07 December 2009

Health Care Nation

Wisdom from Samuelson (no, not that Samuelson!): President Obama's critics sometimes say that he is engineering a government takeover of health care or even introducing "socialized medicine" into America. These allegations are wildly overblown. Government already dominates health care, one-sixth of the economy. It pays directly or indirectly for roughly half of all health costs. Medicine is pervasively regulated, from drug approvals to nursing home rules. There is no "free market" in health care. What's actually happening is just the reverse, which is more interesting and alarming: Health care is taking over government.
Health Care Nation

02 November 2009

Up Against a Wall of Debt

Seems I was wrong when I told my classes that we can:
1. Raise Taxes; or,
2. Cut benefits; or,
3. Inflate the currency to get rid of debt.
There's another alternative, repudiate the debt: the US Govt defaults.
Quoth the maven:
"Governments of rich countries are borrowing so much that it's conceivable that one day the twin assumptions underlying their burgeoning debt (that lenders will continue to lend and that governments will continue to pay) might collapse. What happens then?"

read the rest:
Up Against a Wall of Debt

11 September 2009

President Obama Fudges Truth on Medicare - WSJ.com

Includes one of the world's great analogies:
It's like a variation on the old Marx Brothers routine: "The soup is terrible and the portions are too small."

It sure as hell is!
President Obama Fudges Truth on Medicare - WSJ.com

Shared via AddThis

Memorial post: America Attacked 9 1 1

America Attacked 9 1 1

Shared via AddThis

10 September 2009

Obama changes talking points on uninsured - Yahoo! News

Presto! The 40+ million w/o medical insurance is now 30 million. Because (drum roll, please) about one third of the uninsured are illegals.
What the article -- from the AP, naturalemente, doesn't say is the income breakdown of the uninsured. I'll give you pretty good odds over 20% are at an income level that allows them to buy insurance, but they choose not to.
Obama changes talking points on uninsured - Yahoo! News

Shared via AddThis

09 September 2009

E-Bomb Doomsday Conference Starts Today | Danger Room | Wired.com

Money shot: "It'll fry pace makers, destroy iPhones, and turn laptops into useless paperweights. It's the scariest thing most people outside the Washington Beltway have never heard of: electromagnetic pulse weapons."
‘E-Bomb’ Doomsday Conference Starts Today | Danger Room | Wired.com

Shared via AddThis

08 September 2009

Mitch Daniels: The Coming Reset in State Government - WSJ.com

Emphasis is mine. Would have been really great if Mr. Daniels had successfully put a choker-chain around Bush 43's spendthrift ways.
State government finances are a wreck. The drop in tax receipts is the worst in a half century. Fewer than 10 states ended the last fiscal year with significant reserves, and three-fourths have deficits exceeding 10% of their budgets. Only an emergency infusion of printed federal funny money is keeping most state boats afloat right now.
Mitch Daniels: The Coming Reset in State Government - WSJ.com

Shared via AddThis

04 September 2009

Red Ensign Day


Ten years after it was introduced, Merchant Navy Day continues to celebrate the British shipping industry as well as providing an opportunity to remember the sacrifices made by merchant seamen over the years.News : NDS

Shared via AddThis

01 September 2009

Pyrrhic victory on health reform? - Washington Times

Money shot:
If Republicans really want to stem the expansion of government, they should participate in the health care reform debate before the health care system reaches the crisis that is surely coming without intervention. But if the Republicans effectively kill health reform again, it'll become another third rail, like Social Security - deadly if touched.<\i>
BURMAN: Pyrrhic victory on health reform? - Washington Times

Shared via AddThis

18 August 2009

MONEY! The Sir John M. Templeton Fellowships Essay Contest

Undergraduate winners get up to $2500.
The Sir John M. Templeton Fellowships Essay Contest encourages college students and young college professors around the world to study the meaning and significance of economic and personal liberty.

Co-sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation and the Independent Institute, the essay contest honors Sir John M. Templeton and is held annually with a different topic each year.

The Sir John M. Templeton Fellowships Essay Contest

Shared via AddThis

14 August 2009

Exit, Voice, and Freedom: An Example, Arnold Kling | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty

Dr Kling, ponte quondam, ponte futurus:
Following up on this post and this one, let me try to offer a hypothetical example of freedom without democracy. Maybe Will Wilkinson can comment on the example in a way that sheds light on what he is thinking, because I am not following him.

Here's the deal: Suppose that a new non-territorial state is created. Call it Liberista! To become a citizen of Liberista!, you just pay an annual fee. You pay no taxes to the state. As a citizen of Liberista!, you can live anywhere that Liberista! has an embassy compound. Liberista! leases compounds in countries all over the world. Liberista! embassy compounds are as ubiquitous as Hiltons, but many of them have space for large sections of single-family homes, office parks, and so on.

Exit, Voice, and Freedom: An Example, Arnold Kling | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty

Shared via AddThis

12 August 2009

The Dumbest Words I've Read Today, Health Care Reform Edition

Y'know, between Greg Mankiw and this young lady, I could get to really admire Harvard Econ!
And, yes, I agree. These are the dumbest words, even by the Daily Beast's standards. The fact that cell phones are ubiquitous in North America doesn't mean they're not restricted. Consider cell-phone usage of, say 15 years ago.
The Dumbest Words I’ve Read Today, Health Care Reform Edition…

Shared via AddThis

11 August 2009

30 July 2009

Thomas Frank in the WSJ on the subject of gategate

Conservatives won this round in the culture wars, not merely because most of the facts broke their way, but because their grievance is one that a certain species of liberal never seems to grasp. Whether the issue is abortion, evolution or recycling, these liberal patricians are forever astonished to discover that the professions and institutions and attitudes that they revere are seen by others as arrogance and affectation.

29 July 2009

Why Megan opposes coercive Health Care

One of the worlds greatest opening lines:
"In a nutshell, I hate the poor and want them to die so that all my rich friends can use their bodies as mulch for their diamond ranches."
A Long, Long Post About My Reasons For Opposing National Health Care - Megan McArdle

Shared via AddThis

27 July 2009

CBO deals new blow to health plan - Chris Frates - POLITICO.com

I could point out that this is one of the disadvantages of a crop of attorney's for whom numbers are a major mystery, but I won't.
CBO deals new blow to health plan - Chris Frates - POLITICO.com

Shared via AddThis

24 July 2009

Peggy Noonan: Common Sense May Sink ObamaCare - WSJ.com

I suspect voters, the past few weeks, have been giving themselves an internal Q-and-A that goes something like this:

Will whatever health care bill is produced by Congress increase the deficit? “Of course.”
Will it mean tax increases? “Of course.” Will it mean new fees of fines? “Probably.” Can I afford it right now? “No, I’m already getting clobbered.”
Will it make the marketplace freer and better? “Probably not.”
Is our health care system in crisis? “Yeah, it has been for years.”
Is it the most pressing crisis right now? “No, the economy is.”
Will a health-care bill improve the economy? “I doubt it.”

Peggy Noonan: Common Sense May Sink ObamaCare - WSJ.com

Shared via AddThis

Health-Care Reform Would Cost Seniors and Young People Plenty - WSJ.com

And the officially designed screwees are:

• Small Businesses. Employers who don’t provide coverage will have to pay a tax up to 8% of their payroll. Yet those who do provide coverage also have to pay the tax—if the law says their coverage is not “adequate.” Amazingly, even if a small business provides adequate insurance but its employees choose coverage in another plan offered through the government, the employer still must pay.

• Health Savings Account (HSA) holders. Eight million Americans, according to the Treasury Department, are covered by plans with low-cost premiums and high deductibles that are designed for large, unexpected medical costs. Money is also set aside in a savings account to cover the deductibles, and whatever isn’t spent in one year can build up tax-free. Nearly a third of new HSA users, according to Treasury figures, previously had no insurance or bought coverage on their own.

These policies will be severely limited. The Senate plan says a policy deemed “acceptable” must have insurance (rather than the individual) pay out at least 76% of the benefits. The House plan is pegged at 70%. That’s not the way these plans are set up to work. Ray Ramthun, who implemented the HSA regulations at the Treasury Department in 2003, says the regulations are crippling. “Companies tell me they could be forced to take products off the market,” he said in an interview.

• Medicare Advantage users. Mr. Obama and Congressional Democrats want to cut back this program—care provided by private companies and subsidized by the government. Medicare Advantage grew by 15% last year; 10.5 million seniors, or 22% of all Medicare patients, are now enrolled.

