ECON 101 LECTURE 1

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Courtesy of Professor Fekete @ New Austrian.org:

Inaugural Lecture

AYN RAND’S HYMN TO MONEY

July 1, 2002

- Gold Money Is the Root of All Good; Paper Money Is the Root of All Evil -

- A Blueprint for a New Gold Coin Standard -

Millions of people who have read Ayn Rand’s 1957 monumental work “Atlas Shrugged” must have been impressed by an insert that could be entitled “Hymn to Money”. This insert is buried in the 1600 pages of the novel and is difficult to find. However, it is a self-contained literary masterpiece in its own right. For these reasons it may be a good idea to publish it separately.

Some remarks may be in order. Ayn Rand uses the word “money” in the sense of gold money. This may not be in line with current usage, but it is certainly correct etymologically. The English word “money” is derived from the Latin moneta, meaning”forewarner”, epithet of the goddess Juno. Her temple on the Roman Capitolium doubled as the Mint where the gold and silver coins of Rome were struck.

According to legend, during the siege of Rome by the Gauls, the sacred geese of Juno that lived around the temple forewarned the Romans with their loud cackling of the surprise attack the enemy has mounted. Under the cover of the night, the Gauls tried to scale the cliffs just below, thought to be an unassailable point of the Capitolium. The Romans, forewarned, could successfully repel the attack. In gratitude, they honored the goddess calling her Juno Moneta, or “Juno the Forewarner”. And Rome went on to great things.

Irredeemable currency, in Ayn Rand’s words “a counterfeit pile of paper”, the output of the paper mill in Manhattan, does not deserve to be called “money”. At any rate, you have been forewarned, and should be prepared for the attack of looters on your Capitol, already in progress.

We still don’t know whether the 911 forewarning of Juno Moneta about the approaching collapse of society has been in vain or, perhaps, there is enough moral rectitude left in America’s political and economic leadership to denounce globalization, and open the Mint to gold, in order to avert the coming tragedy.

Hymn to Money Ayn Rand

Must Give Value for Value

So you think that money is the root of all evil. Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is a tool of exchange, which can’t exist unless there are goods produced, and there are men able to produce them. Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must do so by trade, and give value for value. Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears, or of the looters, who take it from you by force. Money is made possible only by men who produce. Is this what you consider evil?

When you accept money in payment for your effort, you do so on the conviction that you will be able to exchange it for the products of the effort of others. It is neither the moochers nor the looters who give value to money. Neither an ocean of tears nor all the guns in the world can transform those pieces of paper in your wallet into bread you will need to survive tomorrow. Those pieces of paper, which should really be gold, are a token of honor – your claim upon the energy of the men who produce. Your wallet is your statement of hope that somewhere in the world around you there are men who will not default on the moral principle that is the root of money. Is this what you consider evil? Continue reading

Researchers claim hydrogen energy advance

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The process locks hydrogen in a liquid-based inorganic fuel

Courtesy of The BBC:

Researchers at Glasgow University have claimed a breakthrough in producing hydrogen fuel from water.

They said their process is fast, clean and cheap. It can store energy from the sun and wind.

Writing in the journal Science, the Glasgow researchers said their process is thirty times faster than the current method.

Without using any more energy, it is claimed to store the hydrogen in a carbon-free liquid.

Prof Lee Cronin, of the university’s School of Chemistry. said: “The process uses a liquid that allows the hydrogen to be locked up in a liquid-based inorganic fuel.

“By using a liquid sponge known as a redox mediator that can soak up electrons and acid we’ve been able to create a system where hydrogen can be produced in a separate chamber without any additional energy input after the electrolysis of water takes place.

“The link between the rate of water oxidation and hydrogen production has been overcome, allowing hydrogen to be released from the water 30 times faster than the leading PEME process on a per-milligram-of-catalyst basis.”

Fiat Money and Independence for Scotland

Courtesy of Hugo Salinas Price @ Plata.com:

Doctor: “I told you thirty years ago that you should stop smoking and you didn’t; now you have full-blown emphysema.”

Patient: “That’s all beside the point. I want to know what to do now.”
Scotland and England got along together fine, for 150 years; now half the population of Scotland says they want a divorce. Perhaps they will get it.
For most people it is probably beside the point to discover why the relationship between Scotland and England deteriorated. But “Enquiring minds want to know.”

The Austrian economists long ago pointed out that gold money, and the strictly limited government and limited government intervention in the economy that necessarily goes with it, are sine qua non prerequisites for holding a country together and promoting peaceable international trade.

When real money was in the hands of the people for daily use, to go from one country to another made relatively little difference.

Up to the 1920’s, an Englishman – or anyone else, for that matter – could travel from England to Mexico, and work in Mexico, without any need for a passport. Money in the form of gold and banknotes redeemable at sight for gold flowed from country to country without restriction.

In the 1700’s, there was a cordial relationship between Scotland and England, notwithstanding a recent war between them. Dr. Johnson accompanied young James Boswell on a journey to visit Boswell’s dear Scotland, where Johnson was warmly welcomed. The money Johnson and Boswell employed to pay for their travels was either gold itself, or banknotes redeemable in gold.

Today a 50% or more of Scots are clamoring for independence. This is rather like one who has emphysema saying he needs immediate help to keep breathing; he is not a bit interested in being reminded that he got that way because he smoked too much. The fact is there is nothing to be done about the emphysema, and that independence for Scotland may only delay the arrival of further problems, at best. At worst, it will hasten their arrival.

