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Bernie Sanders: We Need Medicare for All, Not Cutbacks That Will Kill Our Seniors

July 30, 2015 in Blogs

By Sarah Burris, AlterNet

The 50th anniversary of Medicare is a reminder that this program needs to be stronger to meet today's challenges.


Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Maryland Representative Donna Edwards joined the rally celebrating the 50th anniversary of Medicare in Washington, D.C. this Thursday with several hundred nurses, health care workers, and labor allies.

Senator Sanders touted the success of the Medicare program and the millions of seniors and disabled patients it has helped. “Before Medicare, If you were poor and old or sick, you had no options, you died or you suffered,” he said.

The familiar Sanders crusade to fix financial inequalities is a key reason Sanders says he supports a single-payer system and promised to announce legislation within the next year. “We need to expand Medicare to cover every man, woman, and child,” he told the cheering crowd. “Every year, thousands die just because they can't afford to go to the doctor. No one should go into the hospital and have to file for bankruptcy when they come out.” The Sanders plan, he said, will provide healthcare through the most “cost effective way, and that is a Medicare for all.”

Recent suggestions from Republican Party presidential candidate Jeb Bush that Medicare should be phased out has lead to linguistic punches from many progressive thinkers including economist Paul Krugman, who wrote this week ”It’s the very idea of the government providing a universal safety net that they hate, and they hate it even more when such programs are successful.”

Senator Sanders told The Hill Bush's comments are an example of how far right the Republican Party has become when their so-called moderate candidate is advocating “phasing out” Medicare.  

“As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Medicare, it is important that we defend this enormously important program rather than talk about ending it,” Sanders continued. “Medicare provides health care to 51 million American seniors and people with disabilities and has saved the lives of countless Americans. Further, as a result of the Affordable Care Act, the finances of Medicare have been significantly improved and it is now fully funded for the next 15 years through 2030. Our goal as a nation should be to join the rest of the …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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How Donald Trump Is Causing the 5 Stages of Republican Grief

July 30, 2015 in Blogs

By Marcy Wheeler, Salon

Republicans hoping to take back the White House have found a badly coiffed billionaire standing in their way.


It’s been more than a month since Donald Trump announced his candidacy for presidency. And rather than quickly self-combust, as many expected, the Donald has actually enjoyed a cresting wave of support, taking him straight to the top of the GOP field. Not even a string of high-profile flaps seem to have any impact on the man’s surging popularity.

While once thought of as a flash in the pan, Trump’s candidacy has proven to be a far bigger problem for the Republican Party than establishment figures ever expected. In coping with such a colossal headache, the Party seems to be following the Kübler-Ross model of grief – the model frequently used to describe how people come to grips with the death of a loved one.

Let’s observe:

Step 1: Denial

Most institutional Republicans still appear to still be in the denial stage: “He doesn’t really want to be President, he just wants to run and get lots of attention doing so.” “Primary polling that show him leading the GOP field, by a good margin, is just a mirage.” “His candidacy will fade like those of other novelty GOP candidates in the past, even if he started with far more name recognition and money than any of those predecessors.” “He’s not really worth $9 billion and maybe not even $3 billion.””As soon as yet another imagined dream candidate gets in the race he’ll start eating into Trump’s lead.” ”He — or an staffer – said something so offensive it will make him toxic.” Curiously, this latter form of denial always seems to focus on what Trump said, not what he did.

Step 2: Anger

It’s that series of things that Trump has said, starting with the claim that immigrants are rapists,, which Republicans (fairly) worry might damage the party brand, that has led them to start lashing out — although the response was muted, as anything short of full-blown nativism risks damaging the national prospects of GOP candidates these days.

Trump’s attack on John McCain’s service in …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Walter Palmer Alone Is Not to Blame for Cecil the Lion's Death

July 30, 2015 in Economics

By Marian L. Tupy

Marian L. Tupy

The killing of the majestic lion called Cecil by Walter Palmer, a Minnesota dentist, has been condemned throughout the world. Mr Palmer, who shot the well-known beast after it was lured away from a Zimbabwean game reserve, has expressed regret and gone into hiding.

But he is far from the only one at fault. The government of Zimbabwe has pauperised its nation and starved the country’s wildlife protection units of funds. It has also destroyed property rights and the rule of law.

