Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Is this true?

...[A]ccording to standard microeconomic theory, unless an industry is dominated by tiny firms with small production capacity and all goods sold in that market are exactly the same, there exists a market failure. That is right; according to the economics canon, any product differentiation is “proof” that the market has failed, and only can be set right by outside (read that, government) action.

In the real world, competition is defined by heterogeneity; people seek to demonstrate that their products are better than others, that there is a quality difference. Academic economists, however, hold that such differences demonstrate that markets are less competitive than what is socially optimal. (Joan Robinson, a student of Alfred Marshall and a developer of “imperfect competition” theory, wrote that such differences provided a “spatial monopoly” to producers and should be regulated by government.) Nor do they have a workable theory of capital, and they ignore the role of time and time preference.

That's from William Anderson, “Free Market” Economists and Economic Ignorance.

Are these people retarded?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

I always thought Scrooge got a bum rap from Dickens.

Butler Shaffer agrees with me.
Make no mistake about it: my client has been the victim of a cruel criminal conspiracy to extort his money, as well as of such torts as intentional infliction of emotional distress, libel and slander, trespass, assault, malicious prosecution, battery, nuisance, and false imprisonment. To that end, my client may elect to bring his own suit, but for now let us focus upon his defense to this action. As we do so, pay particular attention to the utter contradiction underlying Dickens’ case: my client is charged with being a greedy, money-hungry scoundrel, and yet it is the conspirators against him who want nothing more than his money! Scrooge – unlike his antagonists – earned his money in the marketplace by satisfying the demands of customers and clients who continue to do business with him, and did not, as far as we are told, resort to terror or threats of death to get it. Perhaps Dickens does no more, here, than engage in psychological projection. In doing so, he reminds us of the definition of a "selfish" person as "one who puts his greedy interests ahead of mine!"

Although, I have to admit that it wouldn't have been pleasant to work for the guy.

Ah. I could take it.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

World War is not the solution to economic crisis

This comment on Tom Sowell's article today, Another Great Depression? -which describes the problem, gives the most succinct answer I've ever seen as to what ended the Depression:
Pistol
Location: FL
Reply # 17
Date: Dec 23, 2008 - 6:33 AM EST

Subject: George
Please cease spreading the false notion that WWII saved our economy. What saved us was the destruction of our competition and the goods and profits we built in the 50's. The same war crushed England France and Germany as players on the world stage. Theories have value only according to their ability to predict results. The theory of relativity was hotly debated until the advent of instruments able to confirm its predictions arrived. Economics is no different. Sowell occupies a big place because his theories have predictive value. Make work projects only make things worse. Does a man up to his ears in credit card debt reduce it by digging holes on the beach for the tide to fill? Work is not the answer, profit is the answer. Whichever country manages it the best will emerge from this world wide slump the quickest and best. In the 30's it was Germany, and it made Hitler the most admired politician in the world.

The war did end unemployment by sending millions of young men overseas to kill and die, but we didn't get much in the way of an increase in production of anything but killing tools. Nothing you'd care to have lying around the apartment, say (I'm assuming normal space restrictions-as much as I'd like to have the Yorktown in my living room, my wife won't allow it).

As to how Hitler did it? First, he repudiated Reparations payments. Second, he didn't - he convinced the people of the virtues (in both meanings) of martial discipline and sacrifice instead. They did without.

As did we, during the war.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Things may not be as bad as we fear.

http://www.independent.org/blog/?p=667
I hadn't heard this, but Obama says that Adam Smith is one of the most influential writers he's read. He's read both The Theory of Moral Sentiments and The Wealth of Nations.

Smith had some flaws, but his book had a generally salutary effect on world history.

***

Note to self: I want to check out the podcast mentioned in Art Carden's article, Deirdre N. McCloskey on the Bourgeois Virtues.

Friday, December 12, 2008

From David Calderwood's article

Cargo Cult Economics:
Members, leaders, and prophets of the government-regulated economy cults maintain that the manufactured goods (productive economy) of the Free Market have been created by spiritual or ideological means (Gaia or egalitarian socialism/Keynesian-monetarist policy, respectively), and are intended for the cult’s members, but that, unfairly, the Free-Market capitalists have gained control of these objects through attraction of this wealth to themselves by malice and greed.

Like Cargo Cultists in New Guinea, truly these people don’t know any better. Even highly placed and widely quoted professional economists are as ignorant of the source of economic wealth as were stone age tribesmen whose first contact with technology was with people landing airplanes in the jungle.

The cultists’ spending on (or cheering for) the bailouts, stimulus payments, and infrastructure "investments" is based on the belief that it is money that causes economic prosperity, just like cargo cultists thought that if they built straw models of airplanes and recreated airstrips the "cargo" would return.

When I go to the store to buy something with money, the only reason I have money to spend is because someone paid me to produce what it is I do at work. My job lasts only so long as I produce in value for my employer more than I cost to employ, and my job’s security exists only so long as my employer’s production is profitable.

...
In my quest to become an economist, I've been listening to the mp3 recordings of Salerno and Klein, Fundamentals of Economic Analysis: A Causal-Realist Approach.

###

Oh, and my beloved Carly Fiorina has an op-ed in the WSJ. She says CEOs should be more moral.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Haiku cycle to Obama

The African Man
The American Christian
Muslim is coming.

His foes all warned us
Barack isn't black enough
His friends knew better.

Americans, people,
don't like to be told what to think.
Source, dissolution.

Robert Ringer:

I am a hard-core, free-market capitalist. As such, I believe that a deflationary depression is a good thing for the economy because it shakes out excesses. It exposes the lie of artificial wealth. Above all, it calms the soul, tempers our gluttonous instincts, and causes us to refocus our priorities.

Link.

Leaving out some softening transitions (I'm eliding them, I mean), he also says:
Always keep in mind that you have free will, which means that you can choose to find both business and personal opportunities that will not be visible to those who are focused on what they believe they are entitled to. Such people are likely to have a difficult time accepting the reality that the Age of Gluttony is coming to an end.

Remember that WASP Work Ethic? Actually Weber said Protestant work ethic. As a German, he had to include the Luths. And no Catholic ever works hard, not to mention those heretics and heathens... Atheists?! Forget about it! What have they got to work for? All they are is dust in the wind!

Jeez! What's gotten into me?

Monday, December 08, 2008

L. Neil Smith has some ideas

on how to celebrate Bill of Rights Day, coming up in one week:
Don't love money. Love the idea of your business. Love the good that it does. Love the fact that in some way your products meet the needs or wants of your customers. See money for what it is - a neutral indicator of how good you are at doing what you do. If the value you provide is worth the money you get for it, people will buy what you're selling. The better the value you give, the more money you will get.

Oops! Well, look what I have on my clipboard! That's Michael Masterson from his Early to Rise article today.

Back to El Neil:
The Bill of Rights is the property of the people, not of lawyers, judges, or academics bent on weasel-wording it out of existence. It is also the highest law of the land, superceding all lesser statutes and ordinances, treaties, and the body of the Constitution itself. Judges who consistently rule against the Bill of Rights should face continual efforts to remove them from office. Wherever it is possible, the 14th Amendment should be used to prevent such creatures from ever holding office again. Avoid trivialities (like semen on a White House intern's blue dress) and focus, instead, on crimes against the people and the Constitution.

He's advocating
The National Recall Coordinating Committees must be guided solely by the Bill of Rights and—since it's the creation of libertarians—the Zero Aggression Principle. I detest having to write these words, but it should avoid those areas of controversy that legitimate members of the freedom movement are divided on, such as abortion and immigration. I have strong opinions on these issues, myself, and it is distasteful not to pursue them, but if the Founding Fathers hadn't followed a similar course with regard to slavery (something they're often criticized for), we'd all be speaking with British accents today.

Once we have the free country the Founders intended, we can settle all our old arguments with coffee and pistols at dawn, if absolutely necessary.

...

Above all, we must always act with complete openness. We must never lie. Nor must we ever soft-pedal our principles or eventual goals.

First among these must be the placement of a stringent—no, let's make that Draconian—penalty clause within the Bill of Rights.

We must also repeal that section of the Constitution which gives legal immunity to legislators for whatever crimes they commit in office, and with it, all laws and findings that give similar immunity to those—like hired FBI assassins—who commit crimes for the government.

He has other practical suggestions for the operation of these Committees of Correspondence, as they were called in the days of the Revolution.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

"Why do I drink?" asked Hank Jr.

I haven't for a while, actually, but I was thinking about it. Not surprising; I think about it a lot.

