Category Archives: 030 Economics

The Myth of Coke’s Power

“I long ago lost the taste for Coke. Maybe it is the fizz — there’s just too much of it. Or maybe it is the sticky sweet of the corn syrup in the U.S. version (corn subsidies and sugar tariffs are behind this). Or maybe it is because after I drink one, I feel a crazy buzz followed by devastating crash. I’ve never understood how anyone even stays awake after a super-sized burger, fries, and massive coke.

Apparently I’m not alone here. Coca-Cola is reporting declining sales in North America and even globally. It’s stock price has been hit. Consumer tastes seem to be shifting from heavily carbonated and sugary drinks in general toward bottled water, sports drinks, and energy drinks. I noticed at my local fast-food drive through that they were pushing their own specialty ice drinks over any conventional sodas.

Why does this matter? Ringing in my ears right now are the many years of hysterical commentaries I’ve heard from intellectuals who have railed against the supposed power that coke has over the globe. They complain that coke signs festoon the world, that this drink has bamboozled the masses for more than a century, that this drink is the most visible sign of capitalism’s corruption… 

Of all the beautiful things about the market economy, its most wonderful feature is its capacity to confound the intellectuals with unrelenting surprise and counterintuitive results. In its sheer unpredictability, the market serves as a humbling force in the universe and a reminder that in this world, the real and ultimate power will always reside with the decentralized organizing forces of society itself.”

(Via.) Beautiful Anarchy <—Read more here

European Crony Capitalism – Bearing ArmsArmatix ‘Smart Gun’ Developer Out: Is The Company Itself Doomed?

“Mauch’s Armatix iP1 (pistol/iW1 (watch) combination was apparently created more out of a need to assuage his personal desires than to meet market demands. Neither government agencies in law enforcement or the military had any interest in a product that added needless complexity to a handgun, and which quadrupled the price of proven conventional handgun systems in the same market space.

Quite literally, the only people who seemed excited about the iP1/iW1 combination were supporters of gun control, who were apparently thrilled that it might trigger a New Jersey law mandating the sale of only so-called ‘smart guns’ in the state. Others seemed thrilled by the rumor of a ‘back door’ in the technology that would allow the company (or government agencies) simply turn off the gun remotely, rendering the handguns inert and useless.”

(Via.) Bearing Arms <—Read more here

Is Colt Toast?

“We’re hearing rumblings about something we’ve discussed before: the parlous financial state of the privately held, and hedge-fund-looted, firearms manufacturer, Colt.

Colt’s hedgies (several generations of them, currently Sciens Capital) have taken it through multiple unnecessary reorganizations, each time stripping as much cash out of the company as possible, pocketing as much as they can get away with, and leaving it saddled with unsustainable debt. The company has hundreds of millions in debt that it has no reasonable chance of repaying. Now, faced with inability to pay a $10.9 million interest payment owed this month, the company’s managers seek to stave off default with hedge-fund chutzpah: offering investors the “opportunity” to take a 70% haircut on $250M of their bonds, or, alternatively, the company will bang out bankrupt — in a prepackaged bankruptcy modeled on that of the Government Motors rip-off and using the same obscure section of the bankruptcy code. Like the Chrysler and GM  bankruptcies, this plan will preserve the equity of favored creditors — the hedge fund managers — while ruining, or at least haircutting, disfavored creditors — like the bond holders…”

(Via.) WeaponsMan <—Read more here

Blacklisted: Martin Armstrong’s “The Forecaster” Movie Now Available And A Must See

“Any movie about the corruption of the US government and the US financial system that is blacklisted in the US is bound to get our attention.

‘The Forecaster’ is exactly that. It’s a movie about Martin Armstrong’s amazingly accurate forecasting system called the Economic Confidence Model and how he was jailed for nearly a decade, in torture type conditions, for not turning over his model to the CIA and Wall Street.

I’ll let the trailer mostly speak for the movie itself here:”

(Via.) TDV <—Read more here and see the trailer

How To Reclaim Your Rights and Keep NSA Computers From Turning Your Phone Conversations Into Searchable Text

“As soon as my article about how NSA computers can now turn phone conversations into searchable text came out on Tuesday, people started asking me: What should I do if I don’t want them doing that to mine?

