Monday, February 28, 2011
A colony on the moon will no doubt lead to thousands of new 'private sector jobs' for Americans. So too will a tunnel across the Atlantic, and genetically engineering horses into unicorns. But that doesn't make any of them worthy of an 'investment' by our government.
What idiotic vanity this all is. I listened to the President's speech today about his plans for 'investment in our future." What utter nonsense. We're actually hoping (or pretending to hope) that an economically illiterate man from Chicago and his gaggle of socialist political advisers would have any idea what would be a good 'investment' for Americans? Does anyone seriously believe that this is all going to work out fine?
If you're saying to yourself, "Tom - you're being a little tough on the president, isn't 'illiterate' a little overstated?" The answer is absolutely no. Obama is as economical illiterate as any 10 year old. you can hear it clear as day in how he speaks about the economy. He acts as if the only thing we need for everything to work out fine is good intentions about the environment, and a strong labor union. In the meantime, he's never had a job where he's had to actually produce anything. He's never run anything. He's never had a bottom line to meet, or a profit to produce. And he speaks like all of that happen by itself, as if by magic.
Unions love government projects because up to now, no one has ever cared how much they cost. Decades spent building a 5 lane bridge across the Delaware... no problem. Billions poured down a hall in Boston... no problem. With no one caring and almost no one even watching, the money has always just flowed. That's the world Obama comes from...where 'cost' is the very last thing you ever consider. consequence is irrelevant, it's intention that matters.
Now we're standing on the precipice of nationwide economic apocalypse thanks to decades of their ridiculously loose spending, and this guy expects to be able to go back to the well again. It's truly insulting.
It's really time for reality to reach Washington DC. We really can't afford any more self congratulatory idiocy. If the finally get it now, then there is still a small chance that we can save this whole mess - but time is definitely up. We can't afford anymore "High speed Rail/Green Job/Unicorn/Rainbow bills." those days are all over. We can either wake up and smell the coffee - and I mean today, or we can prepare for the end. That's all we have left. Either we fix it, or we end it.
10 years. If we go the direction that Obama has laid out, we won't last another 10 years.
TPC - 2/28/2011
I think in that alternate universe where Spock has a goatee and Evil Kirk rules with an iron fist, there is a guy who looks like Mike Bloomberg who I would get along with just great. To me it looks like we got the evil Bloomberg and they got the one who respects the individual and thinks government should leave people alone. And in the meantime, we got the impossibly arrogant dwarf sized butt-insky who's primary personal goal is to strip all Americans of the right to defend themselves.
Here, the diminutive Mayor of New York City says that the problem isn't the unions but the pay. If it were anyone else I'd say he was just pandering to New York's extremely liberal populace, but Bloomberg doesn't pander. He doesn't care enough about what people think to bother. Ordinarily you'd have to admire that but in his case it's like admiring Mao for not caring what the Tibetan's think.
The fact is, it's the unions which are the real source of the problem and not the pay. Pay itself is important. But If you get rid of the unions then you can make the civil service begin to respond to the real world, and part of that will be rational pay mechanisms. Instead of seniority and 'degree's earned' being the only metrics, you can begin to pay the good teachers more, the worse teacher less, and fire the worst of them. all judged by objective standards instead of whatever the union thinks matters.
Pay is important. But if you're interested in the quality of service offered by government employees then the unions have at least as serious a detrimental effect in that area as they do on creeping compensation. Unions have two purposes not just one. The first is to increase pay (costs) absent other economic input. The other is to decrease accountability absent other managerial input.
And the second purpose is the reason that Mike Bloomberg is 100% wrong... again... as usual.
Friday, February 25, 2011
The political left has no idea how the real world works. If you're reading this, then this comes as no surprise to you. But they aren’t the only ones who seem to be confused about modern economics. There are mistakes out there on the right as well. One that seems prevalent right now is that cutting government spending will somehow ‘help the economy’.
Well not to confuse my own thesis, but in the long term it actually will help. It will reduce the need for additional debt and that will eventually improve things. but that's going to take a very long time. In the short run it’s not going to help at all – it’s actually going to hurt. It will lower GDP, and it might lower it dramatically if the libertarian wing of the party gets its way and the cuts that are made are… dramatic.
If this seems counter intuitive I think it’s because you probably haven’t noticed that while the government will be spending less, it will still be taxing the same. Well, there are some modest cuts suggested here and there around the edges – carefully targeted to help those special interests that the politicians like. But on the whole, all branches of government will be keeping taxes more or less the same even while they slash spending.
And by the way, if you’re a constituent of the government and you make your way in the world through the largess of politicians, for you it will be making things much worse. Take the example of a company that’s very politically connected, and designed to exploit the market distortions created by government policy. Call it a minority owned, union hiring cement company from Illinois with close ties to Democrats, and several large contracts from government ‘infrastructure’ projects like high speed rail, and bridges to nowhere.
Things are going to get MUCH worse for them. They might not have delivered much 'infrastructure per dollar' compared to their private sector competition. They might have been inefficient, and prone to waste. But they still spent the money and generated economic activity with it. Cutting waste may sound good to the taxpayer, but not to the guys who are doing the wasting.
Even if you are one of those union guys who's whole job is standing around watching other people do real work, that doesn’t mean that you waste ‘your’ money once you get it. You may spend it very wisely. One thing is for sure – you are meeting your own needs with it at the very least. And if government spending gets cut, then you may end up out on the unemployment line. That could be a real problem because the demand for guys who stand around doing nothing is actually quite low in the non unionized private sector, so you might be there a while.
So if we cut government spending, we will get lower GDP and higher unemployment. Sounds lovely right? Well don’t get me wrong, we still have to do it. Government needs to account for a smaller portion of our GDP and accumulate less debt. The long term picture does need to be considered. But I want to make it clear that the half of this process that we really need hasn’t been addressed yet.
