Monday, April 30, 2012

Total Failure?

A Volt cheerleader - the difference?  Mac wasn't subsidized by the coercive removal of money from your pockets and mine.  Which is a shame because if GM wasn't saddled with coercively extracted union contracts, perhaps they could make this vehicle and do it right.

Of course, the schizophrenic way this nation runs its energy policy doesn't bode well for the future of electric cars.  It's one thing to power 10,000 or 20,000 Volts, another to run a fleet that way.  Nevermind the fact that if use of electric autos increases, costs for gasoline will tend to decline, mitigating the appeal of electric over gas powered cars. 

Bailout Blues

It was wrong then and it still is. 

And the absurdity of the mileage regulations is beyond discussion.  We want crayon box cars that get 55mpg?  Yes, like I want a hole in my head.  Federal abuse at its worst.

Lips Are Moving

If you watch this, you will be able to tell when the politicians are lying or distracting - which is virtually all the time since very, very few will speak this plainly about how serious the debt problem is.  Jim Cooper, and Paul Ryan, being two notable exceptions.

Do not let them lie to you!!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Are Republicans Genetically Inferior?

Are Republicans Genetically Inferior?

Funny premise - Republicans deny scientific reality - but I've never seen a liberal who could actually explain climate science.  But they sure to do believe!!  Wholeheartedly, soulfully, they believe.

"Crucify Them": The Administration's Way

"Crucify Them": The Obama Way

Just what we all hope for - a federal government bureaucrat with a bug in his behind and the power to punish.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Stand For Something

Summary:  The President no longer advocates Keynsianism, because no one believes it works - and it does not, because of how it is implemented (Editor's note:  it doesn't work, that's true, the reasons why are that it was never anything other than a conjecture, and the idea that a government bureaucracy could know enough to "stimulate" a world wide economy is beyond absurd.  It is simply a case of massive, and characteristically human, hubris). 

If you are the President, and you cannot stand behind your signature accomplishments because they are not that well regarded by the target audience - what do you say?  A lot of what you say is pretty words designed to sound good to those who desperately want to like what you will tell them, whatever you tell them.  The article nicely describes the contradictions therein.

"You gotta stand for something, or you will fall for anything."

Expecting Little, Getting Little

We expect very little from the GSA, and we get it. The GSA culture on display in the planning, execution, and celebration of their infamous $800,000 Las Vegas conference was the inevitable result of the permissive "you'll die before you can get fired" culture that predominates many federal bureaucracies. The GSA'ers are fat, dumb, and happy in their jobs and have no interest in being responsible stewards of the public purse. Like so many other dysfunctional agencies, GSA should be disbanded entirely, which can be done without much effect on anything else.
The GSA scandal gives the lie to the liberal ideology. More government isn't better government. More government, and an ever-expanding unaccountable bureaucracy, means more waste, fraud, and misbehavior by civil servants who don't believe they'll ever be fired for bad job performance.

This is too broad a brush, but tells the truth of the matter.  More government is not better government, and the more greater the sense of significance government people have, the more likely they are to act as if they deserve special treatment.  Accountability is everything, and government doesn't account for itself well at all - no matter how badly it is done, government just keeps getting bigger.

Paper Tigers R Us

Because fewer children are being born as larger generations of adults are getting older, its median age will rise to 49 by 2050, nearly nine years more than America at that point. Some cities will be older still. The Shanghai Population and Family Planning Committee says that more than a third of the city’s population will be over 60 by 2020.
This trend will have profound financial and social consequences. Most obviously, it means China will have a bulge of pensioners before it has developed the means of looking after them. Unlike the rest of the developed world, China will grow old before it gets rich. Currently, 8.2% of China’s total population is over 65. The equivalent figure in America is 13%. By 2050, China’s share will be 26%, higher than in America.

China - the original paper tiger.

Automobiles Are Dirty? Compared To ....

Cafe Hayek — where orders emerge

Perspective is the first thing you have to distort if you want to propagandize successfully.  The environmentalistas are experts in that dark art.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Do You Suffer From the "Ignorance Hypothesis"?

