Thursday, December 29, 2011

My Letter to Reason

I wrote the following in response to this (but the site did not accept my post, not sure why):
There's a world of difference in disagreeing with the significance of the opinions of scientists (aka consensus) and disagreeing with science.  The scientific method of searching for truth depends not a whit on consensus.  There is either experimentation testing and proving/rejecting hypothesis, or there is not.  If consensus was science, the world would still be flat and the earth would be the center of the universe.  Put another way - if a million scientists vote for gravity and 1 does not, does that mean there's no gravity? 
It is in fact more scientific to reject consensus as a surrogate for "science" than it is to accept same.  The point of science is the opposite of consensus - reject opinion, trust only data.  The scientific method demands that we reject the opinions of scientists, as the method assumes a scientist’s opinion is as likely to be distorted by human frailty as is any human’s. 
“Scientists" should not pretend it is "scientific" to deal in consensus.  What would prove the outlandish conjecture that human activity is warming the planet is a model that could accurately predict temperature increases – again, the problem for the “believers” is that there is no such model.  The fact that the term consensus is used proves all one need know about the scientific proof of anthropogenic global warming – which is that there is none. 

Interesting That They Call This The "Right"

Let no one deny that swimming eternally amid the rightward waves of American politics is an ever-present school of fish that would solve Washington's spending problem mainly with cuts in the defense budget (ending foreign "entanglements"), set a place at the nuclear table for Iran ("Who are they going to bomb?"), cut Israel loose, cut the Federal Reserve loose, and legalize many currently controlled substances.

It's neither right nor left - it is liberty! 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Stossel on Jefferson

I'm a pessimist. I fear Thomas Jefferson was right when he said, "The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground." That's what's happened. Bush and Obama doubled spending and increased regulation. Government's intrusiveness is always more, never less. The state grows, and freedom declines.

The natural progress of things was what the constitution was designed to prevent - but it failed. 

Stossel's always good for the libertarian perspective.

Samuelson On The Death Spiral

There are moments when our political system, whose essential job is to mediate conflicts in broadly acceptable and desirable ways, is simply not up to the task. It fails. This may be one of those moments. What we learned in 2011 is that the frustrating and confusing budget debate may never reach a workable conclusion. It may continue indefinitely until it's abruptly ended by a severe economic or financial crisis that wrenches control from elected leaders.
We are shifting from "give away politics" to "take away politics." Since World War II, presidents and Congresses have been in the enviable position of distributing more benefits to more people without requiring ever-steeper taxes. Now, this governing formula no longer works, and politicians face the opposite: taking away -- reducing benefits or raising taxes significantly -- to prevent government deficits from destabilizing the economy. It is not clear that either Democrats or Republicans can navigate the change.

He's not kidding.  We enter the death spiral and they just keep increasing the angle of bank ...

Liberals imply (wrongly) that taxing the rich will solve the long-term budget problem. It won't. For example, the Forbes 400 richest Americans have a collective wealth of $1.5 trillion. If the government simply confiscated everything they own, and turned them into paupers, it would barely cover the one-time 2011 deficit of $1.3 trillion. Conservatives deplore "spending" in the abstract, ignoring the popularity of much spending, especially Social Security and Medicare.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Cell Phones Cancer and Physics

Cell phones cannot cause cancer, because they do not emit enough energy to break the molecular bonds inside cells. Some forms of electromagnetic radiation, such as x-rays, gamma rays and ultraviolet (UV) radiation, are energetic enough to break the bonds in key molecules such as DNA and thereby generate mutations that lead to cancer. Electromagnetic radiation in the form of infrared light, microwaves, television and radio signals, and AC power is too weak to break those bonds, so we don’t worry about radios, televisions, microwave ovens and power outlets causing cancer.

I do find it interesting that we so fear the new risk, but discount the old but real risks - automobiles, sugar, wheat and government.

Don't They Just Steal It?

For months, we have been working with Mercer Health & Benefits LLC, our health-care consultant, to identify Obamacare’s potential financial impact on CKE. Mercer estimated that when the law is fully implemented our health-care costs will increase about $18 million a year. That would put our total health-care costs at $29.8 million, a 150 percent increase from the roughly $12 million we spent last year.
The money to cover our increased expenses will have to come from somewhere. We are a profitable company and, after paying our obligations, we reinvest our earnings in the business. Reinvesting in the business is how we grow, create jobs and opportunity. This is true for most U.S. businesses.

Reversoswabbie says:  This guy is just so dishonest.  We're on to his tricky tricks.  We know he's a 1%er and just steals his money from us, the 99%.  Reinvesting in the business to create jobs?  Why would he do that since all he has to do is just take the money from us?

WOW - Jurassic Park in 2016

Resurrecting the woolly mammoth is possible.
Scientists announced the possibility of cloning a woolly mammoth within 5 years. Just like Dolly the Sheep, the new mammoth would be cloned by a process called "nuclear transplantation." Using a preserved femur recovered from the Siberian permafrost, scientists plan to extract the nucleus of a bone marrow cell and transplant it into an elephant egg cell. Following a 22-month gestation period in a surrogate elephant mother, a woolly mammoth could be born. However, because the DNA inside the bone marrow may be severely degraded, resurrecting the woolly mammoth is still a long shot-- but well within the realm of scientific possibility.

Electricity Powers Buffoonery, Costly Buffoonery

Nothing illustrates the superficiality of our times better than the enthusiasm for electric cars, because they are supposed to greatly reduce air pollution. But the electricity that ultimately powers these cars has to be generated somewhere -- and nearly half the electricity generated in this country is generated by burning coal.

The electric car thing - if they would just let it happen in its own time, after we rebuild the grid with a France-like reactor system, it would work.  But the idealogues stuck on E are not patient enough to wait for electric cars to make sense.  Of course, since our government runs it, we'll never have a smart system for generating electricity, either.

More from Dr. Sowell:

The wisest and most knowledgeable human being on the planet is utterly incompetent to make even 10 percent of the consequential decisions that have to be made in a modern nation. Yet all sorts of people want to decide how much money other people can make or keep, and to micro-manage how other people live their lives.

Friday, December 23, 2011


I can't think of any term other than galling when a person who has such difficulty deciding when or when not to tell the truth, or perhaps just can't tell the difference, starts moralizing about the reasons why it is OK for the political class to use the government's coercive monopoly on force on the rest of us.

I can't name any names or even hint any until after I'm retired - which is fine, it could apply to many.

Why did we ever think it was about choosing politicians we could trust.  So freaking gullible ...

