You are browsing the archive for 2014 October 06.

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Criminal Insurgency: Gang Members as Warfighters, Libertarian Solutions

October 6, 2014 in Blogs

By Political Zach Foster


What if the shoe was on the other foot?


As state after state strips women of their access to abortion and the US supreme court rules to strip women of access to contraception, it seems only fair that men should be “helped” in the same way that women have been “helped” all these years. Right? After all, the laws are said to be there to protect us, from ourselves, and we wouldn’t want men to feel left out.

So, before engaging in any sexual act that could lead to procreation, what if all men had to undergo years of male-centric, abstinence-only education to learn about the horrors and all-around grossness of male sexuality? And what if the standards for how we legislated male sexuality and what we taught about it were based on scientific data of the same quality as that which is applied to women?

Boys, for instance, might be taught that each time you put your penis inside a different woman, it gets smaller. It’s “true”! Don’t leave your future wife with a bummer boner – abstain from sex until marriage.

Young men would also need to learn how to truly respect themselves and their bodies, because women have certain needs, and are stimulated visually. Gentlemen, if you go around wearing shirts that show off your biceps or jeans that hug your bottom (or, God forbid, your “package”), young women will think that you’re that that kind of guy. If you don’t aim to please, don’t aim to tease!

When a young man decides that he’s ready for sex – preferably within the confines of marriage – he would be taught that he is expected to be the sole party responsible for birth control? Yes, boys, maybe if you’re lucky, you’ll meet a woman who’s on the pill. But most women find that taking a daily hormone really lessens their enjoyment of sex, so you’d have to be prepared to get gel injected into your scrotum as often as needed to make sure the woman to whom you give your body …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Welcome to Coca-Cola Town, U.S.A.: America’s Scary Corporate Naming Problem

October 6, 2014 in Blogs

By Jonathan Zimmerman, Salon

By selling public spaces to private interests, we teach our children — and ourselves — that nothing is truly shared.


For the past 20 years, I’ve been taking the train to the Market East Station in my hometown of Philadelphia. But I’m not going to be doing that again anytime soon.

That’s because Market East no longer exists, at least not officially. It became Jefferson Station earlier this month, after Thomas Jefferson University Hospital paid Philadelphia’s regional transportation authority $4 million to put Jefferson’s name on the station for the next five years.

And this isn’t just a Philly thing, either. Around the country, the names of our public spaces are being sold off to private donors. Brooklyn’s busy Atlantic Avenue subway station is now the Barclays Bank station; Chicago is selling naming rights to its “L” stops; and Cleveland recently named an entire bus route “The Health Line,” after receiving $6.25 million from the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals.

In several other cities, meanwhile, Kentucky Fried Chicken’s logo festoons manhole covers and fire hydrants. A few municipalities have sold ads on their police cars. And seven states now allow pizza chains and other companies to advertise on school buses.

That’s good news for business, which can engage old customers and target new ones. And it’s good for our cash-strapped local and state governments, which can make long-needed improvements to crumbling infrastructures. Everyone walks away happy. Right?

Wrong. Our public spaces communicate important lessons about who we are. By selling these spaces to private interests, we teach our children — and ourselves — that nothing is truly shared; that everything is for sale, typically to the highest bidder; and that the clutter of commercial messages is the price we have to pay to sustain our common lives.

Of course, America’s urban landscape has long been littered with garish advertising. Writing in 1914, journalist Walter Lippmann bemoaned “the deceptive clamor that disfigures the scenery, covers fences, plasters the city, and blinks and winks at you through the night.” Parts of the sky were “ablaze with chewing gum,” Lippmann quipped, while the rest was “brilliant with monstrously …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Brown's Tax and Spending Spree

October 6, 2014 in Economics

By Nicole Kaeding

Nicole Kaeding

The Great Recession ended in 2009, but its effects are still being felt within state budgets. To close the gap between higher spending and lower-than-expected government revenues, governors took varying approaches. Some, like North Carolina’s Governor Pat McCrory, cut spending and taxes to breathe new life into their economies. Others, like California Governor Jerry Brown, increased taxes on families and businesses and expanded the government, hampering the Golden State’s competitiveness.

Cato Institute’s 12th biennial edition of its “Fiscal Policy Report Card on America’s Governors” assigns grades of “A” to “F” to the governors based on their efforts to restrain government. Not only did Governor Brown receive an “F” in this year’s report card, he received the worst score of any governor.