As silly as it is, the “ignorance hypothesis”—the assumption that people in power would do right by their citizens if only they knew better—“still rules supreme among most economists and in Western policy-making circles,” Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist Daron Acemoglu and Harvard University political scientist James Robinson write in their new book, Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty. Nations fail, the authors argue, because “those who have power make choices that create poverty. They get it wrong not by mistake or ignorance but on purpose.” For the brutal few, hanging on to power and wealth outweighs all else.

We Just Need More Of What Already Doesn't Work

Everytime some statist starts singing the praises of government regulation, and how we could have avoided the housing melt down, for example, if the administration hadn't cut back on regulatory oversight and might, it think of incidents like this:

And this:

"Pull the other one."

"Whoa Nelly!"

Remember that in past history other governments have tried to force Christians to huddle and hide only within the confines of their churches like the first disciples locked up in the Upper Room.
In the late 19th century, Bismarck waged his “Kulturkampf,” a Culture War, against the Roman Catholic Church, closing down every Catholic school and hospital, convent and monastery in Imperial Germany.
Clemenceau, nicknamed “the priest eater,” tried the same thing in France in the first decade of the 20th Century.
Hitler and Stalin, at their better moments, would just barely tolerate some churches remaining open, but would not tolerate any competition with the state in education, social services, and health care.
In clear violation of our First Amendment rights, Barack Obama – with his radical, pro abortion and extreme secularist agenda, now seems intent on following a similar path.
Now things have come to such a pass in America that this is a battle that we could lose, but before the awesome judgement seat of Almighty God this is not a war where any believing Catholic may remain neutral.

On the one hand, he's right as rain about the tools the tyrants have used in the past to seduce and compel those they must subdue.  Once government controls the delivery of health care, they have us all by the "dangling reproductive organs."

On the other hand, as near crazy as this sort of talk can seem to those on the outside of this person's interpretation of his faith, it's even crazier that the natural implications of his perspective are never realized.  The natural conclusion is "men should not be empowered to act as gods."  Goverment should have a clear, defined, limited, early purpose, otherwise, it will be coopted and corrupted by men, who are fallen.  The government's purpose should be nothing more, and nothing less, than to defend individual rights and to allow for the group to defend themselves from an outside invader.

The argument heard instead is the incessant "If good people like us can just get control of government, think of all the good we can do!"  This lament is heard on all sides and by all parties because they all believe in the rightness of their own cause, and are willing to do what is required - starting with lying, cheating and stealing - to achieve it. 

The pundits blather about the heated, impolite nature of politics today but never stumble across the obvious - if the government is endowed with so much power that it can lay hands on and run 16% of the economy of our nation (health care), it simply must be fought over.  There is no alternative.  It's never going to be the case that so much power will not be mightily contested. 

You want politics to be less divisive?  LIMIT GOVERMENT'S POWER.  Asking to have politicians running our lives coercively, but insisting that it be done with polite kindness is too ridiculous for characterization. 

"Why can't we just all get along?"

"The New Frontier"

Who cares, you say? What is national greatness, scientific prestige or inspiring the young — legacies of NASA — when we are in economic distress?

Exactly, well said, and he never satisfactorily answers the question.  A "nation willfully in decline"?  Yes, that would be a nation that has not sufficiently limited its government, and therefore suffers the predictable consequences.

If the nation is "great", it is "great" because it represents the accomplishments of individual people, not because the government takes money from the citizenry at gunpoint in order to generate symbolic accomplishments of dubious cost/benefit. 

The the gawdy symbolism of space flight:  Good bye and farewell, I won't miss you, thanks for no longer burning up my money.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

"Dysfunctional Politics"

A big part of the reason analysts at Standard & Poor's pulled our AAA rating back in August was our dysfunctional politics. Democrats and Republicans didn't address the issues. And they didn't merely kick the can down the road -- they held all of us hostage to 11th-hour brinkmanship as the debt ceiling approached to score points with far-left and the far-right extremists.