Health-Care Reform Would Cost Seniors and Young People Plenty - WSJ.com

Shared via AddThis

Kausfiles : Another Reason to Delay Orszagism

Wisdom from Kaus (a fan of a government plan, btw): "Everytime a politician calls his reform "comprehensive" I look for the dangerous part that doesn't have to be there..."
Kausfiles : Another Reason to Delay Orszagism

Shared via AddThis

17 July 2009

CBO Director's Blog The Long-Term Budget Outlook

Money shot: "Under current law, the federal budget is on an unsustainable path, because federal debt will continue to grow much faster than the economy over the long run."
Director’s Blog » Blog Archive » The Long-Term Budget Outlook

Shared via AddThis

16 July 2009

OBAMA WILL REPEAL MEDICARE at DickMorris.com

Mickey Kause says Dick Morris is right twice a day. Fair enough; I think he's right on this one!
"Obama's health care proposal is, in effect, the repeal of the Medicare program as we know it. The elderly will go from being the group with the most access to free medical care to the one with the least access. Indeed, the principal impact of the Obama health care program will be to reduce sharply the medical services the elderly can use. No longer will their every medical need be met, their every medication prescribed, their every need to improve their quality of life answered."
OBAMA WILL REPEAL MEDICARE at DickMorris.com

Shared via AddThis

10 July 2009

In Retooled Health-Care System, Who Will Say no? - washingtonpost.com

Probably won't be Doctors. Obviously won't be the eeevvviiilll healthcare companies. I'm betting on my fellow bureaucrats. "I'm sorry to tell you that granny's going to die because a GS12 doesn't like the ROI on the proposed medical plan".
In Retooled Health-Care System, Who Will Set Limits? - washingtonpost.com

Money quote:
"The question came from a Colorado neurologist. "Mr. President," he said at a recent forum, "what can you do to convince the American public that there actually are limits to what we can pay for with our American health-care system? And if there are going to be limits, who . . . is going to enforce the rules for a system like that?" President Obama called it the "right question" -- then failed to answer it."
Shared via AddThis

Here's Mickey Kause of Slate on the same subject:

"WaPo's Alec MacGillis notes that Obama's health care reformers

are clearly spooked by the notion that they could be accused of denying, for example, hip surgery to an 80-year-old.

If so, they largely have themselves to blame. They brought it up! It wasn't the Republicans who billed health care reform as a cost saving, budget-balancing measure that would start to deny payments for treatments deemed "ineffective," or (as one acolyte put it) when "a person's life, or health, is not worth the price." And to think when they heard that people started to worry about rationing! Fancy that."[Yes, the emphasis is mine]

The 'acolyte' is Ezra Klein from www.prospect.org, arguably the most progressive of modern progressivists. This gets more distasteful, if this quote attributed to Justice Ginsburg,
AJSCOTUS, is correct:
"Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don't want to have too many of." --Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

If it is, the modern progressives are getting closer and closer to traditional progressives. Eugenics. Who'da thunk.



09 July 2009

Public Engagement Forum on Healthcare Reform

As we Americans attempt to recover from the current economic crisis, another, more serious crisis looms on the horizon. With a national budget deficit of nearly 1.67 trillion dollars, an expanding aging population, and the already strained programs of Medicare, and Medicaid, Americans will be forced to make difficult decisions in the coming years regarding their health insurance. Health care costs are projected to rise to levels that will be unaffordable without major tax increases at federal, state and local governments. President Obama has led the Congress to the threshold of major reform, both to extend coverage to the uninsured and to reduce costs. The reforms on the table promise to significantly change health care for all of us in the future.
George Mason University, in conjunction with the Concord Coalition, is inviting the public to attend a public engagement meeting on health care reform. Local government leaders, business leaders, students, and community members will come together to discuss the future of health care reform.
What: Public Engagement Forum on Health care Reform
Where: George Mason University - Mason Hall, Meese Board Room, Fairfax Campus
When: - Monday, July 27, 2009 - 4:30pm – 6:00pm
Questions? Contact Jeremy Milliken –JeremyMilliken@gmail.com

08 July 2009

The Big Public Pension Squeeze

The cost of public sector pensions is set to soar in coming years because the recent meltdown in the financial markets has worsened the health of systems that were already badly underfunded. Municipal and state governments across the country are struggling with massive budget shortfalls, leaving them in no position to fill the pension gap. As a result, public workers look likely to bear the burden through cutbacks in their salaries and benefits and increases in their pension contributions.
The Big Public Pension Squeeze

Shared via AddThis

The Big Public Pension Squeeze

The Big Public Pension Squeeze

Shared via AddThis

07 July 2009

America's long-awaited fiscal train wreck is now underway

The money quote is actually the last sentence of this paragraph, "Not only will those factors steadily lower our standard of living, but they will imperil economic and financial stability. There are 'things' that happen when economic & financial stability goes down the drain. People start demanding a fix by, as the saying goes, any means necessary. In platonic terms, people call for a champion. And a champion will emerge. Think Lenin, think Mussolini, yes, think Hitler. And think of the effect on unpopular minorities when society implodes this way...
America's long-awaited fiscal train wreck is now underway. Depending on policy actions taken now and over the next few years, federal deficits will likely average as much as 6% of GDP through 2019, contributing to a jump in debt held by the public to as high as 82% of GDP by then - a doubling over the next decade. Worse, barring aggressive policy actions, deficits and debt will rise even more sharply thereafter as entitlement spending accelerates relative to GDP. Keeping entitlement promises would require unsustainable borrowing, taxes or both, severely testing the credibility of our policies and hurting our long-term ability to finance investment and sustain growth. And soaring debt will force up real interest rates, reducing capital and productivity and boosting debt service. Not only will those factors steadily lower our standard of living, but they will imperil economic and financial stability.
Morgan Stanley - Global Economic Forum

Shared via AddThis

06 July 2009

Badges & Players - Tea Party WDC & March for Liberty Coalition

Badges & Players - Tea Party WDC & March for Liberty Coalition

Shared via AddThis

California'€™s Nightmare Will Kill Obamanomics: Kevin Hassett - Bloomberg.com

Inasmuch as GWB is my second least favorite Republican Prez, AND I find it hard to disagree with Hassett...
"The federal picture is so bleak because he Obama administration is the most fiscally irresponsible in the history of the U.S. I would imagine that he would be the intergalactic champion as well, if we could gather the data on deficits on other worlds. Obama has taken George W. Bush’s inattention to deficits and elevated it to an art form."
href="http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aTKrn1jUJwdE">California'€™s Nightmare Will Kill Obamanomics: Kevin Hassett - Bloomberg.com

Shared via AddThis

Statistical vs. Material Significance, Arnold Kling | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty

Money quote:
"Statistical significance is not a measure of the importance of a relationship. Statistical significance is a measure of the unlikelihood that you got your results solely due to chance sampling error."
Statistical vs. Material Significance, Arnold Kling | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty

Shared via AddThis

05 July 2009

The Ten Commandments Of Microeconomics

Two notes:
1. Jodi should be the economist in the commercial
2. Here's the list:
The Ten Commandments of Microeconomics:
1. Thou shalt not idolize a social planner
2. Thou shalt not take private property in vain
3. Thou shalt honor the opportunity cost
4. Thou shalt honor the unintended consequences
5. Thou shalt not use price controls to alter market outcomes
6. Thou shalt not use taxes or subsidies to alter international trade
7. Thou shalt not ignore the power of incentives
8. Thou shalt not bear false witness against the goodness of greed
9. Thou shalt not covet fairness without honoring efficiency
10. Thou shalt not always covet government solutions to externalities
The Ten Commandments Of Microeconomics…

Shared via AddThis

02 July 2009

A Closer Look at Adverse Selection and Mandatory Insurance, Bryan Caplan | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty

Bryan Caplan of -- of course! -- GMU.
A Closer Look at Adverse Selection and Mandatory Insurance, Bryan Caplan | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty

Shared via AddThis

Troops Told To Stop Taliban Pursuit If Civilians Are At Risk

Assuming the news media has got this right, I do believe we've just telegraphed a successful strategy to the bad guys.

[McClatchy Newspapers, mcclathchydc.com, July 1, 2009]
Beginning Thursday, U.S. troops in Afghanistan will be under orders to back down when they’re chasing Taliban fighters whenever they think that civilians might be at risk.

30 June 2009

Hit & Run Debt and Taxes: The CBO's Dire Projections - Reason Magazine

How bad is the CBO's latest report on the country's budgetary future? The Washington Post calls the office's numbers "dire." U.S. News says they're "off the wall." And in a post about the report on his blog, the CBO's director, Douglas Elmendorf, writes that "under current law, the federal budget is on an unsustainable path."

