Where, ironically, most people put their dirty laundry.
Two elderly women were out driving in a large car - both could barely see over the dashboard. As they were cruising along, they came to an intersection. The stoplight was red, but they just went on through. The woman in the passenger seat thought to herself "I must be losing it. I could have sworn we just went through a red light." After a few more minutes, they came to another intersection and the light was red again.
Again, they went right through. The woman in the passenger seat was almost sure that the light had been red but was really concerned that she was losing it. She was getting nervous. At the next intersection, sure enough, the light was red and they went on through. So, she turned to the other woman and said, "Mildred, did you know that we just ran through three red lights in a row? You could have killed us both!"
Mildred turned to her and said, "Oh, crap, am I driving ?"
Toyota has topped Consumer Reports reliability rankings. Apparently, they offer the most dependable recalls.
US NAVY Adds Intense Creative Writing Course to SEAL Training
THE PENTAGON — Navy officials announced the extension of Navy SEAL training by one week, adding a grueling 40 hours of creative writing classes to the already intense selection program.
The new course material would be introduced immediately, following the Land Warfare phase. After final combat testing, the sailors would move back to the Coronado training facility, where they would receive classroom instruction on the proper use of tense and first vs. third person narrative.
After demanding writing exercises, those SEALs who survive will move on to acting classes, where they will be drilled on how to look coolest when they star as themselves in a made-for-TV movie. They will then be put through two days of mock TV interviews, simulating an intense book promotion tour.
During the interview, sources confirmed SEAL candidates would be trained to glorify themselves as much as possible without looking like self-centered assholes. This portion of the course was described by one of the first students as “the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”
Adm. William McRaven, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, was very enthusiastic about the change.
“These new kids coming up in the [SEAL] teams are already planning their first novel before they even graduate BUD/S. The problem is that most of them write like a gorilla with Down Syndrome, and it’s embarrassing to the entire Navy.”
“Lone Survivor, The Trident, Navy SEAL Sniper, The Warrior Elite, Suffer in Silence, Warrior Soul, American Sniper,”McRaven said, pointing to a coffee table filled with SEAL novels. “All of them read like a 9th grade English report had a retarded baby with a bad 1940’s war movie. And don’t even get me started on Rogue Warrior. That literary abortion made my eyes bleed.”
The Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) course, believed by many to be one of the most difficult initial selection programs in the U.S. military, prepares sailors to be a Navy SEAL. As the deluge of novels, magazine, TV and movie appearances have shown, the only people more enthralled with the elite forces than those in Hollywood are Navy SEALs themselves.
McRaven pointed to a memo he was drafting. “I’m also working on an addition to their contracts that states they can never use the word ‘Warrior’ in a title again. I’m sick of that shit.”
At press time, the Navy had also announced the addition of another class to BUD/S called “Speedy Publishing Techniques,” after the revelation that there were only three SEAL books released in the last month, including the acclaimed best seller “Unshaveable: A Navy SEAL’s Guide to Hygiene.”
Taco Bell has unveiled their new mobile ordering app. It includes being able to make restroom reservations.
Issue of the Times;
5 Economic Myths That Just Won’t Die by Corey Iacono
A persistent set of economic narratives still plagues us. Most people get their economic information through Internet memes and hit pieces filled with nonsense. A common theme is that the forceful hand of government is all that is needed to make things right.
For example, everyone "knows" that government laws ended child labor, and that the New Deal ended the Great Depression, but are these actually valid claims?
Here are five such myths that too many people just accept as true.
Myth 1. The idea that economic growth helps the poor is trickle-down economics … it doesn’t actually help them.
In a 2001 paper titled “Growth Is Good for the Poor," economists Art Kraay and David Dollar of the World Bank found that when average incomes rise, the average incomes of the poorest fifth of society rise proportionately. This result held across regions, periods, income levels, and growth rates. In 2013, more than a decade after their original paper, Kraay and Dollar explored the relationship between economic growth and poverty again, using data from 118 countries over four decades. They came to the same conclusion. According to the economists,
This evidence confirms the central importance of economic growth for poverty reduction … institutions and policies that promote economic growth in general will on average raise incomes of the poor equiproportionally, thereby promoting “shared prosperity” … there are almost no cases in which growth is significantly pro-poor or pro-rich.
This means that policies that enhance economic growth through methods such as limiting the size of government and lowering barriers to international trade are key to alleviating poverty. Economic growth, not transfer programs, is in fact the primary driver of poverty reduction, and this empirical truth has been proved for a long time.
Myth 2. Free trade doesn’t lead to better economic outcomes in the real world.
Paul Krugman once quipped, “If there were an Economist's Creed, it would surely contain the affirmations 'I understand the Principle of Comparative Advantage' and 'I advocate Free Trade.'" However, critics of free trade, such as development economist Ha Joon Chang, have made very odd statements such as this one:
There is a respectable historical case for tariff protection for industries that are not yet profitable. … By contrast, free trade works well only in the fantasy theoretical world of perfect competition.
Comments like these are puzzling because proponents of free trade don’t assume there is perfect competition. They simply recognize that if one country can produce a product at a lower opportunity cost than another, trade between the countries (or individuals) is mutually beneficial. (This is known as the theory of comparative advantage.)
Economists have examined countless times whether or not freer trade leads to greater economic growth. In regard to trade liberalization — reform that lowers barriers to international trade — the evidence consistently shows that such reforms improve economic performance over time.
According to one study that examined 141 trade liberalizations and compared economic performance before and after liberalization (after controlling for confounding factors), “Per capita growth of countries [after]liberalization was some 1.5 percentage points higher than before liberalization, and investment rates were 1.5–2.0 percentage points higher.”
