Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Can I Have A Right To Your Life Energy?

Is Basic Health Care a ‘Right’?

At some point, if you claim health care to be a right, you are asserting that you and I are entitled to the work from someone else.  That's not right.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Is "Obamacare" A Government Takeover?

Well said.  Of course it is.

"1. For the first time in our nation's history, the government will order citizens to spend our private money on a private product -- health insurance -- and will penalize us if we refuse.
2. Any employer with more than 50 employees will be told it must provide government-decreed health insurance to its workers -- or face financial penalties.
3. Government has the authority to the destroy the private insurance market by preventing insurers from earning a reasonable return. If companies charge "unreasonable" premiums, as determined by Health Sec. Kathleen Sebelius, she can block them from participating in a huge sector of the market -- as she already has threatened to do. Michael Barone calls this "gangster government."
4. The law provides the foundation -- and $6 billion -- for a stealth public plan. The Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan (CO-OP) program will help set up non-profit, member-run health insurance companies in all 50 states.
5. As many as 80 to 100 million people will not have the option of keeping the coverage they have now, per President Obama's promise. According to analyst Allisa A. Meade of McKinsey & Company, they will be switched into other policies after the insurance mandates take effect in 2014 ?-- whether they like it or not."

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Collectivism's Failures

"The great allure of communism and other species of collectivism (at least until the depredations and deprivations of the Soviet and Maoist utopias became undeniable) has always been that collectivization would create more wealth for everyone than would be created by allegedly wasteful, inefficient, rudderless private-property capitalism. Had collectivism been sold for what it is – as a get-poor-quick scheme – its appeal would have been akin to that of ideologies that demand lifetime chastity.  America’s pilgrims were, for a few years, simply another of the many groups of people throughout history who brutalized themselves by listening to the Sirens’ song of collectivism."


And another look at Pilgrim Lessons Learned:  http://cafehayek.com/2010/11/the-pilgrims-experiment-with-communal-property.html

I'm In The Wong Profession and State


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Barbour Political Profile

"Barbours have been in Yazoo for at least five generations. Haley’s mother LeFlore claimed descent from Greenwood LeFlore, the first elected chief of the Choctaw nation. The chief was a wily customer who managed to elude the forcible removal of his tribe in the 1830s and get himself elected state senator, accepting the demotion without complaint. Politics runs through both lines of Haley’s family. His great-great-great-great-grandfather was the first senator from Mississippi after statehood in 1817. His paternal grandfather was a judge, the leading stockholder in the town bank, and a prominent railroad lawyer, the Illinois Central’s man in Mississippi. He built a fine two-story stone house at the corner of Second Street and the optimistically named Grand Avenue; both the choice of building material and the second level made the house unusually magnificent in a town of clapboard bungalows.
Haley’s father built a house next door when he married LeFlore. He was a lawyer, too, remembered in the lore of Yazoo City as a hard-drinking charmer who could seduce a delta jury with theatrical flourishes and windy quotations from classical literature. He died of a heart attack when Haley was two. LeFlore worked odd jobs as she raised her three boys alone."

"And the remorseless expansion of the federal government into areas of commercial life that had once been off-limits opened up vast new mission fields for lobbyists. And they were no longer ashamed to be called lobbyists.
Perhaps this last change was the most profound. Today the word, and the business, are considered no more discreditable than “podiatrist” and “podiatry.” It’s just another way to make a ton of money in Washington. “You bet I was a lobbyist,” Barbour says, often. “And I was a damned good one.” His tone when he says this is peremptory and defensive but unabashed.
“Lobbying is just like being a lawyer arguing a case in a courtroom,” he told me. “It’s a form of advocacy.”"

Monday, December 20, 2010

Don't Ask Don't Tell

Many years ago, being gay would have been a 'health risk' if it became to a ship board crew.  Also, back then, the stigma of homosexuality made having a classified material clearance a real problem because if anyone found out, it could be used to 'work' the gay military member for what they knew.  That wasn't a reality created by the military, it was a reality, and possibly exacerbated by the likes of this man (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._Edgar_Hoover), who made life miserable for political opponents and/or any competitors with secrets, showing the way for others to do the same. 
In the late 90s, although not particularly libertarian then, I realized one day the military would end the ban on gay service.  Why?  Because as being gay becomes a non-secret, the folks who join the service would have openly gay classmates and family members, and they would be ready to serve with gay servicemembers.  Hopefully that time has now arrived. 
That said, the lying by the gay activists always turns my stomach.  The vast, vast majority of service persons who were "kicked out" were kicked out because they walked into the office of someone in authority and said "I want out."  This happens in an environment in which (in my case) Sailors were often looking for a way out of their obligated service.  Some got pregnant.  Some smoked pot.  Some just ran off.  There are a number of ways to get oneself kicked out of the military.  For these last many years, one way is to say "I'm gay." 
Since the topic of gay service has of course been used in the political arena to make points for or against one constituency or another, by politicians and advocates who specialize in the political art of using partial truth to distort issues and arouse emotions, I find myself hoping this can be settled and done with and no longer used as a political football.  I still resent the lying, such as in the article above, which so rarely is contested: "More than 14,000 soldiers lost their jobs and their dignity over the last 17 years because they were gay, but there will be no more victims of this injustice."
Far from victims of injustice, these 14,000 were LARGELY people who used the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" law/policy to end the contract they had obligated themselves to in service of the United States military. 
I resent when activists imply that these people have been hunted down and prosecuted, or that all the folks in today's military even give a stray thought to whether a fellow ship mate is gay or not. Perhaps some do, but in my 21 plus years of service, I have rarely heard the topic discussed.  No one I know cares enough about what our fellow service members do with their sex lives to bother with a discussion of the topic.
This topic illustrates amply what I believe more strongly every day - the important stuff in life is entirely too important to trust to a government to make it right.  Perhaps better said, if it's important, it should not be entrusted to politicians.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Free Trade - Choose "Fair" If You Think It Is, I Won't If I Think It Isn't

"Put differently, among the very reasons that losing a particular job to trade is so traumatic is that that job is made so attractive by trade."

