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

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.”"

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, ( "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 <> ,” 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 <> ” – 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
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 <> ," 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
"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 . 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
"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 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; (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
"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," 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
"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," 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
"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," 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."

Q: Who Killed the Electric Car?

A:  All those finicky consumers who don't want to pay for a worthless vehicle.
Aside from the fact that electric cars are not nearly as 'green' as they are purported to be (post coming on that later this week), the real problem with them is they will not provide consumers with what they want at a price they are willing to pay.  I have not seen the movie but I gather from passionate friends that the idea is circulating that some entity 'killed' the electric car in order to preserve the gasoline burning engine's position in the marketplace. 
First off, that's ridiculous on its face because there's STILL no electric that will compete for virtually any niche in the auto market!  The price/performance tradeoffs are huge - and that's even if you ignore the painful reality that at some point - 3 to 5 years of driving later - you'll be stuck with an old electric car with a dead battery which will require many thousands of dollars to replace.  Old gasoline cars may be ugly and less reliable, but they don't generally become worthless overnight due to aging parts. 
Secondly, capitalism needn't head off competition by "killing".  GM and others are showing now how much they believe a good electric car will make.  They bet big (on the equivalent of an inside strait) that the battery technology would mature fast enough that they could bring the Volt to market and profit thereby (if they took this kind of risk with capital for any other reason, they are even more retarded at GM than we generally believe them to be).  Capitalists make money by their expertise.  The electric car is not a threat to a well run, well funded gasoline auto manufacturer - nor to an oil company - it is another opportunity by which to apply their expertise in transforming stuff that's worth relatively little - steel, copper, rubber, aluminum, vynil, leather, chrome, etc) into something that's worth A LOT MORE.  A LOT MORE is a technical term that in this case means "enough money to pay employees, manufacturing overhead, taxes, legal expenses, etc, and still make a hefty profit" but which customers are willing to pay.  There's rub for the electric car.  It was true when "Who Killed the Electric Car" was made, as it is now.

Excerpts from above linked article:
"Government Motors' all-electric car isn't all-electric and doesn't get near the touted hundreds of miles per gallon. Like "shovel-ready" jobs, maybe there's no such thing as "plug-ready" cars either.
"The Chevy Volt, hailed by the Obama administration as the electric savior of the auto industry and the planet, makes its debut in showrooms next month, but it's already being rolled out for test drives by journalists. It appears we're all being taken for a ride.
"Advertised as an all-electric car that could drive 50 miles on its lithium battery, GM addressed concerns about where you plug the thing in en route to grandma's house by adding a small gasoline engine to help maintain the charge on the battery as it starts to run down. It was still an electric car, we were told, and not a hybrid on steroids.
"That's not quite true. The gasoline engine has been found to be more than a range-extender for the battery. Volt engineers are now admitting that when the vehicle's lithium-ion battery pack runs down and at speeds near or above 70 mph, the Volt's gasoline engine will directly drive the front wheels along with the electric motors.
"So it's not an all-electric car, but rather a pricey $41,000 hybrid that requires a taxpayer-funded $7,500 subsidy to get car shoppers to look at it.
"Popular Mechanics found the Volt to get about 37.5 mpg in city driving, and Motor Trend reports: "Without any plugging in, (a weeklong trip to Grandma's house) should return fuel economy in the high 30s to low 40s."
"Car and Driver reported that "getting on the nearest highway and commuting with the 80-mph flow of traffic — basically the worst-case scenario — yielded 26 miles; a fairly spirited backroad loop netted 31; and a carefully modulated cruise below 60 mph pushed the figure into the upper 30s."
"This is what happens when government picks winners and losers in the marketplace and tries to run a business. We are not told that we will be dependent on foreign sources like Bolivia for the lithium to be used in these batteries. Nor are we told about the possible dangers to rescuers and occupants in an accident scenario.
"In 2008, candidate Obama pledged to put 1 million plug-in vehicles on the road by 2015. Not likely. It was a tough sell when we thought it was all-electric and could get 230 mpg. It will be a tougher sell now that we find it's a glorified Prius with the price tag of a BMW that seats only four because of a battery that runs down the center of the car."

No one had to "kill" the electric car - as the author points out, like the Edsel it was and is a bad idea and perhaps being badly executed as well. 

I remain hopeful the technoogy matures, and the electrical power sources to support electric cars evolve, and the sooner the better.

Harsanyi - "Bitter Clinger" Perspective
"Many of my more enlightened friends like to ask me: How could someone as intellectually gifted, delightfully urbane, profoundly moral and breathlessly handsome [as you] not want to spit at these stupid Tea Party candidates with their stupid positions and their stupid stupidity?"

