Friday, February 26, 2010

Dr. Boudreaux Hitting the Home Runs

"The Prosperity Pool is filled small drop by small drop. Countless people line the edge of the pool, each dripping in a drop or two of additional "water" -- additional prosperity -- from time to time.
Just as a single drop of water doesn't noticeably increase the level of water in a swimming pool, very few single drops of prosperity have any noticeable effect on the prosperity level. Had in-flight Wi-Fi never been invented and supplied, few people would have noticed.
Ditto for almost everything else available on the market -- new shades of paint color; improved quality of stereo speakers; better techniques for freezing food; slightly longer-lasting light bulbs; a new fusion cuisine; a more-efficient machine for weaving cotton; improved corkage for wine; better batteries for laptop computers.
The list is practically endless.
Some drops are large, such as the polio vaccine, Henry Ford's innovation for producing automobiles and the microprocessor. But the great majority of drops are tiny. These tiny drops, though -- just like each of the many tiny drops of water in a swimming pool -- combine together to produce a wondrous effect. That effect, in the case of the Prosperity Pool, is an enormously high level of material affluence.
Unfortunately, many people want the prosperity level raised noticeably by a few gigantic infusions. Because each of us individually, even large corporations, are small compared to the whole, no one of us can ever realistically hope to raise the prosperity level noticeably. As a result, too many of us believe that we don't "change the world" by contributing little drops. Each of us individually wants to make a big splash -- to make a move that raises the prosperity level in a way that grabs lots of attention.
This desire, although understandable, reflects ignorance of the only proven process of generating genuine, widespread prosperity. That process involves unleashing creative entrepreneurship to search for profit by figuring out ways to better please consumers -- a process that results in huge numbers of small drops of prosperity being added to the Prosperity Pool."

Just the Facts, Please

A Century Is Longer than 20 Years
Posted: 29 Jan 2010 05:39 AM PST
By now it is widely known that, during his State of the Union address, Barack Obama publicly criticized the Citizens United ruling. Part of that criticism is this claim: "the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests-including foreign corporations-to spend without limit in our elections."
Writing in today's Wall Street Journal <> , Georgetown University law professor Randy Barnett reveals that this claim, and others, by Mr. Obama are factually mistaken. Here's the core:
The Court's ruling in Citizens United concerned the right of labor unions and domestic corporations, including nonprofits, to express their views about candidates in media such as books, films and TV within 60 days of an election. In short, it concerned freedom of speech; in particular, an independent film critical of Hillary Clinton funded by a nonprofit corporation.
While the Court reversed a 1990 decision allowing such a ban, it left standing current restrictions on foreign nationals and "entities." Also untouched was a 100-year-old ban on domestic corporate contributions to political campaigns to which the president was presumably referring erroneously.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Dust Off the Old Playbook, Call It 'Hope and Change'

"President Obama's decision to appoint Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson to his bipartisan commission on government spending is politically shrewd and, in terms of policy, potentially helpful.
It is shrewd in that he is doing what he has been urged to do, which is bring in wise men. Here are two respected Beltway veterans, one from each party. It shows the president willing to do what he said he'd do when he ran, which is listen to other voices. The announcement subtly underscores the trope "The system is broken and progress through normal channels is impossible," which is the one Democrats prefer to "Boy did we mess up the past year and make things worse." And the commission gets some pressure off the president. Every time he's knocked for spending, he can say "I agree, it's terrible. Help me tell the commission!""
President Obama has proved to be the most 'politics as usual' President one could imagine. He trotted out a 90 year old playbook, updated only by substituting anthropogenic global warming for some other excuse for why government should take control, and marketed all of it as 'hope and change.' I told anyone who cared to listen my big problem with Senator Obama the candidate was he presented himself as something different when in fact he was the same old thing - a statist with a statist's plans for more government in every conceivable arena. Handsome, brilliant, articulate, charismatic, and accomplished, yes. But a change agent? Only to the extent that completing the re-making the USA in the Euro model of a more massive centralized state is different than not completing it. It's the same battle that's been faught since this nation's birth - Federalism, Confederacy or Centralized National Government, and he wants more centralized government.
The latest play from the standard book of political diversion, is a subsitution for leadership since there's no play in the Statist playbook that will work for the President right now, is a 'bipartisan commission' on Federal spending.
Well, why not? These have worked out for us so well in the past!
Ms. Noonan's point is this is camoflage for his inability to do what he wants to - but he must do SOMETHING. I do think the system is rigged in favor of more spending all the time. But I doubt there's any commision that can or will propose the constitutional restrictions that will be needed to fix the US Government's structural problems. How about amendments to the Constition that would permit the line item veto? Or an amendment which would restrict Federal funding which moves money from one state to another (IOW, immediately end all pork barrel spending)? Or an amendment which would prohibit the government from committing to spend money which will be taxed to those not yet born (talk about your taxation without representation!)? How about no Federal pensions or guaranteed health care benefits (lump sum payments upon retirement only, or salary paid for the sole purpose of retirement funding) - so that Federal employees get to face the same uncertainties as the citizenry they are supposed to have served (instead of becoming a protected class which is paid from the citizenry's productivity no matter how massively the politicians disrupt the economy)?
Whatever the polticians do to mollify the masses who accurate percieve, for the present, that the political class is incompetent to the task of planning our lives and spending our taxes, it will fail unless structural changes - changes which rebuild the Founders' concepts of limited Federal Government - are implemented.
Until that time, political Darwinism ensures that only those politicians who can talk about fiscal responsibility whilst funneling as much money as possible to their constituency - local and national - will survive.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