I haven't read Future Shock, but according to this guy:
Alvin Toffler predicted that we would be overwhelmed by too many items competing for our time and attention, especially in the workplace. He foresaw that this would inhibit action, result in greater anxiety, and trigger a perception of less freedom and less time. Having choices is a blessing of free market economy. Having too many choices results in increased time expenditure and a mounting exhaustion.

The article is about time management. He's got a better suggestion than hitting the liquor store (or knockin' one over, or visiting your local illicit substance dealer...):
Whenever you're about to make a low level decision, consider: does this really make a difference? The executive or manager today who seeks to stop racing the clock, to keep piles from ever starting, and to have more energy each day needs new perspectives and fresh approaches for managing his career and his life. Get in the habit of making fewer decisions each day--the ones that count.

Sounds like creative procrastination to me. Well, OK, he means judicious procrastination. Oh, all right! Dump that p-word and call it 'delegation.'

Michael Masterson ignores his emails until the end of the workday, when, hopefully, all the minor stuff people wanted to bug him about has been resolved. He works on projects of his own choosing until then and only deals with other people's problems when they turn out to be incapable of dealing with them without help.

How all this fits with my title is that I was just thinking that a major contributor to my last relapse was my feeling of guilt that I wasn't making progress on the long list of commitments I'd made to myself. I just wanted to hit CONTROL-ALT-DELETE.

The goal of all those commitments was to show everybody that "Life's not so bad! Anyone can succeed!" But I've got tons on my plate: I want to be a great husband, a great father, an expert on Aristotle, an economist, an entrepreneur, a marathoner, a strongman, a benefactor of Mankind, rich, honorable-just-moral, smart-learned-wise...

Those are the things I want to be great at. The list of good-enoughs is at least twice as long, with no overlap. I read about setting goals and priorities all the time. Sometimes I take some of the steps. They say writing those things down gets you a long way toward getting them done. Somehow, it seems, my unconscious mind thinks that once something is written down it's done. Move on.

So, I hit CONTROL-ALT-DELETE...but the same, damn page just comes back. Unchanged. Except that I'm older, and have less time and less health.

Wow! Dr. Amen (pronounced A-men - long A, accent on the first syllable) is right: negative thinking shuts down your brain. He was pushing this book on PBS today.

Oh, I see QuackWatch has a page on him. Hmm.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Another way Obama could help:

Let's End Drug Prohibition

Yes, the speedy drugs -- cocaine, methamphetamine and other illicit stimulants -- present more of a problem. But not to the extent that their prohibition is justifiable while alcohol's is not. The real difference is that alcohol is the devil we know, while these others are the devils we don't. Most Americans in 1933 could recall a time before prohibition, which tempered their fears. But few Americans now can recall the decades when the illicit drugs of today were sold and consumed legally. If they could, a post-prohibition future might prove less alarming.

But there's nothing like a depression, or maybe even a full-blown recession, to make taxpayers question the price of their prejudices. That's what ultimately hastened prohibition's repeal, and it's why we're sure to see a more vigorous debate than ever before about ending marijuana prohibition, rolling back other drug war excesses, and even contemplating far-reaching alternatives to drug prohibition.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

You answered 33 out of 33 correctly — 100.00 %

No, not you, me. On this Civic Literacy Quiz.

Our country is run by morons.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Well, crap...

D.W. MacKenzie (I'm pretty sure that's not for Dorothy Winifred, but I could be wrong):
The problem with advocating free banking and deflation at this time is that such proposals often do not go far enough. Deflation works only within the context of markets with freely adjusting prices and wages. The most obvious lesson therefore is that price and wage floors, in this case the minimum wage, make free banking unworkable. We need free banking and freely adjusting prices and wages. The larger lesson is that partial efforts to deregulate the economy usually have serious unintended consequences. Partial deregulation can open the way to new and potentially serious problems stemming from remaining controls.

The dilemma we face is simply this: partial acts deregulation and privatization are the easiest to enact, but the most likely to generate deleterious unintended consequences. It makes no sense to advocate limited reforms that will surely end in failure. On the other hand, we need more comprehensive reforms, but the task of raising popular support for bolder privatization programs is obviously difficult. What this all means is that the likelihood that we will see real solutions to our economic problems in the immediate future is low. However, the case for sweeping deregulation is strong, and public opinion can change.

Only Obama can save us.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Hey, Barak! Let's have a little of

this Swedish Socialism!
The big difference between the education system in Sweden and the UK is that, in Sweden parents are given an educational voucher for each child, and they use that voucher to apply for any school they want to.

It has certainly led to a wide variety of providers, with Waldorf Steiner, Montessori, confessional (faith schools) and traditionally-run schools which emphasise the basics and are strong on discipline.

Bertil Ostoberg, the Swedish Secretary of State for Education, summarised the scheme as "providing freedom of choice for the parents and the pupils, much wider freedom of choice". He added: "They have to compete to provide a high quality to get pupils. We think this competition has led to a higher quality in the system."

I'm not sure, Prob, but I think this addresses your comment on the last post.

Of course, nobody but white, northern europeans are really capable of handling freedom.* Where's the shower? I've got too much sarcasm dripping off me.

*That comment is NOT directed at you, Prob. But I do know people who think that. They're Democrats.

Stossel says:

Markets are never perfect. They are made up of people making their best judgments, and people’s judgments are never perfect. Yes, under some circumstances market activity such as speculation and short-selling could harm innocent bystanders. But those who say government is the best protector are wrong because the knowledge problem is an insurmountable obstacle.


Link.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Bill of Rights Day, December 15th

Bone up over here. And I kind of like this Wikipedia page too. I got to the first link from Wikipedia via their link from here to the article "What in the Constitution Cannot be Amended?" I looked up the Corwin Amendment because of a Mises.org article about Lincoln.

To answer Linder's question, I'd say that if we can't amend anything in the Constitution, we are not truly free. I'm glad it's a pain in the butt to do it, though.

Of course, now, instead of going through the prescribed amendment process, our leaders - in our name - just reinterpret it to suit their fancies.

Oh, yeah! The Bill of Rights:
First Amendment – Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Second Amendment – A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Third Amendment – No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Fourth Amendment – The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Fifth Amendment – No person shall be held to answer for any capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Sixth Amendment – In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district where in the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.

Seventh Amendment – In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Eighth Amendment – Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Ninth Amendment – The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Tenth Amendment – The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Don Boudreaux

says, in Thoughts on Freedom ~ The Ideas of Liberty and FEE
But as with all products, liberty’s benefits are not fully obvious on first inspection. They must be explained, and explained in ways compelling to the hearer and not simply convenient for the messenger. Also, as with all products, the ideas of liberty have competitors, many of which are fraudulent and others of which are merely, if honestly, defective. These competing ideas—not in spite of, but often because of, their weaknesses—frequently find ready customers. The world is full of people too ready to believe that reality is optional or that this or that Great Man will save us from earthly evils.

Such crude beliefs are powerful, in part because they permit the uninformed to hope for outcomes that the informed know to be impossible. These beliefs are powerful also because they convince the uninformed that someone else—the Great Man, for example—will do the bulk of the work while all that ordinary people must do is to obey and await the imminent earthly paradise.

By themselves libraries stuffed with the finest research and scholarly advances are useless against the power of such beliefs. The distilled essence of these ideas of liberty must be part of mainstream thinking of ordinary people. Making sure that the ideas of liberty do get a fair hearing in the minds of ordinary people—and that people understand what benefits liberty holds for them and their children—requires skilled retailing.

Railing against the Sheeple and flaming everybody with a (slightly) different frame of reference won't get the job done.

Monday, November 24, 2008

I had one of those dreams again last night

about being chased around Duluth by foreign spies/assassins or whatever. They were Russians, I think, when I was a kid. Now they can't be... must be agents of KAOS. And I must be Maxwell Smart.

I was reading Econlog

when I kept running across this abbreviation, lgl. I'd seen that before, but had no idea what it meant, so I Googled it and came across this site. None of their abbreviations seemed to shed any light, so I arbitrarily decided he must mean "Lethal Giant Larvae."

I probably just have them on the brain. [AAAaaagghh! Get 'em off!]

Anyway, then I realized they were just the guy's initials.

Or...maybe he's one of them!

Friday, November 21, 2008

AAAAaaaggghhh!!!

Wash your hands, people!! And cook your meat thoroughly!*

Don't let this happen to you! Don't make me force you to watch that video!

*Or your Kool-Aid, as Steve says.
________

On a happier note, I've got a couple new posts over on Bourgeois Philistine. Just don't make fun of the old 1MB camera, okay.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

OK, I've got a minute.

