Friday, July 30, 2010

Britain's Plan

This is going to be really interesting ... but it won't solve the real problems - the value stream is broken.  Q:  How much health care will be demanded when the point of sale cost is nothing but time?
A:  As much as the State will pay for

"Perhaps the only consistent thing about Britain’s socialized health care system is that it is in a perpetual state of flux, its structure constantly changing as governments search for the elusive formula that will deliver the best care for the cheapest price while costs and demand escalate.
Andrew Testa for The New York Times
The new British government’s plan to drastically reshape the socialized health care system would put local physicians like Dr. Marita Koumettou in north London in control of much of the national health budget.
Even as the new coalition government said it would make enormous cuts in the public sector, it initially promised to leave health care alone. But in one of its most surprising moves so far, it has done the opposite, proposing what would be the most radical reorganization of the National Health Service, as the system is called, since its inception in 1948.
Practical details of the plan are still sketchy. But its aim is clear: to shift control of England’s $160 billion annual health budget from a centralized bureaucracy to doctors at the local level. Under the plan, $100 billion to $125 billion a year would be meted out to general practitioners, who would use the money to buy services from hospitals and other health care providers."

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Immigration and Arizona's Law

I have a hard time getting upset about a state law that is essentially the same as a federal law - sure, the federal law is retarded, but what reason is there to make a 'federal case' about a state law that mirrors a federal law?  In most cases, the furror is more about advancing one party's goals rather than any real outrage.  The libertarians are the only ones whom I would put in a separate category - at least they are consistent in opposing both levels of state intervention into the freely chosen actions of what should be free business men and women, and the workers who choose to be employed by them.

I like this excerpt:
"Immigrant scientists, entrepreneurs and laborers bring innovation, dedication and good old-fashioned hard work to bear on improving their own lives and the lives of others around them. Removing restrictions on the movement of labor—which primarily serve to protect labor unions and assuage nativists—would be an enormous boon to the national economy.

Arizona's law is popular partly because Arizonans fear an illegal immigrant crime wave. But crime rates in Arizona are at historic lows. According to the state Bureau of Justice, violent crime rates in 2008 (the latest year for which data are available) were lower than any point since 1976. Property crime rates have declined even more steeply, with 2008 figures lower than at any point since 1966. It is a myth, then, that illegal immigrants bring a wave of crime in their wake."

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What To Do To Get Credit For A Turnaround

Which is not the same thing as figuring out what the Govt could do to either help, or just not interrupt, a turnaround.

"..Our best shot at increasing employment and output is to reduce business taxes and the cost of creating new start-up companies. Don’t subsidize them; just reduce their taxes even as they become larger; also reduce any unnecessary impediments to their formation. This is strongly indicated by the business dynamics program of the Bureau of Census and the Kauffman Foundation which has tracked new startup firms in the period 1980-2005. The entry of new firms net of departing firms in this period account for a remarkable two-thirds more employment growth (3 percent per year) than the average of all firms in the US (1.8 percent per year). The invigorating turmoil created by new technologies, with accompanying growth in output, productivity, and employment lead to new business formation as old firms inevitably fail. Reducing barriers to that growth encourage a recovery path which does not mortgage future output."

Monday, July 26, 2010

"Faith" in the People, or Force

When one is soaked in the idea that government's use of force is good, results in good outcomes, and solves problems, one cannot see the lack of faith in the People that is implied by what is really faith in the use of coercion to get what one wants.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Veteran

Great read - starts like this:
"Out of the low window could be seen three hickory trees placed irregularly in a meadow that was resplendent in spring-time green. Farther away, the old, dismal belfry of the village church loomed over the pines. A horse, meditating in the shade of one of the hickories, lazily swished his tail. The warm sunshine made an oblong of vivid yellow on the floor of the grocery.
"Could you see the whites of their eyes?" said the man, who was seated on a soap box.
"Nothing of the kind," replied old Henry warmly. "Just a lot of flitting figures, and I let go at where they 'peared to be the thickest. Bang!""

Stop the Abuse!

Good for many "laughs".   Your's, mine and hers', if you get my drift.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Making the Poor Poorer

Do you want this kind of help from your senator?

Classic Quotes, Emerson

"The characteristic of heroism is its persistency. All men have wandering impulses, fits, and starts of generosity. But when you have chosen your part, abide by it, and do not weakly try to reconcile yourself with the world" -- from "Heroism" by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Classic Quotes, Confucius

"The superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions."
~Confucius (551 BC - 479 BC)

Bastiat's Birthday at Carpe Diem

The petition is worth reading in its entirety, as should the post from the link below: 

"From a Petition From the French Manufacturers of Candles:
"We (French candlemakers) are suffering from the ruinous competition of a foreign rival who apparently works under conditions so far superior to our own for the production of light that he is flooding the domestic market with it at an incredibly low price; for the moment he appears, our sales cease, all the consumers turn to him, and a branch of French industry whose ramifications are innumerable is all at once reduced to complete stagnation. This rival, which is none other than the sun.  

We ask you to be so good as to pass a law requiring the closing of all windows, dormers, skylights, inside and outside shutters, curtains, casements, bull's-eyes, deadlights, and blinds — in short, all openings, holes, chinks, and fissures through which the light of the sun is wont to enter houses, to the detriment of the fair industries with which, we are proud to say, we have endowed the country, a country that cannot, without betraying ingratitude, abandon us today to so unequal a combat."

