Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Hey, Finland has a woman Prime Minister

Just thought I'd mention it.

Somebody oughta.

That fact that she's a woman is, unfortunately, the only interesting thing I can find on her. Not too impressed with her New Year's speech.

Amusingly, Finland is only a hundredth of a point behind us in the Heritage Foundation's 2006 Index of Economic Freedom.

And you call yourselves Socialists! Marx would be ashamed!

I Wonder if Mr. Ringer will mind if I post a bit of his new article

"Beware the Big Mistake," before he posts it on his own site. It's not primarily about politics, but he can't quite resist this dig:
Politicians have perhaps the lowest EQs of all. That's why the U. S. keeps getting itself into wars -- then, having made the first mistake, never fails to adopt a no-win policy. If you are not willing to kill innocent civilians, if you are not willing to torture enemy combatants, and if you are intent on granting the enemy the same legal rights as your citizens, war is the wrong business to be in.

From a moral standpoint, I am against war, against killing innocent civilians, against all forms of torture, and against depriving anyone of their legal rights. But the problem is that the bad guys on the other side of all of our wars use a completely different set of rules. Again, I repeat the haunting observation of 9/11 "pilot" Mohammed Atta: "The enemy is stupid."

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

I promised [promises, promises] I'd get after this Edward Feser

article, The Metaphysics of Conservatism.

I was bouncing around between my emails and the blogs, so, when I started reading it, I was thinking that I was reading an Atlasphere article and that it was endorsed to some extent by Objectivists. I assumed Feser was promulgating an updated or metaphorical version of the theory of Forms when he mentioned Plato, rather than endorsing a separate Realm of Being somewhere where, for instance, Perfect Roundness exists absent a thing which is round.

This is what Realists believe: that any concept you can imagine exists in its perfect form in heaven, from which it emanates its essence to imperfect copies out here. If you are a Realist (for this discussion, I insist that you see and understand the capital 'r' there, I've given my understanding of a technical term; I'm not discussing realists, pragmatists [big or small "p"] or pessimists), I'm not intending to be flip. That's the understanding I was given in Intro to Phil, and I was so disgusted I haven't looked further.

Goodness and Right... Justice and Honor and Power exist. But they don't exist absent things or beings which manifest them. Or rather, their manifestation in people we can see doesn't prove their existence in pure form in a pure place.

Piss, gotta quit.

Paraphrasing Thomas Sowell slightly,

from the article Political Corruption at Townhall.com:
Present members of Congress win votes by promising ... goodies. That leaves it up to future members of Congress to figure out how to welsh on those promises, which could not be met without jacking up tax rates to unprecedented levels.

Well, I was going to cut off the last bit after "promises", but it seems to me that it would be a bit intellectually dishonest of me to do that without discussion. Quoting Sowell to me is like playing the trumpets of heaven. I don't want to see the conductor start rapping his baton on the podium to explain some difficult bit to all the kids in the audience.

"...[J]acking up taxes to unprecedented levels." Obviously a bad thing. You know it, I know it and the American people know it, as Bob Dole would say. [Actually it was more like, "YUNOITINOITANTH'AMERICANPEOPLEKNOWIT!!!"]. Good thing he - Sowell - doesn't stop there:
Even that probably wouldn't provide enough money, since confiscatory tax rates confiscate the incentives needed to keep the economy going. An alternative political ploy would be to pay people the amount of money that was promised but in dollars so inflated that they won't buy anything close to what dollars bought when they were paid into the Social Security system.

Getting millions of people to rely on pensions that are not going to be there is corrupting government on a scale that makes bribing a few Congressmen look like minor league stuff.

By which he means, of course, 'Slap Abramoff on the wrist and just ignore those culturally corrupt Republicans behind the curtain.'

Oh! Sorry. Didn't meant to feed MoveOn etc. their lines.

Simply put, the US Govt has grown a mass of experiments that haven't panned out. They need to be excised like... Sorry, I already spent my allowance of metaphors.

Sowell: "What can be done about such corruption?"
It takes big bucks to run a political campaign and all that most politicians have to sell is the power of government that they control. That is what they do sell in various ways to various special interests.

Finally, he fires the shot to be heard round the world:

What really needs to be done is to put a limit of one term in one office and a waiting period of several years before being elected or appointed to another office in government. In other words, make political careers impossible.

Can people who are not career politicians run the government? People who were not career politicians created the government and the Constitution of the United States of America.

It was one of the most incredible achievements in history. Who among our career politicians today would be capable of such a feat?

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Rudy Carrera kindly notified me that my link to him is about a year out ot date.

I, oddly enough, just haven't minded the round-about trip to his blog so I never gave it a priority to update it.

I need to apologize for that.

I'm sorry, Rudy.

Rudy's got the perfect blogging package: short, pithy, meaty posts. You know Lileks? He's like him sans the need to write at least 1000 words.

Though, he might consider the fact that I (at least) will drop everything to imbibe whatever Lileks brews up.

I'm sayin, I like readin' ya, Rudy. Push your comfort zone, buddy. I'll bet somebody would pay for that.