California's 'Competitive' Market
"In statements and letters, Anthem and WellPoint have explained what the industry calls a recessionary death spiral: as unemployment and declining wages prompt healthy people to drop their insurance, the remaining risk pool becomes sicker and more expensive to insure, which in turn forces up prices and pushes more people out of the market.
A study released this week found that the five largest health insurance companies collectively lost 2.7 million customers last year."
"The death spiral "highlights why we need sustainable health care reform to manage the steadily rising costs of hospitals, drugs and doctors," Anthem, which is based in Los Angeles, said in a statement."
The article notes that many of the 13 million Americans who buy insurance individually rather than through employers cannot shop for a better deal because medical conditions like high cholesterol and glaucoma that would probably disqualify them with other carriers.
"Once accepted by an insurer, consumers cannot be dropped for medical reasons. But in California, where Anthem controls more than half of the individual market, regulators have little power to prevent insurers from raising individual rates as high as the market will bear. That often forces consumers to move to less-generous policies with higher deductibles in order to hold down their costs."

The 'less generous' policies are the ones we should all be moving to. That would reduce 'health care costs' by changing the incentives that drive high cost behaviors.

Does this article describe what Krugman terms a 'competitive' marketplace?

Consent of the Governed

"And then, of course, there's the filibuster, the newest liberal bete noire. "Don't blame Mr. Obama," writes Paul Krugman of the president's failures. "Blame our political culture instead. ... And blame the filibuster, under which 41 senators can make the country ungovernable."
Ungovernable, once again. Of course, just yesterday the same Paul Krugman was warning about "extremists" trying "to eliminate the filibuster" when Democrats used it systematically to block one Bush (43) judicial nomination after another. Back then, Democrats touted it as an indispensable check on overweening majority power. Well, it still is."
Krauthammer exposes Krugman's serial inconsistency's again, while making irrefutable points about the latest liberal/progressive whine: "Our politics/government can't work because we can't pass the legislation we've been dreaming of." The inherent assumption is that the point of government is to legislate - make laws that bind supposedly free citizens - rather than to defend the individual rights of the free men and women the state is supposed to serve. I believe, in contrast, that government is working well by removing old legislation which has restricted liberty and has caused the problems which the statists want to solve with ... More legislation.