~French economist Frédéric Bastiat writing in 1845.  Bastiast was born today in 1801.  "

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Economic Freedom - Do You Care?

"The statistical results of this year's study persuasively confirm those published in the previous four editions; economic freedom is a powerful driver of growth and prosperity. Those provinces and states that have low levels of economic freedom continue to leave their citizens poorer than they need or should be."

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

If He Could Only See the Fruit of His Handiwork Now

"The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist."
John Maynard Keynes
The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sowell on the Supremes

Good Riddance!
By Thomas Sowell
When Supreme Court Justices retire, there is usually some pious talk about their "service," especially when it has been a long "service." But the careers of all too many of these retiring jurists, including currently retiring Justice John Paul Stevens, have been an enormous disservice to this country.
Justice Stevens was on the High Court for 35 years-- more's the pity, or the disgrace. Justice Stevens voted to sustain racial quotas, created "rights" out of thin air for terrorists, and took away American citizens' rights to their own homes in the infamous "Kelo" decision of 2005.

The Constitution of the United States says that the government must pay "just compensation" for seizing a citizen's private property for "public use." In other words, if the government has to build a reservoir or bridge, and your property is in the way, they can take that property, provided that they pay you its value.
What has happened over the years, however, is that judges have eroded this protection and expanded the government's power-- as they have in other issues. This trend reached its logical extreme in the Supreme Court case of Kelo v. City of New London. This case involved local government officials seizing homes and businesses-- not for "public use" as the Constitution specified, but to turn this private property over to other private parties, to build more upscale facilities that would bring in more tax revenues.
Justice John Paul Stevens wrote the Supreme Court opinion that expanded the Constitution's authorization of seizing private property for "public use" to seizing private property for a "public purpose." And who would define what a "public purpose" is? Basically, those who were doing the seizing. As Justice Stevens put it, the government authorities' assessment of a proper "public purpose" was entitled to "great respect" by the courts.
Let's go back to square one. Just who was this provision of the Constitution supposed to restrict? Answer: government officials. And to whom would Justice Stevens defer: government officials. Why would those who wrote the Constitution waste good ink putting that protection in there, if not to protect citizens from the very government officials to whom Justice Stevens deferred?
John Paul Stevens is a classic example of what has been wrong with too many Republicans' appointments to the Supreme Court. The biggest argument in favor of nominating him was that he could be confirmed by the Senate without a fight.
Democratic presidents appoint judges who will push their political agenda from the federal bench, even if that requires stretching and twisting the Constitution to reach their goals.
Republicans too often appoint judges whose confirmation will not require a big fight with the Democrats. You can always avoid a fight by surrendering, and a whole wing of the Republican party has long ago mastered the art of preemptive surrender.
The net result has been a whole string of Republican Justices of the Supreme Court carrying out the Democrats' agenda, in disregard of the Constitution. John Paul Stevens has been just one.
There may have been some excuse for President Ford's picking such a man, in order to avoid a fight, at a time when he was an unelected President who came into office in the wake of Richard Nixon's resignation in disgrace after Watergate, creating lasting damage to the public's support of the Republicans.
But there was no such excuse for the elder President Bush to appoint David Souter, much less for President Eisenhower, with back-to-back landslide victories at the polls, to inflict William J. Brennan on the country.
In light of these justices' records, and in view of how long justices remain on the court, nominating such people was close to criminal negligence.
If and when the Republicans return to power in Washington, we can only hope that they remember what got them suddenly and unceremoniously dumped out of power the last time. Basically, it was running as Republicans and then governing as if they were Democrats, running up big deficits, with lots of earmarks and interfering with the market.
But their most lasting damage to the country has been putting people like John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court.
Copyright 2010, Creators Syndicate Inc.
Page Printed from: at April 13, 2010 - 08:26:41 AM CDT

Saturday, July 17, 2010

HFCS - It's a Conspiracy

"But back to the question of why is HFCS used: As many have guessed, cost is the only reason that HFCS is used in place of cane sugar. As I clumsily pointed out in another post, a 1/10th of a cent increase in sweetener, per serving, would cost Coca-Cola roughly $122,423,790. And here you were thinking your car insurance costs were high.
The answer to the question of why HFCS is used is fairly clear and easy to figure out. The more interesting question is one that's almost never asked -
Why is HFCS so much cheaper than cane sugar? The answer to that question may surprise you.
Because the government wants it that way.
The Federal Government accomplishes this in two major ways:
Sugar Tariffs
Corn and Sugar Subsidies
Add these two variables together, and the result is sweetener made from corn.
The difficulty in explaining how the above work is in understanding that none of the above would exist without at least tacit complicity between the Sugar Industry, the Corn Industry and the United States Department of Agriculture. Remove any one of those three players from the equation, and the tariffs and subsidies most likely go away."

I don't literally mean a conspiracy, but in effect, it's as if the DoA has tricked us into spending tax dollars so we can pay less for HFCS and the resulting health injury and rising costs becomes the rationale for "health care reform."  Only government can be this freaky.

