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Will the CDC Save Us From Ebola?

October 7, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

Biosafety_level_4_hazmat_suit

Disease pandemics are a dream come true for central planners. Hysterical over possible contagion, citizens clamor for government action, government quarantines, government coercion, and government planning. In these cases, large numbers of people want government to do what government does best: seize people and property, coerce, issue orders, and spend lots of money.

In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control presents itself as the answer to every pandemic. Nevermind the fact that the Federal government is an organization that mishandles live anthrax, has cross-contaminated benign bird flu with deadly bird flu, and then sends contaminated samples across the country. And of course, the Feds, who apparently can’t keep disease samples contained, spend enormous amounts of money on making deadly diseases more deadly so as to weaponize them.

This organization, the same one that did such a stellar job with FEMA and the Hurricane Katrina “relief,” is the organization that will apparently save us from Ebola.

So, good luck to us all in surviving the US government’s war on pandemics.

Moreover, a more long-term view of the history of disease prevention does not present much of an impeachable case for government intervention. Indeed, governments excel at creating the conditions that enhance the spread of disease, as they did with the Spanish flu in the aftermath of World War I.

We also know that government interventions in the marketplace for medications (including price controls for vaccines and other treatments) used by states tend to create shortages where they are needed most.

But what about forced quarantines and border closings? Don’t we need the state for that? Well, the idea of a closed national border remains as much a fantasy today as it was 100 years ago when my ancestors stepped off the train from Mexico. Given the success rate in closing borders today, ending the flow of people across national borders appears about about as likely as ending the flow of drugs across those same borders.

On the matter of quarantines, there is precious little reason to believe that a top-down FEMA-like approach would be at all effective except in detaining large numbers of people who don’t actually have the disease. Whether or not such efforts will be effective at anything other that hobbling the economy will be anyone’s guess  Indeed, we know from the FEMA-Katrina experience, that FEMA will intervene to prevent and/or punish effective localized efforts to improve the situation.

It …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Reality Check on Employment Numbers

October 7, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

emp5

On Friday, the big news was that the unemployment rate had fallen below 6 percent for the first time in six years. That’s swell news, but the headline unemployment rate tells us virtually nothing at all about the real employment situation. Since the unemployment rate is a function of both the labor force size and the total number of people who self-report as employed, we need to get a sense of both labor force dynamics and total employment. Below, I’m going to use the government’s own numbers, so keep in mind this data is the rosiest picture that BLS could credibly paint. I will not be using the so-called “seasonally adjusted” (SA) numbers, because they’re more heavily manipulated than the not-seasonally adjusted (NSA) numbers. Also, seasonal adjustment is simply unnecessary and adds  totally unnecessary complexity to the data. Everything I look at below is not adjusted, and is from the BLS.

Here’s the unemployment rate graph:

The unemployment rate bottomed out near 4 percent during the last expansion (2002-2008), and it then shot up to over 10 percent. Ever since then, it’s been heading down steadily. The headline SA number for September 2014 was 5.9 percent, and in this case the NSA number was even lower, at 5.7 percent for September. That’s down from a year earlier, when the rate was 7.0 percent.

How great! What a big drop. We’re finally back to what was ten years ago considered a mediocre unemployment rate. But it’s better than ten percent, right?

Sure, it’s better, but what really matters, in terms of the unemployment-stats game is how much actual employment opportunity there is. The fact of the matter is, the total number of employed persons in the US has gone basically nowhere since 2007.  We see this if we look at the components of the unemployment rate, which are the labor force size and the total number of employment persons. This is the Household Survey, which means that the data is based on surveys of actual persons who are asked if they want to be employed, and if they have actually managed to find employment. People who have given up looking for work, or gone back to school, or just accepted a lower standard of living because they’re premature retirees who’ve given up permanently, are all excluded from the labor force. So, looking at the components of …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Why the Right Is So Freaked Out about the Inconvenient Truths of Actual U.S. History

October 7, 2014 in Blogs

By Sean McElwee, Salon

Conservatives are going bonkers over “unpatriotic” history tests. Time for a little tutorial.


Conservative hero Ben Carson is worried about American teenagers joining ISIS. But it’s not because of “radical Islam.” It’s because of new high school history standards.

