You are browsing the archive for 2014 October 16.

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Leland B. Yeager: Master of the Fluttering Veil

October 16, 2014 in Economics

By John P. Cochran

One of the more important monetary theorists of the mid to late 1900s, Leland Yeager, Ludwig von Mises Professor of Economics, Emeritus, at Auburn University, recently turned 90. The Mises Institute last week hosted a reception his honor. Multiple tributes to Professor Yeager are available at the free banking blog.  Well worth reading to anyone interested in monetary economics.

Steve Horwitz has referred to Yeager as “one of the most underappreciated economists.” Horwitz summarizes, quite correctly, the importance of Yeager’s contributions thusly, “Everyone who finds Austrian economics valuable and wants to comment on monetary matters should not do so until they have read and digested Yeager’s work.” I would add more broadly, ANYONE, Austrian leaning or not, who wants to comment on monetary matters should not do so until they have read and digested Yeager’s insightful work. The Fluttering Veil is a great collection of Yeager’s major contributions.

For those who might be interested, Credit Creation or Financial Intermediation?: Fractional-Reserve Banking in a Growing Economy, provides a quibble with some aspects of Yeager’s work relative to ABCT.

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Everyone in America Could Go to College for Free for the Amount of Money Spent on Mideast Wars

October 16, 2014 in Blogs

By Imara Jones, ColorLines

Students on the verge of entering high school have never known a time when the United States is not at war.


The United States is just three weeks into the latest phase of its effort in Iraq against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria—the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria militant group—but already there are calls for it to escalate.

This past Sunday on CNN, Senator John McCain (R-Ala.) advocated for a greater number of U.S. ground troops to get directly involved in fighting the group. ISIS is “winning, we’re not,” McCain complained. McCain is not alone. His sentiments have been echoed by others in Congress and among key American allies around the world such as the United Kingdom and Turkey.

The problem is that the unfinished business in Iraq and Afghanistan shows us that scaling up the military campaign against ISIS will create severe costs that won’t be shouldered equally by all Americans. Sadly this fact is lost on many involved in the debate.

Before launching headlong into a third Iraq War it’s important to step back and review the costs of the past 13 years of combat. Not surprisingly, the sacrifice of war, monetary and otherwise are disproportionately borne by people of color and the young.

According to The Costs of War project at Brown University, the total costs for the second Iraq War and the ongoing one in Afghanistan is $4.4 trillion. Cost-wise, these two conflicts should be considered as one because it has long been established that the war in Iraq prolonged the one in Afghanistan by drawing away resources from it and causing it to drag on. Everyone in the country could go to college for nearly a decade free of charge with $4.4 trillion.

What’s astounding is that this eye-popping price tag could very well be the tip of the iceberg. As Costs of War points out “each additional month and year of war adds to that toll. In fact, total costs could stretch as high as $6 trillion in the coming years as veterans benefits and the like tally up.

Beyond the monetary issues there are others that are …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Leonard Liggio, RIP

October 16, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

liggio

Ralph Raico writes in Mises Daily:

Leonard Liggio has died, at the age of 81.

He was my friend for close to sixty years, and I came to know him well. Today my mind is filled with thoughts and memories of him.

Leonard was a Catholic, a scholar, and a libertarian.

His Catholic faith was his lodestar. Leonard was a “birthright Catholic,” and from his childhood through to university and graduate work at Georgetown and Fordham and for the rest of his life, Leonard enriched his understanding of his religion and participated in the sacraments of his Church. Ultimately, he was admitted into the Order of the Knights of Malta.

But he was also a Christian in another sense as well. I never witnessed Leonard treat other people with anything but evident respect, and his life was filled with innumerable kindnesses. A small example: once Leonard took me to a meeting of Dorothy Day’sCatholic Worker group. Day was a left-anarchist with confused views on economics, but he favored her for her opposition to war and because each year she and her associate Ammon Hennacy publicly protested on the anniversary of the atomic incineration of the Japanese cities. I saw Leonard privately slip to Day what was at the time a notable contribution. Here also he was following Jesus’s admonition, “When you do some act of charity, do not announce it with a flourish of trumpets, as the hypocrites do in synagogue and in the streets…when you do some act of charity, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing…”

Leonard Liggio was a humble man. He never stood in judgment of the personal foibles and idiosyncrasies of his friends. I suppose he believed that his job was to see to the perfecting of his own soul. Yet he could act forcefully. Once when we traveling in Europe, in Germany as I recall, I was startled to hear Leonard say, “Your hand is in my pocket!” I saw that he had caught a young woman’s forearm in an iron grip. He cast it disdainfully away, and the little thief scampered off.

