Sunday, February 28, 2010

More gun control statistics

Effects of Australian gun ban:

Summary of first-year results (1999):

* Australia-wide, homicides are up 3.2 percent
* Australia-wide, assaults are up 8.6 percent
* Australia-wide, armed robberies are up 44 percent (yes, 44 percent)

In the state of Victoria alone, homicides with firearms are now up 300 percent.

[...]While figures over the previous 25 years showed a steady decrease in armed robbery with firearms, this has changed drastically upward in the past 12 months, since the criminals now are guaranteed that their prey is unarmed.
Ireland's gun ban:

Ireland banned handguns and center fire rifles in 1972 and murder rates soared — the post-ban murder rate average has been 144 percent higher than pre-ban.
Washington DC's gun ban:

While these politicians have protection both in their homes and as they travel around in public, since September 24, 1976, other D.C. residents have lived under the nation's most restrictive gun laws. Police enforce a citywide handgun ban, and local statutes require residents to keep long guns disassembled, unloaded, and locked up. Yet, with a murder rate of 46 per 100,000 people in 2002, the District easily holds the title of the U.S. murder capital among cities with over 500,000 people. This was not even close to being the case prior to the ban.

Crime rose significantly after the gun ban went into effect. In the five years before Washington's ban in 1976, the murder rate fell from 37 to 27 per 100,000. In the five years after it went into effect, the murder rate rose back up to 35. During this same time, robberies fell from 1,514 to 1,003 per 100,000 and then rose by over 63 percent, up to 1,635. The five-year trends are not some aberration. In fact, while murder rates have varied over time, during the almost 30 years since the ban, the murder rate has only once fallen below what it was in 1976.

These pre-law drops and subsequent increases were much larger than any changes in neighboring Maryland and Virginia. For example, the District's murder rate fell during the same five-year period from 3.5 to 3 times more than in the neighboring states and rose back up after the ban to 3.8 times more.

The bill being voted on today will "restore the right of self defense in the home." When the ban passed, criminals had less to worry about from armed citizens and burglaries soared by 56 percent in the five years. Disassembled, unloaded, and locked long guns are essentially useless for self-defense. With police response times in the District averaging 8 minutes and 25 seconds, one doesn't always have the luxury of waiting for police to respond.
Chicago's gun ban:

Chicago's murder rate fell from 27 to 22 per 100,000 in the five years before the law and then rose slightly to 23. The change is even more dramatic when compared to five neighboring Illinois counties: Chicago's murder rate fell from being 8.1 times greater than its neighbors in 1977 to 5.5 times in 1982, and then went way up to 12 times greater in 1987. While robbery data isn't available for the years immediately after the ban, since 1985 (the first year for which the FBI has data) robbery rates soared.
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Did Bush actually "deregulate?"

Reason:

Some people still seem to think Republicans take a hands-off approach to regulation, probably because the party is always quick to criticize the burdens regulations place on businesses. But Republican rhetoric doesn't always match Republican policy. In 2007, according to Wayne Crews of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, roughly 50 regulatory agencies issued 3,595 final rules, ranging from boosting fuel economy standards for light trucks to continuing a ban on bringing torch lighters into airplane cabins. Five departments (Commerce, Agriculture, Homeland Security, Treasury, and the Environmental Protection Agency) accounted for 45 percent of the new regulations.

Since Bush took office in 2001, there has been a 13 percent decrease in the annual number of new rules. But the new regulations' cost to the economy will be much higher than it was before 2001. Of the new rules, 159 are "economically significant," meaning they will cost at least $100 million a year. That's a 10 percent increase in the number of high-cost rules since 2006, and a 70 percent increase since 2001. And at the end of 2007, another 3,882 rules were already at different stages of implementation, 757 of them targeting small businesses.

Overall, the final outcome of this Republican regulation has been a significant increase in regulatory activity and cost since 2001. The number of pages added to the Federal Register, which lists all new regulations, reached an all-time high of 78,090 in 2007, up from 64,438 in 2001.

Even more worrisome is how agencies implement these rules. In a recent study titled "Homeland Security and Regulatory Analysis: Are We Safer Yet?," Jerry Ellig and Jamie Belcore of George Mason University's Mercatus Center (where I work) looked at the regulatory analysis behind the Department of Homeland Security's regulations. They found that the agency conducted shoddy, incomplete regulatory analysis; never tried to find regulatory alternatives; and didn't bother arguing that there was a market failure or a systemic problem that might warrant government intervention. According to Homeland Security's own estimate, its rules cost the economy more than $4 billion a year; the actual cost is likely to be much higher.

President Bush deserves most of the blame for this regulatory expansion. While the president does not have to sign new rules before they're implemented, he does implicitly approve them. In addition, he signed hundreds of laws commanding federal agencies to produce new regulations. One is the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, which established new or enhanced standards for all publicly held companies and accounting firms in the United States. Another is the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law, which imposed new restrictions on campaign spending and prohibited unregulated contributions ("soft money") to national political parties.

The Bush team has spent more taxpayer money on issuing and enforcing regulations than any previous administration in U.S. history. Between fiscal year 2001 and fiscal year 2009, outlays on regulatory activities, adjusted for inflation, increased from $26.4 billion to an estimated $42.7 billion, or 62 percent. By contrast, President Clinton increased real spending on regulatory activities by 31 percent, from $20.1 billion in 1993 to $26.4 billion in 2001.
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Lew Rockwell on "the Misesian vision"



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Saturday, February 27, 2010

British gun control and crime rate

Reason (2002):

On a June evening two years ago, Dan Rather made many stiff British upper lips quiver by reporting that England had a crime problem and that, apart from murder, "theirs is worse than ours."

[...]The illusion that the English government had protected its citizens by disarming them seemed credible because few realized the country had an astonishingly low level of armed crime even before guns were restricted. A government study for the years 1890-92, for example, found only three handgun homicides, an average of one a year, in a population of 30 million. In 1904 there were only four armed robberies in London, then the largest city in the world.

[...]In the two years following the 1997 handgun ban, the use of handguns in crime rose by 40 percent, and the upward trend has continued. From April to November 2001, the number of people robbed at gunpoint in London rose 53 percent.

[...][I]n the four years from 1997 to 2001, the rate of violent crime more than doubled. Your chances of being mugged in London are now six times greater than in New York. England's rates of assault, robbery, and burglary are far higher than America's, and 53 percent of English burglaries occur while occupants are at home, compared with 13 percent in the U.S., where burglars admit to fearing armed homeowners more than the police. In a United Nations study of crime in 18 developed nations published in July, England and Wales led the Western world's crime league, with nearly 55 crimes per 100 people.

[...]At first police were instructed that it would be a good reason to have a revolver if a person "lives in a solitary house, where protection against thieves and burglars is essential, or has been exposed to definite threats to life on account of his performance of some public duty." By 1937 police were to discourage applications to possess firearms for house or personal protection. In 1964 they were told "it should hardly ever be necessary to anyone to possess a firearm for the protection of his house or person" and that "this principle should hold good even in the case of banks and firms who desire to protect valuables or large quantities of money."