What's the problem? In a word, debt: The Post's editorial board summarizes the CBO's findings as follows:

Debt is growing faster than gross domestic product. Under the CBO's most realistic scenario, the publicly held debt of the U.S. government will reach 82 percent of GDP by 2019 -- roughly double what it was in 2008. By 2026, spiraling interest payments would push the debt above its all-time peak (set just after World War II) of 113 percent of GDP. It would reach 200 percent of GDP in 2038.
Hit & Run Debt and Taxes: The CBO's Dire Projections - Reason Magazine

Shared via AddThis

26 June 2009

Fixing the Health Care System, Arnold Kling | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty

I cannot improve on Dr Kling's observation:
"I love it when people who have never managed anything more than a government grant are convinced they can manage one sixth of the economy."
Fixing the Health Care System, Arnold Kling | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty

Shared via AddThis

Instapundit on IDB on Waxman-Malarkey

And recall that Smoot-Hawley knocked over European banks like ten-pins. Specifically, German banks. And the resulting social unrest led to a government led by and evil genie -- arguably the evilest genie -- that was very expensive, in both blood and bucks, to stuff back into the bottle.

INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY ON WAXMAN-MARKEY: “The House of Representatives is preparing to vote on an anti-stimulus package that in the name of saving the earth will destroy the American economy. Smoot-Hawley will seem like a speed bump.”

25 June 2009

22 June 2009

Robert J. Samuelson - Both Corporate, Public Welfare Are Endangered - washingtonpost.com

The U.S. welfare state is weakening; insecurity is rising. The sensible thing would be to decide which forms of public welfare are needed to protect the vulnerable and to begin paring others. Our inaction poses another dreary parallel with GM. It was obvious a quarter-century ago that GM the auto company could not support GM the welfare state. But the union wouldn't surrender benefits, and the company acquiesced. Inertia prevailed, and the reckoning came.
Robert J. Samuelson - Both Corporate, Public Welfare Are Endangered - washingtonpost.com

Shared via AddThis

Mobilizing World Opinion Against the Government: How the Irish Did It and Won

From the History News Network (HNN) comes an interesting post on the role of the Press in the 1919-1921 Irish revolution, along with a very timely query:
In his preface to Michael Massing's pamphlet on the American press and Iraq, Now They Tell Us, Orville Schell asks "what had happened to the press's vaunted role as skeptical 'watchdog over government power'?"


There is, however, a rather puzzling assertion:
"The Anglo-Irish war of 1919-1921 was an international historical landmark: the first successful revolution against British rule..."

Really? I coulda swored our late-18th-century dust-up with the Brits counts as a successful revolution.
Mobilizing World Opinion Against the Government: How the Irish Did It and Won

Shared via AddThis

19 June 2009

My Way News - Lawmakers clash over cost of health care overhaul

Conrad retires the "Attorney's who can't add trophy:
Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said that proposed changes that sweetened government subsidies to the uninsured had unexpectedly boosted the cost, and now lawmakers must trim back.
My Way News - Lawmakers clash over cost of health care overhaul

Shared via AddThis

17 June 2009

All politics is turnout — and enthusiasm is key | Washington Examiner

All politics is turnout — and enthusiasm is key | Washington Examiner

Shared via AddThis

TheHill.com - Dems reel on healthcare

Interesting this:
"The CBO looked at one portion of a draft bill written by the Senate HELP Committee and found, among other things, that it would cost more than $1 trillion while providing a net decrease in the number of uninsured people of 16 million.

The CBO also threw cold water on a promise by a coalition of healthcare industry groups to reduce healthcare spending by $2 trillion over 10 years. Obama announced their promise to much fanfare, but the CBO found that while a few of the cost-cutting measures would save money, others would cost money. In sum, they would not have a big impact on federal spending, the CBO concluded."

TheHill.com - Dems reel on healthcare

Shared via AddThis

16 June 2009

Navy Times Reporting RUMINT on AmphibsTrackback - Powered by HaloScan.com

Saying it better than I can! RUMINT, ftr, is "Rumor Intelligence"
Trackback - Powered by HaloScan.com

Shared via AddThis

Robert J. Samuelson - Wrong Way on Health 'Reform' - washingtonpost.com

Money quote is the first paragraph:
"It's hard to know whether President Obama's health-care "reform" is naive, hypocritical or simply dishonest. Probably all three. The president keeps saying it's imperative to control runaway health spending. He's right. The trouble is that what's being promoted as health-care "reform" almost certainly won't suppress spending and, quite probably, will do the opposite"

Robert J. Samuelson - Wrong Way on Health 'Reform' - washingtonpost.com

Shared via AddThis

WORRIED ABOUT A GOVERNMENT SHORTFALL? PLAN NOW. With news that Social Security and Medicare funds may dry up sooner than expected, take charge of your financial future. Read More.

The elephant in the room: what will the inflation in the money supply cause?
WORRIED ABOUT A GOVERNMENT SHORTFALL? PLAN NOW. With news that Social Security and Medicare funds may dry up sooner than expected, take charge of your financial future. Read More.

Shared via AddThis

As Robert Byrd improves, Democrats fret - Glenn Thrush - POLITICO.com

So... if the senior senator from WV can't make it...
As Robert Byrd improves, Democrats fret - Glenn Thrush - POLITICO.com

Shared via AddThis

15 June 2009

Op-Ed Contributor - A Threat in Every Port - NYTimes.com

Y'all remember when the senior senator from Noo Yawk combined with Lou Dobbs to create hysteria over port operations? T'was the crisis d'jour for a while, and successfully pissed off one of the friendlier regimes in the Gulf.
Clearly, America, you want to worry about Port Security. Wail, whale: here y'go:
Op-Ed Contributor - A Threat in Every Port - NYTimes.com

Shared via AddThis

Does Personality Matter? Compared to What?, Bryan Caplan | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty

Dr B Caplan of GMU is always worth reading...
Printable format for Does Personality Matter? Compared to What?, Bryan Caplan | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty

Shared via AddThis

PROMISES, PROMISES: Indian health care needs unmet.

PROMISES, PROMISES: Indian health care needs unmet.

Shared via AddThis

11 June 2009

WHO declares first flu pandemic in 41 years - Yahoo! News

WHO declares first flu pandemic in 41 years - Yahoo! News

Shared via AddThis

KeithHennessey.com » Understanding the Kennedy-Dodd and House Democrats’ health care bills

This guy's read -- at least he's skimmed -- all 600+ pages or the KD Health Bill. Here's a comparison.

Fairness compels me to note that if his previous boss -- Bush 43 -- had paid attention to being a deficit hawk, Mr Hennessey might still be in the White House Staff.
KeithHennessey.com » Understanding the Kennedy-Dodd and House Democrats’ health care bills

Shared via AddThis

10 June 2009

Ace Your Math SATs - Wired How-To Wiki

Ace Your Math SATs - Wired How-To Wiki

Shared via AddThis

Why is the right doing so well in Europe? - By Anne Applebaum - Slate Magazine

"We've been waiting and waiting, but the widely predicted European backlash against capitalism, free markets, and the right has never come. There are no demands for Marxist revolution, no calls for nationalization of industry, not even a European campaign for what the Obama administration calls "stimulus"—a policy more colloquially known as "massive government spending."
She -- Applebaum -- goes on to talk about politicians spending 'Like drunken sailors.' Instapundit goes on to note that sailors, drunken or no, are generally spending their own money.
Why is the right doing so well in Europe? - By Anne Applebaum - Slate Magazine

Shared via AddThis

Southern Half of the Comeback Trail by Jim Geraghty on National Review Online

Southern Half of the Comeback Trail by Jim Geraghty on National Review Online

Shared via AddThis

I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican: A Survival Guide for Conservatives Marooned Among the Angry, Smug, and Terminally Self-Righteous

Now THIS is cool.
I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican: A Survival Guide for Conservatives Marooned Among the Angry, Smug, and Terminally Self-Righteous.

Shared via AddThis

09 June 2009

The Continuing Relevance of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged

Remind me to get Amity Schlaes book.
From Dr Pete Boettke:"Atlas-shrugged. I am on record as stating that Atlas Shrugged is the most economically informed novel ever written. I teach from Dickens and Steinbeck as well, but the underlying economics in those works is confused at best. Rand's economic message is coherent, consistent, and follows from the classic teachings of the mainline of economic thinking from Smith through Say onward to Mises.

The narrative she spins in Atlas Shrugged captures well the consequences of public policies that stifle entrepreneurship and private enterprise, substitute state planning for market coordination, and justify fiscal irresponsibility and inflationary monetary policy. In short, such policies destroy wealth in the name of redistributing it. Justice is not served by such efforts, instead we get naked injustice.

As politicians of both parties (Team Obama cannot take full credit) pursue similar policies to the one's Rand describes as responsible for destroying the economy in our world today, is it any wonder that Rand's book is flying off the shelves?

Read the rest at:
The Austrian Economists: The Continuing Relevance of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged

Shared via AddThis

Obama health reform backs public insurer - Washington Times

If the plan doesn't permit people to keep their chosen doctor, I think -- hope! -- it'll crash and burn. If it does, the administration will have to go into a Canadian-like restriction of access to specialists to have any dream of controlling costs.