Volts n Dolts

Each Chevy Volt sold thus far may have as much as $250,000 in state and federal dollars in incentives behind it – a total of $3 billion altogether, according to an analysis by James Hohman, assistant director of fiscal policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.
Whatever your opinion, the facts show that Volts aren't exactly selling like hotcakes. It's not hard to see why. As Audi’s president of North America Johan de Nysschen said, "No one is going to pay a $15,000 premium for a car that competes with a Corolla.”
De Nysschen prefers diesels, and I'm with him. If our silly environmental regulations didn't discriminate against diesels, you'd be able to buy a VW Polo diesel for a little over $20,000 and get more than 70 miles per gallon. That would mean real savings from the first day, not theoretical savings over the life of the car.
And you don't have to plug it in - or subsidize its production.

But even further into the range only a dolt could love:
Meanwhile Chevy's still being encouraged by the feds to crank out giant gas-guzzling SUVs thanks to the federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards, which discriminate against cars and in favor of so-called "light trucks."

Monday, December 19, 2011

Vaclav Havel - Farewell To A Hero

A hero of liberty.  Farewell and following seas on your journey!

One Step Over the Line ...

It's highly unusual in a presidential debate for two Republican candidates -- the two leading in current national polls -- to heap praise on a liberal Democratic senator.
But in the Fox News debate in Sioux City, Iowa, Thursday night, both Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney had very good words to say for Oregon's Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden.
The subject was the Medicare reform plan put forward in a Wall Street Journal opinion article that morning by Wyden and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan.
"Today is a big day for the country," Romney said. It was "an enormous achievement" for Ryan and Wyden, people on opposite sides of the aisle, to come together.

Samuelson - Post Keynesianism

Standard Keynesian remedies for downturns -- spend more and tax less -- presume the willingness of bond markets to finance the resulting deficits at reasonable interest rates. If markets refuse, Keynesian policies won't work.

I like the author's approach, in that instead of the long standing debate about whether or not Keynes' ideas were right or wrong, he points out the obvious - which is that it hardly matters since there's no money to be had to continue the experiment. 

Frankly, looking at this point - "in the mid-1930s, governments in most wealthy nations were relatively small and their debts modest. Deficit spending and pump priming were plausible responses to economic slumps" - one could easily conclude that this is the natural effect of dosing willing politicians with all the Keynesian self justification they could ever hope for to meddle, as if they were gods, in the affairs of their subjects (OK, still technically citizenry) via legislative coercion sold as do-gooderism.

But as Keynesian C. Romer points out in regards to those Keynesian approaches to economic stimulus, "estimating the effect is "incredibly hard." "

So, we should just trust all those genius economists and the politicians who use their work to do what's best ...

Samuelson writes:  "Were Keynes alive now, he would almost certainly acknowledge the limits of Keynesian policies."  I wonder if, after almost 100 years of experimentation, Keynes wouldn't just say "It seemed like a good idea at the time." 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Go USC Go!

Americans instinctively tilt to the ideological right on the most basic questions concerning the size and scope of government, and concerning the government’s inability to deliver, with efficiency, high-quality services. This means conservatives control the high ground in our public-policy debates. Show me a legislative battle that boils down to a choice between a larger government that offers us more services but takes more of our money in taxes and a smaller one with fewer services and lower taxes, and I’ll show you a conservative victory for limited government. Show me a debate that requires citizens to choose between the wisdom of government bureaucrats and that of small-business owners, and I’ll show you a decisive vote for the common sense of the private sector. Ask us to evaluate the relative efficiency of federal, state, and local governments, and you’ll find a clear bias in favor of the government closest to the people. Force us to choose between personal responsibility and dependence on government, and the result will dismay our liberal friends. You get the point.

Senator Reid, Job Creator?

Government's idea of job creation is to trade the risk of unemployment for the guarantee of it.

It's actually child's play to create jobs - you could, for example, make power construction equipment illegal, and require the use of spoons.  Do you think the result of that would be increased well being?

Sustainable Capitalism Is ... Neither

At first, I was wondering who the buffoon author of this bit of gobbledygook was ...

Monday, December 5, 2011

Faith Vice Science

As with religion, it is presided over by a caste of spectacularly unattractive people pretending to an obscure form of knowledge that promises to make the seas retreat and the winds abate. As with religion, it comes with an elaborate list of virtues, vices and indulgences. As with religion, its claims are often non-falsifiable, hence the convenience of the term "climate change" when thermometers don't oblige the expected trend lines. As with religion, it is harsh toward skeptics, heretics and other "deniers." And as with religion, it is susceptible to the earthly temptations of money, power, politics, arrogance and deceit.


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

About that AGW

BLUF:  The climate is not nearly as sensitive to CO2 levels as believed by the AGW TRUE BELIEVERS.
One of the key measures of the impact of atmospheric carbon dioxide is called the climate sensitivity, which provides an estimate of how much the planet will warm in response to a doubling of the CO2 concentration. This figure has been estimated using a variety of methods, producing a range of values; the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that the most likely value is 3 Kelvin, but recognizes there's a reasonable chance it could range anywhere from 2.4-4.5K. A new study that uses a climate model to evaluate the peak of the last glacial period, however, suggests that the IPCC's figure might be a bit high, and that very high values are overwhelmingly unlikely.
To look at climate sensitivity, the authors short-circuited the actual role of carbon dioxide, and simply changed its impact by adjusting the amount of infrared radiation that escapes through the atmosphere (carbon dioxide acts by trapping this radiation). Each of the 47 different models has a different value for this escaping radiation, and so models different levels of greenhouse gas impact.
This approach let them set a number of limits on the climate sensitivity. For example, model runs where it was too low keep the planet warmer than it was at the LGM. In other words, if the contribution of reduced CO2levels is too small, the changes in the remaining forcings aren't enough to trigger a deep glaciation. In the same way, high climate sensitivities produce an extremely cold planet, far colder than the LGM. In fact, climate sensitivities above 6K trigger a global glaciation, or snowball Earth—something that has happened in the past, but not for over half a billion years. "Our model thus suggests that large climate sensitivities cannot be reconciled with paleoclimatic and geologic evidence, and hence should be assigned near-zero probability," they conclude.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Judas the Pretense

These poor clowns don't even have the faintest notion of what's wrong - they just think the wrong people are trying to play god, and if they and their kind could get control, rein in human greed and make things more equal (in outcome), it would all be better. 

This is another version of "If I was master and time and space ...".  Fun game, but should anyone be taken seriously when they think and talk like that? 

Yes, there's something wrong with our government, but no, the pretensious ones at OWS don't know what it is.

Euro Lesson

Since the global financial crisis of 2008, investors have focused on credit risk and rewarded Germany with low interest rates for its perceived frugality. But now markets will focus on currency risk. Inflation will accelerate and the euro may break up in a way that calls into question all euro-denominated obligations. This is the beginning of the end for the euro zone.

