Commentary

Public choice theorizing is never optional

July 30, 2013
posted by

Don Boudreaux Cafe Hayek
by Don Boudreaux  

"Choosing assumptions for scientific theories is always a matter of judgment. Reasonable people can and do disagree over just what set of assumptions -- for whatever is the particular purposes of the analysis at hand -- are wise and enlightening and which are unwise and benighting. But to assume away human nature as we know it -- or, worse, to assume that human nature as we know it operates only some of the time and not all of the time -- strikes me as emphatically unwise and benighting. The assumptions demanded by public-choice and (for lack here of a better term) Austrian analysis are nothing more than the recognition always that human beings (1) are self-interested; (2) generally respond predictably to incentives; and (3) have very limited cognitive capacities." (07/29/13)

http://tinyurl.com/kpuefxx  

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How power corrupts

July 30, 2013
posted by

Bleeding Heart Libertarians
by Bas van der Vossen  

"We all know Lord Acton’s famous phrase: 'Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.' Most people think Acton touched upon something of real importance here. But there’s a question about this saying I have never been able to answer to my own satisfaction: what does it really mean to say that power corrupts? Let me go over some possibilities ..." (07/29/13)

http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2013/07/how-power-corrupts/  

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Who do workplace wellness programs really target?

July 29, 2013
posted by

John C. Goodman Independent Institute
by John C. Goodman  

"A PricewaterhouseCooper study finds that 73 percent of employers offer wellness programs. Of those with more than 5,000 workers, 88 percent do. But why offer wellness benefits? Such programs cannot possibly pay for themselves -- unless they are targeted at the minority of employees with a serious need to change their lifestyles. Preventive medicine may be a wise investment for the individual, but it rarely reduces overall healthcare costs for an employer." (07/29/13)

http://tinyurl.com/knll5dy  

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Bad Quaker Podcast, 07/29/13

July 29, 2013
posted by

Bad Quaker Dot Com
by  

"Today Ben talks to Chandler St Pierre about Bradley Manning, Michael Hastings, Edward Snowden, traffic court, and the end of the world as we know it." [Flash audio or MP3]

http://www.badquaker.com/archives/2660  

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William Graham Sumner, part 3 — the forgotten man

July 29, 2013
posted by

Matt Zwolinski Libertarianism.org
by Matt Zwolinski  

"If it is the Forgotten Man and Woman on whom the health and future of our society depends, then should not society help, rather than hinder them, in their productive efforts? If X is capable of supporting himself but chooses not to, is it not unfair -- indeed, exploitative -- to use the coercive power of law to allow X to live at C’s expense? There is a powerful argument here. But how far does it go? Sumner is clearly opposed to coercive redistribution by law. But what do his arguments imply about voluntary charity?" (07/29/13)

http://tinyurl.com/k246gz6  

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QandO Podcast, 07/28/13

July 29, 2013
posted by

QandO Podcast QandO
by  

"Bruce, Michael, and Dale discuss immigration, Voter ID and libertarianism." [various formats] (07/28/13)

http://www.qando.net/?p=15475  

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How US Steel helped break down racism

July 29, 2013
posted by

David Henderson EconLog
by David Henderson  

"Over the years, I've taught myself to have two personae when reading: that of an economist and that of a normal, non-economically-literate person. The second of my personae reacted highly negatively to U.S. Steel. After all, U.S. Steel acted 'cynically' and 'exploited' ethnic divisions. Also, U.S. Steel was 'antilabor.' That's pretty damning, especially to one who picks up on emotive words. But the economist in me thinks much differently. I'm perfectly willing to believe that U.S. Steel acted cynically and exploited ethnic divisions. But that doesn't mean U.S. Steel was anti-labor. It means that U.S. Steel was anti-union." (07/29/13)

http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2013/07/how_us_steel_he.html  

