February 28, 2011

Barry O - Captain Slow

I should be the commander-in-chief. (Or at least Sarah Palin's VP.)

Daily Mail: USS Enterprise on its way to Libya as America and Britain ramp up threats to enforce no-fly zone above Gaddafi

The USS Mount Whitney command ship has changed its position in the Mediterranean as well, and the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge is in the Red Sea behind the Enterprise.

That's "an aircraft carrier" (Enterprise) "and a marine amphibious landing ship" (Kearsarge.)

But even saying "better late than never" is charitable to our President. Seems he's merely following the leader of "they're no more important than any other country" Great Britain.

The Prime Minister threatened Colonel Gaddafi with military action, saying if he turned his air force on the rebels, RAF warplanes would be able to intervene.

There was no immediate U.S. response to Mr Cameron's comments - but the current movements of its Navy suggest a co-ordinated move against Gaddafi was underway.

But nanobrewer thinks:


Yeah, but it's been clearly telegraphed by our incompetent Sect'y of State as an empty move. What's worse, doing nothing, or carrying a gun and doing nothing?

Posted by: nanobrewer at March 8, 2011 9:01 AM

Quote of the Day

Been a while since I gave one to George Will. But spring training is in session:

To progressives, the best thing about railroads is that people riding them are not in automobiles, which are subversive of the deference on which progressivism depends. Automobiles go hither and yon, wherever and whenever the driver desires, without timetables. Automobiles encourage people to think they--unsupervised, untutored, and unscripted--are masters of their fates. The automobile encourages people in delusions of adequacy, which make them resistant to government by experts who know what choices people should make.

Time was, the progressive cry was "Workers of the world unite!" or "Power to the people!" Now it is less resonant: "All aboard! -- George Will



jk Defends Some Public Sector Union Guys

Being a law-and-order libertarian means having no real friends. I certainly want to empower citizens to utilize the full extent of their rights. And I don't shy away from criticizing law enforcement when they go too far.

But on a scale of Reason readers, I bet I am close to the top of the list in support for one's hometown Police Department. Charlie Martin accuses the Denver PD of siding with union lawbreakers against, well, him and Michelle Malkin. He sends Professor Reynolds the following email. I have no other knowledge of the incident:

UPDATE: Charlie Martin emails: “You might recall that when Alex Jones and his mob was attacking Michelle Malkin -- and giving me a blind-side kidney shot as I protected her -- the Denver police were not interested in intervening in the slightest. I eventually got an apology from the DPD, but if Jones had the physical strength to match his mouth I’d have been peeing blood.”

I'll be the first to suggest that it is disconcerting to consider law enforcement's "taking sides" in a union vs. taxpayer contretemps. And I know not what Martin's apology admitted. But I suspect that in Martin's telling, the incident acquires overtones more political than they actually were. I suspect that there is good cause to be slow to escalate a disturbance in a large crowd.

Colorado Posted by John Kranz at 4:28 PM | What do you think? [0]

You Guys Think I Make this Stuff Up

Well, maybe not "you guys" but I tell people FDA stories, even about Erbitux, which got a lot of media play thanks to Martha Stewart -- I mean Convict#3847XSZ. They agree my concern is compelling (it's the way I tell it) but even friendly, liberty loving people think "this cannot really be going on in this country, why haven't I heard about it?" less friendly, liberty loving people think "what kind of goof-assed, rightwing nutjob, black-helicopter, crap blogs is jk reading that feeds him this wacko b******t?"

The answer to both is the WSJ Ed Page. Every editor in its illustrious history would proudly proclaim the page's dedication to free people and free markets. It's not a partisan-free, even-handed source. But none can say that it is not a serious enterprise devoted to facts and journalistic standards.

And, it happens, they are the highest visibility source on the beat. Today, they have a lengthy, fact-filled story on the cancer drug pixantrone. Please let me know if you would like me to email it over Rupert's wall. It is worth a complete read.

The FDA is about to withdraw Avastin as a treatment for women with terminal breast cancer, and then there's a drug that most readers probably haven't heard of, called pixantrone. Like Avastin, its story reveals an agency that cares more about its regulatory prerogatives than about the thousands of patients who might benefit and will die waiting.

In May 2010, the FDA rejected pixantrone for treating non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a blood cancer that kills nearly 12,000 Americans a year. The agency's veto came not because pixantrone failed in a clinical trial—in fact, it was a qualified success. Instead, the FDA determined that the trial was not "flawlessly executed," as its regulations demand.

If perfection is the standard for new cancer drugs, then we may as well give up hope of ever getting another one. As destructive, the FDA went out of its way to railroad pixantrone and make an example of the drug's maker, Cell Therapeutics, in order to send another warning to the drug industry to jump through the right bureaucratic hoops.


One can accept that procedures are important and that Pharma companies have learned that managing approvals is as important as managing their labs (typing it, that is perhaps the worst part of the problem). But we have a system in which tinhorn bureaucrats put i-dotting and t-crossing above lives, and the structure of the system and oversight supports it.

No regulator will ever be called in front of Congress to explain why this promising cure was pulled from tens of thousands of dying cancer patients and yet, one 114 year-old has a heart attack on VIOXX®...

Here's a link that should be good for a week.

Pharmaceuticals Posted by John Kranz at 12:21 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

Who can offer proof that these drug license withdrawals have nothing to do it dotted i's and crossed t's, but instead are an embodiment of Walter Russell Mead's "blue state" reaction to a "cost of delivering services" problem? [2 posts down, 3rd comment]

Posted by: johngalt at February 28, 2011 2:54 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Correction: Who can offer proof that the withdrawals aren't an embodiment of Walter Russell Mead's "blue state" reaction to a "cost of delivering services" problem, and the dotted i's and crossed t's are just the means to that end?

Posted by: johngalt at February 28, 2011 3:31 PM

February 27, 2011

Silly Governor, Laws Don't Create Jobs

Yesterday I wrote about thousands of "clean energy" jobs that could be eliminated if Colorado's largest power company cuts its solar power subsidy in half (per installation). I suggested that those jobs probably wouldn't have existed without the subsidy, which distorted market signals to create economic activity for an economically unviable product.

Today our former Governor explains how these unsustainable jobs were created and still has the gall to suggest we do even more of it.

Building this new economy starts with understanding how clean energy legislation can create jobs. During my four-year term in Colorado, I signed 57 pieces of clean energy legislation. In 2007, for example, we doubled the proportion of energy in the state that is required to come from renewable sources to 20 percent by 2020. In 2010, we increased that to 30 percent for our biggest utility. As a result, Colorado now ranks fourth among the 50 states in its number of clean energy workers per capita, and 1,500 clean energy companies call our state home — an 18 percent increase since 2004. Wind- and solar-energy companies that have built factories and opened offices in Colorado have brought in thousands of new jobs.

But governor, have you not heard that the American economy is no longer robust enough to support elective boutique energy "just in case" environmental scientists might be partially correct? It's about as popular with voters right now as free pensions and sweetheart health insurance for unionized Wisconsin teachers. Feel-good energy layoffs are happening now in the U.S. European plants are closing now. Why not just wait until the science and technology is sufficient for sustainable energy to be sustainable? It will save a lot of wasted money and effort building new plants and then closing them.

But jk thinks:

The answer to your most excellent yet rhetorical question is a review corner.

I'm a crazy mad fan of Virginia Postrel. I bought her "Substance and Style" for everyone who has ever worked for me since it came out. Yet, somehow I had missed her "The Future and its Enemies." With the title props to Dr. Popper, and my appreciation for the author, I cannot believe I let 12 years go by.

I got a hardcover as a freebie for a Reason donation (yes, and the T-shirt in the coffeehouse vid). I had left the Kindle® in the car yesterday and decided to read a real book.

Merciful Zeus! Just a couple chapters in, but she resurrects the famed "Baptists and Bootleggers" theory to bifurcate stasists and dynamists. The enviros want us living in caves so we don't spill a drop of oil, the Buchananite conservative wing wants us living in a tiny village so nobody can be divorced or gay, and the VP Gores of the world want to control every facet of life for everybody.

What Hayek calls the "Party of Life" and she "Dynamists" are thusly badly outnumbered.

She wrote it in 1998 with the full promise of the Internet in front of us. But if she had waited for the "Green Energy Economy," she would have a perfect example. With apologies to Swift and Toole, the dunces are truly arrayed in confederacy against us.


Posted by: jk at February 28, 2011 11:12 AM

Where Do We Get Some Failures Like That?

With all due respect, I think some bloggers need to get out more.

Happy to read on Instapundit that the MoveOn.Org rallies were a MISERABLE FAILURE (Professor Reynolds adds a qualifying question mark before three links and an email).

MISERABLE FAILURE? Prof. Jacobson: 50-State Union Protest Falls Far Short Of Predicted Turnout.

UPDATE: Dems Left Red-Faced; Protesters Fail to Materialize at National MoveOn Rallies.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Troy Hinrichs emails: "It seems that unless government workers get a paid day off (from us) they're not too interested in taking their unpaid days off to protest."

MORE: DaTechGuy notes that it's all about maintaining the fiction.


Glad to hear. Only that does not seem to match the story I saw:
DENVER -- An estimated 1,000 teachers, students, community members and health care workers gathered Saturday at the Colorado State Capitol to protest efforts to eliminate nearly all the bargaining rights of public employees in Wisconsin.

The event was one of more than 50 planned around the country in opposition to the Republican Gov. Scott Walker's recent legislation on public workers' rights.


No video at the link and the summary does not capture the flavor of the televised story. The 1000 estimate was presented as a triumph. The Wisconsin Bill was summarized in the most unfavorable light and, for a balancing opinion, they showed one lone fruitcake with a Gadsden flag, identified him as "A Tea Partier" and pointed out that he was removed.

There's a bit of Baghdad Bob in the Blogosphere -- I'd say everybody who does not read Instapundit considers these rallies to be a huge success. No word of unions, busing, astroturfing, or MoveOn. Just a bunch of teachers (a moment of silence to praise their sainted occupation) coming out to stop Wacky Republicans from eating babies.

Education Posted by John Kranz at 11:43 AM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

The story you linked has a single photo. A tight shot from a couple hundred feet, at most, from the capitol steps. If some unnamed authority "estimated" 1000 protesters then where is the picture that corroborates it?

Yes, the leftists get friendly treatment in the press. (See my post below.) Yes, this fools some of the public. No, I don't agree that the blogosphere exaggerates when it judges these demonstrations "a failure." The Wisconsin sea-change represents an existential threat to the last bastion of big-time unionism - public employee unions. If this is all that the union thugs can organize in opposition, much of it coming from MOVEON and ORGANIZING FOR AMERICA instead of the unions themselves, then it is reasonable to call it a flop.

Posted by: johngalt at February 27, 2011 12:33 PM
But johngalt thinks:

On the other hand, they certainly rallied more 'demanders of the unearned' than the 200 or so who want their free solar panels.

Posted by: johngalt at February 27, 2011 12:36 PM
But jk thinks:

Well, yeah, there's a right to solar panels...

