You are browsing the archive for 2017 December 14.

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Why 'Feminism' Is the Word of the Year

December 14, 2017 in Blogs

By Grace Guarnieri, Newsweek

Nearly a year since the Women's March, feminism remains relevant enough for Merriam-Webster to deem it the most-looked-up word of the year.

One of America's top dictionary company says “feminism” is the word of the year-which makes sense, given how many times America had to look in the dictionary to remember what it meant. … , Merriam-Webster said it dubbed “feminism” the word of the year because so many people were looking it up in 2017. But unofficially, the need to know what “feminism” really means is a by-product of a year … Read the rest of this entry →

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The Governess Who Spilled the Queen’s Secrets

December 14, 2017 in History

By Erin Blakemore

Princess Elizabeth (center) and her younger sister Princess Margaret of Great Britain play in a miniature automobile while their governess, Marion Crawford, keeps an eye on them. Elizabeth will grow up to become Queen Elizabeth II. (Credit: Bettmann Archive/Getty Images)

She was one of the Royal Family’s most trusted confidantes. She helped bring up a future Queen. Her loyalty and loving care were rewarded with royal favor and even a rent-free home for life.

But in 1950, Marion “Crawfie” Crawford, beloved Scottish governess of Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret and servant of the Royal Family, was expelled from court, kicked out of her house and shunned by the very people she’d loved for decades.

Her crime? Spilling the beans about her former charges. Crawford was the first servant in the royal household ever to cash in on royal secrets—and she paid the price for her candor.
A trained teacher, Crawford was just 22 years old when she entered the Royal Household. She was hired by the Duchess of York—the future Queen Mother—as a governess for her two daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret. Their uncle, Edward, was expected to become king and they were raised accordingly (their father Albert, Duke of York, was second in line to the throne). Crawford’s charges were privately educated, and had little contact with the outside world. Daily life was routinized and quiet.

Then, everything changed. Edward, now king, fell in love with Wallis Simpson, an American who had been married twice. At the time, it was unheard of for a king to marry a commoner, much less a divorced American. But Edward refused to relent and in 1936, against his family’s wishes, he abdicated in order to marry Simpson. Albert (now George VI) became king, with his oldest daughter, 10-year-old Elizabeth (known fondly as Lilibet), next in line for the throne.

Princess Elizabeth (center) and her younger sister Princess Margaret of Great Britain play in a miniature automobile while their governess, Marion Crawford, keeps an eye on them. Elizabeth will grow up to become Queen Elizabeth II. (Credit: Bettmann Archive/Getty Images)

Crawford moved with the family to Buckingham Palace and helped train her charges for their royal roles. But she also worked to make life as normal as possible for the girls. She took them on expeditions outside the palace, formed a Girl Guide troop for royals, and took them shopping at stores like Woolworths.

The royal household was almost obsessively secretive. For members of the Royal Household and their servants, confidentiality was not just expected—it was a kind of unwritten law. As the London Review of Books noted in a review …read more


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Gambling Away Federalism

December 14, 2017 in Economics

By Trevor Burrus

Trevor Burrus

Pennsylvania legalized online gambling in late October,
becoming the fourth state to allow online betting. Some lawmakers
in Washington, however, would like the federal government to
override those states’ laws and prohibit online gambling
nationwide. The Restoration of America’s Wire Act(RAWA),
which has been floating around Congress since 2015 but is receiving
renewed attention, is an attempt to assert federal control over
states that have legalized online gambling. Just as states have
been allowed to experiment with marijuana legalization, Congress
should resist attempts to override state experiments in online

The story goes back to a 2011 Department of Justice memo that
clarified the interpretation of the 1961 Federal Wire Act, which
was passed to give federal officials the authority to go after the
mafia. When asked by the states of New York and Illinois whether
intrastate online lotteries would violate the Federal Wire Act, the
DOJ clarified that the 1961 law applied only to sports betting and
not to other forms of online gambling, freeing states to legalize
online gambling, as Pennsylvania and others have. Since that time
various lawmakers have been trying to either convince the DOJ to
revisit that interpretation or to amend the Federal Wire
Act-“restore” it, as the bill’s title says-to
cover online gambling.

Congress should resist
attempts to override state experiments in online

Seemingly spurred along by Pennsylvania’s law, in November
Senators Feinstein (D-CA) and Graham (R-SC) wrote a letter to the DOJ asking for reconsideration of the
2011 interpretation of the Federal Wire Act. They cite the usual
concerns: the children, society’s most vulnerable, and
organized crime as a reason to revisit the interpretation. Yet,
even if such concerns were valid, the Federal Wire Act clearly does
not apply to non-sports related gambling, as CEI’s Michelle
Minton has conclusively shown.

