Wednesday, April 23, 2014

More Indications of How Jobs Will Be Lost If the Minimum Wage is Raised

You can't just raise wages by law. What happens is that the market will get distorted. Companies will resort much more to automation. I found the recent news from Brinker International instructive on this point.

Brinker is the operator of the Chili's Grill & Bar and Maggiano's Little Italy restaurant chains. There are about 1,550 Chili  restaurants world-wide. Would Brinker's just quietly accept a higher minimum wage? Indications are that they wouldn't. Indeed, even before there are any new minimum wage hikes, Brinker through automation is trying to reduce labor costs.

WSJ reports today on the Brinker earnings report:
The company has been trying to adjust its business over the past two years to cope with the changing consumer behavior and economic challenges. For instance, its kitchen overhaul, with new equipment and staffing changes, has reduced labor costs.
Does anyone seriously believe that Brinker wouldn't intensify such changes, including beyond the kitchen, if minimum wage laws increased the cost of employees?

WOW The Bureau of Economic Statistics Is About to Start Tracking the Economy in Austrian School and Rothbardian Fashions

The Bureau of Economic Analysis, later this week, will start releasing a new way to measure the economy. They are calling the new data gross output.

The BEA reports on the new data (my highlight)
Want to know how much manufacturing contributed to U.S. economic growth in a given quarter? How about educational services?

For the first time, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) will soon start producing on a regular basis quarterly estimates of economic activity generated by 22 industries...

The new quarterly statistics will provide a different look at quarterly economic growth.  For instance, on March 27, BEA reported that the U.S. economy grew at a 2.6 percent pace in the fourth quarter of 2013. While that GDP report provides a lot of crucial information, the new quarterly GDP by industry report will shed light on whether most industries contributed to the nation’s economic growth or whether just a handful of industries accounted for most of it.

The new quarterly statistics also will serve as a better barometer for potential turning points in the U.S. economy and give businesses and policymakers a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the overall economy. For instance, in 2005—during the run up to the great recession—the U.S. economy grew 3.4 percent. Finance, insurance, real estate, rental, and leasing accounted for 1.3 percentage points of that growth—more than a third. Providing regular, timely updates on how economic growth is distributed across the industries can help policymakers and business leaders identify potential trouble spots in the economy.
 Here's a video the BEA has put out on the new statistic:


There are two fascinating points to be noted about this new data.

First, it is breaking down economic activity by 22 different private industry sectors.This is decidedly the type of data that Austrian school economists would desire to look at in attempting to understand a period in economic history relative to the business cycle, since it is Austrian school business cycle theory that emphasizes that central bank money printing enters the economy at specific points, rather than being evenly dispersed trough the entire economy at the same time. And it is those points where the money enters, chiefly the financial sector and the overall capital goods sector, that are the areas which benefit from the money printing.

Indeed, the BEA release about the new numbers, in demonstrating their value, uses as an example of what to expect from the data by mentioning the strong growth, before the 2008 financial crisis, in what are for the most part the capital goods sectors of the economy (see: the highlight above), just the type of growth areas in the boom phase that Austrian economists would expect.

The second point that must be noted is that this data will not include any government activity. This is music to the ears of followers of the great Austrian economist Murray Rothbard.

Rothbard explained in America's Great Depression his reason for developing private national product, which also excludes government activity:
The critical assumption is the challenge to the orthodox postulate that government spending, ipso facto, represents a net addition to the national product. This is a clearly distorted view.
Joel Bowman in 2009 summarized the importance of the Rothbardian perspective:
 Measure it how you will, dear reader; true economic progress is forged not in the crucibles of debt or coercion, but from the honest toil of individuals seeking to better their own lot, unhindered from the government’s long, strangulating reach. No nation can spend its way out of recession…no matter what the official GDP numbers may imply.
To be sure, it is hard to suppose that the BEA, a government agency, does not believe that government does not bring value to the economy. But this addition to government economic data collection is a sure sign that they know their old data collection points have fallen short. It is not clear that they are aware that they are moving in the direction of Austrian and Rothbardian insights. But as Charlie Sheen might say, if he were an Austrian, BEA data collection movement in this direction is WINNING.

