From the “Preface to the English Edition” of “The Theory of Money and Credit” by Ludwig von Mises: “All proposals that aim to do away with the consequences of perverse economic and financial policy, merely by reforming the monetary and banking system, are fundamentally misconceived. Money is nothing but a medium of exchange and it completely fulfills its function when the exchange of goods and services is carried on more easily with its help than would be possible by means of barter. Attempts to carry out economic reforms from the monetary side can never amount to anything but an artificial stimulation of economic activity by an expansion of the circulation, and this, as must constantly be emphasized, must necessarily lead to crisis and depression. Recurring economic crises are nothing but the consequence of attempts, despite all the teachings of experience and all the warnings of the economists, to stimulate economic activity by means of additional credit.

Mathematicians of the day.

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In Brazil, Free-Market Ideas Rise as the Economy Falls by Antony P. Mueller

The Mises Institute spoke with Associated Scholar Antony Mueller last week about recent economic and ideological trends in Brazil. Prof. Mueller teaches economics at Federal University of Sergipe (UFS) in Brazil.

Mises Institute: For those of us not in Brazil, it is hard to interpret the commentary on Brazil’s economy right now. Brazil’s debt was recently reduced to junk status, and we can see that Brazil’s economy is not doing well. But how severe is the crisis?

Antony Mueller: Part of the explanation is that for a large part of the population and for the government itself, the crisis came as a shock. At first, the Brazilian government ignored the coming of the crisis and when it arrived, the government ignored its existence.

Imagine Brazil like a family with a lot of inherited wealth that spends as if there were no tomorrow. Yet someday this family wakes up to the fact that its wealth has been squandered and its financial accounts are in the red. The government did not recognize that the boom would be temporary. The Brazilian economy began to sputter as commodity prices fell and the demand from China decreased. Yet in order to adapt to the new situation and cut expenditures, the Brazilian government spent even more.

Incumbent President Dilma Rousseff from the Workers Party, which has been in power since 2003, won a second term in 2014 with a campaign that deceived the population about the true state of the economy. The government implemented a series of cheap financial tricks such as delaying the rise of the prices for fuel and electricity and of other items in the large list of administered prices.

After the election, hell broke loose and the true state of the economy became visible for the broad public. The popularity of the president began to fall to single-digit approval ratings. The crisis is serious in itself, yet its psychological impact becomes more severe because of the shock of disillusion. In part, this shock also applies to foreign observers and investors who bought into government propaganda or based their outlook on the projections of the International Monetary Fund whose prognosis in 2013 said that Brazil would maintain economic growth rates of at least over 4 percent for each of the years to come up to 2018.

From my observations of Latin America and of Brazil in particular, I conclude that there are still vast mental and ideological barriers in place that work against sustained prosperity. The ideological dominance of statism, socialism, and interventionism is present in every layer of the Brazilian society — not only in politics or academia, but also in the business community itself.

MI: Ideologically, is there any hope of a shift in Brazilian ideology? Some in the US media have featured libertarian free market groups in Brazil and suggested there is a change going on. Do you see any of that?

AM: Well, there is hope, yet it is a long way down the road. The Brazilian libertarian movement is gaining strength, particularly among students and young people in general. In fact, the spread of libertarian ideas among young Brazilians is amazing. The Brazilian Mises Institute is overwhelmed by visits to its site and the Institute’s events are grandiose. There is much good will, high hopes, a lot of serious dedication and extreme diligence at work in the libertarian movement of Brazil. If this trend continues, the walls that surround the established ideology will finally crumble. Anybody with an alert mind must see that statism has failed; that the ideas of socialism and interventionism are sterile and that they produce mainly frustration, stagnation, and crises. The libertarian movement in Brazil is the new avant-garde; its members are the true “progressives.”

The entire interview can be read here.

