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Want to Study Economics?

I first stepped into a college classroom as the sole instructor in the summer of 1987. I was 23 years old. My then department chair and now professional colleague Karen Vaughn had more confidence in me than I had in myself, but I survived those two classes. I’m now about to start my 29th year of doing the work that I love.

I was involved with two recent discussions that caused me to reflect about the work that I do and how I do it. I want to share a few of those reflections as we start a new academic year. I hope they are inspirational to the teachers, especially the post-secondary teachers who read the Freeman, but I also hope they are helpful to high school students (and their parents) who are thinking about what matters when they choose a college.

The two main things I want to talk about are the relationship between teaching and research and what it means to “lecture” in a college classroom.

Some college professors will say that engaging in research and other forms of professional scholarship aren’t necessary to be a great teacher. I disagree. I don’t think you can be a great teacher unless you can meet two conditions:

  1. You are willing to subject yourself to, and ideally pass, the same sorts of critical evaluation processes to which you subject your students. When we ask students to write drafts, take our feedback and incorporate it into a revision, and then present us with a revised and polished next draft, we shouldn’t be asking anything of them that we are not doing ourselves. If that is how we think knowledge is developed and conveyed for students, it should be true of us, as well, which means we should be submitting our work to the test of peer-reviewed journals.
  2. Your ability to convey and create genuine knowledge in your area of expertise has been confirmed by your peers. What is it that you are teaching students if you aren’t part of the community of knowledge creators? What legitimacy do the ideas t…
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Dolphin to assist mom in baby’s water birth

(DAILYMAIL) — Water births have become commonplace in hospitals, but some mothers are taking it one step further and going into the sea in a bid to enhance their experience of labour.

Now one mother, who appears on Extraordinary Births, a Channel 4 documentary, is not only planning to give birth in the sea but intends to have a dolphin for a midwife.

Spiritual healer Dorina Rosin and her partner Maika Suneagle, from Hawaii, spoke to presenter Katie Piper about their plans to have a ‘dolphin-assisted’ birth – despite running the risk of another species of local marine life, the Great White Shark, turning up instead.

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How Not to Help Sweatshop Workers

You hear that H&M buys shirts from a factory in Bangladesh that works its employees long hours under harsh conditions and low pay. What’s the moral thing to do?

Should you publicly shame the company for its iniquitous practices? Call on the government to improve wages and working conditions? Buy your shirts from someone else? Propose that the company raise prices so workers can get paid more?

Actually, if you really want to be socially responsible, the first thing to do is be as sure as possible that actual harm — from the perspective of the workers themselves — is taking place.

Freeman writer Ben Powell addresses the consequences of outright bans in this video and short essay.

As long as the workers are there by choice, they consider themselves better off with a “sweatshop” job than without one. Banning sweatshops pushes poor people into worse alternatives and slows economic development to boot.

So what’s the alternative?

Boycotting

The public-shaming option is the method of comedian John Oliver. Comedy is a powerful manipulator of public opinion, whatever the entertainer’s ideology, but don’t expect a fair analysis. Oliver mocks and demonizes some big companies for getting their clothes from factories in developing countries to sell at low prices in the West.

He assumes that the low-priced clothing…

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Marriage clerk cites ‘God’s authority’ to defy federal court

Davis-Marriage

Kim Davis, right, the clerk of Rowan County, Ky., speaks with David Moore after refusing to issue him a marriage license on Tuesday. Photo: Timothy D. Easley/Associated Press

A homosexual duo left the office of the Rowan County, Kentucky, clerk’s office early Tuesday “red-eyed and shaking,” according to the Associated Press, but without a marriage license after the clerk there cited “God’s authority” to decline to issue the document.

Clerk Kim Davis’ appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to stay a lower court’s order to issue the licenses was rejected late Monday.

And on Tuesday, she was barraged by catcalls of “bigot” when she met people lined up waiting for services.

AP reported James Yates and Will Smith Jr. “marched” into the office to get a marriage license, even though Davis stopped issuing any marriage licenses the day the Supreme Court created the right to “same-sex marriage.”

Sheriff’s officials told both “gay”-rights activists and the clerk’s supporters to leave a short time later.