I visited the Hwange National Park, Cecil’s erstwhile home, in 1995. Even then, Hwange was considered one of Southern Africa’s lesser parks. Infrastructure and accommodation were inferior to others in the region, such as South Africa’s Kruger, Namibia’s Etosha and Botswana’s Chobe. Park officials were unhelpful and sullen. The state of the park and the behaviour of its staff reflected Zimbabwe’s declining fortunes. But things were about to become much worse.

Towards the end of the 1990s, the opposition to Robert Mugabe — the dictator who has misruled the country since 1980 — grew in strength. When he lost a nationwide referendum on a new constitution at the turn of the century, Mugabe realised a defeat in the next election was likely. He decided to destroy the opposition by expropriating the commercial farmers who formed the financial backbone of the opposition movement.

Zimbabwe’s government has starved wildlife protection of funds.”

The frontal attack on the property rights of the farmers wiped out much of Zimbabwe’s export earnings and sent destructive ripples throughout the rest of the economy. Land titles became worthless and could not serve as collateral. The banking sector seized up. The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe stepped in and unleashed the printing presses. What followed was the second greatest hyperinflation in history, which Steve Hanke of Johns Hopkins University estimated to have reached 90 sextillion (that is 9 followed by 22 zeroes) per cent in 2008.

Living standards plummeted to levels last seen in the 1950s. Average life expectancy fell from 63 years to 43. Unemployment rose to between 85 per cent and 90 per cent. The cholera outbreak of 2008 that killed thousands of people merely demonstrated the obvious — Zimbabwe was now a failed country.

Amid the human suffering, starving people resorted to killing their pets and wildlife to survive. Some animals were eaten, while others were killed for their skins. In 2008, which …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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An 'ISIS-free Zone' Is Nothing but a Road to US Mission Creep

July 30, 2015 in Economics

By Emma Ashford

Emma Ashford

The US war against Isis is being fought on autopilot, with little thought given to whether our actions will hurt or help American interests in the long-run. This weeks’ agreement between the United States and Turkey to create an ill-defined “Isis-free zone” in the north of Syria is just the latest example of this problem. Not only will it fail to reconcile the vastly different goals sought by America and its allies, it also risks mission creep, increasing US involvement in the Syrian conflict with little chance of success.

According to US officials, the joint creation of a 68-mile Isis-free zone within Syria is supposed to provide a space where coalition airstrikes eliminate Isis forces and cede control to moderate Syrian rebels focused on combating Isis. It’s still unclear precisely what form this will take, and the confusion rises to the highest levels of Washington and Ankara. Turkish spokesmen, for example, have described it as a safe zone for refugees, a description refuted by US officials.

The US’ involvement in Syria displays no strategy, no boundaries and no clear goals. The only viable long-term solution to Syria’s problems is diplomacy.”

US officials have also been clear that the agreement will not encompass a no-fly zone. Since Isis possesses no air power of any kind, the US has previously refused the demands of states like Turkey and Saudi Arabia to create a no-fly zone — similar to that put in place in Libya in 2011. A no-fly zone would prevent Assad from carrying out airstrikes, benefiting anti-government Syrian rebels, but would be extremely costly and bring the US into direct conflict with the Assad regime. Here we see a familiar conundrum: the United States says it is only engaged in fighting Isis, but its Middle Eastern allies also aim to overthrow the Assad regime.

The US refusal to impose a no fly-zone is a wise policy. There is no doubt that Bashar al-Assad’s regime is monstrous, but a violent overthrow would create a power vacuum which would primarily benefit Isis, al-Nusra and other extremist groups operating in Syria. This is where US wisdom begins to wane: even without a formal no-fly zone, the creation of a US-backed Isis-free zone moves us closer to direct confrontation with the Assad regime.

Furthermore, the ambiguity around the ‘Isis-free zone’ creates a clear risk of escalation. It’s unclear, for example, whether groups engaged …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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The IMF Experts Flunk, Again

July 30, 2015 in Economics

By Steve H. Hanke

image

Steve H. Hanke

My Globe Asia column in May was titled “Greece: Down and Probably Out.” Well, it’s out. Yes, Greece descended from drama to farce rapidly.

