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Opinion and commentary related to economics, finance, and the war on free market capitalism.

Economics & History: Why This Connection Matters

in Economics/Philosophy/Politics by

In a recent article of mine, I debunked the red herring of  the “roads” argument that many modern socialists throw around. It turns out that lately this article has gotten some pretty lively responses from its critical readers. One such commenter was someone I might have expected to be on my side (politically speaking) as he was presumably a libertarian himself, but the road forked for us at economics. It seemed as if this gentleman was an adherent of the Austrian school (a.k.a. the fantasy football of economics), and he had a thing or two to say about my reasoning behind my aforementioned debunking.…

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Why Conservatives Need Mises University

in Economics by

“Without Austrian economics, I would not have had my political career.” These are the words of Ron Paul summarizing his belief that the Austrian school of economic thought provides the best framework for understanding the principles and blessings of a society organized around personal liberty. This should not be confused as saying that to study Austrian economics, you must hold any specific political ideology. As Ron Paul also wrote, “I t is possible to learn the Austrian tradition without holding a particular political position.” But to paraphrase Dr. Tom Woods in his opening remarks at this year’s Mises University, if…

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The NBA Flexes Rights That Are Denied To Others

in Culture/Economics/Politics by

In response to North Carolina’s new law regarding bathroom usage, the NBA announced that they will be removing their 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte.  Fine, good for them.  If they feel that the law is bigoted in nature, or unfair to certain groups of people, the NBA is perfectly within their rights to protest and take action to dissociate themselves with the state and their law. There has been a lot of commentary on sports media pertaining to this decision.  One particularly insightful take on the situation went something like this: The commentator was lauding the NBA’s decision, and went…

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Paul Ryan And His Multinationals Vs The Trump Train

in Culture/Economics/Politics by

Do you think that China’s currency manipulation is so inconsequential that we should continue the Bush and the Obama “no stick” replies to their repeated currency provocations? I understand that getting tough with China is not good news for USA retailers that make millions off of selling artificially cheap Chinese knockoffs. Nevertheless, for people like myself who put the well-being of the nation as a whole above the profit margins of multinational corporations, the loss of millions of American jobs outweighs the profit margins for corporations that have no particular loyalty to our own nation. Paul Ryan thinks of America as…

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Trump’s New Nationalism And The Defeat Of The Cronies

in Culture/Economics/Politics by

Regarding the defeat of the insurgents at the RNC, it should be noted that they were defeated fair and square. There was no denial of the process afforded any member of the Rules Committee. The fact that the insurgents did not have enough votes to force a change in the rules does not suggest anti-democratic tyranny. It would be a different story if the RNC arbitrarily suspended the meeting of the Rules Committee, or gave the insurgents the wrong time and place (both tactics I have seen happen at California State GOP Conventions in the past), but nothing like that…

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Zuckerberg Embraces The Establishment

in Economics/Tech by

There are two obvious branches of the economy.  There is the market economy, entirely benevolent in nature and identified by its voluntary and mutually beneficial transactions, its natural coordination of scarce resources, and its ability to increase prosperity.  And the political economy which is entirely malevolent in nature, and is identified by its reliance on coercion and force, its bureaucratic inefficiencies, and its manipulation of fear, greed, and envy to serve the ends of a select few. Actors in both spheres of the economy are driven by a desire to better their own lives, the lives of their loved ones,…

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In Addition To His Sick Beats–did Dr. Marc Allan Feldman Leave Us With a Practical Solution To Social Security?

in Economics/Politics by

It has been almost three weeks since former Libertarian Party presidential candidate Marc Allan Feldman passed away. Feldman, an anesthesiologist from Cleveland, was a beloved Party activist who finished 5th in the presidential primary voting at the Libertarian Party convention in May. Among his many accomplishments in both his professional life, as well as in the Libertarian Party, Dr. Feldman is remembered for the closing statement–which is really more of a rap–he delivered during the convention’s presidential debate. However, one part of Feldman’s debate performance especially stood out to me, and it was not the rap. While responding to a…

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Why “Capitalism” Will Not Leave My Vocabulary

in Economics/Politics by

I‘ve recently witnessed an interesting phenomenon: self-hating capitalists. The sort of people who still hold all the same perspectives and notions as I, but who are ashamed of publicly admitting what they are – and associating with the likes of me, a capitalist who isn’t afraid to let my colors show. But the reasons they give are understandable enough, I suppose, as they strive to bridge the gap between the right and left, and relabel capitalism as something more favorable-sounding to young voters. Now, I have argued many times in the past myself that reaching across the aisle and building…

