Monday, July 28, 2008

Gary North says:

I’m in a good mood because everything is happening as it should.
When people spend too much money...when speculators gamble too
recklessly...when the government gives out to much cash and credit – there
have to be consequences. A free market is not a system designed to give
people a free lunch. It’s designed to make them better people – by
rewarding them when they do the right thing and punishing them when they
do the wrong thing.
For the last 20 years – at least – people have been
doing things that the old economists would have regarded as ‘moral
failings.’ That is, they’ve been spending more than they make...for
example. Now, they’ve being punished. They’re being re-educated. And
they’re going to end up poorer...but wiser.

Frankly, we’d rather be dumber and richer, but the markets don’t give you
that choice. They separate fools from their money. That’s what they’re
doing now. So, what’s to be unhappy about?

My emphasis.

The workings of Demand-Side (aka Keynesian) Economics.

Remember who said "We're all Keynesians now"? Would you buy an apple from the man?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sorry I haven't seemed to be around.

I checked in and looked a couple times, but I've been busy loading software and playing with it. I had Adobe read from Rothbard's Man, Economy and State to me, and I let Rosie load a game on here that wouldn't work on the old computer, and we've been goofing around with that. Checked out the new Works word processor. It's almost as good as Word.

I'm trying to figure out where I got ACDSee from. It's on one of my photoprocessing disks I think. I'd like to have that on here.

I ran seven miles today. Took me 80 minutes. Sucks. I'm trying to come back from the hip problem and the broken toe. It's slow going, but the bike should help. It's a five mile ride to work (I can't take the most direct route - it wouldn't be safe), so if I ride to work every day of my wife's summer vacation, I should make pretty big strides in my conditioning.

My plan, as of this moment, is to run 2 1/2 miles before riding to work tomorrow, just do the ride Tuesday and do my lunch hour walk whenever I feel up to it. We'll see whether I feel like running Wednesday, or whether I should rest more.

And biking to work will save quite a bit of gas, of course. We certainly need to do that now.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Hey Kids!

I got a new computer! How much do people usually tell about their new computers on the web? Oh, well, nobody's really looking anyway.

We went cheap, it's a Dell Inspiron, with blah-biddy-blah Mb memory and a blah-de-blah Mb harddrive. All I really know is that we've got four times the memory of our old computer for a quarter the price.

Can I really tell the difference? Yeah, sure. We'll give her a real workout after Rosie goes to bed. She's bugging me to read to her. And not from the blog. Not even your blog.

I notice it (the blog) looks a bit screwed up. I'll have to do something about that, I suppose.

I also got my bike fixed up. I rode it to work today.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Maybe this quote

from Albert J. Nock's "On Doing the Right Thing," more rightly belongs up top:
In suggesting that we try freedom, therefore, the anarchist and individualist has a strictly practical aim. He aims at the production of a race of responsible beings. He wants more room for the savoir se gener, more scope for the noblesse oblige, a larger place of the sense of the Right Thing. If our legalists and authoritarians could once get this well through their heads, they would save themselves a vast deal of silly insistence on a half-truth and upon the suppressio veri, which is the meanest and lowest form of misrepresentation. Freedom, for example, as they keep insisting, undoubtedly means freedom to drink oneself to death. The anarchist grants this at once; but at the smae time he points out that it also means freedom to say with the grave digger in "Les Miserables," "I have studied, I have graduated; I never drink." It unquestionably means freedom to go on without any code of morals at all; but it also means freedom to rationalise, construct and adhere to a code of one's own. The anarchist presses the point invariably overlooked, that freedom to the one without correlative freedom to do the other is impossible; and that just here comes in the moral education which legalism and authoritarianism, with their denial of freedom, can never furnish.

Or not. Might need some paraphrasing, I don't know.

Monday, July 21, 2008

I'm tempted to put this first paragraph up on top

of the blog. L. Neil Smith says:
[I]t should be a major objective of any popular reform movement to abolish Sovereign Immunity, that ancient and highly evil custom under which "the King can do no wrong" and a supposedly democratic government has to give its permission to be sued.

Along with this reform, two others are called for. First, any law—including a portion of the Constitution—that shields politicians from crimes they commit in office must be struck down. And to those holdouts who maintain that if these things were done, the government would be buried in lawsuits and unable to "get anything done" (and this is bad because ... ?), you have but to adopt the "loser pays" rule in civil court, to diminish the number of "nuisance" suits that are filed.

