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The Mistake of Only Comparing US Murder Rates to "Developed" Countries

October 12, 2015 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

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The Mistake of Only Comparing US Murder Rates to “Developed” Countries

October 12, 2015

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Much of the political thinking about violence in the United States comes from unfavorable comparisons between the United States and a series of cherry-picked countries with lower murder rates and with fewer guns per capita. We’ve all seen it many times. The United States, with a murder rate of approximately 5 per 100,000 is compared to a variety of Western and Central European countries (also sometimes Japan) with murder rates often below 1 per 100,000. This is, in turn, supposed to fill Americans with a sense of shame and illustrate that the United States should be regarded as some sort of pariah nation because of its murder rate.

Note, however, that these comparisons always employ a carefully selected list of countries, most of which are very unlike the United States. They are countries that were settled long ago by the dominant ethnic group, they are ethnically non-diverse today, they are frequently very small countries (such as Norway, with a population of 5 million) with very locally based democracies (again, unlike the US with an immense population and far fewer representatives in government per voter). Politically, historically, and demographically, the US has little in common with Europe or Japan.
Prejudice about the “Developed World” vs “the Third World”
But these are the only countries the US shall be compared to, we are told, because the US shall only be compared to “developed” countries when analyzing its murder rate and gun ownership.
And yet, no reason for this is ever given. What is the criteria for deciding that the United States shall be compared to Luxembourg but not to Mexico, which has far more in common with the US than Luxembourg in terms of size, history, ethnic diversity, and geography?

Much of this stems from outdated preconceived and evidence-free notions about the “third world.”

Why Turkey and Chile and Bulgaria? Well, those countries are OECD members, and many who use the “developed country” moniker often use the OECD members countries as a …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Six Ways Paul Ryan Will Rev Up The Right-Wing War On America if He Becomes House Speaker

October 12, 2015 in Blogs

By Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet

In his 2012 book, the former VP nominee describes an agenda with no taste for compromise.


It is a good bet that the right-wing lunatics who are taking over the asylum known as the House of Representatives will install one of their own as the next Speaker—quite possibly Wisconsin’s Paul Ryan, the Ways and Means Committee Chair and 2012 GOP vice-presidential nominee—even though he's saying he doesn't want the top job.

After House GOP failed to elect a speaker last week, Ryan is still the first choice of many Republicans. But don’t believe for a second that he represents a pragmatic or slightly centrist wing of the House Republican spectrum—just because more draconian ideologues in so-called Freedom Caucus are also running. Ryan, as Paul Krugman wrote Monday in the New York Times, is “the best con man they’ve got,” although Krugman predicts that “it will be hard to sustain the con game from the speaker’s chair.”

But oh would a Speaker Ryan try to do exactly that! Krugman writes that today’s Republican Party does not do “real solutions to real probems” and that the national political press corps, in its quest for journalistic balance, ends up portraying as serious a slew of bankrupt GOP notions “as proof that the party does include reasonable people making useful proposals.”

To put it mildly, Ryan is the king of GOP shams—and in his gee-whiz, ah-shucks way, is proud to pretend that there’s still life in the worst ideas and policies perpetrated by Ronald Reagan, Jack Kemp, Bill Bennett, John Kasich and Sam Brownback, all of whom were influential in shaping his views and much of his right-wing policy agenda.

Ryan lays all this out in his 2012 vice-presidential campaign book, The Way Forward: Renewing The American Idea, in which he describes his upbringing, mentors, his election as the second-youngest House member at age 28, and his frustrations with not being able to achieve purist victories in the bills that he’s ended up voting for in Congress. He writes that ex-Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank told him early on to become a specialist, staking …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Angus Deaton and Modern Economics

October 12, 2015 in Economics

By Peter G. Klein

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Angus Deaton and Modern Economics

October 12, 2015

Now for some more serious Nobel Prize news. Some Austrians were hoping for William Baumol and Israel Kirzner for the economics of entrepreneurship, but the committee went with a safer choice and recognized Princeton's Angus Deaton for his work on measuring consumption and inequality. You can find lots of discussion in the usual places; Lynne Kiesling has useful comments here. I don’t know Deaton’s work well but he has been on the unofficial short list for the last several years and his work is important and influential for economic growth and development, poverty and health, and related areas.