If all goes according to plan, the left-wing Greek government will come to an agreement with the so-called troika — the European Commission (EC), the European Central Bank (ECB), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) — over the details of a third bailout program by August 20th. This rescue package will probably be worth €86 billion (U.S. $94.5 billion). So, since 2010, Greece will have received three bailouts worth a whopping €430 billion (U.S. $472.2 billion). This amounts to a staggering €39,000 (U.S. $42,831) for every man, woman, and child in Greece.

Like past bailouts, the third one will fail to stop Greece’s economic death spiral. The experts from the EC, ECB, and particularly those from the IMF have been wrong about the prospects for the Greek economy since day one. The experts have failed to embrace a coherent theory of national income determination. Indeed, they have often engaged in ad hoc theorizing that has, at times, appeared to be convoluted and politically motivated. The result has been a series of wildly optimistic forecasts about the course of the Greek economy followed by wrongheaded policies.

What has been missing from the experts’ toolkit is the monetarist model of national income determination. The monetary approach posits that changes in the money supply, broadly determined, cause changes in nominal national income and the price level (as well as relative prices — like asset prices). Sure enough, the growth of broad money and nominal GDP are closely linked. The data in the following chart speak loudly to the linkage.

Greece’s monetary tune started to be played by the ECB in 2001, when Greece was allowed to adopt the euro on false pretenses. Yes, the experts at the Hellenic Statistical Authority had cooked the Greek books, and the experts at Eurostat knew the Greek data were phony. Still, Greece was allowed to enter the eurozone.

Following the Northern Rock fiasco and bank run in September 2007 and the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers in September 2008, the ECB allowed the supply of state money to grow. Then, in 2009, Jürgen Stark, the ECB chief economist, convinced the President of the ECB Jean-Claude Trichet that state money (the monetary base) was growing too rapidly and that excessive inflation was just around the corner. In …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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The Best Argument against Immigration

July 29, 2015 in Economics

By Alex Nowrasteh

Alex Nowrasteh

Volumes of research and centuries of experience do not bear out claims that immigrants “take our jobs,” don’t learn English, and fail to assimilate. But the idea that immigrants could vote to upend our relatively free economy has an air of credibility. It is arguably the best argument against liberalizing immigration.

Although immigrants are a boon to our economy and their children do reliably assimilate, immigrants could kill the goose that lays the golden eggs by undermining our free market institutions. In other words, will they come here, become citizens, and vote socialist, populist, or worse?

Fortunately, there is little evidence that immigrants make countries less free.

The United States has the 12th freest economy in the world, but most immigrants are from societies that are markedly less free than ours: the top three immigrant—sending countries in 2013 were China, India, and Mexico, ranked 115th, 110th, and 91st, respectively. If immigrants bring the impoverishing institutions of their homelands with them, the long—run economic impact of immigration could turn negative.

Testing the most plausible argument for closed borders.”

In a recent academic paper, my coauthors and I compared economic freedom scores with immigrant populations across 100 countries over 21 years. Some countries were majority immigrant while some had virtually none. We found that the larger a country’s immigrant population was in 1990, the more economic freedom increased in the same country by 2011. The immigrant’s country of origin, and whether they came from a poor nation or a rich one, didn’t affect the outcome.

These results held for the United States federal government but not for state governments. States with greater immigrant populations in 1990 had less economic freedom in 2011 than those with fewer immigrants, but the difference was small. The national increase in economic freedom more than outweighed the small decrease in economic freedom in states with more immigrants.

A related worry is that immigrants and their descendants would vote to expand welfare benefits for themselves. State governments can set the benefit and spending levels for welfare programs in their own states, and they also have varying levels of immigration and ethnic diversity. This provided a perfect opportunity for economist Zac Gochenour of Western Carolina University and me to test how immigrants affect welfare.

A state’s population of immigrants, illegal immigrants, Hispanics, Asians, ethnic or racial diversity caused by immigration, or any combination of the above did not affect the size …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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How Piketty Misses the Point

July 29, 2015 in Economics

Thomas Piketty’s book, first published in French in 2013, was released in English last year to wide acclaim and a top position on the New York Times bestseller list.  But in the new issue of Cato Policy Report, Deirdre N. McCloskey says that, in focusing solely on the distribution of income, Piketty overlooks the most surprising secular event in history: the Great Enrichment of the average individual on the planet by a factor of 10 and in rich countries by a factor of 30 or more.  Also in this issue, Cato executive vice president David Boaz explains how two recent issues – gay marriage and trade agreements – illustrate how politically realistic reform plans (or second-best solutions) still push public debate and public policy in a direction consistent with liberty and limited government.

