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If Sweden and Germany Became US States, They Would be Among the Poorest States

October 26, 2015 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

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If Sweden and Germany Became US States, They Would be Among the Poorest States

October 26, 2015

The nationwide median income for the US is in red. To the left of the red column are other OECD countries, and to the right of the red bar are individual US states. These national-level comparisons take into account taxes, and include social benefits (e.g., “welfare” and state-subsidized health care) as income. Purchasing power is adjusted to take differences in the cost of living in different countries into account.

Since Sweden is held up as a sort of promised land by American socialists, let's compare it first. We find that, if it were to join the US as a state, Sweden would be poorer than all but 12 states, with a median income of $27,167.
Median residents in states like Colorado ($35,830), Massachusetts ($37,626), Virginia ($39,291), Washington ($36,343), and Utah ($36,036) have considerably higher incomes than Sweden.
With the exception of Luxembourg ($38,502), Norway ($35,528), and Switzerland ($35,083), all countries shown would fail to rank as high-income states were they to become part of the United States. In fact, most would fare worse than Mississippi, the poorest state.
For example, Mississippi has a higher median income ($23,017) than 18 countries measured here. The Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, and the United Kingdom all have median income levels below $23,000 and are thus below every single US state. Not surprisingly, the poorest OECD members (Chile, Mexico, and Turkey) have median incomes far below Mississippi.
Germany, Europe's economic powerhouse, has a median income ($25,528) level below all but 9 US states. Finland ranks with Germany in this regard ($25,730), and France's median income ($24,233) is lower than both Germany and Finland. Denmark fares better and has a median income ($27,304) below all but 13 US states.

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Hiker Discovers 1,200-Year-Old Viking Sword in Norway

October 26, 2015 in History

By Sarah Pruitt

vikings

While hiking across the mountain plateau that runs between western and eastern Norway, Goran Olsen sat down to take a break. That’s when he spotted a rusty sword blade lying under some rocks on the well-traveled mountain path. Archaeologists have identified Olsen’s find as a type of Viking sword made circa A.D. 750. That makes it some 1,265 years old, though the scientists have warned this is not an exact date.

Double-edged and made of wrought iron, the sword measures just over 30 inches long (77 centimeters). Though covered in rust, and lacking a handle, it is otherwise in excellent condition. The Haukeli mountains are covered in snow and frost at least six months out of the year, and experience little humidity in summer, conditions that may explain why the sword is so well preserved. As County Conservator Per Morten Ekerhovd told CNN: “It’s quite unusual to find remnants from the Viking Age that are so well-preserved…[the sword] might be used today if you sharpened the edge.”

Beginning in the 8th century, many Vikings left their native homes in Denmark, Norway and Sweden, using advanced navigational technology to spread out across Europe and beyond. Famous—and feared—for their violent attacks on coastal cities and towns, they were also skilled traders and daring explorers who founded the first colony in Greenland and reached North America some 500 years before Christopher Columbus. The Viking Age endured until the late 11th century, leaving a lasting impact on Western society and the world.

Credit: Hordaland County Council

Viking law mandated that all free men were required to carry weapons and be prepared to wage war at all times. Of the most common weapons—swords, spears and battle-axes—swords were the most expensive to make. With their decorated hilts of silver, bronze or copper, Viking swords functioned as status symbols. According to the pagan beliefs of many Vikings, a sword was a sacred object that could help its bearer enter heaven. After attaining the highest honor of dying in battle, the heroic Viking warrior, with his sword in hand, would feast with the gods in a special place known as Valhalla.

Many later Viking sword blades were emblazoned with specific markings, believed to be the names of their creators. Of the thousands of Viking swords that have been discovered across Scandinavia and northern Europe—most excavated from burial sites or found in rivers—some 170 have been marked …read more

Source: HISTORY

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10 Disturbing and Hilarious Typos in the Bible

October 26, 2015 in Blogs

By Tom Boggioni, Raw Story

Yes, that Bible. The “infallible” one


The most popular book in the history of mankind — if one discounts the opinions of fans of Ayn Rand —  is believed to be the Bible.

Theologians have speculated that the most holy of Christian books was written by 40 authors over a period of 1,500 years with many true believers feeling that it is the actual word of God — technically making the authors “transcribers.”

     

With many versions of the Bible re-translated over so many years into multiple languages and idioms, it is understandable that “mistakes will be made,” although none quite as bad as Adam and Eve taking a bite out of the apple.