I can’t help poking a little fun at the economics profession, however. You may have heard the joke that economists used to win the Nobel prize for explaining to the general public something that previously only economists understood, but now they win it for explaining to their fellow economists something that the general public has always known, e.g.:

  • Politicians care about themselves (Buchanan).
  • Don’t put all your eggs in one basket (Markowitz, Miller,and Sharpe).
  • You can’t fool all of the people all of the time (Lucas).
  • Some people know more than others (Akerlof, Spence, Stiglitz).

Deaton’s major insight: aggregate measures of consumption and inequality conceal important differences among individuals.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Students Protest Gun Violence with Giant Dildos

October 12, 2015 in Blogs

By Sola Agustsson, AlterNet

Texas students are protesting Gov. Abbott's new campus carry law in a peaceful yet subversive way.



Texas Governor Greg Abbott recently passed the “campus carry” law, which will allow gun license owners to carry concealed firearms throughout public university campuses. The law will go into effect starting August 2016, and many believe it will make universities less safe. Students at the University of Texas at Austin are protesting this law in a peaceful yet subversive way- by openly carrying sex toys to class.

“You're carrying a gun to class? Yeah well I'm carrying a HUGE DILDO.

Just about as effective at protecting us from sociopathic shooters, but much safer for recreational play.

The State of Texas has decided that it is not at all obnoxious to allow deadly concealed weapons in classrooms, however it DOES have strict rules about free sexual expression, to protect your innocence. You would receive a citation for taking a DILDO to class before you would get in trouble for taking a gun to class. Heaven forbid the penis,” writes the Campus (DILDO) Carry Page, which was set up by Jessica Jin.

Over 4,000 students have RSVP’d to the “strap-in” event, which will take place next summer when the “campus carry” law goes into effect. Protesters will challenge gun laws by “strapping gigantic swinging dildos to our backpacks.” Though participants are encouraged to bring their own large dildos, the group has stated they will make an effort to provide extra dildos for the occasion.

“I know that quality dildos, especially super large ones, can be a little pricey. If we can gather enough willing participants, I will personally take it upon myself to put in the time and legwork to find a dildo supplier sponsorship,” promises the Campus (DILDO) Carry Page.

The dildo-wielding group has already received media attention with their catchy hashtag #cocksnotglocks.

The organizers are careful to warn participants about the risk of openly carrying a dildo on campus, which is considered an obscene display and is punishable with a $500 fine.

“Participate at your own risk. But can you imagine …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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VIDEO: Same Dept that Arrested Sandra Bland, Taser City Councilman In the Back While on His Knees

October 12, 2015 in Blogs

By Andrew Emett, The Free Thought Project

Several videos have recently been released showing a police officer tasing a city councilman on his knees in front of his house.


Prairie View, TX — Several videos have recently been released showing a police officer tasing a city councilman on his knees in front of his house. Although officers accused the councilman of resisting arrest during an active investigation, the videos prove that the investigation had already ended when another cop escalated the situation and fired his Taser into the kneeling councilman’s back.

At 7:40 p.m. on Thursday, Prairie View City Councilman Jonathan Miller stepped out of his house to find Officer Pennie Goodie questioning three of Miller’s fraternity brothers on his front lawn. After practicing a step routine for Homecoming, Miller’s friends were standing by a car changing their shoes when Officer Goodie confronted them. Miller approached the officer to find out why his frat brothers were being questioned.

According to a newly released body cam video recorded by one of the officers, Miller told Goodie, “They were at my house.”

“OK, I don’t know that pulling up,” Goodie answered.

“OK, that’s fine, I’m not trying to be combative or anything,” said Miller.

“OK, I’m not either,” replied Officer Goodie. “I understand you’re coming in at the tail end of it. I just told you everything is okay. They already explained everything to me. We all discussed it. Everything’s good.”

Instead of leaving the scene after Goodie determined that no crime was being committed, Officer Kelley immediately escalated the situation by placing his hands on Miller and ordering him to step away. According to Kelley’s body cam video, the councilman initially complies while politely asking Kelley not to touch him. Although Miller takes several steps away from the scene and is not interfering with Goodie, Kelley orders the councilman to continue walking.

When Miller stops walking and informs that officer that he lives there, Kelley orders, “Go over there or you’re going to go to jail for interfering. I’m not going to tell you again. We’re not going to keep playing these games, brother.”

“You’re not my brother,” Miller responds.

