We Guarantee It -
Government Caused the Economic CrisisThe government bought bad loans, guaranteed them, pressured bond ratings agencies, and ignored experience, restraint, and regulation. The massive losses of $2 trillion ($2,000 billion) killed our economy.
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The Car Seat Myth10/16/13 - TED Lecture by Steven Levitt, video 19:02
[edited] For children aged less than two, infant car seats provide the best protection. Over two years old, ordinary seat belts provide as much safety. The car seat industry likes things just as they are, but, spending less on car seats would free up some money to better care for children.
How can a complicated, expensive product dedicated to child safety be no better than a simple lap and shoulder belt? That is what the statistics say. Car Seats, Safety
Damage From the War on DrugsFred: Stop drug use at all costs. Drugs are making our kids into zombies.
Mike: Drugs aren't that bad. Prison and ruined lives produce real zombies. Did you know that Adderall, often prescribed to "hyperactive" kids, has the same effect as methamphetamine? It does have a nicer label.
09/23/13 - YouTube video 22:17
[edited] Neuroscientist Carl Hart tried to verify the bad effects of drugs before researching treatments. He found that those bad effects were wildly exaggerated. The damage caused by law enforcement is much worse than the disease. War on Drugs, Methamphetamine (M)09/17/13 - New York Times - The Rational Choices of Crack Addicts [edited]
Dr. Hart studied addicts and saw that drugs were not irresistible after all. 80%-90% of crack and methamphetamine users don’t become addicted. The small number who are addicted are nothing like the popular caricatures. (v)Via Coordination Problem
Global Warming 50 to 109/17/13 - Topher.com
[edited] A 10 minute video explains why it is 50 times more expensive to attempt to stop climate change than it is to adapt to climate change, assuming man-made factors are even a significant part of climate change. See also interviews giving the case against climate change hysteria.
The video uses data provided by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the government sponsored group which is promoting the hysteria. Climate Change (v)Powerline blog: The economics of climate change.
Strong But MisguidedFred: Progressives admire strong governments which can implement new and uniform policy.
Mike: Unless they have to actually work with such governments.
09/02/13 - Ed Driscoll
[edited] Robert Conquest’s First Law of Politics: Everyone is conservative about what he knows best.
Ridley Scott directed the 1989 film "Black Rain". One theme warned that Japan would surpass America as a world superpower because of its all-knowing government, government-business partnership, and collectivist thinking.
In reality, rigid local government in each filming location required massive amounts of paperwork, such as where every light would be placed, and wouldn’t permit even a half hour of overtime shooting. Scott abandoned Japan to complete filming in California and declared that he would not film there again.
The film's production team and stars learned why Japanese world domination was in fact unlikly to happen. A powerful government tramples entrepreneurship and creativity. Yet, most of them enthusiastically voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 to strengthen government and decrease freedom.
AMG: Strong governments (political elites) lead countries into war, and have no clue about how to increase productivity and end recession. The past 20 years in Japan and the past 5 years in the US are a demonstration. Japan, Government, Collectivism
Roosevelt Fights the DepressionGovernment: We love farmers. We will help them by raising their prices.
Government: By destroying their crops and paying them not to grow more.
Mike: Hold on. I will have to pay more.
Government: Sorry. You don't see the big picture.
Mike: You don't see me at all.
08/17/13 - EasyOpinions
F.D.Roosevelt manipulated the market in food to direct more money to farmers during the Great Depression. This policy did hurt a few other people: tax payers, share croppers, and the poor.
John Steinbeck wrote about the misery. He blamed the farmers, but should have blamed FDR.
Consider that the government thought everyone would be wealthier by destroying food and forcing some people to pay more to other people, while people were literally going hungry, some starving. New Deal
Take Back Your PregnancyNancy: Is that your third cup of coffee?
Mary: Uh .. Yes.
Nancy: Do you want to kill your baby?
08/13/13 - Wall Street Journal by Emily Oster
[edited] My medical care during pregnancy was a long list of strict rules, like being a child again. Someone was always telling me what to do, but books and medical associations were vague and sometimes contradictory. "You can only have two cups of coffee a day." Why? The supporting data about coffee and other rules didn't appear anywhere. Pregnancy
Totalitarianism By BlackmailFred: Why are you giving free stuff to that creep Henry?
Mike: He's with the government.
Fred: What do they have on you?
Mike: Don't ask.
08/11/13 - Cafe Hayek -> Economist Robert Higgs
[edited] NSA domestic spying must be stopped, not just reformed, and we must never again entrust power to those who are responsible. If we tolerate people like this, we will continue to be treated this way.
This spying portends totalitarianism. If they know everything about you, they can blackmail you. You may be immune by virtue of your own good conduct, but they will threaten family members and friends. The communists made this into a science. They will use the information to make you and everyone else fall in line.
AMG: The result has been demonstrated in corrupt governments throughout history. Do you think our politicians as a group are more honest and self-controlled than say Russian politicians have been? Does any politician leave office without a fortune, if he can help it? Domestic Spying, NSA, Totalitarianism
Obamacare Is Crony SocialismFred: They say ObamaCare will lower costs and provide more choice in medicine.
Mike: What they are doing is to specify all of medical practice through huge healthcare companies and preferred technical providers. If you like your doctor you can still see him or her. He will be an employee of your regional health care conglomerate.
07/31/13 - AEI Ideas by Dr. Keith Smith
[edited] Dr. Smith says that the Unaffordable Care Act (ObamaCare) has achieved much of its intent:
Lined the pockets of connected cronies.
Created an industry-wide consolidation in the insurance and hospital business.
Caused mass chaos in the already dysfunctional medical marketplace.
Generated fear amongst physicians so that many would succumb to the hostile takeover offers of the rich hospitals.
Implemented an egregious breach of patient confidentiality by centralizing private health information.
AMG: Competition and light regulation promote efficiency, lower prices, innovation, and better service. Obamacare has centralized healthcare and decreased those good effects. On the plus side, it has introduced time-tested, government management. ObamaCare, Medical Care
Illogic of the Keynes Multiplier - 1
John: Here are my restaurant bills for the last 5 years.
Mike: Another discovery?
John: My restaurant spending is always close to 10% of my income. That is, my income is 10 times my restaurant spending. So now I know a fun way to increase my income.
Mike: I have to hear this.
John: I will increase my restaurant spending by $2,000, and I will enjoy every minute of it. Then, my income will go up by about $20,000. That is what the chart says.
Mike: You're nuts.
John: No, I'm Keynes.
07/18/13 - Easy Opinions
AMG: The Keynes Multiplier is probably the most important equation in history. It justifies the huge spending and borrowing of the US and the European Union. A widely taught derivation is not merely inaccurate, but illogical. Is there any explanation of the Multiplier which is not illogical? I don't think so.
There is some 7th grade algebra. The illogic is the reversal of cause and effect. Economic_Multiplier, Illogical, Keynes
Government by the Best of MenJay Leno: [edited]
The NSA seized millions of Verizon phone records, causing panic for civil libertarians, constitutional scholars, and cheating husbands everywhere. How ironic is that? We wanted a president who listens to all Americans. Now we have one.
06/11/13 - Easy Opinions
Liberals presented Obama as the best presidential candidate in history. But, he doesn't like what the government is doing under his own leadership. He is accused of abuse of power. He defends that he is merely ignorant. Obama, Government, Scandal
Investing in New TechnologyCabinet Secretary: We will assure a bright energy future by investing in exciting, new technology on an impressive scale.
Mike: Have you evaluated the business plans?
Secretary: They are new and have no real comparison.
Mike: How do you know they will work?
Secretary: We have the best and the brightest. The government has deep pockets. We must explore the future. We can't just do nothing. Think of how wonderful it will be if it works.
04/30/13 - CoyoteBlog by Warren Meyer
[edited] Statists like Drum believe that support for renewable energy requires support for government subsidies and interventions. Few people, even conservatives, oppose renewables per se. This is a straw man. They oppose the subsidies and government mandates for renewable energy.
AMG: It mysitfies me that there is faith in government despite a miserable and wasteful track record. Renewable Energy, Government Investment
Three Felonies A DayMike: I was lost, in a blizzard, when I unknowingly drove my snowmobile onto federal lands. A park ranger found me two days later.
Prosecutor: Those facts and your intent don't matter. You are alive, so we will prosecute you. Hey, that is what we do, and we enjoy it. I personally don't like snowmobiles.
02/26/13 - Website: Three Felonies A Day
[edited] Say you go snowmobiling on a sunny day. Clouds and a blizzard set in. You become lost and run out of gas. A park ranger eventually finds you, and sees that your vehicle is on federal land. You ended up snowmobiling in a federally-protected wilderness area, a violation of the Federal Wilderness Act.
Automobile racer Bobby Unser experienced this in 1997. He claimed he never meant to end up in that territory. The government charged him with a felony.
AMG: The King ruthlessly enforces his law, and the peasants tremble before his power. The peasants must understand and submit wherever expanding law and regulation allow. Three Felonies, federal lands
Barking CatsFred: The FDA is slowing down drug development by protecting its own bureaucratic, political interests. It is killing more people than it is protecting.
Mike: Let's have more oversight, reporting, and better people.
Fred: They ran an employment ad. Angels did not respond.
02/21/13 - Cafe Hayek - Economist Donald Boudreaux quotes the late economist Milton Friedman [edited]
Friedman had written about the lethal effects of the Food and Drug Administration, almost certainly worse than any good effects, especially over time. Most people commented that they agreed, but wanted to change the FDA by finding better people, rather than abolish it.
Friedman: What would you think of someone who said, "I would like to have a cat, provided it barked"? Your statement about the FDA is precisely equivalent.
The biological laws that define cats and the political laws that define government agencies are both rigid. The bad results of FDA behavior are not an easily corrected human mistake. They come from its constitution in precisely the same way that a meow is part of a cat.
As a natural scientist, you recognize that you cannot assign characteristics at will to chemical and biological entities. You cannot make cats bark or water burn. Why would you suppose that the situation is different in the social sciences?
AMG: Politicians propose that government agencies will solve our problems. We imagine a few dedicated people who want to help. But, agencies are a hierarchy of hundreds or thousands of people. We know how they act and how they evolve. They make things worse. Milton Friedman, FDA, bureaucracy (M)John Latour provides Friedman's article from Newsweek of Jan 8, 1973.
Reporting on ObamaFred: Did you hear what Obama has done now?
Max: No, but I'm certain he had a good and wise reason.
01/08/13 - 04/14/09 - The Onion (satire)
Media Searching for an Angle On Obama's Double Homicide
AMG: Back in 2009, The Onion identified the sympathetic treatment which the mainstream media would give to President Obama. I laughed out loud.
The Onion: [edited] Newsweek editor Jon Meacham referred to Obama's execution-style slaying of Jeff and Sue Finowicz in their home on April 8th.
"I know there's a story in there somewhere. Right now though, it's probably best to just sit back and wait for more information to come in. After all, the only thing we know for sure is that our president senselessly murdered two unsuspecting Americans without emotion or hesitation." Obama, The Onion
Republicans Should Go For the HeartRepub: Let's work out solutions to these problems.
Dem: You go away, and we'll solve the problems through social justice.
Repub: Historically, all socialist governments have tried that and failed.
Dem: That was then, and they aren't us. We don't accept your miserable vision of a limited world. We will succeed this time.
02/05/13 - Powerline
David Horowitz is a former leader of the New Left who now fights for good policy on the right. His long essay “Go For the Heart: How Republicans Can Win” is presented there. Here is an edited excerpt:
The issues for inner city schools are standards, accountability, and rewards for teacher performance. Republicans say this, but their moral outrage is missing, and they don't name the culprits and victims.
It is the Democrats who are ruining the lives and opportunities of African American and Hispanic children. It is not the generic “educational establishment”. Poor parents cannot afford the private schools where Democrat legislators and union leaders send their own children.
Republicans can show they care about minorities. Republicans can defend them against their oppressors and exploiters, who are Democrats in every major inner city in America. Democrats run the welfare and public education systems. They have created the policies that ruin the lives of the people who receive their handouts.
Republicans must hold Democrats to account. They must put them on the defensive and take away the moral high ground which they now occupy illegitimately. Government welfare is not just wasteful; it is destructive. The public school system in America’s inner cities is not merely ineffective; it is racist and criminal.
Democrats regard politics as war by other means. They do not seek compromise over practical solutions to complex problems. Their goal is power, to fundamentally transform American society into a socialist redistributionist state. Democrats regard Republicans as enemies standing in the way of social justice and progress. Republican, Democrat, Elections (v)David Horowitz has established GoForTheHeart.org to spread the message of this essay.
Upper Class InequalityProgressives: We must break the cycle of privilege where lucky, wealthy businessmen bestow the means of production onto their children.
Mike: Instead, wealthy politicians and bureaucrats will bestow their connections and access to prestigious schools onto their more worthy children.
Notice how often the children of politicians enter politics. Just name recognition, I guess.
01/30/13 - EO -> ChicagoBoys by David Foster
[edited] Progressivism is not about equality. It is about shifting the distribution of power and wealth in a way that benefits those with certain educational credentials and connections. Progressive, Inequality
EPA Black OpsMax: The powerful and intrusive US Environmental Protection Agency is run by Obama appointee Lisa Jackson.
Fred: We now know that "Commander Zero" is a senior member of the EPA who directed "black operations". Jackson refuses to release information about what Commander Zero did.
This is right out of a James Bond story. A big agency of the US government has been used for secret purposes, and Jackson will not reveal those purposes.
Max: You are completely mistaken. There is no Commander Zero. The person's name is Richard Windsor, and this was only an alternate name that Lisa Jackson used in secret emails within the EPA. Call it a nomme de guerre.
Fred: All righty. Now I feel a lot better about this.
01/27/13 - Breitbart.com by Landrith and Roff
[edited] Lisa Jackson appears to have had agency personnel create a fictitious employee “Richard Windsor” so that Jackson could use this email address for her own purposes.
This was not for personal correspondence, but allegedly a false identity used for official business to avoid federal record-keeping and disclosure requirements. This was uncovered by an anonymous whistleblower and pursued by Attorney Christopher Horner at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Horner verified the story by finding three emails sent by Jackson under the name Richard Windsor.
Horner won a federal court order for delivery of 12,000 additional undisclosed emails. The EPA is stalling by providing thousands of emails unrelated to the court order.
AMG: Attention, and repeat after me: "Our government under Obama is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most open and honest organization I've ever known in my life." Lisa Jackson, Richard Windsor, secret emails, EPA scandal
Prudent SpendingRepublican: Your spending is out of control.
Democrat: We are only continuing the Bush 2009 spending, so stop complaining.
Pub: You exploded that budget with the $1 trillion stimulus.
Dem: And you agreed.
Pub: But, that stimulus was supposed to be a one-time thing.
Dem: Yes, but we are continuing the goodness. We want more stimulation. If you disagree, just vote against that spending.
Pub: We are trying to, but you won't discuss a budget, or even support Obama's budget.
Dem: You are trying to wreck the country by dismantling the government. Have you no shame?
01/21/13 - Easy Opinions
Democrats will not discuss a budget, forcing all-or-nothing votes to continue high spending levels from past years. The press ignores a story without details. No Democrat has to take responsibility for a vote Yes or No.
Our ship sails dead ahead to where the icebergs are. Federal budget, Spending, Debt
Legitimacy of GovernmentFred: Elections express the will of the people.
Mike: Every few years a simple majority who are even willing to vote, choose the next group of dishonest men to rule over them. Well, allowing for a bit of vote fraud here and there.
The deep philosophical question in each election? Who will give me more free stuff.
01/17/13 - The Beacon by Robert Higgs, Senior Fellow in Political Economy at The Independent Institute.
[edited] What is the difference between a government and a criminal gang such as the mafia? In a word, it is legitimacy.
Many governments claim their legitimacy rests on the consent of the governed. Regimes use public education, propaganda, judicial decisions, and elections to promote their legitimacy. But, the governed are rarely presented with a choice.
The so-called consent of the governed is mostly acquiescence. Most people endure robbery and bullying by government rather than openly resist at the risk of imprisonment, injury, and death.
A sullen, resentful compliance does not endow rulers with moral authority. Even in countries with the greatest degree of popular participation, the bulk of the people may regard their politicians and bureaucrats with ill-concealed contempt and sometimes with express hatred. Government, Legitimacy
Prices Know What You Don'tFred: I wanted to be a musician, but I switched to accounting for the money.
Mike: Thank you for helping others rather than only selfishly enjoying yourself.
01/17/13 01/03/13 by Prof. Michael Munger (video 4:34)
Prof. Munger advises: Let prices guide you to do good for the world. Prices sum up more information than any person or group can know. They tell you which current goods and services humanity needs most, better than any other mechanism. Prices, Economic Knowledge (v)Adam Smith Institute
American Revolution Against British Gun Control
Fred: Amazing. Colonial Americans started a shooting war because of high taxes.
Mike: Not quite. They didn't like the taxes. They really didn't like the British army going town to town taking their rifles and gun powder.
Fred: They could have negotiated.
Mike: They didn't like the prospect of negotiating after being disarmed.
01/12/13 - Easy Opinions
AMG: Government evolves. It can be reasonable one year, and tyrannical ten years later. The government is armed and dangerous. A free people must remain armed and dangerous to preserve a reasonable negotiating position. American Revolution, Gun Control
Spanish Banking Experiment ResultsFred: Banks must be managed locally for the people, under the watchful eye of local politicians and stakeholders, not for wealthy investors who care little for the community.
Mike: Spain did that. Now they are all broke.
01/06/13 - Adam Smith.org by Tim Worstall
[edited] Say we had a local banking system entirely separate from investment banking. Spain did the experiment for us.
The Spanish banking system is politically directed, localised, and not directed for shareholder profit. Absolutely all of those banks went resoundingly bankrupt. Not just illiquid, but bust, and in such large numbers that it is bankrupting Spain. Another trendy, lefty idea that has crashed and burned.
What happened with the national, capitalist, shareholding, mixed investment and retail banking system in the UK? A few banks went bust, and rightly so. A couple were rescued as too big to fail, and the rest became illiquid but not insolvent. They needed temporary funding aid which was repaid.
AMG: "Illiquid" means you own enough valuable assets to pay your debts, but you need cash immediately for payments. "Insolvent" or "bankrupt" means that your debt is larger than the value of what you own. Getting a loan against your assets won't help. Local Banking, Spain
Prosperity of Central PlanningMax: Government can greatly reduce waste, especially chaotic, unregulated production. The best minds at the top can organize society much better than isolated individuals grasping for profits.
Fred: Yes. Just look at the Soviet Union, before it collapsed.
01/01/13 - Daily Mail Online
[edited] Not the Great Depression, but pictures of life in the Soviet Union around 1991, when it broke up into its member states, including Russia.
The dismal USSR economy was a result of its dogmatic Communist political system, at a time of rapidly improving living standards in the West.
AMG: People in the Soviet Union were not more stupid than Americans. After all, they built nuclear weapons.
The problem was a political theme that rich businessmen would steal from the people, and so were regulated into submission to the political state. Russian employment and the organization of "companies" was (and is) politically controlled. If you can't easily work for a new company, then your employer does not need to offer a higher wage to keep you at work, and does not need to innovate against new competition. Soviet Union (M) Inside a Russian Billionaire's $300 Million Yacht
WSJ (Video 3:56)
Russian billionaires are doing quite well. Their political connections have allowed them to buy up large segments of the Russian economy during times of turmoil created by government. This is so much better than having billionaires created at random by a free market.
Down with the capitalists. Up with the benefactors nurtured by the state.
The Bourgeois DealFred: I envy those capitalists making millions.
Mike: I'm pleased with my capitalist $47,000, historically speaking.
12/30/12 - Adam Smith.org by Tim Worstall [edited]
Deirdre McCloskey: Say we agree to the Bourgeois Deal, as in Holland and Britain in the 1600's and 1700's. You let me make a fortune inventing the coffee trade, cheap steel, or a computer operating system. Then, later in the economic drama, I'll make everyone rich by historical and international standards. That is $129 per day per person in the US in 2010, compared to $6 in 1800, and to $1.40 now in Zimbabwe and less in North Korea.
This Deal does not start as egalitarian. But, by the third act it is powerfully enriching for the poor. Inflation adjusted daily income per person in the average bourgeois country has risen from $3 in 1800 to $100 now.
Tim Worstall: If you are of the left and wish to make the poor rich, then you should be supporting markets and their creative destruction (real change). Bourgeois, markets
Activities vs ResultsOfficial: The department administers 16 programs aimed at encouraging more jobs in the economy.
Mike: How many new jobs, and what do they pay?
Official: And, we are creating 3 new programs this year to encourage job creation.
12/27/12 - Economist Arnold Kling [edited]
All organizations tend to focus on activities rather than results. Every program is an activity which managers perpetuate. Activities are easy to measure, but not the results.
Corporations face market constraints and competition which weed out mindless activities and re-focus attention on results.
Government lacks those constraints. Almost always, government programs will be continued without regard to results. That is the natural behavior of organizations without constraints. Government Activites Results
An Opinion On Gun ControlFred: I hate guns and wish they didn't exist.
Mike: How does that plan solve the problem?
12/20/12 - Larry Correia [edited]
Mr. Correia has owned a high-level gun store serving law enforcement, was a concealed weapons instructor, has taught defensive gun use, has shot competitively, and has written for national publications about gun laws and the use of force.
• The high side estimate is 2.5 million defensive gun uses per year. This dwarfs 16,000 homicides per year, only 10,000 from guns, of which about 200 were rifles. Most anti-gun sentiment concerns rifles, used in only a tiny fraction of murders.
• On average, 14 people are shot in a mass shooting which is stopped by law enforcement, 2.5 when stopped by civilians. The armed civilians were there when the shootings started.
• Concealed Carry works. Most of the states have enacted some form of concealed carry. Opponents predicted wild west shootouts over parking spaces. These simply have not happened.
AMG: These are excerpts from a longer, readable article which explains many aspects of guns and gun control. Gun Control, Defensive Gun Use
Government Style Medical InsuranceFred: I have very low-cost medical insurance through ObamaCare.
Mike: Now you can see very low-paid doctors.
12/17/12 - White Coat's Call Room
[edited] Medicaid patients are getting what the government is paying (very little) for. Those in California can find few specialists to treat their non-emergency problems.
One man has been waiting more than a year for cataract surgery. Dermatology appointments can take up to a year. Cardiology 18 months. Many patients are directed to an emergency department.
California plans to cut payments to physicians by 10% more. Even fewer specialists will be available. Hey, at least the patients have affordable insurance, the same type of insurance that additional millions will receive from the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare).
AMG: ObamaCare, like current Medicare, prevents doctors from charging Medicaid/Medicare patients any more than Medicaid pays them. This is intended to prevent any diversion of services away from those patients. Put another way, the government prevents you from paying a little extra to get better or faster service. Happy?
When you control your own payment for health care, you are a valued customer. When you prepay through taxes, you are a cost and a statistic. ObamaCare, Medicaid, California (story)12/16/12 - LA Times. California's experience with Medicaid. Patients wait. They are the vanguard in experiencing the results of our more highly socialized healthcare.
In the Right DirectionSowell: I was a Marxist in college.
Barnes: What changed your thinking?
Sowell: I worked for a government agency.
12/10/12 - 2005 - Fred Barnes interviews economist Thomas Sowell (4:32)
What defines liberals and conservatives? Why Sowell changed from Marxism to libertarianism. What history and economics tells us about government action to make us all better.
AMG: Sowell is a wonderfully clear thinker and speaker. Thomas Sowell, Liberal, Conservative, Marxism (M)2005 - In the Right Direction (40 min)
Fred Barnes interviews Thomas Sowell about his work and view of society.
Pickled Jalapenos and Spicy CarrotsFred: A recipe? Really?
AMG: Munching on spicy carrot sticks aids thinking about the big issues.
11/29/12 - Easy Opinions
AMG: I like jalapeno slices thinner, less salty, and less sour than the store version. Hot spiced carrot sticks are not usually available. These are easy to make. Jalapenos, Spicy Carrots, Recipes
Persuadable VotersDonor: We ran out of money running political ads without persuading many people.
Erickson: That's because you really needed to contact the 6% who could be persuaded.
11/27/12 - Redstate by Erick Erickson [edited]
A Primer for Rich Donors Who Got Taken to the Cleaners by Republican Consultants
Take the voter data and lay consumer data and direct voter contact information on top. Suddenly the job of winning a campaign becomes manageable. You can track and reach out to a defined list of voters, and you will know what issues each of those persuadable voters cares about. Voters, Campaign Tactics
Free Checkups For the HealthyFred: I have a sharp pain right here ...
Doctor: Sorry. This is your free checkup. I can't discuss any new symptoms.
Fred: So, what can I talk about?
Doctor: We'll start with how often you use seatbelts.
11/24/12 - PJ Media by Dr. Peter Weiss
[edited] The ObamaCare free annual exam covers the exam and the status of previously diagnosed stable conditions, but not any new ailment. You will be charged a deductible and co-pay if you want to discuss any new ailment or unstable condition.
Your decision: do you want a “free” yearly exam, or do you want a regular visit coded for a new problem? The visit is “free” only if you discuss what Obamacare allows. You have to reschedule if you want to talk about a new problem.
Doctors must, by law, talk to you about your weight, exercise, family life, smoking, sexual abuse(!), and whether you wear seat belts. They must document your answers. Really.
AMG: Free services are available only if you don't need them, and are "free" in the sense that you have already paid for them. ObamaCare, Free Exam (M)EasyOpinions - Company Paid Health Insurance is Part of Your Salary
Increased insurance costs or penalties on your employer are a cost of employing you along with your cash salary. These will be deducted from any wage or raise which would otherwise have been offered. You are paying for your insurance; your employer is writing the check for you. (M)11/2011 - WBUR.org [edited]
When Is Preventive Care Free?
An annual check-up is free, but you will be charged for the lab work. Some tests will start as a preventive screening, but will switch to a diagnostic test if there is a problem.
For example, a colonoscopy is free until the doctor finds (fairly often) a polyp. Then, the test is no longer preventive, it is a procedure and will be charged as a copay and against your deductible.
The Futility of PoliticsNoam Chomsky: “The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.”
11/01/12 - Robert P. Murphy at Free Advice
[edited] Our “serious” candidates debate minor things: • Should we pull our troops out of Afghanistan at a definite date in 2014, or give no timetable? • Should we use only conventional bombers and killer drones, or also consider nuclear weapons? • The federal government will require coverage of pre-existing medical conditions, but how exactly? • The Fed will monopolize money and control banking, but when should it raise interest rates? Politics
Diabetes II Unresponsive to Weight and ExerciseFred: I am going to lose weight and exercise to control my diabetes.
Researcher: Here is the good and bad news. You don't have to knock yourself out, it won't affect your outcome.
10/24/12 - Dr. Wes
[edited] About Type II diabetes. What if weight loss and exercise did not affect the incidence of heart attack, stroke, hospital admission for angina, or death rate?
All expectations of cost savings would disappear. We would have to re-think and appreciate the limited effectiveness of lifestyle intervention to alter medical destiny. Sadly, patients might not be able to lower their insurance premiums by enrolling in diet and exercise classes. This would contradict our "healthy lifestyle" beliefs.
Yet, the 11 year study showed no effect of weight loss and exercise beyond simple education.
AMG: Proper weight and exercise are associated with good health. Are they the cause, or the result? Prevention, Healthy Lifestyle, Diabetes II
Political SciencePolitician: We can do anything that we put our minds to. We must have the courage of our imaginations and spend for our future.
Mike: I don't have to imagine my taxes.
10/20/12 - Dinocrat
[edited] A TED lecture (by The Onion) explains the last four years. Video 3:32.
Motto: I dream. You pay. Somehow, it gets done.
AMG: This lecture is the intellectual framework for every visionary political proposal. Political Speeches, Ideas
Socialized Surgical Death RatesFred: We are all guaranteed medical care.
Mike: But, there is a higher rate of death from it.
10/20/12 - International Liberty by Daniel Mitchell
[edited] Major surgery in British NHS hospitals has four times the death rate than in America, and seven times more for the most seriously ill. Experts blame a shortage of specialists and lack of intensive care beds for post-operative recovery. Socialized Health Care, Surgery
Obama's Foreign Policy
Fred: What is Obama's foreign policy?
Official: Our model could be called "the reformed alcoholic".
Official: We were alcoholic. We now dislike our former friends who used to party with us. We will not continue to be co-dependent by supporting them.
We now agree with our former enemies, that our behavior was outrageous. We will apologize and make reparations.
Fred: But, our enemies hate and want to kill us.
Official: We think they have good reasons for that attitude.
10/03/12 - EO -> The Diplomad
Everywhere one looks abroad, one sees the consequences of Team Obama's incompetence, delusions, and anti-Americanism. Foreign Policy
Was it Glass-Steagall?Fred: The repeal of Glass-Steagall allowed banks to run wild and lose money.
Mike: Actually, Glass-Steagall was not repealed, and did not affect how the banks lost money.
Fred: So why did they buy such bad loans?
Mike: Our wise politicians told them to, for social justice or something like that.
09/12/12 - His Story Is Bunk
[summary] Glass-Steagall was not repealed. It still forbids federally insured banks from creating or dealing in securities.
Changes to Glass-Steagall in 1999 did not affect the activities which lost money in the mortgage crisis.
Insured banks bought Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS) whose value depended on the housing loans that they represented. Banks supported those housing loans by buying those bonds. Banks are in the primary business of making such loans and buying such bonds.
Still, why did banks buy those riskier bonds? The government told them to, if they wanted to be rated as an "outstanding" bank and receive permission to expand their business.
AMG: See also the link above We Guarantee It - The Government Caused the Financial Crisis. Glass-Steagall, Financial Crisis
Sending Jobs to Other StatesFred: We should stop importing cheap foreign goods
and support US jobs instead.
Mike: May I ask, what work do you do?
Fred: I make donuts.
Mike: Well, I saved $100 last year buying Korean
Fred: That must stop.
Mike: If so, I'll have to buy $100 less donuts.
09/10/12 - Easy Opinions
Cheap foreign imports are a benefit, not a problem. We are preventing business development in the US that would employ people to produce many things. Limiting trade does not create jobs overall or increase prosperity. We need to free ourselves from suffocating government restrictions on being productive. Imports, Regulation, Jobs
Not Better OffFred: Don't blame Obama. Government spending has saved us from total collapse.
Mike: I'm just worried that we will be broke by the time he is finished saving us.
09/05/12 - Instapundit -> Investors Business Daily
[edited] By most measures the US is not making slow progress; it is falling further behind.
First of 9 points: Median incomes have fallen 7.3% ($4,000) since Obama took office. Median incomes fell 4.8% ($2,544) since the "recovery" started.
AMG: And, weep at the graph of unemployment staying way too high.
What did Obama do with the $800 billion in stimulus money? The government borrowed and spent $2,660 for each resident of the US. Possibly this built a new sidewalk near you. Stimulus Plan, Better off
The State of the StatesFred: In five years I will retire with a state pension and medical care.
Mike: If the state doesn't go bankrupt.
Fred: A state can't go bankrupt.
Mike: Well, they are going to give it a try.
08/07/12 - Law and Liberty by Michael S. Greve
[edited] What are the states, and what are they good for? For operational purposes, they are best understood as undercapitalized health care and pension funds that write speeding tickets on the side.
The states are the center of welfare and entitlement policies beyond the Founders’ imagination, at a level of debt that would make a Danish Socialist gasp "are you insane?"
AMG: There are not enough resources. People will not get their promised pensions and healthcare. The politicians have won. The people have lost. States, Pensions
Taxing the Sort Of RichFred: The Democrats are going to tax the rich. I like that.
Mike: They might collect $60 billion more per year.
Fred: That's a lot.
Mike: They need $1,140 billion more.
Fred: Where are they going to get that?
07/26/12 - WSJ Opinions by Stephen Moore
[edited] The Democrats' official position is to continue current tax rates for the middle class and raise taxes on upper-income individuals by ending their "tax cuts".
But, Obama supports Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's tax plan. This plan retains the alternative minimum tax, and so imposes a $3,400 tax hike on 28.8 million middle-class families. Tax the Rich
Economics of Medical CareFred: I would like to arrange for knee replacement surgery.
Med Clerk: I see on your application that you are 65. So, no.
Fred: I'm willing to pay out-of-pocket.
Med Clerk: The government buys these surgeries. It isn't efficient to allocate these scarce resources to people with low remaining life-years.
Fred: But, I'll pay for it.
Med Clerk: This would still remove resources from where they are most needed. Don't be selfish. Money doesn't buy everything.
Fred: But ...
Med Clerk: (calls out) George, please assist this man on crutches to leave the line, he is interfering with the administration of medicine.
07/03/12 - MJPerry
Milton Friedman at the Mayo Clinic 1978
The Economics of Medical Care (video 45 min)
[edited]: There has been a trend toward ever-greater government involvement in medical care. Government spending is increasing in leaps and bounds. Spending on Medicare, Medicaid, and by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare is now a substantial portion of all spending on medical services.
If this trend continues, it inevitably leads to completely socialized medicine. I want to explain why this trend is so much against the interests of patients, physicians, and other health care personnel. I will talk about why it has occurred, and if anything can be done about it. Socialized Medicine, Medical Economics
Protect the Constitution, Not the CourtFred: Vote for Jenkins! He is going to give your money to me.
Mike: Vote for Crastner! He is going to give your money to me.
Bystander: Is that Constitutional?
Pelosi: "Are you serious? Are you really serious?"
07/01/12 - Flopping Aces by Alec Rawls
[edited] Chief Justice Roberts of the Supreme Court summed up his position on ObamaCare: "It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices."
Wrong. It assuredly is their job to protect the people from choices which violate the Constitution.
Roberts may have decided to stay out of contentious issues, to keep the Court's neutrality from being questioned. Roberts read the Constitution to allow what is clearly unconstitutional.
The Court recognized one belated limit on the government’s power under the commerce clause, a power expanded in the New Deal. The government cannot force citizens by criminal penalty to purchase products that they do not want. [Even that limit is temporary, without actually setting a legal precedent.]
Chief Justice Roberts closed that door, then kicked flat a second door to unlimited federal power. He overthrew a long standing prohibition on the use of taxation as a means of punishment for breaking the law. Roberts: “Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness.”
No, the Constitution most certainly does not permit such a tax. The dissent of Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito is authoritative. Robert’s position is an abomination.
AMG: Roberts says that the Constitution allows any social control enforced by a tax, and the people should decide important questions politically.
The Constitution is supposed to limit government, to limit the actions of the people with guns and power. If we discard the limits of the Constitution, then the people only have the ability to elect the dictators of their choice. That is, while elections continue to be permitted. Supreme Court, Taxation, Commerce Clause
Beware the Altruistic CrookReporter: You personally have benefitted from the bills you have sponsored. How do you explain that?
Senator: It was only a side effect of improving the economy of my state. I make no apology for helping others.
07/01/12 - Time by Gary Belsky
[edited] People cheated more when they cheated for other people, and they cheated the most when they didn’t benefit at all. Your ability to rationalize is enhanced when you are cheating for the benefit of someone else.
It is easier for an accountant to see fudging clients’ tax returns as not dishonest. Within companies, altruism allows people to cheat more when it benefits team members.
AMG: People in government and academia will excuse any sort of grand meddling and program failure by referring to their own altruism. An advancement in fame, power, appointments, and future income are merely side effects going to a wonderful, deserving person. Altruism, Stealing
Fast & FuriousFred: Fast and Furious was a federal police effort. They merely lost track of a few guns.
Mike: The Feds merely lost track of 2,000 weapons sold to the Sinaloa drug cartel.
Fred: Well, they sold them, right? That is capitalism and market failure.
06/23/12 - The Right Scoop -> Bill Whittle
President Obama is withholding documents by Executive Privilege. Was Fast & Furious a botched police effort or (more likely) an attempt to undermine the Second Amendment? (video 7:01) Guns, Executive Privilege (M)Paul Mirengoff at Powerline:
[edited] If Fast and Furious had been the product of a conspiracy by the administration to promote gun control legislation, the program would have come from the top down, not from the bottom up.
Fast and Furious was a very bad idea, poorly executed. But, as conservatives should understand, the government frequently implements very bad ideas and does so incompetently. (M)10/14/12 - The DiploMad
A long time US Foreign Service Officer, retired.
[edited] Team Obama wanted to crack down on legal gun ownership in the US and justify international gun control treaties. Political bureaucrats at DOJ and ATF smuggled thousands of weapons to the Mexican drug cartels to "prove" that US gun shows and stores are dangerous suppliers.
The cartels used these weapons to murder hundreds, including women, children, and at least two US federal agents. In essence, Team Obama ran a covert war against Mexico to further its ideological obsession for reversing the second amendment.
At the State Department, we were told to put out the message that guns in Mexican drug violence came from the US. When visiting Mexico, President Obama himself stated "More than 90% of the guns recovered in Mexico come from the US, many from gun shops that line our shared border."
a lie at odds with reality.
Statistical ProsperityGov't Economist: Eureka! We can hire more government workers. Everything we pay them will add to GDP according to our accounting rules. And, they will be employed.
Assistant: What will be hire them to do?
Economist: That doesn't matter. The statistics will be better.
Assistant: Why not just "adjust" the statistics?
Economist: You should be ashamed. That would be dishonest.
06/11/12 - Easy Opinions
Government economists want to improve the statistics for production and employment. They can do this by hiring more government workers. This follows from their accounting rules, regardless of what those workers do or accomplish.
"Believe our statistics, not your lying eyes." statistics, GDP, unemployment
Street Light EconomicsIt is dark. Jim is looking around under a streetlight.
Frank: What are you looking for?
Jim: I lost my keys up the street a way.
Frank: Why are you looking for them here?
Jim: The light is better here.
05/28/12 - Easy Opinions
Human nature is funny. The tragedy is that this type of thinking rules our political world. It is the problem of the seen and unseen. Economists report in official tones about their measurement of what is under the light, when there is a big, complicated world in the darkness.
They recommend spending ourselves into poverty. They should know better Government spending, Multiplier
Bankruptcy of the WestOfficial: The government offers a great life. I get a good salary and very nice retirement benefits, including lifetime healthcare.
10 Year Old: Dude, whatever.
05/24/12 - Easy Opinions
The West is bankrupt. The solution is to declare bankruptcy. People were stupid to loan resources to their governments, and they will receive the usual reward for their stupidity.
Bond buyers should have looked into the plans and the planners before entrusting their wealth to politicians. Investing with crooks always results in losing your wealth. Deficit, Retirement, Bankruptcy
Into the Everyday Life of AmericansFred: Sometimes life is complicated, and I don't know what to do.
Obama: I'm here to tell you.
05/23/12 - Dinocrat
[edited] At dinner, Obama expressed a preference for a corporatist political system. The economy would be collectively managed by big employers, big unions, and government officials through a formal mechanism at the national level.
He would achieve his “transformational” presidency by vastly expanding the reach of Washington into the everyday life of American citizens.
Obama flaunted self-confidence. He would create a permanent peace in the Middle East. He would talk with America’s enemies in Iran and North Korea and show them the error of their ways. He would revolutionize the healthcare system and energy policy. And, he would regulate to create “a more just and equitable society.”
AMG: All hail Ceasar! Obama, Fascism
Sweden Rejects Stimulus and WinsFinance Minister: The stimulus didn't work and we're going broke. We must change.
Politician: Well, we still have our memories. The spending was truly glorious while it lasted.
04/15/12 - Daniel Mitchel
The governments of Spain, Portugal, and the UK implemented large, temporary stimulus. Very little of that stimulus went to their economies, but they are stuck with the debt. By contrast, tax-cutting Sweden had the fastest growth in Europe last year and also celebrated the abolition of its deficit. Stimulus, Sweden
Case for Government InterventionFred: We need a government department to help us with problems in the schools.
Mike: Aren't the schools a government department?
05/21/12 - EconLog by David Henderson
[edited] Two teachers with the approval of the principal were harassing Winter's son. Much later, the teachers were fired for cause, and the principal was sent to a mental institution. Winter and his wife realized that they should have intervened earlier. Winter concluded that we need more government to help people in trouble like his son.
I told my wife about Winter's conclusion. She observed that it was a government school. "Winter wants government officials to step in and do something, but it was government officials who did do something. That's why his son had the problem." Public School, Government help
Systematic Organization of HatredsAssistant: We won! Now we can accomplish some good things.
Senator: And, punish our enemies.
05/05/12 - The Beacon by Robert Higgs
[edited] Democrats and Republicans are but two wings of the predatory government that rules the United States. Why does their feuding reach such vitriolic extremes? Despite their similarity of fundamental positions, they are somewhat different sorts of people and tend to dislike and sometimes despise one other. Although inclined to conspire and cut deals, they also represent their supporter's hatreds.
When we move some decision from private life into politics and government, we will likely move it from a world where hatred is incidental and avoidable to a world in which hatred is central and inescapable.
A government imposes one rule and one outcome on everyone. The hatreds within that outcome become infused throughout the society. We live in a politicized world fashioned in large part by those organized expressions of hatred. Small wonder that some of us view the entire apparatus of politics and government as the living embodiment of evil. Political enemies, Hatreds
The Swedish ModelMax: Sweden is a shining beacon where Socialism works to create a happy and prosperous people. How can you argue with that?
Fred: I'm not the one arguing. Good as Socialism may have been, Sweden is going Capitalist to actually produce jobs and pay the bills.
[edited] Anders Borg is Sweden’s finance minister. Most of Europe has borrowed massively in hope of improving its economies. Borg's stimulus was a permanent tax cut. Critics said this was fiscal lunacy. Borg thought lunacy would be to repeat the economics of the 1970s and expect a different result.
Borg has proven correct three years later. The governments of Spain, Portugal, and the UK tried large, temporary stimulus. Very little of that stimulus went to the economy, but they are stuck with the debt. In contrast, Sweden had the fastest growth in Europe and celebrated the end of its deficit.
"Ownership and entrepreneurs are a production factor. Yes, these people are rich and you can argue that we want to encourage social cohesion. But it is problematic if you drive out entrepreneurs from your country, because they are the source of job creation." Keynes, Stimulus, Tax Cuts, Sweden (M) His Story is Bunk -> Salisbury Review
Anders Åslund was a Professor at the Stockholm School of Economics 1989-94, now at the Peterson Institute for International Economics [edited]:
Sweden was quite a liberal market economy until 1968. Its per capita GDP was the third highest in the world after a century of superior growth. But in 1968, left-wing madness took over.
AMG: A short history of Sweden's experiment with socialism and economic decline.
Merchants of DespairFred: Politics is an honorable profession.
Mike: You wouldn't know it from the President and his appointees.
03/28/12 - Afterburner by Bill Whittle (7:20)
A review of the petty, narcisistic, disruptive, and hateful people in our government who have brought division and despair upon us.
Whittle: There are 30 million conservatives who do not vote. We endure Progressive malfeasance because Progressives show up to vote and conservatives don't. How about changing this? Barack Obama, Government
Why Is the Recovery Slow?Max: Businesses need regulation and should pay more taxes.
Jim: An interesting experiment. We will find out if more regulation produces more wealth and jobs.
03/24/12 - Cato @ Liberty [edited]
The US government is looking for more revenue through detailed audits and new taxes. It is also doing more to make all businesses comply with all regulations. We will find out how productive is the full-regulation state.
FedEx scaled back its forecasts for domestic and global growth.
Signs of a slowing global economy rattled investors and lowered stock prices.
Stocks aren't as bad as bonds, but will likely produce low returns for some time to come. Regulation, Slow Recovery
Delay, Deny, DeceiveFred: Team Obama is producing more oil in the US than ever before.
Mike: Uh, no. It's Bush's fault
03/22/12 - PowerLine by john Hinderacker
[edited] Thomas Pyle is President of the Institute for Energy Research.
The administration has blocked full development of the Keystone XL pipeline, from delays last fall to the outright rejection of the pipeline permit earlier this year. The president wants to reject the pipeline, yet take credit for approving it.
Similarly, he has closed oil and gas development on millions of acres of federal lands, while attempting to take credit for production increases on state and private lands where he has no role.
For more than three years, President Obama has implemented a three part energy strategy: delay, deny, and deceive. Obama, Oil Production
Waiting for OilFred: I wish we had half as much oil as Saudi Arabia.
Mike: Shhh. We do, but it's illegal.
Fred: I suppose what we don't know won't hurt our politicians.
03/01/12 - Easy Opinions
We don't hear how much oil the US really has, because government regulation restricts what is officially reported and determines the time needed to bring new oil to market. Peak Oil, Regulation
Raise Tax Rates - Collect LessHigh Official: Our deep and nuanced understanding of reality gives us the duty and privilege to plan, invest, and guide our society. We must collect more resources, and so we will raise tax rates.
Assistant: Rates are quite high now, sir.
Official: We will set them higher.
Assistant: We will almost certainly collect less revenue and injure economic growth.
Official: That doesn't feel right. How could that be? I don't believe it. What fun is there in not raising rates? That is one nuance too far.
02/27/12 - EO -> Dan Mitchel
[edited] Higher tax rates cripple growth and drive more people into the underground economy. The International Monetary Fund agrees in this analysis of the Greek economic situation. At some point, tax rates become so punitive that the government collects less revenue. A remarkable admission.
AMG: Also, bankrobber Willie Sutton understood Leftist tax policy. Tax Rates (M)Portugal Crashes on the Laffer Curve With Class Warfare Tax Policy
12/31/12 - Cato at Liberty by Daniel J. Mitchell
Rate increases have stretched Portugese taxes to the limit. Further increases in rates are unlikely to result in increased revenue. Income from the value added tax, about 36% of the total, has been falling since 2008, despite a sharp increase to a 23% rate.
Both the Bank for International Settlements and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development find that the United States faces a bigger long-run fiscal challenge than Portugal.
Tennessee MosqueReporter: There is another side to the "Hate the Mosque" story.
Editor: Islamaphobic bigot.
02/24/12 - EO -> Amy Alkon -> Eric Allen Bell
Eric Allen Bell at The Daily Kos tried to present both sides of a story. He was told to take some time off. Islam, Mosque
The Oil Market PanicFred: Gas prices are going up. The oil companies are gouging us.
Mike: Iran's desire for nuclear weapons is shaking up the Middle East. Oil companies are just mice among the elephants.
Fred: Well, the government should limit the price.
Mike: Do you want shortages, rationing, and two-hour lines at $3.00 per gallon, or to adapt in your own way at $4.50 per gallon? You are going to use less gas either way.
02/20/12 - EO -> Hoover.org by Richard A. Epstein
[edited] The rise in oil prices traces to a renegade Iran. The West sees that the Iranian nuclear threat is not just bluster. Iran poses far greater risks to world peace and the political order than even a major disruption in oil supplies.