What we really need is a plan for increasing economic growth. Spending cuts alone won’t do it. And contrary to what they think on the left, the desire to ‘exploit the working man’ isn’t enough to motivate people to be productive either. Normally we would expect a ‘snap back’ from a deep recession like the one we’ve had. But under the current, tax, debt, and labor environment, we aren’t getting it. Understanding why is easier if you think of the return on ‘effort’.
Creating economic growth requires effort. Someone somewhere has to actually ‘do’ something – and not just anything. They have to do something that increases the value of a product or service. They have to take the components of a pencil, put them together and get more for the pencil than the parts were worth. Or they need to sell the pencil at a higher price. Or they need to put labels on the pencils to send them to customers, or stack them for shipment in the warehouse – you get the idea. Every little bit helps.
The point is, someone definitely needs to go to some effort. But if the return on that effort is too low, then it’s not worth it to engage in such an activity. Better to spend that same ‘effort’ on unproductive activities like playing with your dog, or drinking beer and chasing girls – or whatever else you’re into. And as is stands right now, the government keeps the return on that kind of activity low by taxing away a portion of what you get, setting a high interest rate on the money you borrow, and forcing you to pay more for labor with restrictive labor laws.
But if government were to lower taxes, interest rates, or labor costs, the return on ‘effort’ would increase. For some activities, it would increase dramatically. And when you get more for putting in the same effort, you become much more likely to engage in it. If you get to keep 80c of every dollar instead of 60c, maybe you decide that you’d rather work on Saturday instead of recovering from Friday’s hangover, or taking a trip to the park. And all that extra effort accumulated across 300 million Americans represents one hell of a lot of economic growth.
That growth will make things better for everyone, even the comparatively less productive. For example, greater growth means increase tax revenues, which lets the government go out there and waste a little more money again. Eventually that union guy may get his ‘standing around’ job back. The stock market will rise causing the return on his pension to be even higher. So when he retires he can go spend his golden years standing around doing nothing on the beach in Florida.
But until the return on ‘effort’ increases, none of that is going to happen. And spending cuts alone, as important to the long term picture as they are, simply won’t be enough to do it.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
What other possible explanation could anyone have for his ranting lunatic statement in his column from yesterday:
The smart thing for us to do right now is to impose a $1-a-gallon gasoline tax, to be phased in at 5 cents a month beginning in 2012, with all the money going to pay down the deficit.
I started my career in the energy trading business. I still have excellent contacts in the industry and they have excellent contacts in the middle east. My suspicion is that all this hyperbole about the Arab world blowing up is overblown, but the truth is, no one really knows. Not me, not the experts on the ground, and definitely not Thomas Friedman.
This guy is a perfect example of how journalists who don't actually know much about anything, present themselves as experts on everything. Implement a $1 per gallon tax on gasoline today, and you will have another 10 million people out of work by the end of the month. To Friedman that probably seems like a small price to pay to fulfill his green vision.
Or maybe he thinks this would be a nice excuse to implement a Chinese Style command and control economy based on the 'state run capitalism' that he so loves.
What a freaking idiot this guy is. Pulitzer - Feh.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
The government needs to keep me happy. Not me in the figurative sense as in, middle aged suburban white guys built like the president. No, they need to keep me, Tom – the guy who’s writing this happy because it’ll be hell for us all if they don’t. And it’s really just one aspect of my character that stresses why the government should think I’m so important at the moment. I'm typical of the kind of guy essential to any redistributive system.
I don’t expect fairness – never have. I didn’t expect it in school. I don’t expect it from the government, or from my employer, or from the police or any of the institutions of life. In fact, there have been points in my life where I felt like every two bit authoritarian bureaucrat had a photo of me in his wallet that he would whip out whenever he was wondering who he should give the shaft to.
Anyway, I don’t expect the rules to be fair. But I’ve always been a guy who believed he could prosper no matter what the rules were. And let me tell you, its guys who believe things like that who are the ones who build nations. We are the golden geese of the redistributive class. We make all the wealth that is subsequently taken from us and spread around to people that the politicians think 'deserve' it more than we do. And we continue to do it, even though the rules are stacked against us.
In fact, somewhere along the line I even decided that if they’re going change the rules in the middle of the game, even THAT won’t keep me down. So long as the rules they used to change the rules were constant, I’d just work so hard and persevere so strenuously, that even the rule change won’t break me. And it hasn’t – not yet anyway. It’s often been brutal, but I’ve managed to achieve a few of my goals.
But now the Democrats have decided that they are not only going to change the rules, but they are also going to change the rules by which they change the rules. If they lose an election, they’ll skip town. If the Whitehouse doesn’t like a law they’ll simply ‘deem it' unconstitutional and abandon their duty to defend it in court. They appoint czars which operate outside any congressional review, and empower bureaucrats to do through regulatory fiat, what they can’t do by passing a law.
The media doesn’t mind any of this because they’re all democrats too. And because they don’t mind, the vast majority of Americans who don’t think about politics very much don’t really mind either. To them it’s little more than coffee break banter. They chat it up at the water cooler and try to think of jokes to tell about it. but it doesn’t really concern them the way ti does a guy like me.
And all of that is why the government should be thinking about keeping me happy. Because they can squander my taxes on high speed rails, idiot green job programs, and BS union giveaways. They can cheat me, and lie to me, and rob from me, and then change the rules to make it illegal for me to complain, and I won’t let it keep me down. But if they start screwing with the rules, then I’m going to take my ball and go home; and all those politician A-holes can steal from each other.
