Category Archives: Economy

Fight Classroom Idiocracy With The Literary Canon

Economy, Education, English, Literature, Objectivism, Political Correctness, Pop-Culture

“Fight Classroom Idiocracy With The Literary Canon” is the current column, now on WND. The WND version has been scrubbed of the “salacious sex scene,” excerpted below, which happens to be required reading in some kids’ English class:

The fraught relationship between state and society carries over into classroom and town hall. Something of a commonplace in police state USA is the scene in which a citizen is arrested for speaking his mind to a public official, pedagogue or politician.

Our story begins with a dad, William Baer, a lawyer, I believe, who resides in New Hampshire, the state whose motto is “Live Free or Die.” For speaking out of turn at a school board meeting, Baer was cuffed and carted out of a forum of educrats and obedient parents, herded together at the Gilford high school. An arrest and a charge of disorderly conduct followed—Baer, after all, had exceeded the talk time allotted to him.

“It was basically, you make a statement, say what you want and sit down,” the dad told a local television station. “‘Sit down and shut up’ … [is] not how you interact with adults.”

In the background to the online YouTube clip of the event one can hear the dulcet voice of a female emcee, delighting in the petty abuse of power over a powerless parent.

Mr. Baer was protesting a novel which was required reading in his 14-year-old daughter’s English class: “Nineteen Minutes” by home girl Jodi Picoult. (One of Australia’s finest writers, also the copy editor of this writer’s last book, relates that every time he gets on a train or a bus, there seems to be some female or three reading a Jodi P. “masterpiece.”)

Easily more offensive than the salacious sex scene on page 313 of Picoult’s novel is the rotten writing throughout:

“‘Relax,’ Matt murmured, and then he sank his teeth into her shoulder. He pinned her hands over her head and ground his hips against hers. She could feel his erection, hot against her stomach. ”
… She couldn’t remember ever feeling so heavy, as if her heart were beating between her legs. She clawed at Matt’s back to bring him closer. “‘Yeah,’ he groaned, and he pushed her thighs apart. And then suddenly Matt was inside her, pumping so hard that she scooted backward on the carpet, burning the backs of her legs.
… (H)e clamped his hand over her mouth and drove harder and harder until Josie felt him come.
“Semen, sticky and hot, pooled on the carpet beneath her.”

The book’s titillating topics—bullying, school shootings, teen sex and pregnancy—verge on the political. Inculcating kids early on with these cumbersome, constricted constructs serves to stunt young minds. The young reader is intellectually disemboweled, as he is steered into thinking along certain narrow, politically pleasing lines. …

… Without the literary canon, young minds are doomed to become as dim and sclerotic as those of the educators who assign them the piss-poor reading material aforementioned

Read the rest. “Fight Classroom Idiocracy With The Literary Canon” is the current column, now on WND.


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EU Government Is A Monopoly, Not Google

Business, Capitalism, Economy, EU, Europe

The economic sluggards of Europe don’t much like competition; it’s too much like hard work. Competition means that a business has to please the only real boss: a picky customer with many options. Google has raised the ire of the European competition and its proxy, the European Parliament, which “overwhelmingly backed a motion urging antitrust regulators to break up Google.”

“Google’s dominance,” writes Jörg Brunsmann for DW, “didn’t arise from the company employing unfair measures to push its competitors out of the market. It’s become a market leader because of its innovation.”

Put more precisely: Google has arrived at its market share by pleasing search-engine users.

I was part of a worthy group of Austrian economists who published “The Microsoft Corporation In Collision With Antitrust Law,” in The Journal of Social, Political and Economic Studies (Winter 2001, Vol. 26, No. 1.). In section (4) for which I was responsible (“Economic Freedom, Monopoly and the Government,”), I wrote:

Antitrust legislation considers a large market share or a concentration in the market to signify both monopoly and predatory practices on the part of a company. As such, the antitrust chimera is based on discredited theories about competition. Relying as it does on a model of ideal or perfect rather than rivalrous competition, the legislation aims at a market neatly carved among competitors (32).

The principle applies to Google.

In Austrian economics, moreover, a large market share does not a monopoly make. “The only true monopolies are government monopolies. A company is a monopoly only when it can forcibly prohibit competitors from entering the market, a feat only ever made possible by state edict. In a truly free market, competition makes monopoly impossible.” (From “Media Concentration Is Not A Threat to Free Expression, Government Is.”)


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Third World Jobs Created & Declining Labor Force Participation Rate

Economy, Labor

Paul Craig Roberts explains the parallel reality created by government so that, “Unemployment is measured according to methodologies designed to prevent its discovery. Inflation is measured according to methodologies designed to deny its existence. Jobs are reported that don’t exist, and GDP growth rates are announced that declines in real median family incomes and consumer credit make impossible. The poverty level income is set artificially low in order to minimize welfare spending.”

