financial collapse, an historic repudiation of rational self-interest on a systemic level, forced even Greenspan, a former friend of Rand and lifetime devotee of her philosophy, to admit a foundational flaw in his free market ideology. Yet Atlas Shrugged continues to sell. Oliver’s question deserves to be taken seriously: what’s to account for Rand’s unlikely and long-lasting cultural influence?

Paul Ryan and the Defense of Elitism

Almost seventy years after she first became involved in the American political process, Rand has finally made it into the halls of power. She has the extreme right wing to thank. Representatives Steve King (R-IA), Mike Mulvaney (R-SC) and former Rep. Allen …read more


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Failing Sense of Smell Strong Predictor of Death

October 3, 2014 in Blogs


New research uncovers the hazards of smell loss.

A declining sense of smell in older people is a strong predictor of death within just five years, according to new research.

Thirty-nine percent of study subjects who failed a simple smelling test died during that period, compared to 19 percent of those with moderate smell loss and just 10 percent of those with a healthy sense of smell, the journal PLOS ONE reported on Wednesday.

The hazards of smell loss were “strikingly robust,” according to researchers, who said that olfactory dysfunction was better at predicting mortality than a diagnosis of heart failure, cancer or lung disease.

Only severe liver damage was a more powerful predictor of death, they said.

“We think loss of the sense of smell is like the canary in the coal mine,” said the study’s lead author Jayant Pinto, an associate professor of surgery at the University of Chicago.

“It doesn’t directly cause death, but it’s a harbinger, an early warning that something has gone badly wrong, that damage has been done.

“Our findings could provide a useful clinical test, a quick and inexpensive way to identify patients most at risk.”

Precisely how sense of smell loss relates to mortality is unclear.

“Obviously, people don’t die just because their olfactory system is damaged,” said Martha McClintock, the study’s senior author.

Pinto added: “Of all human senses, smell is the most undervalued and underappreciated — until it’s gone.”

The study was part of the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project (NSHAP), the first in-home study of social relationships and health in a large, nationally representative sample of men and women ages 57 to 85.

In the first wave of the NSHAP, conducted in 2005-2006, professional survey teams from the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago used a well-validated test for a field survey of 3,005 participants.

It measured their ability to identify five distinct common odors.

In the second wave, during 2010-2011, the survey team confirmed which participants were still alive. During that five-year gap, 430 (12.5 percent) of the original 3,005 study subjects had died and 2,565 were still alive.

<Img align="left" border="0" height="1" width="1" style="border:0;float:left;margin:0;padding:0" hspace="0" …read more


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Cops Shoot and Kill Grandpa in Raid Based on Tip from the Thief Who Stole His Car

October 3, 2014 in Blogs

By Travis Gettys, Raw Story

Sheriff’s deputies burst through the back door and fired 16 shots—killing the 59-year-old grandfather.

When Teresa Hooks looked outside the craft room window of her Georgia home one night last week, she saw hooded figures wearing camouflage standing outside.

The East Dublin woman woke up her husband, David Hooks, who grabbed his shotgun, believing burglars who had recently targeted the couple had come back again, reported WMAZ-TV.

The sheriff’s deputies burst through the back door about 11 p.m. on Sept. 24 and, seeing David Hooks holding the weapon, fired 16 shots – killing the 59-year-old grandfather.

Authorities said Hooks met deputies at the door and pointed his weapon aggressively at officers as they announced themselves.

But Teresa Hooks said the officers did not knock and never identified themselves as law enforcement, and her attorney said David Hooks was killed behind a wall in the home — not at the door.

Deputies were executing a search warrant as part of a drug investigation based on a tip from one of the burglars accused of stealing a vehicle from Hooks.

The night before the raid, the search warrant stated, Rodney Garrett told investigators he stole a plastic bag from a pickup parked outside the Hooks home, believing it contained cash.

He also stole firearms and a set of digital scales, investigators said.

Garrett then stole a Lincoln Aviator from the Hooks home and drove the SUV to Dublin, investigators said, where he discovered the bag contained methamphetamine – not money.

The man told police he “became scared for his safety” and turned himself in to authorities, the TV station reported.

