Saturday, December 30, 2006

Agh! My mother has her browser set up goofy!

Oh, well. At least she has a high speed connection. Unlike me.

I'm down in Oklahoma. It rained cats & dogs the whole way here and cylinder #2 dropped out on me on the way, but we made it.

While I'm here I'll also enjoy the pleasure of replacing the rear brake shoes AND the rotors I was ignoring while I was drinking.

Ah well... If a hundred fifty bucks and a day's was all that that habit cost me I'd have gotten off rather cheaply. Unfortunately there are still a few hangover effects left to deal with.

Pretty sure I'll never have a political career. Especially if the guy I met at the parts store is right about how the government is keeping tabs on us all with their satellites.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

My Daughter wanted to read Pickwick Papers tonight.

I hadn't read them before. My old encyclopedia set has summaries of old classics, and I'd read that one, but this is much better. Dickens really fleshes out his characters and makes them real, even when they're extraordinarily silly.

I don't know if this is the book I'd recommend to a newcomer to Dickens, though. If I weren't a major league bookworm, my public school education wouldn't have prepared me for his vocabulary.

But I have to take the truck in for an oil change at 7:00 tomorrow morning and I can feel the wife looking daggers at me from upstairs.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Be Selfless: Support Your Enemy!

Selflessness is BS.

Sure, I got that link from Mises.org.

Hans Sennholtz on Monetarism:

There is no absolute monetary stability, never has been, and never can be. Economic life is a process of perpetual change. People continually choose among alternatives, attaching ever-changing values to economic goods; therefore, the exchange ratios of their goods are forever adjusting. Economists searching for absolute stability and measurement are searching in vain, and they become disruptive and potentially harmful to the economic well-being of society when they call upon government to apply its force to achieve the unattainable.

Money is no yardstick of prices. It is subject to man's valuations and actions in the same way that all other economic goods are. Its subjective, as well as objective, exchange values continually fluctuate and, in turn, affect the exchange ratios of other goods at different times and to different extents. There is no true stability of money, whether it is fiat or commodity money. There is no fixed point or relationship in economic exchange. Yet, despite this inherent instability of economic value and purchasing power, man is forever searching for a dependable medium of exchange.

...

The Friedman amendment, unfortunately, would cause the same economic and social conflicts as the present fiat system. It would create income and wealth with the stroke of a pen, and then distribute the booty to a long line of eager beneficiaries. The amendment would fix the quantity of issue, but the mode of its distribution, which confers favors and assigns losses, would be left to the discretion of the monetary authorities. It would enmesh them in ugly political battles about "credit redistribution," which soon would spill over to the halls of Congress, just as it does today.

The monetarists actually have no business cycle theory, merely a prescription for government to "hold it steady." From Irving Fisher to Milton Friedman the antidote for depressions has always been the same: reinflation. The central banker who permits credit contraction is the culprit of it all. If there is a recession, he must issue more money, and if there is inflation — that is, rising price levels — he must slow the increase in the supply of money, but increase it nevertheless.

Milton Friedman: 1912-2006

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Robert Ringer:

[A Time article] stated, “Of all the impulses in humanity’s behavioral portfolio, ambition — that need to grab an ever bigger piece of the resource pie before someone else gets it — ought to be one of the most democratically distributed. Nature is a zero-sum game, after all. Every buffalo you kill for your family is one less for somebody else’s; every acre of land you occupy elbows out somebody else.”

I feel morally obliged to temporarily sidetrack myself here, because this kind of Marxist rhetoric is precisely what deters the underprivileged from doing the very things they need to do to lift themselves up. Ignorant, left-wing college profs have been teaching this kind of gibberish to malleable-minded college kids since the days of the Greek Empire, while at the same time shameless and/or ignorant politicians have been brainwashing the parents of those same children.

Tinseltown celebs, of course, are also quite vocal when it comes to the class-warfare con. But since they have such large slices of the pie themselves, most people don’t take the showbiz crowd seriously.

In truth, any honest, half-intelligent person in this day and age of highly visible entrepreneurial wealth creation certainly realizes that neither nature nor business nor life itself is a zero-sum game. In every country where the zero-sum game has been played out, the results have been catastrophic.

The list is a long one and includes, among others, the former Soviet Union, Albania, Romania, Hungary, East Germany, China, North Korea, Cuba, and Mozambique. And everyone on the list has three things in common: torture and suffering for the masses, special treatment for the anointed privileged class, and failed economies. Unfortunately, Western societies seem intent on following the loud voices of the zero-sum-game crowd down an egalitarian path that leads only to real communism (as opposed to theoretical communism, which is but a fairy tale).

What these pinheads cannot seem to grasp is that those who create wealth almost always do so by creating value for others. Or, to continue the metaphor, they increase the size of the pie. That’s why the poorest families in the U.S. have the means to buy state-of-the-art television sets, DVD players, video-game consoles, computers, cellphones, and an endless array of other electronic products that are strictly discretionary in nature — i.e., they are not necessities by any stretch of the imagination.

I didn't know he was in World Net Daily. This article's not there yet.

Coming up soon, I'm sure. It doesn't look like he's keeping Robertringer.com up to date either.

It's gotta be tough. I'm getting two articles a week from him sent to me via email. If that were all he did to make a living I suppose he'd keep it updated.

Solstice at 7:22 PM tonight! Get ready!

What do they call that Navy initiation when you cross the equator for the first time?

That's not what the sun's doing - it does that on the equinoxes - but it did make me think of that.

I'll leave you to figure out the pronouns in that last sentence.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Did you know...

In April 1898 the United States went to war with Spain for the stated purpose of liberating Cuba from Spanish control. Several months later, when the war had ended, Cuba had been transformed into an American protectorate, and Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines had become American possessions.

When the US government decided not to grant independence to the Philippines, Filipino rebels led by Emilio Aguinaldo determined to resist American occupying forces. The result was a brutal guerrilla war that stretched on for years. Some 200,000 Filipinos lost their lives, either directly from the fighting or as a result of a cholera epidemic traceable to the war.

The Anti-Imperialist League and the Battle Against Empire by Thomas E. Woods.

That's how the article begins. Worth a read.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

December 16, 1773 - 233 years ago

our forefathers rose up against... Well, see what you think of Becky Ayers' take at the Foundation for Economic Education*:
The evil that sparked the Boston Tea Party stalks us today: the alliance of money, power, and weapons that subjugates the many for the benefit of the few. We call it fair trade, protectionism, corporatism, the military-industrial complex. The colonists knew it as mercantilism and fought it in the British East India Tea Company.

East India companies of various nationalities preyed on India during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Britain's government (in 1600) and Holland's (1602) were among the first to establish cartels for plundering the subcontinent to benefit the rulers, bureaucrats, and shareholders at home. The French followed suit in 1664, and the Danes in 1729. Though Britain's version started with only 125 shareholders and £72,000 in capital, it metastasized into a full-fledged government within 70 years. It even boasted an army and fortresses to prevent the other companies from poaching its suppliers and employees: talk about cutting out competitors! By 1858, when this force was folded into the British Army, it numbered 24,000 troops.

*FEElosophers extraordinaire and proud of it. Eat that, Kirkpatrick Sale!

Tom Sowell:

Supreme Farce II:
No doubt the central planners in the days of the Soviet Union knew more economics than the average Soviet citizen. But nobody knows enough to set the 24 million prices that central planners had to set.

Yet hundreds of millions of ordinary citizens could have dealt with 24 million prices much more effectively because each individual or enterprise had only to deal with the relatively few prices necessary for their own decision-making.

In this, as in so many other situations in so many other societies, the total knowledge of the many vastly exceeded the special knowledge of the few.

That is what makes limiting the powers of the government so important -- because it is virtually impossible to limit the presumptions of government officials, whether legislative, executive or judicial.

In the United States, those limits are set by the Constitution. Yet those limits have been repeatedly and increasingly exceeded by activist judges claiming that the laws are "not clear."

It is shameless sophistry. But they are not going to stop until they get stopped. And the only way to stop them is to start impeaching those judges who go counter to the law.

There will of course be outcries about a threat to an "independent judiciary." But the judiciary is not supposed to be independent of the laws, which is the dangerous situation today.

BTW: new post at Bourgeois Philistines. Since I haven't done much over there in a while, I figured I should mention it.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

TMI reviews Confessions of an Economic Hitman

by John Perkins. After summarizing the points of agreement between libertarians and
Perkins, Christopher Westley says:
Confessions [of an Economic Hitman, by]is a problematic book.... While its basic thesis would appeal to libertarians and small-government conservatives troubled by a growing US empire that reduces freedom at home, Perkins's biases are essentially left-liberal. As a result, he often confuses (what he calls) the "corporatocracy" — the teaming of the feds and select private sector firms to advance political hegemony and economic rent — with capitalism itself.

Perkins's primary problem is in assuming that all global capitalism is sinister in the sense described in his book. Any creation of wealth that depends on coercion can hardly be considered market capitalism. It truly is sinister when a US firm, funded indirectly by taxpayer dollars, forces indigenous people offs their land in South America because geological tests suggest that oil deposits there surpass those of the Middle East. It is sinister because it violates the property rights of both the taxpayers who fund the politically well-connected firms and of the displaced peoples and cultures whose property rights are violated when they are removed from their land (often with much suffering).