The BLM Land Grab Endgame: Agenda 21

Michael Snyder writes:
Why is the federal government so obsessed with grabbing more land?  After all, the federal government already owns more than 40 percent of the land in 9 different U.S. states.  Why are federal bureaucrats so determined to grab even more?  Well, the truth is that this all becomes much clearer once you understand that there is a very twisted philosophy behind what they are doing.  It is commonly known as “Agenda 21″, although many names and labels are used for this particular philosophy.  Basically, those that hold to this form of radical environmentalism believe that humanity is utterly destroying the planet, and therefore the goal should be to create a world where literally everything that we do is tightly monitored and controlled by control freak bureaucrats in the name of “sustainable development”.  In their vision of the future, the human population will be greatly reduced and human activity will be limited to strictly regulated urban areas and travel corridors.  The rest of the planet will be left to nature.  To achieve this goal, a massive transfer of land from private landowners to the federal government will be necessary.
So the conflict between Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and the BLM is really just the tip of the iceberg.  The reality is that the BLM has their eyes on much bigger prizes.
For example, Breitbart is reporting that the BLM is looking at grabbing 90,000 privately-held acres along the Texas/Oklahoma border…
After the recent Bundy Ranch episode by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Texans are becoming more concerned about the BLM’s focus on 90,000 acres along a 116 mile stretch of the Texas/Oklahoma boundary. The BLM is reviewing the possible federal takeover and ownership of privately-held lands which have been deeded property for generations of Texas landowners.
Sid Miller, former Texas State Representative and Republican candidate for Texas Agriculture Commissioner, has since made the matter a campaign issue to Breitbart Texas.
“In Texas,” Miller says, “the BLM is attempting a repeat of an action taken over 30 years ago along the Red River when Tommy Henderson lost a federal lawsuit. The Bureau of Land Management took 140 acres of his property and didn’t pay him one cent.”

Is Jeff Tucker's New Site Just a Facebook Echo Chamber?

Are the Tuckernacks already getting bored with Jeff Tucker's new web site?  Can they only talk so much about the libertarian link to feminisim,civil rights etc., before getting bored?

An anti-IP guy gave me a tour of the new, currently walled, website. We came across this in the discussion forum (I'm 3rd party, so I guess I can run it according to Tucker IP views).

David Burns posted:
I’d like to know what opportunities liberty.me gives us. A killjoy might say, “Oh, liberty.me is just Facebook rebooted inside a libertarian echo chamber.” I hope to see some real innovations, but so far I can’t counter the killjoy with specific examples. Please point to some, or mention your plans, or say something about what you would like to see here...
 Tucker responded:
oh goodness, can you imagine?! Well, the existing users know this is hardly FB in an echo chamber. I almost feel like I’ve actually escaped the echo chamber.
So far as I know, no site on the web combines all the technologies we’ve put into play here. It’s cool that it happened first in the liberty space. I fully expect this model to be copied around the planet, which is great.
also, the “echo chamber” thing will vanish next week when the publishing sites go public.
For the record, I don't see the site as a Facebook reboot. It is much too busy. Facebook, Google and Twitter and most other Silicon Valley guys run sleek sites. The Tucker site is old school, think early AOL. But you can judge for yourself, soon. For a not insignificant fee, of course. You see, the intellectual property at the site is protected.


After FEC Inquiry, ‘Stand with Rand’ PAC says it backs Ayn Rand, not Rand Paul

Aaron Blake at WaPo reports:
A super PAC that has been promoting Sen. Rand Paul's (R-Ky.) political career says, despite its clear affinity for the potential 2016 presidential candidate, the name "Rand" in its title refers to noted libertarian author Ayn Rand.
"This Committee responds to its pending RFAI by noting that it is unaware that the late Ayn Rand, noted philosopher and author of Atlas Shrugged, is seeking election to federal office," the PAC says in the letter.
The PAC then argues that restricting the use of any name of a member of Congress impinges on free speech.
"With 435 Representatives and 100 Senators many first, last, and even middle names would be prohibited from such broad overreach," the letter says. "Thus, the use of just a first or last name is insufficient to trigger such a harsh restraint on speech."
It's a telling little glimpse of the complex world of campaign finance.
Here's more from the Center for Public Integrity's Dave Levinthal, who first spotted the PAC's letter:
Stand with Rand PAC's website features photos and quotations of Paul. It displays a t-shirt with Paul's silhouette hovering over the words "Stand with Rand."

