Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Read this article, it is a jewel, especially if you've ever walked this road.

I got a medal for being in a combat zone, and have had the thoughts he expressed many times.  I paid a high price to get to that tour, as did my family, monetarily and in terms of missing my son's first 18 months.  It hurt quite a lot at the time, but now, I feel grateful that I came back whole, as many did not.  I count my blessings.

The combat medal - I feel very proud of it.  I'm also embarrassed by it, as I know, in the author's words, "Many did more and got less." 

Dichotomy is often present as we approach truth.

If I'm proud of the medal, it's nothing compared to friendships made, faith kept, and the growth I was able to get from myself as a human during the 14 months of un-anticipated challenge.  14 months of self pity kept at bay, determination to get it right and set the best example I could, and a daily choice to extract all that I could from that day.  I am very proud to have served.  I am proud of knowing those with whom I served.  I wish I would have known how to accomplish more, but I'm also grateful it was not asked that I trade my life.  Those who walked that road - I think the first thing we owe them is a determination to make something out of what they bought for us.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Heliocentric Models

The first results from the lab's CLOUD ("Cosmics Leaving OUtdoor Droplets") experiment published in Nature today confirm that cosmic rays spur the formation of clouds through ion-induced nucleation. Current thinking posits that half of the Earth's clouds are formed through nucleation. The paper is entitled Role of sulphuric acid, ammonia and galactic cosmic rays in atmospheric aerosol nucleation.
This has significant implications for climate science because water vapour and clouds play a large role in determining global temperatures. Tiny changes in overall cloud cover can result in relatively large temperature changes.

Wait wait - you mean there are feedback loops in the atmosphere?

Ideas for The President to Consider

Some of these are brilliant - and so obvious:
The Kauffman Foundation recently proposed a way to do that with a set of ideas aptly called the Startup Act. Those ideas, which would cost the government virtually nothing, include:
• Letting in immigrant entrepreneurs who hire American workers.
• Reducing the cost of capital through capital gains tax relief for early stage investments.
• Reducing barriers to IPOs by allowing shareholders to opt out of Sarbanes-Oxley.
• Charging higher fees for patent applicants who want quick decisions to remove the backlog of applications at the Patent Office.
• Giving licensing freedom to academic entrepreneurs at universities to accelerate the commercialization of their ideas.
• Having the government provide data to permit rankings of startup friendliness of states and localities.
• Regular sunsets for regulations and a consistent policy of putting new ones in place only if their benefits exceed their costs.

Classic Quotes, Unknown

"Cherish your doubts, for doubt is the attendant of truth."  Author Unknown

Examination of the Debt/Deficit

That decline ended in 2001 following the collapse of the dot-com bubble and rising unemployment in the resulting recession. By 2003 the debt-to-GDP ratio had risen to 61.7%. Many blame the Bush tax cuts for adversely impacting federal revenues, causing the debt to spiral upwards. But that is just not true. Federal revenues declined by almost 12% in the early years of the decade, but when the tax cuts fully kicked in in 2003, the economy began to grow strongly again and federal revenues increased 44% in the next four years, while unemployment fell to 4.2% from 6.2%. Federal outlays in those four years increased by only 26.4%, and while the debt-to-GDP ratio increased to 64.8% by 2007, that was still well below what it had been in 1994.

A key question, raised all the time, is: "What impact did the Bush tax cuts have on the economy and debt picture"?  Did the reduced rates induce growth and increase revenues?  Did the reduced tax rates just deprive our treasury of money it should have had but didn't, thus accelerating the debt building cycle? 

No one knows.  Everyone guesses, and says they know the answer, but they don't.  They say what they need to in order to manipulate, but think it through; how could they know the answer to such a complex question?  By what means could they prove their assertions?  They can't, but strangely, they don't need to because there seems to be an unending appetite for speculation.  We apparently want to be lied to, because we listen when people tell us they know stuff they cannot possibly know.

This is another manifestation of the pretense of knowledge, which distracts us from the fact that clueless clowns are perfectly happy to tell us what they think they know even if they don't know any such thing. 

Swing and A Miss

Monday, August 29, 2011

Baked In Fraud

Read/watch this and week.  Tip of the iceberg here, and it's been going on so long, no one's even upset about it.  No one blinks when the next poltician swears they will put a stop to this.  We just keep letting billions waste away.  If you think medicare and medicaid are essential tools to help the needy, you should be pounding on your congressional delegation day and night about this.

Classic Quote, Unknown

The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of a mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.  Author Unknown

Cash Poor

Maybe the cash-strapped U.S. government should start selling iPads.
According to the latest statement from the U.S. Treasury, the government had an operating cash balance Wednesday of $73.8 billion. That's still a lot of money, but it's less than what Steve Jobs has lying around.

This is a funny line, but of course, our government would inevitably start to lose money making even iPods.

Does anyone doubt it?

Utopian Dreams For All

We’ve got to cut spending much more dramatically. Yes, that includes finding ways to cut Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare and other bloated programs that help the nation’s most poor. And, yes, that means cutting our military spending, too.
Sorry to say it, but we also have to raise taxes. While I’m all for smaller government and lower taxes – we simply can’t dig out of this hole with spending cuts alone. We bear the burden of the generations of low taxes and high spending before us.
If it were up to me (it’s clearly not), I’d favor a 2:1 ratio. We’d cut twice the spending (as I believe our spending is our core problem) than we would raise taxes – but we’d still do both.

There's no way to restore fiscal sanity without, as the author writes, addressing the entitlement programs.  They are, and medicare in particular is, over fifty percent of the unfunded future obligation.  Unless and until that is dealt with, there's almost no sense in fighting over the rest of it. 

By contrast, SS could be fixed with a few nips and tucks - raise the age hurdles, means testing, and of course, decreased payments.  To a degree, this is all being done via dilution of the dollar (That sort of funny money game doesn't work at all with medicare).  Social security going forward will be interesting to track across the suck factor - it's already such a marginal program that they have to force people to participate via gun point.  How much worse will it get?

As for taxes - we don't need higher tax rates, unless that produces higher tax revenue.  Precision in language as regards taxes is everything.  To assume that raising tax rates will increase the number of dollars flowing into the treasury is quite uninformed as it pretends that human behavior is not affected by incentives.

