Monday, February 26, 2007


That's what my hit counter says at this moment.

That calls for a celebration!


That's about all the celebrating I get to do these days. Though I been sneakin' the real wine at Communion lately.

Funny how I feel about that. I take it, enjoy the taste, and then concentrate on getting my daughter back to our pew quietly. Then I find my place in the hymnal and start singing along with the congregation.

I've got a hymnal upstairs. I'll go sing "Shine, Jesus, Shine."

Saturday, February 24, 2007

I really need to make sure I never get divorced.

I just realized that, since my wife is sick and didn't make me supper tonight, I've eaten a half a box of Girl Scout cookies, half a pot of coffee and three slices of bologna. Not a sandwich; I just pulled out three slices from the package and ate them plain.

Probably turkey bologna, too. I have no idea.

Speaking of books... Well, some of us were, not just me... I got my copy of Brian Doherty's Radicals for Capitalism the other day.

Chapter 1, p. 21, begins:
The libertarian vision is all in Jefferson. Read your Declaration of Independence: We are all created equal; no one ought to have any special rights and privileges in social relations with other men. We have, inherently certain rights--to our life, to our freedom, to do what we please in order to find happiness. Government has one purpose: to help us protect those rights. And if it doesn't do that, then it has to go, by any means necessary.

Jefferson, did recommend taking a cleansing breath, though:
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed.

I recite that like a mantra while I'm listening to talk radio. That and the 23rd Psalm.

Doherty quotes Lysander Spooner - I believe from No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority, though his footnote cites The Spooner Reader - to show why we libertarians love the guy so (I'll dispense with Doherty's elipses and brackets for the sake of easy reading, but I'll keep his choices of what to include, because they make it even easier reading), p. 51:
The fact is that the government, like a highwayman, says to a man: Your money or your life. But the highwayman does not pretend that he has any rightful claim to your money, or that he intends to use it for your benefit. He has not aquired impudence enough to profess to be merely a "protector." Furthermore, having taken your money, he leaves you. He does not persist in following you on the road, against your will; assuming to be your rightful "sovereign" on account of the "protection" he affords you. He does not keep "protecting" you, by commanding you to bow down and serve him; by requiring you to do this, and forbidding you to do that; by robbing you of more money as often as he finds it for his interest and pleasure to do so; and by branding you as a rebel, a traitor, and shooting you down without mercy, if you dispute his authority, or resist his demands. He is too much of a gentleman to be guilty of such impostures, and insults, and villainies as these. In short, he does not, in addition to robbing you, attempt to make you either his dupe or his slave.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it!

You want to know why I'm writing in this kinda folksy style today? Read some of this, The Book of Daniel Drew, and see if you don't take up the habit.

I'm sure it's only temporary. The habit of talking and writing folksy, I mean.

Daniel Drew was a partner of Jay Gould and James Fisk in many of their undertakings during the Gilded Age. It's the inside story of the Robber Barons!

They should have been prosecuted for fraud. Instead, they got away with their schemes [because the law is a game for shysters] and Anti-Trust laws were passed [so now we have ten times as many shysters - per capita, I mean].

But, what a character!

What time is it? 1:11!!!

Oh, crap...

Friday, February 23, 2007

I didn't get to see "Amazing Grace" on opening night.

I'm bummin' about that, but I got to see Stossel's "Worried in America" special. The theme song (sort of) was "Don't Worry, Be Happy." I love that!

I mean, sure, the song is dippy, but so what? It's fun.

Stossel presented an awful lot of evidence that we worry too much about stupid things that are very unlikely to happen, and too little about things that really are going to happen. Like eating too high a percentage of omega-6 fats will clog your arteries (although he wasn't that specific about the kind of fat - what he showed was foods like burgers and fries that are typically packed with omega-6s).

The thing I keep hearing people worry about is the trade deficit, which we've run every year except during depressions and recessions since this country was founded. Stossel didn't talk about that, but he did a section on our savings rate. The economist he had on said that the government doesn't include our investments in that measure: if you include that we're saving more than ever.

--Bicycle helmet laws cause overconfidence in both riders and car drivers and cause many people to stop riding because they don't want to go buy one. And those people, then, don't replace biking with other exercise, they replace it with driving to the burger joint or ordering pizza in and watching the tube.

