Friday, November 16, 2012

FRIDAY MORNING RAMBLE: The BBC edition

It’s Friday!

Who’s rolling David Shearer? The answer:  No-one.
Guess who is rolling David Shearer? – Monique Angel, YEA OR NAY

As per usual the discussion about the death of J J Lawrence features arguments about child abuse  being a Maori problem. Well, it isn't solely
Family violence deaths and ethnicity – LINDSAY MITCHELL

There should have been no better “shovel ready” project than a destroyed city, yet employment in construction continues to decline. “It's almost as though some kind of regulatory impediments are preventing people from rebuilding and getting on with things.”
Shovel ready – Eric Crampton, OFFSETTING BEHAVIOUR

More news demonstrating how the government is “fixing” Christchurch: Richard Middleton, the owner of The Bicycle Thief, the makers  of the best martinis in Christchurch, has been told the building he leases will be confiscated and pulled down.
Quake-hit Bicycle Thief to be demolished – THE PRESS

This is the transcript of events on July 16th as written by the late Stephen McIntyre in his own words right after the two Police officers had visited him and threatened him...
Did NZ Police tactics kill Stephen McIntyre ? PART 3 – TUMEKE!

The Rugby Union has given "owners" of NZ Super Rugby franchises a hospital pass.
Control rights and super rugby – Paul Walker, ANTI DISMAL

“Bill English says there is “market failure” in low-priced housing. It’s somewhat ironic to call it a market failure when there isn’t really a free market in housing anyway.
“How so?
“Well, interest rates are manipulated and currently set artificially low by the Reserve Bank for a start. So the price of money is not freely decided but rather driven by bureaucrats’ guesses as to what is the right price. Then councils and the RMA determine exactly what people are allowed to build and where they can build it.
The nature of a free market is that it is free! So it’s a bit rich to call it a market failure. To us, it seems it is non-free market factors that seem to be the main drivers of the unaffordability problem.
“The world over, high house prices have been driven by an ever expanding bubble of debt. The government can do all it likes to tinker here and there but ever greater amounts of money being created mean people will look for real assets in which to place their wealth. It should be no surprise that since the final link to the gold anchor was severed in 1971 that household debt has grown and housing has become more unaffordable.”
Housing Un-affordability: It’s the Debt, Stupid! – GOLD SURVIVAL GUIDE NZ

Taken seriously, the Kyoto Protocol would have almost shut us down. Thank goodness we’re no longer in it.
Kyoto: Australia “IN” New Zealand “Out” – JO NOVA
Kyoto second commitment period – KIWIBLOG

It’s said “active intervention” is needed to address “gender pay gaps.”
“Why?! Gender pay gaps arise for a number of reasons and only some may be worrying. Unless we know the reasons for a pay gap, we can’t conclude anything about its desirability… It honestly frightens me when people draw angry conclusions from raw numbers. Spokesman of the Pay Equity Challenge Coalition Angela MacLeod admitted the Coalition was not sure of reasons for the pay gap change but said “a higher proportion of women in part-time work had not helped.” Helped whom? Helped what? Help us someone! Help us write better commentaries on such issues.”
More pay gaps  - Andrea Menclova & Eric Crampton, OFFSETTING BEHAVIOUR

“Women ought not to be regarded as members of a sex who also just happen to be individuals. They should be regarded as individuals who also just happen to be women.”
Binders Full of Women: The Philosophy Breaking the Business Ladder – Connor Jeffers, THE UNDERCURRENT

What the anti-abortion movement is actually in favour of: killing mothers who miscarry.
Appalling and barbaric – Idiot/Savant, NO RIGHT TURN

In a manifesto too ridiculous to spoof, Mark Boyle argues that we should all live without money to help save the planet. No thanks.
The poverty of environmentalism – Rob Lyons, SP!KED

Guess what…those things you feel guilty about not doing, or that you give in and do, even though they make you miserable, can actually be harming the planet.
Going Green is Bad for the Environment – BUT NOW YOU KNOW

In his first press conference since his re-election, Obama laid out his stance on global warming more clearly than he ever has before. It amounts to this:
1. Global warming is real.
2. We have an obligation to future generations to do something about it.
3. Doing something about it will require tough political choices.
4. I'm not willing to push for those tough political choices.
Obama Makes It Clear He Isn't Willing To Fight for Action on Climate Change – SLATE

Astonishingly, the former chairman of Australia’s ABC is a climate skeptic. And an astute one: “Regrettably for the global warming religion,” he says, “its predictions have started to appear shaky, and the converts, many of whom have lost their jobs and much of their wealth, are losing faith. Worse, heretic scientists have been giving the lie to many of the prophecies described in the IPCC bible. They could not be silenced.
Losing their Religion as Evidence Cools Off – Maurice Newman, THE AUSTRALIAN

imageThe BBC decided to abandon balance in its own coverage of climate after a high-level seminar with some of the “best scientific experts” in the field, said the BBC. Only it now turns out those “experts” consisted of just four scientists and twenty-four climate activists, including the campaign director of Greenpeace.  “This shows that the ‘shoddy journalism’ of Newsnight's recent smear was no ‘lapse’ of standards at all. BBC news programs have for years been poorly checked recitations of the work of activists.”
How The Green Lobby Changed BBC Policy – Benny Peiser, GLOBAL WARMING POLICY FOUNDATION
BBC secret exposed: Greenpeace, activists, BP decide what “science” Brits see — Hello TwentyEightGate – JO NOVA

The BBC Newsnight/paedophile fiasco has utterly exploded the idea that modern British journalism can be divided into Good and Bad camps.
‘Serious journalists’ are the most tabloidesque of all – Brendan O’Neill, SP!KED

“The honest truth is that it is contradictory to the core for a state owned broadcaster, funded through a specific tax on TV owners to not have an institutional bias… There needs to be a fundamental look at what the BBC exists for.”
BBC has failed to meet the moral standards it demands from others – LIBERTY SCOTT

Guido Hülsmann on Mises’s invaluable legacy:

“The growth of government intervention over the last century was built on the back of a handful of myths. A generation ago, the dominant myth was that free markets had caused the Great Depression, a falsehood ultimately debunked by economists like Milton Friedman. Today, the key myth is that financial deregulation caused the 2008 financial crisis.
”What deregulation?”
Why The Glass-Steagall Myth Persists – Yaron Brook & Don Watkins, FORBES

imageBy the way, keen students might like jump into this Mises Academy online class, starting tomorrow with Bob Murphy. “As we will see, the raw facts line up with common sense: massive deficits and monetary inflation, let alone a world war, are not the paths to economic recovery. The lessons from the Great Depression are needed today, but only the Austrians know the right lessons.”
 Learn the Austrian Take on the Great Depression – MISES DAILY

America’s “Fiscal Cliff” is irrelevant. The automatic cuts that are going to take place don't even begin to address the actual problem… The US economy is a speeding train heading towards a ravine at 200 mph, and the conductors are arguing about whether they should slow down to 150 or 175… Bottom line—the “Fiscal Cliff” doesn't matter. The US passed the point of no return a long time ago.
Guess what they're NOT cutting in the Fiscal Cliff... – Simon Black, SOVEREIGN MAN

“The amount of worry over something that needs to happen is staggering. I actually hope the fiscal cliff triggers. Better now than what is 100% certain to hit in a more severe way later.”
Misdiagnosing the Fiscal Cliff; Shrill Voices and Economic Nonsense; 'Tyranny' of Balanced Budgets – MISH’S GLOBAL ECONOMIC TREND ANALYSIS

It took the US government over 200 years to accumulate its first one trillion dollars of debt. It took just 286 days to rack up it's most recent trillion. And it gets worse.
Interesting Factoid on US Debt - The Big Crunch – Mark Hubbard, LIFE BEHIND THE IRON DRAPE

‘Austerity’ quickly became the new black in European political fashion. Austerity in Europe is based on the idea that accumulated sovereign debts are now dangerously large and need to be reduced by some combination of temporary (so they claim) tax increases and spending cuts. Once the debt is reduced to a more manageable level, so the thinking goes, taxes can be cut and spending restored to the previous level.
Sounds oh-so reasonable now, doesn’t it? The problem is, however, it isn’t working…  One key reason is that, concerned about the dire state of the economies in question, the financial markets have dramatically driven up their governments’ borrowing costs. They’ve driven up borrowing costs because private investors are not convinced austerity is going to work.
But if austerity were credible, they would. What is it about austerity as implemented that is failing to win over bond investors? One reason among many: in no major European country is government spending lower than when the crises started in 2007.
The Keynesians’ new clothes – John Butler, COBDEN CENTRE

Still, even when you’re neck-dep in debt and drowning, there’s always enough left over to support a rapidly Islamizing state pursuing an increasingly belligerent path toward Israel.
Amid economic crisis, European Union approves $6.3 billion in aid for Muslim Brotherhood Egypt – JIHAD WATCH

The idea of a modern central bank that controls the money supply, sets interest rates separate from market forces, and is allowed to create money to buy government bonds, is relatively new. A failed experiment.
Understanding the Coming Financial Collapse: Central Banking, Fraction Reserve Banking, and Legal Tender Laws – Dale Halling, STATE OF INNOVATION

Yep, the Central Banks done it: The Ireland and Iceland editions.
Central bank policies and the Ireland and Iceland 2008-12 financial crises – Frank Shostak , COBDEN CENTRE

“’But there is no inflation!’ – This is a statement I hear quite often. So, do present inflation statistics not provide comfort to those who believe in the practicability and even superiority of central-bank-managed fiat money?
“The short answer is, no.
”The long answer I will provide below.”
“But there is no inflation!” – Misconceptions about the debasement of money – Detlev Schlicter, PAPER MONEY COLLAPSE

Discredited economists, much like disgraced politicians, never remain out of favour for long, especially after they have passed from the earthly scene. So it is that John Kenneth Galbraith is increasingly perceived as a misunderstood thinker whose insights were ahead of their time and whose work was too hastily dismissed. Whereas, in fact, he was a nut.
Gaga Over Galbraith – Joseph Salerno, MISES DAILY

“If your main goal is to show that your heart is in the
right place, then your heart is not in the right place.”

- David Schmidtz (quoted in Brennan's Libertarianism: What Everyone Needs to Know)

Michael Hagan explains the manly etiquette of buying a round.
Drinks Are on Me! How to Buy a Round at the Bar – THE ART OF MANLINESS

This is what cyberspace looks like.
Finally, We Can See What Google's Brain Looks Like – BUSINESS INSIDER

Now that’s impressive. New research has found Britain has invaded all but 22 countries in the world.
British have invaded nine out of ten countries - so look out Luxembourg – TELEGRAPH

imageA new book by a Nobel Prize winner! “How China Became Capitalist details the extraordinary, and often accidental, journey that China has taken over the past thirty years in transforming itself from a closed agrarian socialist economy to an indomitable force in the international arena.”
How China Became Capitalist – Ronald Coase, AMAZON

It can be risky teaching Ayn Rand in China.
Teaching Anthem in China – Robert Garmong, NOODLE FOOD

“Here’s a radical thought. Instead of liberals dismissing Rand’s appeal to the American spirit of individualism and independence, as President Obama recently did in his Rolling Stone interview, why don’t liberals make Rand part of a new canon? Why let conservatives monopolize her?”

If you haven’t been to ‘Brel’ yet, then go. GO! There’s still time.
http://silotheatre.co.nz/brel

image

Scott Walker sings Jacque Brel…

[Hat tips Geek Press, Laissez Faire, Whale Oil, Cobden Centre, Erosophia]

Thanks for reading.
Have a great weekend!
PC

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NOT PJ: The signs they are a-changin

_BernardDarntonThis week, Bernard Darnton is reading the signs.

The Signs they are A-Changing

The signs around Christchurch have changed. They used to urge us to “stay strong” or proclaim stoically that “We Will Rebuild.” Driving back up from Dunedin this week, I got a somewhat different sense from the billboard asking that I “Don’t Give Up.” There’s nothing that makes you want to give up as much as being told not to.

Something clearly had to change. The claim that we will rebuild was a powerful rallying call in the days after the quakes. Now that claim is farcical. The demolition of the city’s ruins is not yet complete, but Chairman Brownlee is using his almost-total powers to begin demolition of buildings that are not damaged. Worse still, some buildings threatened by the city plan were damaged and have since been repaired.