American’s right wing, you see, is terrified of history because it is always sentimentalizing it. Many of its arguments rely on a feeling of nostalgia for “good old days,” that appeals almost exclusively to aging whites. That means that a more accurate history, one that considers groups that are traditionally marginalized — women, people of color, Native Americans, immigrants and the poor — don’t necessarily sit that well. Their stories, the stories of the downtrodden, crush the false narrative that many conservatives like to imagine — that of a idyllic past marred by the New Deal, women’s liberation and civil rights.

In Jefferson County, Colorado, a school board recently tried to limit the historical curriculum to only events that would, “promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free-market system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights.” Needless to say, much of American history — the Great Depression, the Trail of Tears and the internment of Japanese-Americans — would, under those parameters, need to obfuscated. The Republic National Committee, meanwhile, has issued a statement calling the new Advanced Placement U.S. History standards ”radically revisionist.” But conservatives may want to take the plank out of their own eye before examining the speck in their neighbors. Here are the most important distortions of history the right has promoted recently. 

Before Welfare, Everything Was Awesome 

Example: Marvin Olasky’s “Tragedy of American Compassion,” which argues, “Americans in urban areas a century ago faced many of the problems we face today, and they came up with truly compassionate solutions.”

The Problem: As with most conservative revisionism, the idea is that before nasty programs like welfare, the poor did just fine, because private charity aided them. Many conservatives will argue that the War on Poverty has done nothing to reduce poverty and instead we should rely on private charity. But the War on Poverty has actually done much to eliminate poverty and private charity <a target=_blank …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Caught on Hidden Camera: NYPD Beat Unarmed Teen Who Has Already Surrendered

October 7, 2014 in Blogs

By Shaun King, Daily Kos

One cop smashed cuffed teen in the face with a loaded gun.


In the video below you are witnessing 16-year-old Kahreem Tribble of Brooklyn, New York, fully non-violent and surrendered, being brutally beaten with the fists of New York City Police Department Officer Tyrane Isaac, then smashed in the face with the loaded gun of NYPD Officer David Afanador.

While NYPD Police Commissioner William Bratton has taken the rather rare step of suspending David Afandor WITHOUT pay, Tyrane Isaac, who started the brutality and clearly demonstrated excessive and unnecessary force with the repeated punches to the face and body of Tribble, is just on modified duty WITH pay as is the other officer who did nothing to intervene or support this young victim of police violence.

Read more about this breaking story here and write Commissioner Bratton a tweet here to let him know how you feel and that you want him to keep his recent promise of firing the officers who are “poisoning the well—the brutal, the corrupt, the racist, the incompetent.”

 

 

Related Stories

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Source: ALTERNET

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The Politics of “Free” Trade Agreements

October 7, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

Protesters Demonstrate Against WTO - Day 3

Mises Daily Tuesday by Carmen Elena Dorobăț:

Anyone reading modern day trade agreements would not be surprised to discover that they focus less and less on reducing import duties, and more on developing national industries, promoting exports, and ensuring domestic policy space.

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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What the Feds and Bernie Madoff Have in Common

October 7, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

6912

Mises Daily Tuesday by Brandon Dutcher.

Not unlike governments, ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff used his victims’ money to exhibit his “generosity” through charitable giving projects.

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Welcome to the Terrordome! Why Our ISIS Panic Is Way More Dangerous than ISIS

October 7, 2014 in Blogs

By Tom Engelhardt, Tom Dispatch

We're all listening to a daily soundtrack of hysteria.


To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from TomDispatch.com  here.

It happened so fast that, at first, I didn’t even take it in. 

Two Saturdays ago, a friend and I were heading into the Phillips Museum in Washington, D.C., to catch a show of neo-Impressionist art when we ran into someone he knew, heading out. I was introduced and the usual chitchat ensued. At some point, she asked me, “Do you live here?”

“No,” I replied, “I’m from New York.”

She smiled, responded that it, too, was a fine place to live, then hesitated just a beat before adding in a quiet, friendly voice: “Given ISIS, maybe neither city is such a great place to be right now.” Goodbyes were promptly said and we entered the museum. 

All of this passed so quickly that I didn’t begin rolling her comment around in my head until we were looking at the sublime pointillist paintings of Georges Seurat and his associates. Only then did I think: ISIS, a danger in New York?  ISIS, a danger in Washington? And I had the urge to bolt down the stairs, catch up to her, and say: whatever you do, don’t step off the curb. That’s where danger lies in American life. ISIS, not so much.

