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Want to Create an Immigration System That Works? Look to Airbnb

January 9, 2020 in Economics

By Ryan Bourne

Ryan Bourne

Plenty of foreigners would value the opportunity to work in the UK for a short period. Lots of UK citizens, meanwhile, would prefer some time out of the labour market to upskill, care for a loved one, or even travel. Yet today these two groups have no means of trading their desires. We have what economists call “a missing market”.

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Economists view movements of people for work as synonymous with international trade. Barriers to immigration prevent workers moving to where they are most productive, making the global economy poorer. But as Brexit showed, completely “open borders” appears a politically unsustainable proposition.

Voters want migration controlled. They see their country more as a club than part of a global labour market. So although most evidence suggests immigration enriches the economy, voters place heavier weight on the welfare of adversely affected domestic citizens, the localised impact on public services, or perceptions of cultural damage, than on aggregate benefits including to migrants themselves.

Hence the Conservatives have pledged to end free movement for EU citizens after Brexit. They’ve promised instead an “Australian-style, points-based system”, applied equally to all countries. Our Government would rank potential migrants according to certain characteristics for determining visa eligibility, including educational achievement, language skills, work experience, or having a job offer.

Such a bureaucratic approach — setting conditions and allowing all who fulfil them to enter — is one of three broad ways to “control” immigration. The others are quotas (imposing a crude cap on immigrant numbers) or prices (some financial barrier to entry). Most real-life systems are hybrids of these approaches.

Economically, though, not all immigration controls are created equal. Capping numbers creates obvious absurdities. Suppose a limit is set at 99,999 people per year. Would the UK benefit if an international footballer was denied a Premier League job as number 100,000? The answer is, clearly, no.

Nor is the Government likely to do well at centrally planning the labour market through a points-based system. Already ministers are talking up a separate visa route for NHS nurses. Agriculture will surely follow. Whitehall has no knowledge of migrant’s potential for entrepreneurship, nor can it second-guess businesses’ needs in an environment in an ever-changing economy.

Is there a market-based immigration policy that could harness most of the benefits of immigration, address some stated public concerns, …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Regime Change Rarely Succeeds. When Will the U.S. Learn?

January 9, 2020 in Economics

By Benjamin Denison

Benjamin Denison

Even after watching the chaos produced in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya following regime change, some in Washington have continued to advocate similar policies toward VenezuelaIranNorth Korea and elsewhere. The belief that removing a foreign government can quickly and easily promote U.S. interests by force still resonates, as we have most recently seen in the response to the escalating tensions with Iran. And that is far from the only example.

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The recently released Afghanistan Papers highlight how, for years, overly optimistic policymakers misled the public about the prospects of building a viable Afghan state. Implicit in most of the documents is a feeling that, with the correct strategy or more investment, the war in Afghanistan could have succeeded.

Yet the Afghanistan war was not exceptional. It simply continued the trend of regime change leading to adverse outcomes rather than greater U.S. security.

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Forcible regime change, or using military force to overthrow a foreign government, can be enticing when a regime appears to be threatening U.S. security. The logic is that when a regime continues to work against U.S. interests, replacing the regime can be a quick and easy way to change this pattern rather than sustained military action or diplomatic negotiation.

The problem, however, is that a resounding amount of research has shown that regime change rarely succeeds. Regardless of the goal, regime change mostly fails to produce better economic conditions, build lasting democracy or promote more stable relations to advance U.S. interests. From Haiti and the Dominican Republic in the 1910s, to South Vietnam in the 1960s, to Iraq in the 2000s, the United States failed to achieve these goals over 110 years of regime-change missions.

And when regime change does not achieve these goals, it can provoke a civil war — as it did in Congo following the regime change mission in Léopoldville (now Kinshasa) in 1960 to oust Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba — degrade respect for human rights and create <a target=_blank href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/american-political-science-review/article/political-devolution-and-resistance-to-foreign-rule-a-natural-experiment/D6683A3560C162165826E33CEA72B95D" …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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How to Take the Shackles Off African Businesses

January 9, 2020 in Economics

By Tanja Porčnik

Tanja Porčnik

Though African nations have enhanced economic freedom since the beginning of the new millennium, most have a long way to go before fully embracing the rule of law and economic liberalisation, which would unquestionably spur economic growth and prosperity.

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The Fraser Institute’s annual Economic Freedom of the World report measures the degree to which the policies and institutions of countries support economic freedom. Essentially, the report measures economic freedom through a lens of personal choice, voluntary exchange, freedom to enter markets and compete, and security of the person and privately owned property.

The 2019 report, which ranks 162 countries and territories, finds stark differences among African countries, with Mauritius being the freest at ninth place and Libya the least free at 161. Despite its immense wealth in mineral and natural resources, Africa is the most economically unfree continent. Indeed, seven out of 47 African countries that are included in the report are among the bottom 10 when it comes to economic freedom, and more than half of them rank in the lowest quartile. Why should these findings worry Africans?

