Saturday, July 31, 2010

Do unions slow economic growth?

I believe this is all unions, not just public ones. I think public and private unions are two totally different things.

Naked Capitalism:

There is a common myth that unions hurt productivity, supposedly because they impose work rules that make their employers less efficient. The evidence from industrial relations studies does not support this myth. A broad study of the economics literature found “a positive association [of unions on productivity] is established for the United States in general and for U.S. manufacturing” in particular (Doucouliagos and Laroche 2003, 1).1 And as the second chart below reveals, international comparisons suggest that high productivity and very high union density are entirely compatible.
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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

SEC says new financial 'regulation' bill gives it exemption from FOIA requests


Fox Business

Under a little-noticed provision of the recently passed financial-reform legislation, the Securities and Exchange Commission no longer has to comply with virtually all requests for information releases from the public, including those filed under the Freedom of Information Act.

The law, signed last week by President Obama, exempts the SEC from disclosing records or information derived from "surveillance, risk assessments, or other regulatory and oversight activities." Given that the SEC is a regulatory body, the provision covers almost every action by the agency, lawyers say. Congress and federal agencies can request information, but the public cannot.

[...]The SEC cited the new law Tuesday in a FOIA action brought by FOX Business Network. Steven Mintz, founding partner of law firm Mintz & Gold LLC in New York, lamented what he described as “the backroom deal that was cut between Congress and the SEC to keep the SEC’s failures secret. The only losers here are the American public.”

If the SEC’s interpretation stands, Mintz, who represents FOX Business Network, predicted “the next time there is a Bernie Madoff failure the American public will not be able to obtain the SEC documents that describe the failure,” referring to the shamed broker whose Ponzi scheme cost investors billions.

[...]Criticism of the provision has been swift. “It allows the SEC to block the public’s access to virtually all SEC records,” said Gary Aguirre, a former SEC staff attorney-turned-whistleblower who had accused the agency of thwarting an investigation into hedge fund Pequot Asset Management in 2005. “It permits the SEC to promulgate its own rules and regulations regarding the disclosure of records without getting the approval of the Office of Management and Budget, which typically applies to all federal agencies.”
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"Government is the only agency that can take a valuable commodity like paper, slap some ink on it, and make it totally worthless."

- Ludwig von Mises

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7 notable scientists against 'Global Warming'

This is just one from Freeman Dyson, unifier of quantum electrodynamics theory.

Watt's Up with That

“My first heresy says that all the fuss about global warming is grossly exaggerated. Here I am opposing the holy brotherhood of climate model experts and the crowd of deluded citizens who believe the numbers predicted by the computer models. Of course, they say, I have no degree in meteorology and I am therefore not qualified to speak. But I have studied the climate models and I know what they can do. The models solve the equations of fluid dynamics, and they do a very good job of describing the fluid motions of the atmosphere and the oceans. They do a very poor job of describing the clouds, the dust, the chemistry and the biology of fields and farms and forests. They do not begin to describe the real world that we live in. The real world is muddy and messy and full of things that we do not yet understand. It is much easier for a scientist to sit in an air-conditioned building and run computer models, than to put on winter clothes and measure what is really happening outside in the swamps and the clouds. That is why the climate model experts end up believing their own models.” – Freeman Dyson
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Has NAFTA been good for America?

I know this is controversial among my libertarian friends, but from what I've seen we've lost jobs and prices have not come down.

Global Research:

President Clinton could not have gotten it more wrong. According to an analysis by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), the number of U.S. jobs created by export expansion in relation to the number of U.S. jobs lost to the growth of foreign imports because of NAFTA in its first ten years resulted in a net loss of 879,280 jobs. (See "NAFTA – Related Job Losses Have Piled Up Since 1993" by Robert E. Scott.) This is not to mention the downward pressure on U.S. workers’ wages NAFTA created, which contributed to their relative stagnation since the mid 70s.
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Friday, July 23, 2010

Declining number of commercial banks


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One of my favorite stories about how stupid statist Keynesians are


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Mish on public unions and Newark's insolvency

If your a fan of Corey Booker, or at least of the documentary 'Street Fight,' or even just of Newark (kind of), like I am, it's pretty disturbing to see how clueless they are about the budget crisis over there.

Booker seemed to be getting groomed for much higher things. If he switches his philosophy from statism to libertarianism, he just might be able to succeed on his own.

Mish with solutions.

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What is the relationship between public unions and state solvency?


It would be tempting to say that these states are performing relatively better in budgeting than the other 29. But it would be true only in the case of Arkansas, which according to the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities is one of only four states not facing a deficit in 2011. The other three all allow the kind of public sector unionization the bill would force on all 50 states.

