Thursday, February 28, 2013

An Attack from the North on My IP Position

Ash Navabi at Mises Canada has joined the fray with regard to the debate on IP, with a piece titled, Cleaning Up After Robert Wenzel’s Drive-By Against IP.

I will not here discuss the majority of points Navabi makes, since I fully expect them to be part of my debate with Stephan Kinsella. I really am a very busy guy and can't respond to the same points over and over. For the short-term, the Wenzel-Kisnella debate is the forum I plan to use to point out the problems I see with the thinking of those who hold anti-IP views.

That said, Navabi does make one point that isn't likely to find it's way into the Wenzel-Kinsela debate, at least I hope Kinsella isn't carrying this flag also, so I will touch on it briefly here.

Navabi writes:
1. Wenzel begins by attacking Tucker’s claim that by understanding IP, we can “clarify fundamental notions in economics generally”, by quoting Ludwig von Mises as saying,
“It is beyond the scope of catallactics [i.e., economics] to enter into an examination of the arguments brought forward for and against the institution of copyrights and patents.”
At first this seems like a damning blow. But if we understand the full context that Mises was speaking in, we understand that he was indeed talking about judging the policy prescription of IP as being beyond catallactics. But don’t take my word for it; Robert Murphy, who wrote the Study Guide to Human Action, explains Mises’ position on this issue as,
“It is beyond the scope of catallactics to recommend where the property rights should be drawn in such matters, however.”
In other words, economics cannot say whether we ought or ought not have intellectual property, but it can describe a world under either circumstance.
This critique from Navabi still has my head spinning. He charges me with taking what Mises said out of context, but then quotes Bob Murphy instead of  Mises in "context". I challenge anyone to read Mises and show me where I have taken him out of context.

But further, I have no problem with Murphy's statement on IP. His view seems to be along the same lines as Mises and mine, specifically that "It is beyond the scope of catallactics [i.e., economics] to enter into an examination of the arguments brought forward for and against the institution of copyrights and patents." Or as Navabi would say, it is about policy prescription.

This, as a matter of fact, is exactly the situation. Navabi even tells us what this means:
In other words, economics cannot say whether we ought or ought not have intellectual property, but it can describe a world under either circumstance.
In other words, economics can build a model based on either IP position. It is not the case that IP theory builds economics! This is precisely my point.

But, Tucker is claiming that an understanding of his anti-IP view “clarif[ies] fundamental notions in economics generally.”

Mises wrote the damn book on economics and nowhere does he use IP as a method to clarify the foundations of economics. In the entire book, he treats IP as a side story to the fundamentals of economics. Perhaps we can look forward to Tucker tearing down Mises' text, Human Action and rebuilding with anti-IP as method to understand the fundamental notions in economics. But besides declaring it as fundamental, he hasn't done so yet. I really look forward to it though. I just can't wait to see how subjective value and methodological individualism are nudged to the side by Tucker so that anti-IP takes its place in clarifying "fundamentals in economics generally." Yes, how could we possibly have an understanding of business cycle theory, the regression theorem, capital theory and economics in general without anti-IP at a fundamental level.

Walter Block Sends a Stern Letter to Gary Johnson about War Mongering

Walter Block has cc'd me on the below email that was sent today to 2012 Libertarian Presidential candidate Gary Johnson, among others

Subject: War Monger
Dear  Gary, Jim:

I’m bcc-ing you on this, since you asked me not to share your e mail addresses with anyone.

I just came across this:

Had I seen it during the campaign, I would have immediately written to you about it, and asked you to take it back.

I think Wenzel is absolutely correct in his characterization of your statement as “warmongering.” You may remember that in my capacity as an informal advisor of yours, I advised you to be as much like Ron Paul as possible, in an attempt to get as many of his votes as possible, and, even more important, because I think Ron was espousing the correct libertarian view. Ron would never in a million years have made a statement like that. I’ll betcha that if you had taken the Ron Paul (e.g., libertarian) view of this matter, your vote total would have doubled.

But, this is all in the past. I’m writing to you now in the hope that should you seek the LP (or GOP) nomination in 2016, you will leave off your war mongering ways, and take up the mantle of Ron Paul on foreign policy.

Best regards,

Walter E. Block, Ph.D.
Harold E. Wirth Eminent Scholar Endowed Chair and Professor of Economics
Joseph A. Butt, S.J. College of Business
Loyola University New Orleans
6363 St. Charles Avenue, Box 15, Miller Hall 318
New Orleans, LA 70118

Note: I asked Prof. Block for permission before publishing the above email and he replied:

Dear  Bob:
Yeah, sure. My only regret is that I didn't see this during the
campaign. Not only your critique, but, more important, Gary's statement.
I, too, would have criticized him for that, then and there. I'm glad you
Best regards,
Walter E. Block, Ph.D.
Harold E. Wirth Eminent Scholar Endowed Chair and Professor of Economics
Joseph A. Butt, S.J. College of Business
Loyola University New Orleans
6363 St. Charles Avenue, Box 15, Miller Hall 318
New Orleans, LA 70118

First They Came for the African-Americans

Hamilton Nolan writes:
The USA incarcerates a higher percentage of its citizen than any other nation on earth. (We're #1!) Needless to say, we've accomplished that feat largely on the backs of minorities, particularly black people, who are incarcerated at more than six times the rate of white people.[...] 
new report from The Sentencing Project finds that the past decade has shown a marked decline in incarceration of black people in America.[But] from 2000 to 2009, the incarceration rate of white men rose 8.5%, and of white women, 47%(!)[...]  
The broader takeaway is that the racial mix of those we incarcerate (particularly women) is changing, but the fact of America's mass incarceration is not. "The overall rate of incarceration in the United States remains at five times the rate that prevailed in 1970."

Smashing an Ignorant Survey about Minimum Wage Laws

By Mario Rizzo

The Chicago-Booth IMG Forum asks their favorite economists two questions. Let us examine them.

Question A:

Raising the federal minimum wage to $9 per hour would make it noticeably harder for low-skilled workers to find employment.

Why was the word “noticeably” added to the question rather than some specific quantitative amount?  In other words, the question could have been phrased: “Would it increase unemployment among low-skilled works by approximately 5 percentage points or less?”  I realize that economists would get nervous about mentioning a specific number. But (1) That would reveal the true difficulties in economics of making quantitative predictions and hence tradeoffs; (2) It would take the subjectivity out of the word “noticeable.”  Noticeable for whom, and by what standard?  Noticeable to the public or to the policy maker or to the economist or to the low skilled workers or to union members?