The solution, as it is to so many other outrageously invasive U.S. government tactics exposed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, is, of course, Congressional legislation.

I kid, I kid.

No, the real solution is end-to-end encryption, preferably of the unbreakable kind.

And as luck would have it, you can have exactly that on your mobile phone, for the price of zero dollars and zero cents.

The Intercept’s Micah Lee wrote about this in March, in an article titled: ‘You Should Really Consider Installing Signal, an Encrypted Messaging App for iPhone.’

(Signal is for iPhone and iPads, and encrypts both voice and texts; RedPhone is the Android version of the voice product; TextSecure is the Android version of the text product.)

As Lee explains, the open source software group known as Open Whisper Systems, which makes all three, is gaining a reputation for combining trustworthy encryption with ease of use and mobile convenience.”

(Via.) The Intercept <—Read more here

Taco Bell Thief Demands Victim Drop Pants, Victim Kills Him

 “On Tuesday, an armed man approached a patron in a Taco Bell parking lot, demanded he drop his pants, and was subsequently shot and killed.

The attempted armed robbery took place in Pompano Beach, Florida.

According to CBS 4, it was approximately 6 pm when ‘21-year-old Rontavis Holton confronted [37-year-old] Ronald Farmer’ in a Taco Bell parking lot. Holton — who was ‘wearing a ski mask and sunglasses’ — allegedly pulled a gun on Farmer and ‘told [him] to pull down his pants.’

Farmer pulled his own gun and shot Holton in self-defense.”

(Via.) Breitbart <—Read more here

How I Quit Smoking and Why I’m Glad I Did

“This underscores a point I’ve been trying to make for years. The time to smoke is when you are a teen. It’s when your lungs are strong, and you body is prepared to fight back the ill effects. It’s also when you can gain the maximum advantage of the fact that smoking is very cool and enjoyable. I see no reason why parents shouldn’t encourage it, while warning that they will probably have to stop after graduating college.

And of course this is opposite of what the government says!

The anti-smoking campaigns for young people are based on its supposed addictive quality. The fear is that once you start as a teen, you will never stop. But I’ve never understood what is meant by addictive. It’s not like cigarettes take away your free will. Every day, people stop. It’s obviously possible.

If by addictive, we mean that it is something that once you do, you want to keep doing, there are many things that fall into that category. In fact, it would be completely normal to seek out such things, not avoid them. For example, I’m completely addicted to taking a shower every morning. It’s not really a problem.

Maybe by addictive, it is meant that it is very hard to stop once you start. Sure. I get that. But many things are hard to do that we do anyway. I don’t like the bracing cold of a swimming pool but I jump in anyway. No one wants to get up to go to work after a night of hard drinking but we do it anyway. No one wants to pay taxes but we do it anyway. Just because something is difficult doesn’t meant that it can’t be done…”

(Via.) Beautiful Anarchy <—Read more here

Congress Tells Court That Congress Can’t Be Investigated for Insider Trading

“In a little-noticed brief filed last summer, lawyers for the House of Representatives claimed that an SEC investigation of congressional insider trading should be blocked on principle, because lawmakers and their staff are constitutionally protected from such inquiries given the nature of their work.

The legal team led by Kerry W. Kircher, who was appointed House General Counsel by Speaker John Boehner in 2011, claimed that the insider trading probe violated the separation of powers between the legislative and executive branch.

In 2012, members of Congress patted themselves on the back for passing the STOCK Act, a bill meant to curb insider trading for lawmakers and their staff. ‘We all know that Washington is broken and today members of both parties took a big step forward to fix it,’ said Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, upon passage of the law.”

(Via.) The Intercept <—Read more here

An Open Letter To Baltimore & The World: How To End Police Brutality Forever

“Question: How long has police brutality been around?

Answer: Ever since there was police.

Sure, some places its better and some places it is worse.

But, have you ever noticed when you have a problem and you keep trying to fix it and it never works… then, what you realize, was that you had the wrong concept? As a simple example, when you try to remove the lid off a jar of pickels and you try and try but just can’t? Then, finally, you realize you were trying to turn it the wrong way! Once you understood how it worked, the solution was easy.