Protectionism - Bad for the Protected

Protectionism Makes People Poorer. Period.
Posted: 18 Feb 2010 11:57 AM PST
"Here's a letter that I sent yesterday to the Wall Street Journal:
Uncle Sam argues that China unjustly gains economic benefits by keeping the yuan undervalued ("U.S. Expected to Press China on Yuan <> ," Feb. 17). Bad argument.
When I was a boy, my school held fund-raising fairs. Using dollars, my classmates and I purchased as many fair 'tickets' as we wanted. We then used these tickets to buy whatever foods and toys were sold at the fair. Of course, some items cost more tickets than other items. Each ticket, though, exchanged for a fixed number of dollars.
Suppose my school had undervalued its fair tickets - that is, suppose it gave too many tickets in exchange for each dollar. (Or, put differently, suppose my school had demanded in return for each fair ticket too few dollars.) Who'd be harmed? The answer is my school. By undervaluing its tickets, my school would have sold its fair items at prices below cost. Its revenue at the end of the day would have been lower than its costs. Rather than raising money, my school would have lost money - and we students would have been made wealthier as a result!
The same holds true for China. If the yuan is undervalued, you can be sure that this policy drains wealth from China rather than builds wealth there - and makes Americans richer in the process.
Donald J. Boudreaux
Here's the foundational point. Beijing makes the vast majority of Chinese people poorer whenever it subsidizes consumption - especially consumption by Americans and other non-Chinese. As per this earlier post <> , if Beijing subsidizes this consumption only a wee bit, it makes the Chinese people only a wee bit poorer than they would be without the consumption subsidy. If Beijing subsidizes consumption more heavily, it makes the Chinese people even poorer. And if it subsidizes consumption massively - such as would be true if it arranged for the yuan to be sold on foreign-exchange markets at a price of $0 - it would make the Chinese people massively poorer."

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

How Did We Miss This? Quote of the Century

"We need to stand up to the special interests, bring Republicans and Democrats together, and pass the farm bill immediately," Barack Obama
Could any bill be more about special interests, corporate welfare, and all that is wrong with government than the 'Farm Bill'?

Mark Twain

"Will power lasts about two weeks and is soluble in alcohol."  Mark Twain?

USA Today Provides the Krugman Counterpoint
"To reform the system and reduce costs, we should put quality, private coverage within reach for more Americans by increasing competition and consumer choice. For example, consumers should be allowed to purchase health insurance across state lines. Congress should also end the tax bias against individually purchased health insurance.
States can also play an important role in lowering costs. They should reduce the mandates on health insurance plans, which increase the costs of basic coverage anywhere from 20% to 50%, and encourage the expanded use of innovations such as electronic medical records and health savings accounts.
Finally, before we expand Medicaid, we should fix it. That means aggressive efforts to stop fraud and abuse, estimated to cost up to $25 billion annually, as well as giving beneficiaries a greater role in containing costs.
In the end, we'd expand access to quality health care by reducing costs and increasing competition, not by putting more government between Americans and their doctors."

If they'd like to earn the trust of the public, perhaps the administration could demonstrate its competence by making more than a tiny dent in the mountain of fraud that seems endemic to government programs like medicare and medicaid.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Krugman Sells ObamaCare
Krugman's point, that current 'reality' demands a plan like the ones approved in the House and Senate, cannot be refuted if you accept his entering argument. To wit, that there's a vibrant, competitive market for private insurance in California.
However, he conveniently ignores in his assessment of 'reality' that most of the insurance market in California, like in all states, is for insurance which employers buy for their employees in lieu of giving the employees a larger paycheck. Generally, employees like the arrangement since it confers a tax benefit - it amounts to getting income without having to pay payroll or income taxes. The downside is the insurers compete to win the employers business, not the consumer's business. The downside is this insurance is not portable - they can't take it with them when they 'go' (to another employer or to unemployment or to retirement). They cannot auction their skills to a higher bidder so easily, since they don't know if they can get the same deal on insurance with the next employer.
This is why any reform must deal with the tax inequity which we've built our health care system on since World War II. It's a fantastically regressive tax which rewards the rich for lavish health plans (termed 'cadillac' plans in the mass media), and punishes the unproductive (those who's effort do not generate enough productive work to need or benefit from a tax break). This system also encentivises the sales of health care insurance which is most expensive. These plans are not like insurance, so much as a pre-paid service plan. Very few people buy prepaid service plans for their automobiles, because these plans are very expensive. But most of us buy health 'insurance' which spends as much money to pre-pay for small, predictable costs (costs which are expensive to insure) as it does for uncommon, catastrophically high cost events. These plans incentivise high consumption of health care by reducing the cost to the health care consumer whilst increasing the cost to the 'health care system.'
In other words, to create a market for private insurance, the government must undo this tax oriented market intervention which has resulted in consumers paying more for health care 'insurance' in order to avoid paying taxes for health care 'insurance'. AND allow compeition for health care insurance across state lines. AND use the government's dwindling resources to fund high risk pools to pay for the uninsurable. AND allow insurace companies to charge more for those with behavioral risk (high alcohol/tobacco use, excess body fat, and other behavior driven risk indicators). AND allow vouchers/credits to all low income Americans to be able to pay for catastrophic coverage plans. AND by so doing the market would re-orient to low cost, catastrophic insurance plans which are - unlike the pre-paid service plans that are the norm today - insurance.