Friday, July 16, 2010

John Stossel - Liberty Hero

"It's that joyous time of year: income tax time. So I spend time with my accountant. I don't want to see him, but I must. I could not do what he's doing. The tax code has grown so complex that today most Americans hire someone to do their taxes.
For the money I pay my accountant, I could get a hundred massages. I could buy a fancy motorcycle. I could take a cruise ship to Venice and back.
Better yet, I could do some good in the world. I could pay for two Habitat for Humanity homes or help three kids escape government schools by paying their tuition at a good Catholic school.
What a shame that I pay my accountant instead.
How'd we get to this point? U.S taxes were once simple! The government funded itself on tariffs and excise taxes. It didn't violate our privacy by asking us how much we made or how many dependents we have.
But in 1913, the politicians decided they needed an income tax.
At first, they took little money: just 1 percent on incomes between $20,000 and $50,000. Those were big incomes-adjusted for inflation, $50,000 is $1.1 million today. The top bracket paid 6 percent, but that only applied to people who earned at least $11 million in today's dollars. Anyone who made less than $400,000 paid no income tax.
But leave the amounts aside. The increase in complexity is just as evil.
In 1913, the first tax form and instructions totaled four simple pages. Today's 1040, with instructions, totals 176 pages. How did this happen? Because politicians win votes by giving gifts to favored groups.
On my FBN show tonight, I'll show clips of the pandering legislators applauding themselves for offering tax credits to special interests. The favored groups cheer their tax breaks, but the result is that everyone else pays more, and everyone must spend more time deciphering the rules.
And with every credit, the tax code gets more complicated. The code is now 3,784,745 words long, not counting the 2009 and 2010 changes. It will get worse in the future.
Americans spend more than 7 billion hours trying to comply, according to a forthcoming study from the National Taxpayer Union (NTU).
"That is the equivalent of 3.7 million employees working 40-hour weeks year-round without any vacation. That's more workers than are employed at the five biggest employers among Fortune 500 companies," writes David Keating in the NTU study.
"Counting time and money for individual taxpayers, the compliance burden would total an incredible $103 billion for individual taxpayers alone."
That doesn't include the time spent doing state and local forms, or more important: the burden of "tax minimization strategies" on the economy."

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Health Care Wormhole

Down the Health Care Wormhole
How ObamaPelosiCare will saddle future generations with a public policy disaster
Terry Michael | April 19, 2010
If we can put a man on the moon, we can re-write the basic laws of supply and demand and get more quality health care, dispensed by fewer providers per patient, at lower prices for all Americans. Sure we can. Just like we ended poverty with the Great Society, and like we'll impose liberal democracy on the corrupt oligarchy ruling a collection of tribes known as Afghanistan.
Landing humans on the lunar surface looks like an easily do-able dream when set beside many of the ideologically and anecdotally driven social, economic, and foreign policy nightmares cooked up by public officials in the last half-century of big government. That truth is explored in the appropriately titled book, If We Can Put a Man on the Moon...: Getting Big Things Done in Government (though, it should be noted, the book doesn't advocate getting big things done by big government).
Published last year, it was co-authored by former Reason Foundation privatization analysts John O'Leary and William D. Eggers. Together, the authors bring experienced insight about how good, bad, and really awful public policy ideas are generated, and then how those ideas should be tested in terms of design, adoption, implementation, achievement of intended results, and periodic review.
And after deconstructing health care "reform" via the O'Leary-Eggers model, you'd have to be moonstruck to believe that ObamaPelosiCare is headed for anything but a crash landing.
When the Supreme Court was trying to define pornography in order to judge certain anti-obscenity statutes, Justice Potter Stewart famously said, "I know it when I see it." Therein lies the fatal flaw in trying to reform a sixth or seventh of the economy related to personal health. So-called health care reform fails at the very first stage posited by Eggers and O'Leary, ideation, because-like beauty and porn-reform is in the eyes of the beholder.
In the left-liberal imagination, health care reform means getting the greedy bad guys in private enterprise out of health care delivery and securing the "right" to health care with a "single payer" system. That euphemism, like most verbal obfuscations, is a tacit admission that there's nothing remotely close to public consensus about changing health care delivery. In the free-market conservative imagination, reform would mean buying health care in the same way we purchase milk, whiskey, or a new Lexus, linking consideration of price to unlimited desire for stuff.
Of course, we already have both free-market and government-run health care, which is the other great obstacle to reform. We have the worst of both worlds, with government Medicare and Medicaid providing a big pile of increasingly deficit-financed dollars sitting aside another mountain of cash generated by mostly tax exempt, employer-provided insurance coverage. Both of these mounds of free moolah discourage any consideration of price while they encourage demand. Doctors, hospitals, and Big Pharma do their best to Hoover suck billions from both piles. And politicians facilitate the process by pandering to a 40-million-strong lobby of greedy geezers ("the folks who built this great nation") and a free lunch-seeking middle class.
For the sake of argument, let us hallucinate that reform was a big idea whose time had come. Then let's subject it to the second phase of the O'Leary-Eggers construct: design.
ObamaPelosiCare was most certainly not designed by Barack Obama or Nancy Pelosi or any other leader. In fact, it wasn't designed by anybody. It was a Rube Goldberg contraption of bells, whistles, and trap doors tossed together by K Street representatives of insurers and providers, colluding with their congressional clients. In a lobbying orgy, they mostly succeeded in getting bigger pieces of what promised to be a hugely expanding pie, bringing millions into the private (though massively subsidized by the government) insurance pool, with largely unfunded mandates against insurance exclusion for pre-existing conditions, and deficit-funded new "services" like even more free drugs for old people.
By the summer of 2009, with the president of the United States engaging in sloganeering and finger-pointing at the enemy du jour (insurers and Big Pharma, mostly), an angry citizenry emerged to flail away at the Big Idea. Yet there wasn't even a clear definition of what reform actually meant, which left the specifics up to the imagination. This in turn produced much angry howling and congressional town hall meetings and helped stimulate the amorphous, citizen-directed tea party movement.
By year's end, reform seemed doomed, until Commanders Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi rammed it through the wormhole of Stargate, as O'Leary and Eggers metaphorically label the adoption stage of their construct. The Stargate is the sci-fi gateway from our apparently real world to parallel universes with alternate forms of reality, popularized in the military science fiction movie and TV series of the same name. Without a trace of bipartisan consensus, and with the opposition from the center of the electorate bordering on fury, Pelosi and her allies used brute political force to hurl "reform" cosmic distances ahead into the regulation-writing hands of future bureaucrats, who will have to square liberal hallucinations with real-economy conditions sometime far, far away.
It isn't often a landmark law makes it though the Stargate given the fortunate Madisonian obstacle course that thwarts change. But when paradigm shifting legislation has cleared those hurdles, there almost always has been significant consensus-or at least some modicum of bipartisan cooperation. Not so with ObamaPelosiCare.
It doesn't take much imagination to see the pitfalls that will occur when bureaucrats attempt to enter the implementation stage of an undesigned, unpopular public policy creation. The results are likely to be even worse than the 1000 percent error made in projecting eventual Medicare costs when that program was adopted in the 1960s. Today, Medicare is eating tax dollars like some hungry Godzilla. In a few years, ObamaPelosiCare will make that monster look like a little lizard.
A former reporter and political press secretary, Terry Michael teaches college journalists about politics, and writes at his "libertarian Democrat" web site,