…read more

Source: CATO HEADLINES

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King v. Burwell Expanded Obamacare Even More than You Know

July 29, 2015 in Economics

By Michael F. Cannon

Michael F. Cannon

In King v. Burwell, Chief Justice John Roberts did the Obama administration a bigger favor than he realized. Writing for a himself and five colleagues, Roberts blessed the administration’s expansion of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, employer mandate, and premium subsidies in the 34 states that refused to establish exchanges — even though the majority, to say nothing of the three dissenters, recognized that expansion was in direct conflict with “the most natural reading of the pertinent statutory phrase.”

In fact, as enacted by Congress, the ACA denies the government authority to implement those taxes and subsidies in any state. By disregarding the plain meaning of the operative statutory language, the Roberts court not only unwittingly headed off a second wave of similar lawsuits in the 16 states that did choose to establish exchanges. It effectively ratified a nationwide system of taxes and entitlements that no Congress ever authorized.

The ACA directs states to establish health-insurance “exchanges” and directs the secretary of Health and Human Services to establish exchanges in states that fail to do so. For those who buy coverage, it authorizes premium subsidies, but only “through an Exchange established by the State.” The mere availability of those premium subsidies triggers — indeed, is currently triggering — penalties against individuals and employers who fail to purchase the mandated coverage.

100 million Americans are living under taxes no Congress ever authorized, that no Congress had the votes to authorize, and that Congress allowed only if their states met certain requirements.”

All nine justices agreed that “the most natural reading of the pertinent statutory phrase” is that the subsidies and resulting taxes are not authorized in states with federal exchanges. By extending those measures to the 34 states that refused to establish exchanges themselves, the government is imposing never-legislated taxes on 70 million Americans.

Yet another feature of the ACA, one never raised before any court, is that, in effect, Congress also required the federal government to establish exchanges in all 50 states. Just as the ACA directs the secretary of HHS to establish exchanges in states that fail to establish their own, it also directs her to establish exchanges in states that fail to establish a reinsurance program. Or a risk-adjustment program. Or that fail to implement the ACA’s numerous health-insurance regulations.

Indeed, if a state “fail[s]” to “elect” to implement any of these …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Mises Weekends: Bob Murphy on Cooperation, Enterprise, and Human Action

July 29, 2015 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

Bob Murphy on Mises Weekends

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Mises Weekends: Bob Murphy on Cooperation, Enterprise, and Human Action

July 29, 2015

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Not Everybody Went to Ashley Madison For Extramarital Sex

July 28, 2015 in Blogs

By Rachel Kramer Bussel, Salon

Hackers threaten to expose clients of the extramarital dating site—but many aren't even there for sex.


Every morning, I ask my boyfriend the same question: “How did you sleep?”

And every morning, I receive the same answer: “In a bed.” Wait—that’s not exactly right. Now that he has a fancy new Sleep Number, he’s adjusted it to “In a bed that goes up and down.”

It was funny the first few times I heard it, but quickly grew as tiring as hearing him say “Fine” when I ask how his day at work went. These are not our only linguistic battles.

Having never lived with a partner before, when I moved in with him two years ago, I assumed that we would talk about anything and everything, since we’d see each other much more often. What I didn’t take into account is that we have very different thresholds for what’s worth sharing. Whereas I am likely to blurt out every thought and emotion as they enter my mind, he plays his feelings much closer to the vest. I have to ask very pointed, specific questions, read his vocal cues, and often, simply be patient—and accept that sometimes I’m just never going to get him to tell me what he’s thinking or feeling. It’s taken a long while to accept this as part of his makeup, not a personal affront, or a sign that he doesn’t trust me. I’ve never been in as serious a relationship, and most of my previous ones have been with people who were more forthcoming. I don’t mean to imply that he never tells me what he’s feeling, just that it’s not such an easy thing for him.

This is often frustrating, and it’s also made me more self-conscious about sharing my emotional ups and downs, because that leaves me feeling like our relationship is lopsided: He comforts me when, say, I’m having a panic attack about an international trip, as I was last night, but I rarely get to comfort him in the same way. I recognize that maybe it’s narcissistic and unrealistic to expect him to …read more

Source: ALTERNET