The Ng Building on Madras Street was damaged in the September 2010 earthquake and repaired and strengthened in time for the February 2011 earthquake. It’s a Canterbury Heritage Award winner and is home to nine businesses including two galleries. It is an oasis of business, culture, and hope in an area that otherwise looks like Hiroshima. CERA will bulldoze it to make way for a stadium that will be desolate 99% of the time.

The message is not “We will rebuild” but the more sinister “We will rebuild”.

There are no signs saying “We will rebuild” on the approaches to Dunedin. Dunedin has done more than enough building to impoverish itself for decades. There’s a moment that every returning Dunedinite relishes: as you come down off the last hill on the Waitati Highway, the road curves down around Pine Hill and in a single moment the foothills part to reveal the city ahead.

Nowadays that view is dominated by the arched steel back of a vast white elephant, the Forsyth Barr Stadium (or FuBar Stadium to some locals). The Otago Daily Times is also dominated by the stadium: Why did it cost so much to build? Why does it cost so much to run? How did nobody predict this would happen? (Ahem.)

The Dunedin public has recently had the opportunity to make submissions to the Council on the topic, “How the fuck do we make the stadium a less staggering abortion?” The place is basically a great big stack of scaffolding with 440 kilowatts of lighting, all wrapped in plastic. The only way the place will ever make money is by growing cannabis.

Dunedin City councillor Lee Vandervis has advice for Christchurch: “If you want to spend a lot of money and get nothing in return, a stadium would be the best way to go.”

For this pointless monstrosity—a white elephant stadium, costing twice what Dunedin’s did, a vast block of dead space in the middle of the city—the Ng Building and other restored heritage buildings in the same block, housing viable businesses, will be destroyed. Stolen by CERA and bulldozed.

Someone will rebuild. Sharon Ng and Roland Logan repaired their building under their own steam and are fighting the theft of their building. Zac Cassels has moved his CBD Bar into the hundred-year-old building next door, knowing that CERA wants to knock it down. These are the people who will rebuild Christchurch.

Don’t give up. The piteous little sign is right. Don’t give up because, if we do, it will give CERA all the room it needs to lay waste to what little remains of central Christchurch.

Read Bernard Darnton’s column every week here at NOT PC. Except when you can’t.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Post-Sandy: A Man-Made Disaster

The good news is that President Obama declined to attribute Sandy to climate change.

Which means even this President is aware Hurricane Sandy is not a man-made disaster.

Sadly, we can’t say the same about the disaster that  is post-Sandy.  This disaster is entirely man-made.

Post-Sandy: A Man-Made Disaster
Guest post by George Reisman

Hurricane Sandy caused the closing of a majority of the gasoline stations in the New York City area, did major damage to petroleum terminals, and reduced the ability of barges carrying fuel to reach their docks. All of this represented a substantial reduction in the supply of gasoline and other petroleum products in the New York metropolitan area. None of it was the cause of a shortage of gasoline or any other petroleum product, a shortage which New York's Mayor Bloomberg can think of no better means of alleviating than by imposing a system of gasoline rationing. (See the New York Times, November 9, 2012.)

In a free market, the effect of a good's becoming scarcer is not to cause a shortage of it, but a rise in its price. The rise in price serves to reduce the amount of the good buyers seek to buy to a point that is within the limit of the reduced supply available. However much the supply of oil and oil products was reduced by the hurricane, it was certainly not reduced to anywhere even remotely near the normal, everyday degree of scarcity in the supply of such things as gold or diamonds. And yet there is no shortage of gold or diamonds. Whoever is willing and able to pay the market price of these goods has no difficulty in obtaining them. But if our government officials, inspired perhaps by some such belief as that everyone should be able to obtain gold and diamond jewelry at an affordable price, decreed that the price of gold and diamonds should be cut in half, say, then, indeed, there would be shortages of gold and diamonds alongside the present shortages of gasoline in New York and New Jersey.

Even goods of which there is just a single specimen, such as a Rembrandt painting, are not in a state of shortage. When such a good is put up for auction, its price rises as high as necessary to reduce the number of bidders to just one. In the face of the high price, all the other bidders give up and walk away. They do not remain in the auction room for hours still waiting to buy the painting. They know that the price is just too high for them. But imagine an auction in which the auctioneer was prohibited from progressively raising the price until only one buyer remained. Imagine that he was compelled to hold to his first or second offer. In that case, the auction room might remain packed indefinitely.

What all this implies is that the shortages of gasoline now being experienced in the New York metropolitan area and elsewhere in the path of destruction left by Hurricane Sandy simply do not need to exist. They could be made to disappear very quickly, within a matter of hours. All that would be necessary is to remove the threat of prosecution of gas station owners, and all others in the chain of supply of gasoline, for raising their prices to the extent necessary to reduce the quantity of gasoline demanded to conform with the reduced supply of it available.

Confronted with such a price — possibly one as high as $10 or $20 a gallon, or even higher, given the apparent extent of the reduction in the supply of gasoline — many of the drivers of the cars presently waiting in line at gas stations, would simply drive off, park their cars, and make arrangements for alternative means of transportation, whether car pooling, bicycle riding, or whatever. Almost everyone would curtail his driving commensurate with the higher cost of driving. No one would drive into a gas station who was not prepared to pay the then-prevailing very high price of gasoline. The people who needed gasoline for such urgent purposes as getting to work, but who could not afford to pay such a sharply higher price, would not be in nearly as bad a position as needing gasoline to get to work and being simply unable to find it, or find it only after waiting in line for three hours. Such people could car pool and spread the high price of gasoline over as many of them as could reasonably fit in an automobile. The environmentalists, who seem to desire that such arrangements become a normal, everyday occurrence, should welcome this chance to see the achievement of their goal, however temporarily.

What caused the shortages and stops them from being overcome in this way is the fact that the necessary rise in prices is illegal. It is against the law. According to a Bloomberg news release of November 9, 2012, "New Jersey law defines price gouging as an 'excessive price increase,' or of 10 percent or more, during a declared state of emergency." The same news article also reports that "New York law prohibits selling goods or services for an 'unconscionably excessive price' during 'abnormal disruption of the market.'"