Here's part of his blurb for the show:
Terrorism: How big is the risk? We look at what Veronique De Rugy of the American Enterprise Institute calls "terror porn": billions of dollars wasted in the name of safety, and what I call the FIC, or the "Fear Industrial Complex": politicians, lawyers, activists and media, who have an incentive to keep you scared. They profit by spreading fear.

Read that whole thing. It's a heckuva good run-down of everything that was said.

By the way: he did his own study of the wig thing. His results were inconclusive, though humorous.

He had a psychologist give some advice on how to overcome worrying. What the heck did he say?

Well, it was a b**** to find - I finally broke down and used ABC News' search box - but here it is:
Hallowell has a simple three-step plan that he says will help 95 percent of people overcome their worries.

Step 1: Never worry alone. Talk to somebody about your worries.
Step 2: Get the facts, because usually toxic worry is based on wrong information or lack of information.
Step 3: Make a plan. Take an active, constructive step. For example, Fortino might bring a distracting movie on the plane when she's anxious.

Making a plan will help you feel more in control, Hallowell says, although don't expect to "solve" your worry problem.

"Worry is not a problem you solve, it's a problem you manage. It's like blood pressure. You're bringing it into the normal zone," he said.

Stossel specializes in tipping sacred cows and prodding special interest groups. He's really got 'em up in arms in his discussion board with this one. (Well, not the cows, so much, but you know what I mean.)

I don't know anybody who wears a bike helmet, and everybody I know has been vaccinated. We're all normal.

Seems to me.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Oh... Where did I find that...?

There's an Austrian Economist being feted on his retirement who wrote a piece defending fractional reserve (free) banking. Some of my readers may be interested.

Ah, here's the article with a direct link to the pdf. Pretty easy to find today. It's the top article on their home page. The link is in the middle of the third paragraph.

In a perfectly free banking system, everyone must be free to offer any type of notes and to charge customers for his services in any way he can imagine. And any customer must be free to choose the kind of notes and the system of payment for services he prefers. One possible way for the issuers of money substitutes to make people pay for the cost of holding gold is nothing else than a fractional-reserve system. In fact, in such a system, the return obtained by the issuer of money substitutes is proportional to the length of time during which people hold notes, since he receives interest on a fraction of the value of these notes, namely those which have credits and not gold as counterparts in his balance sheet. In a perfectly free banking system, different kinds of issuers, with different methods for charging customers, may (at least potentially) coexist on the market. But, we cannot decide from outside that a 100-percent-reserve system is optimal, since optimality cannot be defined independent of the wants of individual (sic).

I suspect, myself, that The People would select fractional reserve banking, given the opportunity.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Well said, Brother:

Stop asking Uncle Sam to be our national parent. Someone once remarked that while Democrats want to be your Mommy and Republicans want to be your Daddy, libertarians believe you are an adult and that you can look after yourself. Seventy-plus years after the New Deal, forty-plus years after the Great Society and fifteen years after Dan Quayle's "family values" speech, I think we can conclude one thing: there is no substitute for family. The family is God's primary form of government. Families were a whole lot stronger and effective and morals were a world stronger before we started asking government to solve all our problems.

Gang Violence: What Would Libertarians Do?, by Doug Newman.

I like the rest of the article too. No guarantee that you will.

Monday, February 19, 2007


Indeed, scandal and corruption, which not surprisingly have tainted most administrations to some degree, pale by comparison to the damage presidential policy decisions have wreaked. What weight does Grant's Credit Mobilier scandal have in comparison to Lincoln's 620,000 dead in the Civil War? Harding's Teapot Dome affair is but a drop in the ocean compared to the global horrors set in train by Wilson's decision to take the United States into World War I: Allied victory, a harsh Versailles treaty, German resentment, the rise of Nazism, and World War II, not to speak of the rise of Communism, which also followed in World War I's wake. Why do the historians, and following them the public, place on pedestals the leaders responsible for such utter catastrophes?

I have a theory: left-liberal historians worship political power, and idolize those who wield it most lavishly in the service of left-liberal causes. How else can one account for the beatification of Lincoln, Wilson, and Franklin Roosevelt? Truman, now so elevated in the estimation of the historians, left office in unpopularity bordering on disgrace because of his Korean War disaster, but the historians forgive him, admiring his use of nuclear weapons and attempts to preserve and extend the New Deal. Theodore Roosevelt, a bloodthirsty proto-fascist, evokes admiration because of his public flogging of big business, a perennial left-liberal whipping boy.

