sábado, 4 de junio de 2016

Centrally Planned Energy: Bad for the Economy, Bad for the Environment

By Jason Scott Johnston

On Earth Day, the United States will sign the Paris Climate agreement. In terms of the actual climate policy already implemented by the Obama administration, however, the events of the previous week were much more important. Peabody Energy, the world’s biggest privately owned coal producer, declared bankruptcy, and SunEdison Corporation, the world’s largest solar-energy developer, entered into prebankruptcy negotiations. These bankruptcies are direct consequences of Barack Obama’s climate-change policies.

Ending Welfare as We Know It

By Michael D. Tanner

On June 5, Swiss voters will go to the polls to decide whether to eliminate many of the nation’s social-welfare programs and replace them with a guaranteed national income for all citizens. Not long after the Swiss vote, Finland will embark on a similar though partial experiment, replacing welfare benefits with a guaranteed income for both national and regional sample populations. In the Netherlands, at least four cities, Utrecht, Tilberg, Groningen, and Wageningen, are in the process of designing their own experiments. And in Canada, the latest provincial budget in Ontario promised to work with researchers this year to come up with a design for a pilot program. Great Britain is also actively debating the concept.

Forget June. The Fed Isn’t Likely to Hike Interest Rates until December

By Gerald P. O'Driscoll Jr.

The Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged — no surprise there — moving the focus to the next Federal Open Market Committee meeting on June 14-15.
The latest FOMC statement is little changed from the last one and provides no strong clue about the likely decision at the June meeting. The next indication of Fed intentions will come with the release in three weeks of the minutes for this meeting.
At this point, commentary by Fed officials is still suggesting two rate increases this year. That is down from a suggestion of four hikes not so long ago. For the remainder of the year, will there be two, one or zero increases in the short-term interest rates by the Fed?

Monetary Policies Misunderstood

By Steve H. Hanke

Ever since the U.S. Federal Reserve (Fed) began to consider raising the federal funds rate, which it eventually did in December 2015, a cottage industry has grown up around taper talk. Will the Fed raise rates, or won’t it? Each time a consensus congeals around the answer to that question, all the world’s markets either soar or dive.
This obsession with taper talk — the interest rate story — is simple, but strange. Indeed, it is misguided — wrongheaded. So, why the obsession? It is, in part, the result of a Keynesian hangover. The Keynesians focus on interest rates. The mainstream macro model that is widely in use today is referred to as a “New Keynesian” model. The thrust of monetary policy in this model is entirely captured by changes in current and expected interest rates (the price of money). Money is nowhere to be found, however.

President Obama’s Legacy Is Endless War

By Gene Healy

This article appeared on TIME
It’s legacy-burnishing time at the Obama White House, the New York Times reports, and the administration plans to make the president available for “articles that will allow Mr. Obama to showcase his major achievements.” In this brief interlude before the national party conventions rivet our attention on the fresh horrors to come, ’tis the season for “exit interviews” and think pieces about our 44th president’s place in history.
The Washington Post recently debuted a hagiographic “Virtual Museum” of Obama’s tenure, accompanied by “The Content of His Presidency,” a 3,000-word chin-puller by Obama biographer David Maraniss.

Maraniss writes that as an undergraduate, Obama developed “an intense sense of mission … sometimes bordering messianic,” and by the time he had the Oval Office in his sights, Obama had decided “his mission was to leave a legacy as a president of consequence.” Has he done that? Maraniss’s timid, triple-hedged answer is: “it is now becoming increasingly possible to argue that he has neared his goal.”
Seven years in, it’s clear that Obama has forged a legacy of enormous consequence. But the most transformational aspect of his presidency is something liberals never hoped for: as president, Barack Obama’s most far-reaching achievement has been to strip out any remaining legal limits on the president’s power to wage war.
Obama’s predecessor insisted that he didn’t need approval from Congress to launch a war; yet in the two major wars he fought, George W. Bush secured congressional authorization anyway. By the time Obama hit the dais at Oslo to accept the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, our 44th president had already launched more drone strikes than “43” carried out during two full terms. Since then, he’s launched two undeclared wars, and—as Obama bragged in a speech last year defending the Iran deal—bombed no fewer than seven countries.
In 2011, what officials called “kinetic military action” in Libya completed the evisceration of the War Powers Resolution by successfully advancing the theory that if the U.S. bombs a country that can’t hit back, we’re not engaged in “hostilities” against them. In the drone campaign and the current war with ISIS, Obama has turned a 14-year-old congressional resolution targeting al-Qaeda and the Taliban into a blank check for endless war, anywhere in the world. Last year, the army chief of staff affirmed that finishing the fight against ISIS will take another “10 to 20 years.”
The issue that first animated Obama as an undergraduate was “the relentless, often silent spread of militarism in the country,” as he wrote in an article for the Columbia University Sundial as a college senior in 1983. In “Breaking the War Mentality,” Obama worried that the public’s distance from the costs of war made resisting it “a difficult task,” but a vital one of “shifting America off the dead-end track” and undoing “the twisted logic of which we are today a part.”
“It was his first expression of his views on any foreign policy subject,” James Mann writes in The Obamians, his 2012 account of national security decision-making in the Obama administration. “And years later, his aides felt it was deeply felt and lasting.”
Yet, as president, instead of “breaking the war mentality,” Obama has institutionalized it.
Will history judge Obama harshly because of that? Probably not. When it comes to presidential legacies, history has lousy judgment.
With the exception of Lyndon Johnson, whose presidential standing has suffered because of Vietnam, waging war rarely hurts a president’s historical reputation. In fact, it usually helps.
Obama needn’t fret too much about getting short shrift from historians. Not only has he been the sort of warrior president  too many of them love, but by relentlessly expanding presidential war powers, he’s also empowered the presidents to come.