This is a funny one!!  Who does he think politics is for? 

It's for the politicians, stupid.

They keep getting elected, even when they make absurd laws, lie to us about why they made those laws and which ones should be made in the future (its' darned rare they get excited about 'unmaking' laws), and lie to us when they pretend to know they supposed good that previous lawmaking accomplished ("TARP and the stimulus fended off a depression").  Then they "retire", sell books and gain employment with the connected, live well on our labor, and regail us all with stories of all the great things they did with our money. 

While they fool us into thinking they are on our side, and we must really want to believe it, they take the money and the lobbying from those with money and power to spare and the incentive to do so, and keep writing laws that benefit those "clients." 

I would ask - how else could "our" politics work?  It works perfectly and in accordance with the incentives that exist for it to work as it does. 

What are the incentives for less government restriction and meddling? 

Pidding - in comparision to the incentives for politicians to make laws that benefit their "clients." 

In other words, our "democracy" functions just as a democracy should be expected to function when the government is not sufficiently limited such that it cannot be utilized by Peter to get something from Paul.

Cafe Hayek — where orders emerge

Cafe Hayek — where orders emerge

Thankfully, the Cafe is there to make those, who would use our own fears in order to gain our permission to use force against us, look as foolish and silly and dangerous as they are.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Another Day, Another Administration Witch Hunt

Another Day, Another Administration Witch Hunt

Harsanyi giving the President "what for."  Why do we tolerate this kind of talk from pols?

A choice cut:
Or put it this way: Natural gas prices are trading so cheaply that it's no longer profitable to drill for most companies. According to Businessweek, there are only 624 operating drills in the United States, the fewest since April 2002. So I guess natural gas speculators forgot to manipulate the world market this month. Or do oil manipulators only work part time? Confusing.

Leads to Everything

In the world today in which correlation and causation are intermixed without any awareness, I can't help but remember George Carlin's joke about marijuana being a "gateway drug":

"Mother's milk leads to everything." 

No one I've ever seen could mix humor with deadly seriousness better than Carlin.

In Effect

Cafe Hayek — where orders emerge

This is what it comes down to - you are either willing to in effect mis-lead or you are not a viable candidate.

Monday, April 16, 2012

"Let the Beatings Continue Until Morale Improves"

LeThe happiness movement would merely impose more intervention. It "boils down to having zealous politicians regulate the rest of us into their version of happiness," argues Marc De Vos of the Itinera Institute, a Belgian think tank.

I've had enough of that sort of thing already, and I bet you have too.  Somebody please write their congressional delegation and let them know "enough already." 

Constitutional "Incorporation"

It turns out that the status of this part of the Fifth Amendment is still treated by the courts the way the whole Bill of Rights was intended to be by the American founders — as a curb on the federal government. It doesn’t apply to the states. The whole Bill of Rights was originally conceived of in that way. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion . . .” is how the First Amendment begins. The italics are ours. It was a restriction on the Congress of the United States, which couldn’t establish a religion. The states, however, could, and some did, establish religions. The last disestablishment of state religion wasn’t until a generation after the First Amendment was ratified.
Things changed with the passage after the Civil War of the 14th Amendment, which came right after the Amendment abolishing slavery and was designed, at least in part, to enforce the end of slavery. The first part of the 14th Amendment says that “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” It set the stage for a process called “incorporation” by which the courts began applying the Bill of Rights to the states. The courts have done so on a case-by-case — or a right-by-right — basis, and the process has taken time.

Fascinating article on a very interesting topic, to wit, in which ways the bill of rights and the Constitution limits state governments. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Eyes Wide Open

Get ready for Greece like coverage of the next big western nation's national economic crisis - it has everything, including a state run economy, massive unemployment (over 51% for the Spainish "youth"), a seemingly bottomless housing bubble, and inept politicians (sorry for the redundancy) doing stuff like this:
Spanish private debt is 220% of GDP, dwarfing government debt, which is high and rising. So not only are banks being forced to raise capital and reduce their loan books, consumers and businesses are also overextended. The government wants to increase taxes or reduce spending by 17% to get the deficit down from over 8% to 5.5%, a combination that is not geared for growth.