According to David Shariatmadari at The Guardian, a 1631 version that came to be known as the “Sinner’s Bible” was so egregiously bad that most copies were destroyed and the printer — Robert Barker — was stripped of his printing license, fined and imprisoned where he died 15 years later.

Typos in the Bible did not die out with Barker and are bound to continue with new versions and interpretations always on the horizon.

With that in mind, Shariatmadari has complied 10 of the worst typos in the Bible to date:

  • “Sin on more” — This obvious one comes from a 1716 edition of the King James version and 8,000 copies were released before the error was noticed.
  • “Let the children first be killed” — Wrong. From Mark 7:27, “Let the children first be filled” seems more in line with Christian charity.
  • “If the latter husband ate her” — From the so-called “Cannibal’s Bible” dated 1682,  it was supposed to read, “If the latter husband hate her.”  The less said about this, the better.
  • “To remain” — In an 1805 Bible, instructions to the printer on the placement of a comma — it was supposed to stay — became part of Galatians 4:29. “But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit to remain, even so it is now.”
  • “Owl husband” — It is well known from Leviticus that interspecies relations were frowned upon in the Bible, and the 1944 King James …read more

    Source: ALTERNET

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Benghazi, Joe McCarthy and the Witch Trials: The Dark Undercurrent of Trey Gowdy's Hearings

October 26, 2015 in Blogs

By Andrew O’Hehir, Salon

Sure, Hillary trounced those clowns. But Benghazi true believers will fight on to save America—or destroy it.


Benghazi is many things to many people, but it’s not about Benghazi. What I mean is that the meme or mantra or ideological touchstone known as “Benghazi” has virtually nothing to do with the Libyan port city of that name, or what happened there in September 2012. (Which – can we just say this? – barely registers in the historical scale of American foreign-policy tragedies, blunders and miscalculations.) For the Republican Party and its agonized cadre of true believers, Benghazi is like Yoko Ono, in the legendary National Lampoon spoof from the early ’70s: a concept by which we measure our pain.

The House Select Committee on Benghazi, chaired by Rep. Trey Gowdy, before which Hillary Clinton testified for nearly 11 hours on Thursday, is not really investigating the Benghazi incident, in which Libyan militants overran a United States diplomatic compound and four Americans were killed. Or to put it another way, Gowdy’s committee is seeking the truth about Benghazi in the same sense that Joe McCarthy investigated actual Communist spies in the U.S. government, or that Cotton Mather pursued actual witches in Salem Village. Those things are all connected, at least in the nightmare imagination of the Benghazi-verse: If one of the committee members had had the temerity to denounce Clinton as a Communist and a witch (as well as a traitor and murderess and lesbian and whatever the hell else), the “Republican base” would have risen from its collective sofa and roared in Old Milwaukee-spumed delight. It must have been hard to resist.

Nothing quite so revealing occurred, but it was revealing enough. To get back to history, Joe McCarthy genuinely feared the Reds and Cotton Mather feared the Devil; those guys may have been sociopaths, but they were not hypocrites. But like the Benghazi-hunters, both men were really after something else, something larger and more numinous and almost impossible to define. That fatal vagueness and sense of mission-creep was precisely what enabled Clinton to humiliate the Benghazi committee’s leading Republicans so thoroughly and …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Robert Reich Dissects the Difference Between Actual Leaders and Trump-Like Demagogues

October 26, 2015 in Blogs

By Robert Reich, RobertReich.org

A leader brings out the best in his followers. A demagogue brings out the worst.


Among the current crop of candidates for president of the United States, who exhibits leadership and who doesn’t?

Leadership isn’t just the ability to attract followers. Otherwise some of the worst tyrants in history would be considered great leaders. They weren’t leaders; they were demagogues. There’s a difference.

A leader brings out the best in his followers. A demagogue brings out the worst. 

Leaders inspire tolerance. Demagogues incite hate.

Leaders empower the powerless; they give them voice and respect. Demagogues scapegoat the powerless; they use scapegoating as a means to fortify their power.

Leaders calm peoples’ irrational fears. Demagogues exploit them.

My list of great American leaders would include Abraham Lincoln, Susan B. Anthony, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Frances Perkins, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

In his second inaugural address near the end of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln urged his followers to act with “malice toward none, with charity for all.”

In his first inaugural at the depths of the Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt told Americans the “only thing we have to fear is fear itself – nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts.”