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Roots of Self Government

From the link below:
"“No person shall…be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.” So reads a portion of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, part of the Bill of Rights passed by the First Congress and ratified by state legislatures, sponsored originally by Thomas Jefferson’s friend and political ally James Madison. It echoed, of course, Jefferson’s words in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Madison and Jefferson followed the tradition of John Locke, the British philosopher whose Two Treatises on Government was taken as the justification for the transfer of power known as the Glorious Revolution of 1688-89—the subject of my 2007 book, Our First Revolution: The Remarkable British Upheaval That Inspired America’s Founding Fathers. Locke believed that men could be free only if their lives, liberty, and property were protected by the rule of law. And he believed that only men with property could be relied on to self-govern."

Facts on Bush Deficits

I hate to apologize for the Bush presidency (despite my admittedly naive admiration for the man), but facts are facts.

Unpopular - Let's Hope They Stay That Way

I was reading a bit this AM about the record low confidence Americans have in their legislative branch of government.  I like it this way.  It shows we're not as stupid as we behave.  Yes, we elect people who pretentiously tell us how good they are, and how much they care about 'us' (must be a code word for "my own ambition"), and yes, we believe them (we apparently want to be deceived).  Yes, we have a century to show that government interventions never yeild the desired results, and that politicians have NO IDEA what the negative unintended consequences of their legislation will be, but we believe them anyway when they tell us they can run health care or regulate financial markets or dictate how a marriage should be intiated or dissolved and who can participate.  We fall for all of that stuff, and the only obvious explanation is we're just plain old idiots.  But at least now, we've awakened enough to not be grateful to the elected ones for deceiving us at every chance they get. 

The irony - we're not smart enough to demand that they just 'butt out', and we won't vote for those who promise to just 'butt out', but at least we've got enough sense to dislike them after we elect them.  Hopefully, it's a good start.

Genetics, Humans, Science, Politics

Scientists are hoping to gain new insights into the mysteries of ageing by sequencing the genome of a 17-year-old girl who has the body and behaviour of a tiny toddler.

Brooke Greenberg is old enough to drive a car and next year will be old enough to vote — but at 16lb in weight and just 30in tall, she is still the size of a one-year-old.

Until recently she had been regarded as a medical oddity but a preliminary study of her DNA has suggested her failure to grow could be linked to defects in the genes that make the rest of humanity grow old.

If confirmed, the research could give scientists a fresh understanding of ageing and even suggest new therapies for diseases linked to old age.

Related Links
Is there a secret to eternal youth?
“We think that Brooke’s condition presents us with a unique opportunity to understand the process of ageing,” said Richard Walker, a professor at the University of South Florida School of Medicine, who is leading the research team.

“We think that she has a mutation in the genes that control her ageing and development so that she appears to have been frozen in time.

“If we can compare her genome to the normal version then we might be able to find those genes and see exactly what they do and how to control them.”

Such research will be the focus of a conference at the Royal Society in London this week to be attended by some of the world’s leading age researchers.