In 1969 police were informed "it should never be necessary for anyone to possess a firearm for the protection of his house or person." These changes were made without public knowledge or debate. Their enforcement has consumed hundreds of thousands of police hours. Finally, in 1997 handguns were banned.

[...]Cultural differences and more-permissive legal standards notwithstanding, the English rate of violent crime has been soaring since 1991. Over the same period, America's has been falling dramatically. In 1999 The Boston Globe reported that the American murder rate, which had fluctuated by about 20 percent between 1974 and 1991, was "in startling free-fall." We have had nine consecutive years of sharply declining violent crime. As a result the English and American murder rates are converging. In 1981 the American rate was 8.7 times the English rate, in 1995 it was 5.7 times the English rate, and the latest study puts it at 3.5 times.
From a BBC story a couple months later:

Gun crime has risen by 35% in a year, new Home Office figures show.

There were 9,974 incidents involving firearms in the 12 months to April 2002 - a rise from 7,362 over the previous year.
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Thursday, February 25, 2010

California mulls "no cussing week"

Maybe this is an attempt to raise money by via the 'Swear Jar?'

AP:

California lawmakers have a history of trying to keep the state's air and waters clean. Now they're tackling language.

The state Assembly is scheduled to vote on a resolution Thursday calling for a statewide "Cuss Free Week," to occur annually during the first week of March. If approved, it would go to the state Senate for a final vote on Monday.

The rest of next week will be officially swear-word free if both houses approve the resolution.

The resolution by Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-La Canada Flintridge, was inspired by a South Pasadena teenager, McKay Hatch, who founded a No Cussing Club at his junior high school in 2007. His efforts to stamp out profanity have generated international attention, with 35,000 members joining the No Cussing Club's Web site.

Portantino said the California Legislature — known for imposing strict clean air and clean water laws — is the first state legislative body in the nation to consider a statewide profanity-free week. (Aw, how nice)
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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Farage vs. Bilderberger EU President Van Rompoy

That a boy, Farage! When you've got him smelling his fingers, you know he's scared!



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The history of hemp



I would have a hard time believing this list if it weren't all confirmed in that video.

Kick them all out:

* For thousands of years, 90% of all ships' sails and rope were made from hemp. The word 'canvas' is Dutch for hemp

* 80% of all textiles, fabrics, clothes, linen, drapes, bed sheets, etc. were made from hemp until the 1820s with the introduction of the cotton gin.

* The first Bibles, maps, charts, Betsy Ross's flag, the first drafts of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were made from hemp.

* The first crop grown in many states was hemp. 1850 was a peak year for Kentucky producing 40,000 tons. Hemp was the largest cash crop until the 20th Century.

* Oldest known records of hemp farming go back 8000 years in Persia. Hemp industrialization began 5000 years ago in Central Asia and North Africa, in ancient Persia, China and Egypt.

* In 1916, the U.S. Government predicted that by the 1940s all paper would come from hemp and that no more trees need to be cut down. Government studies report that 1 acre of hemp equals 4.1 acres of trees. Plans were in the works to implement such programs.

* Quality paints and varnishes were made from hemp seed oil until 1937. 58,000 tons of hemp seeds were used in America for paint products in 1935.

* Henry Ford's first Model-T was built to run on hemp gasoline and the CAR ITSELF WAS CONTRUCTED FROM HEMP! On his large estate, Ford was photographed among his hemp fields. The car, 'grown from the soil,' had hemp plastic panels whose impact strength was 10 times stronger than steel; Popular Mechanics, 1941.

* Hemp called 'Billion Dollar Crop.' It was the first time a cash crop had a business potential to exceed a billion dollars; Popular Mechanics, Feb., 1938.

* Mechanical Engineering Magazine (Feb. 1938) published an article entitled 'The Most Profitable and Desirable Crop that Can be Grown.' It stated that if hemp was cultivated using 20th Century technology, it would be the single largest agricultural crop in the U.S. and the rest of the world.

[...]Hemp cultivation and production do not harm the environment. The USDA Bulletin #404 concluded that hemp produces 4 times as much pulp as wood with at least 4 to 7 times less pollution.

[...]In the 1930s, innovations in farm machinery would have caused an industrial revolution when applied to hemp. This single resource could have created millions of new jobs generating thousands of quality products. Hemp, if not made illegal, would have brought America out of the Great Depression.

William Randolph Hearst and the Hearst Paper Manufacturing Division of Kimberly Clark owned vast acreage of timberlands. The Hearst Company supplied most paper products. Patty Hearst's grandfather, a destroyer of nature for his own personal profit, stood to lose billions because of hemp.

In 1937, Dupont patented the processes to make plastics from oil and coal. Dupont's Annual Report urged stockholders to invest in its new petrochemical division. Synthetics such as plastics, cellophane, celluloid, methanol, nylon, rayon, Dacron, etc., could now be made from oil. Natural hemp industrialization would have ruined over 80% of Dupont's business.

Andrew Mellon became Hoover's Secretary of the Treasury and Dupont's primary investor. He appointed his future nephew-in-law, Harry J. Anslinger, to head the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.

Secret meetings were held by these financial tycoons. Hemp was declared dangerous and a threat to their billion dollar enterprises. For their dynasties to remain intact, hemp had to go. These men took an obscure Mexican slang word: 'marihuana' and pushed it into the consciousness of America.

[...]The decorticator meant that hemp fibers could be manufactured as fine as any man-made fibers. DuPont would lose untold millions of invested dollars, plus an estimated 80 percent of all future business, unless hemp was outlawed.

DuPont's financial backer was Mellon Bank, owned and chaired by Andrew Mellon. - - Andrew Mellon at the time was also Secretary of Treasury Department, which was in charge of drug taxes - -, i.e., prohibition - -. Harry Anslinger, commissioners of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, which answered to the Treasury Department, was married to Andrew Mellon's niece. Thus they had the power and the means. - Anslinger's lies about hemp were repeated endlessly in Hearst's newspapers. Stories about marijuana, the killer weed from Mexico, instilled fear and completely misled the public that the weed was, in fact, just good old hemp.

Cannabis hemp was not prohibited because it was dangerous. Indeed, for thousands of years it was the world's largest agricultural crop used in thousands of products and enterprises, producing the majority of fiber, fabric, lighting oil, paper, incense, medicine and food. - No, cannabis hemp was prohibited to protect the Hearst and DuPont corporations from devastating competition, as well as appealing to the overt racism stirred up by Hearst's yellow journalism.

[...]On April 14, 1937, the Prohibitive Marihuana Tax Law or the bill that outlawed hemp was directly brought to the House Ways and Means Committee. This committee is the only one that can introduce a bill to the House floor without it being debated by other committees. The Chairman of the Ways and Means, Robert Doughton, was a Dupont supporter. He insured that the bill would pass Congress.

[...]ALL PLASTIC PRODUCTS SHOULD BE MADE FROM HEMP SEED OIL. Hempen plastics are biodegradable! Over time, they would break down and not harm the environment. Oil-based plastics, the ones we are very familiar with, help ruin nature; they do not break down and will do great harm in the future. The process to produce the vast array of natural (hempen) plastics will not ruin the rivers as Dupont and other petrochemical companies have done. Ecology does not fit in with the plans of the Oil Industry and the political machine. Hemp products are safe and natural.

