Issue CCLXXXV

April 23-27, 2011

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Economics
The Capitalist in the Hat
Robert P. Murphy

April 23, 2011

An amusing story on NPR recently explained the origin of a new collection of Dr. Seuss stories. The tale involves an entrepreneurial dentist with a passion for Seuss and a knack for exploiting price spreads. Dr. Robert Murphy explains that this dentist's actions provided a socially useful service, which was reflected in the profits he earned.

The Myth of Japan's Lost Decades
Kel Kelly

April 23, 2011

The earthquake, tsunami, and lingering nuclear crisis in Japan have devastated that country's people and their place in the global economy. Can the island nation recover? To see where Japan might go next, we have to look at one of the persistent myths about its recent past — the myth of the lost decades. It is widely thought that Japan is in the 21st year of a recession, or at least of a muddle-through sluggish economy. Part of this poor performance, economists and the financial press habitually state, is that Japan has experienced a terrible deflation. Nevertheless, Kel Kelly claims that Japan's economic state for the past two decades, up until the recent disasters, has in fact been comparable to that of most developed nations.

Film Reviews
The Accomplishments of Atlas Shrugged: Part I
G. Stolyarov II

April 26, 2011

Mr. Stolyarov writes this review not out of any sense of obligation to Ayn Rand's legacy; nor does he write it to spite the many film critics who reviewed the film negatively. In Mr. Stolyarov's view, what matters when it comes to a film is whether he enjoys it. When he saw Atlas Shrugged: Part I, he did indeed enjoy it. Here, he explains why. 

A Second-Hand Review of Atlas Shrugged: Part I
Bradley Doucet

April 26, 2011

Bradley Doucet hopes that Ayn Rand, who wrote often about the evils of living second-hand, would be amused by his decision to write an explicitly second-hand review. He will see the film soon, either when it comes to Canada or possibly somewhere in upstate New York. In the meantime, the views of some of those who have seen the film will just have to suffice.

Review of Atlas Shrugged: Part I, the Film
David Kelley

April 27, 2011

For over half a century, Rand’s novel has been a lightning rod for controversy. It has attracted millions of devoted fans—and legions of hostile critics. A poor adaptation could be ignored by both sides. This adaptation, writes David Kelley, can’t be ignored. It is way too good. It is going to turbocharge the debate over Rand’s vision of capitalism as a moral ideal. Whether you love the novel or hate it, Atlas Shrugged Part I is a must-see film.

The Continued Relevance of Rand's Villains
J. Patrick Rhamey, Jr.

April 23, 2011

J. Patrick Rhamey, Jr., believes that Atlas Shrugged is compelling, not for its heroes, but for its villains. Published in 1957, Rand's description of politicians and lobbyists in a time of economic crisis is almost prophetic. These Washington insiders scheme behind closed doors to retain and expand their power. In elaborate press conferences, they attempt to convince the unsuspecting populace of their legislation's necessity by vilifying productive companies and portraying their own destructive, self-serving designs as being in the interests of the advancement of equality, stability, and progress.

History
Is Budget Austerity Modern-Day Hooverism?
Robert P. Murphy

April 27, 2011

With the debate over the federal government's budget as the hot topic of the day, the proponents of big spending have gone into overdrive with their mantra that Herbert Hoover was a small-government liquidationist. As often as this myth is repeated, it's important to show that it is wrong: Herbert Hoover was a big-government man who did not trust the free market. Ironically, Dr. Robert Murphy can use the evidence provided by some of these "progressive" writers themselves to demonstrate this point.

Politics
Budget Cuts Are Meaningless Without Fed Transparency
Ron Paul

April 23, 2011

Even the most generous estimate of the spending cut passed this week – $38.5 billion – is a paltry 3.5% of the $1.05 trillion in spending through the next 5 months.  This hardly makes a dent in our federal government's mountain of debt.  Even worse than that, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) stripped away the accounting sleights of hand and scored it as only $352 million in cuts, which works out to less than half of one percent of spending. The unelected, unaccountable Federal Reserve hands out as much or more money this way as our federal government spends, and yet receives hardly any attention.  This is why Rep. Ron Paul believes transparency of the Fed is a critical step to regaining control of our financial situation in this country.

Uncle Sam: Busted
Robert P. Murphy

April 23, 2011

On Monday, Standard and Poor's (S&P) announced that although the US government would retain its AAA debt rating, the outlook for the United States' future was being downgraded from "stable" to "negative." The move is a welcome if tepid acknowledgement of the fiscal train wreck of which Austrians have been warning for years. The White House tried to spin the news as an endorsement of the budget talks and of the fiscal approach laid out in President Obama's recent speech. But, writes Dr. Robert Murphy, even the allegedly "radical" Paul Ryan plan is grossly inadequate to grappling with the looming fiscal crisis.

Waking Up to Economic Realities
Ron Paul

April 27, 2011

Last week the financial markets were roiled by Standard & Poor’s announcement that they will change their outlook on the fiscal health of the United States over the next two years from “stable” to “negative”.  The administration decried this decision as political.  However, writes Rep. Ron Paul, it seems the only political thing about this decision is the fact that it took so long.

 "When superstition is allowed to perform the task of old age in dulling the human temperament, we can say goodbye to all excellence in poetry, in painting, and in music." 
~ Denis Diderot