First, a WOD: architectonic - I'll take meaning #3 Philosophy. Of or relating to the scientific systematization of knowledge.

Talk about a 50 cent word! When I was in junior high (East Junior; grades 7-9), I had a tee shirt that said, "If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bull!" I judge architectonic to be a useful technical term that shouldn't wander into common, everyday conversation.

All right, it was used by a philosopher in a speech to philosophers... But don't let me catch you using it!
______

I'm going to hack off the bottom two thirds of that last paragraph I quoted. It started so promisingly I assumed he'd finish it with something marvelous. Instead, he wandered completely off the subject! Watch out for those jelly donuts, Dude, they screw up your thought processes.

[That's how I read so much, tef, I assume people are going to say what I expect them to and race on to the next thing. In this case the next thing was actually a pile of work to do. Oddly enough. ;)]

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A quote about reason

that I got here. I'll maybe talk about it more when I have a minute:
Within the architectonic assessment of his life, then, we should acquit Lewis of having failed to carry through the refutation of scientific materialism as a pervasive threat to our humanity; but so far as the Riddell lectures go, it is something that needs to be done, if man is not to be abolished, but is to be rehabilitated and restored. The argument he had adduced a year earlier, and laid out more fully in Miracles, needs itself to be revived, if Lewis's main purpose is to be achieved. That argument was a special case of a general line of attack on a philosopher arguing for an irrationalist position, that in arguing for it, he is appealing to a rationality whose existence he is seeking to deny. He is sawing off the branch on which he is sitting; his arguing belies the conclusion he is arguing for. The Marxists in my youth used to explain away my rejection of their views as merely the articulation of my class interest, but felt I was playing foul when I pointed out that they were espousing Marxism only because, as would- be apparatchiks, it was in their class interest to do so. Freud hit many of my contemporaries around the age of adolescence, and they had an easy task diagnosing all the neuroses and inhibitions that prevented me from acknowledging the truth of Freud's teaching, but did not like it when I counter-diagnosed them. They said, as did also the Marxists, that I ought to take their arguments seriously. But if arguments can be taken seriously, then we are not the completely irrational playthings of our class interests or childhood repressions, as they were claiming. If I can be argued with, I am not just the creature of circumstance, but a rational autonomous agent, altogether different from, and something more than, the account given by the ism in question.18 It is the same with Logical Positivism. I used to embarrass my tutor, after he had been propounding the Verification Principle---that every meaningful proposition must be either an analytic tautology or a synthetic truth founded on sense- experience---by asking into which class the Verification Principle itself fell, and then, after showing it could be accommodated in neither, concluding that it must itself bemeaningless too. It is the same with subjectivism. If the subjectivist opines that subjectivism is true, I thank him for the expression of his state of mind, and hope he feels better for having given vent to his opinion. When he then boils over and says that I ought to think likewise, I rub his nose in the non-subjectivity of that utterance.

Of course, in practice the argument usually goes on longer: it takes some dialectical skill to get hold of a philosopher's nose firmly enough to rub it in anything, even the folly of his own stated views. But the strategy of argument is clear. Suitably modified, it would apply to any world-view that made out man to be not in any way subject to reason.19 Although it would not prove that such a doctrine must be false or could not be held, it would show that it could not be argued for or rationally held, and the very fact that someone argued in its favour would be strong evidence that he did not really believe it. Lewis had here an argument by means of which he could obtain purchase on a radically different metaphysical system, and argue from both inside and outside it for its own untenability. Contrary to the teaching of Collingwood, metaphysics is not just the articulation of the absolute presuppositions of the age, and contrary to Kuhn's later account of paradigm shifts in science, there is room for rational debate about, and rational choice between, different over-arching views of reality, and our adoption of one rather than another is not just a matter of sociological happenstance---influential though sociological factors sometimes are---but can aspire to be guided by reason.
.....
And finally a key feature in the dialectic against the proponent of Nothing-Buttery is the integration of theoretical and practical reason. People show their rationality primarily in what they do, and their engaging in the activity of arguing shows that they do not really believe that reason is impossible. Reason is being construed more widely than it was by Hume and his successors. It is not just deductive and inductive argument, but is shown whenever we argue about what we ought to do or believe. Lewis is inclined to take a narrower view. He takes, as we have seen, a low view of scientists, and fails to appreciate the extent to which they are moved by the disinterested desire for knowledge, by the intellectual love of God. Their theoretical reasonings are not just a calculation of means and ends, nor a completely separate activity unconnected with practical action, but something done for its own sake that informs their whole life and guides them in all their doing---a form of worship. Lewis's strictures were less than just, less than the truth. And once we recognise that there is not a fundamental divorce between theoretical and practical reasoning, but that they are all of a piece, and that the decisions about what to believe are like decisions about what to do, we are able to apply the self-referential argument, and argue from our activity in arguing about what the world is like to the falsity of those world-views which would deny our status as rational agents, capable of making up our minds for ourselves, and seeking what is reasonable and right. And in recognising the unity of thought and action, we return to the foundation of the Riddell Lectures, founded in memory of one who ``was active for the rest of his life in public affairs; a quiet philanthropist whose devout Christian faith was borne out by his concern for others''; and equally we are at home in Durham, where always on the peninsula the Cathedral and Castle have stood together, with a strong sense of the need for action if civilisation is to be sustained in the face of the barbarian invader, but an ever- present recognition that the values we seek to put into effect in our actions are values that are not the creations of our own wills, but derive their validity ultimately from God.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Richman -

Economic recovery from a recession can be unpleasant, but the fault lies with the government policies that distorted the economy in the first place. Once the distortion has occurred, the consequences cannot be wished away. Economic logic will avenge itself -- now or later. Better earlier, quicker, and milder than later, longer, and harsher.

Two key things should be kept in mind in understanding this matter. First, production must precede consumption. The idea that we can consume our way to prosperity is absurd. Imagine if Robinson Crusoe tried it.

The Goal Is Freedom: Save Us from Government Spending

What do you think? Should Krugman

head Treasury, Commerce or The Fed?

I'm not talking "in my ideal world" here. I'm talking about what is most likely to bring Keynesianism to total self-destruction. Let's see what Krugman can do with more rope.

My old buddy, call him "the Larson boy,"

when I worked for Elliot Meats in Duluth, made a habit of loudly announcing, whenever we entered a bar or sporting event (where there was mixed company), "AL's PACKIN' MEAT!!"

Of course, I sank into the floor when he did that. Never occurred to me to try to use that to my advantage when the gals asked what that was about.

Dumb kid.

The God of the Copybook Headings, by Kipling

is a wonder poetic statement of Natural Law. Thanks, Ken.

See the link in the same post I linked in the last post. I'd like to post the whole thing here, but I'm unwilling to bury my last post.

Oh, and I'm going to start reading Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos (only the title is in Latin).

Ken's got a post that I think people need to read

over at Oldsmoblogger. It's more clear if you follow the links as you come to them. They're all well worth reading and listening to.

The Patrick Henry player says, after his speech, "I'll do what I do! You do what you do!" The context makes clear that it's a powerful call to action. What can I do for the cause of Liberty?

Bill of Rights day is December 15. Insist on Bill of Rights enforcement.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Obama's only hope to pay for all the interventions he's promised,

or rather, hinted at, in particular, any hope of averting another Depression, is to pull American armed forces back within our borders. Ted Galen Carpenter doesn't offer much encouragement for that happening:
Although it is hard to imagine, Obama’s foreign policy could prove even worse than that of the Bush administration. He flirts with the notion that the guiding principal of U.S. foreign policy should be to promote, defend and enforce respect for “human dignity” in the world. As an operational concept, such a standard would have to improve several notches just to reach vacuous. At best, it would entail Washington becoming the nag of the planet, constantly hectoring other governments to improve their behavior. At worst, it could become an excuse for lavish foreign-aid expenditures and military interventions to protect the downtrodden in failed states or even in functioning countries with repressive regimes. Yet most of the probable arenas for such interventions entail little or no connection to America’s tangible interests. Instead, this country would embark on expensive and potentially dangerous humanitarian crusades that would bleed America’s armed forces and drain the treasury.

It will not be an improvement if an Obama administration withdraws American forces from Iraq only to launch new interventions in such strategically and economically irrelevant snake pits as Darfur and Burma. That is not the kind of foreign-policy change the American people want or need.