"Do I wish that Colorado senatorial candidate Ken Buck hadn't declared that being gay was a choice (as if there's something wrong with choosing to be gay)? Yes. Do I wish he hadn't followed up by comparing a gay genetic predisposition with alcoholism? I do. If you were brainy enough to watch "Meet the Press" instead of wasting time in church last Sunday, no doubt you cringed at this primitive lunacy."

--Note from Apolloswabbie to aspiring politicians, if asked this question, answer with the obvious:  "Look I'm a politician.  What I believe about genetics is irrelevant.  Ask me what I think about the Constitution and individual rights.  Specifically, does the Constitution afford extra rights, or specify fewer individual rights, due to genetic variation?"
Harsanyi continues:  "After all, what's more consequential than a faux pas about nature and/or nurture? Who cares that Democrat Michael Bennet was busy moralizing about the cosmic benefits of dubious economic theory and science fiction environmentalism — ideas that have already cost us trillions with nothing to show for it?
"Just as long as we stay focused on what's important, right? We're so easily distracted.
"Those who believe being gay is a choice are Neanderthals. The enlightened trust science. That's why the president appointed a science czar, people. A science czar who co-authored a textbook arguing for mass sterilizing of Americans to prevent an imagined population bomb. You know, "science.""
--Government is to science what human fertility is to pure thought (Caveat - that's assuming you interpret lust as impurity, in the context of human reproduction, it could be considered with gluttony and thirst as the only pure thoughts)

Harsanyi:  "God has no place in this faith. That's not to say that Yahweh has anything on our president, who once claimed future generations would see his election — Goliath government — as the point in history where we finally started "healing the sick" and "the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal . . . ."
"Now, that's the kind of faith-inflected lingo we slack-jawed yokels can comprehend. Otherwise, the left's plans are just too darn complex for us to appreciate."
--I can't figure out why anyone's disenchanted with the President, can you?  Certainly not because he built over-much expectation for his Presidency ... But on that topic, I could almost imagine how people would believe that he thought he could slow the rise of the oceans and 'heal' the planet, but how did they ever buy the one about changing fundamentally the way polics and government are done?!? 

Harsanyi:  ""Part of the reason that our politics seems so tough right now," Obama recently explained, "and facts and science and argument [do] not seem to be winning the day all the time is because we're hard-wired not to always think clearly when we're scared. And the country is scared.""
--The implication being that we WERE thinking clearly and using facts and science two years ago when we selected him ... holy patronization Batman. 
Mr. President, I think what a lot of people are scared of is more government intervention.

I think I can understand The President's frustration (and to be clear, I don't mean in this discussion to display any personal disrespect).  The Candidate told everyone what he was about - his candidacy was an advocacy of time honored liberal tenets which have all been advocated by liberals since at least FDR, if not before.  Certainly he espoused his support for the 'positive rights' which should be added to the Constitution (that is to say, making it a right of one person to have something which government takes from another person, such as medical care or a place to live).  He espoused an energy policy that was first articulated well by President Carter.  He espoused government intervention in virtually every arena under discussion.  He espoused consistent, across the board support of that Federal government supported entity ("unions") which allow one group (those in the union) a coercive government monopoly on employment with their employer.  And, he said he would fundamentally change politics, eliminating things like conflicts of interest, partisanship, earmarks, lobbiests employed by those elected to represent the People, etc.  He even added his intent to be fiscally responsible.  In his mind, everything he's done since then was something he said he would do. 
The problem, as best I can tell, is that many of the folks who voted for him heard something entirely different than what he was saying.  They didn't hear him saying "I'm going to do this like every liberal has wanted it done for 80 years."  They thought he was something that he was not.  They were confused, and I assume, heard what they wanted to hear because of the Candidate's considerable charm.  Now, they are not charmed.  They can see him for what he is, which is someone that believes in a lot more government intervention and power than they do.  They no longer support him.  The President cannot be blamed for that, but probably feels blamed for that.  If I were in his shoes and something like this happened to me, I would be very frustrated.  Perhaps I would blame it on something like a conditional irrationality and a sudden distaste for science amongst the masses. 
I wonder how good one would have to be as a politician to follow the advice of 'under promise and over deliver' but still get elected in the first place.