"Driving Me to Drink"

Driving Me to Drink
Posted: 12 Feb 2010 07:17 AM PST
Here's a letter that I sent to the New York Times:
Labor-union official Vincent Fyfe wants the state of New York to continue prohibiting supermarkets from selling wine (Letters <> , Feb. 12). His reason? Supermarket wine sales will put some liquor-store owners out of business and their employees out of work.
Note to Mr. Fyfe: the purpose of the wine trade - like every other trade - is to serve consumers, not to create jobs for producers. If job creation were paramount, then government should not only continue to prohibit supermarkets from selling wine, but should require that bottles of beer, wine, and spirits be hand-delivered to retailers, one at a time, while cradled in the arms of carriers each pulled though the streets in a rickshaw.
Of course, such a requirement would harm consumers, but it would also create lots of jobs.
Donald J. Boudreaux
(I thank Bill Anderson for suggesting the title of this post.)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Self Interest

Who's Greedy?
Posted: 27 Jan 2010 07:12 PM PST
William M. (as he calls himself in his e-mail to me) asks me to reprise this blog post <> from December 2004. I do so greedily.
Ever notice how enthusiastically our popular and political culture endorses and even celebrates self-interestedness?
Each of us is encouraged to exercise, to lose weight, to quit smoking, to eat healthier foods, to go back to school to complete that college degree. We're advised to do all sorts of things that are good principally for us, individually. This advice proudly encourages self-interested motivation. Here are just two examples. The first is from Teen Scene magazine:
Stress does cause weight gain. If you're stressed, you're likely to eat "comfort food" and not realize how much you're eating. Stress may trigger chemicals in your body that cling to fat cells. Stress also evaluates your heart rate and makes you vulnerable to illnesses. If you're feeling stressed, take a breather. Find at least an hour to do something for yourself.
Or this quotation from exercise guru Bob Bohnam:
Surely you can set aside half an hour three times a week to train, jog or do some sort of exercise. Make training part of your weekly routine, like working, running errands or shopping. You spend a lot of time doing things for your employer, family and friends. You also need to do something for yourself. Make going to the gym your time. It's for your health.
(I found these quotations by Googling [exercise "do something for yourself"] - which turned up 3,610 hits.) ...
I do not dispute the wisdom of exercising, eating right, and stopping to smell roses and other fragrant flowers. Nor do I object to self-interested actions.

But I have long been struck by how certain actions - exercising, eating low-fat diets, quitting smoking - are routinely celebrated, esteemed, even idolized, despite being almost wholly self-interested. Other self-interested actions, in contrast - such as financial investing, or running a profit-seeking business in a profit-seeking way - are looked upon much more suspiciously. (For example, in this recent exchange on the merits of private vs. government provision of health-care, one commenter ridiculed as being obviously absurd the notion that health-care provision should be motivated by self-interest - what he calls "greed.")
The fact, then, is that our culture does not simple-mindedly elevate other-regarding actions over self-interested actions. Many obviously self-interested actions are admired and encouraged. Only some self-interested actions are slapped with the label "greed" and condemned as ugly and harmful.
Jogging to stay healthy is virtuous; managing your pharmaceutical firm to stay profitable is inconsiderate (and for many people downright scandalous).
Curiously, the set of self-interested actions that are widely praised are those whose positive effects redound almost exclusively to each self-interested actor. If I exercise and eat right, the resulting health and beauty benefits are mine alone. My healthier heart, bulgier biceps, and more-slender body do nothing to improve my neighbor's well-being. (In fact, my exercise and good diet might harm him, for they improve my chances of getting the pretty girl whom we've both been eyeing.)
In contrast, prominent among the self-interested actions that are popularly suspect are those whose fulfillment requires self-interested actors to provide benefits to others. Of course, the business firm that earns profits in the market yields benefits to its self-interested principals - but it does so only insofar as it yields benefits to others. And the greater the benefits provided to others, and the greater the number of others provided with these benefits, the greater are the benefits that the self-interested, profit-seeking business principals enjoy. That is, when someone selfishly jogs to improve his or her health, we applaud. When that same someone selfishly seeks financial profit by offering goods or services for sale to consumers, many of us are wary. (And even most of the other of us who aren't wary don't positively praise this variety of self-interested behavior. We merely tolerate it as necessary.)
Selfish behavior that is exclusively self-regarding is praised; selfish behavior that requires the selfish actor to consider and satisfy and please strangers is suspect.