AMG: It would be far better to produce more oil domestically than to rely on the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which gives us only a few months of cushion. Oil Market, Gasoline
Disability Hides UnemploymentFred: How is your job search?
Mike: I found a permanent position on disability. The pay is low but the hours are great.
Fred: You don't look disabled.
Mike: I am depressed about finding a part-time job to fill in the benefits.
02/16/12 - OpenMarket.org by Hans Bader
[edited] Official unemployment is going down, partly because many people went onto Social Security Disability for ailments such as depression.
They have a monthly government check and are never going back to work. They are not seeking work, so they are no longer counted as unemployed. Team Obama has no interest in reversing this; it helps mask the high unemployment statistics.
AMG: Unemployment checks are usually temporary. This finagled "disability" will likely be permanent, even if these people find unreported work in the future. Unemployment Statistics, Disability
Squeezing Emergency DepartmentsFred: I feel bad, I'm sweating, and I have chest pain.
Doctor: What is your insurance?
Doctor: No need to come in to the ER just yet. We'll wait until tomorrow to see if it is a real emergency.
02/14/12 - Road To Hellth
[edited] Medicaid in Washington State is rapidly going broke, like nearly all public healthcare systems. A $1.4 billion budget gap requires WA to cut many benefits to its poor Medicaid population. WA will no longer pay for emergency department (ED) visits which are not true emergencies.
The federal law EMTALA controls every hospital ED which accepts federal insurance. The ED must evaluate and treat every person who comes in, regardless of race, sex, nationality, or ability to pay.
Despite this requirement, WA will only pay the hospital for its services if the medical evaluation indeed found an emergency. The hospital cannot bill the patient.
Emergency departments do have an option. One-third have closed over the last 20 years. Medicaid, Emergency Departments, Broke (M)Mary: My baby is coughing. I didn't want to wait until Monday.
Doctor: Some cough syrup should fix ... What is your insurance?
Doctor: Well ... Not to worry you, but that cough could be RSV or pneumonitis. Let's look at her blood, get a chest x-ray, and start a nebulizer. Don't worry, Washington Medicaid pays for those.
02/16/12 - White Coat's Call Room
[edited] Hospitals and ER doctors will take a financial hit if WA decides after the fact that Medicaid ER treatment was "unnecessary".
The chart records a patient’s complaints, diagnosis, and treatment. The same doctors who want to be paid fill out that chart and give treatment. Look for a sharp increase in diagnoses that WA does not deem “unnecessary.” Reimbursable diagnoses are usually more serious and cost more. WA will probably end up paying more for Medicaid emergency patients.
AMG: This also defends against those pesky lawsuits. A win-win. Medicaid Emergency (M)Sep 2009 - Easy Opinions: ObamaCare bails out Medicare
The promises of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security cannot be paid. Democrats want to put everyone in the same plan so that seniors don't feel as strongly about denial of care, and the young can be made to pay much more. We will all be in the same boat. Some have signed on, and others will be "persuaded".
Hating Lottery WinnersMax: Big companies are making obscene profits. Those lucky bastards should be paying their windfall profits back into the government, to help me.
Fred: Yeah, and lets get back more money from those lucky bastard lottery winners.
Max: Uh, I don't think you see the point.
Fred: I thought the point was that no one should be lucky.
02/05/12 - Easy Opinions
Why should businessmen be disliked and pay high taxes because their success is partly luck, while all-lucky lottery winners are accepted as deserving their winnings? Lottery, Profits, Taxes
An Intellectual ProgramIntellectual: We must adopt policies ... any normative concept of a just society. [applause]
Mike: He must have a great mind. I didn't understand much of what he said, but I find myself agreeing with him.
Jim: He's not so great. Either he is intentionally confusing, or he can't figure out how to explain it to us.
12/12/11 - EO -> 02/15/07 - Elsewhere.Org
A computer program produces intellectual commentary.
A leading journal of cultural studies doesn't understand what it is publishing. Intellectual Program, Deconstruction, Hoax
Workers Pay Unemployment InsuranceMax: I'm going to take the summer off on unemployment.
Fred: Have fun on my nickel.
Max: Lighten up. The company will be paying through unemployment insurance.
Fred: My wage is lower because of that cost, and I need to keep working.
Max: Aren't you the busy bee.
12/04/11 - EO --> The Money Illusion by Scott Sumner
[edited] Many Western European countries such as France saw their natural rates of unemployment rise from around 2% in the 1960s to about 10% in the 1980s. The most plausible explanations have to do with labor market policies.
AMG: People with jobs are paying for the people who supposedly were fired without cause. If they realized that, there would not be much support for giving 99 weeks of compensation to the non-working. At 3-5% unemployment insurance, many workers are giving up ten days of paid vacation each year to support the unemployed. Unemployment
Wall Street Was Not Bailed OutOccupy: The bailouts prove Wall Street bribed our government.
Mike: Wall Street received TARP loans and have paid them back.
Occupy: So who was bailed out?
Mike: Hundreds of small banks in every congressional district.
Occupy: Small banks own the government?
Mike: In a way. Small banks give political contributions to congressmen. And, hundreds of small bank failures would point blame at government's disastrous housing policies.
Occupy: Occupy Main Street!
Mike: Not quite. Try "Occupy Government".
11/26/11 - EO -> Power Line by John Hinderaker
[edited] In what sense were “Wall Street banks” bailed out? They weren’t in fact “given” any of our money. Most of the largest banks (which were perfectly healthy) were forced to take TARP loans so that there would be no stigma attached to the few large unhealthy banks and the many unhealthy small community and regional banks which were saved by those loans.
Almost all large “Wall Street banks” have repaid their TARP loans with interest and in short order. Three-quarters of TARP went to hundreds of small regional banks, notoriously unstable, particularly from commercial real estate lending. It is exactly those small banks who who remain “bailed out”, who lent recklessly to the real estate developers who built the bubble housing.
Taxpayers will end up paying for the government policies which directed money into housing and to automobile worker's unions. Wall Street made 3% commissions. The rest of the bailouts have gone to Main Street, the 99%. Wall Street, Bailed out, TARP, Economic Crisis
Aptitude Tests vs CollegeFred: My high grades and SAT scores got me into Big College. I'm on my way.
Mike: After you pay $120,000 in tuition and lose four years of wages.
Fred: There will be some studying, but also parties and girls.
Mike: Too bad you couldn't present your grades and SATs to some company, earn while you learn, party in your own apartment, and buy two sports cars with that $120,000.
11/13/11 - Carpe Diem by economist Mark J. Perry
George Will: [edited] There were 2,000+ personnel tests available to employers in 1964. But, an Illinois official ruled that these might be unfair to disadvantaged groups. Employers were burdened to prove that a test was a "business necessity" for a particular job if it had a "disparate impact" [ Black and White applicants did unequally on the test].
Many employers feared endless litigation. They switched to requiring college degrees as indicators of intelligence and diligence. This was one reason college attendance increased from 5.8 million in 1970 to 17.5 million in 2005.
Peter Thiel: [edited] Higher education is a giant selection mechanism. 10% of the value of a college degree comes from learning, 50% from getting into a selective university, and 40% from graduating from a selective college known to employers.
It might be much more efficient if employers could use intelligence tests instead of expensive four-year college degrees that add very little educational value. Disparate impact, College degree (M) College is an Expensive IQ Test
July 2008 and updates - Easy Opinions
By law, a company cannot give an employment test unless it has been shown to be non-discriminatory in effect. That means it doesn't screen out people of color at a different effective rate than white people.
So, employers don't create their own tests or use standardized tests. Interviewers talk randomly about whatever they want, using personal judgment to decide if the candidate is "a good match". This is supposed to be less discriminatory.
What Caused the Financial Crisis?Max: Heartless banks on Wall Street caused our crisis by lending money wildly to people who couldn't repay the loans. They robbed us all.
Mike: Congress asked, then required banks to do this, and knowingly bought those loans from the banks. The Government-created companies Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac took on all the risk so that Congress could play this game.
Max: The banks bribed Congress.
Mike: Congress started this. And you know, you can't bribe an honest politician.
11/12/11 - Powerline by John Hinderaker
From the Washington Examiner
[edited] The financial crash was complex, but the basics are not hard to understand. The federal government wanted to increase home ownership by encouraging banks to make loans to underqualified buyers. These would traditionally have been called bad loans.
The government used a carrot-and-stick approach. The stick was constant pressure on banks to show that they were not excluding black neighborhoods, but rather were taking their share of risk on home loans. The carrot was Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac, government sponsored companies which reassured banks that they could make bad loans without fear of the usual consequences. Fannie and Freddy would immediately buy those loans, taking all of the risk.
Michael Bloomberg is the Independent mayor of New York City, previously a Democrat, who first won office by running temporarily under the Republican banner.
He said recently, “It was not the banks that created the mortgage crisis. It was Congress, plain and simple, who forced everybody to give mortgages to people who were on the edge. Congress pushed Fannie and Freddie to make a bunch of loans that were imprudent, if you will.”
AMG: See my investigation of the crisis at the (M) link on this entry. Financial Crisis, Housing Crisis, Fannie Mae, Freddy Mac (M)October 2008 - Easy Opinions
We Guarantee It - The Government Caused the Economic Crisis
The current recession was triggered by collapsing home prices and mortgage losses, after an extended period of government providing easy money and guarantees to support Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and risky mortgage loans. The government is still doing this. The bad housing policy was designed, encouraged, and required by government.
Commerce Clause vs AbortionMax: Of course the government can make you buy health insurance. Not having insurance affects interstate commerce.
Fred: How about not having a baby?
11/10/11 - Powerline by Steven Hayward
[edited] Wickard v. Filburn 1941 was a preposterous decision. The Supreme Court ruled that Ohio farmer Roscoe Filburn couldn’t grow wheat above his government quota, even if it was for his own use and not for sale in interstate commerce. This reasoning was a fancy version of “If everyone did this, how would it affect the economy?”
What if Congress decided to regulate abortion this way? While no single abortion much affects commerce, hundreds of thousands of abortions depress sales of baby formula, bassinets, teddy bears, children’s clothing, and the future collection of Social Security taxes. I suspect liberals would suddenly find Wickard less convincing. Commerce clause, Abortion
Soak the Yachts and JetsMax: We are going to tax the Rich until they sweat.
Jim: What if employment and tax revenue go down?
Max: It is worth it, to see them sweat. Then we will tax big boats, big houses, and big cars.
Jim: I see where you are going. How big a car do you drive, if you don't mind my asking? I want to choose wisely when I buy my next one.
10/30/11 - Grouchy Old Cripple
[edited] Walter Williams: President Obama has called for a luxury tax on corporate jets to raise revenue to reduce federal deficits. Consider that Obama proposed in his election campaign, to raise capital gains taxes as a matter of fairness, even though that would decrease tax revenues. Lose tax revenue? No wonder our economy is hosed with this idiot in charge.
George H.W. Bush tried a similar policy in the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990, breaking his "read my lips" pledge not to raise taxes.
This Act imposed a 10% luxury tax on yachts, private airplanes, and expensive automobiles, Sen. Ted Kennedy and Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell crowed publicly about how the rich would finally be paying their fair share.
Edmund Contoski at the Heartland Institute: Within eight months, the largest builder Viking Yachts laid off 1,140 of its 1,400 employees and closed one of its two manufacturing plants. Its employment later fell to 68 employees.
In the first year, one-third of U.S. yacht-building companies stopped production, and the industry lost 7,600 jobs. Eventually, 100,000 workers lost their jobs making yachts, parts, and materials. The US had been a net exporter of yachts; it became a net importer. Jobs shifted to companies in Europe and the Bahamas. The U.S. Treasury collected zero revenue from sales driven overseas. Luxury Tax, Yachts (M)08/09/11 - Walter Williams at Lew Rockwell (v)Via Daily Pundit
Dig Holes, Fill Them UpFred: We need more infrastructure to get our economy moving again.
Mike: Ha, you think we will become rich because we have better roads and sidewalks?
Fred: The money we spend will move around and multiply.
Mike: I think you are confusing money and rabbits. The well connected contractors will become rich.
10/28/11 - Cato Institute
[edited] The history of the Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation show that the federal government should not be in the infrastructure business.
The Army Corps of Engineers has been making mistakes building levees, canals, and civilian water infrastructure for more than 200 years. Arthur Morgan was a distinguished engineer and former chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority. His 1971 book concluded that the Corps had failed consistently and disastrously in public works, resulting in enormous and unnecessary costs to ecology and the taxpayer.
The Bureau of Reclamation has been building economically weak and environmentally harmful dams since 1902. Marc Reisner wrote in Cadillac Desert, [edited] "Every Senator and Congressman wanted a project in his state and district. They didn't care whether it made economic sense". The dam-building pork barrel went on for decades until the agency ran out of rivers into which it could pour concrete.
Taxpayers are double losers from all this infrastructure. They paid to build it, and now they are paying to clean up the environmental damage.
AMG: You might think that this corruption was only in the past. What are these agencies and our politicians doing differently today? Why should the results be different? Army Corps of Engineers, Infrastructure
Income InequalityFred: The rich take their money out of the pockets of workers and consumers.
Mike: They take out $5 from the $100 they put in.
10/27/11 - Paul Solmon of PBS interviews Law Prof. Richard Epstein. Epstein talks quickly and directly. The interview flies by. Video 8:58 and a transcript. [paraphrased]
Solmon: What is good about income inequality?
Epstein: The incentive for large gains spurs people to work, risk, and invest. Removing their large incomes slows innovation and production, and everyone becomes poorer. [ The poor are hardest hit in a slowed economy -ag ]
Solmon: Doesn't great disparity in wealth injure society?
Epstein: Consider Bill Gates. He has accumulated $50 billion. And, he has produced 20 times that much in value to consumers. That is a good deal. [ The wealthiest people personally earn about 5% of the value they create. -ag ] Wealth, Income Inequality (v)Via Instapundit
Contracts For Malpractice Fred: Did you sue because of your botched hip?
Mike: No. I agreed to take $30,000 plus a do-over by a different doctor.
Fred: How about your pain and suffering?
Mike: I avoided 2 years of that by not having a trial.
10/24/11 - Cato@Liberty by Walter Olson
[edited] Most medical interactions occur after the patient and doctor could have agreed by contract how to compensate the patient for medical errors. Your health plan could establish your rights in case of dispute, which might include damages, arbitration procedures, and review by experts.
American courts paternalistically refuse to enforce contractual disclaimers of liability or to apply agreed damage limits. You get instead the malpractice coverage that courts and lawmakers deign to prescribe for you, not the coverage you and your medical provider might have chosen yourselves.
What sort of medical liability coverage would the market furnish if you were free to contract for it? A very different sort than the pseudo-insurance package now foisted on the parties. Malpractice Insurance
Insane Budget SavingsOfficial One: The CLASS Act was intended to provide long-term care insurance to everyone. I'm sorry to report that we will not be implementing it. It is too expensive.
Official Two: Even worse, we won't be able to save $86 billion by implementing it.
Mike: Too expensive, but it was going to save money. Are you nuts?
10/15/11 - Easy Opinions
The CLASS Act was intended to provide affordable long-term care insurance. HHS has re-examined and suspended the program as being too costly in the long run. Team Obama understood that CLASS could only be implemented with government subsidies from taxes. But, the CBO scores CLASS as saving $86 billion dollars.
This contradiction illustrates an insane, dishonest, and immoral budget process. This budget accounting trick is so common that officials and the mainstream press don't give it a thought. CLASS Act, budget gimmick, Health Care
Cause and EffectFred: Let's eat at the Rib Eye Steak House.
Mike: I will never eat there again. The last time, I came down with the flu two days later.
10/11/11 - Knowledge Problem by Michael Giberson
Michael Levi [edited]: Do high oil prices cause recessions? The 2011 Nobel Prize in Economics was awarded today for “Empirical research on cause and effect in the macroeconomy". It is not easy to relate cause to effect or measure the effect of stimulus. In fact, it is Nobel Prize quality research.
The oil price increases of the 1970s prompted politicians to raise interest rates in an attempt to control inflation. The economy slowed. Was this because of the oil price increase, or the result of the higher interest rate?
AMG: The most common and destructive part of political discussion is to assume that cause and effect is easy to see. It is not. We must consider the details and their interactions. Then, it is usually too complicated to come to a firm conclusion. We can't learn from the past by citing events and dates when we use imprecise intervals such as "the Clinton" or "the Bush" presidency.
We must not stop with "this happened, then that happened". We must ask, what were the policy changes in detail, and what could possibly explain what followed? We need a mechanism, not just a claim of cause and effect because A came before B. Politics, Cause and Effect
Job Creation MythPolitician: I'm cooked! That last program I supported has made things worse.
Advisor: Propose another program to fix, I mean extend, the first program. You will be doing something to meet the current crisis.
Politician: But, I will be publicly criticizing my own policies.
Advisor: Merely say that you are correcting the failed policies of the past arising from a Washington culture of corruption and special favors.
10/10/11 - Reason by Matt Welch
[edited] Belief in stimulus spending despite repeated failure suggests that powerful myths continue to control politicians and many of their constituents.
Among the most stubborn myths is that passing a bill to fix a problem is the same as actually fixing the problem. This assumption reaches its illogical conclusion during times of national panic. Do-something busybodies like New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg say that it doesn’t matter what Washington does, it just needs to do something. They are oblivious to unintended consequences, corporatist lobbying, and the limitations of government power.
The result of current Keynesian stimulus should speak for itself. Fewer able-bodied Americans are employed as a percentage of the potential work force than at any time since 1983. Political Myth, Stimulus (v)Via Cold Fury
Fooling the FutureGovernment Planner: Our next stimulus plan is really, really targeted at creating jobs and prosperity.
Mike: What about the last stimulus plan?
Planner: That was only sort of, kind of targeted at creating jobs and prosperity. We were distracted.
Mike: How long will this new stimulus work?
Planner: For about a year, probably past the next election.
Mike: Then what?
Planner: We'll have another stimulus plan ready, to continue the good works of the last two.
10/07/11 - Easy Opinions
Future news about evolving government economic policy to bring prosperity by manipulating money and credit. Future News, Money, Stimulus
Community ≠ CollectivismFred: Let's all join together now and combine our efforts to advance our community.
Mike: A nice sentiment. Why are you pointing a gun at me?
10/06/11 - Econlog by Arnold Kling
Eric Raymond: Community and collectivism are opposites. Community is valuable and powerful; it is individuals freely choosing to cooperate and identify with each other to achieve more than they can individually, as we do in the open-source community.
Collectivism is a fraud. It pretends to be about community, but it is actually about the use of force. Collectivists not only want us to bow to their desire for power over others, but to thank them for coercing us and praise them as our moral superiors. Community, Collectivism
Medical BureaucracyFred: I don't want the preferences of bureaucrats between my doctor and me.
Mike: Funny. You are about 10 years too late.
10/02/11 - Dr. Grumpy [edited]
Insurance Clerk: I must inform you that we are unable to approve this test. Your doctor will need to call our doctor.
Nurse: Yeah, that's a surprise.
Clerk: Are you disatisfied about something?
Nurse: I'm sure not satisfied, and neither is the doctor or the patient. Your company never approves anything directly. You always require that we call your doctor, and you delay that contact as long as possible.
Clerk: We do this to save money on unnecessary testing.
Nurse: Forget the intake coordinator and forget you. Couldn't your company save money by replacing you with a computerized delay?
AMG: Your insurance company is directed by detailed state mandates and is probably hired by your employer. Why should they serve you first? Nationalizing your insurance won't help. If you aren't a customer, then you are a cost. Medicine, Bureaucracy, Insurance
Pilgrim's ProgressJim: Gack! This soup is terrible. You must put more effort into it.
Joe: I didn't study much cooking in Slave School.
11/26/09 - CafeHayek by Don Boudreaux
Plymouth Plantation in 1620 had communal property rights, holding food and supplies in common. Plantation officials distributed them based on equality and need. Residents received equal rations whether or not they produced food, and they were forbidden from producing their own food.
The Pilgrims were starving under their communal system, and changed it to survive.
This may remind you a bit of congress's healthcare plans. Let's learn from the Pilgrims and be thankful for their effort. (M)11/27/09 - powerlineblog by Prof. Paul Rahe
America's First Socialist Republic
[edited] We can learn from the history of the Pilgrims at Plymouth Plantation. They conducted an experiment in social engineering akin to what is now contemplated.
They cultivated the land in common, with dismal results. Their experience can instruct us today.
Presidential Ability and ForesightFred: We need a president who can forsee the future, invest in the right industries, and create prosperity and jobs.
Mike: So, why are we choosing a politician?
09/25/11 - CafeHayek by Don Boudreaux
[edited] Politicians lecture about which industries are vital for the future or crucial to meeting consumers’ needs. Why do almost none of them found their own non-political firms when they leave office? Firms that specialize neither in granting political favors nor in getting subsidies from government?
Are presidents really as magnificent, smart, wise, and productive as advertised while in office? If so, they were wasting their remarkable talents. They could have founded one (or more!) private companies to develop the 'big ideas' which they supported in office by spending other people’s money.
Instead, the career of a president in retirement is to make lots of money as a high-brow social healer. He emits platitudes, attends state funerals, and is a show-pony for politically correct causes.
AMG: These men could have become rich while showing us how to organize production for the future. Instead, they collect speaking fees at business lunches. Presidents, Big Ideas
The Future: A Greek ExampleEconomist: Production and tax revenue is stagnant. We are running out of money to pay for social services.
Official: We will raise taxes and increase public employment, to increase the flow of money and guide our society to a renewed prosperity.
09/25/11 - Daniel J. Mitchel
[edited] From the UK Financial Times:
Despite a pledge to cut 30,000 public jobs, the govt's austerity policies protect civil servants and state employees at the expense of private employers.
Every cost has gone up: water, electricity, and telephone (from an increased VAT tax), and a special property tax.
“In our village near Lamia in 1980, four out of 400 inhabitants were state employees. In August, I tried to count public employees, and found more than 200. Is it possible to prosper with so many state employees who do not produce? Is there a good reason to pay the extra taxes?” Greece, Financial Crisis, Taxes
Medical Decision MakingAsst. Director: Drug A is very effective, but expensive. Drug B is somewhat effective and much cheaper.
Director: Disapprove A; we will go with B. The Hill is in a mood to save money, and I know the producers of B are very good people.
Asst. Director: Drug A could save many lives.
Director: It is terrible to be sick, but it helps no one if our careers are shortened.
09/19/11 - Retired Doc by James Gaulte
[edited] Thomas Sowell: Decision making has drifted way from the individual, the family, and voluntary associations, and toward government. Within government, it has moved from elected officials subject to voter feedback, and toward more insulated bureaucracies and the appointed judiciary.
James Gaulte: One should analyze the decision making of institutions by the incentives, the constraints, and the likely outcome if the decision makers are immune from feedback. Do not look at the "hoped for results" or the mission statements, but rather at the mechanics.
Consider how the myriad details of ObamaCare will be determined, to meet its lofty goals. Various government agencies and panels will churn out pages of rules and regulations for physicians and patients to live with. The agencies will be immune from meaningful feedback, but they will feel the lobbying efforts of special interest groups. ObamaCare, Lobbying, Regulations
The Regulatory Speed TrapDoctor: What is the applicable rule for treating my patient?
Central Authority: The rules are complicated. The best thing for you is to do what I tell you.
09/19/11 - Covert Rationing blog
[edited] The Regulatory Speed Trap is a set of complicated regulations. Sometimes, complexity and self-contradictions grow over time without planning, as with the Medicare regulations over several decades. Sometimes, regulations that cannot be complied with are applied suddenly, as with the Lacey Act and Gibson Guitars. And sometimes, a massive web of impossible regulations is created whole, as with the Dodd-Frank legislation of banks and financial firms.
Our Progressive leaders persistently attempt to establish the perfect society by controlling “everything” from the top down. They have discovered, in unending delight, that mature bureaucracies apply a tangle of vague and contradictory regulations through informal rules and forbearance. Everyone Is Always Guilty Of Something when the rules are strictly applied.
Even without ObamaCare, the morass of existing rules, regulations and “guidelines” means that the Central Authority can suddenly construe some rule to make a criminal of virtually any worker or institution dealing with the healthcare system. Under these conditions, the good of the collective comes before the good of a patient. ObamaCare, Regulation (M)A Regulatory Speed Trap Waiting To Be Sprung
10/10/11 - Covert Rationing by DrRich [edited]
The OHRP within the department of Healh and Human Services in 1994 wanted more diversity in medical trials. This good idea was extended to impossible requirements.
OHRP mandated that all minorities and all genders must be included in all clinical trials, in sufficient numbers to give reliable statistics for each category. The cost of doing this was not acceptable as a reason to not do it.
OHRP defined six racial and ethnic categories: Hispanic, Native American, Asian, Pacific Islander, African American, and White. The three genders are Male, Female, and Indeterminate or Transgender.
Six races × 3 genders is 18 categories. A study requiring 1,000 patients for statistical validity would now need 18,000 patients in just the right distributions, including 1,000 transgender Pacific Islanders.
This rule would have ended medical trials. So, we interpreted this rule to require all practical efforts to use diversified groups.
The Central Authority today is desperately looking for ways to stifle medical progress and slow increases in medical spending. This clear diversity requirement, long ignored in detail, can be applied at any time to shut down chosen medical studies.
AMG: No wonder US medical research is so expensive. Logic does not require every trial to be diverse. At most, only the final trials preceeding drug approval. Also, isn't this a racist attitude by OHRP? They are saying that these groups are obviously medically different. That is biological racism in the absence of any evidence.
Rich Pay Higher Tax Rates Than SecretariesActivist: Many rich people use loopholes to pay low or no tax.
Retired: Like buying state bonds and investing in companies.
Activist: You can smile now. We'll get your money when you die.
Retired: Warren Buffett is giving his billions to charities, and won't pay much inheritance tax. I'm following his example. Sorry.
09/19/11 - Carpe Diem by Mark J. Perry
[edited] The US federal income tax is highly progressive. Warren Buffett is wrong in his "analysis" of tax rates on himself and his employees.
Most secretaries would pay a federal tax rate averaging 9-12%. Most "super-rich" bosses with incomes of $200,000+ would pay a tax rate averaging at least 25%, about three times higher than their secretarial staff.
If you include payroll taxes, the super-rich are paying at twice the average rate of secretaries.
AMG: See the chart of 2009 adjusted gross incomes compared to the average federal tax rate imposed. Federal Taxes, Warren Buffet (M) 09/20/11 - Cold Fury → AP story
[edited] On average, the wealthiest Americans pay much more tax than the middle class or the poor, and pay a much larger share of overall taxes. The top 10% of households pay more than 70% of federal income taxes.
The Logic of FailureMary: Your casserole is delicious. Would you give me the recipe?
Carol: Here it is. You might want to make it a few times before inviting guests.
Mary: Why? All of the steps are here, right?
Carol: That is what I thought, the first three times I made it.
09/18/11 - 12/29/03 - Photon Plaza
[edited] Dietrich Doerner studies the inability of people to understand and manage complex systems.
One simulation puts the participant in charge of a third-world country, something like the computer game Sim City. Decisions include land use, water supply, and medical care. Time delays and multiple interactions make success difficult. A high proportion of participants made things worse for their country. Dorner concludes that people have much more difficulty understanding patterns that extend over time than understanding spatial patterns.
Many participants focused on one aspect, such as building irrigation canals, and ignored everything else, without really trying to understand the interactions.
AMG: These results suggest why government planners and academic advisors do miserably at directing our society.
Their rules are slow to be applied, to change, and to be removed. They cannot respond in time to changing circumstances.
Academics study simplified models which do not account for the changing, detailed situations of actual administration. This leads to bureaucrats applying fixed rules, even when the outcome is absurd.
Politicians concentrate on one or two measures of supposed success. They maximize these measures despite outcomes which are mediocre (at best) when viewed more generally. For example, government spending raises GDP, so it supposedly must be good.
Politicians hide bad outcomes from the public. Businesses must face the reality of success or failure, and adjust accordingly to deliver products of value to their customers. Logic, Failure, Intelligence (M)09/18/11 - The Social Pathologist [edited]
Most people do poorly at understanding reality. The kicker is that the participants in Dormer's studies are university graduates and professionals, people on the high side of the IQ curve. Dormer did not explicitly study IQ as it relates to complex planning, but he noted that there seemed to be no correlation between IQ and success. Personally, I feel that ability to plan for multiple interactions peaks at about IQ 125, dropping off rapidly on either side. (v)Chicago Boyz: The Logic of Failure, Redux
The "Otherwise Would Be" PoorFred: I'm out of work. I collect unemployment.
Mike: Let me help. I didn't know it was bad for you.
Fred: No way. When the checks run out, I'll have to get a job. Feel sorry for me then.
09/14/11 - EconLib by David Henderson [edited]
Tim Worstall: The federal government counts people who are poor without considering many of the benefits the poor receive. If those benefits were included, many millions of those people would not be considered poor.
David Henderson: There is a proposal to increase the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) by applying it to people with larger incomes. Workers at the new upper end would likely cut their work hours. They would recieve less in wages, offset partly by more income through the EITC.
They would be better off than before, counting the subsidy and more leisure, but their before-tax incomes would fall. Statistics would show an increase in poverty, and advocates might call for even larger EITC subsidies.
AMG: Statistics which include people who would be poor without benefits ignore the help they are already getting and exaggerates actual poverty. We should know three figures, the fraction of people in poverty despite aid, the number who are not in poverty because of aid, and the estimated amount people choose not to earn because they are receiving aid. Poverty, The Poor, Subsidies (v)Via Cafe Hayek
A collection of links on wellfare statistics and the condition of Social Security. (M)09/16/11 - Daniel J. Mitchell [edited]
Which State Has the Biggest Welfare Benefits of All?
We’re supposed to conclude that welfare benefits are too low. But, some states are providing welfare checks greater than 30% and 40% of the poverty level.
The poverty line is considerably above a level of material deprivation, $11,139 for an individual and $22,113 for a family of four. That is far above the average income in most nations.
Welfare checks are just one of many supplements. The data here does not count food stamps, Medicaid, housing subsidies, and a plethora of means-tested programs. Poor people have surprisingly high levels of consumption.
Clinton's Taxes Did Not Produce JobsProgressive: Raising taxes produces jobs. Clinton proved it.
Mike: The economy improved four years after Clinton's tax increases, coincidentally with lowered taxes from a Republican congress. Tell me the details. How do higher taxes produce jobs?
Progressive: I don't know the details. Progressive history tells us that.
09/13/11 - PolitiFact Truth-O-Meter
[edited] President Obama and his supporters insist that the Clinton tax hikes spurred the boom of the 1990s and that the subsequent Bush tax cuts hurt the economy. Indeed, employment grew quickly through the mid 1990s after Clinton's tax hike, and jobs didn't grow as quickly after the Bush tax cuts.
J.D. Foster is an economist with the Heritage Foundation. He criticizes the idea that raising tax rates is good for job growth. The economy was poised for a dramatic boom in 1993. Instead, we got negative real wage growth after tax hikes.
The Clinton boom started four years later in 1997, coinciding with Republicans taking firmer control of the budget, welfare reform, and a lower tax rate on capital gains. These lower-tax policies at least contributed to the boom. It is laughable that Clinton's tax hikes somehow led to a boom that began four years later.
AMG: Reliable comparisons and knowledge come from a fine grained analysis of policies and effects. Some people argue that higher tax rates correspond to prosperity over some periods. They should explain in detail just how a higher tax rate can produce jobs and prosperity. Is it because the government is known to be an efficient producer of wealth? Clinton, Higher Tax Rates, Jobs (M) Tax Cuts Produced the 1990s Boom, Not the Clinton Tax Hikes
03/04/2008 - Heritage.org by J.D. Foster
[edited] President Clinton pushed a major tax increase through Congress in 1993. Then, the story goes, the economy boomed. So, how can tax increases be bad for the economy? Maybe higher taxes strengthen the economy.
This story fails under closer scrutiny. Economic growth was solid but hardly spectacular in the years immediately following the 1993 tax increase. The real economic boom occurred after the 1997 tax cut. Low taxes are still a key to a strong economy. (M)The Clinton Tax Hikes Slowed Growth, and the Bush Cuts Promoted Recovery
09/06/11 - Heritage.org by Curtis Dubay
[edited] Team Obama insists that a tax increase will not impede economic recovery. They claim that the Clinton tax hikes spurred a boom in the 1990s, and that the subsequent Bush tax cuts hurt the economy. A detailed review shows the reverse.
Milton Friedman - Social Security MythGovernment: Social Security is a farsighted program to stabilize our society, by requiring that people prudently make contributions to support some of their retirement.
Critic: Without saving or investing, by pointing a gun at their children, and saying "Pay up".
09/13/11 - Wisbang by Michael Laprarie
[edited] The late economist Milton Friedman talked about Social Security 30 years ago (video 9:56).
There was no underlying public demand for Social Security, “the greatest sacred cow of them all”.
SSec is a combination of a regressive payroll tax ("contributions") and inequitable income subsidies ("benefits").
SSec was sold as an insurance program, but it is operated as a direct tax on younger generations to subsidize the old. People are not saving for their own retirement; they are arranging to take money from their children. It is recognized by many as a Ponzi scheme.
Sarah Palin adds clear and direct thoughts. Social Security, Milton Friedman, Ponzi Scheme, Sarah Palin (M)09/13/11 - ZeroHedge by Tyler Durden
Progressive Nobel Prize economist Paul Krugman in 1997: "Social Security Is A Ponzi Scheme And Will Soon Be Over" (M) 09/16/11 - Mark J. Perry [edited]
Is Social Security a Ponzi scheme? Links to articles.
Michael Tanner at Cato: At least Ponzi didn't force people to enroll. Social Security will not go broke as long as the government can force people to pay more taxes and accept fewer benefits. Is that better or worse than a Ponzi scheme?
Columnist Charles Krauthammer: Social Security is the most vital, humane, and fixable of all social programs. Forget Ponzi, are we going to fix it?
Dean Kalahar at Real Clear Markets: The truth is coming our way. As the baby boom retires, the takers will outnumber the payers. Social Security will collapse like a house of cards and take the American economy with it.
Keynesian Twilight ZoneObama: We will have jobs. We need money. Lot's of money. Bwaaahaaaahaaa. And more money. And jobs. Did you hear me say jobs?
Mike: Can we change the channel?
Dave: Nope. He is on all channels until 2013.
09/12/11 - Daily Pundit by Bill Quick
Rod Serling of the old Twilight Zone TV series introduces the eerie relationship between Obama and the depression era economist J.M.Keynes. Video 2:49.
Rod Serling's voice alone is worth the time. The spooky repetitions of Obama in his jobs speeches is funny, then scary. Who is in control of Obama's brain? Obama, Keynes, Twilight Zone
ObamaCare Silent But DeadlyFred: I haven't heard recently about ObamaCare. I think they repealed it.
Mike: No, it is still there, quietly waiting to spring into action.
09/12/11 - American Spectator by Grace-Marie Turner
[edited] Obama has stopped talking about the far-reaching effects of ObamaCare. The administration is dampening controversy by handing out waivers and attacking Republicans over Medicare.
Obamacare will have a devastating impact on our health sector, our economy, and our freedom. It will negatively affect seniors, families, young people, taxpayers, employers, employees, doctors and patients.
AMG: This article reviews the current status of ObamaCare and the changes to US healthcare that are set to occur in 2014 and later. This is conveniently after Obama expects to be in his second term as President. ObamaCare
Svensmark Climate CorrelationSvensmark: Your CO2 theory doesn't explain the relation between Sun activity and Earth's temperature. How about cosmic rays and clouds?
Government Scientists: We have a perfectly good theory going here, and we don't need any alternate hypothesis to spoil it.
09/11/11 - Streetwise Professor
[edited] Svensmark has tried to explain the strong correlation, at all time scales, between solar activity and Earth's temperature. Changes in direct energy from the Sun are not enough.
Svensmark proposes that solar cosmic rays affect cloud formation. Recent experiments at CERN generally support Svensmark. CERN delayed for years before grudgingly doing the work.
Establishment climate scientists have acted like the Inquisition to Svensmark’s Gallileo. This betrays deep insecurity about establishment explanations for climate variation. If the AGW hypothesis were truly strong, they would have nothing to fear from alternate theories. But, they show fear in their continued efforts to squelch not just Svensmark, but all alternate hypotheses. Global Warming, Sun, Svensmark
Peer Review and Sloppy ScienceQuote of Note: Phil Jones's work is central to theories of global warming. He responded to a request for his detailed data and methods: “We have 25 years or so invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?”
09/10/11 - The Economist An Array of Errors
[edited] Researchers Anil Potti and Joseph Nevins at Duke University published that they could predict the course of lung cancer using expression arrays, colorful activity patterns of thousands of genes in a tissue sample. The research was sloppy and wrong, despite initial peer review and repeated publication in respected medical journals. Those journals refused most critical comment.
AMG: Bad science refuses to allow review and criticism of the data, statistics, and computer code used to produce conclusions. Researchers fear that mistakes will be discovered. Note that many climate scientists will not release supporting data and methods for independent confirmation. Peer Review, Science, Data (M)Easy Opinions - Dispelling the Global Warming Myth
The story about Phil Jones refusal to make his detailed research public for scientific review.
Refuse to Be TerrorizedFred: I support TSA scanners, body and backpack searches, travel restrictions, increased law enforcement, warrentless wiretaps, and comprehensive databases of suspicious activity. I refuse to be terrorized.
Mike: Except by your own government.
09/09/11 - Knowledge Problem
[edited] Lynne Kiesling: The American people have accepted invasive search, extensive surveillance, and militarization of law enforcement. There is little or no analysis whether the benefits of reduced attacks justify the enormous financial, social, and cultural costs of our growing military-industrial complex.
Bruce Schneier: The point of terrorism is to further a political goal or express sheer hatred. The people killed are collateral damage. Blowing up planes or buses is not the goal, only tactics.
The rest of us are the real targets, not killed but terrorized. The real point is our reaction to the act. We are doing exactly what the terrorists want.
AMG: An autoimmune disease arises from an excessive reaction to an infection. A person remains ill long after an appropriate defense is in place. The continued immune reaction causes disability, and possibly death from the destruction of vital organs. Our response to Al Qaeda has gone far beyond deterrence, and is itself weakening us economically and civicly. Al Qaeda, Terrorism (M)Bruce Schneier in Wired from 2006
Why Not Universal College?Fred: I dreamed of being a highly paid industrial engineer.
Mike: Did lack of funds stop you?
Fred: No. I hated mathematics, physics, chemistry, and statistics.
09/08/11 - EconLog by Bryan Caplan
[edited] You may think that (almost) everyone should go to college. If so, does it follow that (almost) everyone should major in a high-paid technical field like engineering, medicine, or computer science?
If increased income is an overpowering reason to go to college, then the even larger income from a technical degree must be an overpowering reason to major in a technical field.
AMG: Most failed policy comes from misunderstanding cause and effect. College graduates make more money than high school graduates. Did the college education do that, or do colleges select for people who have the brains and temperament for later success?
I think it is almost all selection, not a miracle of college coursework. College, Income (M)09/08/11 - StarPress
"Thirty-seven percent are unclear about why they are coming to college."
Waiting to Save Money on Healthcare MedClerk: Okay now. We will schedule your cancer surgery 15 weeks from now. This will save precious national health resources.
Jim: How does that delay save money?
MedClerk: You might die in the meantime and not need surgery.
09/06/11 - Daniel J. Mitchell
The Telegraph UK - National Health Service makes patients wait "to lower expectations".
[edited] At least 10 primary care trusts (PCTs) in Britian have told hospitals to increase the wait to treat patients, to save money.
Some patients endured delays of 12-15 weeks after their doctors decided on surgery, although hospitals could have seen them sooner. The allowed maximum is 18 weeks.
One manager said "short waiting times create more demand for treatment". An NHS watchdog suggested that long wait times cause patients to remove themselves from the lists "either by dying or by paying for their own treatment". PCTs have gamed the system, using maximum limits to delay treatment.
AMG: When you control your own payment for healthcare, you are a valued customer. When you prepay through taxes, you are a cost and a statistic. Socialized Medicine, Government Healthcare
Union Hires Non-UnionUnion Rep: [shouts] Make Walmart pay a living wage with benefits!
Picketer: But, you hired us to picket at minimum wage without benefits.
Union Rep: We couldn't help the working man as much if we paid you more.
09/05/11 - Ludwig von Mises Institute by Briggs Armstrong
09/20/10 - The Daily Show by Jon Stuart (video 5:42)
The United Food and Commercial Workers of Nevada picketed Walmart, protesting its minimum wages, lack of benefits, and cuts in working hours.
The UFCW hired non-union labor to do the picketing, at minimum wage, without benefits, and often cut working hours to fit the schedule of union organizers.
Mike Gittings represents UFCW local 711. He explained "We have to do our best with the limited resources available to us." Wallmart, unions, hypocrisy
Crumbling InfrastructurePolitician: We can get this country moving again by spending on needed infrastructure.
Citizen: What is your plan?
Politician: The sidewalks around a certain property of mine need repair. That's a start.
09/05/11 - CafeHayek by Russ Roberts
[edited] 11/19/08 - NY Times by David Leonhardt
Part of the problem is inadequate financing for infrastructure. But, the bigger problem is how scattershot the money is spent.
Government agencies usually don’t do a rigorous analysis of how a project would affect traffic and the environment, or its cost compared to alternatives. In a recent survey of local officials, 80% decided largely on politics. Fewer than 20% cited potential benefits.
Spending on infrastructure is up 50% in the last 10 years, adjusted for inflation, and the highest since 1981. But, monumental waste produces few and small improvements. infrastructure, stimulus spending
What Green Jobs?Fred: The government announced 300 new green jobs today.
Mike: Did they also announce the job losses?
09/02/11 - The Telegraph UK by James Delingpole
[edited] Gordon Hughes is Professor of Economics at Edinburgh University. His online report is The Myth of Green Jobs.
He concludes that “Green jobs” are a loss overall. Diverting taxpayer money into the renewable energy sector may indeed “create” jobs there, at the cost of many more jobs in the broader economy.
They expect the ordinary man to sit quietly as the cost of his energy doubles, his standard of living goes down, the countryside is ruined, and the ailing economy is worsened by a Government which no longer gives a damn what he thinks about anything.
AMG: A review of the true costs in Britain and the political deals which guide investment into expensive, green technology. green jobs, renewable (v)Via Instapundit
Basic Principle of the New DealPresident: We will now pivot and act resolutely to overcome the serious problems presented to us in these past months and years.
Reporter: Then, what is your guiding principle?
President: Our principles will emerge as we solve each problem in turn.
Reporter: I see. You are a big picture, idea type of leader.
President: Yes. I would not want to limit our problem solving capabilities by committing prematurely to particulars.
08/28/11 - EasyOpinions
Alvin Hansen: “I really do not know what the basic principle of the New Deal is.” New Deal
Meeting the Threat, Spare No ExpenseGovernment: We will fight until the last member of Al Qaeda is dead.
Citizen: Is that your cost-benefit analysis?
08/27/11 - Economics Prof. David Henderson
Wars Will Go On Forever
[edited] Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta gave a speech. Henderson asked a question.
"I have read that an al Qaeda computer, seized in Afghanistan in 2001, indicated that their budget for WMD research, almost all on primitive chemical weapons, was $2,000 to $4,000. You have stated that fewer than two dozen key operatives remain in al Qaeda. When do you end the war, because the costs are so much higher than the hypothetical gains?"
Panetta: "The war will end when the individuals who have threatened this country are no longer there to threaten our country."
From context, Panetta means that the wars will continue as long as there are threats. So, he is arguing for carrying on the wars forever. Afghanistan, Al Qaeda
Hands Up, Put Down That GuitarBusinessman: What permits do I need for my business?
Justice Dept: Get the ones you think are best. We'll review your work and prosecute you if you get it wrong. We don't run your business. We can't predict every little thing.
08/27/11 - Richard Fernandez
[edited] The Department of Justice has raided Gibson guitar factories, seizing pallets of wood and wooden guitars. The reason given is that Gibson is using wood harvested from the Third World in environmentally harmful ways. Gibson has permits from those foreign governments, US Customs, and the Forest Stewardship Council. The DOJ has not raided other, similar guitar manufacturers.
Was it because Gibson is a non-union shop? Did they offend some powerful interest? What more could they have done to prove that their wood was legit? "Kafkaesque" comes to mind.
Cross an international border with an instrument made of Brazilian Rosewood, and you better have complete documentation proving the age of the instrument. Otherwise, you could lose it to a zealous customs agent and face fines and prosecution. Kafkaesque, Gibson quitars, Justice Department (M)08/27/11 - Doug Ross Journal
[edited] One of Gibson’s leading competitors is C.F. Martin. Its CEO, Chris Martin IV gave $35,400 to Democratic candidates and the DNC over the past few election cycles. C.F. Martin’s catalog shows several of their guitars contain “East Indian Rosewood”, the same wood confiscated from Gibson.
Negotiating with an OrganizerFred: If you don't compromise, I will shoot your sister.
Max: Hah! We both know you won't do that.
Fred: I give in. It was a bluff.
Max: You should have threatened to shoot my dog.
08/05/11 - ChicagoBoyz → ArtChance
[edited] The Republicans negotiate from “Getting to Yes”. Obama and his ilk negotiate from Alinsky's “Rules for Radicals.” Obama didn’t want a deal in the recent debt debate. He wanted and got a political process that could be played to his advantage against the “nice guy” Republicans.
Following Alinsky, he never made a concrete proposal, just pie in the sky positions. He made the Republicans negotiate with themselves to present something he would buy. Like negotiating with a public employee union, if you start by wanting an agreement, you wind up compromising yourself into their position. That is what Boehner and McConnell did.
To bargain with a communist-trained negotiator, you must start with a position that would kill him politically or economically if he accepted it. You really have to do what the Dems were accusing the Tea Party of. You must say quietly, “be reasonable so I don’t have to give you this alternative.”
AMG: The Republicans started with "default for a few weeks would be better than your continued spending and increasing debt". But, they fearfully accepted insignificant and false spending cuts rather than endure default. The Republicans argued for the good, but their negotiating position became a bluff, and the Dems called it. Debt Limit, Alinsky, Negotiating (M)Saul Alinsky: Rules For Radicals [online] (M)05/14/11 - Daily Pundit by Bill Quick
US Default Is Best
A few weeks of default would not be a disaster. Continued borrowing and spending will be.
Free Ice Cream ConesFred: You have a nice coffee maker there.
Mike: It's great. It was expensive, but they gave me a coupon for $40 off which I couldn't pass up.