There also needs to be a Penalty Clause written into the Bill of Rights.

The corporate equivalent of Sovereign Immunity is called "Limited Liability", a so-called "legal fiction" (English translation: a highly profitable lie, courtesy of the splendid legal profession) under which corporations are viewed and dealt with as individuals, the debts of their owners are limited to whatever they have invested in the corporation (this is exactly like fining a murderer only whatever he paid for the knife, skillet, monkey-wrench, or gun he used to kill somebody with), and the owners of corporations evade responsibility for the evil committed by, say, a Halliburton or a Blackwater USA. Without this change, while the politicians face war crimes trials, the directors and stockholders can sit back and watch the whole thing on TV.

Here's another fun quote, from Michael Rozeff at
The notion of "We the People" hides a critical weakness in this political theory of Government, which otherwise is extremely attractive in its affirmation of a person’s rights and in its view of the derivative rights (or powers) of a Government. The theory leaves unanswered two questions. First, how do good People become a People? Second, how does a People provide its consent to a Government?

Shouldn’t they logically become a People in such a way as to maintain their primary rights? Shouldn’t they logically provide their consent to a Government while maintaining their primary rights? They should. Otherwise, the foundations of the theory are being contradicted.

And another, from Vin Suprynowicz:
[Y]our public school teacher had a fatal conflict of interest when he or she taught you "why we need to have a central state, with the power to shoot or jail people who don't pay up." I'll bet he or she never mentioned, as one of the reasons, "Because otherwise my paychecks would stop coming."

Be deeply suspicious therefore of most of the reasons you've been given for "why we need a central state." When stop signs are removed and speed limits raised or eliminated -- when people stop depending on the false assurance that such "rules" will bind the drunk and disorderly -- accident rates go down, not up (see John Staddon, in this month's Atlantic.) When more potential crime victims are "allowed" to carry concealed handguns, violent crime rates go down, not up (See John Lott's "More Guns, Less Crime.")

Feel free to extend this premise to most of the other reasons you've been told we "need" a powerful government regulating everything, most especially the notion that we "need" the guvgoons to jail hundreds of thousands of drug users. Nobody jailed them before 1914, and America was so safe that hardly anyone locked their doors.

Christopher Westley has an economic history lesson for us:

How Fannie and Freddie Made Me a Grumpy Economist:
From the beginning, first Fannie and then Freddie (which was created in 1970) served the purpose of shielding the public from the adverse effects of expansive government — and bad fiscal policy in particular. This makes government relatively more tolerable to the rank and file.

The creation of both entities, I told the host, was a mistake, because it created greater investment in housing and home ownership than would have been justified by market forces. The result is an inefficient use of resources — a malinvestment. Furthermore, entities like Fannie and Freddie forced out private firms that otherwise would have satisfied the demand for housing, but couldn't, because they lacked the preferential treatment from which Fannie and Freddie benefited, especially in terms of taxes and regulations.

By the 1960s, Fannie was turned into a GSE — a government-sponsored enterprise. (Freddie was created as a GSE from the beginning.) This structured their operations so that they would become more like private firms, required to offer stock and compete in the marketplace, with the understanding that they would finance themselves out of their own profits. This is not an arrangement that has worked well for the post office or Amtrak, but with the first of the baby boomers getting their starter homes, and then later when the dollar's last remaining ties to gold were severed, it worked better for Fannie and Freddie, especially since they were allowed to maintain some of the privileges denied their competitors.

For most of their history, Fannie and Freddie were (in my opinion) relatively benign. They never should have been created, but they didn't do much harm. This would change in the 1990s, when they became big players in the economy. That is when the current problems began.

See the previous post.

A new "Road to Serfdom"

From THE SAD ROAD TO SOCIALISM: What happens When Private Property is No Longer a Right, by John Loeffler
The Three Steps of Socialism

Socialism is the mechanism which transforms government from its noble role as a protector into a predator and, since the citizens of our fine country seem determined to plow through socialism to its bitter end, we should examine the territory through which these three sad steps lead. The core result of socialism is the destruction of private property and wealth.

The events described in this piece are a composite of the ravages of socialism experienced in other countries. While each country does experience all the events portrayed, all socialist countries follow the same miserable path. The U.S. doesn’t have to go down this path, but it seems determines to do so.