But Perkins's anticapitalism really shows when he equates such activity with (say) the opening of a Nike plant a third world country. No one dies, and no cultures are killed off, when a factory opens and workers living near it can voluntarily sell their labor for wages that (economic theory tells us) exceed their next-best opportunity for work.

In developing countries, a new Nike plant is a godsend, not only because it increases capital flows to a region, but because it means that families can become autonomous, or that daughters do not have to resort to prostitution to put food on the table.

In this sense, it is perverse to assume that a Wal-Mart in China or a McDonald's in South Korea is analogous to a Bechtel in India or a Halliburton in Iraq.

If libertarians decide to quit doing battle with the rest of the English speakers in the world, maybe we should start modifying our use of the word "capitalism" and call it instead "libertarian capitalism."

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Hm.

From Freedom Network News:
3) UNSC approves regional force for Somalia
MSNBC

"The U.N. Security Council authorized an African force to protect Somalia's weak government against an increasingly powerful Islamic militia, hoping to restore peace and avert a broader conflict in the region. The U.S.resolution, co-sponsored by the council's African members, partially lifts an arms embargo on Somalia so the regional force can be supplied with weapons and military equipment and train the government's security forces." [editor's note: Talk about Orwellianism! If Somalia has a "government," the "Islamic militia" is it. The UN-recognized "government" was created out of whole cloth by US and UN busybodies next door in Djibouti and has barely even existed in, let alone "governed," Somalia - TLK] (12/06/06) http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16081544/

My emphasis.

Taranto, today, got me to google the phrase "scientific journalism"

Best of the Web section 2.

I was disappointed to see that most people, when they use the phrase, mean "science journalism" or reporting on what scientists do and say. I was hoping that maybe somebody had attempted to figure out the scientific method of journalism. Other than this guy and his intellectual offspring, I mean.

Let me give them a definition of journalism to begin with: it is the effort to discover and disseminate the facts about events. Of course, in a free market, somebody has to want to buy and read your facts so they have to be presented in a commercially viable way...

Aye. There's the... well, you know.

By the way, no product in the world is sold (in either sense of the term--marketed or delivered upon receipt of payment) to the majority of human beings. All markets are niches. This is not evil - for the most part, it's wonderful - but it can be difficult.

Btbtw: How do you like my creative splitting of an infinitive?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

But what I really want to know is

where the heck did Paul Paddick come from?

Captain Feathersword to you.

Update: Ah! I've gotten in the habit of ignoring the top result in my Google searches.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

I think I'm afraid to make more money.

Why? To paraphrase PJ O'Rourke, handing money and power to Al is like handing whiskey and car keys to Al. I have to earn my own respect before I can trust myself to move up financially. Not to mention socially.

Back on the character type thing... I took the Keirsey Sorter II today and it said I'm a damn SJ. The free part only gives you your Temperament: it called me a Guardian.

Piffle.

I've got Keirsey's book right here. I read the ISTJ and ISFJ profiles, and, while I admire a lot about them, if I weren't a family man INTP looking to get along with an ISTJ wife, I wouldn't cross the street to do any of that crap for myself.

And I hate that whiny title, too, Keirsey.

I'm too damn curious and cantankerous to be a guardian. Those are words that I'd bet no SJ would don proudly as their mantle. My favorite part about the INTP type is their lack of respect for authority.

I wonder if Keirsey is trying to usher people away from the anarchistic mindset. I bet that's a thought no SJ would ever have as well.

Actually, the traits are just tendencies. If you dial 'em all up to the nth degree they turn into neuroses if not psychoses.

And I probably shouldn't have taken the thing right after looking over my wife's answers from the test in the book.

Seriously, he's got a heckuva good website. You could probably peg yourself pretty well just by reading profiles until you have a satori experience.

------
Completely off topic: did you hear that Greg Page is quitting the Wiggles? He apparently has some unspecified illness.

He's probably having creative differences with that darn Anthony!

Just kidding. Though there's some speculation in that regard here.

Also, here's kind of an amusing interview of him at elvis.com.au.

We'll pray for you, Greg. And we'll miss that wonderful voice.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Amen, Mihai!

This is what I'm trying to say:
Misplaced resentments towards foreign governments will not help us at all. We should be resentful towards our own governments and political elites with their social and protectionist agendas, which impede the market process and the creation of jobs within our borders.

--Mihai Sorbu, Fears of a "Brain Drain".

Friday, November 24, 2006

Right now I'm reading Rothbard's history of America

Conceived in Liberty. It's a 527 page PDF you can download from free from that page I've linked.

Here's what I'm enjoying right now on pp. 26-27 (as the file is numbered):
The right to conquer, coercively convert, govern, and enslave the natives of the New World was subjected to intense criticism in a series of lectures in 1539 at the University of Salamanca by the great Dominican scholastic philosopher Francisco de Vitoria. In international law based upon the natural law, insisted Vitoria, the native peoples as well as European peoples have full equality of rights. No right of conquest by Europeans could result from crimes or errors of the natives, whether they be tyranny, murder, religious differences, or rejection of Christianity. Having grave doubts of the right of the Spaniards to any government of the natives, Vitoria advocated peaceful trade, in justice and in practice, as against conquest, enslavement, and political power, whether or not the last mentioned were aimed at individual profit, tax revenue, or conversion to Christianity. Although the Spanish government prohibited further discussion of these questions, the Vitoria lectures influenced the New Laws of 1542, which gave greater legal protection to the natives in America.

Nevertheless, there were defenders of imperialism in Spain who rejected internation law and scholastic individualism and returned to the slave theories of the classical authors. Based on the theory of natural servitude--that the majority of mankind is inferior and must be subdued to government by the ruling class, of course in the interest of that majority--these imperial apologists proposed that the natives be taught better morals, be converted, and be introduced to the blessings of economic development by being divided among the conquistadores, for whom they must labor.

The serfdom of the Indians was most strongly and zealously opposed by the Dominican missionary Bishop Bartolome de Las Casas. Tireless in working to influence European public opinion against the practices of Spanish officials in America, Las Casas argued that all men must have freedom so that reason, which naturally inclines men to live together in peace, justice, and cooperation, can remain free and unhampered. Therefore, concluded Las Casas, even pursuit of the great objective of conversion to Christianity cannot be used to violate these rights. Not only was all slavery evil, but the natives had a right to live independently of European government. The papacy, in 1537, condemned as heretical the concept that natives were not rational men or were naturally inferior persons. These progressive views were also reflected in the abolition of conquistador feudalism in the New Laws of 1542; however, this abolition was revoked by the Spanish Crown three years later.

I've gotta quit now. I'll edit the errors tomorrow.

11/26: editing done. Sorry, I was busier than I expected to be.

Here is a corroborating essay by Lewis Hanke. Here are a couple of 'graphs:
Disputes over baptism increased in number and intensity as the conquest proceeded. Las Casas opposed easy baptism [that is, baptism without instruction in the catechism] so strenuously that the quarrel was taken from Mexico across the ocean to Spain for resolution. Charles V decided to refer the issue to the Dominican Francisco de Vitoria and a group of other notable theologians at the University of Salamanca, who in 1541 supported unanimously the view that Indians should indeed be instructed before baptism. Vitoria, in his famous lectures at Salamanca which showed him to be one of the soaring thinkers of the century, also defended the Indians from the charge of irrationality.

There must have been a number who applied Aristotle's doctrine of natural slavery to the Indians, for Vitoria in De Indis analyzed and refuted it long before Sepúlveda espoused it. "The Indian aborigines . . are not of unsound mind." asserted Vitoria, "but have, according to their kind, the use of reason. This is clear, because there is a certain method in their affairs; they have polities which are carefully arranged and they have definite marriages and magistrates, overlords, laws, and workshops, and a system of exchange, all of which call for the use of reason; they also have a kind of religion."

I'll find more. I haven't even looked at Rothbard's endnotes yet. [Sorry I left them out of my quote.]

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Eugene Tan brought up something that inspired a long comment from me

Annabel Chong. [Her story's rather disturbing, buddy. You sure you want to...? We need to talk.]

No, that wasn't it. It was that "The world will be a better place if everyone spoke the same language."
It seems logical to me for the US to declare English our official language, but we've lived without such a declaration for so long already, who cares?

Most of the arguments I hear from the people who care seem are either so provincial as to be racist or so "multiculturalist" as to be balkanizing.

I want to scream, "Learn another language! Moron!" at one group and "My culture deserves respect, too!" at the other.

Humans are born with opposing tendencies to be both xenophobic and hospitable--loving our neighbors and enjoying the novelty of visitors from strange places. We need to understand and nurture the wisdom in both tendencies and apply that wisdom ... wisely.

That's one place where I'm a damn moderate. Somebody needs to articulate our position effectively.

Does it have to be me?

Friday, November 17, 2006

I'm trying to clear something up with my partner here.

His absence is only temporary, we hope.

Don't Blame Me!

Omni brought it up! (If you'll excuse the pun.)

Back in college, my buddies used to like to go to UW-Superior hockey games and make up cheers that made the people sitting next to us say, "What the Hell...?!"

The best was one that departed from a rather silly and trite cheer the cheerleaders did with the lines:
We party
So hearty!
But we don't party with you! You! You! You!

That's all I remember of it. But, based on a true-life occurrence we change it to:
We party
So hearty
We puke through our nose!

