You are browsing the archive for 2018 January 24.

Avatar of admin

by admin

4 Hard Lessons from the Trump Government Shutdown

January 24, 2018 in Blogs

By Jefferson Morley, AlterNet

A government shutdown benefits the anti-government party.


1. Trump’s words are irrelevant.

In the normal scheme of the American government, the president has the final say. When everybody else wants to avoid making a decision, the chief executive has to execute. As the sign on Harry Truman’s Oval Office said, “The buck stops here.”

In the Trump White House, the buck stops wherever. As the shutdown talks went on, the president’s position on immigration legislation was a mystery to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“As soon as we figure out what he is for, then I would be convinced that we were not just spinning our wheels going to this issue on the floor, but actually dealing with a bill that has a chance to become law and therefore solve the problem,” McConnell said.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said working with Trump was “like negotiating with Jell-O.”

The deal that led to the shutdown was negotiated by McConnell and Schumer without input from the White House. McConnell played the role of negotiator in chief, and he stuck with Trump’s nativist base. Trump’s sporadic rhetorical desire to make a deal to protect immigrant youth was irrelevant to the outcome.

Schumer’s Jell-O quip was correct, but raised the question, how come the gelatinous blob is claiming victory?

2. Democrats are dreamers, not Dreamers.

The whole point of the shutdown, at least for the Democrats, was to force President Trump to honor his promise last September to protect the Dreamers, the 800,000 young American immigrants who face deportation to countries they barely know.

In the end, the Democrats voted to end the shutdown in return for funding the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which the Republicans had been holding hostage, and yet another promise from McConnell that he would bring legislation to protect the Dreamers.

Dream on, said MoveOn.org. “This is a bad, outrageous deal,” the progressive pressure group said. “Trump and Republicans in Congress stood with their anti-immigrant nativist base, and too many Democrats backed down, abandoned Dreamers, and failed to fight for their values.”

In other words, the Democrats voted as if the Republicans were acting in …read more

Source: ALTERNET

Avatar of admin

by admin

The Coming Election Is Going to Be a Tidal Wave of Women Running for Office

January 24, 2018 in Blogs

By Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet

Hundreds are running for Congress, but the Democratic Party and progressive groups have only endorsed a few dozen.


Politics in the Trump era often seems like a hall of mirrors and mirages. But something significant and undeniable is happening across the country that goes deeper than the White House’s daily distortions or whether dealing with Trump is like negotiating with Jell-O.

Across the country, the first big political wave of 2018 isn’t voters—it’s candidates lining up for Democratic primaries up and down the ladder in unprecedented volumes. And just as many mainstream media outlets underreported the flood of women who marched last weekend (it wasn’t thousands, it was millions), this flood of candidates is led by progressive women.   

“To date, 390 women are planning to run for the House of Representatives, a figure that’s higher than at any point in American history,” wrote Rebecca Traister, for New York magazine’s January 23 issue. “Twenty-two of them are non-incumbent black women — for scale, there are only 18 black women in the House right now. Meanwhile, 49 women are likely to be running for the Senate, more than 68 percent higher than the number who’d announced at the same point in 2014.”

“A year ago, when millions of women stormed the streets in women’s marches to proclaim their outrage and despair at the inauguration of Donald T. Trump, no one knew whether it was a moment or a movement,” wrote the New York Times’ Susan Chira on Sunday. “Now the answer is coming into focus.”

It’s clearly a movement. But it’s one that remains largely under the political media’s radar. And it's also a movement that has not been helped by the Democratic Party's campaign committees, which haven't lined up behind many newcomers, just as endorsements by leading progressive groups don't reflect their numbers.

“Across the country, the DCCC [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee], its allied groups, or leaders within the Democratic Party are working hard against some of these new candidates for Congress, publicly backing their more established opponents, according to interviews with more than 50 candidates, party operatives, and members of …read more

Source: ALTERNET

Avatar of admin

by admin

The Enslaved Native Americans Who Made The Gold Rush Possible

January 24, 2018 in History

By Erin Blakemore

Johann August Suter, the Swiss pioneer of California later known as John Sutter in association with the California Gold Rush. (Credit: Universal History Archive/UIG/Getty Images)

James Marshall didn’t come to California to find gold. But then he noticed a glinting rock in the dirt while constructing a new mill for local landowner John Sutter. It was 1848, and Marshall’s fate—and that of California—had just changed forever.

The Gold Rush that followed changed the lives of California’s Native Americans, too. Within years, they would be almost wiped out due to the massive immigration—and hunger for wealth— the Gold Rush inspired.