Satan hisownself is in the details
Obama health reform backs public insurer - Washington Times

Shared via AddThis

08 June 2009

Inequality, racism, and framing. - By William Saletan - Slate Magazine

Inequality, racism, and framing. - By William Saletan - Slate Magazine

Shared via AddThis

CUMMINGS INTRODUCES MARITIME EDUCATION BILL

Courtesy, MEBA Telex Times:
Congressman Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD.), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, has introduced a bill that would create a recruitment, training, and student loan program to attract the next generation of workers to jobs in the maritime industry. H.R. 2651, the Maritime Workforce Development Act would authorize $60 million over six years to create a maritime-focused student loan program through which individuals can receive up to $60,000 in loans over the course of their lifetime. Recipients of the loans would be required to maintain satisfactory progress and be required to repay their loans within ten years.
Additionally, the bill would authorize $60 million over six years to enable the Department of Transportation to award grants to maritime training institutions for mariner recruitment, training, and retention.

"Many of the men and women who comprise our maritime industry will soon be entering retirement, and it is important that we have the tools and resources in place to bring in the next generation of mariners," Congressman Cummings said. "The Maritime Workforce Development Act seeks to improve the current system and ensure that individuals seeking to enter or advance in the maritime field are able to afford tuition for training programs."

"The maritime industry is an essential component of our nation's commerce and economy, and we cannot ignore the growing threat of a shortage in qualified maritime labor," Rep. Cummings said. "We cannot allow this problem to continue to grow as a result of individuals being denied access to maritime training due to income levels, and H.R. 2651 takes the first step in ensuring that we don't."

The Maritime Administration has indicated that the average age of a mariner with a Master's license at that time was 51, while the average age of a Chief Engineer was 50. Figures have also shown that nearly 30 percent of those working in the inland towing industry would be eligible to retire in coming years.

Villainous Company: In Praise of Mathematics

Villainous Company: In Praise of Mathematics

Shared via AddThis

03 June 2009

They told me, if I voted for Barr, that everyone would start attacking the unions.

And they were right!
Once, the U.S. merchant marine included hundreds of ships that regularly transported a significant portion of U.S. imports and exports and employed tens of thousands of Americans at sea and on land. Today, only a handful of such liner vessels plying regularly scheduled routes still fly the Stars and Stripes and employ crews of U.S. citizens. But these ships (including the recently pirated Maersk Alabama), though subsidized by the U.S. government, are actually owned by Danish or Singaporean interests, and U.S. taxpayers enjoy little or no benefit from them. Essentially, the U.S.-owned and -operated merchant marine liner fleet no longer exists. And in its demise lies a lesson for the U.S. auto industry.

29 May 2009

Limits of counterinsurgency

It's a long post, but really well worth reading; however:
In direct opposition to the ideas that drove American intervention policy two decades ago, Kilcullen suggests ‘the anti-Powell doctrine’ for counter-insurgency campaigns.

* First, planners should select the lightest, most indirect and least intrusive form of intervention that will achieve the necessary effect.
* Second, policy-makers should work by, with, and through partnerships with local government administrators, civil society leaders, and local security forces whenever possible.
* Third, whenever possible, civilian agencies are preferable to military intervention forces, local nationals to international forces, and long-term, low-profile engagement to short-term, high-profile intervention.


An editorial comment on the third point. That will be impractical until someone gets the interagency operations going effectively. The reason the military is preferred is because asking for civilian help that involves planning is an invitation to a bureaucratic catfight.

20 May 2009

Samuelson on the financial future

Aw, c'mon, you didn't really think I would quote Paul Samuelson, did you?

Let's see. From 2010 to 2019, Obama projects annual deficits totaling $7.1 trillion; that's atop the $1.8 trillion deficit for 2009. By 2019, the ratio of publicly held federal debt to gross domestic product (GDP, or the economy) would reach 70 percent, up from 41 percent in 2008. That would be the highest since 1950 (80 percent). The Congressional Budget Office, using less optimistic economic forecasts, raises these estimates. The 2010-19 deficits would total $9.3 trillion; the debt-to-GDP ratio in 2019 would be 82 percent.

But wait: Even these totals may be understated. By various estimates, Obama's health plan might cost $1.2 trillion over a decade; Obama has budgeted only $635 billion. Next, the huge deficits occur despite a pronounced squeeze of defense spending. From 2008 to 2019, total federal spending would rise 75 percent, but defense spending would increase only 17 percent. Unless foreign threats recede, military spending and deficits might both grow.


Of note, the CBO is usually closer than administrations -- D and R -- at estimates.

"California is hosed"

http://meganmcardle.theatlantic.com/mt-42/mt-tb.cgi/8726

The towering Megan McArdle calibrates California

12 May 2009

Social Security and Medicare finances worsen

From the associated press:
WASHINGTON – The financial health of Social Security and Medicare, the government's two biggest benefit programs, worsened in the past year because of the severe recession.

Trustees of the two programs said Tuesday that Social Security will start paying out more in benefits than it collects in taxes in 2016, one year sooner than projected last year, and the giant trust fund will be depleted by 2037, four years sooner.

The trustees said Medicare was in even worse shape. They said that the trust fund for hospital expenses will pay out more in benefits than it collects this year and will be insolvent by 2017, two years earlier than the date projected in last year's report.

07 May 2009

Congressional Budget Office: Potential Impacts of Climate Change in the United States

Here's a link to a summary.
As you might expect, the emphasis is mine
Today CBO released a paper presenting an overview of the current understanding of the impacts of climate change in the United States. CBO cannot independently evaluate the relevant scientific research, so our paper draws from numerous published sources to summarize the current state of climate science and provides a conceptual framework for addressing climate change as an economic concern. The paper was reviewed by several knowledgeable external reviewers and, as with all CBO analysis, makes no recommendations.

The paper discusses potential impacts on the physical environment (temperature, precipitation, severe storms, ocean currents, climate oscillations. sea level, and ocean acidification); biological systems(ecosystems and biological diversity, agriculture, forestry, and fisheries); and the economy and human health (water supply, infrastructure, human health, and economic growth).

The paper emphasizes the wide range of uncertainty about the magnitude and timing of impacts and the implications of that uncertainty for the formulation of effective policy responses. Uncertainty arises from several sources, including limitations in current data, imperfect understanding of physical processes, and the inherent unpredictability of economic activity, technological innovation, and many aspects of the interacting components (land, air, water and ice, and life) that make up the Earth’s climate system. This does not imply that nothing is known about future developments, but rather that projections of future changes in climate and of the resulting impacts should be considered in terms of ranges or probability distributions. For example, some recent research suggests that the median increase in average global temperature during the 21st century will be in the vicinity of 9° Fahrenheit if no actions are taken to reduce the growth of greenhouse-gas emissions. However, warming could be much less or much greater than that median level, depending on the growth of emissions and the response of the climate system to those emissions.

06 May 2009

What part of "Congress shall make no law" don't you understand

I think this kind of sh..tuff starts with a classic "Don't just stand there, do something" attitude which we seem to expect from our congresscritters. When combined with the first law of Washington, DC ("It's WAY more important to be seen doing something than it is to do something effective") you end up with this travesty by a gauleiter-wannabe who got her stern frame elected to Congress.
A proposal by Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Los Angeles, would never pass First Amendment muster, unless the U.S. Constitution was altered without us knowing. So Sanchez, and the 14 other lawmakers who signed on to the proposal, are grandstanding to show the public they care about children and are opposed to cyberbullying.

The measure, H.R. 1966, is labeled the Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act. It’s designed to target the behavior that led to last year’s suicide of the 13-year-old Meier.


If, btw, you feel called to write to your congresscritter and encourage him/her/it to tell Ms Sanchez too keep her gulag/lager proposal and her "overlarge nose" out of other people's business, here's a link for you!

05 May 2009

Harry Reid gaffe-o-matic

Reid said that "I feel comfortable that his choice will be as good as his Cabinet choices."


Really, I'm keeping a straight face as I say, "Secretary Geithner, Secretary-wannabe Daschle, your 2008 taxes are ready."

04 May 2009

Quote of the day

As always, McArdle has a good quote:
But the minute [Warren] Buffett was asked about newspapers, everyone in the place was as attentive as a Doberman on high-dose Adderall.

The "place" was the news booth for reporters covering the Berkshire-Hathaway conference.

03 May 2009

Bush: time to leave Reagan behind

When the list of Reagan's failures is totted up, I believe his greatest will be allowing the George Bush (43 & 41), Bob Dole, Richard Nixon branch of the GOP into the room.
Jeb Bush, GOP: Time to leave Reagan behind - Washington Times
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/may/03/gop-listens-in-drive-to-thrive/
The former Florida governor, joined by Mitt Romney and Eric Cantor at a townhall meeting, says it's time for Republicans to give up "nostalgia" and look forward, even if it means stealing the Democrats' winning strategy.

Ye flippin' stars!