Good grammar is often antithetical to good cheering. We didn't share a single nose. Although we were, in fact, taking collective credit for a skill one of our members had developed to a high degree. He considered it useful during a binge for concealing his condition.

I think we all considered applying ourselves to developing that ability, but I doubt if anyone else actually did. I know I didn't. When I got that far, I always headed for the most secluded head I could find.

I wonder how that guy's doing these days.

Oh, man! Good thing I'm not a collectivist!

So I don't have to take responsibility for this fruitcake.

I had nothing to do with it! I haven't spent as much as a week in Superior since before that kid was born!

By the way, Taranto calls him a Minnesota man... Keep him on that side of the border, eh? I'm on this side.

I got some lyrics for a Crunk or Cookie Monster song

Or whatever they call that.

As you may imagine, they're not family friendly.

Censors!

Engage!

G** D*** THE SYSTEM!
G** D*** THE SYSTEM!
G** D*** THE SYSTEM!
F*****' G** D*** FASCISTS!

STOP BEGGIN' FOR FAVORS!
STOP BEGGIN' FOR FAVORS!
STOP BEGGIN' FOR FAVORS!
STOP TAKIN' BRIBES!

I don't know. I think it needs a couple more verses. Any ideas?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

I just got the word that Milton Friedman has died!

I don't know any more than what Taranto wrote on Best of the Web yet. I'm too busy to deal with it now.

Later accretion: Friedman fought for Freedom all his life. Ed Hudgins has the best eulogy I've seen yet.

I'm trying not to bring up the fact that his lasting legacies are the Earned Income Tax Credit and Income Tax Withholding. And failing.

Walter Block has a good eulogy, and there's a great one at NRO.

His greatest legacy is the privatization of Chile's pension system.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

L. Neil Smith, who thinks disseminating Libertarianism

and making friends are mutually exclusive endeavors, has this [quite good, actually] advice for us:
First, we are not the cops of the world. Every time we try to be, young Americans die by the thousands, instead of living to discover a cure for cancer or a matter-antimatter drive—or simply getting married and raising children and grandchildren in peace, freedom, and prosperity.

Second, September 11, 2001 happened, not because somebody hates our freedom, but because this miserable government failed to respect theirs.

Third, "Enemies, foreign and domestic" includes idiots, lunatics, and villains who plunge this country into one pointless war after another.

Fourth, those you bomb and torture today will bomb and torture you tomorrow.

Fifth, don't waste everybody's time and energy trying to keep immigrants out, legal or not. No matter what you do, they'll find a way in, wouldn't you? Instead, make them into Americans once they get here.

Sixth, small business, not big, is the foundation and future of America.

Seventh, remember the Bill of Rights and keep it wholly. It's not a set of arbitrary rules to be gotten around, it's the highest law of the land, to be stringently enforced with all your heart and all your might.

Eighth, the rule of law is not a luxury in an emergency but a dire necessity.

Ninth, the War on Drugs is over; drugs won.

Above all, keep your religion in your pants. Like whatever else you have down there, nobody cares about it but you. If you don't like to drink and smoke, then don't drink and smoke—and don't bother those who do. The same goes for drugs. If you don't care for same-sex marriage, then don't marry someone of the same sex. If you don't like abortion, then don't have one. If you don't like evolution, then don't evolve.

He's an INTJ, for sure. I cut out the most judgmental things he had to say. Not that I disagree, necessarily... But, like a true INTP, I reserve judgment. I'll think about it.

BTW, I think John Kerry's an INT-something.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Some whiggery for you

or, Balance of Trade B.S..

Actually, I hacked off the summary of the opposing view, the B.S. Here's how it really works:
Consider an American trading with a Japanese citizen (we could just as well take a New Yorker trading with a Californian). Suppose that the American values a Japanese television set more than a particular piece of machinery which he has produced, and at the same time, the Japanese values the piece of machinery more than the television. If such is the case, they will exchange. This, of course, is simple barter—goods are exchanged directly for goods—and there is no monetary intermediary. But notice that no one has a “deficit” in this transaction—both parties are satisfied that they have gained more than they have given up.

Of course, very few barter exchanges actually take place. It would be difficult for the person desiring the TV set to find a person in need of the particular machine tool which he had to offer in exchange. Rather, the exchange is facilitated by the use of money, which allows the machine tool manufacturer to sell his product to anyone who wants it and then use the money to purchase the specific good (in this case a TV) from the Japanese producer. The Japanese producer can convert these dollars into the American product (in this case a machine tool) which he desires.

Although these individuals do not exchange directly, but through several intermediary buyers and sellers, the exchange is in principle the same as if they did. Ultimately the good produced by the American “pays” for the good received from the Japanese, and the Japanese good “pays” for the good received from the American. In other words, exports pay for imports.

But how then is a trade deficit possible? If in each exchange both parties are paying via goods and services, how can there ever be a national imbalance of trade? Why would foreigners agree to give up their products to us if they are not receiving American goods and services in exchange?

The answer is that they do not. Since each party trades only to gain, the difference between the value of the tangible or real goods which are given up by the “surplus” country and the value of the real goods which are received must be made up of other types of valuable goods. Each trade must balance; the deficit of real goods must be countervailed by a surplus of another type of exports.

And it is. The difference is made up of a net transfer of dollar claims from American individuals to foreign individuals. The trade deficit, which is more accurately called the merchandise trade deficit because it includes only the real goods traded, is possible only because on a net basis foreigners are willing to accept dollars in exchange for their goods and services, and temporarily hold these dollars. In other words, the U.S. currently is running a “surplus” of dollar exports with the rest of the world.

Why would they do that? Well, with some further ado:
The other major factor enabling America’s consumption to exceed its production is the Federal Reserve’s policy of monetary inflation. In any inflation, the individuals who initially possess the newly created money gain the maximum benefit. This has been the case in the international arena where, because of dollar inflation, individual Americans have found themselves the initial recipients of new money.*

Having increased nominal incomes, but not wishing to increase their individual “cash balances,” Americans have spent this new money for real goods, either domestic or foreign. New dollars spent on domestic goods tend to bid up domestic prices, and foreign goods (which have not yet been bid up) become more attractive to American consumers. Eventually dollars pour abroad in exchange for foreign goods. Inflation of this “world currency” has allowed Americans to bid goods and services away from other international buyers.

On net, Americans have been trading dollars for real goods because, for a number of reasons, they value the foreign goods more highly than their dollars. At the same time, on a net basis, foreigners are valuing the dollars they receive more highly than the real goods they are giving up. Can we say which party is getting the better deal? To do so would suggest that one is either irrational in its dealings or does not know its own best interests.

*And the money distributed by Fed policies doesn't hit all recipients simultaneously, contrary to what my beloved Dave Thompson stated the other night. The Fed doesn't have magical powers. The first recipients of the money go out and buy stuff with it, bidding up the prices of said stuff. The last recipients of the new money are the poor who get poorer. [Though, if you're getting a welfare check, you've actually been put at the front of the line. You're a government favored consumer - except for the fact that the amount of money you get is completely dependent on the whims of the politicians.]

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Kyle Bennett has a message for his elected "representatives"

This isn't all of it. Read the whole thing at his Human Advancement blog.
You do not represent me. Your values are overtly hostile to mine, and you will work almost entirely in direct opposition to all that I value. The few cases in which that is not true will be mere coincidence. But I will continue to pursue my values in the hopes that I can accumulate them more rapidly than you can destroy them - even as you turn a portion of what I create against me.

I'm confident that I will be able to do so, and today I am free - more free than I have been in as long as I can remember. My peace of mind, my hopes for the future, and my vision of the values I wish to create are no longer influenced by the results of your election processes. I have today, in my abstinence from any voluntary involvement with you, in my refusal to grant you any sanction whatsoever, acheived a moral clarity that is more valuable than any effect that could have been acheived by a misplaced and futile attempt to use the ballot as a means of self-defense.

I've realized today, not just abstractly as I have for some time now, but as a concrete fact directly perceivable, that I don't need you; yet you need me. You may claim to represent me, you may claim to rule with my consent and through a delegation of powers, but your claims cannot make it true. These are things that cannot be taken, they can only be offered voluntarily. Neither wishing, pleading, cajoling, nor threatening can change this simple fact. And though you think you can pretend otherwise, the truth is that they are vital to your purpose.

I mentioned that The Mises Institute was having a book sale a couple weeks ago. I bought Rothbard's For a New Liberty, even though it's available online. Theirs is a work I wish to support. Let me quote a paragraph or two:
In the United States, the classical liberal party had long been the Democratic party, known in the latter nineteenth century as "the party of personal liberty." Basically, it had been the party not only of personal but also of economic liberty; the stalwart opponent of Prohibition, of Sunday blue laws, and of compulsory education; the devoted champion of free trade, hard money (absence of governmental inflation), separation of banking from the State, and the absolute minimum of government. It construed state power to be negligible and federal power to be virtually nonexistent. On foreign policy, the Democratic party, though less rigor­ously, tended to be the party of peace, antimilitarism, and anti-imperial­ism. But personal and economic libertarianism were both abandoned with the capture of the Democratic party by the Bryan forces in 1896, and the foreign policy of nonintervention was then rudely abandoned by Woodrow Wilson two decades later. It was an intervention and a war that were to usher in a century of death and devastation, of wars and new despotisms, and also a century in all warring countries of the new corporatist statism—of a welfare-warfare State run by an alli­ance of Big Government, big business, unions, and intellectuals—that we have mentioned above.