Garrett has since been arrested on burglary, theft of a motor vehicle, and other charges.

An attorney for Teresa Hooks said the burglary suspect’s claims shouldn’t have been enough to justify a search warrant, and he noted that no drugs or other illegal items were found at the couple’s home.

He also questioned the wisdom of serving search warrants to late at night.

“That search of some 44 hours conducted by numerous agents of the (Georgia Bureau of Investigation) resulted in not one item of contraband being found,” said attorney Mitchell …read more


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We Need to Uncap the Number of H-1B Visas

October 3, 2014 in Economics

By Alex Nowrasteh

Alex Nowrasteh

On Oct. 1, a new round of foreign H-1B guest workers will begin to work in the United States. H-1B visas are for skilled workers in specialty occupations, mainly in engineering and computer occupations. H-1B visas are an important, albeit flawed, mechanism for highly skilled immigrants to enter the United States and contribute to our economy.

Only 85,000 H-1B visas are set aside for American firms to sponsor each year. The approval process begins on April 1 and the approved workers can begin working on Oct. 1. H-1B visas can be used for a total of six years before the worker either must return to his home country or earn a green card.

The economic benefits of H-1Bs and other highly skilled immigrants are large.

Highly skilled immigrants contribute mightily to innovation in the United States, especially through patents. In 2006, immigrants were roughly 12 percent of the U.S. population, but 24 percent of international patent applications from the United States had at least one non-citizen inventor. The real rate is even higher since those statistics don’t include immigrants who became U.S. citizens. Immigrants from China, Taiwan, India, Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom were especially likely to patent.

Recent research by economists Jennifer Hunt and Marjolaine Gauthier-Loiselle found that a 1 percentage point increase in college graduate immigrants as a share of the population increases patents per capita by 9 to 18 percent — a tremendous increase. Other research found that a 10 percent increase in H-1B workers in a particular American city corresponded with a 0.3 to 0.7 percent increase in total patents approved there. Foreign-born students in American universities are also very likely to patent.

H-1B visas are an important, albeit flawed, mechanism for highly skilled immigrants to enter the United States and contribute to our economy.”

Some research finds that about 50 percent of U.S. productivity growth between 1950 and 1993 could be attributed to growth in the share of scientists and engineers — two sectors that are expanding largely due to highly skilled immigration.

Not all patents are productive, but a greater number of patents contribute to productivity gains for American workers. The more productive American workers become, the more their wages are likely to rise. A recent economics paper found that an increased number of immigrants working in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) occupations can explain between one-third and one-half of average productivity …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Why Don’t We Have Real Data on Charter Schools?

October 3, 2014 in Blogs

By Pedro Noguera, The Nation

Charters were supposed to be laboratories for innovation. Instead, they are stunningly opaque.

n several cities throughout the country, there is a fierce conflict raging over the direction of education reform. At the center of this increasingly acrimonious debate is the question of whether or not charter schools—publicly funded schools that operate outside the rules (and often the control) of traditional public-school systems—should be allowed to proliferate. Given their steady growth (from no more than a handful twenty years ago to over 6,000 today), charter schools and their advocates appear to have the upper hand. A new bipartisan bill—the Expanding Opportunity Through Quality Charter Schools Act, sponsored by Republican senators Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Mark Kirk of Illinois, and Democratic senators Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana and Michael Bennet of Colorado—would provide new funds to launch, replicate and expand charter schools nationwide.

The concept of the charter school was originally developed in 1974 by Ray Budde, a professor at the University of Massachusetts, who envisioned it as a way to bring innovation to schools by freeing them from the regulations that frequently limit and constrain traditional public schools. The idea was later embraced by American Federation of Teachers president Albert Shanker, who felt, like Budde, that there was a need for schools that could operate with greater flexibility and could serve as a laboratory for innovations that would then be applied to public schools. In 1991, Minnesota became the first state to adopt a charter-school law. Today, forty-two states and the District of Columbia have laws providing for the operation of charter schools. The vast majority of charter schools are located in large cities, and their numbers are growing rapidly. However, instead of collaborating with public schools as envisioned by Shanker, charter schools have become the centerpiece of a market-based reform strategy that places greater emphasis on competition.