The premise of socialism is that smart people ("the elite" or the connected or the educated or the studious or whatever you might term those who hubristically think they can direct others and their assets to the benefit of all) could use the state's monopoly power on coercion solve problems.  The idea that something could be had for nothing - "we can reduce the pain and suffering of live just by doing some smart stuff by force that would never happen with coperation."

It seems that after a long experiment with that approach, there are two possible explanations for the results as statist nations face the same problem the world over (and in US state governments, and city governments, as well); the people who get elected either are not that smart except in terms of how to get elected; or, no one is smart enough to use coercion to direct that activities of others to the benefit of all. \

In my humble as ever view, which of these two options is correct does not matter, as either one points to a common solution; stop pretending (or dreaming) that humans with a lot of power are a help vice a hindrance.

How much more evidence would anyone need to know that coercion is not a viable alternative to cooperation?  Who could really think that what we're seeing now is better than cooperation?  Why do we insist that cooperative arrangements cannot better deal with the problem caused by human existence - genetic and environmental inequality leading to unequal outcomes - which means that some will do better than others?

Like the Greeks, we must accept that it is foolish for men to attempt the work of the gods, and especially so if we attempt to do god's work with government.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Cali to Business: Get Out! by Steven Malanga, City Journal Autumn 2011

Can the rest of us learn from Cali's buffoonery?


Did You Think They Would Be Serious?

The deficit committee was charged with trimming deficit spending by just $1.2 trillion, which could have been achieved by cutting that $45.77 trillion in spending by just 2.6 percent. (Really, it would have necessitated cutting spending even less than that, because any cut in spending also reduces future interest payments on the debt.)
To be clear, this wouldn’t have resulted in an actual cut in federal spending. Instead, annual federal spending would still have been 24 percent higher (on average) over the next decade than it was last year. Really, the deficit committee didn’t need to cut spending at all (in relation to 2011 spending). It simply needed to shave 12 cents off of every dollar of projected increases in spending. Yet, in the face of a $15 trillion national debt, the deficit committee couldn’t figure out how to do even this. It couldn’t bear to force the federal government to make do with just $44.57 trillion over the next decade, instead of $45.77 trillion.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Very Clear on Post-Obamacare Options

A complete health care safety net assuring essential health care for all can be achieved with no individual mandate and no employer mandate, for just a fraction of the cost of Obamacare, actually sharply reducing government in the process. That starts with the provision already in federal law, stemming from the Kennedy-Kassebaum legislation of the 1990s, providing for guaranteed renewability. That means if you already have health insurance, you cannot be terminated because you become sick. That is what the insurance insures against after all, so such termination would actually be fraud, as state law across the country recognized before Kennedy-Kassebaum. Under this regulation, insurers also cannot discriminatorily raise rates for those who become sick while insured. This law ensures that if you have health insurance, you will be able to keep it as long as you continue to pay the premiums.
The second component of a health care safety net would involve block granting Medicaid back to the states, just as was done with the enormously successful reform of the old AFDC program in 1996. Each state would then transform their Medicaid programs into a premium support system which would provide the assistance necessary to purchase essential health insurance for those who are too poor to pay for it otherwise. Each state would decide how much assistance is necessary at each income level in their state to assure the poor could afford such essential coverage.
This would greatly benefit the poor because Medicaid today is structurally an institution serving to deny the poor essential health care just when they are the sickest and most in need of such care. That is because Medicaid does not pay the doctors and hospitals enough to assure such care. But with the above reform, the poor would enjoy the same health care as the middle class because they would have the same private insurance as the middle class, paying market rates for care.
The third component of the safety net is a high risk pool in each state for the uninsured who never get coverage and then become too sick with costly illnesses like cancer or heart disease to buy it. That is like calling an insurance company for fire insurance after your house is already on fire. The uninsured in this case would be able to get coverage as a last resort from the high risk pool, paying what they can based on their income. Taxes would subsidize the pool to keep it afloat. Because only 1-2 percent ever become actually uninsurable like this, this is the least expensive option for assuring an essential safety net.

Hope For Those Who Oppose Coercion

Some hope, and what a marker for the cause of liberty of the SCOTUS makes the call.

The Palin Endorsement?

I am surprised to think anyone's thinking or writing about such a thing.  She's a great American, but of no consequence to the election.  The Palin endorsement?  Should be getting about as much attention as the Apolloswabbie endorsement.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Energy Security R US

All of which provides a new optimism on US energy security – all the more for being totally unexpected. The consequences are only just coming into view. According to Daniel Yergin, author of The Quest, a masterful history of the modern search for energy, America’s tight oil supply is now almost equivalent to Libya’s oil output. Within eight years, it will amount to 3m barrels a day in an ever-bigger domestic spigot that will cut America’s oil imports by more than a third.
Already, imports have fallen to 46 per cent of America’s consumption – down from 60 per cent in George W. Bush’s second term. That number is likely to keep falling. Less than a fifth of the US’s oil now comes from outside the western hemisphere. That could dwindle to negligible levels in the near future. “The Middle East will figure less in America’s energy supply and become increasingly critical to China and India,” says Mr Yergin. “This is likely to have big geopolitical repercussions.”
Go read the whole article, it's worth the time.

The short version - there is an ass load of oil to be had in our hemisphere, rumors of peak oil were somewhat hastily circulated.

It's Not About the People, Stupid

This is one of the funniest lines I've ever read (funny like "REALLY?!" funny, no "funny ha ha), and to think the authors may have actually meant it:
Given her strong public support, she has the ability to step above partisan politics, reach out to Republicans, change the dialogue, and break the gridlock in Washington.

This is the sort of delusional thinking that results from a belief that government is an effective tool to "get things done."  This is the backwash of being one who believes that government can lead economies, and put just the right leverage on just the right point to "get the economy back on track."  Better to believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster, which, at least we know as part of that concept, is not real.

President Bill Clinton reached a historic agreement with the Republicans in 1997 that led to a balanced budget.
Another laugher.  Did these people study logic at all, ever?  But of course, if you want to sustain an illusion, you must find compelling narratives to help yourself believe.

Bill and the GOP agreed on something, and then that caused things to go well, it caused the economy to boom, it caused therefore in increase in government revenues, and therefore - Bill and his agreement "caused" the "surplus." 

Well, totally aside from the question of whether it may possibly not be an abominable abuse of power to ever have a government surplus, and totally aside from whether the "surplus" was real or an accounting gimic and a no-lose political talking point - by what rational basis could one assess causality?  Out of the gozillion moving parts of an international economy, the best that could be said is that, as economic growth occurred while a man named Bill was President, he didn't do anything to fully interfere with said growth. 

