You are browsing the archive for 2018 January 01.

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Seniors Scramble for Income as the Fed Inflates

January 1, 2018 in Economics

By Doug French


By: Doug French

The Federal Reserve’s decades long program of inflation, as the cure to fix all things wrong with economy, has made retirement a luxury fewer people can afford. It’s not a story that’s well known. That the retail world is being taken over by Jeff Bezos’s Amazon is common knowledge.

The two trends crash together in Jessica Bruder’s Nomadland, a book gushed about by reviewers at The New York Times. Bruder said at the Wisconsin Book Festival, “the economy is a mess,” and goes on to rail against greedy employers who don’t want to pay benefits and fund retirement funds.

Bruder’s book is chalk full of sad stories of layoffs, foreclosures, and lack of family support. At the same time, these nomads, workampers or rubber tramps, are a resilient bunch, who left behind the costs and responsibilities of real estate for “wheelestate” to survive their golden years.

This is where Mr. Bezos comes in. Amazon is a large employer of the workampers. “Incentivized by federal tax credits for employing elderly workers (25 to 40 percent of wages), the company aggressively recruits them, especially during the holiday season,” Parul Sengal writes for The New York Times. “Jeff Bezos has predicted that a quarter of all workampers will pass through his warehouses, working 10 hours or more a day, sorting packages.”

Not having the luxury of financial security and leisure time to play golf and bridge, “workampers ride a national circuit of jobs extending coast to coast and up into Canada, a shadow economy created by hundreds of employers posting classified ads on websites with names like Workers on Wheels and Workamper News,” writes Bruder.

The fact is, employers are eager to hire workampers. “They love retirees because we’re dependable. We’ll show up, work hard, and are basically slave labor,” seventy-seven year old David Roderick told the author.

The author lived in a van (named Halen) and traveled with the workampers for three and a half years. The people she befriended were cheerful and gracious, even after working grueling shifts at Amazon warehouses that could involve walking 15 miles punctuated with dozens of squats. A couple Advil, taken before and after work, are a must.

However, few dream of living in an RV Park, working for Mr. Bezos, then moving on to work for a forest service contractor, and then toiling in the pressure-packed, beat-the-clock, sugar beet harvest.

Contrary to how …read more


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How to Guarantee a War with North Korea

January 1, 2018 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

As tensions flare on the Korean Peninsula, concerns mount about
North Korea’s nuclear- weapons capability. Secretary of Defense
James Mattis recently statedthat, contrary to rumors and alarmist
media reports, Pyongyang does not yet pose a serious threat to the
American homeland. The same cannot be said, however, for the U.S.
troops stationed in South Korea and Japan. Those tripwire forces
have become little more than nuclear hostages, well within range of
North Korea’s current missile fleet. Keeping the troops in such a
vulnerable location is foolhardy.

Ironically, their presence may even reduce the credibility of
the U.S. security commitment to the East Asian allies-contrary to
the conventional wisdom about the effect of such deployments. The
rationale for stationing tripwire forces in both East Asia and
Europe during the Cold War was that the move guaranteed U.S.
involvement in any conflict that broke out. Christopher Layne, the
Robert M. Gates Chair in Intelligence and National Security at
Texas A&M University’s George Bush School of Government and
Public Service, points out in his crucial history of the Cold
War, Peace of Illusions, that U.S. allies repeatedly
sought those deployments precisely for that purpose. Successive
presidential administrations obliged, believing that the step was
essential to reassure Washington’s security partners that America
would never, indeed could never, renege on its promises. Once
American military personnel died from an enemy
offensive, it would be nearly impossible for a president to walk
away from treaty obligations.

Most Americans were unaware of the decision to lock the United
States into its commitments and deny policymakers the element of
choice. Officials certainly did not inform the public about the
implications of that approach. And the bulk of the news media also
left the American people blissfully ignorant that the presence of
tripwire forces on the front lines in dangerous arenas increased
the risk that a conflict would escalate and, therefore, lead to
catastrophe for the U.S. homeland. Attitudes toward Washington’s
alliance commitments might have been quite different if the public
had known about the danger flowing from those commitments and troop

Keeping U.S. tripwire
forces in East Asia no longer serves a logical or constructive
purpose. They are hostages that limit Washington’s policy options,
if officials conclude that neutralizing the North Korean threat
warrants drastic action.

