Issue CCXXXV

February 11-14, 2010

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Culture
Happy-Face Totalitarian Commercials:
Edward Hudgins
February 12, 2010
Three recent TV ads get our attention with totalitarianism, writes Dr. Edward Hudgins. They do so to different degrees and in different ways. And they certainly are barometers of the shift in the popular culture in this once-free country.

Economics
Lessons for America from Hugo Chavez, Economist:
Robert P. Murphy
February 14, 2010
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has decided to devalue his country's currency and impose price controls. Dr. Robert Murphy writes that these actions will provide U.S. politicians, economics professors, and the public with a textbook demonstration of how bad government policies hurt consumers.

The Fed as Giant Counterfeiter:
Robert P. Murphy
February 14, 2010
Once you understand the details of modern central banking, writes Dr. Robert Murphy, you are able to step back and see that it truly is a way for the government to use the printing press to pay its bills. All of the complicated process of targeting interest rates through buying Treasuries simply hides this essential point — and perhaps deliberately so.

Innovation in Charity and Unjust Legal Obstacles:

Robert P. Murphy
February 14, 2010
Dr. Robert Murphy is a professional economist, which means he can't just be happy when people try to help others. Instead, he feels compelled to analyze whether their altruistic actions are efficient or if they seem to be a waste of resources. In a recent flash of insight, Dr. Murphy came up with a way to make charitable impulses more productive, but he had to abandon the idea once he realized the government wouldn't approve.

More Spending is Always the Answer:

Ron Paul
February 14, 2010

Rep. Ron Paul writes that continually increasing the debt is one of the logical outcomes of Keynesianism, since more government spending is always their answer.  It is claimed that government must not stop spending when the economy is so fragile. Government must act.  Yet, when times are good, government also increases in size and scope, because we can afford it, it is claimed.  There is never a good time to rein in government spending according to Keynesian economists and the proponents of big government. Free-market Austrian economists, on the other hand, know that times are bad because of the size and scope of the federal government.

The Brilliance of That Hayek vs. Keynes Rap:
Jeffrey Tucker
February 14, 2010
The beauty of new media is their capacity for showing us what we otherwise might miss. Fear the Boom and Bust, a YouTube video made by producer John Papola and economist Russ Roberts, and backed by the Mercatus Center of George Mason University, turns this advantage to the point of genius, pitting Keynes and Hayek against each other in a rap that captures a reality few have fully understood until now. Jeffrey Tucker explains why this rap is so effective at communicating economic ideas to large audiences.


Philosophy
Putting Randomness in Its Place:
G. Stolyarov II
February 11, 2010
A widespread misunderstanding of the meaning of the term "randomness" often results in false generalizations made regarding reality. In particular, writes Mr. Stolyarov, the view of randomness as metaphysical, rather than epistemological, is responsible for numerous commonplace fallacies.

Politics
Obama's Energy Vision:
Gary Wolfram
February 12, 2010
The President has made it clear in his State of the Union address, and in his 2011 Budget, that rather than focus on an economy that has shed more than 10 million jobs during this recession, he will remain fixed on his attempt to “change America” into what is his vision for us. In particular, the President, while noting the dire state of the economy and the need to create an environment where producers will hire additional workers, is sticking with his plan to increase energy costs in the U.S. This, writes Dr. Gary Wolfram, will result in the loss of even more jobs. 

Science
Why on Earth Do Some Still Blame Vaccines for Autism?:
Bradley Doucet
February 11, 2010
Here’s a question: How do you decide what to think about a controversial issue? Must you become an expert on the issue? Must you devote thousands upon thousands of hours to poring over the evidence, checking and rechecking every fact through firsthand research and experimentation? Clearly, this is impossible even for an expert, who must accept a whole slew of facts as given. And just as clearly, an expert is an expert in only one area. What about all of the other controversies? Bradley Doucet explores this question in the context of the controversy regarding whether vaccines cause autism.

Science vs. Alarmism: The 4th International Conference on Climate Change:
Tom DeWeese
February 14, 2010
It has been an amazing year, watching the once-powerful global warming movement virtually collapse into scandal and disrepute as the “climategate” revelations of data tampering continue to grow. Now a new event is on the horizon that, according to Tom DeWeese, may well be the final nail in anthropogenic global warming’s coffin.
                                                       
"It is better to risk sparing a guilty person than to condemn an innocent one." 
~ Francois-Marie Arouet de Voltaire