Mrs. Clinton does not show the slightest inclination towards bipartisanism, nor would it necessarily be good if she did.  Both concepts - that she could provide leadership appealing to both major parties, and that such leadership would produce good outcomes - are absurd. 

The entire structure of the current political system is based a result of an unrelenting, winner take all pursuit of power.  The players of this game will say whatever it takes in order to win and retain office.  It could be no other way.  Those few purists who really want to have power to make things better are eliminated when they refuse to subject their principles to the over-riding imperative of the political wind.

You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.
These authors - they need to take the red pill.

Our political future has nothing to do with who the next president is and it does not depend upon "bipartisanship" (it is more likely that gridlock will help than bipartisanship - with gridlock, they can't accelerate the pace at which things grow worse).  It is dependent upon whether some process restores the federal government to its rightful size and scope, whilst we are relieved of the burden of believing that our fate is in the hands of politicans. 

No, I don't know how that can happen, aside from the obvious which is that it would only happen if politicians believe they must re-restrain the federal government or lose their jobs and influence.  Yes, I'm essentially asking for a political red pill, have you seen any?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veteran's Day

I don't do enough to do right by our nation's veterans.  I say that even though I am a veteran.

Part of my current experience is that I have not been in harm's way since a 2006-2007 deployment with the US Army in Iraq.  I have my own sense of "what have I done lately?"  The answer is, moved a lot of paper, delivered a boatload of expertise and leadership, and done so with the belief that it all mattered and that things that I've had my hand in are better than they would otherwise have been.  But who knows, really.

I retire next summer.  I have served a year in Iraq.  I saw Baghdad most often across a wall, but once at night from a Blackhawk and enough from the inside of a Hummer to know how fast it could have gone bad.  I spent 3 years working the alternately cold and windy or scorching hot flight deck of the USS ENTERPRISE, including Operation DESERT FOX, when we emptied the magazines on Saddam's special places.  I watched a well trained crew put out a flight deck fire after a fatal crash, and my contribution was paltry but I did all I could, including that made sure the next group of deck hands were well trained.  I logged 218 combat hours flying in and around the Arabian Gulf and over Afghanistan, landed planes with engine failures, flap failures, and in the dark, in the fog, at bizarre little places with short, narrow runways and poor instrument approach systems - and virtually every landing came at the end of a 9+ hour flight with some combination of either sleep deprivation or a completely fragmented sleep cycle.  We logged 150 hours in a month and almost lost a flight because we were too tired to remember to get the flight surgeon's clearance to take off - I told a fellow veteran and airplane pilot that story and he joked "You guys should have a union."

If you can't tell, I feel a reasonable amount of pride in the roles I've been able to play in the uniform of our nation.  I think it's arguable that I got more than I gave, even if some of what I gave felt grievous.  But that brings me to a memory about the people you and I don't do right by.

When I was walking around Camp Victory with a gun all the time, they were outside fighting the irregular forces of Al Qaeda in Iraq.  The blasting was near continuous the last few months I was there, as the surge got into gear.  I would hear the chain gun of the Bradleys and Strykers and be grateful I wasn't one of the poor SOBs on the receiving end of that mess.  But there was someone on the giving end of the Stryker love, and he and his buddies were dodging bullets and rockets all day.  I was in the palace one day smoking a fat cigar with an old friend, and we watched through a hazy, chilly late winter day as the explosions flashed and 25mm pounded and we were as useless as a TV reporter.  The troopers out in the city were unquestionably giving much more than they got.  But they were also paying for the privilege with damage to body, mind and spirit.

I would like to get a pat on the back today.  I would like someone to say thanks for the missed funerals of loved ones, the missed birth of my daughter, the missed 14 of the first 17 months of our second son's life.  I endured and sometimes thrived through the deprivations of liberty, and physical comfort, one does not find when deployed to ship/desert/remote airfield, and etcetera.  I would like a thanks for the care I gave to those I led and perhaps even for bringing back a lot of planes full of American servicemen and keeping a few young folks safe on a dynamic flight deck.

But even if I not so secretly want that sort of acknowledgement, I want even more to make a change, to do something that moves in the direction of helping those who really paid the price for the wars our nation has waged.  Wounded Warrior Foundation?  Yes.  Fisher House?  Of course.

I think my near depressed certainty that we cannot give these warriors back what they gave has led me to a failure of effort ... to this point.

Going forward, even if I can't do enough, I will do something, as many of you already have.
(minor edits, 16 Nov 11)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Calling All Language Police

America still has so much work to do regarding race and racism and “post-racial” is only making that work harder to do. That’s why “post-racial” and its cohorts must be stopped posthaste.

The author presents a long diatribe in which his chief complaint is the term "post-racial" which he describes as an intellectual loch ness monster - a term I quite like, by the way.

I don't know if I disagree.  But let me add to the list of intellectual Nessie's (IN) the phrase "America has much work to do."  What work will the entity described as "America" do?  Who is responsible to make that work happen, describe that work, and define its successful outcome?  Indeed, who could do such work on behalf of that collection of individuals generally known as "Americans"?  A less sensible phrase may never have been spoken - unless of course, we consider the Kennedy pablum about asking "what you can do for your country."

I would add to the list of INs the term "racism".  Why?  Because the terms no longer means what it means.  Here's the Wiki definition:  "Racism is the belief that inherent different traits in human racial groups justify discrimination."  Let me ask you, dear reader, how many people you know who believe there are inherently different traits in human racial groups as regards qualities other than their physical genetic template (body shape, color or type of hair)?  Do you know someone who believes there is a group of people so remarkable inferior that using the coercive force of the state against them is acceptable? 

If you are like me, I know only one or two people who would articulate such a view.  But more importantly - who cares?  In my observation, belief in the inferiority of an ethnic group hurts only the believer, and not those whom the believer views perjoratively.  Being a racist makes a person, in my view, unlikable and not someone with whom I would like to associate, but other than that, it's just a burden that person has chosen to bear and it is none of my business.  Just like it's none of my business who they would like to sleep with, who they have enjoyed consensual sexual activity with, or how many times they fell short of the mark raising their children.  There are a lot of reasons why I may not like or associate with a person, their racist beliefs would be one. 

Unless ... the racist desires to use the power of the state to violate the creator given rights of those viewed perjoratively.

If you think people that are purple are subhuman, I don't care, but if you try to get the state to force people that are purple to go live in a certain confined area, or to keep the Purples out of public places, or to infringe on their voting rights - or even worse, you act to injure them - OK, now there's grounds for a fight.  And I don't say that lightly because my entire working life has been as one who serves to defend my fellow citizen - police officer or military officer for 25 years.