Fred: But, you are not smiling.
Mike: Funny thing. I saw one later, just like it. No coupon, but the base price was even less than I paid in total.
Fred: Coupons are funny that way.
08/03/11 - Easy Opinions
Politicians ask for the power to borrow money. Thay promise to pay off the loans by raising taxes on the rich, the top 2% of earners. But think. After the rich buy loopholes in the tax law, who is going to do the paying? Taxes, Debt, Fair Share
Keynes Brilliant MomentFred: Keynes proposed that everyone would have a job if the government would print more money.
Mike: If true, why would anyone work?
08/01/11 - EasyOpinions
A lost recording reveals the economist Keynes' moment of discovery. Keynes, Economics, Employment
Obama won't show you the plan.Sally: I do have a plan. Yes I do.
Jane: Let's see it then.
Sally: It's a secret. It's for me to know and for you to find out. [sticks tongue out] Nyah Nyah Nyah.
07/26/11 - Ace of Spades
Obama's Communications Director Jay Carney answers reporter Chuck Todd.
Carney: No, we won't write our plan down. To even ask that the President show his plan is to repeat a Republican talking point.
Todd: Release your plan.
Carney: We've shown a lot of leg.
Todd: Why not just release it?
Carney: You need it written down?
AMG: Obama is President of the United States. He has a vast staff and analytical support. The US has a budget crisis. Does Obama not have a written plan? That would be abject incompetence. Not showing that plan? Irresponsible manipulation of this country's future.
Who is responsible for threatening the well being of our country? Obama says in effect: Not me, look over there. Those Republicans with the wrong, written plan are the ones who are manipulating this situation. Budget, Written Plan (M)07/26/11 - Hot Air by Allahpundit
Why hasn't Obama produced his own debt-ceiling plan?
[edited] His first budget failed unanimously in the Senate. Since then, Obama has not offered a specific plan of his own on virtually anything. He talks about “visions”, “contours”, and “frameworks”.
In the last five days, the president has (a) undermined a bargain with John Boehner by demanding an unacceptable eleventh-hour condition, (b) rejected “out of hand” a bipartisan compromise, and (c) delivered a speech that painted his opponents as intractable extremists.
Americans want to know Obama’s proposed, detailed solution. The White House dismissed that question as a GOP talking point. Carney condescended to ask the reporter if he was capable of taking notes.
Fooling us as thay did ReaganFred: I'm hungry. Buy a pizza for me now, and I'll make it up to you later.
Mike: How will you do that? You are always broke.
Fred: I won't ask you for anything else, for a week.
07/26/11 - Cold Fury -> Full Asylum
From Ronald Reagan's memoir [edited]:
I made a deal with Congressional Democrats in 1982 to get additional spending cuts and to show the financial community we were serious about reducing the deficit.
I supported a limited, loophole-closing tax increase to raise more than $98.3 billion over three years. The Democrats agreed to cut spending by $280 billion during the same period.
The Democrats broke their pledge, and we never got those cuts.
AMG: The deadbeat, comic character Wimpy repeatedly made this offer: "I'll gladly pay you on Thursday for a hamburger today." Deficit, Government Spending, Budget Deal
The Memory of IdiotsFred: I haven't seen you in a while. How are things?
Mike: (looks up information on tablet PC) Yes, Fred! Pretty good. Let's meet later to talk. Or, you could just review my tweets.
07/15/11 - RiehlWorldView by Sissy Willis
[edited] Researchers at Columbia wonder if the internet is ruining our minds.
As Roseanne Roseannadanna said, "It's always something -- if it ain't one thing, it's another". Memory, Internet, Sarcasm (M)Roseanne Roseannadanna was a character on Saturday Night Live played by Gilda Radner.
The Space ShuttleFred: Each $1 billion space shuttle was reusable, so it saved money.
Mike: Much better than using up a Saturn V, at $10 million about 1/100th the cost.
Fred: Men and women found glory going into space.
Mike: The ones who survived.
07/15/11 - Mises by Timothy Terrell
[edited] George S. Giles: It would be hard to think of a more expensive way to put payload into orbit. The shuttle cost more than $1 billion. It does not fly like a plane although it looks like one. Flight control computers by IBM do the flying. The pilots only drop the wheels on landing.
A Saturn V cost $10 million. After the Challenger blew up, congress said to NASA, “Let’s go back to building the Saturn V because it is cheaper, more reliable, and lifts more payload into a higher orbit.” NASA responded, “We can’t, because we threw the plans away.” Space Shuttle (M) 07/21/11 - Mises by David Veksler
The Space Shuttle is dead. Good riddance!
[edited] Building the shuttle was estimated at $5 billion to deliver stuff to orbit at $118 per pound. It was intended to fly much like a plane, cheap and easily serviced, with massive cargo capacity, and flights every few weeks.
The reality was different when completed in 1981. It was 20% too heavy to deliver intended military payloads. The payload cost was $27,000 per pound delivered to orbit. The overhaul after each flight took many months and cost $1.5 billion. Regular “shuttle” service was impractical.
The shuttle exploded with cargo and crew every decade or so, costing about $12 billion to redesign, idle in the meantime.
The shuttle was a total failure from the start.
Obama Makes Up Threat to Starve GrandmaReporter: With less money available, will you cut the federal workforce?
Obama: We may have to cut off granny first.
07/13/11 - Washington Examiner by Mark Tapscott
[edited] Washington receives about $200 billion monthly and sends out about $100 billion for Social Security and Medicare. Why is Obama claiming the checks may not go out?
Obama is playing the demogogue. He is trying to scare seniors into making panicked calls to their congressmen, begging them to do whatever Obama and the Democrats want in order to keep the checks coming. Debt Limit, Obama (v)Via Instapundit
A Wide Awake LiberalTeam Obama: We Liberals will efficiently regulate healthcare and take more taxes from the successful for a fairer society. Any criticism of this is shortsighted stupidity and against the common good.
Jane: I supported Liberalism to support my personal freedom and to say what I want. Your brand of Liberalism is about controlling my life and limiting my speech. No way.
07/11/11 - The Macho Response
A Flower Child Grows Up
Jodi Carroll gives a great presentation about her desire for personal freedom of choice. She presents how Obama's definition of a Liberal leaves her feeling controlled. Video 13:14. Liberal, Obama, Freedom (M)07/08/11 Big Government - Bob Parks interviews the "Regretful Obama Voter"
Jodi Carroll: [edited] I was born to really cherish freedom. I have always been called a “free spirit” by those who know me well. For a long time, I believed that freedom was what liberalism was all about.
Marketing CapitalismMax: Corporate managers extract profits from the labor of the workers.
Fred: They are paid out of the production of the company, just as you are.
Max: They make undeserved profits. I make a well deserved salary.
07/10/11 - Easy Opinions
The terms "capitalism" and "profit" are undeservedly negative. capitalism, profit
Police AcademyReporter: Tell me about the bank robbery.
Police Spokesman: The incident may have involved removing something from the bank, possibly money, or something else valuable, maybe. We are investigating, so don't hold me to any of this. The situation is fluid and epistomology is difficult. Officially, I don't really know anything.
07/09/11 - EO → Dr. Grumpy
The police in Fargo, N. Dakota seem unable to simply describe a horrible fireworks accident. Fireworks, Humor, Police
Primary Care is DeadPatient: There is something else I would like to discuss.
Doctor: (typing into computer, it beeps) Sorry, our time is up for now. If it remains important, we'll talk at your next appointment. (types more)
07/08/11 - Covert Rationing Blog
[edited] Government payers have reduced the condition of primary care physicians.
Arbitrary acts of congress determine their pay, like workers in the old Soviet collectives.
They are directed to “practice medicine” strictly according to directives (guidelines) handed down by panels of sanctioned experts. PCPs are enjoined from using their professional experience and specific knowledge of their patients.
They are limited to 7.5 minutes per patient “encounter” only for approved interactions in conformance with Pay for Performance checklists.
Their every move must be carefully documented according to incomprehensible rules, on innumerable forms. This confounds patient care, but aids stone-witted bureaucrats who are employed to second-guess every clinical decision and action.
They are required to apply covert, bedside healthcare rationing.
They are pressed to nullify the classic doctor-patient relationship, by the healthcare bureaucracy which licenses them, by the United States Supreme Court, and by the bankrupt, new-age ethical precepts of their own profession. Medical Rationing, Primary Care
Leftist Economic ProgramsDirector: We will deliver a fair service at an equitable cost that covers the high quality of our agency's efforts.
Assistant: Why are we outlawing private services?
Director: To protect the public from an unfairly low price.
07/08/11 - Chicago Boyz
Comment at Belmont Club by hdgreene
[edited] The uniting concept in the Leftist economic program is the politically controlled Cartel, whether in health care, energy, or finance. Cartels force the consumer to pay higher prices for a lower quality product. They force workers and suppliers to do more for less. They exist for the benefit of those who control the Cartel. In this case, that is bureaucrats, technocrats, politicians, and their cronies.
They do not promote these Cartels by announcing the real purpose. They tell us it will save lives, money, or the entire planet. Salesmanship is important, especially when selling lemons. Economic Program, Leftist
Perfecting Your ChildParent: Mickey is unhappy about his demanding schedule of extra education, but he will thank us later.
Friend: When he calls once a year?
06/30/11 - EconLog by Bryan Caplan
[edited] A question for perfectionist parents who strive to raise prodigies. Instead of pushing your kids to succeed, why not try to perfect yourself instead? Take piano lessons for three hours a day, or master Mandarin.
The answer is obvious. There is a huge opportunity cost for these activities, and a low expected payoff.
So, instead of perfecting yourself or your children, show them by constant example how reasonable, just, and loving one human being can be to another. Education, Child Development, Parenting (M)11/15/10 - Raising Successful Children
Econlog by Bryan Caplan
[edited] Science supports the sentimental view that parents should simply cherish, encourage, and accept their children. Studies of twins show that upbringing has much less affect on success than most of us believe.
Modern parents need to calm down and see their family time as leisure, not work. Having fun with your children may not prepare them for the future, but there are few more rewarding ways to spend your time.
Doctors Can't Screen For EverythingFred: I want tests for lung cancer, prostate, heart disease, and exercise stress, plus all needed follow-ups.
Doctor: You already test positive for hypochondria.
05/26/11 - Kevin MD
AMG: I like this explanation about what medical testing can and cannot do. This is useful for considering whether increased testing of well patients can really reduce medical costs. Medical testing
High Prices and Low Pay Are GoodFred: I can't find work, and I am barely getting by.
Alice: Work is a rat race which literally burns resources. I am glad that you are now in accord with Gaia, rather than fighting her.
05/26/11 - EasyOpinions
MSN Money has published a particularly strange article "Why you should love $5 gas". So, I apply its facile suggestions directly to unemployment. Unemployment can be good for you and the rest of us too! Gasoline, Unemployment
Obama and the Guest Book DateDoctor: (patient seems disoriented) What is today's date?
Mike: May 24th.
Doctor: What year is it?
Doctor: (concerned) Who is the President?
Mike: (sad expression) Barack Obama.
05/26/11 - Easy Opinions
President Obama signed a guest book a few days ago at Westminster Abby, London. He dated his signature with the correct day, but wrote the year as 2008.
Does he need medical attention? Obama guest book date
Gas Price HypocrisyDemocrats: May 2007 - High gas prices show the corruption of the capitalist, corporatist running dogs George Bush and Dick Cheney. They hate the working man.
Democrats: April 2011 - High gas prices save lives, from less driving and pollution. If you feel an economic pinch, try buying a smaller new car with higher efficiency.
05/23/11 - Don Smith - video 4:20
[summary] In May 2007, Democrats led by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi pointed to the damaging, high price of gasoline at $3 per gallon. They said that this proved the corruption of then President George Bush and VP Dick Cheney. In 2008, candidate Obama spoke to the tragedy of high gas prices. This theme helped elect Obama and gain control of both houses of Congress.
Gasoline was $1.87 per gallon when Obama was elected, and is now $4.00. Today, Obama smiles when people complain about high prices, and suggests that they buy a hybrid. The Progressive news media promotes high gas prices as saving lives. Less use of gasoline produces less pollution, which by their calculation, saves many lives.
AMG: By this reasoning, gasoline kills people, so let's just ban its use. Is that the sophisticated economic insight which you want applied to running the USA? High Gasoline Prices (v)Via Cafe Hayek (v)The Don Smith Show
Civil ForfeitureFred: The police confiscated your car?
Jane: It is a criminal. It was my husband's partner in having illegal sex.
05/21/11 - Cafe Hayek by Don Boudreaux
[edited] Under civil-forfeiture law, a court declares a piece of property to be the wrongdoer. This legal fiction allows courts to punish a foreign and unreachable criminal (smuggler, pirate) without first convicting him. The state confiscates the property used for the illegal act.
The Supreme Court has upheld Michigan's right to take Mrs. Bennis's automobile because her husband used it in an illegal act of sex, punished separately by a $250 fine. Michigan doesn't have to convict Mrs. Bennis of anything, although Mrs. Bennis is completely reachable within the jurisdiction of Michigan.
AMG: We now have the freedom to elect anyone we wish, to have absolute power over us at his discretion. Civil Forfeiture
US Default Is BestFred: If the Republicans play chicken with the Debt Limit, the US could default!
Mike: The US still has credit. Default now would be technical, only a delay in making interest payments on our debt. If we don't stop our reckless borrowing, we may face no ability to borrow or repay, without much warning. That is not technical. That is bankruptcy. They repossess the auto while we eat peanut butter sandwiches.
05/14/11 - Daily Pundit by Bill Quick
Stanley Druckenmiller: [edited] Say you own a 10-year Treasury bond, and you see that one of the interest payments to you, over 10 years, is going to be delayed by two weeks. That is a "default". You have no doubt that you will be paid, but there will be a delay.
In exchange for that delay, you observe massive cuts in entitlements and the implementation of policies which make you much more assured that you will receive your payments 7-10 years in the future.
In the alternate case, the US debt limit is quickly raised to avoid any possible delay in payments. But, the US will continue to pile up trillions of dollars of debt, possibly leading to a Greek situation in 7-10 years.
As an owner or purchaser of that Treasury bond, which scenario do you want? It is a no-brainer. You want default, if that is what it takes to have a sane financial policy.
Bill Quick: Our politicians are determined to drain the credit of the US, and they want to give you the second case. Why would anyone want to own the long-term debt of the United States?
AMG: Our politicians want to avoid any policy decision. They prefer a crushing debt crisis in 10 years, rather than a policy fight now. They intend to max-out the credit card, stopping only when it is cancelled. Beware, long-term credit problems can become short-term without warning as the buyers wise up. US debt crisis, Default, Debt limit (M)05/16/11 - Craig Steiner
The same story with some more financial detail
Socialism = GreedFred: Our unions protect the working man ...
Mike: ... by taxing the working men who aren't in the union.
02/21/11 - Roger L. Simon
[edited] Governor Scott Walker followed the voters' wishes. His bill cut government pensions slightly and limited the power of public unions. This would create some equality between increasingly rich public workers and their poorer private sector counterparts.
All Hell broke loose. Some angry demonstrators waved placards identifying their governor with Hitler and Mubarak. Why has our left become so reactionary, so unwilling to adapt that they “act out” like adolescents deprived of the family car keys? Liberalism has become a mask for greed, a way of hiding selfishness from others and from themselves. It’s a deflection.
They hide behind "union", but it’s fake. Modern liberals are overcome by their sense of entitlement. Christopher Lasch’s Culture of Narcissism has infected them, and reality cannot intrude. They want their pension even if there is no money, even when others have to pay for it, others who are broke and without any pension of their own.
Socialism, my fat fanny! It’s just plain old selfish greed. Leftist Unions Greed (v)Via Instapundit by Ed Driscoll
Terrorist Nuclear Game TheoryFred: Did you hear this one about a state sponsor of terrorism? It acquired a nuclear weapon and couldn't read the instructions. But, the West thought it had the capability, and wiped out most of that state with tactical nukes.
Mike: That isn't funny.
09/19/03 - Belmont Club by Richard Fernendez
[summary]: The US and Russia had a nuclear standoff. Each wanted defense, not the destruction of the other. In contrast, Islamist terrorists have plainly stated that they will use nuclear and biological weapons against the West if they can acquire them. They want destruction.
If the West knows that terrorists have a WMD, this will trigger preemptive attack by the West. Why wait to be attacked first?
If a terrorist state acquires the ability to manufacture multiple weapons, this may trigger massive preemptive attack. Even one terrorist use of WMD will certainly trigger a massive response aimed at destroying the ability of that state to continue manufacture.
The desire of Muslim states to acquire WMD threatens their survivial. Success would create the conditions which would invite massive attack. Their only hope is that the West will win the war on terrorist groups by eliminating them. Not much hope. Pakistan terrorism Osama bin Laden nuclear weapons WMD (M) 05/05/11 - ChicagoBoyz by Trent Telenko
[edited] Osama bin Laden's residence was 800 yards from Pakistan’s West Point. This is clear and convincing evidence that Pakistan sponsors terrorism against America.
Not Questioning Osama Bin LadenFred: The US has issued contradictory stories about how Osama was killed.
Mike: The fog of war.
Fred: The fog of hiding the true story.
05/04/11 - Michael Ledeen
AMG: A few points from Mr. Ledeen's post.
Pakistan was hiding Osama. The Afghan war was going badly for al-Qaeda. Maybe many within AQ wanted to relocate to Egypt, but Osama didn't want to admit defeat. Osama's internal enemies decided to give him up. The Pakistanis agreed, wanting less trouble from Afganistan and assurance that US aid would continue.
The Pakistanis agreed not to interfere, under the assurance that Osama would not be interrogated. No revelations would emerge about the Paks, Zawahiri, the Saudi deals, or about the support for AQ from Assad in Syria. It’s quite a long list. Everyone wanted Osama dead, not interrogated.
This might explain why there are confused stories from the US about why Osama was killed rather than captured. It might explain why US aircraft were not bothered by Pakistan's air defenses, and why no Pakistani military investigated the noisy 45 minute assault while it was happening. Pakistan, Osama Bin Laden (M)05/07/11 - PJ Tatler by Michael Ledeen
Did Zawahiri Betray bin Laden?
Ledeen lists the candidates who might have wanted to kill Bin Laden. (M)05/07/11 - PJ Tatler by Dan Miller
Why not release the order directing action against bin Laden?
[edited] I have not yet seen any specific calls for release of whatever document embodied the Presidential Finding authorizing the operation. Was it done on the basis of President Reagan’s 1986 Presidential Finding? Did President Obama sign a supplemental Memorandum of Notification? When?
There is a claim that “Unlike Clinton and his National Security Advisor, Sandy Berger, Obama actually authorized a strike against bin Laden when given the chance.” If there was no such order, that would be quite interesting.
Medicare Is Lousy InsuranceFred: Don't touch my Medicare. I want the free insurance that I was promised and have paid in to collect.
Mike: Uh, Medicare isn't free, and you need additional private insurance to cover the parts where Medicare is inadequate. I'm sorry you had to pay in for all of those years, but you will keep paying.
05/02/11 - John Goodman on Health Policy
[edited] Most of the elderly hold onto Medicare for dear life because there is nothing else available and they have no basis for comparison. But in fact, Medicare is a lousy insurance program. It would be impossible to sell it on the private market.
ObamaCare supporters point to big co-pays in private coverage, but Medicare has no limit on out-of-pocket spending. Medicare is vastly complicated, enormously expensive to consumers, and massively underfunded. Medicare Obamacare (M)California Health Advocates - Medicare Benefits for 2011.
The chart shows all Medicare Part A and B premiums, deductibles, and co-pays. Additional Medigap insurance can cover some of the gaps in coverage and pay for all or part of Medicare co-pays and deductibles, depending on the policy. Some Medicare Advantage plans may help cover these costs.
AMG: Medicare is not free health insurance. It is complicated, with fees, copays, and coverage limits. You need private insurance to cover what is left out of Medicare.
Who is going to rob you?Mugger: (points gun) Give me your money. Quick.
Mike: Oh well now. Are you serious? I don't have much money on ..
No Nonsense Self Defense, a website by Marc "Animal" MacYoung.
[edited] A mugger doesn't hold the same values as you do. He has no sympathy or empathy for you. Whether you live or die is no matter to him. Except as it might affect him, he has no concern about your emotions or what you think. If those do affect him, he'll view it as interference with him getting what he wants, and you won't like the results.
While he could pull that trigger on a whim, most people are harmed by a mugger because quite frankly, they pissed him off. They either tried to stall him, argue with him, resist ineffectively, or scare him away.
The mugger is only concerned with himself and the NOW. He has no fear of the police, nor does he have any concern about long term repercussions. The threat of prison is like threatening to send him to his room.
Often, he considers that YOU are holding HIS money for him. Most importantly, he has absolutely no hesitation about pulling the trigger, because you don't matter to him. Robbery, Self Defense
Narratives Misguide Our LivesFred: We must stop using fossil fuels. All of our lives are at stake.
Mike: No problem. We can shut off your electricity tomorrow, and come by next week to collect your automobiles.
04/18/11 - Robert Bidinotto
[edited] Most people are directed by Narratives that are unconscious and never soberly considered.
"Untouched nature is paradise and human choices upset the balance." This Garden of Eden myth leads to Environmentalism.
"We should take from the rich and give to the poor." This modern version of Robin Hood leads to Communism, Socialism, and their Progressive variants.
"David is morally superior to Goliath." This Old Testament story has led to disastrous U.S. foreign policy, blindly aimed at toppling powerful regimes in favor of the "little guy", even if he is a jihadist wearing a suicide vest, and is eager to slaughter us. Narratives, Philosophy (v)Via Ed Driscoll
Speculations on OilFred: Obama suspects that speculators are raising the price of oil for all of us.
Mike: Here's an experiment. I'll bet you that eggs will sell for $1.50 /dozen in the supermarket next month. We will be egg speculators, and raise the price of eggs.
Fred: You're nuts. That won't change anything.
04/22/11 - Powerline by John Hinderaker
[edited] Obama is blaming oil speculators for raising the price of oil. Warren Meyer explains concisely and clearly why this blame is misplaced and itself a fraud.
Meyer: Speculators are supposedly raising the price of oil by buying part of current production and storing it away from the market. Four tankers holding one million barrels each would only store 1% of current inventories, one hour of world oil demand. Someone would have to be buying this amount of oil every day and storing it indefinitely to keep prices elevated.
This would bankrupt anyone in the attempt. Doing this for six months would cost $80 billion just for the oil and would require storage larger than the US strategic petroleum reserve.
AMG: Speculators are betting on changes in the price of oil, but can't be affecting that price. They change the price of oil as much as betting on the Super Bowl changes the outcome of the game. Oil Price, Speculation (M) 02/22/11 - Knowledge Problem by Lynne Kiesling
Some links about oil and speculation. I like this statement at Reason:
Matt Welch: Here is federal energy policy: Do nothing significant to increase domestic supply, and create mandates to have XX% of future supply come from magical green leprechauns. When prices go up (surprise!) you know what to do: Blame the “speculators”. (M) Profits and Gas Taxes per Gallon
04/27/11 - Carpe Diem by Prof. Mark Perry
According to Exxon Mobil, in the first three months of 2011, each gallon of gasoline, diesel, or finished product sold in the US produced average profits of 7 cents/gallon. Government taxes averaged 48 cents/gallon.
Leftist Problem SolvingFred: We are not selling as many Health Bagels as we planned. People just aren't interested in them.
Mike: Those bagels are fundamentally good. We only need more advertising, doctor endorsements, city support, a statewide public service campaign, a Presidential ...
04/06/11 - Pajamas Media - Comment by Richard Fernandez (Wretchard)
[edited] The Left expands the context of a problem in order to solve it. A problem has to be elevated to its maximum extent before anything meaningful is deemed possible, because the Left is at heart a religion.
The Left says: we have difficulties because we haven’t expanded governance enough; failed to consult a sufficiently large group of people; omitted to include enough social work and political components into a
military kinetic-event campaign.
A real strategy emphasizes subsidiarity and economy of force, to lean hard on the center of gravity. The exact opposite tendency applies to Barack Obama. He likes dividing effort into penny packets. It is cool for him to remain uncommited and yet be in as deep as he can be.
Conversations with the hard left are never about the truth or falsity of specific facts or situations. They are debates about belief or world views. To renounce his views, a Leftist needs another religion to convert to. He will become a “neo conservative”, or a fundamentalist Muslim, or a devout Christian. But he will never become an ordinary Joe who is happy to watch football or build bad furniture in the basement. Leftists, Obama
Kingdom of LiesFred: Where is the criticism of our government?
Mike: They are Democrats. They don't need criticism.
04/03/11 - Victor Davis Hanson
[edited] I have no idea whether preemptively invading an oil-producing, Arab Muslim country, without congressional approval, is an impeachable or humanitarian act, or both. You see "it depends", in the same way that Trotsky’s photo appeared and disappeared in the snapshots of the Soviet leaders.
I suppose the same is true about prisoner abuse. I remember traveling in Europe and seeing eerie, black, Klan-like hoods and capes with French, Italian and German sloganeering about the atrocious sexual humiliation that took place at Abu Ghraib.
I imagine there won’t be much this summer about supposed transgressions in Afghanistan, where civilians were supposed to have been executed rather than humiliated. Things "just happen" I suppose, in wars after 2009, as in Libya too.
AMG: In George Orwell's book "1984", the totalitarian state determined what was true or not, changing as was convenient. Orwell's story reminds us how public opinion is shaped today, about what is important or not, true or not, and relevant or not.
Our discovery is that Orwell's "GoodThink" does not first require a totalitarian State. It is GoodThink that creates that State, through people who want that outcome.
A reporter's highest principle is to examine and question the policies and people of goverment, which takes our taxes and rules our lives, except when Democrats are in power. Orwell, Truth
Obama's Oil StatisticsObama: I am the oil President. We are producing more oil now than at any time in our history.
Wag: I blame Bush.
03/30/11 - PowerLine by John Hinderaker
[edited] Obama's policies have reduced domestic oil production below the levels that had been projected based on projects previously in development.
The Outer Continental Shelf holds at least 80 billion barrels of oil, four times as much as the 'two percent' the President says we have.
Obama: The oil industry has leased millions of acres where they are not producing anything. They are just sitting on supplies of American energy that are ready to be tapped.
Rebuttal: But, not every lease holds oil or gas. Further, the Obama Administration is withholding permits needed to develop these resources.
Obama: We consume 25% of the world's oil, but only have 2% of the proven reserves. Drilling is futile.
Rebuttal: The US definition of "proven oil reserves" only counts what is available for development under current government regulations. For example, the petroleum in ANWR is not included even though it is known to be vast. Oil, Proven Reserves
Washing MachinesFred: ( drinking café latté ) We must reduce our energy consumption to about the levels of 1870, or we are all going to die from Global Warming.
Mike: I'm willing to die, if I can have clean clothes in the meantime.
03/30/11 - 03/21 - TED by Hans Rosling - Video 9:15
Electric washing machines are among the most important inventions of the 20th century. They freed immense amounts of time for women to improve themselves and their families. Even hard core environmentalists use washing machines.
Today, 5 billion people out of 7 billion wash their clothes by hand. 2 billion don't have electricity. Shall we deny them their (supposedly harmful) carbon footprint? Energy, Electricity (v)Via Cafe Hayek
Rationing by Never EventSurgeon: The risks of elective surgery for this patient are just too large.
Hospitalist: Really? He doesn't seem that bad.
Surgeon: I mean the risks to me.
03/24/11 - Covert Rationing Blog
A "never event" is a medical complication that should never happen, such as leaving a sponge behind in surgery. But, the government has already specified in-hospital falls, skin ulcers, and surgical site infections (among others) as never events, although these are not entirely preventable. What is the government doing?
Specify never events that cannot be entirely avoided in elderly, sick, fat, and malnourished patients.
State that never events should never happen.
Refuse to pay doctors and hospitals for treating never events under Medicare.
Insurance companies will also refuse, following Medicare guidelines.
Lawyers will sue and win when never events occur.
This applies pressure on doctors to avoid treating risky patients, where possible. "Conservative" treatment will become preferred.
Medicare/Medicaid spending will fall as elderly, sick, fat, and malnourished patients receive "less risky" care.
Medical rationing is achieved without using the word "rationing". Medicare Rationing Never Event
No Child-Only InsuranceFred: A few weeks ago, I received a letter from the government at my grocery store. It said that henceforth I must give free food to any hungry person who comes into the store.
Mike: How are you handling it?
Fred: I'm out of business. Are you hiring?
03/23/11 - InsureBlog
[edited] The original law on health insurance required an insurer to cover pre-existing conditions for a child if it accepted the application. The insurer could charge a higher rate for a sick child, or it could deny coverage.
HHS Sec. Sebelius decided this was not fair. She prohibited health insurance companies from denying coverage to children.
AMG: Under Sebelius's rule, if an insurer offered child-only insurance, it would have to accept all applications and cover pre-existing conditions. So, all insurers in the U.S. stopped offering child-only coverage. An insurer does not have to accept a child into a plan it does not offer.
Children are still covered as dependents of parents who are accepted for insurance, regardless of the child's pre-existing conditions, at somewhat higher rates overall. Child Only Insurance (M)11/20/10 - Easy Opinions
Health Insurance Thirst Mandate
Who pays when the government mandates insurance benefits?
Banana Equivalent DoseFred: Pass me that banana, please.
Mike: No way. I don't have any lead shielding.
03/14/11 - Watts Up With That by Anthony Watts
[edited] Bananas are naturally and particularly radioactive due to their content of potassium-40. The banana equivalent dose is the radiation exposure received by eating a banana. It is a convenient way to judge the practical risks of radiation.
Bananas regularly cause false alarms on sensors used to detect smuggling of nuclear material.
A radiation dose of 10 millirems (1000 bananas) increases your risk of death by one part in one million. That is the same risk as eating 40 tablespoons of peanut butter, or of smoking 1.4 cigarettes. Radiation, Banana (v)Instapundit (M)03/19/11 - XKCD
The little squares show relative radiation doses. Eating one banana is about equal to living for one year within 50 miles of a nuclear power plant. (v)Via ChicagoBoyz
Powering Down 2Fred: What are our energy plans?
Mike: All forms of energy are icky.
03/13/11 - ChicagoBoyz by Carl From Chicago
See the main post and his comment at March 13th, 2011 at 11:54 am
[edited] Fixing our electric grid is a monstrous problem because it requires state and Federal participation, a long term plan, and there are winners and losers. Our governments have done little right.
Our system will start to break down. Industrial plants now don’t rely on the grid and create their own clean power. Soon buildings, upscale communities, and ultimately houses will have thir own backup power.
The future is very likely to be worse than today, especially because most municipalities and states are broke. Nuclear Power, Coal, Natural Gas
Economic ArchitectFred: Rebuilding after the earthquake will spur economic activity and give everyone a job.
Mike: Maybe they should destroy the remaining buildings and become rich.
03/11/11 - Knowledge Problem by Lynne Kiesling
[edited] Larry Summers is a Professor of Economics at Harvard. He has been director of President Obama’s economic council and head of the World Bank.
Japan today suffered a devastating earthquake. Summers commented that rebuilding could provide a temporary boost to the Japanese economy. He went further to say that after the Kobe earthquake in 1995, Japan actually gained some economic strength due to the process of reconstruction.
He should be embarrassed to argue that the destruction of real resources can provide economic benefit even temporarily. It is ludicrous for Summers to say that the 1995 earthquate had a long lasting, good effect because of the need to rebuild.
AMG: Read about the Broken Window Fallacy at the link. A broken window seems to create economic opportunity as people find work replacing it. But first someone who had a window must lose it.
Your town cannot become prosperous by breaking all of its windows, then organizing the residents to fix them all.
Summers holds and has held positions of importance and power. Is he more of an economist or a say-anything politician? Broken Window Fallacy (M) 02/13/09 - Easy Opinions - Audacity to Do Nothing
The Broken Window Fallacy underlies most government action. Politicians point to the useful things that they are doing, but ignore the costs and disruption of their policies and taxes.
Our prosperous society is built on predictible law and consequences. This is already a shining accomplishment in an uncertain world. It does no good to, in effect, suspend the law and take extraordinary actions because some people made bad bets, lost money, and have political influence. (M)Russ Roberts is a real economist. He doesn't understand Summer's logic, and provides a few links explaining why. (M) Amazing video (5:29) of the tsunami flood and debris moving inland across fields and streets
Socialized Medicine In PracticeCharlie Martin: Canada has the world's most wonderful health care system, except when it is actually you that is sick.
03/09/11 - PJ Tatler by Charlie Martin [edited]
My distant cousin in Canada had gynecological hemorrhaging. An emergency room physician gave her prompt treatment that stopped the bleeding, and he arranged an emergency appointment for her with a gynecologist.
Being this was an emergency, the appointment was only six weeks in the future. The Gods alone know how long one has to wait for a regular gyn checkup.
If my cousin had been at the Duke Hospital, she would have seen at least a gyn resident before they let her leave.
Canadian patients wait almost twice as long for treatment than is clinically reasonable, almost eighteen weeks between seeing their family physician and receiving treatment from a specialist. Canada, Socialized Medicine (v)Via Instapundit
Turning Green Into GreenbacksBob: Conservation. Less carbon. I like Green.
Crony Corporation: Me too. I like the green.
Bob: You know, that is ungrammatical.
Crony Corporation: No, just a different point of view.
03/07/11 - Washington Examiner by Tim Carney
[edited] Environmental policy is not driven by tree-hugging activists, earnest liberal bloggers, or ecologically minded citizens.
Instead, it flows from the lobbyists and executives of multinational corporations and built-for-subsidy startups. They see profit in the loan guarantees, handouts, mandates, and tax credits that Congress creates in the name of saving the planet. Green Energy, Subsidies (v)via Don Boudreaux at Cafe Hayek
Less Electricity = Smarter Living Fred: They're predicting a blackout at 7:00.
Jane: I'll heat dinner now and we can eat by flashlight. Are the batteries charged?
03/07/11 - Tatler by Bryan Preston
[edited] Steve Holliday is the CEO of National Grid. He predicts less access to electricity as the UK uses more wind-generated power. Blackouts could be a part of power systems that replace reliable coal plants with wind turbines. Wind power is necessary to meet government requirements, but it will require lifestyle changes.
He means that the UK will get a barely functional, hideously expensive, Third World power grid.
Holliday: We keep thinking that we want electricity to be there when we need it. The grid is going to be much smarter than that in 2020.
The electric utility will decide when and where power should be delivered to meet the highest social purpose, or price power prohibitively for non-essential purposes.
AMG: The "smart grid" will know how to shut off your power to meet the limitations imposed by government. Consume less. Pay more. Save the earth. Will politicians have the same "meter profile" that you do? Wind Power, Smart Grid, Electricity (v)Via Instapundit
Restore Abundant Water and PowerFred: We must learn to live softly upon the land and protect all creatures great and small.
Mike: Agreed. We will come by tomorrow to cut off your water and power.
03/07/11 - Big Government by Rep. Tom McClintock (R–CA)
[edited] Federal policies have deliberately misallocated our resources.
200 billion gallons of water are deliberately diverted from vital agriculture in California’s Central Valley, for the enjoyment of the 2-inch Delta Smelt. This has destroyed a quarter million acres of the most fertile farmland, destroyed the jobs of thousands of farm families, and raised fruit, vegetable, and nut prices.
1,000 megawatts of hydroelectricity in Northern Arizona is enough to power a million homes. It has been lost in favor of the humpback chub.
The federal government wants to destroy four perfectly good hydroelectric dams to save salmon, at the cost of more than a half billion dollars, when we can’t guarantee enough electricity to run refrigerators this summer. The same proposal would close the Iron Gate Fish Hatchery that produces 5 million salmon smolt yearly. Electric Power, Conservation
Spending for the ChildrenCato: We are spending 3 times as much for no gains.
Dems: Clearly, we are not spending enough.
03/07/11 - 02/10/11 - Cato.org by Andrew J. Coulson
Federal Involvement in America's Classrooms
Testimony to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce
[edited] We spent over $151,000 per student sending the graduating class of 2009 through public schools. That is nearly three times as much as we spent on the graduating class of 1970, adjusting for inflation. Despite that massive real spending increase, overall achievement has stagnated or declined, depending on the subject. Education, Spending (M) Should We Spend More on Failed Programs?
03/07/11 - Cato.org by Andrew J. Coulson [edited]
Coulson: I testified before the House Education and Workforce Committee. I reported that our government has spent $2 trillion on K-12 schooling over the past two generations. This failed to achieve either of its goals, to raise overall achievement or to narrow differences in achievement by family income and minority status.
Rep. Miller was the ranking Democrat and prior committee chairman. He said:
"I think when you look at student performance, and you look at money, and you want to say that somehow there should be some correlation there, I think that’s wrong-headed."
Coulson: Really? Democrats support higher government spending than do libertarians and conservatives. But, I always understood that they expected extra spending to actually accomplish something.
I never before heard anyone suggest that we should spend more taxpayer money without any expectation that this will improve outcomes.
Teachers Unions ExplainedTaxpayer: How does more money for teachers improve the schools?
Teacher: It helps us to care more about the children.
03/06/11 - Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion
[edited] An XTraNormal video (4:23) about how teacher's unions see themselves and their priorities. Hint: Money.
See also the links to videos: Liberal Foreign Policy, Liberal Journalists, Liberal Taxes, Feminism, and The Liberal Elite. Video, Teacher's Unions, Liberal
Eff the FDAFred: That drug you took off the market was the right one for me.
FDA: There, there. We can't have everyone making their own, stupid decisions, now can we?
03/04/11 - ChicagoBoyz by Shannon Love
[edited] There is no role for individual choice at the FDA. The FDA thinks of us as if we were soldiers. If some of us must suffer and die for the greater good, so be it.
I can’t have the one pain-killer, restless-leg-syndrome drug that works for me, and Avastin super-responders can’t have Avastin. In both cases, the FDA has judged the greater good demands that we suffer. Our unit has been ordered to make the suicidal charge up the hill, and that’s that. FDA, Drug Regulation
Burning Down the HouseDem: Your failed housing policies and lax oversight caused massive corruption and huge losses, creating our financial crisis.
Pub: But, these were your policies. When we tried to stop you, you called us anti-poor and said everything would be fine.
Dem: Pffft! You call yourselves the responsible ones. You should have tried harder to stop us.
03/04/11 - Ed Driscoll
AMG: The new political narrative is that Republicans are trying to take advantage of the economic crisis caused by their failed policies.
Whoa! The housing crisis was caused by government policy, primarily by Democrats. Republicans tried and failed to stop them.
See the links and the video "Burning Down the House" (10:51) which explains the highpoints of the bad policy and its consequences. Housing Financial Crisis (M)We Guarantee It
Government Caused the Economic Crisis
10/2008 - Easy Opinions
The government bought bad loans, guaranteed them, pressured bond ratings agencies, and ignored experience, restraint, and regulation. The massive losses of $2 trillion ($2,000 billion) killed our economy.
Analogy to a UnionFred: My union got me $42 per hour plus benefits.
Mike: I would like that job, and would work for less.
02/28/11 - Econlog Econlib by David Henderson
[edited] What is the business analogy to a union? An association of airlines could set ticket prices, then vote to force all airlines to charge those prices, including airlines that don't want to join the association. That is monopoly power.
Coercion is the key ingredient. If teachers simply got together to negotiate with school districts, then unions would not be monopolies. Teachers who didn't want to join the union would be free to negotiate their own deals.
Some teachers would accept lower wages than the union wants. Given the typical, tyranical seniority rules of unions, new hires especially might want to negotiate a separate, lower wage.
AMG: A fuzzy idea holds that unions are in competition with employers. Actually, unions restrict competition from other workers. Unions negotiate higher wages for their members only by excluding workers who would demand less.
The bad effect is that fewer people are employed. Higher wages mean higher prices, lower sales, and less overall employment. Is it right that some workers should get a higher wage by excluding others from work? Unions, Monopoly, Collective Bargaining (M) Rich comments: [edited]
I learned last week that my job and 75 others at BLS are going away. The union says that the workers with lowest tenure (not the lowest performance ratings) should be the ones who are dismissed. I am *forbidden* from approaching BLS and offering to take a pay cut in order to retain my job. That is what unionization means in a non-right-to-work state.
Flushing Money Down the ToiletFred: Did you like my low-flow toilet?
Mike: So much that I flushed three times.
02/28/11 - Enterprise Blog By James DeLong
[edited] A ridiculous regulation requires low-flow toilets to conserve water. The claimed benefit in San Francisco is 20 million gallons with a value of $131,000. But, low flow is causing sludge to back up and smell. The city is spending millions to upgrade sewage plants and to add 8.5 million pounds of bleach, which will go into the bay. Environmentalists object.
AMG: These are unintended consequences and costs far exceeding any savings from this attempt at forced conservation. Will our wise bureaucrats repeal the regulation, now that the results are known? People in San Francisco will just have to hold their noses and wait. Conservation, Low flow toilet
The Wisconsin CollectiveGovernor: We need to reduce your benefits by 8% and be free to set benefits and work conditions in the future.
Union Leader: I will put your proposal to the collective, but I suspect they will not agree. The collective must rule.
Governor: Yes, and I represent the bigger collective.
02/27/11 - Powerline Blog
David Gregory interviews Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.
Walker makes his case. Wisconsin has a deficit of $3.6 billion. He has to set conditions for balancing the budget now and in the future. Union leaders have promised to accept cuts, but in the meantime have rushed to renew contracts without cuts, and some with increases.
Current contracts under collective bargaining require purchasing health insurance from a union owned insurance company. The state could save $68 million/year by using other state employee plans. Layoffs will be required if costs do not come under control.
Most federal employees do not have collective bargaining power for either pay or benefits.
AMG: Collective bargaining was a Progressive idea instituted as part of New Deal policies. It was to give the working man some power against big, evil corporations. Now, unions are arguing that they need this power against big, evil elected governments. FDR was explicitly against any unions for government workers. Government was too important to be controlled by unions. Unions, Collective Bargaining, Wisconsin
A Small Terror ThreatFred: The war on terror has saved lives.
Mike: Probably. But the $2,000 billion cost and lives lost on the battlefield have been too dear. Terrorists do kill people. Balance that against the lives not saved because such resources have been drained away.
02/15/11 - Reason by Shikha Dalmia
[edited] For 10 years since the 9/11 attack, Islamic terrorists have not flown more planes into buildings, detonated nukes or dirty bombs, released nerve gas into subways, poisoned the water supply, or blown up a shopping mall. Should we credit high security, or maybe the Islamists never posed a large, continuing threat?
Al Qaeda can scrape together a team for something spectacular only every decade or so. The average Al Qaeda foot solider is a semi-literate peasant with little contact with the world outside his province. More sophisticated people are hard to find and recruit.
3,000 American dead can't be ignored, even if only once every 10 years. A limited effort to clean out Al Qaeda in Afghanistan might have been justified. But, expenditures of $2 trillion have been foolish. A country sacrifices lives when it ignores bigger threats to fight smaller ones. Over 5,000 American soldiers have died in Afghanistan and Iraq without on balance saving any civilian lives. Al Qaeda, Terror (v)Via Schneier on Security (M)Terrorism is Thug Advertising
03/02/10 - EO → Cato at Liberty by Julian Sanchez
Why do they want to kill us. What is in it for them? They attack us as a way to build their local organizations and street cred.
Family BudgetBob: Like the government, I have promised to help out my parents when they retire.
Mike: Why the grim face? How much did you promise?
Bob: About $1,523,000 from my salary of $65,000, while I repay $330,000 that I owe on my credit card.
Mike: Just break it to them gently.
02/21/11 - Easy Opinions
The national debt and government spending are huge numbers. The Republicans have proposed cutting about $70 billion from government spending this year. These numbers are incomprehensible in daily life.
Here are those numbers translated proportionally to an example family. They are still frightening. More so because they can be understood. Deficit, Budget, National Debt
Economics of SeinfeldFred: Then, George must decide to either visit his parents or go to the party.
Mike: In economics, we would say that the opportunity cost of visiting his parents is a party.
02/20/11 - Yada Yada Yada Econ
[edited] This site uses episodes of the sitcom "Seinfeld" to explain economic concepts. Seinfeld ran for nine seasons as a “show about nothing”, the daily interactions of Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer. The simplicity of Seinfeld makes economic concepts come alive and apply to personal experience. Seinfeld, Economics (v)Via Mises Institute
Union BenefitsUnion: We make corporations pay for the best benefits for our members.
Critic: For which you charge a big fee, even when the members receive cheaper plans.
02/20/11 - Chicago Boyz by Michael Kennedy → Comment at NewsBusters
[edited] Unions make most of their money from negotiating benefits, not salaries or collecting dues. So, they are fighting hard to retain control of benefits.
As an example in rough figures, a union will negotiate $425 per family from the employer for high-end Blue Cross coverage, plus an administrative fee. Blue Cross may actually cost $400. The union will also offer a few cheaper PPO and HMO plans that charge $325-$375.
Employees will choose what fits their needs. The union keeps the difference to spend on its activites and perks. Cars, vacations, and condos, oh my! The union also charges a “commission” on pre-legal, dental, term life, and such. Unions, Benefits
Budget DreamsObama: My budget matches government income to spending by mid-decade.
Reporter: But, your budget projections show more than $600 billion of borrowing in every year of the decade.
Obama: Let me be clear. We might have to do more.
02/15/11 - Powerline by John Hinderaker
AMG: This is an edited, recombined excerpt of Obama's press conference about the budget he has presented.
Obama: When I took office, I pledged to cut the deficit in half by the end of my first term. Our budget puts us on a path to pay for what we spend. By the middle of this decade, our annual spending will match our annual revenues. We will not be adding more to the national debt. We're not going to be running up the credit card anymore.
Reporter: I'm sure you've read page 171, the central page of your budget. The deficits go from $1.1 trillion down to $768 billion, then down to $607 billion in 2015. Then they creep up to $774 billion yearly by 2021.
The total over those 10 years is $7.2 trillion in additional borrowing, on top of the $14 trillion we have now. How can you say that we are living within our means?
Obama: Well -- let me be clear on what I'm saying, because I'm not suggesting that we don't have to do more. [Then, 286 more words, but no answer.]
AMG: Obama's statement seems more like a delusion or ignorance than a lie. No one would lie about the plain figures which his own team has released. Obama, Budget (M) 02/16/11 - PowerLine by John Hinderaker [edited]
Jake Tapper - White House reporter: Obama said "We will not be adding more to the national debt." Does that statement stand to scrutiny?
Jay Carney - Obama's Press Secretary: Absolutely, absolutely. And Jake, we have explained precisely what that means in terms of new spending, getting our income and spending into balance. That is an important step towards dealing with our deficit and our debt.