It’s the same with the police brutality question. You keep trying to fix it and fix it but never can. Why? Because you’ve got the wrong concept.”

(Via.) TDVA <—Read more here

Bitcoin Truly “Disrupts” Argentina Collectivist Policies

“Bitcoin is supposed to be the latest disruptive technology. But whenever you hear someone use the buzzword ‘disruptive,’ turn on your B.S. detector. Sure, technologies can be vaguely transformative, and that’s fine as far as it goes.

But the original concept of disruptive innovation is narrower. This term of art came from Harvard Business School guru Clayton Christensen, who meant something very specific.

‘Disruptive innovation,’ according to Christensen, ‘describes a process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves up-market, eventually displacing established competitors.’

Remember, that’s the ‘bottom’ of a market, and by that, Christensen means not wealthy. (This distinguishes a disruptive tech from other transformative innovations, like computers and cell phones, which started at the top.) And the not-wealthy can sometimes be desperate to escape to a better system.

When it comes to Bitcoin, even the New York Times Magazine has figured this out:

Bitcoin proponents like to say that the currency first became popular in the places that needed it least, like Europe and the United States, given how smoothly the currencies and financial services work there.

It makes sense that a place like Argentina would be fertile ground for a virtual currency. Inflation is constant: At the end of 2014, for example, the peso was worth 25 percent less than it was at the beginning of the year. And that adversity pales in comparison with past bouts of hyperinflation, defaults on national debts and currency revaluations.

Less than half of the population use Argentine banks and credit cards. Even wealthy Argentines fear keeping their money in the country’s banks.

And the disruption is already happening: ‘Argentina has been quietly gaining renown in technology circles as the first, and almost only, place where Bitcoins are being regularly used by ordinary people for real commercial transactions.’

That satisfies the bottom of the market criterion. Whether it’s Argentines struggling with hyperinflation, or sub-Saharan Africans living under dictators and warlords, the developing world is likely to embrace bitcoin simply because it’s so much better than the failed banking and currency systems they’ve been locked in for so long.”

(Via.) Foundation for Economic Education

 

 

The Bombshell – Harold Lewis (Emeritus Professor of Physics ad UCSB) Resigns APS: ‘Global warming is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life’

“It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist. Anyone who has the faintest doubt that this is so should force himself to read the ClimateGate documents, which lay it bare. (Montford’s book organizes the facts very well.) I don’t believe that any real physicist, nay scientist, can read that stuff without revulsion. I would almost make that revulsion a definition of the word scientist.

So what has the APS, as an organization, done in the face of this challenge? It has accepted the corruption as the norm, and gone along with it. For example:”

(Via.) Telegraph Blogs <—Read more here

First-hand account from Baltimore – Investing with Rick Rule

“It’s about 1a.m. as I write this to you from my apartment in the heart of Mt. Vernon. Helicopters are swarming overhead. There is a building on fire to my right and and another to my left — each roughly seven to ten blocks away. The sirens are incessant. And it’s showing no signs of slowing down.

What you’re seeing on the news isn’t the work of a bunch of ‘animals.’ What you’re seeing happening in Baltimore… what’s happening right outside my doorstep… is blowback. To be clear, I’m not condoning the riots in any way, and I think what they are doing is despicable and foolish. But it’s a reality. And there’s a root cause. Several of them, in fact.”

(Via.) Investing with Rick Rule <—Read more here

Bitcoin is a better PayPal and PayPal knows it – Oh, and Paypal is changing its terms of service…

“PayPal has joined forces with Bitcoin as a sort of keep-your-friends-close-and-your-enemies closer tactic. Bitcoin is designed to overtake and make obsolete services like Paypal and Western Union. It is faster, less expensive, and doesn’t require their third-party services to accomplish the same objectives. It is a better PayPal, and they know it.

Now that the Internet has borne this superior option, it would be wise for PayPal to foster a stronger connection with its customer base to keep them happy and in the fold, no? PayPal doesn’t see it that way. In fact, they may be looking to drive more people towards the freedom and convenience of Bitcoin with their upcoming changes this summer.