I also think the tax increase talk is deceptive per se.  We don't suffer from a lack of taxation, we suffer from uncontrolled spending.  You can do nothing about the later by manipulating the former.  Were the politicians to establish a spending limit, raising tax revenues might be productive.  However, since they clearly spend until they cannot spend more, I see no reason to believe, in fact I think it is deluded to believe, that having raised taxes, politicians won't find another reason why they have to spend it.

The means by which we tax ourselves could be changed such that we don't waste so much human capital maneuvering around the tax system (personal and business), and we don't distort the process of choosing how to invest by tax perversions.  My vote is a massive simplification with a four year phase out of deductions, and elimination of taxation on businesses.  The resulting explosion in business activity, and elimination of billions of dollars of pure waste that is currently part and parcel of tax planning and compliance, will result in hiring and productive employment of many people.

Lastly, as addressed here, without a growth aspect in the "plan" for managing the nation's unsustainable spending, I'm not sure there's a solution.  You can take what politicians know about stimulating growth and stuff that into a tissue box.  The only proven strategy is liberty, and that is anathema to the political animal since it renders him/her insignificant.  The pretense of significance is the life blood of the political animal.  Logically, the chance that any political body will increase liberty, "except at gunpoint" - a term I mean figuratively - is poor at best.

So all we're asking politicians to do is to: 
*revamp medicare to a system that works, does not distort medical pricing to the absurd degree it is being done now (complete disconnect between value, cost and price in the current socialized/capitalized bastard child of our "health care system").  In short, they must unlegislate all of the value distorting things they've created since WWII
*set spending limits on themselves, increase liberty, and decrease their significance in our lives
*make un-political choices about taxes that will increase the number of people who pay, and drastically simplify the ways by which tax obligations are determined.  They must make choices that eliminate waste, choices that stimulate the motive to conduct business, choices that eliminate the significance of politicians in the tax process, and choices that don't allow politicians to say they "stuck it to the other side, which is why you should vote for me."  I'm not holding my breath on this ....
*make choices which might marginally increase tax revenues, but will still essentially put the burden on the political class to cease and desist buying favor by spending tax payer money

Short of a constitutional convention, I don't see how any of the above could be accomplished.  Thus most of the discussion will be more blathering about nothing.  The result:  crisis, which is usually the justification for an elevation of tyranny.

Barry writes about goodness here:
Barry's brain is immense and powerful, and I don't know how he sees the rubber meeting the road, but from my perspective, goodness comes from humans doing what they always will, serving their own self interest, through cooperation vice coercion.  Absent the power of the state, the ability of any group to coerce another is extremely limited. 

Government's primary job, day and night, should be to defend your rights against others, and others against you.  With government focused on that job, there's little for the "special interests" to fight over, and no real way to get ahead except by being the best at giving folks what they want in the market at a price they want to pay - and doing so better than all competitors (Wal Mart, Standard Oil, etc).

In short, I get simplistic along these lines:  either you believe in the power of coercion and think we just need "better politicians" doing "smarter" legislation to make it all better to create a just and fair utopia; or you think no one is smart enough to coordinate things as complex as economies and health care transactions and all the other immensity of our world, and so it's best to let people work it out cooperatively, warts and all.

As for me, I think the moment two people agree on mutually acceptable terms is "goodness."  Informed and wise mutual agreement is more goodness, and foolish mutual agreement is less goodness.  Both of those outcomes trump coercion by a third part.  This is known colloquially as "freedom."  Perhaps you have heard this term. 

The solution from my perspective is to stuff the Federal Government back into a box from which its powers are to provide for our common defense, and to ensure the States don't treat us any worse than the Federal Government is allowed to. 

Scared Sharks - Sounds Like A Good Start To Me

So Perry kicked the snot out of the lawyers in Texas?  I may have to change my mind about him.

Could there be a better start to the next US boom than by removing the spigots by which the lawyers funnel money away from the productive and to themselves?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Is It Better If It's Worse?

"People on Twitter might be joking, but in all seriousness, we would see a bigger boost in spending and hence economic growth if the earthquake had done more damage."

Do you think we could get an economic boost from severe hurricane damage?  If you do, you don't understand where wealth comes from - which is from the human capacity to use time to transform lesser valued stuff into stuff valued more highly in the marketplace. 

But if you did believe in what is known as the Broken Window Fallacy, you would not be alone.

"Economist" Paul Krugman wrote:
If we discovered that, you know, space aliens were planning to attack and we needed a massive buildup to counter the space alien threat and really inflation and budget deficits took secondary place to that, this slump would be over in 18 months.... There was a "Twilight Zone" episode like this in which scientists fake an alien threat in order to achieve world peace.
As the author says, "he's getting his economics from John Maynard Keynes by way of Rod Serling. Laugh if you like, but on a grimmer note, this is the same pseudo-economist who saw a bright side to the 9/11 attacks because "all of a sudden, we need some new office buildings" and "rebuilding will generate at least some increase in business spending.""

The author describes the circumstance of his earthquake damaged house:
Strangely, we don't have any actual broken windows, just the odd bits of smashed crockery, but we're experiencing the "broken window" phenomenon concretely and first hand. The earthquake will definitely "stimulate" some employment for a local crew of masons, but as in the classic fallacy, it will be at the expense of other, more productive uses for the same money, as we put off planned purchases and renovations. The repairs will probably cost as much as a modest new car—which, come to think of it, is one of the purchases we'll be putting off.  All of which would be just my personal problem, if not for the fact that the Fallacy of the Broken Window is the basic premise on which America's national economic policy is currently built.

The magnificently common sense conclusion:
Outside of a few little towns in Central Virginia, the East Coast quake is insignificant. But it is dwarfed by the vast destruction of wealth caused by taxation, borrowing, and inflation to fund this administration's failed stimulus. The essence of President Obama's economic policy is to go around smashing people's windows (and shattering the value of our dollars), in the hope that he can get the economy moving by stimulating business for the world's glass-makers.

Which Narrative?

Forgive for a moment the author's ideation of a human - a remarkable human for sure - which CW uses to give an emotional boost to an impassioned argument.  But note the contradictions. 

CW expresses a belief that democracy is the ideal we should strive for, but cites not a single example in which it has worked well.  Pure democracy does not work well, which is why the Founders left us with a democratic republic.  They also left us a government designed to be "of the People, by the People, and for the People" but incomprehensibly defined out of that meaning people who were "owned" by other people.