Soaked In It
This author is so soaked in 'governmentalism' that he can't see the incredible contradictions in what he's writing - he essentially is saying 'we know what works and it's all of our faults that we have not fixed this before by putting the needs of children ahead of the needs of adults.' As if that's possible through government ... Government is the process of using legal coercive power, and it is only justified when that coercive force is used to defend the rights of individuals. With public schools, the government's monopoly on force is used to extract wealth from citizens, and is then distributed to various political entities in order to sustain the status quo the politicians desire. We get a school that is directed according to political whim and near zero accountability, subject to political correctness and feel good logic, and it's amazing any of these schools work or that any good teachers are willing to remain (or enter) such a system - and to those of you who do, thank the heavens (my daughter is in public school this year and her teacher is a treasure).
Political institutions exist to serve political needs, which does not unfortunately include creating excellence in anything - but if Mr. Friedman sees a wave of school performance coming, I hope he's right. There's a first time for everything.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Job Killers
These were the top five from this article.  So how does the government help the economy?  Get the heck out of the way!
"1.      Uncertainty and business: What you don’t know can (and does) hurt you.  Businesses plan around rules.  And they are unlikely to invest if they can’t be reasonably sure about what the rules will be.  When things are uncertain, businesses hold back cash to protect themselves—and this kills jobs. My colleague Allan Meltzer has made this point in two recent WSJ op-eds: “High uncertainty is the enemy of investment and growth,” he declares in one.  “The most important restriction on investment today is not tight monetary policy, but uncertainty about administration policy,” he argues in the other.
"2.      Uncertainty and the consumer: Uncertainty isn’t just bad for companies—it’s bad for consumers, too. If I think government policy may provoke a double dip in the economy and my job is on the line, there’s no way I’m going out to buy a new car.  For that matter, even the possibility of a huge gas tax would make me less likely to make a car purchase decision. All this kills jobs.
"3.      High corporate taxes: Americans are shocked to learn that we have some of the highest corporate taxes in the world.  In fact, Japan is the only developed country with a higher corporate tax rate than the United States. Whether we like it or not, the corporate tax is a tax on jobs. It makes it more expensive for firms to function, which costs jobs. But even worse, it drives companies to find more tax-friendly environments in other countries.
"4.      Unhealthy health insurance costs: The high health insurance costs associated with hiring new workers hits small businesses particularly hard, according to AEI economist Aparna Mathur. Government health mandates specify exactly what kinds of coverage have to be included in insurance policies.  This makes increasing headcount a costly exercise, and so kills jobs. One major CEO told me recently that his hiring was stunted by the new mandate to cover workers’ kids up to age 26.
"5.      The threat of unionization: In a global economy, it’s fairly simple for a lot of firms to avoid unionization: They can move overseas and take their jobs with them. Policies that favor unions make this decision more attractive."

Read more at the Washington Examiner:

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

How To Stagflate

"They announced this with a seemingly innocuous statement: that they'd keep their current level of debt at about $2 trillion. In Fed-speak this means they're clearly worried about the sinking economy, and that they'll print as much fiat money as they think is necessary to increase the money supply to induce inflation.
"In economic terms, buying Treasury debt is called "monetizing" debt. In plain English it means that the government prints money to pay for its debts. This policy has been the downfall of many governments who destroy their currency through hyperinflation.
"As soon as unemployment starts to go up again, and I believe it will, the politicians will be all over the Fed to "do something." That "something" will be massive QE. I'm quite sure that the Fed hasn't figured out how much QE they'll need, and that they're unsure of its impact on the economy.
"I have a pretty good idea of where it will all end up. Since they're not dealing with the underlying problems, this papering over of the problems will lead to inflation and economic stagnation, a phenomenon we saw in the 1970s called "stagflation.""

A little dated but interesting.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Making Sense of the Tea Partiers
I think for those who can't sort these folk out, they can't quite get their hands around the idea that many Americans really don't trust the government.  The feeling amonst the liberal believers was they had finallly found the man who bring the centrists over to the liberal/big government side.  They thought the triumph of President Obama was in seducing the many to another perspective.  And why wouldn't they believe that - it would be easier to believe that than to believe the truth.  The truth is that most of the middle did not understand, could not or would not believe, how far to the left then candidate Obama was.  At the time, that's what puzzled me.  He was clearly proclaiming what now seems obvious, but folks ignored it.  Maybe they had to ignore it because the alternative was a candidate not even the GOP wanted. 

The Presidency is a job that would be so distasteful to any 'normal' person that I don't think anyone that we should want to vote for will ever be a realistic candidate. 

"Please elect me so that I can not have a personal life, I can be criticized soundly for those things completely out of my control, I can be presented with problems for which there is no solution (but I'm still supposed to act like I think there is a solution), and I can age 8-12 years years in the first four that I'm in office." 