21 April 2009

Wisdom

What makes all doctrines plain and clear?
About two hundred pounds a year.
And that which was proved true before, Prove false again?
Two hundred more.
Samuel Butler 1650


Modified for Washington, DC 2009:
What makes all doctrines plain and clear?
About two trillion bucks a year.
And that which was proved true before, Prove false again?
Two trillion more.

06 April 2009

Quote of the day

Please note, then, for the record: the penalty for unleashing hyperinflation can be horrible; can be tragic:
"The government calmly goes on printing these scraps of paper, because, if it stopped, that would be the end of the government. Because once the printing presses stopped - and that is the prerequisite for the stabilization of the currency - the swindle would at once be brought to light. Believe me, our misery will increase. The scoundrel will get by. The reason: because the State itself has become the biggest swindler and crook. A robbers' state! If the horrified people notice that they can starve on billions, they must arrive at this conclusion: we will no longer submit to a State which is built on the swindling idea of the majority. We want a dictatorship." Adolph Hitler, quoted in Shirer's Rise and Fall of the Third Reich

McArdle on the new Mark to Market FASB rules

So... YOU are a bank. You own some stuff. How much is that stuff worth? What you paid for it? Something else? Or is it worth what you could get if you sold that stuff?

As my sister says, Well.

The third choice passes the smell test, the common sense test, and the intuitive test: something is worth what you can sell it for.

Problem: houses that banks own are often worth a lot less than they were a little bit ago. Therefore, banks have less money. Therefore, they can lend less money. Therefore, the economy slows down and may deflate.

Ach, du lieber!

So, with the encouragement of .... God alone knows who... the financial accounting standards board (FASB) has agreed that banks can value property at what they think they can sell for in the future.

Obviously, this is fraught: "Gee, Joe, maybe some demented kazillionaire will walk down the street and give us the full value for the house. Look, a flying pig!"

Well, as Megan points out, banks are still required to back out the difference in the notes of the prospectus.

As Megan further points out, if you're too damn lazy to read, you're either too damn lazy to invest or your deserve screwing yourself.

And none of this has been covered in the financial press. Which is why you should read Megan!

25 March 2009

A Conversation With David Kilcullen

A Conversation With David Kilcullen

Interview by Carlos Lozada
Sunday, March 22, 2009; B02

Why is an Aussie anthropologist coaching American generals on how to win wars? David Kilcullen, an Australian army reservist and top adviser to Gen. David H. Petraeus during the troop surge in Iraq, has spent years studying insurgencies in countries from Indonesia to Afghanistan, distinguishing hard-core terrorists from "accidental guerrillas" -- and his theories are revolutionizing military thinking throughout the West. Kilcullen spoke with Outlook's Carlos Lozada on why Pakistan is poised for collapse, whether catching Osama bin Laden is really a good idea and how the Enlightenment and Lawrence of Arabia helped Washington shift course in Iraq. Excerpts:

What is the real central front in the war on terror?

Pakistan. Hands down. No doubt.

Why?

Pakistan is 173 million people, 100 nuclear weapons, an army bigger than the U.S. Army, and al-Qaeda headquarters sitting right there in the two-thirds of the country that the government doesn't control. The Pakistani military and police and intelligence service don't follow the civilian government; they are essentially a rogue state within a state. We're now reaching the point where within one to six months we could see the collapse of the Pakistani state, also because of the global financial crisis, which just exacerbates all these problems. . . . The collapse of Pakistan, al-Qaeda acquiring nuclear weapons, an extremist takeover -- that would dwarf everything we've seen in the war on terror today.

Let's start talking about the particular issue that worries me. Pakistan has 100 nukes, and enough technology to potentially get an airplane 37,000 feet (about 11,300 meters) in the air with a device on board. Properly placed, that takes down ALL the electronics between Boston and DC.


How important is it to kill or capture Osama bin laden?

Not very. It depends on who does it. Let me give you two possible scenarios. Scenario one is, American commandos shoot their way into some valley in Pakistan and kill bin Laden. That doesn't end the war on terror; it makes bin Laden a martyr. But here's scenario two: Imagine that a tribal raiding party captures bin Laden, puts him on television and says, "You are a traitor to Islam and you have killed more Muslims than you have killed infidels, and we're now going to deal with you." They could either then try and execute the guy in accordance with their own laws or hand him over to the International Criminal Court. If that happened, that would be the end of the al-Qaeda myth.

Someone ought to be carving this on a mountain. To the extend that OBL is a threat, just making him disappear will do it. If his body gets laid out surrounded by 15 children killed with him, the damage really outweighs the gain.


President Obama has said that he will be "as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in." Is his decision to remove combat forces by August 2010 and leave 50,000 non-combat troops careful or careless?

I think it is politically careful. The distinction between combat and non-combat forces in a counterinsurgency environment is largely theoretical. Anyone who is still in Iraq will actually or potentially be engaged in combat.



How much longer will the war last?

The intervention ends when the locals can handle it. Right now they can't. I think that within three to five years, we can say that the chance that the Iraqis will be able to hold their own against their internal threats is pretty high. So I'd say we have another three to five years of substantial engagement in Iraq. But one other factor here is external interference. What are the Iranians doing, what are the Saudis doing, what are the Jordanians and the Syrians doing? The Iraq part is not the problem, it's the regional security part that is the problem.

When history has its say, who will be the real father of the surge? Is it Jack Keane, David Petraeus, Raymond Odierno, Fred Kagan? Someone else?

It's Petraeus. If this thing had [expletive] up, everyone would be blaming Petraeus. You wouldn't find Keane and Odierno and Kagan and President Bush and everyone else stepping forward. So I think the true father of the thing was and is Petraeus.

You argue in your book, "The Accidental Guerrilla," that if Petraeus had been killed in Iraq, the impact on morale alone could have lost the war. Do you fault President Bush for feeding the cult of Petraeus?

Our biggest problem during the surge was a hostile American Congress. They could have killed the thing. There was really nobody except [Senators] McCain and Lieberman arguing for a continued commitment. So I don't fault President Bush for pushing General Petraeus forward. I think what he was trying to do was to find a figure with sufficient credibility to restore hope within Congress and to gain a measure of support for the effort from the U.S. domestic population.

What are the lessons of Iraq that most apply to Afghanistan?

I would say there are three. The first one is you've got to protect the population. Unless you make people feel safe, they won't be willing to engage in unarmed politics. The second lesson is, once you've made people safe, you've got to focus on getting the population on your side and making them self-defending. And then a third lesson is, you've got to make a long-term commitment.

Obama has suggested that it might be possible to reach out to moderate elements of the Taliban, along the lines of the Anbar Awakening in Iraq. Would that work?

If the Taliban sees that we're negotiating for a stay of execution or to stave off defeat, that's going to harden their resolve. . . . I'm all for negotiating, but I think the chances of achieving a mass wave of people turning against the Taliban are somewhat lower in Afghanistan than they were in Iraq.

Did the U.S. military take too long to change course in Iraq?

I think it took them a historically standard period of time. In Vietnam it took three to four years to reorient. In Malaya the British took about the same amount of time. In Northern Ireland they took longer. The British in Iraq took longer than the Americans in Iraq. And again, it was Petraeus. . . . He put forward this whole change movement within the military. We were almost like insurgents within the U.S. government. My marker of success is that when I first arrived, we had to talk in whispers about stuff that is now considered commonplace. The conventional wisdom now was totally unorthodox in '04, '05.

Does having a medieval scholar as a father affect how you see war?

My father is a true believer in the Enlightenment. He always encouraged me to develop an evidence-based approach to whatever you do. But the other thing is, when I was 10 years old, my dad gave me a copy of a book by Robert Graves called "Good-Bye to All That," which is about the first World War. That was where I first encountered T.E. Lawrence, Lawrence of Arabia. And as a child I was steeped in Lawrence's way of thinking about tribes. In tribal warfare you don't go directly to your objectives, you work through a ladder of tribes. You go from one tribe to the next tribe to the next tribe to get to your objective. That's what we tried to do in Iraq.

In 2006 you wrote an essay on counterinsurgency called "28 Articles," one-upping Lawrence's "27 Articles." Do you consider yourself a modern-day Lawrence of Arabia?

No. I don't think there is a modern equivalent of Lawrence of Arabia. But we can all learn from his thinking about insurgency. The other thing about Lawrence is he understood and worked with the cultures that he dealt with, and he spent the rest of his life advocating policies to support the welfare of those people. He was one the biggest advocates of Arab independence, even when his own nation's policies were against that.