CW complains that we use too much coercive force through our invention of the "drug war."  CW thinks we deprive too many people of their liberty for victimless crimes such as drug use.  I agree.  CW's solution, though, is to ramp up the use of coercive force.  The underlying thought is seemingly "We'll get this right next time."  I get it.  There's an ideal in which smart, informed, good people win elections and take the best of actions with gilded intentions and create a world of justice and equality for all, even folks that take drugs and drink intoxicants and display all the other manifestations of human frailty.  CW does not think this vision utopic.

CW's prescription:
King’s response to our crisis can be put in one word: revolution. A revolution in our priorities, a re-evaluation of our values, a reinvigoration of our public life and a fundamental transformation of our way of thinking and living that promotes a transfer of power from oligarchs and plutocrats to everyday people and ordinary citizens.

Well, sure, let's change our values, our public life and the ways we think.  This is sure to work - if we all change our values and thoughts so that we think as the author does.  If we do, his utopia will be manifest.  In short, if we just do things like the author wants them done, we'll get a precise, effective and useful result from the use of coercion. 

CW points to the crime of militarism, as do many libertarians, but misses the lesson - if a government is not limited, it will abuse the power it holds.  CW wants more coercive action by government.  There's no shortage of that now.  CW thinks the coercive actions should be different coercive actions, not the ones that have delivered us to our present circumstance.  By what means does CW think this may be accomplished?  Is there any reason to believe that, by empowering men to coerce other men through the sanction of the state, men will do a better job next time?  CW implies that it is not the use of force that is incorrect, rather that is was not used properly.  "We just didn't pick the right horses."  Instead, we should pick folks like the following, who really love to throw around government's monopoly on coercive force:
In concrete terms, this means support for progressive politicians like Senator Bernard Sanders of Vermont and Mark Ridley-Thomas, a Los Angeles County supervisor

Does CW give us any reason to hope that power will not be abused?  Does CW even have awareness of the issue?  Has there been a case in which government power has not been abused? 
Instead of articulating a radical democratic vision and fighting for homeowners, workers and poor people in the form of mortgage relief, jobs and investment in education, infrastructure and housing, the administration gave us bailouts for banks, record profits for Wall Street and giant budget cuts on the backs of the vulnerable.
The summary of CW's lament:  IF I WAS KING I COULD MAKE IT ALL BETTER

This is what every tyrant thinks, and it is what I think.  There's a significant discriminator between the notional Apollotyrant and other would be tyrants.

When elected "Master of Space and Time" I will force you to decide for yourself, be responsible for yourself, and suffer the consequences if you treat your friends and family like dirt and have nothing to fall back on.  I will trust you to do the best you can for yourself and others, realizing that utopia is not an option, and that pain and suffering are here with us to stay.  I will insist that your respect the lives and property rights of your fellow Americans, and prosecute you to the limit of the law if you do not.  I will insist that, as Master of Space and Time, I limit my activities to the legitimate actions of the Supra State - which are to defend your rights and your neighbors' rights.  There would be no coercive government "welfare", no coercive government "social security", and very little talk about how great our nation is.  There would be no minimum wage, since you would be expected to decide for yourself whether to work and at what compensation level.  There would be no connection between government and unions, except to ensure that no union could interfere with your liberty to enter into a working relationship with any employer.  The government would not steal money from any citizen in order to fund another citizen's education, but given the passion most citizens have, I suspect each child would be educated, and likely in a better school than the ones we see now.  No money would be coercively removed from one citizen's pocket in order to pay for another's health care.  But given the same commitment to health care for all that Americans say they believe in, I have no concern, as there are any number of systems by which people could voluntarily support those in need, and for a fraction of the supposed cost of the present system of health care, which is completely divorced from any notion of value by the coercive interventions of the government into the provision of health care services today.

Not that I really want the job of MoST, but I have no doubt you'd live a better, fuller richer life with a limited government than were you so unlucky to be stuck in CW's tyranny.

Which narrative do you believe?

Minimum Wage = Unemployment

Minimum wage laws are classic examples. The last year in which the black unemployment rate was lower than the white unemployment rate was 1930. That was also the last year in which there was no federal minimum wage law.
The Davis-Bacon Act of 1931 was in part a result of a series of incidents in which non-union black construction labor enabled various contractors from the South to underbid Northern contractors who used white, unionized construction labor.
The Davis-Bacon Act required that "prevailing wages" be paid on government construction projects-- "prevailing wages" almost always meaning in practice union wages. Since blacks were kept out of construction unions then, and for decades thereafter, many black construction workers lost their jobs.
Minimum wages were required more broadly under the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933 and under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, with negative consequences for black employment across a much wider range of industries.
In recent times, we have gotten so used to young blacks having sky-high unemployment rates that it will be a shock to many readers of Walter Williams' "Race and Economics" to discover that the unemployment rate of young blacks was once only a fraction of what it has been in recent decades. And, in earlier times, it was not very different from the unemployment rate of young whites.

Sowell: Virtue and Adversity

"At one time, it was well understood that adversity taught valuable lessons, which reduce the probability of repeating foolish decisions. But, today, the welfare state shields people from the consequences of their own mistakes, allowing irresponsibility to continue and to flourish among ever wider circles of people."

Sowell: Intentions v. Reality

"Many liberals who consider themselves friends or allies of blacks are usually friends or allies of those particular blacks who are doing wrong things, often at the expense of other blacks."

Sowell On Williams About Government And Intentions

These writers, and the topic one reveals in this short article, describe the root of what makes the last 80 years of liberal interventionism in our government a crying shame of hubris, oppression, and human suffering.

"Some might find it puzzling that during times of gross racial discrimination, black unemployment was lower and blacks were more active in the labor force than they are today."

The author makes a compelling case that the entitlement programs have, despite their intentions to the contrary, done more to hurt black skinned people than did systemic, government sponsored, illegal, unconstitutional, racial discrimination. 

I cannot write much about race issues.  My grandparents were farmers, merchants and business men.  Their parents were too.  They lived in southern central Alabama.  My private school education was paid for by my parents, as were theirs.  My father's medical school bills were paid by the US Navy.  Everyone involved in these transactions earned what they got.  If I wasn't a great student, I did the work, went to class, and struggled every quarter to be a better student.  I was able to leverage the education my parents gave me to enter a career path that would have been closed to many due to circumstances as out of their control as I was of my good fortune. 