Classic Quotes

"Quit now, you'll never make it. If you disregard this advice, you'll be halfway there."
~David Zucker (1947 - )

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Paying for the Priviledge of Public Service

Politicians promised billions of your dollars to public 'service' unions, far more than can possibly be paid. How can that be legal? Run folks, run from these public 'service' union controlled states as fast as you can.

There must be a way to attract adequate talent to state jobs without having to bankrupt the future residents who will pay their benefits. I would support any measure which would ensure no future liability for the populace. State workers would get their pay, and hopefully a healthy dose of it, and they would have to tackle their futures based on their own resourcefulness, planning and cooperative engagement - just like the rest of the citizenry.

Is 'Double' Twice as Many? Or Almost Gone?
"The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service estimates that the polar bear population is currently at 20,000 to 25,000 bears, up from as low as 5,000-10,000 bears in the 1950s and 1960s. A 2002 U.S. Geological Survey of wildlife in the Arctic Refuge Coastal Plain noted that the polar bear populations “may now be near historic highs.” The alarm about the future of polar bear decline is based on speculative computer model predictions many decades in the future. And the methodology of these computer models is being challenged by many scientists and forecasting experts."

The AGW extremists are working to put these bears on an endangered list based on a computer model, despite the bear population currently at modern highs. This is your government at work, people.

From "Carpe Dien"
1. "Yes, the Uninsured Can Get Care" (WSJ)

""Lack of insurance doesn't have to mean going without needed health care. If you're uninsured and seeking stop-gap care until you find coverage, you can triage your way to better health by understanding the tradeoffs of several care options. A retail clinic or urgent-care center may be a suitable fit, depending on the severity of your medical need and personal preferences."

2. "Let Health Insurance Cross State Lines" (NYTimes)

"Arizona Representative John Shadegg, who sponsored legislation to allow insurance sales across state lines in 2005 and has championed the idea ever since, likes to illustrate the lack of competition by pointing to how different the market is for automobile insurance.

“If you turn on the television station at night,” he said, “you see Allstate and Geico and Progressive and State Farm pounding each other’s heads in. ‘Drop your policy and come get a policy from us, and we’ll do two things — we’ll save you money and give you better service.’ You never see that kind of advertisement for you and I to go out and buy health insurance.”

Other experts, like Stephen T. Parente, academic director of the Medical Industry Leadership Institute at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, note that many insurers already operate across state lines in administering policies for large employers, and could easily do the same in the individual market.

Mr. Parente said his research had found that millions of uninsured people who now find coverage unaffordable in their home state might buy cheaper policies if they were available from other states. The competition would force insurers to provide better, cheaper service and might force low-performing companies out of business, while states with the most efficient regulatory framework could become regional “powerhouses” where insurers prefer to operate.""

Five ways to reform health care
These are a grand start, and of note, do not increase a citizen's dependency on the government.