[...]WORLD HUNGER COULD END. A large variety of food products can be generated from hemp. The seeds contain one of the highest sources of protein in nature. ALSO: They have two essential fatty acids that clean your body of cholesterol. These essential fatty acids are not found anywhere else in nature! Consuming hemp seeds is the best thing you could do for your body. Eat uncooked hemp seeds.

CLOTHES SHOULD BE MADE FROM HEMP. Hemp clothing is extremely strong and durable over time. You could hand clothing, made from hemp, down to your grandchildren. Today, there are American companies that make hemp clothing; usually 50% hemp. Hemp fabrics should be everywhere. Instead, they are almost underground. Superior hemp products are not allowed to advertise on fascist television. Kentucky, once the top hemp producing state, made it ILLEGAL TO WEAR hemp clothing! Can you imagine being thrown into jail for wearing quality jeans?

[...]OVER A MILLION DEATHS EACH YEAR ARE CAUSED BY TOBACCO CONSUMPTION. AND HALF A MILLION DEATHS EACH YEAR ARE CAUSED BY ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION.
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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tom DiLorenzo on "the myth of Lincoln"

These made me go get his book on Lincoln, which I probably won't have time to read, but at least have in my possession. ...Sorry everyone else who wanted to take it from the library! Mwauahahahahah!!!






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Karzai strips independence from Afghan election watchdog

Guardian:

The Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, has unilaterally taken control of the country's top electoral watchdog, provoking outrage from western diplomats, the Guardian has learnt.

The Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC), which forced Karzai into a runoff election after it disqualified nearly 1m fraudulent votes in last year's presidential election, previously included three foreign experts named by the UN.

However, according to a new presidential decree published today, Karzai will have the exclusive power to appoint all five panel members.

His decision to "Afghanise" the ECC came while parliament was in recess (Aw, what a convenient term for it).

[...]The commission's Canadian chairman and his two non-Afghan colleagues were instrumental in demanding an investigation into widespread fraud during the election last summer.

Karzai was stripped of 954,526 votes and forced to accept a second round of voting after the ECC's intervention left him short of the majority he needed to win outright.

Karzai has never accepted either the ECC's verdict or that there was widespread fraud, instead blaming foreigners for "defaming" the process.
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Supposed leaked ACTA treaty to bar internet users for mere accusation of copyright infringement

Link to the PDF.

Boing Boing:

Someone has uploaded a PDF to a Google Group that is claimed to be the proposal for Internet copyright enforcement that the USA has put forward for ACTA, the secret copyright treaty whose seventh round of negotiations just concluded in Guadalajara, Mexico. This reads like it probably is genuine treaty language, and if it is the real US proposal, it is the first time that this material has ever been visible to the public. According to my source, the US proposal is the current version of the treaty as of the conclusion of the Mexico round.

I've read it through a few times and it reads a lot like DMCA-plus. It contains, for example, a duty to technology firms to shut down infringement where they have "actual knowledge" that such is taking place. This argument was put forward in the Grokster case, and as Fred von Lohmann argued then, this is a potentially deadly burden to place on technology companies: in the offline world Xerox has "actual knowledge" that its technology is routinely used to infringe copyright at Kinko's outlets around the world -- should that create a duty to stop providing sales and service to Kinko's?

This also includes takedown procedures for trademark infringement, as well as the existing procedures against copyright infringement. Since trademark infringement is a lot harder for a service provider to adjudicate (and since things that might be trademark infringement take place every time you do something as innocuous as taking a photo of a street-scene that contains hundreds or thousands of trademarks), this sounds like a potential disaster to me.

[...]Also buried in a footnote is a provision for forcing ISPs to terminate customers who've been accused -- but not convicted -- of copyright infringement (along with their families and anyone else who happens to share their net connection).
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Monday, February 22, 2010

British man arrested for taking photos under "anti-terror" law




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Ousted GM CEO rehired as a consultant for more than he was making before

I want to bankrupt a company, or at least play a significant role in bankrupting one.

Car Connection:

After having been very publicly ejected from the company late last year, former GM CEO Fritz Henderson has been reinstated with a cushy consulting role less than three months on. In early December, 2009 Henderson was asked by the then Chairman of the Board, Ed Whitacre, to resign just days before he was to make a keynote address at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

In a regulatory filing submitted by GM this past week, the company has confirmed that Whitacre will now remain as CEO with an annual salary of $1.7 million plus more than $7 million worth of stock payable over the next couple of years.

Interestingly, this figure is significantly higher than the $1.3 million Henderson would have received as CEO, even after GM’s executive pay came under the scrutiny of U.S. pay czar Kenneth Feinberg.

As for Henderson, his new consulting job will see him work just 20 hours per month and require him to meet with GM’s international president, Tim Lee, to discuss matters on international operations. For his efforts Henderson will receive $59,090 per month, which equates to almost $3,000 per hour.
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California city's residents to be charged $300 every time they dial 911

CBS13:

Tracy residents will now have to pay every time they call 9-1-1 for a medical emergency.

But there are a couple of options. Residents can pay a $48 voluntary fee for the year which allows them to call 9-1-1 as many times as necessary.

Or, there’s the option of not signing up for the annual fee. Instead, they will be charged $300 if they make a call for help.

“A $300 fee and you don’t even want to be thinking about that when somebody is in need of assistance,” said Tracy resident Greg Bidlack.

Residents will soon receive the form in the mail where they’ll be able to make their selection. No date has been set for when the charges will go into effect.


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Sunday, February 21, 2010

75 reasons to be skeptical of "global warming"



* Carbon dioxide contributes to only 4.2 - 8.4% of the greenhouse gas effect

* Only approximately 4% of carbon dioxide is man-made

* Water vapor accounts for 90 - 95% of the green house gas effect


* 99.99% of water vapor is natural, meaning that no amount of deindustrialization could get rid of it


* There have been many times when the temperature has been higher than it is now including the Medieval Warming Period, the Holocene, the Jurassic, and the Eemian

* Increases in carbon dioxide follow increases in temperature by about 800 years, not precede them


* Phil Jones of the Hadley CRU, and key figure in the "climategate" scandal, admits that there has been no "statistically significant" global warming since 1995

* 2008 and 2009 were the coolest two years of the decade

* During the Ordovician period carbon dioxide concentrations were twelve times what they are now, and the temperature was lower

* Solar activity is highly correlated with temperature change:



* Studies show that half of all recent warming was solar

* Mars has warmed about 0.5°C since the 1970's, approximately the same that earth has warmed over the same period

* The 0.7°C increase in temperatures over the last century is entirely consistent with well-established, long-term, natural climate trends


* The distance between Earth and Sun changes every year, affecting the amount of energy the earth receives


* Earth’s tilt oscillates between 21.4° and 24.8°, which affects the distribution of the sun's energy

* Dr. Roy Spencer has written that clouds have been a more important driver of climate than carbon dioxide since 2000

* Approximately 40% of the uncertainty in temperature projections come from uncertainty in the strength of the "feedback loop" between temperature and carbon dioxide. Recent research suggests the "feedback loop" is less than half as strong than many had presumed