I’ve spent a lot of energy lately trying to explain to people that printing money doesn’t lead to hyperinflation. The thing that causes hyperinflation is when people lose confidence in the political system’s ability to rationally solve problems. You can disagree with Ben Bernanke, but you can’t say that he isn’t acting rationally. He may be wrong, but he’s thought about what he’s doing and has a sound and rational argument for all of it. You might think the costs aren’t worth the benefits, but that’s not the same as believing he’s acting irrationally.
But this nonsense the Democrats are pulling now is the kind of thing that leads to REAL political instability. It’s not just rigging the game it’s abandoning the rules. It’s trying to win at golf by tackling your opponent, or running a football play that calls for shooting the opposing quarterback with the starter’s gun. And all it accomplishes in the long run is that it makes guys like me lose confidence in the political system’s ability to rationally solve problems. It makes us believe that we can no longer predict how the world will work. And when that happens, we won’t take your paper, even if you give it to us for free.
So the government needs to keep me happy. They need to quit screwing around and act like grownups. Because when they push it so far that I give up, everyone that they need will also give up too. And make no mistake... it’s the redistributors who need us - not the other way around.
My buddy Gary sent me the above image at a frighteningly early hour this morning. Even if you don't know already, it's not hard to figure out that it is a depiction of how the world works in the mind of a socialist. But Gary had a very different spin on it. He thought that this might be a more accurate depiction of the world if you imagine the bag of money as a burden instead of a blessing. From his note:
Ironically I think it could easily be viewed as representing the increasingly massive burden the public sector is placing on the private sector, including reinterpreting that big bag of "evil profits" to instead represent the burgeoning government liabilities (unfunded as well) incurred by deliberately myopic politicians whose planning horizon
only extends to the next election.
I think he has a point.
But the problem with the socialist world view is that it does not include any reward for risk taking. In the real world the future is uncertain and rife with risks. The free market world view allows people to benefit from risk taking or to bear it's burden themselves. that provides each individual with an incentive to manage risk correctly. But the socialist world view relies on the people at the top taking away gains made by some people and giving them to others who haven't made any. So there is no incentive for anyone to take a risk let alone to take it wisely.
That's more or less why the concept needs to be purged from how their world works. For socialists (including virtually all of the modern Democrat party) they would prefer a world where there are no risks at all. And that position permeates their every policy view from retirement plans, to medical care, to career advancement. Where 'collectivism' is the goal, risk cannot be discussed.
It's their hope that this leads to a more 'equitable' world where there are no big losses. But in reality, what their policies lead to is a world where the leaders make all the decisions about risk without any real incentive to make them it correctly. Then the burden of their mistakes are shared across the whole spectrum of the people they rule.
In the meantime, since the first concern of every politicians is maintaining enough political support to keep power, they end up doling out the benefits of their successes to specific political classes or key support groups like unions, big business, civil servants, or other rent seeking entities.
So while they promise a world where everyone gets an equal share, what they really deliver is a worldview like this one:
Please forgive my crappy artwork. This was thrown together in about 5 minutes - I have a real job after all.
Anyway - all this matters since it's the debate we're having now. Do we want people to be rewarded for successfully managing the risks of being alive - or do we want to reward them for having close ties to a politician with power?
This is what we need to decide.
Pauline Kael is the liberal NYC journalist who famously said of Nixon's landslide election win "I don't know anyone who voted for him." She's been held up for decades now as the symbol of elite detachment from the views of common Americans.
Well either there is a problem with this poll:
Americans strongly oppose laws taking away the collective bargaining power of public employee unions...
or I'm having a Pauline Kael moment as well. I don't know anyone who supports public service labor unions, who isn't actually in one. Granted, it's USA today, a publication well known for it's one sided view. But this is really 'off the chart' in my world.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Taking a page from their cowardly peers in Wisconsin who fled to Illinois, it seem the Indiana State Democrat Legislators have also fled to another state as well.
Since this seems to be a trend, I think we should instantly try to push through a national anti-civil service union law. I'll even personally pay for Nancy Pelosi's bus ticket to Toronto, if she just promises to stay there. (In support of her union brothers and sister... of course.)
I just spent 10 minutes (10 minutes that I'll never get back) listneing to the head of the Wisconsin Teacher's Union ignore Megyn Kelly's questions and do nothing but spout empty vacuous talking points about 'improving education' and 'helping the children'.
Is there anyone left out there who is so stupid that they actually believe that the Wisconsin Teacher's union is doing what they are to "improve education"? I can't decide if I'm more upset that he obviously believes there are, or that he may actually be right. And those are the people I really feel bad for. As this idiot can testify, there are public service union members out there who have been listening to this stuff for so long that THEY believe it. And what's worse, when their leadership tells them that this is all for their sake, they believe them too.
I've heard those same union members say that banning public service unions leads to burning jews or that it will lead to the government doing away with weekends. Utter illiteracy. But honestly, this looks like one of those 'some of the people all of the time' moments to me.
As jaded as I am with regard to labor unions, I'm completely disgusted by the action and statements of these horrible people. Fire em all.
I’ve spent a lot of time introducing new people to the shooting sports. But in NJ, that can’t be done properly without at least a little understanding of the law. NJ is arguably the most anti-gun state in the country. Where you can shoot, when you can shoot, what you can shoot, and how you can shoot it are all highly regulated in my home state. In fact, the laws in NJ are so restrictive, that we’ve stumbled into a habit of arresting people who bought guns legally in other states, just for passing through NJ without going to extra effort. Google it - it’s happened a few times now.
I think it’s a pretty good marker for calling an activity ‘over regulated’ when the laws begin to be contradictory and confusing. That’s been true for ages in NJ’s firearms law. And in an environment like that it takes a good eye to tell the difference between what you can do and what you can’t. Regrettably, not everyone involved in the shooting sports can manage it. As a good example, read the comments for this post.