Of course, some people take the notion of fair trade to the point of making it law - which just means every politician competes to define the term "fair" to the benefit of their most powerful, high paying constituency.

More goodies of late on trade:




Thursday, December 16, 2010

If I Don't Rob You, Is That a Hand Out?

"Whatever are the merits, or lack thereof, of a tax on estates, you are deceptively wrong to call a decision not to raise that tax a “handout.”  Because taxes are paid from resources created and earned by private citizens, resources that are not taxed are not “handed out” to the people who created or earned them; these people already rightfully own these resources.
It makes no more sense to describe government’s (non-)act of not raising taxes as a “handout” than it does to describe my (non-)act of not stealing your purse as a “handout.” "

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Trade Issue Rages On

"In 1820, 79 percent of Americans worked in agriculture.  This number, however, was progressively reduced by improvements in technology.  Chemical fertilizers and pesticides; mechanized planting and harvesting equipment; refrigeration; improved veterinary medicine; better irrigation; faster transportation; and improved packaging for produce – along with more food imports made possible, in part, by motorized sea and air travel – all “destroyed” millions of agricultural jobs."
Creative Destruction

How could we see it any other way?
One other way, I suppose, is to think of it like this.  I mow my own grass.  I don't feel like it's worth paying someone else forty or fifty dollars or more to mow my grass; it takes about an hour (if I could be employed at seventy five dollars an hour during the time I'm mowing the grass, I might see it differently).  But what if I could get someone to mow my grass for less?  At some point, between say a penny and fifteen dollars, I'll bet I'd be paying someone to do the job so I could hang out with my kids or wife.
In effect, that's the decision matrix we follow when buying foreign produced goods.  We realize it's foolish to waste our own time doing something we can get for a price that's worth what we're paying.  We don't make this decision collectively, we make it when we're doing our individual consumption.  It 's also not bad for the same reason it wouldn't be bad for me to pay someone who's willing to do it fifteen bucks to mow my lawn.
Another thought - we had an inverse trade imbalance for a long time - why would presume that to be sustainable?
Lastly, the conversation on trade and 'foreign aid' should not be so bifurcated.  The best foreign aid is buying stuff from countries emerging from poverty into second world status - for one, it works, and for two, it's voluntary; 'foreign aid' on the other hand doesn't work and amounts to stealing money from taxpayers to buy off and stabilize tyrants.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hayek: What Do You Mean By "We"

Lose the We
EJ Dionne says "Americans" spent too much, that's our problem.   Did I spend it?  Did you?  Then who?  With the consent of whom?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

They Already Do

Posted: 06 Dec 2010 09:11 AM PST

E.J. Dionne laments <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/05/AR2010120503302.html>  the failure of what he describes as a “proposal [that] could have shifted the tax burden away from middle-income taxpayers toward the wealthy.”

Let’s look at some facts.  First here <http://www.ntu.org/tax-basics/who-pays-income-taxes.html> .

In 2008 (the latest year for which accurate data are available), the bottom 95 percent of income-earning households in the U.S."
"the top 5 percent of income-earning households paid 59 percent of this tax revenue."
"...the top 1 percent of income-earning households ... paid a whopping 38 percent of federal personal income tax revenue."

"In 2008, for the typical household in the top one-percent of income-earning households in America, the percent of its adjusted gross income that it paid in federal income taxes was 23.27.  Middle-income households paid less.  For households whose earnings put them in the top 50 percent, but below the top 25 percent, of income earners, the percent of their adjusted gross income paid in income taxes was, on average, 6.75.  For households in the bottom 50 percent of income-earners, the percent of their adjusted gross income paid in income taxes was, on average, 2.59."

"..those figures do not include the refundable tax credits that now top $70 billion annually and the record number of people off the tax rolls due to the generocity of those credits."

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Farcical Fed

"Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, fresh from injecting hundreds of billions of new U.S. currency units into the economy – and from planning the injection of yet an additional 600 billion such units – criticizes the Chinese government for injecting hundreds of billions of new Chinese currency units into the economy (“Bernanke Takes Aim at China,” Nov. 18).  Apparently, when Beijing increases the supply of Chinese currency it does so as part of what Prof. Bernanke ominously labels a “strategy of currency undervaluation,” but when Uncle Sam does the same thing with U.S. currency units it’s called “quantitative easing” and “a move in the right direction.”"

Friday, December 10, 2010

Are You An "Anti-Government Type"?

"Overlook Mr. Lutes’s strange suggestion that people who wish to rein in government are especially likely to stuff their wealth into mattresses.  Overlook also his call for government to follow the same ‘principles’ that guided Willie Sutton.  Instead, recognize that the vast majority of people who have wealth (be they ‘Progressives’ from Manhattan or libertarians from Montana) have already “fueled” the economy by producing successfully for the market."

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Who Has Control?

"Except insofar as rich Americans succeed at getting government to protect their wealth with special privileges, such as tariffs, wealth is not “controlled.”  Wealth is created only by serving consumers – that is, by making others wealthier – and it flees from those who stop serving consumers.  Should Apple stop producing innovative products that consumers willingly buy, Steve Jobs’s fortune will disappear.  Should Southwest Airlines start charging uncompetitive fares, its shareholders’ wealth will dissolve.  Should a super-wealthy hedge-fund manager consistently fail to increase the value of his clients’ portfolio, he will become a not-so-super-wealthy ex-fund-manager."

This reminds me of how much I dislike the term 'redistribution.'  This term implies that the wealth was distributed in the first place.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Classic Quotes, Sowell

"Let's face it, politics is largely the art of deception, and political rhetoric is largely the art of mis-stating issues."  Thomas Sowell

What's So Wrong About Banana Republics?