* James Hansen of NASA said in a simulation of temperatures from 1880 to 2000 soot accounted for 25% of observed global warming

* Research suggests that soot could have nearly as much impact on climate change as carbon dioxide


* Antarctica has 90% of earth's ice and it is growing

* Arctic sea ice has returned to 1979 levels, which is when records began

* The Arctic ice caps have recovered from their loss in 2007

* The Arctic is now 1°C cooler than it was in the 1940's

* Polar bear populations are increasing

* Polar bears are able to swim over 60 miles continuously

* Sea level 81,000 years ago was 1 meter higher than it is now while carbon dioxide levels were lower

* A chart of sea level change over millions of years looks like this:



* According to satellite data, sea level has been decreasing since 2005


* Instead of hurting forests, the increased level of carbon dioxide has been helping them grow

* The official "record" for temperatures only goes back 150 years

* Although the IPCC may have 2500 members, only approximately 800 contribute to the scientific writing of the report

* Only 52 scientists contributed to the 2007 IPCC summary for policy makers, although diplomats from over 115 countries contributed

* Only 20% of the members of the IPCC deal with climate science

* Head of the IPCC, Dr. Rajendra Pachauri has no background in climate science. His PhD is in economics and he worked as a railway engineer before becoming head of the IPCC


* Former IPCC lead author Ben Santer openly admits that he altered portions of the 1995 IPCC report to make them "consistent with the other chapters"

* John Christy, former lead author on the 2001 IPCC report, speaks of his former co-lead authors deliberately trying to sensationalize the report

*Richard Lindzen, another lead author on the 2001 IPCC report, accused the IPCC of being "driven by politics"

* Michael Mann's "hockey stick" graph, which was featured prominently in the 2001 IPCC report, was created using only portions of a data set. The red line is the graph of Mann's selected data, while the black line is the graph of all the data:


* When asked to act as an expert reviewer on the IPCC's last two reports, Dr. Nils Axel-Morner was "astonished to find that not one of their 22 contributing authors on sea levels was a sea level specialist"

* Until 2003, the IPCC's satellite-based evidence showed no upward trend in sea level, so they used an increase of 2.3mm in one Hong Kong tide-gauge to adjust the entire global sea level up 2.3mm

* The IPCC's claim that the Himalayan glaciers were melting was based off of a phone interview with a non-scientist. They were forced to retract the claim

* The IPCC claim that global warming was led to increased natural disasters was based on an unpublished report that had not been subject to peer-review. They were forced to retract the claim

* The IPCC's claim that global warming was going to lead to deficiencies of up to 50% in African agriculture was based on a non-peer-reviewed and non-scientific paper. They were forced to retract the claim

* The IPCC's claim that "up to 40% of the Amazonian forests could react drastically to even a slight reduction in precipitation" was based on a non-peer-reviewed and non-scientific paper. They were forced to retract the claim

* The IPCC reported that 55% of the Netherlands was below sea level when just 26% of the country is below sea level. They were later forced to retract the claim

* According to the United States Historical Climatology Network (USHNC,) 90% of US climate-monitoring surface stations have been found to be "poorly situated," meaning that they have a margin of error greater than 1°C, more than the global warming in the entire 20th century. (The US surface data is generally considered the best surface data in the world):



* Many climate-monitoring surface stations are in locations that look like this:







* Temperature measurements from climate-monitoring surface stations are collected by hand. At one surface station in California, Anthony Watts found that only data from 14 out of 31 days had been completed in a month

* If a surface station is missing data for a particular day, data from surrounding surface stations is used to fill-in. Since 90% of all surface stations are poorly situated, even if a surface station itself is not poorly situated, if its data is missing for a day, there is a very good chance its temperature will be calculated using data from surface stations that are poorly situated

* In April 1978, there were 6,000 climate-monitoring surface stations. There are now about 1,200

* The vast majority of climate-monitoring stations that were lost were rural ones, which have been shown to give the most accurate data:


* The raw data is "adjusted" by a computer program. The net effect of this "adjustment" has been to increase the "adjusted" numbers over the "raw" numbers by .5°F, an increase that has been growing year by year:


* Difference between the USHCN "raw" data (in blue) and NASA "homogenized" data (in red):



* According to a leaked email in "climategate," "temperatures in Darwin [a monitoring station in Australia] were falling at 0.7 Celsius per century […]but after the homogenization, they were warming at 1.2 Celsius per century. [...][W]hen those guys “adjust,” they don’t mess around."

* According to a leaked email in "climategate," computer programmer Harry Harris called the CRU data set "hopeless," and said "the rest of the databases seem to be in nearly as poor a state as Australia was. [...]This whole project is SUCH A MESS. No wonder I needed therapy!!"


* When looking at source code leaked in "climategate" used to "process" and "adjust" temperatures, software engineer John Graham-Cumming said he found at least five errors and "wouldn't trust it"

* The Hadley CRU, the institution at the center of the "climategate" scandal, threw out original temperature data because it claimed it did not have "storage space"

* In 1990, Dr. Phil Jones, the man at the center of the "climategate" scandal, contributed to a paper arguing that the effect of urban warming in eastern China was "negligible." This became a key reference source for the IPCC. It turns out that 49 of the 84 climate-monitoring stations used for this report had no history of their locations or other details. This included 40 of the 42 rural stations. Of the rest, 18 had "certainly been moved" during the study period, including one that was moved five times over a total distance of 41 km. When Jones "re-examined" data in the same area for a 2008 paper, he found that urbanization was responsible for 40% of the warming found from 1951 to 2004

* Ross McKitrick and Patrick Michaels have argued that half of the global warming trend from 1980 to 2002 is caused by urban warming

* The Hadley CRU has been accused of using data from just 25% of Russia's surface stations, deliberately overstating Russia's warming by .64°C between the 1870's and 1990's

* According to emails leaked in "climategate," when "Climate Research" published articles by global warming skeptics, Phil Jones and others urged scientists to "stop considering 'Climate Research' as a legitimate peer-reviewed journal"

* William Connolly, a Wikipedia administrator and co-founder of Realclimate.org, a website that supports the theory of anthropogenic global warming, "touched" over 5,400 Wikipedia articles, routinely omitting voices that were skeptical of global warming

* Large computer climate models are unable to even simulate major features of past climate such as the 100 thousand year cycles of ice ages that have dominated climate for the past 700 thousand years

* This is a picture of what Britain looked like in the summer of 2009 when its sophisticated climate "supercomputer" had predicted a "barbeque summer":



* The US government spends over $2.5B funding climate research every year, and over $7B when grants for technology, tax breaks, and foreign aid are included (this is while Exxon gave $22M to global warming skeptics over a 10 year period)

* Many scientist assert that government grant money is given preferentially to advocates of man-made global warming

* Bart Chilton, a CFTC commissioner, said "carbon markets could be worth $2 trillion in transaction value – [...]within five years of trading (starting). [...]That would make it the largest physically traded commodity in the US, surpassing even oil"

* The owners of the trading floor where the carbon credits will be traded, including Goldman Sach and Al Gore, stand to earn trillions if cap-and-trade is passed