I'm slow but I may be coming around. My Facebook friends and teevee news watchers may not get it, but perhaps you're right. On your side, I'll offer this awesome piece from Walter Russell Mead. He notes that killing public sector unions is a bipartisan affair:

Blue states where citizens want activist government to take on a lot of jobs actually feel this pressure more than red states: the more government you want, the more ruthlessly efficient you have to make it. Otherwise the costs explode and the state goes into a long fiscal death spiral as taxes increase while the business climate worsens. If you are a blue state politician whose constituents demand more government, you must prune the costs of delivering services.
If you are a politician in a red state whose citizens just hate taxes, you also have to make government more efficient. In both cases you simply cannot afford either the level of pay and benefits that public sector unions want to negotiate or the work rules and level of job protection that unions want their members to have.

Posted by: jk at February 28, 2011 10:45 AM

February 26, 2011

"Sustainable" Energy Unsustainable

Live by the subsidy - die by the subsidy.

More than 200 supporters of solar energy rallied on the west steps of the state Capitol this afternoon to protest Xcel Energy's decision to cut incentives for solar system installations.

Had this been a "Teabaggers" rally the narrative would have been "Nearly 200 opponents of the Obama Administration rallied ..." But I digress.

"It has created a lot of fear in the industry. My job is on the line," said Gary Gantzer, a Boulder resident and installer for Namaste Solar who was at the rally with his two young children.

About 5,300 people work in the solar installation industry, and insiders estimate half those jobs could be at risk if the Public Utilities Commission lets the proposal stand.

So what you're saying is, those jobs might never have existed in the first place had those subsidies not been given. Given by whom, you may ask. Ratepayers.

A 2 percent charge on utility bills supports the program and other efforts to promote renewable energy development.

How much subsidy, you may ask.

Since 2006, the program has provided $274 million in incentives for 9,346 installations on homes and small businesses.

9,346 incentives over a 5-year period is about 1,870 subsidies per year. And the average cost of each subsidy: $29,317.

Just for fun - Number of years the average solar subsidy could pay the electric bill of an average American home? 306 (and 5 months.)

But johngalt thinks:

Mike Rosen took on this subject in his third hour today. His first impression was the same as mine - Subsidies created those jobs in the first place!

He also did a good job exposing how this is average rate payers helping solar proponents put expensive power systems on their homes at little or no cost to themselves.

And many callers defended the program on the basis that "fossil fuels have huge subsidies too." Yet not a single one of them could give an example of said subsidies. To paraphrase multiple callers - "I just read that they're there, and they're numerous, and they're huge." (No word whether it was from an authoritaritive source, like the internets.)

Posted by: johngalt at February 28, 2011 3:00 PM
But JC thinks:

Here is an example of subsidies.
Please comment to let me know if this resource is acceptable to you.

http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/servicerpt/subsidy2/pdf/execsum.pdf

Posted by: JC at March 4, 2011 1:35 PM
But JC thinks:

"Just for fun - Number of years the average solar subsidy could pay the electric bill of an average American home? ...306 [years] (and 5 months.)"

Just for MORE fun:
Estimated number of people on the planet = 6.9 billion
http://www.census.gov/ipc/www/popclockworld.html

Estimated global subsidies for oil in 2008 = 312 billion
http://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/2010/11/23/global-fossil-fuel-and-renewable-subsidies/

Estimated U.S. Energy Subsidies (tax expenditures (TE)) = 6.74 billion (subtracting TE subsidies for ALL renewables)
http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/servicerpt/subsidy2/pdf/execsum.pdf
Hold that thought - this is for U.S. subsidies alone

How many years could these U.S. subsidies power a single, average American home if every person on the planet had an average American home? Well? How many?

Thought experiment: What kind of impact would there be on global energy markets if every person on the planet had an "average American home"? (frightening)

Subsidizing Big Oil:
http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_vehicles/vehicle_impacts/cars_pickups_and_suvs/subsidizing-big-oil.html

Posted by: JC at March 5, 2011 10:22 AM
But jk thinks:

You asked if the DOE site was an acceptable source. To be fair, I was still thinking about it -- I place moderate faith in gub'mint statistics and the DOE is toward the bottom.

Then you link to far more partisan sources.

We don't agree on much around here, but I suspect all ThreeSourcers would agree that neither oil, ethanol, nor unicorn farts should be subsidized. Let them all compete in the free market.

However, what many opponents call subsidies are simply standard features in the tax code. I'd love to clean up the tax code, but in the meantime, the only way a large company can exist in the US is to take advantage of all the loopholes.

GE and Whirlpool use these to pay pretty much zero taxes, but because they're making Energy Star appliances -- and grease the right palms -- they get less flack than the big bad oil companies.

Real subsidies need to go bye-bye, no arguments 'round here. But do you think they just happened last week? You want to subsidize "green" energy? In decades, that will be what's keeping us from transitioning to something better.

Posted by: jk at March 5, 2011 11:09 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Thank you for bringing the debate here from Facebook JC. When my online time is limited it will go to this page before any other.

If you have a point to make other than villification of American prosperity then you'll have to spell it out for me. That's a lot of info there.

But I think you may have mistaken the fun I poked at callers having no clue how government subsidizes oil for my personal approval of said subsidies, or denial that they exist. I want them ALL killed. All corporate welfare, whether for conventional, productive energy or for alternative, wishful energy companies - zeroed. We can argue about research later but I think we should agree on the corporate subsidy point. (Caveat: Namaste Solar and other small, local businesses fall under the heading of "corporation.")

It took until recently for me to realize it but when a Republican politician says he is for "all of the above" on energy policy he isn't just saying he is pro-drilling. Unless he says otherwise you must assume he is "pro-subsidy" for "all of the above." And if this can be verified, OFF WITH HIS HEAD! (Electorally, of course.)

Posted by: johngalt at March 5, 2011 11:23 AM

February 25, 2011

BIG MAC SALE!

Too funny! Professor Reynolds gets a message from Amazon "markdowns on the new Apple Macbook Pros."

mac_sale.gif

If you've been waiting for the prices to drop, this is your chance!

But jk thinks:

Buy all four and pocket a cool $20!

Posted by: jk at February 25, 2011 6:33 PM

WE'RE NUMBER ONE!

Mankiw finds:

The U.S. effective corporate tax rate on new investment was 34.6 percent in 2010, which was the highest rate in the OECD and the fifth-highest rate among 83 countries. The average OECD rate was 18.6 percent, and the average rate for 83 countries was 17.7 percent.

Take that, Sweden!


Come home, Bill, we need you!

President Clinton comes out against Ethanol:

America's political addiction to ethanol has consequences, from raising the price of food to lining the pockets of companies like Archer Daniels Midland. So we're delighted to see another prominent booster--Bill Clinton--see the fright.

"We have to become energy independent" but "we don't want to do it at the expense of food riots," the former President told an agriculture conference Thursday. He urged farmers to consider the needs of developing countries--the implication being that the diversion of corn to ethanol production limits food supplies and artificially raises prices.


Yes, he opens with the un-Ricardian sop to "energy independence," and one suspects an ADM donation to the library may have swayed #42 steely resolve. But I think we might be nearing a turning point.

Synfuels and Mohair are ancient history to people today. But the environmental movement watched ethanol, rooted for it, and supported its subsidies. Now it is a perfect poster child for all that is wrong with government intrusion: more expensive, worse for the environment, and now contributing to global famine! A trifecta!

Cui bono? Why Archer Daniels Midland, of course! You cloth-eared-gits have sold your soul to further the profits of a multinational corporation. It really doesn't get any better. Enviros can see what a sham it is and how difficult it is to dismantle. Of course, the ones I know still believe the next government energy pick will be good. But baby steps. Baby steps.

Oil and Energy Posted by John Kranz at 12:26 PM | What do you think? [0]

February 24, 2011

Winning The Future?

Governor Palin -- in more couched terms than those who will quote her -- suggests a NATO No-Fly Zone in Libya?

Gaddafi is a brutal killer and Libya -- not to mention the world -- would be better off if he were out of power. Now is the time to speak out. Speak out for the long-suffering Libyan people. Speak out for the victims of Gaddafi's terror. NATO and our allies should look at establishing a no-fly zone so Libyan air forces cannot continue slaughtering the Libyan people. We should not be afraid of freedom, especially when it comes to people suffering under a brutal enemy of America.

Hat-tip Simon@ClassicalValues via Insty who says "you know what the 'Peacemongers' will say."

I guess I am a peacemonger. And a defender of AG Holder. What a strange day...


2012 Posted by John Kranz at 12:30 PM | What do you think? [7]
But jk thinks:

Governor Griz has been rehabilitating herself lately, forcing me to reconsider supporting her. This is a huge, irresponsible, step back.

Posted by: jk at February 24, 2011 3:18 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Inadvisable in the specifics, but not in spirit says I.

It's a bad idea to schedule regular sorties over Libyan airspace. But an aircraft carrier and a marine amphibious landing ship off the Tripoli coast could do wonders.

What was that guy's name again? Ronald something...

Posted by: johngalt at February 24, 2011 5:22 PM
But jk thinks:

Ah yes, presidential leadership. I seem to remember something...

Had the President executed a forceful reply, I would have been on board. All the way. Surprised - nay, astonished -- but on board.

For an opposition party statesperson figure to suggest a provocative NATO operation is irresponsible. If she is really a talk show host, that's fine. If she's a Presidential candidate it's not.

Posted by: jk at February 24, 2011 6:13 PM
But johngalt thinks:

??

I think that whole, "Politics stops at the water's edge" thing went out the door a long time ago.

"This war, is lost." Thank you Mr. Senate Majority Leader.

Posted by: johngalt at February 24, 2011 7:12 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Alex is too expansive: a no-fly zone means just that, presumably for fixed-wing a/c. I'm with the Guv on this one as a provocative and intriguing pressure tactic, but agreed that suggesting NATO do this is over the top. I'm not even sure it would be nice to hear NATO considering such things. She should have stuck to "USN and our allies."

This is leadership and her heart's in the right place... whether or not it's focus-group approved!

Posted by: nanobrewer at February 25, 2011 1:17 AM
But johngalt thinks:

BTW - I saw a report this morning that one of the ideas being mentioned by White House sources vis-a-vis Libya is - a no-fly zone.

Posted by: johngalt at February 25, 2011 1:24 PM

Obama Too Busy When 3AM Call Comes

The President has nothing to say about Libya because, he's too busy.

Seriously.

"This is a scheduling issue. The president will meet with Secretary of State Clinton this afternoon. We will have something to say out of that meeting. If possible, the President will speak this afternoon or tomorrow," White House press secretary Jay Carney said of President Obama's lack of response to the crisis in Libya.

This goes beyond giving the wrong answer at three o'clock in the morning.

It's telling them you'll call back later.

Calling it pathetic is being too kind.

But jk thinks:

He has a special Caller ID that shows total campaign contributions instead of the phone number. Richard Trumpka calls at 0300, he picks up.

Posted by: jk at February 24, 2011 12:07 PM
But Terri thinks:

I can't stand it, I just can't stand it.
We are already in deep do do. If he gets reelected........

Posted by: Terri at February 24, 2011 12:13 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm almost resigned to a second term, Terri. It's clearly more likely than not at this time.

The great news is that I see a GOP Senate and House through the second term -- glorious gridlock! -- and a very strong, little-l libertarian GOP field in 2016: Govs Christie, Daniels, Walker, a Senator Jeff Flake will be seasoned contenders.

Posted by: jk at February 24, 2011 12:30 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Don't be too hard on the President, AC. He's merely the figurehead for the third Clinton Administration. Hillary is the de Facto POTUS. She should be at the White House at the crack of dawn to give the President his talking points. Waiting until after lunch is irresponsible.