"Inequality" is a code word for "give me your money to spend and I'll spend it better than you because I'm a better person than you are."
"NICOLAS KRISTOF'S latest column on income inequality is an excellent example of the sort of confusion and laziness that moved me to write a very long and widely ignored paper promoting greater clarity and rigour on the subject.
Mr Kristof begins by assuming what ought to be argued. He refers to America's "rapacious income inequality", by which I take him to mean that our level of inequality has been caused by rapacity. Was it? Mr Kristof should show his work.
He writes that "the wealthiest plutocrats now actually control a greater share of the pie in the United States" than in many Latin American countries, where income inequality has recently declined. Are America's wealthiest people really "plutocrats"? Can you tell whether a country is a plutocracy or a "banana republic" just by looking at the Gini coefficient? The answer is: No, you cannot. Despite all our inevitable complaints, America is a relatively healthy and functional democracy. Perhaps Mr Kristof noticed that Meg Whitman, a billionaire, failed to take the governor's mansion in California, despite spending more of her personal fortune on a political campaign than anyone in history. In a plutocratic California, the state's fourth wealthiest person wouldn't have to win an election to rule."

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Forbian Growth


"Growth, he says, is directly correlated to startups that get big. I interviewed Schramm onstage last week at a Churchill Clubevent at Microsoft’s Silicon campus in Mountain View.
Schramm said:
“The single most important contributor to a nation’s economic growth is the number of startups that grow to a billion dollars in revenue within 20 years.”
Schramm says the U.S. economy, given its large size, needs to spawn something like 75 to 125 billion-dollar babies per year to feed the country’s post World War II rate of growth. Faster growth requires even more successful startups."

Monday, December 6, 2010

Classic Quotes, Musashi

"Perception is strong and sight weak. In strategy it is important to see distant things as if they were close and to take a distanced view of close things."
--Miyamoto Musashi

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Classic Quote, Prayer

"If the only prayer we offered was 'thank you', that would suffice". Author Unknown

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Mission: Making Others Look Smart

Counter Point:

Krugman's serving his mission well.

Axis of Depression

What do the government of China, the government of Germany and the Republican Party have in common? They’re all trying to bully the Federal Reserve into calling off its efforts to create jobs. And the motives of all three are highly suspect.
It’s not as if the Fed is doing anything radical. It’s true that the Fed normally conducts monetary policy by buying short-term U.S. government debt, whereas now, under the unhelpful name of “quantitative easing,” it’s buying longer-term debt. (Buying more short-term debt is pointless because the interest rate on that debt is near zero.) But Ben Bernanke, the Fed chairman, had it right when he protested that this is “just monetary policy.” The Fed is trying to reduce interest rates, as it always does when unemployment is high and inflation is low.
And inflation is indeed low. Core inflation — a measure that excludes volatile food and energy prices, and is widely considered a better gauge of underlying trends than the headline number — is running at just 0.6 percent, the lowest level ever recorded. Meanwhile, unemployment is almost 10 percent, and long-term unemployment is worse than it has been since the Great Depression.
So the case for Fed action is overwhelming. In fact, the main concern reasonable people have about the Fed’s plans — a concern that I share — is that they are likely to prove too weak, too ineffective.
But there are reasonable people — and then there’s the China-Germany-G.O.P. axis of depression.
It’s no mystery why China and Germany are on the warpath against the Fed. Both nations are accustomed to running huge trade surpluses. But for some countries to run trade surpluses, others must run trade deficits — and, for years, that has meant us. The Fed’s expansionary policies, however, have the side effect of somewhat weakening the dollar, making U.S. goods more competitive, and paving the way for a smaller U.S. deficit. And the Chinese and Germans don’t want to see that happen.
For the Chinese government, by the way, attacking the Fed has the additional benefit of shifting attention away from its own currency manipulation, which keeps China’s currency artificially weak — precisely the sin China falsely accuses America of committing.
But why are Republicans joining in this attack?
Mr. Bernanke and his colleagues seem stunned to find themselves in the cross hairs. They thought they were acting in the spirit of none other than Milton Friedman, who blamed the Fed for not acting more forcefully during the Great Depression — and who, in 1998, called on the Bank of Japan to “buy government bonds on the open market,” exactly what the Fed is now doing.
Republicans, however, will have none of it, raising objections that range from the odd to the incoherent.
The odd: on Monday, a somewhat strange group of Republican figures — who knew that William Kristol was an expert on monetary policy? — released an open letter to the Fed warning that its policies “risk currency debasement and inflation.” These concerns were echoed in a letter the top four Republicans in Congress sent Mr. Bernanke on Wednesday. Neither letter explained why we should fear inflation when the reality is that inflation keeps hitting record lows.
And about dollar debasement: leaving aside the fact that a weaker dollar actually helps U.S. manufacturing, where were these people during the previous administration? The dollar slid steadily through most of the Bush years, a decline that dwarfs the recent downtick. Why weren’t there similar letters demanding that Alan Greenspan, the Fed chairman at the time, tighten policy?
Meanwhile, the incoherent: Two Republicans, Mike Pence in the House and Bob Corker in the Senate, have called on the Fed to abandon all efforts to achieve full employment and focus solely on price stability. Why? Because unemployment remains so high. No, I don’t understand the logic either.
So what’s really motivating the G.O.P. attack on the Fed? Mr. Bernanke and his colleagues were clearly caught by surprise, but the budget expert Stan Collender predicted it all. Back in August, he warned Mr. Bernanke that “with Republican policy makers seeing economic hardship as the path to election glory,” they would be “opposed to any actions taken by the Federal Reserve that would make the economy better.” In short, their real fear is not that Fed actions will be harmful, it is that they might succeed.
Hence the axis of depression. No doubt some of Mr. Bernanke’s critics are motivated by sincere intellectual conviction, but the core reason for the attack on the Fed is self-interest, pure and simple. China and Germany want America to stay uncompetitive; Republicans want the economy to stay weak as long as there’s a Democrat in the White House.
And if Mr. Bernanke gives in to their bullying, they may all get their wish.