If President Obama adopts a security strategy confined to defending vital American interests, he will win—and deserve—the gratitude of the American people. If, on the other hand, he embraces a nebulous crusade to secure “human dignity” all over the world through the instruments of U.S. foreign aid and military power, he will undermine his own administration and ignite yet another round of public frustration about the unwillingness of political leaders to focus on America’s best interests and well-being. That is the fundamental choice facing President Obama as he enters the Oval Office.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

I wonder if Obama has read

The Second Son, Charles Sailor.

Hell of a book! You should read it.

That thought came to me while I was reading the WSJ today. Henninger's Obama's Dour Vision and Lanny Davis' The Obama Realignment

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

America! You just elected the next Great Depression!

What are you going to do now?

"I'm going to Disneyland!" is what their saying. There are tons of examples.

I probably wouldn't have said the same thing if McCain had won. With him, we'd get the Great Depression and "perpetual war for perpetual peace." The economic views are Hoover-redux. Instead we'll be getting Roosevelt-redux.

On a positive note: America just elected its first black President!

No, I'll check again... Nope, the sarcasm switch is off. I am happy about that. Maybe we can move on now. Of course, nobody's economic lot will be improved (accept for the favored courtesans)...

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Just waiting with bated breath.

The projections are BS. They don't have enough data to be precise much before now. I'm gonna go check things out right after I post this.

I voted.



I voted for Barr, just as I said. I discovered on the ballot that we had a Libertarian candidate running against Coleman and Franken. News to me. I voted for him. Then I voted for the Republican running for the US Rep in my district, Eric Paulson and, just because I'm in a monkeywrenching mood, I voted for the Green Party candidate for Statehouse. No LPers running in those races. I should have entered myself. Heck, maybe I should have written in myself.

I took the local judge and the state Supreme Court justice races seriously. I voted straight against the incumbents where they were opposed, and I voted for NOTA where they weren't. So, yeah, I voted for that Tingelstad guy I wrote about before.

The Hennepin County Park District Commissioner is actually a race where I knew something about the candidates. The incumbent is less of a commie than the opposition.

Water District Commissioner? Who knows? Vote against the incumbent.

Well, let's see how Robespierre's doing against Grampa Munster.

Update: I guess he's making his victory speech. McCain's conceded.

All my fault, I'm sure.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Greed vs Rational Self-Interest

OK, that title is a bit over-ambitious :) for what I've got for you here, but here's the seed for a more in-depth treatment, well, actually, this article, Black Swans, Butterflies, and the Economy is better than a seed:
The profit motive is a good thing when it operates in an environment where bad bets are punished with losses and good investments are rewarded. Only government can distort that healthy profit-and-loss system, giving people incentives to make bad decisions. And it's in this environment that greed is no good to anyone. It turns out, however, that greed -- or better, rational self-interest -- can help our economy stabilize faster than government ever could. As the lubricant of our economic system, self-interest will cause a million market actors to recalibrate and to direct resources to projects that create value in our society. We the people will temper our irrational urges and mitigate our risks if government restores the rules that let profit and loss bring discipline. But if government continues to change the rules to bias the market in favor of irrational behavior, rent-seeking, and corporatism, the chaotic aspects of the system will continue to wobble out of equilibrium. Black swans will become commonplace.

He explains "black swans" back in the second paragraph:
Nassim Nicholas Taleb is famous for introducing us to black swans. Though these rare creatures have long been used among academic philosophers to explain the shortcomings of reasoning by induction ("Every swan I've ever seen has been white, therefore all swans are white."), Taleb uses the black swan as a stark metaphor for the inevitability of highly improbable events. In other words, black swans are rare, but one will eventually swim by, even if you have to go to Australia to see it.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Raimondo, of Anti-War.com, endorses Nader

He presents a pretty strong argument:
On the defining issue of the campaign – and the age – Nader is spot on: the bailout of the banks, he avers, “was clearly socialism bailing out capitalism.” Not that this version of capitalism has anything to do with authentically free enterprise: “This is the collapse of corporate capitalist ideology,” says Nader. “I emphasize corporate, because the only capitalism left now is small business. They’re the only ones who are free to go bankrupt.”

On foreign policy, Nader is the only consistent anti-interventionist in the race, or, at least, the only one who makes this an important part of his campaign. Unlike McCain and Obama, who both revel in baiting the Russian bear, Nader asks: “Why don’t we leave the Russians alone?” Why, he asks, are we provoking Moscow into another cold war? Obama, the candidate of the supposedly “antiwar” wing of the Democratic party, is pledged to usher Georgia as well as Ukraine into NATO – which the Russians view as an aggressive act. Both want anti-missile “defense” shields in place in Eastern and Central Europe – only Nader seems to understand that this is just a scam for enriching the military-industrial-congressional complex.

Nader is the Eugene Debs of our times: he is brave, intractably committed to principle, and disdainful of the limousine liberals and their “conservative” counterparts who grimace in maidenly horror at the sight and sounds of such truth-telling populism. Most importantly, Ralph Nader knows who are the real enemies of the American people, and what is the source of their power. He, alone, is serious about breaking that power. While I may disagree with some of his more socialistic proposals, and probably wouldn’t last very long at a Nader-for-President meeting before getting into it with his commie followers, I don’t know of anyone in American political life, at the moment, who has more genuine good old fashioned integrity. I also can’t think of anyone who annoys the limousine liberals and Obama-oids more–and since these folks are our future rulers, or so it seems, that is reason enough to cheer his campaign and his continued presence in public life.

I like the speech he made at the Ron Paul gathering. I may just go that way myself. Dump the Demopublicans.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Anthony Gregory predicts

on Lew Rockwell.com
Obama is a centrist Democrat. As president, he will wage war. He will expand the domestic state, but probably not much more than McCain would. Democrats actually seem to be less profligate in some ways, as everyone always assumes they will be big spenders. Republicans can run up six trillions dollars in debt before anyone notices.

Obama will likely be a relatively pragmatic steward of the military-industrial complex, the Washington-Wall Street revolving door, the continuing erosion of the Bill of Rights, and the empire abroad. He will try to make the world love U.S. hegemony once again. He will not do too much to weaken the police state, but will rather expand it, as Bill Clinton did. He will govern like a Republican, maybe more so than Bush.

One silver lining is if he wrecks the economy, it won’t be blamed on the free market, as it is whenever a Republican uses the government to wreck the economy. If only we had had Democrat presidents since 1993, the dialogue in this country would be different when the bubble burst.

I still say, vote Barr!

Hey! It's October 29!

79 years ago today was the big stock market crash.

We're celebrating appropriately this year: hunkering down, locking the doors and buying food and ammo.

Check out Rothbard's The Great Depression, a description of the fan that the bleep hit.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Fred

is negative.

Decide for yourself if you like that or not.

And they figured that would help, somehow?

Neo-Nazis accused of Obama assassination attempt

Morons.

Thanks for the link, Probligo. Actually, I got it at TF's. (In the comments.)

The ability of the media to ignore all

of the massive government interference that exists today and to characterize our present economic system as one of laissez faire and economic freedom marks it as, if not profoundly dishonest, then as nothing less than delusional.
--George Reisman, The Myth that Laissez Faire Is Responsible for Our Present Crisis.
One more quote:
Any discussion of the housing debacle would be incomplete if it did not include mention of the systematic consumption of home equity encouraged for several years by the media and an ignorant economics profession. Consistent with the teachings of Keynesianism that consumer spending is the foundation of prosperity, they regarded the rise in home prices as a powerful means for stimulating such spending. In increasing homeowners' equity, they held, it enabled homeowners to borrow money to finance additional consumption and thus keep the economy operating at a high level. As matters have turned out, such consumption has served to saddle many homeowners with mortgages that are now greater than the value of their homes, which would not have been the case had those mortgages not been enlarged to finance additional consumption. This consumption is the cause of a further loss of capital over and above the capital lost in malinvestment.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Franklin Roosevelt Rerevisionism

Anthony Gregory has an article by that name at the Independent Institute website. He says:
It is funny that FDR is so universally beloved on left and right. He imposed counterproductive economic fascism, destroyed food while people starved, imposed gun control and drug control at the federal level, created Fannie Mae (which has continued to cause economic troubles), had plans to round up rightwing and leftwing activists without due process, drafted (enslaved) ten million Americans into the military, waged total war on civilians, brought nuclear weaponry into the world, stuck tens of thousands of U.S. citizens into concentration camps, set up a censorship office, palled around with Stalin, turned away exiled Jews back to the Nazis, was deceitful in foreign affairs, and did not actually bring America out of the Depression, in terms of economic well-being for the American people. We don’t need another one of him. His despotic spirit is seen plenty enough in the leaders of both political parties now.