Sadly, though, this distinction (between those with bad feelings about others and those who act to hurt others or use the state to coerce others) is no longer made, and that is largely because those who wish to make a fuss about "racism" are the ones trying to use the government to deprive the rights of a group of people.  Usually, they wish to gain the sympathy of one group, by promising to help that group at the expense of another group, and with plenty of justification for why that's OK.  Not to mention a dose of rationalization for why I should be ashamed of myself for opposing their attempt to use the government to get by force what they can't get by persuation and cooperation.

So while the author continues to use INs like "America has a lot of work to do", I hope what is really meant is that each of us has to work every day to respect the Constitutionally afforded rights of our fellow citizens while taking responsibility for ourselves and our chosen obligations to our families and those other causes we freely serve. 

And I hope he doesn't mean "we have to use the coercive force of the government to get people to behave in a way that pleases me."

Post script:  Most folks use the term "racist" nowadays when what they mean is "bigot" (
The KKK is racist, they would love to use force to subjugate others based on race and/or religion.  My friend who associates negative characteristics to some ethnic groups is a bigot.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Taleb On Risk and Incentive

The promise of “no more bailouts,” enshrined in last year’s Wall Street reform law, is just that — a promise. The financiers (and their lawyers) will always stay one step ahead of the regulators. No one really knows what will happen the next time a giant bank goes bust because of its misunderstanding of risk.

The Romans even figured out how to deter cowardice that causes the death of others with the technique called decimation: If a legion lost a battle and there was suspicion of cowardice, 10 percent of the soldiers and commanders — usually chosen at random — were put to death.

In this same line of thought - how about the politicians don't get paid unless they keep the budget balanced?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Simple Truth - Cannot Tax A Nation Into Prosperity

For most millionaires, federal tax rates -- the share of income taxed -- exceed 30 percent. Some rich have lower rates. Raising these rates is justified but wouldn’t balance the budget. The plan by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for a 5.6 percentage point surtax on incomes exceeding $1 million would raise an estimated $453 billion over 10 years. Deficits over the decade are realistically projected at $8.5 trillion.

OK, raise some taxes on people but don't pretend it solves the SPENDING PROBLEM!

Make the rich pay more, fix the tax code, WHATEVER!  That does not change the fact that there's a SPENDING PROBLEM!  It is called Medicare and it is a result of the fact that politicians designed a system of interventions in the health care system of this nation that guarantee it will produce less health at a higher total cost.

Growth is a result of liberty and the most predictable possible market conditions.  Stop the interventions.  We could still grow our way out of the mess.

Samuelson rightly concludes:
What liberals don’t say is this: Unless Social Security and Medicare benefits -- the bulk of the budget -- are reduced, we face three dismal choices. Huge, unsustainable deficits. Massive tax increases on the middle class, as high as 50 percent over 10 to 15 years. Or draconian cuts in the discretionary programs that liberals accuse conservatives of wanting to gut.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Divconformity? Conversity?

Illustrating an intellectual confusion common on campuses, Vanderbilt University says: To ensure “diversity of thought and opinion” we require certain student groups, including five religious ones, to conform to the university’s policy that forbids the groups from protecting their characteristics that contribute to diversity.

Thank the heavens that George Will is still writing!

Public Sector Unions, Predictable Outcomes

The Dills Act mandated that the state must negotiate collective-bargaining contracts with public-employee unions. This quickly turned the unions into the most powerful force in the state. The result was major increases in the pay and benefits for public-sector workers.

Even FDR could figure out this wasn't rational.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


A great read. Covers life, the universe and everything.

"Fashion is what seems beautiful now but looks ugly later; art can be ugly at first but it becomes beautiful later." 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Supply and Demand

Last week, McCluskey put out a paper that concluded that when government bestows more aid, institutions benefit far more than students. The College Board figured that real average tuition rose some $5,500 for public colleges and $17,800 at private institutions from 1980 to 2010, while total student aid increased comparably, by $8,165. The phenomenon predates this administration. The College Board reports that for the past decade, college tuition and fees have exceeded inflation by 5.6 percent a year. That's where McCluskey believes increased financial aid goes.
"There is no question," McCluskey wrote, "that colleges and universities have been raising their prices at a very brisk pace in recent decades, and that those increases have largely nullified aid increases."

"Average" student debt is $24,000.  This is the realm of wondering whether a degree is worth what it costs.  Can you get enough technical skill to get a career for half that level of debt?  How much non-debt expense is represented in that $24,000 figure?  What is the purpose of a college degree anyway?  Education?  Technical training?  An experience of transition that is stimulating and enriching and perhaps a bit safer than otherwise being 18-22?  A chance to hobnob with the peers of the wealthy? 

It seems pretty clear that the institutions of education, public and private, will get a day of reckoning when the Federal spigot begins to dry up.  Like airline deregulation and the housing bubble, federal intervation always leaves a hangover.

Students, though, may get it better when colleges can only charge an amount equal to how much their product is valued in the marketplace - vice 5.56% "more" annually.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

In A Battle of Wits ...

Mr. Robinson might be in the hurt locker.  Not that he's wrong in his assessment of politicians:

"...with the blowhards such as .... who, out of ignorance or perceived self-interest, are willing to play politics with the Earth's future. They may concede that warming is taking place, but they call it a natural phenomenon and deny that human activity is the cause."
Here, Mr. Robinson is on unassailable ground.  Being successful in politics quite often implies one is willing to do what it takes, whatever it takes, to get elected to office carrying the banner of any party.

And given that back drop, Mr. Robinson does the only rational thing (OK, not actually rational at all), which is to use assumption to villify those who he thinks uses assumption to arrive at a different conclusions than he does:
"It is true that Muller made no attempt to ascertain "how much of the warming is due to humans." Still, the Berkeley group's work should help lead all but the dimmest policymakers to the overwhelmingly probable answer.  We know that the rise in temperatures over the past five decades is abrupt and very large. We know it is consistent with models developed by other climate researchers that posit greenhouse gas emissions -- the burning of fossil fuels by humans -- as the cause."

Mr. Robinson finishes with a tour de farce:
"Nobody's fudging the numbers. Nobody's manipulating data to win research grants, as Perry claims, or making an undue fuss over a "naturally occurring" warm-up, as Bachmann alleges. Contrary to what Cain says, the science is real.  It is the know-nothing politicians -- not scientists -- who are committing an unforgivable fraud."

The depth of knowledge he displays is shocking for one so certain in their opinion, but I would not expect differently from this writer based on past experience and knowledge of the audience to whom he writes.  No one who understands science and cares about it would read his work anyway (unless, like me, they want to gape at buffoonery, albeit, from a seemingly nice man). 
I've made my opinion on this topic known many times, but the short rebuttal to the claims Mr. Rob makes is as follows.
"A larger question is why so many on who occupy the political space which consistently wants and trusts a larger and more powerful government also finds so many reasons to believe that incomplete, inconclusive science is complete and conclusive and beyond discussion."