Question B:

The distortionary costs of raising the federal minimum wage to $9 per hour and indexing it to inflation are sufficiently small compared with the benefits to low-skilled workers who can find employment that this would be a desirable policy.

There is a lot here. Let us first separate the raising of the minimum wage to $9.00 per hour from the indexing (one could favor the former but not the latter).

What is meant here by distortionary costs? Does this include the greater number of people who would engage in search for these particular covered jobs as they are misled by the higher price-signal? Or just the ones who are thrown out of work? Does this separate out the effects on the lowest of the low skilled – for example, teenagers who want/need work experience?

As I understand it, the bottom line on “distortionary” effects is that they represent monetary losses to the losers that exceed monetary gains to the gainers. Is this not true here?

What I think the economists are being asked is that, according to their value judgments – their views about equity in the distribution of income – is the tradeoff worth it?

My reaction to this question is to laugh. Do I care what their value judgments are? Do their judgments represent some deeply considered ethical reflection? I sincerely doubt it. Most economists would rather solve equations than study ethics.[...]As Neville Keynes argued in 1890 in The Scope and Method of Political Economy, to talk of policy one must combine the science of economics with ethics and the art of policy. The questions asked by Chicago-Booth are sloppy scientifically and they throw in questions of ethics and policy judgment in with the mix for a brew that just makes us drunk.[...]

I admire the economists who did not answer the questions.

House Democrat Wants States To Get Paid To Seize Guns

File under: Sliding deeper down the totalitarian slope

Rep. Mike Thompson a  Democratic congressman from California said on Wednesday said he wants to make a late addition to the gun proposals being considered by Congress and the White House, reports Talking Points Memo.

Thompson has introduced a bill that would call for the federal government to pay states to take guns away from criminals and the "dangerously mentally ill" who are prohibited from owning them.

The Armed Prohibited Persons Act of 2013 would create a program within the Justice Department to give money to states that track down people who are barred from having firearms but own them anyway.

The designation of "mentally ill" in this bill is deeply disturbing, since classifying political dissidents as "mentally ill" is a time honored tradition among totalitarian states.

Wikipedia even has a page for it, in relation to the Soviet Union's use of the technique:
Psikhushka is a Russian colloquialism for psychiatric hospital. It has been occasionally used in English since the Soviet dissident movement and diaspora community the West used the term. In the Soviet Union, psychiatric hospitals were often used by the authorities as prisons in order to isolate political prisoners from the rest of society, discredit their ideas, and break them physically and mentally; as such they were considered a form of torture. The official explanation was that no sane person would be against socialism [...]The official Soviet psychiatric science came up with the definition of sluggishly progressing schizophrenia, a special form of the illness that supposedly affects only the person's social behavior, with no trace on other traits: "most frequently, ideas about a struggle for truth and justice are formed by personalities with a paranoid structure," according to the Moscow Serbsky Institute[...]

Another Warning About Switching Your Healthcare Plan

I have posted on this before, but this is a very important topic, so here is a slightly more comprehensive explanation of a key section in Obamacare. 

If  you have been on a continuous healthcare plan since March 23, 2010, it may get very expensive to switch, thanks to certain regulations in Obamacare.

A friend emails:
Read the below carefully, because effective 1/1/14, unless the law is successfully challenged, if you are not “grandfathered” on your plan your plan fees will be based on your earned income—age will not be the major factor in coverage cost any more.  However, for some reason the media has been completely mum about this, and I’m not sure why.  Those that have money will be paying not only for their own coverage, but will be paying for those with lower-than-average incomes who will get tax advantages so that they can purchase affordable income, as well as for the new new automatically included coverages (e.g. maternity) that must be covered in the new mandated plans, all relating to younger folks (which is why income, rather than age, will now be the deciding factor in the cost of health plans) .  Worse, those without health plans will be charged a percentage of income (going up each year) for NOT having a qualified plan!  This may conceivably also affect employers who have switched (or plan to switch) group health plans, so speak with professionals before considering making any changes in your current coverage if you have been on a continuous plan since 3/2010.

Grandfathered Health Plans
A grandfathered health plan isn’t required to comply with some of the consumer protections of the Affordable Care Act that apply to other health plans that are not grandfathered. 

U.S. Employment Growth by State

U.S. Employment Growth by State

Politically Correct Food Stamp Hustling

Chris Rossini comments:

Government propaganda at its finest.....The managed to squeeze every age and race in there (including a native American)...and even threw in a woman in a wheelchair.

Subway Founder: Subway Would Not Exist If Started Today Due to Government Regulations

Below is a pretty fascinating interview with the president and founder of Subway, Fred Deluca, The interview took place on Wednesday at CNBC.

Clearly, Deluca is no economist. At one point during the interview, Deluca said that the minimum wage needed to be raised, but then CNBC anchor  Melissa Lee asked an important follow-up question. She asked Deluca, if Subway paid only the minimum wage. This caused him to reply that it depended on the market. In some areas, they pay more, he said. In other words, he admitted that markets set wages, which taken to its logical conclusion means that an increase in the minimum wage will simply result in a decrease in employment for those whose market clearing wage is below the minimum wage. So his call for an increase in the minimum wage is a contradiction to what his real world market experience is. He hasn't, in other words, put the meat inside the sandwich bread.

At the end of the clip, he is correct in the way he describes how regulations hamper his business and says that Subway would not exist, if he tried to start out now, given all the new regulations. His insight here helps explain why it is so difficult for many to get nothing but menial jobs. Regulations are limiting the number of start-ups, where a lot of new quality jobs come from.

Video here.

The Similarity Between American & Iranian Media

By, Chris Rossini

Apparantly Iran's State TV photoshopped sleeves onto Michelle Obama's dress when she was busy propagandizing at the Oscars:

How horrible, right?

Blatant censorship.

Perhaps the neocons are right...the "force for good" must do battle with "the axis of evil". The "force for good" must (with bombs and tanks) set those poor citizens free. Their government only portrays to them what their government wants them to see.

Over on this side of the Earth, where "the force for good" resides, we have "freedom of the press" and tolerance.