And he has some links:
For more on Franklin Roosevelt’s prolonging of the Depression, see Higgs’s Depression, War and Cold War. See also the Institute’s bibliographies on the Great Depression and World War II. And for a bold critique of FDR and the many other overrated presidents, see Ivan Eland’s forthcoming book, Recarving Rushmore: Ranking the Presidents on Peace, Prosperity and Liberty.

Why we gotta do something

per Robert Ringer.

This is that series of articles I mentioned a while back that I didn't have a link for. I'm putting up the last link, so far, because from there you can get to the rest.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

You want to really get into it?

Talk to Mark at Polecolaw Blog. Here's his tag line, "This blog is for discussion of issues relating to Politics, Economics, and Law (hence Polecolaw)."

He's got a lot of hard info on the recession.

Friday, October 24, 2008

D--n! I'm hungry, all of a sudden!

I had supper. T-bone steak, grilled - cut off a grass fed cow, so she had the right balance of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids. Those corn-fed cows taste good, but they'll kill ya. Frankly, I didn't notice much difference in taste or toughness, but then I am a philistine.

This post belongs over there, come to think of it. I haven't been posting enough to the spare blog.

I really just came here now to put up a picture of a small part of my library. I think I'll try Blogger's system this time.



Flamin' hosemonkey put it on top. I had to go cut and paste all that code back down here. ...grumble...

I think that's the shelf I'm proudest of, but I took a dozen pictures of various shelves and that picture turned out the best. Trouble is, I have a deep affection for all of my books. It was a tough choice.

That (the dozen shelves) ain't all I got either. Anybody want to come over and read with me?

Ah, I meant to get that dumb bottle out of there.

Aye, aye, Cap'm!

The first thing I'll do is post it on my blog:
Dear Friend,

When it comes to fiscal issues, Congresswoman Michelle Bachman is a strong ally in Washington. She recently stood up with me and voted against the massive Wall Street Bailout, a politically difficult, principled stand for which she should be commended.

Michelle also serves with me on the House Financial Services Committee where she is a consistent ally in our efforts to shine light on the Federal Reserve. Her recent Op-Ed in the Washington Times demonstrates her leadership on the Monetary Issue.

As you may have heard, Congresswoman Bachman has recently come under attack by the liberal media. Her opponent has capitalized and raised some big money in a short period of time. There is even talk of a write-in candidate with no chance of winning that would only syphon votes away from Michelle.

At this time when big government forces are grabbing more and more power, we can not afford to lose a fiscally principled Representative like Michelle Bachman in the Congress. Please join me in supporting Michelle in any way you feel comfortable and, most importantly, please make sure you get the polls and vote for her on November 4th.

In Liberty,

Ron Paul

I really shouldn't vote for her, should I? I don't live in her district.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Have I mentioned my hero, J. J. Hill lately?

To summarize the summary I got here, he wasn't no robber-baron:
James Jerome Hill was born in a log cabin near Rockwood, Ontario, Canada. In 1856, he moved to St. Paul, Minnesota, and began to work in the steamboat and coal businesses. In 1878, Hill changed his orientation by joining with partners in the purchase of the St. Paul and Pacific Railroad. He planned to take the line westward through the Rockies and northward into Canada. His early efforts were dubbed “Hill’s Folly” by his critics, given that competing transcontinental lines already existed and Hill’s route took his rails through unpopulated wilderness areas.

Undeterred by the doubters, Hill pushed ahead, and reached Seattle by 1893. While most of his competitors failed during the depression, Hill prospered, proving the wisdom of his conservative building plan. He laid track in small increments, usually about 200 miles. He then stopped construction and concentrated on attracting farmers and other settlers to the temporary terminus. He thus built up a population base to support his rail line. This segmented approach required 10 years to complete, but the result was financially sound.

Also noteworthy about Hill’s effort was that he received no government aid — unique among the transcontinental lines. This feat was all the more remarkable because of the difficult topographical challenges posed by the Rockies and Cascades. Hill also prospered because of his willingness to construct “feeder lines” — short tracks that branched out from the main line to serve specific mines, logging enterprises, ranches, and other businesses. In 1890, Hill’s venture took the name of the Great Northern Railway Co.

The Northern Pacific Railroad was a direct competitor, but that line failed in 1893. Hill's effort to acquire the Northern Pacific was thwarted, but the line ended up in the empire of a close ally, J.P. Morgan. In 1901, the two joined to purchase the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy, which gave them access to Chicago and St. Louis.

This acquisition frustrated the efforts of the great railroad magnate, E.H. Harriman. The resulting financial warfare was a prime cause of the Panic of 1901. The struggle was ended with the establishment of the controversial Northern Securities Company, a major holding company later voided by the Supreme Court.

Hill was also prominent in the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway.

He resigned as president of the Great Northern in 1907, but served on the board of directors for another five years. As a legacy, he endowed a Roman Catholic seminary and the Hill Reference Library in St. Paul.

That's how it's supposed to be done.

Update: Randall O'Toole has a great series on Hill starting here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Russell Madden, besides the new quote above,

in his article, Government and Anarchism:
The major flaw I find in the anarchist argument is that most proponents assume the existence of the society-wide set of freedom-oriented principles necessary to make the idea of competing private defense agencies viable yet offer no acceptable means (within their own premises of explicit consent, open competition, and so on) of having those basic principles established nationally and applied to everyone, willing or not. If one group of people belongs to an agency that accepts, say, communal provision of food, water, and medicine, then the members do not consent to the objectively valid principle of non-initiation of force, etc. Yet how can they -- in the anarchists' worldview -- be bound to a set of principles they refuse to accept or consent to, a set of principles that they sincerely believe to be invalid?

So, One World Government it is.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Here's my favorite word, Whiggarchy

in it's original context in Jonathan Swift's Works.

What a wonderful tool Google is.

The fun thing is, though Swift coined the word, I'm quite sure no one has used it more than I. I claim the world's record for usages of it.

I'm sure some of you will enjoy Swift's usage better than mine. [You'd have to be a cretin not to.] Another favorite word, schadenfreude, comes to mind.

Let's get down to brass tacks here.

(Does anybody know where that expression came from?)

Warning: anything you say can and will be used against you! More or less - "let the punishment fit the crime."

What's your favorite form of government?
Tyranny
Absolute monarchy
Kleptocracy
Oligarchy
Aristocracy
Constitutional monarchy
Liberal democracy
Constitutional democracy
Theocracy
Anarcho-capitalism
Whiggarchy
Anarchy
  
pollcode.com free polls

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Whoa! I finally got a new digital camera!

A Canon PowerShot SX110IS. Now I can bug you all with my artlessness again.

Here's me with all my TCM finisher medals. The one with the orange ribbon is the latest:
Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

QuickPost Quickpost this image to Myspace, Digg, Facebook, and others!

[Or not.]

Here's a close-up of the medals.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

QuickPost Quickpost this image to Myspace, Digg, Facebook, and others!

[Do you really need to?]

I put in a 1954 silver half-dollar that my stepson gave me for my birthday. Some recent immigrant gave it to him as change at a convenience store. Who says we don't benefit from having them around?

I have another picture that's better of me, but the medals are blurry. I haven't read the whole manual yet. I need to do that. It promises to show me how to use all the features right, and these pix need the help. Oops! Forgot about the shirt. That image might be short-lived.

Oh, yeah. We got a 42" LCD TV at the same time. We need to clear a space for it, so I'll get excited aobut that tomorrow.

Holy crap! It's after 1:00 AM!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Damn it! I wanna be an absolutist!

Bruce Ramsey has some cogent arguments why not to be one.

Crap.

In the spirit of "Let Every Man Be Armed"

Here's some information I think every employee ought to have in his arsenal: How to Fire Your Boss.

For informational and amusement purposes only. I've got no plans to use any of this myself at the moment, but like I say, be armed.

I got that link from Kevin Carson's Pamphlet, "The Ethics of Labor Struggle." That's the whole thing on his blog, minus the cover picture.

Oh, I wanted to quote of little of that for you:
When the theory predicts that in a free market wages will be determined by the productivity of labor, and we see that they aren't, what's the obvious conclusion? That this isn't a free market. That we're dealing with power relations, not market relations.