PayPal’s Terms of Service to change July 1st, 2015

If you haven’t seen this, you should, and you should share this with your friends, family, anyone who used PayPal in connection with a website providing online content. On July 1st, 2015, Paypal will update it’s TOS agreement to take away any and all intellectual rights to any content you provide online. If you use Paypal to accept PayPal, they will attempt to take ownership of any online content you add to your business or website. Here is a key excerpt that basically starts the new PayPal TOS…”

(Via.) cryptocoinsnews.com 

Where does science fall on the gun control debate? John Lott replies to David Hemenway

“Sixty percent of respondents in Hemenway’s survey agreed that “evidence indicates that background checks can help keep guns out of the hands of a significant number of violent people.”  But only 31% of all those surveyed thought that the evidence was either strong (24%) or very strong (7%).  And even these numbers seem unrealistically high.  Study after study by criminologists and economists find that background checks have no effect on crime rates.  

Economists have done a lot of work on crime.  Unlike the vast majority of work in public health, it is usually much more rigorous with more detailed statistical evidence dealing with issues of causality. Economists are also much more open to the notion of deterrence than the vast majority of authors surveyed by Hemenway.  I myself was chief economist at the United States Sentencing Commission.  But Hemenway steers away from economics journals.  In addition, looking at publications from only 2011 through 2013 also picks up a recent surge in public health studies and skews the sample towards those types of authors.

I was included in the list of those surveyed, but when I emailed Hemenway reporting that my responses weren’t be recorded, my emails were ignored.

Ironically, despite over 300 studies on firearms published over about three years, Hemenway frequently complains that firearms researchers just aren’t getting enough money…”

(Via.) Fox News <—Read more here

Rebel Farmers And Government Cartels: How The New Deal Cartelized U.S. Agriculture

“Marvin Horne doesn’t look like a man in open rebellion against the United States government, but the 70-year-old raisin farmer and his wife Laura have had enough. If they get their way, they’re not going to let the U.S. Raisin Administrative Committee take their raisins anymore.

Yes, there’s a Raisin Administrative Committee.

This week, the Supreme Court heard arguments in Horne’s case challenging the Raisin Administrative Committee. It’s the New-Deal case that took 80 years to bring.

Like an agency pulled from the pages of an Ayn Rand novel, the Raisin Administrative Committee (RAC) oversees many parts of U.S. raisin production. The 47-member committee consists of different representatives from the raisin industry, including ‘handlers,’ those who pack the raisins and prepare them for sale, and ‘growers,’ those who grow and dry grapes. They meet in an office in Fresno and issue ‘marketing orders,’ which decide, among other things, how many raisins should be diverted into the National Raisin Reserve each year. By taking raisins off the open market, the RAC maintains an artificially high price for raisins and keeps many, but obviously not all, raisin farmers happy. Think of it as a raisin cartel, a raisin OPEC.”

(Via.) Forbes <—Read more here

How a maple syrup rebellion is growing in Quebec

“STE-CLOTILDE-DE-BEAUCE, QC. • On an April morning, Angèle Grenier tramps on snowshoes through her sugar maple forest. Her vest pockets bulge with plastic spouts, tube connectors, clamps, wire ties, a tool for twisting the ties, surveyor’s tape, tube-cutters, and a snack: a molasses cookie in a Ziploc bag.

At each maple Grenier stops and taps a spout with her mallet, securing it in a hole. Maple sap flows from these spouts through pipes, down the hill to a reservoir in her sugar shack. The tap of her mallet and a crow’s call are all that disturb the stillness of the sugar bush.

This diminutive, twinkle-eyed grandmother hardly looks the part of a guerilla. Yet in recent years Grenier and other maple syrup producers in Quebec have sent the Fédération des producteurs acéricoles du Québec — the provincial syrup producers’ union — into paroxysms of rage. There is a maple syrup insurgency afoot, and the union is doing everything it can to thwart the subversive activity of Grenier and her fellow insurrectionist syrup producers.