For example, do you remember the 2008 Ames Straw Poll, where Ron Paul garnered 9.1% of the vote?

See if you can find him on Fox News:

Or how about the New Hampshire Primary in 2011?

Ron Paul Romney pulled in 19% on that day.

Oh and let's not forget the Ron Paul "Someone Else" incident.

Yes, ladies and gentleman, on this side of the Earth, government censorship has been abolished. Information flows as freely as the water in the Strait of Hormuz.

Freedom of the Press is a shining star and a gem of Western Civilization....(assuming you have a license from the FCC, of course).

Related Articles on EPJ:

Follow @ChrisRossini on Twitter

Rand Paul is Now a Libertarian (Thanks to Sean Hannity)

It should not be forgotten that in 2010 Rand Paul told Time that he considered the libertarian label an albatross.

During an interview earlier this week, Rand could not break that news to Sean Hannity, so he agreed with Hannity, when Hannity called him a libertarian, though Rand did attempt to then dilute the "damage" by calling himself a "libertarian Republican".

During the interview, Rand also seemed to take a non-libertarian position on the drug war. He seemed to indicate that he was in favor of a continuation of  federal meddling into the lives of those taking street drugs, though he is said he was against current harsh penalties. As ambiguous as ever, no one not on drugs could possibly understand what this means.

For you Rand P fans, who like to spin things, here's the clip you need to spin.

FINALLY: Sequestration Analysis

CBO obfuscation can't stop Bob Murphy. He has put his exhaustive NYU econometric training to good use and writes:
Man the CBO makes it tough to figure out what absolute spending levels will be. Their analysis of the December/January budget deal–the one that spared us the horrors of the fiscal cliff–is couched as changes relative to the then-current baseline. So I took that as the August 2012 CBO Outlook, and constructed the following:

I hasten to add that the CBO is using very conservative interest rate projections, if interest rates climb much higher than they project, and I expect they will, the deficits will be much greater than depicted in Murphy's chart, even if we make the pretty dangerous assumption that the CBO is otherwise accurate with their outlay projections.

Murray Rothbard: The Government Is Not Us

Murray Rothbard examines the implications of the premise "we are the government. Read by Jeff Riggenbach.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Donna Brazile Gets Obamanized (Note: Very Painful)

Donna Brazile, apologist for everything Obama, syndicated columnist, television political commentator on CNN and ABC, is bitching about her soaring healthcare insurance premium. She doesn't know why it is going up. I've covered some of the why here and here, but the short and long answer is Obamacare.

Below is her "health care works" cheering on of ACA via a tweet last year, underneath that is a tweet from her today where she is bitching about her healthcare premium climbing and not getting a good answer as to why  it is going up. She still doesn't seem to get that she has been Obamanized. Crony Obama Healthcare= More expensive care + poorer quality care.

LOL, this almost makes Obamacare worth it in terms of entertainment value.

(ht Dan Cotter)

Why Is Jamie Dimon Richer Than the Rest of Us?

MSM are playing up a recent investment conference exchange between a bank analyst, Mike Mayo of Credit Agricole, and JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon. The analyst asks Dimon about the difference in capital ratios at UBS and JPMorgan (The ratios are higher at UBS).

Mayo is implying that the higher ratio is important. Dimon responds, "That's why I am richer than you." Dimon is right. Dimon understands the way the game is played. No one fears putting their money at JPMorgan. It's Too Big To Fail, under current government rules and regulations that always protect the banksters. Dimon gets it. And that is one of the reasons he is richer than Mayo. He knows how the game is rigged. Capital ratios would be much more important in world where the government didn't create moral hazard for the benefit of the banksters, but that is not the world we live in.

Bottom line: Banksters get the edge, Jamie Dimon understands this and that is an important reason why he is rich.

Here's MSM discussing and playing the clip

Government Elitists Really Love the Power and Special Priviliges

In the clip below, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie tells a little girl that the fun thing about being Governor is that the lanes into the tunnels into New York City are cleared for him and that he doesn't have to wait in line. I once heard Fed chairman Bernanke give a similar answer. When asked what he liked about being Fed chairman, he said it was not having to go through TSA screening.

Ron Paul versus Tim Geithner

This is going to be interesting.

Former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner plans to hit the university circuit in the coming months, conducting a series of seminars on financial crises, WSJ is reporting.

Ron Paul has already started on the circuit.

Their messages will likely be the exact opposite of each other. Ron Paul is sure to explain how government involvement in the economy is setting things up for much greater problems down the road. Geithner is likely to cast himself as the selfless government servant, who first as president of the NY Fed and then as Treasury Secretary, saved the economy by stuffing hundreds of billions of dollars into the pockets of the banksters.

Will anyone really want to hear Geithner?  Dr. Paul, of course, will draw crowds.

Obama’s Ex-Secret Service Agent: It’s Not Gun Control… It’s People Control

Former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino warns Americans about gun control.

(Via Infowars)

Carlyle Group’s Rubenstein Gives Bernanke High Marks

There's nothing like an insider who operates on leveraged deals, he will always give high marks to Fed chairman Ben Bernanke for pumping out more money. The money being pumped out ends up in the banking system, where it is then loaned out, often as part of leveraged financial deals.

One of the largest borrowers of this cheap Bernanke created money is Carlyle Group, which was co-founded by David Rubenstein. The below chart shows the increase in Bernanke created money since the 2008, the year the financial crisis hit. Rubenstein likes this

He spoke with Bloomberg TV’s Cristina Alesci in Berlin, Germany. He said that buyout firms will put “much more” money to work this year as deals pick up.  He said, “We are going to see a pickup in M&A activity and a pickup in corporate buyer activity…I do think that this year we will see much more money deployed than you did see last year.”

Rubenstein also said, “I think the Fed has done an extraordinary job for the United States and is really the hero of the last four years…The Fed has been a real hero to the U.S. economy and the global economy…I suspect they will keep interest rates pretty low for a while.”

Why would Rubenstein think Bernanke money printing, which distorts the economic structure and will eventually lead to significant price inflation, this makes Bernanke a hero? 

Maybe this is why:

In addition to making it easier for Carlyle to borrow money, the Bernanke money has been flooding the stock market.

Here's the performance of Carlyle stock over the last year. It has shown a gain of approximately 45%

Yup, Bernanke the hero.

