Tuesday, February 21, 2006

I am neither a Nativist nor a Populist

So I don't think the Bush Administration's stand on the UAE/American Ports issue is the wrong one. You want an American company to do it? Guess Who is the only company with the expertise. Can you say "Halliburton?"

Ha! Ha! Hahahahahaha!

[Do I sound like my big brother? Sorry. Or maybe I'm not. Kind of a Romulus and Remus thing, if you know what I mean. (We're not twins. I've accused him of raising me. Anybody remember Lucan?)]

OK, Kellogg, Brown and Root. Who's counting?

I worked for Halliburton one day. It was a day-laborer position in--or, I should say, out of--Odessa, Texas. I was a Newby and I acquitted myself like an FNG. But, luckily, everything went right and I lived to BS on the WWW.

The crew I worked with that day was so professional that I have no f***in' idea how they could do what they did even with me as a dead weight to slow them down.

I'm a big, strong man, but I still don't know how to wind up 300 yds of frayed steel cable in two minutes without shredding my leather gloves, let alone the hands inside them.

That's what they asked me to do, and that's what they ended up doing for me. They paid me for my 13 hour day with them....

Wait a minute! That was Burton Well Service that I'm describing. I ended up working for the summer of 1984 for Welltech. It's Welltech that was a byword (future WOD) among the oil well servicing companies of [the extremely hazardous] oil field of Permian Basin.

Oh, yeah. WellTech was a subsidiary of Halliburton.

They centralized their operations and canned my ass.

Monday, February 20, 2006

"Are human interests, left to themselves, harmonious or antagonistic?"

That's a question from this long article about Frederic Bastiat.
Bastiat did not claim that laissez-faire was bound to produce a state of perfection. His contention was that, where private property is respected, a natural order comes into existence in which individual interests are not antagonistic but mutually supportive. Society then constantly progresses, even though it might never be perfect at any point of time.

Al's efforts at a great article on Bastiat are, as Jed Clampet would say, "Pitiful. Just Pitiful."

Friday, February 17, 2006

Here is a brilliant answer to the ARI letter I posted the other day

from Tunku Varadarajan in the Wall Street Journal (in the free part, so take a look):
To the free-speech absolutists in the blogosphere, I say that making this episode the test of our Western manhood is not the right way to go--for a number of reasons. To start with, some points should be obvious: Every right--and here, specifically, the right of free speech--is not a duty; nor does discretion or good taste or a desire to be constructive amount to a spit in the eye of the First Amendment. Freedom of speech and imagery is sacrosanct; but it is not compulsory.

The First Amendment means that you can, but do not have to, exercise the freest lawful speech. It means that you are responsible for your speech, not the authorities. The absence of legal restrictions also means that institutional dispensers of speech--such as newspapers and TV channels--need to exercise their freedom wisely.

What? Am I taking both sides?

No. I'm on this guy's side. Although I worry about phrases like "the freest lawful speech."

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Ah! My Beloved Objectivists!

Dear Editor:

Bravo to all the newspapers that published the Danish cartoons that many Muslims have responded to with violent riots. And shame on every newspaper that sacrificed the principle of free speech in the name of "sensitivity" to Islamic dogma.

The moral and practical response to the Muslim attack on free speech is for every newspaper of the free world to publish--as an act of solidarity and defiance--the Danish cartoons with the following message: "We proudly defend free speech against anyone who believes that their religion entitles them to suppress it."

Glenn Woiceshyn
Ayn Rand Institute
Irvine, CA

2121 Alton Parkway
949-222-6550 ext 226

Copyright © 2006 Ayn Rand® Institute. All rights reserved.

I have to say that I like the sound of these elements

Of Sue Jeffers' - Libertarian candidate for Minnesota Governor - platform:
Work For People, Not Special Interests
In a climate of partisanship and gridlock, as governor I will work with both parties to find common ground, instead of the special interests.

I will work with Democrats on issues we agree on including:
- stopping corporate welfare projects
- helping the working poor with lower taxes
- protecting our environment from dangerous polluters
- protecting our civil liberties

I will work with Republicans on issues we agree on including:
- protecting property rights
- advocating choice in education
- reforming excessive regulations

Sounds like the way to go to me.

BTW, Sue Jeffers owns Stub & Herb's Bar down by the U of M in Minneapolis, and she's been leading the charge for Bar and Restaurant owners rights over what they may allow or ban on their premises.

Oh! Update: Checking out her FAQ, I saw this: Why is the smoking ban not an issue on your web site?
I have been very vocal on the issue, but to clarify: smoking bans are just one assault on property rights. I believe these bans are against state law, if not, the law should be changed.

And, I have to admit, she's got that strong, competent woman look that makes me so... uh, that I like.
Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Ah! The eternal question...