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Toward Libertarian Unity: How To Bridge The Gap Between Anarchism And Constitutionalism

in Economics/Philosophy/Politics by

A robust discussion last week between Jeff Deist, President of the Mises Institute, and Michael Boldin, Executive Director of the Tenth Amendment Center, showed how libertarians of different stripes can come together while reaching out to the broader public by sticking to the issues that matter. Boldin appeared on the Mises Institute’s Audio/Video Podcast for a spirited discussion about libertarian strategy. This is an essential topic that has been glossed over for far too long, to the detriment of the movement as a whole. While Deist, a staunch anarchist, and Boldin, a political reformer, may seem to be at odds,…

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A Common Sense Approach To The Minor League Baseball Wage Problem

in Economics/Politics by

Minimum wage has long been a controversial topic in the current political mainstream by two well-meaning sides. The political left wants to raise the minimum wage, making it easier for workers to earn more and better raise families. Their opponents on the right however warn that while it may raise worker salaries, it would force businesses to cut jobs and restructure operations to offset added costs. This same battle is happening across America in local town and city meetings all the way up to the federal level among candidates for office. Now the battle is happening in Congress involving sports.…

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The UK Has Done More To Scare Wall Street Than Bernie Sanders By Rejecting Big Government

in Economics/Politics/World by

Leading up to the big moment, there had been a lot of heated rhetoric and high stress anticipation. Would the United Kingdom actually vote to leave the European Union? When the news broke this morning, everyone reacted and did so strongly. After it was official that the vote was 51.9% in favor of leaving, Prime Minister David Cameron announced his resignation. Scotland’s government is scared,  panicking about the idea of another attempt to leave and Germany is expressing regret this happening. The big government empire in Europe has failed. Back here in the United States, it’s interesting to watch. Everyone,…

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Senator Elizabeth Warren Rewards House Democratic Slumber Party With Capitalist Dunkin Donuts Treats

in Economics/Politics by

Senator Elizabeth Warren has a huge following on the left. She is widely considered a progressive hero, even if she is backing AP-nominated candidate Hillary Clinton over the true progressive and fellow Senate colleague Bernie Sanders. Her fiery rhetoric mirrors that of Senator Sanders, with hatred thrown at Wall Street and other rich people, while calling for massive minimum wage hikes. Yesterday, Civil Rights leader and Congressman John Lewis led a so-called “sit-in” on the House of Representatives floor. With catering and being pampered, it hardly qualifies as a legitimate protest or sit-in and is more accurately a slumber party.…

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Murray N. Rothbard: The Tupac Shakur Of Economists

in Economics by

Although he passed away over two decades ago, death hasn’t stopped the iconic libertarian economist Murray N. Rothbard from releasing new material. According to Rothbard’s long-time confidant and biographer Justin Raimondo of Antiwar.com, a group of “lost columns” are going to be released to the public that Rothbard supposedly penned in the 1960’s alongside a new book about how libertarians should approach the crucial question of strategy. They will be edited by Raimondo himself and released through the Mises Institute. This isn’t the first time that Rothbard has conquered death to deliver the message of hardcore liberty to the masses.…

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More Doctors Are Breaking Free Of The Health Insurance System

in Economics/Politics by

For quite some time, health insurance in America has been a heated topic of discussion. This is something that escalated with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act , otherwise known as “Obamacare.” What degree of government intervention do we allow in our healthcare decisions? Should they be involved at all? Some could argue for the benefits of government advocating for the people, but the addition of another middleman complicates things greatly. This is why health insurance companies can be problematic as well. Whether it be the government or a health insurance company, allowing additional middlemen into the patient-doctor relationship…

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The Voluntary Gold Standard: Realizing Sound Money Through Decentralization

in Economics by

Because of the enduring legacy of Ron Paul, most liberty-minded individuals understand the importance of sound money in relation to freedom. It is now a well-understood fact that a government stripped of its power to print money is necessarily a limited one. That is why the cause of liberty and the gold standard go hand-in-hand. The conundrum that we as liberty conservatives face right now is understanding how to reach our noble mission in a prudent manner. We know where we need to go, but we just haven’t quite figured out how to get there. Looking at our dismal monetary…