Republicans & Democrats Will Never Shrink The Size of Government

By Chris Rossini

The year was 1954.

Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower came to the conclusion that it was time for Republicans to stop with all the "abolish" the New Deal talk:
Now it is true that I believe this country is following a dangerous trend when it permits too great a degree of centralization of governmental functions. I oppose this--in some instances the fight is a rather desperate one.
So Eisenhower knew that the programs were "dangerous"....but...

There's always a 'but':
Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.
In other words, Eisenhower was essentially saying "Look Republican comrades, do you want to continue to loot the public or not? Let the 'splinter groups' talk about abolishment."

And so, Republicans would stop with the "abolishment" talk and turn into "reformers". Republicans and Democrats would then just tag-team in-and-out every couple of years, and manage The New Deal programs. It's now 2014, and we're still suffocating under their weight.

Speaking of 2014...

In recent years, Republicans would put on another performance. This time with "abolishing" Obamacare. By golly, if you elect the Republicans, they will get rid of it! Their word is their bond!

As could be expected, the tune is already changing. Here comes James (we need more inflation) Pethokoukis with a piece titled: "More evidence the GOP needs to move beyond Obamacare repeal".

Eureka! There's "evidence"!

And so, in keeping with the historic script, Pethokoukis asks the following question towards the end of his piece (my emphasis):
So what would Obamacare reform look like?
Republicans gave it the 'ole college try, right? Let the 'tiny splinter group' worry about repealing Obamacare. It's time to reform and play the tag-team game with the Democrats.

Republicans will never shrink government, and as Laurence Vance pointed out yesterday: "The only limited government Republicans desire is a government limited to one controlled by Republicans."

Let's not give a pass to Democrats on this charade either. They play the same exact game. When Republicans are in power and are turning the Earth into a warzone inferno, and ratcheting up the police state at home, Democrats put on their performance with the same level of skill.

By golly, if you elect the Democrats, they will "end" the wars and police state surveillance.

Once in power, some left-wing version of Pethokoukis inevitably provides "evidence" that the wars and surveillance shouldn't be abolished, that abolishment should be left to the 'tiny splinter groups,' and that Democrats turn into "reformers".

Democrats will never shrink government either.

So if government will never shrink itself, what's left?

Perhaps the general public will need to latch on to some different ideas. After all, government cannot grow forever. Economics won't allow it.

I bet the ideas expressed in Lew Rockwell's upcoming book will be very important for Americans to understand.


Chris Rossini is on Twitter

Laurence Vance versus Rand Paul on President Obama

Laurence Vance emails:
Rand Paul says in the piece you link to:

“I don’t say that the president is a bad person,” Paul said, referring to Barack Obama.
We know, of course, that Obama is not just a bad person, he is an evil, despicable human being--just like George W. Bush.

Note to Libertarian Bloggers: How to Boost Traffic to Your Sites

Take a look at the right hand column of the EPJ web site you are now at and scroll down a bit to MOST POPULAR POSTS DURING THE LAST 7 DAYS. That's a list automatically generated by Google. Then notice what the top post is: Bizarre Attack on Lew Rockwell.

That's my takedown of the attack on Lew by a  member of the International Executive Board of the Koch-funded Students for Liberty. It's the top traffic producing post this week. Do you want to boost traffic to your site? Then defend Lew, and defend pure libertarianism, against those who want to append also sorts of baggage to the non-aggression principle. That's what people want to read.

The Fed's Farcical Forecast Fiasco

By Tyler Durden

The chart below... summarizes 5 years of Fed "forward guidance" on that most critical of variables - the Fed Funds rate...when it comes to central planning, the economists that now openly control the bond and stock market and increasingly more of global capital flows, have absolutely no idea what tomorrow brings:




And some amusing cover from Bank of America to justify this disaster:
in each of the last three business cycles, the market consistently mispriced the Fed, expecting rate hikes much too early. Let’s take a look at the forward curve after each FOMC meeting in the most recent period. Until the Fed announced “calendar guidance” in 2011, the markets always saw Fed rate hikes just around the corner. More recently, Fed attempts to guide the markets have flattened that curve.
So... is this Bank of America's attempt to validate curve flattening (and soon inversion) as bullish? Sure, why not.

The above originally appeared at ZeroHedge.