All of this arises as New Jersey is at the Supreme Court challenging a federal law,
the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which
prohibits states from authorizing “a lottery, sweepstakes, or
other betting, gambling, or wagering scheme based” “on
one or more competitive games in which amateur or professional
athletes participate.” The law, which was passed in 1992,
carved out exceptions for four states-Delaware, Montana, Nevada,
and Oregon-and gave New Jersey the option to legalize sports
betting at casinos as long as it did so within a year after the law
went into effect. New Jersey didn’t do so at the time but now
it would like to. It tried twice to legalize sports betting, but
each time federal courts have said that PASPA prohibits it. Now at
the Supreme Court …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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A Word of Thanks, Lew

December 14, 2017 in Economics

By Jeff Deist


By: Jeff Deist

Many readers know that Lew Rockwell, founder of the Mises Institute and quiet benefactor to countless individuals in libertarian circles over the decades, continues to recover from a recent back injury. While the episode has not quelled his enthusiasm for liberty, recovery is no picnic.

Apparently medicine remains in the Dark Ages when it comes to backs, especially lower backs. Some treatments are sketchy and unreliable, cortisone injections provide only fleeting benefit, pain management is fraught with nausea and other nasty side effects, and surgical options portend Armageddon. All that said, Lew is in great hands with innovators at Emory University (yes, xenophobes, we have wonderful doctors down South) and feeling much better. A procedure performed earlier this week appears to have yielded tremendous benefit, and we expect Lew back at 100% very soon.

My point in writing this is twofold: first, to update friends and supporters of the Institute on Lew’s progress, and second to remind all of us of the tremendous debt of gratitude we owe him.

Let me risk Lew’s wrath by sharing a few personal details about him.

Few people know that his much older brother was killed as a young pilot during World War II—by friendly fire. The family never fully recovered, of course, and the event instilled a deep antiwar sentiment in Lew as a boy even though he could not fully grasp the depth of the tragedy and his parents' grief. And while he grew up as a Taft and later a Goldwater conservative, Lew soured on the GOP during the Nixon era and dismissed it as a hopeless and even malevolent force.

Lew and Mardi Rockwell are adoptive parents to a wonderful special needs daughter, who came into the world lacking the devoted parental care she would need. It was Ron Paul who brought her to Lew’s attention, and with his medical partner, facilitated everything.

I’m always puzzled when Lew is attacked as a “right winger,” especially by libertarians. This is a charge made by those who insist on attaching a left-cultural component onto political libertarianism, and thus find Lew’s commitment to his Catholic faith and the natural rights tradition suspicious if not disqualifying. But political liberty is about state power, not extra-libertarian cultural preferences. Lew’s America would allow any and all voluntary social arrangements; that he would not endorse all of them is beside the point.

As mentioned above, his antiwar …read more


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The Media Keep Saying the GOP Tax Bill Is Best for Rich Families. They're Wrong.

December 14, 2017 in Economics

By Chris Edwards

Chris Edwards

There is one thing the mainstream media agrees on about the
Republican tax cuts. The “GOP Plan Evolved into a Windfall
for the Wealthy,” said a Washington Post
. An Associated Press
story discussed
, “How GOP Tax Plans Would Reward Rich
Families.” And a New York Times
editorial called it
, “A Tax-Cut Bill to Make Scrooge
McDuck Proud.”

That narrative is everywhere, and it is false. The GOP’s
tax proposals would give the largest relative cuts to the middle
class, increase subsidies to low-income households, and make the
tax code more progressive. Those are misguided policies, but that
is what Republicans will likely deliver even with some final tweaks
this week.

Let’s look at data on the Senate tax bill from the Tax Policy
Center. In 2019 the middle-income quintile (or one-fifth) of U.S.
households would receive an average tax cut of $840, while the top
quintile would receive $5,420. At first blush, the top group seems
to do better.

The GOP’s tax proposals
would give the largest relative cuts to the middle class, increase
subsidies to low-income households, and make the tax code more

However, the top group currently pays far more in income and
estate taxes, so its relative cut would be smaller. The tax cut for
the top quintile would be 8 percent of current taxes, while the cut
for the middle quintile would be a huge 23 percent. The Senate bill
trims the top income tax rate and the rate on small businesses, but
it cuts rates, doubles the standard deduction, and increases child
credits for the middle class.

Let’s look at other TPC data. The Senate bill would give
62 percent of the overall tax cut to the top quintile in 2019. But
that group pays 84 percent of individual income
taxes and 67 percent of all federal taxes. Since the tax cut
percentage for that group is smaller, it would pay a larger share
of overall federal taxes going forward.