What you're reading there is a well meaning guy who has an opinion on NJ’s firearms law which is not shared by the majority. In fact, he probably doesn’t realize that the law is a question of opinion at all. This kind of guy and the kind of argument he makes, are both fairly common in the firearms community. And it’s important for the new shooter to know the difference between someone who knows what he’s talking about and someone who doesn’t. Otherwise they can find themselves taking some bad advice and spending a lot of time defending themselves in court.
So how do you know one from the other? Well the surest way to know who you should listen to and who you shouldn’t is that you should immediately be wary of any opinion that diverges from 'the consensus'. Most of the laws are fairly straightforward and unambiguous so there isn't really much debate about their meaning. Bot not all of them are. And in those cases where there is a dispute over what a law actually means, it's important to know the prevailing opinion.
Why does that matter? Well to put it bluntly, they can’t arrest everyone. So even if the prevailing view is wrong and everyone is breaking the law, then you’re still probably OK. Either the law will be changed to make it specific enough to be enforced, or it will be thrown away and the regulators will start from scratch. Both examples can be found in the history of NJ firearm laws, and either way, you'll have a chance to get in compliance.
But an opinion doesn’t have to be the consensus to be correct. Nearly every time I go to the range with my Romanian WASR, someone comes over and tells me that it’s an assault weapon, and will get me arrested if anyone finds out. Put all of those guys together and you’ll have a consensus. I’m confident that my rifle is absolutely legal as the law is presently defined, (and those guys who warn me are usually just trying to help me out) so I go ahead and shoot it anyway.
So the very first thing you should ask yourself if you think a non consensus view is correct is, “What happens to me if this guy is wrong?” If the answer is that you’ll be arrested and spend years in court defending yourself, then ask yourself if the issue is worth it. If you’re confident that you understand the law well enough, like in the previous example of my Romanian WASR, then do what you like. But remember that ‘he told me it was OK’ is not going to be considered a valid defense in court. You'd better get some confirmation from a reliable source first.
In NJ, the people I’ve found with the most reliable advice on firearms law are gun dealers. Unlike the know it all carpenter/plumber/electrician cum lawyers that you meet on the shooting range, gun dealers have skin in the game. They have to be right about the law, or the law will put them out of business. In fact, in New Jersey it’s probably buying things that you’re wondering about, so a dealer is very likely to know from where he speaks. If there is ambiguity in the law, he’ll probably be in a position to tell you so and whether he’ll join in the risk by selling you something should tell you how confident he is. (That doesn't mean everyone who works there knows what they're talking about - be sure what they say passes the smell test and that you aren't talking to Forrest Gump who only sweeps up the place).
I typically buy my guns online, and use the same transfer dealer every time. He’s only collecting a small fee, but I think of him – as the law says I should – as my gun dealer. It’s a guy I’ve come to know pretty well so I trust his view on these topics absolutely. He sold me my WASR, after checking carefully that it met the regs, and my AR15, and every pistol in my house. And over time he’s convinced me that he knows NJ firearms law well enough to keep me out of trouble - at least where my purchases are concerned.
Generally if I want to buy something that I’m not sure is OK in the state, he’s the first person I ask. Who I’m not going to ask, is the guy at the shooting station next to me. More often than not, in my experience anyway, those guys have no idea what they’re talking about. And with that thought in mind, I think it’s perfectly fair for you to ask “OK Tom – how do I know that you know what you’re talking about?” And my answer to that is – fair enough – maybe I don’t. So keep yourself out of trouble and ask someone else. Like I said, I’d recommend a gun dealer.
The ‘range expert’ is an annoyance if you ask me. He can’t tell the difference between a fact and an opinion, and he doesn’t have the sense to mind his own business. It’s an old joke that the more confident a range expert is, the less likely he’s right about what he’s saying. Anyone involved in shooting sports has seen them. And you folks who are new to shooting should know to avoid them. Or at the very least, take everything they say with a big grain of salt.
Mona Charen discovers the economic concept that will be the focus of much political energy over the next decade - "Rent Seeking".
Rent Seeking has always been around of course. And it can't be avoided entirely without sounding like on one of those loons who thinks we can privatize the Army. But we can minimize it, and if my radar is right, we're going to be spending much more time in the next few years discussion how to limit it.
The right (and the right wing opinion media) is discovering it now in the form of union rent seeking - and pretty soon the left will discover it too. They won't complain about GE (the big rent seeker in Washington these days) because they are lobbying for their green businesses. And the left will believe any kind of ridiculous nonsense to defend that view. But the kind of thing that Ford, GM, and the other heavy industries are doing might get some attention.
Worst case, the left will discover the concept as soon as it's a Republican reaping the benefits instead of Obama. Then the money that big business spends in DC will all be fair game. With any luck that's less than 3 years from now.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
Here's the thing - there is no segment of the American population that's more economically illiterate than union members. They simply don't understand how the world works. Their heads have been filled with neo-socialist pudding, and to them this clip probably looks like a huge victory in the war of ideas.
They 'got their message out' and 'stood up to the man'. There was probably much high five-ing after the segment was finished. I'd bet that even now they have no idea how idiotic they look, and they don't understand that all that screaming didn't help their position but hurt it. To them, that is how you influence the political debate - you chant and shout and obstruct.
Fire em all. We'll all be better off simply removing a parasitic organization like that from the body politic.
Friday, February 18, 2011
Now that this poll is showing that the public does not support the unionization of the public sector, I'm sure we can expect all sorts of sneering condescension form the usual suspects about how Americans don't support their own economic interests. they do of course. It's just that the liberal media doesn't realize that unionizing the public sector isn't IN the economic interest of Americans.