The Questions Clinton Didn’t Answer in Attacking Trump

By Christopher A. Preble

Hillary Clinton delivered a devastating attack against Donald Trump’s foreign policy views. His ideas, she said, “aren’t just different — they are dangerously incoherent. They’re not even really ideas — just a series of bizarre rants, personal feuds, and outright lies.”
“He is not just unprepared,” she continued, “he is temperamentally unfit to hold an office that requires knowledge, stability and immense responsibility.”

Why Is Obama Strangely Silent on the Pacific Trade Deal?

By Daniel J. Ikenson

Barack Obama assumed office promising to restore some of the U.S. foreign policy credibility notoriously squandered by his predecessor. But if Congress doesn’t ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement before Christmas, the president will leave office with American commercial and strategic positions weakened in the Asia-Pacific and U.S. credibility further diminished globally. The specter of that outcome should be keeping the president awake at night.
The TPP is a comprehensive trade agreement between the United States and 11 other Pacific-Rim nations not called China. It is the economic linchpin of the administration’s “strategic pivot” to Asia, which in 2009 heralded U.S. intentions to extricate itself from the messes in Iraq and Afghanistan and to reassert its interests in the world’s fastest-growing region.

#NeverTrump Republicans Have a New Choice

By David Boaz

This article appeared in USA Today on June 3, 2016.
Not since the nomination of arch-conservative Barry Goldwater in 1964 have so many Republicans been so dissatisfied with the presumptive nominee of their party.
Almost all observers, including me, dismissed Donald Trump’s announcement of his presidential candidacy last summer as a stunt that would go nowhere. “Performance art,” I told friends. Then he started talking — he called Mexican immigrants rapists, disparaged John McCain’s experience as a prisoner of war, mocked a disabled reporter, called for a ban on Muslim immigration. With each new utterance, we assumed his campaign would tank.

Death in Xalapa… politics as usual

At least six, and maybe many more (possibly as many as 20), people were murdered early Sunday morning at Madame,a popular Xalapa gay bar. A horrible crime, and with no real information being given out by the authorities, one can only go on speculation.
According to news reports, there were about 400 people in the bar at the time. The Madame’s hit may have been directed on one individual or group. That same Saturday night/Sunday morning, a bar in Orizaba was also hit, killing two, including the boyfriend of the late Anabel Flores, a reporter murdered by the Zetas a few weeks back. The Zetas are not careful about avoiding collateral damage, and it’s quite plausible the attack at Madame was meant to either take out a targeted individual (or group), or … as when other public venues have been attacked… to threaten the business’ owners.
Coming at the end of the week when GLBT issues have been a matter of public discourse, there is the nagging sense that there was something more than just another gangster rub-out writ large.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Attacking Our Nation's Founders

Walter E. Williams

Attacking Our Nation's Founders
During Sen. Bernie Sanders' campaign visit to Liberty University, he told the students that our nation was created on racist principles. Students at a Christian-based university, such as Liberty, do not often hear the founders-as-racists argument. But it is featured at many other universities, as well as primary and secondary schools. Most often, the hate-America teachings are centered on the fact that slavery is a part of our history. What is left untaught is: Slavery was a routine part of human history. Blacks were the last people to be enslaved. Plus, our Founding Fathers struggled mightily over the issue of slavery. Let us look at some of that struggle.