Fueled by greed and fear, the Anglo settlers who flocked to California declared war on the Native Californians who had come before them. But Forty-Niners weren’t the first white people to oppress or even enslave Native Americans in California. The very land on which Marshall spotted the gold was part of a vast empire built on the slave labor of native peoples.

Without Native Americans, John Sutter—owner of the mill where gold was discovered and the area’s most influential landowners—would never have become so powerful. Sutter, a shrewd businessman, enslaved hundreds of Native Americans and used them as a free source of labor and a makeshift militia with which he defended his territory. He also set the stage for their genocide.

Johann August Suter, the Swiss pioneer of California later known as John Sutter in association with the California Gold Rush. (Credit: Universal History Archive/UIG/Getty Images)

Before John Sutter became a land baron, he was Johann Suter, a debt-ridden shop owner in Switzerland. Rather than serve jail time for his debts, the 31-year-old left his home country—and his wife and five children—behind.

At the time, California was a Mexican province, and Sutter was tempted by its vast natural resources and its seemingly sparse population. Accompanied by a group of Native Americans he had “acquired” along with provisions and tools, he convinced the provincial governor to grant him 50,000 acres for a settlement and trade center he dubbed “Nueva Helvetia,” or New Switzerland, in 1841.

Sutter became Nueva Helvetia’s judge and military commander, with the authority to prevent what he characterized as “the robberies committed by adventurers from the United States” and “the invasion of savage Indians.” In order to acquire the land, he converted to Catholicism and became a Mexican citizen, and within a few years he had more than doubled his land holdings.

<span …read more

Source: HISTORY

Avatar of admin

by admin

Psychology vs. Praxeology

January 24, 2018 in Economics

By Jörg Guido Hülsmann

fortune telling

By: Jörg Guido Hülsmann

(Excerpt from chapter 17 of Mises: The Last Knight of Liberalism, pp. 765–67.)

Mises’s exposition of economic science differed decisively from all modern authors in that it drew a sharp line between praxeology and psychology. This has remained a defining feature of the works of his disciples.

Mises did not contest that the psychological background of a person, his worldview, knowledge, conscious motivations, subconscious urges, and so on have an immediate impact on his behavior. Neither did he ignore the important psychological problems that his friend F.A. Hayek began to stress in those years, in particular, that of knowledge acquisition. Mises’s point was that there were also laws of human behavior that exist in complete independence of these psychological dispositions.

For example, in chapter 4, Mises discusses ends and means, scales of values, and scales of needs. He does not deal with the question of how or why people select ends and means, or how or why they have certain values and certain needs. He argues that in every human action we do use means to attain ends, and that needs and values can be ranked11 In chapter 15 (“The Market”) he points out that consumers are sovereign because their buying decisions steer the market.12 This is obviously true, irrespective of what consumers buy or the reason why they make these purchases. Therefore he does not deal with these questions. In chapter 16 (“Prices”) Mises states that the number of market participants determines how narrow the margins are within which prices are determined. Yet this implies that the number of market participants has no influence on how prices are formed. Irrespective of the number of market participants, market prices are always determined by the decisions of marginal buyers and sellers.13 Thus, all prices can be explained as a result of the mere fact that market participants prefer one …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

Avatar of admin

by admin

Minecraft and Crusoe Economics

January 24, 2018 in Economics

By Chris Calton

minecraft.PNG

By: Chris Calton

Austrian economists often employ the pedagogy called “Crusoe economics” to illustrate the foundational principles of economic theory. Robinson Crusoe is alone on an island. He has nothing but his own body at his disposal, and he needs to find food and construct a shelter to survive. So what does he do?

He starts punching trees, of course!

Okay, Robinson Crusoe doesn’t punch trees — that would be a recipe for bloody knuckles and wasted time. But in the game Minecraft, in which players are plopped into a world in a very Crusoean situation, punching trees is how they obtain the initial materials they need to start constructing a shelter and tools.

But while Minecraft may not accurately illustrate real-world physics and biology, it does illustrate many (not all) of the foundational principles of economics. Before we can consume, we have to mix our labor with nature. In the world of Minecraft, this is done by punching trees to obtain wood. Wood, then, serves as a factor of production; throw a few blocks of wood together, and you get a crafting table — a higher-order production good — which allows you to craft lower-order goods like shovels, swords, and pickaxes.

Murray Rothbard wasn’t writing about crafting tables and pickaxes in Man, Economy, and State. He was writing about berry picking and fishing poles. But the principles are apparent in both worlds. “To acquire fish,” Rothbard writes, Robinson Crusoe “must have a pole or net, to acquire shelter he must have logs of wood … and an axe to cut the wood.”

