You are browsing the archive for 2019 December 05.

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The Founding Fathers Feared Foreign Influence—And Devised Protections Against It

December 5, 2019 in History

By Dave Roos

The Founding Fathers had just broken free from one empire, and the idea that foreign power could influence their young democracy was a prominent source of anxiety.

When the Founding Fathers met in Philadelphia …read more

Source: HISTORY

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SEC: Securities and Exchange Commission

December 5, 2019 in History

By History.com Editors

The Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, is an independent federal regulatory agency tasked with protecting investors and capital, overseeing the stock market and proposing and enforcing federal securities laws. Prior to the SEC’s creation, oversight of the trade in stocks, bonds and other securities was virtually nonexistent, which led to widespread fraud, insider trading and other abuses. The SEC was created in 1934 as one of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal programs to help fight the devastating economic effects of the Great Depression and prevent any future market calamities.

Stock Market Crash Sparks Criticism

After World War I, during the “Roaring 20s,” there was an unprecedented economic boom, during which prosperity, consumerism, overproduction and debt increased. Hoping to strike it rich, people invested in the stock market and often bought stocks on margin at huge risk without federal oversight.

But on October 29, 1929 — “Black Tuesday” — the stock market crashed, along with public confidence as investors and banks lost billions of dollars in just one day. The stock market crash caused nearly 5,000 banks to close and led to bankruptcies, rampant unemployment, wage cuts and homelessness which triggered the Great Depression.

To help determine the cause of the Great Depression and prevent a future stock market crash, the U.S. Senate Banking Committee held hearings in 1932, known as the Pecora hearings, named for the committee’s lead counsel, Ferdinand Pecora. The hearings determined that numerous financial institutions had misled investors, acted irresponsibly and participated in widespread insider trading.

Securities Act of 1933

Prior to the creation of the SEC, so-called Blue Sky Laws were on the books at the state level to help regulate securities sales and prevent fraud; however, they were mostly ineffective. After the Pecora hearings, Congress passed the Securities Act of 1933, which required registration of most securities sales in the United States.

The Securities Act aimed to help prevent securities fraud and stated that investors must receive truthful financial data about public securities for sale. It also gave the Federal Trade Commission the power to block securities sales.

Glass-Steagall Act

The Pecora hearings also led to the passing of the Glass-Steagall Act in June 1933, which helped to restore the economy and public confidence by separating investment banking from commercial banking.

The Glass-Steagall Act created the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) to oversee banks, protect consumers’ bank deposits and manage consumer complaints.

Securities …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Wake Up, Business! You Could Be a Week Away from Socialist Disaster

December 5, 2019 in Economics

By Ryan Bourne

Ryan Bourne

Wading into election campaigns is fraught with danger for business people. “We are concerned by the direction of things, but won’t raise our head just to get it blown off,” an executive of a popular multinational explained to me this week.

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When even Bill Gates, a massive philanthropist, can be media-massacred for critiquing a US presidential candidate’s wealth tax plans, no business sees itself safe from the blowback of opposing populist Left-wing policies. Customer bases comprising all political persuasions make any electoral statement from individual companies highly risky.

No such excuses, however, can be made for organisations purporting to represent business interests, who have actively chosen to remain neutered. These groups have the licence to take the heat in defending members’ long-term economic interests. Yet in this campaign, the Institute of Directors (IoD), the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) have been utterly supine in the face of Jeremy Corbyn’s socialist threat.

Here is a Labour Party wanting to confiscate shares in large companies, overhaul corporate governance, nationalise whole industries at prices set by politicians, impose rapid and destructive decarbonisation, reverse the Eighties’ trade union reforms and jack up all major taxes on capital.

Business groups, though, have reacted with unjustified political evenhandedness, passing up on highlighting the destructiveness of socialism to instead hang-wring about smaller policy gripes from both parties.

Consider the IoD. Last week, the organisation issued a robust defence of EU-style state aid laws. Conservative plans to change them to assist certain struggling industries and oblige public bodies to “Buy British” after Brexit were rightly savaged as a “retreat away from free and open markets … unfairly protecting and subsidising large incumbents at the expense of true competition”. Bravo! This was exactly what a defence of a competitive market economy should look like, although their head of trade’s claim that these mercantilist measures put her into “actual convulsions” seemed a tad over the top.

So what was their reaction to Labour’s more stringent calls for active industrial and regional planning, nationalisation for the purpose of cutting prices, and taking de facto government ownership stakes in large companies? Presumably, it sent them into apoplexy. Well, you wouldn’t know it from their media release, which read: “Taken as a whole, Labour’s measures on business risk being too much stick …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Where Did the Terms 'Left Wing' and 'Right Wing' Come From?

December 5, 2019 in History

By Evan Andrews

It has to do with seating arrangements.

Today the terms “left wing” and “right wing” are used as symbolic labels for liberals and conservatives, but they were originally coined in reference to the physical seating arrangements of politicians during the …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Why Laos Has Been Bombed More Than Any Other Country

December 5, 2019 in History

By Jessica Pearce Rotondi

During the conflict in Vietnam, American bombers dropped some two million tons of bombs over the country as part of a covert attempt to wrest power from communist forces.

The U.S. bombing of Laos (1964-1973) was part of a covert attempt by the CIA to wrest power from the communist Pathet Lao, a group allied with North Vietnam and the Soviet Union during the Vietnam War.

The officially neutral country became a battleground in the Cold War between the United States and Soviet Union, with American bombers dropping over two million tons of cluster bombs over Laos—more than all the bombs dropped during WWII combined. Today, Laos is the most heavily bombed nation in history. Here are facts about the so-called secret war in Laos.

Where is Laos?

Laos is a landlocked country bordered by China and Myanmar to the North, Vietnam to the East, Cambodia to the South and Thailand and the Mekong River to the West.