Hinderaker: So it wasn't just Obama having a bizarrely bad day. His administration really is trying to fool the public by running away from its own budget
Intellectualist AchievementsIntellectualist: I understand and process nuances which are far beyond your training and perception.
Realist: It seems that my imagination is limited by reality.
02/09/11 - Economist Thomas Sowell
[edited] Intellectuals encourage people who contribute nothing to the world to complain and organize protests, because others are not doing enough for them.
They have rationalized law breaking by those who picture themselves as underdogs fighting an oppressive “system,” even when these are college students from affluent homes.
The intelligentsia have changed the role of education, from giving students the knowledge and intellectual skills to make up their own minds, into a process of indoctrination into the beliefs of the anointed.
They say two groups of people are equally deserving. Those whose work creates the goods and services that sustain a rising standard of living, and those who refuse to work but who are nevertheless entitled to their “fair share” of what others have created.
They have filtered information in the media, schools, and in academia to leave out things that threaten their vision of the world. Intellectuals, Thomas Sowell (v)Via ChicagoBoyz by Shannon Love
Texting and DrivingFred: What if I asked you to take your eyes off the road for 6 seconds, from time to time?
Mike: LOL UG2BK
(Laughing out loud, you've got to be kidding)
02/12/11 - Motorcop
[edited] A video (10:44) showing traffic accidents and the last text message sent by the drivers before they were killed or seriously injured.
AMG: It seems to me that typing text messages diverts attention in a much more dangerous way than talking, eating, or listening to the car radio. Driving Texting
Systemic DiscriminationFred: Businesses discriminate. They pay women only 75% of men's wages for the same work.
Mike: That statistic is contrived. Why would heartless businessmen pay men any more than women for the same work?
As an example of real discrimination, why are there so few conservatives in psychology?
Fred: They don't care about helping people.
02/07/11 - Powerline by Steven Hayward
[edited] Token conservative John Tierney of the New York Times writes about a recent speech by social scientist Jonathan Haidt.
Haidt asked his audience of 1,000 psychologists to identify themselves as liberals (800), libertarians (36), and conservatives (3) by a show of hands (approximate numbers). He announced that this lack of diversity could not appear naturally, because 40% of Americans are conservative and 20% are liberal.
Haidt: "When social psychologists see women or minorities underrepresented by a factor of two or three, we see discrimination as the explanation. But, when we find out that conservatives are underrepresented among us by a factor of more than 100, everyone suddenly finds it quite easy to generate alternate explanations."
AMG: Activists paint business owners as cutthroats who would fire their grandmothers if it would save a dollar. But, they supposedly pay men 1/3rd more than women ($1 vs $.75) to do jobs that the woman could do just as well.
What accounts for this desire to increase costs and lose money? In fact, why would they hire any man when a woman is available at such low rates?
In fact, the desire to make money is directly opposed to discrimination on immaterial factors. Ironically, government and academia are situations where profit is not a concern, allowing discrimination on whatever basis is comfortable to those controlling admission. Discrimination, Psychologists
Private Beats Public in SwedenFred: I don't like the idea of school administrators working for a profit.
Mike: We pay a lot to boards of education, superintendents, and a state bureaucracy. What are they working for?
Fred: They make salaries, not profits.
02/07/11 - Cato by Andrew J. Coulson
[edited] Swedish non-profit and for-profit private schools both outperform state schools by about the same margin. The difference is response to growing demand. The non-profits have lengthened their waiting lists. The for-profits have expanded.
AMG: The for-profit schools have the incentive and direct funding to expand their services. The non-profits may have the desire, but their funding requires political action. Which pattern do you want for your children and grandchildren?
From the study:
• For-profit schools benefit all students, especially the less privileged.
• Competition has improved conditions for teachers and has increased educational achievement.
• Independent ("free") schools satisfy parents more than government schools.
• The profit motive attracts entrepreneurs to start schools and expand enrollment. Banning for-profit schools may dramatically reduce the number of independent schools that are created. This would limit the benefits of competition. Non-Profit Schools, Sweden (M)12/2010 - Swedish Education Reform and Profit Motive (PDF)
For Term LimitsFred: Term limits would stop me from supporting the candidate of my choice.
Mike: So, the incumbent is the only person with policies that you like.
02/06/11 - Mises.org by S.M. Oliva
[edited] People argue that term limits defeat long-term planning and “economic development". But, development does not depend on electing the world’s best salesman to "attract" out-of-state businesses. True economic growth is based on private property rights. [and limited regulation and low taxes -amg].
I don't know of any state that developed responsible, long-term plans because its governor served more than one consecutive term. Even with unlimited terms, the planning horizon of politicians is at most the next election, and often just the next opinion poll.
Opponents of term limits seem to want more bureaucracy rather than self-government. Heads of regulatory agencies typically serve for long terms and do not face elections. This should make them ideal long-term planners. In reality, we see that such agencies are little more than self-replicating parasites.
AMG: Term limits are not about limiting votor choice. They are about stopping the consolidation of power under individuals. Vote for the policies you like, but avoid empowering tyrants. Term Limits
Cracking the Scratch LotteryFred: People may be scamming the lottery. Perfectly legal.
Mike: Isn't that true for most of government?
02/05/11 - Wired by Jonah Lehrer
[edited] A statistician Mohan Srivastava became interested in "baited" scratch lottery tickets. The buyer matches the scratched-off numbers against a set of Tic-Tac-Toe boards, increasing his anticipation and making the process more fun.
There was enough information in the displayed boards to choose winning tickets 90% of the time before scratching the hidden numbers.
AMG: You may care, because some people may be finding the winners, while you buy the losers. I see an analogy to all of government. Scratch Ticket Lottery (v)Via Knowledge Problem
Crying Over Spilled MilkFred: The EPA blew it handling the BP oil spill. They were a disorganized bureaucracy.
Mike: Well, they are going to regain their reputation by showing how well they handle spilled milk.
02/01/11 - Washington Examiner by Thomas Sowell
[edited] Any power given to a bureaucracy can be stretched far beyond the original purpose.
In a classic example, the EPA has noticed that milk contains oil. It has asserted the authority to apply new regulations on dairy farmers. They must file "emergency management" plans to show how they will cope with spilled milk, how they will train "first responders", and build "containment facilities" if there is a flood of spilled milk.
People and businesses compare benefits against costs. Only in government is any benefit, however small, considered to be worth any regulatory cost, however large.
The claim is that this will "create jobs," but the tax money removed from the private sector correspondingly reduces the jobs available there.
AMG: You might think that the useless costs imposed on dairy farmers do not concern you. Actually, businesses organize work and production, they do not ultimately pay for them. The consumer will pay the extra costs that the EPA will impose on dairy farmers. Competition will not bring the price of milk back down when all dairy farmers must pay these costs and many small operations are forced to close. Regulation, Spilled Milk (M) EPA Purity of Essence
06/21/10 - Easy Opinions
Government regulation and preparation failed in the very important case of the BP gulf oil spill. This has produced a strong reaction to other, simpler, unnecessary cases as a demonstration that the regulators are really vigilant and powerful. Take that, you dairy farmers! (v)Via Protein Wisdom
Roman TimesFred: Our wealth gives gives us the responsibility to help the poor.
Mike: You mean the wealth I worked for, and you mean the poor who can vote for you. How did "we" become wealthy?
Fred: Lucky, I guess.
1/31/11 - 07/02/10 - Bill Whittle
[edited] The Roman orator Cicero spoke in 55 BC: “Gaius Gracchus proposed a grain law. The people were delighted because it provided an abundance of food without work. The good men fought against it, because they thought the masses would be attracted away from hard work and toward idleness. They saw that the state treasury would be exhausted.”
Whittle: Our society has become prosperous after generations of hard work, sacrifice, and hardship. Progressives like Bill Maher, Janeane Garofolo, Rosie O’Donnell, and Gaius Gracchus (dead in 121 BC) assume that this prosperity is endless. They push for more people to get more goods and services for less work.
The motivation for Progressives is the same in America today as it was in the British, French, and Spanish Empires, as for the Ottomans, the Mongols, Rome, Greece, Eqypt, and Babylon. They do it for political power. They live for political power. Progressivism is ancient, recurring, tyrannical, and ruinous. Progressive Ideas, Roman Empire (v)Via Ed Driscoll
Squeezing the Middle ClassFred: We must empower the government to make the rich pay.
Mike: I suspect that they aren't the only ones paying.
01/30/11 - Lonely Conservative
A reader [edited]: I watch countless news stories about illegal aliens, felons, liars, cheats, and the plain stupid getting help with their mortgage loans because they “need it”. People get free medical services because they “need it”. People “need to” declare bankruptcy because it’s just too hard to pay the bills.
All the while, my government crushes people like me, expecting us to just keep doing, just keep paying, just keep being responsible to make up for all of those people who were not.
This President and this Administration have done their best to ignite class warfare and warfare between the “differences” in America. They’ve done a great job. I resent the wealthy, I resent illegal aliens, I resent the professional victim class, I resent being told to keep my skin in the game so they can continue to ruin every possibility of happiness for me.
AMG: Every government action to help people "in need" takes resources from people who work to produce value in life. Much is taken from the wealthy, but most is taken in silent ways from the middle class. The government is not a careful charity, and doesn't mind giving handouts to anyone who votes.
Charity is noble. A government playing Mother Theresa With a Gun is not. Charity, Middle Class Squeeze (v)Via Instapundit
Metaphorically SpeakingProgressive: Your military metaphors break civility and encourage violence.
Conservative: Your side uses them all the time.
Progressive: We are fighting in a revolution to break the power of our capitalist oppressors. So, we're justified.
01/23/11 - EasyOpinions
Progressives accuse Conservatives of creating violence through their use of metaphors such as "target". In response, Conservatives might "go code". Satire. Political Speech, Military Metaphors
What Ends a Political Career?Fred: Palin is a witch who should burn for her outrageous tone and use of violent imagery.
Mike: Are you making threats?
Fred: Get off my back. It's a metaphor.
01/15/11 - Hot Air by Laura Curtis
[edited] The MSNBC brain trust has declared that Sarah Palin's political career is over. Her crime was to answer the utterly false accusation that she encouraged murder through political symbols. They say Sarah Palin is now vanquished, the public trust has been restored, and we can all rest easy.
Consider what does not end the political career of a liberal figure favored by the mainstream press. Here are 12 situations where all has been forgiven. Political Career (v)Via Instapundit
Death By a Thousand CutsMedClerk: I have 47 lab forms for you to sign.
Doctor: I'm so busy. Please sign them for me.
MedClerk: Sorry, I won't risk federal fines and prison.
01/11/11 - Road To Hell'th by Dr. Doug Perednia
[edited] America’s healthcare system is dying by a thousand administrative cuts. Each rule reduces our ability to give care.
A new rule requires each healthcare provider to personally sign every request for a medical test. No stamp, letterhead, or computerized signature is enough on paper forms. Signatures were not required for the last 10 years. Strangely, requests submitted electronically don't need a signature.
If just one-third of doctors are affected (350,000), this will require 14,000,000 working hours, and result in nearly 53 million lost patient visits. The lost time at $100/hour is an increased yearly cost of $1.4 billion.
Medicare will not have to pay for 53 million lost Medicare visits. At $200 each, Medicare will save $10.6 billion yearly. It is covert rationing. Medicare, Medicine, Rationing
TitanicDirector: Our new carbon regulations go into effect today. A great day. All of those old power plants will either clean up or shut down.
Assistant: With permission. Many of them say these regulations go too far. They don't want to invest more when the Agency is suing them. They will probably shut down.
Director: Good riddance.
Assistant: What will their workers do?
Director: Anything they do will be better than working for evil. Anyway, that is the business of the Department of Labor.
Assistant: By chance, do you know where our building power comes from?
Director: No, why do you ask?
01/03/11 - Easy Opinions
The United States is big and powerful. Some people think that nothing can change that. But government policy reaches everywhere and can inflict widespread damage. Enough damage can push a big, stable, complex system into failure. Like the Titanic, it floats until it sinks. Titanic, Government Mandates
Reducing Carbon Emissions is Utterly FutileEnviro: We have to stop putting CO2 into the atmosphere. No more fossil fuels!
Mike: If we stopped all use of fossil fuels, or captured all man-made CO2, we would lower world temperatures by at most 0.14 °F.
Enviro: OK, that's a start.
12/29/10 - Pajamas Media by Art Horn [edited]
Reducing industrial emissions of carbon dioxide is utterly pointless for changing climate. It only makes sense if you want to:
Profit from trading carbon credits
Control energy sources
Save the world from capitalists
Extract money from developed nations and give it to poorer ones
Promote [politically subsidized] environmental corporations by making current energy very expensive.
Water vapor and clouds produce about 90% of the greenhouse effect, carbon dioxide 8%, nitrous oxide 0.95% and methane 0.36%. The combined greenhouse effect raises Earth's average temperature from 0 °F up to 59 °F. We need it.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 4th Assessment (IPPC) shows that 3% of yearly CO2 emissions into the atmosphere comes from burning fossil fuels. So, the human component of the [change in the] greenhouse effect is at most 0.24% (3% of the 8% carbon dioxide component).
AMG: Say we stopped all burning of fossil fuels worldwide. We would lower the greenhouse effect by at most .0024 x 59 °F = 0.14 °F. Greenhouse Effect, Global Warming (v)Via Instapundit (M)12/30/10 - National Review
A graph of past temperatures from atmosphere isotope concentrations in ice cores. This puts our current relatively cold climate in perspective. For example, the Romans lived in much warmer times, and seemed to enjoy it immensely. (v)via Ed Driscoll (M)12/29/10 - Watts Up With That
Nice charts compare current global temperature to past data. Isotope data is more reliable than looking at how old trees did or didn't grow in Siberia near the arctic circle.
Truth About Political LiesPolitician: I'm out of politics now. I can admit that I lied.
Reporter: What did you lie about?
10/25/10 - Ed Driscoll → Jerry Brown
AMG: A younger Jerry Brown finished his term as governor of California, and decided to tell the truth. Brown vigorously proclaims in a 35 second video clip that he lied about having plans to improve California. He says other big politicians are lying too, "Get real".
This shouldn't be news to anyone. Still, it is remarkable to hear a politician telling the direct truth. Lies, Politics, Jerry Brown (M)10/2008 - EO → Tell Me About the Past
There is only one way to deal with the promises and statements of politicians. Ignore most of them. Forget about statements of a glorious future based on good feelings.
We should think of politicians as construction contractors. We don't need statements like "it will be the best building you could imagine". We do need blueprints and references. Has he built similar buildings? How did they turn out?
Powering DownFred: We need more power from wind and less from coal.
Mike: And more flashlights as a backup.
12/21/10 - AEI by Kenneth P. Green
[edited] The Obama administration has stopped exploration and production of additional domestic oil and gas. It has created doubt that the US will develop shale oil. This is foolish. Only free energy markets can provide abundant and affordable energy.
Energy development is a slow process. We need more than "sufficiency." We need to maintain abundance so that our economy can grow when conditions are right. We must start now to develop 15% more energy over the next 30 years, according to the Department of Energy.
Our leaders are stopping domestic development of reliable fossil fuels, and putting taxpayer money into "renewable" energy. But, wind, solar, and biofuels are less abundant and more expensive than fossil fuels.
Wind and solar power are unreliable for providing baseload electricity. They can't much reduce fossil fuel use, even with lavish subsidies. Greater use of renewable energy threatens the stability and reliability of the electric grid. Energy
Non-Secular Saddam HusseinFred: Saddam Hussein supported Muslim extremism and was a terrible danger.
Mike: Maybe he was a bad guy, but he was a civil leader, not a religious one.
Fred: Is it usual to transcribe the Qur'an in blood?
12/20/10 - PowerLine by Paul Miringoff
[edited] The Guardian: During two years in the late 1990s, Saddam Hussein sat regularly with a nurse and an Islamic calligrapher. The nurse drew 27 liters of his blood as ink to transcribe the Qur'an.
Mirengoff: The Blood Koran reminds us that Saddam was beyond doubt a wacko Islamic extremist, a danger to the region, and potentially a danger to the United States. Saddam Hussein, Blood Qur'an, Koran
California Experimental ResultsState Rep.: I don't understand it. We spent all the money we could find and borrowed more to spend. We have been simulating the state economy like mad. We have given much money to the poor, and we know they are spending most of it. That rush of money should be creating a boom of prosperity. We can't wait much longer.
Taxpayer: It won't be much longer, but there will be no boom. It will be more like a giant swish as everything goes down the drain.
12/20/10 - Ed Driscoll → Tim Daniels
[edited] In California, I have witnessed socialism and collectivist government, the havoc wreaked by discarding the rule of law, and the damage done to a once-thriving middle class by increasing regulations and taxes.
Neo-Bolshevik state lawmakers are beholden to radical, special interests. They joined hands with a neutered opposition party to fleece the world’s 8th largest economy. California reminds us of the destruction created by unfettered entitlements.
Barack Obama promised to fundamentally transform the nation. California is what transformation by a progressive government looks like. California has almost 40 million people and is nearly a nation unto itself. It has already experienced that disaster. How can we let the progressive nightmare continue for the entire U.S.?
Atlas has shrugged, and California has changed. Government has ruined this place, and I will never forget it. California, Socialism
Sicko showed mythical Cuban healthcareFred: Sicko showed one of the few good hospitals in Cuba.
Mike: That hospital exists; it isn't mythical.
Fred: Only the rich or important can go there.
Mike: Says who?
Fred: The Cuban government.
Mike: They are probably lying.
12/17/10 - EasyOpinions -> Guardian UK
[edited] Sicko is Michael Moore's 2007 documentary. It compared US healthcare to the supposed excellence of the socialist Cuban system.
WikiLeaks has revealed a confidential US cable. Cuban authorities criticized the film for painting a mythically favourable picture of Cuba's healthcare. They feared a popular backlash from showing facilities that are not available to the vast majority of Cubans. Cuba, Healthcare, Michael Moore (M)12/28/10 - PowerLine Blog
Scott Johnson describes a recent, naive PBS story, and collects accounts of how terrible Cuban healthcare really is.
Jay Nordlinger: A nurse spoke to Isabel Vincent of Canada's National Post. "We have nothing. I haven't seen aspirin in a Cuban store for more than a year. If you have any pills in your purse, I'll take them. Even if they have passed their expiry date."
The Edited Sarah PalinReporter: What is your position on taxes?
Candidate Mike: Taxes are ridiculous, considering the complexity and arbitrary enforcement of the tax laws. We need simplification and reform.
As Reported: Candidate Mike's position on taxes is "Taxes are ridiculous".
12/11/10 - Ed Driscoll at PajamasMedia
Noel Sheppard at NewsBusters [edited].
In the 2008 presidential campaign, Katie Couric asked Sarah Palin what books and newspapers she read. Palin was ridiculed for not supplying a specific list [to a demeaning question -amg].
Barbara Walters on Friday asked the same question. Mark Levin noted that Palin's response was edited to remove mention of his book “Liberty and Tyranny”. (Audio at the link).
09/14/08 - Robert Bidinotto of Men’s News Daily called out infractions at ABC [edited]:
A public challenge to Charles Gibson. Asking tough questions is fine. What I find outrageous is the editing of many of Palin’s responses in broadcasts over several days. ABC distorted excerpts from the Palin interview, giving false impressions about Palin’s views, intellect, responsiveness, and honesty.
1. The editors almost always selected fragments of Palin's responses, sometimes cutting her off in mid-sentence. This often gave a false impression about her responsiveness, knowledge, and the nuances of her positions.
2. The editors presented different replies to the same questions. On one show, a fragment might be terse, incomplete, and off-point, presenting Palin as foolish or evasive. A different show would present a response to the same question that was thoughtful and on-point.
Such editing is non-objective and dishonest. Sarah Palin, News bias (M) 02/10/11 - Powerline by John Hinderaker [edited]
This is a funny example of liberal bias. US Weekly mistook a satire for the real thing. Their headline was "Sarah Palin Slams 'Airhead Diva' Christina Aguilera for Anthem Flub."
How dumb [or biased] do you have to be to believe broad satire? That is what makes liberalism such a formidable adversary. It is backed by one of the world's most powerful forces, stupidity.
Property and PigsOfficial: I see that you have a large income. We need more of it.
Mike: I work legally for my income and I pay 35% at the top tax rate. Isn't that enough?
Official: The economy is bad now. We need to take your money and pay other people. They will spend it and improve the economy.
Mike: Why do you think the economy will improve?
Official: 10 years ago the top rate was 39.6% and the economy was good.
Mike: Those things aren't related. How would higher tax rates produce a growing economy?
Official: I don't have time to discuss philosophy with you. You have the money. We want the money.
12/09/10 - Property and Pigs at Neo-Neocon
Should we take money from the wealthy because we need it?
How do you catch a group of wild pigs? Taxes, Wealth
Obamacare and Single PayerFred: If we had single payer, then no insurance company could dictate what I would pay for my medical insurance.
Mike: You're right. The government would dictate, as it is already dictating.
12/08/10 - InsureBlog by Bob Vineyard
[edited] A lady was looking for health insurance with maternity coverage. I explained that her only option was Blue Cross, due to ObamaCare. Annoyed, she said we need single payer so the carriers won't hold us hostage.
States like Maine have intense regulation and mandates on health insurance. Her only choice is Blue Cross for maternity coverage, other than a government plan. If you don't like or don't qualify for the taxpayer funded plan, then you pay some of the highest premiums in the country to Blue Cross.
ObamaCare has already come to Georgia in a sense. Last spring if you wanted maternity benefits you could pick from about six health insurance companies and different kinds of benefits. You now have just one choice, thanks to ObamaCare.
Blue Cross is entirely regulated by state and federal rules and mandates, and is the only remaining company offering some types of insurance coverage. That is single payer in effect, if not by name. If that is annoying and expensive, then why would single payer by name be any better? ObamaCare, Single Payer
Your Dog Owns Your HouseBob: You put out the fire. I can't thank you enough.
Official: Hand over the keys. We own that house now. It would have burned to the ground without us.
Bob: But, I already paid taxes for your help.
Official: I apologize. You have a point. Instead, pay us in tax half of what you produce. That is for our effort in providing all of our vital services.
12/07/10 - April 2002 Econlib.org by Anthony de Jasay
[edited] We might consider: who owns anything? The fire brigade keeps your house from burning down, and deserves some ownership of your house. The house would be worth much less without water and electricity, so some value can be assigned to the utility companies. And, without the protection of society, you would have nothing. So, your house and other possessions really belong to society as a whole, and so do the possessions of everyone else.
That argument is false. In a voluntary exchange, the parties are quits after each side has delivered and received the agreed contribution. Seeking to credit and debit them for supposed outstanding claims is double counting.
AMG: A socialist government official says: "We will put you into jail unless you give us half of what you produce. This contribution to us, I mean society, makes your life possible. We need the money to provide vital services to you. Anyway, we voted on it."
This is a convenient cover for robbery. Socialism
The EMTALA ParadoxFred: I'm so sick. I need a doctor.
MedClerk: I will be your clerk today. Here is an aspirin, and a thermometer for you to take your temperature. Don't lose it. There are no doctors here.
Fred: I really need a doctor.
MedClerk: Don't worry. I will record your symptoms and look up your treatment in the book. We find that this resolves over 40% of client needs at little public expense.
Fred: I was looking for a doctor.
MedClerk: Stop complaining. This is all free.
12/05/10 - Feb 03 - Emergency Medicine News
[edited excerpt] The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) is diminishing the access it was intended to promote.
Congress enacted EMTALA in 1986 and expanded the law five times, often without clear guidance. It has been a massive regulatory burden for already overwhelmed hospitals and physicians.
Since enactment, US emergency visits surged from 85 to 110 million yearly. But, more than 550 hospitals, 1,100 emergency departments (EDs), many trauma centers, maternity wards, and tertiary referral centers have closed. 90% of hospitals have saturated their capacity for treating patients.
EMTALA requires EDs to provide care to everyone, but does not pay for that care. Many specialists avoid on-call duty because they are not paid. They drop their hospital privileges or operate exclusively in their offices or ambulatory surgery centers.
The government's solution is all stick and no carrot. There is no incentive to participate in what is a nationalized health system. EDs are increasingly unable to provide specialty medical care to all of their patients.
AMG: This terrible medical law has been in place since 1986 without rational correction. This is the model for ObamaCare. Mandate care for everyone. When the doctors won't work without pay, blame them for limited services. Motto: "We have a vision of care for everyone. We are good, but they are not, so don't blame us". EMTALA, ER, Emergemcy Medicine (v) EMTALA Sucks but Obamacare Will be Great
12/04/10 - M.D.O.D by 911Doc
Stimulus Doesn't Stimulate - 2Company: Congratulations. We are giving you a $500 repay-bonus. It is real money to spend this holiday season. Then, in a while, you will be required to pay it back.
Fred: Is that supposed to be stimulating?
12/02/10 - 01/06/10 - Washington Examiner by Mark Tapscott [edited]
1930s New Deal lawmakers doubled federal spending. More than 20% unemployment remained until World War II.
Japan passed 10 stimulus bills in 8 years, acquiring huge debt and a stagnant economy.
President Bush in 2001 "injected" one-time tax rebates into the recession. The economy only responded to tax rate reductions two years later.
President Bush in 2008 tried one-time tax rebates. The recession worsened.
A recent $787 billion stimulus was designed to keep unemployment below 8%. It topped 10% in November.
Brian M. Riedl at the Heritage Foundation studied government spending programs. They have never stimulated sustained economic growth.
Government stimulus spending is based on fundamentally flawed Keynesian economic theory. Each dollar of government spending does not create $1.50 of new "economic activity" [whatever that means -ag].
A record $1.2 trillion in deficit spending began in Oct 2008 at the start of FY 2009 (10/01/08 to 09/30/09). That alone should have overheated the economy. Later, the stimulus added $200 billion.
The economy shrank -2.3% in FY 2009, despite the historic 7% increase in deficit spending. [I would say because of the massive borrowing. -ag] Stimulus, Keynes (M)Why Government Spending Does Not Stimulate Economic Growth: Answering the Critics
01/05/10 by Brian Riedl [edited]
If Congress funds new spending with taxes, it is only redistributing existing purchasing power, while decreasing incentives to produce.
If Congress borrows the money from domestic investors, those investors will have that much less to invest or to spend in the private economy.
If Congress borrows the money from foreigners, the balance of payments will adjust by equally raising net imports, leaving total domestic demand and output unchanged.
Congress cannot create new purchasing power out of thin air. Every dollar Congress spends must first come from somewhere else. (M)EO: The Myth of the Economic Multiplier
The "multiplier" from government taxes and spending is less than 1. The government wastes resources collecting more tax, and the citizen wastes resources trying to minimize his tax. Then, the government spends the revenue wastefully, achieving less production of useful goods and services than the citizen would have created through careful purchases and investment.
A "spending multiplier" is absurd. If government spending of $100 creates $150 in wealth, then why doesn't this apply to all spending? The $50 you spend for groceries should produce $75 in wealth. In fact, all money spent each day should produce wealth of 1.5 times the current day's spending, sometime in the near future. This would lead to a wealth explosion, as total wealth increased by 50% every few months. Heck, even if it increased by 5% every few months.
Airport Scanner RadiationFred: That TSA guy operating the X-Ray scanner, what training does he have?
Mike: Maybe at a McDonalds hamburger stand.
11/29/10 - Ace of Spades → biophysicist Jason Bell
[edited] The TSA says the X-rays used in the airport scanners use "soft" X-rays which are generally absorbed by soft tissue. "Hard" X-rays are absorbed by bone. TSA safety documents say the scanners emit a broad spectra (hard and soft), similar to mammograms and some dental X-rays.
The softer the X-ray, the more it is absorbed by the body, and the higher the biological dose! This radiation is potentially worse than a higher energy medical chest X-ray.
The X-ray beam is scanned in lines like a TV screen. If it gets stuck it could deliver a dangerous dose to a person's eye, testicle, or hand.
What is the variability in the X-ray power as manufactured or adjusted? The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory noted a significant variation in the TSA test models, which were supposed to be exact. TSA, X-Ray, Radiation, Scanner
The Five Stages of Understanding the TSAFred: I loved flying. I wanted to fly everywhere.
Mike: That was before the TSA.
Fred: I can't change the TSA. I must accept it.
Mike: Maybe you should change the government that created the TSA.
Fred: That hope supports my will to go on.
11/22/10 - Opinion and satire
AMG: The Transportation Security Administration is a difficult reality. The 5 stages of grief proposed by psychologist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross offers a guide toward accepting that reality. TSA, Government
Health Insurance Thirst MandateHis Benevolence: I will end thirst in the land. All refreshing drinks are henceforth free.
Advisor: Will you be paying for this bounty?
His Benevolence: The insurance companies will pay.
11/20/10 - Easy Opinions
An analogy to what the government is doing. Insurance, Healthcare
Raising Successful ChildrenFred and Mary: We put our little Mickey into the best kindergarten, private schools, and EduCamps. We sacrificed to put him through an Ivy League school.
Jim: What field did he go into?
Fred and Mary: He is the best educated auto mechanic in the city.
11/15/10 - Econlog by Bryan Caplan
[edited] Science supports the sentimental view that parents should simply cherish, encourage, and accept their children. Modern parents need to calm down and see family time as leisure, not work. Having fun with your children may not prepare them for the future, but there are few more rewarding ways to spend your time.
Twin and adoption studies have shocking conclusions. Upbringing has much less affect on success than most of us believe.
This research may seem like an excuse for lazy parents. But, reducing useless investment is common sense. If your children's future success is largely beyond your control, then riding them "for their own good" is cruel, worse than useless. Education, Child Development
Fed Imposes $600 Billion TaxFred: I see you collect coins.
Mike: They are more valuable when more rare.
Fred: What if the government produced some more of the rare ones, so you couldn't tell the difference?
Mike: They would be devaluing the coin market. I would lose money.
Fred: You can relax. The government is only creating more dollars.
Mike: Bummer! I collect dollars too.
11/14/10 - ChicagoBoyz by Shannon Love
[edited excerpt]: The US Federal Reserve Bank is taking (stealing) $600 billion dollars of real value from your pocket and using that value to buy US Treasury bonds. This funds the Federal government without saying the word "tax".
The transfer of real value goes from You, to the Fed, to the Government. It’s a damn tax increase craftily carried out using the financial system. Federal Reserve, inflation
Eliminate EarmarksLobbyist: Earmarks of $16.5 billion are a tiny part of the deficit, about 1%.
Congressman: Yeah, I'll just take a tiny $20 million for my friends and myself.
11/11/10 - Cato@Liberty by Jim Harper
[edited] If earmarks go away as a tool for wheeling-and-dealing in Congress, members and senators will be less likely to sell out the country as a whole with bloated spending bills and Rube-Goldberg regulatory projects for the benefit of some local interest or campaign contributor. Earmarks
Soviet Economics in MedicareBoard Chair: Category 126. Exploratory and corrective surgeries of the abdomen without complication. There are 213 procedures. Do you have the price tables for this?
Apparatchik: Yes, but some of them may be ...
Board Chair: Accepted. Let's move along. We have 67 more categories to consider today.
11/02/10 - Road to Hellth
[edited] The convoluted process setting medical prices is not economically accurate, and there are many non-medical incentives to recommend one procedure over another. Government officials accuse doctors of pushing expensive procedures over less expensive ones. They are tacitly admitting that the price setting committees are wrong, and wrong from the beginning twenty years ago.
Clinical experience shows that many of those prices are idiotic. We can blame the committees, but they have a complex, expensive, and even impossible task. Bad prices are harmful. A price-fixing system is virtually guaranteed to misallocate scarce medical resources.
Our Republican and Democratic governments deliberately preserve a price-fixing system that wastes time and money and jeopardizes the lives and health of all Americans. Our Leaders passed a healthcare reform bill that turns the medical world upside down, but preserves this method of pricing.
The only plausible explanation is the same one that applies to China, Cuba, North Korea, and the old Soviet Union. They want raw political power over this part of the economy. Medicare, Medical Prices (M) EO - The Medicare Tomato Market
An explanation of Medicare economics by analogy. Say that tomatoes were declared vital to life and made available free through the Medicare National Tomato Bank. This translates the story of healthcare to the tomato market.
Comment - Caring and Reality11/07/10 - Comment at Daily Pundit
[edited] “I know, I know. I’ve heard all that. But, I just love it here so much and I don’t want anything to change. Something will come up, and it will get fixed. I just have to believe it." Politics
Why the Stimulus Package FailedObama: All economists agree that we needed the stimulus and that it has saved our economy.
Cato: At least 200 economists disagree.
Obama: I don't care about fringe economists.
Cato: They include Nobel Prize winners.
Obama: I don't care about fringe Nobel Prize winners.
10/31/10 - Open Market by Hans Bader
A roundup of articles by prominent economists who report that the $800 billion stimulus was doomed from the start. The stimulus was misapplied, even if you believe the economic justifications for doing it.
Harvard economists Robert J. Barro And Charles J. Redlick: "Our research shows no evidence of a Keynesian 'multiplier' effect. There is evidence that tax cuts boost growth." Stimulus
Stimulus Produces StagnationTreasury Official: The Fed Bank will print lots of money for us to spend.
Assistant: We will construct more federal buildings, and the people will feel rich. Then what?
Treasury Official: We will collect all of that money back in higher taxes.
Assistant: Will that dampen their enthusiasm?
09/29/10 - EO → Investors.com by Jerry L. Jordan
[edited] Leonid Brezhnev spoke to the Communist Party Congress of the Soviet Union in 1972. Communist Party leaders from throughout the Soviet Union were seated before Brezhnev in a large convention hall. They listened in deep respect to every word of their totalitarian ruler.
Brezhnev said: "The fundamental problem we face is that we can only distribute and consume what is actually produced."
Brezhnev's statement was the equivalent of saying with heavy meaning, "Gentlemen, the fundamental problem we face is that 2 + 2 = 4 ."
AMG: Brezhnev faced the problem that we face now in the US. The wierd economic ideas followed by the Soviet government were not working and had produced a crisis. The Soviet Union had to face simple reality, rather than follow abstract theory. Stimulus, Deficits
Strict Medical Pepper GuidelinesAdmin: I'm calling a class 4 lockdown.
Nurse: Has the pepper expired again?
10/24/10 - White Coat's Call Room
Comment by DVorah
[edited] My hospital has been under the threat of a CMS audit (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) for the last several months, and they are finally underfoot. Supposedly, all they want to do is ensure that patients are getting appropriate care. However, some of the hoops we’ve had to jump through don’t seem to make too much sense.
I mean, how is it harmful to patients for the salt and pepper packets to be kept in the same container? Because of CMS, they now have to be kept separate — with clearly noted expiration dates!
It’s this kind of petty garbage that makes me suspicious of CMS’s actual purpose. Personally, I think they want to shut us down so that they don’t have to reimburse us for the vast amount of Medicare/Medicaid patients we treat.
AMG: Gasp. CMS, Hospitals
Selling Us What We Won't MakeFred: We must prevent Americans from buying cheap Chinese clothes and women's purses, and so encourage ...
Mike: ... our bright young people to sew cheap American clothes and women's purses.
10/14/10 - EO → Cafe Hayek
[edited] Don Boudreaux: Preventing the Chinese from selling us inexpensive goods would only require us to make those goods ourselves, more expensively.
Dallas Weaver: The bigger problem is that bureaucratic rules are making it harder or impossible for us to adapt and do new things. We would already by in crisis if we couldn't import what we need, or design goods here and make them overseas.
Ken Langone: Stop bashing business, Mr. Obama. You are vilifying the people who you expect to build the economy.
Deirdre McCloskey: The Chinese and Indian economies exploded after their governments gave dignity and liberty to their businessmen.
Philip K. Howard: Government is basically bankrupt, and the accretion of law is suffocating individual initiative. Nothing will work until we clean it out. Free trade, Imports
Don't Envy the Ivy SchoolsAdmissions Officer: Congratulations on being admitted to Harvard.
Mike: I am honored to do my partying at one of the finest schools in the country.
10/10/10 - Washington Post by Jay Mathews [edited]
The Ivy League and other top colleges add no discernable value to the lives of their graduates. They attract students with strengths such as persistence and humor that lead to success. Applicants with such qualities do just as well in life attending schools like Boise State.
There is research on this by economists Alan B. Krueger and Stacy Berg Dale. And, there is now the movie The Social Network. None of the student characters ever study, or even talk about their courses. They talk mostly about sex, parties, and becoming important. Zuckerberg, his friends, and enemies, live on the Web. That Gov 10 paper due Friday is ignored.
That is an exaggeration, but not by much. The atmosphere is similar to what you find at most colleges. The college years are for trying out new stuff. Undergraduates devote little time to absorbing academic riches.
What about those great Ivy alumni contacts? Every college has influential alumni, if you bother to call them. The Zuckerberg character becomes a billionaire not because he went to Harvard, but because he was a computer genius, a talent he developed before he went to college. College (v)Via Instapundit (M)Who Needs Harvard?
10/12/10 - Brookings.edu by Gregg Easterbrook
[edited] Were the kids who got into Yale simply more talented or hardworking than those who got into Tulane? Krueger and Dale studied what happened to students who were accepted at an Ivy school, but chose instead to attend a less sexy, "moderately selective" school.
Students bright enough to win admission to a top school had about the same incomes 20 years later no matter which type of college they attended. The student was responsible for the success, not the school.
Over Spending or Under Taxing?Staffer: Ending the Bush "tax cuts" (raising rates from where they are now) will raise revenue. We would get 2% more from "the rich", and could get 7% more from the middle class. Is it worth it?
Senator: Definitely. That last 2% is where all the fun is. And I can only dream of 7%. But, we can get more from the middle class without being so obvious.
10/08/10 - The American by Veronique de Rugy
[edited] The Congressional Budget Office reports that extending current tax rates ("tax cuts") for top earners would forgo additional tax collections of $700 billion over ten years ($70 billion per year). Extending the tax rates on the middle class would forgo additional tax collections of $3,000 billion over ten years.
Government officials put it this way. Extending the tax cuts (current rates) would cost the government $3.7 trillion over ten years. This sounds like a lot until you compare it to how much the federal government plans/wants to spend during those ten years.
AMG: There is a nice chart of expected spending and possible "tax cuts" (forgone tax increases) projected over the next 10 years, in $billions. Gov't Spending $41,911 100.0% Interest on Debt $ 4,527 10.8% Middle Class "Cut" $ 3,000 7.2% Upper Class "Cut" $ 700 1.7% Economic policy, Taxes (M)EO: The Deadweight Loss of Taxes
The deadweight loss caused by increasing tax rates above current levels may exceed $2 per $1 of revenue increase. That is, when the government collects $1 more in taxes, the economy loses $2 in production and jobs. (v)Via Cato@Liberty
James Madison on Our RecessionFred: How can I plan or invest when the law is so vague and huge?
Elite: Just do what you were going to do. We'll fine you when you go wrong.
10/07/10 - Clayton Cramer's Blog
[edited excerpts] James Madison was a Founding Father of the US. In 1788 he wrote Federalist No.62 about the effect of bad law on the people, their freedom, and their investment in the future.
About the 2700 page health care bill:
It won't matter that the laws are made by men chosen by the people, if the laws be so voluminous or incoherent that they cannot be read or understood; if the laws be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man can guess what they will be tomorrow.
Why George Soros supports Democrats:
Public instability gives an unreasonable advantage to the sagacious, the enterprising, and the moneyed few over the industrious mass of the people. Every new regulation concerning commerce, revenue, or property presents a new harvest to those who watch the change, and can trace its consequences. Such laws are made for the few, not for the many.
Why employers won't hire right now:
What prudent merchant will risk his fortunes in new commerce when his plans may be rendered unlawful before they can be executed? What farmer or manufacturer will invest if he may be a victim to an inconstant government?
AMG: Government, political tricks, and the desire for power have not changed much in 222 years. Federalist, Regime uncertainty, Rule of Law (v)Via Instapundit
Government Watched the House BurnFirefighter: Are we really going to let his house burn down?
County Clerk: I can't find his current Form F-03, so what can we do?
10/07/10 - Cato by Thomas Firey
[edited] A Tennessee city fire department allowed a home to burn because the homeowner had not paid his annual fee.
The firefighters were from the city government following a city government policy concerning people who didn’t pay a city government fee for a 20-year-old city government program that was adopted in response to a county government decision.
A private fire service would have extinguished the blaze and sent the homeowner a bill. There are plenty of examples of this in private marketplaces. Liberal commenters spin this as an example against limited government. Actually, this is a failure of government, not the market.
AMG: This was not a failure of business to do the reasonable thing. It was a failure by a government agency with inflexible rules, unwilling to take the initiative, and ready to teach a lesson to the little guy about following government procedure. Quip: "Hey buddy, next time you will follow the rules." Government, Fire
The Muslim BrotherhoodFred: What is the true meaning of Muslim "jihad".
Mike: I think we are going to find out.
10/07/10 - Power Line → RubinReports
[edited] The Muslim Brotherhood has one hundred times more activists than al-Qaeda. Barry Rubin reports that it issued its declaration of war last month endorsing anti-American jihad and much of the rest of al-Qaeda's dogma.
Supreme Guide Muhammad Badi: All Muslims are required by their religion to fight: They must understand that the improvement and change that the [Muslim] nation seeks can only be attained through jihad and sacrifice. We must raise a jihadi generation that pursues death just as the enemies pursue life.
Rubin: Notice that jihad here is not interpreted as spiritual striving. The clear meaning is one of armed struggle. Muslim Brotherhood (M) 10/10/10 - The Rubin Report by Barry Rubin
[edited] This is one of those obscure Middle East events of the utmost significance that is ignored by the Western mass media because it is in Arabic; ignored by Western governments because it doesn't fit their policies; and ignored by experts because it doesn't mesh with their preconceptions.
This explicit formulation of a revolutionary program makes it a game changer. It should be read by every Western decisionmaker and have a direct effect on policy. It may affect people’s lives in every Western country.
Vague Regulation on PurposeFred: Let's expand the plant, hire 20 people, and sell more stuff.
Mike: Nah. It would take 18 months to get the permits, and I am not sure what I would be allowed to do.
10/06/10 - Cafe Hayek - Comment by Methinks
[edited excerpt] Regulators purposely avoid explaining what a rule means and how to comply with it. I'm serious. The examining agency literally refuses to tell companies how it will interpret a rule during a regulatory exam.
A firm can never know if it is in compliance. The vague rules mean that petty bureaucrats will selectively interpret the rules to suit themselves, and that companies cannot predict the consequences of their actions. Often, regulatory risk becomes high enough to drive companies out of business, even if they are otherwise profitable.
Regulators make no presumption of innocence. A company is presumed non-compliant and must prove that it is in compliance, which is impossible. There is virtually no imposition that is unjustified in the eyes of the regulator, because the company is presumed guilty.
AMG: Consider this when Liberals say that regulation and regulatory uncertainty cannot possibly drive away jobs, and that this possibility is merely propaganda by rich capitalists. Vague Regulation
Global Warming Hoax SummaryFred: Your barbeque parties are adding to global warming.
Mike: I only have them in the Summer, when it won't matter so much compared to the Sun.
10/03/10 - Powerline → SEPP
[edited partial summary] Dr. Harrison Schmitt at SEPP: Policy makers in the United States and elsewhere proclaim that human use of fossil fuels accelerates global warming. They want to impose ever greater and clearly unconstitutional control on the economy and personal liberty in the service of omnipotent government.
Global surface temperature has increased .9 degees F each 100 years for the last 350 years. Observed data strongly indicate that this is a natural variation. Burning fossil fuels remains a minor factor, if even detectable.
Climate change is natural and driven by the Sun. The orbital position of the Earth and the Sun's variable influence and activity (sunspots) determine weather and climate.
Empirically, Earth's temperatures correlate closely with solar activity. They correlate hardly at all with the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, which has varied widely over geologic history. Sun, Climate Change, Global Warming (M)10/02/10 - SEPP Newsletter (pdf)
Look for Dr. Harrison “Jack” Schmitt
Bourgeois DignityChief Secretary of Economics: Those miserable shopkeepers and small businessmen are not cooperating. We will have to lower their taxes, just a bit and for a short while, to get them to work harder and invest more. We will get all of that revenue back later when we introduce the new rules.
Apparatchik: Do you think they might work less because they are despised?
10/05/10 - Cato
[edited] Economist Deirdre McCloskey: The Big Economic Story of our time is that the Chinese in 1978 and the Indians in 1991 adopted liberal ideas, and came to attribute a dignity and a liberty to the bourgeoisie [small businessman] formerly denied. Then, China and India exploded in economic growth.
The moral is that ideas have mattered more than the usual material causes in achieving a pretty good life for the mass of humankind and a chance at a fully human existence.
Jason Kuznicki: A society that denigrates small businesses, small landowners, entrepreneurship, thrift, and innovation will see less of each. It will have different laws, customs, and institutions, and will use resources differently. Even its class structure will be different. Societies that value the artisan, the entrepreneur, and the innovator will prosper. keywords
Why Stimulus Doesn't StimulateFred: We will all have jobs soon. The government is spending more on everything.
Mike: Who is going to do the hiring? I'm investing less in everything.
10/01/10 - Sacramento Bee by economist Ribert Higgs
[edited] Team Obama theorizes that additional government spending (demand) will cause businesses to boost production, add jobs, and trigger additional consumer spending that will ripple through the economy for a stronger overall recovery.
Yes, consumer spending is about 70% of America's gross domestic product, and an increase in consumer spending would provide an immediate boost. But, consumer spending increased slightly as a percentage of GDP during the downturn.
There was no decline in consumer spending, so what caused the downturn? Answer: a sharp decline in private investment.
To revive investment, the government needs to stop threatening the profits from investment and remove the regulation and uncertainty that paralyzes new, long-term projects. Stimulus (M)06/26/10 - Easy Opinions - DIY Stimulus Policy
Don't be afraid of a few equations. They are only addition. You too can do economics on a cocktail napkin, just like the guys from Harvard Business School. (v)Via Cafe Hayek
Is It Constitutional?Fred: Is it constitutional to disband and jail the Supreme Court?
Mike: There would be no one to say that it isn't.
10/01/10 - National Review by Jonah Goldberg
[edited] Christine O’Donnell is the GOP Senate candidate in Delaware. She said in debate: "When I go to Washington, D.C., the litmus test by which I cast my vote for legislation will be whether or not it is constitutional.”
Dahlia Lithwick is Slate's senior editor, Stanford Law grad, a former appellate law clerk, and a widely cited expert on the Supreme Court. She commented: "How weird is that. Isn’t it a court’s job to determine whether or not something is, in fact, constitutional? Isn’t that sort of provided for in, well, the Constitution?