Such a deal.
"Posted: 17 Oct 2010 07:14 AM PDT

"Here’s a letter to the New York Times:

      "Explaining the political necessity that many Democrats feel to publicly denounce House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – and conceding that these denunciations will cause problems for Democrats in the next Congress – Democratic political strategist Mark Mellman says “But more people are concerned about winning than about whatever post-election problems we might have” (“Pelosi Renounced by Candidates in Her Own Party <> ,” Oct. 16).

      "I admire Mr. Mellman’s honesty.  Public-choice <>  scholars, such as my (now-retired) George Mason University colleagues James Buchanan <>  and Gordon Tullock <> , have long argued that politicians’ vision never extends beyond the next election.  The consequence of this political myopia is that, contrary to popular myth, government is not uniquely concerned with the future; instead, politicians too frequently sacrifice the public’s long-run welfare in exchange for the cheap and irresponsible thrill of immediate victory at the polls.

      Donald J. Boudreaux"

Classic Quotes, Coolidge

"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence and determination."
- Calvin Coolidge

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Think Small and Throw Mud
I long ago realized this author is a good reporter but nothing special as a thinker - his thought process on everything seems to revolve around his desire that government take other peoples' money and spend it according to his ideals.  And why not?  It's not his money.

In this piece, he points to a process by which a few million, adding up to a billion over time, might be flung at the idea of accelerated science and technology development mills.  Who knows, perhaps this kind of government inspired do-gooder stuff would work - it hasn't very often, the sterling example being the government funded project to map the human genome, which was totally outclassed in both cost and efficacy by private sector efforts - but there's simply no real reason for optimism on this front.  If it was as simple as throwing money at projects, we'd all be eating bon bons right now.  Does he think no one's come up with this idea before? 

Interestingly, he throws a dart at the Tea Party movement - "Welcome to Tea Party America. Think small and carry a big ego."  This is totally unrelated to the rest of the article, and seems to have been inserted only as red meat to the author's sense of his audience - those who love all the big government ideas that the author seems to enchanted by.  Apparently, he thinks the Tea Party has 59 seats in the Senate, a majority in the House and also holds the office of the Presidency, thus the Tea Party's death grip on the US budget.

The obviously goofy part of all this is that there are plenty of entities besides the government who could throw a billion dollars at a project like the ones described IF THERE WAS ANY REASON TO THINK IT WOULD WORK.  The author has some sort of blinders on about where technological advancement comes from and who pays for it and why.  They had one of these types of deals in the 1950s to develop alternatives to oil.  The fact that the project failed doesn't mean every subsequent one would fail, but what basis is there to believe that this round of government backed investment would work when there are so few examples of government's success in determining when to invest what amount of money in which things?  I'd be willing to argue that the government's take over of the financing of science is the biggest brake on success in scientific research we've seen in our life times - because ultimately government only acts due to political imperative.  What we see in drug research, AGW research, health and weight loss research, is that once the inner circle is formed of like minded researchers, the research that gets funded is the research which tends to validate the significance and agenda of that inner circle.  "Squirrels begat squirrels." 
Supposedly, corporations are beholden to the almighty dollar and are corrupted by greed.  As if politicians and their sycophants aren't?  Greed is the constant - what mitigates greed is the incentive to cooperate to get satisfaction.  When we can satisfy our greed through coercion, all bets are off.
Government of course has but one tool - coercion.  Businesses, unless or until they can enlist the government to stave off the competition (e.g. Sherman Anti Trust and similar law), succeed via their mastery of cooperative arrangements.  This does not create utopia, but the outcome is far better than what is created by coercion. 
So the author blithely discuss his frustrations with the Tea Party while chatting up foreign leaders.  Perhaps that's the sort of thing he's best at, and apparently he can out earn most of by these pursuits.  I remain uninspired by his love of state control over everything that matters, and his generally small or silly ideas which he champions as if they were something else. If government were so wise and competent, it wouldn't need advice from the likes of him.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Balancing the Budget by Doing Nothing
Pretty simple - do nothing and the budget balances in 5 to 7 years.  Incredble if true.

Good Thing We've Purged Our Xenophobia

"In other words, when Obama said "one of the largest groups paying for these ads regularly takes in money from foreign sources," he was not implying any connection between the ads and the money. He was just stringing sounds together randomly."

Shooting Fish in the Proverbial Barrel and Yanking Sheep Skins (all in one post)

"But what nobody seems to be asking is: Why are important projects now unaffordable? Decades ago, when the federal and state governments were much smaller, they had the means to undertake gigantic new projects, like the Interstate Highway System and the space program. But now, when governments are bigger, they don’t.
"The answer is what Jonathan Rauch of the National Journal once called demosclerosis. Over the past few decades, governments have become entwined in a series of arrangements that drain money from productive uses and direct it toward unproductive ones. "

You mean to say that there's not a bottomless well of money that will allow government, without consequence, to alleviate all who suffer? 