Leonard was a man of immense learning, the most learned person I knew of his generation. Yet no one ever wore his learning more lightly. He pioneered the study of the highly significant school of French liberals of the early nineteenth century, introducing them to the English-speaking world. He introduced …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Int'l Community Promises to Rebuild Gaza … with Sweat Shops to Exploit Palestinian Workers

October 16, 2014 in Blogs

By Max Blumenthal, AlterNet

As Israeli officials vow to turn Gaza into Darfur, the international community pledges billions to sustain the brutal status quo.


The Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip has brought with it a depressingly familiar ritual: The Israeli military destroys large swaths of the ghettoized coastal enclave, leaving tens of thousands homeless, a trail of carnage and piles of rubble. Then, Western and Arab diplomats rush to some Middle Eastern capitol to play janitor to the Jewish state, pledging billions in aid to clean up Israel’s mess. And like clockwork, Israel destroys everything all over again just a year or two later, bombarding Gaza with unprecedented ferocity.

When Israel’s international janitorial crew gathered this week in Cairo with a pledge to raise $5 billion to help rebuild the $8 billion in damage Israel caused to Gaza’s civilian population, it was assured by Israeli Minister of Transportation Yisrael Katz that its efforts were utterly futile. “The Gazans must decide what they want to be Singapore or Darfur,” Katz remarked, leveling the threat of genocide against the fantasy of economic prosperity. “They can pick between economic recovery and war and destruction. If they choose terror, the world should not waste its money. If one missile will be fired, everything will go down the drain.”  

The message was not lost on the diplomats assembled in Cairo. As one told AFP, ”We have seen infrastructure projects that we have contributed to which have been destroyed.” The diplomat complained that the sustained Israeli assaults on Gaza’s infrastructure had prompted “considerable donor fatigue.”

Johan Schaar, the head of Development Cooperation for the Swedish Consulate in occupied Palestine, conceded that Israel’s limitless capacity for violence had rendered the conference a fruitless endeavor. “No one can expect us to go back to our taxpayers for a third time to ask for contributions to reconstruction and then we simply go back to where we were before all this began,” he moaned. “That is out of the question.”

Only about half of the $5 billion pledged at Cairo would actually be budgeted towards Gaza reconstruction. The rest, according to …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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6 Big Problems With America's Ebola Response, According to a Leading Infectious Disease Specialist

October 16, 2014 in Blogs

By Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet

Why we are profoundly unprepared.


While fears and rumors are spreading faster than the Ebola virus in the U.S., the past few days have shown that America’s hospitals are not well prepared to deal with a spreading outbreak and are rushing to fill in gaps as mistakes emerge.

This week’s news has shown that even major hospitals and their staffs have not been sufficiently trained nor equipped to detect the virus or handle patients with it. That’s been seen in the third case that arose at a prestigious Dallas hospital—the eighth largest in Texas—where a second nurse in a team of 100 that treated Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian who died of the virus, became infected from that care-giving.

Compounding that development was the fact that federal health officials overseeing the nation’s Ebola response gave permission to a nurse to fly on a commercial jet to Ohio after she reported a low-grade fever. The nurse has since been taken to a special infectious disease center in Maryland, with biohazard isolation rooms and other protocols that are not commonly found in most hospitals.       

“They are learning infection control on the fly,” DeAnn McEwen, chief of infection control for National Nurses United, the country’s largest union of nurses, said on Wednesday, saying both federal officials and hospitals have been far too lax.

One infectious disease specialist contacted by AlterNet who runs that department for a major urban hospital made these and other similar points earlier this week, which have been borne out as hospitals across the U.S. begin to look at more thorough protocols than previously recommended by federal officials.

The infectious disease specialist’s major points are:

1. Most American hospitals are not equipped to handle Ebola. They are not like Emory University or the country’s handful of bio-containment centers. They don't have the space suits, isolation rooms, and training to deal with Ebola patients.

2. Nobody knows how the Texas nurses got the virus when treating Duncan. They didn't have the training or precautionary gear, even after the Presbyterian Hospital emergency staff failed to correctly diagnose Duncan at first and discharged him.