A Conversation With David Kilcullen

A Conversation With David Kilcullen

Interview by Carlos Lozada
Sunday, March 22, 2009; B02

Why is an Aussie anthropologist coaching American generals on how to win wars? David Kilcullen, an Australian army reservist and top adviser to Gen. David H. Petraeus during the troop surge in Iraq, has spent years studying insurgencies in countries from Indonesia to Afghanistan, distinguishing hard-core terrorists from "accidental guerrillas" -- and his theories are revolutionizing military thinking throughout the West. Kilcullen spoke with Outlook's Carlos Lozada on why Pakistan is poised for collapse, whether catching Osama bin Laden is really a good idea and how the Enlightenment and Lawrence of Arabia helped Washington shift course in Iraq. Excerpts:

What is the real central front in the war on terror?

Pakistan. Hands down. No doubt.

Why?

Pakistan is 173 million people, 100 nuclear weapons, an army bigger than the U.S. Army, and al-Qaeda headquarters sitting right there in the two-thirds of the country that the government doesn't control. The Pakistani military and police and intelligence service don't follow the civilian government; they are essentially a rogue state within a state. We're now reaching the point where within one to six months we could see the collapse of the Pakistani state, also because of the global financial crisis, which just exacerbates all these problems. . . . The collapse of Pakistan, al-Qaeda acquiring nuclear weapons, an extremist takeover -- that would dwarf everything we've seen in the war on terror today.

How important is it to kill or capture Osama bin laden?

Not very. It depends on who does it. Let me give you two possible scenarios. Scenario one is, American commandos shoot their way into some valley in Pakistan and kill bin Laden. That doesn't end the war on terror; it makes bin Laden a martyr. But here's scenario two: Imagine that a tribal raiding party captures bin Laden, puts him on television and says, "You are a traitor to Islam and you have killed more Muslims than you have killed infidels, and we're now going to deal with you." They could either then try and execute the guy in accordance with their own laws or hand him over to the International Criminal Court. If that happened, that would be the end of the al-Qaeda myth.

President Obama has said that he will be "as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in." Is his decision to remove combat forces by August 2010 and leave 50,000 non-combat troops careful or careless?

I think it is politically careful. The distinction between combat and non-combat forces in a counterinsurgency environment is largely theoretical. Anyone who is still in Iraq will actually or potentially be engaged in combat.

How much longer will the war last?

The intervention ends when the locals can handle it. Right now they can't. I think that within three to five years, we can say that the chance that the Iraqis will be able to hold their own against their internal threats is pretty high. So I'd say we have another three to five years of substantial engagement in Iraq. But one other factor here is external interference. What are the Iranians doing, what are the Saudis doing, what are the Jordanians and the Syrians doing? The Iraq part is not the problem, it's the regional security part that is the problem.

When history has its say, who will be the real father of the surge? Is it Jack Keane, David Petraeus, Raymond Odierno, Fred Kagan? Someone else?

It's Petraeus. If this thing had [expletive] up, everyone would be blaming Petraeus. You wouldn't find Keane and Odierno and Kagan and President Bush and everyone else stepping forward. So I think the true father of the thing was and is Petraeus.

You argue in your book, "The Accidental Guerrilla," that if Petraeus had been killed in Iraq, the impact on morale alone could have lost the war. Do you fault President Bush for feeding the cult of Petraeus?

Our biggest problem during the surge was a hostile American Congress. They could have killed the thing. There was really nobody except [Senators] McCain and Lieberman arguing for a continued commitment. So I don't fault President Bush for pushing General Petraeus forward. I think what he was trying to do was to find a figure with sufficient credibility to restore hope within Congress and to gain a measure of support for the effort from the U.S. domestic population.

What are the lessons of Iraq that most apply to Afghanistan?

I would say there are three. The first one is you've got to protect the population. Unless you make people feel safe, they won't be willing to engage in unarmed politics. The second lesson is, once you've made people safe, you've got to focus on getting the population on your side and making them self-defending. And then a third lesson is, you've got to make a long-term commitment.

Obama has suggested that it might be possible to reach out to moderate elements of the Taliban, along the lines of the Anbar Awakening in Iraq. Would that work?

If the Taliban sees that we're negotiating for a stay of execution or to stave off defeat, that's going to harden their resolve. . . . I'm all for negotiating, but I think the chances of achieving a mass wave of people turning against the Taliban are somewhat lower in Afghanistan than they were in Iraq.

Did the U.S. military take too long to change course in Iraq?

I think it took them a historically standard period of time. In Vietnam it took three to four years to reorient. In Malaya the British took about the same amount of time. In Northern Ireland they took longer. The British in Iraq took longer than the Americans in Iraq. And again, it was Petraeus. . . . He put forward this whole change movement within the military. We were almost like insurgents within the U.S. government. My marker of success is that when I first arrived, we had to talk in whispers about stuff that is now considered commonplace. The conventional wisdom now was totally unorthodox in '04, '05.

Does having a medieval scholar as a father affect how you see war?

My father is a true believer in the Enlightenment. He always encouraged me to develop an evidence-based approach to whatever you do. But the other thing is, when I was 10 years old, my dad gave me a copy of a book by Robert Graves called "Good-Bye to All That," which is about the first World War. That was where I first encountered T.E. Lawrence, Lawrence of Arabia. And as a child I was steeped in Lawrence's way of thinking about tribes. In tribal warfare you don't go directly to your objectives, you work through a ladder of tribes. You go from one tribe to the next tribe to the next tribe to get to your objective. That's what we tried to do in Iraq.

In 2006 you wrote an essay on counterinsurgency called "28 Articles," one-upping Lawrence's "27 Articles." Do you consider yourself a modern-day Lawrence of Arabia?

No. I don't think there is a modern equivalent of Lawrence of Arabia. But we can all learn from his thinking about insurgency. The other thing about Lawrence is he understood and worked with the cultures that he dealt with, and he spent the rest of his life advocating policies to support the welfare of those people. He was one the biggest advocates of Arab independence, even when his own nation's policies were against that.

Dr James Buchanan

A person who should have been listened to more!

16 March 2009

An anthem

Yep, the emphasis is mine:
Whether the State can loose and bind
In Heaven as well as on Earth:
If it be wiser to kill mankind
Before or after the birth—
These are matters of high concern
Where State-kept schoolmen are;
But Holy State (we have lived to learn)
Endeth in Holy War.
Whether The People be led by The Lord,
Or lured by the loudest throat:
If it be quicker to die by the sword
Or cheaper to die by vote—
These are things we have dealt with once,
(And they will not rise from their grave)
For Holy People, however it runs,
Endeth in wholly Slave.

Whatsoever, for any cause,
Seeketh to take or give,
Power above or beyond the Laws,
Suffer it not to live!
Holy State or Holy King—
Or Holy People’s Will—
Have no truck with the senseless thing.
Order the guns and kill!

Saying—after—me:—

Once there was The People—Terror gave it birth;
Once there was The People and it made a Hell of Earth.
Earth arose and crushed it. Listen, O ye slain!
Once there was The People—it shall never be again!

Wherefore

Quickie definition of an Episcopalian -- before the retromingent pithecoids of the liturgical commission got 'hold of the Book of Common Prayer -- "someone who can correctly use 'wherefore' in a sentence."
The Word of the Day for March 15, 2009 is:
wherefore • \WAIR-for\ • adverb
*1 : for what reason or purpose : why
2 : therefore
Example Sentence:
"O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?" (William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet)
Did you know?
In our example sentence, Juliet is not inquiring into her beloved's whereabouts. Rather she is asking why it is that Romeo must be Romeo, a member of the Montague family and, therefore, an enemy of Juliet's own family, the Capulets. Yet, wherefore does "wherefore" mean "why"? Starting in the early 13th century, a number of new words were formed by combining "where" with a preposition. In such words, "where" had the meaning of "what" or "which," giving the English language such adverbs as "wherein" ("in what"), "whereon" ("on what"), and "wherefore" ("for what"). English speakers have largely dropped "wherefore" in favor of "why," but the noun "wherefore," meaning "an answer or statement giving an explanation," continues to be used, particularly in the phrase "the whys and wherefores."

*Indicates the sense illustrated in the example sentence.

13 March 2009

Facebook News Feed version of Hamlet.

Polonius says Hamlet’s crazy … crazy in love!

Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, and Hamlet are now friends.

Hamlet wonders if he should continue to exist. Or not.

Hamlet thinks Ophelia might be happier in a convent.

Ophelia removed “moody princes” from her interests.

Hamlet posted an event: A Play That’s Totally Fictional and In No Way About My Family

The king commented on Hamlet’s play: “What is wrong with you?”

Polonius thinks this curtain looks like a good thing to hide behind.

Polonius is no longer online.

09 March 2009

wisdom

A man said to the universe:
"Sir I exist!"
"However," replied the universe,
"The fact has not created in me
A sense of obligation."


-- Stephen Crane

01 March 2009

Paul Harvey, RIP

http://www.abcrn.com/harvey/index.html
I can remember, as a young man, being of two minds wrt his voice. When my oldest son was three, he used to refer to the noon broadcast as "Paw Harvey".