The lies conceal a declining labor force participation rate. The jobs created are third-world jobs. “Good jobs are replaced by low-paying jobs.”

The uncounted unemployed can be measured in the sharp 21st century decline in the labor force participation rate. The labor force participation rate has declined because there are no jobs to participate in. But Washington, the financial media, and the bought and paid for economists lie. They say the participation rate is down because the baby boomers are retiring. However, as John Titus, Dave Kranzler, and I documented with the government’s own data in a recent column, the participation rate of baby boomers is the highest of all and the only one that is rising.

The reason is that with the Federal Reserves sole concern with the welfare of a small handful of mega-banks–the ones that sit on the board of the New York Federal Reserve Bank–real interest rates are negative. Therefore, retirees have no income from their retirement savings. (Generally speaking, retirees avoid stock investments, because they can lose a great deal from a major correction, and it can take more years than they have left for stocks to recover.) To supplement their Social Security pensions (a rigged CPI prevents or minimizes cost-of-living increases), retirees take the temporary, lowly paid jobs that are all that the US economy can produce. These jobs do not provide sufficient income with which to form a household.

As I have pointed out for a decade, or longer, the US economy no longer creates First World jobs. The US economy creates jobs for waitresses and bartenders, hospital orderlies, and retail clerks. The fact that the complexion of the US work force is becoming Third World is not considered a notable problem by the media or financial press, and economists seem immune to the facts.

MORE.


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UPDATED: Grubby Gruber To Enter ‘Smithsonian Museum of Dumbassery’ (CNN Reports?)

Economy, Ethics, Government, Healthcare, Intelligence, Internet

Jonathan Gruber’s “off-the-cuff” trail of stupidity belongs, as Big Bang’s delicious Leslie Winkle would say, in “the Smithsonian Museum of Dumbassery.” Here the Gruber collection is, as uncovered and tracked, not by major media, but by citizen journalist Rich Weinstein:

* Nancy Pelosi is a Liar Too. Tell me something I don’t already know.

* “Gruber suggesting that states that did not create health insurance exchanges risked giving up the ACA’s subsidies.”

* “Clip from Gruber’s year-old appearance at a University of Pennsylvania health care conference.”

* “Gruber … ‘I have no comment.’”

* Gruby “at a January 2012 symposium.”

* “Scholar”? Gruby on “Ronan Farrow Daily”: ““I was speaking off the cuff and I spoke inappropriately, and I regret making those comments.” Aha.

* Gruber second “stupid” tape, uncovered by Megyn Kelly’s team:

In this next clip from also last year, Mr. Gruber explains how Democrats played with the language of the Obamacare law so that it achieved their goals, by again, fooling the stupid public.”
She then played a short 5-second clip of Gruber, saying the following, that a part of the Obamacare passed because “the American people are too stupid to understand the difference.”
Gruber was talking about the so-called “Cadillac tax” in Obamacare, which increased the tax on high-end insurance packages. The fact that Obamacare would raise taxes was seen as politically toxic. But then-Senator John Kerry came up with the idea of taxing the companies providing the Cadillac plans, rather than taxing Americans directly.

(Via Daily Caller.)

Stupid III clip: “It’s a very clever, you know, basic exploitation of the lack of economic understanding of the American voter”

… In an effort to add a cost-control measure to Obamacare, former Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, who Gruber called a “hero,” successfully pushed through a 40 percent excise tax on insurance companies for plans that cost more than $10,200 for individuals and $27,000 for families.

“A WONDERFUL shopping experience, economists will tell you.” (Read: I am telling you, fools!)

Gruber is a technocrat, not a scholar; a corrupt central planner extraordinaire, high on his own vapor. He has no right to talk economics. Leave it to the Austrians, freak.

UPDATE (11/14): CNN’s Jake Tapper may have let slip a word or two about Grubby, earlier this week. Today, November 14th, 2014, finally fuller coverage on CNN. What a disgrace.


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Touting ‘Target Liberty’

Economy, Internet, libertarianism, Technology

If anyone can pull it off it’s Robert Wenzel, editor of Economic Policy Journal, and now of Target Liberty. Robert, to whose illustrious websites I contribute, decided to return EPJ to its economic roots, while at the same time designating and editing a new website for libertarian discussion.

At first, the move had the feel of a self-imposed antitrust bust. What was wrong with EPJ as it was? Had the premier libertarian site on the web become too big or too powerful for its own good? (If only.) Is not human action, or homo economicus in action, an all-encompassing proposition, as EPJ had become?