Models are of no use in proof of causality, according to the rules and philosophy of science, unless they can predict.  If a model cannot predict, it may be interesting but it must be assumed that it is not sufficiently complete to allow one to know what causes what.  Probably even Mr. Robinson knows that no climate model has predicted temperature changes accurately enough to serve as proof of what causes the inevitable changes in the climate's temperature.  If such a model existed, there would be no controversy.  Controversy exists where there is no proof.  That is why politicians use the topic of global warming to manipulate voters. 

That a anthropogenic climate change "denier" has validated the data sets on global temperatures is newsworthy in a science-ignorant world, but the fact that there's some agreement as to the facts of what the actual temperatures have been does nothing to illuminate why they are what they are or were.
As for the hockey stick diagram, the temps it shows were never the real problem.  The problem with the diagram is that it claims to represent temps which rise prior to increases in carbon dioxide levels.  The truth of that matter is that that CO2 levels rise as a result of increases in temperature levels.  CO2 levels are a trailing indicator of rising temps, and even a non scientist who drinks carbonated beverages knows why.  As oceans or soft drinks warm, they lose the ability to hold gasses in solution, and begin to "off gas."  Colder oceans hold more dissolved gas.

Another unproved matter - to what extent is CO2 a green house gas?  Is it a surprise to know that the assertion that CO2 is a green house gas is a supposition, vice proved?  A strong indicator that it may not be a green house gas, and if it is so perhaps it is just a very weak one, is that temps fell after the 1930s, even as CO2 emissions rose.  I wonder how Mr. R would explain that fact.

A larger question is why so many on who occupy the political space which consistently wants and trusts a larger and more powerful government also finds so many reasons to believe that incomplete, inconclusive science is complete and conclusive and beyond discussion.

Or as Harsanyi puts it:
What irks Robinson, Matthews and others like them is not that people do not accept “science,” but that they won’t accept the statist solutions tied to that science. Moreover, a Luddite opposes capitalism. A skeptic only asks questions.

Another good discussion of the topic:

Updated at 15.56 CDT
Updated 31 October, 2011

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Creative, Impossible

The answer was suggested a half-century ago by Milton Friedman: replace most social welfare programs with a negative income tax. A minimum wage punishes willing employers and willing employees. In an effort to force employers to pay a "fair" wage to our least skilled, we erect insurmountable barriers to employment for many potential employees.
The reason you can tell the current administration is not sincere about trying creative things, and therefore not interested in genuine change, is that they are stuck on 80 year old socialism, and reject out of hand solutions which have not been part of the socialist platform for the last 80 years.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Tax Policy - Static v. Dynamic Analysis

BLUF:  tax policy influences behavior.  There's no way to know how a tax policy will precisely impact revenue because the changes result from different choices made when there are different tax incentives or dis-incentives.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Will - Can't Say It More Clearly

Solyndra got to the government trough with the help of a former bundler of Obama campaign contributions who was an Energy Department bureaucrat helping to dispense taxpayers’ money to politically favored companies. His wife’s law firm represented Solyndra. But, then, government of the sort progressives demand — supposed “experts,” wiser than the market, allocating wealth and opportunity by supposedly disinterested decisions — is not just susceptible to corruption, it is corruption. It is political favoritism with a clean (even green) conscience.

Is this even partially arguable?

Getting to 30 Million

My Letter to Ms. Harrop response to this disheartening (pretense of) analysis

Ms Harrop,

Your conclusion represents a false choice between a supposed component of the current free market circumstance and a health care system more than 46% controlled by government.

"The only serious cost-cutting alternative to the free-market jungle is letting government put more order into American health care. Take your pick."

I realize your article is space limited but it left out such huge elements of the current cost drivers of the US health care system that it can't be taken seriously as analysis of the current reality.  I suggest to you Herzlinger's work, or Porter's, as bringing analysis that implicates government interventions which distort the value chain in US health care.  "Prices" for health care have become arbitrary, and are unregulated by market forces which we count on in every non-government enterprise to reward value and punish waste.  There is simply no reason to believe that any government enterprise - the military, transportation infrastructure, and our multiple systems of "welfare" - will ever be efficient or responsive to customer needs.  The experiment has been conducted, and it failed.  From Vallejo, CA (, to Medicare's massive unfunded entitlement, the proof is there for those who have eyes to see it. 

As for the theoretical success of the Euro systems, Canada's cost issues are long standing and serious, and a Canadian dog has access to better medical equipment than a human does.  The dubious successes of single payer/socialized systems result from rationing of care, and that is reflected in the health statistics.  Saying that those in the US spend twice as much on health care completely misses the point - we can!  We have the money to spend because we have more liberty.  The rich always pay more new technology, and in that case the US spending on health reflects the same pattern. 

In short, the current system, although ostensibly 54% "market based", is riddled with well intentioned government interventions which have predictably negative unintended consequences.

You don't trust the government to spend enough via vouchers to support those in need, but the current system can't spend enough to do that either.  At least the voucher approach, and other concepts discussed by the aforementioned authors, can be paid for.  They also have the essential benefit of restoring some market based forces to the pricing system which would allow markets to reward value and punish waste. 

It is a stretch to say that your faith in government's coercive monopoly outcomes is less of a matter of religious faith than those who trust cooperative engagement between citizens, aka liberty.  The political calculus on display every single day in DC makes it clear for any who will pay attention that the system serves many interests, but not those about whom you say you are concerned. 

Even were one to make the enormous leap required to think that government has unfulfilled potential to help transform the circumstance of the poor in this nation, isn't it clear by now that theoretical potential will not be achieved? Sincerely, Paul Eich

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Death Spiral Nears ...

Acclaimed journalist Michael Lewis’ best-selling 2010 book, “The Big Short,” about the bursting of the housing/subprime bubble, focused on a little-known but ultimately highly influential Wall Street analyst named Meredith Whitney who saw the collapse coming in 2007. Now Lewis is again highlighting a dire warning by Whitney about a coming fiscal catastrophe, this time in U.S. municipal bonds. In “California and Bust,” a massive article in November’s Vanity Fair, Lewis details Whitney’s analysis: While many states are struggling, they’re less vulnerable than cities, because states can always bleed cities for funding. But hundreds of cities – without access to easy ways of raising revenue and with enormous unfunded obligations for pension and retiree health care costs – face fiscal ruin. Where will ground zero be for this meltdown? California, says Whitney.

The unholy matrimony of government employees and unions gives birth to the death spiral ...

It's the Pols Who Enable the Cronies ...

The "Occupy" folks are in the wrong spot.  Wall Street could take nothing from nobody without the aid of DC.

Friday, October 7, 2011

I Pity The Fools ...