Posted by: johngalt at February 24, 2011 3:04 PM

DOMA, Madison v. Marbury, Volkh, jk

To be fair, the folks at Volkh Conspiracy are Constitutional scholars with great history of defending liberty. And I have played guitar in many bands. Yet I find myself with the President and AG Holder on this one.

In my view, the basic problem with the Obama Administration's position on the DOMA litigation is the same problem we had in the Bush Administration with its adoption of John Yoo's theories of Article II. Recall that John Yoo's theories of Article II power rested on a highly contested set of views about Article II power. By adopting a contested constitutional theory inside the Executive Branch, the Bush Administration could pursue its agenda without the restrictions that Congress had imposed. In effect, the simple act of picking a contested constitutional theory within the Executive branch gave power to the Executive Branch that none of the other branches thought the Executive Branch had (and which laws like FISA had been premised on the Administration not having). It was a power grab disguised as academic constitutional interpretation.

Orin Kerr affirms that gay rights is incomparable to wiretapping and torture, but I don't see that as the difference.

The DOJ functions as the prosecutorial arm of the Executive and is entitled to prosecutorial discretion. I submit that they are choosing not to pursue vigorous enforcement and that is clearly in their purview. Kerr's Yoo/Bush/FISA example accuses the Executive branch of enforcing laws not legislatively enacted -- that is overreach, the Obama Administration is going for under-reach. I'm fine with that (in fact I'd like to see a lot more of it).

In my mind, the comparison is not to FISA but to Angel Raich. AG Ashcroft elected to prosecute, Holder has deferred.

This post has a surfeit of canned worms to explore. I'm not sure the Bush Administration overstepped on FISA, I know there's little love for gay marriage or medicinal marijuana among the ThreeSources Cognoscenti. And I think we all oppose Executive overreach.

But I don't see it here.

But jk thinks:

So ... that's TWO ThreeSourcers against the Constitution...

This started out on Facebook for me, as I "liked" a post by a (rhymes with "loon-sat") former colleague of mine. I publicly considered rescinding when I saw the Kerr piece and considered it as Executive overreach. I have read a pile of good commentary on it today, CATO has a nice piece, but none has supported my prosecutorial discretion view (except brother jg's stirring defense).

I feel a bit out on the limb as well. But I am a huge advocate for prosecutorial discretion and see no reason why it does not extend to the AG.

Posted by: jk at February 24, 2011 3:29 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

@JG: Mondo heh! Good line.

Nevertheless, there is nothing more constitutionally fundamental than the separation of powers: Congress makes the laws, the Executive enforces the laws and the Court interprets the laws. There's no enforce-'em-but-only-if-you-like-'em clause.

Imagine if we had a "Department of Peace" president who decided to defund DoD by refusing to authorize payment through the Treasury. After all, "Show me the clause that says I have to fund the military."

Hoping there is a pile of leaves under that branch.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 24, 2011 4:20 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

@JK: The principle of prosecutorial discretion applies to whether or not the evidence supports the charge, if there were mitigating circumstances or if the government erred in the case. It DOES NOT apply as to which laws to enforce and which to ignore. Imagine, we get a corrupt prosecutor who decides graft is OK. Or a fundamentalist Muslim who thinks that honor killing is OK. Still on board for prosecutorial discretion?

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 24, 2011 4:24 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Here's a real world example: AG Holder declined to prosecute New Black Panthers in a case of voter intimidation because the victims were white. Is race preferences a valid reason for prosecutorial discretion? (Bull Conner just stirred in his grave.)

Do we want to live in a society where laws are applied based on the whim or political leanings of the prosecutor?

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 24, 2011 4:47 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, separation of powers is a bedrock principle of the Constitution. But again, the powers are limited and not mandated.

You still haven't laid that finger...

But taking your other arguments, the principle of prosecutorial discretion centers around the word "discretion." The only stipulation on said discretion is "to prosecute or not to prosecute." The reasons for choosing one or the other rest upon the prosecutor's moral judgement. And this is as it should be. As a counter example consider the recent phenomenon of "zero tolerance policies" where administrator's are not free to use any discretion.

I find it sadly ironic that you use the Holder Justice department's refusal to prosecute the New Black Panthers defendants as an example of your point that the administration has a "Constitutional obligation." Since when has this administration cared a whit about that founding document? Of course I would prefer that Obama's justice department applied the law equally to everybody, but I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for them to realize, "Oh wait, the Constitution says we have to." The voters, on the other hand...

2012. Tick - tock - tick -tock.

Posted by: johngalt at February 24, 2011 5:20 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

JG, if you want to put your finger on it, pull out your copy of the Constitution, set it on the desk and place your digit of choice thereupon; it's a core principle of the whole damn thing.

The idea that each administration gets to select which laws it wants to enforce and which it wants to ignore upon taking office is crazy talk - the result would anarcho-democracy, if that's possible. Somewhere, Perry is smiling.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 24, 2011 7:33 PM

Quote of the Day

This sharing of powers in wage determination and conditions of employment through the negotiation process has in turn diminished public officials' authority in other areas of policy involving organized employees.

The net effect has been to create what amounts to a two-chamber local government. One chamber is made up of elected representatives and chief executives--aldermen, councilmen, county board or commission members, mayors or other chief executives--the traditional decision-making body for local government. The other chamber comprises the organized public employees who have gained official recognition to negotiate. The public business on wages and conditions of work, and therefore indirectly on policy, cannot be carried on without mutual agreement between these two Chambers. . . .

The implications of this new method of reaching decisions in local government put an entirely different aspect on the sovereignty of councils and executives and elected officials as well. The challenge of organized public employees can mean considerable loss of control over the budget, and hence over tax rates and over government programs and projects.

The gravity of the challenge was recognized by some municipal officials at least ten years ago, but most of them took the position that to study the new phenomenon was to encourage it. As is usually the case, the ostrich stance was a mistake: When employee organizations suddenly burgeoned, municipal officials were not prepared with effective rejoinders before legislatures and in negotiations.


That is the former Socialist Party mayor of Milwaukee, Frank Ziedler, in a 1969 magazine article. (It is reprinted today in the WSJ's Notable and Quotable.)

Quote of the Day Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 10:05 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Fascinating. This caution against public-sector unions comes from a Socialist Party member. Taken with another celebrated version of the same opinion, one wonders why these collectivists would ever have been opposed to what has become the most powerful method of "freely" electing leftist politicians in modern history.

I think I have the answer: Leftist politicians don't really care about "the little guy." They care only about their own power. And even as powerful unions help them to gain power, they also threaten and diminish that power. And as we've seen in the Middle East, too much power in the hands of a mob can be a dangerous thing.

Posted by: johngalt at February 24, 2011 3:39 PM

February 23, 2011

Just Sayin'

Talk about a dual mandate:

In accounts of the political unrest sweeping through the Middle East, one factor, inflation, deserves more attention. Nothing can be more demoralizing to people at the low end of the income scale—where great masses in that region reside—than increases in the cost of basic necessities like food and fuel. It brings them out into the streets to protest government policies, especially in places where mass protests are the only means available to shake the existing power structure. -- George Melloan

Okay, Mister Bernanke, you have to keep the US at full employment, keep the currency stable, and preserve peace in the Mideast. For tools, we give you the discount window, bond purchases through the FOMC, and in extreme circumstances you may expand the Fed's balance sheet through other asset purchases.

When can you start?


Three Cheers for Watson

For a bunch of philosophical geeks, we sure gave short shrift (interesting digression on what the hell a shrift is and how long it should be) to a rather important milestone, namely a computer's kicking men's assess in their own game of Jeopardy. (Duuh, duh duh, d-d-duh duh duhnt...)

U Cal Berkeley Philosophy Professor John Searle has a guest editorial today in the WSJ, that claims no big. I'll credit his observation that Watson doesn't "know" he's won. And I'll avoid the Kurzweilian rush that we have seen the singularity. I'll nod to Brother AlexC's Facebook allusions to "SkyNet."

But at the end we saw a fantastic display of technology that holds incredible promise. I'll even accept a little Ludditism from the concerned wing. It is not the end of the world but it is a big deal.

I worked four years on a startup that dreamed of being Watson someday. We selected cutting edge AI and Natural Language Processing technologies from research organizations. The hope was to combine them into a useable and saleable toolkit to perform training and tech support. Even an incredibly stupid Watson, limited to a certain domain of material, with a good portion of the questions and answers available ahead of time was a huge challenge.

We ran out of investor patience just as we were starting to exploit synergies between different approaches. I don't have a ton of regrets in life, but I wish we would have had another year to play -- the system was just assembled as we closed shop.

Searle provides a philosophy professor's analogy.

Imagine that a person—me, for example—knows no Chinese and is locked in a room with boxes full of Chinese symbols and an instruction book written in English for manipulating the symbols. Unknown to me, the boxes are called "the database" and the instruction book is called "the program." I am called "the computer."

People outside the room pass in bunches of Chinese symbols that, unknown to me, are questions. I look up in the instruction book what I am supposed to do and I give back answers in Chinese symbols.

Suppose I get so good at shuffling the symbols and passing out the answers that my answers are indistinguishable from a native Chinese speaker's. I give every indication of understanding the language despite the fact that I actually don't understand a word of Chinese.


I think he badly misses the mark here. Watson provided answers that were not in "the database" and missed some that were. A pretty famous clip reveals that the programmers were often surprised.

Chess skills capitalize on the machine's ability to play out billions of scenarios and statistically score them. Impressive, but not Jeopardy.

Moore's Law has come back into currency, and reporters are dutifully noting that the massive server farm that was Watson will be small and cheap in the future. With the rush to the cloud, I think people are overestimating the time it will take by looking at 1990s mantissas.

I don't know that it's SkyNet, but it could well be the next Internet. The scene of an experienced Nurse or medical technician with a Watson-House-Doctor at her side is intriguing and game changing. Place that pattern across multiple industries and Misters Huxley and Shakespeare, our "Brave New World" is here.

UPDATE: Human contestant Ken Jennings has an interesting piece in Slate (HT: Jonathan Last) about the match:

In the final round, I made up ground against Watson by finding the first "Daily Double" clue, and all three of us began furiously hunting for the second one, which we knew was my only hope for catching Watson. (Daily Doubles aren't distributed randomly across the board; as Watson well knows, they're more likely to be in some places than others.) By process of elimination, I became convinced it was hiding in the "Legal E's" category, and, given a 50-50 chance between two clues, chose the $1200 one. No dice. Watson took control of the board and chose "Legal E's" for $1600. There was the Daily Double. Game over for humanity.

Technology Posted by John Kranz at 11:35 AM | What do you think? [2]
But AlexC thinks:

My allusions to SkyNet on Facebook were 98% tongue in cheek, but it doesn't take a Comp Sci PhD to admit that it would not need a "sentient" computer to unleash unstoppable autonomous digital assassins on the world.

Just a human mind and a willingness to give it directions and push the green button marked "go."

I couch that in hyperbole, of course, and perhaps over thinking it, but we're approaching a time where regular human tools of diplomacy and "human" reason might not be enough to stop a real problem.

All of our prior tools of war have always been human controlled. Whether it's an army marching across Europe, ships in the Pacific, a nuclear arsenal pointing at the bad guy or even drones flying in circles around the desert. Men have always had to say "do" before the wrath was unleashed.

