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Electronic Music and the Market Test

August 27, 2015 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

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Electronic Music and the Market Test

August 27, 2015

https://mises.org/blog/science-and-market-testAn interesting theme in a 2014 documentary on electronic music (recently added to Netflix instant place), I Dream of Wires, is the tension between two different philosophies of…

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Correcting the "Historical Accident" of Opt-Out Requirements

August 27, 2015 in Economics

By Andrew M. Grossman, David B. Rivkin Jr.

Andrew M. Grossman and David B. Rivkin Jr.

Whatever the fate of mandatory “fair share” payments that nonmembers are often required to make to fund public-sector unions’ collective bargaining activities, Friedrichs will likely mark the end of requirements that dissenting workers take action to “opt out” of funding public-sector unions’ political and ideological activities, the subject of the second question that the Court agreed to consider. Although less prominent than the forced-payments issue, ending opt-out requirements would correct a serious anomaly in the Court’s First Amendment jurisprudence, one that facilitates tens of millions of dollars annually in union political spending of funds obtained through inertia, trickery, and coercion.

If everyone agrees that forcing public employees to subsidize a labor union’s political or ideological speech impinges their First Amendment rights — and the Court has been unanimous on that point for decades — then what possible justification is there for requiring workers who’ve declined to join the union to go through the arduous process of opting out from making such payments year after year? Put differently, why not allow workers who support a union’s political activities to opt in to funding them, rather than require dissenting workers to play a game of cat and mouse to stop the union from taking their money to fund ideological causes they likely oppose? We’ve never heard a compelling justification for the current “opt out” regime and, like the majority in Knox v. SEIU, suspect that there isn’t one.

Instead, as the Court recounted in Knox, “acceptance of the opt-out approach appears to have come about more as a historical accident than through the careful application of First Amendment principles.” In early cases, workers subject to the Railway Labor Act sought relief from being forced to fund unions’ political activities, and the Court assumed (the statute saying nothing one way or the other) that allowing them to affirmatively object to funding such expenditures would be sufficient to protect their rights. Without any reasoning or analysis, the Court in Abood further assumed that the opt-out approach discussed in those prior statutory cases was sufficient to remedy the First Amendment violation when a public employee is coerced into subsidizing political or ideological speech by the threat of loss of governmental employment.

Ending opt-out requirements would correct a serious anomaly in the Court’s First Amendment jurisprudence.”

But that was a dubious assumption, for both legal and practical reasons. As …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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The GOP's Shocking Attack on America's National Forests

August 27, 2015 in Blogs

By Reynard Loki, AlterNet

Two Republican bills in Congress seek to pillage U.S. National Forests in the name of corporate profit.


Two Republican bills currently making their way through Congress should anger any American who cares about the nation's forests. Introduced this summer, both bills are pro-industry and anti-environment, and seek to eliminate public participation in federal decisions about forest management that could negatively impact local communities, ecological health and wildlife.

The first bill,

Fire suppression and post-fire logging have destroyed much of the natural habitat of the Black-backed woodpecker, a threatened species that needs fire-killed trees to survive. (image: Rachel Fazio/John Muir Project)

“One pair of Black-backed woodpeckers generally needs at least 200 acres, typically with at least 100 standing fire-killed trees per acre, on average, in order to have enough of their prey — native wood-boring beetle larvae which live under the bark of fire-killed trees — to survive,” according to JMP. “Once relatively common, before fire suppression and post-fire logging, this species is now extremely rare, and there are no meaningful protections for its habitat on either public or private lands. It is estimated that as few as 1000 pairs remain in California (600 pairs)/Oregon (400 pairs) with less than 500 pairs remaining in Black Hills of South Dakota.”

Rachel Fazio, JMP's associate director, told AlterNet that the California spotted owl also is “adversely affected by both green-tree thinning (which destroys or degrades both nesting and foraging habitat) and post-fire logging (which destroys its preferred foraging habitat) — both of which tend to result in territory abandonment.” Last week, Sierra Forest Legacy and Defenders of Wildlife filed a petition to list the California spotted owl under the Endangered Species Act.

JMP argues that these bills, by “dispensing with environmental review, oversight by the courts, and doubling or tripling logging levels, will only mean further threats to these species and an overall reduction in native biodiversity in both green and burned forests.”

“Let's face it,” Fazio said, “Any way you cut it, these bills would be devastating for imperiled wildlife species.”

<img alt="" class="media-image" height="2592" style="width: …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Has Lessig Lost It? Democratic 'Reformer' Who Contemplates Running Applauds Trump

August 27, 2015 in Blogs

By Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet

Larry Lessig is a case study in the dangers of single issue politics.