SHUGHART: Fed takes wrong course

Quantitative easing leads away from the path to economic recovery

MugshotIllustration: QE2 by Greg Groesch for The Washington Times

Social Networks
The Federal Reserve has begun its second round of "quantitative easing" aimed at jump-starting an economy so anemic nearly one in 10 American workers remains unemployed, many for a year or more.
Announced recently by its chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, the Fed plans to buy $600 billion in Treasury securities from the banks and other financial institutions that currently hold them. By exchanging bonds for dollars, the purchases will expand the amount of credit available for lending, drive down long-term interest rates and provide incentives for private businesses to invest in new plant and equipment, recall laid-off workers, hire new ones and theoretically, restore economic prosperity.
Or so Mr. Bernanke hopes.
Fed Vice Chairman Janet Yellen told the Wall Street Journal that "I'm having a hard time seeing where [else] really robust growth can come from." Even so, Ms. Yellen doesn't see the economy returning to normal until 2013.
America's central bank is playing a dangerous game. The key assumption behind "QE2" is that credit markets are frozen - and lenders are reluctant to lend - because the financial system lacks sufficient liquidity.
But banks are awash in loanable funds. When the Fed started its first round of quantitative easing in 2009, to help achieve its target of a near-zero federal funds rate (the interest rate banks charge one another on overnight loans), lenders simply sat on the extra reserves. They did so not because they didn't want to use those funds profitably, but because the bursting of the housing bubble and the ensuing "Great Recession" sensitized them anew to credit risk.
Then, as now, the economy's arteries were clogged with toxic assets, including mortgage-backed securities whose values are yet unknown because the real estate market hasn't yet hit bottom.
In order to minimize credit risks, banks invested in safer Treasuries instead. The Fed now proposes to soak up an additional $600 billion of those assets.
Buying bonds will expand bank reserves once again, but it does nothing either to change underlying economic fundamentals or to resolve the uncertainty about future tax rates, the costs of Obamacare, regulatory "reform" of financial markets and other government policies that undermine the spending plans of private business owners and consumers alike.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to predict that banks still will hesitate to lend despite having an additional $600 billion in reserves, or to realize that if credit markets "unfreeze" at some future date, as they inevitably will, the disgorging of trillions of dollars in now-idle loanable funds is apt to produce much higher rates of inflation, unless the Fed reverses course quickly and reverts to a tight money policy.
Even if the Fed succeeds in reducing long-term interest rates, the economy will not necessarily be out of the woods. Artificially low interest rates induce businesses to undertake projects that otherwise would be unprofitable. Not to worry too much, though. Investors have been selling Treasury securities in anticipation of the Fed's buyback plan, raising yields to levels not seen for three months.
Some commentators suggest that Washington's fiscal and monetary responses to current economic events have been too timid. How much would be enough: $2 trillion, $3 trillion, more?
It's fashionable on the left to argue that America should emulate Europe, especially with respect to social-welfare policies.
But Europeans - and many U.S. economists - are wising up. Coincident with the Fed's latest initiative, the European Central Bank signaled that it will refrain from further monetary stimulus, at least for the time being. That policy of restraint, along with the fiscal austerity programs recently adopted by France, Germany and the United Kingdom, point down the path our own government should take.
William F. Shughart II is a senior fellow with the Independent Institute and professor of economics at the University of Mississippi.
© Copyright 2010 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Classic Quotes, Drucker

"We now accept the fact that learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change. And the most pressing task is to teach people how to learn."
--Peter Drucker

Thursday, November 25, 2010

TSA Resistance (And Phallic Mass)



Worth a read.  I would vastly prefer that the government not have nationalized security for airports.

Reading these things, I can't believe they have not been able to replicate what they did almost ten years ago.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Do The Right Thing

"Given how much stuff was coming at us… we probably spent much more time trying to get the policy right than trying to get the politics right. There is probably a perverse pride in my administration — and I take responsibility for this; this was blowing from the top — that we were going to do the right thing, even if short-term it was unpopular."

Fascinating quote.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

There To Here, Here To There


"The lean years? The lean years!?!?!?!!?
"Government has never been fatter.
"The crisis of government in America is that it does too many things badly instead of doing a few things well.
"We don’t need more money for government. We need government to do what citizens struggle to do for themselves. We can debate what that range of activities is. I am on the side that government has taken on too many tasks that we can do as well or better for ourselves. When government takes on too many tasks, it is hard to find money to do the core activities of government well.
"The ungovernability aspect of this problem is that it is hard to take away things from people and thrive politically. If you think 911 is an important activity of government, it is easy to keep it free. Get rid of all the nonsense government does that doesn’t need doing. Go back to the “lean” years of 1995, say, when California and the Federal government spent a lot less. Those weren’t the dark ages. But along the way, a bunch of money got added to a bunch of deparments and for some reason, instead of saying that was a mistake or unnecessary or best done privately, we start charging for 911.
"That is a sign of ungovernability and it comes from ignoring the proper role of government.
"Stop subsidizing housing. It’s bad enough that the Feds do it. But there is a vigorous California effort on top of the Federal effort. Stop subsidizing food and rich farmers. Stop policing trans fats. And smoking in restaurants. Stop trying to steer education from the top down. Stop creating programs for retirement and health that give money to rich people. Stop subsidizing rail travel. Stop all corporate welfare. Stop all tariffs and quotas. Get rid of the nanny state.
"The mission creep of government makes it obvious that governmen is poorly run. Get out of the things it does poorly and do important things well.
How do we get there from here?"

Monday, November 22, 2010

I Pencil

"You may wonder why I should write a genealogy. Well, to begin with, my story is interesting. And, next, I am a mystery—more so than a tree or a sunset or even a flash of lightning. But, sadly, I am taken for granted by those who use me, as if I were a mere incident and without background. This supercilious attitude relegates me to the level of the commonplace. This is a species of the grievous error in which mankind cannot too long persist without peril. For, the wise G. K. Chesterton observed, "We are perishing for want of wonder, not for want of wonders."
"I, Pencil, simple though I appear to be, merit your wonder and awe, a claim I shall attempt to prove. In fact, if you can understand me—no, that's too much to ask of anyone—if you can become aware of the miraculousness which I symbolize, you can help save the freedom mankind is so unhappily losing. I have a profound lesson to teach. And I can teach this lesson better than can an automobile or an airplane or a mechanical dishwasher because—well, because I am seemingly so simple."
A classic in every sense of the word.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Classic Quotes, Japanese Proverb

"Knowledge without wisdom is a load of books on the back of an ass."
- Japanese Proverb

Courtesy CrossFit.com

Monday, November 15, 2010

Classic Quotes, Stone

"Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity."
--W. Clement Stone

Friday, November 12, 2010

Criminal Ignorance?