Thus state laws are what make it impossible for the market immediately to put an end to the shortages. It is these state laws that allowed the shortages to come into existence in the first place, by prohibiting the immediate rise in prices that would have prevented them, and that then make the shortages persist.

The same state laws make it impossible for the market speedily to restore supplies to their normal level, which would serve quickly to bring down prices from their abnormal heights.

If prices were allowed to be "unconscionably" high, it would be possible to bring in vital supplies that are more costly. For example, gasoline from more remote refineries. At prices of $10 to $20 per gallon, it would pay for tanker trucks to bring in gasoline from several hundred miles away. This would serve to spread the loss of supplies caused by the hurricane over a much wider area, with a corresponding reduction in the severity of loss experienced in the area of the hurricane's path.

The price of gasoline would rise in the areas from which the additional supplies came. That rise in price would pull in replacement supplies to those areas from still more remote regions. Thus, for example, while refineries in Pittsburgh and Cleveland were helping to supply New York and New Jersey, other refineries in the Chicago and Detroit areas would be helping to resupply Cleveland and Pittsburgh. The effect would be that the loss of supplies of gasoline in the New York metropolitan and New Jersey shore areas would be spread across much of the country, thereby resulting in a substantially reduced percentage of loss in the New York/New Jersey areas. Instead of those areas experiencing the effects of a 50 or 75 percent reduction in supply, a much broader area would experience the effects of perhaps only a 5 or 10 percent reduction in supply. The rise in price of gasoline would quickly diminish, reflecting this greatly reduced percentage of loss of supply.

The "unconscionable" rise in the retail price of gasoline that made it possible for the gas stations to pay higher prices to their wholesalers and distributors bringing in gasoline from remote refineries would also cover the high costs of speedy repairs, such as those entailed in round-the-clock repair work, using extra crews, and paying premium wage rates. Thus, in the absence of the price controls, in very short order New York/New Jersey area refineries, terminals, and docks would be repaired, and the gas stations now closed would reopen. This would serve to achieve a full restoration of supplies, along with a return of the gasoline distribution system to normal. These results would quickly bring gasoline prices down to their normal level.

All of this is prevented for no other reason than that our government officials are utterly ignorant of economic law. They believe that prices have no connection with reality and can be dictated by them with no effect other than to make supplies less expensive — for people who can't get the supplies, because the supplies don't exist, and who are led to waste endless hours, day after day, trying to get the supplies that don't exist. By what standard is this a more reasonable arrangement than allowing prices to be "unconscionably" high, for what would certainly be a very short time, and thereby quickly fixing the problem?

The press is as much to blame as the government officials. With rare exceptions, the reporters are as ignorant of economic law as the politicians. Both are unqualified for their jobs. They just don't know what they're doing.

The ultimate responsibility, of course, rests with the general public and with the educators who failed to provide people with even the most rudimentary knowledge of economic law.

In a society in which economic law was widely understood, legislators and prosecutors who sought to prevent price increases in cases of emergencies would be regarded as public enemies and barred from office. They would be barred not by a mere lack of support, but by a lack of support manifested in the utmost public contempt and ridicule for their ignorance and destructiveness.

Reisman, George

These laws should immediately be overturned. They are in violation of the Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments to the US Constitution. The Ninth Amendment states that "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." Obviously, the people retain the right to take the steps necessary to cope with catastrophes, such as Hurricane Sandy. These laws fly in the face of that right. They make it illegal for people to take those steps. The Fourteenth Amendment makes the provisions of the US Constitution applicable to the states.

A panel of federal judges should be convened at once and asked immediately to render these laws null and void. New York and New Jersey are in an emergency situation. It is intolerable that their people be made to suffer the effects of disastrous legislation piled on top of a natural disaster and thereby needlessly enlarging and extending the effects of the natural disaster.

* * * * *

Copyright 2012 by George Reisman. All rights reserved except that this article may be reproduced electronically provided that this note is included in full. George Reisman, Ph.D., is Pepperdine University Professor Emeritus of Economics, Senior Fellow at the Goldwater Institute, and the author of Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics(Ottawa, Illinois: Jameson Books, 1996; Kindle Edition, 2012), The Government Against the Economy, andWarren Buffett, Class Warfare, and the Exploitation Theory. His website is www.capitalism.net. His blog iswww.georgereismansblog.blogspot.com. See his Amazon.com author's central page. See George Reisman's article archives.

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Homicide by welfare

With the murder of young JJ Lawrence in the news, I’ve been hearing it from talkback and around the traps all week. I’ve been hearing that “we” have a problem with family violence; that “we” are killing our kids; that “we,” you and I, are to blame.

Bullshit.

Let me tell you something: We—you and I—are not to blame. I didn’t kill those kids. You didn’t. The only thing “we” have done is pay children to have children they don’t want, then read too late about what those parent-children have done to them.

Because if there’s one common factor in all these murders, it’s the existence of a regular welfare cheque in these households of horror that appear in the headlines with frightening regularity. These scum were paid to breed, and JJ Lawrence, Cezar Taylor, Coral-Ellen Burrows, Lillybing Karaitiana-Matiaha, Delcelia Witika, James Whakaruru, Craig Manukau, Nia Glassie, Saliel Aplin, Olympia Jetson, Chris and Cru Kahui died of it.

These are little people who will never grow old because their parents, or those who called themselves parents, snuffed out their lives before they had barely begun.

You might call it homicide by welfare.  We pay no-hopers to breed, and then we wonder why their progeny have no hope.

Sure, not everybody paid to breed kills their children. Despite the incentives, most taking a welfare cheque do love and care for their kids--and thank goodness for that. But we all react to incentives, and the incentives set up by being paid to breed—which is what the DPB system promotes—are not good ones.

We pay children to have children. We offer money to no-hopers to have children they don’t want.

Why should we be surprised when so many of their unwanted children don’t survive?

We've been following this hopeless pattern now for more than three generations, and we’ve produced at least three generations of losers. The system has produced three generations of losers.

Who's really to blame here for the hopelessness of it all? Answer: those who put the system in place, and those who feed it and maintain it and argue for its continuing existence.

We don't need inquiries or more hand-wringing; the answer is much simpler than that: It's time to stop paying no-hopers to breed. Here's how to do it.