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Heroes three

July 29, 2013
posted by

L. Neil Smith The Libertarian Enterprise
by L. Neil Smith  

"One of the most unmistakable indications that a civilization is in decline is when it is no longer capable of telling its heroes from its villains. Three heroic individuals, recently in the news, come to mind." (07/28/13)

http://www.ncc-1776.org/tle2013/tle731-20130728-02.html  

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If men were angels

July 29, 2013
posted by

Robert Higgs LewRockwell.com
by Robert Higgs  

"Although I admit that the outcome in a stateless society will be bad, because not only are people not angels, but many of them are irredeemably vicious in the extreme, I conjecture that the outcome in a society under a state will be worse, indeed much worse, because, first, the most vicious people in society will tend to gain control of the state and, second, by virtue of this control over the state’s powerful engines of death and destruction, they will wreak vastly more harm than they ever could have caused outside the state. It is unfortunate that some individuals commit crimes, but it is stunningly worse when such criminally inclined individuals wield state powers." (07/29/13)

http://tinyurl.com/kfu67ag  

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The economic lesson Obama needs to learn

July 29, 2013
posted by

Sheldon Richman Reason
by Sheldon Richman  

"President Obama is again turning his attention to the elusive economic recovery. His 'pivot' will be for naught, however, as long as he continues to ignore two important points: first, government is a major squanderer of scarce resources, and second, its regulations are impediments to saving and investment." (07/28/13)

http://tinyurl.com/mvev2kg  

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Immigration freedom is personal liberty. Borders are statism.

July 29, 2013
posted by

Rad Geek People's Daily
by Rad Geek  

"When I read page after page of conservative commenters, many of whom speak in praise of 'small government' shouting 'Illegal is illegal!' and comparing undocumented immigrants to trespassers and toss out sarcastic quips about how 'we wouldn’t want them to feel bad about themselves for breaking the law,' then I wouldn’t dare speculate about what 'we' would or wouldn’t want, but -- speaking only for myself -- I can only say that of course I don’t want anybody to feel bad for breaking border laws. Nobody should feel bad about that because there is nothing wrong with immigrants, either documented or undocumented, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with breaking unjust or tyrannical laws. Such laws ought to be broken; they deserve no notice at all, except to ridicule them, and to trample them underfoot." (07/27/13)

http://radgeek.com/gt/2013/07/27/immigration-freedom-personal-liberty/  

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There will be no victorious state

July 29, 2013
posted by

Strike the Root
by Alex R. Knight III  

"One of the most absurd characteristics of democracy to me is the unspoken yet obviously present belief on the part of all active participants that ultimately, one day, through enough intellectual persuasion -- or even underhanded political tactics so often openly engaged in -- a single ideology will prevail, trouncing in some final imagined electoral victory any and all other voices, ideas, desires, motivations, and ambitions once and for all time. A unilateral consensus broad enough to withstand any future assaults will be achieved, allowing for the unmolested (or at least not seriously threatened) reign of a single party or group for the rest of all time. But it gets even better." (07/26/13)

http://www.strike-the-root.com/there-will-be-no-victorious-state  

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How about coal ash for school lunches?

July 29, 2013
posted by

Our Future
by Dave Johnson  

"House Republicans just passed a bill to strip the Environmental Protection Agency of authority to regulate coal ash. Maybe they plan to 'save money' by putting it in school lunches? In 2008, a levee broke on a coal ash impoundment in Tennessee, spilling more than 5 million cubic yards of coal ash into local waterways. So the EPA proposed a rule to treat stored coal ash as hazardous material. This week five environmental groups (Waterkeeper Alliance, the Environmental Integrity Project, Sierra Club, Clean Water Action and EarthJustice) released a report on coal ash pollution." (07/26/13)

http://tinyurl.com/m4k2u3n  

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What’s wrong with this news? The KTVU purge