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Guns, Bombs, and Rank Hypocrisy

  • While Obama was using the most recent school shooting incident to score political points with his anti-gun supporters, the US military deliberately bombed a hospital in Afghanistan run by Medecins Sans Frontier (Doctors Without Borders) killing patients and member of the hospital (see “U.S. Bombs Afghanistan Hospital, Kills At Least 9 Doctors And 3 Children, Calls It “Collateral Damage”” and “Doctors Accuse White House Of Lying To Justify “Collateral Damage” In Kabul Hospital Bombing“). Obama can stop the participation of the US in all of its wars at any moment unilaterally (this is simply an exercise of his constitutional authority as commander in chief of the US military) but he will not do it. Note that Obama’s actions would be the same if anyone else was in office, as hypocrisy appears to be a necessary trait of presidents.
  • The mainstream media spends endless time “debating” the role of guns in the hands of civilians but gives scant attention to the hospital bombing or others that have characterized the bogus “war on terror”.
  • Mass shootings often occur in gun free zones, yet does anyone question the efficacy of such designated areas.
  • All mass killers have mental problems by definition. While some people have been perceptive enough to question what type of psychotropic drugs the shooters were using, this question is rarely raised by the mainstream media.
  • Why do such shootings occur now and not in the past? US high schools used to have rifle clubs and students brought their guns to school. On the frontier, everyone was armed both to hunt for game and for self defense as there were no police forces. Yet we don’t hear of mass shootings before a few decades ago.
  • Only pacifists believe in gun control, all others who profess to believe are hypocrites who believe that only government employees and private security guards should be permitted to carry guns. Note that when a cop murders a civilian, there is no cry from the anti-gun lobby to prevent cops from carrying guns.
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Political Economy Quote of the Week for 20151005

“Anarchy refers to a society without a central political authority. But it is also used to refer to disorder or chaos. This constitutes a textbook example of Orwellian newspeak in which assigning the same name to two different concepts effectively narrows the range of thought. For if lack of government is identified with the lack of order, no one will ask whether lack of government actually results in a lack of order. And this uninquisitive mental attitude is absolutely essential to the case for the state. For if people were ever to seriously question whether government actions are really productive of order, popular support for government would almost instantly collapse.” – John Hasnas. H/T Jakub Bozydar Wisniewski.

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After UCLA-led tests, immunotherapy drug approved by FDA to treat lung cancer

Pembrolizumab, a drug that has already been proven to extend the lives of people with advanced melanoma, has now been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat advanced non-small cell lung cancer. The study, the largest published research to date using immunotherapy to treat lung cancer, was conducted at UCLA and 29 other sites in the U.S., Europe and Australia.

“The approval of this drug and a test to identify patients most likely to benefit has the potential to transform the way that lung cancer is treated,” said Dr. Edward Garon, the study’s principal investigator and a researcher at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center. “The quality and duration of disease response that was seen in the trial had previously been extremely rare in lung cancer. For people battling this deadly disease, this approach provides real hope of long-lasting responses while avoiding the toxicities of typical chemotherapy.”

The drug, which is marketed under the brand name Keytruda, was tested on approximately 500 patients with non-small cell lung cancer. Because so many of the patients in the study showed significant long-lasting responses, in October 2014 the FDA granted the drug “breakthrough therapy” status for use in lung cancer, allowing it to be fast-tracked for approval.

Keytruda is an antibody that targets the protein PD-1, which is expressed by immune cells. When it binds to the another protein called PD-L1, PD-1 acts as an immune checkpoint, dampening the immune system’s T cells which otherwise could attack cancer cells, said Garon, who also is an associate professor of hematology-oncology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

Some tumors are able to evade an immune response by expressing high levels of PD-L1. So by blocking the interaction between PD-1 and PD-L1, Keytruda in effect enables the patient’s immune system to attack the cancer.

The response rate and duration of response for Keytruda were much greater than for drugs traditionally used to treat lung cancer. In the three-year clinical trial, the overall response rate (the percentage of people in whom tumors were substantially reduced in size) was 19 percent. In people who responded to treatment, the average duration of response exceeded one year, a remarkable advance in this difficult disease.