Some single-issue activists see the light. Others are blinded by it.

Somewhere in between these poles is Larry Lessig, the Harvard Law School professor who became a celebrity in Silicon Valley intellectual property circles but then discovered how America’s system of privately financed political campaigns and the follow-up culture of insider-driven lobbying has toxically corrupted our democracy.

In recent years, Lessig has moved from a pro-democracy critic on the Ted Talk circuit, to a protester marching across wintery New Hampshire calling for structural fundraising reforms, to the irony-embracing creator of a super PAC—funded by 50,000 Internet-inspired small donors and a handful of tech millionaires—that backed congressional candidates (Democrats and Republicans) in 2014 who pledged they’d put campaign finance reform at the top of their agenda if elected (most lost), to a potential 2016 Democratic presidential candidate. Lessig said, if elected, that he would resign after Congress adopted three sweeping democracy reforms: guaranteed voting rights, ending gerrymandered districts, and most important, ending private fundraising.

Lessig’s critique that the root of American political corruption primarily lies with the way the candidates for public office have to raise private money and then service donors is true. His prescription that the remedy lies with adopting nationwide publicly financed campaigns has been the agreed-upon solution among progressive reformers for decades. However, as the takeover of American elections by the wealthiest Americans keeps spiraling out of control—as witnessed by the rash of million-dollar-plus donations underwriting many of 2016’s presidential contenders—Lessig is becoming the embodiment the old cliché: desperate times require desperate measures.

In his case, the latest example is not launching a 2016 presidential exploratory committee where he pledged to resign as soon as reforms are enacted. It’s his recent endorsement of Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy, including offering to join his ticket, because Trump has been speaking the truth about how money corrupts politics and politicians.

“Donald Trump is the biggest gift to the movement for reform since the Supreme Court gave us Citizens United,” Lessig told Politico.com, referring …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Why the Recurring Economic Crises?

August 27, 2015 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

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Why the Recurring Economic Crises?

August 27, 2015

A selection from Chapter 42 of Economic Controversies.

Why, then, does the business cycle recur? Why does the next boom-and-bust cycle always begin? To answer that, we have to understand the motivations of the banks…

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Now Online: Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics 18, no. 2 (Summer 2015)

August 27, 2015 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

Blog

Now Online: Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics 18, no. 2 (Summer 2015)

August 27, 2015

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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WATCH: Nearly Naked Miley Cyrus Makes Some Great Points About Our Nipple Hang-ups

August 27, 2015 in Blogs

By Janet Allon, AlterNet

“If you have your tits out, you can't really be an a*&hole.”


Miley Cyrus discussed her love of nudity with Jimmy Kimmel in Wednesday night, while wearing heart-shaped pasties and a glitter cape ensemble. Jimmy Kimmel admitted he was having a hard time concentrating on their conversation, a problem he apparently shared with Sir Paul McCartney.

But aside from her garish attire, Cyrus made some excellent points about people's hang-ups about breasts, body-shaming and nudity. 

“I see a lot of people with their clothes on and they're assholes,” she pointed out. “I don't know if it's the clothes or what. If you have your tits out, you can't really be an asshole.”

She also pointed out that the issue is not breasts. “America's actually fine with tits,” she said. “It's the nipple they can't handle.”

Cyrus divulged where she shops for pasties, and mentioned how little she spends on clothes. “I'm very eco-friendly,” she said. “I'm a vegan-nudist.”

Cyrus did reveal some hang-ups about the human body at the end. But, hey…

Watch: 

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Source: ALTERNET

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One Disturbing 'Headline' Speaks Volumes About Our Economy—and Helps Explain Sanders' Rise

August 27, 2015 in Blogs

By Steven D, DailyKos

Bernie Sanders' rise in popularity is due in large part to his willingness to speak the truth about the real economic struggles.


You have all seen those click bait titles at the end of some article you've read, trying to grab your attention.  The one's that begin “One weird trick …” have become both a joke and a cliche, and yet people still click through to the link.  Why?  Well, I finished reading an article on a sports site this morning, that was definite click bait material, but in a way that I found profoundly disturbing.  What was the title you ask?  Well here it is:

An Extremely Brilliant Way To Avoid Paying Interest

On Your Credit Card Balance

I'm not going to give you the link.  That isn't the point.  What that click bait ad title implies, and not so subtlety, is that there are large numbers of people desperately struggling with a large amount of personal debt, whether debt incurred to pay for basic necessities such as food, shelter, and clothing, or debt incurred to pay off past debt back when they had a better job, or any job at all. Or people with large medical debts to pay off, because many do, despite the improvement in the cost of health insurance the ACA has helped bring about for many families, but sadly, not all. Or so many younger (and not so younger people know) with large amounts of student loan debt.