* The cap-and-trade bill allows the government police powers to come into your home and inspect it for "energy efficiency," and to fine you every day your home is not compliant


* Australian homes now have to undergo a mandatory energy-efficiency assessment - costing up to $1500 per property - before they can be sold or rented under new laws to tackle carbon emissions

* UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has called for "global governance structure" to monitor greenhouse gases, which everyone on the planet emits with every exhale


* The United Nations forecasts that the global population will rise, peak and then decline between 2050 and 2300 to just under 9 billion

* Despite proclamations that there is a "consensus" and the debate is "settled," 18% of scientists surveyed do not in the last poll trying to discern scientific consensus do not believe in man made global warming

* 45% of Americans think global warming is man-made, down 9% from just half a year earlier

* In the court case Dimmock v Secretary of State for Education and Skills, a British judge ruled that there were nine "inaccuracies" in An Inconvenient Truth, including Gore's claim that sea level could rise by up to 20 ft. The IPCC's own report predicted a maximum rise of 59cm in sea level over 100 years. The Science and Public Policy Institute has taken issue with thirty five of Gore's claims in An Inconvenient Truth

* Al Gore bought a $4M condo feet from ocean in Fisherman's Wharf, San Fransisco, a city he had explicitly warned about in "An Inconvenient Truth"

Hmm, well, that's suspicious, but I suppose that doesn't matter if he tells you it's alright.


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Saturday, February 20, 2010

DiLorenzo on the New Deal

Mises:

"Real gross domestic product per adult, which was 39 percent below trend at the trough of the Depression in 1933, remained 27 percent below trend in 1939," the authors write. And "Similarly, private hours worked were 27 percent below trend in 1933 and remained 21 percent below trend in 1939."

This should be no surprise to anyone who has studied the reality of the Great Depression, for U.S. Census Bureau statistics show that the official unemployment rate was still 17.2 percent in 1939 despite seven years of "economic salvation" at the hands of the Roosevelt administration (the normal, pre-Depression unemployment rate was about 3 percent). Per capita GDP was lower in 1939 than in 1929 ($847 vs. $857), as were personal consumption expenditures ($67.6 billion vs. $78.9 billion), according to Census Bureau data. Net private investment was minus $3.1 billion from 1930–40.

[...]"The monetary base increases more than 100 percent between 1933 and 1939," the authors write, making the case that such a "monetary shock" should have returned the economy to normalcy. They invoke the authority of well-known macroeconomists Robert Lucas and Leonard Rapping, who once proclaimed that "positive monetary shocks should have produced a strong recovery, with employment returning to its normal levels by 1936."

But as Murray Rothbard showed in America's Great Depression, it was the easy money policies of the early and mid 1920s that created all the malinvestment that was the trigger for the Great Depression. The only wise thing to have done was to allow the liquidation of hundreds of overcapitalized businesses to occur. Instead, the Fed increased the monetary base by 100 percent in five years, causing more of the same overcapitalization problems that were the source of the problem in the first place.

[...]The NIRA codes established minimum wages for less-skilled and higher-skilled workers alike; employers were told that they must bargain collectively with unions, which were given myriad legislated advantages in the bargaining process, all enforced by the newly-created National Labor Relations Board. All of these policies made labor more expensive. Consequently, as the economic law of demand informs us, the inevitable result had to be less employment.

[...]Strike activity doubled from 14 million strike days in 1936 to 28 million a year later, and wages rose by about 15 percent in 1937 alone. The union/nonunion wage differential increased from 5 percent in 1933 to 23 percent by 1940. Newly-enacted Social Security payroll and unemployment insurance taxes made employment even more expensive. What all of this means is that during a period of weak or declining derived demand for labor, government policy pushed up the price of labor very significantly, causing employers to purchase less and less of it.

[...]Vedder and Gallaway conducted an econometric evaluation of these labor cost-increasing policies and concluded that most of the abnormal unemployment of the 1930s would have been avoided were it not for these policies. They estimated that by 1940 the unemployment rate was eight percentage points higher than it would have been without the legislation-induced growth of unionism and government-mandated employment costs. They conclude that "The Great Depression was very significantly prolonged in both its duration and its magnitude by the impact of New Deal programs" (p. 141).

[...]Higgs showed that it was the relative neutering of New Deal policies, along with a reduction (in absolute dollars) of the federal budget from $98.4 billion in 1945 to $33 billion in 1948, that brought forth the economic recovery. Private-sector production increased by almost one-third in 1946 alone, as private capital investment increased for the first time in eighteen years.
Mises:

A principal feature of New Deal economic policy was government-sponsored industrial cartels (the National Recovery Act); agricultural cartels (the Agricultural Adjustment Act); and labor cartels (the Norris-LaGuardia and Wagner Acts). The purpose of any cartel is to restrict output and raise prices. Lower levels of production leads to higher unemployment, which is exactly what the NRA and AAA did.

[...]Over 700 industrial codes were created and were rigorously enforced by thousands of government code enforcers who, according to Roosevelt biographer John T. Flynn, "could enter a man's factory, send him out, line up his employees, subject them to minute interrogation, take over his books on the instant." A hapless New Jersey tailor named Jack Magid became nationally famous after he was arrested, convicted, and imprisoned by the code police for the "crime" of pressing a suit of clothes for 35 cents when the Tailors' Code fixed the price at 40 cents. The NRA was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court on May 27, 1935.

The Agricultural Adjustment Act sought to cartelize the agriculture industry by paying farmers huge sums for not growing crops and raising livestock. Farmers benefited for a while from this program, but many poor sharecroppers became destitute because of it. After the U.S. Supreme court ruled this monopolization scheme unconstitutional on January 6, 1936, Roosevelt continued with it any way by disguising the program as a "soil conservation" effort whereby farmers were ostensibly paid to "conserve soil," not to restrict output and raise prices.

The Roosevelt administration also orchestrated various price-fixing schemes in labor markets, principally for the benefit of unions. The 1933 National Industrial Recovery Act first fixed wages at above-market levels, and then required (via the "code authorities") all unionized businesses to fix their prices at higher levels. Work weeks were shortened by law at a time when underproduction was the most serious problem, and unions were given special legislative privileges that allowed them to push wages up far beyond what labor productivity levels could justify—a perfect recipe for unemployment.

Payroll taxes to finance Social Security and Unemployment Insurance programs increased employers' wage bills even further, which also reduced the level of employment. In their book Out of Work, Ohio University economists Richard Vedder and Lowell Galloway provide econometric estimates that government-mandated payroll cost increases added nearly 1.2 million people to the unemployment rolls by 1938.

Combining these labor costs with the higher wages (mostly for unionized labor) that resulted from other NIRA policies, Vedder and Galloway conclude that were it not for these policies, "the Depression would have been completely over (less than 5 percent unemployment) by 1936...the New Deal wage cost-enhancing policies more than doubled the amount of abnormally large unemployment..."

The billions of dollars spent on public works programs also failed to reduce overall unemployment—despite employing some 10 million people—because of the economic law of opportunity cost. Diverting those billions from the private sector (through taxes) to the government sector only rearranged the composition of employment—fewer private-sector jobs and more government jobs.