In short, what I am, and where I am in the world, is a mix of incredible good fortune and my being just savvy enough to make something out of my jackpot.  I am not ashamed of drawing the jackpot, and apologize to no one.  I do not believe anyone else has fared more poorly because of whatever success I have had.  I believe in what Steven Covey describes as the abundance mentality - there is more than enough possibility for success for every person to get a share - in theory. 

So I tread lightly because I know there are people with an ENTIRELY different experience than mine.  What troubles me, though, is the idea that these groups of people, identifiable by race, gender or ostensibly some other genetically identifiable characteristic, are doing badly despite government force used on their behalf. 

What I see, what these authors highlight so well, is that these groups of "disadvantaged" people are doing well BECAUSE of the (presumably well intentioned) government force used on their behalf.

We are presented with the horror of tyranny used with good intentions which causes vast, unintended harm in all directions.  Even those who believe heart and soul that the monopoly on coercive force held by the government should be used to "do good" should be frightened by even the possibility that this is true.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Living On Other Peoples' Money

As the moonless night of fa$ci$m descends on America’s dairyland, sidewalk graffiti next to the statehouse-square drinking fountain darkly warns: “Free water . . . for now.” There, succinctly, is liberalism’s credo: If everything isn’t “free,” meaning paid for by someone else, nothing will be safe.

"Free water."  Weird thing to haggle over, because anyone could discern it is not free.  Not paid for at the point of sale, but certainly, somewhere and by some one or some group - it was paid for, and probably by coercion.

Founding Fathers Crazy Like Perry

And most, if not quite all, of the Founders virulently attacked the same darn thing as did Mr. Perry: funny money.  Those who wrote and championed the Constitution and the statesmen of young America detested the idea of funny money like Federal Reserve Notes. Real money was, exclusively, gold and silver.  They, like Perry, considered their era’s “quantitative easing” both immoral and economically toxic.
Paine:  “As to the assumed authority of any assembly in making paper money, or paper of any kind, a legal tender, or in other language, a compulsive payment, it is a most presumptuous attempt at arbitrary power. There can be no such power in a republican government: the people have no freedom — and property no security — where this practice can be acted: and the committee who shall bring in a report for this purpose, or the member who moves for it, and he who seconds it merits impeachment, and sooner or later may expect it.”  “… and the punishment of a member who should move for such a law ought to be death.”
Washington:  “We are fast verging to anarchy and confusion! … They are determined to annihilate all debts public and private, and have Agrarian Laws, which are easily effected by the means of unfunded paper money which shall be a tender in all cases whatever.”
Jefferson: “Paper money is liable to be abused, has been, is, and forever will be abused, in every country in which it is permitted.”
Madison: “The extension of the prohibition [of paper money] must give pleasure to every citizen, in proportion to his love of justice and his knowledge of the true springs of public prosperity.”

Classic Quote, Suzuki

The reason everything looks beautiful is because it is out of balance. But its background is always in perfect harmony.
Shunryu Suzuki


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

AGW Opus

This piece is well written, but is so horribly uninformed that it will never really be satisfying to respond to, so .... I will just use it to jump off to the AGW (anthropogenic global warming) and science discussion.  This author, and many others, throw around the term "science" in such a way as to make it a meaningless term.  You don't have to be a "scientist" to understand what is or is not good science.

The BLUF:  The author believes that if a majority of "scientists" believe that the earth is warming due to the activities of mankind, then the "science" supports said theory of "anthropogenic global warming" or "climate change."  If one wonders how "scientists" could discern the difference between inevitable changes in climate, and the ones supposedly caused by human activity, one will be described by this author as "unthinking."  I would say that anyone who accepts the climate change conjecture as presented to the public is guilty of the same or worse - but there's no need to dis-abuse me of the notion that people care whether or not I think they are unthinking.

Never mind for a moment what the author thinks he's saying when he says Perry - who is clearly thinking very hard about how to become president, and is doing about as well as any one else afflicted with such an ambition - is "unthinking".

Thinking About Proof Using the Scientific Method
Here are a few things for the author to "think" about.  If one were to go about trying to figure out if fluctuations in the earth's climate were caused by human activity, or were naturally occurring, how would one use the scientific method to do that?

First, one might form a conjecture - "I think humans are causing climate change via carbon emissions."

Then one would gather data.  Data like:
-antarctic ice cores which have captured atmospheric carbon dioxide levels to calculable times
-tree rings
-available measures of temperature from around the world (thermometer readings)
-ocean temperatures the world over
-atmospheric temperature profiles via satellite
-polar ice - for square miles and total mass
-advance/decline of glaciers
-annual snow fall
-layers of sediment in lakes/harbors for evidence of temperature changes over time
-our sun's output in heat energy over time

There are probably a few more measurements that would make potentially useful data.

Then you would ask yourself:
1.  How much did the climate fluctuate "normally"? (meaning, before mankind's carbon contributions began)
2.  What is the "earth's temperature" now?
3.  What are all of the factors which impact the "earth's temperature"?
4.  How much does accumulation of carbon dioxide, and other man made contributions to the atmosphere, affect  the "earth's temperature"?
5.  How much does the earth's heat source - the sun - vary over time, and how do those variances affect the "earth's temperature"?

From Data to Model
At this point, one might be able to concoct a model which would allow one to test inputs for predicted outcomes.  If this model was very, very well constructed, it would be able to "backward forecast" historical temperatures based on inputs of known variables.  That is to say, if the model was based on, for example, a measure of sun energy reaching earth, and carbon dioxide levels which were the real numbers that existed historically, the model would accurately predict the temperatures that resulted (assuming they were known).  If one entered incorrect data about sun energy and carbon dioxide, though, the model should make inaccurate "backwards predictions." 

So what would "prove" that climate change is anthropogenic?  If the very same model as described above could forecast future temperatures with sufficient accuracy.

I assume everyone knows that such a model has yet to be devised.  No scientist, or non-scientist, or puppy dog, has developed a model which is predictive of  the "earth's temperature" to a sufficient degree of accuracy that it would serve as proof.  In fact, extant models serve as proof that the modelers do not understand the various factors involved in climate change well enough to predict future temperatures. 

The "science" is, therefore, not settled.  AGW is not proved.  AGW is probably at least ten years from being proved. The conjecture of AGW has not even reached the level of theory yet.  Theory is a significant scientific marker, but is still short of law. 

What Is the Role of Consensus in Science?
What if a thousand "scientists" think the AGW conjecture is true?  Should that seem like compelling evidence? 