(HT Alan at PEUreport)

'Ragtime': NSA's Secret Domestic Intelligence Program Revealed

More than a decade after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a set of extraordinary and secretive surveillance programs conducted by the National Security Agency has been institutionalized, and they have grown, reports Shane Harris at the Washingtonian.

These special programs are conducted under the codename "Ragtime," and they are divided into several subcomponents, according to the new book Deep State: Inside the Government Secrecy Industry, by Marc Ambinder and D.B. Grady.[...]

According to Shane, the book reports on a program named Ragtime-P
Ragtime-P, which will probably be of greatest interest to those who continue to demand more information from the NSA about what it does in the United States.

P stands for Patriot Act. Ragtime-P is the remnant of the original President’s Surveillance Program, the name given to so-called "warrantless wiretapping" activities after 9/11, in which one end of a phone call or an e-mail terminated inside the United States. That collection has since been brought under law, but civil liberties groups, journalists, and legal scholars continue to seek more information about what it entailed who was targeted and what authorities exist today for domestic intelligence-gathering[...]As many as 50 companies have provided data to this domestic collection program, the authors report.[...] How the surveillance is approved tells us a lot about the breadth of the NSA's intelligence-gathering. The court and the Attorney General both certify a slate of approved targets under Ragtime-P, the authors find. That includes a certain amount of "bulk data"--such as phone call logs and records--that can be collected around those targets. An NSA official told the authors that Ragtime-P can process as many as 50 different data sets at one time.

What happens next looks like a 21st century data assembly line. At the NSA's headquarters in Ft. Meade, Maryland, a program called Xkeyscore processes all intercepted electronic signals before sending them to different "production lines" that deal with specific issues. Here, we find another array of code names.

Pinwale is the main NSA database for recorded signals intercepts, the authors report. Within it, there are various keyword compartments, which the NSA calls "selectors."

Metadata (things like the "To" and "From" field on an e-mail) is stored in a database called Marina. It generally stays there for five years.

In a database called Maui there is "finished reporting," the transcripts and analysis of calls. (Metadata never goes here, the authors found.)

As all this is happening, there are dozens of other NSA signals activity lines, called SIGADS, processing data. There's Anchory, an all-source database for communications intelligence; Homebase, which lets NSA analysts coordinate their searches based on priorities set by the Director of National Intelligence; Airgap, which deals with missions that are a priority for the Department of Defense; Wrangler, an electronic intelligence line; Tinman, which handles air warning and surveillance; and more.

Lest you get confused by this swirl of codenames and acronyms, keep this image in mind of the NSA as a data-analysis factory.
Harris and the authors of the book seem to downplay the dangers of this data collection. They report access to the data of targets is extremely limited and most data just sits there unanalyzed.  But the data collection is extremely dangerous. If Big Brother wants to focus in on you, the data is there to do it. The somewhat benign view of the data collection fails to consider how an expanding government may use the data in the future. First, they collected the data and just stored it. Then, they started taking a look at the data they have and determined, say, who is a libertarian or a gold buyer. Not good.

Capitalism: A Hate Story

By Daniel Greenfield

In Year 1 of Obama, two fat cats named Michael Moore and Harvey Weinstein released a movie. Their magnum opus was "Capitalism: A Love Story". The unsubtly sarcastic point after the colon was that capitalism was an unmitigated bag of evil. And to reaffirm the faith of capitalism-haters in the evils of capitalism, here was a movie put out by a bunch of corporations owned by millionaires.

The traditional image of the anti-capitalist as a ragamuffin who dies of consumption in his garret has always been at odds with the real image of the anti-capitalist as a rich man or the son of a rich man. When Obama launched his big push for higher taxes, he enlisted as his ally none other than the richest man in the country. And when Occupy Wall Street's demographics were broken down, the courageous opponents of capitalism turned out to be the sons and daughters of the upper class.

This sort of thing isn't a surprise, it's history. Lenin's father was a nobleman. Cuba's dictator attended Castro's wedding. The man of the people is rather often stuck at the bottom of the top of the pole. The people who make revolutions are not the dispossessed, but those who are close enough to see what power really looks like, but have no hope of wielding absolute power unless they enlist the mob. They are close enough to see the throne, but not close enough to non-violently sit down in it.

That's not even the case in America. Here we instead have the bizarre spectacle of Nicholas II and Batista calling for a revolution against the petite bourgeoisie. It's a class war being waged by billionaires against people earning six figures a year. It's millionaires making movies for profit using workers to denounce the practice of making things for profit using workers.

All of this is done in the name of democracy. Just look at the Democracy Alliance, an alliance of left-wing billionaires spending huge amounts of money to win elections. What could be more democratic than that except actually paying individuals for their vote. But just as there are bad capitalist movies and good capitalist anti-capitalist movies, there are bad billionaires who use their fortunes to influence the political process and good billionaires who use their fortunes to etc...

The Koch Brothers are bad. George Soros is good. Sheldon Adelson is bad. The Sandlers are good. The good billionaires on this list have arguably done far more damage to the little people and to the political process, but good money and bad money have nothing to do with real world consequences. Good billionaires give money to the left. Bad billionaires give money to the right or just swim in giant piles of it every evening before taking a cruise on their solid gold yachts.

We are told incessantly that income inequality is a serious issue by organizations receiving millions from the holders of billions to say that. But income inequality is only a serious issue in some sectors. It's fashionable to talk about the outrageous compensation packages for CEOs in for-profit companies, but not the outrageous compensation packages for CEOs in non-profit companies.

The president of a snack food companies who uses corporate profits to cover a huge salary is an evil pig, but the president of a charity who pulls in a huge salary using donations and government grants is a humanitarian. Again, the non-profit president is arguably a worse human being than the for-profit president, but it's not about the consequences or the moral weight of the act.

Good evil CEOs work at non-profits and do nothing while chewing up public money that is taken by force from the people. Bad evil CEOs oversee the production of productions that people voluntarily buy.

Similarly the university presidents of liberal arts colleges who saddle their students with six-figure debts in exchange for useless degrees are advancing the cause of knowledge, no matter how many dirty deals they make with financial institutions. But the presidents of for-profit schools that hand out useless degrees in exchange for five-figure debts are a blight on the educational landscape. It's not just anybody who can hand out useless degrees in exchange for debt. You have to know some Latin too.

Read the rest here.