Currently, he's posting at http://rudycarrera.blogspot.com/ howhoover, his main site is http://rudycarrera.com/rudyblog.htm. That's the one I'll give my permanent link.

Friday, January 20, 2006

What does this sound like to you?

"Throughout the 1990s, while the U.S. markets were soaring in an ever-hotter speculative boom, Japan was undergoing a painful depression that helped clean out its excesses, especially bad debts." -Martin Weiss, Money and Markets Newsletter, Jan. 20, 2006.

Classic ATBC (this article isn't about that particularly, but this is a nice summary of the theory in light of events we all remember).
In the aftermath both of the 2001 recession and the September 11 attacks, it was all too clear that many large businesses were overextended, having predicted a much more rosy future than what actually came to pass. Furthermore, the previous business boom had followed the classic pattern as explained by the Austrian Theory of the Business Cycle (ATBC), with the Federal Reserve System aggressively pumping up bank reserves, something that ultimately led to speculative bubbles, malinvestments, and the near-collapse of some business sectors most influenced by this artificial boom. As I pointed out five years ago, the vaunted "New Economy" was little more than the same Fed-induced, boom-fed delusion that ultimately brought us the gloomy economic climate of the 1970s and the disastrous Great Depression of the 1930s.

[Friedman and Schwartz disagree with the latter. As I understand it, Rothbard and the Austrians claim that more things act like money than our governors account for, though they claim to be able to manage the Economy.]
It is not surprising that many firms became highly-leveraged during this boom; indeed, it makes perfect sense for companies to increase their indebtedness during a time of easy money, since it permits them to pay back the debt in the future with cheaper dollars. Those associated with the Austrian School of Economics do not endorse such behavior, and certainly condemn the Fed's inflationary policies, but the response of firms to this situation is quite rational.

But back to the original point: deflation isn't all bad. It's left Japan with a very strong business base from which to face Asia's great economic expansion.

When Bush started flinging money around after 9-11 he propped up a lot of stupid ideas that should have died. A lot did, but not enough.

Anybody buying commodities these days?

Looks like time to buy some. I can't afford to get into stocks, but I could probably buy some coins. You take a pretty big hit at your local dealer, but the analysts I've been reading are saying that at this point the potential looks like it'll overcome their charges.

Whoops! I guess that might be a little misleading. It's the metal that's rising. I haven't heard anything about a run on coins as coins.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Here's some more Austrian economics for you

from todays Mises Daily Article (sorry, can't get the link right now):
The future is impossible to see or calculate. This has been proven through the market by not empowering fortune tellers and palm readers. Economic calculation of future events is similarly impossible. Error after error has shown the mistakes of economic calculation. Why does then it persist? Because the free market is not involved in the process. No one is replaced in the government for making mistakes on budgets. There is no profit incentive. Without the incentive, any number is thrown out to satisfy particular groups or political motivations. The incentive of coercion is the only extant incentive in politics. With coercion, the act of theft and misinformation about the future is proliferated to the masses.

Monday, January 16, 2006

I happened to catch the end of PBS's The American Experience

show on Eleanor Roosevelt the evening.

The mention that she sparred with the Russians while she was chairing the Committee forming the UN Declaration on Human Rights. Is there a resource for the documents from that debate? It strikes me as being almost as important as the Federalist/Anti-Federalist debates.

And it might just add another hero to my pantheon.

Here's an article, but it says little more. It does have links, though.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Steve led me to this article

in TCS daily that really hits the nail (if not many nails) on the head:
"Realist Conservatism," as we might call it, affirms the existence of an objective order of forms or universals that define the natures of things, including human nature, and what it seeks to conserve are just those institutions reflecting a recognition and respect for this objective order. Since human nature is, on this view, objective and universal, long-standing moral and cultural traditions are bound to reflect it and thus have a presumption in their favor.

But this does not necessarily entail a deference to the status quo, for since human beings are by their nature free and fallible, it is possible for societies to deviate, even radically, from the natural law. When this happens, it is the duty of the conservative to "stand athwart history yelling 'Stop!'" (as the editors of National Review so eloquently put it many years ago). Such yelling ought of course to be done with tact and wisdom, but if the cause of the Realist Conservative should end up a lost one, unlikely to win elections, that is irrelevant. What matters is fidelity to the True, the Beautiful, and the Good.

I believe I'll have to write my objections to this article tomorrow.

The Objectivist Center cuts to the heart of Martin Luther King's most famous saying:

Th[e] individualist understanding of character stands in stark contrast to a racist approach. Race and ethnicity are accidents of birth and tell us nothing about how to judge any given individual. Racism insults and degrades all individuals by judging them as members of a biological group rather than on their own achievements. No individual of moral character would want to judge others or to be judged by such a standard.

Dr. King rightly fought against government laws that treated individuals differently based on skin color. Fortunately those laws have been gone for many decades. And fortunately, most whites now accept Dr. King’s standard of moral character rather than skin color as the measure of individuals. But unfortunately, most black leaders in America today have taken up the ugly racist ethos that they fought in whites.

(Link here)

Thursday, January 12, 2006

I'M #2 in DOG POOP!!!

[Number two? No. 2? What's better? That's a serious marketing question. Numero II?] On this Google search anyway: "dog poop" minnesota Brooklyn.