Here's What $1 Million Buys In Housing Markets Around The Globe

According to the latest Wealth Report from real estate consulting firm Knight Frank, Monaco has the most expensive luxury real estate in the world, with $1 million buying just  161 square feet of prime property.

In Cape Town, on the other hand, $1 million will buy more than 14 times that much space.

The chart below, via Knight Frank, provides details of what $1 million buys in various luxury housing markets around the globe.










US was the World’s Largest Petroleum Producer in December for the 14th Straight Month

Gains in U.S. energy productivity are a major reason the price inflation stats have been coming in so low. Gasoline prices over the last 12 months, according to the BLS, are down by 4.5% at the producer level, while meats are up 9.4% and dairy products are up 13.1%, for the same period.


Rand Paul to Address Harvard

On April 25, 2014, Rand Paul will address the Harvard Institute of Politics at Harvard  University, a non-partisan organization "created with the sole aim of promoting public service."

"We are pleased to welcome my fellow Kentuckian  Senator Rand Paul to Harvard," said Harvard's Institute of Politics Director Trey Grayson. "One of the most compelling people in politics right now, Senator Paul has appeal throughout many constituencies - including outside of the  traditional Republican coalition and with younger  voters in the Millennial generation. We are looking forward to him engaging with our students and the Harvard community."

Rand Paul never sleeps when it comes to him delivering his distorted muddled "libertarian" message.

Charlie Shrem Allowed Out of House Arrest for Bitcoin Documentary Premiere

Coindesk reports:

Bitcoin entrepreneur Charlie Shrem will gain temporary reprieve from months of house arrest this week as he attends a premiere at New York City’s Tribeca Film Festival.

Although he wasn’t able to provide specific details surrounding his release or attendance at the event, Shrem confirmed to CoinDesk that he would attend the launch of the documentary ‘The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin‘, in which he appears.

Arrested publicly over money laundering allegations in January, Shrem has protested his treatment, saying he had been cooperating with authorities in their investigations into bitcoin’s shadier uses.

Since then, Shrem has been under house arrest at his parents’ property in Brooklyn. Although free to talk to the media, he has not been allowed out to attend or speak at events – including the New York Department of Financial Services  hearings into digital currencies at which he was due to testify on the day after his arrest.
---
Cuurent Bitcoin price chart.


(Chart via Big Terminal)

Rand Paul Makes a Muddle

By Roger Simon

Let some candidates seek the middle. Rand Paul is comfortable in the muddle.

Some have said the junior senator from Kentucky is the most “intriguing” of the possible Republican presidential candidates for 2016.

But if he is the most intriguing, it is not because he is the most interesting. It is because it’s so hard to figure out just what he is saying.

Read the rest here.

RW Note: This Simon piece is very important, it identifies the key difference between Rand and his father. Ron Paul ran for office to speak truth about liberty, he did not hedge his positions. He did not run just to become president. Rand, on the other-hand, wants to be president. Thus he is not focused on delivering a message about liberty, but rather is focused at the muddle, so that he doesn't offend any potential voter.

Tyler Cowen Skewers Thomas Piketty

Tyler Cowen has taken to the pages of Foreign Affairs to review the Amazon #1 best seller Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty.

Cowen does a very decent job in the review of touching on many problems with Piketty's book, though one has to be a careful reader of the review, since Cowen sprinkles praise on Piketty throughout. It does take a while to catch on to Cowen's game, but at a point it becomes clear that every time  Cowen writes that the book is important, he is about ready to unload on Piketty.

Here are a couple of examples:
Every now and then, the field of economics produces an important book; this is one of them...

Piketty derives much of his analysis from a close examination of an important but generally overlooked driver of economic inequality: in contemporary market economies, the rate of return on investment frequently outstrips the overall growth rate, an imbalance that Piketty renders as r > g....

Piketty expertly narrates the story of how that gap has played a major role in economic history since the dawn of the modern era...

Yet there are flaws in this tale. Although r > g is an elegant and compelling explanation for the persistence and growth of inequality, Piketty is not completely clear on what he means by the rate of return on capital. As Piketty readily admits, there is no single rate of return that everyone enjoys. Sitting on short-term U.S. Treasury bills does not yield much: a bit over one percent historically in inflation-adjusted terms and, at the moment, negative real returns. Equity investments such as stocks, on the other hand, have a historical rate of return of about seven percent. In other words, it is risk taking -- a concept mostly missing from this book -- that pays off.

