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Economic History 101, Individual Vs. Government Initiative: The Great Leap Forward

The agricultural economy of the late 1950's largely resembled that of the Nationalists prior to Mao's ascension to power, characterized by peasant farmers tilling small plots on which they had some form of claim of ownership or tenancy, the latter of which dated from the time of China's last dynasty, the Qing line. All that changed in 1957 with the policy known as the Great Leap Forward, its major policy elements being the redirection of labor Read More »

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Was Joe Paterno Really That Generous?

Many of those defending Joe Paterno's legacy point to his involvement in and giving to many projects at the University. At the press conference of the Penn State University Board of Trustees on the release of the Freeh Report, Trustee Kenneth Frazier was quoted as saying, that the report found "inexcusable failures on the part of Joe Paterno and others to protect children. But I'd also say Joe Paterno did a lot of tremendous things in Read More »

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Ford and the Auto Bailout…

The visit of President Barack Obama to Detroit yesterday gave the Administration ample opportunity to crow about the Government led auto bailout of 2008. "If it was up to the Republican Party, Chrysler and General Motors would not have been here," UAW Secretary-Treasurer Dennis Williams told the crowd of thousands "If it wasn't for President Obama, we would not have the opportunity to once again build the best cars and trucks in the whole world." I should Read More »

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Obama and Motown….

President Obama apperared today in my hometown, the city of wheels, Detroit, MI. Although in the grand and beautiful state of Michigan for the Labor Day weekend, I did not venture into the Motor City to hear the President speak, instead choosing to stay in a quintessentially Michigan setting near a lake and tune into it on C-Span. What I was treated to via the helfpful public affairs channel was vintage Barack Obama at his Read More »

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AT&T and T-Mobile: Troubled Reasoning Despite Good Policy

While I applaud the decision of the Department of Justice to file suit to block the merger of AT&T and T-Mobile as a sound free-market and pro-competive decision, recent quotes from Administration officials leave us to believe that this positive and constructive move may be more of a case of a blind squirell finding a nut than any sort of visionary and sound policy posture. Moreover, in reading the reviews of this action, I Read More »

Milton Friedman on “Soaking the Rich”

This video is a bit of deja’ vu.  It is a segment of an interview on the Phil Donahue show in which the famous professor and monetarist answers a woman’s question that seems to be focused on the unfairness of the existence of billionaires in a capitalist society.

Although the video is about 25 years or so old, the issues are the same that are being debated today – taxing the rich, viabilty of social security and more.

Even though the late economist was an innovator and academic, his explanations remain very accessible to the average person.

Video: Economic Freedom and a Better Life

asmith

In our continuing series of condensing lectures on economics, freedom, and liberty, this embedded video is from economics professor Josh Hall.

In this short 3 minute video, he explains that economic freedom leads to greater human well-being. If we look at average income, life expectancy, income of the poorest 10%, and other factors, we see that when governments let citizens make economic decisions for themselves, this leads to greater human flourishing.

Ford and the Auto Bailout…

Ford-Logo-Large

The visit of President Barack Obama to Detroit yesterday gave the Administration ample opportunity to crow about the Government led auto bailout of 2008.

“If it was up to the Republican Party, Chrysler and General Motors would not have been here,” UAW Secretary-Treasurer Dennis Williams told the crowd of thousands “If it wasn’t for President Obama, we would not have the opportunity to once again build the best cars and trucks in the whole world.”

I should note that the first phase of the auto bailout was announced on December 19, 2008 by Treasury Secretary Paulson, under Republican George W. Bush, but facts don’t seem to matter these days.  As I pointed out yesterday in a review of Mr. Obama’s speech, divisiveness, catalyzed by mendacity if necessary, seems to be the tenor of the times.

The President, as well, was not shy about proclaiming the success of his program stating:  “When we stood by the auto industry, we made some tough choices that were  necessary to make it succeed,” Obama told the crowd. “Now the Big Three are  turning a profit and hiring new workers and building the best cars in the world  right here in Detroit.”

Of course, the auto bailouts did not bail out “The Big Three” but rather two of the three, one of which is now controlled by an Italian company.

Moreover, one segment of the UAW and the “Big Three” seems to be getting the shaft – Ford Motor Company and its employees.  As the following article makes clear…

Obama and Motown….

obama-detroit

President Obama appeared today in my hometown, the city of wheels, Detroit, MI.

Although in the grand and beautiful state of Michigan for the Labor Day weekend, I did not venture into the Motor City to hear the President speak, instead choosing to stay in a quintessentially Michigan setting near a lake and tune into it on C-Span.  What I was treated to via the helpful public affairs channel was vintage Barack Obama at his best.  It featured many of his trademark rhetorical flourishes, and the crowd of mostly unionized workers relished the Orwellian tribute despite its often conflicting statements and logic.

Ending his speech with – “We are one nation. We are one people. We will rise and fall together. Anyone who doesn’t believe it should come to Detroit.” – may salve the ill fated psychic wounds endured by my beloved place of heritage, but it smacks of hometown boosterism and not much more.  Detroit, in fact, has seen its prospects plummet under Mr. Obama, the city itself laboring under an unemployment rate close to 25% which is about 8 percentage points higher than when Obama took office at the nadir of the recession.  I presume, therefore, the President is alluding to falling together rather than rallying to rise together, not a very satisfying message to send the country in its current collective mindset of desiring constructive and positive leadership.

In fact, the thing that struck me most listening to the speech was that it was anything but constructive, anything but positive, and anything but a call to unify.  In fact, my own perception of the speech that it was classic political theatre intended to rouse a core constituency through demonizing other segments of our society and dividing our country further.  Amongst his disfavored groups that are apparently not of  the collective that rises and falls together are bankers (whom he decried for taking the bailouts he proffered and not coincidentally forced on a few) businesses who are greedy (as if the “system” when properly governed is not supposed to make this a public good), Republicans who apparently are simply “playing games” (The President of no bi-partisan legislation reiterating his tendency to autocracy by saying “Still believes that both parties can work together to solve problems” and he is “not going to wait for them”….sigh), and, fittingly, States that dare propose right to work laws and auto companies that fail to take government money (Mr. Obama conveniently omitting mention of Ford during his speech despite pawning over General Motors and Chrysler, two companies that have been blessed with both cheap capital and, conveniently, protection from labor strikes by the Administration).

AT&T and T-Mobile: Troubled Reasoning Despite Good Policy

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While I applaud the decision of the Department of Justice to file suit to block the merger of AT&T and T-Mobile as a sound free-market and pro-competive decision, recent quotes from Administration officials leave us to believe that this positive and constructive move may be more of a case of a blind squirell finding a nut than any sort of visionary and sound policy posture.  Moreover, in reading the reviews of this action, I remain convinced that the knowledge of economics on the part of journalists remain sourced in partisan talking points rather than any fundamental knowledge of the arcane science, as evidenced in the wholly biased article by Ben Protess and J. Michael Merced in today’s New York Times entitled The Anti-Trust Battle Ahead.

The battle lines in the case involving the merger are quite clear.  AT&T and T-Mobile claim that the US mobile communications market is highly competitive and that the combination of the two will provide economic synergies resulting in efficiencies and better service for consumers.  The Department of Justice is claiming that the combination is anti-competitive and will harm consumers.  Both are correct and both miss the larger issue that is wrapped in a smaller subset of facts and proven theories.

First off, the United States wireless communications market is highly competitive.  The very fact that Deutsche Telecom, the parent of T-Mobile, finds it difficult to compete in the market is sufficient testimony to that circumstance as the German powerhouse does not face similar market dynamics in a range of other countries in which it competes.  The United States market, however, also has market segments in which there is far less competition, each one dileneated by the technology deployed by the competing companies.  Unlike most of the rest of the world that operates on the GSM standard for cellular communications, the US features three primary technologies – CDMA, TDMA and GSM.  Therein lies the rub for AT&T and T-Mobile – there are only two major carriers in the US that use the worldwide standard and they are T-Mobile and AT&T.

Video: The Value of Economic Freedom

The following video is not as intellectual and theorectical as some of our video presentations, but it is succint in its view of the value of economic freedom.

Rather than fill our library of videos with purely academic excercises, I felt it was important that some to the point narratives were provided as well.  Enjoy this video from Economic Freedom and visit their site for more information if you wish.

Video: Media Bias with Tim Groseclose

Tim Groseclose

Drawing upon Stanford University’s phenomenal video interview/lecture/speech series, this 33 minute video features an interview with UCLA professor of American Politics Tim Groseclose discussing media bias in the United States. Professor Groseclose has also taught at Caltech, Stanford, Carnegie Mellon, Ohio State University and Harvard. His new book is Left Turn: How Liberal Media Bias Distorts the American Mind
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In his book, Groseclose explains how he measures the political leanings of ordinary Americans, the level of bias in any chosen media company, and how this media bias powerfully affects elections. He concludes by offering ways of combating media bias and explaining the role the Internet plays in exposing this bias.  This revealing interview is a perfect introduction to both the research and resultant book by Professor Groseclose.  I hope you enjoy the interview and our efforts to bring to you contemporary video commentary on issues impacting every American today.

Video: The Economics of Liberty

Dr. Walter Williams

In our continued quest to develop a database of topical, intelligent, and more than superficial lecture videos on the topic of economics, freedom and history, I am going to be publishing a rush of currently availble videos from YouTube and other sites that focus exclusively on these topics.

This video is of a speech made by Dr. Walter Williams, professor of economics at George Mason University, and features excerpts from the speech “The Entrepreneur As American Hero,” delivered by Dr. Walter E Williams, John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics, George Mason University.

In fact, this speech was in response to Paul Krugman – Income Inequality and the Middle Class.

Video: Thomas Sowell, Facts and Fallacies

The video below is from an interview at the Hoover Institution with Thomas Sowell about his book Economic Facts and Fallacies
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In Economic Facts and Fallacies, Thomas Sowell exposes some of the most popular fallacies about economic issues in a lively manner that does not require any prior knowledge of economics. These fallacies include many beliefs widely disseminated in the media and by politicians, such as fallacies about urban problems, income differences, male-female economic differences, as well as economic fallacies about academia, about race, and about Third World countries.

Sowell shows that fallacies are not simply crazy ideas but in fact have a certain plausibility that gives them their staying power–and makes careful examination of their flaws both necessary and important.

The following video is an exceptional introduction to the book as well as informative for the economic layman…

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