Musical chairs is a subtle game that teaches kids two things:

1) That there’s not enough of a certain thing for everyone to have it; and

2) If you’re the one who gets left out, it’s all your fault.

It’s a great way to indoctrinate kids into blaming the victim who couldn’t find a seat, rather than questioning the logic of the person who removed the chairs.

This seemingly harmless game is actually a lesson that shapes kids’ minds as they grow up.

Remembering Milton Friedman

Today is the birthday of prominent free-market economist Milton Friedman, recipient of the 1976 Nobel Prize for Economic Science. Friedman, who passed away in 2006 at the age of 94, was widely regarded as the leader of the Chicago School of monetary economics. 

Friedman also wrote extensively on public policy, always with primary emphasis on the preservation and extension of individual freedom. 

Friedman’s ideas on economic freedom hugely influenced both the Reagan administration and the Thatcher government in the early 1980s, revolutionized establishment economic thinking across the globe, and have been employed extensively by emerging economies for decades.

In the picture above,  Friedman is all smiles with Cato Institute founder, Ed Crane and Vice President for Monetary Studies, Jim Dorn. 

Learn more about Milton Friedman and his ties to Cato… 

What is capital regarded not as the result of, but as the prerequisite for the process of production?  What makes it capital before it enters the process so that the latter merely develops its immanent character?  The social framework in which it exists.  The fact that living labour is confronted by past labour, activity is confronted by the product, man is confronted by things, labour is confronted by its own materialised conditions as alien, independent, self-contained subjects, personifications, in short, as someone else’s property
—  Marx - Theories of Value 1863
Occupational Licensing Hurts Just About Everyone, Says White House
Licensing restrictions cost millions of American jobs and raise consumer costs by billions say federal officials in new report.

Horse masseurs. Hair braiders. Funeral attendants. Florists. All are subject, at least in some states, to “occupational licensing,” defined by the Treasury Department as “as a government permit allowing workers to legally practice.” Since the 1950s, the number of U.S. jobs where workers are required to be licensed by the state has increased five-fold, now encompassing about a quarter of our working population. Far from being merely a minor inconvenience for workers, this excessive licensing regime “creates substantial costs, and often the requirements for obtaining a license are not in sync with the skills needed for the job,” according to a new report from the Treasury, the White House Council of Economic Advisers, and the Department of Labor.

Libertarians have been objecting to occupational licensing on these grounds for decades, of course; the free-market friendly Institute for Justice has even been systematically suing to bring about their demise. But it’s rare to see federal agencies recommend against more economic regulation, so let’s all just savor this small victory a moment. The scathing report paints occupational licensing as a regulatory scheme that serves almost no one any good—raising consumer costs while failing to deliver improved quality; reducing employment opportunities, especially among the most economically vulnerable; and hampering state-to-state mobility and market innovation.

“By one estimate, licensing restrictions cost millions of jobs nationwide and raise consumer expenses by over one hundred billion dollars,” the report authors write.

“Consumers are likely most familiar with licensing requirements for professionals like dentists, lawyers, and physicians,” they point out, “but today licensing requirements extend to a very broad set of workers,” including auctioneers, scrap metal recyclers, barbers, manicurists, eyebrow threaders, and tour guides. This means that an ever-growing share of jobs “are only accessible to those with the time and means to complete what are often lengthy"—not to mention expensive—licensing requirements, while the penalties for working without a license can include job loss, fines, and even incarceration.

Yet stringent occupational licensing seldom delivers improved services or safety to consumers. In 10 out of the 12 empirical studies reviewed by the report authors, stricter licensing was not associated with quality improvements.

Happy birthday, Milton Friedman!

Milton Friedman, born 103 years ago today, was one of the most influential and recognizable proponents of liberty and free markets. Jim Powell calls him “one of the 20th century’s leading voices for liberty” (more: Friedman was also the recipient of the 1976 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.

Describing the “miracle of America,” Friedman once said, “Surely the major source of that enormous achievement was simply the fact that people were free to pursue their own interests in their own ways without interference from government.”

anonymous asked:

Hi, so I was wondering, would raising minimum wage to $15/hr lead to inflation and/or hour cuts? Also how will it affect small businesses who possibly cannot afford to pay $15/hr?

So, I will admit that my understanding of economics is limited mostly to a college course I took on it and independent reading/research, but to my understanding, inflation may occur, but will balance out because of these two very basic rules of economics

  1. The more money people have, the more they will spend
  2. The market desires equilibrium 

So, suppose the minimum wage goes up, which leads to rule 1. If people have more money, they will buy more products. Think of all the things you stop yourself buying because you haven’t got enough money. This leads to rule 2, which has to do with supply and demand.

Not only would necessities like groceries and clothing be in higher demand, entertainment items will also be in higher demand. Making more = working less or feeling less pressure to only spend on the bare necessities. So, generally anything that is generally desired by the public will probably see an increase in sales. 

Then producers of goods will need to supply, right? If supplies are low (and they might be if the company is not expecting an increase in demand) prices may rise. We all know rare things cost more by virtue of being rare. But then companies will want to capitalize on this high demand by making more goods. 