In the meantime, let’s stop taking the blame for these murders.  We didn't kill these children, either by commission or omission.  It wasn't us: it was the incentives offered by a welfare cheque and whole sorry whanau round each of them.  Babies who were paid paid by the system to have babies. 

Think about that when the busybodies are blaming us.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Q: How does the Queen answer the phone?

QueenboCartoon by Nick Kim

In the only reference yourself you’re likely to see on this blog, however oblique, to the fact we have A Royal Walking Amongst Us this week, allow me to help answer the important relevant questions for you. Such as, how does the Queen answer the phone?

And does she really say, “Wassup! This is Liz.”

Answers here.

[Hat tip Geek Press]

Deep Green

Since I’ve just posted below just some of the dopiness promoted by Hard Labour activists, I thought it only fair to update my on-going study of their coalition partners favourite word: “ban.”

I first examined this back in 2006 when a a commenter took issue with my claim "that the Greens always want to ban things." Turned out my commenter was right. The Greens didn’t want to ban everything, and they still  don't. Just this lot:

  • Californian grape imports
  • ferrets
  • trade in cat and dog fur
  • trade in furniture and timber from China
  • imports of all Chinese milk-related products for children
  • trade in tropical timber
  • kwila outdoor furniture
  • trade in tobacco products to the Pacific Islands
  • trade in live sheep exports
  • TV ads for kids
  • ads on TVNZ
  • television advertising of high fat and high sugar foods to children
  • gangs
  • fizzy drinks
  • diet sodas
  • endosulfan
  • bisphenol A (BPA)
  • fossil-fuel power stations
  • foreigners owning coastal land
  • foreigners owning farms
  • foreigners owning “our assets”
  • foreigners
  • building of new prisons
  • European beef and sheep imports
  • European baby foods containing beef and sheep
  • Californian Douglas Fir
  • tobacco displays
  • direct to consumer advertising of drugs
  • growth hormones
  • party pills
  • embryo selection technology
  • native wood chip exports
  • native logging
  • deep-sea oil drilling
  • on-land fracking
  • the powerwall
  • all advertising of prostitution
  • television and radio advertising of sexual services
  • pig swill
  • xenotransplantion trials
  • smacking
  • GE
  • field trials for GE
  • import of tissue for sheep cloning
  • pesticides
  • property rights from the Bill of Rights
  • quick-fire logging
  • logging
  • fishing for toothfish
  • fishing for shark
  • sale and distribution of shark fins
  • whaling
  • set-net fishing
  • gill-net fishing
  • fishing
  • bottom trawling
  • cluster bombs
  • land mines
  • plastic bags
  • anti-depressants
  • 'toxic timber'
  • methyl bromide
  • cell-phone use in cars
  • feeding animal remains to farm animals
  • battery cages
  • “perilous poultry products”
  • “the screening of programmes which sensationalise violence”
  • Barbie
  • Ken
  • CCA-treated timber in playgrounds
  • direct to consumer advertising of drugs
  • "the screening of programmes which sensationalise violence or use violence"
  • "the routine feeding of antibiotics to healthy animals"
  • GE maize
  • seed sterility technology
  • commercial releases of genetically engineered crops
  • waste incineration
  • "nuclear shipments from New Zealand’s exclusive economic zone"
  • sow crates
  • the dry sow stall
  • "weapons of mass destruction"
  • nuclear powered vessels in our waters
  • beef imports from Britain to other European countries
  • "Japanese fishing boats from New Zealand waters"
  • "the importation of all timber and timber products not certified as sustainable"
  • open-cast mining
  • gold mining
  • coal mining
  • mining
  • human cloning
  • food irradiation
  • spray drift
  • all ships carrying nuclear weapons, wastes and fuel from the EEZ
  • "backyard burning of rubbish such as plastics and treated timber"
  • "smoking in all workplaces including bars, restaurants and offices"
  • smoking in cars
  • smoking in clubs
  • smoking outside clubs
  • smoking
  • "new uses of coal for energy"
  • "factory farming"
  • "project-based approvals for the development of GE organisms"
  • "all further building of prisons"
  • free trade with China
  • junk food advertising to children
  • alcohol advertising to anybody
  • "the sale and long-term lease of New Zealand property to foreign investors"
  • "the sale of toy tobacco products to under 18s"
  • GM wheat
  • "environmentally destructive fishing methods"
  • "uranium shipments"
  • "the use of the antibiotic avoparcin in animal feed"
  • "imports of cars older than 7 years"
  • amalgam use in dentistry
  • the incineration of unsorted waste
  • 'trade in hazardous wastes"
  • "'super baby' selection"
  • shopping bags
  • inorganic farming
  • dihydrogen monoxide

So, you're right. Apart from those very few things the Greens are pretty much live-and-let-live, and I was very unfair to say otherwise.

It could be argued (and it has been) that the Greens don't wish to have things banned, that they only want to discourage things through additional taxes or education campaigns, or minimum standards or suchlike.

Well, let's do a rough check on the Greens's website. It's a fairly unscientific study (like much of the Greens's own literature). A quick check shows that in 2006 the word 'ban' appeared 165 times. It now appears 2030 times. The phrase 'additional taxes' appears not at all, but 'eco taxes' shows up 56 times (16 in 2006); 'minimum standards' 101 (7 in 2006); and 'educational campaigns' brings up the rear with only 2 appearances (down from 6 in 2006).

So it looks like my commenter is still absolutely right, for which I guess I can only apologise.

