You are browsing the archive for 2015 October 21.

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Canadians (Sort of) Vote for Less Interventionism and More Freedom

October 21, 2015 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

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Canadians (Sort of) Vote for Less Interventionism and More Freedom

October 21, 2015

Well, they voted in federal elections this week for a more free market in cannabis, and for less intervention in foreign wars. They also voted for higher taxes and more environmental regulation.

As with American elections, it's impossible to point to a national election in Canada and say there is any particular “mandate” for the newly elected administration. But in this case, the new government under Trudeau has explicitly promised less interventionism in foreign policy, and legalization of recreational marijuana.

On the foreign policy front, the incoming PM Trudeau has already promised to withdraw Canadian fighter planes from Syria, and has promised withdraw of “ground troops involved in combat missions.”

Meanwhile, Trudeau's Liberal Party has made legalization of recreational marijuana one of its priorities, with its platform stating: “We will legalize, regulate and restrict access to marijuana.”

The consensus among much of the Canadian media is that the election was a referendum on outgoing Conservative PM Harper himself, who gained a reputation as something of an authoritarian. Harper tended to take a hard-line pro-US foreign policy position, and supported the expansion of domestic spying against Canadians, and supported the infamous Bill C-51, something of a Canadian USA-PATRIOT Act.

Not-surprisingly, the Left-Center liberals campaigned on more government spending, but not much more than the Conservatives. The Conservatives, like the GOP in the US, talks a good game about fiscal prudence, but while in power, the Conservatives spent freely, including billions (a lot of money in Canadian budgetary terms) on the notorious F-35 fighter jet.

Many Canadians may have figured that since they already have a government that loves to spend money, they might as well get a government that's open and honest about it. The Conservatives lowered taxes, but increased deficits, which are just taxes on future taxpayers. The Liberals promised to change little in this regard, although they, like the Left in the US are likely to take a less friendly stance toward the energy industry which has been Canada's boom industry in recent years. Moreover, the Conservative penchant for limiting civil liberties likely brought them no …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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A Tax I Can Support

October 21, 2015 in Economics

By Per Bylund

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A Tax I Can Support

October 21, 2015

Believe it or not, but there is a tax that I could support as libertarian. In fact, it's a tax I even would want to see. Because it fixes the problem of underfinanced government budgets and it also aligns the voting populace with the risk of “investing” in government. The incentive problems with government are basically resolved by replacing the current tax code mess with this one tax.

Here's the principle behind it: those who exercise their “right” to vote also pick up the tab for voting. In other words, the tax base consists solely and exclusively of those who voted in the previous election. Voting, in other words, not only provides you with the “right” to choose your government, but also locks you in as a party to it until next election.

Rather than a lump sum tax, which would force poor people and tax consumers out of voting, I envision this tax as a proportional percentage of earned income. So if you vote and the government budget is 75% of the total income of the voting fraction of the population, then the tax rate is 75%. So government cannot spend more money than those in support of it actually have. The budget must balance revenue and expenditure, but this is no problem as long as the population lives beyond its means (that is, when government spends more than 100% of voters' income) – the tax can simply be increased.

We often hear rich people say they don't pay their “share,” but this would solve this problem. And it is possible progressives would support this idea too, since those who earn no income can vote without any risk to their own capital. They can actually vote to get their “share” of the rich people's wealth (at least, those who are in on the system). So it redistributes the income of voters in a “fair” (read: you get what you deserve) way.

Of course, the rest of us – us non-voters – would not be subjected to taxation. While there might be blame of “free riding,” it is easy for government to simply step out of …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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My Day at the Fed

October 21, 2015 in Economics

By Mark Thornton

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My Day at the Fed

I was on the road yesterday for a visit to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. The Atlanta Economic Club had invited me to speak to them at their weekly luncheon meeting which is held inside the Fed. The topic of my talk was “How I Got the Skyscraper Curse Wrong.”

The first thing I was aware of after turning into the parking lot is the high level of security which included tank proof barriers and a thorough search of my car.