Laos’ proximity to China made it critical to President Eisenhower to defend against communism.

Its proximity to Mao Zedong’s China made it critical to Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Domino Theory of keeping communism at bay. “If Laos were lost, the rest of Southeast Asia would follow,” Eisenhower told his National Security Council. On the day of his farewell address in 1961, President Eisenhower approved the CIA’s training of anti-communist forces in the mountains of Laos. Their mission: To disrupt communist supply routes across the Ho Chi Minh Trail to Vietnam.

Eisenhower’s successors in the White House: John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon, all approved escalating air support for the guerrilla fighters, but not publicly. The 1962 International Agreement on the Neutrality of Laos, signed by China, the Soviet Union, Vietnam, the United States and 10 other countries, forbid signees from directly invading Laos or establishing military bases there. The secret war in Laos had begun.

History of Laos

Long before the Cold War, Laos had a history of interference from its neighbors. Fa Ngum founded the first recorded Lao state of “Lan Xang,” or “The Kingdom of a Million Elephants,” in 1353. From 1353-1371, Fa Ngum went on to conquer most of today’s Laos and parts of what is now Vietnam and Northeast Thailand, bringing Theravada Buddhism and Khmer culture from the kingdom of <a target=_blank …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Alexander Hamilton

December 5, 2019 in History

By History.com Editors

Born into obscurity in the British West Indies, Alexander Hamilton made his reputation during the (Penguin, 2004)

Time editors, TIME – Alexander Hamilton: A Founding Father’s Visionary Genius and His Tragic Fate (Time Incorporated Books, 2016)

Kieran J. O’Keefe, “Alexander Hamilton.” Digital Encyclopedia of George Washington, Mount Vernon.

Alexander Hamilton, The Essential Hamilton: Letters and Other Writings. Edited with an introduction and commentary by Joanne Freeman (Library of America, 2017)


Access hundreds of hours of historical video, commercial free, with HISTORY Vault. Start your free trial today.

…read more

Source: HISTORY

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American Soldiers Are Not Bodyguards for Saudi Royals

December 5, 2019 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

President Donald Trump believes in America First except when it comes to the Saudi royal family. Then it is Saudi Arabia first.

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At the end of November, U.S. military leaders were in Riyadh negotiating the employment terms for the royal’s new bodyguards. That is, the plan for an expanded American military presence in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), including Patriot missiles, Sentinel radars, a THAAD air defense system, fighter aircraft, and other equipment, as well as personnel, who will eventually number around 3,000.

Why is the president, who has loudly insisted that allies do more to defend themselves, even more determined to handle Saudi Arabia’s security?

Of course, the royals themselves want American backing. Having grabbed control of their people’s wealth, they long have hired others to do the hard, unpleasant, and dangerous work—including the U.S. military.

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The status-conscious KSA spends lavishly, especially on modern fighter jets. Last year Riyadh devoted $83 billion to the military. In 2017 defense expenditures ran $89 billion. That put the Kingdom in third place globally, after America and China. Alas, possession of fine equipment alone is not enough to ensure its good use.

In 2015 the Saudi regime attacked neighboring Yemen, one of the poorest nations on earth. De facto ruler Mohammed bin Salman, who became crown prince two years later, decided on war to reinstate a friendly ruler. Unfortunately, a campaign that was supposed to take a few weeks has lasted almost five years. Saudi pilots proved highly competent at slaughtering civilians, bombing weddings, funerals, hospitals, school buses, and markets. Humanitarian groups figure that three-quarters of the estimated 12,000 civilian deaths have resulted from air attacks—delivered by KSA aircraft provided, armed, guided, and, until recently, refueled by the U.S. The destruction of critical infrastructure has resulted in mass malnutrition and disease, which may have taken another 150,000 lives.

Nevertheless, the royals may prefer not to have a capable military, as it could threaten a system in which the few mulct the many. After all, who other than …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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NATO No Longer Serves American Interests

December 5, 2019 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

President Donald Trump returned early from the London NATO summit. Staged to satisfy British Prime Minister Boris Johnson—the official 70th-anniversary meeting was held in April—the latest gathering featured only one, mercifully short, session, to reduce the likelihood of a Trump eruption. Even so, before arriving he improbably chided French President Emmanuel Macron for being “nasty,” “insulting,” and “disrespectful” in suggesting that the alliance suffered from “brain death.” Then the session’s minimal substance was overshadowed by the president’s personal spat with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

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Of course, the assembled leaders filled their limited time together with happy talk. The greatest alliance ever is more necessary than ever as Europe faces the greatest security challenges ever. The Europeans are spending more and cutting Washington’s burden. NATO is preparing plans both to defend its members from conventional attacks and confront new threats. The Europeans even are ready to tackle the huge new challenge posed by increasingly aggressive China. All in all, the alliance is prospering greatly.

This is fantasy. A very pleasant one. But fantasy nonetheless.

NATO was formed in 1949 to shield European states from Soviet aggression as they recovered from World War II. The U.S. was only supposed to assist European governments in their defense efforts. For instance, Secretary of State Dean Acheson promised Congress that it would not need “to send substantial numbers of troops over there as a more or less permanent contribution.” Dwight D. Eisenhower, past wartime allied leader, first NATO commander, and future Cold War president opposed providing a permanent U.S. garrison which, he predicted, would “discourage the development of the necessary military strength Western European countries should provide themselves.”

Alas, these sentiments were ignored as the U.S.S.R. tightened its control over Central and Eastern Europe. The Europeans recovered economically but failed to increase their defense outlays accordingly. Washington maintained its dominant military presence while constantly urging its allies to do more. They routinely said yes but did little.

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After the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union …read more

Source: OP-EDS