€12.3 billion will be raised in new taxes, with €5.3 billion coming from corporations, and €2.5 billion is projected to come from a temporary amnesty on tax evasion (you've got to love the optimism). We have seen how such policies worked in Greece. They meant lower, not increased, revenues. Note that Britain also raised taxes on "the rich" and saw revenues fall in that category, not increase as projected.
Further, as we go along this year, watch for "breaking" news that off-balance-sheet guarantees by the Spanish government will be huge, adding multiples of 10% to total debt-to-GDP. Spain's admitted government debt is over 70% of GDP, which in comparison to other European countries is not all that bad. Except that is not the extent of the problem. There is regional debt, bank-guaranteed debt, sovereign guarantees, etc. that take it to roughly 85%.

Read more:

My question is - what possible reason is there to believe that this won't be the fate of every democratically oriented nation?  Isn't this what politicians are good at - taking someone else's money and spending it to get re-elected?  "Who cares about the long term implications, I have to get elected so I can save this nation from (fill in the blank with the boogeyman you like best)."  The ultimate pretense is that people, any of us, are smart enough to "run" economies, health care or even systematic exploration of science. 

We aren't.  But we like to believe that we are, or that our elected representatives are. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Never Fails to Interest

Never fails to interest those of us on the outside when we see folks doing monumentally stupid things and getting the hammer for it.  This is the "Bathsheba Syndrome" - leaders gain so much confidence in their ability to control events that they think they can do whatever they want.  It's happened to a lot of talented folks.  The first clue should be - "how come I have to lie to the most important people in my life to feel the way I want to feel?"  If you can't catch yourself by asking that question you won't be able to control what happens after that, either. 

Rob Roy's memorable quote in the movie by that name was "honor is a man's gift to himself.  Kings cannot give it and king's cannot take it away."  To guard your own honor, on should follow that thought with "Humility is a man's gift to himself.  It gives us a chance to not throw away what is invaluable for those bright shiny things that we already know won't make us happy." 

I'm no genius. I have made that very clear over the years, usually by accident. And I had no idea that Bobby Petrino may have been sleeping with a young Arkansas fundraiser named Jessica Dorrell. Nor do I really care.
But if we were playing a game, and you asked me to guess which major-college coach hired his mistress to work with his football program, got in a motorcycle accident with her on board, then lied to his bosses about the relationship, I could have guessed "Bobby Petrino" faster than it takes him to print out his resume, and I probably could have gone for the bonus points and guessed the woman was a blonde.

Read more:

Health Care Metrics - Fascinating

A very interesting analysis with unpredicted findings - health outcomes vary widely and when examined, it is not clear why (except poverty itself is a consistent predictor of "poor" health).

History of Social Security - Would FDR Approve?

From forced and government facilitated savings plans to mandatory wealth transfer from old to young - it's been a long and winding road for social security, one in which the politicians did a nice of job of spending other people's money to enhance their political legacy. 

In other words, the people who stole your money are long gone, many are dead, and you've no one to blame except yourself for trusting the government in the first place - not that you had a choice.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Taking Health Care's Temperature

When was the last time you saw prices posted in a doctor's office or hospital? Yet price is the key means through which information is transmitted, at least in functioning markets. There are many ways to make sure that the poor and seriously ill get medical care, including direct subsidies that don't undermine the price mechanism. But the complexity of accomplishing this goal in a hyperregulated health-care industry overwhelmed the system.
If the justices do send ObamaCare back to be rethought, politicians should address the problem with more humility. We'll know health care is on the road to recovery when basic information such as clear rules and transparent prices are again part of the system.