And if you think this nonsense in Wisconsin is bad, just wait until the next governor tries to defang the unions. My bet is that will be the moment when Frances Fox Piven get's her wish for a violent revolution. The only difference will be that she's been hoping it would be the poor who rise up to crush their rich oppressors, and in reality it will be our pampered and hopelessly spoiled civil servants, rising up to ensure that they can retire with full pay at 50, and get free medical care for life from taxpayers who have to work like dogs till the day they die to pay for it.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
... and 12% Inflation, and 21% interest rates, a hostage crisis, and solar panels on the Whitehouse, and a malaise speech, and disco...
Obama Channels Jimmy Carter as US agrees to rebuke Israel at the UN.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
When it comes to energy policy I think it's really tough to find someone who is more clueless and destructive to America's long term interests than president Obama. The title of this piece is what he called 'Crude Oil' in his press conference today "the energy of the past". If he's right (don't worry - he's not) then we're in a LOT of trouble.
To help him out I took 45 seconds and threw together the chart above. It shows annual average price of a barrel of oil versus the the 4 year moving average of the annual unemployment rate since the 40's. Lots of things can cause unemployment and higher energy costs is definitely one of them, so naturally that's what he has planned for us in his new budget.
There is no fixing that relationship. It's not a question of having someone smart enough in office. Any second year economics student knows that the relationship between high energy costs and high unemployment is not going to be mitigated by 'redistribution'. Even recently Spain tried it, and got a 20% unemployment rate for their trouble. So how many times do we have to make the same idiotic mistake, over and over and over again before we finally - FINALLY - learn that lesson?
And just to be perfectly clear, it was hydrocarbon fuels which replaced windmills, not the other way around. Windmills were the real 'energy of the past'. They were invented in the 9th century, and when steam rolled along, they became utterly obsolete. In terms of economic efficiency they still are.
I can't imagine what Obama's life must be like, after having been sealed in amber since the Carter Era untouched by any of the wisdom gained in the intervening 40 years. Seriously - what a total dumbass this man is. The only way for us to avoid the unemployment of the future, is for us to stick with what he calls the energy of the past.
Monday, February 14, 2011
With GE, Google, the banks and the labor unions spending billions on rent seeking, and the Obama Whitehouse behaving like a wholly owned subsidiary, the timing really couldn't be better for this movie. The book is arguably one of the most compelling stories of the 20th century, but so far it doesn't look like much.
I hope the movie isn't as boring as the trailer.
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Muammar Gaddafi says that palestinians should seize this opportunity to create a revolt in Israel like those we're seeing across the Arab world. And while I don't think he'll get his wish, it's hard to fault his logic. It's often been said that Israel really only exists because of it's great and powerful ally the United States. But when in recent history has the US been led by a weaker, more feminine leader? Barak Obama aggressively defending Israel? Honestly, I have trouble imagining it.
Obama is most closely modeled after America's former 'anti-Semite' in Chief, Jimmy Carter - long known for his hatred of 'The Zionist Menace'. If Obama feels the same way, he at least hasn't been so overt about it. But he definitely comes from the school of thought that claims we only have enemies in the world because we project strength, and if we would quit antagonizing them by being visibly able to defend ourselves, all our enemies will magically come to love us.
Frankly this is stupidity on stilts, but it does accurately describe the view of our academic elite. Peace through unconditional surrender has been their motto since Vietnam, and Obama is just their latest creation.
In truth this is all probably moot anyway. There isn't going to be any popular uprising in Israel. the living standard there is about 500 years more advanced than in it's neighbor Arab nations, so there just isn't that much to get worked up about. But if there were - this would definitely be the right time strategically to go for it.
On a personal note, my daughter was invited to birthday party this weekend - the daughter of a good friend and sometime hunting buddy of mine. One of the other dad's was a Wall Street guy who spent a few minutes trying to convince me and my friend that "no one should be allowed to own 'assault rifles' or large capacity magazines". It was the same old thinly argued BS from a guy who readily admitted that he doesn't know the first thing about guns.
Those liberal arguments can never withstand even a modest amount of critical thinking, and I all but convinced him that he was wrong. The only thing that kept him from admitting it was his horribly frail liberal ego and the fact that there were spectators present. That was good enough for me, but like most arguments I remembered by best line only as I drove away. You see, he's Jewish - so what I should have reminded him was that the mob is going to come for him way before they come for me. And if he's so concerned about private citizens owning 'assault rifles', then I should have promised not to use mine to defend him and his family when they do.
It's a compelling line - I've used it before and it consistently produces utterly horrified looks on the faces of those who hear it. I swear these anti-gun Jews really must be suicidal.
Friday, February 11, 2011
A man is in trouble because his dog stuck to it's nature. Personally I think this is wrong on too many levels to count
I'm a great fan of hunting dogs. If you've ever worked with a well trained dog I guarantee you would be impressed. Even my wife's little King Charles Spaniel, image of affection and sweetness that she is, has plenty of hunter in her nature. And everywhere that I've ever lived, raccoons are considered a nuisance. So it's just wrong to dispense punishment for something like this.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
There is a bit of video out there where that heroine of the far left Frances Fox Piven, is berating Milton Friedman about how Augusto Pinochet overthrew the Chilean government. It didn’t make any more sense then than it does now – Milton Friedman didn’t have anything to do with the Chilean overthrow. But he’d given a lecture at Catholic University in Santiago a few years before, and the people involved in the revolution took many of their economic cues from him, so the left was all worked up about it.
They were so bent out of shape that when Dr. Friedman was being awarded his Nobel Prize, some dim witted British lefty stood up in the crowd and made a big fuss interrupting the ceremony. Like I said, that sort of thing didn’t make any sense at all. But it’s even more confusing when you consider that Frances Fox Piven has actually been calling for the violent overthrow of the American government for years now. She might as well come right out and say that she’s only in favor of those bloody revolutions where she or someone like her gets to run people’s lives for them afterward.