Subsequent research from Antoni Estevadeordal and Alan M. Taylor took the analysis further by comparing growth rates before and after 1990, when a wave of trade liberalizations occurred. The economists divided countries into an experimental group (the countries that liberalized trade regimes) and a control group (those that did not). According to a summary of their research, the authors “find strong evidence thatliberalizing tariffs on imported capital and intermediate goods raised growth rates by about one percentage point annually in the liberalizing countries.” Research has also shown that trade liberalization has caused greater economic performance in sub-Saharan Africa, a region desperately in need of growth.
Reforms that result in freer trade generally lead to superior economic outcomes. This is a well-documented observation. Although there may be situations in which freer trade is undesirable, these situations are not the norm, and free trade policies are still the “reasonable rule of thumb,” as Paul Krugman has put it.
Myth 3. The government ended child labor. In a free market, child labor would still exist.
The assertion that government laws and regulations ended child labor is endlessly repeated and often used as “proof” that without such laws, child labor would be pervasive in the market economy. The Economic History Association (EHA) has shown this is not the case:
Most economic historians conclude that [child labor] legislation was not the primary reason for the reduction and virtual elimination of child labor between 1880 and 1940. Instead they point out that industrialization and economic growth brought rising incomes, which allowed parents the luxury of keeping their children out of the work force.
According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, “While bans against child labor are a common policy tool, there is very little empirical evidence validating their effectiveness.”
Not only is there little evidence supporting the effectiveness of these laws; there is evidence that such laws actually make the families they are intended to help worse off. Research on child labor bans in India found that “along various margins of household expenditure, consumption, calorie intake and asset holdings, households are worse off after the [child labor] ban.”
Myth 4. Countries like Sweden and Denmark prove that high taxes don’t harm economic growth.
Saying that high taxes don’t harm economic growth because its effects aren’t superficially visible in one country, or a few, is like saying that cigarettes don’t harm an individual’s health because many young and healthy people smoke them and there are no immediately clear detrimental effects. Many factors affect economic growth. In order to see how high taxes affect growth, researchers control for confounding variables and use large national and international data sets.
According to research published by the European Central Bank that used annual data from 1965 to 2007 for 26 economies, “the effect of an increase in taxes on real GDP per capita is negative and persistent: an increase in the total tax rate (measured as the total tax ratio to GDP) by 1% of GDP has a long-run effect on real GDP per capita of –0.5% to –1%.”
Numerous other studies on government size and economic growth have come to the same conclusion. Furthermore, a study of the macroeconomic effects of Danish taxation found that
Danish taxation generates an overall efficiency loss corresponding to a 12 percent reduction in total income. It is possible to reap 4/5 of this potential efficiency gain by going from a high-tax Scandinavian system to a level of taxation in line with low-tax OECD countries such as the United States.
However, even relatively low-taxed countries like the United States are not immune to the detrimental effects of taxation. A seminal paper by Keynesian economists Christina and David Romer found that taxes are often raised during times of economic expansion and cut during times of economic downturn. This tendency makes it harder to observe the effect of taxes on economic growth. However, the Romers found that they could accurately estimate the effects of tax changes by examining those that were undertaken for reasons unrelated to economic growth. According to the Romers’ estimates, “tax increases are highly contractionary. The effects are strongly significant, highly robust, and much larger than those obtained using broader measures of tax changes.” Specifically, they find that increasing taxation by 1 percent of GDP shrinks GDP by 3 percent!
Overall, it seems clear that higher levels of taxation stifle economic growth and that countries with a higher total tax burden have slower-growing economies than countries with smaller tax burdens, holding other things equal.
Myth 5. Capitalism isn’t economically superior to socialism.
A considerable amount of research has examined how a transition from socialism (or a repressed-market economy) to a market economy (or a freer market economy) — a process known as economic liberalization — affects economic growth.
For example, using data from 140 countries over the time period 1960–2000, economists from Bocconi University compared countries that underwent economic liberalization to those that didn’t. After controlling for other relevant variables, they found that economic liberalization is good along all dimensions: it is accompanied by better structural policies and better macroeconomic policies, and it is followed by improved economic performance. This timing suggests a causal interpretation, at least with regard to economic outcomes.
Subsequent research published in the Journal of Economic Surveys has found that “there are strong indications that liberalization … stimulates economic growth." For a specific example, look no further than China.
Research from Oxford University’s economics department has found that China’s economic growth, which has been driving its massive poverty reduction, was fueled by trade liberalization, rapid privatization, and sectorial changes. As a result of these reforms, China’s GDP per capita grew 4.1 percentage points faster than it otherwise would have, lifting millions out of poverty.
A review of over 40 studies on the relationship between economic freedom and economic growth (with economic freedom measured using the Fraser Institute’s Economic Freedom of the World Index) found that research consistently demonstrates that freer markets are robustly associated with greater economic performance. Studies have shown that economic freedom causes economic growth; the relationship is not a mere correlation.
Empirical research also finds that “countries can increase the utility of their national resources by approximately 45% simply by converting to market-based economies” and also consistently finds that the private sector is more efficient than the public sector.
It is often assumed that government is a tool for creating better economic and social outcomes, but what if government is actually an obstacle to these ends? The evidence cited here suggests that governments cannot simply legislate problems out of existence. In fact, intervention often exacerbates the problems it was meant to solve.
Furthermore, the assertions that traditional economic theories don’t apply to reality are false. Research shows that taxes do distort the economy, growth is good for the poor, and freer trade does lead to greater economic performance.
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