"Inflation is the result of too much money chasing too few goods.  So by increasing the flow of goods (and services) produced in an economy, rapid growth decreases the risk of domestic inflation. That the finance ministers of three major world governments do not understand this fundamental fact is appalling."

Power Must Be Fought For

Do you hate your fellow countrymen?  When?

Is the Fed a failure?

Who's 'qualified' to talk about economic policies?  Palin?  The President?  Either? 


Pencil - A Miracle

"You may wonder why I should write a genealogy. Well, to begin with, my story is interesting. And, next, I am a mystery—more so than a tree or a sunset or even a flash of lightning. But, sadly, I am taken for granted by those who use me, as if I were a mere incident and without background. This supercilious attitude relegates me to the level of the commonplace. This is a species of the grievous error in which mankind cannot too long persist without peril. For, the wise G. K. Chesterton observed, "We are perishing for want of wonder, not for want of wonders."
"I, Pencil, simple though I appear to be, merit your wonder and awe, a claim I shall attempt to prove. In fact, if you can understand me—no, that's too much to ask of anyone—if you can become aware of the miraculousness which I symbolize, you can help save the freedom mankind is so unhappily losing. I have a profound lesson to teach. And I can teach this lesson better than can an automobile or an airplane or a mechanical dishwasher because—well, because I am seemingly so simple."
A classic in every sense of the word.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thankful, Grateful

I remain humbly grateful to those who gave life or limb in the service of our nation.

I remain thankful that it is not my turn to be in the breach today, that I am home and my big worries are how much I'll 'get done' today, vice whether my actions will equal those of my brothers in arms as we work to keep each other alive while we kill the enemy.  It's a lucky few who get to do that job well, but I'm happy to have a different role than that one today.

I'm also grateful and thankful that when it was my turn to be 'downrange', I did the job without letting down my team mates.  Takeoffs equalled landings, and we all still have our fingers and toes.

"Saving Private Ryan" said it all:  "Earn this."  Let us do so.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Climate Measuring - It's Not Simple Like The Rest Of Life

Revealing photos.  Bottom line - there's the intention to measure changes in the earth's climate, then there's actually doing it correctly.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Maybe He's Right?

"Tuesday was the electorate's first opportunity to render a national verdict on this manner of governance. The rejection was stunning. As a result, President Obama's agenda is dead. And not just now. No future Democratic president will try to revive it - and if he does, no Congress will follow him, in view of the carnage visited upon Democrats on Tuesday.
"This is not, however, a rejection of Democrats as a party. The center-left party as represented by Bill Clinton remains competitive in every cycle. (Which is why he was the most popular, sought-after Democrat in the current cycle.) The lesson of Tuesday is that the American game is played between the 40-yard lines. So long as Democrats don't repeat Obama's drive for the red zone, Democrats will cyclically prevail, just as Republicans do.
"Nor should Republicans overinterpret their Tuesday mandate. They received none. They were merely rewarded for acting as the people's proxy in saying no to Obama's overreaching liberalism. As one wag put it, this wasn't an election so much as a restraining order.
"The Republicans won by default. And their prize is nothing more than a two-year lease on the House. The building was available because the previous occupant had been evicted for arrogant misbehavior and, by rule, alas, the House cannot be left vacant."
"In his next-day news conference, (the President) had the right demeanor - subdued, his closest approximation of humility - but was uncomprehending about what just happened. The "folks" are apparently just "frustrated" that "progress" is just too slow. Asked three times whether popular rejection of his policy agenda might have had something to do with the shellacking he took, he looked as if he'd been asked whether the sun had risen in the West. Why, no, he said."

Hey, he might be right, right?

Classic Quotes, Edison

"There is far more danger in a public monopoly than there is in a private monopoly, for when government goes into business it can always shift its losses to the taxpayer. The Government never really goes into business, for it never makes ends meet, and that is the first requisite of business. It just mixes a little business with a lot of politics, and no one ever gets a chance to find out what is actually going on."
- Thomas A. Edison
Courtesy of CrossFit.com

Seems to me that this one goes to the heart of one of the biggest and most commonly held beliefs in our nation - which is wrong.  And that is that government's defend us from monopoly predation.  I know of you instance of actual monopoly predation which did not result from the engagement of government.  Rather than saving the citizenry from government, government actually creates monopoly after monopoly, all of which are supported by the coercive power of the state.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Classic Quotes, Morgenthau

"We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work." Henry Morgenthau, Secretary of the US Treasury


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Pardon My Boondoggle

More on the absurdity that is the plug in electric vehicle.  Costs a ton, saves little to no green house emissions (even if you believe in that sort of thing), and serves only to highlight just how foolish those given to government are. 

There need be no better highlight of what "political calculus" means.  Sunshine out of cucumbers?  Why not.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Nothing But the Truth, 2

Who built the railroads, and which ones worked best?

Nothing But the Truth

"Somehow, it's become fashionable to think that high-speed trains connecting major cities will help "save the planet." They won't. They're a perfect example of wasteful spending masquerading as a respectable social cause. They would further burden already overburdened governments and drain dollars from worthier programs -- schools, defense, research."

"President Obama calls high-speed rail essential "infrastructure" when it's actually old-fashioned "pork barrel." The interesting question is why it retains its intellectual respectability. The answer, it seems, is willful ignorance. People prefer fashionable make-believe to distasteful realities. They imagine public benefits that don't exist and ignore costs that do."