Demand will soon decrease though, because how many iPhones or polos or crock pots does anyone really need? Supply will be in surplus then, because the response to what was once a high demand has led to an overproducing of no-longer-desired goods. When a company has too much of a product and demand is low, they want to get rid of it and will do so by decreasing prices. This means prices will return to normal or dip below normal (sales! clearance!).

Eventually the market will reach equilibrium of supply and demand because producers will supply exactly what people demand. 

Now, regarding small businesses. They could suffer, if they rely on paying their employees $7.25 to survive, but honestly, I don’t believe companies that only prosper by paying their employees peanuts should continue. In a competitive market, there is always someone with a more efficient way of doing something, who can better advertise, who know their market and can cater to them. 

Small businesses will need to step up their game instead of relying on low labor costs. And isn’t that what pure capitalists want? Cut-throat economics? 

As for the hours being cut, that relies solely on the companies. There are three ways to deal with paying employees more: cutting back on labor costs via laying off people/reducing hours, cutting the CEO’s wages, or charging more for their product. 

A company like McDonald’s, that sells millions of dollars worth in products nationally, could easily compensate for raising the base wage by charging more on select menu items. Like $.05 more for a quarter pounder and $.03 more for a medium fry. Little things like that can have a big impact. 

Other companies may see fit to cut the CEO’s wages down a bit, decreasing the wage disparity between employer and employee. 

Obviously, the least desirable option is decreasing the amount of hours a person can work, or firing folks, but again, the more money people have, the more they will spend. The economy will return to equilibrium and positions will open again as companies seek to increase their supply. 

If there is someone who is more knowledgeable about economics that would like to add to this or correct me, please do!

-Mod T

Fair and Equitable Distribution of Summaries

I seem to have acquired quite a backlog of shitty summaries. While I intend to write a summary for every blog that has requested one, this does mean that it may take a while (2+ days) to get through all of them. Plus, new ones come all the time (and I welcome them).

My original plan was to go through them all in order of when the request was made. However, it was pointed out to me that a lot of people would be more cash-rich/time-poor than me. (I’m not sure about time-rich right now, but I’m *definitely* cash poor).

So, to ensure fairness, I’ve implemented capitalism :p

If you want your summary pushed to the front of my queue of things-to-write, you can send an Amazon gift card to my inbox, which I can then convert into American dollars. Larger amounts go first.

Note that giving me money is *not* a requirement for getting a summary in the first place. I intend to get around to every request. For the uncompensated ones, I’ll try to go in the original first-come first-served order.

The people who have asked for shitty summaries but not yet received them (that I can think of off the top of my head), in no particular order, are:


… And probably more. This will take a minimum of two days, and possibly more.

Feel free to keep sending request, of course.
How olive oil explains Greece’s problems
Where the olive oil flows like water, but no one is making money off it

The hills of Kalamata, on the southern coast of Greece’s Peloponnese peninsula, produce some of the best olives in the world. When pressed, they produce an oil that is almost fluorescent green and sometimes described as “liquid gold.”

But after much of that oil is pressed in Greek processing facilities, tanker trucks come to take it straight to the sea. In 2012, 60 percent of Greece’s olive oil output was shipped to Italy. There, it is packaged in Italian bottles with Italian labels, and then sent around the world. And most of the profits go back to Italy – according to consultancy McKinsey, Italy captures an extra 50 percent premium on the price of Greek oil.
Bernie Sanders' Anti-Immigration Crankery
"Open borders? No, that's a Koch brothers proposal." Well, okay then.
By Daniel Bier

Ezra Klein has a revealing interview with Senator Bernie Sanders today at Vox. Sanders’ views on immigration jumped out as a particularly baffling eruption of economic illiteracy, political tribalism, xenophobic nationalism, and general silliness:

Ezra Klein
You said being a democratic socialist means a more international view. I think if you take global poverty that seriously, it leads you to conclusions that in the US are considered out of political bounds. Things like sharply raising the level of immigration we permit, even up to a level of open borders. About sharply increasing …

Bernie Sanders
Open borders? No, that’s a Koch brothers proposal.

Ezra Klein

Bernie Sanders
Of course. That’s a right-wing proposal, which says essentially there is no United States. …

Ezra Klein
But it would make …

Bernie Sanders
Excuse me …

Ezra Klein
It would make a lot of global poor richer, wouldn’t it?

Bernie Sanders
It would make everybody in America poorer — you’re doing away with the concept of a nation state.…

What right-wing people in this country would love is an open-border policy. Bring in all kinds of people, work for $2 or $3 an hour, that would be great for them. I don’t believe in that. I think we have to raise wages in this country, I think we have to do everything we can to create millions of jobs.

You know what youth unemployment is in the United States of America today? If you’re a white high school graduate, it’s 33 percent, Hispanic 36 percent, African American 51 percent. You think we should open the borders and bring in a lot of low-wage workers, or do you think maybe we should try to get jobs for those kids?