The Terrorists Have Our Number

I have no idea what provoked her comment. Maybe she was thinking about a story that had broken just two days earlier, topping the primetime TV news and hitting the front pages of newspapers. On a visit to the Big Apple, the new Iraqi prime minister, Haider al-Abadi,claimed that his intelligence services had uncovered a plot by militants of the Islamic State (IS, aka ISIS or ISIL), the extremists of the new caliphate that had gobbled up part of his country, against the subway systems of Paris, New York, and possibly other U.S. cities.

I had watched Brian Williams report that story on NBC in the usual breathless fashion, along with denials from American intelligence that there was any evidence of such …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Sen. Paul Appears on Fox's Sean Hannity Show- October 6, 2014

October 7, 2014 in Politics & Elections

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Source: RAND PAUL

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The Great Baby Bust: For Some Women, the Recession Means They Will Never Have a Child

October 7, 2014 in Blogs

By Lynn Stuart Parramore, AlterNet

The impact of hard economic times may permanently alter the course of life.


It makes sense to imagine that when economic times are tough, many folks would not be eager to have babies. After all, America is the most expensive place on Earth to give birth, and that's before you even start buying diapers. All told, it takes about a quarter of a million dollars to raise a child, and that doesn't include college.

But when the economy rebounds, does baby-making make a comeback for women who put motherhood off?

According to a large new study released Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, the answer is no. For some U.S. women, living through a recession means that they will not have children. Ever.

The authors, who pored over birth records and census data to track the reproductive histories up to age 40 for every woman born in the U.S. from 1961 to 1970, project that among women who were in their early 20s in 2008, just as the Great Recession was sweeping through America, about 151,000 will not have a child by age 40. They estimate that the recession may mean that there will be at least half a million fewer children being born over the next 20 years.

Now, this doesn't mean that suddently there won't be any more babies, because that's just one specific cohort, and half a million fewer births won't decimate the population. But Janet Currie, a health economist at Princeton University who worked on the study, says that the results show that hard economic times have “a pretty profound effect on some women's lives.”

We knew from earlier studies that women are less likely to have babies when unemployment ticks up, and research has shown that the U.S. experienced a five-year drop in the number of babies born beginning in 2007. But what was not known is that women don't necessarily make up for lost time by having babies later.

John Casterline, an Ohio State University professor who studies childbearing patterns, said the long-term effect of the Great Recession on births is small but …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Saudi Arabia: an Unsavory, Untrustworthy Member of the Anti-ISIL Coalition

October 7, 2014 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

The Obama administration has been busily building an international coalition to combat the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). It is an assemblage that is questionable in terms of both image and substance. At this writing, some 40 nations have joined the coalition, but most of them are little more than paper members offering their best wishes to the United States and a few U.S. allies that will do the overwhelming majority of the military work. Even some supposedly prominent participants show little enthusiasm or cooperation. Ankara, for example, has already refused to participate in combat operations and has even barred the United States from using bases in Turkey to launch air strikes.

The most questionable coalition partner, though, is Saudi Arabia. Indeed, it should be most awkward for Washington and the other Western powers to ally with that country for missions against ISIL. There was understandable revulsion throughout the international community when videos surfaced of ISIL executing Iraqi military prisoners. Then came the even more horrifying images documenting the beheading of two American journalists and a British humanitarian aid worker. But ISIL is not the only perpetrator of such barbarity. In 2014 alone, Saudi Arabia has executed 46 people through beheadings—nearly half of them for nonviolent offenses. Yet Western leaders express muted criticism, at most, of their ally’s odious conduct.

Western leaders badly need to reassess their assumptions about Riyadh’s motives and probable actions.”

Equally troubling, Saudi Arabia bears considerable responsibility for the rise of ISIL in the first place. Riyadh (along with Ankara) enthusiastically backed the insurgents in Syria that have been trying to overthrow the government of Bashar al-Assad. A large portion of Saudi aid, though, went to radical factions that subsequently formed the core of ISIL. It should not have been a surprise that Riyadh lavished much of its assistance on anti-democratic, ultra-religious elements, given the royal family’s long-standing record of promoting the extremist Wahhabi strain of Islam throughout the Muslim world.

Saudi leaders may now realize that their conduct helped create a Frankenstein’s monster in the form of ISIL. But Washington’s assumption that Riyadh, as member of the anti-ISIL coalition, will promote and strengthen “moderates” in Syria and Iraq is a case of wishful thinking. It is far more likely that Saudi Arabia will seek to empower competing hard-line Sunni Arab factions in those countries—factions that are willing to break …read more

Source: OP-EDS