Goldberg: According to this creepy logic, there is no reason for congressmen to obey or even consider the supreme law of the land. Reimpose slavery? Sure! Let’s see if we can catch the Supreme Court asleep at the switch. Nationalize the TV stations? Establish a king? Kill every first-born child? Why not? It ain’t unconstitutional until the Supreme Court says so! Constitutional
Best Practice: Blunt NeedlesSurgeon: Pass me another glove. I can't get these on.
Nurse: Sorry doctor. Now we only have "one size fits all". A recent study concluded this will save money.
09/27/10 - Throckmorton's Other Signs
[edited] As I went to sew up the tissues, the needle wouldn't go through. In fact it broke in half. The package said the usual 3-0 vicryl SH, but also said "blunt"!
It seems a study showed that accidental needle sticks in surgical personnel might decrease if they used blunt needles, because these were less likely to penetrate a surgical glove. So, OSHA and JACHO mandated blunt needles. They were substituted without letting the surgeons know!
On careful examination of the study, there were less needle sticks because the blunt needles were useless and not used.
AMG: This is just the beginning of government directed, evidence based medicine. Find a study and implement the conclusions. Don't ask the doctors; they are stuck in the past. Surgical best practice
Berwick - New Doctor-Patient RelationshipMike: What treatment will I have?
Assigned Doctor: There is no need to bother you with the details. Rest assured that it balances your needs against those of Society and the limited resources available.
09/24/10 - Retired Doc
[edited] Dr. Don Berwick is Obama's new Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. CMS delivers care to 1/3rd of Americans. He wrote about changing the doctor-patient relationship in his book "New Rules", co-authored by Dr. Troyen A. Brennan.
[edited] “Today, this isolated relationship is no longer possible. Traditional medical ethics is based on the doctor-patient dyad. Ethics must be reformulated to fit the new mode of health care delivery. Regulation must evolve. Improved medical care involves designing appropriate rules with authority. Health care is being rationalized through critical pathways and guidelines. The primary function of regulation in health care, especially as it affects the quality of medical care, is to constrain decentralized, individualized decision making.”
Dr. Brennan was chairman of the Professionalism project, which implores physicians to balance their duty to the patient against their nebulous responsibilities to take proper care of society's limited medical resources and strive for social justice. ObamaCare, CMS, Medicare, Medicaid (M) 07/07/10 - Verum Serum
Socialist Dr. Berwick Gets Recess Appointment.
Dr. Berwick: "I cannot believe that the individual health care consumer can enforce through choice the proper configurations of a system as massive and complex as health care. That is for leaders to do."
"You plan the supply. You aim a bit low. Historically, you prefer slightly too little of a technology or service to much too much. Then, you search for care bottlenecks, and try to relieve them."
Legitimate State ViolenceFred: The city council is asking for donations to build a new park.
Mike: Why are you pointing a gun at me?
Fred: I thought it would put you in a more generous mood.
09/24/10 - National Review by Kevin D. Williamson [edited]
It is reasonable to shove a gun in someone's face to stop murder, rape, or robbery. It is entirely unreasonable to extort money to study monkeys high on cocaine. It is illegitimate for government to use force or the threat of force for projects that are not inherently public in character.
This useful distinction is not a figure of speech. A project is a legitimate concern of the state only if you are willing to haul off someone at gunpoint because of it. State violence (v)Via Instapundit (M) 10/23/10 - WiselyManaged
The right way to think about taxes
[edited] Pick a friend or neighbor who you like. Call him Steve. Pick a government provided service.
Would you put Steve in jail if he refused to help pay for that service? That is the proper way to view taxes and government spending, because that is precisely how things function. Do you see why this works only if you like Steve?
Denmark's Wind PowerFred: Denmark has more wind power than anyone else.
Mike: And higher rates. And bigger taxpayer subsidies. And we sell most of the wind power to the Germans.
Fred: You always worry about the downside.
09/12/10 - Telegraph UK by Andrew Gilligan
[edited] Denmark has more than four thousand onshore wind turbines, 65% more than Britain in a country 1/5th the size, and is a global centre of wind turbine manufacturing. Unfortunately, due in part to subsidies, Danes pay twice the energy tariffs as in Britain. Now, public pressure on the Left Party is curbing the handouts.
"There is an outbreak of realism. Wind is not bad, it is just a lot more limited than people thought." UN efforts to create a general climate deal collapsed in acrimony last year. Denmark is puncturing the greens' wilder hopes.
Wind's key disadvantage is unpredictability and uncontrollability. Mostly, the wind does not blow at the right speed, and often at night when little electricity is needed. So, most of Denmark's wind electricity has to be exported to Germany. Wind power (v)Via Don Surber
Downside of Gangster GovernmentObama: We don't need legal formalities. We made BP pay up now.
Courtier: Sire, what effect will this have on other large corporations?
Obama: They will tremble in fear before our power.
Courtier: Sire, will they continue to invest and create jobs?
09/20/10 - Power Line → UK Telegraph
[edited] Obama's populist demonization of BP is spectacularly damaging. It undermines international confidence in US legal protections, as if Obama had stood in the NY Stock Exchange proclaiming "investments not welcome here". Most corporations with big investments in the US are evaluating US political risk after seeing the legally questionable way BP has been treated.
Cash-rich multinationals are investing instead in previously high-risk emerging markets. These markets are higher growth, and bizarrely also seem legally and politically safer.
Optimists say US corporations have lots of cash, and an investment boom will soon be creating jobs. But, there is now little reason to invest in the US, which seems politically inept and economically marooned. BP, investment
Chavez Lets Food RotFred: The food rotted at the dock.
Mike: I thought you were taking care of that.
Fred: Yeah, well I thought you were responsible.
Mike: There is no need for blame. I say it was a computer glitch.
Fred: I'm with you comrade.
09/19/10 - Mises.org → Oliver Stone and Telegraph UK
[edited] Venezuelan state-owned PDVAL failed to distribute 80,000 tons of food imports that rotted at the Puerto Cabello seaport. Among these were several thousand tons of meat.
Just weeks ago, Mr Chavez launched an "economic war on the bourgeoisie owners” of supermarkets, mills, rice plants, and food distribution companies.
The result is an economic catastrophe in the only Latin American economy in recession. Inflation rose to 21% in May, and food prices rose 41% over last year. Soldiers have been deployed to raid private homes for food stores. Long lines regularly form on streets for basic commodities.
AMG: Chavez probably did not want the food to rot. Command socialist economies make big mistakes that we don't expect from a free market in trade. Chavez was busy cutting out the middlemen in food distribution, probably to reduce "obscene" bourgeois profits. Chavez, Venezuela
Obama's Old Fashioned Central PlanningAsst. Director: Controlling hundreds of millions of medical interactions is an almost impossible task.
Chief Director: Not to worry. We have the time, the tax revenue, and the bureaucracy to give the people what they deserve. We'll get it right, eventually. I love working for the good of Man/Woman'kind.
09/10/10 - Heritage.org by John S. Hoff, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Planning in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from 2001 to 2005.
[edited] The government presumes that it can and must control the details of health care financing and delivery across the country. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA or ObamaCare) gives the Administration extensive authority to achieve broadly outlined goals, to control every aspect of health care.
Volumes of complex regulations will bureaucratize and politicize health care from a central authority. This will reduce flexibility and deny Americans their own choices. Americans will obtain the health insurance and health care deemed best by the federal government.
PPACA promises to increase the cost of health care, reduce its flexibility, and ultimately prove anathema to the kind of health care that Americans want.
AMG: This paper sumarizes what ObamaCare requires. It is medium long, an indication of the complexity and control the US goverment has imposed upon its citizens. ObamaCare, PPACA (v)Via Instapundit (v)Via Washington Examiner - Michael Barone
The Political CombineFred: Who is going to win the election?
Mike: (smiles) Does it matter?
09/18/10 - ChicagoBoyz by Lexington Green
[edited] An Illinois term describes the relationship between the two political parties: The Combine. The Combine’s allegiance is not to a party, but to its pocketbook. It is about making money off the taxpayers.
The Democrat party is the senior member, and the GOP is the junior member. It does not matter who is up or down in elections. The participants from both parties have a shared stake in defending the game. Combine, Illinois, Murkowski
The Three Strands of LiberalismFred: What is your theory? How did the West become rich?
Mike: The West steals its wealth from the poor. How else can anyone become rich?
Fred: That certainly describes politics.
09/17/10 - Ed Driscoll → Ricochet
[edited] (1) Interest Groups. Liberals are for unions, minorities, the poor, gays, and trial lawyers. They are against “the rich", meaning everyone else.
(2) Technocratic Elitism. They are the best and brightest, and should run things.
(3) Multi-Cultural Progressivism. No culture is better than any other; the Caucasian West has attained its wealth by exploiting other races; America is the pre-eminent “neo-colonialist” and unjust capitalist power, and it is the major impediment to worldwide social justice. Obama, Liberalism
Annals of Government MedicineProfessor: Finally, we will implement an equitable health system for all.
Mike: Finally? Does that mean you have tried before?
Professor: There are attempts in other countries.
Mike: Attempts? How have they worked out?
Professor : They have some problems, but we will do much better.
Mike: So, you have already implemented something better?
Professor: No, but we have a deep literature of theory to support the experimental trials and committees which we have specified.
Professor: Well, yes. If it doesn't work at first, we will keep trying.
09/17/10 - Easy Opinions → Power Line
[edited] John Hinderaker has posted many examples of how the British National Health Service is operating. Their incompetence and lack of resources is killing people in obvious ways.
This is the system which is a model for ObamaCare, except that ObamaCare will be so much better. They will keep trying until it is. Britain, NHS, ObamaCare
ObamaCare Downward Spiral09/15/10 - Cato@Liberty by Michael F. Cannon
[edited] Health insurance premiums are rising 3-9% more than they would have. Price controls are pushing insurers to stop offering child-only coverage. Nearly 1/6th of hospitals and other providers will refuse Medicare, a form of rationing.
Healthy people will wait until they are sick to buy coverage, driving premiums higher still. This is happening now in Massachusetts, which has a nearly identical law from 2006. ObamaCare’s price controls will force insurers to cover sick patients at artificially low premiums, guaranteeing that insurers will avoid, mistreat, and dump the sick, because that’s what the price controls reward.
ObamaCare’s private health-insurance subsidies will expose low-wage workers to implicit tax rates higher than 100 percent, potentially trapping millions in poverty. ObamaCare, Health Insurance
Greater Poverty Is No Coincidence09/15/10 - Washington Examiner Editorial
[edited] Demographers expect the poverty rate to jump two points to 15% (45 million people), the largest recorded single-year increase. This is happening under the most liberal president ever.
Liberals say that poverty results from Republican policies of lower taxes and less government spending. The historical record shows the reverse.
President Carter (D) holds the previous record for poverty increase in 1980. His successor President Reagan (R) was routinely accused of inducing poverty by cutting taxes and domestic spending. In reality, personal income grew 8.1 percent and the poverty rate reached an all-time low by the time Reagan left office.
Our current economic woes trace back to a housing bubble created by government-mandated mortgages given to people who could never repay. Easy credit sent housing values soaring until a collapse which took the rest of the economy with it. The result is poverty at record levels and a flood of newspaper reports of homeless people living in sprawling tent cities.
Obama should learn the lesson: When government distorts markets to correct social inequality, this inevitably produces unintended consequences. Poverty
Arming Airline Pilots09/06/10 - 10/24/02 - Photon Courier by David Foster
[edited] This mindset has delayed arming pilots. It encompasses unwillingness to face reality, excessive reliance on specialization and training, overemphasis on lawyer-driven solutions, obsession with fictional images, technological ignorance, and lack of a sense of urgency.
These attitudes increasingly dominate America’s opinion-making elite, those who write editorials, anchor news shows, and teach college classes.
Arming pilots is a life-and death matter where the facts are readily available. If such thinking can prevail for so long regarding this, then what hope is there for rational discussion on more complex and subtle matters, such as education? Guns, Pilots
LEED Check Off the Box09/6/10 - Mises by Jim Fedako
[edited] LEED is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.
The local community college opened a satellite campus five miles from my house. Its website proclaims it is built to rigorous LEED standards, it seems like every government building.
I rode my bicycle around, seeing white signs on the sidewalk and around the building. Each sign proclaimed an environmental benefit obviously contradicted by reality. Bike racks for no riders. Small, almost leafless trees unable to "reduce energy use for air conditioning up to 70%".
AMG: Government achieves excellence by checking off the box. Business achieves excellence by producing a profit, creating more value than the resources used. LEEDS, Environmental Design
Romer is Theoretically CorrectFred: How many stimulus jobs have we created?
CBO: Just a second (runs computer program model) 2,343,458 jobs.
Fred: Did this scan a detailed database of collected information?
CBO: No. The model always says that.
09/05/10 - Easy Opinions
Christina Romer has resigned as Chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, a top advisor to President Obama. She doesn't know why the recession has been so bad or why her recommendations had little effect.
AMG: I know why her recommendations were bad. Her superficial and political analysis looked at only part of the situation. She recommended (as all appointees do) that government should spend huge amounts to solve current problems. Her superficial analysis gives no details of interest, listing only a few "multipliers" which she intentionally misinterprets.
Sadly, this exceeded the standard for government work in the President's Council of Economic Advisors. Stimulus, Romer, Jobs
Docs 4 Patient Care09/02/10 - AdviceGoddess by Amy Alkon
[edited] Dr. Hal Scherz is a pediatric urological surgeon on faculty at Emory Medical School. He founded Docs4PatientCare.org.
Scherz: Section 1311 of ObamaCare empowers the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services to establish care requirements that your doctor must follow, subject to penalties and fines. This effectively makes doctors into government employees. You and your doctor are no longer in charge of your health care decisions. ObamaCare politicizes medicine and destroys the doctor-patient relationship that makes the American health care system the best in the world.
ObamaCare will badly worsen the current doctor shortage and will bring large cost increases, rising insurance premiums, higher taxes, a decline in new medical techniques, reduced development of miracle drugs, and rationing by government panels.
Bureaucrat Dr. Donald Berwick is a passionate advocate of rationing, which will bring delays of months and sometimes years for hospitalization and surgery.
Some Democratic candidates are making a cosmetic retreat in response to voter anger. They are calling for minor modifications or pretending they are opposed to government-run medicine. But, they will vote with their party after the election, against repealing Obamacare.
Unless the Democratic party receives a strong negative message about this power grab, our health care system will never be fixed and the doctor patient relationship will be ruined forever. ObamaCare, Docs4PatientCare (M) The mission of Docs4PatientCare [edited].
We are an organization of concerned physicians committed to establish a health care system that preserves the doctor-patient relationship, promotes quality of care, supports affordable access to all Americans, and protects patients' freedom of choice.
We urge patients and physicians to get involved and preserve the good qualities of our healthcare system, address the problems, and prevent its bureaucratic destruction.
The AMA has become increasingly politicized in recent years. It's leadership has moved to the left. Docs4PatientCare is challenging the AMA’s stranglehold on health care matters. We stand with other anti-statist groups that oppose the Obama-Reid-Pelosi agenda.
Cash for Clunkers Folly09/01/10 - Boston.com by Jeff Jacoby
[edited] Prices for used cars are up 10% from last year, partly from increased demand for used vehicles in a poor economy.
A bigger reason is that the supply of used cars is artificially low because of the government's hare-brained Car Allowance Rebate System, "Cash for Clunkers".
The government paid up to $4,500 to subsidize trading in an old car and buying a new one with better gas mileage. The trade-in had to be driveable. Then, dealers had to chemically wreck the engine and crush the body. This destroyed hundreds of thousands of good automobiles.
Congress and Obama claimed "success beyond anybody’s imagination." Yes, if success is giving out money to buy a car most people would buy anyway, and wiping out productive assets that could provide value to other consumers.
The environmental benefits cost $237 per ton of reduced carbon emissions, compared to $20 per ton in the carbon offset market.
AMG: This was an expensive stunt, not a careful, thought out, efficient plan. Clunkers (v)Via Cafe Hayek (M)07/2009 - Easy Opinions - A Few Words About Policy
How do our representatives know that their legislation will help, or solve anything? The legislative language is less important than the research showing that the legislation will be of good effect. Where are the research papers that support the bills? This research has to be there. We need to see it.
The Bedbug War08/31/10 - 2/13/06 - TheBedbugWar by Mike David
[edited] Bedbug bites often follow a distinctive pattern of three bites in a line. I indeed had bedbugs.
I realized I might need professional intervention over a long time. Naturally as a guy, I want to tackle this myself. If we can't spray DDT all over the house, this won't go away easily, regardless of professional help. With a new house and new payments, I can't afford to pay people to spray pesticides that I can buy at the store and spray myself.
The War starts now. bedbugs (M)Pest Control Canada - Bed Bugs
* Eradication requires persistence. * They hide in extremely small, thin cracks. It is hard to find breeding sites. * They avoid daylight, emerging at night. * They pierce the skin to feed on blood, but can hide a year without feeding. * The bites vary among individuals, from no reaction to severe skin inflammation. * Females lay 300 eggs which hatch in 10 days. * They travel in suitcases, clothing, vehicles, aircraft, and cruise ships.
AMG: There is much more information. (M)07/02/10 - Megan McArdle - Comment by David Vandagriff
I dismantled my bedroom, washed all fabrics and dried pillows hot for 3 hours. Bedroom stuff first went into plastic bags to avoid spreading the bugs. The mattress and box springs went into insect-proof coverings to starve the bugs.
I used a $70 steam sprayer to treat baseboards, between baseboards and carpet, behind and under bedspreads, and all other nooks and crannies. I sealed the room and used a bed bug bomb from Home Depot, aired out for 24 hours, then steamed some places again.
The happy result was no more bed bugs. (M)BedBugBlog - 08/19/2007
We did not spray any contact killers around the bed. I did not want to drive any bugs deeper into the walls where they'd become more difficult to kill. That meant using myself as bait and possibly getting more bites. But a few more bites and dead bedbugs would be better than getting sporadic bites for the rest of my life. (M) 08/30/10 - TheBlaze by Meredith Jessup
US Grapples With Bedbugs as EPA Limits Options
Bedbugs are infesting U.S. households on a scale unseen in more than a half-century. They are largely resistant to common pesticides. Some homeowners and exterminators are turning to more hazardous chemicals that can harm the central nervous system, irritate the skin and eyes, and cause cancer. (v)Via Instapundit
The Little Book of Obamacare Horrors08/30/10 - Retired Doc compares the promises of CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) with the realities analyzed at the NCPA (Natl Center for Policy Analysis).
[edited] (1) About half of the 15 million enrollees in Medicare Advantage plans are likely to lose their coverage and will be forced to return to conventional Medicare. If you keep your plan, expect higher premiums and fewer benefits.
(2) You must give your employer your most recent income tax return. Out-of-pocket premiums will be limited to a percentage of your family income. So, you will have to show what that income is, including your wife's income and investment income.
(3) The government plan is to take 500 billion from Medicare, spend it on something else, and call it a savings and a quality improvement to Medicare. medicare advantage PPACA (M)National Center for Policy Analysis
A Confused Keynesian Economist08/30/10 - Cato @ Liberty by Mark A. Calabria
[edited] Followers of Keynes say we are in a recession due to “a collapse in private demand.” Professor Tyson says we would be OK if everyone would buy more.
Yes, private personal consumption spending reached bottom in the Spring of 2009. But, it is now higher than at any point during the boom. (Chart at the link)
Investment is overall about 20% below its peak, holding back employment. The good news is that investment in such things as equipment and software is slowly rising. But the construction industry, particularly residential, is down 50% from its peak.
This suggests that unemployment comes from a mismatch between skills and available job openings. You simply cannot turn a construction worker into a nurse or computer programmer overnight.
AMG: This is why government intervention is so destructive. The government promoted building housing for people who could not pay for those houses. A huge number of people chose house building as a profession. This was not sustainable. Those people need to find productive work, but the government continues to scare businesses and distort the economy with government "stimulus" spending and the promise of higher taxes. Keynes stimulus employment (M)Stimulus Shrinks the Economy: The money is nice. The taxes and inflation are a killer.
Nothing Is Simple08/30/10 - Top Gear by James May
[edited] Anyone who has done proper metalwork knows that a 10 mm diameter rod won't go into a 10 mm hole. Either the hole must be a bit bigger or the rod a bit smaller, or maybe both. If the hole is 10.03 mm, and the rod is 9.92 mm, they will go together. But they may be the other way around, and then they won't.
Say you want to make 1,000 rods and drill 1,000 holes, such that any rod goes into any hole. You'd need a system of controlling maximum and minimum dimensions for each, dictated by the fidelity of your manufacturing and measuring methods. We call these ‘tolerances', or in the language of the engineering workshop, ‘limits and fits'.
The earliest cars had no true commonality. Each part had to be made to fit by a ‘fitter', who would remove bits of metal. These cars were hideously expensive to buy and then to maintain.
AMG: We take for granted the vast amount of engineering work that has been done and is being done every day to make our world work. This complexity applies to machines, processes, and the relationships between people. No book or plan in a central bureaucracy can manage that complexity. complexity (v)Via Cafe Hayek
Self-Confidence in the Media08/23/10 - 04/08/10 - ChicagoBoyz by James R. Rummel
[edited] Rummel: I have encountered very few people that work in the media. The few that I met in social settings were intelligent, curious, and polite. I noticed that they all had one defining characteristic. They were sure they had the inside track on everything!
No matter what the subject, each had a rock-solid conviction that he was an expert in that subject. Very obviously, they were experts in nothing more than doing their particular job in the media. Even so, they considered themselves to be vast founts of wisdom which all would be well advised to accept.
AMG: The comments are also good, possibly including mine. Dunning-Kruger, arrogance, self-importance
Protected From UglyRipe Tomatoes08/21/10 - 02/24/05 Mises.org by Gary Galles
[edited] UglyRipe tomatoes come from 10 years of work by Joe Procacci. Customers say they have the luscious taste they remember from the good old days. Few UglyRipe meet the FTC’s standard of beauty for selling out of state, because they fail the roundness standards.
This is the latest in a long line of rip-offs in the name of consumer protection, enforced by government empowered marketing boards. Marketing boards trace from New Deal legislation to “save” agriculture.
Florida growers of pretty but bland tomatoes dominate America’s winter supply, and they protect their profits at consumer expense. Marketing boards block the sale of “lower quality” tomatoes to restrict competition from newer varieties that consumers might prefer.
AMG: So that's why tomatoes are pretty but tasteless. The government is protecting me from having to think too much about them. This also applies to other fruits and vegetables. tomatoes, marketing orders, marketing boards
Protected From Bad Barbers08/21/10 - Volokh by Jonathan H. Adler
[edited] Yglesias: Regulation of this sort, of barbers, seems totally unnecessary. Even if regulation were a good idea, the regulatory board can't protect consumers. It is overwhelmingly composed of people from the industry whose incentive is to limit competition and raise prices.
Adler: Licenses restrict entry and reduce competition, enabling licensees to charge higher prices. This is true of most licensing, even when it appears to serve a public interest greater than barber's licenses. A licensing regime of this sort almost always has the support of current practitioners, who will benefit economically. Many public spirited rationales are a smokescreen, including claims for health and safety. licensing, rent seeking (v)Via Instapundit
Anthropologist Obama08/20/10 - Pajamas Media by Ed Driscol
[edited] In the history of modern-day politics, past presidents have viewed the American public from the perspective of a fellow citizen. But, as one of his Ruling Class boosters notes above, Obama views the American public from the perspective of a research anthropologist. anthropologist, Obama, Chuck Todd
Trained Parents Have Well Behaved Kids08/20/10 - Econlog Econlib by Bryan Caplan
[edited] A legitimate result of discipline is to keep your child from abusing the people around him. First, that means you his parent. You're stuck with him, you love him, and your child knows it. Armed with these advantages, your child can make your life awful.
Apply the wisdom of the ages: Clarity, Consistency, and Consequences. Adopt firm rules, clearly explain the penalties for breaking the rules, and impose the promised penalties to the letter.
If your child punches or kicks you, you must explain that this is against the rules and that the punishment is, say, one day without television. Every time your child breaks the rule, harden your heart and impose the punishment. Clear, consistent punishment isn't foolproof, and some kids are tougher to crack than others, but it beats being a punching bag.
There is solid experimental evidence in favor of this wisdom. behavior, punishment, children
The Criminal Mind08/20/10 - Comment by Tcobb
[edited] I met career criminals as a defense attorney.
(1) Although smart, they could not contemplate the future where they might be caught.
(2) The victims were always supposed to believe their lies. How dare the victims not believe?
(3) They believed that everything was somebody else’s fault.
To what extent do the behavioral patterns of our current ruling class mirror that of career criminals? criminal mind
Oligopoly is Often Good08/18/10 - American Enterprise By Nick Schulz
[edited] "Oligopoly" refers to a few large companies dominating the production of some product type. Is that usually bad?
Will Baumol: Many oligopolistic firms use innovation as their way to compete. This is like an arms race in which two countries feel it is necessary to match the other's military spending.
Each company realizes that its existence depends on matching its rival’s efforts and spending on new products. Although they are large and few, these companies will produce a stream of efficiency and innovation. Oligopoly, Competition
Barney Frank Never Supported Housing Failure08/18/10 - HotAir by Ed Morrissey
[edited] Barney Frank now can’t understand why government should push home ownership or be involved in mortgages at all. Neil Cavuto on Fox Business interviewed Frank. Frank said that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should be abolished rather than reformed.
Frank claims that he has said this all along, but that is not true. Frank chaired the House Financial Services Committee. He played a huge part in creating and maintaining the government interventions that severely distorted the home lending markets. Frank’s actions helped to create and maintain those policies, and he defended them repeatedly over the last twelve years.
Frank also said [edited] "The only question now is what do you put in the place of Fannie and Freddie."
AMG: So, don't think that Frank now supports limited government and free markets. He can't deny the failure of the government's past housing policies. But, he will work hard to craft other government policies to put in their place.
When you fail miserably and expensively, just try, try again. We will all be supporting his new efforts with our taxes, just as we now support the giant losses created by Fannie and Freddie in the past. Barney Frank, Fannie Mae, Housing
Maximize Tax Revenue - Harm the Economy08/18/10 - Cato@Liberty by Daniel J. Mitchell
[edited] The goal of tax policy should not be to maximize revenue. At maximum revenue, the damage to the economy is so great that any higher tax rate raises no additional revenue, or even loses revenue.
Martin Feldstein of Harvard: As the tax rate rises, the “deadweight loss” rises, which is the real loss to the economy. As the rate gets close to maximizing revenue, the loss in production exceeds the gain in revenue.
I dislike budget deficits as much as anyone else. But, I would never give up say $1 billion of GDP in order to reduce the deficit by $100 million. National income is a goal in itself; that is our standard of living. Deadweight Loss, Laffer Curve (M)In Nov 1999, Martin S. Feldstein was the George F. Baker Professor of Economics at Harvard University and former President of the US National Bureau of Economic Research. He says more about the deadweight loss from taxes.
[edited] Traditional analyses of the income tax greatly underestimate deadweight losses by ignoring its effect on income and consumption. The full deadweight loss is easily calculated to be as much as 30% of total revenue.
The deadweight loss caused by increasing tax rates above current levels may exceed $2 per $1 of revenue increase.
AMG: Government activities and transfer payments had better be useful to the society, because economic output has already been lowered by 30% of the taxes currently collected. Further, $2 worth of production (jobs) will be destroyed for every additional $1 collected through increased tax rates.
Federal vs Private Pay08/17/10 - Cato Liberty by John Berry
[edited] Defenders of federal pay ignore benefits and other perks of federal employment, including extreme job security. A 2009 private sector employee was more than three times more likely to be laid off or fired. Federal workers receive generous holiday and vacation schedules, flexible work hours, training options, incentive awards, generous disability benefits, and union protections.
Federal workers are 8 times less likely to quit than private sector employees. We argue, they stay put because the combination of wages, benefits and job security is hard to match in the private sector.
Defenders say that comparable private sector pay is better. If so, why don’t more federal employees leave? If they are as highly-skilled and educated as defenders claim, why settle for less than they are worth? Federal Pay
Presidential Abuse of Office08/16/10 - Pajamas Media by Bob Owens
Darrell Issa (R-CA) in a 37-page report accuses the White House of “an unprecedented number of public relations and propaganda efforts", some illegal.
The Obama Administration frequently used federal agencies to promote the President’s favorite programs, and used the entertainment community to embed propaganda in television programming and artwork.
Obama has used government resources to activate a sophisticated propaganda and lobbying campaign. This is an abuse of office and a betrayal of the pledge to create “an unprecedented level of openness in Government.” Obama, Malfeasance (v)Via Instapundit
Those Voices Don't Speak For Us08/16/10 - PowerLine Blog by John Hinderaker
[edited] A video (2:17) by The Republican Study Committee contrasting clips by Ronald Reagan with today's leaders of the Democratic Party.
VP Joseph Biden (1:06): We have to spend more money to keep from going bankrupt.
Rep. Alcee Hastings (0:17): All of this talk about rules. We make 'em up as we go along. Video, Ronald Reagan, Democratic policies
Specialists join the EMTALA war08/12/10 - M.D.O.D
The battle for American medicine is finally joined. The ER is now a place that compels doctors to lose sleep and money. Specialists expose themselves to full malpractice liability for every patient, whether or not they get paid.
The specialists are fed up, and they have figured out how to fight city hall: follow the rules exactly. Emergency Department, ER
Martian GoldFred: Gold! The Martians are paying about one ounce per day to work for them.
Mike: I'm in. That is over $1,000 per day.
Fred: Last week. Gold is $100 per ounce this week.
Mike: That is OK. What will gold be worth next week?
Fred: Who knows? But it is gold; how could we lose?
07/25/10 - EO Future News
[edited] What happens when Martians or our government manufacture money? They receive real resources. The citizen or peasant gets an IOU. Stimulus, Multiplier Effect, Future News
Govt's Inept Response to the Oil SpillFred: The government is protecting the Gulf by shutting down off-shore oil production.
Mike: 100,000 men will be protected out of their jobs.
07/09/10 - EO -> Reason.com
[edited] Salazar and his gang may be ignorant of business. They may shut down the sophisticated flow of supplies and men, believing they can later restart that flow like flipping a switch. This may bring financial ruin to smaller companies. Oil Spill, BP
Ireland Tries Economic SuicideFred: Ireland is trying to recover without stimulus spending.
Mike: Are they all drunk?
Fred: It seems to be working.
Mike: Are we all drunk?
Fred: Did you hear about the big bank robbery? The robbers have agreed to spend the stolen money within the town.
Mike: They have all the luck. That stimulus spending will make them rich.
Fred: Government is doing that for all of us, so we won't have to depend on bankrobbers.
07/09/10 - Easy Opinions
[edited] Ireland’s gross domestic product grew 2.7% in the first quarter of 2010. It was the first such rise since Q4 2007, when Ireland’s economy declined from falling construction values and failed property speculation.
This was unexpected, because Ireland cut government spending and had no stimulus policy. Ireland, Stimulus, Spending
Medicare: Our Computer is Down07/03/10 - Big Government by Bret Jacobson (YouTube video 3:37)
This doctor treated Medicare Patients, and was routinely denied payment. Medicare said: "We can't pay you right now, the computer is down". The computer was down for 18 months when she gave up. Quitting Medicare
DIY Stimulus PolicyFred: What is your analysis of stimulus spending?
Economist: "4=2+2" so stimulus will increase GDP and jobs.
Fred: Are you nuts?
Economist: Oh, I meant to say "GDP = All production in the U.S.", so stimulus will increase GDP and jobs.
Fred: I don't get it. That's just a definition.
Economist: Oh, I meant to say "GDP = C + I + G + (X - M)", so stimulus G will increase GDP and jobs.
Fred: That's better.
06/26/10 - Easy Opinions
[edited] The Keynes Formula restates GDP as the sum of the broadly defined components Consumption, Investment, and Government Spending. This is a formula that is true by definition, just like "4=2+2".
Keynesian economists, who are directing U.S. economic policy, interpret this formula in a crazy way to conclude what is politically desireable, but not at all a result of their "analysis". This is a false justification for government "stimulus" spending.
This is like grabbing the needle on a car's speedometer and pushing it toward 50 mph, as a way to speed up the car. Really. I wish I were kidding. GDP, Stimulus Spending, Keynes
EPA Purity of EssenceFred: (crawling in from the desert) Water, water.
EPA: My poor man. Yes, we have water. Do you have a Desert Waste Disposal Permit?
Fred: (more weakly) Water.
EPA: It seems not. If I give you water, you are likely to create more waste. The regulations require a permit.
Fred: (raises questioning eyes) You ... your waste?
EPA: Oh, right. I go in the trailer behind me. Sorry, EPA personnel only.
06/21/10 - EO -> ClimateAudit by Steve McIntyre
[edited] The destruction of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil platform and the resulting huge leak of oil into the Gulf of Mexico calls for immediate action.
The EPA refused the help of Dutch skimmer ships because regulations prohibit discharging oily water, even if processing extracts almost all of the oil.
The U.S. doesn’t have any spill response vessels with skimmers because our environmental regulations do not allow it. Oil Spill, Gulf
Hydro-Electric Storage Won't Do ItFred: We'll build wind turbines everywhere and store the excess energy in hydro facilities.
Mike: That will work for places that are flat and windy, next to mountains that will support a hydro dam. What about the other places?
06/17/10 - EO -> ChicagoBoyz by Shannon Love
[edited] "Alternative energy" can’t be used for baseline power because it is not reliable, and we can’t make it reliable by storing the electricity that it episodically generates. What about hydro-electric storage of pumped water? We would have to double the hydro capacity of the U.S. Alternative Energy, Green Energy, Hydro-Electric Power
Video Explains Minimum WageFred: I'll get a raise when the minimum wage goes up.
Mike: If they don't fire you.
06/15/10 - EO -> HotAir by Ed Morrissey
[edited] The minimum wage did no direct harm when it was less than the usual wage for entry-level jobs. When the minimum wage rose above that wage, employers stopped offering those entry level jobs. Minimum Wage (M)Economist Walter Williams and journalist John Stossel review the racist and anti-poor legislation mistakenly called "the minimum wage.” A 2010 video 8:25.
AMG: The real minimum wage is zero, what people are paid when their skills and work history cannot get them a job at the "minimum wage".
ObamaCare Will Reduce WagesFred: I took this job because of the great healthcare plan, even though it paid less.
Mike: So, be happy. Now you will get Obamacare, and you will be paid even less.
06/14/10 - EO -> Cato@Liberty by Michael F. Cannon
[edited] ObamaCare increases health insurance premiums and requires the employer to pay that increase. But, the employer pays this cost out of the production of the employee. So, the employer must offer a lower wage or fire the employee. The employee will likely blame the employer, not ObamaCare. Obamacare, Employer Contribution, Wages
Social Security GrandchildrenGwen: You adopted your three grandchildren?
Mary: It's government policy. Social Security is paying me to do it.
05/27/10 - EO -> EconLog
[edited] Are you 20 to 45 years old? Then, you are paying 12.4% of your real salary into Social Security to support current benefits being paid out. I hope you don't mind losing that money, because the above Social Security policy puts little value on it. Your politicians will not adjust the rules to stop the "grandchild" option for gaming the system. Social Security, Grandchildren
Goodbye to Local MeatsFred: I hear the new regulations are going to cost us.
Mike: Yes, but they will cost our competitors more.
05/27/10 - EO -> Cato by Walter Olson
[edited] New federal food safety regulations could pose compliance challenges for local bakers, fruit-baggers, and other small providers, whether or not their products pose any notable risks. Regulation, Food Processing
Cass Sunstein Nudges the DiscussionFred: The government suggests I reorganize my website.
Mike: Are they good suggestions?
Fred: They must be. Non-compliance costs 5 years and/or $5000.
05/23/10 - EO -> Cafe Hayek
[edited] Obama Czar Cass Sunstein reveals he would discard the letter and the spirit of our First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and freedom of the press.
Future News: "Sunstein Links" appear all over the internet. Cass Sunstein, Free Speech, Internet
Government Management of DoctorsFred: I dreamed of being a doctor, and earned my M.D.
Mike: I'm puzzled. Why are you managing a government department?
Fred: As a doctor, I realized I was mostly managing a government department. This way, I get paid to do it, and I go home at 4:00.
05/21/10 - Easy Opinions
[edited] Medicare has degraded to the point where reimbursements minus imposed costs are not enough to support doctors. The true, awful promise of Obamacare is to make this worse. Medical prices have been grossly distorted along the way, with more distortions to come.
Doctors are moving away from Medicare just as Obamacare tries to pay for everything with Medicare.
Intrusive laws and "free-care" requirements are changing medicine from a vocation to just a job. Do we want doctors, or bureaucrats who don't mind practicing medicine on the side? Medicare, Doctors, Medicine, Cash Practice
Wall Street Reform BillSenator: Wall Street must stop making risky loans and creating complex derivative financial deals.
Congressional Aid: (whispers) Excuse me Senator. For your signature, $40 billion more for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac so they can buy more CDO's, MBS's, and whatever.
05/21/10 - Easy Opinions -> Clean Government Now
[edited] The bill is only tangentially related to the financial crisis.
This large and confusing bill favors only one group, those rich enough to afford the lawyers to meet the requirements.
The bill does not address criticisms of the last financial "reform" attempted by Sarbanes, Oxley, and Spitzer. Prior "reforms" all but ruined the market for small company stock and the venture investment business that depended upon it. Financial Reform
Wind Power in SpainFred: Disaster. Our wind power is costing $.27 per KWH to produce.
Mike: Don't bother me with details. I'm not an accountant; I'm building a better world.
05/18/10 - EO -> Chicago Boys by David Foster
[edited] An independent study found that Spain’s “green economy” program removed 2.2 jobs for every job “created” by the state. The government report said it was worse than that.
The gear boxes on wind turbines are breaking after only one-third of their predicted life. Just when the warranties run out. Spain, Wind Power
Obamacare At Ground LevelGovernment: Whoa! Why are you reacting like this? We are the ones qualified to plan for the future, and it is going to work out fine. We are changing everything, but you should keep on as if nothing has changed.
Business: We must be unqualified. We see a different future than you do.
05/17/10 - EO -> Throckmortons Other Signs
[edited] "Medical centers like ours that have an open door to the indigent are getting creamed. Demand from indigent patients is increasing, and demand from the under-insured is skyrocketing. The costs of practicing medicine are increasing exponentially." Obamacare, Medical Care
Stimulus Give and TakeFred: I see you hired a new guy subsidized by the stimulus program.
Boss: Yes. He is replacing you.
05/05/10 - EO -> Aguanomics
The government cannot create production by subsidizing workers. It can only disrupt the labor markets. Stimulus, Jobs, Government Subsidies
Recovery Despite Gov't InterventionGovernment: The free market failed, and government spending is fueling the recovery.
Mike: By "fueling" do you mean burning up resources?
Government: The biggest bureaucracies produce the wealthiest nations.
05/02/10 - BigGovernment by Gary Wolfram
[edited] Consider this joke. A man jumps up every two minutes and waves his newspaper in the air. An observer asks what he is doing. The man says, “I’m scaring away the elephants.” The observer tells him that there are no elephants. The man responds, “See. It worked.”
The market system is repairing itself and creating wealth for the masses. The federal government enacts stimulus packages, health care reform, regulatory reform, and every other reform it can think of. Each "reform" actually slows down recovery, but the economy still makes steady progress. The government claims that these "reforms" are the cause of the recovery.
Robert Higgs argued persuasively that the Great Depression was in large part due to “regime uncertainty.” Roosevelt's interventions created uncertanties which scared away private investment. Higgs provides polling data showing a substantial number of corporate executives thought that all of the economic system might be socialized.
The failure of part time employment to be converted into full time employment in this recovery is due largely to regime uncertainty. Great Depression, Slow Recovery (M) EasyOpinions: A Tested Stimulus Plan
The economic crisis is the result of a giant six year stimulus provided by housing loans. We now know it worked for a while and ended in disaster.
What will the current so called stimulus plans produce when the money runs out? An economy like the current one, but somewhat worse. (M)EasyOpinions: Stimulus Does Not Cure a Recession
Jobs change when people change what they want to buy or can afford. It is possible to keep people at their low-value or unneeded jobs for a bit longer, only by wasting the savings that should be financing a real recovery.
Gell-Mann AmnesiaFred: I know about local government, and those reporters always get the story wrong.
Mike: Funny, I've learned a lot about the Middle East from that newspaper.
05/01/10 - ChicagoBoyz comment by Michael Kennedy
[edited] You read the newspaper with exasperation or amusement about a subject you know well. In my case, show business. You see that the journalist has no understanding of the facts or the issues. Often, he gets the story backwards, reversing cause and effect. These are the “wet streets cause rain” stories. The paper is full of them.
You then turn to national or international affairs, and read with renewed interest, as if the rest of the newspaper is somehow more accurate about far-off Palestine than it was about the story you just read.
That is Gell-Mann Amnesia. We forget about the parts we know are wrong. Then, we believe against evidence that it is worth our time to read other parts of the paper, when in fact it almost certainly isn't. Gell-Mann Amnesia, Journalism
Entrepreneur Explains Minimum WageFred: I'll get a raise when the minimum wage goes up.
Mike: If they don't fire you.
04/29/10 - CafeHayek by Don Boudreaux -> A.G.
[edited summary] I have cut back all employee hours, and I want to explain. May is a very slow month for our business, and the minimum wage has risen to $7.25/hour. A higher wage can only be good, right? Unfortunately, it doesn’t work out that way.
I would LOVE to give everyone the hours they want, and then some. We could accomplish much more every day, our business would grow, and I could even hire more people. However, we operate on a tight budget like all businesses.
I must pay 40% more, so I can’t afford as many employees for as many hours. I can only pay you guys a certain percentage of all the money coming in the door, or we go broke and everyone loses their jobs. I must cut hours, and we all end up poorer.
AMG: The comments are good too. Minimum Wage, Employment
Break the Law - Dominate ToysFred: Your company made the news due to your big-time negligence. Then Congress put heavy regulations on your industry. How is that working out?
Mike: It has put our small competitors out of business.
04/24/10 - Easy Opinions -> Hot Air
[edited] Mattel broke the law by importing toys contaminated by lead paint. Congress overreacted with the CPSIA law, imposing costly testing requirements on all toys sold, including books, quilts, and bicycles. This has benefitted Mattel, which even gets further favorable rulings from the CPSC to reduce its costs.
Big business often shapes regulation to its advantage when it cannot stop it from being imposed, and continues this shaping through persistent lobbying in following years. CPSIA, Lead Paint, Toys (M)04/28/10 - Walter Olson
Thank powerful lawmaker Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and the Democratic congressional leadership for the bad effects of CPSIA. They have ignored the details of commerce, and are reluctant to admit or correct any errors. (v)Via Advice Goddess - Amy Alkon
The War On Drugs and LibertyFred: They gave me five years for smoking marajuana.
Mike: I hope you use the time to become a better person.
04/23/10 - YouTube video 8 minutes
[edited] Milton Friedman explains the case for legalizing drugs. See also www.LibertyPen.com .
Drug enforcement is a moral problem. It causes people to lose their lives and imprisons peaceful people. Next, the government will be regulating what people eat. (AMG: You think?) War on Drugs, Legalization (v)Via Cafe Hayek
The IPCC is Political, Not ScientificFred: I found this article in "Save The Earth" about ice disappearing from the Arctic.
IPCC: Send it to me; I'll include it in the AR4.
04/20/10 - PrisonPlanet by economist Richard Tol
[edited] The IPCC (UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has changed from a scientific institution that tries to be policy relevant into a political institution that pretends to be scientific.
The IPCC selects authors and bureau members by political belief. The member countries are represented by their environment departments, instead of their research departments.
Working Groups 2 and 3 of the AR4 (Assessment Report 4) violated all IPCC procedures. The conclusions are scientifically unfounded in part, and some are even copied from the environmental movement. Valid comments were ignored.
AR4 contains crude errors as a result, only some known publicly. IPCC, Climate Change, Politics
Like Parties, Like GovernmentFred: That was a great meal, with a fine wine, in a wonderful hotel.
Mike: It's all on the expense account. That's why we call it a Party.
04/21/10 - Don Surber -> Washington Post
[edited] Both of the national Democratic and Republican party committees spend about two-thirds of the money they raise on the care and comfort of committee staffs and on efforts to raise more funds, with lavish spending on limousines, expensive hotels, meals and tips.
AMG: They feel entitled as representatives of the people. It's a hard job, someone has to do it, and who could do it better? That justifies a party. They have to spend money in order to save money, or something like that. National Party Committees, Political Spending (M)04/21/10 - Washington Post
Both national party committees spend two-thirds of their funds on fancy meals, hotels, travel, and fundraising.
Obama's Tax ContemptFred: You promised not to raise any of my taxes.
Politician: I haven't and I won't. These are all new taxes.
04/19/10 - Roger Kimball -> Investor's Business Daily
[edited] IBD: Why should the tea partiers be thankful? Obama said “one thing we have not done is raise income taxes on families making less than $250,000; that’s another promise we kept.”
Here is what candidate Obama said in September of 2008: “Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.”
Kimball: Obama is convinced that the left-liberal view is shared by any sufficiently enlightened, reasonable person. Dissent from that view is political, warped by self-interest, and evidence of stupidity. Ultimately, dissent would not only be called counterproductive, it would be proscribed as criminal or insane. Obama, Taxes, Promises (M) Easy Opinions: Leading The People
They have a solution that will work if we would only stop arguing and agree with them.
They may need to omit some information about the new arrangements and what these will cost.
They observe that ordinary people do not think well enough to make decisions in their own long-term best interest.
Dissenters are either uninformed or selfish. There is no need to argue about the specific meanings of words. The good of the society justifies telling some lies, if it comes to that. (M)Saul Alinsky: Rules For Radicals [online]
Obama Style Tax ReliefAlice: Honey! It's a new car. Did it cost much?
Fred: I put the down payment on the credit card, and the first payment is due in three months. It didn't cost us anything.
04/16/10 - At TheBigQuestions by Steve Landesburg
[edited] President Obama has dramatically raised government spending, and so has raised your taxes. To say otherwise is like saying you got your new swimming pool for free because you put it on your credit card. Obama has raised your taxes and deferred them. Taxes, Tax Burden, Government Spending
An Election About FreedomFred: The government will now give to me what I deserve.
Mike: And, you expect me to pay it to you.
04/04/10 - BigGovernment -> Rep. Paul Ryan
[edited excerpt] Rep. Paul Ryan on 3/31 spoke about where we are and where we need to go.