Why Aren't You an Anarchist?
by Fred E. Foldvary

Say "anarchy" and many people think of chaos, violence, and everybody running amuck. The word "amuck," also spelled "amok," comes from the Malay language, meaning guys who suddenly become aggressive and homicidal due to some perceived insult.

But anarchism also has a totally different meaning, that of the belief in social harmony without an imposed government. It is a peaceful anarchy with a spontaneous and contractual order.

Most people are not in favor of peaceful anarchism because they think it cannot work. Many philosophers have been telling us that people form or support a government in order to establish security and order, otherwise society will fall apart and run amuck.

Econ Professor Foldvary is pushing Georgist Anarchism, or Geoanarchism as he calls it, which is Communitarian rather than Individualist; public goods are paid for by a single Land Tax.

The article is short and I don't want to leach all the good stuff out of it. Give it a look.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Questions about the Trade Deficit.

I just had Michael Savage on...

I'd really like to like the guy... Well, the fact is that I do like him. He has a lot of the qualities I like in a person: he's friendly; he's crazy; he has a hard edge... He's tough. He's cool.

And he's smart... but he don't know nothin' about economics. George W. Bush knows a lot more. Keynes and Marx knew more economics than Savage. And I have zero respect for them: Marx for placing political prejudice above science and Keynes for placing personal gain above Truth - political, scientific or philosophical. "In the long run we are all dead" indeed. He died rich. Where'd he leave us? With Samuelson (who had to revise his estimates of Soviet productivity downward with every edition of his famous economics text) and Krugman, that's where!

But Savage... What's his excuse? He, and his beloved Pat Buchanen, keep espousing the economics of the Unions, who learned everything they know from Karl Marx. Who learned everything he knew from Ricardo and Smith, who, for some bizarre reason (Rothbard blames Calvinism) created the Labor Theory of Value (Smith, which led directly to Ricardo's Iron Law of Wages); a theory held by none of his predecessors that was blown out of the water by the Theory of Marginal Utility in the 1870s. The Physiocrats were closer to the truth (though they were also wrong).

But Smith, Ricardo, Thomas Malthus, Marx and Keynes ALL understood economics better than modern unions, Pat Buchanen and Michael Savage.

The Trade Deficit means that we have money (somehow) that others value (somehow) and they have goods that we value. My question is: why do they value our money? And further: how do we make it valuable, and how do we keep from f***ing that up?

You can buy gold in 1/10 oz coins. If you're really worried about our money, you should buy some. I'll plug in some links when I have more time, but a Google search will tell you as much as I will. I'd recommend California Numismatics if you're really concerned.

And there's some Great News I came across via that last guy.

Scaling back socialism:
Sweden looks to fuel growth via economic, market reforms

That article looks like it has too many theses. And I don't know that the thesis that it's titled after is that well supported. It all depends on the voters electing their Non-Socialist Alliance.

[Would that be like an Antisocial Association?]

Via the last guy, specifically, in a comment on this post.

Hey! Just what I was looking for!

A blog about Finland by someone who advocates "liberty, individuality, equality and tolerance."

Finland for Thought

His links alone are enough to buy a place on my linkbar.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

After neglecting my Mark Steyn for a while

I finally got around to reading him today. I've got to admit that his take on the Joel Stein issue seems pretty persuasive to me. I also don't understand how you can support our troops and object to what they're doing at the same time. You'd have to want them to be sucky at it.

Okay, let me delve a little deeper. You wish them the best, but you want to get the Administration to bring them home. The CINC and the troops are two different things.

But, I gotta tell ya, kids: if the troops do their jobs in exemplary fashion, the natural human desire for freedom will be victorious, though not without hardship. Remeber what Tom Paine said, "Tyranny, like Hell, is not easily conquered..." amd let's not forget how that thought continues, "yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated."

Yes, we must place more and more responsibility on the Iraqis to maintain their own freedom, and we must eventually (very soon, in fact) allow them full indepedence. I suspect that we'll leave a sizeable garrison there, as we did in Germany and Japan to fight the Cold War, and if we're lucky it'll work out as well.

It's not empire, but it's almost as much of a drag, economically, as empire. To pay for it, we don't need draconian taxation. What we really need is freer markets. Not an "Open Door" policy as we had from the 1880s through the 1920s-where we employed our troops to kick open doors in Japan, China and Latin America [yes, that was a pretty fascist way to operate-almost as shameful as slavery itself], but true openness. Openess that helps poor economies rise to our level. Openess that takes advantage of the comparative strengths of different regions and diverse peoples. Openess that doesn't fear "creative destruction" or the uncertainties of "spontaneous order."

That kind of openness won't protect your current job or give stability to your firm, but, if you're willing to retrain, it'll make sure that you continue to have a job or firm.