Hard Labour is coming for you

Want to know what dangerous fantasies inhabit Labour activists’ minds? Wonder no longer, as all the dopy policy remits activists have dreamed up for consideration at this weekend’s Hard Labour conference have now been published online. Fortunately, DPF has done the hard work of extracting the remits from the 25-page conference document. As he says, “Do not read these if you are of a nervous disposition”:

  • Nationalisation of partially-sold assets
  • A state owned insurance company
  • State-owned and managed retirement homes
  • Every NGO receiving even minimal government funding be required to have a 50% gender quota on its governing board! 
  • Require all private boards to comply with a 50% gender quota within five years
  • A gender quota for the House of Representatives (why not a race and sexual orientation quota also!)
  • Compulsory Te Reo Maori until age 15
  • Compulsory worker representation on large company boards
  • Bring back compulsory membership of student associations
  • De-facto compulsory unionism by forcing all employees to “contribute to the benefits of enterprise and multi-enterprise bargaining”
  • Turn contractors into employees
  • Reverse employment law changes and destroy NZ as a location for international film making
  • Lower the voting age to 16
  • End all funding of private schools (which ironically will force them all to be integrated and go from 25% funding to 100%)
  • Bring back the food police to school tuckshops
  • Ban seabed mining for minerals oil and gas
  • Ban fracking
  • Ban coal mining
  • Ban plastic bags 
  • Ban companies that do not pay a “living wage” (which is much higher than the minimum wage) from winning government contracts
  • A tax on all aquaculture
  • A tax on all mineral exports
  • A tax on all financial transactions
  • More taxes on petrol to fund rail
  • Fund a brand new commercial-free TV broadcaster
  • Fund a Pacific TV broadcaster
  • A Super Gold card for transport for under 21s
  • A rail link to the airport for Auckland (think how much taxes will be going up to pay for all of this) 
  • Direct Kiwirail as to who must win their tenders
  • Restore the “social obligation” to the SOE Act (despite the fact they were never repealed!)
  • Insert the Treaty of Waitangi into the Constitution Act
  • Raise the age of Super to 67 to pay for other welfare – except for Maori!
  • A universal child benefit so millionaires get paid money for having kids
  • 52 weeks paid parental leave (why stop there – go for 18 years I say!)
  • All single benefits to be increased by $50 a week!!!
  • And everyone gets a pony

Shorter summary: Gender, gender, gender; nationalisation, nationalisation, nationalisation; ; compulsion, compulsion, compulsion; ban, ban, ban (they’ve been listening to the Greens again, haven’t they); welfare, welfare, welfare.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Happy birthday Auguste Rodin

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Today would have been Auguste Rodin’s birthday. He would have been 172.

Burghers of Calais Auguste Rodin

He had the almost unique ability to breathe life into mere stone—to grant a life force to inanimate objects.  He could do with a pair of hands what other sculptors could never manage even with whole constellations of subject matter.

Hands Cathedral Auguste Rodin

After him, sculpture was truly never the same again. 

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IMAGES from top to bottom: ‘The Kiss’ aka ‘Francesca da Rimini’; ‘ Cathedral’; Pierre di Wissant from the ‘Burghers of Calais’; ‘The Eternal Idol’ at The Musee Rodin in Paris.

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Challenging Bill McKibben and the Green Establishment: The Environmental Case for Fossil Fuels

Last week Alex Epstein from the Center for Industrial Progress got to debate the head of warmist activist organisation350.org, environmentalist Bill McKibben, who’s been called “the world's most powerful opponent of fossil fuels.”

The debate was on fossil fuels.

Given that McKibben is on an anti-fossil-fuel rampage as I write this (see http://math.350.org), and he other environmentalist leaders are using Hurricane Sandy as a pretext for policies that would cause far more permanent blackouts, there’s never been a better time to challenge their fundamentals.

Check out these 2-3 minute clips from debate wherein Epstein does just that:

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Prohibition kills

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Cannabis campaigner Stephen McIntyre, above, died earlier this year. He killed himself.
Evidence seems to be emerging that Stephen, a good  man, a sensitive soul, was driven to kill himself by police harassment.
You might discount the source, but on a matter this serious I suggest you visit Martyn Bradbury’s blog for the story as it emerges of the death of his friend:
In April last year Stephen talked to Lindsay Perigo about his campaigning. Now, it seems, he died of it.

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GUEST POST: Are These the End Times?