Kelley continues to escalate the situation by …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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History Lesson for Columbus Day – Lincoln Signed The Emancipation Proclamation Then 2 Days Later Executed 38 Sioux Men

October 12, 2015 in Blogs

By Sarah Burris, AlterNet

Not once in my young teenage mind did I ever wonder why some of my ancestors were called “civilized.”


On Columbus Day each year school children are taught about Columbus discovering America. What we rarely hear anymore is the real story about the day the western world got lost on the way to the West Indies and began the slaughter of thousands in their manifest destiny.

Something I was never taught in American history that you should know from the video:

 

“The Homestead Act, signed by President Lincoln, unleashed a flood of white settlers into Native lands,” Huey says. “1863: An uprising of Santee Sioux in Minnesota ends with the hanging of 38 Sioux men, the largest mass execution in U.S. history. The execution was ordered by President Lincoln only two days after he signed the Emancipation Proclamation.”

 

And one more horrible disgusting moment in our American history:

 

“1890, a date I believe to be the most important in this slide show,” Huey says. “This is the year of the Wounded Knee Massacre. On December 29th, U.S. troops surrounded a Sioux encampment at Wounded Knee Creek and massacred Chief Big Foot and 300 prisoners of war, using a new rapid-fire weapon that fired exploding shells called a Hotchkiss gun. For this so-called “battle,” 20 Congressional Medals of Honor for Valor were given to the 7th Cavalry. To this day, this is the most Medals of Honor ever awarded for a single battle. More Medals of Honor were given for the indiscriminate slaughter of women and children than for any battle in World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan. The Wounded Knee massacre is considered the end of the Indian wars. Whenever I visit the site of the mass grave at Wounded Knee, I see it not just as a grave for the Lakota or for the Sioux, but as a grave for all indigenous peoples.”

 

When I was a kid, back in Oklahoma, we were taught a variety of “historic” tales about the establishment of the state, where we came from and the Native American tribes that were the …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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AlterNet Comics: Brian McFadden on How Obama Offers Condolences for Accidental Bombings

October 12, 2015 in Blogs

By Brian McFadden, AlterNet

Sorry about the bombing.


Related Stories

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Russia Follows U.S. Script in Syria

October 12, 2015 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Vladimir Putin opened a new game of high stakes geopolitical poker, backing Syria’s President Bashir Assad. But Washington has no complaint. America has been meddling in Syria’s tragic civil war from the start.

At the end of the Cold War Washington was anointed as the “unipower” and “indispensable nation,” and acted as such. The U.S. intervened anywhere anytime for any reason.

But that world is gone. Russia’s dramatic backing for Syria’s beleaguered Assad government formally buries any illusion that “what Washington says goes,” even in the Middle East.

Moscow has begun bombing regime opponents. Sounding almost like the George W. Bush administration, the Putin government insisted that it was fighting terrorism and there really wasn’t a “moderate opposition.” Russia also has indicated its willingness to get involved in Iraq, whose authorities praised Moscow’s Syria participation.

Russia’s intervention is merely the latest unintended consequence of foolish, irresponsible U.S. behavior.”

In contrast, Russia’s intervention has resulted in much wailing and gnashing of teeth in allied capitals. In a joint statement America, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Kingdom claimed that Moscow’s intervention would “only fuel more extremism and radicalization.” The Gulf States separately warned of more “violent extremism” and “terrorists” and increased refugee flows.

Alas, promiscuous American military intervention in the Middle East long has promoted the worst forms of violence and terrorism. Further, for years Qatar and Saudi Arabia have been important sources of finance for “extremism and radicalization.”

There’s little the U.S. actually can do, at least at reasonable cost, to stop Russia. Which means caterwauling is the only practical option.

President Barack Obama declared that Moscow risked a “quagmire.” Probably true. Of course, the U.S. understands quagmires, having spent 13 years unsuccessfully attempting to bring democracy to Afghanistan and being drawn back toward a combat role in Iraq.

The U.S. could push for more sanctions, but the Europeans aren’t going to destroy what remains of their relationship with Moscow over Syria. Even the most war-happy neoconservative hasn’t called for blasting the Russian planes out of the sky. To do so would trigger almost certain retaliation and possibly a real war with a nuclear-armed power.

Certainly U.S. officials have no credibility in claiming that their policy will yield a better result. Washington has intervened repeatedly in the Middle East with disastrous consequences.

Washington’s participation in the 1953 coup in Iran set that nation on a path toward violent Islamic revolution. Fear of the new …read more

Source: OP-EDS