Yes, I know it's too easy to make fun of government, and not that interesting.  Here are some of the numbers that reflect what will inevitably happen when we allow governments to try to do things like "promote future prosperity".

"New Jersey can’t afford to build its tunnel, but benefits packages for the state’s employees are 41 percent more expensive than those offered by the average Fortune 500 company. These benefits costs are rising by 16 percent a year.
"New York City has to strain to finance its schools but must support 10,000 former cops who have retired before age 50.
"California can’t afford new water projects, but state cops often receive 90 percent of their salaries when they retire at 50. The average corrections officer there makes $70,000 a year in base salary and $100,000 with overtime (California spends more on its prison system than on its schools).
"States across the nation will be paralyzed for the rest of our lives because they face unfunded pension obligations that, if counted accurately, amount to $2 trillion — or $87,000 per plan participant.
All in all, governments can’t promote future prosperity because they are strangling on their own self-indulgence."
With all of the money governments have spent promoting future prosperity, and that is trillions, and given the fact that there's greater prosperity where there is relatively less government, how long until we collectively yank the sheep's clothing off of that wolf?

On A Mission From God

"McDonald's may get a waiver, but I like the Cato Institute's Michael Cannon's take on that: "Sorry, but I don't find it comforting that Obamacare gives HHS the power to waive these regulations on a case-by-case basis. Power corrupts. We've already seen HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius use other powers granted her by Obamacare to threaten insurers who contradict the party line."
In a letter to the trade group America's Health Insurance Plans, Sebelius wrote there would be "zero tolerance" for companies that attribute "unjustified rate increases" to Obamacare. "Simply stated," she wrote, "we will not stand idly by as insurers blame their premium hikes and increased profits on the requirement that they provide consumers with basic protections."
In other words: "We have repealed the basic laws of economics. Insurance companies must now give people more but not charge them for it. If you do charge more, you must not tell your customers why. Shut up, obey, and don't complain. We are your rulers.""

Hey John, don't you understand?  They are on a mission from God, they can repeal economics because they are doing GOOD!  You should just stand back and let them act on their good intentions, don't be so damned selfish about your liberty!

It's Getting Warmer, It MUST Be Our Fault

"Globally, 2010 is on track to be the warmest year on record. In regions around the world, indications abound that earth's climate is quickly changing, like the devastating mudslides in China and weeks of searing heat in Russia. But in the world's capitals, movement on climate policy has nearly stopped."

Is there any evidence a climate policy could effect, even a slight amount, AGW?
With all of the information about how dodgy the science of calculating global temperature is, do we really know it is warmer than ever?  Think for a moment about the logistical challenge of measuring planetary temperatures over the necessary periods of time - gear changes, observers change, gear degrades and some is replaced while other gear is not, parking lots are built at the measuring stations, etc.  The margin of error exceeds the stated rate of temperature change.
By what means can we be sure that warming is worse than cooling?  Is the earth now at some magically perfect temperature, such that any deviation is going to cause a disaster?
What would it take to change the warming IF it was our fault?  There's nothing I've seen to indicate this is possible short of a catastrophic reduction in human population.
"Democrats in the Senate decided last month that they wouldn't push for approval of a climate bill."  This author makes this statement with the assumption that a climate bill would do something we need it to do - but the author must know the climate bill in question is largely symbolic and would accomplish so little the effect would never be measured.  The author doesn't care about that - the author is invested in the "must do something, anything, no matter the cost, to start reversing the trends" mentality.  This mindset will render us to a level of fiscal impotence that we will lose the ability to even think about changing to a non-carbon based energy system.
"Scientists aren't sure what will happen when a significant portion of the Arctic Ocean changes from white, sunlight-reflecting ice to dark, sunlight-absorbing open water." Aren't certain. Really. No kidding. As if they are certain about anything as regards AGW. If they are, it would not matter any more than their lack of certainty. They can prove nothing.  Science isn't about whether a scientist feels certain.  Science is about models which demonstrate accurate predictions - of which there are none now. 