Harvey was a welcome contrast to the lockstep of the MSM. Goodspeed, Mr. Harvey.

25 February 2009

Genesis of a Crisis

Courtesy of the the always interesting Foundation for Teaching Economics (FTE) comes an overview of the economic crisis and the causes written by Prof. Dale DeBoer, Chairman, Department of Economics, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs:
It would be nice if the cause of the credit crisis could easily be pinned on poor government regulation, greedy lenders, or careless borrowers. Unfortunately, no one actor is to blame and the causes of the crisis extend back in time. This makes developing an understanding of the crisis a bit of a history lesson.

In 1973 (unfortunately, the story goes back at least that far), the Bretton Woods Monetary System came to an end. The Bretton Woods System was a global mechanism for maintaining fixed exchange rates and encouraging international economic interconnections. At the heart of the system was the U.S. dollar. Under this system, the U.S. government maintained (at least initially) a promise of backing every $35 issued with 1 ounce of gold. This promise constrained U.S. ability to expand the money supply and provide liquidity to markets. Unfortunately, this promise proved unsustainable due to global and domestic need for more liquidity than was possible under the gold constraint. This led the Nixon Administration to move the dollar to an international “float” by 1973. By moving the dollar to a float, any inherent limit on the number of dollars in circulation was removed. Rather, the volume of money in the economy became constrained only by the good faith of the monetary authority – the Fed. Fortunately, the Fed maintained this faith well for 25 years. Unfortunately, it is clear that this restraint waned in recent years.

Adding to the complexity of events, by the 1980s the Japanese economy had attained economic maturity. With this economic maturity came high levels of savings. During the 1980s, a significant portion of these savings found outlet in the global economy. Given the dominant position of the U.S. economy, a large share flowed into the U.S. economy. This flow into the U.S. was greeted with some domestic alarm (a very visible instance centered on the Japanese purchase of Rockefeller Center in 1989), yet the inward flows continued.

The savings flow from Japan did slow somewhat with the downturn of the Japanese economy during the early 1990s. However, waiting to take up the slack were the South Korean and Chinese economies. The significant trade surpluses these countries ran with the U.S. kept a large flow of foreign savings coming into the U.S. These foreign financial inflows kept the cost of borrowing low in the U.S. and helped fund the strong economic performance of the U.S. economy during the 1990s.

Unfortunately, much of the world did not mirror the strong growth of the U.S. economy. Growth in the European economies was slowed by the costs of adopting the euro. Worse, the East Asian economies fell into a serious economic contraction in 1997 and the Russian economy was hit by a separate crisis in 1998. With the U.S. the dominant global economic actor, the world looked to us to provide stability. Further, these crises had direct ramifications for the U.S. economy. The Dow Industrial Average saw a 10 percent fall in 1997, and an additional fall of 17 percent in 1998 (though there was a recovery in value between the two downturns). Beyond declines in the broader market, U.S. officials saw evidence of risk of a serious financial collapse with the failure of Long- Term Capital Management hedge fund. Fortunately (or unfortunately, as it may turn out), the Fed responded to these risks by utilizing the increased discretionary ability it gained following the collapse of the Bretton Woods agreement. It increased the money supply to stabilize the economy (this is seen by the ¾ point lowering of the Federal Funds Rate in 1998-99). It is noteworthy that the Fed acted to stimulate the economy through an expansion of the money supply in the midst of the longest peacetime expansion in the history of the United States. For our story, the import lies with the Fed reinforcing the expansion in liquidity already underway due to the inflows of foreign savings.

Beginning in late 1999, the Fed did try to rein in liquidity by raising interest rates (to a high of 6.5 percent). Unfortunately, the economic downturn of 2001-02 forced the Fed to reverse this tightening, and by 2004 the Federal Funds Rate had fallen to 1 percent. The Fed was more aggressively pushing liquidity into the economy than at any time in history. And the policy was successful – the recession of 2001-02 was very shallow and short lived. But all that money needed an outlet; one turned out to be the market for housing.

It would be easy to make too much – or too little – of this part of the story. The high levels of liquidity generated by inflows of foreign savings and loose domestic monetary policy were not the cause of the current credit crisis. However, without this liquidity the run up in the housing market would have been unlikely to occur. As such, high levels of liquidity provided one important contributor to the ongoing credit crisis. The change in financial oversight provides another.

Read the rest here.

24 February 2009

Tea party this Friday in DC

Feb. 27 (Friday)
Washington DC Tea Party -
12:00pm - 2:00 pm- Washington Monument

Sponsors:
* Americans for Prosperity
* Americans for Tax Reform
* Young Conservatives Coalition
* The Heartland Institute

13 February 2009

Steny HOYER?

h/t NRO Corner

Steny Hoyer, a few minutes ago on the House floor:

I would hope that every member on this floor, of whatever party, of whatever ideological persuasion, would pray that this bill works. Not for political purposes, because if this bill works we will create those three and a half million jobs. Am I absolutely sure that it will? I am not. I regret that I am not.

Deficits/Surplus as a share of GDP

Greg Mankiw of Harvard. Please note that the chart borrowed form the WSJ does NOT include the structural deficit from -- ready? -- intergenerational transfers, which add between 50 and 80 Trillion bucks and creates a chart that make sensible people want to gargle with Cognac.

I supppose I should say something about Dr Mankiw's failure to publicly jump ugly with the 43rd president on the subject of spending -- GWB was supposed to be a cheapskate republican, after all -- but I won't.
http://gregmankiw.blogspot.com/2009/02/budget-balance.html

The one, The only Virginia Postrel

You can't make life safe for people who live, on the great coordinate plane of life, too close to the point where the learning curve crosses the mortality rate. [I should, I guess, point out that I'm paraphrasing from Reason Magazine back in the 80s.]

"They Don't Suck Their Socks"

A priceless Headmistress post on the CPSIA's insanity:

One concern is that the age limits themselves are unreasonable. It is ridiculous and completely unreasonable to treat bikes ridden by 8-12 year olds as though they pose the same risks as teething rings owned by 1 year olds. The CPSC cannot change that, as it would require commonsense changes at the foundational level of the law.

As we see more and more products pushed out of the market by the CPSIA, products which have never caused lead poisoning, it becomes clear that the law itself, which requires that all components of all products intended for the use of children 12 and under have the same lead limits, is unreasonable. 10 year olds do not chew their bike tires, lick their brakes, or suck on their tire valves.

They don't suck their socks.

They do not eat their books, not even books published before 1989. No book has ever been associated with elevated lead levels in the blood, yet as this law is written, those who do not wish to see books banned must first prove a negative- something that can only be fixed by the law.

Banning zippers and snaps is unreasonable, there is no evidence a child has ever been harmed by sucking his zipper pulls and snaps (no evidence that this is even something tiny babies are interested in doing, either), yet, the zipper company must first prove a negative, and this can only be fixed within the law itself, not by the Commission.

Read the whole thing.

If they're really concerned about zipper-licking 10-year-olds, they might consider all those kids (like me) who wore adult sizes when they were 10. Why stop with products "primarily" for kids? Why not test everything a kid might encounter, from sofa cushions to bathroom mirrors?

But maybe I shouldn't say that. Public Citizen might get ideas.

11 February 2009

Too little too late


If history is a guide -- and it mayn't be -- the approaching 'stimulus' will be passed just as the economy emerges from recession by itself.

Here's a link from the NYT

I couldn't have made this up if I'd tried!

POTUS Pile-on

My bruddah-in-law points out that POTUS44 has been aboard for three weeks. It is, therefore, not fair to start on the clearly-he's-not-ready-for-the-deep-end-of-the-pool comments yet. EXCEPT... some of his advisers (specifically the advisers which had me thinking [relatively] good thoughts about a lawyer from the Chicago Machine) are going miles out of their way to hide behind "the President believes..." instead of answering the question: "Is this a good idea".

This -- "the President believes" -- is the kind of statement that's as good a way of stirring up policy geeks as any I can think of, bar waving a red flag (*joke).

And one of the first to be stirred up is the ever-readable Dr David Henderson of, inter alia(har!), the Naval Postgraduate School:

Have you noticed that we haven't heard any strong endorsement of the bill by Summers? The standard way a political appointee deals with the situation when he/she doesn't like what his/her boss is doing is to be quiet or, if asked his/her opinion, to say, "the President believes."


And because Dr Summers is both entertaining and worth reading, the link is here

If this is piling on, Fiat Voluntuas Dei!

"We are ruled by people who have achieved the remarkable distinction of being both dull and frivolous."

As Samizdata notes, the question is: should be ruled at all?

10 February 2009

Deidre McClosky

I cannot say this better, take it away, Dr McClosky:
...when your intellectual range is from M-N you think you are being open minded when you look at M and you look at N, but you certainly don't see A or Z.