That Oil Rich Nation, The USA

Thus, while the U.S. might indeed have greater oil resources than Saudi Arabia, U.S. oil reserves (per the BP Statistical Review of World Energy) are only about 1/10th those of Saudi Arabia. The distinction is important.

Handwriting, Who Will Read It ...

As Spain deteriorates, the chances of the country requiring a Greek-style bailout that could send shockwaves through the entire global economy are increasing. But even if Spain never has a solvency issue, the country is facing years of economic troubles. Even more, the country’s fate is an indictment of Europe’s experiment with the monetary union. When I report in Europe, I’m often lectured that, as a Yankee, I can’t possibly appreciate the motivation behind the introduction of the euro. I look at the exercise simply in terms of costs and benefits, but the euro, I’m told, is something much more – an instrument to forward peace and democracy.
My answer to that is the euro is failing on both counts. It hasn’t helped turn Europe into a strong, competitive economy capable of contending with either the U.S. or a rising Asia. And where is the camaraderie supposedly behind the euro’s lofty mission? What I see is an increasingly undemocratic Europe, where countries are forced to take irrational steps by overbearing neighbors to preserve a common currency offering little good in return. The monetary union has become a place where the countries that benefit from the euro grow fat and refuse to share the spoils with their starving compatriots. That’s a kind of “peace and democracy” I can do without.

Read more:

Why wouldn't we believe this is the fate of any democratic-ish country which allows the politicians to bribe the populace with their own money?  (thank you Mr. Detoqueville)

The Pretense

Perhaps ObamaCare will be remembered as the breaking point for top-down planning. There is not enough information available for the government to micromanage a system as complex as health care, which represents more than 15% of the economy. Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek wrote some 50 years ago about the "pretence of knowledge," meaning the conceit that planners could know enough about complex markets to dictate how they operate. He warned against "the belief that we possess the knowledge and the power which enable us to shape the processes of society entirely to our liking, knowledge which in fact we do not possess."
True enough, ObamaCare was built on an unworkable foundation. The original sin in health care goes back to the wage and price controls in effect during World War II. The federal government let employers avoid wage controls by adding health insurance as an untaxed benefit for employees. Employer-provided insurance has since insulated most Americans from the cost of care. The predictable result is endless demand for increasingly inefficient services.

Simpler is better.  In other words, in those few cases when the ends justify the means (government's coercive force), the less coercion imposed the better.  This is why direct subsidy for health care makes infinitely more sense than constructing, or trying to construct, "the perfect beast" for supplying health care to all absent all the mechanisms - primarily price - that make it possible for systems to run well.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Death of Monopoly?

What happened is a terrible tragedy, and it is understandable that many would react emotionally. But many have also seen journalistic unfairness in all of this. Jack Pitney, a professor at Claremont McKenna College, recently told the Christian Science Monitor that the story "undermines public confidence in mainstream news media, which is already pretty low." He noted PEW already says 77 percent of Americans think the press is generally unfair.

I wonder why none of the other big outlets found this whopper of a lie by NBC?  Do they not check on each other any longer?

"Public confidence in mainstream news media."  How could the reputation of the news entertainment business be any worse?

Reason On Will On "Legality"

A strong conclusion to a strong argument:
One thing that frustrates me about Will's argument is that, like most conservatives (including conservative critics of the war on drugs), he takes a purely utilitarian approach, giving no consideration to the fundamental injustice of using violence to stop people from doing things that might harm them. During that December debate, Will said, "When does X trump personal liberty? Almost never....I don't want to make safety parallel with, equal to, let alone trump personal liberty." If so, why does he let safety trump liberty when it comes to drugs?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Must Read!

In the stagnant days of the Carter administration, when inflation was approaching 13.5% and interest rates were peaking at 21.5%, income was more evenly distributed than in any period in 20th-century America. Since the days of that equality in misery, the measured income of the top 1% of income tax filers has risen over three and a half times as fast as the income of the population as a whole.
This growth in income inequality is largely the result of three dynamics:
1) Changes in the way Americans pay taxes and manage their investments, which were a direct result of reductions in marginal tax rates.
2) A dynamic shift in the labor-capital ratio, resulting from the adoption of market-based economies around the world.
3) The flourishing of economic freedom and technological advances in the Reagan era, which were the product of lower tax rates, a reduced regulatory burden, and an improved business climate. These changes have not only raised the measured income of the top 1%, they benefited the nation and the world.