"That's the key lesson of the recent financial crisis: when powerful special interests have convinced much of the public that what they're doing isn't dangerous, only a disaster that discredits those interests will provide an opportunity for comprehensive policy change like the Dodd-Frank financial regulations."
IOW, if you want people to lie down and let their government take control of their freedom, you have to scare the pants off of them with powerful special interests who will then have the government concoct a law that ensures all ends well for everyone but the tax payers.  Re-phrased:  "That's the key lesson of the recent financial crisis:  when powerful special interests convince much of the public that liberty is dangerous and results in uncertainty, it creates the opportunity for comprehensive policy changes like "Obamacare" which reduces freedom and subjects the entire populace to the irrationality of government run bureacracy."
"The limited slack in the world's food system, particularly its grain production, can amplify the effects of disruptions. Remember that two years ago, when higher oil prices encouraged farmers to shift enormous tracts of cropland from grain to biofuel production, grain prices quickly doubled or tripled. Violence erupted in dozens of countries."
Another laugher. What motivated farmers to shift production was the government incentives to grow corn for ethanol.  The author is so baked in collectivism, the failures of government are ignored, the limitations manifest in government's ability to exceed any motivation but the political are ignored.  The opportunity for liberty to create incentives for cooperation is ignored, while the sin of coercion, inherent in every government action is ignored.  The entire mindset is shaped by the assumption that government CAN do good, that politicians' motivation exceeds the necessity of their own re-election, and that government is justified in doing good at the expense of liberty.  They deeply believe in the power of coercion to create the outcomes they want "if only we could get the right tyrants in office to force everyone else to do things the way we want them done!"  The Greeks called it hubris when men assumed they could interfere in the work of the gods.  The term nowadays is Progressive.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Mencken Never Fails to Entertain

"he accomplished with a great deal more skill than they did themselves the great task of reducing all the difficulties of the hour to a few sonorous and unintelligible phrases, often with theological overtones – that he knew better than they did how to arrest and enchant the boobery with words that were simply words, and nothing else.  The vulgar like and respect that sort of balderdash.  A discourse packed with valid ideas, accurately expressed, is quite incomprehensible to them.  What they want is the sough of vague and comforting words – words cast into phrases made familiar to them by the whooping of their customary political and ecclesiastical rabble-rousers, and by the highfalutin style of the newspapers that they read.  Woodrow knew how to conjure up such words.  He knew how to make them glow, and weep.  He wasted no time upon the heads of his dupes, but aimed directly at their ears, diaphragms and hearts."  As Cafe Hayek put it, "A true progressive."

Most Corrupting Source

"Instead, Mr. Obama overlooks the most corrupting source of campaign funds: innocent taxpayers.  Because the typical political campaign is a series of promises to give to A what is taken from B, the most disturbing aspect of political campaigns is not the nationalities of people who voluntarily contribute their own money to help their favorite candidates. It is, instead, the use of money ‘contributed’ involuntarily by B to help C buy the vote of A."

Hate To Depend Upon Politicians, But ...
This looks like a set of no lose propositions. If only republicans weren't politicians, I would almost feel hopeful ...

Here are six key strategies that a Republican Congress could employ to put on the brakes:
Defund it. House Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio has vowed to choke off funding for implementation of the legislation, starting with parts that are especially egregious such as the "army of new IRS agents" needed to police compliance.
While Republicans could target the most damaging provisions of the legislation and tie their defunding measures to appropriations legislation that the president wants and needs to sign, they'd better be ready for battles. When former House Speaker Newt Gingrich lost a stand-down with President Clinton over closing down the government in 1996, it was widely seen as a setback for GOP efforts to scale back big government.
Dismantle it. To focus committee action and floor votes, Republicans can look for provisions in the law that Democrats are on record as opposing. For example, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D., N.D.) has said that the new federal program to fund long-term care—the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act, or CLASS Act—is "a Ponzi scheme of the first order, the kind of thing that Bernie Madoff would have been proud of." Mr. Conrad and five of his Democratic colleagues sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) before the legislation passed opposing the program and expressing "grave concerns" about its fiscal sustainability.
Other highly unpopular provisions include the requirement that all businesses must file 1099 forms with the IRS to report any purchases totaling more than $600 in a year. This is designed to raise about $17 billion over 10 years from tax cheats. Rep. Dan Lungren (R., Calif.) was the first to introduce legislation to repeal this gigantic paperwork burden. Many Democrats in vulnerable districts who voted for the health law are also anxious to repeal this provision, which the National Federation of Independent Business says will impact 40 million businesses.
Delay it. Republicans can also vote to postpone cuts to the popular Medicare Advantage program, postpone mandates requiring that individuals and businesses purchase and provide health insurance, and delay imposition of the $500 billion in taxes required by the law. Mr. Obama wouldn't likely sign such legislation, but the debate would shine a light on problems that haven't received nearly enough attention.
Disapprove regulations. The Congressional Review Act of 1996 (CRA) gives Congress the authority to overturn regulations issued by federal agencies if both houses approve, with a two-thirds majority needed to override a presidential veto. This would be difficult to pull off. But proposing a resolution of disapproval under the CRA gives Republicans a platform to express strong disagreement and bring attention to especially egregious rules.