It follows a series of scientific breakthroughs showing that the life span of many animals can be dramatically extended by making minute changes in single genes.

The work began with tiny worms known as C elegans, which normally live for only about a fortnight. Researchers have been able to extend their life span by up to 10 weeks by making small changes in certain genes.

Scientists have gone on to discover that mutating the same genes in mice had the same effect.

“Mice are genetically very close to humans,” said Cynthia Kenyon, professor of biochemistry at the University of California, San Francisco, who is a key speaker at the Royal Society.

“The implication is that ageing is controlled by a relatively small number of genes and that we might be able to target these with new therapies that would improve the quality and length of human life.”

The laboratory findings have been supported by research into humans, focusing on families whose members are long-lived. In one recent study Eline Slagboom, professor of molecular epidemiology at Leiden University, Holland, collected data on 30,500 people in 500 long-lived families to find the metabolic and genetic factors that make them special.

“Such people simply age slower than the rest of us,” she said. “Their skin is better, they have less risk of diseases of old age like diabetes, heart disease and hypertension and their ability to metabolise lipids and other nutrients is better. The question is: what is controlling all these different manifestations of slow ageing?

“So far, the evidence suggests that there could be just a few key genes in charge of it all. If we can find out where they are and how they work, it opens the way to new therapies against the diseases of ageing that could work in all of us.”

Walker and other researchers, including Kenyon, believe that finding the cause of Brooke Greenberg’s condition could be one way to pinpoint some of those genes.

Superficially, Brooke, who lives with her parents Howard and Melanie Greenberg and her three sisters in Reisterstown, a Baltimore suburb, is frozen in time. She looks and acts as if she were a small toddler — for 17 years her family has changed her nappies, rocked her to sleep and given her cuddles.

Brooke has shown some development, including crawling, smiling and giggling when tickled but she has never learnt to speak and still has her infant teeth.

But she has also suffered a succession of life-threatening health problems, including strokes, seizures, ulcers and breathing difficulties — almost as if she were growing old despite not growing up.

Howard Greenberg, Brooke's father, said he wanted the genome research carried out in the hope it might help others.

He said: "Brooke is just a wonderful child. She is very pure. She still babbles just like a 6 month old baby but she still communicates and we always know just what she means."

Walker and his colleagues, who are working with Brooke’s parents to ensure she benefits from any research findings, have just published a research paper which suggests that in reality some parts of her body have indeed aged — but slowly and all at different rates.

“Our hypothesis is that she is suffering from damage in the gene or genes that co-ordinate the way the body develops and ages,” he said.

“If we can use her DNA to find that mutant gene then we can test it in laboratory animals to see if we can switch if off and slow down the ageing process at will.

“Just possibly it could give us an opportunity to answer the question of why we are mortal.”

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Capitalism's Triumph Over Slavery

Capitalism & slavery
By Donald J. Boudreaux
Thursday, February 17, 2005
Wrongheaded notions about the economy are always in high supply. Most calamitous was the idea that central planning outperforms the market. The pulverizing poverty and tyranny of the former Soviet Union, North Korea, and similar Workers' Paradises have ended that particular illusion.
Other less disastrous but equally mistaken notions about the economy remain on the loose -- for example, that tariffs promote prosperity.
But the most far-fetched myth that I've encountered recently is that the wealth of the modern Western world, especially that of the United States, is the product of slavery.
I first encountered this notion during a talk I gave in Toronto. I explained to the college-age audience how extraordinarily wealthy all of us are today compared to our preindustrial ancestors. I wanted them to understand the great benefits of capitalism. During the Q-&-A session, a young woman informed me that the wealth we enjoy today is the product of slavery.
At first I thought she was speaking figuratively, as in "workers under capitalism really are slaves." Having heard such an argument before, I was half-expecting it. But no. What she meant is that the modern world's prosperity is the product of the pre-20th-century enslavement of Africans in the Americas.
"But slavery ended in the United States in 1863!" I responded. "Look at all the wealth produced since then -- telephones, automobiles, antibiotics, computers. None was built with slave labor."
She anticipated my response. "Not directly. But the capital that made these innovations possible was extracted from slave labor. The wealth accumulated by slaveholders is what financed the industrialization that makes today's wealth possible."
I looked at her in raw disbelief. (Not a good strategy, by the way, for a public speaker.)
Collecting my thoughts, I pointed out that slavery had been an ever-present institution throughout human history until just about 200 years ago. Why didn't slaveholders of 2,000 years ago in Europe or 500 years ago in Asia accumulate wealth that triggered economic growth comparable to ours? Why is Latin America so much poorer today than the United States, given that the Spaniards and Portuguese who settled that part of the world were enthusiastic slavers? Indeed, the last country in the Americas to abolish slavery was Brazil -- in 1888, a quarter-century after U.S. abolition. By American and western European standards, Brazil remains impoverished.
And why, having abolished slavery decades before their Southern neighbors, were Northern U.S. states wealthier than Southern states before the Civil War?
I don't recall my young challenger's response. I recall only that I was as little convinced by it as she was by my answers.
The fact is that slavery disappeared only as industrial capitalism emerged. And it disappeared first where industrial capitalism appeared first: Great Britain. This was no coincidence. Slavery was destroyed by capitalism.
To begin with, the ethical and political principles that support capitalism are inconsistent with slavery. As we Americans discovered, a belief in the universal dignity of human beings, their equality before the law, and their right to govern their own lives cannot long coexist with an institution that condemns some people to bondage merely because of their identity.
But even on purely economic grounds, capitalism rejects slavery because slaves are productive only when doing very simple tasks that can easily be monitored. It's easy to tell if a slave is moving too slowly when picking cotton. And it's easy to speed him up. Also, there's very little damage he can do if he chooses to sabotage the cotton-picking operation.
Compare a cotton field with a modern factory -- say, the shipyard that my father worked in as a welder until he retired. My dad spent much of his time welding alone inside of narrow pipes. If you owned the shipyard, would you trust a slave to do such welding? While not physically impossible to monitor and check his work, the cost to the shipyard owner of hiring trustworthy slave-masters to shadow each slave each moment of the day would be prohibitively costly. Much better to have contented employees who want their jobs -- who are paid to work and who want to work -- than to operate your expensive, complicated, easily sabotaged factory with slaves.
Finally, the enormous investment unleashed by capitalism dramatically increases the demand for workers. (All those factories and supermarkets must be manned.) Even if each individual factory owner wants to enslave his workers, he doesn't want workers elsewhere to be enslaved, for that makes it more difficult for him to expand his operations. As a group, then, capitalists have little use for slavery.
History supports this truth: Capitalism exterminated slavery.
Donald J. Boudreaux can be reached at or .