We’re Off to See the Wizard

One of the great dangers of any government by the people is that sooner or later their politicians discover they can vote largess from the public trust. Their first experiment at this bold new adventure invariably revolves around social programs enacted in the name of morality and the public good or even solving some current crisis. Who could oppose that? “After all,” it will be argued, “don’t you care about people, or the welfare of the country, or the environment?”

The lure of this argument has been absolutely irresistible from the Roman Empire to the French and Bolshevik revolutions to Socialist Parties (D) and (R) in the USA today.

We can "care about people, or the welfare of the country, or the environment" without bringing in the guys with guns.

Friday, July 18, 2008

I read a most interesting article this morning before work.

Contra Anarcho-Capitalism: A Term of Contradiction and Historic Ignorance, by Ante Simtapalic.
“But what’s so wrong with the word capitalism? Don’t you love the free-market?” an “Anarcho-capitalist” might ask.

To answer, that so many conflate free-market with capitalism remains one of the greatest disappointments of political terminology; completely divergent from the principle of free and voluntary association, as Kropotkin and Rothbard both aspire to create, the system of capitalism is one of economic exploitation by the definition of the word, or at least in its original phraseology. As created in the context of an economic system, the coinage of the word capitalism, far from referring to the actual substance of a free-market, mostly references the symptoms of the world seen by many socialists as exploitative. Proven indirectly from contemporary socialists describing capitalism as “the social system which now exists in all countries of the world” and directly from the nature by which the first anti-capitalists observed the capitalist mentality, that capitalism always meant economic coercion by the strong lording over the weak seems fairly ironclad. Arguing that capitalism is what modern society suffers from, socialists make it clear that capitalism is not synonymous with free-market, since the free-market does not at all resemble the capitalist society of today, the 19th century, or any era; furthermore, being indirect inheritors of the first socialist position on capitalism, it becomes easy to see that socialists merely argue against what they observe as the defined system of capitalism, and not against the logic of liberty itself.

My linguistics instructors told me that synonyms have to be used with care; two words never have exactly the same meaning. Otherwise, why have two separate words?

Mises, Rand and many others do conflate Capitalism with the Free Market, but they're not at all talking about the same thing that the socialist coiners of the term meant by it. Of course, capital, strictly speaking, is the stuff required to produce comsumable products, so there logical linguistic reason to try to steal the term. The trouble with the conflation is that it taints the Free Market in the minds of confused individuals, who see our capitalist system and all its problems and blame freedom as the cause.
Damning this system as capitalist, coining the term capitalism itself, the socialists are absolutely right! The system of capitalism, from which the socialists observed, absolutely existed and exists to exploit not only the workers, but every honest entrepreneur without connections to the violent state. Yes, originally used as a pejorative to describe the economic system of the day, the socialists and state-socialists (or Marxists) apparently delved no deeper into the defining of the term than the evident consequences of the system around them. Pointing to their primary concerns with conditions at the time and not with the moral arguments for freedom, capitalism’s establishment comes with the pillars of the 19th century as an eternal reference. Regarding capitalism as the apparent, socialists took it to be evil; associating capitalism with the realities of their society, it seems that they did so correctly.

The term capitalism being determined by the scene of the 19th century then, the idea that a capitalist economy could find any common definition with the free-market seems absolutely ludicrous. Indeed, for from early antiquity, to the 19th century, and even to this day, the plague of statism infests the very same economies that all correctly hail as capitalist. ... So, understanding the historical unfree-market of Europe, if the motives behind the objections to the system of capitalism launched from the inequitable scenes seen, then as the word capitalism was only coined to describe that which caused the effects of inequity and not the theoretical free-market itself, it must be concluded that which is, was, and will ever be capitalism cannot be free-market! For what free market could include blatantly authoritarian institutions like Central Banks, land trusts inherited from the remnants of feudal lords, and “monopolies granted by governments to associations of merchants and craftsmen who [aid] in the collection of taxes, in return for the assurance of profits by excluding native and foreign competitors” (Rothbard 18)? Certainly no free-market in the Mutualist, Rothbardian, or Austrian traditions! Yes, with capitalism defined in terms of a historic perspective, if those advocating a free-market oppose protectionism and economic exploitation as seen in that context, then the free-marketer, the libertarian, the Market Anarchist must understand his inherent position against capitalism as a free-market anti-capitalist!

So, hmm...

Something to think about.

Here's Rothbard's side of the argument: The Death Wish of the Anarcho-Communists.

That's what I said!

The WSJ editorial page (Who's Partying Naked?)
does it a bit better, though.