So, why did Governor Brown score so poorly?

Governor Brown’s policies are moving California in the wrong direction.”

To start, Brown has pushed for several large tax increases. In 2012 he championed a plan to increase annual tax revenues by $6 billion a year. That increase, which passed on a November 2012 ballot, included a hike in the top individual income tax rate to 13.3 percent. 

He also supported a $1 per pack increase in cigarette taxes, which failed on a June 2012 ballot. To his credit, Brown did approve a 2013 law that reduced sales taxes on the purchase of manufacturing equipment, but this was just a marginal improvement to an otherwise messy tax code.

Brown’s follies are not limited to tax policy. He, also, scores poorly on spending for substantially increasing the size of California’s budget. Over the last three years, Brown has proposed general fund spending increases averaging 6.8 percent annually, more than twice the national average over that period. California’s general fund spending has grown from $86 billion in 2012 to Brown’s proposed spending for 2015 of $107 billion. Brown recently called his 2015 budget one of “restraint and prudence,” a laughable claim. 

Even worse, California has $340 billion in unfunded pension and health care liabilities to current and future state retirees and state debt, according to the state’s Legislative Analyst Office. These may represent even higher taxes in the future, unless California gets its spending under control.

State fiscal decisions matter to the future of the American economy. Much attention is paid to the uncompetitiveness of the federal corporate income tax, which collected $274 billion in 2013. According to Ernst & Young, state and local taxes …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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The 8 Best Things You Can Say to Someone Who Is Grieving

October 6, 2014 in Blogs

By Christy Heitger-Ewing , Huffington Post

Nothing you say will make the pain go away. But this advice can help.


When someone close to you dies, you initially receive a good deal of advice and support. Some of it is helpful. Some, not so much. I recently posted an article titled “The 8 Worst Things You Can Say to Someone Who is Grieving.” This is the companion piece that offers suggestions for helpful things you can say to someone who is newly grieving.

1. “I feel your pain.”

This is not the same thing as, “I know how you feel,” which is a statement I would avoid uttering because even if you've shared a similar circumstance, everyone's journey is uniquely their own. The words, “I feel your pain,” however, is an expression of empathy.

In the book Grieving the Loss of Someone You Love: Daily Meditations to Help You Through the Grieving Process, authors Raymond R. Mitsch and Lynn Brookside maintain that the words “I feel your pain” are the four most helpful words that can be uttered to a grieving person.

“No other single sentence does more to break down walls of isolation formed by deep sorrow and regret,” write Mitsch and Brookside. “When those words are merged with a touch or an embrace, they mend the heart and lift up downcast eyes. They tell [the griever] that [he is] not alone in [his] grief.”

2. “How about a hug?”

I get that not everyone is touchy-feeling, but for me, at least, when I was newly grieving, I felt starved for hugs. I wanted to hug the UPS man who came to my door. I wanted to hug my spin instructor after class. I wanted to hug my neighbor and her little dog, too. It was almost as if I was a china doll that had been broken into pieces, and every hug offered a smidge of glue to help piece me back together.

Two weeks after my mom died, my son had an overnight field trip to the zoo. My husband was one of the chaperones. I packed them up and waved goodbye. As they pulled out of the driveway, …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Small Business Administration Loans Reduce Economic Growth

October 6, 2014 in Economics

By Peter G. Klein

140px-US-SmallBusinessAdmin-Seal.svg

That’s the conclusion of a new NBER paper by Andy Young, Matthew Higgins, Don Lacombe, and Briana Sell, “The Direct and Indirect Effects of Small Business Administration Lending on Growth: Evidence from U.S. County-Level Data” (ungated version here). “We find evidence that a county’s SBA lending per capita is associated with direct negative effects on its income growth. We also find evidence of indirect negative effects on the growth rates of neighboring counties. Overall, a 10% increase in SBA loans per capita is associated with a cumulative decrease in income growth rates of about 2%.” As the authors point out, SBA loans represent funds that also have alternative uses, and SBA-sponsored clients may not be the most worthy recipients (in terms of generating economic growth).

The results are largely robust and, perhaps more importantly, we never find any evidence of positive growth effects associated with SBA lending. Even when the estimated effects are statistically insignificant, the point estimates are always negative. Our findings suggest that SBA lending to small businesses comes at the cost of loans that would have otherwise been made to more profitable and/or innovative firms. Furthermore, SBA lending in a given county results in negative spillover effects on income growth in neighboring counties. Given the popularity of pro-small business policies, our findings should give reason for policymakers and their constituents to reevaluate their priors.