That fact complicates Piketty’s argument.

and this

 Piketty’s focus on the capital-to-income ratio is novel and worthwhile. But his book does not convincingly establish that the ratio is important or revealing enough to serve as the key to understanding significant social change. 

The most curious paragraph in Cowen's review is the last. After doing a decent job of destroying Piketty's book, including his interventionist proposals, Cowen ends by making a a number of  interventionist policy recommendations, himself. He writes:
A more sensible and practicable policy agenda for reducing inequality would include calls for establishing more sovereign wealth funds, which Piketty discusses but does not embrace; for limiting the tax deductions that noncharitable nonprofits can claim; for deregulating urban development and loosening zoning laws, which would encourage more housing construction and make it easier and cheaper to live in cities such as San Francisco and, yes, Paris; for offering more opportunity grants for young people; and for improving education. Creating more value in an economy would do more than wealth redistribution to combat the harmful effects of inequality.

The first problem with this is that after trashing Picketty throughout the review for his attempts at promoting equality, Cowen here buys into the idea of reducing inequality as a worthy policy goal. Murray Rothbard warned about this:
In no area has the Left been granted justice and morality as extensively and almost universally as in its espousal of massive equality. It is rare indeed in the United States to find anyone, especially any intellectual, challenging the beauty and goodness of the egalitarian ideal. So committed is everyone to this ideal that "impracticality" — that is, the weakening of economic incentives — has been virtually the only criticism against even the most bizarre egalitarian programs.

From there, Cowen, in that final paragraph, goes on to suggest great meddling of different kinds, just more to his taste, such as the establishment of sovereign wealth funds. Cowen's forms of meddling, of course, distort the economy, just as Picketty's policies do. And so, in the end, we learn that while Cowen, when he is inclined to do so, can shoot down meddling policy proposals, he, at the same time, can be an advocate of meddling policy proposals that tend to be looked upon more positively inside the Beltway.

The 10 Most Affordable Housing Markets of 2014

 ZipRealty has released a list of the 10 most affordable housing markets of 2014. ZipRealty analyzed median home sales price data gathered from 30 metro areas and estimated family income data from the Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) to create this year's list.

Among the areas surveyed by ZipRealty, locations east of the Rocky Mountains are the best places to find real estate bargains. Topping the list are Chicago, Philadelphia and Orlando.

Meanwhile, the Most Expensive Housing Markets are in California: Orange County, the S.F. Bay Area and Los Angeles. In Orange County, the average home sells for 11.8 times the local 2014 estimated family income. In the Bay Area, homes are currently selling for 8.7 times the local average family income, and in Los Angeles, the average home is 7.4 times higher than the estimated family income.

Below is a list of the Top 10 Most Affordable Housing Markets for 2014:


Metro Area
*Affordability Index
February 2014 Median Home Sales Price
2014 Estimated
Family Income (HUD)
1) Chicago
2.2x
$160,000
$72,400
2) Philadelphia
2.4x
$190,000
$78,800
3) Orlando
2.6x
$140,000
$54,800
4) Richmond, Va.
2.6x
$187,750
$72,900
5) Dallas
2.7x
$180,000
$67,900
6) Raleigh, N.C.
2.7x
$203,000
$75,800
7) Baltimore
2.7x
$229,000
$83,500
8) Houston
2.8x
$185,000
$66,000
9) Tucson
2.8x
$157,000
$56,300
10) Nashville
2.9x
$187,000
$64,000

*The Affordability Index was calculated by dividing February 2014 median home sales prices by HUD's estimated family income for each metro.

What is Bitcoin? New Yorkers Say ‘Currency’ and ‘Shady’

Saumya Vaishampayan of MarketWatch writes:
What exactly does a random person on the street know about bitcoin?

To find out, I wandered around Rockefeller Center on a few sunny days in April and asked people if they could tell me anything about bitcoin. On one day, seven of the 12 people I approached said they didn’t know anything about bitcoin. Of the nine people who consented to be on video and knew something about bitcoin, eight mentioned that bitcoin is a form of currency. Some said they associated bitcoin with the word shady and some said they didn’t know too much about it. One woman said she associated bitcoin with low transaction costs.