Guest post by Jeffrey Tucker of Laissez Faire Books 

WHY ALL THE LONG faces?
    The U.S. election results seem to have sent many people into fits of depression, hysteria, and rage. Commentators on the right are proclaiming that the last days are here. The hordes of welfare dependents are taking over. The wealthy will be looted. Business will be destroyed. Demographics and demagoguery have at last come together to create the perfect storm for America. Socialism has at last arrived.
    Well, let's all just settle down a bit.
    What was the alternative to Obama? [A symbol?] The truth is that Romney inspired a very low level of passion among voters. No one knew for sure what he stood for. Not even his tax message was clear. He seemed to call for lower rates, but also promised to "broaden the base," which sounds like raising taxes through the back door. His foreign policy program of protectionism against China and war with Iran actually made Obama's stealthy warmongering seem less dangerous by comparison. All the rest was a muddle.
    So in retrospect, there should be no great surprise at the outcome. The betting market called Intrade.com featured election markets that had been correct for the entire political season...
    There is no more reason to be morose and maudlin about the next four years than the last four years. The last four years featured some of the worst government policy since the 1930s, most of it coming from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department. These policies have broken the banking system, entrenched unemployment, and stagnated middle-class incomes. That would have stayed the same regardless of who was elected.
    Yet despite these policies, the market forged ahead. These last four years have seen some of the biggest advances in technology in history, including the app economy, the radical democratization of all media, and 3-D printing.
    The world is connected by market networks as never before. Food is more prevalent. Housing is cheaper [at least in the U.S.]. The much-feared hyperinflation never arrived.   Having long experience with dealing with stupid government policies, entrepreneurs and capitalists still somehow managed to keep the engines of progress rolling forward. The markets have shown themselves to be resilient beyond what most people imagined.
    People in democracies tend to exaggerate the influence and effect of particular presidents. They have some power to steer policy, but nowhere near what people imagine. Most of their talk about their "visions" for bringing a new future is puffery and nonsense. The bureaucracies that make and implement the rules by which we are forced to live pay very little attention to the comings and goings of the political class. Most of what they do was not discussed in the election at all. And presidents have very little practical, day-to-day influence over their behavior.
    The state that is the menace to society is not somehow recreated every four years. It is 100 years old and lives off its own momentum. It is intrusive, debilitating, invasive, and evil, but it is not sent into upheaval upon elections. Its grip grows tighter, but not mainly because of electoral politics. It runs off its own energy and tends to be impervious to political attempts to shift its direction.
    That said, sometimes U.S. presidents end up making some degree of difference. But it is by no means a foregone conclusion that a second Obama term is going to be worse than a Romney term might have been. Again, Romney made some very scary noises about shutting down trade with China [and the rest of the world], raising taxes through deduction repeals, and starting [poorly planned] wars with Iran and who knows what other countries. Based on his rhetoric alone, it's hard to say that Obama is going to be worse.
    More significantly, the biggest, for better and worse, political moves of the last half-century were made by presidents who were expected to do something completely different. No one expected, for example, that Nixon would be the man who would go off the gold standard, put in wage and price controls, and establish the EPA.
    At the same time, the best thing he did in office, namely make peace with China and open trade, was the last thing anyone expected from this old-line anti-communist. And that is precisely why he was able to get away with it. It is through confounding expectations that political change happens.
    We saw this with Jimmy Carter too. Here was a man everyone thought was dedicated to government control of everything. Yet he worked with Ted Kennedy in the Senate to accomplish the great deregulations of the late 1970s that changed life completely and continue to benefit everyone. He deregulated trucking, airlines, and energy. Those were surprising and amazing moves -- accomplished entirely by what we now call the political left. These three moves astonished the world.
    Moving forward, Reagan ran as the most libertarian-sounding president in a century, but he proceeded to balloon the budget as never before and even raise the payroll tax in a way that broke all records. On the other hand, the best thing he did in his two terms shocked the world. He sat down with the Soviet leader and agreed to the hope of eliminating all nuclear weapons. It didn't happen, but the friendship between Reagan and Gorbachev led to an astonishing thaw that encouraged dissidents all over the communist bloc. The world that the Cold War kept alive melted with the advent of the most peculiar and implausible friendship in the history of politics. [Ed: Speaking softly while carrying a big stick also helped. A lot.]
    No one thought Clinton would reform welfare, but he did it. And no one thought he would work to repeal one of the crippling legacies of the 1970s: the 55 mph speed limit as set by the federal government. Clinton did this with very little attention given to the event. But it was a huge boon to the private sector.
    The same was true of George W. Bush. He ran as a peace candidate and gave us war.
    The message here is that you rarely get what you expect from politicians. Sometimes -- very rarely, but sometimes -- they do the right thing despite every expectation to the contrary. So yes, Obama might be a socialist, but he is also a politician, and surprises can happen. And regardless of what happens, protecting your rights and liberties is ultimately up to you.
    There are huge looming issues in the second term of Obama.
    The Keynesian path has not fixed the economy, exactly as Hayek predicted in A Tiger by the Tail.
    The spending boom has not stimulated anything, exactly as Henry Hazlitt said it would not, confirming the whole theory behind Economics in One Lesson.
    The monetary stimulus has been an incredible flop, precisely as Ron Paul said it would be in The Case for Gold.
    The whole claim that the government would save us has turned out to be an aspect of what Hans-Hermann Hoppe calls The Great Fiction.
      This is the end of the road for the planners. The American people are extremely resistant to tax increases. Even on health care, some pullback would not be unexpected: the Obama administration does not want to be the trigger that causes more unemployment stemming from higher costs on small and medium-sized businesses.
    The other legislative monster of the president's first term was the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul, which inspired a constant battle cry for repeal from Republicans during the primary season. But while this regulatory dog may end up biting, for now only a third of the act's required 398 rules have been finalized. The courts have struck down a few of legislation's new provisions, and more legal challenges will follow.
    The Fed is mostly out of options. The central bank can only keep doing the same old QE thing over and over. But while the Fed makes itself bigger, as Steve Hanke pointed out in an LFB interview, the biggest engine of money creation is the commercial banking system, and the banks are not creating money by lending. Dodd-Frank uncertainty and tough bank examiners are making bankers shy to lend. This has grounded, for the moment anyway, Ben Bernanke's inflation helicopter.
    The fiscal crisis cannot be solved through mere reform, but reform would help. War with anyone would break the bank completely, and the military knows this. No one is even talking about gun control anymore, thank goodness. And there is extreme grass-roots pressure for letting up on the war on drugs.
    This isn't the end of the road for the state, but it is getting close. Politicians are usually liars and thieves, but they are not entirely impractical men and women. They will try the wrong thing a thousand times before they finally relent to the obvious. But eventually, they can relent. If the economy double dips in a serious way, that could prompt a complete rethinking of the path of the last for four years of folly.
The bigger point is that the really big changes happening to the world today are taking place outside politics. Russ Roberts puts it best:

Remember that politics is not where life happens. Policies affect our lives, but we have much to do outside that world. Yesterday, I helped my youngest son learn Python, learned some Talmud, played with my photographs on Lightroom, had dinner with my wife, and went shopping with my oldest son for his first nice blazer. Lots of satisfactions there. Nothing to do with politics.
Put Tuesday night behind you for a while. Remember what matters. Take a walk. Read to your kids. Go out for dinner with your spouse. Read more Adam Smith and less of the Drudge Report. And smile at your neighbor. That's always a good idea. But there's a bonus -- it might help your neighbor imagine that someone who believes in leaving things alone when it comes to the coercive power of government might actually be a decent person after all. And then maybe he'll be a little more open to those crazy ideas you talked about at that dinner party.

Especially considering the holidays coming up, a time when the beautiful aspects of private life are on display as never before, he is precisely right.

Sincerely,
Jeffrey Tucker

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Does immigration threaten local culture?

Amit Ghate addresses in Forbes magazine the oft-heard argument that foreign immigrants will threaten or even overwhelm our culture—or American culture—or European culture—that the combined forces of demographics mean open, or even increased, immigration should be abandoned everywhere.

This argument has a fundamental flaw however:

Consider, to begin, the definition of culture, viz.: “the ideas, customs, skills, arts, etc. of a people or group, that are transferred, communicated, or passed along, as in or to succeeding generations.” Observe that our culture rests on the ideas that we adopt, as these determine the other values, skills and customs we uphold.
Yet not a single one of us inherits our ideas…

That simple point explodes the whole case.

But what about the empirical evidence? Well, which country more than any other was built on  immigration other than America herself:

It’s no accident that—while she retained her intellectual self-confidence—America was the land of the immigrant. And what dividends that policy paid! Economically America prospered due to the increase in producers and the inherent benefits of specialization and trade. Intellectually she blossomed thanks to the abundance of new ideas and views which could be carefully weighed and winnowed.
    Yet culturally she was never threatened. America was understood to be, and lauded for being, the land of freedom and opportunity, both by those already here, and those arriving. As a result, 19th century America was perhaps the most intellectually active and economically dynamic culture the world has ever seen.