The last gasp, indeed, of the old laissez-faire liberalism in America was the doughty and aging libertarians who banded together to form the Anti-Imperialist League at the turn of the century, to combat the American war against Spain and the subsequent imperialist American war to crush the Filipinos who were striving for national independence from both Spain and the United States. To current eyes, the idea of an anti-imperialist who is not a Marxist may seem strange, but opposition to imperialism began with laissez-faire liberals such as Cobden and Bright in England, and Eugen Richter in Prussia. In fact, the Anti-­Imperialist League, headed by Boston industrialist and economist Edward Atkinson (and including [William Graham] Sumner) consisted largely of laissez-faire radi­cals who had fought the good fight for the abolition of slavery, and had then championed free trade, hard money, and minimal government. To them, their final battle against the new American imperialism was simply part and parcel of their lifelong battle against coercion, statism and injustice—against Big Government in every area of life, both domes­tic and foreign.

Sorry that took so long. It's difficult to stop reading Rothbard once you start. This passage doesn't necessarily back up Kyle, I guess, though I bet there's something in the book that would.

As far as Kyle's recommendation not to vote - I believe the argument is that voting makes the statists think you're legitimizing them - I'm afraid I still don't get that. I think you've got to throw everything you can at them. Voting's just one weapon.

Make sure you stop and "ooh!" at Kyle's Falling Waters pic. I always do.

Oh, and it looks like I've got to take back the nice things I said about the Grameen Bank and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Muhammed Yunus.

Medved has the clearest set of lessons

To draw from this election that I've seen so far in his Townhall article (unlike the other pundits, he seems to have gotten some sleep):
3. Forget the conventional wisdom about the big gap between red states and blue states. The media emphasis on regional differences always distorted reality but this election should force the permanent abandonment of the meaningless red/blue distinction. Montana, supposedly the reddest-of-red states, may well end up with a Democratic governor and two Democratic Senators. California, theoretically the bluest-of-blue states, not only re-elected its Republican governor in a landslide, but also appears poised to elevate GOP candidates (including some outspoken and cantankerous conservatives) to three or four other statewide offices. In Kansas, which gave Bush 64% in 2004, Democrats enjoyed sweeping victories, and so on. The definitive designation of an entire state as either “red” or “blue,” Republican or Democrat, ignores the impact of circumstances, personalities, and issues.

My emphasis.

I want to read some other people before I put this election to rest.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

I voted today.

Straight Republican.

Commando.

No, I didn't vote for candidates who go commando. I went commando to vote.

No, not because it makes me feel sexy. I was in a hurry. It's quicker. Ask anybody.

I wanted to get there and get it done, and I couldn't find the basket with the clean drawers in it in time.

Since corrected, btw.

Of course I think it's funny. You'll find that a lot of my jokes are performance art. That's why I'm careful about what I joke about. Put a picture in my head, I'm libel to act it out.

It's that INTP thing again. Kind of a strong division between my rational mind and the intuition that I actually act on. Compared to you normal folks, anyway. I have to make constructive actions into habits or I can't rely on doing anything right. It sucks, but I've lived 43 mostly enjoyable years with it so far, with only the occasional, "What the Hell possessed you!"

Even quitting drinking won't change that. But it will make it easier to avoid killing anyone with my stupidity. Gotta weigh the plusses and minuses.

What makes friendly relations between human beings possible

is the higher productivity of the division of labor. It removes the natural conflict of interests. For where there is a division of labor, there is no longer question of the distribution of a supply not capable of enlargement…. A preeminent common interest, the preservation and further intensification of social cooperation, becomes paramount and obliterates all essential collisions…. It makes for harmony of the interests of all members of society.
[4]

What is necessary for society to develop in this case is that people have the capacity to resist the temptation to commit aggression or to suppress those who succumb to such temptation in order to gain the higher productivity of the division of labor. Why the suppression of criminals would have to be monopolized in the state is not clear.

The first paragraph is Lu Mises, the second is Jeffrey Herbener of Grove City College.

The Mises People have been messing around with their web site. To quote a MASH character, "I don' like it! No, sir! I don' like it at all!!" Their footnote links take you to a login page when the footnotes are located at the bottom of the article! And the bleepin' Blog no longer shows the whole article, nor does it link to it!

Piss me off?! [Ed note: I'm not sure if that's supposed to be a question or not - it's not pronounced like one - but I certainly didn't want my readers to consider it a command.]

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Well, I'll be jiggered!

You are 55.6% Good.
You are 5.1% Chaotic.

Alignment: Neutral Good

You do the best good that a person could be expected to do. You are devoted to helping others. You are willing to work with authority figures, but you do not feel any particular allegiance to them.
You are the stereotypical "Benefactor." You believe in doing good without any particular bias for or against order.
Examples of charactersand people who fit into the same alignment as you include Mother Theresa, Ghandi, Gandalf, Indiana Jones, O-Bi-Wan Kenobi, Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter, Frodo Baggins, and the Dalai Lama.

The Alignment Test

That over states it a bit. I sincerely doubt that I belong in a class with Mother Theresa, Ghandi and the Dalai Lama. I'm not willing to deal with some stranger's personal problems, nor will I face down the Mob. I said as much on the test. Also, I almost never do good for altruistic reasons-I believe that doing good is beneficial to me. Though admiration, respect and/or gratitude are usually plenty of recompense.

Just don't gush.

I wonder if my answer to the first question is what put me over the top:
1. An old lady asks you to help her get her cat down from a tree. The cat looks mean and you haven't climbed a tree in years. What do you do?

My answer:
Climb the tree, suffer some nasty scratches, retrieve the cat, and promptly return it to its owner.

But I don't do it out of altruism. I love old ladies, climbing trees and mean cats, I'm quite good with all of them and happy to show it.

I should retake this test - marking the answers that cracked me up.

As for the fictional characters: sure, why not? Indiana Jones, Frodo and Harry Potter, maybe. Anybody who became a hero without meaning to. Of course there are no stories about those of us who achieve our ambitions in that regard - not becoming a hero, I mean.

Could anybody write a book that would sell about somebody who's a master at staying out of trouble [by not looking for it, Bob] and succeeds at that. And that alone.

My own life story would be a lot more interesting, I'm afraid. But the masses wouldn't like it either.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Midterms this weekend! And I forgot to study!!

Thank God I actually went to class!

And I already know I've passed the first one.

[What?! What classes are you taking, Al? You'd think you'd have mentioned something before now.]

Sobriety 101.

Liquor stores close at 10:00 in Minnesota. It's 10:17 as I type this sentence. The gas stations are still selling weak s&%t til midnight, but that's not what I really like. Camo 18 or nothing, baby! Strong, smooth and cheap. And since I can't get any right now, I feel like I can wallow in the memory of it. Sort of. My emotions are far disconnected from my intellect I discovered, studying what it means to be an INTP, so putting things into words intellectualizes it and removes it from my pleasure centers. Sort of.

I know I never made verbal plans to get beer, I just visualized it and did it. Come to think of it, I never do anything involving verbal plans. I have to create a very strong picture in order to actually do something. Repetition and habit account for 99% of what I accomplish.

What makes this weekend worse than most? My wife took our older girl on a Girl Scout camping ("camping" I should say) trip. I have no supervision. The baby doesn't pay much attention to things like that. The pictures were taking shape as I waited for them to leave.

How did I make it through this first test?

Why I cheated, of course! Well, partly, I concentrated on Aliina's needs, but she wasn't much help. She wanted to watch the Wiggles, which, however much I may like them, don't demand much in the way of sobriety from me. But I fed her and made sure she went potty. Picked up all the dirty dishes and put them in the washer.

I listened to Dave Thompson try to defend capitalism from his precarious Main Stream (read Monetarist/Keynesian hybrid) position. I appreciate that he defends capitalism, but he keeps mentioning Market Failures and how we fall short of the perfect equilibrium model.

Snort!

Fortunately, his experiences as a lawyer and a businessman overwhelm the failures of his economics education. I should get him the new Samuelson book. It's a little less wrong than the older ones, I hear.

After putting the Bun to bed, I sat down and tried to set a new record in Minesweeper. That's the cheating part, using a less harmful addiction to fight a more harmful one. Now that Dave's done, I'm faking my way through the Bone-Head Sobriety exam (the time from now to midnight) by blogging. I like to think I'm overqualified for this one, but "Pride goeth before a fall," as the Good Book says.

44 days since my last drink. I'm even taking the grape juice at church. (50 points to anyone who remembers how I'm not being perfectly truthful.)

Things that have helped: the Marathon, treatment, AA, prayers, being scrupulously honest, the shed, autumn cleanup and other winterizing chores. Tomorrow, I need to finish up the trailer I started to build, I've got some plumbing to do... Might run. There's a 10:30AM and a 6:00PM meeting at the Alano, but no daycare. Maybe I'll just wander down with the girl and hang out in the coffee room for a little bit.

That's what One Day at a Time means.

Lance Burri reminded me that I need to keep up with my Lileks

If I don't want to completely lose touch, anyway.

Lance link (and here too).

Lileks said:
When Gnat came home from school we practiced her piece again, ten times; we’d done ten times a day for the last week, and sometimes I think that just makes the unalterable errors set in stone. Some things the fingers just will not do. But she had been terrified of the piece two weeks ago, and now had it down nicely, and with a certain amount of music feeling. I’d rather she made mistakes while playing music than banged it out like a 19th century clockwork automaton.