Advocates of charter schools frequently make the argument that by providing parents with “choice,” the educational system—public schools and charter schools alike—will be forced to improve through greater accountability. As the New York City Department of Education has insisted, charter schools …read more


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3 Ways Republicans Managed to Insult Practically Everyone But White Christian Males this Week

October 3, 2014 in Blogs

By Zaid Jilani, AlterNet

Women, Muslims, African Americans! It's a trifecta!

The GOP is trying to shake its image as a political party of old white men, knowing that America's changing demographics are going to make it difficult to keep power with such a reputation.

But this week will not go down in history as a great one for Republican attempts at minority outreach. Here are two instances of the GOP insulting the very groups it's trying to woo: women and African Americans, and an egregious, ignorant insult to people of Muslim faith thrown in for good measure. 

1. Women: In a baffling political advertisement, College Republicans courted women voters by creating a spoof ad featuring young women choosing a wedding dress that was supposed to represent Democratic and Republican party candidates for office, essentially making the case that voting is just like shopping for a wedding dress. Watch the advertisment:

2. African Americans:Republicans promoted the hashtag #IamARepublican to try to promote the idea that there are nontraditional Republicans – minorities and women – too. Here's one of the images they used:

The problem, as the Daily Banter points out, is that this woman is apparently a lot of other things too, because she's a stock photo:

3. Muslims: In Georgia's 12th Congressional District, local Muslims planned to host a debate with incumbent Rep. John Barrow, a Democrat and Republican challenger Rick Allen at the local Islamic Community Center. After Allen objected to the venue, it was changed to a smaller government office instead. “It is interesting that the only two standing shoulder to shoulder on this topic are John Barrow and a Muslim cleric who are attacking Rick Allen together,” said a statement from an Allen spokesman claiming he never agreed to the Islamic Center venue in the first place. At the debate, Barrow said he thinks we should treat “every law-abiding citizen alike….And I think, frankly, that the manner by which we came here today reflects a concern that some folks have about the way in which folks are treated in this country.”

Apparently, …read more


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High School Bans Dangerous Threat to Male Students: Yoga Pants

October 3, 2014 in Blogs

By Jenny Kutner, Salon

Why sexist dress codes that sexualize girls and tell boys it's okay to be out of control must go.

Here is a “secret” about many people who write professionally for the Internet: They write without pants on. If they do wear “pants,” they’re probably the kind with elastic waistbands — leggings, yoga pants, etc. As I write this post, I am wearing a pair of skinny jeans, which are basically glorified lounge pants with a zipper — but that’s only because I came to my office today. If I were on my couch right now, as I usually am, I would probably be wearing a pair of leggings. Or I would be wearing no pants at all.

Each of the articles of clothing I mentioned just now are basic elements of many women’s wardrobes. That is because they are comfortable, and also because they can be stylish. Mostly, though, it is because they are comfortable. That is why so many people wear them when they, say, work from home, or perform other private activities that don’t involve other people. Interestingly, it’s the same reason many women tend to wear skinny jeans, yoga pants and leggings in public — because, once again, they are comfortable.

According to a North Dakota high school, however, skinny jeans, yoga pants and leggings are also “distracting,” and are considered a violation of the school’s dress code. Such attire will also make young women look like sex workers, apparently. Recently, Devils Lake High School began a crackdown on all three types of clothing because, according to school officials, they could cause boys to “focus on something other than schoolwork.” The school’s assistant principal told Fox affiliate WGHP that in order to explain the dress code stipulation, Devils Lake had female students watch two clips from the film “Pretty Woman” and compared their attire to Julia Roberts’. As you might recall, she plays a prostitute in the movie. As one female student told WGHP, the new rule basically leaves sweatpants as girls’ only option.

Devils Lake is just the latest in a slew of schools to enforce a ludicrous, patently sexist dress …read more


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Sports Stadiums: Temples to Crony Capitalism

October 3, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

stadium in lights

Mises Daily Friday by Salmaan Khan:

Although it’s clear that they offer no economic net benefit, American cities are building taxpayer-funded sports stadiums every chance they get. Billionaire team owners and politicians benefit greatly while ordinary taxpayers do less well.

…read more