Randy Smith, who was among Davis’ supporters, says the group knows Davis might go to jail on contempt charges for defying the federal court order.

“But in at the end of the day, we have to stand before God, which has higher authority than the Supreme Court,” he said.

Davis had said briefly, when asked on whose authority she would not issue licenses, “Under God’s authority.”

One homosexual activist said, “We’re not leaving until we have a license,” AP reported.

“Then you’re going to have a long day,” Davis reportedly said.

WND reported late Monday that the full U.S. Supreme Court, including two justices who openly performed “same-sex wedding” ceremonies while the issue was before them, denied Davis’ request for a stay of a judge’s order that she issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Davis’ attorneys with the nonprofit Liberty Counsel had asked for a stay as her case developed at the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Liberty Counsel founder Mat Staver said Davis “certainly understands the consequences either way.”

Justice Elena Kagan, who oversees the 6th District, was one of two justices, along with Ruth Ginsberg, who defied conventional judicial ethics and performed a “same-sex wedding” while the Obergefell case establishing the legality of same-sex marriage was under consideration.

She had received the request for a stay in the Davis case and referred it to the whole court.

But the justices refused to consider Davis’ constitutional religious rights and, without comment, refused to act.

Read Takedown: From Communists to Progressives, How the Left Has Sabotaged Family and Marriage in the WND Superstore!

Those who have raised complaints about Davis’ refusal to issue licenses to same-sex couples pointedly have bypassed more than 100 other locations in Kentucky where they could obtain licenses.

Liberty Counsel has noted that even the district court, which issued the order against Davis, admitted that the case presented a “conflict” between “two individual liberties held sacrosanct in American jurisprudence.”

One was the enumerated right to religious freedom, the other the newly created marriage right.

Staver had argued: “Providing religious conviction accommodations is not antithetical for public employees. Throughout our history, the courts have accommodated people’s deeply held religious beliefs.

“The Supreme Court’s marriage opinion does not suggest that religious accommodations cannot be made or that people have a fundamental right to receive a marriage license from a particular clerk,” he continued, referencing the original opinion.

“There is absolutely no reason that this case has gone so far without reasonable people respecting and accommodating Kim Davis’ First Amendment rights,” he said.

“The SSM Mandate demands that she either fall in line (her conscience be damned) or leave office (her livelihood and job for three decades in the clerk’s office be damned). If Davis’ religious objection cannot be accommodated when Kentucky marriage licenses are available in more than 130 marriage licensing locations, and many other less restrictive alternatives remain available, then elected officials have no real religious freedom when they take public office.”

The courts have misbehaved already, the document argues.

“No court, and especially no third-party desiring to violate religious belief, is fit to set the contours of conscience,” Liberty Counsel argued. “For if that were true, a person who religiously objects to wartime combat would be forced to shoulder a rifle regardless of their conscience or be refused citizenship; a person who religiously objects to work on the Sabbath day of their faith would be forced to accept such work regardless of their conscience or lose access to state unemployment benefits; a person who religiously objects to state-mandated schooling for their children would be forced to send their children to school regardless of their conscience or face criminal penalties; a person who religiously objects to state-approved messages would be forced to carry that message on their vehicles regardless of their conscience or face criminal penalties; a person who religiously objects to capital punishment would be forced to participate in an execution regardless of their conscience or lose their job; a person who religiously objects to providing abortion-related and contraceptive insurance coverage to their employees would be forced to pay for such coverage regardless of their conscience or face staggering fines.”

Those are examples showing “that the majority who adhere to a general law” do not “control the dictates of individual conscience,” Liberty Counsel argued.

The Obergefell decision, in fact, recognized the religious rights of Americans, even while creating the new right to “same-sex marriage.”

“Obergefell unanimously held that First Amendment protections for religious persons remain despite SSM,” Liberty argued.

WND reported earlier that “gays” were demanding Davis be charged with official misconduct.

Davis also has has filed a separate lawsuit against her governor for violating her religious rights.

In Obergefell, the four dissenting Supreme Court justices – John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito – all warned that creating the new right of same-sex “marriage” would war against the existing right of religious exercise embedded in the U.S. Constitution.