See also: "Colossus: The Forbin Project", "Dr Strangelove", "Wargames" and "The Three Laws of Robotics" and probably the Matrix series.

... and no, I'm not a luddite. Just a computer nerd who has written buggy code I'm embarrassed of. :)

Posted by: AlexC at February 24, 2011 12:02 PM
But jk thinks:

Actually, I was giving you props for being the first to reference it.

Think of how many bugs are certainly there in Watson's code -- eeeeyikes!

Posted by: jk at February 24, 2011 1:01 PM

February 22, 2011

Tell me when you get it...

Probably the worst show of all time, but I doubt if there is a guy my age who did not have a crush on Ms. Valentine.

Television Posted by John Kranz at 12:04 PM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

What, Karen Valentine can't drive? Teachers in the sixties drove gas-guzzling SOVs?

Nope. Watched it twice. Don't get it.

Posted by: johngalt at February 23, 2011 1:01 AM
But jk thinks:

The date: 2-22.

Posted by: jk at February 23, 2011 7:46 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Forest. Trees.

Posted by: johngalt at February 24, 2011 3:28 PM

Quote of the Day

It'e early yet (Mountain Time) but I liked this:

It would be one thing if this were just overwrought hysteria, but Ann Althouse went to the trouble of interviewing one of the sign carriers, who really does believe that Scott Walker is just like Hitler. Yeah? I would like to see her explain to elderly concentration camp survivors and people whose parents were gassed and burned by the Nazis how the horror of what happened to them was the moral equivalent of ending the automatic deduction from state workers' paychecks and making the unions collect the dues themselves. -- Eric Scheie

Education Posted by John Kranz at 11:57 AM | What do you think? [1]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Please don't tell me that the sign carrier was a history teacher.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 22, 2011 12:35 PM

February 21, 2011

Henry Reardon Comes Home

A scene from the movie.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:03 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

The bracelet scene was about par but the "we don't want you name on the check" scene was superb.

Posted by: johngalt at February 23, 2011 1:08 AM

Telling Tale of the Day

Allison Luthe, a community organizer with Jobs for Justice in Indiana (and apparently on the fast-track to POTUS) commented on right-to-work efforts in states including Indiana:

"Businesses look at right-to-work as, like, number 24 out of 25 in their decision-making," she said. Asked about what the proposal could do to union membership, Luthe said it would be "devastating" but that it's not just a membership issue."
Sure, it's not a membership issue. She's admitting that workers would leave unions in droves if not forced to belong by antiquated laws.

Hat tip (and source): FoxNew.com

Economics and Markets Posted by Boulder Refugee at 3:53 PM | What do you think? [0]

Quote of the Day

WSJ Ed Page's Paul Gigot (another Wisconsin lad), with a great column/interview about Chairman Paul Ryan (Hoss - WI):

So goes the reality of today's Washington, especially after Mr. Obama dropped his budget this week that does almost nothing about everything. To call it a punt is unfair to the game of football.

Honorable Mention (same article):
"The way I look at things is if you want to be good at this kind of job, you have to be willing to lose it. Number two, the times require this. And number three, if you don't believe in your principles, and applying those principles, then what's the point?" He mentions limited government and economic freedom. "I believe these are the best solutions. I believe they will result in growth and opportunity for the country."

112th Congress Posted by John Kranz at 12:22 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Gosh, that last bit almost sounds like an elevator talk!

Posted by: johngalt at February 23, 2011 1:09 AM

Go Ahead, Let 'Em Know What you Think

The Refugee was forwarded this communique from the Wisconsin teacher's union rep, who encouraged members to send it to family and friends:


--- On Sat, 2/19/11, OEA Secretary wrote:


From: OEA Secretary
Subject: Two separate polls - please VOTE
To:
Date: Saturday, February 19, 2011, 12:24 PM


I am resending these two polls as I was shocked to see the votes currently are in Walker's favor. Vote as you see fit but it seems odd to me with so many passionate people at Madison rallying for Walker to "talk" that it would not bear out in these polls. Pass it on to everyone you can.


This is a poll to find out if you agree with Walker's proposal for removing bargaining rights:

http://www.jsonline.com/polls/116334144.html

This is a different one.

JS Online is conducting a survey about Governor Walker's

Budget Repair Bill.

Please vote: JS Online Survey

Takes 30 seconds. Keep the pressure on them -- get them out to friends, family and members..
We'll keep you posted throughout the day.

In Solidarity,


Sincerely,

Steven Cupery, Lakewood UniServ Director
Lakewood UniServ
13805 W. Burleigh Road
Brookfield, WI 53005
Phone: (262)789-6000
Fax: (262)789-6010
Member 800 number: (800)403-5843

The link does indeed point to an online poll, so The Refugee weighed in. After casting a ballot, you will see the running total. Very encouraging indeed. Go for it.

Education Posted by Boulder Refugee at 12:19 PM | What do you think? [5]
But jk thinks:

Done -- go good guys!

Does the second one have a link?

Posted by: jk at February 21, 2011 12:50 PM
But jk thinks:

-- And the WSJ asks Should state employees have collective-bargaining rights?

Posted by: jk at February 21, 2011 1:26 PM
But johngalt thinks:

As of now the link is no longer valid. I did find this poll:

Is Gov. Scott Walker trying to bust state employee unions, or is he simply trying to rein in "legacy" costs (health care and pensions)?

(Currently 12% bust unions and 88% rein in costs, with 140065 responses.)

The text of the union rep letter is priceless: "...I was shocked to see the votes currently are in Walker's favor." Guess you guys and your demands aren't as popular as you thought, eh?

Posted by: johngalt at February 22, 2011 2:40 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And another:

"Which do you think is more likely to happen first?"

67% for "the 14 senators return to Wisconsin and 33% for Gov. Walker removes language on union rights. 5222 responses.

Posted by: johngalt at February 22, 2011 2:42 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And amid the polls on the Bucks, the Brewers, and whether you eat frozen deserts in cold weather was this interesting question:

"Do you agree with the decision to return the $23 million in stimulus money aimed at expanding high-speed internet service in Wisconsin?"

36% Yes. Too many strings attached. We'll find another way to do it

64% No. We need broadband in schools now. It's another step backwards

(4456 responses)

The bad news: Yes, it is still the land of demanding the unearned.

The good news: Despite this they voted as documented in the two polls above.

Posted by: johngalt at February 22, 2011 2:54 PM

One More Time, Why Aren't the Unions a Special Interest?

The Facebook posts are going up. A former coworker shares a link to "Thank Wisconsin's courageous state senators who have joined with protesters to block the Republican attack on public employees."

Amazing. Inspiring. This is what people power can do.

When Republican Governor Scott Walker attacked state workers and threatened to call out the National Guard if they protested, it sparked a popular uprising in Wisconsin. And now the extreme proposal to take collective bargaining rights away from public employees is temporarily blocked as a result of mass protests.


Guess it wasn't "people power" when all those people went to the polls last November.

Plus my brother and two others, all on the union side -- I have not seen one supporting Gov. Walker except from the crazy-ass right wing sites I "like" like Tea Party Patriots, CATO, Heritage, &c.

But I am tempted to share this jewel from Tom Carney at The Washington Examiner:

The ferment in Wisconsin is no workers' uprising against the rich and powerful. It is instead political muscle-flexing by a well-funded special interest group, which is limbering up for President Obama's re-election bid. Obama's campaign, operating as Organizing for America, is bussing protesters to the state capitol and manning phone banks to apply pressure to state legislatures. Obama himself has called Gov. Scott Walker's bill curbing government-sector collective bargaining "an attack on unions."

While liberal writers wax romantic about a workers' uprising (former Labor Secretary Robert Reich wrote on Twitter "Wisconsin is spreading to Ohio -- America's microversion of Tunisia and Egypt. People are taking to the streets to get their rights"), what we're really seeing is the labor movement acting as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party.


People against the powerful, in-freakin'-deedy.

Education Posted by John Kranz at 12:05 PM | What do you think? [0]

My First Tipjar

I'm a BIG tipper. My hero is the Steve Martin mobster character in "My Blue Heaven" who tips the flight attendant $100 for a drink. Rick Moranis (FBI character) asks him why he is so intent on tipping. He says "I'm not -- I believe in over-tipping."

I'm not that good, but I'm a good tipper, and a big believer in supporting those things in which I believe. Yet I have never once, I don't think, hit a blogger's "tip jar." I consider it a bad business model and am reluctant to support it. I did give Andrew Sullivan money in his first couple pledge drives -- and look at how that investment came out. I bought some blogads on Day By Day for the band and the blog and the coffeehouse that were not 100% media buys.

But "please hit my tip jar?" Never.

Until today. I don't know that a big time Law Professor in the famously generous Wisconsin public sector needs my $20, but I remain impressed at Ann Althouse's on the street reporting and promotion of an important local story with huge national implications. I posit that this would have gone nowhere without her. A commenter led the charge to reward her for doing "what the MSM won't." I could not agree more. There is a PayPal button and an Amazon search on her home page.

UPDATE: Professor Althouse emails "Your contribution is appreciated and encouraging." Now Mom can get that operation, I suppose...

But nanobrewer thinks:


Hi TS'ers,

I've read that PayPal is anti-military. Are there suitably reputable alternatives?

nb

Posted by: nanobrewer at February 23, 2011 9:04 AM
But jk thinks:

At last -- a good reason to dislike them. I fundamentally dislike their service. I live online and have little compunction about most online purchases but PayPal seems so cheesy that I do not trust them with my info.

Yet, as you say, they remain the only game in their space. There are others but none has the critical mass to displace big ugly.

Posted by: jk at February 23, 2011 10:05 AM
But nanobrewer thinks:

I've been reading about Gearpay; www.gearpay.com. I might give them a whirl, as I've barely begun with PP, and my first few months will see low values.

Posted by: nanobrewer at February 24, 2011 9:12 AM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Oh, and for full disclosure; PP isn't anti-military per se, the main stink is they are anti-gun.

http://smallestminority.blogspot.com/2009/07/no-good-deed-goes-unpunished.html

It apparently became obnoxious after the eBay buyout.

nb

Posted by: nanobrewer at February 24, 2011 9:14 AM

February 20, 2011

Just Don't Use My Name

The Refugee's eldest sister happens to be a elementary teacher in Wisconsin. She is also a member of the teacher's union as a condition of employment. Fortunately, she shares political proclivities with The Refugee.

During a recent union meeting with hundreds of attendees, members were asked to fill out a form to indicate what they could do to help with the protests. Only four members, including The Refugee's sibling, quietly left the meeting without completing the requested forms.

"Am I happy to be paying more?" says she. "No, but I understand that the state is out of money. I also realize that we teachers really have a pretty good gig."

"You can quote me, by the way," she concluded. "Just don't use my name. I don't want my house firebombed."

And they say the Tea Party plays rough.

Education Posted by Boulder Refugee at 12:55 PM | What do you think? [3]
But AlexC thinks:

It's a shame that it's her friends and coworkers she's afraid of being fire-bombed by.

She should know she has nothing to lose but her shackles.