In a state capitalist market, where some component of employer profits are rents extracted from the employee because of state enforced unequal exchange, organized labor action may provide the bargaining leverage to reduce those ill gotten gains.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Stephen Cox on Do-Gooders:

Do-gooders (or do-goods, if you prefer the old-fashioned short form, which requires you to spend less time on the varmints) have started more wars, oppressed more people, and confused more impressionable children than any outright villains or nihilists who ever lunged through the portals of history. True villains rarely last long; they are parasites that kill their hosts. Do-goods, by contrast, may do awful damage, yet still not destroy all life. Their venom may, indeed, have a stimulating effect on their victims, not unlike the effects of alcoholic beverages — euphoria, delusions, manic behavior, lachrymose displays of sympathy for all those miserable people whose chemistry has not been altered in this way. When the hallucinations wear off, the victim often discovers that he did something dreadful the night before, such as writing a check for some political cause. Sometimes there are even worse results. The victim becomes addicted to the venom and remains a do-good for the rest of his life.

Liberty, November 2008.
That editorial is not actually online.

[Should I just excise the word "actually" every time I find I've written it?]

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tim Tingelstad is running for MN Supreme Court Justice

No, I don't know him from Adam, but, speaking of looking things up, what the heck is a Child Support Magistrate?

Here we go:
Child Support Magistrate
A child support magistrate is the judicial officer in an expedited process hearing. A child support magistrate has the same authority as a district court judge however, their subject matter jurisdiction is limited. For example, a childsupport magistrate has broad authority to make decisions about child support, but can only make decisions about custody or visitation arrangements if all parties agree on the arrangement.

I wonder if it would be possible to figure out which party he usually votes for.

I got a WOD for ya...

Excuse me. I need to get the Cheese out of my mouth.

Here's a word of the day: pari passus. Rothbard uses it seemingly gratuitously in this passage of America's Great Depression:
Entrepreneurs are in the business of forecasting
changes on the market, both for conditions of demand and of supply.
The more successful ones make profits pari passus with their
accuracy of judgment, while the unsuccessful forecasters fall by the
wayside. As a result, the successful entrepreneurs on the free market
will be the ones most adept at anticipating future business conditions.
Yet, the forecasting can never be perfect, and entrepreneurs
will continue to differ in the success of their judgments. If
this were not so, no profits or losses would ever be made in business.

I did in fact bring that up here because I had to look it up, not just because I think it has bearing on the discussion here lately. It is something that investors should know before they fork over their money.
pari passu (păr'ē păs'ū, păr'ī, pär'ē)
adv.
At an equal pace; side by side: inflation and interest rates increasing pari passu.

[Latin parī passū : parī, ablative of pār, equal + passū, ablative of passus, step.]

Hah! Looks like Blogger finally figured out how to let all those marks pass through. At least it works in the preview.

Invest in government. It's so much safer.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Here's something that should be burned into the hearts

of all right-thinking people:
To describe the lives of young people as “our nation’s” resources quite explicitly assumes that these individuals have no inherent or inalienable rights outside of those determined for them by government. They are viewed by national service supporters as a nationalized resource that should be compelled to serve the government’s needs rather than their own.

From "National Service: A Solution in Search of a Problem," by Thomas J. DiLorenzo

I don't think this gal is starting her negotiation

far enough over. She's starting about where I could stand to end up.
A Capitalist Manifesto
Markets remain our best hope for a better future, by Judy Shelton.

This part's all good:
Where are the champions of free-market capitalism? Someone needs to remind us all that two great works were published in 1776, both representing game-changing advances in human freedom: The Declaration of Independence, authored by future American president, Thomas Jefferson, and "The Wealth of Nations" by Scottish economist Adam Smith. Both embrace the social wisdom of individual liberty; both extol the importance of personal responsibility.

These days, it seems difficult to defend the efficacy, let alone the morality, of an economic approach to human interaction that is now blamed for having put the entire global economy at risk. But that is exactly what we need -- most importantly, from America's next leader.

Sometimes it takes an outsider to help us gain perspective. Deep within the condemning speeches delivered by Mr. Sarkozy, both in New York and Toulon, are the grains of a new approach to capitalism that should give Americans reason to hope, not only for economic salvation but for a sense of redemption on a deeper level. France's president held out the possibility that all is not lost, that we can fix what is broken. "The financial crisis is not the crisis of capitalism," according to Mr. Sarkozy. "It is the crisis of a system that has distanced itself from the most fundamental values of capitalism, which betrayed the spirit of capitalism."

And it keeps being good until we start seeing loopholes. The sections Free-market clarity and Monetary integrity are both good. Financial validity raises the question I've raised in a comment here somewhere: just because I don't understand something doesn't mean nobody does. But nobody in my position should be investing in anything they don't understand. Anybody who sells you something you don't understand is, indeed, a con-man. Regulatory responsibility is good.

Here's the heart of the "Manifesto":
It is time to pay deference to the real economic heroes of capitalism: the self-made entrepreneurs who have the courage to start a business from scratch, the fidelity to pay their taxes, and the dedication to provide real goods and services to their fellow man.

If we can build a new financial and monetary order to serve the needs of these people -- wherever they exist around the world -- we will help to bring about the fulfillment of the highest ideals of capitalism. With freedom comes choice; with choice comes responsibility. What is true within one's own life and one's own community should be true for the world at large. Integrity matters, competence counts, and earnest effort finds its reward. The Latin root of the word "credit" -- credere -- means "to believe." There is no better starting point for restoring morality to capitalism.

Oh, I like this bit, too:
When the owner of a small retail outlet or medium-sized service firm gets into financial trouble -- who steps in to help? Why are the rules to start a business so onerous, why is the bureaucratic process so lengthy, why are the requirements for hiring employees so burdensome? When does the entrepreneur receive the respect and cooperation he deserves for making a genuine contribution to the productive capacity of the economy? Equal access to credit is sacrificed to the overwhelming appetite of big business -- especially when government skews the terms in favor of its friends.

The loopholes are found in two lines "...[G]overnment regulation, at its best, merely functions as the incorruptible referee..." Does the government ever achieve its best? And second, "...the self-made entrepreneurs who have...fidelity to pay their taxes..." They should be credited with having done that and not criticized for paying too little when they've made an honest effort to obey the law, but paying taxes is no more than a prudent act, not a particularly virtuous one. One can not be blamed for handing over his money to an armed robber, but praise is not much in order either. Though, according to Randian morality, I suppose practical behavior is deserving of moral praise.

Ah, I probably have more quibbles with the Declaration of Independence.

Dear Lord, please forgive me

for whatever sin I committed that resulted in Krugman winning the Nobel Prize.

Here's what Luskin has to say:
KRUGMAN WINS THE NOBEL PRIZE

The Nobel Prize is never posthumous -- it is only awarded to living persons. So some great minds such as John Maynard Keynes and Fischer Black never received the prize in Economics. All that has changed. With today's award to Paul Krugman, the Nobel as gone to an economist who died a decade ago. The person alive to receive the award is merely a public intellectual, a person operating in the same domain as Oprah Winfrey. And even as a public intellectual, the prize is inappropriate, because never before has a scientist operating in the capacity of a public intellectual so abused and debased the science he purports to represent. Krugman's New York Times column drawing on economics is the equivalent of 2006's Nobelists in Physics, astromers Mather and Smoot, doing a column on astrology -- and then, in that column, telling lies about astronomy.

But what's done is done. The only question now is whether Krugman will pay taxes on the prize at the low rates enabled by the Bush tax cuts he has done so much to discredit, or if he will volunteer to pay taxes at higher rates he considers more fair.

I haven't read any of his actual economics writings, I've only seen some of his opinion pieces in the NYT. Those strike me as no more informed than Garrison Keillor's crap. What makes a guy think that because he can tell a cute story he should be listened to on political matters. You decide which guy I'm talking about.

Of course, you should listen to me. Even though I'm not good at anything.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

What the heck was that clever title I thought of?

I gotta start writing things down.

I was reading the articles in this month's Liberty magazine, each recommending a different candidate for liberty friendly reasons. The first is on Libertarian candidate, Bob Barr:
But already in spring 2000, back in the period of our naivete about the threats to our country from international crime, terrorism, and weapons of mass destruction, Barr was there testifying before the House Intelligence Committee. Besides explaining the need to update our laws so as to reflect changing technologies and threats, the former Central Intelligence Agency analyst offered leadership and clear guidance about protecting our liberties as well as our lives. His words are worth quoting at length:
While Americans remain solidly in support of a strong foreign intelligence gathering capability, they are not willing to do so at the expense of their domestic civil liberties. Any blurring of the heretofore bright line between gathering of true, foreign intelligence, and surreptitious gathering of evidence of criminal wrongdoing by our citizens, must be brought into sharp focus, and eliminated. Failure to take the steps to do so will erode the public confidence in our intelligence agencies that is a hallmark of their success. Failure to take steps to do so is a serious breach of our public duty to ensure the Bill of Rights is respected even as our nation defends itself against foreign adversaries and enemies.