"On March 21st, one political party in Congress passed the atrocious Health Care Bill, despite a swelling revolt by the American people. It requires every American to buy health insurance under IRS scrutiny. It empowers an army of federal bureaucrats to decide how you should receive Health Care, what kind, how much, and whether you qualify at all."
"Never has our government claimed the power to decide when each of us has lived well enough or long enough to be refused life-saving medical assistance. Our nation was once dedicated to the life and freedom of every person. This presumptuous reform has put our nation on a long decline toward the mediocrity of the social welfare states of Europe."
"Americans are preparing to fight another American Revolution, this time a peaceful one using election ballots. The reasons for revolution are the same:
• Should centralized government be allowed to grow in power, or should its powers be limited and returned to the people?
• Should irresponsible distant leaders run up debt without limit that crushes jobs and stalls prosperity, or should we turn the reckless out of office and elect a new government to live within its means?
• Should America bid farewell to exceptional freedom and retreat to European social welfare paternalism, or should we make a new start, in the faith that boundless opportunities belong to the workers, the builders, the industrious, and the free?"
"We are at the beginning of an election campaign of an intensity you have never seen before!" Freedom, Health Care, Revolution
Nuclear Energy Costs Too MuchFred: Nuclear power is cheap to produce.
Mike: After you build a hugely expensive plant.
10/22/08 - Cato Institute by Jerry Taylor
[edited] Nuclear power generates cheaper electricity than all other sources, due to low operation and maintenance costs, except perhaps hydro. But, investors must first pay $6-9 billion for construction. This is 20-30 times the cost ($300 million) of a natural gas plant, and 3-5 times the cost ($2 billion) of a coal plant. [Plants of different capacities]
A nuclear plant is so expensive and takes so long to build, that any error can bankrupt the power company. There are often cost overruns. Counting the costs of construction, the overall cost of producing nuclear power is 12-15 cents/kilowatt-hour, compared to 3.55 cents/kWh for a coal plant.
France, India, China, and Russia do not build cost-effective nuclear plants. Their government officials either build expensive plants and mandate high-cost electricity, or they build shoddy plants and hope for the best. Nuclear Power, Electricity (M)John Stossel interviews Jerry Taylor:
I thought that nuclear didn't pay for itself due to excessive regulations and expensive delays from environmentalist's lawsuits.
Taylor set me straight. The nuclear industry is comfortable with today's level of environmental regulation. The big problem is simply the huge cost. The same high costs are found in countries that are friendly to nuclear power.
State vs Private: Paid 1.45 to 1Fred: Working for the government is frustrating, boring, and unproductive.
Mike: Those work conditions demand higher pay.
03/28/10 - Wall Street Journal
[edited] The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports for 2009 that total pay for state and local government vs private employees was $39.66 vs $27.42. The public employee gets 45% more. Salaries/hour are 34% higher, and benefits are 70% higher.
Unionized government workers account for all of the difference. 28 of the 40 states that have a budget deficit would have a balanced budget if government workers were paid the same as private sector workers.
California has 3,000 retired teachers and school administrators, who stopped working as early as age 55, collecting pensions of $100,000+ per year for life.
Worse, government pensions are underfunded by $3.2 trillion. That is $27,000 for every American household. Government Pay, Spending, Pensions (v)Via Powerline Blog
The Good Healthcare BillFred: We had to do something about health care.
Mike: So, why not something good?
03/27/10 - Econlog -> Economist Gary Becker
[edited] Becker: A good health care bill would have expanded Health Savings Accounts. It would have permitted purchasing insurance across state lines, increasing competition among insurers. All health-care spending would have been tax-deductible to individuals as well as businesses. Incentives would have encouraged consumers to pay more for their health care from their own money.
The US spends 17% of GDP on health care, but only 12% of that is out-of-pocket. Switzerland spends 11% of GDP, and 31% of that is out-of-pocket, a huge difference. When people spend substantial sums from their own pockets, they shop around, and ordinary market competition operates to reduce costs. Economics, Healthcare
Energy Star ExcellenceFred: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved a bogus gas powered alarm clock as Energy Star Certified. They said it would save energy.
Mike: Don't worry so much. The government will do much better controlling health care.
03/27/10 - John Stossel
The EPA Energy Star certification tells eco-conscious buyers that they can save the Earth's resources by using accepted products, possibly by paying more.
How to get that certification? Invent a company. Make up some statistics. Submit this to the EPA. Paste the Certification on your product.
Some errors are understandable; the EPA has had only 18 years to establish a finely tuned bureaucracy.
Stossel: The GAO attached a feather duster to a space heater, sent the photo to the EPA, and got approval in just 11 days. Thanks to the Energy Star rating, consumers who purchased the fake product would be eligible for some state rebate programs. Energy Star, Government, GAO
Ten Rules When the Police Stop YouPolice Officer: How are you doing?
Mike: Officer, I will not resist, but I do not consent to a search. Are you detaining me or am I free to go?
03/26/10 - EO -> Cato@Liberty
This must-see, 42 minute video shows how to defend your rights during encounters with the police. There is a 41 minute discussion following the main presentation.
Baltimore trial attorney Billy Murphy is the star, also seen on HBO’s "The Wire". He gives a separate video interview.
I supply some notes on the video, but don't rely on them.
"You have the right to refuse searches. Be polite but firm. "Officer, I have nothing illegal, but I don't consent to searches." Do not say "I know my rights" or be confrontational. Saying no may not stop the search, but it makes it possible to challenge the search later in court." Police, Searches
Marching Off the CliffFred: A man fell from a 30 story building.
Mike: What did he do while he was falling?
Fred: He said over and over "So far, so good".
03/25/10 - Victor Davis Hanson
[edited] Assume that Obama & Co. wish to radically remake the United States into a European socialist society. Then the past 14 months were as predictable as the sun rising.
We will have to cut programs, tax the middle class (or both), or implode. Our annual deficits will be two trillion dollars. The combined local, state, federal, and payroll taxes will be 60-70% on the top brackets, yet will not meet the shortfalls
We are borrowing huge amounts at historically cheap interest. This is a fool’s delusion. Any spike in inflation will turn this debt into an unsustainable disaster, like an adjustable rate mortgage that resets from a 3% rate to 15%.
The Obamans will realize that the current fiscal course is unsustainable. They will sense that the country is still center-right and that their political futures are uncertain. Then, we will experience a sort of hysteria. Debt, Obama, Socialism
Insurance Profit Is Not the ProblemFred: Those greedy, profit-making insurance companies are driving up the cost of health care.
Mike: Aren't they closely regulated by the state?
Fred: The state is full of idiots who don't do anything right. That's why I want a nationalized system.
03/23/10 - LA Times by Jonah Goldberg
[edited] The Reality of Obamacare
Profit-hungry insurance companies are not the problem. Industry profit is about 3%, and the entire industry earned just $13 billion of profit last year, close to a rounding error in Medicare fraud.
Rather, healthcare costs have skyrocketed because consumers treat health insurance like an expense account. Putting almost everyone into one "risk pool" doesn't change the overspending. Eventually, only rationing care will cut costs.
The new law blocks all the exits. You can't opt out or buy cheap, high-deductible, catastrophic insurance. Even that coercion won't be enough to make the whole thing work, because the "cost curve" will not be bent down. Health Insurance, ObamaCare (v)Via Instapundit (M) 03/25/10 - Amy Alkon -> WSJ by Holman Jenkins
[edited] CEO Angela Bray explained WellPoint's proposed 39% rate hike for health insurance in California. The two reasons are rising medical costs, and healthier customers are dropping their coverage. This puts medical costs onto the sickest customers.
When ObamaCare requires everyone to buy insurance, the health insurance industry no longer will be threatened. It can then pass skyrocketing costs [which those insurers cannot control] onto customers, who can no longer refuse to buy the insurance.
Rising costs won't be controlled, but this would no longer threaten the insurance industry. (M) 06/01/09 - EO: The Medicare Tomato Market
An analogy and clear explanation of Medicare economics. Say that tomatoes were declared vital to life and made available free through the Medicare National Tomato Bank. The story of healthcare delivery is translated to the market for tomatoes.
Medicare/Medicaid spending is currently 1/2 of healthcare. Government underpays; doctors and hospitals stay in business by shifing the unpaid costs onto the insured patients, the ones who can pay and don't see the bills.
What Is ObamaCare?Fred: What is ObamaCare going to be like?
Mike: I'll try to sum up 4,000 pages in a few articles.
03/23/10 - Powerline Blog by Scott Johnson
[edited] Articles about ObamaCare:
"20 ways Obamacare will take away our freedoms"
by David Hogberg at Investor's Business Daily.
"Health-Care Cost Lies Make Us Sing the Blues"
by Amity Shlaes at Bloomberg news.
"Obamacare's Immediate Impact"
by Glenn Reynolds at The Liberty Papers.
Quotes by Abraham Lincoln about redistribution.
Links to these articles are also available through the (M) links at the right. ObamaCare, Healthcare (M)"20 Ways Obamacare Will Take Away Our Freedoms"
by David Hogberg at Investor's Business Daily. (M)"Health-Care Cost Lies Make Us Sing the Blues"
by Amity Shlaes at Bloomberg news. (M)"Obamacare's Immediate Impact"
by Glenn Reynolds at The Liberty Papers.
Meaningless US Health Ranking 37thFred: There aren't any health statistics here for Kenya.
Mike: According to their high literacy and low income inequality, you can rank their health care as high.
10/21/09 - WSJ by Carl Bialik
[edited] The underlying health data for each nation generally were not available. So, the WHO researchers related health data to factors such as literacy in countries where both numbers were available. Then, they assumed that this relationship applied to countries where the literacy rate was available, but basic health data was not.
When the editor of the report learned of this methodology after publication, he called the figures "so many made-up numbers" resulting in a "nonsense ranking." Health Ranking, WHO, Healthcare
Democrats: Brand LoserVP: How is the Nutritious Foods campaign doing?
Account Rep: Failing miserably. We have great ad distribution, slogan and product name recall, press response, viral internet buzz, and strong association with Nutritious Foods. But, few sales.
VP: Could it be the slogan? "You must buy our products if you know what's good for you."
03/16/10 - Marketing Doctor
[edited] The Democratic Party is the loser of the week, and probably the next election. Its push for health care reform forgets its Target Market. It is yielding to the dangerous temptation to know better than the consumer.
Coca Cola forced New Coke onto the consumer in an extreme way, leaving no options. That failed miserably, and they later "repealed" the product. New Coke went onto the ash heap of history, and Classic Coke returned. The consumer had spoken.
The Democrats are behaving like Coca Cola. Their attitude is “We know better than the electorate”, and they are pushing the legislation even if this requires the “reconciliation” maneuver.
The Democratic party wrongly thinks Obama's election gives it a mandate to pursue big government policies. But, people buy brands, not companies. Obama was elected as a distinct brand from the Democrats.
The health care legislation is another separate brand. It is not popular nor in keeping with America’s long traditions. America distrusts social programs that encroach on individual liberties. The Democrats are identifying their party brand with the unpopular brand of health care reform, and are forcing this brand on the people. Their Target Market won’t soon forget. Healthcare Reform, Democrats, Marketing, Branding
Unconstitutional Health LawCongressman: By voting on Bill A, I approved Bill B, but only if at least two of the Bills C, D, E, and F are approved by the Senate, along with A.
Congressman: About Bill H passed last year. I am only indirectly responsible for the results, which included Bill I, along with parts of Bill J, K, and L, but not M or N.
03/17/10 - PowerLine Blog by John Hinderaker
McConnell [edited]: Say the Senate bill for ObamaCare is signed into law by the President. "Reconciliation" would permit Senate Democrats to change budget issues in that law with 51 votes. They could correct most offensive features, but maybe not the abortion provisions.
The Senate parliamentarian says reconciliation may only amend existing law. House Democrats must first pass the identical bill that passed the Senate, including the special deals, abortion coverage, and high taxes on expensive health-insurance plans. Constitution, Healthcare Bill
Powering Down CaliforniaMary: The electricity is out again. And, our rate recently went up 20%.
Fred: I hate those fat-cat, power company execs. They just want to squeeze the little guy. Why can't the government do something?
Mary: I think they are doing something.
03/17/10 - Chicago Boyz
[edited] The California Water Resources Board has found 19 natural gas power plants in violation of the Clean Water Act. This will shut down most of these plants. They use “once through" cooling, which warms the sea-water used to 90 degrees F without polluting it.
Other policies make it difficult to replace this electricity. California bans new nuclear and coal plants, and most new natural gas plants. Large-scale solar projects in the Mojave Desert have environmentalist opposition to building required transmission lines, and from Sen. Feinstein because they may threaten turtles. Wind turbines have objections because they may harm birds and bats.
Electricity bills should rise significantly. Energy intensive businesses probably should relocate. Electric Power, Environmentalism (M) Shannon Love - comment [edited]
The Democrats are not at war with energy. They have long been at war with economically creative people.
If environmentalists cared about the environment, they would force mining, drilling, and manufacturing to relocate to third-world countries. Instead, they attack the econmically-creative as greedy villains who will wreck the ecosystem and literally kill everyone, unless they are stopped by wise and noble politicians.
Worse, most leftists don't understand that material wealth is created. They have absorbed the Marxist idea that material wealth (infrastructure, factories) springs from impersonal, natural forces which no human can claim credit for. They believe that material wealth is like Biblical manna that falls from the sky. The only real debate is how to distribute it “fairly.”
Within a decade we will see LA and other great California cities collapse like Detroit did in the 1970’s. (M) Easy Opinions: The Political Dictionary
Liberal Economics: Money falls from heaven for everyone to use. But, the immoral and sneaky rich gather more than their share. (continued)
CBO Creates Jobs On PaperFred: How many stimulus jobs have we created?
CBO: Just a second (runs computer program model) 2,343,458 jobs.
Fred: Did this scan a detailed database of collected information?
CBO: No. It always says that.
03/17/10 - Cato@Liberty - Daniel J. Mitchell [edited]
Doug Elmendorf is Director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). He basically agrees with me, that their employment model simply spits out pre-determined numbers, regardless of what happens in the real economy. The CBO recently estimated that so-called stimulus spending generated jobs and growth.
Someone asked if the CBO model would be unable to detect whether the stimulus failed. After hemming, hawing, and a follow-up question, he confessed "that’s right".
(See this at 39:00 on the C-Span video at the article.)
AMG: Our economic future is being analyzed by CBO models that are entirely theoretical and are not compared to the reality that they are supposed to predict. It is the CBO that "scores" Congressional legislation, telling us what it will cost and how much we will save by "reducing the deficit".
Does this inspire a warm feeling of trust? CBO, Congressional Budget Office, Employment, Stimulus (M)03/19/10 - The Lid by Sammy Benoit
NY Times and Wash Post: CBO Numbers Stink
[edited] Democrats worked with the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office for more than a year, fine-tuning the bill in the last weeks. And, they consulted repeatedly with the bipartisan staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation.
When the CBO found cost and deficit targets would be missed, Democrats adjusted parts of the legislation to meet their goal.
Two of their tricks. (1) The first ten years of increased taxes are applied to only six years of costs. (2) $500 billion of Medicare savings are counted twice. (M) CBO Scores Congressional Legislation
CBO: The MedHelp bill spends $1 trillion and increases what you must borrow, the deficit, by $230 billion.
Politician: What if I tell you that we will stop paying the doctors, saving an additional $400 billion?
CBO: Can you really do that?
Politician: Just assume that I can. I'll write it into the margin.
CBO: Then, the bill spends $1 trillion and decreases the deficit by $170 billion, by raising taxes by $770 billion, and saving $400 billion on the doctors.
Press Conference: The bi-partisan, mathematical, unbiased, technoid, trustworthy, very smart CBO has just scored the MedHelp bill. Ladies and Gentlemen and Republicans, this bill delivers medical help to everyone, and reduces the deficit by $170 billion. How could any intelligent person be against it?
Pricey Public SchoolsFred: Are you sending your kids to a private school?
Mike: No. Our public school is more expensive.
03/11/10 - Cato at Liberty video 3:00
[edited] Public school systems hugely understate what they spend. Many spend more than the best private schools in the U.S.
For example, Houston TX reports spending $8,418 each year per student from the General Fund. But the total is $12,834 when you add in all amounts spent from special funds that are dedicated to education.
Washington D.C. doesn't even publish its spending figure. A month of investigation gave $17,542 per student, but they omitted all spending on buildings and more. They actually spend $28,170 per student. [D.C. public schools deliver notoriously poor results.]
Tuitions for the best D.C. private schools: Sidwell Friends $30,842 [Obama's kids go here]. Washington International $28,465. The Potomac School $27,925. Georgetown Prep $25,650. Stone Ridge $22,420. Georgetown Visitation Prep $21,500.
Cato found unreported spending in almost every school district examined. Public school districts are spending private school amounts for public school settings. Spending in D.C. and the five largest metropolitan areas is 44% more than reported, on average. Public Schools, Budgets (M)They Spend WHAT? The Real Cost of Public Schools
03/10/10 - Cato Institute by Adam B. Schaeffer
The report which supports the video.
[edited] Real spending per pupil ranges from $12,000 in the Phoenix area to $27,000 in the New York metro area. The Chicago area actually spends 23% more than they report, and the Los Angeles metro region spends 90% more than they report (reports $10,000 per student, actually spends $19,000).
Merely a National ID CardJosé: Your ID card looks real.
Pédro: It is. For $500 you can talk to Jim at the SSA and get a real one for yourself.
03/11/10 - Cato@Liberty
[edited] Sen. Charles Schumer: A national employment ID card will merely make forgery harder.
Harper: No, that’s not all. It would subject every employment decision to the approval of the federal government. It would make surveillance of law-abiding citizens easier. It would allow government control of access to health care, and to gun ownership. It would cost $100+ billion dollars. It would promote bribery and corruption at the Social Security Administration. It would promote sophisticated biometric identity fraud. How long should I go on? National ID Card, Employment Card
Only 40% of Healthcare CostsMike: I have a $4 coupon here for a hamburger.
Server: (loudly to kitchen) Burger, well done, no salt, no cheese, no fries, half a bun. (to Mike) We'll have it for you in an hour.
Mike: Wait, I don't want it like that!
Server: It's free. Stop complaining.
Mike: (looks at next table) Their meals look good.
Server: Politicians and union guys. Where do you work?
Mike: Acme Manufacturing, why?
Server: We'll bill them for the other $6. Hah, they'll be happy.
Mike: Say, what sort of restaurant is this?
Server: Obama's Health Restaurant.
03/11/10 - Cato@Liberty
[edited] The CBO (Congressional Budget Office) released today another cost estimate for ObamaCare. It still omits the cost of new private-sector mandates, nine months after the first version was released. President Obama has implicitly acknowledged this omission.
The CBO estimated that mandates in President Clinton's health plan accounted for 60% of the costs. The Obama plan is remarkably similar, which is probably why Democrats have suppressed such estimates this time around.
AMG: So, when the CBO says the plan will cost $1 trillion ($1 million million), the true cost is likely $1 trillion collected in tax and spent by the government, PLUS $1.5 trillion in health care spending required of businesses and individuals, totalling $2.5 trillion.
So far, the government is likely reporting just 40% of the true cost. Healthcare Costs, CBO, Congressional Budget Office
Medicaid Delivered at the EDFred: When we subsidize insurance for everyone, like Medicaid, we will cut the huge expenses of providing care through hospital emergency departments.
Mike: Great. I'll tell the Medicaid patients crowding the ED right now.
03/07/10 - Throckmorton's Other Signs
[edited] We are overwhelmed by out-of-state Medicaid patients. Their own medical centers avoid Medicaid and are on "divert" for almost everything. So, the patients go to out-of-state emergency departments, where by law they must be seen regardless of cost or reimbursement. Medicaid pays next to nothing, driving our centers further into the red.
Federally designed Medicaid insurance does not pay for reasonable costs. The rest of healthcare will collapse if the Feds expand the Medicaid model. Medicaid, Health Insurance
Privatize the ElephantFred: I thought elephant ivory is illegal.
Mubono: Not here. We harvest it from our large herds out back. Care for a burger?
03/05/10 - Daniel Hannan quoted at Mises.org
[edited] Kenya banned elephant hunting, yet they were almost totally destroyed. Zimbabwe let landowners own the elephants, and their numbers rapidly increased.
AMG: Allow people to benefit from something, and they will preserve and expand it. Allow people to benefit from producing wealth, and you will see wealth preserved and expanded. Privatize, Elephant, Property Rights
Father of the Economic CrisisFred: Fat cat bankers made loans to poor people who couldn't pay them back, and ..
Mike: .. and immediately sold those loans to government agencies, who encouraged or required them to do it, overseeing and approving the entire operation.
03/04/10 - Edd Driscoll
CNBC interviewed banking analyst Dick Bove [edited]:
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are bankrupt today, the government is spending hundreds of millions of dollars supporting them [actually many billions -ag], and hundreds of thousands of people are losing their homes.
Mr. Andrew Cuomo was secretary of Housing and Urban Development 1997-2001. He is the "father of the subprime loan crisis" through his actions at HUD. He pushed Fannie and Freddie to buy more subprime mortgages, to increase home ownership among the poor. Many of those homeowners defaulted, and the mortgage-backed securities market collapsed.
AMG: Bankers and mortgage lenders are blamed for being predatory, selling risky loans to the poor. They were carrying out government policy, and creating the loans that Fannie and Freddie wanted to guarantee and buy. Now, the government blames everyone else for the policies that it encouraged and often required. Housing Crisis, Financial Crisis (M)10/2008 - Easy Opinions
We Guarantee It -
The Government Caused the Economic Crisis
Wage SlavesFred: I'm hungry.
Mike: Give me your freedom, and I'll give you a sandwich.
03/03/10 - EconLog by Arnold Kling
[edited] A history of slavery in Africa claims that 30-60% of the entire population were slaves in historical times. If so, the number of people enslaved in Africa far exceeded the number taken into the slave trade.
People afflicted by famine bought food with anything they possessed, including offering themselves as slaves.
The ideal of freedom and equality may exist only rarely. The most natural human condition may be dominance and submission. Different starting points may eventually lead to a few people dominating the many, with some people quite willing to submit. Slavery, Wellfare State, Submission, Human Condition
Toyota : The Driver, not the PedalFred: Did you try shifting into neutral?
Mike: I was too busy calling 911 on my cellphone. What is "neutral"?
03/02/10 - Professor Bainbridge
[edited] Outside the world of trial lawyers and Democratic congressmen, investigators know that the vast majority of sudden, unintended accelerations are the fault of the driver applying the gas pedal instead of the brakes. Efforts to prove otherwise have proven to be frauds or failures.
The overall chance of a fatal auto accident is 1/800 each 10 years. The alleged fatality rate for sudden acceleration is 1/200,000 recalled Toyotas. Even if all the worst things about Toyotas are true, and you aren't smart or calm enough to shift to neutral, your overall risk of death is 250 times greater than from unintended acceleration. Toyota, Sudden Acceleration, Autos (M) 12/2009 - Car and Driver [edited]
The natural reaction to a stuck throttle is to stomp on the brake pedal. Brakes by and large can rein in an engine roaring under full throttle.
We pinned the Camry’s gas pedal while going 70 mph. The brakes easily overcame 268 horsepower and stopped the car in 190 feet, just 16 feet more than without the gas pedal. That is 1 foot less than a Ford Taurus without acceleration problems (M) 03/03/10 - Popular Mechanics
Mechanic's Diary: Toyota's Gas Pedal [edited]
The injuries, a few deaths, and the mechanical problems are real, but statistically only a very small blip. Sudden unintended acceleration (SUA) is notoriously difficult to diagnose, and most often cannot be repeated for a mechanic.
In the 1980's, the NHTSA investigated SUA in the Audi. It found no mechanical problem, blaming driver error. For context, there were about 24,000 complaints of SUA in the last 10 years involving almost every major automaker. The NHTSA investigated fewer than 50.
What about the claims that vehicles run away with no input, despite attempts to stop them? Probably, some drivers want to get rid of their car, and some drivers pressed the gas instead of the brake. It's happened to me. I recognized my mistake and corrected before it went bang. Others may not have had the presence of mind. (M)03/05/10 - Popular Mechanics
Handling SUA - Sudden Unintended Acceleration
Mike Allen stops his car at 55 mph with the throttle open.
Do: Brake hard, Shift to Neutral, Steer to a safe place.
Don't: Pump or ride the brakes, Shift to Park, Turn off the engine - except as a last resort.
Video 2:08 and text summary. (M)03/12/10 - The Atlantic by Megan McArdle
Are Toyota's Defect Real?
[edited] Ted Franks: The driver's age was reported or inferred in 24 cases: 60 61 63 66 68 71 72 72 77 79 83 85 and 89. Toyota "electronic defects" apparently discriminate against the elderly, just as sudden acceleration in Audis and GM autos did in the past. (M)03/12/10 - Forbes by Michael Fumento
Toyota Hybrid Horror Hoax - A Media Frenzy
[edited] The patrol car didn't slow down the Prius; the bumpers never touched. The officers used a loudspeaker to tell Sikes to use the brakes and emergency brake together. He did; the car slowed to about 55 mph. Sikes turned off the engine and coasted to a halt. He stopped the car on his own.
The 911 dispatcher for 23 minutes asked Sikes to shift into neutral. He simply refused, then only talked to say that he thought he could smell his brakes burning.
It's a Toyota media feeding frenzy. The media won't let incredible stories and readily refutable claims get in the way. (v)Via Instapundit (M)06/19/11 - Overlawyered by Walter Olson
[edited] ABC’s Brian Ross has received an Edward R. Murrow prize for his Toyota-panic reporting. Amazingly, he used staged, fakey footage, omitted details that would have raised doubts, and relied on a safety consultant involved with plaintiffs in the controversy. Later investigations decisively refuted the fears that Toyotas have some mysterious tendency to accelerate out of control.
AMG: Olson provides links to posts which describe the truth about Toyotas and "sudden accelleration".
Terrorism is Thug AdvertisingWaheed: Join Al Qaeda or Islamic Jihad? How to decide?
Achmed: Al Qaeda is in the news. They're happening. Let's try there.
03/01/10 - Cato by by Julian Sanchez
"Terrorism is primarily a symbolic act. Terror groups execute sensational attacks as PR stunts. They don’t love blowing up airplanes; they do it to establish their own credibility versus more locally-focused Islamist groups. They compete for recruits with such groups, whether violent or peaceful." Terrorism, Jihad, Al Qaeda
Alternative Power Is and Will Remain UselessFred: My calculator works on solar cells, even in room light, and has no batteries. It is really cool.
Mike: Let's scale that up, connect it to the power grid, and transform the way we make and use power.
02/28/10 - Chicago Boyz by Shannon Love
AMG: Here are the physical and technical reasons why alternative energy is a political scheme, not a useful way to produce bulk power. The commentary also adds to understanding this vital topic.
Love [edited]: There exists no alternative energy source or combination of such sources that can fully replace a single, conventional electric plant, a plant fueled by coal, gas, oil, or nuclear power. Even hydro-power needs conventional backup.
Yet, many want us to rely on these functionally useless technologies to be the primary energy sources for our entire civilization.
Most discussions consider the cost and reliability of electricity at the place it is generated. However, energy is useful only where and when you need it. Plenty of power in Arizona won't help you in Michigan. A roaring fire in July doesn't warm you in January. The only real factors that count are the cost and reliability of power at the place it is consumed. Bulk alternative energy is mismatched to its uses. Alternative Energy, Coal, Electricity, Power
NPR: Medicare Payment PolicyMedicare Policy Board Meeting:
Fred: What should we pay the doctors?
Mike: How should I know? It's complicated.
Bob: Let's pay whatever they're getting privately.
Fred: Idiot. We need a scientific, insightful analysis.
Jim: OK. Let's pay them 40% less.
02/28/10 - Cafe Hayek by Don Boudreaux
National Public Radio reports on evolving government policy.
Boudreaux [edited]: First, pay was set politically to buy support for Medicare. Congress was genuinely surprised by exploding costs, paying for services that used to be provided as charity. Following changes were influenced by skilled lobbyists representing doctors.
Current policy is based on a comically childish, Marxist labor-theory of value. This isn’t working so well. Now, 45 years after Medicare started, government still searches for a sound method to determine physicians’ pay. Health Care, Prices, Marxist, Medicare
On Being Against TortureFred: They tortured him by blasting loud rock music all night.
Mike: That would be my usual Friday night.
02/19/10 - Armed and Dangerous
"I think it is very important to have a clear, morally serious, and shared definition of the word “torture” for the same reason it is important to have a clear, morally serious, and shared understanding of the word “genocide”. There are some acts which civilized societies should put utterly beyond the pale of acceptable behavior. It is important that we not trivialize the terms that apply to such acts, otherwise we will actually make it more difficult to condemn and prevent them." Torture
Is Macroeconomics a Science?Fred: Why did the Great Depression last so long?
Economist: I just don't know, but I'm willing to guess.
02/26/10 - WSJ.com by Russ Roberts, professor of economics at George Mason University
Roberts [edited]: Which theory is the "right" way to think about the boom and the bust? Or are they all wrong?
I once thought applying statistics to economic questions would settle these disputes. I now believe that there are too many factors and connections between the variables which we don't understand and can't model or identify.
We should expect less of economists. It should be enough that economics organizes thinking about the complexity of the world around us. We should admit publicly what we know, what we don't know, and what we may never know. That is the first step toward respectability. Economics, Econometrics, Macroeconomics
MisandryFred: Three men robbed the bank.
Mike: Thankfully, eight police personnel caught them.
02/26/10 - Classical Values by Eric
[edited] "The word "misandry" was flagged in red, unknown to the spell-checker, even though it is hardly a new word. Misandry is the hatred of men."
"Men do not exist unless they commit crimes or do bad things. Men are "people" or "personnel" when they do good things. They are "men" when they do bad things.
There is a connection between misandry and feminism. This has been slipped by me, over the years. I'm pissed off. I don't take kindly to being manipulated."
YouTube video 7:35. Misandry, Men (v)Via Instapundit
Off Budget, Out of MindWife: I've been looking at our savings.
Husband: We have $80,000.
Wife: But, what is this note at the bottom "Aces Casino gambling debt: $105,000"? Do we owe that in addition?
Husband: Yes, but don't worry, that is off budget.
Put Housing GSEs in the Budget and then Privatize
02/25/10 - Cato@Liberty by Tad DeHaven
[edited] The Congressional Budget Office accounts for the cost of subsidizing new loans and loan guarantees by Fannie and Freddie at $370 billion through 2020. The CBO concludes that these institutions are effectively government entities whose operations should be included in the federal budget.
Treasury Secretary Geithner dismissed this idea: “It is not necessary to consolidate the full obligations of those entities onto the balance sheet of the federal government at this stage.” [It is not counted into any deficit projections.]
Health Care: Ryan Instructs ObamaFred: I'm making my own lunch to save money and pay off my credit card.
Mike: But, you buy lunch every day.
Fred: That is a separate issue.
02/25/10 - Powerline
Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin spoke to President Obama at the health care summit [edited excerpts].
We have a law that automatically cuts Medicare payments to doctors. The cut would be 21% next year. We have stopped those cuts every year for the last seven years, now called the "Doc Fix".
[ The Doc Fix is rated as costing money, by continuing to pay doctors enough so they can treat Medicare patients. The cost of Medicare continues to be accounted ("scored") as if these pay cuts will be implemented. After all, the cuts are in the law that is accounted by the Congressional Budget Office. ]
According to your numbers, the doc fix costs $371 billion. It was in the first legislation, but was removed and put into separate legislation because it increased the deficit and made the score look bad. This is the most cynical gimmick in this bill.
Ignoring these costs does not remove them from the backs of taxpayers. Hiding spending does not reduce spending. It just doesn't add up.
There really is a basic difference between us. We don't think the government should be in control of all of this. We want people to be in control. That is the big difference at the end of the day. Health Care, Health Summit
Prosecuted For Being "Bad"Prosecutor: I don't like you, or what you do, or how you structure your life, or anything about you. You are going to jail, my friend.
Mike: What law have I broken, exactly?
Prosecutor: You must have disappointed someone at some time. That is enough, in my view.
02/23/10 - Minding the Campus - Reforming Our Universities by Harvey A. Silverglate
[edited] "George Orwell wrote his critique 'Politics and the English Language' in 1946: 'One must let meaning choose the word, not the other way around.' Administrators and legislators ignore this truth. They have crafted imprecise regulations which give campus disciplinary staff and federal government prosecutors enormous and grotesquely unfair power."
"It did not matter that no particular law was transgressed. A federal prosecutor might feel in his gut and in his sole discretion, that a defendant had somehow deprived someone of 'honest services' that were due. The defendant could end up serving a decades-long prison sentence. It was rather like prosecuting a citizen for being 'a bad person', with the government defining badness." Law, Federal Regulations (v)Via Instapundit
Validation by SacrificeMike: What is the Marxist/Elitist theory of value?
Jim: When it costs more, it's better.
02/23/10 - Ed Driscoll
The New Criterion by Theodore Dalrymple [edited]:
These books give compelling evidence of the horrors of the Soviet Union in the 20's and 30's, all of them now accepted as true.
The Soviet Union was valued by contemporary intellectuals not for the omelette, but for the broken eggs. They thought that if nothing great could be built without sacrifice, then so great a sacrifice must be building something great.
The Soviets had the courage of their abstractions, which are often so much more important to intellectuals than living, breathing human beings. Soviet Union
Free Speech, No HecklingFred: My voice will not be silenced!
Mike: Would you mind not standing on my coffee table?
02/18/10 - Los Angeles Times by Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean of the UC Irvine School of Law
"Those who yelled to keep the ambassador from being heard were not engaged in constitutionally protected behavior. Freedom of speech, on campuses and elsewhere, is rendered meaningless if speakers can be shouted down by those who disagree."
"The law is well established that the government can act to prevent a heckler's veto -- to prevent the reaction of the audience from silencing the speaker. There is simply no 1st Amendment right to go into an auditorium and prevent a speaker from being heard, no matter who the speaker is or how strongly one disagrees with his or her message." Free Speech, Heckling (v)Via Advice Goddess by Amy Alkon
Free Trade Makes Us RicherFred: I do most of my cooking from scratch.
Mike: Do you grind your own flour?
02/18/10 - Cafe Hayek by Don Boudreaux
Free trade makes us better off, especially if the other country is underpricing its goods, either directly or through an undervalued currency.
They are selling us things for less than we would spend to make them ourselves. Free Trade
Obama <---> Acorn: Distant and CloseFred: How can Obama completely contradict himself?
Mike: A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of tiny Republican minds.
02/20/10 - Stop the ACLU
Obama speaks calmly and firmly in two short videos. First, he reports only a distant contact with Acorn 13 years ago. Second, he tells an Acorn crowd that he wants their input, and will call them about his campaign if they fail to call him.
Article and embedded video 2 min. Obama, Acorn, Lies (v)Via Don Surber (M)The video at YouTube 2 min
Healthcare ReviewFred: We need better medical care for everyone.
Mike: We'll sue the doctors, pay them less, regulate them more, and tell them how much we need them. No more nursing homes; adult day care will do.
02/18/10 - White Coat's Call Room
A review of recent stories about medical care. Do you think the government is helping or hurting? Do you feel secure letting your politicians arrange and pay for your medical care? Are lawsuits maintaining the high quality of care?
"California county supervisors have reduced reimbursement from 27% to 18% of estimated fees at private hospitals, for care by emergency physicians and on-call specialists."
Who needs private hospitals, anyway? Medical Care, Lawsuits
What Defensive Medicine?Fred: You must make money from all of that testing.
Doc: No, we get to keep our salary when we don't get sued.
Fred: What tests does the patient need?
Doc: Whatever tests that the lawyers say we could have done.
02/19/10 - Throckmorton's Other Signs
"Did the doc order the tests to make money? No, we aren't paid by the test. Was the second CT scan ordered as defensive medicine? The patient was intubated, spent time in the ICU, and suffered a heart attack from the injected contrast medium of the more sensitive second scan." Defensive Medicine, Medical Testing
Do Smart People Run The Market?Fred: Government is the best planner because it has the best, altruistic, educated people.
Mike: Yeah, the best people who will work for the government.
02/16/10 - Econlog by Shikha Dalmia
Dalmia [edited]: The market rewards brilliant ideas, not brilliant people. Markets care only about the idea and its value to others, not its source. Markets are inherently anti-elitist.
Smart, educated, credentialed people may lose in market competition, even to someone or some product they consider inferior. They regard this as a symptom of market failure and demand corrective government regulations. Free Market, Market Failure, Success
In pain? Too bad.Fred: Pain medications are dangerous. 435 people in severe pain died from acetominophen last year.
Mike: Well, 698 people drowned in swimming pools.
Fred: We'll keep the pools. We can't take all the fun out of life.
02/16/10 - Advice Goddess
The US Government wants to remove valuable pain medications from the market. Their attitude is "grin and bear it", for your own good.
Instead, allow people the freedom to take the medications that improve their lives. Pain, Addiction
Failed Policies of Obama/BushFred: We can't have the same failed policies of the Bush years.
Mike: We have more of them, and bigger.
02/16/10 - Bankrupting America
[edited] President Obama’s economic policies are strikingly the same as the failed policies under Bush.
AMG: Remarkable, given Obama's repeated rhetoric that we can't have more of the failed policies of the Bush years. Increased spending on defense and social programs, stimulus packages, bailouts, and much more regulation. Obama, Bush, Economic Policy
World's Smallest Political QuizFred: I didn't know that I was Authoritarian until I took the quiz.
Mike: I knew.
02/08/10 - Advocates for Self-Government
Answer 11 questions of political opinion. See where you are on a graph of Liberal vs Conservative, Authoritarian vs Libertarian, and Centrist. Political Survey, Liberal, Conservative, Authoritarian, Libertarian, Centrist (v)Via Classical Values
Poetic Call to BattleFred: Are they all parasitic, bloodsucking, heartless, liars?
Mike: No, that's an exaggeration, but funny.
02/08/10 - Walt at Verse-Afire.com
The Vampires Of The Left [excerpt]:
They lay in darkness, waiting dusk
They cannot stand the light
They smell of rotting flesh and musk
They hate us of the Right Poem, Leftists
Canadians Wait for TreatmentFred: I have to wait four months for surgery.
Mike: Beggars can't be choosers.
02/07/10 - 10/15/07 CBC News (Canada)
The average wait time for a Canadian awaiting surgery or other medical treatment is now 18.3 weeks, a new high, and an increase of 97% over 14 years, despite recent increases in spending.
AMG: There is no competition to the government, so the patients and population have no way to pressure the system to do better. No way other than ending the government monopoly on health care delivery in Canada. Canada, Universal Health Care, Waiting
Medicare Admin Costs are Higher PPFred: Order wine at a restaurant to save money.
Mike: How so?
Fred: The food cost drops from 90% to 66% of the bill.
02/06/10 - Heritage by Robert A. Book, Ph.D.
Medicare's administrative costs per person are actually higher than those of private insurance. Higher, despite that private companies incur costs that do not apply to Medicare. Recent history predicts that switching 200 million Americans to a public plan will increase administrative costs by several billion dollars. Medicare, Administrative Cost
Self Reliance Under SocialismFred: We all work for each other under Socialism.
Mike: I had a job once. Didn't like it much.
02/05/10 - National Review by Victor Davis Hanson
Hanson [edited]: I knew a small hotelier at a seaside resort in Greece. He checked you in, cooked, did maintenance during the day, and landscaped at night. Why didn't he hire some help?
He replied about the cost and filling out forms to hire an unmotivated, permanent worker in Greece, and the difficulty of ever firing him if he proved worthless. Almost everyone was on pension, disability, or government benefit, and were unwilling to work, leaving only illegal immigrants or broke foreign students.
He blasted socialism and hated the government. He had to be an expert tax dodger and bartered whenever he could.
He lamented that the people in Greece spend their time trying to get government money or avoiding the tax collectors, or preferably both. Socialism, Greece (M)Victor Davis Hanson describes more about socialism, with a section (4) on the Greek version.
[edited] "The Greeks cheat in every way imaginable on their taxes. On an average day, a shopkeeper, repairman, or business person would offer a 30% discount for cash, off the books. Tax-dodging was a national pastime, practiced by dyed-in-the-wool socialists."
Is Waterboarding Torture?CIA Operative: How are you feeling?
Reporter: (coughs, spits) Ghaaah! That was horrible. It took all of two minutes, and I would have told you anything. (pause) Can I try that again? I'm sure I could go longer the next time.
02/03/10 - Pajamas TV (Video 16 min)
Marc Thiessen wrote speeches for George W. Bush, and a new book "Courting Disaster". He explains how the CIA has used enhanced interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, to gain information which has prevented 9/11 style attacks.
Obama now has tied the CIA's hands, and we are moving into dangerous waters.
Topics: How the CIA Kept America Safe; Enhanced Interrogation is Not Torture; Interrogation Debate; The Real Jack Bauers; Is Obama Inviting Attacks?; CIA vs Obama; Gitmo Back in Favor; Future Terror Threats. Waterboarding, Torture
Why is Recovery So Slow?Fred: In past recessions, we would be bouncing back by now.
Mike: We aren't bouncing. We are adapting to a new theory of government.
02/03/10 - Cato at Liberty by David Boaz
Employers, investors, and entrepreneurs are discouraged by higher taxes, more regulation, uncertainty, a larger share of GDP shifted to government, and expected Fed monetization and inflation of the soaring debt. They don't know what Obama will do next. Economic Crisis, Obama
Myth of the Clinton SurplusFred: Honey, I paid down the credit card.
Jane: Did you get a raise?
Fred: Nah, I used the kids' college fund.
02/01/10 - 10/2007 at CraigSteiner.us
It is a myth that President Bill Clinton created a surplus, which G.W.Bush promptly squandered. Clinton ran deficits, but Social Security receipts were even larger. Borrowing from Social Security covered the deficits, rather than borrowing directly from the public.
Bush ran deficits also, but he wasn't a sinner following a saint. Clinton, Surplus
IPCC Shamed by Bogus Rainforest Claim
Fred: Climate Change. The rainforest could become drier, and would be more likely to burn, maybe all of it.
Mike: Let's shut down civilization to be safe.
01/31/10 - Times Online UK by Jonathan Leake
[edited] IPCC in 2007 by Rowell and Moore: Up to 40% of the Amazonian forests could react drastically to even a slight reduction in rainfall. The tropical vegetation, hydrology, and climate system in South America could change rapidly to another steady state. They would probably be replaced by tropical savannas, which have more resistance to temperature increases, droughts, and fires.
Times: The IPCC is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. WWF is the World Wildlife Fund, an environmental pressure group. The source for IPCC was a WWF report, based on a paper in the science journal Nature which assessed logging and burning, not rainfall. That paper reported that drier forests were more likely to catch fire.
Simon Lewis is a Royal Society research fellow specialist in tropical forest ecology: The IPCC report is a mess. The Nature paper is about the interactions of logging damage, fire, and periodic droughts, not the vulnerability of these forests to reductions in rainfall. Climate Change, Rainforests
Disgusted Patient Nurses OthersYour care is provided free by the National Health Service of Britian. For the greatest satisfaction, we suggest caring for the patients around you, if you have the strength.
01/30/10 - DailyMail.co.uk
Janet Halsall, 74, stayed three days for a liver scan. Staff ignored pleas for help and left fellow elderly patients to ‘fend for themselves’.
Halsall bathed, washed, and tucked in fellow frail, elderly patients. They were left without water and blankets. She washed one lady and took another pensioner to the toilet after staff repeatedly said they were ‘too busy’. National Health Care, Britian
Tax on ClunkersFred: I didn't know there was tax on that.
Mike: There is always lots of tax on that.
01/30/10 - 08/25/09 - Government and Car Dealers Hose You Again
[edited] You pay tax on the price of your new car only above the trade-in you present to the dealer. You are not taxed on the value of your trade-in. That is fair; you paid tax on the value of your old car when you bought it.
But, when you sell your old car privately, you do not get that tax-offset on a following car purchase. This is an intentional favor to dealers.
The $4,500 "cash for clunkers" is not a trade-in, but a check from the government. You pay sales tax on the full vehicle price including the $4,500, and the $4,500 is also taxed by your state as additional income.
Further, dealers made customers so giddy over the "free cash" that they often sold cars at the full sticker price. Sales Tax, Cash for Clunkers
The Real State of the UnionShow me the list. What is the next socio-economic faction to bring under rational, political management?
01/28/10 - Chicago Boyz by David Foster
Michael Ledeen: This fear is not limited to social class or domestic or foreign policies. Banks are not lending and companies are not hiring because they are afraid of what Obama will do next.
Foster: Obama/Pelosi/Reid view America as a struggle of group against group. The winning and losing groups are determined by Progressive thought, by social prejudices, and by the political needs of the moment.
Obama/Pelosi/Reid are creating a society in which the attitude of the federal government determines the success of every individual and business. Politics
Corporations Must Have Free SpeechFred: My friends and I support Jenkins for senator.
Mike: OK, as long as you guys aren't incorporated.
Fred: No way! We're union local 328.
01/22/10 - Cato @ Liberty by Julian Sanchez
The Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United is a clear and needed support for free speech. It strikes down restrictions on corporations, allowing them now to contribute money toward political speech. Many liberal voices denounce the influence that a corporation, a legal construct, can now have in politics. Their opposition ignores the reality of an organized society.
Sanchez [edited]: "What happens if politicians can limit freedoms because they are expressed through a corporation? Journalists would enjoy full freedom of the press as long as they don’t use the resources of the New York Times, Random House, or Comcast. Those corporations could be barred from using their property to circulate ideas."
"You are free to practice your religion without interference. But, if it’s an unpopular one, you could be hindered from sending your kids to a religious school or building a church, because those tend to involve incorporating." Free Speech, Corporations, Politics (M)Speech For Me, But Not for Thee
01/22/10 - Cato @ Liberty by Roger Pilon
[edited] "The Citizens United decision will probably alter politics for the good. Corporations, unions, and their officers will no longer fear criminal prosecution under prohibitions that even FEC commissioners don't understand. There will be more political speech and more perspectives on the issues of the day."
"The complex federal campaign finance system is only a way station to exclusive public campaign financing. At that end point, political speech in the form of campaign contributions would rest safely in incorruptible [hah] public hands. Except, of course, for contributions that take the form of editorials by such corporate giants as The New York Times, which the First Amendment would continue to protect.
Europeans Are Less WealthyJohan: Our welfare state gives a wealthy life to us all.
Fred: But, not a comfortable car.
Johan: Please, have half of my lunch sandwich. I made it myself.