Don't go there expecting Girls Gone Wild (sorry, I don't have the link for that). It's about short-selling and the SEC.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Hey! What the Hell! It's the witching hour on Hump Night!

Anybody got a problem with me posting this link that I got from Old Blue?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

"It's all GWB's fault!"

Probligo says.

Seen the front page of the Wall Street Journal today? The SEC's getting into the act.

First the Fed, then Treasury and now this. Whose administration is it?

Curbing short-selling will only artificially support irrationally high stock prices and make The Market less transparent. Short-sellers have reason to believe that a particular stock is going to drop: the company's fundamentals don't match its price. It deserves to be taken down a peg.

Short-sellers deserve our support.
Wait a minute! What?!
Under current rules, a short seller must first locate shares to borrow, but does not have to enter into a contract with the share lender. Often, more than one trader is able to borrow the same shares, creating a multiplier effect in the size of the total short position.

That ain't how my informants told me how it's done! That sounds like fraud to me!
Under the emergency order, a short seller would be required to have an actual agreement to borrow the shares. The new move would effectively take shares out of the market for borrowing, which could reduce the amount of stock available for selling short.

The only trouble with that is that it will take shares out of the game that ought to be in it. Typical ham-handed beaurocracy. But I agree that two or more people selling the same shares at the same time is fraud. It's a con game. Real people bought those shares and lost money on them! And you never even had them to sell!

Is there really a lot of that "naked shorting" going on?
On Sunday, the SEC said it would crack down on firms or individuals that illegally spread false rumors. In its various short-selling investigations, the SEC has sent subpoenas to more than 50 hedge funds, some as recently as Monday.

Critics of the SEC's move Tuesday asked why certain financial firms were being protected -- but not the broader market -- especially when many of those firms are also active short sellers.

"For heaven's sakes, they're the very ones we believe have been doing thousands of public companies," said James "Wes" Christian, a lawyer with Texas law firm Christian, Smith & Jewell, who represents companies who have filed lawsuits relating to short selling.

I thought TR and FDR fixed all this crap early in the 20th Century.
New York hedge-fund manager Whitney Tilson called the proposals a "desperation move" that could end up silencing investors who are among the first to point out problems at troubled companies.

Agreed, but you can't do it by selling pretend stocks! Or am I reacting to a misimpression? If the shorters are doing it sequentially, then there's no fraud. The overseers only need to make sure that only one entity is disposing of the stock at a time.

You woke me up, guys!

Actually, I've been making a wooden bucket. I bought a couple books a plane and a small anvil for the purpose. I'll try to get you a picture of what I've got so far, as soon as I track down my digital camera.

I ran across this pamphlet, NATURAL LAW or THE SCIENCE OF JUSTICE, by Lysander Spooner yesterday:
Chapter I, The Science of Justice

Section I

The science of mine and thine - the science of justice - is the science of all human rights: of all a man's rights of person and property; of all his rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is the science which alone can tell any man what he can, and cannot, do; what he can, and cannot, have; what he can, and cannot, say, without infringing the rights of any other person.

It is the science of peace; and the only science of peace: since it is the science which alone can tell us on what conditions mankind can live in peace, or ought to live in peace, with each other.

These conditions are simply these: viz., first, that each man shall do, towards every other, all that justice requires him to do; as, for example, that he shall pay his debts, that he shall return borrowed or stolen property to its owner, and that he shall make reparation for any injury he may have done to the person or property of another.

The second condition is that each man shall abstain from doing to another, anything which justice forbids him to do; as, for example, that he shall abstain from committing theft, robbery, arson, murder, or any other crime against the person or property of another.

So long as these conditions are fulfilled, men are at peace, and ought to remain at peace, with each other. But when either of these conditions is violated, men are at war. And they must necessarily remain at war until justice is re-established.

Through all time, so far as history informs us, wherever mankind have attempted to live in peace with each other, both the natural instincts, and the collective wisdom of the human race, have acknowledged and prescribed, as an indispensable condition, obedience to this one only universal obligation: viz., that each should live honestly towards every other.

The ancient maxim makes the sum of a man's legal duty to his fellow men to be simply this: "To live honestly, to hurt no one, to give to every one his due." [“Honeste vivere, neminem laedere, suum cuique tribuere" - Ulpianus, Regularum in Digesto, lib. I, 10, 1].

This entire maxim is really expressed in the single words, to live honestly: since to live honestly is to hurt no one, and give to every one his due.