I forget who said it, but it's not practice per se that makes perfect, perfect practice makes perfect. Robert Ringer, quite a while back-I quoted him then, quoted BB King [I think it was] saying, "Never practice a mistake." Go as slow as you have to to get it right.

I doubt that you can accuse BB King of playing without feeling.

Although, I went to see Freddy Cox in Superior, play jazz trumpet while examining the crowd. He played brilliantly and looked bored. Both points may just have been that he was playing the same tunes he'd been playing since the '20s.

Doesn't negate my point, though, really.

Uh-oh. There's no info on Freddy Cox on the web. As of 1985, when I saw him, he held the world record for the longest music gig in one place.

In a waterfront bar. In one of the major ports of the world. Where law enforcement was lax and you didn't want to be caught walking at night.

And if it's not 55° and drizzly, it's 35° and drizzly.

The man had an ambition problem.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Libertarian History

I just got Murray Rothbard's For a New Liberty (that's the online text - my gift to you, via the Mises Inst). Looking forward to reading it.

There's a quickie essay (that could stand a rewrite really, but look who's talking) on libertarian history at the Institute for Liberal Values, out of New Zealand:
The liberal/libertarian movement was revolutionary to the core. It challenged the church/state alliance, it opposed the mercantilist state domination of the market, it supported the extension of economic and social rights to all classes of people. It challenged virtually every aspect of the then dominant social order in Europe. That order was one that was conservative to the core. So classical liberals or libertarians were the open opponents of the feudalistic social structure embraced by conservatives. There was no confusion at the time. Liberals and conservatives were polar opposites.

Socialism then arose as a reactionary movement. It embraced goals but sought to achieve them by conservative means. And what were those means? Conservative means were based on power, particularly state power. It wanted to use state power to cement the church in place. It used power to enforce traditional values. It used power to preserve the social order. Conservatism was a philosophy of power.

Liberals wanted to abolish power and free the individual to seek his own good as he saw fit, according to his own values, provided he did not infringe on the equal liberty of others. Liberals envisioned one where people had equal rights before the law, where people were free to speak their mind, and where no spiritual body had authority imposed by law. It advocated the extension of property rights to all. It argued that in society of elected officials event the poor should have the right to vote. It said that in a free society all people should be able to accumulate wealth and not just the social hierarchy.

Socialists saw the liberal vision of the future and they embraced it. What they didn't embrace was the means employed by liberals. Instead the socialist was a hybrid. He wanted liberal goals but he wanted to use conservative means. The socialist advocate control, central power and government force. They felt that the coercive mechanisms of the state could be used to achieve the liberal vision. And they embrace conservative means fully.
...

Many of the Reaganesque Republicans are confused or upset with George Bush's agenda. They even want to argue he betrayed conservative values. On the contrary, Bush has embraced conservative values in a very traditional way. He worships state power. Yes, he is big government. Conservatives were historically advocates of big government.

Their more recent opposition to expansive state power was not inspired so much by a love of liberty as opposition to the goals that were being sought. Once the conservatives had a firm hand on the levers of government in the United States they immediately turned to back to their historical tradition.

Bush expanded state power which itself is not unconservative. He did so to expand "traditional values" and to try and reattach religion to the secular, liberal system of the Founding Fathers. He went on a world wide crusade to use raw military force in an attempt to make over the Middle East in particular. And conservatives, on the whole, loved it. He used state funding to bolster "faith-based" initiatives. He was eager to use the power of the state to smash what advances gays made toward equal status before the law. George Bush did not betray conservatism. He embraced it in a manner that the Right has neglected for decades. Those on the Right who are shocked shouldn't be. Bush is the quintessential conservative.

Anyway, those are the graphs I liked most. Then comes this:
With the resurgence of big government conservatism the time has come for libertarians to shift their tactical alliance again. We must always throw our weight, what little of it there is, behind the opponents of the dominant authoritarian ideology. We know the Left and the Right share authoritarian means while differing on the goals. When the Left was the main threat to freedom we were forced into an alliance with the Right. But those days are gone. Now the Right is the dominant foe. And we ought to abandon the old alliance and look to forge a new one.

Screw alliances. Just be yourself.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Hey! I see the Sovereign Society advertising here!

I like them. If I had any money, I'd do everything they tell me to do in their A-Letter.

If they pop up when you're looking, check 'em out.

(I should mention that they're all about hiding your money from the tax man. Legally. Their not pulling any shenanigans. If you do it their way, you'll still pay some taxes and a lot of your money will not be immediately accessible, but you won't go to prison and it will be there for whatever you planned to have it for.)

Big News! A judge with a campaign site!

Link to site.

She links to two stories that indicate her opponent's unfitness for the post.

Actually, I agree with Judge Patricia Kerr Karasov and Amy Klobuchar in the first one. You can't go around shooting your friends in the back. If you're a crazy old lady.

In the other, she goes easy on a lady convicted of 2 counts of criminal vehicular homicide. The perp, driving without a license (it was revoked for a previous DUI, though intoxicants don't appear to have been a factor here) ran a stop sign in a semi truck and killed a pregnant woman.

The story says that the truck had failed a safety inspection. Never mind that, I guess. The jury said she was guilty.

Wait a minute, "LOAD-DATE: December 8, 1998"?! Was that her most recent f-up?

Oh, no. The Geezer shooting happened May 31, 2003, Saturday.

All right, Rowe. One more chance.

January 19, 2000. Strike one. Strike two is: I think "Get outta town" is a fine way to handle the gal. Nope. This ain't baseball. For once I think I'd stick to the incumbent.

Monday, October 30, 2006

On the subject of immigration,

here's what Lew Rockwell has to say today:
[A]ll the problems we associate with immigration stem not from the presence of people but from the institutional arrangements in which people interact. Immigration of some types forces on the domestic population new requirements for public infrastructure. Schools must be built and funded, and new public-sector employees hired. The demands on the public purse grow.

New immigrants can receive public assistance. They coalesce based on language and ethnicity and gain control of local governments, through which they then coerce others. They have national voting interests, and their votes are up for grabs by parties representing special interests, which means both parties.

Whereas people will suffer through incredible abuses when imposed by people who share their nationality, they will not tolerate the same from those whom they regard as alien.

The result is social and political upheaval. And what is the source? Not capitalism. Not immigration as such. Rather the core problem is the state, which enables some people to rob others on their own behalf. All other concerns are a distraction from the key issue. The best immigration reform is one that would provide neither impediments toward work for anyone nor subsidies of any sort.

Eliminating the subsidies alone would also help alleviate the resentment that comes with immigration. It would also stop the subsidies that cause people to immigrate for the wrong reasons. In any case, it is pointless and dangerous to pursue the method of using government power to round up illegals and throw them out — a power that is used to the detriment of commercial freedom — when the law still encourages demographic upheaval through subsidies and special rights.

Yep.

There's a lot more in that article [have another link], he starts out talking about overpopulation and dovetails into immigration and other issues.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

I see Big Business is feeding the crocodiles again.

Not that they weren't when they were supporting Republicans, really.

Lobbyists and PACs thereof [Packs of lobbyists. Get it?]-not to mention NGOs-only exist where governments have more power than they ought.

The NY Times has an article today about how the courtiers are scampering to the Democrats.

Unseemly. Read the Sheldon Richman article I cited in the previous post. Reading the NYT article after this one is like drinking milk after eating an orange. Yuck.

I suppose I gotta quote the SOB so this post will make sense when the link goes dead:
Democrats Get Late Donations From Business

By JEFF ZELENY and ARON PILHOFER
Published: October 28, 2006

WASHINGTON, Oct. 27 — Corporate America is already thinking beyond Election Day, increasing its share of last-minute donations to Democratic candidates and quietly devising strategies for how to work with Democrats if they win control of Congress.

The shift in political giving, for the first 18 days of October, has not been this pronounced in the final stages of a campaign since 1994, when Republicans swept control of the House for the first time in four decades.

Though Democratic control of either chamber of Congress is far from certain, the prospect of a power shift is leading interest groups to begin rethinking well-established relationships, with business lobbyists going as far as finding potential Democratic allies in the freshman class — even if they are still trying to defeat them on the campaign trail — and preparing to extend an olive branch the morning after the election.

Is that what you call it? They're taking great glee in the commingling of commercial interests with government interests, seems to me.

The Nobel Peace Prize committee redeems itself

I just read, thanks to FFF and FEE, that this years Nobel Peace Prize is going to someone who actually deserves it (rather than some fascist dictator or some guy who cowtows to fascist dictators).

Muhammad Yunus has spent many years getting money, in the form of microloans, to the poor people of Bangladesh and other countries via his Grameen Bank--which he founded by performing the action and later organizing. Now that's how to do "direct action."
The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2006, divided into two equal parts, to Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank for their efforts to create economic and social development from below. Lasting peace can not be achieved unless large population groups find ways in which to break out of poverty. Micro-credit is one such means. Development from below also serves to advance democracy and human rights.

What brings such glee to libertarian hearts is that fact that Yunus is the author of these words:
I believe in the power of the free market and the power of credit in the marketplace. I also believe that providing unemployment benefits is not the best way to address poverty. The able-bodied don't want or need charity. The dole only increases their misery, robs them of incentive and, more importantly, of self respect. . . . [T]axes only pay for a government bureaucracy that collects the tax and provides little or nothing to the poor. And since most government bureaucracies are not profit motivated, they have little incentive to increase their efficiency. In fact, they have a disincentive: governments often cannot cut social services without a public outcry, so the behemoth continues, blind and inefficient, year after year. . . .