Anyway, I’m sure it’s a great shock to you all to discover that there is a bundle of hypocrisy on the far left. I mean, who knew - right? So why am I bringing this up? It’s not just that all this talk about Egypt and the comparisons of Obama and Carter have made me nostalgic for the 70’s. But it’s got me thinking about the kinds of violent revolutions I think are OK and the ones I don’t.
That was one of the good things about Nixon, and we’d all be better off if Obama simply took a page from his book. If instead of portraying Carter-esque weakness abroad, he simply said to the Egyptian people something like this:
“We believe in Democracy and the authority that is derived from the consent of the governed. So we will enthusiastically support a new government in Egypt that is more responsive to the desires of the Egyptian people. But we have a stake in the region too. So if it turns out that the desire of the Egyptian people is to add disruption to the greater Middle East through the use of force, then we will overthrow the Egyptian government and replace it with a new one.
The Egyptian people can have any kind of government they choose, and can empower that governmental any way they see fit. That’s for the Egyptian people to determine and should not involve any intrusion from the United States. If they desire to be friends with us we would welcome that friendship. We believe absolutely in the right of a nation to determine its own destiny. But we will not stand by and allow the broader peace of the region be jeopardized. Anyone can choose to burn down their own house without interference from us. But no one can threaten to burn down their neighbor’s house and expect us to stand by and allow it.”
Nixon might have said something like that. Even if he didn’t say it publicly, I’m sure he said something like it in private about Chile. But to do that takes a pair of cajones that Obama, as our first woman president, clearly doesn’t have.
I guess it’s not just a pose on his part. He really is just like Carter. The pansy.
Here is that video by the way. Take particular note of that dashingly handsome and obviously brilliant black man involved the discussion:
So where is the inflation? Ben Bernanke doesn't see it so I guess it isn't there right? If you believe that I have a bridge I’d like to sell you. The problem is that inflation (right now anyway) is global and Ben's measurements are all taken nationally where his numbers are being influenced by the massive deflation we’ve seen in housing prices. This, like so many other issues of imprecision in Economics, is a problem of aggregation.
I have a friend who’s a Physicist. He's a blisteringly smart guy who’s interested in understanding the economy, but has no formal economic training. So we've been spending some time talking through things like the business cycle, and the difference between the Austrian and Monetarist economic schools.
Like most very smart people, particularly those who work in the sciences, my friend thinks it should be possible to build a model to ‘normalize’ the business cycle (assuming in fact that it really is cyclic.) In that way we can eliminate the boom and bust and replace it with slow stable growth. I explained to him that he’s not alone in that opinion. He’s adopting the Monetarist view, and his ‘control the flow’ idea is shared by most of the credible economists in America.
(Keep in mind I said credible. That excludes Krugman – he’s a laughing stock. It also excludes the hired guns in DC – they’re neo-Keynesian apologists like Krugman.)
But the tools for controlling an economy are imprecise at best, and this business with inflation is an excellent example. Domestically Ben Bernanke sees no inflation. Is that because the inflation in commodities and food is just ‘back filling’ the deflation from housing? What about the rising cost of food? Does that count less than the price of other things? If we had rampant inflation in corn and oil, but none in copper do we have inflation or don’t we?
There are those who say you can’t have actual inflation without wage pressure, and we haven’t got any of that in the US. But what about China? Their wages are rising rapidly. And so long as the Yuan is fixed to the dollar, China is for all intents and purposes our 51st state. Do those wages count or don’t they? Across the emerging world rapidly rising food prices are already adding to political instability. Can you imagine what will happen to the global economy if food price inflation is allowed to continue at this pace for another year or three?
This is the issue that Austrian school tries to cope with. The Austrian school says that no matter how smart you are, the structural limitations of gathering information make it impossible for you to know enough to ‘control’ an economy from the top down. Better would be to allow the information to be as broadly distributed as possible and allow each person to act independently in their own best interest.
In the Austrian school, any attempt to ‘control’ the economy inevitably affects the price of something. And by affecting that price, the people acting to ‘control’ things are lowering the information content of that price. They are therefore making the market work less well, and decreasing the efficiency of the economy in the process. They are preventing people from discovering what they need to know in order to make the economy work at maximum efficiency.
Rice prices could skyrocket in Bangladesh. A monetarist would see this as a crisis that needs to be ‘handled’ by government. They would react to it by implementing price controls - forcibly suppressing price. But that would mean that lots of people can afford what only a few can consume. Demand would rapidly outpace supply and the result would be shortages, and starvation.
But an Austrian School economist would say that the rising price is a signal to suppliers to move as much supply to that location as they can manage. The high price is a signal of urgency. And there is little doubt that private actors are better at rapid response to new information than the bloated bureaucracy of a top down government.
The point is that both the Monetarist and Austrian schools of economic try to minimize the boom and bust cycle. But where the monetarist school still goes for the top down ‘leave it to the experts’ sort of approach, the Austrian school does not. The Austrian school says that the only way to avoid a global ‘boom and bust’ is to encourage markets to distribute as much information as possible, which will keep all the booms and busts small, local, and of a short duration. When you aggregate that, it looks much more effective than any top down approach.
What do I personally prefer? Well I make my living assessing the information delivered to me by markets so I’m ‘mostly’ and Austrian school guy. But I recognize that I live in a neo-Keynesian world. Government thinks it’s smarter than everyone else, so my peers and I need to be cognisant of its actions and their effect on the markets if we want to remain profitable. I think it does more damage than good – but that doesn’t mean I can pretend it isn’t there. I’m completely convinced that the Austrian school would work better at managing the ‘bad news’ of the business cycle – but I’m not going out of my way to argue for it.