The current congressional majority wants to gut the CRA, and the House passed a bill that would eliminate the requirement that federal agencies submit their rules to Congress before they can take effect. The Senate has not yet acted, but this measure should be on the Republicans' watch list for the rest of the year.
Direct oversight and investigation. Other aspects of ObamaCare are ripe for public hearings. For example, rules dictating how much insurance companies must spend on direct medical benefits are already hugely controversial—even before they have been issued. Businesses are also aghast at the narrow openings they have to protect their current health plans from onerous federal regulation. Republicans could summon many witnesses to testify about the impact of this regulatory straightjacket."

Classic Quotes, Willard

"The world is wide, and I will not waste my life in friction when it could be turned into momentum."
- Frances Willard

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Ryan's Roadmap - Possible?

The Death Spiral seems a certainty without entitlement reform - but can anyone turn back the spigot once the State has 'promised' one group of people (the old) the fruits of the labors of another group of people (the young), and live to tell the tale? 

"Should Republicans win the House, Ryan would likely ascend to the chairmanship of the Budget Committee, a powerful post. “We obviously are going to have to take on entitlement reform,” he says. “I don’t know what the budget will look like, but its form will be determined by the consensus I can get from at least 218 people. What I would hope to do is get this budget needle moving in the right direction.” Still, as he looks toward a possible scenario of divided government, Ryan is quick to say that he does not wish to “overpromise.”"
“Scaring seniors is apparently the past, present, and future of the Democratic party,” Ryan continues. “But they have created political paralysis. I’m fed up with it, and I’m not going to let it intimidate me. I’m going to go forward, put ideas out there, and get this debate moving one way or the other.” It’s a fight, he says, that he does “not intend to lose.”

Friday, October 8, 2010

Turned Into a Newt

This is the simplest, most accurate summary of the Plame issue I've yet to see printed - and besides, any Holy Grail reference deserves a link!
"The closest parallel is the moment in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" when members of a mob eager to burn a witch are asked by the wise Sir Bedevere how they know she's a witch.
"Well, she turned me into a newt," the villager played by John Cleese says.
"A newt?" Sir Bedevere asks, looking puzzled.
"I got better," he explains.
"Burn her anyway!" another villager shouts."

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Gridlock! (Thanks Be To Whatever Is Holy!)
"Get ready for the most productive and decent political condition known to man: sweet gridlock. You get nothing. And after what you've been through these past few years, you deserve it.
Hey, things are tough. A new Rasmussen poll says 48 percent of voters regard President Barack Obama's political views as "extreme." Not surprising, seeing as -- how can I put this without being hyperbolic? -- Washington has been doing to the economy what "Piranha 3D" has done to cinematic excellence.
"So with Democrats in deep trouble, it's time to start pondering this creepy and amorphous "anti-incumbent" wave.
"Weird, isn't it, that few (if any) fiscally conservative Republicans seem to be troubled by this indiscriminate rage of voters? Perhaps -- and this is a stretch, I realize -- these voters are disturbed or enraged specifically by the policy choices of Democrats? After all, there are polling experts who suggest that Republicans might take back the House. Some assert that even the Senate may be in play.
"Don't worry. Unlike recent momentous, history-altering elections that saw Democrats sweep into power -- The Thumpin'! -- this midterm is nothing more than a reflection of some misguided fears about the economy ginned up, presumably, by FOX News.
"Whatever the why, Republicans will have enough votes to prevent any more great leaps forward. Nothing of consequence will happen. And nothing could be better.
"This week, House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio -- emboldened by the prospect of an unearned return to power -- asked the president for the resignations of his economic team of Tim Geithner and Larry Summers. (As if it makes a difference which technocrat is meddling with your life.)
"Republicans would, unlike the last time out, make significant cuts in spending and taxes, ease the overbearing regulatory system, and repeal nationalized health care.
"Maybe. But in the near term, the president certainly would veto any ideologically unpalatable legislation. Just as certainly, he never would allow Republicans to undo his major legislative "accomplishments." If Republicans do take over the Senate, Democrats can filibuster legislation just as easily.
"There is no greater check on power in Washington than two strong political parties.
"Safe to say there will be enough secure Democrats and secure Republicans that legislative activity will be winnowed down to the bare necessities -- namely, politics without policy results. And that's fine by me.
What we need now is to stop the implementation of any more bright ideas and give everyone a break.
"I recently read a Newsweek piece ("On Our Own") examining the nation's economic troubles. Government, the story explained with a straight face, "seems to have run out of ideas for rebuilding the economy, but businesses and consumers are figuring it out for themselves."
"Out of ideas? Hardly. And that's the problem. But what I particularly liked about the piece was that it neatly summed up the prevailing "idea" of the Washington establishment: Without government's help, you're on your own (a condition, incidentally, that is supposed to be scary).
"Washington is stocked with folks who possess the extraordinary gift of believing that they have the ability to manage and organize complex economic systems -- and our behavior in them.
"The one thing that they won't accept is that businesses, consumers and citizens can "figure it out for themselves."
"We need gridlock to help them. And us."