Monday, July 12, 2010

Broken Window Fallacy

Flood damage from NAS Millington.  Someone's going to get paid to replace these goods, businesses will  profit, workers will remain employed - but it's not a good thing.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The few countries that continued to gain on us were either more aggressive reformers (Chile and Britain), or were developing countries that adopted the world's most capitalist model. (According to every survey I have seen HK and Singapore are the top two in economic freedom.)
Chile is the most famous Latin American example of neoliberal reforms. Note how in 1980 they were barely half as rich as their neighbor Argentina, and are now a bit richer. Almost every serious development economist attributes their relative success to their neoliberal reforms.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

FBI Data Again Shows More Guns = Less Crime

However, on Monday the FBI released crime statistics <>  that should cause the applauding anti-gunners to sit on their hands. The statistics indicate that between 2008 and 2009, as gun sales soared, the number of murders in our country decreased 7.2 percent.  That amounts to about an 8.2 percent decrease in the per capita murder rate, after the increase in our nation's legal and illegal population is taken into account. And it translates into about a 10.5 percent decrease in the murder rate between 2004, when the ban expired, and the end of 2009. And finally, it means that in 2009 our nation's murder rate fell to a 45-year low.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Classic Quotes, British SAS

"Who dares, wins."  British Special Air Service

Courtesy my good friend, Mr. Randall Anderson

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Explanation for Morons
"Dunning and Kruger argued in their paper, “When people are incompetent in the strategies they adopt to achieve success and satisfaction, they suffer a dual burden: Not only do they reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the ability to realize it.  Instead, like Mr. Wheeler, they are left with the erroneous impression they are doing just fine.”
It became known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect — our incompetence masks our ability to recognize our incompetence.
There have been many psychological studies that tell us what we see and what we hear is shaped by our preferences, our wishes, our fears, our desires and so forth.  We literally see the world the way we want to see it.  But the Dunning-Kruger effect suggests that there is a problem beyond that.  Even if you are just the most honest, impartial person that you could be, you would still have a problem — namely, when your knowledge or expertise is imperfect, you really don’t know it.  Left to your own devices, you just don’t know it.   We’re not very good at knowing what we don’t know.
ERROL MORRIS:  Knowing what you don’t know?  Is this supposedly the hallmark of an intelligent person?
DAVID DUNNING:  That’s absolutely right.  It’s knowing that there are things you don’t know that you don’t know. [4] Donald Rumsfeld gave this speech about “unknown unknowns.”  It goes something like this: “There are things we know we know about terrorism.  There are things we know we don’t know.  And there are things that are unknown unknowns.  We don’t know that we don’t know.”  He got a lot of grief for that.  And I thought, “That’s the smartest and most modest thing I’ve heard in a year.”
David Dunning, in his book “Self-Insight,” calls the Dunning-Kruger Effect “the anosognosia of everyday life.”[10] When I first heard the word “anosognosia,” I had to look it up.  Here’s one definition: Anosognosia is a condition in which a person who suffers from a disability seems unaware of or denies the existence of his or her disability. [11]  Dunning‘s juxtaposition of anosognosia with everyday life is a surprising and suggestive turn of phrase.  After all, anosognosia comes originally from the world of neurology and is the name of a specific neurological disorder.
DAVID DUNNING:  An anosognosic patient who is paralyzed simply does not know that he is paralyzed.  If you put a pencil in front of them and ask them to pick up the pencil in front of their left hand they won’t do it.  And you ask them why, and they’ll say, “Well, I’m tired,” or “I don’t need a pencil.”  They literally aren’t alerted to their own paralysis.  There is some monitoring system on the right side of the brain that has been damaged, as well as the damage that’s related to the paralysis on the left side.  There is also something similar called “hemispatial neglect.”  It has to do with a kind of brain damage where people literally cannot see or they can’t pay attention to one side of their environment.  If they’re men, they literally only shave one half of their face.  And they’re not aware about the other half.  If you put food in front of them, they’ll eat half of what’s on the plate and then complain that there’s too little food.  You could think of the Dunning-Kruger Effect as a psychological version of this physiological problem. If you have, for lack of a better term, damage to your expertise or imperfection in your knowledge or skill, you’re left literally not knowing that you have that damage.  It was an analogy for us.[12]
This brings us in this next section to Joseph Babinski (1857-1932), the neurologist who gave anosognosia its name."  

