Issue CCXCIX

September 25-28, 2011

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Argumentation
Defenses, Clarifications, and Elaborations Regarding "Five Arguments for the Non-Existence of God": A Response to a Theist Critic
G. Stolyarov II

September 25, 2011

YouTube user scottvska, a theist, recently sent Mr. Stolyarov a video critique of Mr. Stolyarov's “Five Arguments for the Non-Existence of God”. The critique was polite and interesting, and Mr. scottvska is to be commended for exhibiting an intellectual demeanor and offering substantive claims. In response to him, Mr. Stolyarov hopes to offer thorough defenses, elaborations, and clarifications for my arguments here. 

Economics
Hubris Leads to Depression
Douglas French

September 28, 2011

Grasping for reasons why his multiple QEs and Fed balance-sheet-bursting policies haven't spurred economic activity, Dr. Bernanke posited a new diagnosis last week in Minneapolis. "Consumers are depressed beyond reason or expectation," the New York Times paraphrased the Fed chief as saying. However, writes Douglas French, the collective disorder inflicted on Americans by the Fed's monetary pumping was bubble hubris. Now, it is the hubris running through the chairman's office at the Eccles Building that has consumers and businesses alike proceeding cautiously. While the Fed chair believes he can lower interest rates to the perfect number of basis points to cause a million positive chain reactions, ultimately leading to more people's gainful employment, that just cannot be done.

Politics
The Tax-the-Rich Truth Squad
Steven Horwitz

September 27, 2011

President Obama has unveiled his so-called deficit reduction plan.  Besides spending cuts that aren’t really cuts, he has proposed ending the Bush-era tax cuts for individuals making $200,000 (couples $250,000) or more and an additional surtax on those earning a million or more.  The President’s argument for the surtax is that no millionaire should pay a lower tax rate than his or her secretary. This is part of a more general claim that the rich need to “pay their fair share.” He denies this is “class warfare,” but only “simple math.”  By taxing the rich, he says, we can raise sufficient revenue to significantly reduce the deficit and debt.
Let’s put the “Tax-the-Rich Truth Squad” on the case and see how Obama’s claims hold up, suggests Dr. Steven Horwitz. He starts by examining the claim that millionaires pay lower rates than their secretaries.

A Palestinian State?
Ron Paul

September 28, 2011

The Palestinian Authority's recent announcement that it would seek UN recognition as an independent state dominated the news and the political debate in the United States last week, though Rep. Ron Paul thinks it should mean very little to us. Rep. Paul writes that only a political class harboring the illusion it can run the world obsesses over the aspirations of a tiny population on a tiny piece of land thousands of miles away. Remember, the UN initiated this persistent conflict with its 1947 Partition Plan. 

Delaware's Very Own Solyndra
Paul Driessen and John Nichols

September 28, 2011

One would think the growing Solyndra scandal would make politicians and rent-seeking corporations less inclined toward crony capitalism, picking the next winners and (mostly) losers among “breakthrough” companies, and spending billions of taxpayer and consumer dollars to finance allegedly “green” endeavors via “investors” who are deemed most likely to support political campaigns and ambitions. Such optimism is apparently misplaced, especially in Washington, DC, and Dover, DE. Paul Driessen's commentary, co-authored by financial consultant and citizen activist John Nichols of Delaware, blows the lid off a caper that has national implications. In the Bloom Energy boondoggle, some serious US taxpayer money is involved, via as yet unspecified Department of Energy grants.


Victory is Sweet, But the War Continues
Paul Driessen

September 28, 2011

Millions of Americans shared the joy that erupted after the White House told the Environmental Protection Agency to shelve its plans for imposing tough new ground-level ozone rules on the country. But vast numbers of other punitive regulations are still in the federal pipeline. In this article, Paul Driessen discusses how much is heading our way and what adverse impacts the coming rules will have on our lives and livelihoods – and people’s jobs, health, and welfare. Mr. Driessen focuses on the federal agency he considers the most egregious and destructive rule-maker of all: the EPA.

The Attack on Accidental Americans
Wendy McElroy

September 28, 2011

The IRS is making a worldwide push to squeeze money from Americans living abroad and from anyone who holds dual citizenship, whether they know it or not. It doesn't matter if the "duals" want US status, have never set foot on US soil, or never conducted business with an American. It doesn't matter if those targeted owe a single cent to the IRS. Unlike almost every other nation in the world, the United States requires citizens living abroad to file tax forms on the money they do not owe as well as to report foreign bank accounts or holdings such as stocks or RSSPs. The possible penalty for not reporting is $10,000 per "disclosed asset" per year. Wendy McElroy discusses this travesty of justice.

Patently Improper
Wendy McElroy

September 28, 2011

President Obama made the overhaul of America’s patent law a personal priority, including it prominently in his January 2011 State of the Union address. The America Invents Act was signed into law on September 16. The key change is a switch from “first to invent” to “first to file.” Wendy McElroy writes that, whether you agree with that original purpose or believe that all patents are improper, the America Invents Act is repellent. By granting patents to those who merely file first rather than invent first, Obama further advantages politically privileged corporations with their massive research funds and lawyers, and takes a huge step backward toward the days of patents as royal privileges.

Is Social Security a Ponzi Scheme?
Robert P. Murphy

September 28, 2011

Ever since Rick Perry derided Social Security as a Ponzi scheme, economists and other pundits have jumped into the fray. Progressive blogger Matt Yglesias says it's "nuts" for anyone to talk like this, because Social Security merely relies on future economic growth — just like a private pension plan. Free-market economist Alex Tabarrok responded to Yglesias with links to arch-Keynesians (and Nobel laureates) Paul Samuelson and Paul Krugman, both comparing Social Security to a "Ponzi game." In the present article Dr. Robert Murphy has three aims: First, he will point out that the critics are right; to the extent that Social Security "worked," it was because of its resemblance to a classic Ponzi scheme. Second, he will show how private-sector retirement planning operates nothing like this. Third, he will defend the good name of Charles Ponzi from the scurrilous comparisons — what he did was nothing like the racket known as Social Security.


Who Serves During Disaster?
Douglas French

September 28, 2011

Mayor Mike Bloomberg's plan for New York City with hurricane Irene bearing down on the Big Apple was to evacuate residents and force businesses to close in low-lying areas. Move in with friends and relatives living on higher ground, stay out of the way, so the city government's first responders can handle real emergencies was the message.
The result, as one of my friends who lives in Manhattan wondered, "They closed down the city, and all we get is a rainstorm?" Meanwhile, as Irene ravaged other parts of the eastern seaboard, causing millions to be without power, the eatery of last resort, Waffle House, kept its doors open in many locations, using generators and serving a limited menu designed specifically for emergency situations. Douglas French contrasts the inept response of the New York city government with the supreme competence of Waffle House. 

 "The obligations of our representatives in Washington are to protect our liberty, not coddle the world, precipitating no-win wars, while bringing bankruptcy and economic turmoil to our people." 
~ Ron Paul