Many members of the liberal intelligentsia, that herd of independent minds, agree that other Americans comprise a malleable, hence vulnerable, herd whose “false consciousness” is imposed by corporate America. Therefore the herd needs kindly, paternal supervision by a cohort of protective herders. This means subordination of the bovine many to a regulatory government staffed by people drawn from the clever minority not manipulated into false consciousness.

Will is usually good but is in rare form in this piece.

Ms. Warren, not thinking of herself as one of the fools she pities, thinks she can be trusted to decide how much of who's money should be confiscated and directed to the intended ends of the state she hopes to run.  I hope I will be forgiven for having no such confidence in her.

In the response to Will's post,, the author writes:
What Warren actually said celebrated individual achievement, property and autonomy, while making the completely uncontroversial argument that those things are made possible by a functioning society enabled by a healthy social contract.

Why do liberals continue to use the language of Rousseau as regards a supposed "contract"?  It is utter nonsense - did you inspect and/or sign such?  I have not.  Therefore, no contract exists, and certainly not one which permits those, who think they are so enlightened as to attempt these things, to determine how much of my labor they may extract and spend on their own dubious purposes.  Looking at the messy, near freakish, method by which government spends what it extracts from us at gun point, no one should be upset that we don't hold the process in high esteem.

Here's another gem:
The argument Warren is making is over how much each of us should sacrifice in order to keep that functioning society healthy. We’re running a deficit; someone has to pay to close it. Warren is simply asking the wealthy to sacrifice a bit more in that direction, because if they don’t, a disporprotionately heavy burden for fixing it will fall on the rest of us.
So, no matter how foolishly or how fast politicians spend the money they extract via gun point AND THEN SPEND MORE, it is their perogative decide "how much the wealthy should sacrifice" to "solve" the "problem".  Self evidently, the "problem" is we have a political system which empower politicians to spend boatloads of other people's money!!  What evidence is there that allowing Warren or any other would be politician to decide how much anyone should sacrifice would result in a reduction in the budget deficit?  What sane person thinks that the solution to the budgetary problem is related to raising taxes?  Ms. Warren we're stupid, sure, but not THAT stupid. 

Politicians are going to spend every penny they can, because that is what politicians do - spend other people's money and claim it's for "our own good" and use the well intended legislative effort to burnish their legacy.  In short, it has nothing to do with what anyone has to sacrifice, and everything to do with sorting out how to establish a government that is structurally restrained from spending unlimited amounts of money.  Until limits are established, no one should pretend there's any virtue in the "sacrifice" of the wealthy or the not so wealthy.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

NFL and Public Schools

Only scratches the surface of what is wrong with public education, but thought provoking at the least.

A thought experiment.  Are monopolies good?  Is coercion good?  Since public schools are built on coercive monopoly, why would anyone be surprised at the less than idea outcome ...

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Things I Would Do - A Manifesto Of Liberty

These are the things I would attempt were I elected to lead the free world.  I am publishing this list now to make sure that I no longer even imagine getting elected, since, having told the truth about what I would try to do, I am 100% unelectable.
1.  Eliminate all Federal wealth transfer payments of all types - welfare, medicare and medicaid and social security, and college grants/loans, and all of the rest.  Substitute a fixed amount paid to every citizen over age 21 years of age.  Let the amount be variable with inflation but limited to an amount that is "affordable" for the Treasury (legal definition required).  Ball park payment to each citizen would be $10,000 a year, just for waking up in the morning.  Read "In Our Hands" to get the details of this plan.  As of 2009, the Federal Government paid over $16,000 for each poor person in this country.  We can see how much good that is doing.
2.  Eliminate all Federal taxes and implement the Fair Tax (with a Constitutional Amendment which prevents the politicians from adding income taxes back into the mix at a later date).
3.  Privatize NASA or move it to DoD if it is judged to be a national defense program.
4.  Eliminate federal coercive backing of unions.  Folks may cooperatively organize any way they like, but they may not compel anyone or any business/corporation.  They may not prohibit any free citizen from entering into a relationship with any business or employer on any terms to which the two parties agree.
5.  Hire the flood of unemployed lawyers (as a result of parts 2 and 4 above) to find stupid laws to get rid of - pay them by the number of words they eliminate from federal, state and local laws/regulations.
6.  Eliminate the departments of agriculture and education.  These things are far too important to allow the federal government to keep messing about in them.  Caveat:  Move the DoA to DoD if judged a national defense program.
7.  Eliminate all federal regulation of health care or health insurance, except that the federal government may act to defend an individual's right to buy health care from any company in any state or nation, without being compelled by state laws to include "mandates" in the coverage offered.
8.  Ditch the SEC and the SIPC and Fannie and Freddie and all the other federal institutions that collectivize risk.  They make it possible to believe that the buyer should not beware, and other wise just add cost and regulatory waste.
9.  Nuke the Fed.
10.  Raise the Congress' salary an even $1,000,000 per year, with no additional benefits of any sort - no pension, no employer provided health care, no perks, no nothing; if they can't figure it out with 1 million dollars, they can just suffer.  Their salary is payable in years in which they balance the budget.
11.  Defend an idividual's right to stupidly discriminate based on any arbitrary characteristics they would like to as employers, land owners, or schools.  Defend an individual's right to ingest any high risk intoxicant they choose.  Defend an individual's right to pay for or be paid for any cooperative transaction, sexual or otherwise.

Bad Intentions!

What are these Republican revolutionaries doing that Dems find so divisive and dangerous?
Best I can tell, their major offense is holding Washington accountable. Listen to them, as I did on Mackinac Island last week during the Republican Leadership Conference, and the only demand you hear is that politicians stop mortgaging America's future to reckless spending and swelling deficits.
All they want is for politicians to finally do what both Democrats and Republicans always said they'd do — make the government live within its means — but never got around to doing until the tea party forced their hand.
In other words, the tea party is the adult in a roomful of overindulged children who resent the call to accountability. How much greater would the debt be today, how much larger the deficit, if the tea party hadn't shouted, "Enough!"
From The Detroit News:

This author puts his finger on the point - you cannot demonize what the Tea Partiers are asking the government not to do, so that only leaves one avenue for attack - intentions.  I gets back to what I first heard Steven Covey say:  "We judge ourselves by our intentions and we judge others by their actions."  In general, we project our own good intentions onto the political actors that we identify with, and we project bad intentions on those who advocate against our political actors.  What other possible explanation is there for politicians like Ted Kennedy?  Or Bill Clinton?  Clearly, their actions were unacceptable by many if not most - but their advocates saw a man with "good intentions."  