No More Great Presidents, by Robert Higgs. RTWT.

Actually, I agree. I was listening to Bill Bennett this morning - because I'd rather hear enthusiastic statism than griping about the post-office and the school teachers having the day off. Anyway, Bill and his guest, a presidential historian, talked about the 1996 list that Higgs talks about then Bill's guest came up with his own: 1. Washington, 2. Lincoln and 3. tie: FDR and Reagan.

A full day and a half later. (I've been busy.)

I've said before that Grover Cleveland was great and that I really liked Calvin Coolidge. I'd be tempted to make my top three: 1. Cleveland, 2. Washington and 3. Coolidge. I like Jefferson for the Declaration, and I have to forgive unconstitutional Louisiana Purchase because I think it was a strategically necessary move when you consider what the English and Spaniards were up to back then. Lincoln gets high marks for freeing the slaves, even though I don't believe it was a high priority for him and I don't appreciate the means. I know of somebody who did it better.

I give Reagan high marks for reversing, if only temporarily, America's trend toward socialism. Put him in fourth place.

The worst? Roosevelt, Wilson, Polk and Roosevelt, T. In order. Then Carter and Nixon. GW Bush is looking an awful lot like a cross between Wilson and Polk to me.

Read the article and the Mises Blog comments for some justifications and google Friesian Presidents (I'd put that in quotes, but if you were to cut and paste them that way it probably wouldn't help) for others.

I tend to believe, unlike the Mises Inst/ guys, that war is sometimes necessary, but I'm convinced that the Military Industrial Complex paradigm fs it up. But, if you want to compare wars, this one's pretty tame.

So far.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

I just finished the ebook version of John Pipes'

Amazing Grace in the Life of William Wilberforce (80 pgs. PDF, but there are a lot of blank pages, so it will print up correctly. I just downloaded it and read it off my computer, so I found the blanks mildly annoying.)

It was quite good. This is from the penultimate paragraph:
The joy of the Lord became his strength (Neh. 8:10). And in this strength he pressed on in the cause of abolishing the slave trade until he had the victory.

The rest of the book provides the proof of that statement.

I received an answer to yesterday's post via a rather roundabout route.

I was awakened before 5:30 this morning by a dream in which I was holding my younger daughter when she started choking on a plastic cup-like thing she'd been playing with. I don't know if the Heimlich worked, since I woke up, but as I thought about it, I don't think it would have.

I suppose I could derive lessons from that relative to my whining yesterday, but that's not what I'm here about.

So, anyway, I got up and went down to check my email. Townhall's batch of articles for today included one with the intriguing title of "Walden's Big Idea," by conservative media critic Brent Bozell. "Walden" evokes images of Thoreau's idyllic retreat and his wonderful writings, and I wanted to see what sort of big idea could come from there - and why it would inspire Bozell - so I clicked on it.

That brought me to the Amazing Grace Movie website. But the big trailer was taking quite a while to download, so I looked up Amazing Grace and William Wilburforce at WikiPedia. After I read those and the material on the movie website, the trailer finally played. I'm afraid I found a tear in my eye at the end of it.

So I was inspired to look for more about John Newton, the author of Amazing Grace, and Wilberforce. The best thing I found on Newton was this article which has some great links. The Wikipedia article was as good as anything I could find on Wilberforce. And the answer I found was in this article The Amazing Wilberforce, by Drew Dyck. Though, it looks like it's presented in greater detail in a book by a local Baptist minister, John Piper, Amazing Grace in the Life of William Wilberforce. I may just go down there and buy it from him personally.

It doesn't look to me like he's just piggybacking on the hype from the movie. Here's a recent blog entry from his organization's website. They sell the book for $5.49, but you can download it free as well.

A testiment to their seriousness.

But the message I got from The Amazing Wilberforce can be gleaned from his conclusion:
We are not all called to conventional ministry. But we are all called to be salt and light where God places us. When we are faithful in heeding that call, God always does His part. And suddenly, like Wilberforce did, we see the world begin to change.