The importance of effective foreign intelligence gathering, and of constitutional domestic law enforcement — both of which must respect U.S. citizens’ right to privacy — demands more than stock answers and boilerplate explanations. What is required is a thorough and sifting examination of authorities, jurisdiction, actions, and remedies. This is especially true, given that an entire generation has come and gone since the last time such important steps were taken.

Still further back, in 1998, Barr alone stood with Ron Paul in explaining to their fellow House members why a proposed national ID system would violate our privacy and civil liberties without making us safer. Imagine how much better off we would have been had a Barr Administration responded to the tragedies of September 11.

Bob Barr has a long record working with broad coalitions to make policy. Although a drug warrior in Congress, he often worked with drug war opponents in coalitions to protect privacy and other civil liberties. There is no other choice for those who value our rights and liberties — and our desire to work together to achieve legitimate goals.

And he has lot's more ammo in his magazine in favor of Barr.

The next two recommendations are rather less enthusiastic, focussing on the fact that only a Demopublican can win an American election. Bruce Ramsey gives The Case for Obama, the strongest part of which, to my mind, is a quote of Gene Healy:
Gene Healy, a vice president at Cato, author of “The Cult of the Presidency” (2008) and a contributing editor of Liberty, gave this answer:
...After our recent experience with a “conservative” president who launched the greatest expansion of the welfare state since LBJ, I find it hard to take seriously the notion that libertarians need to line up behind another Republican in order to save the country from looming socialism. Particularly when that Republican is a bellicose TR-worshiper and the dream candidate for the National Greatness Conservatives who’ve done so much damage to the country over the last seven years. . . . Obama’s public positions on war and executive power — even after the recent flip-flop on wiretapping — are preferable to McCain’s from a libertarian perspective. But Bush’s positions on spending and nation building were better than Gore’s in 2000, so who can predict?

And Ramsey's own thoughts:
In any coalition, if the weaker party is to have influence, it has to be willing to leave. Most of the time it will not do that; it will support people it doesn’t totally agree with, in exchange for their support on some things, and the hope of greater influence in the long run. But it always has to be willing to walk out. If it won’t, then it is nothing more than the majority’s poodle.
...
If libertarians are to have any influence on the Right, the neocon-led coalition (and not all Bush voters are neocons) has to be defeated. This already started to happen in the midterm elections of 2006, when the Republicans lost the Senate and the House. But the party hasn’t gotten the message that war is an election-loser. The party still has the White House, and it has nominated a neocon-backed military man to keep it. If McCain wins, the neocons win and the “War on Terror” continues under a leader who promises victory at all costs. On foreign policy, Republicans need to rethink what they think. And for that to happen, the Republican nominee has to lose.

The McCain supporter, Stephen Cox, editor of Liberty, writes:
This year, it’s conceivable that Obama may gain a state, and thus win the election, if there’s an outpouring of antiwar conservative and libertarian votes for Barr. I doubt that will happen, because my humble opinion is that most voters agree with me and vote for one of the major-party candidates, trying to exclude the worse one from the presidency. But now we’ve returned to the only real political issue: Would you rather exclude Obama or McCain? That’s what the presidential election will decide. To say “I’d rather exclude them both” is like answering a survey question, “Would you rather (A) have lower taxes; or (B) have higher taxes,” by saying, “Not applicable: I’d rather have no taxes.” Of course you would. So would I. But that isn’t the question. The question in the 2008 election is simply: Which candidate will be excluded, Obama or McCain?

I say, exclude Obama.
...
And the list of reasons goes on and on: Obama’s glad embrace of black nationalist “liberation” (i.e., neocommunist) theology, until the nature of his church was miraculously revealed; his willingness to lie about his background and associations, many of which can be justified by his followers only on the basis of his cynical willingness to cadge support from nuts and demagogues; his life (and the life of his influential spouse), spent in the service of racial preferences; his slanderous description of people who vote against him as bitter folk who cling like mollusks to their guns and their religion and their “antipathy to people who aren’t like them”; his amorphous political positions, each one dedicated to the proposition that he must be president, for whatever reasons he wants to dream up (if he’s an antiwar candidate, God help the cause of pacifism); and finally, and most egregiously, the pompous condescension that he manifests in every moment of his public being.

He elaborates on that last point quite a bit. Well, for instance:
...[T]he greatest problem about voting Democratic, even when the Democratic candidate isn’t a little Napoleon, is always that Democratic presidencies bring to Washington tens of thousands of counselors, bureaucrats, judges, and social action profiteers, an invading force that is always even farther to the big-government left than their boss, who at least had to be elected by the nation as a whole. The greatest problem with voting Republican is that Republican presidencies bring to Washington tens of thousands of stumblebums who haven’t a clue about how to reduce the size of government, or even to govern intelligently. Is there a clearer political choice? The worst you can say about the Republicans — and this is very bad indeed — is that they behave like Democrats. The best you can say — and it’s not very good, but it is important — is that they are not Democrats. Occasionally they nominate a Justice Thomas. Occasionally they lower taxes. Occasionally they raise speed limits, abolish conscription, or defend the 2nd Amendment. And they never nominate a Messiah.

Doug Casey gives a pretty good case for NOTA (none of the above). I particularly like his points four and five:
4. Voting just encourages them. I’m convinced that most people don’t actually vote for a candidate; they vote against the other candidate. But that’s not how the guy who gets the vote sees it; he thinks it’s a mandate for him to rule. It’s ridiculous to justify voting by endorsing the lesser of two evils.

Incidentally, I got as far as this point in 1980 when, as luck would have it, I did an hour alone on the Phil Donahue Show on the very day before the election. The audience had been very much on my side up to the point at which Phil accused me of voting for Mr. Reagan, and I had to explain why I wasn’t. Unfortunately, telling them they shouldn’t vote was just more than they could handle. The prospect of their stoning me precluded my explaining the fifth and possibly most practical point.

5. Your vote doesn’t count. Politicians and political hacks like to say that every vote counts because it gets everybody into busybody mode. But statistically, one vote in scores of millions makes no more difference than a single grain of sand on the beach. That’s completely apart from the fact that, as voters in Chicago in 1960 and Florida in 2000 can tell you, when it actually is close, things can be rigged. And anyway, officials manifestly do what they want — not what you want — once they’re in office.

The only way your vote counts is to make you complicit in the crimes that will inevitably be committed by its recipient.

I kind of wish they'd have had somebody pushing Nader (Independent), McKinney (Green Party) and Baldwin (Constitution Party) as well. Of the four I see here, I have to say that the strongest case by far is the one for Barr (free bumper-sticker slogan for you, guys). I'm not really partial to Nader or McKinney overall, but I was very impressed by their speeches at the Third Party joint news conference organized by Ron Paul. The main point in Baldwin's favor is that he was working for Ron Paul when the Constitution Party tapped him to be their candidate, and - after Barr snubbed Paul's news conference - Paul endorsed Baldwin.

I'd like to join the snit, but Jansen's case for Barr is too strong.

Barr/Root 2008!

Oh, yeah: Nader, McKinney. Hey! I like this video on McKinney's site.

Where was I? Oh yeah!

Robert Ringer says:

...[W]hat America needs is a hemorrhoid operation, not more bailouts. That means a lot of pain and suffering for all of us. And, make no mistake about it, we deserve it for having allowed our elected officials to turn the Constitution upside-down and dupe us into believing that we are obliged to answer to them rather than the other way around.

As Viktor Frankl once put it, man has a right to suffer. Suffering is a part of life. The time has come for us to tell the politicians that we don't want any more economic salves and ointments. The only way for things to get better is for government to get out of the way and stop making them worse. I say: My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for yourself.

His emphasis. Let's see if I can get a link.

Nope, not up yet, but these articles are close.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Stossel today

Try Free Enterprise
I suspect that the bailout will do more harm than good, like "aiding" an alcoholic by giving him booze. It perpetuates the moral hazard produced by government guarantees that created the problems in the first place (http://tinyurl.com/5yc4fk). It acts as an enabler by giving more money to opportunistic lenders who assumed they'd be bailed out. And of course the politicians made a bad bailout bill worse by adding in tax breaks for stock-car racers, movie producers, "alternative" energy, etc. Then they insisted that all health insurance must cover mental illness, a requirement that will launch an orgy of fraud and make health insurance unaffordable for millions. The conceit of the anointed knows no bounds.