Economic freedom matters. According to more than 1,000 researchers in top peer-reviewed academic journals, people living in countries with high levels of economic freedom have higher levels of income, experience more rapid economic growth, have lower poverty rates, enjoy more political rights and civil liberties, and see lower gender and income inequalities. For example, countries in the top quartile of economic freedom had an average per capita GDP of $36,770 in 2017, compared with $6,140 for bottom quartile nations.

Unfortunately, 28 out of 47 scored African nations fall into this bottom quartile. In the top quartile, the average income of the poorest 10% is eight times higher than in the bottom quartile. Unsurprisingly, in the top quartile only 2% of the population live in extreme poverty, defined as living on less than $1.90 a day, compared with 27% in the lowest quartile.

Indisputably, development in Africa is contingent upon the promotion of economic freedom. To achieve this end African countries need strong rule of law and secure property rights, lower and simpler regulation, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), openness to foreign direct investment, stable currencies and good governance.

Africa has a unique problem: its informal economy accounts for as much as 80% …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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7 Cultural Sites Damaged or Destroyed by War

January 9, 2020 in History

By Becky Little

Violence in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and West Africa has taken a toll on historic buildings and monuments.

During World War II, countries on both sides of the fight destroyed a number of important cultural sites in Europe and Asia. In 1942, the Nazi Lufwaffe leveled the Royal Opera House in Valletta, Malta. And in 1945, the United States hollowed out the Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall when it dropped the first atomic bomb in Hiroshima, Japan.

While these sites may not have been intentionally targeted, the response to this devastation was the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. The international community strengthened these protections in 1977 with additional protocols to the Geneva Conventions of 1949. Article 53 of these protocols prohibits “any acts of hostility directed against the historic monuments, works of art or places of worship which constitute the cultural or spiritual heritage of peoples.”

According to these international agreements, targeting cultural sites is a war crime. But that doesn’t mean that military groups have stopped doing it. In the past few decades, war and terrorist acts specifically targeting heritage have damaged cultural sites in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and West Africa.

1. Old City of Dubrovnik, Croatia

Night bombing of the city of Dubrovnik 1991.

The city of Dubrovnik dates back to the 7th century, when Romans and Slavs settled on the coast of the Adriatic Sea. It grew into a major trading power, and in the 19th century Lord Byron dubbed it the “Pearl of the Adriatic.” In 1979, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization—or UNESCO—designated the “Old City” or “Old Town” part of Dubrovnik as a World Heritage site.

In 1991 and 1992, the city suffered severe damage during the Siege of Dubrovnik, a part of the Yugoslav Wars. Over two-thirds of the Old City’s buildings were hit by projectiles, and three were destroyed by fire. In 2005, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia sentenced the former Yugoslav general Pavle Strugar to eight years in prison for war crimes, including the destruction of historic monuments in Dubrovnik.

2. Vijećnica (City Hall) of Sarajevo, Bosnia


A 1992 photograph shows Cellist Vedran Smailovic playing Strauss in the bombed National Library in Sarajevo.

The historic City Hall, or Vijećnica, of Sarajevo dates to the 1890s. …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Washington Needs to Jettison Its Commitment to Defend the Senkakus

January 9, 2020 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

The United States has an array of defense commitments to allies of which the costs and risks greatly outweigh any potential benefits. Washington’s obligation under Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty to consider an attack on one member as an attack on all is a graphic example of such imprudence. Adding the three Baltic republics to NATO means that the United States now is obligated to defend small, vulnerable Alliance members located directly on Russia’s border. Such a perilous (and probably unachievable) mission does not serve America’s best interests and should be rescinded.

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U.S. leaders even need to re-evaluate some aspects of Washington’s bilateral mutual defense treaty with Japan. There is a credible case for maintaining that alliance for at least another decade or so. North Korea remains a disruptive factor in the region, and unlike the situation in Europe, there is no multilateral entity comparable to the European Union to which the United States could transfer significant security responsibilities in East Asia. China’s meteoric economic and military rise also provides an important reason as to why the U.S.-Japan alliance remains important for regional stability and a balance of power.

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However, the U.S. security pledge to Tokyo should not be a blank check. It is especially important that a continuing defense relationship with Japan does not include backing Tokyo’s dubious territorial claim to the Senkaku Islands—a chain of small, uninhabited rocks in the East China Sea. Beijing emphatically disputes Tokyo’s claim to those islets (which China calls the Diaoyus), and some nasty maritime incidents concerning the islands have occurred over the past decade. Worse, the balance of air and naval power in the immediate area appears to be shifting in China’s favor, making U.S. involvement in the dispute increasingly perilous.