Fish and shelter are among the basic consumer goods one might seek in Minecraft, and the player has to spend labor (well, virtual labor) to craft production goods like the fishing pole or the wood blocks and doors for the shelter — and an axe is certainly handy for cutting down future production time for players who make the initial investment in crafting one.

The stages of a production process play out in Minecraft, as well. Rothbard writes that “any process … of production may be analyzed as occurring in different stages. In the earlier or ‘higher’ stages, producers’ goods must be produced that will later cooperate in producing other producers’ goods that will finally co-operate in producing the desired consumers’ good.”

If a player wants to craft a fishing rod, punching trees is simply the first stage of production. Next, they …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

Avatar of admin

by admin

Americans Aren’t Ready for Another Big War

January 24, 2018 in Economics

By Christopher A. Preble

Christopher A. Preble

At the beginning of his book, The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain,
and the Birth of American Empire
, Stephen Kinzer explains
that Americans’ “enthusiasm for foreign intervention
seems to ebb and flow like the tides … At some moments we are
aflame with righteous anger. Confident in our power, we launch wars
and depose governments. Then chastened, we retreat—until the
cycle begins again.”

If fervor for overseas military adventures moves like the tides,
then right now we see more sand and mud than blue water. Americans
aren’t anxious to start more wars. On the contrary, they
believe that U.S. interventions have undermined our security, and
they want to try something else. For example, research jointly sponsored by the Charles Koch
Institute and the Center for the National Interest found that 51
percent of Americans believe that our post-9/11 foreign policy has
made us less safe. And they want more resources dedicated to
nation-building at home—not nation-building abroad. Nearly
eight in ten respondents favor dedicating additional tax dollars to
domestic spending, not a massive military buildup.

Meanwhile, a poll commissioned by the Committee for
Responsible Foreign Policy revealed that nearly 71 percent of
Americans want their representatives in Congress to constrain
Washington’s interventionist impulses. Americans believe that
war is a last resort. They desire “clearly defined goals to
authorize military engagement overseas, including a timeline and
what will constitute victory; [and] oversight and accountability
from Congress in regards to where troops are stationed and what is
being accomplished abroad.” A solid majority of Americans,
according to the poll, also want assurances that weapons and
equipment provided to others are not used in ways that harm
innocent civilians.

“The research showed that 67.4 percent of American voters
disapprove of Congressional leadership allowing our involvement in
conflict overseas without formally approving military
action—or even allowing a debate,” explained Bill
Dolbow, a spokesman for the committee.

Donald Trump didn’t win the presidency on the basis of his
foreign-policy views, per se, but he did do well among voters who
doubted that the country was moving in the right direction. That
included discontent with our experiences in recent wars.

And yet, for all his talk about draining the swamp and sticking
it to the establishment, Donald Trump has not embarked upon a
radical restructuring of the nation’s foreign policy.

He approved an escalation of the war in Afghanistan, and pledged
to leave U.S. troops in central Asia indefinitely. He has expanded
the number of U.S. troops in Europe, maintained a large and
obtrusive U.S. naval presence in the Asia-Pacific region, and
deepened American involvement in the civil wars raging in Syria and
Yemen. …read more

Source: OP-EDS

Avatar of admin

by admin

Before Roe v. Wade, Abortion Had Always Been a State and Local Matter

January 24, 2018 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

abortion.PNG

By: Ryan McMaken

In recent decades, anti-abortion advocates have increasingly claimed that the US Constitution provides protections to babies in utero via the 14th Amendment. That is, the Amendment would guarantee that no state may “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

This argument was used by the state of Texas which claimed in the case of Roe v. Wade that “the fetus is a ‘person’ within the language and meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

The Supreme Court rejected this claim, but not on the grounds that the 14th Amendment did not potentially apply. The court simply denied that a fetus is a person. Furthermore, the court admitted that if personhood were legally established in this case, then the 14th Amendment indeed would apply.

Consequently, anti-abortion activists have focused on establishing the personhood of humans in utero and of asserting that the 14th Amendment ought to apply even without an explicit declaration of personhood. Both Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz both repeated this view during the 2016 presidential primary season.

Some commentators have even gone so far as to suggest that babies in utero enjoyed Constitutional protections at some point in the past, as was the case with Michael New in National Review when he reported on a 2012 presidential primary debate:

During the [Palmetto Freedom Forum on September 5, 2011], Princeton professor Robert P. George asked all five candidates whether they would support legislation, under Section Five of the 14th Amendment, that would restore legal protection for unborn children.