I believe that all human beings are potential entrepreneurs. Some of us get the opportunity to express this talent, but many of us never get the chance because we were made to imagine that an entrepreneur is someone enormously gifted and different from ourselves.

Richman ends his article, "Intended or not, the Nobel committee has lent a hand in reconnecting the causes of peace and commerce." Said article proves the indivisible two-way connection that classical liberals saw between free trade and peace.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Definition of filiopietism

The best one I could find anyway, without making it my life's work.*
An appeal to tradition is also a form of an appeal to authority, because tradition is treated as being "authoritative" in some matter. As in the above example, it is not uncommon for an appeal to tradition to also be explicitly linked to an appeal to numbers, although every appeal to tradition does this at least implicitly.

Also Known As: filiopietism

My emphasis.

Source.

*I found the word in a review of The Church and the Market : A Catholic Defense of the Free Economy, by Thomas E. Woods Jr. [The Mises Store is having a sale this weekend for those of us who have bought from them before. (There's a special code to enter to get the discount). This isn't one of the ones on sale, but I had to check out the title and I've written about Woods before. No, come to think of it, that was Chafuen's book.]

It was a bit of a challenge to find a definition of the word. My massive Webster's Unabridged didn't have it, nor did a Google search turn it up quickly, yet there were hundreds of uses of it on the web. I titled this post as I did to make it easier for the next guy to find it.

Notice that even this definition is inverted: the term is an afterthought. Odd that I should find it in About.com's section on "Agnosticism/Atheism". I suppose, if you break it down the parts mean something like "the devotion of a son for his father." I'd like to know who coined it.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Wow! Time to say something new, eh?

Where the heck have I been since last Wednesday?!

Let's see...Meeting, work, meeting, older girl's birthday party, overnight guest, babysitting, yardwork, TV, Church, yardwork, work, meeting and catching up with emails filling up all the interstices. I'm handling spam manually these days. The anti-spam program clogged up like my kitchen sink.

Oh, yeah. That too. I need to get a longer snake.

And reading stories. And tending to the wife as much as one human can.

It's tough without beer. It didn't get done at all with beer, but I didn't care.

I took an official Myer-Briggs Personality Test the other day. Got the results back: INTF.

Those stand for Introverted, iNtuitive, Thinking, Feeling.

What the hell?!

That seems like a completely untenable combination. I can't wait the hear what the expert has to say about that. Probably that I've spent my whole life trying to be something other than what I am.

Well, I gotta run in the morning.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Ed Hudgins takes on Nobel winner Ed Phelps

A veritable battle of the Eds. Haha.

Link to Hudgins' article.

Anyway, between these two posts one, two, and the discussions attached thereto I think we - you all and I - did it better.

Monday, October 16, 2006

A guy I liked and admired died last week.

A guy in a position to look down his nose at me had he wanted to do so, yet he never did. He greeted me warmly, by name with a smile, every time I saw him. I wanted to do more for him.

Now I wish I had found a way.

He wasn't old - two years younger than I, in fact - he died in a boating accident. You don't want to end up in the water in Minnesota at this time of year. His youngest son was with him. The boy didn't make it either.

Yes, they were both wearing life-jackets. He was teaching his son safe boating practices.

I had a whole speech made out for this post, but now that I sit down to type it out it seems artificial, ...and I'm inhibited by the fact that I don't talk about my job on my blog - or allow myself to be pinpointed directly through it (though it's pretty easy to trace me to it, really)...

To heck with it! At least one blogger has to say that Earle Kyle was an admirable man and a kind man and the world is poorer for his loss.

Whatever happened to invadesoda?

I kinda miss the guy, don't you?

You're not afraid of contradicting me, or getting into an argument, or something are you buddy?

We're all writers here, aren't we?

Even those of us who suck?

Here's a good article on telling a story from a freelance journalist named Nettie Hartstock.

I'm not writing a white paper, but let's see if I can incorporate some of her suggestions into the tale of a little vignette that occurred on my lunch hour.

I bought a sandwich at a local shop on the way back from an errand today, and while I was paying for my purchase a tall, rather bedraggled man, who had obviously walked to the store in the rain, came in and slapped four sodden one-dollar bills on the counter. Since he came in with the manager, who was outside smoking when I entered, I didn't catch the beginning of their conversation, but I gathered he wanted a pack of cigarettes.

The manager didn't want to take the man's ratty looking money, "It's wet! Nobody's gonna want to take that!"

"It'll dry," answered the customer reasonably.

"What? You think I got all day to sit here watching your bills dry?! That one's all torn up! I can't take that!"

"C'mon! This is money! It'll work!"

"It's dirty!"

I was more interested in escaping this heated scene than in eavesdropping, and, really, the bills weren't that bad. What's up with this manager anyway? The bank would take them if nobody else wanted them. They'd probably route the torn up one back to the treasury to be burned, but until then, it's still legal tender.

My sympathies were firmly with the other customer (though, remember, I hadn't heard how all this started), until, as I turned to hightail it out of there, the guy said, in answer to the last accusation:

"All money's dirty!"

I moaned.

Apparently, feeling he'd made a great and telling point, he repeated, with a laugh, "All money's dirty!"

Continuing to the door, I muttered, "No, it's not!"

Outside, I thought, "Man, that's the kind of thinking that keeps you, and everybody you know, poor! What? Did ya take a vow of poverty?"

I was wishing, as I drove, that I had asked the guy who told him that. And how big a contribution of his "dirty money" they wanted for their services.

And another thing: how much do you want to bet that that's the only "Christian" notion he and his ilk pay any attention to? I put the word Christian in quotes, because I think it's a pretty crude, though unfortunately very common, misunderstanding of New Testament teaching about money.

I'll let my friend Steve handle the theology on the matter, but I find it impossible to believe that God has a problem with media of exchange.

------

Completely off the point [come to think of it, it's not completely off the point]: I've mentioned Michael Masterson a few times. I had no idea that he has a blog!

Back to the subject of writing itself, Tibor Machan has a rant on The Atlasphere that could do with some editing. I agree with his point whole-heartedly (I think), but he's writing like his undies are in a bunch. When you're railing against collectivism, Dr. Machan, you need to be careful about overusing collective pronouns.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Larry Elder, at Townhall.com today

says:
The unemployment rate just dropped from 4.7 percent to 4.6 percent. The Washington Post, not exactly a Bush administration cheerleader, recently wrote "that just about every worker with the skills and desire to work can find a job." Yet the same article cited its own poll that shows only 39 percent of Americans approve of Bush's handling of the economy, with 59 percent disapproving.

The tax cuts, as tax-cutting former President John F. Kennedy predicted, sparked the economy. Kennedy once said that it may sound "paradoxical," but in order to increase tax revenues, we must decrease tax rates. Under Bush, "tax collections have increased by $521 billion in the last two fiscal years," reports The Wall Street Journal, "the largest two-year revenue increase -- even after adjusting for inflation -- in American history." Even with the irresponsible spending, this puts the deficit at 2 percent of GDP, well below the recent 40-year average of 2.7 percent. Inflation and interest rates remain low. And labor analysts just revised upward the figures on job creation, adding an additional 810,000 jobs!

So how have we been hurt by tax cuts?

Bush didn't cut 'em enough. Those were pretty frickin' wussy tax cuts from Mr. Compassionate Conservative.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

For my Brazilian (and otherwise Portuguese-speaking) visitors

I'd be interested to know how badly Google has done in translating the first three paragraphs of our Declaration of Independence:
Quando, no curso de eventos humanos, se tornar necessário que um pessoa dissolva as faixas políticas que as conectaram com o outro, e para supor, entre os poders da terra, a estação separada e igual a que as leis da natureza e do deus da natureza a intitulam, um respeito decent às opiniões da humanidade requer que deve declarar as causas que impel as à separação.

Nós prendemos estas verdades para ser self-evident: que todos os homens são semelhante criado, que estão dotados, por seu criador, com determinadas direitas unalienable, que entre estes são vida, liberdade, e a perseguição da felicidade. Que para fixar estas direitas, os governos estão instituídos entre os homens, derivando seus poders justos do consentimento do governado, que sempre que todo o formulário do governo se torna destrutivo destas extremidades, ele é a direita dos povos alterá-lo ou abolish, e instituir o governo novo, colocando sua fundação em tais princípios, e organizando seus poders em tal formulário, a respeito deles parecerá muito provável efetuar suas segurança e felicidade.

O Prudence certamente, ditará, que os governos long estabelecido, não devem ser mudados para causas da luz e do transeunte; e conformemente todo o shewn do hath da experiência, essa humanidade é mais disposto sofrer, quando os Evils forem sufferable, do que à direita ela mesma abolishing os formulários a que são accustomed. Mas quando um trem longo dos abusos e do Usurpations, perseguindo invariàvel o mesmo objeto, evinces um projeto para os reduzir sob Despotism absoluto, é sua direita, ele é seu dever, jogar fora de tal governo, e fornecer protetores novos para sua segurança futura.