So what about my friend’s model for controlling the boom and bust cycle? Well lots and lots of intellectual horsepower has been thrown at finding a top down model, but no one has yet succeeded. I don’t think they’re going to. I don’t think it’s possible no matter how smart the model designer is.
But what about this - why not give your model a basically Austrian design? It can use local market pricing as an input and its operating controls can be the elimination of barriers to the free flow of capital, resources, and labor in response to those prices. It would focus on efficiency rather than top down control, and empower markets and their freely negotiated pricing be the ultimate arbiter of resource allocation – allowing (and therefore encouraging) everyone to act in their own best interest. They could try to ensure that ‘price’ contains as much information as possible – free from interference from non economic actors.
But Economists don’t generally like that sort of thing. It would mean that your ‘model’ essentially is a free market where each individual can do what they like with a minimum of top down direction from the ‘experts’. And if you’re one of those experts who has trained for decades in the musty halls of academia writing papers and drafting proposals - waiting patiently for your turn at the helm in one of those rare government awarded positions of influence, what fun would a free market that basically ignores you be?
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
A granny fights off a team of jewelry store burglars with her handbag. I don't know where this was exactly, but I know it wasn't Texas. If it were, there would be a bunch of dead burglars lying on the ground and the cops would probably find Granny in the process of reloading.
Monday, February 7, 2011
As everyone who's ever jumped off the barn roof with a blanket pinned around his neck knows... it's the cape that does the trick.
This is my daughter's favorite commercial, and the source of many jokes which involve stolen french fries at my house. (look... an eagle!)
And this is mine:
Friday, February 4, 2011
The hard left is woeful that America’s financial trouble hasn’t led to the kind of revolt here that we’re now seeing in Egypt. You hear it bubbling up between the lines of their other ‘class based’ arguments, and their demands to lynch Clarence Thomas. It’s also where the defense for Frances Fox Piven (whose been hoping for bloody revolution for years) has come from.
But it occurred to me today that the reason we’re not seeing it is not because the underclass isn’t interested in rebellion, but because we no longer have an underclass. Our poor people in America are overweight. They have air-conditioning, cable TV, and usually a car. If you’ve spent as much time traveling in the third world as I have then you’ll know that a description like that simply doesn’t fit ‘poor people’ at all.
The single mother living on public assistance in a Chicago housing project may not have a life I would want for my daughter, but she has exactly the kind of life that millions of poor people in the third world would want for themselves. I think you’d be hard pressed to find anyone from the slums of Caracas or Jakarta who wouldn’t swap in an instant. In Lagos or Nairobi even the better off citizens would take that trade. And that’s why they aren’t rioting in the streets in Chicago. Because when your children are going hungry it’s easy to see violence as an answer. But it’s much tougher when you may not have all you want, but you do have all you need.
You could argue that the hard left is a victim of it’s own success – but I disagree. The fact is, their success isn’t their own – it is by definition someone else's. Without someone else generating wealth, they would have nothing to redistribute. But the fact is, their redistribution is already too pervasive to foster the kind of violent uprising they’re hoping for. And that won’t change until the government has run completely out of rope.
Rising food prices domestically would get them there by increasing the desperation of our poor. International socialism starved nearly 70 million people in the 20th century, so we know they have no problem with it as a political tactic. But I think we’ll see open warfare abroad before domestic food prices will get to the level the hard left requires to fulfill their goals.
As a country, lost cost food production is the one area where we continue to utterly dominate the world. Places like Brazil, Mexico, and China will fall apart and places like Nigeria and Indonesia will be in flames first before our food costs reach a crisis level. But don’t think the hard left doesn't have it in them to push that way anyway.
A big part of my job involves spotting trends - the earlier the better. If anything, my personal history shows that I'm usually 'too early' rather than 'too late', and I think that's probably true here too.
I'm thoroughly convinced that in the fullness of time, this video and this book will be recognized as the 'conventional historical wisdom' where the Obama administration is concerned. And the more details I learn about Stanley's views, the more I think he got it EXACTLY right in all it's subtlety and nuance.
I think it's exceptionally rare to be so right about something. Pay close attention to the video.
Thursday, February 3, 2011
The central idea of an investment is that it provides a return. A good investment provides a lot of return, and a bad investment either very little or none.
A labor union is designed to increase costs and reduce accountability. That's it's sole economic purpose. Do you imagine that the teachers union is good at providing a high return to the taxpayer, or something less than that?
I'll give you a hint, if the taxpayer gets a good return on their 'investment' then based on it's own agenda, it's clear that the teacher's union has done something wrong.
This is too rich. Five people are charging the notorious anti-Semite with fraud for portraying his book "Palestine Peace Not Apartheid" as a work of nonfiction, when it's really a work of blatant anti-Iraeli propaganda:
The suit accuses Carter and his publisher of violating New York consumer protection laws because they engaged in “deceptive acts in the course of conducting business” and alleges that they sought enrichment by promoting the book “as a work of non-fiction.”
In a press release, one of the attorneys, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner stated: "The lawsuit will expose all the falsehoods and misrepresentations in Carter's book and prove that his hatred of Israel has led him to commit this fraud on the public. He is entitled to his opinions but deceptions and lies have no place in works of history."
Awesome. If he's found guilty then I'm going to take it as manifest evidence of a divine power.
Can you imagine being an ambitious young journalist at a place like the Newark Star Ledger? You’re fresh from indoctrination camp (ie The Rutgers School of Journalism or some such) and you’re tiptoeing across the political landscape trying your best to gore Republican bulls while avoiding stepping on any liberal sacred cows. You’re writing your ‘human interest’ drivel and ‘man bites dog’ stories while waiting for your big chance.