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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What Happens When Guys Find Out I’m Still a Virgin

October 6, 2014 in Blogs

By Ellen Burkhardt, Salon

Dating is hard—especially when you're a 26-year-old woman who wants to save sex until marriage.


There’s no good time to tell a guy you’re a virgin. First date? Too much, too soon. Wait until the third date and you risk being considered a tease. Second date? Perhaps, but at this point you’re both still fretting over whether or not to eat another piece of bread; delving into sexual histories (or lack thereof) seems a bit extreme.

So: There’s no good time to tell a guy you’re a virgin. Even worse? Telling him you’re waiting until marriage.

I should be better at sharing this bit of information by now. I’m a 26-year-old woman with a college degree, a good job, an adorable duplex and no debt. I have a solid group of friends, a supportive family and a clear awareness of who I am and who I want to be. By most accounts, I am a successful human being. Yet the moment I have to tell the guy I’m dating that sex is not an option, I become a squirmy, awkward, fidgety girl who can’t make eye contact or put together a complete sentence. Think junior high dance, only without a bathroom to hide in.

The Chat was never really an issue for me until three years ago. I wasn’t like many teens who consider sex a rite of passage. It’s true I always had a crush on one (or two) boys and had my fair share of boyfriends, but no relationship ever got serious enough where sex was even a thought, let alone a deal-breaker. For most of my junior high and high school years, I played the role of the friend — the token girl in a group of boys who were more interested in taking my advice for how to ask a girl to prom than taking me to prom. And given the choice between having just one boy with whom to spend all my time or a group of boys, friends trumped boyfriend.

In college there were a handful of guys who probably could have been …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Taxes, Fines and Government Extortion

October 6, 2014 in Economics

By Richard W. Rahn

Richard W. Rahn

When the government “fines” you for not buying health insurance, is it, in fact, a fine, a tax or government extortion? The biggest U.S. banks have been “fined” something in the neighborhood of $125 billion (yes, billion) over the past five years, without anyone in the banks or the banks themselves charged or convicted of criminal wrongdoing. How can that be?

Countless individuals have had their property (automobiles, cash and bank accounts) seized by state, local and federal law enforcement officials, including the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), without being convicted of wrongdoing. How can that be?

The distinction between a tax, a fine and government extortion is not trivial, particularly when fines are running into the tens of billions or even hundreds of billions of dollars of revenue for the government. Article I, Section 7 of the U.S. Constitution states: “All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives.” The Fourth Amendment states: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated,” and that warrants can only be issued with probable cause. The Fifth Amendment in part states: “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.” Unfortunately, these basic and clear provisions of the Constitution are violated on a daily basis by all too many ignorant or corrupt law enforcement officials, and upheld all too often by judges who think their own opinions trump the Constitution.

Americans must root out officials who contravene the Constitution to fleece taxpayers.”

In the Obamacare case. Chief Justice John Roberts upheld the law by ruling that a “fine” for not buying health insurance, which would not be legal, was actually a “tax,” which was legal — even though the Obama administration and most members of Congress who voted for the bill denied they were voting for a tax. (A very short and amusing interview on this issue, with well-known constitutional scholar and Cato board chairman, Bob Levy, is available on the websites of The Washington Times and of the Center for Freedom and Prosperity Foundation.)

The government, merely by threatening to bring charges against banks and their officers, has been able to extort multibillion-dollar fines, because a charge of criminal wrongdoing against a bank could cause depositors to …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Highest-Earning College Majors

October 6, 2014 in Economics

By Peter G. Klein

An economics major.

A new report on career earnings by college major is making the rounds. Engineering majors make the most, with economics the highest of the social sciences, and even ahead of business. However, as a Slate report points out, if you look at the upper tail of the distribution, economics majors do even better than engineering majors — the highest-earning economics majors do much better than the highest-earning engineering majors. The result holds even when you consider the fact that many economics majors go on to law or business school or enter other graduate programs. Slate thinks the answer is that “the finance and consulting industries like recruiting [economics majors], not necessarily for their specific skills, but because they consider the major a basic intelligence test.”

Of course, the data don’t distinguish between students of Austrian, Keynesian, Marxian, and neoclassical economics, but I know what I’d choose as an intelligence test!

An economics major.

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE