The Death Cult of Collectivism

The reproach of individualism is commonly leveled against economics on the basis of an alleged irreconcilable conflict between the interests of society and those of the individual.
Classical and subjectivist economics, it is said, give an undue priority to the interests of the individual over those of society and generally contend, in conscious denial of the facts, that a harmony of interests prevails between them. It would be the task of genuine science to show that the whole is superior to the parts and that the individual has to subordinate himself to, and conduct himself for, the benefit of society and to sacrifice his selfish private interests to the common good.
In the eyes of those who hold this point of view society must appear as a means designed by Providence to attain ends that are hidden from us. The individual must bow to the will of Providence and must sacrifice his own interests so that its will may be done. His greatest duty is obedience. He must subordinate himself to the leaders and live just as they command.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on 12/30/2017.

Public Library of Science Published No Evidence of Global Warming Caused by Humans

Even the renown Public Library of Science (PLOS) Organization has stated plainly there is no evidence of Global Warming caused by human activity.
‘[O]nly 18% of the stations showed increases in water temperature that would be expected from global warming, partially reflecting the limits in detecting trends due to inherent natural variability of temperature data. Decreases in visibility were associated with increased human density. However, this link can be decoupled by environmental factors, with conditions that increase the flush of water, dampening the effects of human influence.’
SOURCE

This post was published at Armstrong Economics on Dec 31, 2017.

The US Suffered 15 Billion-Dollar-Plus Weather Disasters In 2017

In the year that President Donald Trump pulled out of the Paris accord and downplayed global warming as a security threat, the US received a harsh reminder of the perils of the rise in the planet’s temperature: a destructive rash of hurricanes, fires and floods.
According to Bloomberg, the US recorded 15 weather events costing $1 billion or more each through early October, one short of the record 16 in 2011, according to the federal government’s National Centers for Environmental Information in Asheville, North Carolina. And that tally doesn’t include the recent wildfires in southern California, one of which grew to be the largest fire in state history, according to Bloomberg.
Among the most devastating events were hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and wildfires in northern California. The killer storms caused economic losses of more than $210 billion in the U. S. and across the Caribbean, and about $100 billion in insured damages, according to Mark Bove, a senior research scientist with Munich Reinsurance America in Princeton, New Jersey.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sat, 12/30/2017 –.

Jihadist Group Blows Up Oil Pipeline In Iran, In Midst Of Protests

In the year that President Donald Trump pulled out of the Paris accord and downplayed global warming as a security threat, the US received a harsh reminder of the perils of the rise in the planet’s temperature: a destructive rash of hurricanes, fires and floods.
According to Bloomberg, the US recorded 15 weather events costing $1 billion or more each through early October, one short of the record 16 in 2011, according to the federal government’s National Centers for Environmental Information in Asheville, North Carolina. And that tally doesn’t include the recent wildfires in southern California, one of which grew to be the largest fire in state history, according to Bloomberg.
Among the most devastating events were hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and wildfires in northern California. The killer storms caused economic losses of more than $210 billion in the U. S. and across the Caribbean, and about $100 billion in insured damages, according to Mark Bove, a senior research scientist with Munich Reinsurance America in Princeton, New Jersey.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sat, 12/30/2017 –.

The Rise of the West

Throughout almost the entire span of human history, material privation and chronic insecurity were the norm. Not even those at the peaks of social status and political power could enjoy the creature comforts and consumer delights that “poor” people take for granted in the West today. At times, certain populations fared somewhat better – in ancient Greece and Rome, perhaps, and in China during the Sung Dynasty (960 – 1279) – but those cases were exceptional.
As late as the 14th century, the Chinese probably enjoyed the highest level of living of any large population. Recall the amazement with which Europeans greeted Marco Polo’s account of China in the latter part of the 13th century, even though, as Polo declared on his deathbed, he had not described the half of what he had seen.1
As the Middle Ages waned the Europeans began to make quicker economic progress, while the Chinese lapsed into economic stagnation. Even more remarkable, the economic energy of Europe began to shift away from the great commercial centers of northern Italy and toward the periphery of civilization in northwestern Europe. The barbarians, it seemed, had somehow stumbled onto the secret of economic progress. Henceforth, despite many setbacks, the western Europeans – and later their colonial cousins in North America as well – steadily pulled ahead of the human pack. By the 18th century they had far surpassed the Chinese, not to speak of the world’s more backward peoples, and until the late 20th century the gap continued to widen.
How did the West succeed in generating sustained economic progress? Historians and social scientists have offered various hypotheses, and so far no single explanation has gained general acceptance. Nevertheless, certain elements of an answer have received wide agreement. The growing individualism of Western culture, rooted in Christian doctrine, seems to have contributed significantly.2 In addition, the political fragmentation of the European peoples in the high Middle Ages and the early modern period – a political pluralism with hundreds of separate jurisdictions – fostered the institutional and technological experimentation by which entrepreneurs could discover how to make labor and capital more productive.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on 2017/12/29.

North Korean Defectors Show Signs Of Radiation Exposure

South Korean scientists and doctors who have been examining North Korean defectors have stumbled upon yet another horrifying discovery: At least four of the defectors have shown signs of radiation exposure, the South Korean government said on Wednesday – although researchers could not confirm if the radiation was related to Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program.
Earlier today, we noted that one of the defectors had also tested positive for Anthrax antibodies, suggesting that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has continued his chemical weapons program despite signing an international chemical weapons treaty. Of course, the North Korean government has denied that chemical weapons are being used.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 27, 2017.

Putting the Economics Back in Christmas

I applaud the online magazine Slate for its recurring series on ‘the dismal science,’ as they call it. Rather than boring discussions of the housing market or the NASDAQ index, economists such as Steven Landsburg and others tackle interesting issues. Don’t get me wrong, I just about always disagree with the columns. I was never puzzled as to why people walk up stairs but not escalators, I don’t think an increase in promiscuity will reduce the spread of HIV, and I’m still not convinced that a person should only give to one charity. Even so, the articles get me thinking, and that’s what’s important.
So the reader must understand that it is in this festive, jovial spirit that I proceed to devastate a recent Slate article, ‘The Sovereign versus the Idiot.’ It is a stocking stuffed full of fallacies and plenty a non sequitur for all the family to enjoy. When I read an article like this, I am honestly humbled by how lucky I was to stumble across the wisdom of the Austrian economists. But enough preamble! On to the article’s inauspicious opening:
Economists generally salute holiday gift-giving for its healthy effect on the macroeconomy. And indeed, gift spending boosts GNP to the tune of $100 billion a year in the United States.

This post was published at Mises Canada on DECEMBER 26, 2017.

A Natural Experiment For Philadelphia’s Soda Tax

The city of Philadelphia’s controversial soda tax is providing a lot of material for serious scientists to evaluate the effects of arbitrarily imposing a tax on the distribution of a range of naturally and artificially-sweetened beverages. Since we’re near the end of the tax’s first year of being in effect, we thought we’d focus upon one of the more interesting findings to date.
Consumers are primarily the ones paying the tax
Thanks to the quirks of geography and development, some parts of the terminals at Philadephia’s international airport fall within Philadelphia’s city limits while other parts do not, which means that Philadelphia’s Beverage Tax is imposed in some parts of the airport while not in others. Cornell University’s John Cawley recognized that situation would make for a natural experiment for assessing some of the impact of the tax, where they collected data for soda sales at the airport in the period of December 2016 through February 2017, which provides a window into how both prices and sales changed as the tax went into effect on 1 Janaury 2017. Here’s a summary of the research’s findings:
The research, co-written with Barton Willage, a doctoral candidate in economics, and David Frisvold of the University of Iowa, appeared Oct. 25 in JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association.
Philadelphia’s tax of 1.5 cents per ounce on sugar-sweetened beverages is one of several passed by cities throughout the United States. The goal is to increase prices and dissuade people from drinking soda to benefit their health. These taxes have been controversial; Cook County, Illinois, recently repealed its tax, which had only been in place a few months.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 26, 2017.

Star Wars For The Splitting Soul Of America

Via GEFIRA,
The last episode of the successful movie – Star Wars – is actually a lot less about the stars in space and much more about culture and class. Most importantly, it reflects the dangerously growing disenfranchisement of the race-and-gender obsessed liberal upper class and everyone else.
The movie finally came out, the money started flowing and eventually the reviews arrived. The result? On the primary review sites Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes the critics loved it, the public did not, which left many wondering why.
Some explanations came out already: the good results are scientific, the bad ones are there because of internet trolls. Nope, there’s nothing scientific about subjective opinions, even if they (allegedly) represent the majority of those who express them. Science is, or should be, objective.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 26, 2017.

Man Who Delivered Gift-Wrapped Horseshit To Steven Mnuchin Compares Himself to Jesus

An LA County psychologist who thinks President Trump’s tax bill stinks to high heaven, compared himself to Jesus after admitting he delivered a gift-wrapped box of horseshit as a Christmas present to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. Robby Strong told AL.com he dropped off the box of horse manure at Mnuchin’s house as an ‘act of political theater’ to hammer home the point that ‘Republicans have done nothing for the American worker.’
Boldly taking the Christ-analogy to a place it has never gone before, Strong told SoCal radio station 89.3 KPCC that “what I did, I would like to compare to what Jesus did when he went into the temple and overturned the tables of the money-changers, who were exploiting the people financially in the name of religion.”
‘In the long run, if we don’t do stuff like this, what are we going to have left?’ Robby told KPCC. ‘I feel like that’s what the GOP has done to the American people,’ added the man who, bizarrely, is a psychologist with the LA Department of Mental Health.
Things start to make much more sense, however, once we learn that Strong claims he was an organizer for the Occupy LA movement; predictably he sides with critics of the $1.5 trillion tax overhaul who say it favors corporations and the wealthy, CBS Los Angeles reported.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 25, 2017.

Conscience, Heroic Virtue, and Civil Disobedience in the Resistance to Evil

“A period of tension ensued, for the Danish population in general and its Jewish citizens in particular. Danish policy sought to ensure its independence and neutrality by placating the neighboring Nazi regime. After Denmark was occupied by Germany following Operation Weserbung on April 9, 1940, the situation became increasingly precarious.
In 1943, the situation came to a head when Werner Best, the German plenipotentiary in Denmark ordered the arrest and deportation of all Danish Jews, scheduled to commence on October 1, which coincided with Rosh Hashanah. However, the Jewish community was given advance warning, and only 202 were arrested initially. As it turned out, 7,550 fled to Sweden, ferried across the resund strait. 500 Jews were deported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp. In the course of their incarceration, Danish authorities often interceded on their behalf, as they did for other Danes in German custody, sending food.
Of the 500 Jews who were deported, approximately 50 died during deportation. Danes rescued the rest and they returned to Denmark in what was regarded as a patriotic duty against the Nazi occupation. Many of non-Jewish Danes protected their Jewish neighbors’ property and homes while they were gone.”
Lidegaard, Bo. Guarding Denmark’s Jewish Heritage, The New York Times, 26 February 2015

This post was published at Jesses Crossroads Cafe on 23 DECEMBER 2017.

Zuesse: Americans Are Only Now Beginning To Learn They Live In A Dictatorship

Authored by Eric Zuesse via The Strategic Culture Foundation,
The first time when it became clear to me that I live in a dictatorship was in 2014 when reading, prior to its publication, the landmark (and still the only) scientific empirical study to address the question as to whether or not the United States federal Government is, authentically, a democracy – or, whether, alternatively, it’s instead more of a dictatorship, than a democracy.
This study documented conclusively that America’s Government is the latter.
So, on 14 April 2014, I headlined ‘US Is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy, Says Scientific Study’. Subsequently, my editor linked it to the published article at the Journal where the study was published, Perspectives on Politics, from the American Political Science Association, and the full study can be read there.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 22, 2017.

Alphabet’s Eric Schmidt Steps Down From Executive Chairman Role

After 17 years in senior leadership at the “Do No Evil” shop, Eric Schmidt is stepping down from his executive chairman role at the internet behemoth…
After ten years as CEO and seven as Executive Chairman, I can’t wait to dive into the latest in science, technology, and philanthropy. I look forward to working with Larry and Sergey on our future here at Alphabet. – Eric Schmidt (@ericschmidt) December 21, 2017
He will become a technical adviser to Google parent Alphabet, while continuing to serve on the board.
Full Alphabet Statement:

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 21, 2017.

The United States Lifted Own Ban On Funding Research To Engineer Deadly Viruses In A Lab

The US government may now fund research that looks into engineering a virus to be more deadly and transmittable after lifting a ban they previously placed on themselves.
According to Science Alert, the moratorium, which was imposed three years ago, froze funding for what’s called ‘gain of function’ research: controversial experiments seeking to alter pathogens and make them even more dangerous. Now, the money is back on the table, giving those trials the green light once more.
The director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Francis S. Collins, announced the lifting of the moratorium on Tuesday. Collins said ‘gain of function’ or GOF research with viruses like influenza, MERS, and SARS could help us ‘identify, understand, and develop strategies and effective countermeasures against rapidly evolving pathogens that pose a threat to public health.’
But not everyone thinks this is a good idea. In fact, most are concerned. It isn’t that this research wasn’t being conducted before, there’s a good chance it was. But once the federal government shows interest in something of this magnitude, it’s time to worry. Some are concerned that the new flow of funding heightens the risk that unseen breeds of deadly engineered pathogens could escape lab containment, which would then make their way to the public, or into the wrong people’s (the government’s) hands.

This post was published at shtfplan on December 20th, 2017.

Amtrak And Trump

It’s not looking good for the President this morning on the Amtrak wreck near Seattle.
Yesterday there was some reason to believe that there had been an obstruction of some sort on the track (possibly deliberately placed.) Today, however, it’s a bit different, aided by some pictures of course.
The cause now appears to be quite-clear — there is a 30mph zone right at the bridge. The reason is not “bad track” or “poor infrastructure”, it’s a curve.
It has been reported that the train went through there at 81mph. The “good track” speed limit for Amtrak on most modern, improved rail and roadbed is 79mph, which is right at the speed the train was traveling.
The problem is that the engineer ignored the 30mph zone, came around the corner at 80mph and physics took over.

This post was published at Market-Ticker on 2017-12-19.

What to Expect From Equities in 2018

Summary: US stocks will likely rise in 2018. By how much is anybody’s guess: the standard deviation of annual returns is too wide to get even close to a correct estimate on a consistent basis. Earnings growth implies 6% price appreciation, but tax cuts could boost that to 13%. Investor psychology could push returns much higher (or lower).
While it’s true that investors are already bullish and valuations are already high, neither of these implies a likelihood of negative returns in 2018. That the stock market rose strongly this year also has no adverse impact on next year’s probable return.
A bear market is always possible but is also unlikely. That said, the S&P typically experiences a drawdown every year of about 10%; even a 14% fall would be within the normal, annual range. It will feel like the end of the bull market when it happens.
The Fed will likely continue to raise rates next year, which normally leads to higher stock prices. While political risks seem high, the stock market usually ignores these. The “Year 2” presidential cycle provides no investment edge.
This article highlights 11 key ideas to explain what to expect in 2018.

This post was published at FinancialSense on 12/19/2017.

Let Them Eat (Yellow)Cake – Where The Uranium Comes From

Uranium is in high demand, as it is used as fuel in nuclear power plants around the world. Statista’s Dyfed Loesche notes that according to the German Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources BGR, Kazakhstan is the biggest producer of the radioactive metal. The central Asian country produced around 24,600 metric tons of the substance in 2016. This is a share of close to 40 percent of the worldwide production.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 18, 2017.

AlphaZero for President

From KurzweilAI:
Demis Hassabis, the founder and CEO of DeepMind, announced at the Neural Information Processing Systems conference (NIPS 2017) last week that DeepMind’s new AlphaZero program achieved a superhuman level of play in chess within 24 hours.
The program started from random play, given no domain knowledge except the game rules, according to an arXiv paper by DeepMind researchers published Dec. 5.
‘It doesn’t play like a human, and it doesn’t play like a program,’ said Hassabis, an expert chess player himself. ‘It plays in a third, almost alien, way. It’s like chess from another dimension.’
I started programming IBM machines in the late 60s, and at the time there was talk about the possibility of a computer someday beating a competent human at chess. Though the first programs stumbled along like children learning to walk, slowly, over the years, they improved, thanks in part to Moore’s Law and the genius of certain computer scientists. In February 1977 Chess 4.6, the only computer entry, won the 84th Minnesota Open against competitors just under Master level; it later defeated the US chess champion. [source] In 1988, Deep Thought became the first computer to defeat a grandmaster in a tournament. IBM bought Deep Thought, pumped it up and renamed it Deep Blue, and beat World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov in 1997.

This post was published at GoldSeek on Friday, 15 December 2017.

Satellite Images Show North Korea Building New Tunnel At Nuclear-Test Site

Despite earlier hope amid Tillerson’s comments on diplomacy with North Korea, a new batch of satellite images suggests that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is ignoring warnings from Chinese (as well as American and South Korean) scientists and instead pressing ahead with the country’s nuclear testing regimen at Punggye-ri, a facility situated in the country’s mountainous northeast.
As scientist from several countries have tried to explain, satellite images suggest Punggye-ri is suffering from ‘Tired Mountain Syndrome’ – a phenomenon first documented by spy satellites examining Soviet nuclear test sites. After being warned by Chinese scientists about the dangers, two tunnels collapsed near the testing chamber back in October, killing 200 North Korean workers.
According to 38North, a blog that closely tracks North Korea related news, work on what appears to be a new tunnel near the site’s West Portal is progressing, leaving the North Portal – where the last five tests were conducted – mostly dormant and likely abandoned, at least for the time being.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 12, 2017.