The second thing I noticed was the large amount of construction that was taking place in downtown Atlanta in the vicinity of the Fed. Large construction cranes were in view in all direction and the volume of construction noise was deafening.

The luncheon was held in the Jekyll Island Room. After lunch and club business I addressed the audience. The basis of my talk was a recently published paper that supposedly refuted my theory of the “skyscraper curse” with empirical evidence that was favorably reported on in the Economist magazine. My presentation included a description of what the “skyscraper curse” was and then I showed that empirical evidence actually supported the case for the skyscraper curse.

Following my presentation there was a lively Q&A period in which several real estate executives supported various aspects of the theoretical components of the skyscraper curse with experiences from their careers.

A crowd that arrived with a business-as-usual mindset left the event with a ringing skepticism of the foundations of the economy. I never mentioned the Fed during my talk, except to say that the Panic of 1907 is usually credited as the event that help establish the Federal Reserve in 1913.

However, I guess the message came through because as the event ended the President of the club offered his apologies that the “thank you” gifts I was about to receive were not intended as an insult. He then handed my a Federal Reserve baseball cap and notebook.

Recordings and photography are not allowed inside the Fed.

<img src="https://mises.org/sites/default/files/styles/full_width/public/MarkFed4_0.jpg?itok=RYYsu_DO" width="693" height="520" alt="" …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Top Ten Most-Read Articles for September

October 21, 2015 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

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Top Ten Most-Read Articles for September

October 21, 2015

Here are the Top Ten most-read articles from September (based on web-traffic stats):

1.The Economics of Bernie Sanders by William Anderson (Mises Daily)

2. The Failed Moral Argument for a “Living Wage” by Ryan McMaken (Mises Daily)

3.Jim Rickards: Will currency Wars Reorder the World? By Jim Rickards (Mises Weekends)

4. Vote With Your Feet: Free States Are Happier and Richer by Gabriel Openshaw (Mises Daily)

5.Why Any Economics Matters by Jeff Deist (from the Speeches and Presentions section)

6.The Weariness of Paul Krugman by Jeff Deist (Mises Wire)

7.Your Ideology Depends on if “Your Guy” Is in Power by Ryan McMaken (Mises Wire)

8.Why Economics Matters by Jeff Deist (Shortened Adaptation of “Why Any Economics Matters”) (Mises Daily)

9.Governments Give Migrants a Disastrous Mix of Welfare and Bureaucracy by Justin Murray (Mises Daily)

10.The Fallacy of “Buy Land, They’re Not Making It Anymore” by Peter St. Onge (Mises Daily)

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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New York State Department of Health Launches Required Doctor Training for Medical Marijuana Program

October 21, 2015 in PERSONAL LIBERTY

By drosenfeld

Less Than Three Months Before the State’s Medical Marijuana Program is Supposed to Become Operational, Advocates Urge State to Move Quickly to Enroll Doctors and Patients

Advocates: No Delays or Excuses, Patients Need Medicine Now

New York - Less than three months before New York’s medical marijuana program is supposed to become fully operational in January of 2016, the New York State Department of Health (DOH) today launched an online training program that is required for physicians to certify patients to receive medical marijuana in New York. The training course, which will be provided by TheAnswerPage, is 4.5 hours and qualifies participants to receive continuing medical education (CME) credits.

October 21, 2015

Drug Policy Alliance

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Source: DRUG POLICY

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Remembering the Battle of Trafalgar

October 21, 2015 in History

By Evan Andrews

battle of trafalgar
Lord Admiral Horatio Nelson. (Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London)

Shortly before noon on October 21, 1805, a fleet of 27 Royal Navy warships sliced through the seas near the southern coast of Spain. Onboard the flagship HMS Victory, Lord Horatio Nelson paced the main deck, his gazed fixed on the 33 French and Spanish ships floating on the horizon. Like Britain, the 47-year-old admiral had spent most of the previous 12 years warring with France and its allies—and he had the scars to prove it. He’d been blinded in one eye during a siege on the island of Corsica in 1794, and later lost his right arm to a musket wound sustained in a raid on Tenerife. But despite being worn down by his years at sea, Nelson remained Britain’s most trusted and beloved naval commander. His mere presence was credited with inspiring his men to great acts of courage. As he closed in on the enemy flotilla, he prepared his fleet for battle by having his flagman send a now-famous message: “England expects that every man will do his duty.”