What if there are two "scientists" who don't think the AGW conjecture is true?  What if I can also find 1000 scientists who say that the AGW conjecture is untrue and unlikely and is more likely to be related to variances in the energy earth receives from the sun?  Is scientific consensus just another way of saying "popularity contest?" 

Who counts as a "scientist"?  Do we count only specific experts in meteorology?  Those with a PHD in physics?  Climatologists?  Oto laryngologists?  People who take photos of polar bears who are happily floating on an ice berg? 

What if I say your representation of 1000 scientists' opinions is really only 994 scientists, because 6 of your scientists died in a tragic polar bear attack?  What if it turns out that I have 1000 scientists who are pure as the wind driven snow, have never had a drink or taken drugs, they never engaged in sexual activity outside of marriage, and they love their mommas, but your 1000 scientists are all employed by the 18 billion dollar a year global warming cabal?  My scientists are better than yours, because they have better intentions, right?

I hope the absurdity illustrates the point, which point is - all this talk about what scientists say is beyond pointless.  Anyone who speaks with this language mis-understands what is important about the scientific method, which is that scientific expertise is only useful if it enables one to more skillfully set up and evaluate tests of conjecture, hypothesis, and theory, to show that these may or may not be true.

Or, as I just saw on a nutrition blog, another arena with little scientific certainty, "If fifty million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing."  Anatole France

According to the scientific method, if all "scientists" think that the AGW conjecture is true, it does not mean anything different than if two "scientists" think the AGW conjecture is true.  Opinions are an elemental component of the scientific method (if you have no opinion, you have nothing to test), but have nothing to do with "proof." 

The scientific method is predicated on the fallibility of humans.  The scientific method works when all humans are assumed fallible, especially those conducting the science.  No opinion is to be taken at face value.  All assertions are to be questioned.  Truth is derived by a devotion to measurable, observable, repeatable results through experimentation or forecast via model.  When science yields a result, opinion is not relevant.  Either the experiment (or in the case of AGW, experimental model) delivers measurable, observable and repeatable results, or it does not. 

Appealing To Authority
In the court of public opinion, in contrast to science, appeals to authority are popular because they work - even when people don't know something, they like to think that "experts" do know something.  People like to find certainty about uncertain matters in the opinions of experts.

As my friend and AGW expert Dr. Jeff Glassman puts it:  "Scientific concensus is the same as CO2 concentrations - a trailing indiciator."  Dr. Glassman has published a paper which makes an as yet unanswered and scientifically rigorous defense of the case that observed temperature fluctuations can be attributed to the sun without reference to CO2 concentrations whatsoever.

The article linked at the beginning of this post uses the "appeal to authority" technique to condemn those who would oppose his use of the coercive monopoly of the state to make things according to the way he thinks they should be.  He wants to force you to conduct yourself in a specific, non-carbon emitting way.  In his opinion, his obstruction of your liberty is justified because experts say the means justify the ends.  The irony is that his appeal to scientific popularity vote is the author's own abnegation.

The Urge to Tyranny
I trust you are smart enough to see the implication - which is that if your liberty may be infringed based on appeals to authority, in effect, there are no limits to government, and any passionate majority may use the government to coerce your behavior "for your own good." 

Never mind the fact that, as has been discussed on this blog many times, even if the opinions of the "scientists" are correct as regards humanity's role in AGW, there's still no proof that taking action to reduce carbon emissions will provide more benefit than harm.  "Some experts" think warming would be better than cooling for humans, on the average.

Further, it is unlikely that anything could be done to reduce carbon emissions, given the fact that global governments are just as dysfunctional as, if not so more so, than ours is, and any solution would be based on political calculus which would primarily serve to increase the political power of those currently holding power. 

Lastly, since the "scientists" don't understand AGW well enough to model it, who knows whether their recommendations would work to change AGW, even if the politicians would implement the "right" solutions?

There are plenty of reasons to be leery of Rick Perry and all other candidates for President.  Perry's scepticism about AGW, and willingness to express it, isn't one of them.
(edited with additional content 9/2/11)

Classic Quote, Mencken

is from page 69 of The Impossible H. L. Mencken (Marion Elizabeth Rodgers, ed., 1991); it originally appeared in Mencken’s 1935 Baltimore Evening Sun essay entitled “The Constitution”:
Every right that anyone has today is based on the doctrine that government is a creature of limited powers, and that the men constituting it become criminals if they venture to exceed those powers.

There's a Reason

"There have been times when Congress was just as dysfunctional; there have been times where the country was full of vitriol in its politics," he said. "So this isn't unique in our time."

He criticized Republicans for recent "brinkmanship" over raising the nation's debt ceiling but said he "absolutely can do business with them."

Obama said he would push
Democrats to find "common ground and compromise."

"And if that's happening on both sides, there's no reason why we can't solve problems," he said.,0,3923080.story
There's a very good reason why "they" can't solve problems - "they" think that problem solving means that "they", men who would be gods, just need to write smarter laws, implement them better and thereby pull the strings of a world wide economy to "create" jobs and "growth." 

Were they to humbly accept that "they", being men, have no idea what to do to via the coercive power of the state that would result in things getting better for "us", they would be moving in the right direction.  Then they might consider doing things like this.

Monday, August 22, 2011

But What If We All Really, Really, Really Want It To Work?

Regulations proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency would destroy hundreds of thousands of jobs in the coal and electric power industries, and send electric bills soaring.
Mr. Obama's efforts to force Detroit to build electric cars consumers don't want (think a Chevette with a Cadillac price tag) may cost 220,000 jobs in the auto industry.
Our economically illiterate president prattles on about "green jobs." But so-called "renewables" require massive government subsidies to produce little energy. Studies in Spain, Britain and Italy indicate each subsidized "green" job costs, respectively, 2.2, 3.7 and 4.8 jobs in the private sector.

Algore and the Chickenlittles, Again

According to global warming theory, carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels are trapping heat in the upper atmosphere, inexorably warming the planet.
The theory ignored inconvenient facts:
• In the Medieval Warm Period (950-1250 AD), and the Roman Warm Period (250 BC-400 AD), there were no automobiles or factories, but temperatures were warmer than now.
• In geologic history, CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere were much higher, but temperatures often were lower. In the Late Ordovician Period, CO2 concentrations were 12 times higher than they are today. The Late Ordovician Period was an ice age.
• Vostok (Antarctica) ice core samples indicate temperature changes have preceded changes in CO2 concentrations by an average of 800 years. This couldn't happen if CO2 caused temperature changes.
• CO2 in the atmosphere has increased since 1998, but temperatures haven't.
Now a peer-reviewed study of NASA satellite data indicates the computer models warmists rely upon grossly exaggerate the amount of heat being trapped in the atmosphere.
Mr. Gore's alarmist predictions have proved false. Polar ice caps are larger. So is the polar bear population (and the scientist upon whom Mr. Gore relied for his claim that the polar bear is endangered is facing accusations of scientific misconduct). The rise in sea levels -- which has been going on since the end of the last ice age -- is slowing down.