Yes, immigration in a culture of intellectual self-confidence works.

But guess what: “When a nation is no longer willing or capable of defending its culture as morally desirable,” “it works the other way too.”

 See what other great points Ghate makes.

[Hat tip Thrutch]

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GUEST POST: U.S. Gone to Pot, but Not Completely

imageGuest post by Mark Thornton from the Mises Institute 

The only good thing about the 2012 US election campaign—other than its being over — is that much progress was made on marijuana policy. Marijuana was legalized in two states, Colorado and Washington. Medical-marijuana legislation passed in Massachusetts. Marijuana was decriminalized is several major cities in Michigan and Burlington, Vermont, passed a resolution that marijuana should be legalized. The only defeats were that legalization failed to pass in Oregon and medical marijuana was defeated in Arkansas.

This is a stunning turnaround from the 2010 campaign when Prop 19 in California failed to pass despite high expectations. I explained in detail why Prop 19 failed here. It was an unfortunately common story of Baptists, i.e., people who oppose it, and bootleggers, i.e., people who profit from black-market sales, who stopped the legalization effort.

With regards to the legalization victories in Colorado and Washington, Tom Angell, Director ofLEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) called the election a "historic night for drug-law reformers." Paul Armentano, the deputy director of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), called the Colorado and Washington victories "game changers," noting that "both measures provide adult cannabis consumers with unprecedented legal protections." He noted that "until now, no state in modern history has classified cannabis itself as a legal product that may be lawfully possessed and consumed by adults." Writing for the Marijuana Policy Project, Robert Capecchi called Colorado and Washington "historic victories," saying that they "represent the first bricks to be knocked out of the marijuana prohibition wall."

Following is a list of all marijuana measures on the 2012 ballot as provided by LEAP:

Colorado                   Marijuana legalization                                                                       Passed
Washington              Marijuana legalization                                                                       Passed
Oregon                        Marijuana legalization                                                                      Failed
Massachusetts         Medical marijuana                                                                              Passed
Arkansas                    Medical marijuana                                                                              Failed
Detroit, MI                Decriminalization of adult marijuana possession                  Passed
Flint, MI                     Decriminalization of adult marijuana possession                  Passed
Ypsilanti, MI            Marijuana to be lowest law enforcement priority                 Passed
Grand Rapids, MI   Decriminalization of adult marijuana possession                  Passed
Kalamazoo, MI        Three medical-marijuana dispensaries permitted in city  Passed
Burlington, VT         Recommendation that marijuana should be legalized        Passed
Montana                     Referendum restricting medical marijuana                             Likely to pass

Some readers might not be fired up at the prospects of legalization, decriminalization, and medical marijuana, but the benefits are higher than you might think. First of all, the economic crisis is a great opportunity to get this type of reform passed. There are several economic dimensions at work here. The most obvious thing that comes to mind is that legalized marijuana might be a source of tax revenues and possibly excise taxes and license fees. It would also be a source of jobs, although the net gain in jobs and incomes is probably initially small.

A major benefit would be a reduction in the size of government. Marijuana prohibition results in hundreds of thousands of people being arrested, tying up police, jails, courts, and prisons. When the city of Philadelphia decided to make marijuana prohibition a low priority and treat it like public intoxication ($200 fine), they ended up saving $2 million in the first year.

One of the most important benefits of these measures is that they make for a more liberal society in the Misesian sense. Marijuana prohibition is public violence, prejudice, and partiality. Legalization and liberalism is private property and public tolerance. As Ludwig von Mises wrote,

The essential teaching of liberalism is that social cooperation and the division of labor can be achieved only in a system of private ownership of the means of production, i.e., within a market society, or capitalism. All the other principles of liberalism democracy, personal freedom of the individual, freedom of speech and of the press, religious tolerance, peace among the nations are consequences of this basic postulate. They can be realized only within a society based on private property. (Omnipotent Government, p. 48)

The key thing, economically speaking, is that more liberalism is good for business, jobs, and prosperity. Legalizing marijuana, along with things like same-sex-marriage laws, may be appalling to some people, but when companies are looking to get started or establishing new operations, those are some of the things that are looked at, just like taxes, schools, crime, etc. States that are competing for the best companies that offer the highest paying jobs are the same states that are liberalizing their policies.

Therefore, it should come to no surprise that a state like Washington legalized marijuana even though it does not have a history of marijuana-reform activism. Washington needs to compete with other states for computer programmers, engineers, and technicians for Washington-based firms like Boeing and Microsoft. Do not be surprised if what happened in Colorado and Washington spreads to other states in coming elections.

The most important aspect of the victories in Colorado and Washington is that the people of those states stood up and voiced their opposition to the federal government and its policy of marijuana prohibition. They are directing their state governments to no longer cooperate with the federal government. You can bet that federal officials will seek to intimidate local officials and businesses as they have done in California. They seek to use fear and violence to maintain their power.

Thornton, MarkHowever, demographically and ideologically, they are fighting a losing battle. Supporters of legalization are younger, smarter, better educated, and have above-average incomes. The leaders of the reform movement do not seem to view their efforts as "pro-marijuana," but rather as anti-prohibition, and they realize that the benefits are in terms of health, public safety, and prosperity.

When my book The Economics of Prohibition was published 20 years ago, I was often asked my opinion if marijuana should be or would be legalized. My stock answer was that medical marijuana would start to be legalized in 10 years and that marijuana would start to be legalized in 20 years, probably during an economic crisis. My only prediction in print was that the reform process would begin around the turn of the century. The first reform was actually a medical-marijuana law passed in California in 1996.

* * * * *

Mark Thornton is a senior resident fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama, and is the book review editor for the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics. He is the author of The Economics of Prohibition, coauthor of Tariffs, Blockades, and Inflation: The Economics of the Civil War, and the editor of The Quotable Mises, The Bastiat Collection, and An Essay on Economic Theory. Send him mail. See Mark Thornton's “Mises Daily” article archives.

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