Pending Home Sales Soar Despite Rough Winter

Rough winter weather across much of the nation at the start of this year apparently did not keep home buyers away.

Contracts to buy existing homes in January rose a strong 4.5 percent from the previous month, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said tight inventory is a major factor in the market. "Buyer traffic is continuing to pick up, while seller traffic is holding steady," he said. "In fact, buyer traffic is 40 percent above a year ago, so there is plenty of demand but insufficient inventory to improve sales more strongly. We've transitioned into a seller's market in much of the country."

Total housing inventory at the end of January fell 4.9 percent to 1.74 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 4.2-month supply2 at the current sales pace, down from 4.5 months in December, and is the lowest housing supply since April 2005 when it was also 4.2 months.

Listed inventory is 25.3 percent below a year ago when there was a 6.2-month supply. Raw unsold inventory is at the lowest level since December 1999 when there were 1.71 million homes on the market.

The national median existing-home price3 for all housing types was $173,600 in January, up 12.3 percent from January 2012, which is the 11th consecutive month of year-over-year price increases; that last occurred from July 2005 to May 2006. The January gain is the strongest since November 2005 when it was 12.9 percent above a year earlier.

The median time on market for all homes was 71 days in January, down from 73 days in December and is 28.3 percent below 99 days in January 2012

Prez Speaks to Crony America Tonight

Tonight, the President will speak at a dinner held by the Business Council, being held in Washington the Park Hyatt Hotel.

The Business Council was created during the Great Depression by the then-Secretary of Commerce Daniel C. Roper. Roper selected about 50 executives as members. The Council's first major role was to form the Industrial Advisory Board for the National Recovery Administration, to advise and assist in resolving "pressing problems" of the nation's recovery from the Great Depression. In other words, it advised on structuring top down regulations that benefited big business. Simultaneously, the Council established a number of committees to address such issues as the Securities and Exchange Act, the Banking Act and the Social Security Act. Crony, crony crony.

Today, the Council limits itself to 150 Active members. There are currently 136 members. Below is a list of the Executive Committee.

Business Council Executive Committee: 2013-2014


Andrew N. Liveris, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, The Dow Chemical Company

Vice Chairmen:

Ursula M. Burns, Chairman & CEO, Xerox Corporation
Richard K. Davis, Chairman, President & CEO, U.S. Bancorp
Henry R. Kravis, Co-Chairman & Co-CEO, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.
Douglas R. Oberhelman, Chairman & CEO, Caterpillar Inc.


Jeffrey L. Bewkes, Chairman & CEO, Time Warner Inc.
Jeffrey P. Bezos, Founder & CEO,
Louis R. Chenevert, Chairman & CEO, United Technologies Corporation
James Dimon, Chairman & CEO, JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Ellen J. Kullman, Chair of the Board & CEO, E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company
Gregory R. Page, Chairman & CEO, Cargill, Incorporated
Nancy C. Southern, President & CEO, ATCO Ltd. & Canadian Utilities Ltd.
Randall L. Stephenson, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, AT&T Inc.
Peter R. Voser, Chief Executive Officer, Royal Dutch Shell plc
John S. Watson, Chairman & CEO, Chevron Corporation

Executive Director:

Philip E. Cassidy

Other members include:

Daniel F. Akerson
Chairman & CEO
General Motors Company

George Barrett
Chairman & CEO
Cardinal Health

Riley P. Bechtel
Chairman & CEO
Bechtel Group, Inc.

Robert H. Benmosche
President & CEO
American International Group, Inc.

Jeffrey L. Bewkes
Chairman & CEO
Time Warner Inc.

Lloyd C. Blankfein
Chairman & CEO
The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.

Wesley G. Bush
Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President
Northrop Grumman Corporation

Kenneth Chenault
Chairman & CEO
American Express Company

Robert Dudley
Group Chief Executive
BP p.l.c.

Laurence D. Fink
Chairman & CEO
BlackRock, Inc.

Donald E. Graham
Chairman and CEO
The Washington Post Company

Jeffrey R. Immelt
Chairman & CEO
General Electric Company

W.James McNerney, Jr.
Chairman, President & CEO
The Boeing Company

K. Rupert Murdoch
Chairman & CEO
News Corporation

Rex W. Tillerson
Chairman & CEO
Exxon Mobil Corporation

Patricia A. Woertz
Chairman, CEO & President
Archer Daniels Midland Company

Are You a Naive Rube when It Comes to the Sequester?

Gary North explains:

We have heard about the trillion dollars in automatic spending cuts. It’s headline news.

That’s part of the decade flim-flam. The government always reports one full decade’s cuts. But it never, ever mentions in these reports regarding the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate of total federal spending over the decade: $47 trillion.

You mean that the proposed trillion dollars in cuts are 2% of projected spending? You’ve got it.
This assumes that there will be cuts. There won’t be. There will be automatic add-ins that will offset any cuts. How large are these add-ins? About $110 billion more than the proposed cuts. Forbes reports:
The sequester has been advertised as “cutting” discretionary spending over a ten year period by $995 billion. After inflation adjustments and exempting more than a trillion dollars of defense and non defense discretionary spending from the sequester, the CBO projects (in its Table 1.1) discretionary spending to increase by $110 billion over the decade. There is no actual $995 billion cut after the CBO applies its magic adjustments. Rather there is a $110 billion increase.
The government treats voters as if they were naive rubes. This usually works.

The politicians assume that the financial media will go along. This usually is correct.

Riot Alert: Look Out Argentina, South Africa, Turkey and India

By Ciaran Ryan

If history teaches us anything, it is that inflation usually ends in violence.

The Johannesburg-based economic research house ETM Analytics (, which has a strong Austrian bias, puts out a monthly “riot alert” based on the speed with which countries are debasing their currencies. It has been scarily accurate in predicting where trouble is most likely to erupt. 

The research shows that those countries printing money the fastest are also those experiencing the most social unrest. ETM measures inflation in terms of the Continuous Commodities Index (CCI)*, which reflects inflationary trends almost immediately on the basis that monetary expansion debases the currency and increases the prices of commodity imports such as fuel and food.

Look who’s on the danger list: the world’s worst monetary abusers

For all the press acreage given to the political causes of violence in countries like Syria and Egypt, it is difficult to side-step the obvious common denominator: inflation. A 10% rise in food prices can transform a hungry man into an angry man. 