Whatever the logic or wisdom of tripwires and the resulting
denial of policy choice during the Cold War when the United States
was attempting to deter the existential security threat that the
rival superpower posed, the risk-benefit calculation should be far
different today. Nowhere is the need more evident than in Korea. In
the context of …read more

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An Unqualified Injustice

January 1, 2018 in Economics

By Clark Neily

Clark Neily

One of the most important tools we have for holding police and
other public officials accountable is the ability to sue them when
they violate our rights. But the Supreme Court has undermined this
vital accountability mechanism with a legal fiction called
“qualified immunity.” On Friday, the court will have an opportunity
to change course by agreeing to hear a case involving a tragic
miscarriage of justice.

Andrew Scott was home playing video games with his girlfriend
after midnight on June 15, 2015, when someone began pounding on the
door to his apartment. The frightened couple retreated to Scott’s
bedroom, where he retrieved his pistol and then made his way back
to the living room. Carefully opening his front door, Scott saw an
armed man and started to back up. The man immediately fired six
shots, striking Scott three times and killing him.

The shooter was Lake County, Florida, Sheriff’s Deputy Richard
Sylvester, who was investigating an assault and battery involving a
dark-colored motorcycle several miles away. Seeing a dark-colored
motorcycle in the parking lot outside Scott’s apartment – but
making no effort to connect the motorcycle to the assault or to Mr.
Scott – deputies surrounded the unit, drew their weapons, and
banged on the door without identifying themselves. When Mr. Scott
answered the door with a gun in his hand, as he had a
constitutional right to do, Mr. Sylvester shot him dead.

Qualified immunity was
invented by the Supreme Court out of whole cloth and has no basis
statutory text, legislative intent, or sound public

Mr. Scott’s parents filed a lawsuit, and the deputies moved to
dismiss on the grounds that they had not violated any “clearly
established” right and were therefore entitled to qualified
immunity. The trial judge and the court of appeals agreed. The
Supreme Court should take the case and dial back qualified immunity
for three reasons.

First, qualified immunity was invented by the Supreme Court out
of whole cloth and has no basis statutory text, legislative intent,
or sound public policy. Federal law provides that police and other
state actors are liable for the deprivation of “any rights.”

But the Supreme Court has qualified that standard (hence the
term qualified immunity) by substituting the phrase “clearly
established” for “any.” That was a blatant act of judicial
policymaking, as University of Chicago law professor Will Baude
demonstrates in a recent law review article that utterly destroys
the originalist pretensions of qualified immunity.

Second, the clearly established standard is both malleable and
perverse. It is malleable because it asks whether existing case law
was sufficiently analogous to put officers on notice that their
conduct was …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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A New Collection on Austrian Economics

January 1, 2018 in Economics

By Matthew McCaffrey


By: Matthew McCaffrey

I’m delighted to announce the publication of a new collection of papers on Austrian economics, The Economic Theory of Costs: Foundations and New Directions (Routledge, 2018).

The Austrian school is growing rapidly, but with so many scholars producing good research, it can also be difficult to keep up with each new contribution. Hence this collection, which provides an overview of several promising developments relating to core problems in Austrian economics.

The unifying theme of the book is the “theory of cost,” which I use in a general sense to refer to the theory of value and price established by Menger and his students, and its relation to its competitors both old and new. The chapters examine a large number of problems of special interest to Austrians, from the basic elements of action and choice, to the theories of price formation, production and distribution, entrepreneurship, and the firm, to comparative economic systems and alternative institutions. They are thus intended to address fundamental questions in Austrian economics—the “mundane” problems that make the school unique, and that inspired writers like Menger and Mises. As such, they serve to remind us that economics at its core is not a problem that has been “solved,” but rather is developing constantly in response to criticism as well as to challenging new events in the world.

The contributors include some of the most thought-provoking people currently working in the Austrian tradition, from established scholars like Joseph Salerno, Jeffrey Herbener, and Guido Hülsmann, to younger economists like Per Bylund, Vlad Topan, Mateusz Machaj, Xavier Méra, Jonathan Newman, and Patrick Newman. There is even a recently-unearthed draft chapter from Murray Rothbard’s Man, Economy, and State, which outlines his original approach to production theory.