MarketWatch’s Sally French compiled some of the answers into a short video.
The video is here.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto Thanks Bitcoin Community: 'I want to hug you'

On Tuesday, the California man, who last month was called the creator of Bitcoin by Newsweek and by senior Newsweek writer Leah McGrath Goodman, appeared in a YouTube video to thank his supporters, reports LaTi..

The 64-year-old appeared in the video with Andreas M. Antonopoulos, an entrepreneur and coder who last month started a fund online for people to donate money to Nakamoto. As of today, those donations -- made in bitcoins, of course -- amounted to nearly 48 bitcoins, or more than $23,000.

Note to Those Who Want to Work for the Koch Brothers

You don't always have to sell out your libertarian principles to work for them.











How to Tell If You’re Dead

By Deanna Day


In 1874, a doctor whose name seems to have been lost to history presented a necrometer to the Paris Academy of Medicine. Such machines—intended to determine whether a body was living or dead—were in high demand at the turn of the century. A literary tradition that includes Edgar Allan Poe stories such as “The Cask of Amontillado” as well as new medical advancements like artificial respiration contributed to popular anxieties about the nature of death: How can we be sure that a body that looks dead actually is dead?  (This dilemma was also the origin of the safety coffin and many other technologies for those afraid of being buried alive.) The necrometer, with its quantitative scale of relative “vitality,” purported to answer this question.

The device presented in Paris in 1874, though, was a parody—it was nothing more than a fever thermometer with an altered scale. The “point of health”—what we know as the standard 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit—was mislabeled as 0, the indicator of death. Several of those in attendance were diagnosed as deceased. The point of the presentation: to demonstrate the absurdity of necrometry.

Read the rest here.

RWNote: This is just wishful thinking, but is there any chance that Thomas Piketty's new book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, is just a modern day Parisian parody of egalitarianism advocacy?

Psychohistory and Paul Krugman

Jamie Hoffman emails:
 I recently began reading Isaac Asimov's Foundation trilogy.  Early on you are introduced to a discipline Asimov labeled psychohistory, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychohistory_(fictional).

 I immediately thought that it sounded like really bad economics.  Lo and behold, here is a quote from a post by Paul Krugman, "Several commenters mentioned Issac Asimov’s Foundation novels. It’s somewhat embarrassing, but that’s how I got into economics: I wanted to be a psychohistorian when I grew up, and economics was as close as I could get." Here is the post from which the quote came from:

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/05/04/economic-science-fiction/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0.

 Perhaps Krugman's work should be labeled science fiction?

SFL Student Calls for "Body Positivity" Freedom and Freedom to Make Sexually Graphic Sounds

This young girl appears to actually think she is practicing libertarianism, when she is advancing some pretty fruitcake, politically correct, nonsense, while on government property. Thefire.org reports:
Kelly Barber stands out as a leader at the University of Florida (UF) and has been actively involved with FIRE, most recently attending FIRE’s Leaders in Student Rights Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. Kelly, now a member of Students For Liberty’s North American Executive Board, says she experienced the undeniable benefits of free and open debate when she began attending College Libertarian meetings, where she was “blown away by the environment of integrity, critical thinking, and tolerance they created” that allowed students “to exchange ideas on a level much higher than anything I ever experienced in classes.”...

UF currently has a “yellow light” rating in FIRE’s Spotlight database, so Kelly and the UF College Libertarians are hard at work, determined to make UF the first “green light” school in the state of Florida.

The FIRE Student Network’s Student Spotlight celebrates Kelly and the UF College Libertarians for all they do on campus to promote free speech and student rights. As always, FIRE stands by ready to help student groups from across the ideological spectrum advocate on behalf of civil liberties and free speech on their campuses...

FIRE: What are you doing to change UF’s rating from a yellow light to a green light?
We’re very committed to getting our sexual harassment policy changed so we can be the first green light school in Florida and can set an example for the rest of the state. Currently, the policy is very vague and selectively prohibits students from showing sexually graphic photos and making sexually graphic comments and sounds. If consistently enforced, many popular student events about sex and body positivity and sexual education wouldn’t be possible...
For the record, the real problem with the University of Florida is not its policy on "body positivity" or sexually graphic sounds, but the fact that it is a government school supported by taxpayer funds. That's what needs to be ended. A libertarian position would be to sell the campus and buildings to the highest bidder and divide the proceeds amongst the citizens of Florida.