July 29, 2013
posted by

San Francisco Chronicle
by Debra Saunders  

"When I first saw the KTVU video in which anchor Tori Campbell gave the fictional names of the Asiana pilots (Captain Sum Ting Wong, Wi Tu Lo, Ho Lee Fuk and Bang Ding Ow) I laughed. ... I didn’t think that the gaffe had racist intent. I figured it was just a puerile newsroom prank that somehow made it on air. ... Later I learned that someone in the newsroom got the names, someone in the newsroom called the NTSB, where someone else verified the names ... and that’s how a mistake that should not have happened made it onto live TV and then went viral. Like a lot of people who work in Bay Area newsrooms, I’m not laughing anymore." (07/26/13)

http://tinyurl.com/lg5ztql  

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The costly failure of missile defense

July 29, 2013
posted by

The Nation
by Bob Dreyfuss  

"Never mind that no one is firing ICBMs at us. It’s been three decades since Ronald Reagan cooked up his cockamamie plan to shoot down missiles in the sky, and while technology has improved incalculably since then, after countless billions of dollars, the damn things still don’t work. Last week, following yet another failure, and as if it just occurred to him, the director of the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency (yes, it has a whole 'agency') said that he’d look into it. ... In a devastating commentary by a Reuters analyst, we learn that the test itself was 'rigged' and scripted, that there were no countermeasures (as in real-life war), and that the test itself cost $214 million." (07/26/13)

http://tinyurl.com/n2x6z4j  

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Planning for nuclear war?

July 29, 2013
posted by

CounterPunch CounterPunch
by Paul Craig Roberts  

"China is obviously aware that Washington is preparing for war with China. If the Yale Journal knows it, China knows it. If the Chinese government is realistic, the government is aware that Washington is planning a pre-emptive nuclear attack against China. No other kind of war makes any sense from Washington’s standpoint. The 'superpower' was never able to occupy Baghdad, and after 11 years of war has been defeated in Afghanistan by a few thousand lightly armed Taliban. It would be curtains for Washington to get into a conventional war with China." (07/26/13)

http://tinyurl.com/njssvof  

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Presidential infallibility

July 29, 2013
posted by

In These Times
by David Sirota  

"Court cases are often cures for insomnia, but every so often a lawsuit is an eye-opening journey through the looking glass. One of those is suddenly upon us -- and we should be thankful because it finally provides an unfiltered look at our government. You may not know about this case, but you should. Called al-Awlaki v. Panetta, it illustrates the extremism driving the policies being made in the public's name. The first thing you should know about this case is that it is simply about a man who wants to know why his grandson is dead." (07/26/13)

http://tinyurl.com/kf7fkp2  

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Ludicrous leporidae laws lead to legal legerdemain

July 29, 2013
posted by

Liberty Unbound Liberty Unbound
by Fred Mora  

"When the Feds announced the sequester plan, I was quite afraid that essential federal employees would be furloughed like mere private sector employees. Fortunately, my fears proved unfounded. Oh, sure, D.C. announced that a few thousand air traffic controllers and law enforcement officers were forced to stay home, but really essential services are safe. I present to you: the Federal Bunny Inspectors. Better known as the US Department of Agriculture." (07/26/13)

http://www.libertyunbound.com/node/1104  

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A less well-known turning point

July 29, 2013
posted by

Thomas L. Knapp KN@PPSTER
by Thomas L. Knapp  

"Among those who believe that America still possesses a constitutional system that can be 'saved,' several alleged turning points (toward the worse) get lots of coverage. The Civil War and the New Deal tend to bookend those turning points, and about midway between come three others: The Federal Reserve system, the 16th Amendment (income tax) and the 17th Amendment (direct popular election of US Senators). There's a fourth one that I suspect has had at least as much impact, but that we hardly ever hear about: The Budget and Accounting Act of 1921." (07/28/13)

http://tinyurl.com/kag89ho  

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Who really started the Korean War?