Roosevelt's public works programs may have been an economic failure, but they were a resounding political success as they provided virtually unlimited opportunities for political patronage. In 1939 a special U.S. Senate Committee on Campaign Expenditures investigated the programs and found that in many states workers were required to sign a pledge to vote Democratic and, in some cases, to make campaign contributions, as a condition of employment. Businesses that sold supplies to the government were in some places required to make campaign contributions to the Democratic party in return for the contracts. The New Deal was largely a legalized shake-down operation.

[...]Guided by this directive, Jones and the RFC redirected billions of dollars in valuable capital to politically-connected but economically-questionable businesses. "We even loaned money to [the owners of] a drove of reindeer in Alaska," Jones boasted. The RFC was abolished in the 1955 under a cloud of corruption and scandal.
Mises:

In 1946, the program's first year, the government dumped $1.3 billion on higher education. This may not seem like much today, but it was then the largest program giving direct payments to individuals, exceeding unemployment benefits, Social Security (by four times), military retirement (by one third), and even agricultural subsidies during the heyday of rural central planning. Two years later, it had exploded in cost by 250 percent.

[...]The tool used by government was the college accrediting agency. A network of them was originally established in the late 19th century to work as private buffers between academia and government. Their purpose was to insure high standards, and prevent government subsidies from leading to government control.

After the second world war, the federal government used various college accrediting agencies to ostensibly guarantee a quality education for veterans. Only accredited schools could receive G.I. Bill funds, so the accrediting agencies quickly transformed themselves. They became the gatekeepers of the tax money and virtual adjuncts of federal power. This gatekeeper role expanded as federal funding of higher education escalated.

"Individual courses as well as whole curriculums" must be "attuned to the new tempo of society," wrote J. Hillis Miller, the New York education commissioner. Traditionalists will fight "a losing battle" because "any postwar nostalgic yearning for a college curriculum as it used to be is unlikely to be realized." "Higher education may have to lose its life in order to find it again," he writes with glee, "and in its transformation it may well find that it has helped to create a new world of light and hope."

This new world arrived almost immediately, as virtually every college and university in the country clamored for money and students, and willingly threw out traditional standards. This infusion of tax dollars created, notes Robert Nisbet, "the single most powerful agent of change that we can find in the university's long history." Had anyone objected at the time, he would have been put down as selfish and undemocratic.

Today, accreditation agencies, private in name only, have tremendous power over colleges and universities, and they are slavish to government's agenda. Today, these agencies are the major source of political correctness and big-government ideology on college campuses.

As Patrick Riley, a professor of classical antiquity at Concordia College in Wisconsin, has argued, accrediting agencies now look beyond traditional criteria such as library resources, classroom space, and educational qualifications of faculty. They impose "diversity standards," which attempt to tell colleges and universities what they should teach, who should teach it, and to whom it should be taught.

[...]In 1989, Middle States announced that it intended to withhold reaccreditation from Westminster Theological Seminary, a school of very high standards and one of the few remaining Calvinist seminaries in the country. Why? Because the school's all-clergy board was all male. It didn't matter that the seminary regarded the ordination of women as contrary to Scripture.

[...]Government money has also politicized research. As Joseph Martino writes in Science Funding, "federal funding of science means federal control of the content of science."

Whenever government has funded any type of education, that education has become politicized, academic standards have declined, and intellectual independence has been lost. The history of the G.I. Bill illustrates this truth.

This is also why school vouchers would turn what remains of America's independent schools into pathetic, subsidy-seeking wards of the state, concerned more with indoctrinating their students in the latest political fads than with educating them.
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Are Libertarians more intelligent than other political groups?

I did a Google search for this after watching some particularly enlightening, or something like that, partisan bickering.

Tiny Vital:

In Dissecting Leftism, Dr. John Ray attacks the claim that the Leftism of college professors is the outcome of their high intelligence. He counters that Mensa, whose only membership requirement is an IQ in the top 2%, has a disproportionately Libertarian membership.
Stormfront:

Re: MENSA anyone?

I suggest people give it a try if they qualify, I did.

The best was meeting some international British folks fleeing Southern Africa.

The worst is having to be stuck with boring Libertarians - and Mensa attracts these know it all, boring libertarians like sugar attracts flies.
Hmm, I wonder.


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Friday, February 19, 2010

Citi gets one step closer to freezing accounts

Seeking Alpha:

Seen on a recent Citibank (C) statement: "Effective April 1, 2010, we reserve the right to require (7) days advance notice before permitting a withdrawal from all checking accounts. While we do not currently exercise this right and have not exercised it in the past, we are required by law to notify you of this change."

Whoa. Is this an April Fool's joke?

[...]I called Citi about it and they said the warning applies only to customers in Texas and that the notification had been mistakenly included on statements nationwide. Whatever the explanation, it doesn't exactly inspire confidence in Citi.
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Nothing on TV is real: TV and green screens




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ACLU buys into false premise

In its ever-expanding intrusion into everything that used to be “private,” the TSA has decided that it is now going to start “randomly swabbing passengers’ hands at checkpoints and airport gates to test them for traces of explosives.” Presumably, they think terrorists aren’t going to wash their hands.

The fact that the TSA has done this isn’t surprising to me. When you give one entity a legal monopoly over any field, in this case airline security, their instinct is to expand more and more. There are no checks on them. They have a legal monopoly and can do whatever they want.

What is surprising to me is that the ACLU has supported this position. In fact, an attorney with the ACLU has said that the ACLU has “always supported explosive detection as a good form of security that doesn't really invade privacy,” and just wants it to be done in a way that is “discriminatory” and “treat[s] people with dignity.”

Well, I’m sure that will happen. Can we ever imagine a situation when the government would not treat its citizens with “dignity?” (That was sarcasm in case you couldn’t tell.)

The issue here is that the ACLU seems to have bought into a false premise: that airline security is an issue of “national security.” What is “national” about airline security? If we assume that air travel is a matter of “national security,” could we not as easily extend this idea to car travel? Or, if we take it to its logical extreme, even to walking down the street?

No, airline security is a private security issue. It should be decided by the airlines.

There are a variety of different opinions about how much “security” people think is necessary. Some people want a fairly heavy amount of security, while others want a much more minimal amount of security. Who are we to say who is right and who’s wrong? Should we not give both groups options?

This is exactly what allowing “security” to the individual airlines would allow: degree of “security” would be another issue that companies could compete over. Different options would presumably be made available to satisfy different tastes. When we give the TSA a legal monopoly, we only offer people only one option, an option that seems to be getting more and more invasive.

I know there have been terrorist attacks using airplanes as weapons. More specifically, three, three terrorist attacks, all on the same day. Does that really make this an issue of “national” security? Can we not apply the same reasoning to every form of travel, including driving a car or walking? If we sacrifice liberty for “security,” do we deserve either?


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Thursday, February 18, 2010

How lack of property rights nearly killed the pilgrims

Open Market:

Many people believe that after suffering through a severe winter, the Pilgrims’ food shortages were resolved the following spring when the Native Americans taught them to plant corn and a Thanksgiving celebration resulted. In fact, the pilgrims continued to face chronic food shortages for three years until the harvest of 1623. Bad weather or lack of farming knowledge did not cause the pilgrims’ shortages. Bad economic incentives did.