“And here we are, two months later, and it is already happening,” Staver said.

Liberty Counsel warned two years ago, Staver said, that religious freedom would be replaced by the new “right” to a “same-sex marriage.” They were roundly criticized by the left for resorting to “scare tactics” and “conspiracy theories.”

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Leonard Read: The Spiritual Economist

To this day, the most influential of FEE’s publications may be Leonard Read’s “I, Pencil.” It is widely used in introductory courses in economics and social philosophy. It offers a striking way to introduce students to a market-based perspective. And yet, its origins in the mind of Leonard Read were a mystery to almost everyone — until now.

For a refresher, here’s a sliver of the classic text:

My family tree begins with what in fact is a tree, a cedar of straight grain that grows in Northern California and Oregon. Now contemplate all the saws and trucks and rope and the countless other gear used in harvesting and carting the cedar logs to the railroad siding. Think of all the persons and the numberless skills that went into their fabrication: the mining of ore, the making of steel and its refinement into saws, axes, motors; the growing of hemp and bringing it through all the stages to heavy and strong rope; the logging camps with their beds and mess halls, the cookery and the raising of all the foods. Why, untold thousands of persons had a hand in every cup of coffee the loggers drink!

The story brings out how, in a market economy, we are able to make use of socially scattered knowledge. Literally no one knows how to make as apparently simple an object as a pencil.

The story brings out how, in a market economy, we are able to make use of socially scattered knowledge. 

Read sets out ideas that — once one is aware of them — seem straightforward and illuminating. The result is that it is all too easy to take his approach for granted. But no one else had put things quite that way before.

So, just how did Leonard Read come to write his essay? And what lies behind it?

Contemplating Ordinary Objects

In Read’s journal entry for August 29, 1958, he wrote, “Decided to try ghost writing an aut…

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World’s Poor: “We Want Capitalism”

In the forests of India, something exciting is going on. Villagers are regaining property taken from them when the British colonial authorities nationalized their forests. Just as exciting, in urban Kenya and elsewhere, people are doing away with the need for banks by exchanging and saving their money digitally. All over the world, poor people are discovering the blessings of bottom-up capitalism.

Sadly, though, developed country governments and anti-poverty activists ignore this fact and insist that developing nations need a paternalistic hand up. Both are missing an opportunity, because there are billions of capitalists in waiting at the bottom of the pyramid.

Next month, the United Nations will formally announce the successors to its Millennium Development Goals, the global body’s approach to poverty alleviation since the year 2000. These new goals will be touted as “sustainable.” The event will coincide with a visit by the pope, at which he is expected to concentrate on climate change and materialism as the greatest threats to the welfare of the people of the developing world.

Don’t expect to hear much on the way people in the Western world lifted themselves out of poverty: free-market capitalism.

The phrase “the fortune at the bottom of the pyramid” was coined by the late C.K. Prahalad, building on the work of Nobel laureate Amartya Sen. In his groundbreaking 1999 work, Development as Freedom, Sen pointed out that one of the most important aspects of development is freedom of opportunity, a vital part of which is access to capital and credit. Capital and c…

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Obama move to rename mountain sparks ire

Mount McKinley

Mount McKinley

President Obama’s move to rename Mount McKinley in Alaska to Denali may have put to rest a long-running campaign from Native Americans who wanted the traditional Athabascan name restored – but it’s sparked outrage from Ohio lawmakers, who want their state’s assassinated leader to maintain his mountain recognition.

“This political stunt is insulting to all Ohioans,” said Rep. Bob Gibbs, the Associated Press reported. “I will be working with the House Committee on Natural Resources to determine what can be done to prevent this action.”

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He also said, Fox News reported: “Mount McKinley … has held the name of our nation’s 25th president for over 100 years. This landmark is a testament to his countless years of service to our country” and Obama should not be allowed to go forward with this “constitutional overreach.”

Speaker John Boehner, also from Ohio, said he was disappointed in Obama’s decision to rename the mountain as well.

Mount McKinley is North America’s tallest peak.