In 1963, as African-Americans demanded their civil rights, Martin Luther King, Jr. urged his followers “not to seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.”

My list of American demagogues would include Senator “Pitchfork” Benjamin Tillman of South Carolina, who supported lynch mobs in the 1890s; Father Charles Coughlin, whose antisemitic radio rants in the 1930s praised Nazi Germany; Senator Joseph McCarthy, who conducted the communist witch hunts of the 1950s; and Governor George C. Wallace, the staunch defender of segregation.

These men inspired the worst in their followers. They scapegoated the weak and set Americans against each other. They used fear to stoke hate and thereby entrench their power.

Back to the current crop of Presidential candidates: Who are the leaders, and who are the demagogues?

The leaders have sought to build bridges with those holding different views.

Rand Paul spoke at Berkeley, for example, seeking common ground with the university’s mostly-progressive …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Donald Trump's Life of Struggle: ‘My Father Gave Me a Small Loan of $1 Million’

October 26, 2015 in Blogs

By Tana Ganeva, AlterNet

The real estate mogul describes his life of hardship.


On Monday morning, Donald Trump appeared at a New Hampshire “Town Hall” moderated by NBC's Matt Lauer. When an attendee asked the real estate mogul if he'd ever been told “no,” Trump replied by detailing a life of hardship involving a mere million dollar loan from his dad, a problem that must be all-too-familiar to struggling Americans.

“My whole life really has been a ‘no.’ And I fought through it,” Trump said.

“It has not been easy for me,” he said. “I started off in Brooklyn. My father gave me a small loan of a million dollars. I came into Manhattan, and I had to pay him back. And I had to pay him back with interest. But I came into Manhattan. I started buying up properties, and I did great.”

When Lauer pointed out that starting out with a million dollars might not seem too difficult to most Americans, Trump's ego remained unscathed. 
 
“You’re right,” Trump said. “But $1 million isn’t very much compared to what I built, I’ve built one of the great companies.”
 
Watch below: 

 

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Saving Puerto Rico

October 26, 2015 in Economics

By Richard W. Rahn

Richard W. Rahn

Ultimately, if you continue to spend more than you take in — whether you are an individual, business or government — there will be a day of reckoning. Puerto Rico is likely to reach that day by Dec. 1.

Back in June, the governor of Puerto Rico, Alejandro Garcia Padilla, announced that the government debt of $73 billion had grown so large that it was no longer “repayable.” At that time, many of us who have had experience with countries in fiscal crisis made recommendations (see my commentary “Puerto Rico is America’s Greece,” June 23) to avoid what is now almost certain to happen. Puerto Rico is a partially self-governing U.S. possession. It is required to follow the U.S. Constitution and many, but not all, federal laws and regulations.

The causes and remedies for mounting debt are clear.”

As is its pattern, the Obama administration waited until the last minute — this past week — to unveil its “solution,” dubbed “Super Chapter 9.” Chapter 9 is a provision in the U.S. bankruptcy code that allows local governments in U.S. states, but not the states themselves (includingPuerto Rico), to declare bankruptcy. The Obama administration’s proposal would allow both Puerto Rico and its municipalities to declare bankruptcy under something akin to Chapter 9. This proposal would deny bondholders their existing constitutional protections, while, at the same time, do little to address the real problems that caused the fiscal crisis in Puerto Rico. If the proposal is adopted, bond markets would likely read it as a precedent that would destroy bondholder rights and wealth in mismanaged states, including debt-stressed Illinois and California. The result would likely be higher borrowing costs for all states owing to the increase in risk to bondholders. It is for these and other reasons that the Republicans are likely to reject it. The administration’s proposal could rightly be characterized as too little, too late, and too poorly thought out.

Puerto Rico should be very rich — but it has suffered from too much local government populism and socialism, and some destructive U.S. government regulations. The government has a number of state-owned companies that are poorly managed, such as the power company, which runs huge deficits, despite charging electricity rates many times higher than most mainland Americans pay. The minimum wage in the United States is about 28 percent of the average wage, while it is 77 percent in Puerto Rico. The result of destructive labor policies …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Federal Reserve Dividends: Wrong Road for a Highway Funding Fix

October 26, 2015 in Economics

By Mark A. Calabria, Aaron Klein

Mark A. Calabria and Aaron Klein

Even seasoned watchers of the Federal Reserve were shocked when the Senate attempted to change an obscure dividend rate paid by the Fed to the banks, which are technically the owners of the Federal Reserve System. This interest rate had been set more than a century ago and never altered, even as the rest of the Federal Reserve System, leadership, mission, and responsibilities have undergone significant changes. One of the many problems with this proposal is that it did not receive consideration from any committee of jurisdiction in Congress. There have been no hearings focused on the issue.  Perhaps worst of all, such would set a dangerous precedent in which changes to the Federal Reserve, including ways in which it conducts monetary policy could be used to fund anything, as in this case it is being used to fund a surface transportation bill.