06 February 2009

Stimulus, because all economies have performance issues

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dEDIyztZGBA&eurl=http://pajamasmedia.com/instapundit/&feature=player_embedded

Amazon's Customer service number

I didn't know there was one, but it's
1-800-201-7575

Go dogs go!

Conservative Democrats in the House are pushing back against their leaders’ economic stimulus plan even as President Obama steps up his push for the spending package.


To paraphrase my BIL -- who won't like this post -- "Do it like a Blue Dog!"

How Amazon.com is thriving in a horrendous retail climate.

If you and your housemates buy more than two items a month from Amazon, you should consider subscribing. Be warned, though, that Prime membership will alter how you think about shopping. These days, whenever I become cognizant of some need that would ordinarily require an unplanned trip to the store—when I want a bathroom hook, a shelving system for my closet, a new wireless router, or a discount pack of kitchen sponges—I check Amazon first. It's usually faster to order the item there and get it shipped for free than to add the thing to my shopping list. With Prime, you don't really need a shopping list.


Prime membership sure will. One click and your book/item shows up two days later. How to develop bad habits.

05 February 2009

Instapundit: stimulus bill harmful over long term

the Congressional Budget Office says the stimulus bill will be harmful over the long term: “President Obama’s economic recovery package will actually hurt the economy more in the long run than if he were to do nothing, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said Wednesday. CBO, the official scorekeepers for legislation, said the House and Senate bills will help in the short term but result in so much government debt that within a few years they would crowd out private investment, actually leading to a lower Gross Domestic Product over the next 10 years than if the government had done nothing.” I don’t think there’s much long-term thinking going on in Congress or the White House, though . . .


Here's the CBO report itself:
http://cbo.gov/ftpdocs/96xx/doc9619/Gregg.pdf

04 February 2009

Less Keynes, More Hayek

Something everyone from Scott Allen to Sarah Palin can agree with!

Nobel economist Friedrich Hayek gets more ink in the Wall Street Journal today than he has in a long time in an op-ed on the “stimulus” bill being debated in Congress. And rightfully so, considering his arch rival John Maynard Keynes is getting more air time than he has since the last time politicians sought cover for a massive power and wealth grab.

Hayek and Keynes had a famous (well, famous for economists) debate over Keynes’ theories. FreedomWorks chairman Dick Armey returns to his previous career as an economics professor and provides a lesson everyone on Capitol Hill should read.

Armey notes:

Keynes’s thinking was a decisive departure from classical economics, because arbitrary “macro” constructs like aggregate demand had no basis in the microeconomic science of human action. As Hayek observed, “some of the most orthodox disciples of Keynes appear consistently to have thrown overboard all the traditional theory of price determination and of distribution, all that used to be the backbone of economic theory, and in consequence, in my opinion, to have ceased to understand any economics.”

Professor Armey also reminds us of one of the central insights from the Public Choice school or economics:

A father of public choice economics, Nobel laureate James Buchanan, argues that the great flaw in Keynesianism is that it ignores the obvious, self-interested incentives of government actors implementing fiscal policy and creates intellectual cover for what would otherwise be viewed as self-serving and irresponsible behavior by politicians.

Armey continues:

It’s clear why Keynes’s popularity endures in Congress. Intellectual cover for a spending spree will always be appreciated there. But it’s harder to see any justification for the perverse form of fiscal child abuse that heaps massive debts on future generations.

Which leads to the conclusion:

The charade of the current stimulus package, chockablock with earmarks to favored pet constituencies and virtually devoid of national policy considerations, is the logical consequence of Keynesianism in action. It is about politics and power, not sound economics, and I believe that the American people will reject it.

The Washington Post toda reports “Senate Lacks Votes to Pass Stimulus.”

The 1,000-plus FreedomWorks activists who called Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on 1-866-928-0525 asking him to oppose the stimulus had something to do with that.

Were you one of them?



Posted using ShareThis

Daschle

"Make no mistake, tax cheaters cheat us all, and the IRS should enforce our laws to the letter." --then-Sen. Tom Daschle on 7 May 1998


I got nuthin. Absoflippinlutely nothing.

30 January 2009

Will the 'stimulus' work

No, I'm not being obnoxious. Well, I'm not only being obnoxious; the 'stimulus', at least initially, is mostly going to preserve jobs, not stimulate new ones.

Ah, but here's Megan McArdle:
There are really two quite separate debates going on over the stimulus, but they're being jumbled together into one gigantic ad hominem. My take on both--pardon for being perhaps a tad obvious, but I think the debate has had a tendency to wander off into the weeds, so it's useful to be a little general from time to time:

Question #1 Will a fiscal stimulus work?

Define "work". If the question is "Can borrowing money and spending it increase our measured GDP figure?" then yes, it is trivially true that stimulus "works". So why don't we borrow a zillion dollars and spend all of it? We could quadruple our standard of living overnight?

Y'all can read the rest here:http://meganmcardle.theatlantic.com/archives/2009/01/dissecting_the_stimulus_debate.php

Ben Stein via the American Spectator

A Bleak Day

By Ben Stein on 1.29.09 @ 9:31AM

I love this. The new kind of politics of hope. Eight hours of debate in the HR to pass a bill spending $820 billion, or roughly $102 billion per hour of debate.
He's a-talkin' about the stimulus, Mr. Stein is.
Only ten per cent of the "stimulus" to be spent on 2009.
Which still bids fair to light off a really hard to control inflation at a time when we're blessed with an administration which is likely to think that price controls are the way to fix inflation.
Close to half goes to entities that sponsor or employ or both members of the Service Employees International Union, federal, state, and municipal employee unions, or other Democrat-controlled unions.
I realize you're reaching for modifiers, Mr Stein, but "Democrat-controlled unions" is a trifle redundant.
This bill is sent to Congress after Obama has been in office for seven days. It is 680 pages long. According to my calculations, not one member of Congress read the entire bill before this vote. Obviously, it would have been impossible, given his schedule, for President Obama to have read the entire bill.
Yep, there's a read the bills act which has been proposed for -- ye gods! -- over a decade now. RTB is good advice for alcon, the 43rd and 44th POTUS' not least, but honored of them all!
For the amount spent we could have given every unemployed person in the United States roughly $75,000.

We could give every person who had lost a job and is now passing through long-term unemployment of six months or longer roughly $300,000.
Both actions would have avoided major bonuses -- they're actually closer to commissions, did you know that? -- and released cash into the economy, probably through necessities: groceries, rent, things like that. Waaayyyy to sensible an idea.

--snip--
How long until the debt incurred under this program is so immense that it causes a downgrade in the sovereign debt of the USA? What happens to us then?
Outstanding questions, Mr. Stein. We have a structural, unfunded deficit of over $50 Trillion (trillion, with a T). If we can't borrow money to delay the day of reckoning, we can -- lessee-- reduce benefits or raise taxes. OOORRRRR, we could just print up $50 trillion and dump the greenbacks into the economy. Can you say 'hyperinflation'? I knew you could.
This has been a punch in the solar plexus to the kind of responsible, far-seeing, mature government processes that are needed to protect America. This is more than the pork barrel. This is a coup for the constituencies of the party in power and against the idea of a responsible government itself. A bleak day.

Unfortunately, it is only the latest in a long series of such days stretching across decades of rule by both parties, to the point where truly responsible government is only a distant echo of our forgotten ancestors.
Amen, Brother Stein. Amen

27 January 2009

Hyperinflation & the Stimulus Package

Dr Peter Boettke makes a point that really needs to be made about the inflationary effects of dumping almost a trillion bucks into the economy:
Government can raise revenue in one of three ways: (1) tax, (2) borrow and (3) inflate. The natural proclivity of democratic governments is to pursue public policies which concentrate benefits on the well-organized and well-informed, and disperse the costs on the unorganized and ill-informed. And there are strong reasons why this bias in policy making will also be biased toward shortsightedness --- pay out the benefits now, and worry about the costs down the road. Thus, the natural tendency for elected government officials is to borrow (rather than tax) and then inflate (rather than tax). Deficit financing, accumulating public debt, and monetization of the debt.

Now a lot of individuals have been claiming that economics as a scientific discipline has been rocked by our current crisis, both due to our failure to "predict" it and our inability to "fix" it with a consensus on the right public policy. And anyone not deeply read in the history of our discipline, or who received their university education in economics in the second half of the 20th century can be excused for such a reading of the situation. This would be the most logical interpretation one could arrive at --- especially if you not only listen to President Obama say that we must work past the dead ideologies of the past and the "do nothing" arguments (as if that argument has been actively pursued since Grover Cleveland).


Read the rest here (you can also click on the post's title):
http://austrianeconomists.typepad.com/weblog/2009/01/some-basic-economics-of-public-policy.html

Yep, the D president that last rocked my world was ol' Grover. The next D was Wilson who's on my list -- near the top too -- as Presidents who weren't ready for the deep end of the pool.