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Ayn Rand, Rand Paul, And Paul Ryan Walk Into a Bar…

in Economics by

The age of social media has given rise to an increasingly large group of people who believe that a couple sentences, or even just a few words posted on a picture constitute an effective argument.  While in some ways, political and philosophical debate is healthier than ever before, the over reliance on simplistic arguments is creating a “meme world” where an asinine idea can be conveyed in few words and posted in mere seconds.  Proper refutation, however; takes more than a few words. In the 140 character world of Twitter, these types of arguments exist almost exclusively.  This tweet from…

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Yes, The World Is Round

in Economics by

Economic premises do not claim or suggest any judgments about what is right and wrong, or good and bad. So, for instance, economics does not tell you that unemployment is “bad”; it just points out the inevitable consequences of, say, a minimum wage law.  Thus, economics can and does say that if your goal is to help more poor people, you probably don’t want minimum wage as the final and ongoing solution. Every now and again you will come across an individual who will invoke an “ought” or a “should” when it comes to economics, or shrug off economics because their favorite “solutions” don’t…

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James J. Hill And The Liquidation Of Malinvestment

in Economics by

James J. Hill is unquestionably one of the greatest entrepreneurs in American history.  This past weekend marked the 100th anniversary of his passing.  He is best remembered for the successful construction of the only transcontinental railroad to not go bankrupt.  He didn’t accept government subsidies, and argued eloquently against his competitors who did: “The government should not furnish capital to these companies, in addition to their enormous land subsidies, to enable them to conduct their business in competition with enterprises that have received no aid from the public treasury.” His endeavors can claim to be largely responsible for the settling…

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Yes, Socialism Is To Blame For Venezuela’s Collapse

in Economics/Politics/World by

We are routinely being sold on this idea that the solution to poverty is more government power and more regulation. Rarely are any connections made when catastrophic events occur as a result of these policies. Instead of considering the alternative – freedom – they continue to look for government-created solutions when they are the ones who created the problems in the first place. Make no mistake, Venezuela’s economic turmoil is a consequence of the government’s socialist policies. The major tenant of socialism is that a governing power makes all the important decisions on behalf of those whom they claim to help. Socialism operates on the presumption…

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U.S. Nuclear Force To Phase Out Floppy Disks By 2017 Despite $80 Billion On Federal Upgrades

in Economics/Politics by

If you asked most children what a floppy disk is, they wouldn’t have the slightest clue. While most computers today do not even use one – a sign of progress – a recent report states that the U.S. Pentagon is still using 8-inch floppy disks from the 1970s to operate its nuclear weapons. This should be a disturbing revelation on many counts. Seemingly undeterred by the lucrative spending allocated towards the military budget, (about $598.5 billion just in 2015) the Office of Management and Budget noted $80 billion of it was to be allocated towards maintaining aging computer systems. Yet, the Government of Accountability Office showed that the Pentagon was one of…

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Words, What Do They Mean?

in Economics/Philosophy by

Among the various sects of libertarianism, one has been receiving a certain amount of undue attention: “left”-libertarianism. As an anarcho-capitalist, I have my disagreements with left-libertarians, and am curious as to why they are generating the amount of interest they are. One reason for this may be their mode of communication. Attempting to decipher much of the libertarian left’s vocabulary is akin to reading a horoscope. Their success may, in large part, be credited to their refusal to pin down definitions. Without unambiguous definitions, one may simply apply his own interpretations thereby rendering the content far more relatable (much like…

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Hasbro And Larry Summers Join The War Against Cash

in Economics/Politics by

Central banks and other globalist interests have long sought to eliminate cash and replace it with an entirely digital currency as another method of directly controlling the global population. Now, the toy manufacturer Hasbro and former Secretary of the Treasury and Chief Economist of the World Bank Larry Summers have joined the propaganda war against cash. In his editorial for The Washington Post, entitled “It’s time to kill the $100 bill”, Summers suggests removing high denomination notes such as the $100 bill and the 500 Euro note from circulation in order to reduce crime and corruption. To accomplish this goal,…

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Romanticizing Reagan: Part II – Regulations And Free Trade

in Economics by

Continued from Part II: Regulations and Free Trade. Perhaps Reagan’s most egregious hypocrisies were his actions in the name of the “War on Drugs” while espousing the common bromides about liberty. “Government’s first duty,” a common Reagan quote from a 1981 speechbegins, “is to protect the people, not run their lives.” But when it came to what people put into their bodies – even for medicinal purposes – Reagan was energetically devoted to running the lives of United States citizens. In 1982, the National Academy of Sciences published a six-year study that concluded with a recommendation for the decriminalizing of marijuana which, the study…