Yet U.S. leaders insist that the U.S.-Japan mutual defense treaty include the Senkakus. James Mattis, President Donald Trump’s first secretary of defense, reiterated that position in February 2017, affirming the U.S. commitment to defend all Japanese territory from attack. Mattis specifically asserted that Article 5 of the defense treaty covers the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands.  Trump himself subsequently reaffirmed that commitment in talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Such a bold stance was not always Washington’s official position, though. In fact, it is …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Early Humans May Have Scavenged More than They Hunted

January 9, 2020 in History

By Becky Little

Why go to the trouble of tracking and killing an animal when a saber-tooth cat can do the job instead?

Popular culture often shows cavemen as aggressive, club-wielding hunters. But what if most early humans were actually scavengers? The notion, first proposed by scholars in the second half of the 20th century, has since challenged the dated presumption that prehistoric men hunted food and women gathered it. It’s also changed how we understand the historical shift toward meat-eating—a dietary move that scholars think played an important role in human evolution.

While hunting is the act of killing animals for food, scavenging involves locating the remains of an animal that is already dead. Early 20th-century archaeologists who uncovered the remains of animal bones with early human tools assumed that prehistoric people—or more specifically, prehistoric men—must have hunted these animals for food. But later scholars noted that many of these tools seem more appropriate for cutting up bone and meat than for actually killing an animal. Given this, early humans may have been eating scraps left over from another animal’s kill.

READ MORE: The Juicy History of Humans Eating Meat

Cracking some skulls

Some interesting evidence for this emerged in a recent study of Kanjera South, a 2 million-year-old archaeological site in Kenya. Noticing that there were several isolated heads of “wildebeest-sized” animals at the site, researchers theorized that larger predators had trouble getting these large skulls open, making the heads available for early human scavengers to transport, crack open and gobble up the brains inside.

Neanderthal men collecting bear skulls.

“[Kanjera South] hominins not only scavenged these head remains, they also transported them some distance to the archaeological site before breaking them open and consuming the brains,” anthropologist Joseph Ferraro, the study’s lead author, told Phys.org. “This is important because it provides the earliest archaeological evidence of this type of resource transport behavior in the human lineage.”

Ferraro and his team said the early humans who lived at Kanjera South showed signs of scavenging and hunting, meaning that picking apart an already-dead animal was not their only source of meat.

READ MORE: Did Homo Erectus Craft Complex Tools and Weapons?

Making some prehistoric Big Macs

Still, it’s possible that scavenging alone could’ve provided enough nutrition for early humans. After observing that lions in Kenya’s Ol Pejeta Conservancy leave a large amount of their kill intact, paleoanthropologist Briana Pobiner hypothesized in a <a target=_blank …read more

Source: HISTORY

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George Adamski Got Famous Sharing His UFO Photos and Alien ‘Encounters’

January 9, 2020 in History

By Greg Daugherty

He claimed to have conversed with Venusians using hand gestures and mental telepathy.

To some, he was a prophet. To others, a laughing stock. Even today, more than half a century after his death, George Adamski remains one of the most curious and controversial characters in UFO history.

Adamski had multiple claims to UFO fame. Starting in the late 1940s, he took countless photos of what he insisted were flying saucers. But experts, including J. Allen Hynek, scientific consultant to the Air Force’s Cold War-era UFO investigation team Project Blue Book, dismissed them as crude fakes.

Then, in 1952, Adamski reported that he had met and conversed with a visitor from Venus in a California desert, using a combination of hand gestures and mental telepathy.

His story would only get stranger from there.

READ MORE: UFO Stories

A star gazer is born

A cigar-shaped Venusian interplanetary carrier photographed through a 6″ telescope over Palomar Gardens, California taken by Adamski.

Adamski chronicled his alleged adventures in several books. The first, Flying Saucers Have Landed (1953), coauthored with Desmond Leslie, recounted his chat with the Venusian. Widely read at the time, it later gained a new generation of fans in the trippy 1960s.

Adamski’s 1955 sequel, Inside the Space Ships, described further meetings, not only with the Venusian but also with emissaries from Mars and Saturn. In Adamski’s telling, every planet in our solar system was populated with human-like inhabitants, as was the dark side of the earth’s moon.

In the 1955 book, Adamski claimed that his new friends took him aboard one of their scout ships, flew him to an immense mother ship hovering over the earth, gave him a ride around the moon and treated him to a colorful travelogue about life on Venus.

Along the way, he was also tutored by a space man he called “the master.” The master, who was said to be nearly 1,000 years old, shared the secrets of the universe with Adamski, only some of which he was allowed to divulge back on earth.

Preposterous as his stories seemed, Adamski became an international celebrity and lectured widely. Queen Juliana of the Netherlands raised a public stir after inviting him to her palace in 1959 to discuss extraterrestrial doings. Adamski supposedly claimed a secret 1963 meeting with the pope, as well.

Adamski soon had followers all over the planet. But not everybody was …read more

Source: HISTORY