What about the middle quintile? It currently pays 10 percent of
all federal taxes, but would receive 13.5 percent of the Senate
bill’s tax cuts in 2019. Thus, middle earners would gain an
extra-large share of the tax cuts.

As for lower-income households, they would receive a subsidy
increase. Currently, the bottom two quintiles of households do not
pay any federal income taxes on net. Yet those groups would receive
substantial tax “cuts,” which would be largely an
increase in refundable tax credits.

The bottom line is that the GOP tax cuts would make the tax code
more “progressive,” which is …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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How Healthy Is Your State? The Disparities Are Stark

December 14, 2017 in Blogs

By Megan Thielking, STAT

Massachusetts is the healthiest state, while Mississippi ranks last.

Massachusetts is the healthiest state to live this year, according to a new report from the United Health Foundation. The report ranks states on 35 factors that impact health, from vaccination levels and infant mortality rates to environmental pollution and poverty levels. The analysis also pinpoints public health challenges nationwide. One particularly troubling trend: The rate… Read the rest of this entry →

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Review:Justice in the Marketplace in Early Modern Spain: Saravia, Villalón, and the Religious Origins of Economic Analysis

December 14, 2017 in Economics

By Eric C. Graf

Spain marketplace

By: Eric C. Graf

Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics 20, no. 2 (Summer 2017)

Justice in the Marketplace in Early Modern Spain: Saravia, Villalón, and the Religious Origins of Economic Analysis
by Michael Thomas D'Mic
Lexington, 2014

For anyone wondering why the School of Salamanca is said to have founded the modern study of economics, tremendous insight is provided by D’Emic’s study of Cristóbal de Villalón’s El provechoso tratado de cambios y contrataciones de mercaderes y reprobación de usura (Valladolid, 1541) and Luis Saravia de la Calle’s La instrución de mercaderes muy provechosa (Medina del Campo, 1544), the latter with its important subsection, Tratado de cambios. The reason is the deep interest taken by everyone from academic theologians to street-level confessors in the thoughts and behaviors of Castilian merchants circa 1550. From a broad perspective, the new financial and commercial reality meant that business activity now attracted the attention of religious authorities worried about the souls of their congregants. Medieval trade in wool and wheat at seasonal fairs had become early modern trade in everything under the sun, involving complex international operations and calling for methodical moral evaluation. From a broader perspective, the new, impersonal and money-based bourgeois capitalist society was beginning to outpace the older agrarian one.

D’Emic wades straight into the financial details of mid-sixteenth-century Castile. The fact that modern merchants and financiers were forced to submit to moral authorities, who, for their part, maintained medieval perspectives on business, made for curious social feedback mechanisms. As one example, the instinctive antipathy toward usury on the part of religious and intellectual authorities—who were usually the same, and who usually appealed to Aristotle’s and Aquinas’s awkward, abstract view of the “unnaturalness” of making money with money—forced merchants to resort to elaborate financial instruments. And as these financial instruments became more elaborate, the churchmen entrusted with deciding whether or not they were moral labored to produce detailed accounts of their use. That is how D’Emic’s book is about the early modern birth of the field of economics in mid-sixteenth-century Spain.

An example of one of these elaborate financial instruments was the cambio seco, or “dry exchange,” which D’Emic calls loansharking (33). It allowed aggressive lenders to interact with desperate borrowers, the latter usually smaller or out-of-town merchants who had less access to credit. The interest payments on these contracts indicate a clear understanding of risk premium. Moreover, in order …read more


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Understanding ‘Net Neutrality’

December 14, 2017 in Economics

By Peter Van Doren, Thomas A. Firey

Peter Van Doren and Thomas A. Firey

The FCC is set to vote on changing how the federal government regulates the internet, and commentators and activists are up in arms. New York Times technology writer Farhad Manjoo, for one, claims “the internet is dying.”

So what is the controversy about? FCC commissioner Ajit Pai proposes to repeal rules upholding “net neutrality” and replace them with a very simple rule: tell all customers about your services and prices in a transparent manner.

What is net neutrality? The internet is simply a set of pathways for transmitting packages of 1s and 0s—the basic language of computers—from one computer to another. When content (such as email, music, or video) is transmitted, the content is broken down into small packages of information, each of which, is sent separately over the internet to a destination computer, which then reassembles the information packages back into the content. Network neutrality requires that all the different packages of information be treated and priced alike by internet network providers regardless of who sent them or what information they contain.

While net neutrality sounds appealing, the actual internet experience that we have come to enjoy and expect actually requires non-neutrality. In the early days of the internet, packets of information were basically treated alike. This was back when the internet was a government-funded communications system that allowed university researchers to communicate with each other.