3. Initial assurances …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Smut in Jesusland: Why Red-State Conservatives Are the Biggest Porn Hounds

October 16, 2014 in Blogs

By Valerie Tarico, AlterNet

Their guiding principle seems to be, “Do as I say, not as I do.”


Red-state conservatives may insist that the rest of us should keep aspirin between our knees and be forced to bear Divine Justice Babies if we don’t. They may refuse to provide cake or flowers for gay weddings, or even to attend. They may pretend that teens won’t do it if we just don’t tell them how. They may adopt the Church Lady posture if anyone mentions sex that doesn’t involve one man, one woman, the missionary position and a pulsing desire for more offspring.

But online search traffic from behind closed doors in Jesusland suggests that the bad, nasty, sexual impulses righteous believers are trying so hard to shut down may be their own. And if Google search patterns mean anything, they’re not succeeding too well: studies consistently demonstrate that people in conservative religious states search for adult materials online far more often than people in blue states. 

Ever since Freud first started publishing his theories, psychologists have had a fascination with what he called “defense mechanisms“:

  • Denial means simply refusing to acknowledge that some event or pattern is real.
  • Repression involves pushing uncomfortable thoughts and feelings to the far recesses of the subconscious mind. 
  • Reaction formation is saying or doing the opposite of what you really want but won’t allow yourself to express.
  • Projection means assuming that others share the impulses, feelings, and vices that you find unacceptable in yourself.

Freud had a lot of ideas that haven’t withstood the test of time or the scientific method, but defense mechanisms have stuck, in part because they are so useful for explaining some of humanities' more bizarre behaviors. Like, perhaps, the conservative obsession with controlling everyone else’s sexual behavior.

For almost two centuries, what happened in the Bible Belt, sexually at least, stayed in the Bible Belt. Oh sure, there was the odd scandal involving a small-town preacher and the pretty young wife of a deacon or youth minister, or a big-name televangelist who, for example, asked male followers to get vasectomies and then examined their swollen willies. And there were the shocking-shocking-I-tell-you revelations of evangelical leaders feeling up young …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Trade as Good as Gold—or, How the Hanseatic League Thrived without Debt

October 16, 2014 in Economics

By Carmen Elena Dorobăț

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We’re often told that international trade thrives on debt. In an especially risky line of business, financial intermediation, with its loans and guarantees, is the indispensable infrastructure for the progress of commerce. Perhaps entrepreneurs wouldn’t even consider selling goods to foreigners if it weren’t for banks and credit markets to finance them. Naturally, if and when markets fail in this role, Ex-Im Banks and other government intervention must provide ‘extra liquidity’ for trade.

While this string of non-sequiturs sweeps economists of all stripes, international trade—or better yet, trade in general—is better off not ‘banking on’ such helping hands. Without doubt, loans have their economic role, but retained earnings, equity, or simply cash-hoarding can be just as effective in transferring purchasing power to entrepreneurs. In fact, international trade thrived in times when banking and financial systems were not only in their in their infancy, but also when oceanic trade was dangerous and expensive.  Nonetheless, it began as a self-financed venture, a venture for which merchants themselves set money aside. The Hanseatic League (c. 13th to 17th century)—a commercial association of traders from German towns—is a good example of this type of financial behavior.

Philippe Dollinger’s detailed chronicle of Hansa’s development shows that trades were financed from a merchant’s own accounts, or from those of his associates. Entrepreneurs bought shares in each cargo and in each ship, and subsequent profits and losses were divided in proportion to the capital invested; the captains of the ships, who sailed together for mutual protection, sometimes joined the ranks of shareholders. In spreading their investments over several cargoes—diversifying their portfolios, as it were— merchants also reduced the risk of transporting their goods over long distances. For centuries, no banks took part in these commercial networks, “but this in no way precluded the existence of merchants operating on a large scale, investing large amounts of capital, carrying out … complex commercial operations in various geographic regions” (Dollinger 1970, 168).

The Hanseatic League’s approach to business was furthermore defined by an outright hostility to debt, as the practice of borrowing money was proscribed in many mercantile quarters. By the 14th century, Hanseatic towns embarked upon a systematic campaign against financing commerce via credit,

on the grounds that it caused instability of prices, which would upset business. Sometimes a buyer… not being obliged to pay on the nail, would agree to an excessive credit. …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Want to Be a Happier, More Successful Person? Try the Power of Negative Thinking

October 16, 2014 in Blogs

By Oliver Burkeman, The Guardian

New book suggests we rethink that whole positive thinking thing.