In 1620 Plymouth Plantation was founded with a system of communal property rights. . .People received the same rations whether or not they contributed to producing the food, and residents were forbidden from producing their own food. . . Because of the poor incentives, little food was produced.

Faced with potential starvation in the spring of 1623, the colony decided to implement a new economic system. Every family was assigned a private parcel of land. They could then keep all they grew for themselves, but now they alone were responsible for feeding themselves. . .

This change, [Governor William] Bradford wrote, had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been. Giving people economic incentives changed their behavior. Once the new system of property rights was in place, the women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn; which before would allege weakness and inability.

Once the Pilgrims in the Plymouth Plantation abandoned their communal economic system and adopted one with greater individual property rights, they never again faced the starvation and food shortages of the first three years.
Hoover Digest:

Eventually, however, Carver and Cushman did accept terms stipulating that at the end of seven years everything would be divided equally between investors and colonists. Some historians claim that those who came over on the Mayflower were exploited by capitalists. In a sense, they were. But of course they came voluntarily.

The colonists hoped that the houses they built would be exempt from the division of wealth at the end of seven years; in addition, they sought two days a week in which to work on their own “particular” plots (much as collective farmers later had their own private plots in the Soviet Union). The Pilgrims would thereby avoid servitude. But the investors refused to allow these loopholes, undoubtedly worried that if the Pilgrims—three thousand miles away and beyond the reach of supervision—owned their own houses and plots, the investors would find it difficult to collect their due. How could they be sure that the faraway colonists would spend their days working for the company if they were allowed to become private owners? With such an arrangement, rational colonists would work little on “company time,” reserving their best efforts for their own gardens and houses. Such private wealth would be exempt when the shareholders were paid off. Only by insisting that all accumulated wealth was to be “common wealth,” or placed in a common pool, could the investors feel reassured that the colonists would be working to benefit everyone, including themselves.

[...]Common ownership would also “foster communion” among the Pilgrims, he thought (wrongly). Having held discussions with the investors, who seem to have been unyielding, Cushman wanted to close the deal. So he tried to persuade his brethren not to worry about the property arrangements. Those still in Leyden remained unconvinced and unreconciled to the terms, but there was little they could do. Many had already sold their property in Holland and so had no bargaining power.

It is worth emphasizing all this because it is sometimes said that the Pilgrims in Massachusetts established a colony with common property in emulation of the early Christians. Not so. It is true that their agent Cushman used arguments that were calculated to appeal to Christians—in particular warning them against the perils of prosperity—in order to justify his acceptance of unpopular terms. No doubt he felt that a bad deal was better than none. But the investors themselves unquestionably had profit in mind when they insisted on common property. The Pilgrims went along because they had little choice.

The Pilgrims may have been “exploited,” but a greater source of hardship was the harsh environment of the North American continent. This needs to be stressed, given the tendency to regard the wealth of the United States as a product of “abundant natural resources” and the equally erroneous association of the Mayflower and those who arrived in it with the idea of privilege.

[...]By the spring of 1623, the population of Plymouth can have been no larger than 150. But the colony was still barely able to feed itself, and little cargo was returning for the investors in England. On one occasion newcomers found that there was no bread at all, only fish or a piece of lobster and water. “So they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery,” Bradford wrote in his key passage on property.

Having tried what Bradford called the “common course and condition”—the communal stewardship of the land demanded of them by their investors—Bradford reports that the community was afflicted by an unwillingness to work, by confusion and discontent, by a loss of mutual respect, and by a prevailing sense of slavery and injustice. And this among “godly and sober men.” In short, the experiment was a failure that was endangering the health of the colony.

[...]Bradford’s history of the colony records the decision:

At length, after much debate of things, the Governor (with the advice of the chiefest amongst them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves; in all other things to go in the general way as before. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number.
So the land they worked was converted into private property, which brought “very good success.” The colonists immediately became responsible for their own actions (and those of their immediate families), not for the actions of the whole community. Bradford also suggests in his history that more than land was privatized.

The system became self-policing. Knowing that the fruits of his labor would benefit his own family and dependents, the head of each household was given an incentive to work harder. He could know that his additional efforts would help specific people who depended on him. In short, the division of property established a proportion or “ratio” between act and consequence. Human action is deprived of rationality without it, and work will decline sharply as a result.

[...]Property in Plymouth was further privatized in the years ahead. The housing and later the cattle were assigned to separate families, and provision was made for the inheritance of wealth. The colony flourished. Plymouth Colony was absorbed into the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and in the prosperous years that lay ahead, nothing more was heard of “the common course and condition.”
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Do price controls work?

Maybe someone should tell this to the people in charge of Medicare. Oh wait. We can run up an endless debt.

Mises:

The case against price controls is not merely an academic exercise, restricted to economics textbooks. There is a four-thousand-year historical record of economic catastrophe after catastrophe caused by price controls. This record is partly documented in an excellent book entitled Forty Centuries of Wage and Price Controls by Robert Schuettinger and Eamon Butler, first published in 1979.

The authors begin by quoting Jean-Philippe Levy, author of The Economic Life of the Ancient World,as noting that in Egypt during the Third Century B.C. "there was a real omnipresence of the state" in regulating grain production and distribution. "[A]ll prices were fixed by fiat at all levels." This "control took on frightening proportions. There was a whole army of inspectors."

Egyptian farmers became so infuriated with the price control inspectors that many of them simply left their farms. By the end of the century the "Egyptian economy collapsed as did her political stability."

In Babylon some 4,000 years ago the Code of Hammurabi was a maze of price control regulations. "If a man hire a field-labourer, he shall give him eight gur of corn per annum"; "If a man hire a herdsman, he shall give him six gur of corn per annum"; "If a man hire a sixty-ton boat, he shall give a sixth part of a shekel of silver per diem for her hire." And on and on and on. Such laws "smothered economic progress in the empire for many centuries," as the historical record describes. Once these laws were laid down "there was a remarkable change in the fortunes of the people."

Ancient Greece also imposed price controls on grain and established "an army of grain inspectors appointed for the purpose of setting the price of grain at a level the Athenian government thought to be just." Greek price controls inevitably led to grain shortages, but ancient entrepreneurs saved thousands from starvation by evading these unjust laws. Despite the imposition of the death penalty for evading Greek price control laws, the laws "were almost impossible to enforce." The shortages created by the price control laws created black market profit opportunities, to the great benefit of the public.

In 284 A.D. the Roman emperor Diocletian created inflation by placing too much money in circulation, and then "fixed the maximum prices at which beef, grain, eggs, clothing and other articles could be sold, and prescribed the penalty of death for anyone who disposed of his wares at a higher figure." The results, as Schuettinger and Butler explain, quoting an ancient historian, were that "the people brought provisions no more to markets, since they could not get a reasonable price for them and this increased the dearth so much, that at last after many had died by it, the law itself was set aside."