Then there were our dear editor’s idiosyncrasies: Target Liberty was severed from Economic Policy Journal. The new site’s presence on the established EPJ was initially reduced to a black spot (on the right, above the search window), conjuring the black spot of death handed to a condemned pirate, in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.

Columnists at Target Liberty were without archives. Contributors would struggle to promote the site in the absence of clear links to their work. And our readers were overwhelmingly opposed to the move, pressing their case with an impressive array of arguments.

On the other hand, EPJ had become “multidisciplinary,” arguably the intellectual equivalent of multiculturalism.

“Intellectual disciplines,” historian Keith Windschuttle has written, “were founded in ancient Greece and gained considerable impetus from the work of Aristotle who identified and organized a range of subjects into orderly bodies of learning. … The history of Western knowledge shows the decisive importance of the structuring of disciplines. This structuring allowed the West to benefit from two key innovations: the systematization of research methods, which produced an accretion of consistent findings; and the organization of effective teaching, which permitted a large and accumulating body of knowledge to be transmitted from one generation to the next.” (The Killing of History, Keith Windschuttle, Encounter, pp. 247-250.)

The intellectual discipline is one of the signal achievements of Western Civilization. This explains why those working in the postmodern tradition have striven mightily—reflexively, at least—to dismantle disciplines.

Ultimately, nobody beats Robert Wenzel in providing excellent and abundant content. Still, here are some thoughts on increasing our traffic and making it easier for contributors to promote both sites on their respective websites:

• Continue to write guest columns on other sites. What about Peter Schiff’s Euro Pacific Capital?
• Create a link and archive for each regular contributor on Target Liberty, too.
• Place a link (that is not a black spot) to Target Liberty on Economic Policy Journal. (This has since been accomplished.)
• Put faces to the words: a picture for each of our columnists.
• Encourage columnists to reply to readers.
• Write even catchier headlines.
• Link internally: If a news story is about, say intellectual property, link to an EPJ or TL article on the topic.
• Create an email list and send out a weekly newsletter featuring the best of our contributors (provided I’m in it, of course).
• Promote stories and columns by Tweeting them as well as posting links to Facebook. Contributors can, in turn, share links on their own social media pages. Posts can be made to automatically propagate to social media with automating applications.
• Upgrade the sites so they are mobile- and tablet compatible.
• Explore making an app.


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Wal-Mart’s Good For The Health

Capitalism, Economy, Free Markets, Labor

To ameliorate the effects of the Obamacare wrecking ball, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., is venturing into the business of providing primary health care. For $40, the price of a copay (mine are way more), “you can walk into a Wal-Mart clinic and see a doctor.” It’s “just $4 for Walmart U.S. employees and family members.”

Sandra Fluke: You can have a pregnancy test at Wal-Mart for … $3.00.

Via MarketWatch:

On Friday, a Walmart Care Clinic opened in Dalton, Ga., six months after Walmart U.S., the retailer’s biggest unit, entered the business of providing primary health care. It now operates a dozen clinics in rural Texas, South Carolina and Georgia and has increased its target for openings this year to 17. A … cholesterol test [will cost] $8. A typical retail clinic offers acute care only. But a Walmart Care Clinic also treats chronic conditions such as diabetes. (Walmart U.S. also leases space in its stores to 94 clinics owned by others that set their own pricing.)
“It was very important to us that we establish a retail price in the health-care industry because price leadership matters to us,” said Jennifer LaPerre, a Walmart U.S. senior director responsible for health and wellness, in an interview.

Let the anti-Wal Mart jousting begin.

Typically, critics of Wal Mart—for example, Marian Kester Coombs, writing for The American Conservative—will do nothing to trace the mysterious mechanism by which Wal-Mart is said to impoverish. By offering “the lowest possible prices all the time, not just during sales”? What precisely is the economic process that accounts for Wal-Mart’s ability to “expel jobs and technology from our own country”? Competition? Offering a product people choose to buy?

“Protecting the home market,” which is what TAC writer advocates, is to the detriment of consumers. It forces them to subsidize less efficient local industries, making them the poorer for it. To keep inefficient industries in the lap of luxury, hundreds of others are doomed to shrink or go under.

The writer aforementioned also froths at the mouth over “the teenage girl in Bangladesh … forced to sew pocket flaps onto 120 pairs of pants per hour for 13 cents per hour.” It sounds dreadful. However, the economic reality is this: Wal-Mart is either offering higher, the same or lower wages than the wages workers were earning before its arrival in Bangladesh. The company would find it hard to attract workers if it was paying less, or the same as other companies. Ergo, Wal-Mart is a benefactor that pays the kind of wage unavailable prior to its arrival. More material, if the entrepreneur were forced to pay workers in excess of their productivity, he would eventually have to disinvest. What will the Bangladeshi teenage girl do when that happens?


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