California Highway Patrol Investigating Police Beating Caught on Video, Like They Always Do

Happy Independence Day. Here is a cellphone video shot last
Tuesday showing one of California’s finest assaulting a woman
walking along a freeway meridian:

The California Highway Patrol is on it, because that’s standard
operating procedure.
Via NBC Los Angeles
:

“The California Highway Patrol (CHP) just became aware of the
video today and we are investigating the entire
incident,” according to the statement. “As a matter of policy,
every time there is a use of force by our officers, there is a
review conducted to determine whether the use of force was
appropriate.  That will be done in this case, however, since
there is an ongoing investigation, it would be premature to comment
on this specific video segment. After the investigation is
completed it will be reviewed at multiple levels within the
Department.”

The CHP did not immediately say what prompted the initial
encounter.

No arrests appear to have been made, naturally.

h/t BakedPenguin

from Hit & Run http://ift.tt/1m3FL0J
via IFTTT

ISIS Head Makes First Video Appearance

A few days ago we reported that the blitz surge of the “cool”, social network-friendly faction of Al-Qaeda known as ISIS, which over the past week went so far as to declare the formation of its own sovereign state, the Islamic State on the territory of Iraq and Syria, has so irked not only the conventional enemies of extremist fundamentalist Islam but also none other than al-Qaeda itself, which as we explained before may be forced to go to war against ISIS in order to preserve its waning relevance, status and credibility.

At the center of this rapid and dramatic ascent by a group virtually nobody had heard of as recently as a month ago is a man called Aby Bakr al-Baghdadi, who unlike the leaders of al-Qaeda, has kept an extremely low profile despite his recent appointment as “caliph” by the jihadists.

Until now.

As BBC reports, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of Islamist militant group Isis, has called on Muslims to obey him, in his first video sermon. The video appears to have been filmed on Friday during a sermon at the al-Nouri Mosque in Mosul, northern Iraq. It surfaced on Saturday amid reports that he had been killed or wounded in an Iraqi air raid.

The release is notable because the reclusive militant leader has never appeared on video before, although there are photographs of him.

From BBC:

In the sermon, at Mosul’s most famous landmark, Baghdadi praised the establishment of the “Islamic state”, which was declared by Isis last Sunday.

 

“Appointing a leader is an obligation on Muslims, and one that has been neglected for decades,” he said.

 

He also said that he did not seek out the position of being the caliph, or leader, calling it a “burden”. “I am your leader, though I am not the best of you, so if you see that I am right, support me, and if you see that I am wrong, advise me,” he told worshippers.

In other words, his first video was merely an ideological and emotional appeal to Muslims everywhere to side with him. It remains to be seen if Baghdadi will transform into just another typical Muslim blaming the sorry economic state of his country on Bush, something al Qaeda and others have done before him.

For those curious to see Baghdadi’s complete video appearance, it is shown below in its entirety.

 

Baghdadi’s full speech, translated courtesy of Francois Gatete, is below.




via Zero Hedge http://ift.tt/1qyATlk Tyler Durden

Austrian Economics Vs Clueless Trolls

Submitted by Pater Tenebrarum of Acting-Man blog,

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, and then you win.”  Mahatma Gandhi

Bloomberg Releases an Unqualified Smear – A Good Sign?

 

We have previously remarked on the extremely poor quality of Bloomberg's editing, mainly in the context of the site's ongoing rape of the English language in its headlines. However, the quality of its editing processes has reached a new low when an unqualified and in places truly vile smear of the Austrian School of Economics recently slipped past its editors. Initially we didn't plan to comment on it, simply because, as the Daily Bell has put it, “one doesn't even know where to begin”. However, so many people have in the meantime mailed us the piece or a link to it that we feel compelled to address the article in a blog post.

The contributions of the Austrian School to the science of economics are as numerous as they are profound. Carl Menger contributed the theory of marginal utility (Jevons and Walras developed the same idea independently around the same time, so Menger wasn't the sole originator), and a body of theory on value and prices that corrected many of the most glaring and profound errors of the classical economists. Incidentally, Menger also provided a sound explanation of the origin of money. Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk then followed in his footsteps with a highly advanced theory of interest and capital that inspired generations of successors.

In 1912, an at the time not yet widely known economist and pupil of Böhm-Bawerk by the name of Ludwig von Mises published “Die Theorie des Geldes und der Umlaufsmittel” (The Theory of Money and Credit), which established him overnight as Europe's foremost monetary theorist. To this day Mises' book must be regarded as the definitive work on money and credit, a work that has stood the test of time. Mises then published his seminal monograph “Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth”, which sparked the socialist calculation debate that raged with great intensity until the mid 1940s. Remarkably, the debate is still ongoing, in spite of the fact that Mises' contentions were never refuted, and in spite of the fact that he has been proved right “in spades” by the economic disintegration of the Soviet command economies in the late 1980s. Two years later, Mises Published “Socialism – an Economic and Sociological Analysis”, which is one of the most profound and encompassing critiques of socialism ever written.

While working on his opus magnum “Nationalökonomie” (1938) – a treatise on economics that became better known in its revised English version as “Human Action” (1949), Mises published numerous articles in journals, many of which dealt with the systematization of the epistemological and methodological problems of economics. These remain a major bone of contention setting the Austrian school apart from other economic schools. Readers won't be surprised  that we are siding with the view that economics is not a science like physics and that the attempts to make it so have led the entire science astray.

Friedrich A. Hayek, building on the works of Mises, provided outstanding contributions to capital and production theory (e.g. “Prices and Production”, “The Pure Theory of Capital” and numerous articles in economic journals), and later expanded the scope of Austrian theorizing with his writings on the nature of knowledge and entrepreneurship (see e.g. his famous essay “The Use of Knowledge in Society”). Hayek even received a Nobel Prize in Economics in 1974, in one of the few nods the establishment has given to Austrian economics (not that this really matters, we only mention it for the sake of completeness: Hayek's Nobel lecture “The Pretense of Knowledge” in which he condemned the “scientism” of modern economics  is certainly worth reading though).

Richard von Strigl, one of the few economists who didn't flee Vienna (but certainly fell silent after the Nazi takeover) as a teacher not only greatly influenced Hayek, Machlup, Haberler,  Morgenstern and many others, but left us with a unique contribution to capital theory with his work “Capital and Production” (1934).

We could continue this list up to the present, but in the interest of brevity, want to only mention Rothbard's excellent sweeping economic treatise “Man, Economy and State” (1962; in Joseph Salerno's words “a milestone in the development of sound economic theory, […] that rescued the science from self-destruction”) which presented a systematic and complete theory of production, as well as a unique and important revision of the theory of monopoly.

Well, scratch all that. These people were “infested by alien brain worms” according to the smear published at Bloomberg. The author, one Noah Smith, evidently knows nothing about Austrian economics – and we actually doubt that he really knows anything about other economic schools either. He has certainly never read or understood a single work by an Austrian economist. The whole thing simply reads like an ad hominem attack on supporters of the theory penned by a politically motivated hack. What is especially bizarre is his insinuation that Austrian economics somehow has “antisemitic overtones” – never mind, he says, that Ludwig von Mises and Murray Rothbard, two of the preeminent Austrian scholars were themselves Jews (not the only ones by the way), they're antisemitic anyway!

We want to reprint the comment of Mr. Vincent Cook in this context (from the comments section at Bloomberg), who notes that an economic theory can hardly be refuted by mere name-calling, and addresses the above point in some detail:

“Mere name-calling doesn't amount to a refutation of any economic theory, nor does the "guilt-by-association" tactic of linking certain adherents of a given economic theory to their empirical predictions not warranted by the theory itself or to their non-economic views on politics, etc. and claiming that such predictions and views somehow invalidate the theory.

 

If Mr. Smith has any substantial objections to any element of Austrian economic theory that has been written over the past 140+ years, he should make the effort to cite the work in question and identify what specific premises or logical deductions he thinks the the Austrians got wrong. Characteristically Austrian ideas about the proper methodology of economics, about the nature of capital goods markets and interest rates, about the nature of boom/bust cycles, about the impossibility of economic calculation and coordination of decentralized information under central planning, etc. stand or fall on their own merits, not on what some fringe supporter of a political movement puts into a Youtube video.

 

The Austrian-oriented case for gold and for 100% reserve banking, for example, doesn't depend on any belief about secret banker plots or about any mechanistic link between money creation and price increases. Rather, it is based on the desirability of preventing destructive boom/bust cycles, of eliminating any long-run risk of hyperinflation, of preventing money and money-substitute creation from becoming a source of political rent-seeking and moral hazard, and of upholding the integrity of the payments system without counterproductive regulatory interventions and bailouts. Mr. Smith's misrepresentations of the case for gold and for 100% reserve banking are simply irrelevant to the issue at hand.

 

Mr. Smith's neo-Nazi baiting is particularly scurrilous, as it grossly misrepresents the attitudes that Austrian economists have always had about the Nazi movement. Ludwig von Mises wasn't simply a Jewish Austrian economist (and one had to flee Vienna ahead of the Anschluss), he also wrote books concerning the ideological development and political growth of militant German nationalism that are still in wide circulation among contemporary Austrian economists and that still strongly inform their understanding of the subject. Indeed, Mises's 1919 work Nation, State and Economy and his 1944 work Omnipotent Government are must-reads for anyone who wants to understand what went wrong in Germany.

 

I challenge Mr. Smith and anyone who takes Mr. Smith seriously to read these works and others concerning German history and the Nazis that circulate among Austrian economists (such as Günter Reimann's  The Vampire Economy). There is not the slightest trace of anti-Semitism in them, and anyone with any sense of honor and decency reviewing this literature will recognize that Mr. Smith owes the entire contemporary Austrian school an apology.”

We doubt that such an apology will be forthcoming, or that Mr. Smith will make the effort to actually read any Austrian economists. Obviously his article was never intended to be a serious critique – it is simply a hit piece. What is interesting about it is mainly that Bloomberg allowed it to be published. We have put Mahatma Gandhi's famous quote at the beginning of this article for a reason. Before the advent of the internet, it was easy for the establishment to “bury” the Austrian School's causal-realist approach to economics by simply ignoring it.  Evidently, we have now progressed to somewhere between point 2 and 3 of Gandhi's list – the 'ridiculing and fighting' stage. We can take this as a sign of progress. Ignoring the Austrians is no longer deemed sufficient.

 



Menger_5

Carl Menger, the founder of the Austrian School

(Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

 

A Few Remarks on Concepts Discussed by Smith

One of our readers who pointed the Bloomberg article out to us remarked that such attacks often occur close to economic and financial turning points. Readers may recall that practically the entire mainstream economic profession woke to a considerable amount of egg on its face after the 2008 crisis, as the vast majority of economists had neither predicted it, nor provided even the slightest warning of the growing imbalances in the economy that eventually led to the bust. One quite prominent economist who got it completely wrong was of course Ben Bernanke, the former Fed chairman. To state that he merely “didn't see it coming” doesn't fully describe the enormity of his forecasting errors (see this video). The public not unreasonably began to wonder what economists are actually good for. 

In the two years prior to the crisis is was however highly fashionable to ridicule and attack supporters of the Austrian School, who were indeed among the very few economists who actually did predict the crisis – in spite of the fact that they do not regard “prediction” to be among the tasks of economic theory. Prediction is akin to the study of history, a thymological task. Correct economic theory and praxeological reasoning can be helpful with respect to forecasting, in that they help with delineating the constraints of such forecasts. But forecasting as such is basically the job of entrepreneurs and speculators, not that of economists.

An entrepreneur who evinces a sound understanding of Austrian theory is Peter Schiff, who was featured prominently in televised debates on financial markets and the economy as the “token bear” in 2005 to 2007, as a foil for all the other debaters who kept insisting that everything was fine until it could no longer be denied that catastrophe had struck. Again, to say that Schiff was “ridiculed and attacked” in his appearances in those years does not fully convey the viciousness and arrogance some of his opponents displayed (there are two videos on you-tube documenting this – one 'general video' covering a range of appearances and the 'CNBC edition').

This fits with our reader's observation that such attacks tend to become especially pronounced near turning points. It took the establishment-approved defenders of the central planning statist quo a little while to get their courage up after the collapse of the tech bubble, and when they finally felt confident enough to declare that the printing press had triumphed, the next denouement wasn't far away. In that sense, the Smith article can be seen as a hint that the current inflationary boom may also be close to meeting its inevitable fate.



economic_forecast

Professional economic forecasting in a nutshell

 

This brings us to several points raised by Smith which deserve some additional comment. Smith inter alia mentions that Austrian economist Robert Murphy “lost a bet on inflation” with someone. However, economics is not about winning bets, and as noted above, it is not about making predictions either. This is in spite of the fact that the Econometric Society's original motto was “Science is Prediction”.  As Rothbard points out in Man, Economy and State:

“Praxeology and economics deal with any given ends and with the formal implications of the fact that men have ends and employ means to attain them”

In short, economics is the study of the purposive employment of (scarce) means to attain ends. The formal implications thereof form the basis of economic laws, which have universal, time- and place-invariant validity.

The debate over inflation is apparently Smith's biggest bug-bear, as he devotes large parts of his screed to the topic. This is perhaps no surprise, as his main concern appears to be the defense of central banking, or putting it in more general terms, the defense of central economic planning by organs of the State.

In the process, he gets all sorts of things wrong. For instance, he alleges that the absence of a sharp rise in consumer prices to date in spite of the Federal Reserve's relentless money printing caused Austrians to “redefine inflation”. Here is the relevant passage from his article:

“The Austrians’ next defense was to redefine reality. Inflation doesn’t mean a rise in prices, they said – it means an increase in the monetary base. QE wasn’t causing inflation, it was inflation itself. Duh! Now the Austrians were safe — after all, you can define inflation as anything you want. It’s a free country, ain’t it? You can define inflation to be a rare poisonous South American tree frog if you want, and the only consequence will be that people think you’re off your rocker. And so when Austrians tried to redefine the word “inflation” to mean something other than “a rise in prices,” people duly recognized that Austrians were off their rockers.”

We haven't heard from all those people who allegedly “duly recognized that Austrian's were off their rockers”, so we are guessing that by “people”, Smith mainly refers to himself. First of all, it should be pointed out that there is a formal mistake in this paragraph, as no Austrian has ever asserted that “increases in the monetary base” constitute inflation. The monetary base consists of two major components, only one of which, namely currency, is part of the money supply. The far greater part of the monetary base nowadays consists of bank reserves, which are explicitly excluded from definitions of the money supply. While they provide the basis for the inflationary pyramiding of credit, they are themselves not “money” (although they can become part of the money supply when they are transformed into currency upon customer withdrawals from demand deposits).

More importantly though, Austrians did not suddenly “redefine the meaning of inflation”. The redefining was done by others, as inflation had always denoted an increase in the supply of money, before its meaning was deliberately changed to mask the chain of cause and effect. In his essay “Inflation and Price Control”, published in 1945, Ludwig von Mises remarked that this redefinition of the term inflation was by no means harmless:

Inflation must result in a general tendency towards rising prices. Those into whose pockets the additional quantity of currency flows are in a position to expand their demand for vendable goods and services. An additional demand must, other things being equal, raise prices. No sophistry and no syllogisms can conjure away this inevitable consequence of inflation.

 

The semantic revolution which is one of the characteristic features of our day has obscured and confused this fact. The term inflation is used with a new connotation. What people today call inflation is not inflation, i.e., the increase in the quantity of money and money substitutes, but the general rise in commodity prices and wage rates which is the inevitable consequence of inflation. This semantic innovation is by no means harmless.

 

First of all there is no longer any term available to signify what inflation used to signify. It is impossible to fight an evil which you cannot name. Statesmen and politicians no longer have the opportunity to resort to a terminology accepted and understood by the public when they want to describe the financial policy they are opposed to. They must enter into a detailed analysis and description of this policy with full particulars and minute accounts whenever they want to refer to it, and they must repeat this bothersome procedure in every sentence in which they deal with this subject. As you cannot name the policy increasing the quantity of the circulating medium, it goes on luxuriantly.

 

The second mischief is that those engaged in futile and hopeless attempts to fight the inevitable consequences of inflation-the rise in prices-are masquerading their endeavors as a fight against inflation. While fighting the symptoms, they pretend to fight the root causes of the evil. And because they do not comprehend the causal relation-between the increase in money in circulation and credit expansion on the one hand and the rise in prices on the other, they practically make things worse.”

(emphasis added)

In addition, it should be mentioned than no Austrian economist has ever asserted that an increase in the supply of money must instantly and definitely lead to rising consumer prices (even if some have said they expected it to happen, there is nothing apodictic about it). In fact, as Mises pointed out in 1912 already, it is futile to even pretend that something like the “general level of prices” can be measured, as the exchange value of money depends on altogether four factors: the supply of money, the demand for money, and the supply of and demand for goods and services.

This is inter alia why the former correct usage of the term inflation is so important. The effects of vast increases in the money supply can be masked by a concomitant increase in productivity and the supply of goods. This is what happened e.g. in the boom of the 1920s – and it seriously misled many economists as well as the central bank at the time, as they were convinced that because consumer prices had not increased, nothing was amiss. As we know today, the boom eventually turned into the Great Depression, so this was a rather  grave error in retrospect. One must surely agree with Mises that the semantic confusion regarding the term inflation is anything but harmless. However, to return to Smith, it wasn't the Austrians who redefined the term inflation, and they most certainly didn't do so recently because they are allegedly miffed that CPI has not yet risen much in the face of a 95% increase of the broad US money supply since 2008.

 

von-Mises

Ludwig von Mises. It just might be that he knew a little bit more about inflation than Noah Smith

(Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

 

As an aside, Mises was inter alia concerned about the long term effect of monetary inflation on money's general purchasing power, because he had experienced several destructive hyper-inflation episodes in his lifetime, and had seen firsthand what enormous economic, social, and political damage the breakdown of monetary systems can cause. However, as Mises and other Austrian economists have never tired to point out, monetary inflation causes a “price revolution” in that it most definitely alters relative prices in the economy, even if consumer prices fail to increase much. This is in fact  the most pernicious effect of inflation, as it is the root cause of the boom-bust cycle, by dint of falsifying economic calculation.

Moreover, contrary to what Smith appears to think, Austrian economists are not particularly concerned about short term fluctuations in the gold price. They would undoubtedly regard a rising gold price as one of inflation's possible effects, and a warning signal indicating that economic confidence is waning. The Austrian support for employing gold as money is also a bit more differentiated than Smith makes it out to be. The main point Austrians are making is that money should be left to the market. Whether market participants will choose gold or something else is not of central importance, although history certainly suggests that gold would play an important  role in a free market money system.

Lastly, we want to briefly address the 5 points Smith lists at the beginning of his article as the 'Austrian beliefs' he intends to denigrate. These are:

1) Federal Reserve money-printing is a government plot to boost big banks,

 

2) prices are rising much faster than anyone thinks,

 

3) real “inflation” means money-printing, not an increase in prices,

 

4) printing money can never boost the economy,

 

5) academic economics is a plot to use mathematical mumbo-jumbo to cover up government giveaways to big banks, etc., etc.

We're not sure what is meant by “ect., etc”, so we can only address the five points explicitly mentioned.

1. As to the first point, well, check, what else does Smith think Federal Reserve money printing since 2008 was about? Rescuing dairy farmers in Kansas? As Bob Murphy adds – Does Noah deny that the Fed’s activities have helped big banks far more than the little guy? For example, did the Maiden Lane LLCs buy up underwater homes from struggling middle-class families? Did the Fed’s “extraordinary lending facilities” give loans to self-employed plumbers and dry cleaners to help them get through the crisis? No, all of the Fed’s activities directly shored up the balance sheets of huge banks.

2. As to point two, he doesn't mention which prices, but as noted above, a 'general price level' can actually not be calculated, so while measures like CPI may serve as a rough approximation of consumer price trends, they certainly don't tell the whole story. Since March of 2009, the prices of titles to capital have for instance increased by an average of 190%. This is one of the signs that the above mentioned distortion in relative prices is well underway.

3. We have addressed point three extensively above, as it seems to us it is an especially important one. Just one more remark that has to do both with the second and the third point: there is no way to predict with certainty whether and at what point an increase in the money supply will lead to large and broad-based losses in money's purchasing power. This depends largely on contingent circumstances. For instance, if the monetary authority abandons the inflationary policy in time, i.e., before the public's inflation expectations change, it may never happen. We may merely get a sizable economic bust instead. On the other hand, the progression from “lots of money printing” to “inflationary breakdown of the underlying currency system” could be observed several times in history, and what all these historical examples have in common is that there were large time lags between the money supply expansion and the point when the public came to realize that the inflationary policy wouldn't be stopped and lost confidence in the currency. As Mises wrote on this:

“This first stage of the inflationary process may last for many years. While it lasts, the prices of many goods and services are not yet adjusted to the altered money relation. There are still people in the country who have not yet become aw-are of the fact that they are confronted with a price revolution which will finally result in a considerable rise of all prices, although the extent of this rise will not be the same in the various commodities and services. These people still believe that prices one day will drop. Waiting for this day, they restrict their purchases and concomitantly increase their cash holdings. As long as such ideas are still held by public opinion, it is not yet too late for the government to abandon its inflationary policy. But then finally the masses wake up. They become suddenly aware of the fact that inflation is a deliberate policy and will go on endlessly. A breakdown occurs. The crack-up boom appears. Everybody is anxious to swap his money against "real" goods, no matter whether he needs them or not, no matter how much money he has to pay for them. Within a very short time, within a few weeks or even days, the things which were used as money are no longer used as media of exchange. They become scrap paper. Nobody wants to give away anything against them.”

(emphasis added)

Note that we are not saying that this is what will necessarily happen this time. We merely wish to point out that firstly, it is bound to happen if the inflationary policy is not abandoned in time, and we secondly want to stress the point that there can be very large time lags before the effects of an expansion of the money supply become noticeable in the prices of consumer goods. In short, there is currently no proof whatsoever that these effects won't appear.

 

something good

Ben Bernanke's ideas about monetary policy summarized

(Cartoon by Lewis)

 

4. Point four is one we have discussed extensively in these pages on many previous occasions. Austrians have never said that money printing cannot “boost the economy”, since obviously, money printing is what causes economic booms. Hence, “economic activity” may well increase statistically when the central bank expands the money supply (note that this is not always the case). What we are saying is something entirely different: namely that money printing cannot possibly increase society's wealth; rather, it tends to achieve the exact opposite. The supply of capital goods cannot be increased by printing money; if it could, Zimbabwe and Venezuela would be rich instead of being economic basket cases. Money printing leads to a false prosperity, as the boom is characterized by malinvestment and consumption of capital. A boom either collapses at some point, or –  if the authorities continue to inflate – the entire underlying currency system will collapse as described above. These are the alternatives – there is no “good outcome”.

5. As to point five, quite a lot of economics nowadays indeed consists of mathematical mumbo-jumbo (mathematics should be banished from economic theorizing in our opinion; it cannot express anything that could not be better expressed verbally. It is merely an attempt to make economics look more “scientific”, but in reality it obfuscates rather than illuminates the topics discussed). As to the idea that many economists are statists, well, what can one say, except: guilty as charged! A free, unhampered market economy would have very little use for the great majority of today's macro-economists. Many of them are directly or indirectly in the government's employ and are paid wages far above their market value. It goes without saying that they will never bite the hand that feeds them.

 

Conclusion

In fact, with regard to the latter point, Austrians are inter alia clearly set apart from other economic schools in one crucial respect, and that is in their unstinting support of the free market. It matters little if this support is solely based on  utilitarian reasoning or if it is also supported by ethical considerations. Clearly though, Austrians are saying that the market economy cannot possibly be improved by government intervention. Their views are also different from those of establishment-approved “free market supporters” such as Milton Friedman, whom Smith mentions approvingly. Friedman supported free markets, except in the context of central banking and money; for some reason, he considered the free market to be inferior in providing a sound monetary system. Given the absolutely central role interest rates and the money and credit supply play in the market economy, one may be excused for harboring doubts about Mr. Friedman's free market credentials.

Austrian economists are therefore far less likely to find employ in state-supported institutions or to receive research grants from the central bank or similar agencies. One could say that they are actually diminishing their own career prospects in favor of standing up for the truth and their convictions. We can assure readers though that their failure to fall in line with the statism Smith evidently supports is not a sign of alien brain worm infection.

In fact, we are continually surprised by the eagerness with which people like Smith argue that freedom and support of freedom are somehow bad, and that being lorded over by the State is preferable. It is not as if Mr. Smith were a member of the ruling elite (at least we have never heard about him before), so one wonders what he gets out of his statolatry.

 

rothbard-advice

Murray Rothbard dispensing sound advice which Mr. Smith should take to heart.




via Zero Hedge http://ift.tt/TK7uI7 Tyler Durden

Nick Gillespie, Meredith Bragg, and Jim Epstein on Reason TV’s Best Health Care Videos

Reason TV’s
health care coverage has always viewed the Affordable Care Act in
its properly Sisyphean context: Obamacare is a government fix for
problems created by an earlier government fix for problems created
by an earlier government fix. How best to fix the U.S. health care
system? Undo all the earlier fixes. So Nick Gillespie, Meredith
Bragg, and Jim Epstein highlight Reason TV’s best videos on the
ugly mess U.S health care was before Obamacare
and how Obamacare made something terrible even worse. Medicaid has
done a poor job of serving America’s poor, so Obamacare expanded
the program. State laws allowed large hospitals to block new
competitors, so Obamacare made it even harder for new health care
facilities to open. Because of a quirk in U.S. tax policy,
insurance policies cover even routine medical costs, which leads to
general price inflation. And so Obamacare piled on new rules and
mandates that cover yet more procedures.

View this article.

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via IFTTT

Rodney King Redux? California Highway Patrolman Caught On Tape Pummeling Black Woman

“Life, liberty, and the pursuit of freedom?” In what has quickly become viral as yet another example of extreme (and unchecked) police behavior against the people, California Highway Patrol says that it is investigating footage posted on YouTube that shows a policeman repeatedly punching the face and head of a prostrate woman. As the disturbing clip shows, “the policeman just pounded her,” and described by a witness, “If you look at the video, there are 15 hits. To the head, and not just simple jabs. These are blows to the head. Blows. Really serious blows. And this is ridiculous to me… I find it hard to believe there [was] no other remedy in this situation.” Happy Birthday America.

 

As The BBC reports, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) says that it is looking into the details of the incident, which has been condemned by civil rights leaders.

As a matter of policy, every time there is a use of force by our officers, there is a review conducted to determine whether the use of force was appropriate,” a CHP statement said.

 

“That will be done in this case. However, since there is an ongoing investigation, it would be premature to comment on this specific video segment without reviewing the entire incident.”

 

When the video starts, the officer is seen trying to detain the barefooted woman, who walks a few steps away from him.

 

But the officer is seen forcing her to the ground, briefly struggling with her before repeatedly pummelling her. A few moments later, a plainclothes officer enters the picture and helps his colleague put the woman in handcuffs.

 

A CHP spokesperson was quoted by CBS Los Angeles on Friday as saying that the agency was trying to bring Tuesday’s incident “to a just conclusion”.

Starting at around 15 seconds, the CHP officer just loses it…

But, as CBS reports, the community wants answers…

The video caught the attention of local civil rights leaders, who expressed shock and outrage at their own news conference.

 

“Speaking for the women of this community, we are angry, we are upset,” said Lita Herron of the Youth Advocacy Coalition.

 

Community activist Earl Ofari Hutchinson, speaking at the local leaders’ news conference, agreed.

 

“Over the years, CHP has had a very good track record in terms of community relations,” Hutchinson said. “That’s why this was so shocking.”

 

But Hutchinson said that “excessive force, abuse of authority, is not going to be tolerated,” calling for a federal investigation and for the officer to be immediately suspended pending the results of the federal probe, reports CBS Los Angeles.

 

Hutchinson said the group has not received any information from the CHP about the context of the video, although he could not think of a reason that could justify the officer’s actions.

 

“We don’t know at this point [what occurred before the recording]. The only thing we have the video,” he said, insisting that no matter what transpired “the officer crossed the line.”

 

“To subdue, that’s one thing. But to beat, that’s another thing,” Hutchinson said.

CHF Chief Chris O’Quinn added…

“I can say that the tape only shows a small part of what transpired. There are events that led up to this. Until that’s collected and put into — perspective, we aren’t going to be able to make a determination.”

*  *  *

Perhaps the SWATification of America’s police force is going to their heads… and the fact that America is becoming a consequence-less nation – judging by the elites.




via Zero Hedge http://ift.tt/1xwxaXZ Tyler Durden

A Hit Song That Will Make You Equally Ashamed to Be American and Canadian

In June 1973, Canadian DJ Byron
McGregor read this above commentary (written by fellow Great White
Northerner Gordon Sinclair) on a radio station broadcasting out of
Toronto. It
eventually became a massive hit
, peaking at number four on the
Top 40 charts and generating cover versions by Tex Ritter and
others.

Despite not knowing the Canada was America’s
biggest trading partner
, Ronald Reagan praised the track by
name when he made his first trip abroad as president.

Ironically, because it was written and performed by Canadians,
it satisfied Canada’s idiotic (and still in force, even
when it comes to pornography
) rules about airing a certain
amount of domestically produced cultural content.

Without going full Lee Greenwood, I’m very proud to be an
American and I thank my grandparents every day for emigrating here
rather than England or Argentina (the two other likely choices,
given that one side was Irish and the other Italian).

But even on the Fourth of July weekend, perspective is a
wonderful thing. Take it way, Remy, talking about the Veterans
Affairs scandal:

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Congressional Panel Accused Of Leaking Insider Information, Refuses To Comply With Probe

It was back in April 2013, when the WSJ reported of a peculiar surge in various health insurance stocks that came moments after a report from Height Securities, a Washington-based investment-research firm that ferrets out policy news and analysis for investors, correctly predicted the Obama administration would reverse course on big spending cuts that would have hit health insurers. The note was released about 15 minutes before markets closed on Monday, April 1, leading to the following surge in the biggest Obamacare beneficiaries.

Needless to say, it is quite clear that non-public info was leaked by US legislators to a “expert network” consulting company, which in turn further propagated the information to its own clients, making them profits of up to 8.6% in milliseconds. As the WSJ summarized at the time, “The resulting stock surge is one of the most dramatic examples in recent years of how tips and insights from Washington’s burgeoning political-intelligence business can drive trading on Wall Street, potentially leading to big profits for those in the know.”

It took the SEC 14 months to finally figure out there may have been something illegal with this setup and as the WSJ followed up three weeks ago, “prosecutors are gathering evidence for a grand-jury probe into whether congressional staff helped tip Wall Street traders to a change in health-care policy, an indication the long-running investigation has entered a more serious phase.”

Public documents show federal law-enforcement officials and the Securities and Exchange Commission are seeking records and other evidence from the House Ways and Means Committee and a top congressional health-care aide, Brian Sutter, staff director of the committee’s health-care subpanel.

 

The SEC sent subpoenas to the House committee and Mr. Sutter seeking documents and testimony in the matter, according to documents made public by Rep. David Camp (R., Mich.), who is the committee chairman, and Mr. Sutter.

 

Separately, the Justice Department issued a subpoena to Mr. Sutter to compel him to testify before a federal grand jury at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, according to Mr. Sutter’s public disclosure, which was included in the congressional record per House rules. Committee officials wouldn’t say whether Mr. Sutter has testified. A spokesman for the Ways and Means Committee, speaking for Mr. Sutter, declined to comment.

Furthermore, the SEC went to court June 20 to enforce subpoenas it issued as it sought information related to a probe into whether Sutter leaked material nonpublic information about Medicare reimbursement rates to Mark Hayes, a lobbyist at Greenberg Traurig LLP.

As Reuters reported previously, the SEC said Hayes spoke with Sutter the same day that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced reimbursement rates for the Medicare Advantage program. The regulator said Hayes then emailed the brokerage firm Height Securities, which shortly afterward sent its clients a “flash alert” suggesting the deal could help insurance companies such as Humana and Health Net, leading to the surge shown above.

In brief: what Sutter did is effecitvely leaking material non-public information which ultimately made its way to paying clients of Height, and nobody else, allowing them to generate quick, and substantial profits. The information had not been made public yet to the general public.

What is unknown is whether Sutter and other members of the House Ways and Means committee also traded concurrently on this non-public information, making some whopping profits in the process too. And it appears that is precisely how Sutter et al want to keep it.

According to Reuters, the Ways and Means panel said on Friday it should not have to comply with a federal regulator’s demand for documents sought for an insider-trading probe involving the staff director of a subcommittee and a lobbyist.

The House Ways and Means Committee argued in a court filing that U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe in New York should deny the Securities and Exchange Commission’s attempt to subpoena documents from the committee and its healthcare subcommittee staff director Brian Sutter.

 

The SEC went to court June 20 to enforce subpoenas it issued as it sought information related to a probe into whether Sutter leaked material nonpublic information about Medicare reimbursement rates to Mark Hayes, a lobbyist at Greenberg Traurig LLP.