Fracking Unreal

Thanks to the new technique of hydraulic fracturing (fracking), which makes it possible to recover oil and natural gas trapped in shale, the United States now has more reserves of oil, coal and natural gas than any other nation, concluded the Congressional Research Service.
"Shale gas doesn't change everything, it's much more important than that," said British energy expert Nick Grealy.
If these resources were exploited properly, America could be energy independent very soon. Millions of well-paying jobs would be created. New tax revenues would flood the Treasury. The cost of gasoline and electricity would plummet.

If true, this will be a game changer.  As friend and CrossFit founder Greg Glassman wrote, (, "truth is like a beach ball, it takes effort to keep it hidden and eventually comes to the surface."

Classic Quote, Thurman

"Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."
- Howard Thurman

Friday, August 19, 2011

Making the Connection

The author of this piece goes on and on about just how incredibly horrible Perry is, and expresses his dismay that such a man might be elected President.  Perry's crimes include - and this is truly wretched, as I'm sure you agree - saying:
-that he's not entirely sure anyone really knows exactly how old the earth is
-he thinks that AGW is a hoax perpetrated by grant chasing researchers
-the President is not respected by the military
-that Bernanke's committing treason through his manipulations at the Fed

Of course, the author will never make the connection that, assuming he's right on all counts about how wretched Perry is, that is exactly why we need a limited government.  People elect wretched people to be their political leaders.  Always have.  Always will.  On what rational basis could we possibly think otherwise?  That truth underlies the point of limitied government, for those who can make the connection.

Type M Argument

Charging one’s opponents with bad faith is the ultimate political ad hominem. It obviates argument, fact, logic, history. Conservatives resist Obama’s social-democratic, avowedly transformational agenda not just on principle but on empirical grounds, as well — the economic and moral unraveling of Europe’s social-democratic experiment, on display today from Athens to the streets of London.

If I had held any expectations of the President, I would say that his practice of assuming and assigning bad intentions to the opposition is beneath him.  Virtually any of these statements could be repeated by any politician in either of the dominant parties.  Anyone can say "those folks' motives are bad!"  It's a meaningless statement, since even a person with bad intentions can choose a right legislative course - and in fact, I would bet this has been the case, assuming there was ever a right legislative course chosen. 

Every politician has but one motive - their own political self preservation. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Believe the Science

"We’re not going to win a national election if we become the anti-science party,” John Weaver, Huntsman’s chief strategist, said in an interview Wednesday. “The American people are looking for someone who lives in reality and is a truth teller because that’s the only way that the significant problems this country faces can be solved."

First off, "buffoon alert" - this Weaver cat is able to spit enough BS into one sentence to qualify for some kind of award.  But, I state the obvious, he is after all a politicial strategist, that's what they are good at!

As for the American people looking for a truth teller, we like to think we are, but we rarely elect them to political office.  Hey, maybe this is the change we've been waiting for.

His comment about the "science party" is funny.  Does he know the difference between a conjecture, a hypothesis, a theory and a law?  Does he understand that the concept of anthropogenic global warming is at best a conjecture?  Does he have any idea what it would take to say "This proves climate change is predominantly driven by human activity"? 

I doubt it.  But that won't stop him from sounding off like someone who does know those things. 

Thankfully, the Huntsman campaign is going no where.

Glick: Isolationism Defined

Isolationism broadly speaking is the notion that the US is better off withdrawing to fortress America and leaving the rest of the world's nations to fight it out among themselves. The isolationist impulse in the US is what caused the US to enter both world wars years after they began. It is what has propelled much of the anti-war sentiment on the far Left and the far Right alike since Sept.11. The far Left argues the US should withdraw from world leadership because the US is evil. And the far Right argues that the US should withdraw from world leadership because the world is evil.

Good or bad, these outcomes are not insignificant.  Do we really know enough to go muddling about in the affairs of others?

A dear friend of mine, very liberal, would always lament US foreign policy.  One got the feeling that he thought "if only people with my insight could do it, we could get foreign policy right."  Of course, every political candidate says the same thing, and certainly, The President thought his apology tour would have a positive influence.  My friend never made the connection - we screwed up foreign policy for the same reason we always will; we don't know enough, cannot know enough, to make the world dance to our tune.  It is hubristic to think we could.

... in practice the consequence of Bush's adoption of the neoconservative worldview was the empowerment of populist and popular jihadists and Iranian allies throughout the Middle East at the expense of US allies. Hamas won the Palestinian Authority elections in 2006. Its electoral victory paved the way for its military takeover of Gaza in 2007.
Hezbollah's participation in Lebanon's 2005 elections enabled the Iranian proxy army to hijack the Lebanese government in 2006, and violently takeover the Lebanese government in 2009.
The Muslim Brotherhood's successful parliamentary run in Egypt in 2005 strengthened the radical, anti-American, jihadist group and weakened Mubarak.
And the election of Iranian-influenced Iraqi political leaders in Iraq in 2005 exacerbated the trend of Iranian predominance in post-Saddam Iraq. It also served to instigate a gradual estrangement of Saudi Arabia from the US.

Will On Euro Change, Decline

In 2002, during preparations for the invasion of Iraq, the then head of the British army, returning from a Washington visit, told Hastings, “Mass matters — and we don’t have it.” Hastings notes that the U.S. Marine Corps’ air wing is larger than the Royal Air Force. Americans know that “if the British army shrinks as scheduled after withdrawal from Afghanistan, we shall thereafter be able to deploy only a single brigade group of 7,000 to 8,000 men for sustained operations overseas.”
Which has implications for the “special relationship” — Hastings says this is now “a rather pathetic British conceit” — between Britain and America. “If,” he says, “we wish to play our traditional role abroad in pursuit of any perceived important Western foreign policy objective, to enjoy America’s confidence and share its secrets, we must own armed forces and intelligence assets capable of earning these things.”
NATO’s secretary-general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, recently warned that “at the current pace of cuts,” it is hard to see how in the future “Europe could maintain enough military capabilities to sustain” operations such as those under way in Libya.
Actually, Europe could not sustain them today; only U.S. munitions, intelligence, refueling and other assets keep the Libyan operations going.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Harrop on Federalism, States' Rights

Well done, Ms. Harrop, and thank you for writing this.