I'M #2 in DOG POOP!!!

Haven't made a nickel yet, but you've got to see the inspiration: it must be A Sign!

Number 2!!

Can you feel it?

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Forgive the Ad

But I'm dead serious. I see this as MY route into the lawn-care business. I know quite a bit about lawn-care - and pet poop removal - already, and I my step-son is an expert on tree trimming.

I'm thinking that I'll start with poop scooping, go to general lawn cleaning and then, maybe aerating, levelling, dethatching and mowing. I can learn serious landscaping pdq, though all I've done here is tree and brush removal. But cat and dog poop removal strikes me as a mainstay that people with pets will always need. Restoration of pet damage would come a close second.

And I love doing lawn clean-up!

It's a bit tough in the snow, but I'll do it.

For money.

There's Poop That Needs Scooping in Brooklyn Center

And I'm just the man to do it!

This really isn't the venue for an ad, so I won't give out my personal information, though, if you look at my profile, you'll find my e-mail address.

Al's Pet Waste Removal Service
20% off 1st Month's Service

(763) 560-7026
only $47.95/Month!
(regularly $59.95)
($10 additional discount for smaller dogs)
For Regular Weekly Pet Clean-up!
Reliable, Competent, Friendly Service

Dear Northwest Suburban Homeowner,

My name is Al Erkkila. I am a hard working Minnesotan, pursuing the American dream of owning my own business.

What this means to you, is that I am now accepting a limited number of new clients for my complete pet waste clean-up service.

I can provide you prompt reliable service at a price that is EXCELLENT!


careful removal removal of pet waste
safe, ethical disposal

I can only accept a limited number of clients, so call today to reserve your spot today!

Call (763) 560-7026 Today!

If you live in Brooklyn Center, or within a mile or two of my hometown, give me a call.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

What?! Is David Strom dead?

The guys covering for him on The Patriot, Pioneer Press columnists Mark Yost and Craig Westerman, keep saying Strom's "gone gently into that good night"!

He sounded perfectly healthy last time I listened to him.


[Whoops! I see I've screwed up my Taxpayers League link. I can't believe nobody noticed that. I'll fix it in a minute.]

Well, to quote Rosann Rosannadanna, "Never mind."

He (and his wife) have just moved to a 100,000 watt FM station. [Hm. Can't find a website for them.]

Media whore. [Smiley]

And, of course, now he's in direct competition with the Northern Alliance, the bleep. And I'm late to the dance again. All those guys have already discussed this.

They've (Strom and Martin) got a bit of an echo going.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Minnesota is a low spending state?!

FEE points out this article in the WaPo about government growth [FEE pairs it with this 1993 article by Steven Moore]:
More interesting is how states fared in per capita federal spending -- the amount of federal money spent per person. The national average was $7,223 per person.

The top five states were Alaska ($12,885), Virginia ($12,150), Maryland ($11,645), New Mexico ($10,437) and Hawaii ($9,651). The bottom five were Nevada ($5,469), Minnesota ($5,644), Wisconsin ($5,728), Utah ($5,728) and Michigan ($5,981).

How about that?

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The Old Whig finds inspiration in the Dictionary

While reading The Voyage of the Dawn Treader to my daughter this evening, she asked the question, "Why do they call it the 'poop deck'?"

My answer was as ludicrous as you might imagine: "Because that's what sailors did there. ...Or maybe it's called poop because they did it off the poop deck."

So, naturally, while she was brushing her teeth I pulled out my aforementioned Webster's and looked it up. My second guess may still be right. It seems to be derived from the Latin word "puppis," which simply means "the stern of a ship."

I haven't yet studied the history of latrines.

Anyway, farting around in the dictionary, I was - I suppose unsurprisingly - drawn to the definition of "Whiggishness, [n. the quality of being Whiggish.]," which portended a discussion of the philosophy of Whiggism. I was disappointed, of course - it's only a dictionary, after all - but I thought I'd say something about their first and third definitions of Whig:
1. in England, a political party (1697-c. 1832) which championed popular rights and change in the direction of democracy: it later became the Liberal Party: opposed to Tory.

I have no great difficulty there, except that I wouldn't define democracy merely as the ability of the masses to select policy makers or policies of governments with a 50% + 1 vote margin, but rather as the widest possible dispersion of power; which I believe is most effectively promoted by the protection of private property and the right to bear arms.

But definition #3 was of more interest to me:
an American political party (. 1836-1856) opposing the Democratic Party and advocating protection of industry and limitation of the power of the executive branch of government.

On the last clause, I'd argue that the legislative and judicial branches could stand some limiting as well, but I can't fault them for that. But I do fault them for their stand on "protection" of "industry." What they meant was high tariffs and limiting competition for established businesses: the use of the power of government to create and defend monopolies.

I'm all for protecting industry, as in "...intelligent work; skill; cleverness..." or an application thereof. You do that by protecting property rights, but the American Whig Party meant to protect industries, and, since they believed in wielding the power of government to do it, they didn't recognize the government's limited ability and it's need to pick and choose.

I need more time. We're coming up on midnight here.