Far from correlating with fiscal thrift, restrictions on public sector collective bargaining may have little effect on deficits. The 21 states above include (again using CBPP's figures) some of the most mismanaged state budgets in the country. Colorado is looking at a shortfall of 21 percent of its fiscal 2011 budget, Georgia 26 percent, South Carolina 26 percent and Arizona a whopping 37 percent.

Is it different for states that completely bar collective public employee bargaining? Apparently not: Virginia, one of two states that prohibits bargaining entirely, has a relatively manageable 9 percent budget gap -- but North Carolina, the other one, is looking at a massive 30 percent shortfall.
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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Teachers' union and tele-education


In its 2010 legislative program, the Indiana State Teachers Association claims to support virtual schools. That is, as long as the programs adhere to nearly all of the criteria that define traditional schools, including class size, seat time, teacher licensing, grading mechanisms, and the physical location and conditions for testing. They can’t open their programs to homeschooled kids, and they can’t spend more than 5 percent of their budgets on administrative costs.

Teachers unions, consistently among the biggest donors to U.S. election campaigns, are incredibly powerful. The National Education Association can buy and sell elections, but a continuous flow of membership dues will be tougher to come by if online education blooms.

[...]Only 28 states allow full-time online programs right now. If you’re a kid who lives in New York, you don’t have access to any public online programs. In Virginia you have online A.P. courses, but nothing full time. If you’re in California, you have access to full-time programs but not supplemental ones, unless you happen to live in a district that made an independent investment in online learning.
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Medicaid mortalities


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Do markets make people more fair?


Here's one snippet from one of the links:

Fifteen years in the making, the study combines two major, comparative cross-cultural projects that examine how motivations for fairness and punishment influence economic decisions, and how these motivations relate to variables that differ across societies, such as community size, adherence to a world religion and market dependence and exchange.

[...]The findings show that people living in small communities lacking market integration or a world religion – absences that likely characterized all societies until about 10,000 years ago – display relatively little concern with fairness or punishing unfairness in transactions involving strangers or anonymous others, a pattern that makes sense given how local norms and institutions actually function in these societies.
Also, Americans give about twice as much from their aggregate incomes as Canadians.

Also, more here:

In previous work, Venkatasubramanian used the approach to determine that the 2008 salaries of the top 35 CEOs in the United States were about 129 times their ideal fair salaries - and CEOs in the Standard & Poor's 500 averaged about 50 times their fair pay - raising questions about the effectiveness of the free market to properly determine CEO pay.
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Monday, July 19, 2010

This video has over 89M views

What the fuck is wrong with us?

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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Hillary Clinton once favored 'single payer'

Not only do we have Commie Obama saying it, but the Secretary of State too.

Single payer = price controls. Price controls = don't work.

It's right at 3:15 or so. Princeton Professor Uwe Reinhardt just lets it slip in a response.

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Monday, July 12, 2010

Free speech in Canada

The really interesting part, to me, starts a bit after 2:30.

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Government standing in the way of private charities

– Gainesville, Florida began enforcing a rule limiting the number of meals that soup kitchens may serve to 130 people in one day.

– Phoenix, Arizona used zoning laws to stop a local church from serving breakfast to community members, including many homeless people, outside a local church.

– Myrtle Beach, South Carolina adopted an ordinance that restricts food sharing with homeless people in public parks. …

– In Orlando, Florida the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit against the City of Orlando on behalf of local organizations, challenging a 2006 law requiring a groups sharing food with 25 or more people to obtain a permit that was only available twice a year per park. A federal district court found the law to be unconstitutional and in violation of Free Exercise of Religion and Freedom of Speech in October of 2008. The city has appealed the decision and the appeal is pending.

– In San Diego, California the zoning department attempted to prohibit a local church from serving a weekly meal to community members, many of them homeless.7 In 2008, attorney Scott Dreher successfully defended the church’s First Amendment right to practice its religion. The weekly meal continues to take place on church property and serves 150 to 200 people each week.
Also, charity aid is apparently very needed:
- 82% (22 of 27) of cities surveyed, in 2009, reported having to make adjustments to accommodate an increase in the demand for shelter over the past year.

- 25% of requests for emergency food assistance went unmet in 2009.

- 26% was the average increase in demand for assistance reported by cities in 2009, which represents the largest average increase since 1991.
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Saturday, July 10, 2010

George Washington: nation's largest distiller of whiskey

George Washington was apparently the largest distiller of whiskey in the new American nation during the late 1700s. In 1798, the year before his death, Washington’s distillery at Mount Vernon produced 11,000 gallons of whiskey and produced a profit of $7,500. That was an enormous sum of money over 200 years ago.

