Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Can I Have A Right To Your Life Energy?

Is Basic Health Care a ‘Right’?

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

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Is "Obamacare" A Government Takeover?

Well said.  Of course it is.

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

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Collectivism's Failures

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


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

I'm In The Wong Profession and State


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Barbour Political Profile

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

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

Monday, December 20, 2010

Don't Ask Don't Tell

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

Friday, December 17, 2010

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

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

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

More goodies of late on trade:




Thursday, December 16, 2010

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

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

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Trade Issue Rages On

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

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

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hayek: What Do You Mean By "We"

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

Sunday, December 12, 2010

They Already Do

Posted: 06 Dec 2010 09:11 AM PST

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Farcical Fed

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

Friday, December 10, 2010

Are You An "Anti-Government Type"?

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

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Who Has Control?

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

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

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Classic Quotes, Sowell

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

What's So Wrong About Banana Republics?

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

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Forbian Growth


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

Monday, December 6, 2010

Classic Quotes, Musashi

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

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Classic Quote, Prayer

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

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Mission: Making Others Look Smart

Counter Point:

Krugman's serving his mission well.

Axis of Depression

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

SHUGHART: Fed takes wrong course

Quantitative easing leads away from the path to economic recovery

MugshotIllustration: QE2 by Greg Groesch for The Washington Times

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

Classic Quotes, Drucker

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