In 2011, the New York University psychologist Gabriele Oettingenpublished the results of an elegant study, conducted with her colleagueHeather Kappes, in which participants were deprived of water. Some of these parched volunteers were then taken through a guided visualisation exercise, in which they were asked to picture an icy glass of water, the very thing they presumably craved. Afterwards, by measuring everyone’s blood pressure, Oettingen discovered that the exercise had drained people’s energy levels, and made them relax. The implication is startling: picturing an imaginary glass of water might make people less motivated to get up and head to the watercooler or the tap in order to quench their real, non-imaginary thirst.

This conclusion is precisely the reverse of one of the central tenets of pop psychology: the idea that picturing the future you desire makes it more likely you’ll attain it. Again and again, in her research, Oettingen has shown that making a fantasy of something you want can make it harder to achieve in reality. Imagine yourself having a productive week, and you’ll accomplish less. Imagine receiving a windfall of cash, and you’ll be less motivated to engage in the kinds of activities that might bring you money. Intriguingly – though admittedly the link may not be causal – there’s even a relationship between how much “positive thinking” language American presidents use in their inaugural speeches, and how much unemployment rates change by the end of their presidential terms. The more positive the fantasy about the future, the fewer jobs in real life.

Fist-pumping motivational gurus have long claimed that your brain “can’t distinguish between reality and imagination”. Ironically, Oettingen’s experiments show they’re right about that – but also that the conclusion they draw is spectacularly wrong. Attempting to “experience your success as if it had already materialized” is a fast-track to disappointment.

Thankfully, not all kinds of thinking about the future are quite so self-sabotaging. In Oettingen’s new book, Rethinking Positive Thinking, published in the USon Thursday and elsewhere next month, she makes the case for “mental contrasting”, a technique that …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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'New York Times' Journalist James Risen Prepared to "Pay Any Price" to Report on War on Terror

October 16, 2014 in Blogs

By Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!

Risen, who could face prison time, says that “without aggressive investigative reporting, we can’t really have a democracy.”


In an interview with Democracy Now!, New York Times journalist James Risen talked about the investigative reporting surrounding the NSA that has put him in the center of a major press freedom case. The Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, who had just released a new book titled “Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War,” told Amy Goodman:  “You cannot have aggressive investigative reporting in America without confidential sources — and without aggressive investigative reporting, we can’t really have a democracy. I think that is what the government really fears more than anything else.” Risen also detailed revelations he makes in his new book about what he calls the “homeland security-industrial complex.”

Below is an interview with Risen, followed by a transcript:

AMY GOODMAN: Today we spend the hour with the journalist at the center of one of the most significant press freedom cases in decades: veteran New York Times investigative reporter James Risen. In 2006, Risen won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting about warrantless wiretapping by the National Security Agency. His story would have come out right before the 2004 presidential election of President Bush over John Kerry. It might have changed the outcome of that election. But under government pressure, The New York Times refused to publish the story for more than a year, until James Risen was publishing a book that would have had the revelations in it. He’s since been pursued by both the Bush and Obama administrations in a six-year leak investigation into that book, State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration.

James Risen now faces years in prison if he refuses to testify at the trial of a former CIA officer accused of giving him classified information. In June, the Supreme Court turned down his appeal of a court ruling forcing him to testify in the criminal trial of ex-CIA analyst Jeffrey Sterling, who prosecutors believe gave him information on the agency’s role in disrupting Iran’s …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Market Choices in Cannabis, Plus Cooking Classes

October 16, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

meds

As part of a follow-up to my article on cannabis industry and its many related industries, I picked up a copy of Culture magazine, which bills itself as “the #1 cannabis lifestyle magazine” at  a Denver pizza place. I was intrigued by the ads. A lot of them are what you’d expect: hippie or stoner-themed ads for, well, stoners. But many ads were for more sophisticated users such as this one which illustrates how the market, when legal, can provide a wide array of different strengths and features of the cannabis itself.  In the black market, on the other hand, you’re just stuck with whatever your shady and unaccountable illegal dealer happens to have.

And of course, there’s money to be made in related service industries, such as this one which teaches cannabis cuisine: 

meds2

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE