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November 22, 2017

The Last Straw

I will not ask my nieces and nephews and their progeny to live in a world with dumb ass bearded dragons! This stuff has got to stop!

BeardeDragons_DAWG.jpg


November 20, 2017

Quote of the Day

"Man-made light was once a thing that was too precious to use, now it is too cheap to notice." -- Tim Harford
Harford wrote one of my favorite books ever, "Messy" [Review Corner]. The quote above is from his new "Fifty Inventions That Shaped the Modern Economy." Feast on the EconTalk.

Quote of the post-Communist Century

The great Andy Kessler laments modifications to capitalism -- either in language or operation.

It never ends. In 2012, Britain's then-Prime Minister David Cameron talked about "socially responsible and genuinely popular capitalism" and blamed Labour for "turbo capitalism." Whole Foods CEO John Mackey touts "conscious capitalism." Postdocs in Che T-shirts whine about late capitalism over $6 soy lattes. China practices state-directed capitalism. The jury is still out.

After 100 years of Communism (and Deirdre McCloskey would add, 100,000 years of privation), real-live capitalism looks okay.
My advice? Drop the modifiers. There is only one type of capitalism that works, and it goes like this: Someone postpones consumption, invests his savings to produce a good or service, delights customers, generates profits, and then consumes and invests what's left in further production. These profits are pure, generated from price signals between buyers and sellers, without favoritism from experts or elites. It isn't hard to grasp.

Profit is the ultimate measure of value to consumers--and therefore to society. Consumers benefit from buying stuff, or else they would make it all themselves, and producers benefit from selling, or else business wouldn't be worth the effort. Of similar value, profits go both ways. "Experts" who poke their noses in only mess with this fine balance. And who needs central planning when there's the stock market, where theories melt and reality bites? Stock exchanges are the true consiglieres of capitalism, providing capital to ideas deemed worthy of it and starving the rest.


Preach it,, brother! Preach it!

But johngalt thinks:

Sounds like Rand. And like her, the criticism will be, "That's an oversimplification. What about _________?" I think the best comeback is, "Simple enough to not be perverted into one of your camouflaged forms of collectivism. Keep your complicating modifiers to yourself."

Posted by: johngalt at November 20, 2017 8:29 PM

November 16, 2017

Apocolypse Delayed . . . Again

David French at NRO, like me, has yet to see to dissipation of climate hysteria in our nation's brave and vibrant media outlets.

But he still piles on. VP Gore said in 2006 that the little floating rock we call home "would reach a 'point of no return' in a mere ten years. 2017 - 2006, carry the one ... yup eleven years.

Can we ignore them yet? Apparently not. Being a climate hysteric means never having to say you're sorry. Simply change the cataclysm -- Overpopulation! No, global cooling! No, global warming! No, climate change! -- push the apocalypse back just a few more years, and you're in business, big business. Being a climate hysteric means never having to say youíre sorry.

In reality, I respect the wild-eyed rapture-pastors far more than the climate hysterics. They merely ask me to believe, they donít use the power of government to dictate how I live.


Penn & Teller did a BS on the 2012 Mayan Calendar apocalypse that we still enjoy watching today. In one scene, Teller has a stack of cards of predicted last days. Penn says "well, it might happen in 2012, but it did not in..." and flips through the lengthy list.


For a Moment, I'm winning!

Last week I suggested a moratorium on fracking discussion in the Erie Facebook Group. I certainly tire of it and it tends to be very superficial "They're poisoning our Children!" vs. "$4/gallon gas!" The pushback was exemplary. The topic is of interest, nothing in the rules forbids, yadda yadda. I have to conclude they're right.

But. In that case, I vowed to introduce property rights. And today, I got just cheesed off enough. I told my darling bride "we'll probably have to move. They'll be here with pitchforks and torches soon." Yet -- what's this I see? -- The first replies are positive.

FrackingChatter.png

But johngalt thinks:

Woo hoo!

Fret not - the Fractivists will be around to call you names later, after their petty protest this afternoon at the site of the "Plug and Abandon" activity at the 1995 well site adjacent to my kids' school. [Yes, you read correctly: They are protesting the CLOSING of existing oil wells!!!]

Posted by: johngalt at November 16, 2017 4:25 PM

Big Deal in the land of Mecca

This really is a big deal - one I've been watching with interest since the first news that Saudi women could finally drive a car without running afoul of the law of this holy land.

A New York Times op-ed finally broaches the significance of the tectonic shift apparently underway in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia:

All this is a risky proposition. What is happening in Saudi Arabia today, especially considering the recent purges against the old guard, resembles both a palace revolution and a religious upheaval. In addition, these changes coincide with the Saudi governmentís renewed warnings about the Iranian menace and its rapprochement with Israel. What kind of revolutionary is this prince? Some see in him instead a man guided by an American hand, commissioned to clean up the region.

Sidebar: Current Colorado gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo long ago suggested, infamously, the "nuking" of Mecca. What a colossal mistake, in retrospect, that would have been.


November 13, 2017

Coffeehousin'

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Pee Wee King, Chilton Price and Redd Stewart ©1952

Live at the Coffeehouse dot Com

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November 8, 2017

Quote of the Day

St. Deirdre:

One reason, first, is ancient, the primitive suspicion we have that a deal in the market is unfair. The suspicion made some sense in the zero-sum world in which most people lived until the nineteenth century. The sociologist Georg Simmel put it well in 1907: "The masses--from the Middle Ages right up to the nineteenth century--thought that there was something wrong with the origin of great fortunes. . . Tales of horror spread about the origin of the Grinaldi, the Medici, and the Rothschild fortunes . . . as if a demonic spirit was at work." †It is the masses, the populists, hoi polloi, who hold such views vividly. A jailer in the thirteenth century scorned a rich man's pleas for mercy: "Come, Master Arnaud Teisseire, you have wallowed in such opulence! . . . How could you be without sin?" -- Deirdre McCloskey

The whole piece is quite fine, but I'll warn that it is not overly complimentary of the President of the United States.

But johngalt thinks:

A good piece that I've been meaning to read fully. Having not achieved that yet, let me say I believe she doesn't make sufficient distinction between "right-wing nationalism" and a legitimate demand that officials "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that [he] take[s] this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion."

To a left-wing populist, both of the aforementioned can appear inseparable.

But I agree: "The liberals stand against the twins of violently enforced state action."

Posted by: johngalt at November 14, 2017 3:04 PM

Alex Epstein, Line One!

If you were asked to name the most immoral thing going on in the world today, you would be hard pressed to come up with a better candidate than the campaign to keep the world's poor in poverty. This campaign usually goes under the banner of "saving the planet" or "sustainability" or something similar. There are times when it feels very lonely out here in the small group pointing out the deep immorality of this campaign. -- Francis Menton

Abstruse headline reference: Epstein wrote The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels [Review Corner]

But nanobrewer thinks:

... some of it is actually adverstised under the "end poverty" banner. Google (well, OK, maybe Google is blocking this one, I use DuckDuckGo) "Stop the Aid!" where a western educated Kenyan says that aid to Africa does more harm than good. Ahh, it still exists, and I'm sure it's still true, 12 years later:
http://www.spiegel.de/international/spiegel/spiegel-interview-with-african-economics-expert-for-god-s-sake-please-stop-the-aid-a-363663.html

Posted by: nanobrewer at November 13, 2017 11:43 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Thanks for the awesome linked article, nb:

Huge bureaucracies are financed (with the aid money), corruption and complacency are promoted, Africans are taught to be beggars and not to be independent. In addition, development aid weakens the local markets everywhere and dampens the spirit of entrepreneurship that we so desperately need.

Good thing this doesn't happen with domestic aid! 'Mericans are so much smarter than Africans.

As absurd as it may sound: Development aid is one of the reasons for Africa's problems. If the West were to cancel these payments, normal Africans wouldn't even notice. Only the functionaries would be hard hit. Which is why they maintain that the world would stop turning without this development aid.

Ditto for American functionaries (federal employees and their elected overlords.)

Posted by: johngalt at November 14, 2017 2:54 PM

November 7, 2017

A free-market detour on the electrified road to Nirvana?

When President Obama first took office and presided over the "Stimulus Bill" purportedly to kick-start economic growth and counter the nascent recession, one of the mountain of spending programs came in the form of an electric vehicle tax credit. Paid to EV buyers, it was really corporate welfare, designed to incentivize automakers into developing mainstream electric powered vehicles for a citizenry that was, at the time, yearning to be green in the face of a "looming climate change catastrophe."

Those heady days of wunderkind planet-saving schemes seem a distant memory today, as mainstream media barely mentions climate or CO2 any longer. But the EV tax credit is back in the news because, since Democrats insist that any reduction in tax rates imposed on Americans must "pay for itself" in spending reductions or tax hikes elsewhere, the draft tax plan is set to eliminate the credit altogether, in less than 2 months. (Ironically, there were no such demands for the aforementioned Stimulus Bill to be anywhere close to revenue neutral. Curious how that only applies to the bills that reduce government power.)

I'll get my Schadenfreude on with the Reason headline: Republicans' Tax Plan Crashes Jerry Brown's Electric Car Fantasies

If Republicans succeed in getting rid of the feds' $7,500 tax credit for ZEVs - which far outstrips California's additional $2,500 rebate for the same product - Brown will have to devote far more of the state's resources toward reaching 1.5 million ZEVs by 2025.

California is already spending $140 million a year on tax rebates for hybrid and electric vehicles, enough to provide 56,000 people with full-ZEV tax credits. If the federal tax credit were to go away, Brown would have to spend another $420 million to maintain the same subsidies for those 56,000 prospective buyers.

Electric car manufacturers, who sell about half of their electrical vehicle fleet in California, can see the writing on the wall, with many issuing statements urging Congress to reverse course on eliminating the tax credit.

It's hard to imagine Washington taking a principled stand on any issue, much less this popular sop to "protect the environment." But it could happen. Especially since the GOP might pass the bill with little or no Democrat support. But I'm putting down a marker that it won't be included in any final measure that might be signed into law. More likely, it will be spared in exchange for the ending of all state efforts to ban gasoline powered cars entirely.