The Battle of Trafalgar was the culmination of a seven-month campaign. Having allied with Spain the previous year, French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte had hatched a plan to invade mainland Britain by sending an amphibious force across the English Channel. In March 1805, he ordered a combined Franco-Spanish fleet led by Vice Admiral Pierre-Charles Villeneuve to race to the Caribbean and lure the Royal Navy away from England. The plan initially worked, but upon returning to the European coast, Villeneuve was outmaneuvered and boxed in by the British at the Spanish port of Cadiz. Unable to marshal his forces, Napoleon reluctantly shelved his invasion plans. Villeneuve’s armada still remained a threat, however, and after taking control of the British blockading fleet in late-September, Nelson began plotting its destruction. “It is annihilation that the country wants,” he told his commanders, “not merely a splendid victory.”


A plan of the Order of Battle for the British Royal Navy at the Battle of Trafalgar. (Credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

With this in mind, the Admiral concocted a gutsy battle strategy known as “The Nelson Touch.” Rather than facing the French and Spanish ships in a parallel line and fighting a broadside cannon duel, as was common practice at the time, he planned to sail …read more

Source: HISTORY

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In the Fight against the Surveillance State the Past Is Always Prologue

October 21, 2015 in Economics

By Nat Hentoff

Nat Hentoff

The Cato Institute will host its Second Annual Surveillance Conference this week. The symposium — which will be live-streamed on the Internet and available on the Cato Institute’s website for later viewing — promises a gathering of “top scholars, litigators, intelligence officials, activists and technologists working at the intersection of privacy, technology and national security.”

I think that the first academic symposium on the legal and policy implications of surveillance technology was held more than 40 years ago at Columbia University and published in 1972 by Columbia’s Human Rights Law Review (HRLR). I was asked to write the foreword to the collection of articles from the symposium, published in book form as Surveillance, Dataveillance and Personal Freedoms: Use and Abuse of Information Technology (R.E. Burdick, 1973).

Ironically, you can’t read this book on the Internet.

“Never before in the history of this country has … secret surveillance been so pervasive,” I wrote in the foreword. “All the more dangerous to the personal freedoms of every citizen is that this degree of surveillance has been made much more omnivorous because of the swift advance in the technology of surveillance.”

What I wrote 40 years ago is, unfortunately, as true today as it was in 1973.

The articles in this book predate the investigations in the 1970s by the Rockefeller Commission, and the congressional Pike and Church Committees, all of which revealed longstanding surveillance abuses by the U.S. intelligence community. The HRLR symposium articles, and the subsequent findings of these congressional investigations, were prescient warnings of what Americans should have been expecting in the future from a surveillance state left unchecked by a lack of firm oversight and strict accountability

Sen. Sam Ervin, a North Carolina Democrat who later served as the chairman of the Senate Watergate Committee, contributed a long article on “The First Amendment: A Living Thought in the Computer Age.”

An article by HRLR staff members on “Police Use of Remote Camera Systems for Surveillance of Public Streets” examined the policy and constitutional implications of an experimental, federally funded program in the small town of Mt. Vernon, New York.

HRLR editor Donald R. Davis’ article on “Police Surveillance of Political Dissidents” coined the term “dataveillance,” and anticipated the type of NSA mass surveillance programs exposed by Edward Snowden in 2013: “The … manipulation and management of vast quantities of disparate bits of … presently stored information … for the purpose of retrieving, collating or evaluating those …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Democrats vs. the Facts on Inequality

October 21, 2015 in Economics

By Michael D. Tanner

Michael D. Tanner

Inequality was a big topic in last week’s Democratic debate. Of course, it was no surprise that self-described democratic socialist Bernie Sanders decried the “casino capitalist process by which so few have so much and so many have so little.” But he was matched by Hillary Clinton, who promised to heal the divides that exist “because there’s too much inequality.” And Martin O’Malley worried, “Our middle class is shrinking … the poor are getting poorer.” Even Lincoln Chafee”want[s] to address income inequality.”