President Bush and the Neocons are using the Japan and Germany models for their template. Let's hope they learn all the lessons from the Wirtschaftswunder and Macarther's reforms.


Update: I added that link, which I got from a November post by Chase Bradstreet over at Peace for our Time.

I have him listed as an anarcho-capitalist for some reason I can't explain. A relapse, no doubt.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

I haven't abandoned

The Bourgeois Philistine. I love the name enough to keep it going.

Family life and The Super Bowl on the last post. (Verb? What's a verb?)

Saturday, February 04, 2006

HO! HO! Nobody gave me the Worm!

So I can say whatever I want!

Thus I shall praise Herr von Mises, who has managed to say everything I've been trying to say for the past two years in four paragraphs, and explain what it all means besides):
Human Cooperation

Human cooperation is different from the activities that took place under prehuman conditions in the animal kingdom and among isolated persons or groups during the primitive ages. The specific human faculty that distinguishes man from animal is cooperation. Men cooperate. That means that, in their activities, they anticipate that activities on the part of other people will accomplish certain things in order to bring about the results they are aiming at with their own work. The market is that state of affairs under which I am giving something to you in order to receive something from you. I don't know how many of you have some inkling, or idea, of the Latin language, but in a Latin pronouncement 2,000 years ago already, there was the best description of the market — do ut des — I give in order that you should give. I contribute something in order that you should contribute something else. Out of this there developed human society, the market, peaceful cooperation of individuals. Social cooperation means the division of labor.

The various members, the various individuals, in a society do not live their own lives without any reference or connection with other individuals. Thanks to the division of labor, we are connected with others by working for them and by receiving and consuming what others have produced for us. As a result, we have an exchange economy which consists in the cooperation of many individuals. Everybody produces, not only for himself alone, but for other people in the expectation that these other people will produce for him. This system requires acts of exchange.

The peaceful cooperation, the peaceful achievements of men are effected on the market. Cooperation necessarily means that people are exchanging services and the products of services, goods. These exchanges bring about the market. The market is precisely the freedom of people to produce, to consume, to determine what has to be produced, in whatever quantity, in whatever quality, and to whomever these products are to go. Such a free system without a market is impossible; such a free system is the market.

We have the idea that the institutions of men are either (1) the market, exchange between individuals, or (2) the government, an institution which, in the minds of the many people, is something superior to the market and could exist in the absence of the market. The truth is that the government — that is the recourse to violence, necessarily the recourse to violence — cannot produce anything. Everything that is produced is produced by the activities of individuals and is used on the market in order to receive something in exchange for it.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

First: Happy Birthday Miss Rand!

The first celebratory piece I've read today was from The Objectivist Center and I like it. Here's a couple paras:
Rand developed an ethos of rational self-interest, but this "virtue of selfishness" was not an anti-social creed for predators. Instead, it led Rand to her great insight that there is no conflict of interest between honest, rational individuals. Since individuals are ends in themselves, no one in society should initiate the use of force or fraud against others. All relationships should be based on mutual consent. This became the credo of the modern libertarian movement, found today in think tanks, publications and public policy proposals.

True individualists would not debase themselves by living the life of a thief, whether robbing a store with a gun or their fellow citizens with a government mandate or wealth-redistribution scheme. Rather, they would take pride in taking responsibility for their own lives, actions and moral character. Rand wrote, "As man is a being of self-made wealth, so he is a being of self-made soul."

The last line is what you call a "hard saying" that took me a while to get, steeped as I was in altruistic teachings, but if you find the rest to be common sense, good for you. You're on my side.

And in other news, Punxutawney Phil saw his shadow today, so six more weeks of winter. I'd like to know where that's not the case.

I got my first "Amber Alert: Penny Brown" email today. It didn't look right, so I googled her. No official looking websites, but a bunch blasting the email as a hoax. I didn't see Snopes on the first page, and that made me think that maybe the perv who took her was setting up websites saying that as fast as he could. But then I went to Snopes directly.

Oldest missing persons hoax they've got. I sent that news up the back-trail.

Snopes said, "the e-mail itself provided few of the details that generally appear in legitimate pleas to help locate missing children. Not even the city or country the child went missing from was mentioned, and other than the pointless "has been missing for now two weeks," no date was given for the disappearance. ("For now two weeks" statements are entirely useless in a medium wherein undated text is circulated — the "two weeks" ago of an e-mail can and often has referred to events years in the past.)" I noticed all that immediately. What's wrong with the 500 people ahead of me that they didn't?