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Falling On Ears That Know Better

Indeed, there is something curious in the liberal argument that Obama, once deified as the ideal megaphone for progressive agendas, is now to be faulted for the current unpopularity of liberalism, given that he remains a far more effective advocate than Jimmy Carter and a far more doctrinaire leftist than Bill Clinton. It is almost as if liberal scapegoating of Obama is an attempt to shift responsibility for progressive failure from the message onto the hapless messenger — an unfairness that a Freeman would never discuss.
At almost the same time as Freeman made his divisive charges, Herman Cain won the Florida straw poll, largely because of the presence of tea-partiers, who felt the entrepreneurial Cain was more conservative than either Perry or Romney, and perhaps more authentic as well. Cain, remember, unlike Obama, is a product of the Southern black experience. His accent and cadences are real and not the studied product of self-described tutorials from the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. He knew racism in an era and place that were a world away from the 1970s Honolulu of Obama’s middle-class white upbringing. How can Herman Cain’s broad white support substantiate Freeman’s charges of a widely racist America, other than by resorting to some strange condescending notion of false consciousness: i.e., that a hapless Cain is being used by white capitalists in a way Barack Obama — the largest recipient of Wall Street cash in the history of presidential campaigns and the first general-election candidate since public campaign financing was instituted to renounce it — most surely is not?
Charges of racism don't stick when they fall on the ears of those that know better.  I don't know anyone that is racist, I've never believed in racism, and I don't fear those who are racist because even to reveal themselves renders them impotent.  There is no soil upon which racism could grow in this country, and the fact that the desperate continue to try and use that spectre is proof that they are desperate.  And pathetic.  Morgan Freeman should get back to wrecking his car late at night or acting, he has proven skills in these arenas, his political insight is at best questionable.

I passed a man in the hall yesterday who was commissioned to the rank of O-1 in our armed forces.  I was delighted to see him with his new rank!  How much diminished my life would be were I unable to enjoy the success of a good man simply because his skin was different than mine.  Racism, above all else, is its own punishment.

Gardiner Foresees a Tipping Point

A big government tipping point?  Didn't we already do this with Clinton? 

Unless we structurally change things - constitutional amendments - the pendulum will swing back, and the statists will again be in fashion.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Cooperation or Coercion? That Is the Question

Dispersed, cooperative knowledge works in economics as it does in evolutionary biology, to accelerate advancement of the human species. Thus two disciplines are joined in Matt Ridley’s book, The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves, for which he received the Hayek Prize this evening from the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.
Friedrich Hayek was, of course, the Nobel economist who pioneered work in what Ridley, in his acceptance lecture, called “bottom-up” economic and social development. (The $50,000 prize is given annually to a book author who best incorporates the late Austrian’s insights.) Hayekian thinking challenges central planning, based on isolated or centralized knowledge, as a fatal conceit.

Tax Code - Restart

Just as in the late 19th century, the tax code is now hopelessly arbitrary and unfair. It requires a complete overhaul.

How to raise the revenue necessary to pay the bills in a way that reflects ability to pay, but does not incentivise unnatural acts as the means to avoid paying?  It should be a tax code that does not result in billions in lost prodcutivity.  A tax code that can not be used as a tool for political calculus. 

Fair tax - when I read the book it made quite a lot of sense.

Flat tax - that would sure be better than what we have.

Corporate tax - wretched represser of economic activity, stupid.

Farm Subsidies - Had Enough

Since 1995, just 10 percent of the largest and wealthiest producers have taken home 74 percent of the subsidies,0,7537871.story

Stop the madness!

Death Penalty Suffers From State Incompetence

Plain and simple, I have always believed that it is morally acceptable that someone be killed if they have inflicted that outcome on others.  But there's also no question in my mind that whether or not "the death penalty" is right or wrong isn't the question we face.

The relevant question is whether or not any agent of the state is competent enough to be trusted with such matters of life and death.  Of course, they are not. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Figure the Odds

Samuelson paints a bleak picture.  What are the odds that politicians would tell the truth - we don't know what to do, we never have, and we will now stop pretending to know that which cannot be known.  "But there has to be action, we can't cut spending, but we can't continue to spend without more "revenue" for fear of further debt driven market trauma!!"  We live in an age in which government spending is viewed as economic stimulus, thus we act like an addict.  We cannot stop spending because we instinctively associate pain to that choice - short  term pain, but sharp. 

Like any addict though, there's only one solution - stop spending, relinquish control, stop pretending to have control over that which cannot be controlled, let the body begin to heal.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

SS Ponzi Scheme

At the Republican presidential debate in Tampa on Monday night, Mitt Romney said Rick Perry has needlessly "scared seniors" by calling Social Security "a Ponzi scheme." Romney, more sensitive to the anxieties of retirees, prefers to say "the American people have been effectively defrauded out of their Social Security" (as he puts it in his 2010 book No Apology) because Congress has spent the program's surplus revenue instead of saving it to pay for future benefits—the sort of crime for which bankers "would go to jail."
See the difference? Neither do I. Both the former Massachusetts governor and the current Texas governor understand that Social Security is a transfer program disguised as a retirement plan and that its frequently mentioned "trust fund" does not actually exist. Their spat over how exactly to characterize that situation is illuminating not because it reveals substantive differences between the candidates but because it shows how often these simple truths are overlooked.

I love USA Today's point that there's a difference but no distinction between a Ponzi scheme and SS:
The day of the debate, for instance, USA Today opined that "Social Security is most certainly not a Ponzi scheme," because Ponzi schemes "are criminal enterprises, which Social Security is not."
In other words, "might makes right." 
Here's another nuggest on our entitlement death spiral:
No one knows for sure exactly how much fraud exists in the Medicare system, but most experts agree that it costs billions of dollars each year. Between 2007 and early 2011, the federal government reports having won convictions against 990 individuals in fraud cases totaling $2.3 billion. In 2010, it recovered an additional $4 billion through collection of non-criminal penalties on health providers who improperly billed the government. But that’s just a fraction of the total problem. 
According to a 2011 report from the Government Accountability Office, Medicare makes an estimated $48 billion in “improper payments” each year, an estimate that’s almost certainly lower than the actual amount since it doesn’t include bad payments within the prescription drug program. Some of that money, perhaps a lot of it, is fraud, but experts differ on exactly how much. On the very low end, the National Health Care Anti-Fraud Association has estimated that about 3 percent of all U.S. health care spending is fraud. Assuming fraud is distributed equally across payment systems, that would mean Medicare’s share is roughly $15 billion a year. But almost all analysts believe fraud is much more common in Medicare than in it is in payments by private insurers. Toward the high end, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) once suggested the number could be as much as $80 billion a year. In March, the executive director of the National Health Care Fraud Association told members of Congress that total health care fraud losses likely range from $75 billion to $250 billion each year.

I'm just so proud knowing our country is going to the poor house based on principles inherent in social security and medicare!