Or, as The Duke put it, "I won't be wronged. I won't be insulted. I won't be laid a hand on. I don't do these things to other people. I expect the same in return."

Did I say that before? That word "wronged" seems a little ill-defined. As, of course, does "insulted." And what are the consequences? These thing need to be laid out plainly. Spooner starts to do just that here.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Robert Ringer set this up for me to quote:

Our "nation" does not deserve better presidential choices than the McBamas who are running. Remember, people always get the government they deserve. When the vast majority of people (1) wake up, (2) admit to themselves what has happened (and is happening) to America, (3) are willing to give up all notions of entitlements, and (4) are prepared to fight back, then they will deserve better.

If somebody agitates hard enough, I link the post where he says that.

This year we've got the most left-wing Republican running against the most left-wing Democrat. The third largest party is offering the most right-wing Libertarian... The Constitution Party is running another wacko Bircher...

I live in Hell.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Hey! I ran across this blog, TyroSphere,

[LINK] while looking up instructions for coopering (making barrels). I want to do that and this guy's learning to do it right now in France! At a real cooperage!

Oh, wait! I guess that was a year ago.

He even had to make hoops. I think I could do that, just using the old charcoal grill, but I'd like to ask him how that's done.

Modern cooperages have a lot of equipment that I don't have in my basement, on my back porch or in my garage, but I think I have what I need to make a keg out of pine right here. I need to get some steel straps, but that's nothin'.

Oh, I remember what I wanted to ask him: how do they get the temporary hoops off and put the permanent hoops on? And do I need the temps? I'm planning to use strap clamps to bend the wood, and I'm sure I won't need nearly as much tension to bend pine as you do to bend fine oak. And, yes, I know I'm not going to get a wine cask out of my scrap wood; I'll only end up with a dry barrel - useful only for storing dry goods. But, you all know I have a need for such a thing, and I know a market that could absorb as many as I can make.

I haven't whittled a single stave yet and I'm wondering about that.

Oh, our young hero is heir to all this, btw. God bless them!

Monday, July 07, 2008

I had a great Fourth!

How about you?

We went to the Cloquet Rendezvous.

No time to flesh anything out, but here are some highlights:

Front row seats at the fireworks, which were launched right across the river from our campsite.

Listening in on all the blackpowder talk, firing a flintlock myself for the first time... Come to think of it, I don't think anybody was actually using blackpowder. That crap's dangerous!

But the guys across the path from us had several little cannons that they kept loading to the gills with powder and blasting 'em off. The one has a super thick barrel that allows them to load, they say, the equivalent of a stick or two (Kevin told me two; I heard him tell a tourist "one"... maybe he thought somebody with no experience with explosives wouldn't believe him) of dynamite. Sure sounds like it.


You don't sleep in at Rendezvous.

Unfortunately, we didn't get to go to sleep early either. The bar across the highway just got an outdoor patio. We got to listen to the local bands every night until about 1:00 AM. Thank God we were in hicksville! They roll up the sidewalks early, even on holidays.

I got the usual amount of exercise for a Rendezvous, hauling 50 lb. loads of all kinds of assorted stuff - canvas, water, firewood, clothes - all over, everywhere. Of course, the real Voyageurs were hauling three and more times that. All day, every day until it killed them.

Saturday night Dave, who brain-tans hides (as his hobby - he teaches Orchestra for a living), brought his violin to the neighbor's tent and started fiddling to my daughter. Then Kenny, who leads a country band and has played in Nashville, brought over his guitar, and they jammed together, playing silly songs to entertain the kids and some country and folk songs for us older folks.

It was awesome!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

James Watt: Hero

"All unaided, this supreme toiler thus slowly and painfully evolved the steam engine after long years of constant labor and anxiety, bringing to the task a union of qualities and of powers of head and hand which no other man of his time--may we not venture to say of all time--was ever know to possess or ever exhibited." - Andrew Carnegie, Life of James Watt, 1905, p. 75 (or 88 of the pdf).

Yes, that Andrew Carnegie.
I feel a deep bitter-sweetness reading this book. Carnegie casually mentions so many matters in passing... I would have loved to have read this with my father. To have him explain the sticking points.


But wait!! My father-in-law is almost an exact clone of my father!

He's not a steam-boat engineer - he was a blacksmith... Maybe he's looked into steam power enough to explain some of these things to me. If not, maybe he knows somebody who could.

I gotta send him this link!