As the accompanying graph shows, Syria is the world’s most rapacious money printer. It is also currently one of the most dangerous places in the world. No surprise there.

Next up is Argentina, under the leadership of the erratic but populist Christina Fernandez de Kirchner. Since 2010, Kirchner made numerous attempts to reduce central bank independence, increase the government’s balance sheet and devalue the peso. Kirchner also introduced price controls, increased taxes and nationalised key companies. All this, says ETM Analytics, has “set the economy up for another bout of hyperinflation. At the same time, there has been widespread social unrest noted in Argentina in recent months.”

It is also worth noting that Kirchner is engaging Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron in a glare fight over the Falkland Islands.

Egypt’s democratic flowering is wilting on the stem as unrest spreads from Cairo to Port Said and beyond over the killing of 30 protestors in January. The country’s foreign reserves are down by two-thirds since 2010 and wheat stocks are similarly dwindling (the government subsidizes bread). The Egyptian pound has lost nearly a quarter of its value against the US dollar since 2010, raising the cost of imports, and throwing the Muslim Brotherhood-led government at the mercy of the IMF.

South Africa’s race to the economic abyss continues unabated, propelled in no small part by enthusiastic money printing. Once the world’s preeminent gold producer, it now ranks fifth behind China, Australia, United States and Russia. Mining investment is fleeing for more comely shores. A few weeks ago South African-born mining house Randgold Resources said it will no longer invest in South Africa because the government is more interested in harvesting tax revenues than encouraging investment. Instead, Randgold will pour its money into “safer” countries afflicted by low-grade wars, such as Mali, Congo and Ivory Coast. This is akin to McDonalds announcing it would leave the U.S. for good to set up shop in North Korea.

South African mining and construction workers are in open revolt against the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) which forms part of the ruling ANC alliance. Workers seem to have cottoned on to the fact that their leaders long ago abandoned them. In August last year, police shot 44 striking mine workers who had broken away from the official National Union of Mineworkers. Last week, several more were injured with rubber bullets at a mine owned by Anglo Platinum, which has announced it will scale back its South African operations.  

Farm workers in South Africa’s Western Cape Province went on a rampage last month, demanding higher wages. Government stepped in and raised the minimum wage to R105 (US$12) a day. A few days later, the inevitable happened: employers announced they would lay off thousands of farm workers. No surprise there.

Another country on the danger list is India, with a youth unemployment rate nearly 50% above the national average. The rate of labour force participation in India has also been on the decline among youth, suggesting students are staying in school longer. Outstanding student loans have more than doubled in the last four years, and graduates find themselves entering a weak job market. 

Youth unemployment and inflation are a toxic combination, as Egypt and Tunisia discovered in 2011. Now, perhaps, it is India’s turn.

“India’s GDP growth has slowed from levels of 8-9% in 2011 and is now projected to be around 5% in 2014. Bank economists continue to revise India’s GDP growth forecasts lower. Slowing GDP growth suggests lower jobs growth in coming quarters,” says Chris Becker of ETM Analytics. 

India’s wholesale price index (WPI) inflation rate declined to a November 2009 low of 6.6% year-on-year in January, but this does not reflect the rate of inflation experienced by the poor, which shot up more than 40% in the last three years. Given the prevailing environment of slowing economic growth, high youth unemployment, and strong basic commodity price inflation, ETM believes India is a key country to watch for unrest in the coming months, especially “if the Reserve Bank of India decides to loosen monetary policy further to stimulate growth.”

Turkey, too, is on the danger list. For the first time in five years, Turkey has been classified as “extreme risk” in Maplecroft’s Terrorism Risk Index, reflecting increasing terrorist attacks by the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). However, the PKK, which has the backing of Syria and Iran in response to Turkey’s financial and logistical support of the Free Syria Army, has for the moment concentrated its attacks to the south and east of the country; the effects on the country’s economy have been limited.
Tunisia, another currency abuser, this week bade farewell to Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali, just two weeks after the assassination of opposition leader Chokri Belaid, and just two years after the overthrow of the previous government, which gave birth to the Arab Spring. 

“Socio-political grounds are commonly cited as the main reason for instability in the hotspots of the world. However, often the trigger for instability is something as simple as a bout of price inflation; rising food and energy prices quickly arouse socio-economic grievances amongst the masses, which can easily turn from popular protest into conflict,” says ETM.  

The relationship between inflation and social upheaval has been well documented by economists such as Friedrich Hayek. 

At the height of its hyper-inflationary frenzy in 1923, Germany’s prices rose at the rate of 322% a month. This ended when Germany abandoned fiat money printing in favour of a gold-backed currency. This provided the wherewithal for Hitler’s massive remilitarisation, culminating in World War Two. During the French Revolution, inflation was 143% a month. This, too, ended when Napoleon re-introduced gold backing, but that did not stop his disastrous military foray to Russia. 

At its height, Zimbabwe’s inflation rate  hit a mind-numbing 6.5 sextillion percent in November 2008, according to the Cato Journal. Social unrest was kept in check by starvation-induced apathy and military repression. The country’s inflation rate has since moderated to around 3% after abandoning the Zimbabwean dollar in favour of more stable currencies such as the U.S. dollar. 

Becker believes the currency wars currently in play suggest a race to the bottom by the world’s greatest abusers of the printing press. The U.S. dollar and British pound are losing ground to the Euro, but Japan is trying desperately to debase its own currency and so steal a competitive advantage.
This, then, is the apex of economic brilliance in the world today: the idea that a weak currency, which is an inevitable product of money printing, is a good thing since it makes exports more competitive.
If you believe that, then look again at the above graph and see if you cannot come up with a better idea.

  • The research measures inflation on a country-by-country basis using the Continuous Commodity Index (CCI), which is a more immediate measure of inflation than more conventional measures such as the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The CCI is a basket of some 19 commodities, including food, fuel, industrial commodities and precious metals. It reflects inflationary trends almost immediately on the basis that monetary expansion debases the currency, resulting in higher costs of commodity imports such as fuel and food. CPI, on the other hand, covers a much wider basket of goods such as housing costs, clothing and technology, costs which form an insignificant part of the spending of low income households.