Of course the evils to fight that I see in the world are all caused by overweaning government. The most direct dangers to my children are either caused by the government itself, or by those who emulate it or those who rebel against it's injustices and reject society's morality along the injustices committed by misquided legislators, bureaucrats and law enforcers. But the solution is still to live by - persuade everyone else to live by - "the Laws of Nature and Nature's God."

Update: I just found another article on WW.

And here is a part of Real Christianity, an updated version of WW's book. Which was originally titled A Practical View of the Prevailing Religious System of Professed Christians in the Higher and Middle Classes in This Country Contrasted with Real Christianity.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Ya wanna know what my problem is?

I read all these self-improvement things, right?

So half of 'em tell you to work harder, longer and faster and the other half tell you to take a deep breath and be happy with yourself. "Don't worry. Be happy!"

The latter, I really don't need to be told. That's my default mode. I need to have somebody on my butt tellin' me to get to work.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Henry Hazlitt, most famously the author of

Economics In One Lesson and columnist for Newsweek through the '60s and '70s, wrote a novel called Time Will Run Back, which I will post an excerpt of on my other blog, Bourgeois Philistine. You can download a PDF version of it via the second link. I'll show you where to buy a hard copy at BP after the excerpt.

I found it the easiest read on economics that I've seen yet. (Of course, I haven't seen Russell Roberts' love story, so I can't compare them.)

If you're not aware of it, the "One Lesson" is, "The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups." [I didn't feel that Hazlitt's italics were necessary here.] If you read none of the rest of that book, the first and second chapters are essential for anyone interested in public policy.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Robert Mugabe is my nominee for Stupidest Man in the World

Hyperinflation Ravages Zimbabwe
February 7, 2007

"For close to seven years, Zimbabwe’s economy and quality of life have been in slow, uninterrupted decline. They are still declining this year, people there say, with one notable difference: the pace is no longer so slow.... The trigger of this crisis -- hyperinflation -- reached an annual rate of 1,281 percent this month, and has been near or over 1,000 percent since last April. Hyperinflation has bankrupted the government, left 8 in 10 citizens destitute and decimated the country’s factories and farms.... [President Robert] Mugabe, who blames a Western plot against him for Zimbabwe’s problems, has rejected all calls for economic reform." (New York Times, Wednesday)
All it It takes to bring a country to its knees is a printing press.

FEE Timely Classic
"Hyperinflation: Lessons from South America" by Gerald J. Swanson

"Hyperinflation doesn't work for Whites, or Jews, but hey! We're not them!" he "says".

Saturday, February 03, 2007

One of the other books I've read recently is

Michael Crichton's State of Fear. I was reminded of it by Mover Mike's latest post on global warming.

I will continue to try not to litter and to pick up other people's litter, I will continue to try not to waste gas and burn electricity I don't need to burn. I will continue to reduce, reuse and recycle all I can. Other than that, I turn my back on this issue.

Except when activists interfere with freedom. With freedom comes prosperity, and with prosperity comes awareness of the need for cleanliness and beauty. Trying to work the process backwards makes a mess of everything.

Oh, I should probably encourage you to read the IPCC Summary for Policymakers which was released yesterday. You'll probably beat me to it. I have a headache.

Friday, February 02, 2007

I've been reading more fiction lately.

I finished Imperium, by Robert Harris, a novel about "Rome's greatest politician", that was just a hell of a good book. It's written from the point of view of Tiro, Cicero's slave (whom he later freed--and he went on to live almost 60 years as a small farmer). Maybe I'll whip up a good review of it someday, but I'll say this now, it's a great way to get some back-story on some of the events of ancient history you've heard mentioned here and there.

Then there was Cell, by Steven King. I don't think I've used a cell phone since I read that. But going two weeks without making a cell call isn't strange for me.

To cut off accusations of false bravado, I did studiously avoid cell phones while I was reading the book.

To some degree it reminded me of Edmund Contoski's The Trojan Project (the link's not working right now, I hope Ed notices and fixes it soon).

And, I mentioned reading a Matt Helm book a while back, and the stuff I'm reading to the eldest daughter... All this is a long, roundabout excuse for me to celebrate Groundhog Day by rereading The Fountainhead, by you know who. She'd be celebrating her 102nd birthday today, if it hadn't been for those nasty cigarettes.

Oop. Breaktime's up.