As former Senate Banking Committee staff, from different sides of the aisle, we have both spent considerable time examining the Federal Reserve. While we have strong differences of opinion on a number of Federal Reserve issues, both of us believe that the Federal Reserve Act could be improved. But we also believe changes to the Fed should result from careful deliberation and be not used as a random piggy bank for the topic de jour.

Changes to the Fed should result from careful deliberation and be not used as a random piggy bank for the topic de jour.”

To be clear, we are not endorsing the current dividend rate of 6 percent as the proper figure for eternity. Perhaps the current 6 percent is not the right number – although we note that it has existed for more than a century— untouched.  We simply think it is hard to make such conclusions in the absence of analysis, which up to this point have been solely lacking. What will the effects be of such a change on regulated banks that choose to switch their regulator as a result of this change? What are the precedents for additional legislative changes to how the Fed conducts monetary policy? Is this the start of Congress going down a road to change Federal Reserve tools to come up with money for unrelated purposes?

A GAO study could well be the appropriate place to start this analysis. We applaud Financial Services Chairman Hensarling (R-Texas) for requesting one …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Former White House Chief of Staff: Sarah Palin Marked the Moment the GOP Went Off the Rails

October 26, 2015 in Blogs

By Janet Allon, AlterNet

Wondering where today's crazy GOP clown-show started?


Wondering where the insanity that is today's GOP started? Look no further than nonsense-spewer Sarah Palin. This is the view espoused by WIlliam M. Daley, former White House Chief of Staff under President Obama from 2011-2012 in Monday's Washington Post.

He makes a pretty good case, first for the fact that the party has descended into utter chaos. “When The Post’s front page declares: 'Republicans are on the verge of ceasing to function as a national party,' it’s time to ask: How did this come to pass?” he opens. How did we get to the side-to-side clown shows of the GOP presidential contest, and the total breakdown of a functioning party in Congress?

The turning point came in 2008, when the party put then Alaska-Governor Sarah Palin a heartbeat away from the presidency, despite her utter lack of competency. That is when the party effectively embraced the lack of competence and experience as a virtue. From that flows Ben Carson and Donald Trump as frontrunners for the nomination and a variety of other ills. Daley writes: 

Palin’s blatant lack of competence and preparedness needs no belaboring. What’s critical is that substantive, serious Republican leaders either wouldn’t or couldn’t declare, before or after the election: “This is not what our party stands for. We can and must do better.”

By the campaign’s end, GOP operatives were shielding Palin from even the simplest questions. (She had flunked “what newspapers do you read?”). Barack Obama cruised to victory.

Fox snapped up Palin. All bombast, no reason, no compromise ever became both the party's and the network's daily bread. And let's not forget that it was one of the “party's more thoughtful and substantive veterans,” a.k.a. John McCain, who ushered in the new era of substanceless sizzle, writes Daley.  

Once McCain put Palin on the ticket, Republican “grown-ups,” who presumably knew better, had to bite their tongues. But after the election, when they were free to speak their minds, they either remained quiet or abetted the dumbing-down of the party. They stood by as Donald Trump and others noisily pushed claims …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Mises Weekends: Dr. Michel Accad

October 26, 2015 in Economics

By Mises Institute

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Mises Weekends: Dr. Michel Accad

Listen here. Dr. Michal Accad is a practicing cardiologist who has written several articles about healthcare for mises.org. You won't find many MDs as well versed in Austrian economics.

Jeff Deist and Dr. Accad discuss practicing medicine in the Age of Obamacare, where every symptom and every treatment must fit into an insurance company code. Doctors are miserable, in debt like never before, and slaves to billing systems that consume their time. Worst of all, they've become de facto employees rather than trusted protectors of their patients' well-being.

Dr. Michal Accad: Why Can't We Pay Cash for Doctors?

Video of Dr. Michal Accad: Why Can't We Pay Cash for Doctors?

October 26, 2015

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