Approximately a quarter of patients in the trial had PD-L1 expression in at least half of their tumor cells. Among these patients, the overall response rate was nearly 50 percent. Although previous data suggested that clinical outcomes with this class of drugs may be associated with level of PD-L1 expression, this study is the first to validate this finding in the scientifically rigorous way that physicians and scientist generally demand.

The study has now led to the approval of Keytruda for treating two diseases, lung cancer and melanoma, as well as the approval of a diagnostic test for PD-L1 to select the lung cancer patients who are most likely to benefit.

The rest of the article can be read here.

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Thomas DiLorenzo, On American Exceptionalism (PFS 2015)

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We have always been at war with Eastasia

Recent events in Syria highlight the racket that is the reality of the war on terror. While the war on terror has always been an obvious scam, the hysterical response of the US to Russian intervention in Syria shows this in stark detail. Boobus Americanus will gleefully accept any lie as long as it is used to justify war.

War Party Hates Putin – Loves al-Qaeda” by Justin Raimondo:

As Russian fighter jets target al-Qaeda and ISIS in Syria, the Western media is up in arms – and in denial. They deny the Russians are taking on ISIS – and they are indignant that Putin is targeting al-Qaeda, which is almost never referred to by its actual name, but is instead described as “al-Nusra,” or the more inclusive “Army of Conquest,” which are alternate names for the heirs of Osama bin Laden.

And there are no ideological lines being drawn in this information war: both the left and the right – e.g. the left-liberal Vox and the Fox News network – are utilizing a map put out by the neoconservative “Institute for the Study of War” to “prove” that Putin isn’t really attacking ISIS – he’s actually only concerned with destroying the “non-ISIS” rebels and propping up the faltering regime of Bashar al-Assad.

The premise behind this kind of propaganda is that there really is some difference between ISIS and the multitude of Islamist groups proliferating like wasps in the region: and that, furthermore, al-Qaeda is “relatively” moderate when compared to the Islamic State. Yes, incredibly, the US and British media are pushing the line that the al-Qaeda fighters in Syria, known as al-Nusra, are really the Good Guys.

It’s almost as if we’re keeping ISIS around so as to put pressure on Assad to get out of Dodge. As Putin put it in his UN speech:

“… [I]t is hypocritical and irresponsible to make declarations about the threat of terrorism and at the same time turn a blind eye to the channels used to finance and support terrorists, including revenues from drug trafficking, the illegal oil trade and the arms trade.

“It is equally irresponsible to manipulate extremist groups and use them to achieve your political goals, hoping that later you’ll find a way to get rid of them or somehow eliminate them.

“I’d like to tell those who engage in this: Gentlemen, the people you are dealing with are cruel but they are not dumb. They are as smart as you are. So, it’s a big question: who’s playing who here? The recent incident where the most ‘moderate’ opposition group handed over their weapons to terrorists is a vivid example of that.”

The cloud of propaganda hovering over events in Syria gets thicker by the minute, but it’s possible to see the reality of what’s occurring if we remember one thing: our former enemies – al-Qaeda and its imitators – are now Washington’s allies. However, we have to ask, as Putin did at the UN: “Who’s playing who here?”

Why is Washington Against Russia Bombing ISIS and Al-Qaeda?” by Daniel McAdams:

Rather than welcoming Russian efforts against ISIS and al-Qaeda, the US claims that unless Russia also focuses on removing the Assad government from power its efforts are “doomed to failure.” The US claims to be concerned that the Russians are attacking the “moderate” Syrian rebels trained by the United States — but even US generals have admitted that group consists of a grand total of four or five individuals. So it’s hard to understand the sudden concern. Each new batch of “moderates” the US churns out seems to defect to al-Qaeda or ISIS within minutes of deployment in Syria.

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The Tom Woods Show: Episode 502 – The Stamp Act, 250 Years Later

In this episode of The Tom Woods Show, Woods talks with Kevin Gutzman about the political dispute between the American colonies and the British parliament caused by the passage of the Stamp Act. As always, additional information can be found at the show notes page.

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