Whoops! Only 15 minutes to Kama Sutra time! I think I'll go see if I can't put mine into action before then.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

An Interesting Op-Ed from The Ayn Rand Institute:

The Injustice of Saddam's Trial
By granting Hussein a trial, justice is perverted.
By Elan Journo

The American-endorsed trial of Saddam Hussein is touted as an opportunity to render justice and lay the groundwork for an Iraqi transition from the arbitrary courts of a dictatorship to a proper legal system. But the trial will accomplish neither goal.

A trial that presumes Hussein's innocence can achieve nothing but a travesty of justice.

Saddam Hussein is not a private citizen, whose guilt requires proof in an objective court of law, but a dictator whose incontestable evil was manifest to any rational observer of his tyranny. The Bush administration, after all, determined that Hussein was so vicious that we had to go to war to topple his regime.

Once we defeat and capture a militant dictator like Hussein, he deserves to be definitively condemned as evil and then executed--immediately, or after any valuable information is extracted from him. Prior to his execution, there can be a legitimate reason to hold a public hearing--not to establish his guilt, but to fully expose his secretive dictatorship by publicly cataloguing its myriad vile deeds. Such a hearing would recognize that, unlike a private citizen, a dictator is responsible not merely for his own individual acts of violence but for all crimes committed by his regime, whether or not in any given case he himself pulled the trigger or gave a direct order to murder the victims.

But the trial now underway evades Hussein's incontrovertible culpability, absurdly presumes him innocent, and demands that his "command responsibility" be established for particular acts of murder. In the case that began Oct. 19, the prosecution is required to prove that Hussein specifically ordered his thugs to carry out the 1982 massacre of some 140 people. This is as perverse as presuming Hitler, Stalin, or Mao innocent in the millions murdered by their regimes--and then groping for evidence that they personally ordered the execution of a handful of dissidents in one small village.

It is outrageous that after more than two years into a war that has cost billions of dollars and thousands of American lives, we regard as legitimate the possibility that Hussein could be found culpable for only some minuscule number of murders or even not guilty. It is outrageous that he is given a defense team of 1,500 lawyers, that he is granted the right to appeal a guilty verdict, and that he is allowed to address the court. In one more injustice against all his victims, domestic and foreign, Hussein has eagerly exploited this international stage--paid for with American money and blood--to challenge and scold his Iraqi victims, to rail against the United States, and to cheer on the insurgents murdering Americans.

And yet this trial, the epitome of injustice, is defended as paving the way for a truly just legal system. Proponents argue that, whatever one thinks of the specifics of the trial, it marks the transformation of Iraq's judiciary from courts subservient to a dictator's whims, to courts objectively determining guilt or innocence. But the trial does no such thing.

Observe that only Iraqis were deemed qualified to decide Hussein's culpability. With President Bush's encouragement and blessing, the Iraqi leadership was given full control of the proceedings--and deliberately excluded American judges. Though there are plenty of American judges with decades of experience under a proper legal system--and few, if any Iraqis with comparable experience--American participation was viewed as unacceptable. Why were only members of Hussein's ethnic tribe deemed fit to judge him?

Because justice, on the premise of the trial, is determined by the tribe; the tribe alone is the ultimate arbiter of right and wrong, good and evil, innocence and guilt. On this view, a meticulously logical assessment of universally available facts has no bearing on justice. Whatever the tribal group feels is just--regardless of evidence or logic--is just. A trial conducted on this premise is a repudiation of justice as an objective principle.

The trial is not, in essence, a departure from the subjective courts of the former regime. Instead of Hussein capriciously prescribing a "just" verdict, that arbitrary power now belongs to the Iraqi tribe--or any sub-tribe (whether Sunni, Shiite, Kurd) that wrests control of the courts.

This trial is irredeemably corrupt. The United States--which gave Iraq millions of dollars and sent lawyers and forensic investigators to launch the proceedings--must immediately withdraw its moral sanction from this travesty of justice.

Elan Journo is a junior fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute in Irvine, Calif. The Institute promotes the ideas of Ayn Rand--author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead and originator of the philosophy of Objectivism.

Copyright © 2006 Ayn Rand® Institute. All rights reserved.

We wouldn't want our leader dealt with that way should we be conquered, you say?

&^%*+! We'd have more important things to worry about.

Minna raised a good point in her comment to my last post

She said, "And you can do business and be a socialist at the same time. I'm a small business owner and measure my success by how much taxes I've payed each year!"

My analysis is this: i... let me capitalize that: Individualism is so deeply ingrained in the souls of Scandinavians that they don't even realize they're doing it. If you have a population of people who tend, uniformly, to act responsibly, and don't have crushing restrictions on economic activity but only ones that are in accord with your culture, it doesn't matter whether you call yourselves Individualists or Socialists. It only matters for prosperity that the vast majority of people act responsibly.

That is, as long as your culture doesn't crush economic activity, by either encouraging anti-economic activity or discouraging economic activity.