It's unclear as to how closely New is quoting George here. But, the use of the phrase “restore legal protection” is problematic because babies in utero did not enjoy legal protections under the Constitution before Roe v. Wade, and one cannot restore that which never existed. Certainly, one can plausibly claim that these babies have always enjoyed rights in the moral sense. It's also entirely possible that some state constitutions explicitly addressed the matter. And we know many state statutes did. But in the legal sense, it is clear there was no protection under the US Constitution.

This idea of “restoring” lost rights to the unborn via federal law has been further extended into the idea that the US Constitution as originally imagined provided these rights.

This, however, does not …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

Avatar of admin

by admin

Filibuster in Cuba, Part 2

January 24, 2018 in Economics

By Chris Calton

Historical Controversies Podcast: Season 2

By: Chris Calton

After Narciso López’s first attempt at overthrowing Spanish rule in Cuba, he found more support from American southerners and returned for a second try. Although he would fail, the idea of expanding slavery into new territories was now in the minds of a number of southern expansionists.

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

Avatar of admin

by admin

The Problem with the Trump-Gop Tax Cuts

January 24, 2018 in Economics

By Thomas A. Firey

Thomas A. Firey

In the coming days, American workers will receive their first
paychecks adjusted for the new federal income tax cuts. And
Democratic Party politicians will have a problem. Up to now the
Democrats have successfully pushed the line that the Republican-led
cuts are a giveaway to the rich at the expense of the poor and
middle class.

The paychecks — with lower withholdings and higher
take-home pay for almost everyone in the middle and lower classes,
including a larger tax credit for the poorest workers — will
disprove that claim. Workers, happy to pocket an extra $25 or so a
week, may conclude that the Democrats have been lying about the tax
cuts all along.

There are legitimate reasons to criticize the cuts; this column
offers one below. So why didn’t the Democrats make those
arguments instead of pushing a false claim that will soon be
disproven?

The tax cuts, in essence,
reduce the price of government, which could lead to demand for
more, bigger government — perhaps in the form of a new
infrastructure bill and the return of congressional
earmarks.

Regardless, they’ll now likely acknowledge that, yes,
workers are getting a little more money. But, they’ll stress,
the biggest beneficiaries are the rich and — worse —
corporations. Problem is, the corporate tax cut is probably the
most socially beneficial part of the new tax law.

For years, U.S. firms have shouldered one of the highest
corporate income tax rates in the world, at just under 39 percent
(state and federal combined). In 2017 that was the third-highest
rate among the world’s 173 nations. In contrast, the average
corporate rate across Europe (national and subnational taxes
combined) was less than 23 percent. And even though U.S. firms can
take advantage of deductions and loopholes, they ultimately pay
some of the highest taxes among the world’s major
industrialized nations.

High corporate taxes affect business decisions in socially
harmful ways. Taxes discourage deals that would have produced more
goods for consumers, more employment, better wages, and better
payouts to shareholders. These missed opportunities are known as
“deadweight losses.” By cutting the corporate rate to
21 percent, Congress has reduced those losses, which may be why
several firms have announced wage increases, employee bonuses, and
business expansions following the passage of the new tax law.

But even with this economic boost, the tax cut is expected to
result in less government revenue. How to make up for that lost
money? One way would be to raise taxes on rich individuals, which
shouldn’t produce as many deadweight losses. The new tax law
does this to some extent by limiting tax breaks used by the …read more

Source: OP-EDS

Avatar of admin

by admin

No Choice: A Woman Who Faced an Impossible Choice

January 24, 2018 in Blogs

By BillMoyers.com

Valerie Peterson chose abortion over a stillborn birth—but because she lived in Texas, the process wasn't simple.


A new video series published on BillMoyers.com titled “No Choice” highlights the abortion stories of eight women through their emotional testimonies. The videos highlight the history of abortion rights in the United States, the impact of this struggle on the lives of women, especially those holding marginalized identities, and contextualize these stories in light of our volatile political climate, which threatens reproductive rights and Roe v. Wade.

When Valerie Peterson became pregnant with her third child, her doctor told her the child wasn’t developing properly, and that she had to choose between carrying the pregnancy to term and delivering a stillborn baby, or having an abortion. But because she was living in Texas, Valerie faced barriers to access that made her decision to end the pregnancy much more difficult than she anticipated. 

Watch the video below.

No Choice: Valerie Peterson from BillMoyers.com on Vimeo.

Related Stories

…read more

Source: ALTERNET