The class warfare was greeted rapturously by the partisans in the audience. Unfortunately for the candidates, though, the latest research suggests that they have once again gotten it all wrong.

For example, it is an article of faith on the Left that inequality exists because the rich fail to pay their fair share of taxes and our social-welfare programs are too stingy. Of course, this ignores the facts that (a) the rich, who earn around 19 percent of U.S. income, pay more than 42 percent of federal income taxes, and (b) federal and state governments spend nearly $1 trillion on welfare and anti-poverty programs. But why let a few facts get in the way of a good narrative?

And now we have a new study from the Brookings Institution. Yes, the liberal Brookings Institution. Authored by former Obama economic adviser Peter Orszag and others, the study concludes that even raising the top individual-income-tax rate to 50 percent from its current 39.6 percent and redistributing all the new revenue to those with incomes in the lowest 20 percent would do surprisingly little to reduce inequality. Hillary, Bernie, et al. could tax the rich as much as they want and pour the money into welfare programs, but that still wouldn’t do more than dent inequality.

They get it all wrong on the causes and effects of income inequality.”

The Left also believes that most rich people don’t earn their wealth, they inherit it, resulting in a new aristocracy. That was the central thesis of Thomas Piketty’s oft-cited book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century. In reality, however, roughly 80 percent of American millionaires are the first generation of their families to have that much money. Most of the rich are entrepreneurs who earned their wealth through hard work.

The last nails should have been put in the coffin of Piketty’s theory of dynastic wealth by a new study …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Let Syrian Refugees in–All of Them

October 21, 2015 in Economics

By A. Trevor Thrall

A. Trevor Thrall

So long as the Syrian civil war grinds on and the Islamic State continues expanding its footprint, desperate refugees will keep flowing from places like Syria. Unfortunately, addressing the root causes of either the Syrian conflict or the rise of ISIS is beyond the scope of what the United States and its allies can reasonably do. Calls on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to negotiate with rebel fighters have proven wholly ineffective to date, while greater military involvement in Syria is neither wise nor justified on U.S. national-security grounds.

But as horrifying as it has been, the refugee crisis offers the outlines of a new strategy—one both morally superior to the current do-little approach and practically superior to additional military intervention. In short, the United States and its European allies should plan to take in all refugees fleeing violence in Syria, with the help of other willing nations around the world.

Proposals by American hawks such as Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain to use U.S. ground troops to confront ISIS or remove Assad from power are clearly misguided. After all, the United States simply does not have enough of a national-security interest in either goal. Beyond this, Russia’s new military campaign in Syria now makes U.S. intervention far more complicated and hazardous—by adding heightened U.S.-Russian hostilities to the list of potential consequences. And finally, escalating the U.S. military campaign is unlikely to make things better. Though it would probably, in the short run, alter the balance of which groups suffer the most casualties, the central lesson from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq is that even an extended U.S. military presence cannot promise an end to conflict. Though U.S. military action can topple governments, destroy buildings, and kill people, it cannot defeat ideas or prevent the spread of extremism and the mobilization of extremist groups. Indeed, the Islamic State might not exist today had it not been for the invasion of Iraq and the radical weakening of the Iraqi state that followed. Fourteen years after the invasion of Afghanistan and 12 years after the invasion of Iraq, neither nation is a safe place to live—both are themselves producing refugees in large numbers.

Why resettlement is a cheaper, and morally superior, alternative to Western military action in Syria.”

The most popular military alternative in Syria, recently revived by Hillary Clinton, is to establish a no-fly zone …read more

Source: OP-EDS