Libertarianism, qua libertariansim, has no position on "body positivity," "sex positivity," sexually graphic sounds or sex education. Each private school (as well as any other private organization) should be free to set their own policies with regard to these subjects. If Barber wants to go to a private school that has a sexually graphic sounds policy more to her liking, she should do so, but this has nothing to do with libertarianism. The non-aggression principl, calls for allowing people to do whatever they choose to do on their own property and ban any activities they choose to ban on their own property, as long as their is no aggression, there is nothing else to it.

But, hey, there is no reason a person can't advocate from their own property that institutions should change their policies on various topics. That works in a libertarian society. Indeed, to make my point clear on this, while I don't personally spend a lot of time thinking about sexually graphic sound policies, I thinks it is nuts, I have no objections to others that do, though, as I say, it has nothing to do with libertarianism. For example, I get the sense that Barber would not be pleased with the body positivity and sexually graphic sounds policies of Koch Industries to the extent they exist at all, and I would have no problem in her calling, from her own property, that Koch Industries implement a more detailed sexually graphic sounds policy.

A Radical Way to Opt Out of Obamacare

RW Note_This solution is not for everyone. However, if you are planning to travel overseas for an extended period, there is information here that you should consider.

By Mark Nestmann
In 1965, when I was nine years old, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed a new entitlement called “Medicare” into law.
Proponents of LBJ’s “Great Society” celebrated. No longer would America’s senior citizens be denied health care if they couldn’t afford to pay for it. It would be guaranteed.
And the cost? Why, only about $1 billion annually. Sure, that was a lot of dough, even in the 1960s. But compared with the defense budget (which was then at $62 billion), it was a mere drop in the bucket.
Still, my father, a dedicated physician who practiced medicine for 40 years, grumbled. “It’s socialized medicine,” he announced at dinner. I had no idea what he was talking about at the time, but

Thomas Piketty Proposals to Advance Income Equality

Daniel Shuchman in WSJ informs on some of the proposals and ideas bandied about by Thomas Piketty in Capital in the Twenty-First Century:
Mr. Piketty urges an 80% tax rate on incomes starting at "$500,000 or $1 million." This is not to raise money for education or to increase unemployment benefits. Quite the contrary, he does not expect such a tax to bring in much revenue, because its purpose is simply "to put an end to such incomes." It will also be necessary to impose a 50%-60% tax rate on incomes as low as $200,000 to develop "the meager US social state." There must be an annual wealth tax as high as 10% on the largest fortunes and a one-time assessment as high as 20% on much lower levels of existing wealth. He breezily assures us that none of this would reduce economic growth, productivity, entrepreneurship or innovation...
Mr. Piketty is not the first utopian visionary. He cites, for instance, the "Soviet experiment" that allowed man to throw "off his chains along with the yoke of accumulated wealth." In his telling, it only led to human disaster because societies need markets and private property to have a functioning economy. He says that his solutions provide a "less violent and more efficient response to the eternal problem of private capital and its return."
It's clear that  Piketty is a hater of capital. He apparently has no idea of the role of capital (which is generally held by the rich) in advancing a society. Further, he has no clue at to the absurdity of promoting income inequality. It is typical left wing nonsense, a subset for the push for an broad-based egalitarian society. As Murray Rothabard wrote 40 years ago in Egalitarianism as a Revolt Against Nature And Other Essays, when discussing those who promote the egalitarian society:
 In no area has the Left been granted justice and morality as extensively and almost universally as in its espousal of massive equality. It is rare indeed in the United States to find anyone, especially any intellectual, challenging the beauty and goodness of the egalitarian ideal... 
The unquestioned ethical status of "equality" may be seen in the common practice of economists. Economists are often caught in a value-judgment bind — eager to make political pronouncements. How can they do so while remaining "scientific" and value free? In the area of egalitarianism, they have been able to make a flat value judgment on behalf of equality with remarkable impunity. Sometimes this judgment has been frankly personal; at other times, the economist has pretended to be the surrogate of "society" in the course of making its value judgment. The result, however, is the same. Consider, for example, the late Henry C. Simons. After properly criticizing various "scientific" arguments for progressive taxation, he came out flatly for progression...economists in favor of egalitarian programs have typically counterbalanced their uncriticized "ideal" against possible disincentive effects on economic productivity; but rarely has the ideal itself been questioned... 
[E]galitarians are acting as terribly spoiled children, denying the structure of reality on behalf of the rapid materialization of their own absurd fantasies. Not only spoiled but also highly dangerous; for the power of ideas is such that the egalitarians have a fair chance of destroying the very universe that they wish to deny and transcend, and to bring that universe crashing around all of our ears. Since their methodology and their goals deny the very structure of humanity and of the universe, the egalitarians are profoundly antihuman; and, therefore, their ideology and their activities may be set down as profoundly evil as well. Egalitarians do not have ethics on their side unless one can maintain that the destruction of civilization, and even of the human race itself, may be crowned with the laurel wreath of a high and laudable morality..