Washington began producing whiskey at the suggestion of his plantation manager, who was Scottish. The new distiller first began by purchasing a copper still, but his first batch was so successful that he bought three more stills and built a larger distillery.
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NJ and privatization

I haven't read this, but it's interesting just to take a look at how many things are done by the government. Page 14 gives a quick break down.

Basically, this was done because Gov. Chris Christy is looking for ways to save money.

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Frederick Douglass and guns


The great abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass, for instance, who famously urged President Abraham Lincoln to arm the liberated slaves against their former masters, was an outspoken champion of gun rights in the decades after the Civil War. American liberty depends upon “the ballot-box, the jury-box, and the cartridge-box,” Douglass wrote in his third and final autobiography, The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1881). Without these privileges and immunities of citizenship, “no class of people could live and flourish in this country.”
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Just how free is Hong Kong?

Fascinating article about the mixture of capitalism and statism in what's often called the world's freest economy.

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Welcome your new Socialist head of Medicare



Ladies and germs, meet your new bureaucratic head of Medicare and Medicaid, Dr. Donald Berwick, Harvard's latest train wreck of an appointee:

“Please don’t put your faith in market forces,” he said (italics in original). “It’s a popular idea: that Adam Smith’s invisible hand would do a better job of designing care than leaders with plans can. I find little evidence that market forces relying on consumers choosing among an array of products, with competitors fighting it out, leads to the healthcare system you want and need. In the US, competition is a major reason for our duplicative, supply driven, fragmented care system.”

Berwick argued that purposely provided an inadequate supply of health-care—as Britain’s health-care system does—is superior to allowing the market to provide an excess.

“In America, the best predictor of cost is supply; the more we make, the more we use—hospi­tal beds, consultancy services, procedures, diagnostic tests,” Dr. Berwick wrote. “… Here, you choose a harder path. You plan the supply; you aim a bit low; you prefer slightly too lit­tle of a technology or a service to too much; then you search for care bottlenecks and try to relieve them.”
That's from a 2008 journal article praising Britain's NHS, the public-sector equivalent of K-Mart.

And there's this, too, which reads like a blurb on the Big Book of British Smiles or the tag line to the Nanny McPhee sequel:

“Cynics beware, I am romantic about the National Health Service; I love it. … The NHS is one of the astounding human endeavours of modern times.”
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Before the welfare state

Independent Institute:

As a result, the size of the dependent population remained infinitesimal by today’s standards. According to a study by the U.S. Census in 1905, only 1 out of every 150 Americans (excluding prisoners) resided in a public or private institution of any kind, including almshouses, asylums, orphanages, and hospitals.

The numbers of Americans dependent on relief were also small. As late as 1931, about 93,000 families received mothers’ pensions, the state-funded antecedents to AFDC. By comparison, the current AFDC caseload includes 4.6 million parents.

[...]For what it is worth, more than a few leaders of fraternal societies posited a relationship between these two trends [Growth of the welfare state and decline of the fraternal lodges]. As the magazine of the Fraternal Order of Eagles put it in 1915, "the State is doing or planning to do for the wage-earners what our Order was a pioneer in doing 18 years ago. All this is lessening the popular appeal of our beneficial features. With that appeal weakened or gone, we shall have lost a strong argument for joining the Order; for no fraternity can depend entirely on its recreational features to attract members."
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Intelligent health care

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Tax gap

NY Times:

[T]here are many business owners who fail to report all of their business income on their tax returns and financial statements. The IRS has estimated the net tax gap of business income to be more than $100 billion.

Many of these businesses tend to be cash intensive: convenience stores, restaurants, retail, auto shops, coin-operated car washes and laundromats. ... The inevitable question of unreported income would elicit one of two responses from the owner. The first was a general sheepishness, while the other was a prickly defensiveness: “It’s my business. Besides, lots of people do it."
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Thursday, July 1, 2010

People gaming Massachusetts health insurance system

The number of people who appear to be gaming the state’s health insurance system by purchasing coverage only when they are sick quadrupled from 2006 to 2008, according to a long-awaited report released yesterday from the Massachusetts Division of Insurance.

The result is that insured residents of Massachusetts wind up paying more for health care…

The number of people engaging in this phenomenon — dumping their coverage within six months — jumped from 3,508 in 2006, when the law was passed, to 17,177 in 2008, the most recent year for which data are available.
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