Posted by: AlexC at February 20, 2011 5:00 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Such sardonic humor is based on the all-too-common history of union violence. In this case, literal life-threatening violence would be unlikely. However, the possiblity of workplace retribution is very real. Co-workers can make your life miserable up to the point of ruining your career. The really sad part is that in the mores of the union sub-culture, shared by many in the media, this is not seen as horribly wrong.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 21, 2011 11:51 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I suppose they see it as merely run-of-the-mill wrong. Which historical dictator was it who said, "You've got to break a few eggs to make an omelette."

If I could somehow get the eldest sister's address (name not required) I'd love to comp her a COEXI$T bumper sticker. It is intentionally subtle so she might actually get away with putting it on her car and not having it keyed (an intentional feature.) But even if she's not up for the risk she can proudly own it in the privacy of her home!

Posted by: johngalt at February 22, 2011 3:47 PM

For Those Who Remain Calm

More at PunditPress and Ann Althouse.

I think a few kind words for Professor Althouse are in order. According to her posts, these reforms will cost her about $10,000 a year. Yet, she has been on the front lines and driven this story. I'm not certain it would have crossed the St Croix without her reporting. Cheers, Professor!

Education Posted by John Kranz at 11:22 AM | What do you think? [0]

How Many Lakes Was That?

Lileks waxes poetic on his adopted home state and firebrand Rep Michelle Bachmann. I was going to give him quote of the day for ppg#2:

In 2010, the House and Senate of the local legislature flipped to the GOP; the people also elected a Democrat governor, Mark Dayton, who promptly proposed taxes on the "rich." He understands what it's like to struggle, having sold off a Renoir to help fund his campaign. Folks like that man-of-the-people stuff. The state sent Keith Ellison, famous for taking the oath of office on Thomas Jefferson's old Koran, back to the national House -- and re-elected Michele Bachmann, who is anti-matter to Ellison. If they shake hands, the universe explodes.

100 proof Lileks. I didn't know whether to tweak our Minnesota friends with their ascension to "Highest Tax State in the Union" (on next year's license plates) but I am fascinated by their political dichotomy. Colorado, of course, sent Tim Wirth and Bill Armstrong to the Senate, so it does not seem completely foreign.

Lileks nails it at the end. If I used words like "Zeitgeist" I'd say he captured it.

What do Franken, Ventura, Wellstone and Bachmann have in common? They speak their minds. They’re authentic. Minnesota may look confused, but whether it's Republicans or Democrats, voters here are more likely to back the person that isn’t pretending to be what they're not.

America is feeling Minnesota this year. People love candidates who express their party's core principles without hesitation, and care about the small issues as much as the big ones. The right, in particular, is tired of the go-along-to-get-along types, and they suspect Bachmann would agree to head the Department of Education in Chris Christie's cabinet under one condition: she’d be allowed to abolish it.


Hat-tip: Instapundit

Posted by John Kranz at 10:56 AM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

I'll stand for SC's correction but I have the sense that "Minnesota nice" equates to "Minnesota free-handouts." This explains the Democrat tendency in that state. For Colorado it is more of an academic, urbane egalitarianism. Either way, they're ideas that become less and less popular with each passing day in the Obama Economy.

Posted by: johngalt at February 20, 2011 4:02 PM
But jk thinks:

SC would probably be far too modest to talk up his adopted state's citizens' affability.

But I will. I have spent a lot of time there both on business and visits to SC, my biological brother, and some of my favorite cousins on the lovely bride's side. These folks really are "nice." There's a friendliness to strangers that takes you aback. Small town and rural Colorado is pretty friendly, but they click it up a notch.

Posted by: jk at February 21, 2011 12:03 PM

February 18, 2011

Can it be true?

My brother-in-law calls to tell me he is watching CSPAN, and the mohair subsidy has been killed.

Did any of us think we would live this long?

But johngalt thinks:

I think CSPAN has resorted to making crap up to boost viewership.

Posted by: johngalt at February 19, 2011 12:54 AM

But I don't Wanna Read The Nation!

The Refugee serves up a link to The Nation's view of the Wisconsin union contretemps. Blog friend Sugarchuck frequently sends me links to The Nation as well.

Dang, the things I do for you guys. With all respect to my blog brother, I'll offer an alternative that is only half bad.












Governor Howard Dean is frequently charming during his Kudlow appearances. But fear not, he is not here. State Rep Robin Vos, however, comes across very well.

Education Posted by John Kranz at 6:36 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Vos certainly had an answer for most of Dean's misleading or exagerrated assertions. But he didn't reply directly when Dean claimed a "right to organize" on the part of state employees. I'd have retorted with the taxpayers' right to organize in the form of democratic elections. They got together and decided they don't want to pay so much for state workers to retire.

Posted by: johngalt at February 19, 2011 1:28 AM

Paragraph of the Day

From Walter Russell Mead's blog about the events in Madison:

We might be able to stave off collapse for a little while if we retreated to protectionism and fortress America: ban cheap imports from overseas and otherwise cut ourselves off from the global system we have done so much to build. I will save the case against this strategy for another series of posts; suffice it to say for now that it is harder to imagine a surer road to misery, poverty and global wars on an unprecedented scale than for the US to take this dangerous path. It is probably the most destructive as well as the most evil and unjust thing that we could do. The results would be devastating on a scale that could eclipse the horrors of World War Two — both for us and for all the people around the world who rely on American power and economic health to preserve what fragile stability and prosperity human beings have managed to achieve.
Media and Blogging Posted by Boulder Refugee at 5:21 PM | What do you think? [0]

Fair and Balanced

ThreeSourcers have been taking some mighty whacks at the Wisconsin teacher's union these past days, so The Refugee thought they might like to hear from The Loyal Opposition. Jane McAlevey writes a piece in The Nation titled, "Labor's Last Stand." (If we were only to be so lucky.) If ThreeSourcers want insight into the union/Liberal/Progressive mindset, this is a great read. She starts out thusly:

Emboldened by November's election results, corporations and their right-wing allies have launched what they hope will be their final offensive against America's unions. Their immediate target is government workers' unions. While New Jersey's Republican Governor Chris Christie has gained national fame by beating up on public school teachers, the threat to unionized workers is playing out in all fifty states, to the drumbeat in the media about states going broke because of government workers’ wages, pensions and benefits.

Never mind that states are going broke and that the majority of their deficits are related to pensions and wage increases on autopilot. There is no such thing as economic reality to these people.

The entire house of labor and all progressives must understand that we have not had a moment as threatening as this in our lifetime. The right is making the connections--attacking public employee unions and public services at the same time in order to wage complete war on the poor, people of color, and the working and middle classes of this country.

Of course, the dispute has nothing to do with unfunded liabilities measured in trillions or the fact that some public sector union members want to live large at the expense of their taxpaying neighbors. Nope, it's those racist, homophobic, misogynistic Republicans. Nazi bastards.

It's a long read, but if you want to understand the opposition's playbook then take the time. Might want to keep a bucket handy, however. Finally, a memo to Ms. McAlevey: there was an election. We won.

Education Posted by Boulder Refugee at 4:13 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

My nomination for quote of the day is in BR's excerpt:

"The entire house of labor and all progressives must understand that we have not had a moment as threatening as this in our lifetime."

Finally, at long last, thanks to the overreach of Obama-Pelosi-Reed of the past two years, this is true. Just as has been the case with Global Climate Change, the public is growing wise to the game of the left. The unearned compensation of unionized state employees is finally coming under the scrutiny of voters and their representatives who, for too long, gave concession after concession to "the working class" until they are paid as much in retirement as when they actually "worked." And that excessive, unearned, compensation is under "threat" of being reclaimed by the taxpayers who *earned* it.

Posted by: johngalt at February 19, 2011 1:39 AM

Quote of the Day

"Meticulous attention should be paid to the special relations and obligations of public servants to the public itself and to the Government....The process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service." -- President Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Education Posted by John Kranz at 12:31 PM | What do you think? [0]

Badgermania, Day III

This story might actually have legs. Kudlow covered it last night. He had Wisconsin State Rep. Robin Vos, co-chair of the state's Joint Finance Committee on. Vos is an articulate voice for freedom, but I fear he was enjoying the personal threats too much. The brave State rep gets a police escort through the capitol hallways in Madison... If you're fighting tea partiers that may work, lads, but no media will cover threats by union goons. Play the hand you're dealt.

I don't link to Rush Limbaugh very often, but I'll give him "Headline of the Day:"

Wisconsin Liberals Starve Children

As Coloradans have learned recently, school is the only place poor kids can eat.

Brother jg is probably right here. Three days off school now, drumming and shouting, Gov. Walker = Hitler signs, we might be seeing the union overstep a wee bit. I'm still fuming but I assure you it's a righteous anger.

Education Posted by John Kranz at 10:54 AM | What do you think? [2]
But HB thinks:

I'm confused. I thought teachers weren't in it for the money.

Posted by: HB at February 18, 2011 1:25 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Oh no, they're not in it for the money, but they do still have to pay the mortgage after all. And the car payments. And the annual vacations. And the health club. Did I mention his and hers iPhones? You know, necessities. But not "money."

Posted by: johngalt at February 23, 2011 1:13 AM

Not Afraid to Tackle the Tough Issues

Those pu**y Wisconsin Democrats might run from a fight, but Centennial State residents know that their Senior Senator is on the job. Senator Udall's newsletter just arrived.

I, of course, wondered what he was doing to reign in spending and address the protests in the Middle East.

Today, I reintroduced the bipartisan Ski Area Recreation Opportunity Enhancement Act. Behind this somewhat lengthy title is a very simple idea that will help create jobs and boost the economy in our mountain communities.

Every winter, over 10 million skiers and snowboarders flock to Colorado to enjoy the ski areas that have made Colorado an international icon for winter recreation. Ski areas are a critical part of our state's recreational and tourist economy -- but many struggle to provide jobs during the summer months.

Those of us who live in Colorado year-round know that opportunity to enjoy the outdoors does not end when the last snowflake falls. My bill would make a small change to the rules governing the permitting of ski areas on National Forests, making it clear that biking, concerts and other recreational activities are welcome where the Forest Service finds them appropriate. With additional summertime activities we can help bolster these local economies with year-round jobs and help to provide some seasonal stability for our mountain communities.

As always, your input is greatly appreciated. Please follow me on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, and don't hesitate to contact me through my website if you have questions, comments or concerns.


I'll sleep easier tonight knowing the brave Udall brothers are in the Senate, keeping the West properly promoted for summer biking.

CO Senate Posted by John Kranz at 10:44 AM | What do you think? [0]

February 17, 2011

It's a Badgerpalooza!

Americans for Prosperity:

By the way, newly-elected Congressman Sean Duffy from Wisconsin made one of his first efforts in Congress a bill that returns non-obligated stimulus funding to the taxpayers. Now his bill has been included in the continuing resolution the House is working on this week. It’s great to see our efforts to end government overspending become the core of actual legislation and not just something we all rally for.

(Emphasis mine)


Brave, Brave Senator Robins Caught Fleeing Wisconsin

Hiding in the Rockford, Ill Best Western, and busted by Tea Partiers if you believe everything you read on the Internets.

Education Posted by John Kranz at 6:22 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

The Updates and Comments over there are riotous. This comment captured my sentiment, explaining why I was pleased as punch to see the teachers' sick-out:

Plymouth Mom commented:
I have a feeling we’re going to see a lot more of this as the hammer comes down. Sorta like taking toys away from a bratty kid…. resulting in temper tantrums

This has the same feel to me as those movie endings when the bad guys are surrounded by the cavalry, or police, or citizens with pitchforks, or Aborigines.

Posted by: johngalt at February 17, 2011 7:12 PM
But jk thinks:

Sadly the good guys are surrounded:
They have been pushed around (literally), screamed at, etc. The capitol is surrounded. The signs carried by the protesters are "vicious," says Hopper. There are comparisons of Gov. Scott Walker to Hitler, of course. And there are other signs "I won't describe to you."

Hopper says, "I can't tell you how much respect I have for my colleagues," operating in an extremely hostile atmosphere.

I ask whether he is going home tonight, to sleep. He says, "We're not disclosing that. My colleagues and I are not talking about that. We're working with law enforcement" on the matter.

Posted by: jk at February 17, 2011 7:21 PM

It's All Badger All the time at ThreeSources!

Maybe this is getting a little play. WaPo (okay, blog) reports that the President has weighed in:

Obama said that while some measures, such as pay freezes for those employees, are "the right thing to do" to combat budget shortfalls, "some of what I've heard coming out of Wisconsin, where you're just making it harder for public employees to collectively bargain generally, seems like an assault on unions." He added that "it's important not to vilify" public workers.

Time to "go PATCO on their asses!" If I remain angry it is because I know no one will.

Education Posted by John Kranz at 4:28 PM | What do you think? [4]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

All Badger all the time? Then here's my message for the union goons: "Well, maybe I'm not a fancy gentleman like you, with your... very fine hat. But I do business. We're here for business."

Public employee unions are NOT. As far as I'm concerned, vilify away. It SHOULD be harder for them to collectively bargain - look where it got us (yeah, I'm looking at YOU, Jerry Brown). Any governor who is participating in what the golfer-in-chief is calling "an assault on unions" is okay in my book.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at February 17, 2011 5:14 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I think that, on the part of the G-in-C, the "assault on unions" line is a veiled reference to the charge that "the first thing Hitler did was to outlaw unions!"

Posted by: johngalt at February 17, 2011 5:38 PM
But jk thinks:

And yes, I responded to your allusion -- two doors down in the "Television" section. What a crew...

Posted by: jk at February 17, 2011 6:43 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

As I saw, and as I agree. I'm not the one who said that Whedon is the Sondheim of television series, but I'll share it here for public consideration nonetheless.

You want allusions? I've got allusions. In honor of the state and its talented new governor going all Christie on the public employee unions, I give you this one - you decide if you prefer the Humphrey Bogart picture, or the Weird Al movie:

"Badgers? Badgers! We need us some more Badgers!"

If only the battle were being joined in Michigan. Who wouldn't love the opportunity to shout "Wolverines!"?

Posted by: Keith Arnold at February 17, 2011 7:25 PM

The TEA Party State

JK did a great write-up on the Wisconsin revolution against state employee union looting of the treasury. As I thought about covering the same story I had some phrases in mind: Here comes the sun... It's always darkest before the dawn... Finally, hope and change! Stuff like that.

But how can something like this happen in Wisconsin? Home of the U of W in Madison, birthplace of the AFSCME union and a long-time leftist bastion? Check the leadership:


Scott Walker in 2010
225px-Scott_Walker_2010.jpg

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

45th Governor of Wisconsin
Incumbent
Assumed office
January 3, 2011
Lieutenant Rebecca Kleefisch
Preceded by Jim Doyle (D)

And the Senate...

Wisc%20Senate%202011.jpg

And the State Assembly...

Wisc%20General%20Assembly%202011.jpg

Now that's the kind of flip-flopping one can appreciate! Makes me want to break out in song:

"Movin' to Wisconsin soon,
Gonna be a dental floss tycoon"

Just one * last * question: How in the bloody 'ell did Colorado manage to stay in Democrat hands? Wait - don't answer that.

But jk thinks:

Colorado comparison is apt. Madison makes Boulder look like Fort Worth. Mister Wadhams replacement would do well to try and reproduce their success.

(And Mister McDaniels's replacement could look at some Packers tape as well...)

Posted by: jk at February 17, 2011 4:46 PM

Quote of the Day

If Castle had its series finale tomorrow and Fox said to you and Joss: "We screwed up, let's try doing Firefly again." Would you do it? Yes. Yes. I would examine very closely Fox's reasoning -- I'm a little gun-shy. If I got $300 million from the California Lottery, the first thing I would do is buy the rights to Firefly, make it on my own, and distribute it on the Internet. -- Nathan Fillion
Television Posted by John Kranz at 2:58 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

Brother Keith alludes to Badger a couple floors up in a segue that would only work on ThreeSources.

Badger, what a great character. One of the great Whedon gifts is to create seemingly minor characters who are memorable and complex. I enjoy "House MD" because of Hugh Laurie, but not one of the other characters interests me at all after years. Whedon serves up guys like Badger, Mr. Trick, Clem, and the Swami T'ish Magev and you just wish they had a whole series.

Posted by: jk at February 17, 2011 6:42 PM

Look For the Union Label...

It's apparently all over the Wisconsin State Capitol building.

It has been a long time since a story has angered me as much as the Wisconsin Teachers' Union protest in Madison. The worst part is that it is one of those "blog stories" that nobody else you meet will have ever heard of. Katie Couric is not going to show you any of this.

To sum up:

1) The good people of The Badger State elect a responsible Governor, and enough responsible members of the state legislature to pursue real reform of public worker contracts and pensions.

2) The teachers "call in sick" to attend a protest in sufficient numbers that school is cancelled.

3) The precious little tykes are bussed to the Capitol to "try and stop whatever this dude is doing."

4) The protests are a travelling stimulus for union trash crews.

Browse Ann Althouse's site if you can bear it for more pictures, video, chanting, drumming. All on the dime of the Wisconsin taxpayer.

Hat-tip: Insty who says It's the difference between civilized people, and looters. Amen to that.

UPDATE: Mary Katherine Ham has a decidedly more jg take on it:

A three-day-long stand-off at the Wisconsin state capitol between union supporters and those backing the Republican governor’s budget cuts just went to another level Thursday as Democratic senators apparently fled the state to prevent a vote on Gov. Scott Walker's budget-repair bill, which would cut public employee union collective bargaining rights and require them to contribute to pensions and health care.

Law enforcement has been sent to find missing Democratic lawmakers, according to a Madison, Wis. ABC affiliate. State Sen. leader Scott Fitzgerald said only one Democrat is needed for quorum to vote on the controversial bill, which is expected to pass a Republican-majority Senate. The "Sergeant of Arms is going door to door to find Democratic senators."


Yeah, that cheers me up...

Education Posted by John Kranz at 12:17 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

Angry? This makes you angry? As blog optimist, I'm overcome with joy! If unionized state employees are pissed it can only be good for taxpayers, and for liberty.

What are they gonna say - "You can't make teachers pay for half of their own pension or an eighth of their own healthcare... What about the children?"

Posted by: johngalt at February 17, 2011 2:33 PM
But johngalt thinks:

From the MKH story -

Earlier today, law enforcement was sent to find missing Democratic lawmakers, according to a Madison, Wis. ABC affiliate. State Sen. leader Scott Fitzgerald said only one Democrat is needed for quorum to vote on the controversial bill, which is expected to pass a Republican-majority Senate. The "Sergeant of Arms is going door to door to find Democratic senators."

Just one measly little Democrat!

Posted by: johngalt at February 17, 2011 3:47 PM

February 16, 2011

Better than Pennies

The 2011 budget deficit in graphic detail-

Hat Tip: President Obama's cousin

But jk thinks:

Cheers!

Posted by: jk at February 17, 2011 12:52 PM

Don't Want to Throw "the H word" around Lightly...

But Florida Gov. Rick Scott is having a Hoss moment, rejecting a high-speed rail boondoggle jobs-producin'-federal-stimulus project.

My decision to reject the project comes down to three main economic realities:

-- First -- capital cost overruns from the project could put Florida taxpayers on the hook for an additional $3 billion.

-- Second -- ridership and revenue projections are historically overly-optimistic and would likely result in ongoing subsidies that state taxpayers would have to incur. (from $300 million – $575 million over 10 years) — Note: The state subsidizes Tri-Rail $34.6 million a year while passenger revenues covers only $10.4 million of the $64 million annual operating budget.

-- Finally --if the project becomes too costly for taxpayers and is shut down, the state would have to return the $2.4 billion in federal funds to D.C.


Brother Keith says he doubts rail, but here's one that brings in 16.25% of its operating budget from passenger revenue. Man, where can I get in on a deal like that?

Hat-tip: Instapundit


You Know You Want One!

Conversion kits and complete units for sale.

Technology Posted by John Kranz at 11:20 AM | What do you think? [2]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Somewhere in America there is a newspaper inquiring about quantity discounts.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 16, 2011 12:58 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

AOL.com has enough left after buying HuffPo that they can afford six of them. They will be distributed on the basis of seniority.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at February 16, 2011 2:08 PM

Quote of the Day

From Andrew Malcolm in the LA Times:

Sweeping hand gestures were the order of today as President Obama defended his budget at a news conference, reflecting widespread skepticism over the seriousness of his spending "cuts." At last, bipartisanship to believe in.

And runner-up goes to Speaker Boehner:

The president apparently believes a $607-billion budget deficit is 'living within our means.'
Quote of the Day Posted by Boulder Refugee at 10:15 AM | What do you think? [0]

Global Mufti Quote of the Day

A very good friend of this blog sends a link to a Der Spiegel story on "Islam's Dear Abby"

He also speaks out against the systematic castigation of wives. He calls the practice unwise, saying: "Blows are not effective with every woman, but they are helpful with some." In other cases, the sheikh insists on equal rights. For example, he says, a woman does not have to ask her husband's permission to blow herself up in an Israeli cafe.

Germane because this televangelist is the spiritual leader of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood ("a largely secular group" quips our friend).

Good to see forward thinking in the East.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:09 AM | What do you think? [0]

Has Anyone Thought to consider Christie 2012?

The American Spectator profiled Chris Christie's latest New Jersey crusade to break the Imperial stranglehold that the judiciary has on the state.

Beginning in 1973, the N.J. Supreme Court saw fit to interject itself into education policy and to force tax hikes onto local residents in an effort to bring funding for poorer school districts into greater parity with wealthier districts. It was at this point that the concept of self-government as it was expressed in the Declaration of Independence became inoperative in New Jersey.

[...]

Where does the N.J. Supreme Court derive the authority to reshape public policy in such a profound manner without popular consent and without legislative approval? Gregory Sullivan, a practicing attorney who writes a column for the Trenton Times, sees an "imperial judiciary" at work that has violated the separation of powers.

"How much money is spent and where has nothing to do with the constitution," Sullivan said. "It has everything to do with determinations by legislators and governors who are electorally responsible for their decisions. By contrast, it is essentially impossible to hold any court accountable for the squandered millions that have been judicially ordered for decades."


Under New Jersey law, the Governor has the right to reappoint or dismiss a Supreme Court justice every seven years. Christie has done just that and the Court is fighting back by refusing to hold confirmation hearings for Christie nominees.This sounds like a Constitutional crisis to me where one branch refuses to recognize the authority of another branch.

Christie is not backing down. He encouraged residents to reject court-mandated budget hikes at the ballot box, which happened in 58 percent of the districts.