Scalia School of Law

Walter E. Williams

Scalia School of Law
George Mason University School of Law has just been renamed the Antonin Scalia School of Law in honor of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Accompanying the name change was a receipt of a $30 million gift: $10 million from the Charles Koch Foundation and $20 million from an anonymous donor. The combination of the names of Scalia and Koch has led to a number of George Mason University faculty getting their panties in a bunch -- and understandably so. Let's look at it.
Justice Antonin Scalia had a reputation on the court and in his written opinions as a person who revered the U.S. Constitution and the limits it places on the federal government. Many of my George Mason University colleagues have contempt for the U.S. Constitution and the limitations it sought to impose on the federal government. These are people who believe that it's OK for the U.S. Congress to forcibly use one American to serve the purposes of another American. That means people, such as Scalia, who respect the Constitution are a despised minority.

Elitist Arrogance

Elitist Arrogance
White teenage unemployment is about 14 percent. That for black teenagers is about 30 percent. The labor force participation rate for white teens is 37 percent, and that for black teens is 25 percent. Many years ago, in 1948, the figures were exactly the opposite. The unemployment rate of black 16-year-old and 17-year-old males was 9.4 percent, while that of whites was 10.2 percent. Up until the late 1950s, black teens, as well as black adults, were more active in the labor market than their white counterparts. I will return to these facts after I point out some elitist arrogance and moral bankruptcy.

We’re Going Deeper into Debt as Real Incomes Fall

We’re Going Deeper into Debt as Real Incomes Fall

New York Fed President Dudley recently commented that “real consumer spending growth appears to have moderated somewhat from the relatively robust pace of the second half of 2015.” While this may suggest headwinds from cyclical economic conditions, there are emerging signs that ultra-accommodative policy also acts as a constraint on consumer spending via income effects. Instead of inducing savers to spend and borrow, rapid asset price appreciation as a result of monetary easing have outpaced wage growth, and pass-through services inflation subsequently reduced discretionary income and forced already-levered consumers to save instead of spend. This unintended consequence worked against accommodative policy’s desired substitution effects and suggests further easing would likely yield diminishing results if asset price appreciation continues to outpace real income growth.

Socialism and Famine

Socialism and Famine

India is suffering from high prices and a food shortage. Both have been brought about by the government's own policies. For years it has indulged in monetary inflation, controls, state planning, socialism, and a forced industrialization that diverts capital and labor away from farming.
Alarmed by the food riots, the government is taking drastic measures. Most of them are exactly the wrong measures. It has put ceilings on the price of rice and announced price controls on matches, oil, kerosene, sugar, and vegetable oils. This is precisely the step that will do most to discourage production of these necessities. When there is a shortage of any product the cure is high prices, not low prices. In a free market, without inflation, relatively high prices for any product signal a shortage of that product and give maximum incentives to producers and importers to relieve the shortage.
The Indian government, looking for scapegoats, has blamed "speculators" and "hoarders" and announced the imposition of strict controls on the purchase, sale, storage, and transportation of grains. But speculators and hoarders, when they really act intelligently in their own interest, perform a public service. If they are right in thinking that if they hold back now they will get a higher price later, this means that they are conserving supplies now to relieve an even-greater future scarcity. Unless they sell at the point of maximum scarcity, they miss their best market and merely defeat themselves.

The Task Confronting Libertarians

The Task Confronting Libertarians


From time to time over the last 30 years, after I have talked or written about some new restriction on human liberty in the economic field, some new attack on private enterprise, I have been asked in person or received a letter asking, "What can I do" — to fight the inflationist or socialist trend? Other writers or lecturers, I find, are often asked the same question.
The answer is seldom an easy one. For it depends on the circumstances and ability of the questioner — who may be a businessman, a housewife, a student, informed or not, intelligent or not, articulate or not. And the answer must vary with these presumed circumstances.
The general answer is easier than the particular answer. So here I want to write about the task now confronting all libertarians considered collectively.

Soak the Rich?

Soak the Rich?

From the Buffett Rule to France's 75 percent tax on the wealthy, "soaking the rich" is all the rage once again. Henry Hazlitt, writing his Business Tides column for Newseek, challenged this perennial impulse in the following three articles from the postwar era. Note Hazlitt's "Laffer curve" analysis, written when Arthur Laffer was in primary school. However, as Hazlitt makes plain, it was public welfare, and not government revenue, that he was really after in pushing for lowering taxes on the rich.

High Taxes vs. Incentive and Revenue

April 7, 1947
In a recent Gallup poll the question was asked: "About how much do you think a married man with two children who earns $50,000 a year now pays in Federal income taxes?" The typical answer was $9,000. The actual tax on such a net income, however, is around $24,000. It would be instructive to learn how many people know that a $300,000 net income shrinks to $66,000 after taxes and a $1,000,000 income to $161,000.
In its March letter the National City Bank publishes some illuminating income-tax tables. One of these shows how much is actually left at various income levels for the taxpayer himself out of every extra dollar he earns. The figures are for a married man with two children and legal deductions of 10 percent of his gross income.

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