"Of course, such states' rights arguments have been used to defend such evils as legalized racial discrimination."
While true, that does not mean it has to be that way.  It is a legitimate function of the Federal Government to defend individual rights - easily defined as "my rights end where your nose and property begins."  The Federal Government should step in, and should have stepped in, in defense of individual liberty, anytime a state government fails in its perogative to defend the rights of individuals.

Somebody Said It

That was my thought, exactly, Dr. Sowell, thanks for writing this.

His Pomposity Is Impressive

Maybe it's possible to raise the level of the discussion. One way is to see that the level of the solution isn't found on the same as the level of the problem. Obama has taken that view as his long-term strategy. His position is that acrimonious divisions in government, the problem, can't be solved by being even more acrimonious. His call for compromise, balance and a reasoned approach to our difficult challenges is a sane adult's way of rising above the level of the problem.
Read more:

This poor fool doesn't have the slightest idea what the problem is, he writes like he thinks that if we just execute government with more skill, more courage, more cooperation, less conflict, we can "get it right."  Sure, and one day we'll also extract, as the saying goes, "sunbeams from cucumbers."  Why does this man believe so strongly in the government's monopoly on coercive power as the road to our well being?  Why wouldn't he embrace cooperation among free people instead? 

Enlightenment, liberty, cooperation, responsibility and accountability - this is the reasonable, adult path.  His instinct to tyranny, his fatal conceit, cloud his thinking.

Europe's Legendary Nirvanna .... Not

"He who has ears to hear, let him hear."  Mark 4:1-34

A interesting review of the state of the social democracies, going from bad to worse.  Have you ears?

How Much Money Equals An Infinite Amount?

Buffett makes some valid points about the tax codes inequities, but please, can we quit kidding ourselves that we can tax our way to prosperity? 

How much of other people's money will politicians spend?    ALL OF IT.  There's an infinite demand for a politician to spend other people's money to burnish political legacies. 

Without a constraint built into the government, which will prevent politicians from doing what politicians do (spending other people's money and blaming other politicians for not letting them spend more), it is morally represhensible to give these buffoons more power to take other people's money.

What Is Your Birthright?

“Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature’s inexorable imperative.” —H.G. Wells

Classic Quote, Wooden

"Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."
-- John Wooden

What Can Be Done?

Reason asks economists, writers, and wonks for real ways to increase job growth.

-Higgs:  Repeal Obamacare
-McClosky:  Eliminate the minimum wage for people younger than 25
-Shlaes:  Reform our Federal Reserve so that monetary policy is rules-based, not personality-based
-Stossel:  Close the Departments of Labor, Commerce, Agriculture, Energy, and HUD, then eliminate three fourths of all regulations
-Boudreaux:  Replace all income taxes, including that on capital gains, with a consumption tax. But do this only if the Constitution is amended to prevent government from taxing incomes and capital gains.
-Caplan:  Cut employers’ share of the payroll tax.
-Bartlett:  Typical Keynesian crap
-Miron:  Policymakers should stop worrying about job growth. Instead, they should focus on eliminating economic policies that impede economic efficiency—runaway entitlements, a horrendous tax code, excessive regulation, impediments to free trade
-Berlau:  Repeal portions of the Bush-era Sarbanes-Oxley Act, Repeal portions of last year's Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, Pass the bipartisan Small Business Lending Enhancement Act
-Meltzer:  A five-year moratorium on new regulation except for national security, a budget agreement that makes the debt sustainable, corporate tax rate reduction paid for by closing loopholes, and a credible, enforced inflation target.
-Stoll:  Stop extending unemployment benefits, and allow states to experiment with ways allocating the money so it creates an incentive for recipients to get a job.  Or, fold unemployment together with health, college, homeownership and retirement as expenses that people can save for in a tax-favored account.
-Olson:  Vaporize age discriminiation laws
-Schiff:  The government should pursue policies that allow the free market to set wages, benefits, and all issues related to employment. Just as employees are allowed to leave jobs for whatever reason, employers should be allowed to hire and fire based on any criteria without fear of litigation.
-Tabarrok:  QE3: Fed should buy lots of long term T-bonds.
-Smith:  Approve the Keystone XL Pipeline: 20,000 jobs created.

Quotes I love from this article:
"Employees do not qualify for special privileges (inappropriately labeled worker's rights) simply because they accept a job, and employers do not lose their rights and become subjected to special obligations just because they hire."  Schiff

""Jobs" are deals between workers and employers, and so "creating" them out of unwilling parties is impossible. The state, though, can outlaw deals, and has."  McClosky

The key - let free people make free choices to come to mutually agreeable terms, and they will do.  There are consequences associated with free humans making free choices.  These consequences are all better than those that result from government coercion.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Gold = Oil = Value, Dollars Are Just a Medium for Exchange

Indeed, as Brookes calculated in his essential book The Economy In Mind, "In 1970 an ounce of gold ($35) would buy 15 barrels of OPEC oil ($2.30/bbl). In May 1981 an ounce of gold ($480) still bought 15 barrels of Saudi oil ($32/bbl)." Fast forward to the present, and an ounce of gold ($1750) buys roughly 20 barrels of oil ($85), but given the historical reversion to a 1/15 gold/oil ratio, it's not a reach to suggest that oil is due for a spike upward to roughly $116/bbl assuming gold remains where it is.

Shifting off of the gold standard did what Nixon wanted - it gave politicians more control.

China - Unstoppable?

With inflation above 6 percent and the stock market down, the new Chinese middle class has gotten in on the act. An unknowable proportion of these new apartments have been bought as investments by people who already own one or more. With new-property prices up about 20 percent in just two years, who can blame them?
Sound familiar? Yes, this looks a lot like a real-estate bubble—with Chinese characteristics. As for debt problems, Chinese bank loans were 97 percent of GDP in 2008. Now they’re at 120 percent.

Not if they keep doing the same ignorant stuff we do/did.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Rove's BFO Prediction

Because they cannot defend his record, Team Obama will attempt to "kill" their political opponents, as one Democratic strategist told this week. These are difficult days for our president. Buffeted by events, he looks weak, dazed and over his head. And in 15 months, unless he finds some way to turn things around, he will be voted out of office.