However, when the internet started to allow private internet service providers (ISPs) to connect to the government system in the 1990s, the structure of the internet became more complex. Private backbones supplemented the original government network, connecting through four backbone network access points. The four access points almost immediately became congested with traffic, which gave the backbone operators market power over regional ISP providers. To reduce congestion and limit backbone market power, ISPs quickly developed new pathways and connections.

Thus since the early days of the private internet there have been multiple paths for packets of information to travel. Similar packets have traveled over different pathways at different speeds and have long paid differing amounts to do so. These arrangements were not anti-consumer or anti-competitive. They were simply what was required to create redundancy and overcome market power.

In fact, they allowed content providers—websites, media streamers, and others—to reduce costs and increase quality of service because not all uses of the internet are alike in their technical demands on the network. For …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Watch This Republican Economist Squirm as He's Forced to Admit the Truth About the GOP Tax Bill

December 14, 2017 in Blogs

By Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet

Trump adviser Stephen Moore finally concedes what we've known all along.

/* ><!–*/


In the halls of Congress on Wednesday, 84 activists from progressive groups were arrested for seeking meetings with their representatives to protest the GOP tax plan. 

Among those present was Alex Lawson, executive director of Social Security Works, which seeks to protect and expand the earned benefits program. Other participating groups were the Center for Popular Democracy, the Women’s March, the Strong Economy for All Coalition, and Hedge Clipper.  

Lawson noticed Stephen Moore, the conservative economist and tax-cut evangelist, walking past and pinned him down on camera, forcing him to admit that not everyone in the country is in line for a tax cut as the GOP has promised.

Watch the confrontation:

Lawson: Stephen, do you want to give a standup about the tax bill?

Moore: What is this for?

Lawson: This is for… a bunch of people are being arrested for protesting the tax bill.

Moore: Why are they protesting?

Lawson: They’re protesting a handout to billionaires and robbing us. Well, you’re not a billionaire, right?

Moore: Haha. I wish I were. I’m trying to be a billionaire.

Lawson: You just flack for them.

Moore: I think everybody should get a tax cut. It would be good for America.

Lawson: What happens in 2027? Because factually, that’s inaccurate. Not everyone gets a tax cut, right?

Moore: I helped write the bill.

Lawson: I know. That’s why I’m saying you know that you’re lying right now, because not everyone gets a tax cut.

Moore: Well, not everybody.

Related Stories

…read more


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The War of Words behind ‘Happy Holidays’

December 14, 2017 in History

By Sarah Pruitt

Christmas cards on sale at a Target store for the 2017 holiday season. (Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

In recent years, the debate over whether to say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” has become as reliable a post-Thanksgiving tradition as the Black Friday shopping craze.

Like many issues these days, the great holiday greeting debate tends to separate along political lines as much as religious ones. According to a poll conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute in 2016, 66 percent of Democrats said that stores and businesses should greet customers with “Happy Holidays,” “Season’s Greetings” or some other general greeting, rather than “Merry Christmas,” as a show of respect for different religious faiths; only 28 percent of Republicans felt the same.

Setting aside politics, what’s the history behind the different greetings? How did a simple salutation get so controversial?

Christmas cards on sale at a Target store for the 2017 holiday season. (Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Much like “Merry Christmas,” it turns out that “Happy Holidays” also has religious roots. Both are derived from Old English: Christmas comes from “Cristes Maesse,” or the Mass of Christ, the first usage of which (in 1038) described the mass held to commemorate Christ’s birth. As for “holiday,” the word emerged in the 1500s as a replacement of the earlier medieval word “haliday,” which itself had supplanted the Old English “haligdæg,” meaning holy day.

Recently, an investigation into the history of the phrase “Happy Holidays” as a seasonal greeting in the United States by self-described history nerd Jeremy Aldrich turned up its usage as early as 1863, in the Philadelphia Inquirer. By the middle of the 20th century, the phrase was well established in popular usage, as shown in a study of ads run by the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, in Carolina Magazine from 1935 to 1942 to encourage giving the gift of tobacco.

A 1937 ad proclaimed: “A gift of Camels says, ‘Happy Holidays and Happy Smoking!’” Other ads from the 1930s and early 1940s stuck to “Season’s Greetings,” but all featured jolly, grinning Santa Clauses, reindeer, Christmas trees and other recognizable Christmas symbols.

1925 Hallmark Christmas card. (Courtesy of the Hallmark Archives, Hallmark Cards, Inc., Kansas City, Missouri, USA )

As Andrew McGill wrote in The Atlantic in 2016, Christians have exchanged the greeting “Happy Holidays” among themselves for decades, most with the understanding that the “holidays” meant the season of Advent, the four-Sunday cycle on that includes Christmas and ends on the Feast …read more