But it is a fascinating issue to watch as it plays out.

But jk thinks:

Pile on the points, this game is not over.

The Republican Tax Bill Exacerbated Tesla's Drop Yesterday

As for the game's not being over, I need to change my news feed. Still plenty of CO2 & Climate in my sources.

Posted by: jk at November 8, 2017 9:45 AM
But johngalt thinks:

You're sources must be on the fringe. Here's proof of my perceived change in coverage: https://www.mediamatters.org/blog/2016/03/18/climate-change-gets-trumped/209392

Posted by: johngalt at November 8, 2017 3:01 PM

November 3, 2017

MAGA Baby!

James Freeman, on the not always friendly to President Trump WSJ Ed Page, does all but put on a red hat yesterday in his Best of the Web column "Curb Our Enthusiasm!"

He enumerates progress in taxes, productivity, regulation, and -- pursuant to brother jg's MAGA post -- concomitant sentiment.

By many measures, including graciousness and dignity, Mr. Trump is no Ronald Reagan. But this is the first time since Reagan left Washington nearly 29 years ago that a U.S. President has mounted a vigorous effort to tame the federal bureaucracy. The Trump campaign for expanded economic liberty should give all Americans reason to be hopeful.

The small swipe notwithstanding, it is a wildly positive column.


November 2, 2017

MAGA!

America's long national nightmare over failing to achieve the American Dream is over.

Three years after six in 10 Americans said their dream of a great life was unachievable, now 82 percent believe their either achieved the dream or are on their way.

Paul Bedard writing in the Washington Examiner.

Trump era data is from a Pew poll.


November 1, 2017

Trump Agonistes, Indeed

I'm nothing if not fair...

Even if you're export-happy on trade, you need appreciate Nafta for its benefit to the agricultural sector.

Mexico has said it is eager to modernize Nafta. But with a Mexican presidential election in July 2018 there is no way the government is going to bow to the managed-trade demands of Mr. Trump, whose image inside Mexico is no better than that of James K. Polk, who presided over the Mexican-American War.

Mexico says that in a post-Nafta world it would buy its grain and meat in South America, prompting one wise senator to tell Inside Trade, "We're not in as strong a position as [Trump] thinks we are." As to manufacturing, companies are likely, at least initially, to pay any new U.S. tariff and pass the cost on to American consumers, essentially handing them a tax increase. Not exactly what Mr. Trump promised Middle America.

But johngalt thinks:

Can't access the whole article but here are some counterpoints:

Any reduction in exports to Mexico's population of 120 million might easily be offset by higher exports to Brazil's 210 million (86% of whom are urban, with a stable middle class.)

Yes, I hear you saying "why not export to both" but agriculture is just one American industry. A president must balance the harms to all sectors.

It seems that the article (in a pro-globalist publication) attributes their description of Trump's strategy to "senators who attended" a private luncheon with the president. Might be a little bit of the "telephone game" going on there.

The idea that NAFTA is someone's idea of perfection is what rankles most of its detractors. Maybe we CAN do better? Maybe someone besides William Jefferson Clinton, twenty five years ago, could make the "free trade" playing field tilt away from the USA a little less?

Posted by: johngalt at November 1, 2017 3:21 PM
But jk thinks:

May our wall be as good as Rupert's, eh? Keep Mexicans and mechanical engineers out.

The heart of the story is that the President believes in the negotiating tactic of walking away to get concessions from negotiating partners.

Let me excerpt a real quote from a real Red-State Senator:

The "walk-away" strategy worries Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, who told Inside Trade "that if you start the clock on NAFTA [withdrawal] that's going to send very bad signals throughout the entire farm economy." America's farmers and ranchers exported $17.9 billion to Mexico in 2016.

Mr. Roberts added: "And then to restitch that and put it all back together it's like Humpty Dumpty. You push Mr. Humpty Dumpty trade off the wall and it's very hard to put him back together."

Is it sacrosanct, no. But President Clinton was superb on Trade. Art Laffer likes to brag that he voted "for Clinton twice." You're discarding a working deal from a pro-trade President in favor of promises from a famously inward-looking one. That's spooky even after Halloween.

Posted by: jk at November 1, 2017 4:00 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Very well then - BOO TRUMP ON AG EXPORTS TO MEXICO!

There's a list "mucho mas larga" however for "Yaay Trump."

But I still put the boo in all caps!

Posted by: johngalt at November 1, 2017 6:00 PM
But jk thinks:

Clearly, my work here is done.

Posted by: jk at November 2, 2017 11:04 AM

Trump Revolution, Indeed

Regulations are far easier to create than they are to dismantle. As Milton Friedman said, "Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program." Yet lately, there has been an undeniable trend of repealing these types regulations, the likes of which America hasnít seen since the Reagan Administration. And in the spirit of giving credit where credit is due, this current regulatory rollback is due largely to President Donald Trump. -- Brittany Hunter @ FEE

October 31, 2017

All Hail Freeman

freeman171031.gif

Posted by John Kranz at 5:40 PM | What do you think? [0 comments]

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