Tom Sowell

Read him today.
Those who discuss the current war in terms of frivolous talking points make a big deal out of the fact we have been in this war longer than in World War II. But, if we are serious, we would know that it is not the duration of a war that is crucial. It is how many lives it costs.

More than twice as many Marines were killed taking one island in the Pacific during World War II than all the Americans killed in the four years of the Iraq war. More Americans were killed in one day during the Civil War.

If we are going to discuss war, the least we can do is be serious.

Yep.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

This Edmund S. Phelps guy,

who won the Nobel Prize for Economics yesterday, seems to have a lot of great things to say. His article today in the WSJ, "Dynamic Capitalism: Entrepreneurship is lucrative--and just" is well worth a read.

I notice the Mises guys are agin 'im, in "Did Phelps Really Explain Stagflation?" by Frank Shostak.

I don't know. He may actually be an improvement on Friedman, though I didn't care for this line, "We all feel good to see people freed to pursue their dreams. Yet Hayek and Ayn Rand went too far in taking such freedom to be an absolute, the consequences be damned."

Tsk, tsk, tsk. Ya might wanna show some of those consequences if yer gonna make that kind of accusation, buddy. Well, maybe I should read some more of your work before I fly off the handle. The fact is that huge chunks of his readership assume that such consequences exist and are major.

Here's a good bit from his piece today:
The same capitalist dynamism that adds to the desirability of jobs also adds to their precariousness. The strong possibility of a general slump can cause anxiety. But we need some perspective. Even a market socialist economy might be unpredictable: In truth, the Continental economies are also susceptible to wide swings. In fact, it is the corporatist economies that have suffered the widest swings in recent decades. In the U.S. and the U.K., unemployment rates have been remarkably steady for 20 years. It may be that when the Continental economies are down, the paucity of their dynamism makes it harder for them to find something new on which to base a comeback.

The U.S. economy might be said to suffer from incomplete inclusion of the disadvantaged. But that is less a fault of capitalism than of electoral politics. The U.S. economy is not unambiguously worse than the Continental ones in this regard: Low-wage workers at least have access to jobs, which is of huge value to them in their efforts to be role models in their family and community. In any case, we can fix the problem.

Why, then, if the "downside" is so exaggerated, is capitalism so reviled in Western Continental Europe? It may be that elements of capitalism are seen by some in Europe as morally wrong in the same way that birth control or nuclear power or sweatshops are seen by some as simply wrong in spite of the consequences of barring them. And it appears that the recent street protesters associate business with established wealth; in their minds, giving greater latitude to businesses would increase the privileges of old wealth. By an "entrepreneur" they appear to mean a rich owner of a bank or factory, while for Schumpeter and Knight it meant a newcomer, a parvenu who is an outsider. A tremendous confusion is created by associating "capitalism" with entrenched wealth and power. The textbook capitalism of Schumpeter and Hayek means opening up the economy to new industries, opening industries to start-up companies, and opening existing companies to new owners and new managers. It is inseparable from an adequate degree of competition. Monopolies like Microsoft are a deviation from the model.

Yes, Microsoft will be reigned in eventually by superior competitors and/or new developments. It's bigness does not constitute a crisis.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Sorry, we had to run down to the Big Island Rendezvous.

In Albert Lea (MN). Watch people shoot cannons & such. They had a lot more shops there than at any of the other Rendezvous. I bought a hand made wool over coat, though I didn't need it there.

The do a lot of different eras there, ranging from the 1600s through the whole fur trade era, the Civil War and the early logging days. But you've got to pick your era and stick to it.

I pretty much spent the day chasing the older girl and her best friend as they ran around the island (Big Island) exploring. Their favorite thing was a big old willow that hung out over the water. They climbed all over that. They were delighted when they found out that the water was only about a foot and a half deep so they could wade from one big branch to the next.

Their mothers would never let them do that. Come to think of it, I forgot to suggest that maybe they should exercise some discretion on that score. I did mention the possible presence of leeches, but they didn't find any.

Rosie seems to be overly sensitive to smoke. Along with a diet of little but sweets. She threw up as we were making our way back to the truck. I found out later that she hadn't eaten anything but and Icee and a big piece of candy since noon. Ya gotta wonder how she had anything to chuck up.

We all had fun for the most part, though, even if it was pretty much just a weekend thing.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Nicholas Curott penned a piece

for the Mises Blog reviewing Jonathan Swift's victory over debased coinage in Ireland, Government Money Deserves a "Swift" Abolition, comparing that to our current situation:
But alas! Alas! It all has come to pass, just as Swift had forewarned. Today we no longer have the comfort of laws preventing the government from forcing us to take whatever money it pleases. All the gold was stolen from the people against their will and piled up in Fort Knox, and unbacked paper trash was given in its place.

Governments in the 20th century were no longer restrained in how much money they could print, and the age of inflation was ushered in. The damage caused by this inflation is incalculable.[2] Even in America the damage is great.[3] By entering into the economy through the credit market, inflation is responsible for economy-wide business cycles. And by using seigniorage to mask the cost of deficit spending, governments are able to fund a vast array of bloated welfare-warfare schemes.

Word of the Day: seigniorage [Hmm... Each of these definitions adds something interesting, so have 'em all.]:
Definitions of Seigniorage on the Web:

The profit that results from the difference in the cost of printing money and the face value of that money.
www.freebuck.com/reference/glossary/s.htm

The difference between what money can buy and its cost of production. Therefore, seigniorage is the benefit that a government or other monetary authority derives from the ability to create money. In international exchange, if one country's money is willingly held by another, the first country derives these seigniorage benefits. This is the case of a reserve currency.
www-personal.umich.edu/~alandear/glossary/s.html

The difference, which may be positive or negative, between the face value of specie (coin), silver or gold certificates, or fiat money and its commodity value in a free market.
nesara.org/main/dictionary.htm

The difference between the cost of the bullion plus minting expenses and the value as money of the pieces coined.
www.canadiancoin.com/diction/s.htm

The profit made by a goverment from issuing cons, ie the difference between their face value and the cost of manufacture and distirbution.
www.indiainfoline.com/bisc/accs.html

Seigniorage is the profit which accrues to the "seigneur" when he exercises his "royal right" to coin money without the obligation to supply anything in return for the means of payment which he puts into circulation. The Central Bank, acting on behalf of the State, is the best example of modern-day enjoyment of seigniorage. To a much smaller extent, the banks also enjoy seigniorage when they create bank money through credit. ...
www.centre-jouffroy.com/contenu_glossary_3.htm

charged by a government for coining bullion
wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

Seigniorage, also spelled seignorage, is the net revenue derived from the issuing of currency. It arises from the difference between the face value of a coin or bank note and the cost of producing and distributing it. Seigniorage is an important source of revenue for some national governments.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seigniorage

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

A couple pix.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

I call it "Fledgling Marathoner."

The cheap digital camera refuses to focus on the medal, but here's the shirt:

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

I got one where the medal glows gold. It's an omen, I tell ya!

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

I don't know what to say about the Amish schoolgirls

being shot. A fifth has died now.

Little girls...

Babies...

My objectivist side wants to blame irrationalism, and fundamentally that's it, but it's not at all satisfying, and I don't want to work up a sermon on the subject now. Now I can only be shocked and grieve.

Twisted bastards whom nobody taught self-control are attacking the defenseless.

I finally got hold of a newspaper.

I see we (those of us who support running marathons) managed to kill a guy. An experienced runner had a heart attack at mile 6. I'm surprised I didn't see anything, he had to have gone down shortly before I got there. Of course, I was running faster at that point than I should have been, so maybe he was behind me.

Matt Furey seems to believe that distance running is about as healthy an activity as smoking cigarettes... Sprints are okay, just make sure you catch your breath between them and get your heart-rate down under 100 before you do your next one. The point is to get your heart and lungs used to sudden, maximal effort and recovery to build reserve capacity.

The body adapts to long, slow distance (LSD training) by diminishing reserve capacity in the name of efficiency.

But, then, the TCM has only seen two deaths in 25 years...out of how many thousands of runners? Of course there are 364 other days in a normal year in which something could happen to you.

I can say that, although I was running too fast during the first 2/3 of the race, I was never unable to talk to anybody, and there wasn't much (apparent) strain on my lungs or heart.

I think it was in the book The Marathon where I read the author's doctor's opinion that "Marathoners are the healthiest bunch of sick and injured people in the world."

OK, I see I have to go find that on my own shelf. Amazon and Google don't know what I'm talking about. Funny it never occurred to me to dig that out and reread it before venturing one myself. I wonder if I donated it to the church rummage sale.

So, anyway, I think I'll follow Matt Furey's advice about training for a while. Sprints, intervals, cross training, bodyweight exercises... That sort of thing.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Well, I've finished a Marathon.

As often as I'm asked, I'll tell you right now that that's a 26.2 mile (or somewhere around 42km) run. Supposedly the distance from Athens to Marathon (Google Pheidippides for the story).

I'll try not to write as if I were the Grand Old Man of Marathoning now.

Let's see, how many options did I give yesterday as possible outcomes of the race? Ah! Well, here are the answers: yes, no, no, no and no. The clock, as I crossed the finish line, said 5:02-something. [Update: unofficial results from the official website. Scroll to the bottom.] My chip time will be over eight minutes less, because that's how long it took to get to the starting line after the horn.

It was an absolutely gorgeous day: blue sky, trees shading from green to red, orange and gold, cool enough at the start to make me wish I'd brought gloves.