July 29, 2013
posted by

Justin Raimondo Antiwar.com
by Justin Raimondo  

"The mythology that has coagulated around the Korean war is epitomized by Obama’s recent peroration, a compendium of uplifting phrases largely bereft of any real history. When history intrudes, it is seen only in very soft focus. The phrase 'Korea reminds us' recurs throughout, like the refrain of a pop song, but nowhere does this anonymous presidential speechwriter remind us of the origins of this war. How did it come about? The standard neocon-cold war liberal line is that the North Koreans, in league with Moscow and Beijing, launched a war of aggression on June 25, 1950, when North Korean troops poured across the disputed border. What this truncated history leaves out is that, in doing so, they preempted Rhee’s own plans to launch an invasion northward." (07/29/13)

http://tinyurl.com/ojgrlq3  

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Microbrew journalism

July 29, 2013
posted by

Fred On Everything
by Fred Reed  

"The dinosaur media lose out to the internet because they not only don't want to but can't deal with things that most stir the populace: race, wars, guns, abortion, separation of church and state, evolution, immigration. The velvet noose of political correctness ensures that only Appropriate Thought can be published. Those who deviate will be fired." (07/28/13)

http://www.fredoneverything.net/Microjourno.shtml  

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A new American dream for a new American century

July 28, 2013
posted by

Reuters
by Zachary Karabell  

"In a major speech this week on the economy, President Obama emphasized that while the United States has recovered substantial ground since the crisis of 2008-2009, wide swaths of the middle class still confront a challenging environment. Above all, the past years have eroded the 20th century dream of hard work translating into a better life. ... In truth, however, the middle class security that has now disappeared only existed for a very brief period after World War Two, when the United States accounted for half of global industrial output and achieved a level of relative prosperity and growth that was substantially higher than in any other country." [editor's note: An excellent analysis of the reality here (the comments also contain a few gems) - SAT] (07/26/13)

http://tinyurl.com/ltvuls8  

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Is the NHS really the kind of health service we want?

July 28, 2013
posted by

Eamonn Butler Adam Smith Institute
by Dr. Eamonn Butler  

"Britain has a National Health Service that was constructed during the years of wartime austerity (which was real austerity, not the bogus 'austerity' we are told we are experiencing today), and it presumes that most of us are on the breadline. But there seems no shortage of people who, like me, are willing to pay £50 to sit in comfort while their car is fixed. Do we really think they would not pay £50 to get the health of their own body diagnosed? The first thing we need to do is to take the middle classes out of the free healthcare scam and focus our resources on people who genuinely can't afford a doctor." (07/26/13)

http://tinyurl.com/lj459vf  

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Christie vs. Paul

July 28, 2013
posted by

The American Prospect
by Paul Waldman & Jaime Fuller  

"There are a number of divisions within the GOP today, many of which are more about strategy than substance. ... But there is at least one rift in the GOP that is based almost entirely on a substantive policy disagreement: the division on national security matters between the libertarians (or sometime libertarians, anyway), who are troubled by Bush/Obama policies on things like drone strikes and surveillance of the American population, and what we might call the neocons, those who are just fine with everything that has been done in the last decade in the name of fighting terrorism." [editor's note: Kudos to the authors for noting "sometime libertarian" here - SAT] (07/26/13)

http://prospect.org/article/christie-vs-paul  

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Obama’s bad news for blacks

July 28, 2013
posted by

Richard W. Rahn Cato Institute
by Richard W. Rahn  

"The unfortunate irony is that America’s first black president seems bent on continuing a set of policies that can lead only to continued slow growth or stagnation. The ones who are and will suffer the most from these policies are those who have the least. Mr. Obama no doubt has real compassion for the poor, but until he can begin to understand the destructive second-order effects of his policies and see that getting the foot of government off the forces of economic growth is the only real way to make life better for most of them, all too many will continue to suffer unnecessarily." (07/26/13)

http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/obamas-bad-news-blacks  

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