This one is pretty obvious.

Dysfunctional = Good

Following the lead of the Environmental Protection Agency, Education Secretary Arne Duncan recently used this imagined "dysfunction" as an excuse to try to unilaterally implement comprehensive education "reform" by bypassing law and using a waiver system. Why? "Right now," Duncan explained, "Congress is pretty dysfunctional. They're not getting stuff done."
Hate to break the news to you, Arne; for many Americans, stopping this administration from "getting stuff done" is getting stuff done.
The Founding Fathers rightly feared that the purer the democracy the more susceptible voters would be to the emotion of the moment and the demagogues who take advantage of it. Needless to say, we are democratic enough to get the politicians we deserve.
Functional would be good only if you think that government can "do good."  Government doing good is government that defends the right of individual citizens.  Since we're all bored with that quaint notion, and want government to right every wrong and cure every ill, which it cannot do, I like the do "dysfunction" just fine.

How Much Debt Do You Own?

The "Big Three" - Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid - have underfunded promises several times the size of the national debt, according to Federal Reserve figures. One hundred and fifteen trillion dollars - a cool million dollars for each taxpayer - that's around eight times the total U.S. economy.
And you thought you were in debt before.

America is proving true the prophetic words of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher: "The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money." What America's liberals do not understand is that there is one fate far more cruel than not receiving other people's money: It is being falsely promised that you will receive other people's money in the first place. It's time politicians quit making promises they can't keep with money they don't have. It's time we be honest about the severity of this patient's condition.
Obamacare will end. The only mystery now is how. Downgraded America has simply run out of other people's money. Obamacare's last gasps will either be at the hands of responsible leaders with the strength and courage to unshackle America from it or with the outright financial collapse of America itself under the crushing burden of the unfunded-liability monster, but it will happen. It's Obamacare or America. I choose America.
Dr. Milton R. Wolf is a board-certified diagnostic radiologist and cousin of President Obama. He blogs at

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

If You've Played Every Card, What Next

After seeing the recent poor growth data for the United States, he singled out as a possible cause “the drift of so many conservatives away from what used to be the mainstream market-oriented Washington Consensus toward Austrian economics and Ron Paul style hard-money libertarianism.”’t-blame-the-tea-party/

It's funny - with no apology, the government has taken and spent trillions on ideas that are unproved and unprovable.  The stimulus?  $800 billion up in smoke.  The Great Society - Trillions of dollars to buy .... the same levels of poverty we've had since the early 70s.  Our government has forcefully extracted and blown - well, not blown if you consider the political legacy of so many important senators, congressmen and presidents, because certainly the money that was spent has done a lot to burnish those - more money than you or I could even conceive.  

Now someone comes along and suggests that we try not taking money from our children and grandchildren and letting things play out.  Let's see what happens if we quit fiddling around with things we no longer pretend to understand.  

Radical.  We just can't have that. 

His conclusion:
For nearly five years we’ve had massive and unprecedented run ups in government spending and debt in the United States and around the world. We’ve had vast expansion of government powers over banks, energy policy, financial markets, health care and other sectors. We’ve had staggering and unprecedented monetary policy interventions across Europe and in the United States. All of which have produced no growth and lousy job numbers, with the likelihood that the debts may not be repaid as a result. And the charge is laid that a small cadre of congenitally ineffectual free market libertarians is the cause of it all.

Great Ideas

It's true that we won't be able to make a significant dent in the deficit with discretionary cuts alone. We need to cut the growth in entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare, and we could use a serious tax overhaul that simplifies our code and raises revenues more efficiently. But it will say a lot about our political culture at this crucial moment if we can't eliminate discretionary spending that can't be justified by the evidence merely because that spending is protected by some powerful interest group.
Political campaigns are big enablers of this culture of speculative spending because politicians feel the need to woo voters with an agenda of prospective solutions to problems. Back in the 2008 presidential campaign, for instance, as the economy sunk around us, the candidate Obama proposed expanding a federal jobs program, the Workforce Initiative Act, as the centerpiece of his effort to get people back to work. In doing so he ignored studies by the Government Accountability Office and other watchdogs that WIA had joined a long list of failed federal jobs programs, with 60 percent of the money in WIA going to administration, not to retraining. The Obama campaign touted the program even though a federal official had testified to Congress that, "We have little information at a national level about what the workforce investment system under WIA achieves," and that the government doesn't know "what works for whom" in the program. Still, when the federal stimulus act of 2009 came around, Congress loaded it up with new job training money. At best, the spending was a jobs program for people who run and work at job training centers.
So many great ideas, what a shame we're running out of other peoples' money to spend on them.

Some programs are so sacrosanct the media can't bring itself to confront the evidence that they don't work. Head Start has been the subject of much study by academics who've found the program doesn't do what it is supposed to, that is, give lower income kids a good educational head start. The government keeps commissioning studies hoping to change that, but when the latest study sponsored by Health and Human Services was released in 2010 again showing there were no lasting educational effects of the program, the media virtually ignored it. And so, $100 billion later, we continue to fund a program that fails to accomplish its purpose.

What Happens After City Bankruptcy?

What happens when a city goes bankrupt?  The people who were going to benefit from the unsustainable contracts their unions negotiated get screwed.  This is another brick in the "why unions hurt workers" wall.
...young people were joyfully playing soccer in a park near the picturesque Blackstone River waterfall that gave this city its name. Older residents gathered on the spacious porches of their ancient Victorians or wooden triple-deckers, drinking beer and conversing in Spanish, Portuguese and sometimes English.
If any U.S. city was destined to go bankrupt, it was this one -- though Vallejo, Calif., beat it by three years. Like Vallejo, ruinous public-employee contracts sent Central Falls over the edge. Unlike the San Francisco suburb, Central Falls has a smaller, less economically diverse tax base. (The median household income is under $33,520 a year.) Its local government at the time of the bankruptcy filing was far more corrupt than Vallejo's.
On this thin tax base, Central Falls faced an annual deficit of $5 million and unfunded pension obligations of $80 million. For a long time, its police and firefighters could retire on full pensions after only 20 years of service. So even though their monthly payouts were not princely, workers could start collecting them -- and free health coverage for life -- while in their 40s. Bankruptcy lets a city tear up union contracts and start over.