Huh. That "tinyurl" came along for the ride. I'll leave it in and see if it works.

I like the first commenter, too:
elko.mike
Location: NV
Reply # 1
Date: Oct 8, 2008 - 12:53 AM EST

Subject: Thanks John

My sense since this started was that there were still lenders and borrowers out there. The problems were created when government decided that lending institutions should be in the affirmative action business.

The twin problems of bad loans, which we all get, and inflated properties follow. Inflated properties are a consequence of Fannie and Freddie lending at a rate lower than is justified by the risk. Why not? Congress (er taxpayers) will bail them out. Home buyers are limited by their monthly payment. So lower interest rate means that sellers can ask a little more for the home.

So a consequence of the low rate loans are inflated property values, which caused a bubble. Then all of these institutions found leveraged financial devices, which are good as they cover risk, but are problematic as they are built upon a housing bubble pushed upwards by Fannie and Freddie. When the housing prices began to correct due to default the leverage went the other way. As real estate is somewhat inflated the reverse leverage will be painful.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Eugene started me on a merry chase

with his post of "Pineapple Princess." I went through the Wikipedia article about Annette Funicello and ended with this video interview here.

Let's see if this works. The only thing wrong with putting the video here is you don't get some rather important biographical information, which is on the page I linked, though the Wikipedia article is a lot better.

Well, I ran the TCM today.

I notice that my thighs are sore already, a sure sign of over-training. If I'd done that over the summer, I might have had a decent time. As it was, I almost missed the cut-off for getting a finishers shirt and medal. The "gun time" was showing 5:56:something when I went past. [Hey! Look at this! They've got the chip times up already!]

I must have been just a flash going through, because my wife, who was waiting at the finish line, didn't see me. I also don't remember hearing them announce my name, and obviously she didn't either, but then the blatherers who were doing the announcing had to say things to keep the crowd interested. And I was a bit busy collecting my loot.

The temps were awesome for a race, ranging from the low fifties at the beginning to low sixties by the end. I could have done without the two hour thundershower, though. It made my shoes heavy. Apparently it hit the top finishers the same way, the winning time was 2:16. I wonder if Fernando Cabada will try to bury that on his resume.

The rain and the cold wind made it tough to enjoy running by the lakes in Minneapolis. All right, impossible. Oh, I guess it was 48 degrees at the start. I tossed my sweatshirt in the start corral, because it wasn't that cold and I figured I'd be plenty warm by the time it started raining. I was wrong. The weatherman had to go and nail it dead-on, drat him.

Another thing that slowed me down was that I had to hit the "head" five times. Largely due to trying to avoid the embarassing problem I mentioned in the other blog. And any other embarassing problems that haunted me as I went along. It was a difficult operation with numb hands. I forgot my gloves. I picked up a pair of discarded gloves after a while, wrung out the water and put them on. They helped a lot.

I saw that my dream house is for sale. I'll have to go make an offer. Oddly enough, I can't find a listing on the web. You should see it, half-timbered with fancy brick work, on the east side of Lake Harriet... [Lost in dream-land.] Maybe it's not a single-family dwelling.

I made a point of thanking every volunteer and spectator I could. If they were still out there when I was, they deserved an open display of gratitude. Maybe even a big smooch, but I was too busy to pass out any of those.

Some remarked that I was still smiling. Unfortunately, that brought up the thought, "yeah, it's because I'm not working very hard." The sore legs say otherwise. Maybe I'll post a full litany of excuses later.

Oh, well. The wife cooked me something. I'd better go eat it.

Friday, October 03, 2008

"No people will tamely surrender their Liberties,

nor can any be easily subdued, when knowledge is diffusd and Virtue is preservd. On the Contrary, when People are universally ignorant, and debauchd in their Manners, they will sink under their own weight without the Aid of foreign Invaders." -- Samuel Adams (letter to James Warren, 4 November 1775)

The Patriot Post: Founders' Quote Daily

I haven't really studied this ProPublica site

but it's pretty darn interesting. That's the page for bailout aftermaths.

I caught a little of the Palin-Biden debate last night.

They were both trying to out-statist each other.

I turned over to baseball talk.

I just added FactCheck.org to my links

I'm surprised I didn't do that before.

Someday I should edit my links in general. There's a couple dead ones there. I could have done it yesterday when I stayed home with a sick kid, but I decided to buy a course on Socrates, Plato and Aristotle from The Teaching Company and listen to that all day instead.

They were having a sale, I got it for 50 bucks.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Aha! I've been looking for a good article on Moral Hazard

and the Wall Street Journal plunks one in my lap:
Now, with big banks dropping like flies and Wall Street vaporizing amid a mortgage meltdown, every corner bar and hair salon is filled with experts on the perils of moral hazard. Everyone gets it: Cut risk down to next to nothing and some people do crazy things.

Borrowers across America took a dive for low- or no-down-payment mortgages buoyed by the Federal Reserve's low-risk interest rates. Wall Street sliced the mortgages thinner than prosciutto ham, "spreading risk," and sold pieces all over the world, where, like magic, they seemed to fatten balance sheets. The deal was so win-win that Bear Stearns, Lehman, Merrill and the rest of the world's mega-banks engorged on their own product. It was as if foie gras geese forced corn and fat down their own throats. The risk of exploding seemed to be nil.

For behind it all sat Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, running mortgage liquidity into the nation's neighborhoods like an open fire hydrant. Several years ago, when the Journal's editorial board met with Fannie Mae's top executives and pressed the issue of financial risks, we were told by way of ending the conversation that Fannie was merely fulfilling the "mandate of Congress" to spread home ownership across the land. Congress, of course, is a temple to moral hazard.

"Moral hazard" is an odd phrase. Its meaning isn't obvious though it does sound like something one ought to avoid. "Moral hazard" dates back hundreds of years in obscurity, but its use eventually settled inside the insurance business in the 19th century. The French call it risque moral.

Back then, it really was taken to mean that reducing risk too much exposed people to the hazard of poor moral judgments. If an insurer charged too little for a policy to replace farms in the English countryside, Farmer Brown might be less careful about cows knocking over oil lamps in the barn.

In time, the economists got their hands on "moral hazard," and the first thing they did was strip out the heavy moral freight to make the concept value-neutral. Now moral hazard became less about judgment and more about the economic "inefficiencies" that occur in riskless environments.

We're back to the original meaning. Losing tons of money for an institution is an economic inefficiency. Lose the nation's financial structure, however, and moral fingers get wagged.

James Bovard says:

Unfortunately, individuals often are unaware of government's true record because the media are working hand in glove with the ruling class.

Statists rely on political arithmetic that begins by erasing all of government's abuses from the ledger. Instead, people should begin by pretending that Leviathan doesn't exist—and then ask what politicians can do to make the masses happy.

Modern political thinking largely consists of glorifying poorly functioning political machinery—the threats, bribes, and legislative cattle prods by which some people are made to submit to other people. It is a delusion to think of the state as something loftier than all the edicts, penalties, prison sentences, and taxes it imposes.

Like Tom Sawyer persuading his friends to pay him for the privilege of painting his aunt's fence, modern politicians expect people to be grateful for the chance to pay for the fetters that government attaches to them. Even though the average family now pays more in taxes than it spends for housing, clothing, and food combined, tax burdens are not an issue for most American political commentators.

To call for government intervention is to demand that some people be given the power to compel others to submit. But coercion is a blunt instrument that produces many ill effects aside from the purported government goal. To rely on coercion to achieve progress is like relying on bulldozers and steamrollers for routine transit. The question is not whether a person can eventually reach a goal driving a steamroller, but how much damage is left in his wake and how much faster the destination could be reached without crushing everything along the way.

Freedom Is Not the Issue? It Just Ain't So! by James Bovard.

That's an article in response to David Brooks...pretty much everything he says.

Further:
It was government and politicians, not freedom, that failed Americans in the new century. It was not freedom that wrecked the U.S. dollar. It was not freedom that made federal spending explode. It was not freedom that spurred a foreign war that has already left tens of thousands of Americans dead and maimed, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead. It was not freedom which announced that the Constitution and the statute book no longer bind the president.

Brooks became a media darling in part because of his vehement warnings about the danger of cynicism. But it is not cynical to have more faith in freedom than in subjugation. It is not cynical to have more faith in individuals vested with rights than in bureaucrats armed with power. It is not cynical to suspect that governments which have cheated so often in the past may not be dealing straight today.