Read this whole article, and I'll be re-reading it.

Lies, damned lies and statistics; does this analysis help you decide which ones are which?

Powerful analysis highlighting what is to me the most important issue - how rich the richest are isn't nearly as important as how likely it is that, regardless of what quintile of wealth/income you are born into, you will work you way to higher quintiles.  You being rich does not hurt me.  You gaining control over the coercive power of the government to get rich does hurt me.  That there is any lack of clarity about this topic amazes me.

Language That Resonates?

The president, Romney said, has “spent the last four years laying the foundation for a new government-centered society.”

Will this finally be the language that resonates for Romney?  Will the electorate - eager for an alternative to the incumbent but not willing to take anything the wind blows through - finally accept this as the genuine voice of Romney?  Will this message be strong enough for tea partier types to believe that Romney will defend them from the statists?  The question is - does Romney really love and understand liberty enough to fight and sacrifice for that principle, or will he simply do whatever it takes in the moment to gain and hold the brass ring he obviously wants with enough desperation that he's willing to suffer through running for and being a President?

What Would Happen?

What would happen if this was the national dialogue?  What could happen if it was clear to all that it is wretchedly dangerous to be a young black man around other young men, and has been for some time ... could it be changed? 

Too some degree poverty accounts for the statistics, thus we speculate about why there is poverty - but fatherless children is a formula for poverty, so we can get into "poverty-fatherlessness-education-fatherlessness-violent culture" reinforcing loops very quickly.  What breaks a cycle like that? 

Is there some level of basic human competence below which no one can help a person to have a reasonably good life?  How does anyone develop that basic level of human life competence?

What could be done to help those caught in a cycle of incompetence to break loose?  We know there are good people caught in horrible situations.  It may not be possible to save everyone, could an option be finding ways to save a few?

There will be no answers soon, but I wonder whether the circumstance wouldn't shift if articles like the one above were part of the daily spew. 

President Wilson's Wars

We like to romanticize Presidents, but this article provides just one more clear example of why we probably should not do so.

The more you learn, the less there is to like about executive power.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Crazy? I'll Have A Rack Of That, Please

It's funny to me when liberals/progressives get all upset at the absurd things that governments do and then - argue for more government.

The "logic" is "government is great and we need more of, we just need it to be run by me and my cohort, who know how to make everything right."

And that's certainly believable, since it has happened so many times in the past ....

I don't know why I remain so convinced that government always has been and always will be characterized by incompetence and waste.

It's the government, not the political parties, stupid.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Reversal From IPCC?

The surprise absolution of human beings from the crime of triggering severe weather phenomena was handed down by none other than the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), leader of the campaign to sell the world on anthropogenic climate change. The IPCC’s Special Report on Extremes, released March 28, reads, “There is medium evidence and high agreement that long-term trends in normalized [property] losses have not been attributed to natural or anthropogenic climate change.” The breathtaking admission is a sign that objective science is reclaiming a leading role in the discussion.

Let us give thanks, if true.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

"In This House"

Should restaurants allow smoking or not? Should schools teach evolution or intelligent design or both? Should insurance companies cover contraception? Should I be able to take off my shoes in your living room?
You might think that that last question doesn't belong with the first three. After all, the first three questions are momentous ones about "public policy." The last one is only about the rules you have for my behavior in your living room—a "private-policy" question. And your answer to that question will depend on how you want to use your property.

From my friend and former professor, who has a way of communicating the important principles of liberty without needing complex language. 

The whole article is a good read.  The issue of property rights - which most of discount except as regards our own property - is a huge element of liberty and prosperity.  We ignore this issue, and the advance of government, at our peril.