01/17/10 - The chart shows US consumption at 152, Western Europe at 105, compared to a benchmark of 100 for the OECD. That is 44% more goods and services enjoyed in the US as compared to Western Europe. The biggest policy difference is the burden of government.
An office worker in New York may go to a deli for lunch. In Norway, the home sandwich is ubiquitous, from classroom to boardroom.
The most likely explanation for the larger volume of motorcycle traffic is that Parisians are less wealthy than Americans. Comparitave Wealth, Norway, OECD, Europe
Political Distribution of WheatFred: What does wheat have to do with health care?
Mike: It is easier to understand.
01/17/10 - The amount of wheat falls further. The politician explains that the wheat farmers are at fault for not growing enough and charging too much, that the warehouse operators are causing shortages by not stocking enough wheat, and the rich must be cheating by continuing to buy too much wheat.
More political control is clearly needed. Health Care, Analogy, Political Allocation
Why is Law School So Expensive?Mike: Many more people could be lawyers if becoming one was less expensive.
Jack: Well, I don't need the competition. Do you?
01/15/10 - Easy Opinions -> IdeoBlog
The current system forces everybody who wants to practice any kind of law into three-year, high-priced law schools. Law School
Vanishing DoctorsI studied to be a doctor, not to be a slave to the government.
01/14/10 - Vanishing Doctors
What do doctors think about government control of health care?
Doctors comment on what health care reform means to them. Many of them say they will quit, to do something more pleasant and less bureaucratic.
[edited] " 'Healthcare Reform' only makes the states, hospitals, and doctors responsible for your health care costs. The waste of defensive medicine will continue until there is Malpractice Reform. We have had 20 years of paying patients for anything that goes wrong in their lives."
[edited] "Physicians are beginning to leave Medicare in droves. We are no longer taking new Medicare patients. The Mayo clinic, the example of efficiency touted by the administration, is no longer participating in the Medicare program, citing low payments."
How to Predict Anything About Climate ChangeJohn: Northern Hemisphere temperatures have been rising rapidly for 4 months!
Mike: You need to get out more often. It's Summer.
01/14/10 - WattsUpWithThat by Roy Spencer, PhD.
Spencer [edited]: We are uncertain about what is causing current warming, so researchers may tune their models to produce almost any amount of future global warming. It is difficult to prove them wrong, because there is no certain interpretation of the satellite data. When they assume that there are no natural causes of climate change, they conclude that our climate system is balanced on a knife edge.
AMG: An analogy. You are having dinner at a friend's home when you suddenly feel warm and uncomfortable. You are happy to find out that your friend's child has set the thermostat up by 5 degrees. You thought you were sick when you assumed that there was no external cause for your personal warming.
Warming data is uncertain and any cause is uncertain. Climate scientists should not be saying that "the science is settled" in the face of these uncertainties. That is not science, but only alarmist charting and extrapolation. We are not upset by the rapid warming during Summer because we know what causes Summer, and that Winter will follow. Global Warming, Climate Change, Models
How a Community Organizer Became President Lesson 1: Rental housing complaints.
Lesson 2: Community Improvement Grants.
Lesson 3: Becoming President.
01/14/10 - TCU Nation by dwood
L. David Alinsky is the son of the famous Chicago radical, the late Saul D. Alinsky. The Boston Globe published his letter on 08/31/08 boasting that Barack Obama had made enormously effective use of his training in Saul Alinsky's methods.
David Alinsky [edited]: "I am proud to see that my father's organizing model is being applied to affect the 2008 Democratic campaign. It is a fine tribute to my father as we approach his 100th birthday. My father produced a powerful strategy for initiating change and making it really happen, when executed meticulously and thoughtfully. Obama learned his lesson well."
dwood: Obama's most significant education was not at Columbia or Harvard Law, but the years he spent training in the Saul Alinsky system for community organizing, and teaching workshops on Alinsky's methods. Obama, Saul Alinsky, Community Organizer (v)Via Amused Cynic
The Good Side of Dictatorship
I will just tell them what to do, for the good of us all. No wasteful objections. Just do it. Eventually, they will all agree with me. I will put my statue over there. My history will be glorious.
01/13/10 - Easy Opinions
Totalitarian governments past and present are receiving some praise from liberal sources. This alarms me.
What possible purpose is there in understanding the good parts of a dictatorship? I don't care if a much stronger government can do some good things, because the risk of harm is greater also. It is fine if you can isolate a policy that had a good effect and doesn't need dictatorial power to be implemented. In that case, why mention the dictatorship at all, except as a curiosity? Dictatorship, Totalitarian, Oliver Stone, Progressives, Nazis
Saying "Negro" Does Not Make Harry Reid a RacistHe may be offensive, but his remarks weren't. Or, have it another way. His remarks were offensive, but he isn't. Is that better?
01/11/10 - Easy Opinions -> Powerline Blog by Paul Mirengoff
Democratic Senator Harry Reid described candidate Barack Obama as "light skinned and speaking without a Negro dialect". That does not make him a racist. If you oppose the restrictions and illogic of political correctness, then don't use confused political correctness against Harry Reid. Offer sweet reason, not more politics as usual.
Gatekeeping for the ClimateAllowing questions would confuse the issues.
12/22/09 - TWAWKI
[edited] Gatekeeping is the preferred practice of climate alarmists, who censor and manipulate the data that doesn’t suit their cause, to manipulate public opinion.
Liarpedia: William Connelly at Wikipedia has adjusted over 5000 articles on Global Warming, to write off inconvenient facts and opinions that expose his alarmist push as fraud. Wikipedia has done nothing in response.
Googlegate: Google adjusted auto-suggest to minimise references to Climategate.
Climategate: UNIPCC scientists manipulated temperature data and limited access to it. (v)Via Climate Audit
Exchanging Gifts Cooperatively :-)Jim: What do you want for Christmas?
Jane: I want to be surprised.
12/21/09 - EasyOpinions
A couple gives each other the Christmas gift that each really wants. What can go wrong? With compliments to The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry.
Who's Meaner - Corporate or Government Bureaucrats?John: We are heartless if we deny claims, and wasting public funds if we grant them.
Mike: That's why we have civil service job protection. And, we're the Government. Who will they complain to?
12/20/09 - 12/20/09 - Powerline Blog
The American Medical Association has reported on national health insurers for 2008. Medicare denied medical claims at 1.77 times the rate of the average private insurer.
Claims denied: Medicare 6.85%, Aetna 6.8%, Anthem Blue Cross 3.44%, Average of private insurers 3.88% . (M) 08/06/09 - ObamaCare and the Doctor by Zane F. Pollard MD
Dr. Pollard describes the frightening current reality of Medicaid, and by extension the future of ObamaCare.
Medicaid pays for medical services to the poor, and in this case to poor children who face vision impairment or blindness. Regardless, Medicaid denies and delays their care. Medicare and Medicaid are intentionally underpaying for the medical care that they mandate.
Tiger Woods, Barack Obama, and ImageMary: Oh no! They see us and know who you are.
John: Don't worry. It's only some reporters, and my guys will handle them.
12/08/09 - American Thinker by Lisa Schiffren
[edited] Schiffren: "We liked Tiger personally for an image that we now see is a fraud. We liked his low-key demeanor, manners, sweet smile, magazine covers, political analogies, and product endorsements. We feel betrayed. Even more, we see how much sustained, deliberate deception goes into the construction of a public image, when there is profit to be made or power to be had."
AG: Surprise is discovering the real Tiger Woods. Shock is understanding that we were fooled by techniques used by both athletes and politicians. (v)Via Ed Driscoll
How On Earth Did We Miss It?
[edited] Howard Kurtz: This exposes the dark secret of the celebrity beat: It’s a shared illusion, perpetrated by the media-industrial complex. We don’t really know these people, who are cloaked in the mantle of fame, despite their ubiquity on our front pages, television screens, and laptops.
Spending Hurts, Not Just Deficits
John: You will love the $20,000 boat I bought.
Mary: You spent the college fund?
John: Relax, it's on the credit card.
12/15/09 - Cato at Liberty by Daniel J. Mitchell (video 6 min)
Politicians fixate on the deficit to pull a bait and switch. They claim that they can raise taxes to solve the problem. That only replaces debt-financed spending with tax-financed spending. The likely result is that the required tax increases will weaken the economy and make us all poorer. (M)01/13/09 - EasyOpinions
The Real Tax Burden - is everything that the government spends. It is your money, now or in the future. Borrowing delays taxes while paying interest, just like a credit card.
Healthcare Price ControlsExec: Your shift is 8+ continuous hours as needed, treating the critially ill and injured, and the chronic drug-seekers. Plus paperwork and bureaucratic smoothing. Many will die, but no mistakes or bad outcomes. Being sued is a challenging hobby in your off-hours. Follow all 130 rules. $170/hour.
Doc: I'm outta here.
12/14/09 - EasyOpinions
911Doc practices Emergency Medicine. He writes about what happens to doctors and patients when a bureaucracy sets prices and rewards.
Not Always Better to Have Health InsuranceYes, our care is only $15. Fill out these forms, mail us two referrals, and we can see you two weeks after that. Apply pressure in the meantime; maybe the bleeding will stop.
12/14/09 - BigGovernment by Dr. Jane Orient
Insurance is good. But, the bureaucratic hoops of government supplied and managed health insurance stand in the way of timely care.
The saying is: Good, Fast, Low cost - You can have any two. Medicare is low cost to the recipient, partly by delaying or denying care. You can't always wait.
The current healthcare "reform" will make all care into Medicare.
Motive for ClimateGateTerry (Marlon Brando) in "On the Waterfront": You don't understand. I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let's face it.
12/12/09 - ChicagoBoyz comment by VeryRetired
For years, you’re just some guy who answers arcane questions about weather systems or historical climate trends. Nobody notices you at conventions, clamors for interviews, or gives you money or office space.
Suddenly, you are the chief interpreter of the unknown. You are the expert in complex interpretations of obscure data that are predicting imminent, global catastrophe.
Give all that up, just because some tree rings don’t fit, because some doubter somewhere might argue with your predictions? (M)Quotes from "On the Waterfront"
Congressional Sports TeamIt is painful to think of Barney Frank coaching pro-basketball, or running U.S. business.
12/10/09 - ChicagoBoys by David Foster
The politically connected will do well. This is not now the country for you if you want to build a better mousetrap. The American dream is dying.
Not Just One Rotten Climate AppleFred: I would like to check the latest paper from the CRU.
Mike: Just use the results. We have our own work to publish.
12/07/09 - Chicago Boyz by James R. Rummel
The work of most other climate centers is also suspect. They claimed to have reviewed and reproduced the CRU’s work, and they defended those results against scrutiny.
Link to a review of the emails and controversies.
How government politics and funding distorts science.
Chinchillas and Climate ScienceJoe: Frank died.
Jim: Bummer! He was the only one who understood the experiment results database.
12/04/09 - ChicagoBoyz by Shannon Love
It is important to double-check scientific software. You might want to use the results for some important purpose.
For example, critical software for the chinchilla study was assigned to a grad student who worked without oversight. The researchers didn't realize that one minor error in that software would invalidate the whole experiment.
A year later, a completely independent team examined the code “with a fine-toothed comb” and caught the error. They reviewed more than the data the software generated.
This was not done for the CRU climate software until a whistle-blower exposed it to the world.
Commenter: When climate models are tested on “new” data, they have failed to predict temperature levels. "New" data is data not used to first build the model.
Peer Review Is Not What You Think
Jim: Congrats. I see your paper has been published.
Joe: Thanks. John and Mike told me they were the reviewers.
Jim: Weren't they your roommates in grad school?
11/30/09 - ChicagoBoyz by Shannon Love
[edited]: "Peer Review" says nothing about conclusions. Most such scientific papers will be proven completely wrong.
Peer review protects a journal’s reputation. The journal hires experts to check for basic errors in math or methodology, along with grammar and spelling. This offloads responsibility for publishing bad papers onto anonymous scientists. It is a form of blame-passing that everyone would like to use. It does not confirm or refute experimental or theoretical conclusions.
It is insane to base policy on scientific studies, claiming merely that have been peer reviewed.
Anti-Capitalist Policies Are Anti-JobJim: Come with me to protest Capitalism!
Joe: How much does that pay?
11/25/09 - BigGovernment by Thomas Del Beccaro
The Left’s political policies destroy the economic process that encourages savings, rewards investment, and creates jobs.
Diplomas ≠ Human CapitalIsn't the Renaissance like being Born Again? I once took a course on that.
11/18/09 - Cato by Neal McCluskey
President Obama hopes to make the United States into a diploma mill, and public university leaders shamelessly demand more taxpayer money. But, more college degrees don't mean greater human capital.
"Passing a college course does not show more knowledge, just as going to a gym does not itself improve physical fitness."
"Many college students do not improve at reading, writing, math, and logic. The priority at many colleges is not educational excellence or even modest progress, but collecting tuition from as many students as possible."
TriCare Military Medical CareThe government thanks you for your service.
11/11/09 - Throckmorton's Other Signs
Tricare is the medical coverage for military families. It pays 60% of Medicare, so low that they often travel out of state to find a hospital or doctor who will accept it. Tricare requires pre-approved appointments for all specialists and outpatient visits.
Those fighting for our country are the first ones to get government run, single payer healthcare.
Fort Hood Parallel UniverseIt is shocking when a Christian commits violence.
11/06/09 - DocsOnTheWeb by 911Doc
"Bobby Lee Smith, in a rage fueled by his fundamentalist Christian beliefs, went on a murder spree at Fort X today, killing 13 and wounding thirty. The FBI has arrested all known acquaintances of Mr. Smith, and has taken his family in for questioning." (satire) (M)Will The Truth Be Hasan's Last Victim?
11/09/09 - LegalInsurrection by William A. Jacobson
The facts about Nidal Hasan's killing spree at Fort Hood.
Illinois Wellfare Promises
They will just have to eat less for a while. We aren't reducing staff here.
The state is not a good social insurance company. It sets aside no investments to support its future promises. Instead, it spends whatever is available on whatever serves politicians at the moment. Illinois is out of money. (v)Via Don Surber
Democratic Trickle-Down 2Mike: We were supposed to create jobs. Instead, we've enriched the bankers.
Ike: Well, let's be proud of that.
11/06/09 - Megan McArdle
Democrats: "Our agenda has kick-started a recovery on Wall Street, even if it hasn't yet trickled down to the job market."
CBO Rates Republican Health PlanRight: Let's do the obvious and uncomplicated things first.
Left: You have no regulatory vision.
11/05/09 - Washington Examiner
The Congressional Budget Office analyzed the Republican health care plan. It would reduce insurance premiums and cut the ten-year deficit by $68 billion.
It would create high-risk insurance pools, allow purchase of insurance policies from any state, and reform malpractice rules. It is not a government insurance plan. (v)Via Instapundit (M)We have millions of administrators in government, with more on the way
July 09 - EasyOpinions
Medicare Myth: Low Administrative Cost
Medicare claims 3% administrative overhead, compared to 12% for private insurance. But, Medicare doesn't count all of its expenses, and private insurance is burdened with taxes that are part of its "overhead". Medicare overhead per patient is actually 25% more than for private insurance.
We Can't Stop Government GrowthJim: We will rise up to limit the government and restore our freedom.
Joe: Yes comrade. May I ask, do you intend to finish your soup?
11/02/09 - Independent.org by Robert Higgs
[edited] "Every genuine solution must be implemented by enough people and money, through ideological conversions on a substantial scale, if such conversions are possible at all."
"The troubling fact remains, that if any truly effective measures are approved to limit the government, the rulers would likely resort to whatever legal or illegal violence proved necessary to prevent those measures from taking effect." (M)Via Cafe Hayek
Top Ten Political Statements1 There is nothing strange about my policies. The incompetent former occupant of this office did many of the same things I have, but for selfish and stupid reasons. (satire)
10 A short speech by President Obama that satirizes itself.
Republican Health Care PlanIt's too simple. If you can understand it, it can't be real. And, there are no cost control laws or government commissions.
10/31/09 - Don Surber presents Republican Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner's health care plan.
Let insurance companies sell in any state. Allow individuals and businesses to form insurance buying groups. Free the states from restrictive federal regulation. End the lawsuit lottery.
Kids's Halloween Candy EconomyI'll give you three skittles for a tootsie pop.
10/31/09 - Mises.org by Jeffrey A. Tucker
Kids collect candy, making it their own through work. Afterwards, they happily exchange candy to get more of what they really want. They create their own trading organization and money as they go.
Two Page Rebuttal of Global Warming ClaimsJim: CO2 isn't harming anything. It was 8,000 ppm for the dinosaurs, and only 380 ppm today.
Mike: Oh yeah? The dinosaurs are dead.
10/29/09 - Mises.org: Howard C. Hayden Professor Emeritus of Physics at U.Connecticut
[edited] "Some say that the "science is settled" about CO2 and climate. I ask, which one of the twenty or more models settled the science? Then we can discard the rest, along with the research funds that have kept those models alive."
"We are nowhere near a tipping point to catastrophic climate. The Earth has seen CO2 concentrations up to 8,000 ppm with no tipping point. After all, we are here talking about it. The CO2 concentration during recent ice ages (200 ppm) and warm periods (300-400 ppm) is lower than it has been for the last 300 million years."
"Cause has to come before effect. The historical record shows that climate change preceded CO2 changes. How can we conclude that CO2 is responsible for the current warming?"
Rules For RadicalsThey have money and principles; we have neither. Which do you want to take from them?
08/04/2000 - OrangeJuiceBlog
A version of Saul Alinsky's political handbook "Rules For Radicals". Machiavelli wrote "The Prince" in 1505 as a guide to getting and maintaining power from the top down. Alinsky presents ruthless tactics for gaining power from the bottom up, aimed at the underbelly of the tolerant modern state.
This is a key to understanding current politics. (v)10/23/09 - Wall Street Journal by James Tarranto
Rules for Presidents (M)10/24/09 - Vancouver Community Network
A simpler version of Rules For Radicals. (M)"The Prince" by Nicolò Machiavelli, free online. (M)05/03/10 - RightWingNews - Best quotes from Rules For Radicals.
Expensive German "Green Jobs"We are proud to raise taxes and electricity prices to employ all of the people in "green jobs".
10/19/09 - PowerlineBlog
An economic report on German "green jobs".
Job growth in renewable energy seems impressive, but doesn't count associated costs (impacts). These include at least: jobs lost by not generating cheaper conventional energy; indirect costs on upstream industries; jobs lost in other industries from higher electric prices; loss of private purchasing power due to higher electric prices; and diverting funds from more productive investment.
Proponents of renewable energy like the requirement for more workers to produce a given amount of energy. But, this lowers the productivity of the economy. Initial employment benefits from renewable energy turn negative as additional costs are incurred.
Subsidies (extra costs) in solar-energy are as high as €175,000 (US $240,000) per worker.
British Healthworkers Get Private CareThese people are especially important to Britain, not like the rest.
10/18/09 - Times On Line UK
The British National Health Service has spent $2.5 million over 3 years, to pay for 3,000 of its doctors, nurses, and other staff to have private health treatment.
The NHS said that early treatment of sickness enables staff to return more quickly to work. Their own waiting lists for medical care were too long.
(Link is stale.)
Don't Reinflate the Housing BubbleIf we stoppped pushing houses, the voters might suspect it was wrong to do it last time.
10/17/09 - Washington Examiner by Michael Barone
[edited] "Our financial system broke down because government policies created a housing bubble of more construction and increasing prices. The bubble broke. Democratic policymakers are responding by trying to recreate the housing bubble. (v)Via Instapundit (M)10/16/09 - WSJ by Peter Walliston
"Barney Frank, Predatory Lender"
Mortgage brokers are supposed to be the villians. But, they could only produce what bigger lenders wanted to buy. They could only respond to demand, not create it themselves.
The principal buyers were government insured banks, government enterprises such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, federal housing agencies, and private companies forced to comply with government mandates about mortgage lending. (M)10/18/09 - Washington Post by Charles Lane
"Doubling Down On the Wrong Housing Policy"
The government encouraged a teacher to put her retirement savings into a new house.
Blunting Costs of Healthcare ReformHealthcare reform is going to be great and less expensive. That is why we senators are excluding ourselves, federal workers, unions, and the people and political players in our own states.
10/09/09 - WSJ Opinion by Kimberley A. Strassel
Powerful senators want "reform" for the nation, so long as it doesn't disadvantage the people who support or vote for them. (M)10/14/09 - PJTV: Medically Incorrect (video 3m)
Baucus Bill Bull: Hypocrite senators Want To Pass a Doozy
Advice on AfghanistanPrestige is not a fanfare at a diplomatic reception. It is what makes enemies think better than to attack.
10/16/09 - Powerline by Paul Rahe
[edited quote] "Prestige" is the respect earned by world powers, that they will help their friends and harm their enemies, which keeps the wolf at bay.
We should follow the counter-insurgency strategy of General Stanley McChrystal. If pursued vigorously, it will renew our reputation and prestige in and beyond Afghanistan.
If we withdraw now, it will be as it was in Vietnam, with our tail between our legs. Our timidity will support audacity in our enemies and panic in our erstwhile friends, especially in the Islamic world. This could easily have disastrous consequences in Pakistan, a nuclear power teetering on the edge of civil war.
Remembering What Didn't HappenThink about the wedding, the punchbowl, and spilling it all on your parents.
10/06/09 - Advice Goddess (video clip 4m)
Elizabeth Loftus is Prof. of Psychology and Law at U.Cal Irvine. She explains how 1/4 of study participants were given false memories of their childhood. A good reason to believe the evidence, not the story. (M)Prof. Elizabeth Loftus: What's the Matter With Memory (video lecture 71m)
Diplomacy, Game Theory, Tit-For-TatI've been fooled 5 times so far, but soon he will see that I am sincere, and he will cooperate.
10/05/09 - PJTV by Bill Whittle (9:30 Video)
Be nice, Retaliate, Forgive, and Don't begrudge them their success. These are the elements of a winning, long term strategy in an uncertain world. You will always lose if you always offer cooperation. Is that why nice guys finish last?
Better Through Creative StatisticsRework those statistics; I have a speech tomorrow.
Politicians redefine statistics to make themselves look good or to push an agenda. Unemployment, healthcare, and consumer prices are examples.
More Healthcare Spending - More TaxesReduced deficit. Yay! By increasing taxes. Boo! And $829 billion more spending. Bummer!
The Senate healthcare bill promises to reduce the deficit by $81 billion while spending $829 billion more. How? By raising taxes and fees by $910 billion.
TV Commercial For Healthcare Reform
Do they know they will be paying for this?
Nah, they think someone else will pay.
Healthcare reform is available now for the very affordable price of an $81 billion reduction in the U.S. debt! No need to call in; We already have your credit card number. (Some restriction and fees may apply.) Satire.
The Stimulus Resort TownIt will be tough, but I'm ready to spend the stimulus money for the good of us all.
People start in gridlock. A stimulus loan breaks the gridlock. They resume working and trading, and end up happy. The money involved is a true stimulus; it unlocks the local economy and is paid back.
This is a vivid and amazing example. But, it is contrived and unreal, like finding five dominoes ready to fall by pushing just the first one.
What Is Defensive Medicine?I love that rush of fear when I don't test for something.
Engineering motto: If the tolerance for error is zero, then the cost has to be infinite.
09/29/09 - 09/08/09 - Happy Hospitalist
A four part chart shows why doctors order lots of tests, and patients like this. This is expensive. So what? (v)Via OverLawyered
About SociopathsI wonder. Does a fly feel pain when I tear off its legs?
09/28/09 - NeoNeocon - Artfldgr comments
"Imagine 1/25th having no conscience at all, no guilt or remorse, no sense of concern for the well-being even of family members. Imagine no struggle with shame, no matter what kind of selfish or immoral action you take."
The Dog Ate My Global Warming DataData? I lost the original data. I am subject to confidentiality agreements. I don't have to show you no stinkin' data.
09/23/09 - National Review by Patrick J. Michaels
The data needed to verify forecasts of global warming have disappeared. Maybe they were lost or deleted from some discarded computer. A few people know what happened, they aren’t talking much, and what they say makes no sense.
The responsible scientist complained: Why should I give you the data? You will try to find something wrong with it.
Who Sets the Price?I love your house, but not $100,000 more than that other one.
09/24/09 - EconLib by Russell Roberts
A readable explanation of how freely set prices work. Prices are the incentives that make goods of all types available. They are more complicated than having one person say "this is the price for everyone", and they work much better.
Flawed Statistics Show "bad" U.S. HealthcareWe give your superior healthcare a low rank for being expensive and not government run. Ironically, you now have a low rank despite spending more. Ha Ha, this is another failure of the free market. :-)
Three statistics seem to imply that U.S. healthcare is bad. Lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, and a low WHO rank for "quality".
These statistics are flawed. U.S. healthcare is first when you adjust for confusing factors. But, why adjust when you have a political goal?
Secretary Nanny of Energy
We need just a few small changes. The 800 page legislation expresses them nicely.
09/22/09 - Cafe Hayek by Russ Roberts
U.S. Secretary of Energy Dr. Steven Chu [edited]: "Average folks don't have the know-how or will to change their behavior to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. They are like teenagers, not acting as they should. They have to really understand how important this is."
Chu said the public would not throw the same political temper tantrum over climate legislation as in the healthcare debate. "We only need to make a few small changes."
Memo - Health Plan Deficit ReductionWe are going to rearrange it all, anyway. Just make it look good now.
An internal memo about removing any deficit from the health plan. (satire) (M)09/17/09 - OpenMarket by Hans Bader
Cap-and-Trade legislation would cost middle class taxpayers hundreds of billions. Household taxes could rise $1761 per year, a 15% increase. Jobs in steel, paper, aluminum, chemical, and cement manufacturing would migrate to countries with lower environmental costs than the U.S.
Taxes on business would be directly passed on to consumers.
A Tale of Two Shortages: Coffee and HealthcareOur Dear Leader has given us these plantations for direct operation by the People's Cooperative. Comrades, who of you knows Excel?
09/15/09 - Mises Daily by Doug French
Hugo Chavez of Venezuela benefitted peasant cooperatives by giving them the land of the coffee families. This redistribution produced uncertainty and reduced investment.
Coffee shortages raised the price to consumers. Chavez benefitted them by legally limiting the price.
Coffee became even more scarce. Chavez nationalized the coffee roasters to prevent speculating and hoarding. Chavez: "We will continue to nationalize monopolies and turn them into productive businesses in the hands of the workers, the people, and the revolution."
Future news: In 2009, Obama distributed healthcare to the people, capped its costs, and proceeded to root out abuse among the monopolist companies and physician groups."
Obama's Speech On HealthcareWe need quality healthcare, at low cost, with no restrictions, by friendly and unhurried doctors, and ... a chicken in every pot. That is my plan. Really. We should do it.
09/09/09 - PowerLineBlog by John Hinderaker
A review of the main quotes and distortions.
Obama: "This insurance exchange will take effect in four years, which gives us time to do it right." But wait! Obama says this is an emergency, without a moment to lose. With four years to spare, he could stop cramming the bill down Americans' throats. (M) You will all be rich and happy
(When we get this darned bureaucracy working)
09/09/09 - Cato by Michael F. Cannon
Quotes from Obama's speech, and the real-world translations. (v)Via Instapundit (M)09/12/09 - Ed Driscoll
Analysis from Mark Steyn, Thomas Sowell, and especially Shikha Dalmia:
[edited] Obama the bipartisan embraced every bad, big-government idea from both sides. If he prevails, the American public won’t get 'choice and competition', but will get a one-size-fits-all, government-prescribed health care plan that it can't refuse or challenge.” (M)09/09/09 - The Atlantic by Arnold Kling
Obama: "Reducing waste and inefficiency in Medicare/caid will pay for most of this plan."
Kling: "If we don't pass this plan, does Obama intend to keep the waste and inefficiency out of spite?" (v) Arnold Kling blogs at Econlog.Econlib.org (M)07/26/09 - EasyOpinions by Andrew Garland
I have that analysis somewhere. Here it is. No, thats my grocery list.
Where is the policy paper, Obama's careful plan and research on healthcare reform?
Leading the PeopleI love the well intentioned little people. They need a strong ruler to show them the way.
Brad's Friends want to be elected, then use that power to make your life better, and you better, whether you agree or not. They want a grand experiment to make a better world. Eventually, they will make you agree with them.
Canada: Lower Malpractice RatesI gave my tearjearker pleas to the Canadian judge. He applauded my performance.
Maybe the outcomes for Canadian medicine aren't expected to be very good.
09/08/09 - OverLawyered
Neurosurgeons in Miami pay $237,000 for malpractice insurance. In Toronto, $29,200. Due to better laws and a cap on pain and suffering.
Find Something to Hospitalize the PatientGood news. Your heart surgery went well, and you are going home today. This instruction sheet tells how to change the bandages. Remove the drain in about a week.
09/05/09 - Throckmorton's Other Signs
"We cure the acute illness, but there is a long recovery. The patient is too sick to go home, but Medicare won't pay for more hospital days or a nursing home. We must find a reason to keep the patient, so we run all the tests."
You see here the Medicare cat-and-mouse game. They pass rules to save money by shifting costs onto the hospital. Medicare plays a game to be "efficient" while going broke from the incentives of the program.
Obama's Green Jobs Snake OilWe're lucky that we have global warming. Fighting for our lives is going to make us rich.
Consider this to see the fallacy: If Obama could snap his fingers and make global warming disappear, should he do it? By his logic, no, because then we'd lose all those wonderful green jobs that will help pull us out of the recession.
Van Jones: What's New?Nasty conservatives have discovered bad things about my administration. Reluctantly, it seems that I must act to correct this.
Van Jones is the Green Jobs Czar. What part of recent news about Jones is new information to Obama?
Czars in AmericaMy Czars have my full support, but you can't hold me responsible for what they do. It is silly to think that I can watch every action of 31 people.
09/05/09 - Hot Air by Ed Morrissey
Barack Obama’s 31 czars are a dramatic executive overreach. This is far more imperial than any action by President Bush. (v)Via Instapundit
Why There Are No New JobsMarx revealed that business owners are leeches on society, draining away the wealth that rightfully belongs to the workers. At least, the ones who have jobs.
09/05/09 - Commentary Magazine by Jennifer Rubin
Obama has utterly ignored or rejected proposals to promote private-sector job growth. The threatening environment of higher taxes and deficits causes companies to make only critical investments and slow down job creation. Obama cannot have a recovery by attacking private businesses while expanding government.
It turns out we need those private-sector employers. (v)Via Instapundit
JFK, Nixon, Khrushchev, Castro, CubaCommunist leaders have more guts and freedom to act.
09/03/09 - American Thinker By Humberto Fontova
Castro was glad that JFK won. Nixon seriously supported the Bay of Pigs invasion. Nikita Khrushchev solidified Castro and got missiles removed from Turkey. JFK agreed to use US naval power to prevent further interference with Castro by Cuban freedom fighters. Khrushchev later wrote that war over Cuba was a bluff.
Death Panels in BritainWe don't kill them. They choose to die when we stop feeding them.
09/02/09 - PowerLineBlog
Under NHS guidance, patients are diagnosed as close to death without allowing that the diagnosis could be wrong. This creates a self-fulfilling prophecy where food and fluids are denied until sedated patients die. Nationwide discontent is building up, as family and friends witness this denial of care. (M)Monty Python on Death Panels (humor, video 2:00)
Prevention Costs 8x As MuchThis pill saves lives, 1/100th of the time.
09/01/09 - Fox Business by John Stossel
Sally Pipes of the Pacific Research Institute: Suppose we enact measures to control heart disease and diabetes with complete success. The cost would be $8.5 trillion over 30 years, but would save only $1 trillion treating those diseases. Prevention improves health, but doesn't save money. (M)Sally Pipes in the Washington Examiner
Obamacare Bails Out Medicare
We will all be in the same boat. Some have signed on, and others will be "persuaded".
The promises of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security cannot be paid. Democrats want to put everyone in the same plan so that seniors don't feel as strongly about denial of care, and the young can be made to pay much more.
US Healthcare is 1st and 37thWe've subtracted another 10 points because you're not government run.
The writer Mark Twain said "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."
08/31/09 - WSJ Opinion by Drs. Groopman and Hartzband
The World Health Organization ranks U.S. healthcare as 1st in dignity, confidentiality, choice of care, choice of provider, prompt attention, access to social support during care, and basic amenities.
The U.S. ranks 37th overall from lack of universal coverage and higher cost.
Interrogation Policy and ResultsC 'mon Khalid. Who did you work with? What were your plans and methods? Pretty please?
08/27/09 - PowerLineBlog by Paul Mirengoff
Summary of a WSJ editorial about the CIA Inspector General's report on interrogations conducted on terrorists.
"Interrogations were carefully limited, briefed on Capitol Hill, and yielded information that saved innocent lives."
British Health Care ScandalOn the bright side, we have low administrative costs, and we cut staff.
08/26/09 - Legal Insurrection by William A. Jacobson
The Patients Association in Britian reports hundreds of thousands in the past six years received nursing care that was often neglectful, demeaning, painful, and sometimes cruel.
Elderly people were left in pain, in soiled bed clothes, denied adequate food and drink, and suffered from repeatedly cancelled operations, missed diagnoses, and dismissive staff.
Free To ChooseThe most important single fact about a free market is that no exchange takes place unless both parties benefit.
Governments never learn. Only people learn.
Videos of the 1980, 1990 TV series about economics and freedom by the late Nobel economist Milton Friedman.
A presentation about freedom, markets, capitalism, and prosperity. Friedman is clear and direct. It is a first course in free markets and free minds, and was a popular success on network television. (v)Via Chicago Boyz
British Maternity CareWe find do-it-yourself is much cheaper.
08/25/09 - blogs.DailyMail by Don Surber
Almost 4,000 women gave birth outside maternity wards lacking midwives and hospital beds, instead in places like elevators, toilets, and mobile homes. Maternity units shut their doors to an additional 553 women in labor last year.
MSNBC and The Liberal Narrative:
The Truth About Political CorrectnessA great story. We'll publish the parts that support our cause. Be sure to snip the video.
08/24/09 - Pajamas TV by Bill Whittle (video 12:56)
A "politically correct narrative" is literally a story that supports your ideology, facts be damned. The spinning of these stories has been an intentional strategy for those who want a better world, or at least a world that they direct for the common good.
Search YouTube for "The History of Political Correctness" for more about The Frankfurt School. (The Institute for
Marxism Social Research, founded 1924 in Frankfurt, Germany)
What Work Means in LifeYou say you are happy doing that?
08/18/09 - Mike Rowe of the TV series "Dirty Jobs" (Video 20:34)
What he has learned from surprising and dangerous jobs. He describes his personal anagnorisis, the point, especially in a tragedy, at which the hero recognizes his true identity or situation, and peripeteia, a sudden change in fortune from learning the truth.
15:55 The war on work. We have forgotten the benefits and satisfaction of doing a trade and learning from others the practical nature of what life demands. (v)Via Docs On The Web
Canadian Healthcare Is SickCanada needs change. Maybe private healthcare?
08/15/09 - Google News by Jennifer Graham (CP)
Dr. Anne Doig is president of the Canadian Medical Association. We all agree, the system is imploding and more precarious than Canadians realize. We are all running flat out, trying to stay ahead of day-to-day demands. The current system is not sustainable. (v)Via Docs On the Web (M)National Post Editorial: Canadian health care is no model. (M)08/15/09 - Docs On the Web
The health care bill is the worst abomination since MTV stopped playing music videos.
Taking from specialty care to fund primary care will produce savings because more people will die. Here is the theory and the reality of preventive care.
Electricity Situation in BritainHoney, no lights, no TV, no internet, and the food is warming up. Are we still environmentalists?
08/12/09 - Chicago Boyz by Carl from Chicago
Electricity has to be generated from somewhere, and traditional sources are Coal, Gas, Nuclear, Hydroelectric, and Insignificant.
Britain’s electricity demand peaked at 59 GW (billion watts) in 2009. 45% from North Sea gas, 35% coal, 15% nuclear, and 5% other. By 2015, modest growth will require 64 GW. From where? Our generation plants are aging, and there is nothing planned to replace them. (M)Problems with Green Energy
Progressive Redistribution -> Low growthI gave up half my income for the good of .. something. That's what LBJ did in 1970.
08/11/09 - Chicago Boyz
President Lyndon Johnson publicly admitted that his “Great Society” was a redistributionist scheme. He gloated that future generations would just have to live with it. This policy choked off growth during the 1970’s by doubling the Capital Gains Tax.
So what have we lost? Long term U.S. economic growth was 4.5% from 1780 to 1970. Recessions were followed by high growth recoveries. The per capita growth rate was 3.5%. In 1970 that growth rate dropped to 1.5% and stayed there.
GDP would have increased by 4x from 1969 to 2009 at the 3.5% rate. GDP has actually increased by 1.8x at the 1.5% rate. Without LBJ and “Limits to Growth”, our per capita economy would now be 2.2x larger. (M)Stimulus Shrinks the Economy. The money is nice. The taxes and inflation are a killer.
Obamacare Cycle of Life Out with the old and in with the new.
08/11/09 - InsureBlog by Henry Stern
"The doctor shall provide an ‘advance care planning consultation’ at least every five years." The welfare of everyone in the program depends on affordable choices.
I comment that the carbon footprint should be part of the discussion. (sarcasm)
Government Medicaid RxDon't look, government healthcare and sausages are being made here.
08/10/09 - The Independence Institute (Video 1:30)
Oregon provides Medicaid through government rules drawn up by political lobbying each year.
Government raises costs; it requires that many services be covered by regulated healthcare insurance, the services that provide income for influential provider groups.
Emergency services don't have a lobby, so forget about them. Priorities: (High) Stop Smoking, (Low) Head Injury. (v)Via Cafe Hayek by Don Boudreaux (M)08/25/09 - Insureblog by Henry Stern
Mandates increase insurance costs for Shelley Roche in Maryland. (Video 2:21)
Vibrating Wind FarmsLook at the twirling blades. Any nausea?
08/10/09 - American Thinker by Thomas Lifson
Neighbors of wind farms have discovered that they are far from the benign, clean, efficient ways of harnessing energy to our needs. "Wind Turbine Syndrome".
Obama - A Face in the Crowd Promise them anything, but give them - whatever.
08/09/09 - PowerLine by Scott Johnson
Scroll down to the video clip (6:07). General Haynesworth advises presidential candidate Fuller that he needs a slogan like "Time for a change", "The mess in Washington", or "More bang for a buck." Lonesome Rhodes advises Fuller to act as one of the people. A hilarious and timely scene.
Economic Reality for AshleyLet's redistribute other people's money.
They are all coupon-clippers.
08/09/09 - Roger Kimball
Whether a real letter or a parable, it presents the realities of redistribution.
"I received your request for assistance. Ashley, you know I love you dearly and I’m sympathetic to your financial plight. Unfortunately, times have changed. With the election of President Obama, your grandmother and I have had to set forth a bold new economic plan of our own, The Ashley Economic Empowerment Plan."
Advertising for Healthcare Dollars"We are the most open and honest administration in history." Gentlemen, how much advertising will it take to sell that to the American people?
08/09/09 - PowerLine Blog by John Hinderaker
Lobbyists are thriving as never before during the Obama administration. Everyone wants to get their hands on your tax dollars (or your children's, since pretty much all the money in question will be borrowed).
The Obama administration claims that Americans who oppose socialized medicine must be in the pay of "moneyed interests." This is a sick joke to anyone who understands today's actual political dynamics
Testing National HealthcareDon't worry. You go first.
08/07/09 - Insure Blog by Henry Stern - video 3:30
Nationalized healthcare is a big step. How do we know it will work? Shouldn't we test it first? The world is a complicated place. We would not want it to seem good, then find out it works badly.
Is the Science Settled for Climate Change?We have our own consensus here in government. The debate is over.
08/05/09 - OpenMarket by Marlo Lewis
There are three basic issues in the climate change debate: How much has the world warmed? How much from greenhouse gases? What will more greenhouse gases do? These issues are not settled, not even close, and here is why.
One of many points. The U.S. surface temperature record is supposed to be the best in the world. But, it is riddled with false warming biases. "We found stations located next to exhaust fans of air conditioning units, surrounded by asphalt parking lots, on blistering-hot rooftops, and near structures that absorb and radiate heat. We found 68 stations at wastewater plants, where waste digestion raises the air temperature."
Nice graphs with medium scientific detail. Readable, or watch the video. (M)Dispelling the Global Warming Myth
Spot the AstroturfersThey're fanatics. They made their own signs.
08/06/09 - Looking at the Left by El Marco
A picture essay with commentary about political demonstrators at a health clinic for-and-against healthcare reform. Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi visited that clinic. Which are the concerned citizens, and which are the hired demonstrators?
El Marco: This is the first time in my life that I can recall a government in North America organizing protests of one group of citizens against another. This is standard operating procedure in countries with left-wing governments.
Pelosi said recently, about critics at town hall events: "I think they’re AstroTurf. You be the judge. They’re carrying swastikas and symbols like that to a town meeting on health care." (v)Via Ed Driscoll
ObamaCare and the DoctorMaybe we should ask the doctors.
08/06/09 - American Thinker By Zane F. Pollard, MD
I have practiced for 35 years in Atlanta, Georgia, in the only group there offering pediatric ophthalmology services to Medicaid patients.
The government has involved very few of us physicians in the healthcare debate. The American Medical Association favors Obama's plan, but remember the AMA represents just 17% of American physicians.
Also, Charles Krauthammer proposes two actions to eliminate current inefficiencies in the healthcare market before redesigning the whole thing.
NomenklaturaIt isn't what you know, it's who you know.
The little people don't know anyone.
08/05/09 - ChicagoBoyz by Carl from Chicago
Nomenklatura - A bureaucratic élite that enjoys special privileges. Example: Soviet Union.
These new government institutions will not be transparent or fair. A parallel system of privileges and favors will replace our current, largely cash based system. As the government controls more of society, the friendship and favor of the Nomenklatura will control access to opportunities and prestigious posts.
Medicare Example For Higher CostsGovernment motto: We must spend money to save money.
08/04/09 - PowerlineBlog by Scott Johnson
The government is already the largest health care insurer through Medicare. From 1968-2007 Medicare costs increased by a factor of 85.5, from $5.1 to $436 billion.
In 1965, the government projected that costs would be $10 billion in 25 years. Instead, 1990 costs were $107 billion, 10.7 times the estimate! Plus, about the same amount is spent by the states due to federal mandates, unreimbursed by federal payments.
We are now told ObamaCare will save money.
Chronic Pain and Health InsuranceRest assured that your care is free. We just don't have an approved protocol for treating your illness, if it is a real illness.
[edited] My injuries propelled me online over ten years ago, to guide my decisions and to read about others who suffered similar problems. Patients in Canada and Britain deeply affected me. They didn't worry about insurance, but they were the most miserable of all the chronic pain patients.
They waited forever for tests. They often could not choose their doctors. Often, few specialists in-country knew anything about their injuries. Their medical systems generally saw their problems as unimportant and they were given low priority.
I was always horrified of not having medical choices. I paid extra for the freedom to go to other states and not be bound by the recommendations and restrictions of a primary care physician. This supported my nine year search.
Ten Questions For Your CongressmanDo you expect me to have answers for everything?
08/03/09 - Washington Examiner by Hugh Hewitt
Ten questions and honest answers about current healthcare reform. Ask your Congressman or Senator. Question 4: "If seniors will be allowed the expensive, most effective treatments, how will costs be controlled?" (v)Instapundit
Obama on Single PayerOur unbiased opinion here in Government is that single payer is the way to go. A single option is more equal.
A 2 minute video of President Obama's remarks past and present, about a goverment option for healthcare
Plants Make Their Own PesticidesIt seems that they don't want to be eaten.
But, their resistance is futile.
Our plant foods contain carcinogens, natural pesticides that cause cancer in rats. These occur at enormously higher levels than the amounts of man-made pesticides remaining on the plants. The good news is that the risk of cancer is negligible, even at these levels.
Medicaid Not Sensitive to WasteIt's just Graham again. Pick him up and send the bill to the Feds.
Graham doesn't have a job, insurance, or car. He calls 911 to have an ambulance drive him to the hospital, 603 times in 3.5 years. Medicaid seemed more interested in how we found out, rather than how much it cost taxpayers. Fraud and abuse costs $60 billion per year.
Minimum Wage Equals Minimum JobsFire them if you have to, but don't underpay.
07/30/09 - Reason.com by John Stossel
Why not set the minimum wage at $100/hour? That would send funds to poor people while lifting the economy, right? (M)The ones who are still working will thank us for the raise.
07/03/2009 - WSJ Opinion - The Young and the Jobless
Economist David Neumark wrote here that the $.70 /hour increase in the minimum wage would remove 300,000 jobs. Sure enough, it increased to $7.25 in July, and the August and September numbers show jobs disappearing for teenagers.
Screening for TerroristsMy shrimp catcher is 99% accurate. So, why are there so many snails?
If your test is wrong 1/100, and you are looking for 1 in 10,000, then 99% of your detained people are going to be innocent. (v)Via Schneier on Security
Medical Malpractice Affects Access to CareDoctor, help me! Be perfect or I'll sue you.
The American Hospital Association reports 50% of hospitals have trouble recruiting physicians in medical liability crisis (MLC) states. 40% say MLC causes less physician coverage for their emergency departments.
MLC forced closing trauma centers in Florida, Mississippi, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, at various times in recent years.
Specialties including neurosurgery, orthopaedics, and general surgery have incurred particularly high premium increases. Emergency patients most frequently require those services.
Creative Job CreationWe can create 1000's of new jobs. Fire everyone on Friday, and hire them back on Monday.
07/27/09 - Don Surber quotes the AP
In Oregon, Democrats claim that its $176 million stimulus has already created 3,256 jobs. Those jobs each lasted about a week.
By the state’s accounting, a job is a job, whether it lasts three hours, three days, three months, or a lifetime. “Sometimes some work for an individual is better than no work,” said Oregon’s Senate president, Peter Courtney.
Expensive German Wind PowerWe will pay 2.5 times more. Is that too much for a good cause?
The wholesale price will be US 21¢ per KWH, plus retail markup to pay for distribution and billing costs. Compare this to the average US retail price of 11.28¢ (v)Via Instapundit
A Few Words About PolicyIt's good for the country. What else do you need to know?
Obama should have already released a detailed "white paper" describing his summary and justification for his health care proposals. We need proposed results, methods, justifications, comparative studies, past successes, funding sources, the works.
The absence of these policy papers is appalling.
Health Care Reform Removes 5 Freedoms We are all in this together, so you will pay for us.