High speed rail - more wishing that we could get sunshine from cucumbers, and illustrating that governments make decisions based on political calculations made with other peoples' money.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Krauthammer Sizes Up Election

"In a radio interview that aired Monday on Univision, President Obama chided Latinos who "sit out the election instead of saying, 'We're gonna punish our enemies and we're gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us.' " Quite a uniter, urging Hispanics to go to the polls to exact political revenge on their enemies - presumably, for example, the near-60 percent of Americans who support the new Arizona immigration law.
"This from a president who won't even use "enemies" to describe an Iranian regime that is helping kill U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. This from a man who rose to prominence thunderously declaring that we were not blue states or red states, not black America or white America or Latino America - but the United States of America."
"Every president gets two bites at the apple: the first 18 months when he is riding the good-will honeymoon, and a second shot in the first 18 months of a second term before lame-duckness sets in. Over the next two years, the real action will be not in Congress but in the bowels of the federal bureaucracy. Democrats will advance their agenda on Obamacare, financial reform and energy by means of administrative regulation, such as carbon-emission limits imposed unilaterally by the Environmental Protection Agency."
"...reaction to this obvious political truth is in keeping with the convention that all things partisan or ideological are to be frowned upon as "divisive." This is pious nonsense. What is the point of a two-party democracy if not to present clear, alternative views of the role of government and, more fundamentally, the balance between liberty and equality - the central issue for any democracy?"
---He means of course 'equality of outcome' as there's no other kind that is discussed in politics.  Even that, though, does not exist nor can it.  Humans are unequal in so many ways that no matter the effort by government to offend liberty through use of coercive force, it cannot equalize human experience or decision making.
CK continues:
"Obama, to his credit, did not get elected to do midnight basketball or school uniforms. No Bill Clinton he. Obama thinks large. He wants to be a consequential president on the order of Ronald Reagan. His forthright attempt to undo the Reagan revolution with a burst of expansive liberal governance is the theme animating this entire election.
"Democratic apologists would prefer to pretend otherwise - that it's all about the economy and the electorate's anger over its parlous condition. Nice try. The most recent CBS/New York Times poll shows that only one in 12 Americans blames the economy on Obama, and seven in 10 think the downturn is temporary. And yet, the Democratic Party is falling apart. Democrats are four points behind among women, a constituency Democrats had owned for decades; a staggering 20 points behind among independents (a 28-point swing since 2008); and 20 points behind among college graduates, giving lie to the ubiquitous liberal conceit that the Republican surge is the revenge of lumpen know-nothings."
---I agree that it's not the economy per se that's driving this election, although, if the economy were turning for the better, the response to what the President has been revealed to be would not be so strong.  As I've written before in more detail, the strength of the opposition is based in the fact that folks saw what they wanted to see in the Candidate - they saw something that wasn't.  When their eyes were opened to what he is, which is to say a garden variety liberal who's been saying all along that he was ideologically committed to liberalism, they felt duped.  I think the mainly fooled themselves, but I'm glad for the anger.

Classic Quotes, Mencken

“The Liberals, who pretend – and often quite honestly believe – that they are hot for liberty.  They never really are….  If a law were passed tomorrow taking away the property of a large group of presumably well-to-do persons – say, the bond-holders of the railroads – without compensation and even without colorable reason, they would not oppose it; they would be in favor of it.  The liberty to have and to hold property is not one that they recognize.  They believe only in the liberty to envy, hate and loot the man who has it.”
H.L. Mencken, “Liberty and Democracy,” first published on April 13, 1925, in the Baltimore Evening Sun; reprinted in H.L. Mencken, A Second Mencken Chrestomathy
Quote is courtesy of www.cafehayek.com

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Protecting the Exploited or Their Competition?

"It’s interesting to note that, according to the logic of Prof. Hill’s argument, Nike and other multinational corporations “exploit” workers in developing countries if these corporations give these workers employment options that are more attractive than these workers would otherwise have but nevertheless not as attractive as Prof. Hill feels they should be.  So, by implication, corporations that never enter developing countries – and, hence, never expand and improve, even in the slightest, the employment options of poor-country workers – are not guilty of “exploitation.”"  www.cafehayek.com

In an econ class, reference was made to what happened to workers after their plant was closed due an uproar that the factory was a 'sweat shop.'  The celebrity, who's name was associated with the garments made in this particular 'sweat shop', had to close down all sales of these garments.  Many of the workers had to go back to their former profession - prostitution - to make a living.
This brings to mind what Bastiat refers to in his classic work, (http://www.econlib.org/library/Bastiat/basEss1.html) "What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen".  We may feel bad that workers in some factory have to live in conditions that we would not like to live in, but those workers may be working there because it is their best opportunity.  Foreclosing that opportunity to them does not improve their lot in life. 
However, this notion - that I know best what you should or should not do - is part and parcel of the Statist's view of things.
Frankly, I'd be glad to pay an American to make my shirts.  Still, I can't think of any reason why that American should be more entitled to make my shirts than a Bangladeshi, or Pakistani.  If the shirt can be made around the world and delivered to market for a value that is better than what it someone living down the street can deliver, it makes no sense for the person down the street to make shirts.

Confusing Our Government With Us

"Bad faith in America became virtuous in the '60s when America finally acknowledged so many of its flagrant hypocrisies: the segregation of blacks, the suppression of women, the exploitation of other minorities, the "imperialism" of the Vietnam War, the indifference to the environment, the hypocrisy of puritanical sexual mores and so on. The compounding of all these hypocrisies added up to the crowning idea of the '60s: that America was characterologically evil. Thus the only way back to decency and moral authority was through bad faith in America and its institutions, through the presumption that evil was America's natural default position."

I think this is a sort of illusion that we all suffer to one degree or another.  What is "America"?  By what means should "America" or "The United States of America" be judged?  Are we judged by 'our' government?  I think the entire notion is illusory.  I think wrapping us in a cloth that is defined by our government is a means by which the politically astute gain their significance, to the detriment of "we the people." 