McKinley, the 25th president of the United States, rose in ranks from private to major in the Civil War, serving on the Union side. He moved to Canton, Ohio, after the war, served in Congress and then as governor. In 1896, he beat out his Democratic challenger for the White House, in part because of his call for a gold standard for U.S. money. He was assassinated on Sept. 6, 1901 and succeeded in office by then-Vice President Theodore Roosevelt.

Mount McKinley was named after the former president in 1917, by an act of Congress.

And it’s not just Republicans who are upset at Obama’s name change announcement.

“We must retain this national landmark’s name in order to honor the legacy of this great American president and patriot,” said Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan, whose district includes McKinley’s hometown of Niles, located in the eastern portion of Ohio, Fox News said.

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West Point prof: Kill critics of U.S. war on terror

(Raw Story) U.S. military academy official William Bradford argues that attacks on scholars’ home offices and media outlets – along with Islamic holy sites – are legitimate

An assistant professor in the law department of the US Military Academy at West Point has argued that legal scholars critical of the war on terrorism represent a “treasonous” fifth column that should be attacked as enemy combatants.

In a lengthy academic paper, the professor, William C Bradford, proposes to threaten “Islamic holy sites” as part of a war against undifferentiated Islamic radicalism. That war ought to be prosecuted vigorously, he wrote, “even if it means great destruction, innumerable enemy casualties, and civilian collateral damage”.

Other “lawful targets” for the US military in its war on terrorism, Bradford argues, include “law school facilities, scholars’ home offices and media outlets where they give interviews” – all civilian areas, but places where a “causal connection between the content disseminated and Islamist crimes incited” exist.

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Iran deal opens vitriolic divide among American Jews

(New York Times) The attacks on Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York, since he announced his support for the nuclear accord with Iran have been so vicious that the National Jewish Democratic Council and the Anti-Defamation League both felt compelled this week to publicly condemn Jewish voices of hate.

On the other side, three Jewish Democrats in the House who oppose the deal released a joint statement denouncing “ad hominem attacks and threats” against not only supporters like Mr. Nadler but also Jewish opponents, who have been accused of “dual loyalties” and treason.

This August recess has not produced the kind of fiery town hall-style meetings that greeted lawmakers in 2009 before their vote on the Affordable Care Act, but in one small but influential segment of the electorate, Jewish voters, it has been brutal. Differences of opinion among Jewish Americans may be nothing new, but the vitriol surrounding the accord between Iran and six world powers has become so intense that leaders now speak openly of long-term damage to Jewish organizations, and possibly to American-Israeli relations.

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God’s Forgotten Libertarian

Each week, Mr. Reed will relate the stories of people whose choices and actions make them heroes. See the table of contents for previous installments.


Of the Presbyterian theologian J. Gresham Machen (1881–1937), Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and Nobel laureate Pearl S. Buck declared,

The man was admirable. He never gave in one inch to anyone. He never bowed his head. It was not in him to trim or compromise, to accept any peace that was less than triumph. He was a glorious enemy because he was completely open and direct in his angers and hatreds. He stood for something and everyone knew what it was.

Lest you be tempted to dismiss Buck’s praise as predictably biased because, after all, she was raised by Presbyterian missionaries living in China, consider the view of H.L. Mencken.

Mencken was known for his caustic criticisms of Christians in general and ministers in particular. He described the Creator as “a comedian whose audience is afraid to laugh” and once wrote, “Shave a gorilla and it would be almost impossible, at twenty paces, to distinguish him from a heavyweight champion of the world. Skin a chimpanzee, and it would take an autopsy to prove he was not a theologian.”

And yet, Mencken pronounced great admiration for Machen:

Dr. Machen is surely no mere soap-boxer of God, alarming bucolic sinners for a percentage of the plate. On the contrary, he is a man of great learning.… His moral advantage over his Modernist adversaries, like his logical advantage, is immense and obvious. He faces the onslaught of the Higher Criticism without flinching, and he yields nothing of his faith to expediency or decorum.

When Machen died, Mencken compared him to another prominent Presbyterian, politician William Jennings Bryan, with these words: “Dr. Machen was to Bryan as the Matterhorn is…