I was aiming for a 4 hour, 15 minute finish, and I held a pace rather faster than that for about 16 miles--I even made up the difference between the clock time and the chip time. Even with the fact that I had to stop at the turn to Lake Nokomis for five minutes to use the Port-A-Potty.

Then Zeus turned my legs to lead and I had to slow way down and finally walk for a while. I pretty much ran-walked the rest of the way. For the next four miles I kept trying to get running again and keep running, but I kept have to stop and walk. Finally, I decided that, since that was the way it was going to be, I systematize the process and only rest for one minute at a time, running as long and as hard as I felt like. I made better time that way.

That got me through the next six until I saw the Capitol building and the finish line from the top of Cathedral Hill. I let gravity pull me down the hill fast, till I came to a little hump, then I just held on to the finish line, only letting one guy pass me.

I think they could do away with the 26 Mile sign though. It's a little disheartening to get to that and realize that the Finish is still far enough away that you can't quite make out what's going on up there.

I think hitting The Wall resulted from a convergence of factors. First, obviously, I'd run 16 miles. That's longer than any training run I've done this year. Second, I don't know about other Marathons, but this one is a 26.2 mile-long carb buffet. I ate and drank anything anybody handed to me. I was stuffed by the end of it. And, along about Mile 16, some joker handed me a beer (in a cup-it wasn't obvious... other than the fact that they were shouting, "ICE COLD BEER!!"

I thought they were joking. They weren't. After the first sip, I said, "I guess they weren't kidding!" So I took a second sip and tossed the rest.

And, I suppose I should mention that the temp rose quite a bit around that time, and I found myself looking for every little bit of shade.

At about Mile 20 I notice a circle of blood on my chest, so I looked in my shirt and
found that I'd lost my band-aid on my right nipple. I believe I may have let a few nasty words slip. I went on with that for a while, until it occurred to me that there was no good reason to keep the shirt on, so I tied it to the back of my gel pack belt, and, everything went better after that. I was a lot cooler, for one thing.

But, I'm pretty happy with the experience. I took every piece of advice I got, band-aided up everything that chafed severely-including the afformentioned and my toes-and Body Glided everything that chafed a little...made sure I was wearing shorts that had never made a mark on me in training.

I made some new friends that I'll have to try to track down again.

But, I'm still beat now. I did soak my lower legs in the pool. I wanted to sit down in that cold water, but... Ew! I mentioned that it needed cleaning. I've mostly drained it now. I still need to mop it up a bit and then fold it up and box it for the winter.

So, anyway, nighty-night.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Less than 10 Hours til the Marathon.

My training today consisted of trimming the hedge, mowing the lawn and beginning the process of cleaning up the pool, which has languished for a month in mostly cool and rainy weather. I had to step into it a couple times and the icy water felt good on my feet. I decided not to finish the job today and soak them thoroughly again in it tomorrow, after the run.

I have a bit of a case of butterflies. Will I finish tomorrow? Will I end up walking until the bus catches up with me? Will they haul me away in an ambulance?

Or will I equal or even exceed my expectations?

I need to get my s**t together. Supposedly we still have a gym bag around here somewhere. When you train out of your home, you don't think about such things.

I'll tell you how it went when I recover sufficiently to make it down here.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Celebrate Anti-Federalist Day!

From the Mises Institute:
The Antifederalists Were Right
By Gary Galles
Posted on 9/27/2006

September 27 marks the anniversary of the publication of the first of the Antifederalist Papers in 1789. The Antifederalists were opponents of ratifying the US Constitution. They feared that it would create an overbearing central government, while the Constitution's proponents promised that this would not happen. As the losers in that debate, they are largely overlooked today. But that does not mean they were wrong or that we are not indebted to them.

In many ways, the group has been misnamed. Federalism refers to the system of decentralized government. This group defended states rights — the very essence of federalism — against the Federalists, who would have been more accurately described as Nationalists. Nonetheless, what the so-called Antifederalists predicted would be the results of the Constitution turned out to be true in most every respect.

The Antifederalists warned us that the cost Americans would bear in both liberty and resources for the government that would evolve under the Constitution would rise sharply. That is why their objections led to the Bill of Rights, to limit that tendency (though with far too little success that has survived to the present).

Dance a jig today, or cuss out a commie or something.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

It's been pretty tough to do any writing this week

What with the running and sleeping and eating and reading to the girls and taking them places and yardwork and helping the inlaws winterize the lake place...

Ah, woe is me.

Of course, I'm actually rather enjoying myself. Funny I didn't mention work in there anywhere. I'm also having to adjust to some new circumstances there, though not completely new. I just have the feeling of being like the new goldfish won at the fair. More I can't say.

If my style sounds a bit funny, it's because I've just finished reading chapter 35 of Luisa May Alcott's Little Women, and I fear it has improved my mind.

I find that whenever I read something that is touted as great literature, these days, that it lives up to its reputation. At least everything before the turn of the twentieth century. The twentieth century German authors I read in college were a bunch of, shall we say, weirdos. Although, I like Kafka. He at least had a sense of humor. D;¨urenmatt made jokes, but they were unrelentingly dark.

Now you know why I call myself a philistine. I refuse to resign myself to society's lemminglike charge into the Abyss, nor do I pretend to stand above it, laughing. Nor do I reject many of the parts of society which my professors wanted me to.

Ah! Enough of that! Time to heal unconsciously for a while in preparation for my next run.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Equinoctial Forces are about to exercise their celestial prerogative

plunging us into the barren winter.

I want to write a pseudo-intellectual tour de force (hmm, I think I just used that one), but it came out sounding so poetic I had to leave it.

Anyway, get ready, here it comes:
At the autumnal equinox (Sept. 23, 2006, 12:03 A.M. EDT), the sun appears to cross the celestial equator, from north to south; this marks the beginning of autumn in the Northern Hemisphere.

Infoplease. Thank you.

Celebrate responsibly.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

I mentioned Dean Karnazes a couple posts back

I'm reading his book. I can't say that it encourages me to run ultramarathons any more than the movie K-2 [Uh, that wasn't the name was it? What was it?] encouraged me to climb anything in the Himalayas, but he's a stunning physical specimen and the greatest hero of our time. Equal to Jack Morris, at least.

Right now, he's running 50 Marathons in 50 days. Check out his blog.

Omni has a brilliant post about the inefficacy of authorities

Let me just give you her point
11) Once in a blue moon, the wrongdoer WILL be penalized; said penalty will almost never be severe enough to counteract the fun of doing the evil deed, and even if it IS the overall fun to punishment ratio remains way too high for getting the occasional butt-kicking to discourage them from misbehaving.

She discusses, in depth, a point well developed by Hannah Arendt and Ayn Rand. This essay fits very well with two that I read in my spare time today,

[Hey!! A guy just mentioned Hank Thompson on the Dave Thompson show! I used to run around singing "I've got a Humpty Dumpty Heart" when I was Liina's age. Of course, I sang "howt" back then. It was a bit embarassing when Mom, who goes around with one of those oxygen tanks these days, told him that personally at a concert at Cookson Hills, Oklahoma with me there. I mean, I was a 41-year-old, big, fat guy with a Groucho Marx glasses-and-mustache look for God's sake!]

What the H was I saying?

Oh! Here's a Mises.com essay, The Justice and Prudence of War: Toward A Libertarian Analysis By Roderick Long
and one of his references, Understanding the Global Crisis: Reclaiming Rand’s Radical Legacy, by Chris Matthew Sciabarra.

Those are two magnificent intellectual tours de force.

Here's a bit of Long:
The non-consequentialist core of libertarian ethical theory is an egalitarian commitment; specifically, a commitment not to socioeconomic equality but to equality in authority. Indeed, libertarians' lack of enthusiasm for enforced socioeconomic equality stems precisely from their concern that it can be achieved only at the cost of this for libertarians more fundamental form of equality.[4]

The libertarian "non-aggression principle" expresses the conviction that forcibly to subordinate the person or property of another to one's own aims is to assume an unjustifiable inequality in authority between oneself and the other. And it is because this equality in authority likewise holds between private citizens and public officials that governments are forbidden to exercise any powers not available to people generally; libertarianism requires not just equality before the law but equality with the law.

And this bit, which I believe I've said myself (I've at least hinted at this strongly):
Since a libertarian polity's quarrel is with enemy regimes, not enemy peoples, it should adopt a strategy of covert operations and assassinations — as a substitute for, not a supplement to, conventional warfare.

And a bit of Sciabarra:
I have strongly supported the attempt to bring to justice the fugitives of 9/11-the murderous Al Qaeda-or "to bring justice to them," as President Bush has said. I think this is an unconventional war requiring unconventional warfare, including ongoing disruption of terrorist finance, weapons, and communications networks. But I remain wary of any long-term U.S. expansion into the region. And I believe that a projected U.S. occupation of Iraq to bring about "democratic" regime change would not be comparable to the German and Japanese models of the post-World War II era.

Sciabarra will tell you in that essay what Ayn Rand had to say about evil-doers that jibes with Omni's extremely important article. Hannah Arendt had tons to say about the "banality if evil" which it would serve you well to study. And Long's works provide a great bridge between Libertarians, Objectivists and Liberals. I like Sciabarra best, myself.

BTW, back to Omni's post, Robert Ringer has done some serious railing against teacher approved bullying in schools (public and private) that should be considered in this discussion.