"Revolution is a good word to describe what Governor Christie is trying to do," said Thomas A. Gentile, a New Jersey attorney who is active in the Federalist Society. "Christie campaigned for governor on his unabashed promise to end the New Jersey Supreme Court's decades of over-reaching. His ultimate goal is to restore to the governor and to the legislature the constitutional powers that Supreme Court decisions such as Abbott and Mount Laurel have entrenched in the hands of the judiciary."

Hoss to the power of 2. America needs this man.

2012 Posted by Boulder Refugee at 9:44 AM | What do you think? [4]
But johngalt thinks:

No doubt. But he's insisted at every opportunity he's not available in '12. If there ever was a politician you could feel safe in taking at his word, CC is that man. (And I'm not about to pile on to a "draft Christie" movement intent on making a liar out of him.)

Posted by: johngalt at February 16, 2011 12:06 PM
But jk thinks:

He has produced enough memorable and unequivocal denials that it would be problematic. I will be so rude as to say we might see "Big Fat Liar" bumperstickers in Boulder County.

Posted by: jk at February 16, 2011 12:28 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

As mentioned previously, he is likely saving himself for 2016. I am impatient and would hate to wait that long. Moreover, changing your mind based on changing conditions is not the same as lying. We humans do it all the time and that alone does not make us congenital liars.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 16, 2011 1:14 PM
But jk thinks:

I would not hold it against him for a second, but I have seen several that would be embarrassing.

Chris Cillizza reports on a "National" speech at AEI:

Asked whether he would consider running for president in 2012, Christie acknowledged that he "see[s] the opportunity" but quickly added: "That's not a reason to be president of the United States."

And yet, Christie's speech, which spanned roughly 45 minutes, had all the traditional markers of someone eyeing national office.

"Leadership today in America has to be about doing the big things and being courageous, said Christie. At another point, Christie argued that "we have to bring a new approach and a new discipline to this."

Posted by: jk at February 16, 2011 3:59 PM

February 15, 2011

EZRA KLIEN IS RIGHT!

HOLD THE PRESSES! That adorable little WaPo urchin lad who cedes two correct answers a day to the proverbial broken clock, hits it out of the park.

The U.S. Government: An insurance conglomerate protected by a large, standing army

Hat-tip: Professor Bainbridge..

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 4:27 PM | What do you think? [3]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

"Hits it out of the park"? Not to make too fine a point of it, but I'm calling it a ground-rule double at best - and limited largely to that sentence.

I've spent thirty years in the insurance industry, and I know insurance when I see it. Insurance is a financial product that people are free to buy or not as they decide based on their own situation in life. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are not. Insurance is also a market-driven product which is self-supporting. Payouts on claims (plus operating costs) cannot exceed collected premiums (plus investment income), or the insurer goes toes-up (unless some jackass deems them "too big to fail"). I routinely come across people who expect unlimited medical care, who simultaneously whine about the cost of their premium. Boy, do they get an earful from me - they expect insurance carriers to pay out far more than they receive in premiums. This is basic economics!

So it's folly to call it an insurance conglomerate. It's a redistribution conglomerate. Whether the purpose of the large standing army is to protect that function would be the subject of a second post. Because I think he mislabels in both halves of that quote, I'm thinking that "ground-rule double" actually ought to be called a "fielder's choice."

I have saved up from years past a collection. In my collection is one page from each year's tax publication - the page with the pie chart showing where our tax dollars are spent. It might be a debatable point, but I'd feel comfortable saying that between 65 and 70 percent of the Federal budget is spent on things - redistribution, programs like education and environmental regulation - that (a) have no Constitutional basis and (b) are functions that should be the responsibility of something other than the Federal government, plus debt service on unnecessarily incurred debt. And that figure does not even broach the subject of military spending.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at February 15, 2011 5:16 PM
But jk thinks:

Perhaps not everybody at ThreeSources is the big Ezra Klein fan that I am.

I will join you in fulsome support for real, live, un-coerced, private insurance. When friends start debasing derivatives, I like to counter with "so, I guess you don't own any life insurance, then." It's a noble enterprise that distributed risk to allow the creation of a world wide liberal international economic order.

I read Klein's statement as admission that government's forays into fields that could be better handled by real insurance are bankrupting our nation and curtailing our freedom. If he could understand 100 year old documents, he might even question their constitutionality.

I'll retract "out of the park" both as a point of personal friendship and acceptance that much of what Klein does call for government to do (after getting off his scorching good line) is dang near evil.

The key is to read only the Bainbridge post, which I did. I added the link to WaPo because I thought it proper. Fielder's Choice it is. Which is still pretty good for Klein...

Posted by: jk at February 15, 2011 5:32 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Sorry KA, I'm with JK - It's a homer. Problem is, he tripped on his laces rounding third and, when he got up to continue, started running the bases backwards.

It is correct to say the US Federal government is an insurance entity offering insurance services. In fact, the military component also falls into that category. But what makes the government not an insurance company is that it doesn't know how to make a profit at it, or even break even. This is where your redistribution comes in.

Klein asks us to look at where the government spends "our" money. "What do you mean our kemosabe?" What would we do without those one-percenters?

Since the "insurance" programs concocted by Congress are heavy on the benefits, and constantly getting heavier, it is IMPOSSIBLE to make them actuarially sound. At some point the golden goose runs out of gold.

But after the 2nd-decker of identifying the government as an agent of indemnification-by-force, Klein falls on his face when he suggests SS is "by far the most efficient" and "should be last on our list" for reform. And he reverses the bases by saying the government must get busy "righting our core business." Bullcrap! The insurance business needs to be fully privatized once and for all. There's not enough gold in the observable universe to insure every American, illegal immigrant, or Johnny-come-lately against all the calamities that lobbyists can dream up.

Do we want insurance that is a) affordable and b) sustainable, or do we want a potato famine? The cure is as obvious as the choice.

Posted by: johngalt at February 15, 2011 7:51 PM

Enschuldigung?

Our German allies are reassessing the Bush Presidency in the shadow of Egypt:

Suddenly it seems everyone knew all along that President Mubarak was a villain and the U.S., who supported him until recently, was even worse. However it was actually former President George W. Bush who always believed in the democratization of the Muslim world and was broadly ridiculed by the Left for his convictions. . . .

Painful as it may be to admit, it was the despised George W. Bush who believed in the democratization of the Muslim world and incurred the scorn and mockery of the Left for his conviction. Everyone was sure--without knowing any Muslims--that the Western model of democracy could not be applied in a backward society like Iraq. Everyone knew that the neo-conservative belief in the universal desire for freedom and progress was naive nonsense. It is possible that the critics were right, albeit for the wrong reasons. The prospect of stability and order seems to be at least as important to many people.


Courtesy of WSJ's "Notable & Quotable"


Status Quo-bama

Whadd'ya think? I stayed up late and thought that up all by myself.

Maybe the Tea Party sentiment is somewhat overblown, but the new budget from President Obama completely ignores any concerns about government growth or spending. I guess he nods to the deficit with massive tax increases ("Again, Bullwinkle? That trick never works!") but it's more of the same from Status Quo-bama:

This fact puts some perspective to the comments of Obama's Republican critics. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., remarked that under Obama's plan, "the president's vision of a future of trains and windmills is more important than a balanced checkbook." Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, said that "President Obama's budget should have been printed in red ink instead of black." Three months after Americans expressed their deep anxiety over the unwarranted and dangerous explosion of federal spending and power under Obama by giving Republicans their biggest midterm congressional election victory since 1938, Obama is still demonstrating that he doesn't get it -- Americans want government spending cut, government debt eliminated and Washington politicians in both parties to wise up or be replaced.

UPDATE: The WSJ Ed Page is a bit more serious (though they tie their headline to a rap song):
How unserious is this budget? Although the White House trumpets $2.18 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade, those savings are so far off in the magical "out years" that you can barely see them from here. More than 95% of the savings would happen after Mr. Obama's first term in the White House is over, and almost two-thirds of the promised deficit reduction would arrive after 2016. Pretending to cut deficits by pushing all real cuts into the future is Budget Flimflam 101.

But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Status QuoBama (yeah, I like it) trumpets $1.2 trillion in savings over 10 years while failing to mention that the deficit will increase $9 trillion in those same years.

This is not a serious budget proposal; it is a political gambit. It's like the storage vendor who starts negotiations at the list price hoping the buyer will be dumb enough to bite. In this case, however, if the GOP proposes big cuts as ThreeSourcers all hope they will, Obama will pounce about starving children and kicking Grandma to the curb without her meds. As much as it has worked previously, I'm not sure it will work this time.

The key for Republicans is to make across-the-board cuts. If we get into a battle of whose pet projects gets funded, we've lost.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 15, 2011 1:05 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Agreed.

The president's budget is crap. Want to know the definition of "Rich?" A seemingly huge deficit reduction by "the president's budget" projected over 10 years (half of which this president won't preside over even if reelected) said reduction still leaving a deficit of $1 T-T-Trillion each year. I've heard apologists crow that "The president proposes cutting the deficit in half by the end of his first term. Whoopee. Tell me you're going to cut the DEBT in half, or the DEFICIT to zero and we'll talk.

Your headline is nice JK, but I still prefer the bumper sticker I saw last week on a pickem' up truck: "SHUT UP HIPPIE. OBAMA SUCKS"

Posted by: johngalt at February 15, 2011 2:50 PM
But never_to_return thinks:

tell THIS guy:
http://blackagendareport.com/content/status-quobama-hundred-days-fake-progressive-bs-and-liberal-left-surrender

not saying he was the very first, just that he was the very first person that showed up when i googled "status quobama."


you stayed up late and thought that up...lol

Posted by: never_to_return at April 26, 2012 5:07 AM
But johngalt thinks:

n_t_r is right that "the black left" blogger used the term at an earlier date than our own JK. But whose application of "status-quo" is more apt? Continuing and ever greater deficit spending or "preserv[ing] the capitalist, imperial, and racial status quo?"

I can think of many ways the president has undermined American free-market capitalism (to the extent it has ever been free), military might and race-blind treatment of individuals under the law.

Accordingly, I see no precedent for the growth of government power and spending without any regard for the lagging revenues that must certainly result from that boot on the throat of the private sector.

In the end I have to say both are wrong. There is nothing "status-quo" about this president. His is an administration that will be recorded as groundbreaking. What grows up through that broken ground - an egalitarian, sectarian gulag or a renewed tree of liberty - remains to be seen.

Posted by: johngalt at April 26, 2012 2:13 PM

February 14, 2011

Understatement of the Week

The President of Egypt website, February 14, 2011:
egypt.jpg

Hat-tip: Trey Hicks


Principal Snyder!

How did I miss it? Two Buffy actors show up in the Atlas Shrugged trailer:

Trailer for 'Atlas Shrugged Part 1'. Featuring the high school principal we most love to hate and our favourite conspiracy bookstore owner.

The comments are pretty negative.

Television Posted by John Kranz at 11:42 AM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

Gosh, you're right. There certainly are a lot of closed-minded reactionaries commenting over there.

But I don't see a reason to put much stock in their opinions. One of them calls himself King of the Cretins. (So he's an idiot AND an authoritarian.)

Posted by: johngalt at February 14, 2011 3:34 PM
But jk thinks:

Everybody's entitled to an opinion, but "'Twilight' for Objectivists?" That's just mean.