Ciaran Ryan is a writer and mining entrepreneur operating from South Africa and Ghana. Email him at or visit his website

Mises on Empire by Murray Rothbard

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Bills to Require the Registration of the Buyers and Sellers of Gold and Silver Coins

First they came to register your guns, and now they want to register when you sell (and sometimes when you buy gold) gold. A bill has been introduced in Illinois, the most anti-gun state in the US, that will require the registration of the buyers and sellers of gold. Here's a key snippet (via Gary North) from the bill:
Creates the Precious Metal Purchasing Act. Provides that a person who is in the business of purchasing precious metal shall obtain a proof of ownership, create a record of the sale, and verify the identity of the seller. Provides that a person who is in the business of purchasing precious metal shall not pay for the precious metal in cash and shall record the method of payment. Requires the purchaser to keep a record of the sale for one year or, if the purchase amount is over $500, for 5 years. Provides that a person who violates the Act is guilty of a petty offense and subject to a fine not exceeding $500. Provides that the Attorney General may inspect records, investigate an alleged violation, and take action to collect civil penalties.
In Houston, a law has been passed in the city that requires any consumer selling gold to submit to fingerprints and mugshots. Infowars reports:
Last week the Houston City Council passed an ordinance requiring people who sell precious metals to be fingerprinted and photographed.  According to KTRK-TV, the ordinance is “meant to help track down criminals who try to resell stolen valuables."

"Gold-buying businesses will now be required to photograph and fingerprint sellers as well as photograph the items that are being sold to the dealer."

In other words, citizens who sell gold will be considered criminals until they demonstrate otherwise.[...]"No precious metals thief is going to agree to a mug-shot and thumbprint," said Houston City Council Member Helena Brown in response to the law.

"That’s like declaring that the thieves are going to be turning themselves in.  It’s ludicrous.  I don’t know who told HPD that this is going to help them.  It’s not going to help anyone, but rather it will be damaging to an industry and to our self-respect and liberty."

If you think these very odd bills coming up at the same time are just a coincidence, then you will think this is also a coincidence:

Understanding Marginal Product via Naked Actors

Daniel Hamermesh writes:
An English newspaper reports that an opera producer has had to cut back the number of naked male actors from 88 to 25 for fear that, given the size of the stage, some of the naked actors would fall into the orchestra pit.  The stage is fixed capital; the marginal product of the 26th naked actor is negative — the production would be severely disrupted if an actor fell off the stage.  Since the opera is about the “sex-crazed Duchess of Argyll,” presumably the marginal product of the first actor is positive — given the Duchess’s proclivities, having zero naked actors would make no sense; marginal products decrease but are still positive up through 25, then become negative thereafter. This is, of course, in the short run; perhaps if there were more time to produce the play, the capital stock could be increased — a larger stage could be built — and the marginal product of the 26th actor would be positive.

TERRIFYING California Retroactive Taxes

If California-based firms aren't generating enough in revenues, while the state will just tax earlier generated income.

CNN reports:

The California tax that terrifies tech 
 Entrepreneurs and investors in California can expect to receive a rude shock in the mail if they sold their company in the last four years. Not only did the state's Franchise Tax Board (FTB) eliminate a tax break on capital gains for small business owners and investors, it announced the tax would be reinstated retroactively. This means those who benefitted from the break can expect a bill for unpaid taxes, plus interest, stretching all the way back to 2008.

Getting Into Kinsella's Head

Stephan Kinsella is out with another blast in regard to the upcoming Wenzel-Kinsella IP debate.

I frankly don't understand all this pre-debate trash talk. I must be getting into Kinsella's head.

In this latest outburst from Kinsella, he attempts to defend his calling me a clown:
As for saying “what a clown”—as any functioning modern English speaker will know, this is an informal way of scoffing at the implicit argument he seemed to be making: that my predictions about the dispute have some kind of bearing on the IP debate we are allegedly going to have. 
Again, as I pointed out at the time, there is nothing in the post Kinsella is referring to that tied his prediction about the dispute into our IP debate. NONE. Kinsella is just reading something into the comment that isn't there. This was my response to Kinsella at the time:
 You are reading much too much into the post. I had no intention of linking your lawyerly skills and your skill on IP theory. I have no understanding of your skills as a lawyer. As you know, I have questions about your views on IP theory. 
I merely presented the post as a tiny bit of human drama. Nothing more. You stepped up and gave your opinion on the likely outcome of Ron Paul's suit, if it goes to court. I just found it interesting. No linkage to your IP theory, that is an incorrect jump on your part. Nothing in my post indicates I am attempting to do that.
Anyone can go back to the original post and read for himself, I do not in anyway suggest that Kinsella's handicapping of a  legal decision has anything to do with his views on IP. In fact, I make clear in the first and second sentences of the post that there is a distinction between the IP debate and the legal opinions in decisions.
 I have a major philosophical disagreement with Stephan Kinsella over his views on IP, which we will debate in early April. However, I am not an IP attorney and hold no strong opinions on how current IP law is interpreted by various legal and other ruling bodies.
Thus, Kinsella just misunderstood the post completely. I wasn't implying anything, in fact, right from the start, I separated the two.

He then makes this odd statement:
[...]he has delayed the debate already what seems to me to be an inordinate time. 
He invited me to debate on January 26th, I immediately responded:
What does your schedule look like for a date. February is very tight,  but
March is pretty open for me, except for the period I am going to be at Mises
for the Austrian Economics Research Conference 2013
On January 30th, I wrote:
 As for a date, unfortunately, the more and more I look at my schedule,
it is going to have to be April. I am heading to the East Coast a
couple of weeks before AERC and I am jamming in as many meetings as
possible. I could squeeze our discussion in at some point, but I
really want to be fresh for the discussion, which means April,
especially since Chris Rossini  is, in addition, double booking me for
my regular Sunday show, because he will be heading to Florida for
And we booked April 1. It simply, turned out that I tried to book a few things in March before booking the debate with Kinsella and I realized there were many more people I needed to see on the East Coast, in New York, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. (In addition to the lecture at the Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama). I am meeting venture capital people in NYC. Chris Rossini outside Philly, a television producer in DC, people on the Hill, K Street people and assorted others. It's a very tight schedule. So what I initially planned to be a one week trip on the East Coast is turning into a three week trip and I consider this debate important. I wanted to have plenty of time to re-read Kinsella's Anti-Intellectual Property book and some of his other papers. As anyone knows, travelling for business can be very hectic. I just wanted to give myself enough quiet time to read Kinsella's stuff and even more quiet time to think about how I want to juxtapose my view against Kinsella's. It is simply bizarre for Kinsella to read anything else into it. Indeed, I thought I was pretty clear to him. I repeat what I wrote to him:
 I am heading to the East Coast a couple of weeks before AERC and I am jamming in as many meetings as possible.I could squeeze our discussion in at some point, but I really want to be fresh for the discussion, which means April, especially since Chris Rossini  is, in addition, double booking me for my regular Sunday show, because he will be heading to Florida for vacation.
So why Kinsella wants to read more into this is beyond my understanding. It appears clownish (taken in the Kinsella sense of the term, of course).