Moving closer to modern times, George Washington's revolutionary army nearly starved to death in the field thanks to price controls on food that were imposed by Pennsylvania and other colonial governments. Pennsylvania specifically imposed price controls on "those commodities needed for use by the army," creating disastrous shortages of everything needed by the army. The Continental Congress wisely adopted an anti-price-control resolution on June 4, 1778 that read: "Whereas it hath been found by experience that limitations upon the prices of commodities are not only ineffectual for the purpose proposed, but likewise productive of very evil consequences--resolved, that it be recommended to the several states to repeal or suspend all laws limiting, regulating or restraining the Price of any Article." And, write Schuettinger and Butler, "By the fall of 1778 the army was fairly well provided for as a direct result of this change in policy."

French politicians repeated the same mistakes after their revolution, putting into place the "Law of the Maximum" in 1793, which first imposed price controls on grain, and then on a long list of other items. Predictably, "in some [French] towns, the people were so badly fed that they were collapsing in the streets from lack of nourishment." A delegation from various provinces wrote to the government in Paris that before the new price control law, "our markets were supplied, but as soon as we fixed the price of wheat and rye we saw no more of those grains. The other kinds not subject to the maximum were the only ones brought in." The French government was forced to abolish its evil price control law after it had literally killed thousands. When Robespierre was being carried through the streets of Paris on the way to his execution the crowds shouted, "There goes the dirty Maximum!" If only this were a lesson learned by contemporary politicians.

At the end of World War II American central planners were even more totalitarian when it came to economic policy than were the former Nazis. During the post-war occupation of Germany, American "planners" rather liked the Nazi economic controls, including price controls, that were in fact preventing economic recovery. The notorious Nazi Hermann Goering even lectured the American war correspondent Henry Taylor about it! As recounted by Schuettinger and Butler, Goering said:

Your America is doing many things in the economic field which we found out caused us so much trouble. You are trying to control peoples' wages and prices — peoples' work. If you do that you must control peoples' lives. And no country can do that part way. I tried and it failed. Nor can any country do it all the way either. I tried that too and it failed. You are no better planners than we. I should think your economists would read what happened here.
Price controls were finally ended in Germany by Economic Minister Ludwig Erhard in 1948, on a Sunday, when the American occupation authorities would be out of their offices and unable to stop him. This spawned the "German economic miracle." (If I remember correctly, post-war Germany was basically broken down economically because of these price controls)

Price controls were the cause of the "energy crisis" of the 1970s and of the California energy crisis of the 1990s (only the wholesale price of electricity was deregulated there; controls were placed on retail prices). For more than four thousand years, dictators, despots, and politicians of all stripes have viewed price controls as the ultimate "something for nothing" promise to the public.

With the wave of a hand, or the flash of a legislative pen, they promise to make everything cheaper. And for more than four thousand years the results have been exactly the same: shortages, sometimes of catastrophic consequence; deterioration of product quality; the proliferation of black markets on which prices are actually higher and bribery is rampant; destruction of a nation's productive capacity in the industries where prices are controlled; gross distortions of markets; the creation of oppressive and tyrannical price control bureaucracies; and a dangerous concentration of political power in the hands of the price controllers.
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Taibbi on Wall St cons

I think this shows the danger of giving one agency a monopoly on ratings/regulation.

In 1975, the SEC said that debt had to be rated by one of seven ratings agencies
. That number is now three, I believe (Moody's, Fitch, S&P's.) We saw how well they did with their ratings.

The FDA has a legal monopoly on saying what drugs, etc., are safe for market, yet they allow numerous drugs that have been proven ineffective and/or unsafe and explicitly state they have no intention of changing.

Now it seems at least from this that the FASB has a monopoly on determining what accounting standards are used, and it seems like they've gone exactly the same way as the ratings cartel and the FDA.

Rolling Stone:

The Pig in the Poke also came into play in April of last year, when Congress pushed a little-known agency called the Financial Accounting Standards Board, or FASB, to change the so-called "mark-to-market" accounting rules. Until this rule change, banks had to assign a real-market price to all of their assets. If they had a balance sheet full of securities they had bought at $3 that were now only worth $1, they had to figure their year-end accounting using that $1 value. In other words, if you were the dope who bought a cat instead of a pig, you couldn't invite your shareholders to a slate of pork dinners come year-end accounting time.

But last April, FASB changed all that. From now on, it announced, banks could avoid reporting losses on some of their crappy cat investments simply by declaring that they would "more likely than not" hold on to them until they recovered their pig value. In short, the banks didn't even have to actually hold on to the toxic shit they owned — they just had to sort of promise to hold on to it.

That's why the "profit" numbers of a lot of these banks are really a joke. In many cases, we have absolutely no idea how many cats are in their proverbial bag. What they call "profits" might really be profits, only minus undeclared millions or billions in losses.

Goldman's "flash trading"

[...]The SEC voted to ban flash trading in September, but five months later it has yet to issue a regulation to put a stop to the practice.

[...]Six months after a federal prosecutor admitted in open court that the Goldman trading program could be used to unfairly manipulate markets, the bank released its annual numbers. Among the notable details was the fact that a staggering 76 percent of its revenue came from trading, both for its clients and for its own account. "That is much, much higher than any other bank," says Prins, the former Goldman managing director. "If I were a client and I saw that they were making this much money from trading, I would question how badly I was getting screwed."

[...]That's why the biggest gift the bankers got in the bailout was not fiscal but psychological. "The most valuable part of the bailout," says Rep. Sherman, "was the implicit guarantee that they're Too Big to Fail."
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Tax rates for top 400 in America decrease while income increases

Tax.com (David Cay Johnston):

In 2007 the top 400 taxpayers had an average income of $344.8 million, up 31 percent from their average $263.3 million income in 2006, according to figures in a report that the IRS posted to its Web site without announcement that were discovered February 16.

The figures came at the peak of the last economic cycle and show that widely published reports in major newspapers asserting that the richest Americans are losing relative ground and "becoming poorer" are not supported by the official income data.

[...][The 400 taxpayers'] effective income tax rate fell to 16.62 percent, down more than half a percentage point from 17.17 percent in 2006, the new data show. That rate is lower than the typical effective income tax rate paid by Americans with incomes in the low six figures, which is what each taxpayer in the top group earned in the first three hours of 2007.

Taxpayers on the 95th to 99th steps on the income ladder paid an effective income tax rate of 17.52 percent, according to calculations by the Tax Foundation, a nonprofit research group that favors less taxation and lower rates. Taxpayers in this category earned between $255,000 and $451,000 in 2007, compared with an average daily income of almost $945,000 for the top 400, who paid lower effective tax rates on average.

Payroll taxes did not add a significant burden to the top 400, not changing the rounding of rates by even one decimal. With payroll taxes taken into account, the effective tax rate of the top 400 would be 17.2 percent in 2006 and 16.6 percent in 2007, my analysis shows -- the same as not counting payroll taxes. As a point of comparison, about two-thirds of Americans pay more in Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment taxes than in federal income taxes.

[...]Adjusted for inflation to 2009 dollars, the top 400 enjoyed a 27 percent increase in their income, or nine times the rate of increase for the bottom 90 percent,
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