The other topics covered likewise span a wide range of problems in economic theory, including the role of cost in debates about choice and opportunity costs; demand and income effects; production and distribution; risk and interest rates; uncertainty and production; monopsony; Post-Keynesianism; transaction costs; socialism and management; and social entrepreneurship.

Together, these contributions offer an update and restatement of some key elements of Austrian price theory that are central to the economic way of thinking. Each chapter reveals how the Austrian, causal-realist approach to value and costs can be used to solve an important problem or debate in economics. Moreover, the chapters are not only useful for students learning these concepts for the first …read more


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Mises Explains What Motivates Human Action

January 1, 2018 in Economics

By Chris Calton


By: Chris Calton

In the preface to Ludwig von Mises’ Theory and History, Murray Rothbard refers to the book as his “fourth and last great work” as well as “the most neglected masterwork of Mises.” In it, Mises elaborates on the philosophy put forth in Human Action, where he details one of the two sciences of human action — praxeology. The other science of human action, Mises tells us, is history, and in Theory and History, he finally gives a systematic exposition of his method of history, which he calls “thymology.”

Fatalism and the Erroneous Theories of History

Thymology was Mises’ answer to the approaches to historical research that were in fashion in the late 1950s when Theory and History was first published. He starts by dismantling the various theories of history – what we may refer to as “deterministic” views of history – that suggest that the course of history was moving along a destined path determined by some outside force.

Mises gives a damning critique of these philosophies of history, which culminated in the Marxian theory of history that was dominating the discipline during Mises’ lifetime. He writes: “Every variety of the philosophy of history must answer two questions. First: What is the final end aimed at and the route by which it is to be reached? Second: By what means are people induced or forced to pursue this course?”

In the religious materialism that developed in the seventeenth century, the answers to these questions were clear. There was a “prime mover” — God — who created the universe much like a man creates a machine, and mankind will necessarily move mechanistically through stages of history: the period of sinful bliss, followed by the wicked suffering, and finally salvation. This was the deterministic outlook on the course of history that established both the concepts of a “prime mover” and what we can refer to as a “stages doctrine,” which is to say that mankind is destined to move inevitably through certain stages of history in a specific order.

During the Enlightenment, many thinkers began to take a more agnostic approach to the course of human history. Instead of Providence, mankind was moved by reason. But in this doctrine, historical progress was inevitable. Reason would be perfected, and human history would progress only in an upward linear direction. Although this approach did not adopt a “stages” approach to history, it retained the …read more


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'Out of Control' Trump's Lawyers Are Lying to Him about the Russia Investigation So He Won’t Fire Mueller: Carl Bernstein

January 1, 2018 in Blogs

By Tom Boggioni, Raw Story

“His lawyers are telling him what he wants to hear.”

Appearing on CNN’s State of the Union, legendary reporter Carl Bernstein claimed that sources within the White House have told him that President Donald Trump’s lawyers are lying to him about how bad the investigation into Russian collusion is going because they fear he will fire special counsel Robert Mueller.

Speaking with host Dana Bash, the reporter who broke the Watergate story that eventually led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon, said Trump’s lawyers are painfully aware that their client is “out of control.”

Addressing Trump’s belief that he will be exonerated, Bernstein said Trump is lying but also may be in the dark because his legal team is afraid of what he might say or do if he knew what was really going on.

“There is no reason to believe almost anything Donald Trump says because what we know is that the president of the United States and his presidency is characterized, above all else, by the lying of the president of the United States,” Bernstein explained.”That doesn’t mean that lying by the president is a crime, but it does mean that we see him covering up events, but not necessarily criminally covering up events. And where this is going definitively we don’t know.”

“He has expressed, I am told by people in the White House, the desire to fire Mueller and the desire to pardon people under investigation including his family,” Bernstein continued. “His lawyers are telling him what he wants to hear; that’s what I’m told by lawyers in the White House.”

“They are telling him what he wants to hear to keep him from going off and firing Mueller in a rage because they have an out of control client” he stated. “The president of the United States is out of control a good deal of the time, especially when it comes to this investigation.”

Watch the video below via CNN:

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