And then we have this from Kinsella:
Who really believes Wenzel has a book coming out on IP? Of course he does not.
As anyone following the posts at EPJ knows, I have been thinking about IP and have expressed views that are different than those held by Kinsella and others. Kinsella in his head may not think this will lead to a book, but he has nothing to ground it on. There is a book coming. Kinsella is as wrong about this as he is about IP, as he was when he predicted I wouldn't debate him. I don't know how else to put this, but Kinsella has a lot of theories rattling around in his head that will be proved wrong:

Starting with this one:
What a clown. Antoher prediciton: he will not debate me. He will find a way ot [sic] weasel out of it, like a worm.
To be followed by this one:
Who really believes Wenzel has a book coming out on IP? Of course he does not.
And, of course, he will be wrong with this also:
  I have no reason to believe Wenzel will come out with any systematic case for IP
And, LOL, why the hell is Kinsella so worried about my "legions of fans"?:
The bottom line is Wenzel is wrong on IP, and even his legions of fans mostly realize this
To paraphrase Ayn Rand, I'm not writing for "my legions of fans," I am writing for myself.

As I explained during my recent interview at Daily Bell, I structured my life a long time ago so I could think independently and write independently, that is what I am doing.

Kinsella is as wrong about this as the other points I have outlined above. Bringing up my "legions of fans" is a very odd Ellsworth Toohey-like thing to for Kinsella to be doing.

Ben Bernanke's Theme Song

Nancy Sinatra in "My Beautiful Balloon"

(via Daily Bail)

The Sushi Poll

According to Public Policy Polling, only 59% of Americans under 30 say they would eat sushi.  When it comes to those over 65, only 29% say they would eat sushi.

For the record, I am a sushi eater and I think I only know sushi eaters. I even had a sushi dinner with Bob Murphy, once.

Judas Christie to Go All Out Healthcare Statist

Gov. Chris Christie will expand the state's Medicaid program to cover 300,000 uninsured New Jersey residents, reports The Star-Ledger

The governor's new budget, which he plans to unveil at joint session of the Legislature this afternoon, also relies on state revenue growth of 4.9 percent and delays some property tax rebates for local taxpayers, according to three sources with knowledge of the budget plan who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The revised Medicaid program would shift 100 percent of the costs to the federal government for these new enrollees for the first three years, then gradually taper it to 90 percent. The state could expect $1.7 billion a year to cover the costs.

50 Signs That The U.S. Health Care System Is A Gigantic Money Making Scam That Is About To Collapse

By Michael Snyder
The U.S. health care system is a giant money making scam that is designed to drain as much money as possible out of all of us before we die.  In the United States today, the health care industry is completely dominated by government bureaucrats, health insurance companies and pharmaceutical corporations.  The pharmaceutical corporations spend billions of dollars to convince all of us to become dependent on their legal drugs, the health insurance companies make billions of dollars by providing as little health care as possible, and they both spend millions of dollars to make sure that our politicians in Washington D.C. keep the gravy train rolling.  Meanwhile, large numbers of doctors are going broke and patients are not getting the care that they need.  At this point, our health care system is a complete and total disaster.  Health care costs continue to go up rapidly, the level of care that we are receiving continues to go down, and every move that our politicians make just seems to make all of our health care problems even worse.  In America today, a single trip to the emergency room can easily cost you $100,000, and if you happen to get cancer you could end up with medical bills in excess of a million dollars.  Even if you do have health insurance, there are usually limits on your coverage, and the truth is that just a single major illness is often enough to push most American families into bankruptcy.  At the same time, hospital administrators, pharmaceutical corporations and health insurance company executives are absolutely swimming in huge mountains of cash.  Unfortunately, this gigantic money making scam has become so large that it threatens to collapse both the U.S. health care system and the entire U.S. economy.
The following are 50 signs that the U.S. health care system is a massive money making scam that is about to collapse…
#1 Medical bills have become so ridiculously large that virtually nobody can afford them.  Just check out the following short excerpt from a recent Time Magazine article.  One man in California that had been diagnosed with cancer ran up nearly a million dollars in hospital bills before he died…
By the time Steven D. died at his home in Northern California the following November, he had lived for an additional 11 months. And Alice had collected bills totaling $902,452. The family’s first bill — for $348,000 — which arrived when Steven got home from the Seton Medical Center in Daly City, Calif., was full of all the usual chargemaster profit grabs: $18 each for 88 diabetes-test strips that Amazon sells in boxes of 50 for $27.85; $24 each for 19 niacin pills that are sold in drugstores for about a nickel apiece. There were also four boxes of sterile gauze pads for $77 each. None of that was considered part of what was provided in return for Seton’s facility charge for the intensive-care unit for two days at $13,225 a day, 12 days in the critical unit at $7,315 a day and one day in a standard room (all of which totaled $120,116 over 15 days). There was also $20,886 for CT scans and $24,251 for lab work.
#2 This year the American people will spend approximately 2.8 trillion dollars on health care, and it is being projected that Americans will spend 4.5 trillion dollars on health care in 2019.
#3 The United States spends more on health care than Japan, Germany, France, China, the U.K., Italy, Canada, Brazil, Spain and Australia combined.
#4 If the U.S. health care system was a country, it would be the 6th largest economy on the entire planet.
#5 Back in 1960, an average of $147 was spent per person on health care in the United States. By 2009, that number had skyrocketed to $8,086.
#6 Why does it cost so much to stay in a hospital today?  It just does not make sense.  Just check out these numbers
In 1942, Christ Hospital, NJ charged $7 per day for a maternity room. Today it’s $1,360.
#7 Approximately 60 percent of all personal bankruptcies in the United States are related to medical bills.