"(1) Incentivize patients to be smart consumers: When people buy food, clothes or cars, they compare prices and quality. Why should health care be any different? In Minnesota, we've created incentives for public employees to be wise health-care consumers and given them the information to make smart decisions. Under our system, if patients go to a high-quality, low-cost clinic, they pay less; if they don't, they pay more. As a result, the vast majority has migrated to more cost-efficient health-care providers, and we've seen zero or small increases in premiums since 2005. Any federal reforms should similarly make quality and costs more transparent, and incentivize smarter health-care decisions.
(2) Pay for performance: Under America's current system, health-care providers are rewarded for the number of procedures they perform, not for performance. As a result, the system encourages unnecessary tests that increase costs. In Minnesota, we started an innovative program to measure and set performance metrics for providers and make the results public. We are changing our payment system to reward quality rather than quantity. Congress should pass reforms that allow people to stop paying for procedures and start paying for results.
(3) Liability reform: Another way to cut down on unnecessary procedures is to reduce the threat of lawsuits facing health-care providers. This can be a tricky issue for many Democrats, so I was encouraged last summer when President Obama nevertheless opened the door to liability reforms. At a minimum, we should establish uniform standards for medical liability limits to discourage interstate jury shopping that drives up everybody's health-care costs.
(4) Interstate health-care insurance: There is no reason a Minnesotan should not be able to buy health insurance from other states. Doing so would dramatically increase insurance choices and cut costs through improved competition. I've proposed legislation to allow Minnesotans to buy health insurance from other states and am working with other governors to establish an interstate purchasing pool with strict standards. This system would be modeled after the similar insurance exchange that has made life insurance easier to purchase in more than 30 states since 2006. The federal government could facilitate a similar initiative for interstate health insurance.
(5) Modernize health insurance: We need to reform the employee-based health-care system. Workers are likely to switch jobs many times over their careers, but the current system often punishes individuals who switch jobs or start businesses. That makes no sense. We should make health insurance transferable so employees can keep their coverage if they switch jobs; prohibit insurance companies from discriminating against individuals whose preexisting conditions were covered under insurance they lost through no fault of their own; and encourage the expansion of modern forms of paying for health care, such as health savings accounts."

The Small Bill
"The American people have already taken a long look at Obamacare, and they don't want it. They don't want a government takeover that limits choice and competition, funnels $1 trillion from American taxpayers to insurance companies in its first dozen years (2014 to 2025), cuts Medicare Advantage benefits by an average of $21,000 per enrollee (except in South Florida) in its real first decade, and contains enough shady backroom deals to make Jimmy Hoffa blush.
Most of all, the American people don't want a $2.5 trillion bill that does all of that and still fails to do the one essential thing: lower health care costs.
During his State of the Union address, Obama also said that "if anyone from either party has a better approach .  .  . let me know." Well, without seeming too presumptuous, Mr. President, here you go!
The small bill depicted on the adjacent page offers seven real reforms (the last a combination of smaller reforms) that together would lower costs, significantly increase the number of insured, and be deficit-neutral."

Monday, February 15, 2010

AGW "Science" Called Further Into Question

So this doesn't prove there's no anthropogenic climate change, and of course there's always climate change the question is only whether there's an impact from man's activity.  This does show that when I've thought they were no where near being close to proving an anthropogenic component, they were even farther from proof than I thought.  The only way to prove AGW is to have a model which successfully predicts climate for a ten year run or so - and also backwards, and which is verifiable in construct by other scientists
"The academic at the centre of the ‘Climategate’ affair, whose raw data is crucial to the theory of climate change, has admitted that he has trouble ‘keeping track’ of the information.
Colleagues say that the reason Professor Phil Jones has refused Freedom of Information requests is that he may have actually lost the relevant papers. 
Professor Jones told the BBC yesterday there was truth in the observations of colleagues that he lacked organisational skills, that his office was swamped with piles of paper and that his record keeping is ‘not as good as it should be’.
The data is crucial to the famous ‘hockey stick graph’ used by climate change advocates to support the theory. 
Professor Jones also conceded the possibility that the world was warmer in medieval times than now – suggesting global warming may not be a man-made phenomenon.
And he said that for the past 15 years there has been no ‘statistically significant’ warming."

Read more:

"Today's tax system was shaped ...

... by sadists who were trying to be nice." George Will

Will on Ryan's Plan

"... in January 2010, Ryan released an updated version of his "Roadmap for America's Future," a cure for the most completely predictable major problem that has ever afflicted America.
Some calamities -- the 1929 stock market crash, Pearl Harbor, Sept. 11 -- have come like summer lightning, as bolts from the blue. The looming crisis of America's Ponzi entitlement structure is different. Driven by the demographics of an aging population, its causes, timing and scope are known.  Funding entitlements -- especially medical care and pensions for the elderly -- requires reinvigorating the economy. Ryan's map connects three destinations: economic vitality, diminished public debt, and health and retirement security."