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Sugar Tax - It's Good, It's Bad

New Yorkers Brace for Double Tax on Sugared Beverages

This is exquisitely well put.

Stand by for more of these kinds of taxes.  When 'government' is paying for health care, nothing will restrain those in charge of it from trying to assert their will on our health related behavior, regardless of how little they understand about health.

That said - I hope it makes folks drink less sugar.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Classic Quotes, Penn

"There can be no friendship where there is no freedom. Friendship loves a free air, and will not be fenced up in straight and narrow enclosures."
- William Penn

Found at

Is It Still About Freedom?

Or do we no longer have the capacity to appreciate what that word means?

"Freedom Day
Posted: 03 Jul 2010 01:24 PM PDT
Here's a letter to the Washington Times:
Claire Gillen's review of Leo Damrosch's Tocqueville's Discovery of America <> is superb ("When the aristocrat met democracy <> ," July 3).
With government now bossing us about as never before in personal matters - "Buy health insurance!" "'Contribute' to a government-run pension scheme!" "Eat less salt!" "Don't smoke pot!" "Click It or Ticket!" "You may not use a credit card that Uncle Sam believes charges you too much!" - Tocqueville's relevance remains intense. This astute Frenchman asked "How can a populace unaccustomed to freedom in small concerns learn to use it temperately in great affairs?"*
Great question. The nanny state might never become brutal, but - unless people learn to cherish freedom and accept responsibility - it is destined to become increasingly intrusive, controlling, and debilitating. Vibrant freedom will be displaced by bleak conformity, officiously enforced. And the spirit of '76 will finally have died.
Donald J. Boudreaux
* Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America <> , trans. by Henry Reeve (Alfred A. Knopf, 1980 [1835 & 1840], p. 95.
And in celebration of tomorrow, I share this second quotation from Tocqueville; it's from page 70 of the above edition of Democracy in America: "The Revolution of the United States was the result of a mature and reflecting preference for freedom and not of a vague or ill-defined craving for independence."
Happy Freedom Day, my fellow Americans!"

Where Do We Get Such Men


"The Political Animal
Posted: 28 Jun 2010 07:39 AM PDT
Here's a letter to DC news-radio station WTOP:
In this morning's 6 am hour, your Capitol Hill reporter, Dave McConnell, excused Sen. Robert Byrd's long-ago active membership in the KKK as simply being "something that had to be done in West Virginia back then to get ahead in politics."
No doubt. But what does it say about Mr. Byrd that he willingly championed reprehensible ideals just "to get ahead in politics"? And what does it say about politics that it attracts men and women, such as Mr. Byrd, who will sell their soul to the devil in exchange for the tawdry glory of winning elected office?
Donald J. Boudreaux
Apropos is this fabulously funny and spot-on spoof of the typical politician <> ."

This Kind of Insight Is Essential To Understand HOW THINGS WORK

Open Letter to the Head of Boeing
Posted: 25 Jun 2010 03:23 AM PDT
Mr. W. James McNerney, Jr.
Chairman, President, and CEO
The Boeing Co.
Dear Mr. McNerney:
One of your company's radio ads proclaims that an advantage of Boeing's NewGen tanker over Airbus's rival product is that, being made in America, the NewGen tanker creates lots of jobs for Americans. But your ad also boasts that the NewGen tanker costs less to own and operate than does Airbus's tanker.
If you honestly believe that using lots of labor to produce a product is a benefit bestowed on society by that product, why do you brag about your tanker's lower cost? After all, producing the NewGen at the lowest possible cost - that is, efficiently - means that you don't employ as many workers as you would if you produced the NewGen inefficiently.
Suppose, for example, that you banned computers from Boeing's offices and factories. This policy would oblige you to hire many more workers to perform nearly all tasks from aircraft design to managing the weekly payroll. You could then boast of even more American jobs being created by the NewGen tanker. But would this result be something to celebrate?
Or ask the following question: if a brilliant inventor devised a means of producing each of these planes at a cost of $50, and using a mere one hour of modestly skilled labor, would that invention be good or bad for the economy?
Donald J. Boudreaux

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Peggy Noonan on the Declaration

"The second paragraph will, literally, live forever in the history of man. It still catches the throat:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.""

Happy Fourth of July!

What does the fourth mean to you?  

For me it is a chance to mark an incredible event - a group of people chose an incredible idealistic goal, and succeeded.  They shed a tyrant and replaced him with a document that states we are all entitled, by virtue of being created, to the same liberty and privilege under the law.   In fact, they defined the purpose of law as the service of liberty - mine and yours.  They struggled mightily and devised a government large enough to defend us from a foreign invader, while confining our protector (that same Federal Government), to a very small entity.