One of John Kennedy's most famous quotes is "ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."  This is also part of the illusion of what or who we are.  What your government should do for you is to defend your rights as an individual.  What you should want is for your government to do the same for your countrymen.  Part of the role of defending your rights is to defend you and your countrymen from other governments who might use their subjects to attack you.  Beyond that, any use of our government is a violation of individual liberty and constitutes a coercive use of the State's monopoly on force, which allows some (the politically successful) to force others to do their bidding.  Or as Dr. B puts it:

"A theme that runs with approval throughout Jonathan Alter’s review of recent books on modern “liberalism” is that “liberals,” in contrast to their mindless Cro-Magnon opposites, overflow with ideas (“The State of Liberalism <http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/24/books/review/Alter-t.html?scp=1&sq=%22jonathan%20alter%22&st=cse> ,” Oct. 24).
"Indeed they do.  But these ideas are almost exclusively about how other people should live their lives.  These are ideas about how one group of people (the politically successful) should engineer everyone else’s contracts, social relations, diets, habits, and even moral sentiments.
"Put differently, modern “liberalism’s” ideas are about replacing an unimaginably large multitude of diverse and competing ideas – each one individually chosen, practiced, assessed, and modified in light of what F.A. Hayek called “the particular circumstances of time and place <http://www.econlib.org/library/Essays/hykKnw1.html> ” – with a relatively paltry set of ‘Big Ideas’ that are politically selected, centrally imposed, and enforced not by the natural give, take, and compromise of the everyday interactions of millions of people but, rather, by guns wielded by those whose overriding ‘idea’ is among the most simple-minded and antediluvian notions in history, namely, that those with the power of the sword are anointed to lord it over the rest of us.
Sincerely,  Donald J. Boudreaux"

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Compared to What?

"If We Ignore the Costs...
Posted: 10 Dec 2009 11:26 AM PST www.cafehayek.com
Here's a letter that I sent yesterday to the New York Times:
Thomas Friedman writes: "If we prepare for climate change by building a clean-power economy, but climate change turns out to be a hoax, what would be the result? . [G]radually we would be driving battery-powered electric cars and powering more and more of our homes and factories with wind, solar, nuclear and second-generation biofuels. We would be much less dependent on oil dictators who have drawn a bull's-eye on our backs; our trade deficit would improve; the dollar would strengthen; and the air we breathe would be cleaner. In short, as a country, we would be stronger, more innovative and more energy independent" ("Going Cheney on Climate <http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/09/opinion/09friedman.html?_r=1> ," Dec. 9).
Lovely, that is, until one asks: compared to what? From where do all the resources come that produce these wonderful benefits that Mr. Friedman foresees? How can Mr. Friedman be so sure that the benefits of windmills, solar panels, and battery-powered electric cars will exceed the costs of making - will exceed in value that which must be foregone to make - these green fetishes a reality?
Of course, he cannot be sure. Not even close. Like so many other pundits, Mr. Friedman simply ignores, or arbitrarily discounts, the costs of turning his oh-so-lovely daydreams into quotidian actuality.
Donald J. Boudreaux"

You mean, you can't really make "sunshine out of cucumbers"?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Emissions, Electrics ... Progress?

What they don't say about emissions - manufacturing
Carbon-neutrality refers to emissions of carbon dioxide that are released during any point in the life span of the vehicle, from the earth-moving machines used to mining the lithium for the car's batteries, to the plant where the car is built, to the power plant that feeds the electrical source the car is ultimately plugged into. None of those can emit carbon dioxide. If any do, the electric vehicle isn't carbon-neutral.
Attaining complete carbon neutrality is virtually impossible, or at least so unattainable it's akin to holding out for a vehicle that runs on cold fusion. Instead, researchers are chipping away at problems in smaller sizes, with a specific focus on the power plant -- the source of most EV emissions.
"The well-known issue here is the source of the electricity," says Ruez. "If the electricity is from a coal- or gas-fired power plant, then there are still carbon emissions from that vehicle's use."
There is about a 50-percent chance in the United States that the electricity that's used to charge the batteries of a plug-in electric vehicle is generated by burning coal. Since the burned coal used to power an electric vehicle emits carbon dioxide to power the electric car, it goes on the car's emissions tally.
"The general consensus is that if you power an electric vehicle from coal, the net carbon emissions are about the same as a gasoline vehicle," says Paul Denholm, senior analyst at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo. "But that's the worst-case scenario; anything that is a cleaner source is an improvement."

OK, fine, but what's the marginal improvement?  In other words, even in the best case, an electric isn't a slam dunk in carbon emission reductions - at least, not until our grid is powered by nuclear.  Electric cars are the salvation of nothing.

Monday, October 25, 2010

"...prestigious, loud, and insistent one for concentrating greater power in Washington"

Question for Krugman
Posted: 10 Dec 2009 05:09 AM PST www.cafehayek.com
"Here's a letter that I sent yesterday to Judy Woodruff at PBS:
Ms. Judy Woodruff
PBS Newshour
Dear Ms. Woodruff:
"I enjoyed your interview yesterday with Bruce Bartlett and Paul Krugman http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/business/july-dec09/economy_12-08.html . But I wonder if you're as baffled by Prof. Krugman as I am.
"On one hand, Krugman's voice is America's most prestigious, loud, and insistent one for concentrating greater power in Washington. On the other hand, he is forever complaining that Uncle Sam is a tool of destructive special-interest groups or is under the influence of stupid ideas (or both). Of course, his distrust of Republicans is as well-known as it is justified. But from your interview we learn that Krugman believes also that today's overwhelmingly Democratic Congress is, in his words, "extremely dysfunctional."
"I'd like to ask Prof. Krugman why he's so keen to entrust vastly more resources and power to an agency that, even when controlled by the political party that shares his values and worldview, is "extremely dysfunctional." Why is he optimistic that an entity that can, and does, so easily malfunction will nevertheless - when vested with greater power - work selflessly and smartly to improve the lives of ordinary Americans?
Donald J. Boudreaux"