Continue reading

Fracking’s Wastewater, Poorly Understood, Is Analyzed for First Time

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Andrew Barron is a professor of material science who holds the Welch Chair of Chemistry at Rice University. A new study he authored is one of the most comprehensive analyses of what’s in produced water, a type of fracking waste that hasn’t been studied extensively. The results show the water “was not quite as bad as we thought,” Barron said.

Courtesy of Zahra Hiraj @ Inside Climate News:

A new study in the journal Environmental Science: Processes and Impacts offers one of the most comprehensive analyses yet of what’s in a type of waste called produced water, a poorly understood and controversial byproduct of fracking.

This peer-reviewed study by a pair of researchers at Rice University in Houston shows that while fracking-produced water shouldn’t be allowed near drinking water, it’s less toxic than similar waste from coal-bed methane mining. It also revealed how the contents of this waste differ dramatically across three major shale plays: Texas’ Eagle Ford, New Mexico’s Barnett and Pennsylvania’s Marcellus.

Fracking involves injecting a slurry of water, chemicals and sand down a well to crack open shale bedrock and extract oil and gas. The study defines produced water as the water that flows out of a well after fossil fuel extraction starts. It includes some of the slurry first injected down a well, as well as naturally occurring water and materials from deep underground, such as salts, heavy metals and radioactive material.

Previous studies have examined the salinity of this waste and even some of the inorganic chemicals. Building from that, the Rice researchers identified 25 inorganic chemicals in the waste. Of those, at least six were found at levels that would make the water unsafe to drink—barium, chromium, copper, mercury, arsenic and antimony. Depending on the chemical, consuming it at high levels can cause high blood pressure, skin damage, liver or kidney damage, stomach issues, or cancer.

But the study’s innovation involved examining and identifying over 50 organic chemicals in the waste—an area that’s been little studied previously. Some of these are potentially dangerous, depending on their concentrations, such as the cancer-causing toluene and ethylbenzene; however, such levels were not provided. Continue reading

Revealed: The hidden crisis in Britain’s ambulance services

Courtesy of Mary Wakefield @ The Spectator:

Last month I wrote about the weird exodus of paramedics from London’s ambulance service. Flies would blanch at the rate they’re dropping, and so I was curious — and also anxious. Everyone who lives in this heaving city relies upon 999, and 999 relies upon paramedics.

The official reason, given to me by Mr Jason Killens, the tough-sounding director of operations at the London Ambulance Service (LAS), was that they’re leaving because they’re underpaid. But as I wrote back then, I wasn’t convinced.

It turns out Mr Killens wasn’t quite convinced either, because since we spoke, the LAS have begun an internal inquiry into the matter — and as it happens, inadvertently, so have I. Over the past few weeks I’ve been swamped by emails and letters from desperately unhappy paramedics. I’ve spoken to many of them; and can now present the results of my own inquiry. It might also (sad to say) be of interest to the other NHS ambulance trusts around the country — all nine of them from north to south, because it seems increasingly clear that London’s problems are echoed nationwide.

First you need to understand that London’s 999 service is on the very edge of melting down. The number of calls has risen dramatically and ambulances are sent willy-nilly to all manner of pointless non-emergencies. There are supposed to be systems in place that sort the hypochondriacs from the heart attacks, but for one reason or another they are all inadequate. The operators at 111, for instance, are untrained and risk-averse, so they send ambulances to the slightest sniffle. For a 999 operator, the words ‘chest pain’ or ‘difficulty breathing’ automatically mean an ambulance, though it’s often just a panic attack on the line. The service is so stretched that ambulance crews no longer return to their stations to recover between emergencies, but must circle the city all shift long and often do overtime.

So it’s hard, gruelling work, but this in itself isn’t why paramedics are dropping out, nor is it the fault of the ambulance service. It’s just the familiar bloody crunch of a free service, one to which people feel entitled, colliding with limited funds.

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Welfare fraud is a drop in the ocean compared to tax avoidance

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Had Gibbons claimed the benefits to which she was entitled she could have collected double her ‘fraudulent’ claims. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

Courtesy of James Ball @ The Guardian:

Joanne Gibbons was sentenced to community service for claiming income support while holding down two paid jobs. Through accumulated payments of £66-a-week, the court heard, she collected £3,140 to which she wasn’t entitled.

Predictably, the Daily Mail is outraged. But here’s the strange twist: had Gibbons claimed the benefits to which she was actually entitled, she could have collected £130 a week through family tax credits and child benefit. In total, Gibbons’ fraudulent claims cost the taxpayer around £3,100 less than claiming what she was actually entitled to.

It’s the reaction to Gibbons’ claims which are particularly noteworthy. Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of the Taxpayers’ Alliance – an organisation rarely troubled by wealthy people’s tax avoidance – tells the Mail:

“It beggars belief that somebody going to the lengths of making fraudulent claims would have actually received more in benefits had they been honest.

“It just goes to show that the current system is broken and doesn’t provide the right incentives for claimants to go back to work.”

This quote suggests Sinclair is perhaps even less numerate than the “benefits cheat” he’s deriding. Gibbons was entitled to £130 a week in legitimate benefits, while working on two low-income jobs. This total was higher than the £66 a week out-of-work benefit she was improperly claiming (though some of the £130 a week could be claimed in or out of work).

In what sense is a system which tops up low wages a disincentive to work? Sinclair appears lost in lazy rhetoric – an all-too-common failing when it comes to chastising the millions of families, most of whom with at least one adult in work, who rely on the benefit system. Continue reading