 

The committee’s filing called the SEC subpoena “a remarkable fishing expedition for congressional records.” It said the U.S. Constitution shields the panel and Sutter from being compelled to testify or produce documents.

Wait, the Constitution protects leakers of material, non-public inside information, disseminated to curry favor with various paying clients and lobbyists, and to further one’s career, not to mention paycheck? Maybe the committee can point to just what page in the constitution they are looking at as we can’t seem to find this particular section. We even checked the amendments – it’s missing there too.

As Reuters concludes, “the dispute between the House committee and the regulator could test the boundary of the SEC’s powers to compel the legislative branch of government to cooperate with its enforcement of the federal securities laws.”

Spoiler alert – we are happy to reveal the answer already: the SEC’s “powers to compel” will be found null and void, because while as we already noted recently while central bankers are clearly above the law, so are those who actually make it: because when it comes to insider trading, US Congress is happy to dole out fire and brimstone on all those who abuse their fiduciary responsibility or happen to prove the strong form of the EMT, but when it comes to Congress, it’s look but don’t touch, and certainly don’t investigate.

After all corrupt Congressmen have only a few years in which to become rich, and if abuse of insider trading laws is what it takes, so be it.




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Gene Healy on the Power of the Presidency

In The Once and Future
King
, the conservative legal scholar F.H. Buckley argues that
the American presidency, with its vast regulatory and national
security powers, is degenerating into the “elective monarchy”
George Mason warned about at the Philadelphia Convention. Reviewing
the book, Cult of the Presidency author Gene Healy reports
that Buckley makes a depressingly good case.

View this article.

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Small Grocers Now Have to Adhere to LA’s Ridiculous Plastic Bag Ban

On Tuesday, the second wave of Los Angeles’ plastic bag ban

went in to effect
as small grocers are no longer allowed to
offer customers plastic as an option to carry their goods.

While the bag ban passed last year, city officials implemented
the law in phases—on January 1 larger retail chains were prohibited
from carrying the offending plastic bags. Now, smaller retailers
and corner stores will have to follow suit. 

The ban is intended to help the environment, but opponents say
that banning plastic bags will hurt the economy and that paper bags
are actually worse for the environment. 

In 2012, Reason TV’s Kennedy—now a host on the popular Fox
Business show The Independents—went down to LA’s City Hall to ask
council members why they wanted to outlaw plastic bags. “LA Bans
the Plastic Bag,” produced by Zach Weissmueller and Kennedy was
originally released on June 2, 2012. The original writeup is
below. 

Plastic bags: faithful transporters of groceries, liners of
wastebaskets, pickers-up of dog crap and inspirers of late nineties
Hollywood screenwriters, now banned from grocery stores by the Los
Angeles City Council. But why?

Reason.tv’s Kennedy paid a visit to LA City Hall to find an
answer to that question. Council members stood by the ban, despite
being confronted with evidence that bag bans have no discernible
effect on the health of the environment and make up less than 1
percent of California’s waste stream.

“When you’re looking at 1 percent, that’s a huge difference,”
says Councilman Alarcon, who voted for the ban. 

Reason contributor Jay Beeber points out that a similar ban in
San Francisco failed to reduce the small number of plastic bags
actually littering the street. 

“This is just feel-good legislation,” says Beeber. “It’s not
going to solve any problems, but it makes people think that we’ve
done something.”

Still, council member Tom LaBonge feels that he served his
district well by outlawing plastic bags at grocery stores.

“That one percent [of plastic bags in the waste stream] pollutes
the river,” says LaBonge. “You want to go out to the river with me?
I’ll show it to you.”

Approximately 4:43 minutes.

Interviews by Kennedy. Shot and edited by Zach Weissmueller.

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Train Derails In Montana, Dumps Boeing Fuselages Into River

Until now, whenever Warren Buffett’s preferred mode of industrial transportation – that would be trains – derailed, it would usually involve spilling generous amounts of oil into the surrounding area, far more than any hypothetical pipeline disaster to date would have resulted in. Then, in an apparent first, overnight a train derailed in Montana and spilled fuselages of Boeing 737 airplanes into the Clark Fork River. One wonder if all of these airplane orders had been funded by the Ex-Im bank.

From King5.com:

The investigation continues into the derailment of a train near the town of Superior, Montana Thursday night.

 

Some of the cars carried aircraft components.

 

Nineteen cars on the westbound train derailed. Three of the cars contained aircraft parts and ended up in the Clark Fork River. Sources tell KING5 the parts were heading to Boeing in Renton.

 

Crews spent the night and into this morning cleaning up.

Photos from the derailment site:

In any event, since the capital order will have to go through twice, expect a bumper month when it comes to July Durable Goods, and thus Q3 GDP. In retrospect, the “derailed airplane fuselage” theory of economic growth may soon replace the “broken window” falacy as a means to “boost” the US economy.




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