Issue CCLXXXIX

May 30, 2011

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Culture
After the Apocalypse, Try Reason!
Edward Hudgins

May 30, 2011

Eighty-nine-year-old religious nut Harold Camping prophesized that the world would end on May 21, 2011, at 6:00 p.m. local time. Camping himself was reported to be confused and flabbergasted that his prediction was wrong, even though he was wrong with a similar prediction decades ago. He now thinks the world will end in October. What we really need, writes Dr. Edward Hudgins, is an end to the root of all immorality, a root that gives rise to people like Camping.

Economics
Problems With the Cost Theory of Value
Robert P. Murphy

May 30, 2011

One of the most important developments in the history of economic thought was the so-called Marginal Revolution of the early 1870s, in which the older cost (and more specifically, labor) theory of value was overturned by subjective value theory. The revolution is of special importance for Austrian economists, since Carl Menger — founder of the Austrian School — is credited as one of the three pioneers of the new approach.
In the present article, Dr. Robert Murphy explains a generic cost-theory approach and point out some of its major shortcomings.

The Road to Taxi Serfdom
Robert P. Murphy

May 30, 2011

One of the more interesting recent stories of government absurdity is New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg's decree
that starting in 2013, the Nissan NV200 minivan will become the official taxi of the city. Over the next five years, all other models will be phased out. In addition to illustrating the corrupting effects of political power, the episode underscores the economic problems of government ownership of roads, writes Dr. Robert P. Murphy. Densely populated cities would be incredibly more pleasant with a free market in roads and taxis.

The End of Bernanke's "End Game"
William L. Anderson

May 30, 2011

Ben Bernanke's minions entered the financial marketplace with a bottomless checkbook, purchasing assets that had lost value (like mortgage securities, AIG stock, and the like) in the marketplace. However, in order to make it look as though the markets were fine, the Fed purchased these securities at prices close to their precollapse worth; Bernanke and company were playing the let's-pretend-this-worthless-paper-is-valuable game. This was supposed to be Bernanke saving the economy, at least in the short term, but actually Bernanke's actions did no such thing. At this point, the gulf between the Austrians (who are unanimous in their criticism of Bernanke's actions) and the Keynesians (whose only regret is that Bernanke did not purchase even more worthless assets) is exposed. Dr. William Anderson writes that Bernanke's planned "end game" for resolving the economic crisis is over; it is a definite failure.

History
100 Years of Myths About Standard Oil
Gary Galles

May 30, 2011

May 15 was the 100th anniversary of the most famous antitrust ruling in US history — the 1911 Standard Oil case. Unfortunately, the mythology and aftermath of that case has undermined competition and harmed consumers ever since. What is the myth that led the Supreme Court to break up Standard Oil in order to protect competition? Dr. Gary Galles delves into this destructive set of fallacies.

Politics
Should There Be Shop-Closing Laws?
Jeffrey A. Tucker

May 30, 2011

A really cool thing is happening in Germany. After decades of strict laws regulating when stores can open and close (Ladenschlussgesetz), the laws are progressively liberalizing. Since 2006, the decision has been left to the individual states. Whereas commercial establishments once could not open their doors before 6 a.m. or keep them open past 10 p.m., now many open earlier and close later. The subject intrigues Jeffrey Tucker because it is like many other such subjects that touch on the very viability of liberty itself.

On Patriotism: Examining the Firmware of War
Fred Reed

May 30, 2011

Patriotism is everywhere thought to be a virtue rather than a mental disorder. Fred Reed does not get it. Of course the Japanese pilots who attacked Pearl Harbor were patriots, as were the German soldiers who murdered millions in the Second World War. The men who brought down the towers in New York were patriots, though of a religious sort. Do we admire their patriotism? Of course not. When we say “John is a patriot,” we mean “John is a reliable member of our dog pack,” nothing more. Mr. Reed writes that the pack instinct seems more ancient, and certainly stronger, than morality or any form of human decency.

Welfare is Corrupt, Always and Forever
Gary Galles

May 30, 2011

After reports that millions of dollars in California cash welfare benefits given via debit cards were withdrawn at casinos, strip clubs, and other places "inconsistent with the intent" of the aid, states have been moving to restrict such usage. Now, leaders of the Senate Finance Committee have introduced a bill to ban such uses nationwide. As co-author Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), put it "This bill will hopefully put an end to egregious abuses that have happened in many states, not just California." 
Unfortunately, writes Dr. Gary Galles, preventing substantial diversions of funds from donors' intended purposes to others that recipients choose is impossible.

The Last Nail
Ron Paul

May 30, 2011

The last nail is being driven into the coffin of the American Republic. Yet, Congress remains in total denial as our liberties are rapidly fading before our eyes. The process is propelled by unwarranted fear and ignorance as to the true meaning of liberty. It is driven by economic myths, fallacies and irrational good intentions. The rule of law is constantly rejected and authoritarian answers are offered as panaceas for all our problems. Runaway welfarism is used to benefit the rich at the expense of the middle class. Who would have ever thought that the current generation and Congress would stand idly by and watch such a rapid disintegration of the American Republic? Read the entirety of this powerful speech by Rep. Ron Paul, delivered to the U.S. House of Representatives on May 25, 2011.

On the Elimination of Osama bin Laden
Ron Paul

May 30, 2011

May 1, 2011, marked an important milestone in the war on terrorism for our country.  Osama bin Laden applauded the 9/11 attacks. Such deliberate killing of innocent lives deserved retaliation. It is good that bin Laden is dead and justice is served. Rep. Ron Paul writes that the elimination of Osama bin Laden should now prompt us to declare victory and bring our troops home from Afghanistan and Iraq. 

 "The God of the Christians is a father who makes much of his apples, and very little of his children." 
~ Denis Diderot