Differences Result from ... Differences? 2

Response to an Angry Critic
Posted: 23 Aug 2010 03:27 AM PDT www.cafehayek.com
"Dear Ms. ___________:
Thanks very much for writing. I appreciate your thoughts.
"I assure you, though, that you're mistaken in your conclusion that I am "a disgusting typical conservative corporate mouth piece." First, I truly am not conservative. Second, I very often speak out against policies that benefit corporations. (Whether or not I am disgusting is not for me to say.)
Contrary to your accusation, to recognize (as I do in my offending blog-post http://cafehayek.com/2010/08/a-hypothesis-easily-tested-daily.html) that statistical differences in the pay of men and women might well be the result of perfectly reasonable differences in the patterns of career choices typically made by men from the patterns of career choices typically made by women is not at all, as you describe it, "to tow [sic]… [an] ignorant conservative line." For example, here's philosopher Peter Singer, who is no one's idea of a conservative or of an economic libertarian!:
"While Darwinian thought has no impact on the priority we give to equality as a moral or political ideal, it gives us grounds for believing that since men and women play different roles in reproduction, they may also differ in their inclinations or temperaments, in ways that best promote the reproductive prospects of each sex. Since women are limited in the number of children they can have, they are likely to be selective in their choice of mate. Men, on the other hand, are limited in the number of children they can have only by the number of women they can have sex with. If achieving high status increases access to women, then we can expect men to have a stronger drive for status than women. This means that we cannot use the fact that there is a disproportionately large number of men in high status positions in business and politics as a reason for concluding that there has been discrimination against women. For example, the fact that there are fewer women chief executives of major corporations than men may be due to men being more willing to subordinate their personal lives and other interests to their career goals, and biological differences between men and women may be a factor in that greater readiness to sacrifice everything for the sake of getting to the top.*
"Correct or not, people can – and do – without being mouthpieces of corporate America, or even favorably disposed toward free markets, believe that statistical differences in men's and women's pay are explained by factors having nothing to do with ill-intent, discrimination, or, as you say, "men/male power/domination over women/female subservience/exploitation."
Thanks again for writing.
Donald J. Boudreaux"
* Peter Singer, A Darwinian Left: Politics, Evolution, and Cooperation http://www.amazon.com/Darwinian-Left-Politics-Evolution-Cooperation/dp/0300083238/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1282558668&sr=1-1; (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000), pp. 17-18.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Differences Result from ... Differences?

An Hypothesis Easily Tested, Daily
Posted: 21 Aug 2010 11:15 AM PDT www.cafehayek.com
"Here's a letter to the Washington Times:
So the Obama administration removed from the Department of Labor's website that agency's study that found differences between women's and men's pay as resulting, not from discrimination, but from different career choices made by each sex ("Gender pay gap reflects choices, not bias http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/aug/19/gender-pay-gap-reflects-choices-not-bias/," August 21). Big deal. Politically opportunistic fact-filtering is a bi-partisan tradition as newsworthy as mosquitoes in summer.
"But to those persons who believe that women are indeed consistently underpaid, boy do I have a deal for you! Start your own firms and hire only women. If it's true that women are consistently underpaid, you'll be able to hire outstanding employees by paying them more than the relative pittances they currently earn, while you still profit handsomely from employing them.
"And that's not all. Being benighted male chauvinists, your competitors will not follow your example; they will stubbornly refuse to offer female employees wages commensurate with these women's productivity. "You'll expand your operations by easily hiring highly productive, formerly underpaid workers while your competitors – made stupid by prejudice – will shrivel into bankruptcy as they lose productive employee after productive employee. You'll simultaneously corner your industry's market, earn handsome profits, and raise women's wages. If you're correct that sex discrimination is rampant in today's labor market, you can't lose! So get to work!
Donald J. Boudreaux"

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Taking Life Energy

Presumptions Matter
Posted: 24 Aug 2010 06:08 AM PDT www.cafehayek.com
"Here's a letter to the New York Times:
According to Paul Krugman, for government not to raise taxes is for government "to cut checks" to persons whose taxes aren't raised ("Now That's Rich http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/23/opinion/23krugman.html?_r=1&ref=opinion," August 23).
Economists say that money is a "veil" that obscures people's view of the economy's underlying reality – namely, the fact that people produce and consume, not money, but real goods and services. So let's recast Mr. Krugman's understanding of taxation in terms of something real.
Suppose that Sue works hard on her land all spring and summer growing 100 bushels of corn, and then successfully resists her Uncle Sam's attempt to grab 40 of those bushels. Would Mr. Krugman describe this situation as one in which Uncle Sam gave 40 bushels of corn to Sue? Even if some sort of familial duty obliges nieces to help feed their improvident uncles, surely it would still be grossly misleading to say that Sue's transfer of 30 bushels to Uncle Sam, rather than the 40 bushels that Uncle Sam's friend believes that Uncle Sam "should" receive, means that Uncle Sam gave 10 bushels of corn to Sue.
Donald J. Boudreaux"

Friday, October 22, 2010

The IRS Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act

Regulate THIS!
Posted: 24 Aug 2010 08:28 AM PDT www.cafehayek.com
"Here's a letter to the Wall Street Journal:
You're correct that the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 will discourage lenders from extending credit to households most in need of it by arbitrarily reducing the penalties that lenders may assess against dead-beat and delinquent debtors ("The Politics of Plastic http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703846604575447613154049510.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_AboveLEFTTop," August 24). Our Leaders, though, cling to their peculiar faith that regulations never create incentives for people to do what Our Leaders would prefer people not to do.
Let's put this faith to a real test: Ask Congress and the White House to regulate more strictly the penalties assessed by the IRS against dead-beat and delinquent taxpayers – for example, let's reduce fees and interest charges for late payment of taxes, and eliminate jail time as a punishment for tax evasion. If Our Leaders' faith is sound, there will be no increase in tax evasion and delinquencies. Revenue collected by the IRS will be unaffected. The IRS's stiff penalties will be seen to have been unjustified because (if Our Leaders' faith is true) these penalties do nothing to encourage timely and full payment of taxes.
Donald J. Boudreaux"

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Limited Government?

"The reality is that ObamaCare assigns HHS vast, undefined new powers that will mean whatever Ms. Sebelius and her team decides they will mean. The bill uses the phrase "the Secretary shall" or one of its variants more than a thousand times. Earlier this year, the Congressional Research Service found that ObamaCare created a "currently unknowable" number of new boards, commissions and offices, adding that "it is currently impossible to know how much influence they will ultimately have."
HHS is also not building this bureaucratic apparatus in a transparent way. Ten of the 12 new regulations that HHS has issued in the last six months have been "interim final rules" that are not open to the ordinary process of public comment."