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Romanticizing Reagan: Part II – Regulations And Free Trade

in Economics/Politics by

Continued from Part I – Taxation and Spending During Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign, the third of his four pillars of Reaganomics was regulatory reform. Namely, he was on a mission to reduce federal regulations (an applaudable goal). This is, in fact, one of the chief reasons why democrats criticize his presidency; he supposedly spent his tenure recklessly deregulating. In a speech given by Art Laffer, Reagan’s economic advisor, Dr. Laffer mentions a story of Reagan dropping the Code of Federal Regulations on a table to demonstrate its massive size. “Do you remember that?” Laffer asked the audience, “Do you remember…

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Romantacizing Reagan: Part I – Taxation And Spending

in Economics/Politics by

Among conservatives, Ronald Reagan is held in deific esteem. Find any Republican debate Bingo or drinking game, and his name is certain to be one of the triggers to take a drink. Even among libertarians (of the non-anarchist persuasion), Reagan is still viewed as one of our greatest presidents, if not the greatest outright. The reasons for the romanticization of Reagan are difficult to understand. Ronald Reagan did have some of the best rhetoric when it came to conservative and Libertarian issues, and perhaps this is a good explanation for his appeal. But when you look at his policies as…

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Why We Need Free Trade With China And The World

in Economics/World by

Recently I have become appalled at the growing rise of protectionism and nativism in the Republican Party. This sentiment has been personified by Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy. Trump, a master of regurgitating economic fallacies and senseless populist rhetoric, has been drumming up support for his regressive trade policies. He has been promoting the idea that the US needs to close itself off from global trade and seek what he deems “fair trade.” His definition of “fair” is the government injecting itself in the voluntary associations between businesses and individuals of differing countries by limiting their choice and freedom. No Donald, nothing…

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Uber And Innovation…The Left’s Worst Nightmares

in Economics/Politics by

Recently we have been hearing about the evil monstrosity destroying the very  fabric of our society and the welfare of all who inhabit it. This supposed malevolent entity is none other than Uber…a smart phone application that provides private taxi services to its users at competitive prices. Uber has been attacked and threatened by many government jurisdictions worldwide and their government monopoly taxi companies. They claim that Uber is unsafe and dangerous because it is “unregulated” and “unlicensed.” So do these politicians have a point? Is Uber really a danger after all? Of course not – this is all utter…

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Why Do TPA Opponents Trust Obama?

in Economics/Politics/World by

Most of the recent discussion surrounding Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) has focused on the overwhelming distrust of the President from, well, pretty much everyone. Many fear that the President plans to use trade agreement back-doors to compromise US sovereignty and ram through environmental and immigration policies that would not have a chance of making it through the GOP-controlled congress. The most consistent critique of those who support TPA (other than the criticisms mistakenly applied to TPA, that were intended for the TPP… read this to clear up that confusion) is that we should not trust this President with more power…

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I Fought The Law

in Economics/Politics by

In September of last year, I was pulled over by a quota-driven cop and given a ticket for speeding. The ticket carried with it a significant fine and the addition of 4-points onto my license. This past Thursday (May 28, 2015), I successfully defended myself in court, and had the charges dismissed. Leaving aside the fact that I had committed no real crime (there was no victim), the financial ramifications of this “crime” would have hurt me significantly, and I felt a strong urge to fight the charges and pursue true justice. Just a month prior, I had received and…

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A Letter To The Government

in Economics/Politics by

Dear Government, As tax season comes to a close, the existing arrangement between you and I has recently been at the forefront of my mind. Looking back over my year’s W2’s, and contemplating the amount of money you’ve taken from me, I couldn’t help but write to express my displeasure with our situation and to insist upon an alternative. The current arrangement is such that you receive somewhere in the neighborhood of 35-40% of all my income. The services, and the quality thereof, which are provided in return are not adequate to meet my value demands based upon what I…

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Hayek, Statistics, And Trade-Cycle Theory

in Economics by

Austrian economics is often caricatured and criticized because of its approach, or deliberate lack of an approach, to mathematical models, multivariable calculus, and econometrics. Attacks are leveled against Austrians such as Mises, Rothbard, and Kirzner for their failure or refusal to avail themselves of applied empirical research in their scholarship. The Austrian methodology most frequently targeted is praxeology. It is not the purpose of this short article to refute these attacks or to explore their errors and merits. That has been done ably by others (see, for example, the series of debate-essays available here, here, here, and here). Nor does…