FFF Economic Liberty Lecture Series: Walter Block

ECONOMIC LIBERTY LECTURE SERIES
DATE:
Monday, April 28, 2014

PLACE:
George Mason University -
Johnson Center Room Cinema

TIME:
5:30 pm – Pizza
6:00 pm – Talk via Skype with Q&A
8:00 pm - Social at Brion's Grille 

ADMISSION: FREE
           
 SPEAKER: Walter Block (via Skype)
"The Inextricable Link between Economic Freedom and Individual Liberty:
Government Reduces Liberty through Economic Assault" 

Walte Block
Walter Block earned his PhD in Economics at Columbia University. He is an author, editor, and co-editor of many books which include Defending the Undefendable; Defending the Undefendable II: Freedom in All Realms;The Privatization of Roads and Highways: Human and Economic Factors;The Case for Discrimination.

(ht Michael Edelstein)


The Systematic Errors in Thomas Piketty's New Book

From a review of Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Diana Furchtgott-Roth.
Professor Thomas Piketty of the Paris School of Economics has come to America to tell us that many of our problems could be solved with higher taxes on wealth and an increase in the minimum wage. Sunday’s New York Times called him a Rock Star.

Most of the analysis of Piketty’s 671-page tome Capital in the Twenty-First Century has focused on his examination of income inequality and his recommendation to increase taxes on capital and wealth. But how about his prescription to increase the minimum wage?

The political biases of Capital are nowhere more obvious than in Piketty’s errors in his recent history of the U.S. minimum wage. Piketty, in his introduction, portrays his policy recommendations as “lessons based on historical experience,” but he cannot even offer an accurate historic description of the minimum wage...

One might overlook one isolated error as sloppiness to which we are all susceptible. But Professor Piketty’s supposed wage history is not tarnished by a single error, but by a vast array of systematic errors.

His history is pure revisionist fiction, and revisionist fiction with a political purpose: making Democratic presidents look magnanimous and Republican presidents look uncaring. Yet, over the past quarter century, the period Piketty describes as showing a dramatic increase in inequality, Republican presidents signed into law larger percentage increases in the minimum wage than did Democratic presidents.

Piketty’s analysis of the advantages of increasing the minimum wage neglects negative employment effects on low-skill individuals. He states that increasing the minimum wage lowers inequality at the bottom of the income distribution by raising the pay of low-income individuals.That is partly correct. Measured inequality declines because the difference between the lowest wage in the economy and the average wage is reduced, even if some of the low-wage workers lose their jobs because they are no longer employable. But what Piketty fails to admit is that raising the minimum wage prevents people with skills lower than the minimum from getting jobs.

When the minimum wage is increased, the earnings of the unemployed are nonexistent or unreported. Hey presto—more equality. But the low-skilled are not better off by not working, they are worse off, even though the country in which they are no longer able to work has a “better” income distribution. Read the full article here.

Another Report from the Judge Napolitano Talk at NYU

Lifted from the comments section of A Quick Report on Judge Napolitano's Talk at NYU:
I was there as well. The judge did a great job and yes some of the questions were not great. I attribute it to the fact that those kids have never heard a principled libertarian like the Judge. Their objections/questions to the libertarian stance were the usual low level stuff....oh my god, without .GOV who will protect us from racism and monopolies? The Judge did a great job explaining things gently without being annoying or condescending. It is a victory for those NYC liberals to even hear these arguments which they have been sheltered from.

"Speak up, speak often and don’t worry about those that at this point cannot understand as they can never un-hear what we tell them.”-RP