07/24/09 - Fortune at Money.CNN by Shawn Tully
The fine print in the Congressional plans removes many freedoms of the current system: To choose your doctors, To keep your existing plan, To choose what's in your plan, To choose high-deductible coverage, To pay your real costs and be rewarded for healthy living. (v)Instapundit
Hidden Victims of Health ReformSomebody is going to pay, but I don't think it will be me. Right?
07/24/09 - WSJ by John Fund
Health reform will require some people to sacrifice. Democrats have kept that knowledge from those who would bear the brunt. They convinced healthcare industry groups not to run the “Harry and Louise” style ads that opposed HillaryCare in 1993.
Sen. Tom Coburn (R., Okla.): "The pressure has bordered on extortion." Newt Gingrich: "Groups were told that they would give up their seat at the table if they ran ads. They weren’t told that they would be the lunch."
Losers: Young people, Small businesses, Health savings accounts, Medicare Advantage. (v)Via Instapundit
Government Funds Distort Climate ScienceWe don't fund studies critical of our policies.
07/22/09 - Science and Technology News
The US Government has spent $79 billion since 1989 on research and support for climate change studies. Yet, scientific review and criticism is left to unpaid volunteers, who have repeatedly exposed major errors.
Dedicated, uncoordinated scientists around the globe test the integrity of global warming theory. They compete with a lavishly-funded, highly-organized, centralized purchaser of climate research.
The government pours money into a single, scientifically baseless agenda. It has created a self-fulfilling prophecy, not an unbiased investigation. Sound science cannot easily survive this grip of politics and finance.
Congress Is the Health Care ProblemWe make laws. We don't repeal them.
7/23/09 - Throckmorton's Other Signs
The President's news conference had more confabulation than I get from a gang banger explaining how he got shot minding his own business.
Congressmen say with a straight face that they are going to fix health care, without admitting that they caused all the problems!
Health Bill 1000 Page Monstrosity1000 pages of cost reduction. With more time, it could have been longer.
7/23/09 Rep. Dr. Tom Price (R-GA) criticizes Obama's healthcare bill. (video 5:30). "You should be ashamed of what you want to do to healthcare and a free people".
Why Doesn't Obama Get to Work?I was happy to be an inspiration to you all.
3/11/09 - Small Dead Animals by Kate
Carol Platt Liebau was managing editor of the Harvard Law Review (from audio):
"Tom Pirelli is the one who did most of the day to day work. Barack Obama was nowhere to be seen. Occasionally he would drop in, talk to people, and then leave, as though his arrival had been a benediction in itself. But, not very much got done.
You see that and think, gosh, maybe that's the way the guy operates. He had his eye on bigger things. But, now he's President; there isn't a bigger or better thing." (v)Via Ed Driscoll
Healthcare, Social Justice, and ThugsA strange buffet of crackers and peanut butter, with a 3 hour line for a roast beef sandwich or two shrimp.
7/23/09 - American Thinker by John Dale Dunn MD JD
A doctor presents his long experience with medicine.
My experience with Medicaid was scary. It was intended as Medicare for the poor. I went to the Nebraska capital, desperate, and pleaded my case to Medicaid officials to hurry up their payments for my mostly Medicaid practice. I wasted my time.
Will Doctors Just Say No?I majored in administration before becoming a doctor.
7/23/09 - Open Market by Wayne Crews
What kind of doctors would Obama's system create? Who will go into medicine?
A fictional doctor from "Atlas Shrugged":
"I wonder at the smugness with which people assert their right to enslave me, to control my work, to force my will, and to stifle my mind. What will they expect when they lie on an operating table under my hands?
Let them discover the doctors that their system will produce. It is not safe to entrust their lives to a man whose life they have throttled. It is not safe if he is a man who resents it, and still less safe if he is the sort who doesn’t.
Doctors On StrikeThe best men will not be made slaves.
A serious site with great cartoons and jokes, mostly black humor as befits the current situation.
"It’s not a good idea to make the lives of medical professionals a living hell. Who do politicians think they are, really? I mean, honestly?" - Wayne Crews at OpenMarket
20 Questions for ObamaI can restate my policy goals, but I'm not a detail man. (chuckle, smile)
7/22/09 Economist Keith Hennessey
5. You proposed spending money from the TARP to prevent foreclosures, help small businesses, and to buy toxic assets from banks. In June, CBO found no evidence that any money has been spent for any of these programs. How many foreclosures have been prevented, how many small businesses have received loans, and how many toxic assets have been purchased? (M)11/3/08 National Review
All of Obama's promises have expiration Dates.
The Good Intentions of WelfareI miss having responsibility for my life.
Economist Walter Williams, 1983 (video 27 mins)
Influence and Access to Good Schools
Minimum Wage, Licensing, and Labor Laws
The Welfare System and Conclusions
The government offers help, but in a way that leads people to a life of dependence and broken families. (v)7/22/09 Cafe Hayek by economist Don Boudreaux
Doctors Will Quit Obama-careHe's an excellent doctor. Top of his class in data entry and billing codes.
Many physicians will quit if Obama-care forces us to take orders about treatments, procedures, and medicines, by phone, from people hundreds of miles away.
They want a perfect record keeper. I would rather take care of patients. I am not a data entry operator who dresses in scrubs.
EMP AttackHoney, the TV is on the blink. And, everything else.
Consider a nuclear explosion 200 miles up. It emits a powerful wave of radiation which causes a huge electrical wave. You won't feel much, but it will fry all the electrical systems and digital electronics that we depend on to run everything. How will we survive? (v)Via Instapundit
Public Option Taxes Employees 8%We'll tell them that we are taxing the employer. They won't figure it out.
The costs of employment come out of an employee's gross wages. Payments on behalf of employees reduce cash wages. The employee pays any 8% fine supposedly placed on the employer.
The Chavez PlaybookElections are less stressful when you know how they will turn out.
Honduran authorities seized computers belonging to deposed president Mel Zelaya. They contain false referendum results favoring Zelaya, for the illegal referendum that was not held.
States Give Themselves Phony Ed GradesHigher scores build confidence.
The Illinois Standards Achievement Test was altered in 2006 to comply with No Child Left Behind. School officials knew that the new test was made easier and produced higher scores. This accounted for almost all of the "improvement" since then.
Obama is Jimmy Carter RebornMake no mistake, no one can fix our problems. Don't blame me.
Six months as President, Barack Obama is driving south into the political speed trap known as Carter Country. It is a sad-sack landscape in which every major initiative meets with failure and scorn from political allies and foes alike. (v)Via AdviceGoddess
Regulations are Too Complex and DangerousHere are the 274 rules. We'll tell you what they mean as we go along.
The financial crisis was caused by the complex, constantly growing web of regulations designed to constrain and redirect modern capitalism. As a practical matter, it was impossible to predict the disastrous outcome of these interacting regulations.
Cloward-Piven Plan for SocialismCloward: The ruling classes use welfare to weaken the poor. Poor people can advance only when the rest of society is afraid of them.
Columbia University political scientists Richard Cloward and Frances Piven proposed to bankrupt the welfare system and produce radical change. This is called the "crisis strategy" or the "bankrupt-the-cities" strategy.
They proposed flooding the welfare rolls with new applicants, more than the system could bear. They hoped that the resulting economic collapse would lead to political turmoil and socialism.
The National Welfare Rights Organization (NWRO) used the Cloward-Piven strategy to produce the welfare crisis that bankrupted New York City in 1975.
Veterans of NWRO went on to found the Living Wage Movement and the Voting Rights Movement. Both use Cloward-Piven and are spear-headed by ACORN. (M)Liberally Conservative: Cloward-Piven as it is being applied now to US politics.
Hospital Sues Mass MedicaidWhen the state won't pay, we raise prices on the sick.
Boston Medical Center is suing Massachusetts for not paying $100 million if its bills. That expense increased the cost of everyone else’s health care.
Elaine Ullian is CEO of Boston Medical: We believe in health care reform, but it was never, ever supposed to be financed on the backs of the poor, as has happened in Massachusetts. (M)More: Political Contributions required for Medicare Reimbursement in Illinois.
Personal Tour of Canadian Health CareIf you are tired of waiting, you can come back and wait tomorrow. Or pay at the private clinic.
7/13/09 - PJTV (video 21m) by Steven Crowder
The wait times are cruel. A sick baby is sent home by one hospital after a quick look. Her parents try again at a 2nd one, and the baby needed a week of treatment.
That is what the world is like when you are a cost rather than a customer. When you want care under socialized medicine, you are a pure cost. (M)More: Begging for Medical Care
Expensive Medical ScreeningI was tested for years, then died anyway.
The absolute risk of a woman aged 60 dying from breast cancer by age 70 is 9/1000. Early detection by doing 10,000 yearly mammograms saves 3/1000 people over 10 years.
Health-care "systems" are supposedly critical to health. So, why is there so small a difference in outcomes? Life expectancy in the European Union is 78.7 years, in Libya, 76.88 years.
Universal health care may save lives, but it won't save money, and you will pay for it whether you want this testing or not.
Global Warming Best Predictions May Be WrongIt is sad when you can't predict the past.
Gerald Dickens is Professor of Earth science at Rice University. "There appears to be something fundamentally wrong with the way climate models link temperature and carbon. They do not explain what appears in the geological record." (v)Via Riehl World View (M)More: Dispelling the Global Warming Myth
FDR Prolonged the Great DepressionWe didn't intend to cause the problem. Now we intend to fix the problem.
"Why the Great Depression lasted so long had been a mystery. We worried about what conditions might produce another 10-15 year economic slump. We found that a relapse isn't likely, unless lawmakers gum up a recovery with ill-conceived stimulus policies."
'Cap And Tax' Dead EndEnergy will cost more. We will just do less.
Sarah Palin 7/14/09: [edited] Job losses are so certain under this new cap-and-tax plan that it includes a provision for newly unemployed workers from the resulting dried-up energy sector, to the tune of $4.2 billion over eight years. So much for creating jobs.
American jobs are threatened by the rising cost of doing business under the cap-and-tax plan.
A Government Failure, Not of the MarketOur policy: we can't go broke building more houses.
We are told this was a systemic market failure, violating Capitalism's promise that self-correcting mechanisms would not allow this. So, we are told Capitalism is unworkable after all.
But, the housing bubble only burst after government subsidies pushed house prices up so fast that buyers could no longer afford to chase prices even higher. A bubble created by government rigged financial markets and a government-sponsored obsession with home ownership is not a result of market failure. It is a result of bad government policy.
Federal Reserve FailuresThe government bankers will save us! They probably caused the problem in the first place.
[edited] In about 1927, the Federal Reserve started buying large quantities of U.S. stocks on the open market. This produced an unprecedented stock bubble. The Fed only managed to reverse this in late 1929 by choking-off normal business credit.
The Fed stood by, pleading impotence during the following panic. The U.S. money stock lost one-third of its pre-crash value. This "great contraction" was the worst credit-crunch in U.S. history, producing the "national bank holiday" of March 6-12, 1933.
Regardless of this and later mismanagement, Congress rewards the Fed for its failures by giving it more powers. (v)Via Cafe Hayek
Sotomayor Condones DiscriminationJudge Andrew Napolitano: [edited] When you elect a liberal Democrat as President, you get Sonia Sotomayor, a judicial nominee with strange ideas.
Like, if you take a test, and you pass the test and you’re supposed to get promoted, well, you won't get promoted because not enough people from another race passed the test. A lot of Americans will reject that attitude which she embraced.
(M)Sotomayor Snubs the Senate's Questions
07/28/09 - American Thinker by Rick Moran
She repeated her bizarrely brief opinion that the statue outlaws racially disparate voting qualifications: "A law disqualifying felons from voting constitutes a voting qualification."
Despair Among Business OwnersLet them drop their pretenses and join the workers.
Business is down 10-20% or more. They have laid off staff or have 4-day weeks to keep staff. They see nothing that will benefit sales, cost reductions, or efficiency.
What is happening is an outrage. We will all be casualties of being controlled by bureaucrats and politicians who never, ever, ran a business or created a job. Job losses, cost increases, and inflation will get worse. (v)Via Riehl World View
Why Doctors Refuse MedicareWe in government are efficient. Why do you spend so much on administration?
Medicare claims very low administrative expenses, but doesn't count the administrative burden imposed on doctors. Even fines should be included. Doctors must charge more to cover these expenses, refuse Medicare patients, or close their practices.
Obama's Climate of FearThat's a nice small business you got there, buddy.
Obama utters soothing words as he acts against business: He is not really trying to stifle small business, not really trying to take over the banks, the auto companies, or whatever. He is just reacting to the crisis, reluctantly doing what must be done. That’s what he says. Business people don't believe him.
How a Bill Becomes Law - Health Care (1)How the sausage is made. Don't look.
Here is my tactical analysis of the legislative action. I was in the health care legislative fights 1995-2008. I'm a retired player, now serving as a color commentator.
Government Healthcare by ExpertsWe're smart. We all went to school. We can do it better than those capitalists, doctors, HMO's, and insurance companies.
The bills in Congress contain very little that reflects payment for value. Government bureaucrats claim they will do things they’ve never once demonstrated an ability to do.
John Holdren is Obama's Science Czar.
Be afraidYou have to break some eggs to make a world omelette.
In 1977 he proposed forced abortions, sterilizations through drinking water, babies seized from teen/single mothers, sterilization of undesirables, and a global government through an international police force. In writing. No kidding. (v)Via Ed Driscoll (M)More at OpenMarket
Overselling ScienceI'm a Phrenologist. I will diagnose you by feeling the bumps on your head. Then, we'll try some leeches.
The problem with polling “scientists” is that there is a wide range in the predictive power of the studies that we lump together as “science”. Some science does not predict well at all.
Health Care Bill - Truth in LabelingYeah, a medical golf course, next to the medical Farmers' Market
The bill provides billions for walking paths, streetlights, jungle gyms, and farmers' markets, characterized as improving the nation's health infrastructure.
Advocates include Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (MA). They say this spending is needed to promote healthier lives and cut medical costs in the long run. "These are not public works grants; they are community transformation grants".
Obama Can Win The Chicago WayWe strongly recommend that you play ball with Mr. Capone.
Soros, Axelrod, and Obama intend to win the next election, despite 15-20% unemployment and inflation in 18 months. They intend to do it the Chicago way, to buy it with your money.
Competition for Cheaper HealthcareDoc, I can get it for less.
06/2011. A brain MRI costs from $825 to $3,600 in the Southeast, $1,540 to $3,500 in the Northeast. There are large price differences for MRI's in other regions and for PET and CT scans.
I Still Hate You, Sarah PalinAdvice to Republicans: Don't bring a knife to a gunfight.
And so the word went out: Eviscerate Sarah Palin like one of her field-dressed moose. Turn her life upside down. Attack her politics, her background, her educational history, her husband, and her family.
You know what? It worked!
When Politicians Go Bad -- The Government We Don't DeserveHey, it's only money.
California has spent all its money, and it is spending more. It's politicians think criticism is terrorism. Obama thinks CA is a model for us all. Bill Whittle at Pajamas Media. Video 5:30. (v)Via Instapundit
Newspaper Influence PeddlingCome on over for a nice talk, and bring a gift.
Newspapers influence public opinion, and that influence is quite valuable. It seems that some newspapers are selling that influence. Do you still trust your newspaper?
CAFE is killing GMSmall cars are just cuter!
General Motors specializes profitably in big vehicles, the best in the category. But CAFE penalizes them for not selling enough small cars to tip the averages. This statistical insanity is killing US manufacturing jobs.
See posts older than 07/06/09
Light-Up Link SearchLocate links containing search words. The links light up.
Amazing, Quips, Videos
Zombie TrainA free game combining moving, shooting, and strategy to defend three train cars. It's a challenge and beatable. Move up to the shotgun and place the defense machine guns where they will do the most good.
Zombie ShootoutDefend the floorplan of a house from 20 waves of zombies. Choose Normal, Hard, or Nightmare. Simple and involving relaxation for months. Nightmare level 20 can be beaten, but it seems impossible. Free.
WingsuitBicycling (below) through obstacles and jumps may leave you nervous. Try these relaxing images of jumping off a mountain in a wingsuit. The idea is to fly close without touching the rocks and trees. (M)Jeb Corliss "Grinds the Crack" flying through mountain valleys in his wingsuit
WRC RacingDaily Pundit - Video 3:37 - [edited] "There is no motorsport quite like WRC racing. Strap a Scandinavian maniac to a four-wheel-drive turbocharged rocket, then sideways down a mountainside through a meat tunnel of drunken, cheering Finnish spectators, whereupon he explodes". "http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=FetBYgKCwQI"
Danny Hart Downhill01/18/12 - Dr. John
Danny Hart cycles downhill very fast on a twisty path. What is the average survival in this sport? Video 3 min. "http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=EqYgAX6D43Q"
Diving DeepDave Shaw twice dived 886 feet to the bottom of the world's biggest underwater cave in South Africa. He used SCUBA re-breather equipment and a backup team. Anything deeper than 200 feet is serious business. The second dive went bad. (M)Wikipedia provides details about deep diving.
Held Breath 17 MinutesOct 2009 - TED lecture (video 20 min)
Magician and performance stuntman David Blaine explains how he trained to hold his breath for a record 17 minutes, with video clips. Once, he chose to black out rather than fail in an undramatic way. He says this was much harder than being being buried alive for a week or frozen into ice for 3 days.
The Known UniverseA flight to beyond the edge of the known universe. Ascend from the Himalayan mountains, pause to view the Earth and the solar system, then fly to the edge of the space-time horizon and back. Note the huge space between the galaxies. From a far enough distance they form a delicate tissue of matter. Video 6:31.
Powers of 10
Physicist Phillip Morrison (1916-2005) narrates this 1977 (9:01) exploration of the universe.
The view of a man at a picnic starts at 1 meter, expanding to 10 meters, 100 meters, and so on, by powers of 10 each 10 seconds until at 1024 meters we view a dark and empty 100 million light year section of the universe.
Zoom back to 1 meter in 48 seconds, then descend into microscopic space, 10 times smaller each 10 seconds, landing inside a proton at 10-16 meters. (M)04/25/05 - MIT News - About Phillip Morrison's life
Scale of the Universe
Interactive Flash Animation by Cary and Michael Huang (2012)
Fall from the edge of the universe all the way down to quantum nothingness. A collection of graphics showing objects at every scale, from the diameter of the observable universe down to the tiny Plank length where the universe is built. Adjust the slider to zoom in and out. Each object has a pop-up explanation.
Massive Black HolesThe early universe, galaxy collisions, jets of matter and energy, and the dispersion of the elements which formed our Sun and ourselves. We are made out of matter which was formed in supernova explosions. Just lucky, I guess. Video 18:48 goes quickly.
Beyond 10,000 YearsFutureTimeline.net. What will the Earth, the Milky Way galaxy, and the universe be like in 10, 50, or 200 thousand years? How about 1, 2, and 20 trillion years? Can you face 10^37 or 10^100 years? Amazing estimates and pictures.
Two Days Warning12/11/2012 - Space.com [edited]
The asteroid 2012 XE54, 120 feet wide, was discovered two days ago. It came within 140,000 miles of Earth at 5 am this morning. The moon orbits at about 240,000 miles.
A similar object flattened 800 square miles of forest in 1908 at Siberia's Tunguska River [a circle 32 miles in diameter]. Scientists have discovered about 9,000 near-Earth asteroids, and estimate there are a million or more.
AMG: The Earth is 8,000 miles in diameter (wide). XE54 missed by 17 diameters. There are a million of these objects which might hit us. We had two days warning.
I suggest buying and enjoying a better grade of scotch whiskey.
Autonomous Humanoid RobotA prototype of DARPA's Atlas robot moves over and around obstacles, using autonomous decisions, jumps, and dexterity. Like the Terminator, but much slower and with wires. We're getting there. Video :58.
BBC - Flying PenguinsApril Fools 2008 - Flying Penguins (1:30) by the British Broadcasting Company. The BBC has a history of producing realistic April Fools videos. (M)The making of Flying Penguins (2:56)
BBC - Swiss Spaghetti HarvestApril Fools 1957 - The Swiss Spaghetti Harvest (2:32) by the British Broadcasting Company.
Many people called and wrote for locations in Switzerland to see the harvest, and how to obtain and cook the special "fresh" pasta. (M)The story behind Spaghetti Harvest
Join us. No pressure.10/01/2010 YouTube 3:59. A real ad by 1010Global suggests cutting carbon emissions by 10%.
School children, employees, and athletes are asked to join in. It is all voluntary. No pressure. The non-participants are immediately blown up.
It's all in good fun, if your idea of fun is a fantasy about blowing up the people who disagree with you, and then making a video to share the laughs. I suppose the blood flying everywhere is part of the humor. (M)10/16/10 - Marquette Warrior.
An analysis and criticism of the video.
Tiananmen in MAWikipedia - The Tiananmen Square protests of 1989
University students gathered in Tiananmen Square to mourn the liberal reformer Hu. They voiced grievances against inflation, limited career prospects, and corruption of the party elite. They called for government accountability, freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and the restoration of workers' control over industry. At one point, about a million people assembled in the Square. (M)01/19/13 - Rally at the Massachusetts State House (YouTube 7:54)
The speaker Rob is a naturalized US citizen from China. He protested the tyranny of the Chinese government at Tiananmen Square in 1989. That peaceful protest was stopped by the AK-47 rifles of the Chinese Government. The Chinese people had no bargaining power because they had no guns. This continues to the present.
Rob: "When government has all the guns, it has all the rights."
Sheldon Richman10/16/13 - The Future of Freedom Foundation: [edited] People untrained in the economic way of thinking do not link bad consequences to bad decisions by politicians. An unemployed, unskilled worker may not see that the minimum wage law is responsible for pricing him out of a job. If you want to work for yourself, you may not understand that politicians have placed a dozen tollgates in your way as a favor to special interests.
Political DiscussionAMG, inspired by an old trial lawyers’ saying: When the facts are on your side, pound the facts. When the law is on your side, pound the law. When neither is on your side, pound the table.: Quote statistics that support you. Bad statistics? Give an emotional case. Neither one? Create some statistics. Stuck? Make up an emotional story.
Isaac Asimov12/22/12 - Quando by Billy Hollis [edited]
Why would an author be incomprehensible?
• He may be unable to explain himself clearly.
• He may not know what he’s talking about.
• He may be trying to confuse the issue.
AMG: Great minds explain clearly. The brilliant but confused professor is a movie myth. That leaves the last two explanations, ignorance or lies.: I don’t assume I’m stupid when I read something I don’t understand.
(bio) Isaac Asimov (1920-1992). Science fiction writer and popularizer of science, author of "I, Robot", and the Foundation Series, among many others.
T.S. EliotThomas Stearns Eliot was an American-born English poet, dramatist, and literary critic (1888–1965).: Half of the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don't mean to do harm, but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.
Andrew CarnegieAndrew Carnegie (1835-1919) was the son of a handloom weaver in Scotland. He immigrated to the US as a child with his family. His family valued reading and learning. He built Carnegie Steel, sold it in 1901, and used his vast fortune for philanthropy. He established Carnegie-Mellon University and 2,800 libraries in the US.: Men have wasted their precious years, trying to extract education from an ignorant past whose chief province is to teach us, not what to adopt, but what to avoid. Men have sent their sons to colleges to waste their energies upon obtaining a knowledge of such languages as Greek and Latin, which are of no more practical use to them than Choctaw.
They have been crammed with the details of petty and insignificant skirmishes between savages, and taught to exalt a band of ruffians into heroes, and we have called them "educated", as if they were destined for life upon some other planet. This has imbued them with false ideas and a distaste for practical life.
Had they instead gone into active work, they would have been better educated in every true sense. The fire and energy have been stamped out of them. Their chief question is how to live a life of idleness, not of usefulness. (v)Via Econlog
Bryan CaplanBryan Caplan is Professor of Economics at George Mason University. [edited] Educational success signals good things to employers. A good student tends to be smart, hard-working, and conformist, and probably a good worker. What he learned how to do is a mere detail. Employers expect that a good student will quickly learn on the job what he needs to know.
Education is not magic. Professors can't make students better at their careers with learned lectures on arcane topics. Society would be better off if taxpayers saved their money, students spent fewer years in school, and sheltered academics like me finally entered the Real World and found a real job.
Karol SheininA proud Russian immigrant to the US.: [edited] Many Soviet Jews immigrated to America around 1977. Soviet propaganda tried limiting this with a rumor that life in America is so terrible that the old people eat cat food. People didn’t quite get it. They have food specifically made for cats? What a country!
Robin Hanson10/10/09 - "Denying Dominance". Mr. Hanson is an Associate Professor of Economics at George Mason University.: [edited] Humans attend closely to status, an important part of status is dominance, and we show dominance when we tell others what to do. Telling someone else what to do affirms status.
We do not notice most of our status moves, and we attribute them to other motives. When possible, we claim the most admired of motives, altruism. We think we are directing others in order to help them, not to dominate them.
Don BoudreauxProfessor of Economics at George Mason University: [edited]
Academics and Hollywood celebrities cling with remarkably steadfast faith to a political fantasy. They believe that concentrating authority and responsibility in the state ensures that decisions are made better, more wisely, more "scientifically", and in ways likely to promote greater human flourishing.
This is the most absurd, dangerous, and widespread fantasy that afflicts humanity.
H.L.MenckenUS newspaper editor 1880 - 1956.: Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.
[edited] The trouble QuotationsPage with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. Oppressive laws are first aimed at them, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
Ed KochMr. Koch replied after he was defeated in 1989 for re-election as Mayor of New York.
Nov 2012 - This link to AEI-Ideas suggests how the re-election of Barack Obama will punish the people this time.: (Q) Will you run again for public office?) (A) "No, the people have spoken, and they must be punished."
Frank ChodorovAt Cafe Hayek from Chodorov's book Fugitive Essays. [edited]: Perhaps an inner need impels the socialist to his ideology. Every advocate of government intervention whom I have met has a plan for others, and he is certain that it will produce the intended results. He is always fanatic. If you disagree with him, it is not merely your error; it is because you are sinful.
(M)08/2008 - EO: Leading the People
If You Don't Agree Now, You Will Later
Bryan CaplanBrian Caplan is an economist writing at EconLog.
From Tolstoy's novel Anna Karenina [edited]:
Vronsky's life was particularly happy in that he had a code of principles which defined with unfailing certitude what he should and should not do. This code covered only a very small circle of contingencies, but Vronsky never went outside that circle. One may lie to a woman, but never to a man, and so on.
These principles were possibly not reasonable or good, but they were certain. So long as he adhered to them, Vronsky was at peace, and he could hold his head up. [edited]: National egoists are one example of what could be called Vronsky Syndrome.
They swallow conventional morality whole without looking for inconsistencies, and they see you as clueless if you point out their inconsistencies. So, they rarely wonder if they are wrong, and they habitually embrace popular evils, guilt-free.
Robert FrostPulitzer Prize American poet of rural life and colloquial speech, 1864-1973.: A liberal is a man too broadminded to take his own side in a quarrel.
Andrew BreitbartAndrew Breitbart (1969-2012) spoke on 2/10/12 to the Conservative Political Action Conference about supporting conservatie politics, video 16:06.: The truth isn't mean. It's just the truth.
Jerry Della Femina (1936-) From his book about advertizing, From Those Wonderful Folks Who Gave You Pearl Harbor.: A great deal of advertising is better than the product. When that happens, all that the good advertising will do is put you out of business faster. (M)Biography at Wikipedia
President Lyndon B. Johnson "LBJ"Promoter of "The Great Society". Served 1963–1969. [edited]: "No longer will young families see their own incomes and hopes eaten away simply because they are carrying out their deep moral obligations to their parents, uncles, and aunts."
David HendersonHenderson: Social Security and Medicare are a huge wealth transfer from the young to the old. Generation X and younger are the ones who will really pay through the nose.: In other words, unless there is an Easter Bunny, LBJ said "we will free you of your moral obligations by obligating strangers".
Bryan CaplanProfessor of Economics at George Mason University (to the very liberal Paul Krugman, edited): You are forgiving of people with irresponsible lifestyles, and outraged at people who don't want to pay taxes to help those people.
This seems morally perverse. If you are going to condemn someone, it should be the person who behaves irresponsibly in the first place, not the complete stranger who asks, "How is this my fault?"
Adolf HitlerHitler: [edited] There is always a certain credibility in the big lie. The broad masses of a nation have simple, primitive minds. They more readily believe the big lie than the small lie. They often tell small lies in little matters, but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods.
It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they do not believe that others would have the impudence to do so. You may bring the facts which prove the lie clearly to their minds. They will still doubt and waver, and they will continue to think that there may be some other explanation.: The more monstrous the conspiracy, the less likely it will be uncovered.
Is capitalism based on greed?Economist Milton Friedman (1912-2006) answers that question. (video 2:24 1979)
Friedman advocated minimizing government within a free market as the only way known to create wealth for everyone and secure political and social freedom.
George OrwellGeorge Orwell (Eric Blair 1903-1950) is famous for his book 1984 about a totalitarian dystopia.: During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.
Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them. (M)Conservapedia: A brief biography of Orwell
Jonah GoldbergColumnist at Hot Air.: [edited] If I say we need one hundred feet of bridge to cross a one hundred foot chasm, that makes me an extremist. Somebody else says we don’t need to cross the chasm in the first place. That makes him an extremist.
The third guy is the centrist because he insists that we compromise by building a fifty foot bridge that ends in mid-air.
As an extremist, I’ll tell you that the other extremist has a much better grasp on reality than the centrist. We extremists have a serious disagreement about what to do. The independent has no idea what to do and doesn’t want to bother with figuring it out.
Roger L SimonScreenwritier, author, former liberal, and founder of Pajamas Media.: The American public can only be pushed so far. That may account for the greatness of our country, what is referred to as American exceptionalism. We may be fools, but we have our limits.
VA HospitalSome bright businessman had opened a stripper club across the street. On Thanksgiving, most of the patients had signed out to walk, wheel, or crawl over there for some female comfort and booze ...
Joseph Sobran: Joseph Sobran (1946–2010) was senior editor of National Review for 18 years, a writer, and syndicated columnist.
DemocracySobran's website and writings has proved only that the best way to gain power over people is to assure the people that they are ruling themselves. Once they believe that, they make wonderfully submissive slaves.
PoliticiansJoseph Sobran quotes never accuse you of greed for wanting other people's money, only for wanting to keep your own money. (v)Daily Pundit
Harold DemsetzEconomist: The only real alternative to the marketplace is an institution that can use a greater measure of coercion than is available to participants in the marketplace.
Floyd Ferris,Ferris: Did you really think that we want those laws to be observed? We want them broken. You’d better get it straight that it’s not a bunch of boy scouts you’re up against.
One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone?
But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted and you create a nation of law-breakers.
Introductory quote for "The Cowing of the Medical Profession" by Dr. Richard N. Fogoros, at The Covert Rationing Blog bureaucrat in Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand: "The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them."
Walter LippmanWalter Lippmann (1889-1974) wrote books on political thought and was a distinguished syndicated columnist.: The people longed for kings who were philosophers. And so the men who wished to be kings declared that they were philosophers.
Glenn Reynolds - "The Blogfather" :
1st LawIf people don’t need to defer gratification and work hard in order to achieve the status they desire, they will be less inclined to do those things. The greater the government subsidy, the greater the effect, and the more net harm produced.: Subsidizing the markers of status does not produce the character traits that result in that status; it undermines them.
John DeweyLiberquo - A collection of quotes about liberty was a social planner in education and a founder of our modern public schools:
• "Independent self-reliant people would be a counterproductive anachronism in the collective society of the future where people will be defined by their associations (1896)."
• "The children who know how to think for themselves spoil the harmony of the collective society that is coming, where everyone would be interdependent (1899)." (v)Daily Pundit - Words of Goat Wisdom
President Ronald ReaganAt BrainyQuote: Government's view of the economy could be summed up: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.
Rudi Dornbusch: EconLog by Arnold Kling about the effects of government intervention in the European debt crisis. In economics, things take longer to happen than you think they will, and then they happen faster than you thought they could.
Larry ReedQuoted by Don Boudreaux at Cafe Hayek. He adds: Lots of broken eggs, brutally smashed. That’s all. How glorious. about Stalinist Russia: Even if it’s true, that you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs, where’s the omelette?
Edmund Burke: Edmund Burke was an Irish statesman and writer in the 1700's. Henry Miller provides this quote at The Hoover Institute, in an article about how our government is following public opinion rather than forming it according to scientific knowledge.Your Representative owes you not only his industry, but his judgment, and he betrays instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.
Democrats accuse Republicans of being misguided, biased, racist, stupid, selfish, heartless, dishonest, corrupt, and evil. Then, they search for any Republican they can find or manufacture to publicly support their plans.
Milton FriedmanFree market economist 1912-2006. visited a massive government project in Asia. Thousands of workers using shovels were building a canal. Friedman asked why there was no powered earth-moving equipment? An official replied that using shovels created more jobs. Friedman quipped, “Then why not use spoons instead of shovels?”
Ayn RandFamous author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, and proponent of Objectivism. 1905-1982.: In any compromise between food and poison, it is only death that can win. In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit. In that transfusion of blood which drains the good to feed the evil, the compromiser is the transmitting rubber tube.
In Nigeria you vote and then die in the ensuing violence. In Chicago you die in random violence and then you vote. (v)Comment by Ignatz at JustOneMinute
Alisa: A new drink The bin Laden: two shots and a splash of water.
Henry HazlittEasy Opinions → Henry Hazlitt (1946)
Economics in One Lesson [edited] Economics is haunted by more fallacies than any other subject. This is no accident. The difficulties of the subject are multiplied a thousandfold by the pleadings of selfish interests.
A group may benefit greatly from certain policies. It will hire the best buyable minds to argue plausibly and persistently for them. It will either convince the public or so befuddle the argument that clear thinking becomes next to impossible.
Ross McKitrickCanadian environmental economist about Earth Hour: People who see virtue in doing without electricity should shut off their fridge, stove, microwave, computer, water heater, lights, TV and all other appliances for a month, not an hour. (v)Via Samizdata (M)Comedian George Carlin: Saving the Planet - "Why are we here? Maybe to make plastic". See the link.
President George Washington(1732-1799) First President of the United States.
• Government is not reason. It is not eloquence. It is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.
• FirearmsBrainyQuote are second only to the Constitution in importance. They are the teeth of the people's liberty.
A popular sayingWellington's comment at Legal Insurrection.
Also: A man knew about my flight from Communist totalitarianism. He asked me, “Why did you pick liberal Boulder, Colorado of all places to live?” “So I won’t forget,” I answered impertinently. in Prague under Communism: Don't think. If you think, don't say it. If you say it, don't write it. If you write it, don't sign it. If you sign it, don't complain.
Ann AlthouseProfessor of constitutional law [edited]: In a world where we depend on what "is" means, the government merely needs to interpret. Regulating interstate commerce includes forcing people to buy things they don't want to buy, and smoking includes not smoking.
You can make anything you want to be true, if you only believe. And, the government can make anything it wants to be true, if it only dictates.
From the Soviet UnionAt Protein Wisdom: The future is known, it is the past that keeps changing.
C.S. LewisNovelist, poet, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian, and Christian proponent. 1898-1963.: Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies.
The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
Will RogersFolksy comedian. 1879-1935.: The thing about my jokes is that they don't hurt anybody. You can say they're not funny, or they're terrible, or they're good, or whatever it is, but they don't do no harm.
But with Congress, every time they make a joke, it's a law. And every time they make a law, it's a joke.
Ann CoulterCoulter: When they’re running for office, all Democrats claim to support tax cuts (for the middle class), to support gun rights (for hunters), and to “personally oppose” abortion. Then, they get into office and vote to raise taxes, ban guns, and allow abortions if a girl can’t fit into her prom dress.
The common wisdom holds that “both parties” have to appeal to the extremes during the primary and then move to the center for the general election. To the contrary, both parties run for office as conservatives. Once they have fooled the voters and are safely in office, Republicans sometimes double-cross the voters. Democrats always do.: Moving to the center. (v)via Ed Driscoll
Art CardenAssistant Professor of Economics and Research Fellow with the Independent Institute.: When the incentives are right, good things happen despite bad people. When the incentives are wrong, bad things happen despite good people.
Progressives: When your intentions are selfish, you can't do anything good. When your intentions are charitable, you can't do anything bad.
Don BoudreauxProfessor of Economics at George Mason University: To the Progressive brain, I am smart and kind if I am enchanted by half-baked schemes to prod, herd, and tax my fellow Americans, but I am dumb and mean if I question the wisdom of all such collectivist plots.
Political Attacks in the 1800's
What would political attack ads from the 1800's look like? Video 1:43.
Thomas Jefferson: "John Adams is a hideous, hermaphroditical character, with neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensitivity of a woman."
That isn't the worst of it.
H.L. MenckenMencken quotes at Mises.org: [edited]
Every election is a sort of advance auction of stolen goods.
All government is essentially organized exploitation, and almost always is the implacable enemy of every industrious man.
A professional politician is a professionally dishonorable man. To get anywhere near high office he makes so many compromises and submits to so many humiliations that he becomes indistinguishable from a streetwalker.
EveryMentioned by Don Boudreaux at Cafe Hayek decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.
EducationAt The Classic Liberal is a form of propaganda, a deliberate scheme to outfit the pupil with a simple appetite for gulping ideas ready-made, not with the capacity to weigh ideas. It aims to make 'good' citizens, which is to say docile and uninquisitive citizens.
George SmathersFrom the Washington Post 1/20/07 attacked his Senate opponent in 1950. "Do you know that Claude Pepper is known all over Washington as a shameless extrovert? Not only that, but this man is reliably reported to practice nepotism with his sister-in-law, and he has a sister who was once a thespian in wicked New York. Worst of all, it is an established fact that Mr. Pepper, before his marriage, habitually practiced celibacy." (v)Via PowerLine
Dr. Thomas SowellSenior Fellow at the Hoover Institute, Stanford, CA. Conservative libertarian economist, social theorist, and political philosopher. [edited]: A community organizer isn’t a friendly local expert giving advice on better living. He mobilizes resentment, to put the public into battle on behalf of third party interests. (Video 36:42)
(M)Biography and columns at Town Hall
• In politics, you can say all sorts of things that have no relationship with reality.
• No matter how disastrously some policy has turned out, anyone who criticizes it can expect to hear: "But what would you replace it with?" When you put out a fire, what do you replace it with?
• The more I study12/25/12 - Townhall - Liberals Are By No Means Liberal the history of intellectuals, the more they seem like a wrecking crew, dismantling civilization bit by bit, replacing what works with what sounds good.
Charles KrauthammerPulitzer-Prize columnist: To understand the workings of American politics, you have to understand this fundamental law: Conservatives think liberals are stupid. Liberals think conservatives are evil. (M)Short biography. (v)Via Ed Driscoll
Robert Heinlein wrote "The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress". He suggested a two chamber legislature. One chamber would enact laws, but only by a two-thirds majority. Anything that had one-third opposition would be deemed to be highly flawed.
The other chamber would repeal any laws that had one-third opposition, under the same rationale as in the first chamber. (v)Comment by Saba Hillel at AdviceGoddess.com
Winston Churchill1874-1965. British Prime Minister during World War II, credited with directing and inspiring Britain to victory.: If you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed, if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly, you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a small chance of survival.
There may even be a worse case: you may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.
We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender. (v)At EnoughRoom
Henry Morgenthau Jr. was FDR's Treasury Secretary in 1939: "We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. I say, after eight years of this administration, we have just as much unemployment as when we started, and an enormous debt to boot!"
(v)Via Collecting My Thoughts (M)EO: Stimulus Does Not Cure a Recession
Jobs change when people change what they want to buy or can afford. It is possible to keep people at their low-value or unneeded jobs for a bit longer, only by wasting the savings that should be financing a real recovery.
Three prisoners in a U.S. jail.
One: I charged higher prices than my competitors. I'm in for exploiting consumers, profiteering, and monopoly.
Two: I charged lower prices. I'm in for predatory pricing and cutthroat competition.
Three: I charged the same prices. I'm in for collusion, price fixing, and cartelization.
(v)Via Reason.com. A few economic jokes from Russia and the United States
Association of Time TravelersFrom the International Association of Time Travelers: Members' Forum, Subforum: Europe – Twentieth Century – Second World War
11/15/2104 14:57:44, SilverFox316 wrote:
Back from 1936 Berlin; incapacitated FreedomFighter69 before he could pull his little stunt. Freedomfighter69, as you are a new member, please read IATT Bulletin 1147 regarding the killing of Hitler before your next excursion. Failure to do so may result in your expulsion per Bylaw 223. ...
(via EdSki at IntenseDebate)
Ludwig von Mises:05/21/10 - Mises.org: Deficit Financing and Inflation. From lectures by economist Ludwig von Mises, compiled by Bettina Bien Greaves.
"The thing is that the individual cannot do anything that makes the inflationary machine and mechanism work. This is done by the government. The government makes the inflation. And if the government complains about the fact that prices are going up and appoints committees of learned men to fight against the inflation, we have only to say, 'Nobody other than you, the government, brings about inflation, you know.' " [edited] Inflation is the increase in the quantity of money, "printing money". Here is proof that this is destructive. A government produces inflation, but loudly and repeatedly denies that it is responsible. It says "inflation occurs because people ask for higher prices. We don't know why prices are going up. Bad people are making the prices go up, not the government!"
George Bernard Shaw telegrammed Winston Churchill just prior to the opening of Shaw's play Major Barbara: "Have reserved two tickets for first night. Come and bring a friend if you have one." Churchill wired back: "Impossible to come to first night. Will come to second night, if you have one."
Tom Maquire: 04/30/10 - Tom Maguire at JustOneMinute, about the average performance of ethnic groups on standardized intelligence tests. I wonder why the white geniuses that invented these culturally biased tests for intelligence couldn't rig them so that whites would out-score Asians. I bet if Asians had designed these tests they would have been able to rig them properly.
Arthur C. Clarke: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
Porter Clark: Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice. (v)From a comment by Mike Borgelt at Samizdata
The pretzel lady was a part of city life. Small and quite old, she sat quietly behind a small table displaying a large plate of soft pretzels. The businessman usually left 50 cents in support, without talking or taking a pretzel.
After his usual contribution one afternoon, the lady spoke up "Pretzels are now 75 cents".
Frédéric Bastiat: Renowned writer in economics 1801-1850.Socialism confuses the distinction between government and society. Every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all. (v)Via "Advice Goddess" Amy Alkon
04/17/10 - Bob Owens at PJTV
Fred: Can a black person be racist?
Liberal: Only if he is a Republican. [edited] Why do white urban liberals presume to judge the “authenticity” of someone’s race? The same defect blinds them to the fact that assigning an ideology to skin color is itself racism of the first order.
ObamaCare: We will lose money on every patient, but we expect to make it up on volume by insuring everyone.
Four Ways to Spend Money
Milton Friedman [edited]: There are four ways to spend money.
When I spend my own money on myself, then I really watch what I'm doing, and I try to get the most for my money.
Say I buy a birthday present. When I spend my own money on someone else, then I’m not so careful about the content of the present, but I’m very careful about the cost.
When I spend someone else’s money on myself, then I’m sure going to have a good lunch!
When I spend someone else’s money on someone else, I’m not concerned about how much it is, and I’m not concerned about what I get. That’s government, and that is close to 40% of our national income.
Sam Donaldson: In this recession, you have blamed past mistakes and Congress. Does any blame belong to you?
President Reagan: Yes, because for many years I was a Democrat. (M)Video 0:21 (v)Via Don Surber
All budget savings are based on this old joke.
The boy ran into the house and said exitedly, "Dad, I saved a dollar today by running home behind the bus." The gruff father gave him the back of his hand. "Stupid child, you could have saved five dollars by running home behind a cab."
Groucho MarxCommedian, movie and TV star, noted for his quick wit and the Marx Brothers. 1890-1977.: Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies.
Karl Marx revealed that business owners are leeches on society, draining away the wealth that rightfully belongs to the workers. At least, the wealth of the workers who have jobs. The unemployed remain unexploited. Are they grateful?
Bertrand Russell: The stupid are cocksure, and the intelligent are full of doubt.
• Most people would rather die than think. In fact, they do so. (M)The Solution Is Simple - Dunning-Kruger Effect
Incompetent individuals tend to overestimate their own skills, and thay fail to recognize genuine skill in others.
If you can keep your head, while others around you are losing theirs, you may not understand the real situation.
Government is more predictable and valued than Business. Businesses sometimes make promises they don't keep, surprising and angering their paying customers. Government makes promises that it almost never keeps. This doesn't surprise anyone, who are still happy for whatever free help they receive.
Government is the ideal director of medicine. Politicians are thoughtful, caring, and altruistic. They devote their lives to helping others. Contrast this to Physicians, who spend half their lives learning diagnosis and complex, delicate procedures, with the intent of charging sick people for these services.
Those tea party people are fanatics. They even make their own signs.
From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs, unless he needs a lot of healthcare.
P.J. O'Rourke: "The beauty of our system is not that we can elect the smartest person to office, but any nit wit we want to." This has been a strength of the American system for 100+ years.
Earth Is Not Endangered - We Are Why are we here? Maybe, to make plastic
Comedian George Carlin considers the future of Humankind and the Earth. He gives Earth the odds. Video 7:39. Plastic begins at 5:00.
(M)Transcript of the video. Search for "after we're gone" (M)Quotes by the late commedian George Carlin
Obama's administration promises to unite White and Black, Left and Right, rich and poor, and True and False.
"If you give a man a fish, he eats for a day.
If you teach him how to fish, he eats forever."
Can anyone in the Department teach fishing? Oh well, nevermind.
It doesn't much matter what you believe so long as you are not sincere.
What do you order at Obama's restaurant? "Oh, just bring me something different."
What is on the menu? "We're changing the menu, we hope to tell you later."
"I'll have the special, Duck a l'Orange with Potatoes au Gratin for $.99". "Sorry, the special has been changed to a hot dog and chips for $20.99. We'll bring you that. Most of that goes to help the poor. There is no need to pay now, we have your credit card number."
How many people are needed to screw in a lightbulb? About 1000, according to Obama's stimulus plan.
Brain BiasesA collection of biases in thinking. How your brain may be misleading you.
Optical IllusionsA collection of optical illusions. Just what are our brains doing? (M)Ten printed optical illusions. I like the shadowed checker board. (M)More illusions. The green and red spiral is amazing, they are actually the same color. (M)Two Minutes: Ten Illusions - video. A sprint among 10 illusion displays. You will play this three times.
The Devil's DictionaryAmbrose Bierce (1842-1913) compiled these sardonic definitions about human nature. See "Idiot" as a start. (M)Wikipedia:
No legislation without explanation.
Our politicans stand proud and shout "Un-American" to the people asking questions. All we can do is whisper "un-elected" to the politicians.