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Classis Quotes, Lewis

"Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point."
C. S. Lewis, courtesy of

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Less Not More

An Economic Yokel
Posted: 26 Aug 2010 03:25 AM PDT
"Here's a letter to the Washington Post:
Harold Meyerson can learn a valuable lesson from you. Yesterday you published an editorial opposing Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's effort to regulate abortion clinics more strictly ("The case against stronger abortion regulations in Virginia"). You pointed out that, because there's no strong evidence that these clinics pose undue dangers to women, it's bad policy to strengthen regulations that nevertheless will likely cause some clinics to close.
"Unlike you, Mr. Meyerson doesn't understand the necessity of weighing the benefits of regulation against its costs. For Mr. Meyerson, the recent egg recall is evidence enough that government must regulate egg producers more strictly ("The many sins of deregulation <> ," August 26). Never mind that only a half-billion of the nearly 78 billion eggs annually produced in America are suspected of possibly being tainted with salmonella. That is, the percentage of annual U.S. egg output now thought to be tainted is 0.6 – less than one percent. I wonder how this percentage compares to the safety record of Virginia abortion clinics.
"The puny percentage of recalled eggs is hardly sufficient evidence to support the conclusion that American egg producers are such a danger to the public health that greater regulation is necessary.
Donald J. Boudreaux"

Classic Quotes, Thatcher

"Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It's not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it's when you've had everything to do, and you've done it."
- Margaret Thatcher

Monday, October 4, 2010

Tsunami aka Death Spiral

I get the appeal of eliminating individual risks.
The Pension - the idea that too many individuals have too little competence to navigate the uncertainties of retirement planning and 'investing' and therefore, the responsibility for their livelihood, once they've become too infirm to support themselves by their own productivity, must be transferred to the government or to their employer.
It sounds great - but it isn't working.  At least, it isn't working for most folks that were employed by Delta Airlines, for example, and for the other giants of industry that will fall.  It isn't working for all the city and county and state employees who's individual benefits may be modest (or not, as some of the cases in the article describe), but who's obligation against their employer in total will be their employer's undoing (and in that case, no one wins).
It certainly isn't working for the taxpayers, who must face the vicisitudes of life on their own, while their productivity is extracted by the state to pay for those who used to work.
I don't think anything will change it until the death spiral begins in earnest.  Will the Federal, State or City governments enter the death spiral first?

"California once again leads the nation with a $26 billion budget deficit plus an unfunded pension obligation of $500 billion. Its current financial structure is clearly unsustainable. It has an operational structure that in ungovernable with often duplicative agencies, some collecting less in tax revenue than the agencies spend on collection. "

"One Orange County city has already taken bold steps to correct its $10 million deficit. It may be a model for cities and states across the country. Internally, it has decided it will not replace any city worker that dies, retires, moves or quits. The city will simply out source the employment to an outside service company and eliminate healthcare requirements and unsustainable pensions. Building inspectors will be out sourced as will city plan checkers, librarians and meter maids. Only essential services like top executives and cops will remain on the city payroll. The city staff will eventually decrease from 220 to approximately 35 personnel. This is the essence of deconstruction."

Friday, October 1, 2010

It's Getting Warmer! Arctic's Melting! (Old News, Right?)

Actually, 90 years old.  Take a look at this link.  It's another "the more they change the more they stay the same" story. 

It is inevitable that the climate will either warm or cool.  The challenge as always would be to figure out a way to tell if the change is 'natural' or anthropogenic.  On its face, I would say this is such an enormous challenge as to be an unaswerable question.  But it isn't, as Dr. Glassman has shown.

Lastly, given the range of warming that even the IPCC predicts, there's every reason to believe that warming will be more beneficial than harmful, and certainly better than cooling.