Issue CCLXXVIII

February 19, 2011

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Culture
Apocalypse Not!:
Alan Caruba

February 19, 2011
There is no religion, past or present, that has not generated an End Times prediction. As the year 2011 begins, you can be sure that the media will begin to fill up with articles about the Mayan calendar prediction that the world will end on December 12, 2012. Alan Caruba writes that there are very good reasons to ignore this prediction and similar apocalyptic prognoses.

Econonics
Subjective Value and Market Prices:
Robert P. Murphy

February 19, 2011
One of the most subtle aspects of modern economic theory is the relation between subjective value and objective money prices. This is an area where the Austrians have an advantage over other schools, because they care more about their forebears than most other economists, and because Austrians were instrumental in the development of subjective-value theory. On a blog devoted to open-source standards, the discussion recently turned to economics. Specifically, the programming expert thought he had discovered a fatal flaw with the gold standard. Dr. Robert Murphy thinks it will be instructive to parse his post and correct his misunderstanding of modern price theory and the case for gold as money.

Is There a Conservative Case for QE?:
Robert P. Murphy

February 19, 2011
We see monetarist Keynesianism on display in a recent National Review Online article by economist David Beckworth, "The Conservative Case for QE2" (i.e., the second round of "quantitative easing"). As Dr. Robert Murphy shows, Beckworth doesn't challenge the basic premise that what the economy needs is "more spending"; he simply thinks it should come from the Fed, not the Treasury.

Charles Plosser, Our Man on the Fed?:
Robert P. Murphy

February 19, 2011
Charles Plosser — president of the Philadelphia Federal Reserve bank — has taken on an even more important role in recent months. This year the Philly chief is a voting member of the Federal Open Market Committee, and he has been saying things that sound surprisingly Austrian in regards to the limits of monetary policy. Dr. Robert Murphy examines Plosser's statements and compares them to the insights of Austrian business-cycle theory.

How the Cartels Ensure Diamonds Last Forever:
Sreevathsa Karanam

February 19, 2011
Diamonds are considered a unique resource because the price level is always on the increase without any big swings, unlike other commodities, such as gold, whose prices fluctuate (sometimes violently) in the market. The constant increase in the price of diamonds is usually attributed to the monopolistic behaviors of the infamous De Beers Group. But the details of the monopoly are concealed from public knowledge, because they involve not only private institutions but also various governments around the world, including the United Nations. Sreevathsa Karanam explains.

Money, Power, and Old Age:
Jan Iwanik

February 19, 2011
Jan Iwanik suspects that funded retirement plans like American 401(k)s, British private pensions, or Polish open pension plans (OFE) cannot survive in a centralized democracy. The only alternatives are unfunded schemes such as American social security, British state pensions, or the Polish Social Insurance Institution (ZUS). But such systems naturally lead to a conflict of interest between age groups, out of which the older generations emerge victorious. As a result, an internal gerontocracy is formed within the democratic system. This new and more oppressive system may prove to be more sustainable than the democracy itself.

QE2 Fuels a Global Fury:
Mark Thornton

February 19, 2011
The Federal Reserve has been busy the last three months pumping up the money supply by $300 billion dollars, with much more promised in the months ahead. Some of the results have been painfully predictable, others less so. Mark Thornton writes that the consequences of the resulting inflation are already being heavily felt worldwide.

Politics
The Education Bubble is Fuel for Revolt:
Joshua Fulton

February 19, 2011
Would you like your college education to be free? Sure, who wouldn't? Well, writes Joshua Fulton, the people of Tunisia and Egypt are learning that whenever the government supplies something, it is never really "free."

The Reality of a "Green" World: Three Wolves and a Sheep Voting on What to Have for Lunch:
Tom DeWeese

February 19, 2011
After fighting the radical environmental movement for more than 20 years, Tom DeWeese has come to one basic conclusion: the people who understand and care for the environment the least are environmentalists. Mr. DeWeese's experience has shown that the leaders of this once-popular and still-powerful force simply use the environment as an excuse to impose a socialist agenda. Meanwhile, the faithful rank and file of the movement believe anything if it is attached to the label “green,” rarely questioning if the statement is true or not.

How the U.S. Government Forged a Surveillance Society:
Tom DeWeese

February 19, 2011
Once REAL ID is enforced in every state through compliant drivers’ licenses, it will be too late. All Americans who cherish their Constitutionally guaranteed rights have until May of this year to demand that their state governments stand strong and continue to oppose compliance with this international straitjacket. Our protests postponed it for several years. We must do it again. In this article, Tom DeWeese urges his readers to understand that, once REAL ID is in place, there will be no way for this generation to pass freedom to the next. REAL ID is that great a threat.

 "What elevates man above all other animals is the cognition that peaceful cooperation under the principle of the division of labor is a better method to preserve life and to remove felt uneasiness than indulging in pitiless biological competition for a share in the scarce means of subsistence provided by nature. Guided by this insight, man alone among all living beings consciously aims at substituting social cooperation for what philosophers have called the state of nature or bellum omnium contra omnes or the law of the jungle." 
~ Ludwig von Mises