Not to mention the far more worrisome massive increase in personal credit card debt over the last year.

Credit card debt is ballooning, leaving American households with a net increase of $57.1 billion in new credit card debt in 2014, according to a new survey from CardHub. The credit card comparison site said it's forecasting new credit card debt will rise 5 percent in 2015, reaching $60 billion this year.

While the increased spending could signal that Americans are feeling more sanguine about their prospects and the economy, it's also a cause for concern given that most workers aren't seeing the type of wage growth that would support …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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The Possibility that You Might Get Shot Is a Depressing Fact of American Life

August 27, 2015 in Blogs

By Megan Carpentier, The Guardian

The Virginia shootings are part of a cycle in which innocent people are murdered and politicians get away with doing nothing


The first time I did something about America’s epidemic of mass shootings was not when I looked up and saw on TV that a child had shot up a school full of children – although that’s happened a lot of times here.

It wasn’t when I saw a horrific video playing on a loop on Facebook on Wednesday, like so much of the rest of the world did, after another video of the same killing played in a loop on the the cable networks and across Twitter, even as people called for the Virginia video to disappear.

No, there wasn’t social media or an online death reel of snuff films in the midst ofa sniper’s killing spree in the Washington DC metro area, way back in 2002.

I didn’t write my then-congressman demanding more gun control, of which we have little.

I didn’t email my then-senators demanding that they do something to reduce the number of guns on the streets, because I knew they didn’t really read their emails.

I didn’t even call my state assemblywoman or my state senator in Richmond, Virginia, to demand that they close the state’s well-known and egregious loophole that lets people buy guns easily at gun shows.

Instead, I positioned the back of my car toward a building, and stood, bent over, behind my car door while I pumped gas – in case a teenage sniper was aiming at me, from somewhere I couldn’t see, hunting me.

The blasé acceptance that, yes, you might well get shot some day is as much of a facet of American life in 2015 as it was in 2002. We are as desensitized now as we were were in 1993, when Colin McCarthy shot up a Long Island Railroad train car of commuters and in 1984, when James Huberty shot up a McDonalds in San Ysidro, California. The<a target=_blank href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/~/t/0/0/alternet/~www.timesunion.com/local/article/Recalling-three-hours-of-terror-in-Lecture-Center-5961566.php" name="in body link" id="in body …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Even if You Buy the Science, the Policy Still Fails

August 27, 2015 in Economics

By Ross McKitrick

Ross McKitrick

In a recent speech to the Washington-based think tank Resources for the Future, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy promoted the White House’s new Clean Power Plan by: (a) appealing to science and disallowing any debate about it; (b) making statements unsupported by the science; (c) praising the economic analysis behind the plan; and (d) announcing rules that economic analysis says won’t work and will cost too much.

In other words, it was business as usual in the world of climate policy.

She started her speech by saying that scientists are as sure that humans cause climate change as they are that smoking causes cancer, and “we are way past any further discussion or debate….don’t debate about climate change any longer because it is our moral responsibility to act.”

From there she focused on the harms from extreme weather events, attributing the California drought to carbon dioxide emissions, as well as increased storms, wildfires and floods. She said anthropogenic climate change (i.e. global warming) leads to more extreme heat and, amazingly enough, more extreme cold. And she linked weather-related economic threats facing families and small businesses to anthropogenic climate change.

Now whatever you do, don’t question the science. For many years we have been told to rely exclusively on the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for official truth on all climate topics. There are, of course, lots of reasons to mistrust the IPCC, including its past blunders, the conduct of its disgraced and discredited chair Rajendra Pachauri, and its clique-like report-writing process. But for now, let’s play the game and turn to the IPCC.

A growing body of economic analysis over the years has indicated that the models overstate the potential savings from energy efficiency programs.”

In 2012 the IPCC published a Special Report on Extreme Weather (SREX), gathering up the available knowledge on storms, droughts, etc, and their possible connection to climate change generally and carbon dioxide emissions specifically.

Contrary to McCarthy’s claim, the SREX singled out the U.S. as a region where “droughts have become less frequent, less intense or shorter.” Worldwide there is only “limited to medium” regional evidence regarding changes in floods because the records are sparse and the effects are confounded with changes in land use and engineering. “Furthermore,” they said, “there is low agreement in this evidence, and thus overall low confidence at the global scale regarding even the sign of these changes.”

Does this sound …read more

Source: OP-EDS