Backed by the Quebec justice system and the provincial police, sheriffs have raided sugar shacks down country roads and seized barrels of maple syrup, using trucks and front-end loaders. The federation’s goal: enforcing a supply management system that controls the sale and proceeds of maple syrup in Quebec. Angèle Grenier taps maple trees in the

‘They have more power than police,’ says Daniel Gaudreau, a syrup producer in Scotstown, Que. ‘They can come into my house anytime they want.’”

(Via.) Financial Post <—Read more here

Earth Day: 22 Ways to Think about the Climate-Change Debate

“Reasonable people can disagree about the nature and extent of climate change. But no one should sally forth into this hostile territory without reason and reflection.

‘Some scientists make ‘period, end of story’ claims,’ writes biologist and naturalist Daniel Botkin in the Wall Street Journal, ‘that human-induced global warming definitely, absolutely either is or isn’t happening.’

These scientists, as well as the network of activists and cronies their science supports, I will refer to as the Climate Orthodoxy. These are the folks who urge, generally, that (a) global warming is occurring, (b) it is almost entirely man-made, and (c) it is occurring at a rate and severity that makes it an impending planetary emergency requiring political action. A Climate Agnostic questions at least one of those premises.

Trying to point out the problems of the Climate Orthodoxy to its adherents is like trying to talk the Archbishop of Canterbury into questioning the existence of God. In that green temple, many climatologists and climate activists have become one in the same: fueled both by government grants and zealous fervor.”

(Via.) Foundation for Economic Education

18 spectacularly wrong apocalyptic predictions made around the time of the first Earth Day in 1970, expect more this year

“Finally, think about this question, posed by Ronald Bailey in 2000: What will Earth look like when Earth Day 60 rolls around in 2030? Bailey predicts a much cleaner, and much richer future world, with less hunger and malnutrition, less poverty, and longer life expectancy, and with lower mineral and metal prices. But he makes one final prediction about Earth Day 2030: ‘There will be a disproportionately influential group of doomsters predicting that the future–and the present–never looked so bleak.’ In other words, the hype, hysteria and spectacularly wrong apocalyptic predictions will continue, promoted by the ‘environmental grievance hustlers.’”

(Via.)  AEIdeas <—Read more here

Flakka, hyperbole, yellow journalism and feeding the nanny states failed “war on drugs”

“Tales of superhuman strength have been associated with various drugs over the years, including cocaine in the early 1900s, marijuana in the 1920s and ’30s, and PCP (a.k.a. angel dust) in the 1970s and ’80s. “The notion that drugs produce superhuman strength is simply not true,” says Columbia University neuropsychopharmacologist Carl Hart, who studies the effects of stimulants such as crack cocaine and methamphetamine. “It has never been shown. This is just a continuation of the theme. It should raise red flags for people if they see ‘superhuman strength.

Hart notes that people who drink too much may become ‘out of control or difficult to manage,’ but ‘you can’t say [someone has] superhuman strength with alcohol because no one will believe you.’ Similarly, ‘you can no longer make up those stories about marijuana, because there are many people in our society who have used marijuana, so if you say that, you instantly lose credibility with all of those people.’ By contrast, ‘you can say it with these new synthetic drugs because people don’t know what these drugs are. And if they don’t know, maybe it’s true. They want to believe it. It’s a great story.’

The reality is less exciting. ‘When you look at the effects of cathinones in the laboratory,’ Hart says, ‘they just look like any other stimulant.’ While the agitation and paranoid delusions described in stories about flakka might be seen in some people at high doses, he says, ‘that’s a rare sort of thing,’ and the bizarre behavior may be due to other factors, such as sleep deprivation or pre-existing psychological problems. Potentially fatal reactions such as heart attacks and hyperthermia likewise are ‘possible in limited and extreme situations,’ he says, but ‘unlikely.'”

(Via.) Reason.com <—Read more here

Chicago’s Economic Death Spiral

“Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, after winning reelection, pronounced Chicago ‘the greatest city in America.’ Run by Democrats for more than eight decades, Chicago should serve as a showplace that reflects the wonderful world of ‘progressive policies.’

Public schools are a mess, and the city’s finances place their bonds at near junk level. In 2013, the city averaged 36 homicides a month, with the majority of them unsolved.”

(Via.) – Larry Elder – Townhall.com <—Read more here

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