They Founders, remarkable mainly for their intelligence and role in a critical moment in history, knew that it would be difficult to make a government large enough to be useful in the national defense but constrained enough that it would not become a threat to individual liberty - and they were right.  But in spite of the many offenses to liberty that our government has and does practice, we Americans enjoy more liberty than virtually every other nation's citizenry.

Our choice to pursue a life not constrained by poor food quality or physical frailty is a luxury not to be taken for granted.  Today, I'll celebrate the circumstances that have allowed me to live as I do.  

Friday, July 2, 2010

Classic Quotes, Glassman

"Also, and notwithstanding the preachings of the AGW crowd, science has nothing to do with majority opinions or consensuses. Science advances as models prove more and more reliable at making predictions. When a model makes a nontrivial prediction that proves out, it becomes a theory. When science has exhausted the implications of a model, and every embedded prediction has been validated, the model becomes a law. The rule in science is that at one time only one man knew or suspected the ultimate power of his model."
Comment #484 - Posted by: Jeff Glassman at September 6, 2008 6:42 PM

Stealth Supply Sider

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared recently at the Brookings Institution, "The rich are not paying their fair share."
She then went on to praise Brazil as the tax holy grail for the rest of the world: "Brazil has the highest tax-to-GDP rate in the Western Hemisphere and guess what-it's growing like crazy." At first blush those kinds of words must make her neosocialist boss, President Obama, jump for joy. But is the secretary of state actually a supply-side subversive?
View Full Image
Associated Press

Hillary Clinton
Take a look at Brazil's income tax rates-they are lower than ours. The highest rate is a mere 27.5%, far below our top federal rate of 35%, which, given the complexity of our tax code, is actually closer to 38%. Moreover, that exaction will climb to almost 43% come January.
Isn't Brazil's success an example of what Ronald Reagan and other tax cutters have always claimed: Lower rates generate more economic activity, which, in turn, generates more government revenue?
Sadly, for our beleaguered economy, Hillary Clinton and her staff had no idea that Brazil's income tax rate on the rich is slightly lower than that levied even in Ronald Reagan's heyday (28%), a rate Bill Clinton railed against when he was running for the White House.
Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Obama and the rest of the administration don't grasp that the top 1% of income earners in the U.S. already pay about 40% of federal income tax receipts, and the top 5% pay some 60%. When President Reagan took office the top tax rate was 70%, with the highest income earners paying a mere 18% of federal income tax receipts. By the time Reagan had whacked the top rate down to 28%, the proportion paid by the rich had soared to well over 30%.
Brazil's Mantega: Economic Recovery Approach Risky Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Obama and their friends also have no conception of capital creation. Low tax rates encourage people to take risks on new businesses, products and services. While most of these fail, the handful that succeed generate vast amounts in new assets.
Take the current stock market hottie, Apple. Before its dazzling train of iPods, iPhones and iPads, Apple was on the verge of extinction. Today the company is worth more than $240 billion, and Steve Jobs is high on the Forbes rich list. As a result, the government has collected billions of dollars in taxes on capital gains, corporate taxes and other levies, as well as on the profits from all of Apple's vendors. AT&T, for example, has been an enormous beneficiary of Apple's technology, as its network is the exclusive provider for the iPhone and iPad.
Clinton/Obama statists will never grasp the truth that those who create wealth will almost always reinvest it far more productively than government bureaucrats. Bill and Melinda Gates have established a foundation with assets of $35 billion. Does anyone really believe that money would do the world more good if it were put in the hands of the bloated bureaucracies of the Department of Health & Human Services or the Department of Housing and Urban Development?
Fortunately, while this administration will never understand the dazzling, opportunity-creating dynamics of genuine free markets, the American people still do.
Mr. Forbes is CEO of Forbes Media and co-author of "How Capitalism Will Save Us: Why Free People and Free Markets Are the Best Answer in Today's Economy" (Crown Business, 2009).

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Cost Benefit, but No Purity

That Which Has Costs Often Has Benefits
Posted: 26 Jun 2010 07:55 PM PDT
Here's a letter to the Washington Post:
Deborah Hahn writes: "Until the damaged BP well in the Gulf of Mexico is capped, please publish daily a front-page picture of wildlife covered in oil, in misery, dying, unable to be cleaned" (Letters <> , June 26). Ms. Hahn believes that "such pictures are needed to educate the public" about the "horrors of what oil accidents do to our fellow creatures."
Oil accidents are indeed horrible. But they are the very visible downside of a product with an enormous upside - an upside so important and ubiquitous that, ironically, it has become invisible. It is to us as water is to fish.
So an even greater danger now is an economy polluted by a gusher of panic-driven crude legislation. To counter this danger, please also publish daily a picture of oil's neglected benefits - such as people still alive because of pharmaceuticals and medical devices; men and women healthy because dangerous bacteria were killed by ammonia or kept contained by plastics; children and grandparents smiling because they're able to visit each other having driven over roads made of asphalt or flown in airplanes powered by aviation fuel; your readers enjoying your paper (printed with ink!) because they wear eye'glasses' made of plexiglass.
What really needs more media attention are the many marvels that, because they are so common, are taken for granted.
Donald J. Boudreaux