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Getting Conned By CONs

in Economics/Politics by

In the healthcare industry, a certificate of need, also known by the acronym CON, is an anticompetitive licensing restriction allegedly designed to promote fair competition by requiring hospitals to demonstrate the need for certain projects and services in order to receive governmental permission for those projects and services. Under a CON scheme, a hospital–-let’s call it Hospital X–-that wishes to expand its facilities applies to a state health planning agency for a CON. Nearby hospitals–perhaps Hospital X’s competitors, Hospital Y and Hospital Z–may oppose Hospital X’s CON application. An administrative law judge (ALJ) reviews Hospital X’s CON application and supporting…

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The Problem With Amnesty, Isn’t Amnesty

in Economics/Politics by

A couple weeks ago, President Obama announced that he would disregard the Constitutional process and grant executive amnesty to over five million illegal immigrants living in the states, surprising exactly no one. Equally predictable was the conservative uproar, and the ensuing accusations of racism from the Left. Much of the conservative reaction rightly centered on President Obama’s executive end-around on Congress, but the back and forth of “you’re buying votes with American jobs!” and “you’re a racist!” are again saturating politics the way Kirk Cameron saturates Christian filmmaking. Unfortunately, the bottom line of the immigration problem is often lost behind…

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Dear Oatmeal, Net Neutrality Just Isn’t Fair

in Economics/Politics by

Dear Oatmeal, As I was scrolling through my social media news feed yesterday, I couldn’t help but notice a letter you wrote to Texas Senator Ted Cruz. Your letter, in response to Mr. Cruz referring to Net Neutrality as “Obamacare for the Internet”, portended to explain to the Senator just how Net Neutrality works. I am not Ted Cruz, but I do happen to write for a couple of reputable online publications and put a considerable amount of thought into current events and policy issues. As I read your letter, two concerns formed in my mind: 1) I’m not sure you’ve really thought through the ramifications of the…

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Why The Fair Tax Beats The Tar Out Of The Income Tax

in Economics/Politics by

If you haven’t seen “UnFair the  Movie”, I highly recommend getting the DVD.  John Sullivan, the same producer of “2016: Obama’s America” and “Expelled:  No Intelligence Allowed”,  took the unfair title from the language of the left.  Polling shows that Americans respond very favorably to the term unfair.  UnFair the movie was released “Michael Moore” style with a  great  grass roots promotion of this documentary which focuses on  the abuses of the IRS. What we have here is an IRS which is not about revenue but  about intimidating and harrassing people and is all powerful controlling our politics, faith and…

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I’m a Conservative, And I Care About Income Inequality

in Economics by

“The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer.”   As a young man growing up in a conservative home in the ‘90s, I must have heard this cliché thrown around by liberals a thousand times.  I really never gave it much thought. Even though my family often toed the poverty line, we worked hard to be self-sufficient and never accept government aid.  To me, income inequality was just a talking point used to attack hard-working business people, and a way to prime voters for the goodies the Democrats planned to buy votes with next election cycle: free health care, free…

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The Confessions Of a Once Raging Liberal

in Economics/Politics by

In my first year at the university, a friend of mine referred to me as a raging liberal.  I was very involved in the peace movement and still believe that offensive war is a failure of governments to solve disagreements in a rational way.  While I disagree vigorously with the postmodern association of “liberalism” as being synonymous with relativism, I am a liberal in the classic sense in that I believe in the free exchange of ideas and the ability of reason to determine between the good and the evil, the beautiful and the ugly and the intelligent and the…

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America, Declare Your Independence From The Fed!

in Economics/Politics by

Once upon a time in America our grandfathers were able to work at decent jobs where they actually produced goods that the world needed and were able to provide a comfortable life for their large families.  Grandma didn’t have to work  and most families owned their own homes and lived relatively debt free. Welcome to America today where a typical family has both parents working, with  one or possibly two children,  and struggle to pay the rent on their apartment. But the banks in their “concern” for the woes of the average Joe have come up with a solution. It is called the…

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How To Win The War On Poverty

in Economics/Politics by

Lyndon Johnson launched the “War on Poverty” in 1964. In the fifty years since its inception, hundreds of billions, if not trillions of dollars have been spent by the government, countless governmental programs have been implemented, and numerous and enormous bureaucracies have been created. The results of these initiatives have largely been that of failure, but excuses continue to be made as to why prior programs have failed, why subsequent reforms have failed, and new programs and reforms are continuously proposed and implemented. In spite of all this, present times and recent history have seen a shrinking of the middle…

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