Every word of this nonsense should make it clear that Sanders is not a serious thinker or credible candidate.

“That’s a Koch brothers proposal.”

Oh, well if the Kochs want something, ipso facto it must be stopped. I assume Sanders must also oppose gay marriage, ending the war on drugs, ending the wars overseas, NSA reform, criminal justice reform, and other nefarious Koch proposals.

“That’s a right-wing proposal.”

I’m surprised he was able to get this line out with a straight face, but it does highlight an inconvenient fact for moderate liberals like Klein: the far left really agrees with the far right about keeping out foreigners.

The right has traditionally feared immigrants using welfare, and the left fears the same thing — conservatives because they want less welfare, and leftists because they want more. The right thinks immigrants will take your taxes, and the left that they’ll take your welfare. (They’re both wrong, for what it’s worth, but it still drives their politics.)

“It would make everybody in America poorer.”

This is patently untrue, but it also ignores Klein’s question: “It would make a lot of global poor richer, wouldn’t it?”

The answer to that is absolutely yes. Because the United States has better capital, infrastructure, and institutions than most other countries, labor is enormously more productive here. As a result, identical workers can earn 280% more here than in Mexico; workers from Yemen and Nigeria, 1300% more; Haitians, 2200% more.

If Sanders really cared about global poverty and taking a more “international view,” he ought to support allowing poor people to improve their lives by moving to where they have the best opportunities.

“You’re doing away with the concept of a nation state.”

Presumably, then, he thinks that the United States didn’t really exist until the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act started arbitrarily excluding mass categories of people from coming here.

“What right-wing people in this country would love is an open-border policy. Bring in all kinds of people, work for $2 or $3 an hour, that would be great for them. I don’t believe in that.”

That’s too bad, Bernie, because if those workers are earning $2 or $3 a day in their home countries, it would be great for them, and great for us.

Of course, the minimum wage prohibits people from working for less than $7.25 an hour, even if they want to. Speaking of which…

“I think we have to raise wages in this country, I think we have to do everything we can to create millions of jobs.”

It speaks volumes about his economic literacy that the senator doesn’t recognize that these goals are in conflict: Government should make jobs more expensive (but also create millions more of them); we need to do everything we can to create more jobs (except allowing people to negotiate their own pay, or hire people from other countries).

“You know what youth unemployment is in the United States of America today? If you’re a white high school graduate, it’s 33 percent, Hispanic 36 percent, African American 51 percent.”

First, this is just false. Unemployment for teens is about 16% for whites, 21% for Hispanics, and 32% for African Americans. For ages 16-24, it’s 12% for whites, 15% for Hispanics, and 23% for African Americans.

That’s still not good, so let’s ignore the fact he’s making stuff up and take his point at face value. You know what would help reduce youth unemployment? Abolishing the minimum wage that prices unskilled young workers out of labor market. Or reforming a corrupt, failing public school system that leaves disadvantaged young people in dropout factories: out of school, out of work, and out of luck.

But no, Sanders wants to blame immigrants for the problem of youth unemployment that is being caused by the policies he is pursuing.

“You think we should open the borders and bring in a lot of low-wage workers, or do you think maybe we should try to get jobs for those kids?”

Finally, the senator falls for the zero-sum fallacy. There’s not a fixed number of jobs out there. The economy is a dynamic, organic system that creates jobs in response to supply and demand.

The dramatic increase in women’s participation in the labor force over the last 60 years did not drive men out of the job market; the economy adapted to the increased supply by creating jobs. Women didn’t take men’s jobs, and immigrants don’t take Americans’ jobs. Immigration creates jobs that wouldn’t otherwise exist.

What Sanders doesn’t recognize is that workers don’t need him to “get them jobs.” They need him to get out of their way, so they can find and create jobs for themselves.

Bernie wants to scapegoat immigrants for the failures of wage controls and the welfare state so that people won’t see through his lame socialist agenda. But no warmed over nationalist socialism can replace the creative power of free people.

I don’t trust imperialism. They have been cheating us since we first became a republic in 1902. They have taken all the riches from our country. We aren’t going to let ourselves get cheated again by imperialism.

Cuban citizen Ernesto Gonzalez, 84, one of the rebels who attacked the barracks in 1953 

Cuban leaders pledged to keep socialism alive, but toned down the anti-US rhetoric at Cuba’s first national holiday since re-establishing diplomatic relations with the United States | Read article
Barter is booming in Greece for the first time since the Nazi occupation

The barter economy is growing in Greece after a bank shutdown has left many struggling to maintain businesses with limited cash.

A rising number of Greeks in rural areas are resorting to swapping goods and services as they struggle to keep businesses going under tight government capital controls, according to reports.

But even those facilitating the barter economy fear that it harks back to the Nazi occupation.

Christos Stamatis started the website Mermix three months ago to link farmers wanting to share heavy machinery in exchange for cash or other goods. “A barter economy is something that we shouldn’t aspire to and should be a thing of the past – the last time we had it on a large scale was when we were under occupation,” he told Reuters, referring to the Nazi occupation of Greece in the Second World War.