I wonder what it would be like for the President if he woke up one morning and decided doing the right thing would also be smart, might also get him re-elected, might save the economy and his Presidency and our health care system and our liberty.  If he could do this, lead the nation to pass this bill, he would deservedly be legend.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

"Well said, sir."

"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom - go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen."
Or to quote Lord Acton, "Liberty is not a means to a higher political end. It is the highest political end."


Thomas Jefferson to James Madison from Paris

"I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical," wrote Thomas Jefferson to James Madison from Paris in January 1787, about Revolutionary War Capt. Daniel Shay's anti-tax rebellion in Massachusetts (From Pat Buchanan's post on Human Events).

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Tea Party Wants What?

"There were promises of transparency and of a new kind of collaborative politics where establishment figures listened to ordinary Americans. We were going to see net spending cuts, tax cuts for nearly all Americans, an end to earmarks, legislation posted online for the public to review before it is signed into law, and a line-by-line review of the federal budget to remove wasteful programs.

These weren't the tea-party platforms I heard discussed in Nashville last weekend. They were the campaign promises of Barack Obama in 2008.

Mr. Obama made those promises because the ideas they represented were popular with average Americans. So popular, it turns out, that average Americans are organizing themselves in pursuit of the kind of good government Mr. Obama promised, but has not delivered. And that, in a nutshell, was the feel of the National Tea Party Convention. The political elites have failed, and citizens are stepping in to pick up the slack."

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Judicial Review

Actively Defend the Constitution
Posted: 23 Jan 2010 07:11 AM PST
"Here is a letter that I sent just now to the Los Angeles Times:
Erwin Chemerinsky rightly criticizes as being inconsistent those conservatives who have longed raged against judicial activism but who now applaud the Citizens United decision ("Conservatives embrace judicial activism in campaign finance ruling <,0,5829403.story> ," Jan. 23).
Too many conservatives, such as Robert Bork <> , overreacted to Warren-court excesses by calling on judges to be mere ciphers for legislatures. To the extent, however, that these conservatives wished to promote a society of free and responsible individuals, they should instead have endorsed judicial activism in support of the Constitution <> 's clear enumeration of the limited powers granted to the national government and its equally clear protections of individuals rights against infringement by government.
Had they taken this course, such conservatives could consistently oppose all unconstitutional extensions of government power, be these the result of overreaching by judges or the result of overreaching by the executive branch or the legislature.
Donald J. Boudreaux"

Monday, February 1, 2010

Liberty v. Planners Part Tres

The title says it all:
"We're Rich, You're Not. End of Story."

Never mind the fact that the Euros couldn't stop killing each other until the US intervened, and that since 1946, the Euros have lived under the blanket of protection and stability which the US provided. I don't mean that as an insult, but I think it's an important factor to consider when discussing relative wealth. In other words, the US has created more wealth despite all the dead weight economic loss of the US's military activity.

Liberty v. Planning Part Deux
"So, my casual observations of Paris, combined with some basic economic understanding, give me reasonably strong reason to believe that ordinary Parisians are less wealthy than are ordinary Americans."

Liberty v. Govt Planning - Who's Winning?
The blogosphere has been buzzing with a debate on whether America or Europe is more prosperous. A partial list of contestants includes Jim Manzi, Paul Krugman, Matt Welch, Megan McArdle, Matthew Yglesias, and Tino (don’t know who he is, but his blog has lots of good info).

The data for both these charts is from earlier this decade, but as this up-to-date OECD data on economic performance indicates, the United States certainly has not lost any ground relative to Western Europe in recent years. Last but not least, this post is not an attack on Western Europe, which is a very wealthy region by global standards. But the data certainly show that America is even richer. And since the biggest policy difference between the U.S. and Western Europe is the burden of government, this certainly suggests that the Bush-Obama policies of bigger government and more intervention may not be a path to more prosperity.

One final comment. Luxembourg is the one Western European nation that ranks above the United States according to both the OECD and the Danish Finance Ministry. If any statists want to suggest that we mimic Luxembourg’s tax haven policies, you can count on my support.