And even though you’re doing your best to play ball with the agenda of the editorial staff, you know in your heart that you could be one big story away from a national exposure. That could mean a book deal, or a gig at the Times or if you’re good looking enough, maybe even a TV spot or….(breathless gasp) it might even lead to a Pulitzer. So you write what you’re told about how the evil Republicans hate firemen, children, puppies, black people, or the homeless – whatever you’re told.
Then every few weeks these < freakin > amateurs come up with another story that blasts them right to the top of the heap. First it was ACORN, then the teachers’ union, and this time it’s Planned Parenthood. “Why the F#@! Won’t they let me write stories like that!” you say to your gay life partner in a more casual moment. “I mean – who gives a rat’s @$$ about protecting their political connections – I’ve got a career to worry about. If they have their way I’ll be 40 years old writing man bites dog, while some F#$!ing amateur gets video of Howard Dean with a naked 13 year old boy. I mean What the F@$#!”
Anyway – I guess it’s possible that only people who are too stupid to think outside the indoctrination box actually get jobs in traditional journalism. There could be a sort of negative sampling bias involved where only those people under a certain intellectual bar will even apply for jobs in a business that’s obviously on its last legs. And maybe it’s easier to get people like that to shut up and do what they’re told even when it means their own inevitable extinction.
But I have to believe that somewhere out there, there is an actual ‘journalist’ who is as frustrated by the media’s blatant liberal bias as their rapidly declining readers are. But clearly it’s not this person. She dutifully reports all the Planned Parenthood denials and disclaimers (complete with a vague Richard Nixon reference that she’s probably too young to understand). If this Susan K. Livio is anything but a true believer in liberal dogma, then she’s probably horribly embarrassed to put her name on the institutional apologia piece for a real news story.
Defending liberal institutions while amateurs concentrate on doing all of the real journalism. That’s the proper role of the news media in a civil society right?
Doesn’t anyone at NJ.com have a conscience?
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
I get Ann Coulter's shtick. She does to liberals what a guy like Chris Matthews usually does to conservatives. If conservatives controlled the coastal media she'd be considered a bully. But instead she's like that one tough kid in the teenage sex comedy who befriends the wimpy kid to prevent him from getting a wedgie from the football team.
Who's the wimpy kid? Well it used to be George Bush - he's the one the media was always beating on. These days, I guess it's probably John Boehner. Or maybe it's really been Rush Limbaugh all along (although he's more than capable of defending himself - so my analogy falls apart). It might be Glenn Beck, but I think he deserves a wedgie every now and then just to keep his mind clear.
Anyway, I don't have a problem linking her stuff, it's just that I've been in enough fist fights in my life. Still though, every once in a while she does something interesting. I think she has this time.
Here is Ann explaining just a few of the things that liberals still don't understand about guns.
Until George W. Bush came along, no one had endured the the kind of media slander that Ronald Reagan did. Brent Bozell gives a great summary here. For those of us who were around at the time it was a horrifying, shameful spectacle.
Now Obama seems to be enjoying it's inverse. He got a Nobel prize for all the things he 'might' do. He is praised from one side of the TV dial to the other, and even in fictional shows only the most reprehensible characters ever question his fitness. And yet - Reagan's policies caused the greatest economic boom in modern history, and in terms of results, Obama is more accurately compared to Carter - stagnation, inflation, unemployment and malaise.
I think America should learn to take it's cues from someone else.
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
What a bizarrely polarized world we live in.
This week, Mike Bloomberg, (artist's rendering shown above - without his nurse's uniform) took time out from working in the diamond mine with his friends Happy, Sleepy and Doc, to send a team of undercover operatives to buy guns in Arizona. It's perfeclty legal for them to buy guns in Arizona so astoundingly, they succeeded.
They made sure they got exactly the same make, model and magazine, that was used by what's his name, that crazy guy who shot the congresswoman. And they did this to demonstrate to all Americans how the firearm laws in Arizona don't comply with those in New York City - a city which is in a completely different state... 1500 miles away. I'm sure the salons of the upper east side were all a twitter with metro-sexual chortling at the way the southwestern rubes were so easily duped.
Maybe next they can demonstrate that the laws about bicycle helmets and salt consumption are different in Vancouver British Columbia than they are in New York. I know - it's in a different country - but surely that won't make any difference to Mayor Mike. I mean... if the lower salt content can prevent just one Canadian case of high blood pressure, then it will all be worth it right?
It's no secret that Mike Bloomberg doesn't think his political influence should be restricted to New York City just because of the piddling detail that it's the only place that he was actually elected to anything. But it strikes me as amazing that the biggest city in the country STILL isn't big enough for the ego of such a tiny little man. He honestly must have the smallest penis in North America to be so desperately driven to tell other people how to run their lives. What an arrogant jerk.
Then on the same day that I hear about nurse Bloomberg's adventures in the southwest, my buddy Craig sends me this little trinket. It seems that five South Dakota lawmakers have introduced legislation to require any adult 21 years or older, to buy a firearm sufficient to provide for their ordinary self defense. Here's the classic quote from Re. Hal Wick - R-Sioux Falls:
“Do I or the other cosponsors believe that the State of South Dakota can require citizens to buy firearms? Of course not. But at the same time, we do not believe the federal government can order every citizen to buy health insurance,” he said.
If I ever get the chance I think I'd like to buy Rep. Wick a beer, he seems like my kind of politician. I don't get out to Sioux Falls much so I guess I'll just send him a campaign contribution instead. That's something all politicians can appreciate.
As for the lilliputian Mayor Bloomberg, I think I'll stick to pointing and laughing.