Posted by: jk at February 14, 2011 3:58 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I don't know, it's sort of clever. But beyond that... they claim to be disinterested in the movie or that Rand's stuff is "not my demo" but how many people know what an Objectivist is? It must have raised a certain curiosity in them at some point.

Posted by: johngalt at February 14, 2011 5:22 PM

Two.

The WSJ Ed Page answers brother Keith's question.

Messrs. Obama and Biden argue that the U.S. has to invest in high-speed rail to stay competitive with the world. Only if we're competing in the Debt Bowl. Two high-speed railways in the world have broken even, and those are in densely populated areas of France and Japan where people drive less because gas prices are twice as high as in the U.S., and many foreign intercity highways levy tolls.

Two. And they didn't so much make money as break even.

Oil and Energy Posted by John Kranz at 11:24 AM | What do you think? [2]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Amtrak delenda est. QED.

Of course this is going to be another Big Dig, a hole into which money is poured. But when has that ever stopped our elected overlords from spending? Exhibit A: Obama's new proposed budget.

The only way high-speed rail loses money faster is if they put Gomez Addams in as the Rail Czar.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at February 14, 2011 2:27 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Love the Addams Family reference KA. I always wished they had more scenes with the trains.

Quoting David Harsanyi, The president "mentioned railroads six times, because how else are we going to win the 19th century back?"

Posted by: johngalt at February 14, 2011 3:29 PM

New Conversations

Rep. Paul Ryan made an interesting comment on FOX News Sunday yesterday. Pressed about differences in the severity of budget cuts among different factions in the GOP, Chairman Ryan (I still like the sound of that) expressed hope that the conversation in Washington has shifted from "how much to spend" to "how much to cut." The blog optimist swoons.

We've discussed the required severity of cuts and structures going forward. I hold that the best hope is to change the tide of the conversation.

Example numero dos: the Obama Administration -- as Dave Barry would say, I am not making this up -- offers plans to wind down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The WSJ Swoons.

Our view is that there should be no federal housing guarantee. If Congress wants to subsidize housing for the poor, it ought to do so explicitly through annual appropriations. One lesson--perhaps the most important--of the financial crisis is that broad policy favors for housing hurt every American by misallocating capital and credit. The feds created incentives to pour money into McMansions we didn't need while robbing scarce capital from manufacturing, biotech and other uses that might have created better jobs and led to a more balanced and faster growing economy.

Being the Obama Administration, they offered three options with varying levels of government intrusion. But, again, the talk is how much to remove, not how much more to spend to increase home ownership.

Regular readers will know I don't go for piling on President George W. Bush just for sport. But this is a superb case against "compassionate conservatism." Home ownership is "a conservative value" ergo we should use tax dollars to improve minority and poverty ownership rates. Sounds good but in the end, it is a market distortion and concomitant misallocation of capital.

112th Congress Posted by John Kranz at 10:29 AM | What do you think? [0]

February 13, 2011

Property Rights Suck

I was going to reread "Atlas Shrugged" in time for the movie. Then I see that the Kindle Version is $18.99.

Ow! It's only $9.99 for mass market paperback, 14.18 for School and Library binding. But those ones and zeros are seemingly scarce in Atlantis.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 6:02 PM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

One suspects there might be a bootlegging premium built in.

Of course, there are still the audio book options (all of which are more than your soul-less eReader's 19 bucks.)

Posted by: johngalt at February 14, 2011 2:46 PM
But jk thinks:

Is there a big bit-torrent market for Kindle® that I'm missing? I suggest that a Kindle book is single use where a hard copy is lendable.

The lovely bride and I share books because we share an Amazon account, but I have always found the unleandability the biggest flaw in eBookdom.

Posted by: jk at February 14, 2011 3:29 PM
But johngalt thinks:

... thus proving how little I know on the subject.

Posted by: johngalt at February 14, 2011 5:23 PM

LvM Quote of the Day

I had the ruby slippers all along. Lew Rockwell's site -- which I have maligned over the years -- has the complete text of Ludwig von Mises's "Socialism." I had been highlighting sections on my Kindle to share with my ThreeSources brothers and sisters but had no way to copy. After finishing the book yesterday, I now find the text online. I may go back and post some favorites in lieu of a Review Corner. I can review corner it in two sentences: It is the best book ever written. Five stars.

Today's LvM QOTD is from the conclusion. Near and dear to all ThreeSourcers, the struggle of ideas and the path forward. I think you'll hear a bit of Ayn Rand and some Michael Novak in there:

Nor have these disciples of Liberalism been any more fortunate in their criticisms of Socialism. They have constantly declared that Socialism is a beautiful and noble ideal towards which one ought to strive were it realizable, but that, alas, it could not be so, because it presupposed human beings more perfect morally than those with whom we have to deal. It is difficult to see how people can decide that Socialism is in any way better than Capitalism unless they can maintain that it functions better as a social system. With the same justification it might be said that a machine constructed on the basis of perpetual motion would be better than one worked according to the given laws of mechanics--if only it could be made to function reliably. If the concept of Socialism contains an error which prevents that system from doing what it is supposed to do, then Socialism cannot be compared with the Capitalist system, for this has proved itself workable. Neither can it be called nobler, more beautiful or more just.

It is true, Socialism cannot be realized, but it is not because it calls for sublime and altruistic beings. One of the things this book set out to prove was that the socialist commonwealth lacks above all one quality which is indispensable for every economic system which does not live from hand to mouth but works with indirect and roundabout methods of production: that is the ability to calculate, and therefore to proceed rationally. Once this has been generally recognized, all socialist ideas must vanish from the minds of reasonable human beings.

But johngalt thinks:

I had hoped another would comment first, for my first thoughts were decidedly critical. I admire and welcome what appears to be a new 3Srcs franchise, the "LvM QOTD" and did not want to argue with the very first installment.

With time and reflection, and reading some other paragraphs from the linked pages, I believe I can offer an integration with Objectivist thought instead of a disputation.

LvM offers a case for the impossibility of Socialism as an economic order among men that is apart from the Objectivist denunciation of altruism. Setting aside the issue of altruism for now... [to paraphrase Mises] Socialism cannot be realized because it lacks the ability to calculate and plan ahead, which is necessary for every economic system in which one is not required to produce his own food. What LvM might have overlooked here is the fact that, some men do not aspire to anything greater than a hand-to-mouth existence. Similarly, some men are not "reasonable human beings."

The men who continue to advocate a socialist economic order are these men. They want to "live simply, that others may simply live." They attempted this in the sixties with communal living and to the extent they left others alone, they were free to do so. Unfortunately they came to believe they have some moral prerogative to force all other men to follow them "back to the caves."

There's more to it than this, of course, but it does seem to me that LvM doesn't fully address the problem of the non-productive or the non-reasonable man.

Posted by: johngalt at February 16, 2011 3:39 PM

February 12, 2011

Bachmann-Palin '12

The 2011 CPAC preference poll for president was released today. Ron Paul won again. So since that poll is a self-selecting joke, I'll talk about the scientific polls instead. The RCP average on Republican 2012 Presidential Nomination from November through January 23 shows Huckabee as the leader by 0.1 points - not really a lead but a tie for the lead with Romney.

Huckabee - 18.9
Romney - 18.8
Palin - 16.4
Gingrich - 10.5
Christie - 8.7
Paul - 6.0
Pawlenty - 4.1

Some observations:

1) Other than Gingrich and Paul, all are former state governors. (Not a senator in the bunch, nor a McCain.)

2) Christie's not running, and Paul is, well, Paul. Pawlenty is sort of a newcomer to the game so may be expected to poll only 4 percent but it's hard to imagine his paint-drying personality making him a desirable national figure. This leaves the top four as pretty much "the field" as of today.

3) The hard working, PAC running, policy wonking former Speaker of the House seems like he should be polling higher than a "Hockey Mom" who "the majority of America doesn't want to hear anything from" but politics is a strange game.

And then there is today's Fox News poll. This one didn't ask for a single preference, but a thumbs up or thumbs down on fourteen different prospects.

FNC%20GOP%20primary%20poll%20Feb2011.jpg

The same names are in the top four, and some of the other names on the list do better than Christie and Pawlenty. This cattle call is deep enough to include even Jon Huntsman, though Ron Paul didn't make the cut at Fox HQ. But most interesting to me is how well the other female prospect is doing despite only recently being added to the list. Michele Bachmann is showing respectable cred. And speaking for myself now, other than the sitting New Jersey governor there isn't a single person on that list I'd more like to see take on President Obama head-to-head for the general election. She's clean, articulate, intelligent, and a genuine fiscal conservative. In many ways she is Sarah Palin without much of the negative baggage. (Has this ever happened before? Two women vying for the same party's nomination in the same election? Not that I can recall.)

So let's make the most of it! Of course, my analysis and my preferences mean nothing in Iowa and New Hampshire but I'd be totally jazzed by a Bachmann-Palin (or Palin-Bachmann) ticket. I think they compliment each other well and since none of the GOP hopefuls is polling well versus the president right now we may as well go all-in with a no-compromise candidate, or candidates.

Dagny likes the idea. She says, "The men have screwed things up for a long time. Let's see if the women can do any better."

2012 Posted by JohnGalt at 7:15 PM | What do you think? [10]
But jk thinks:

I dispute the characterization on Reagan. And I'll not beat around the bush, President Reagan is exactly what I have in mind.

I suggest that we need a Gov. Christie type. He's not an egghead like Garden State predecessor, Wilson, but he is capable of delivering a formal, reasoned defense of liberty and limited government.

I further suggest, with admittedly minimal evidence, that Gov. Palin and Rep Bachmann have to date appealed to more populist sentiments. There might be more than we have seen. Reagan hid it on purpose. But I look forward to a candidate who can clearly express a serious differentiation in policy. With any luck, said candidate would -- like a Christie or Gov. Daniels -- have a record to run on.

Posted by: jk at February 14, 2011 3:39 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Or a Palin. C'mon now, we all know she resigned as governor to start a presidential campaign preparation. Prior to that her record was admirable.

I'll see if I can find an exemplary youtube of MB for you.

And I'll now coin a moniker for the Bachmann-Palin '12 campaign: Bachmann Palin Overdrive.

Yeah baby!

Posted by: johngalt at February 14, 2011 5:27 PM
But jk thinks:

Not as generous as you on Gov. Palin's record. She shoveled Federal dollars around because that's what they do up north. Probably a lot less graft than the Murkowskis. But tough choices and spending cuts? I'd rather see evidence of that than a good YouTube.

Posted by: jk at February 14, 2011 5:43 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

"Bachmann-Palin Overdrive 2012: Takin' Care of Business." Fits on a bumper sticker, too.

In the Sarahcuda's defense, my recollection is that her resignation was in no small part a reaction to a chain of harassing lawsuits from haters, and I'm willing to take that at face value. Secondarily, her subsequent role as a kingmaker could potentially be more valuable than were she to be a candidate again, but I would have no problem getting behind her candidacy. In my opinion, she's not fragile in the face of opposition, and could meet them head on.

"Bachmann-Palin Overdrive 2012: You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet." Yeah, I like it.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at February 14, 2011 7:33 PM
But jk thinks:

Ahem. "She's Come Undone" (Yeah, it predates BTO, but it's Randy's best work....)

Posted by: jk at February 14, 2011 7:55 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And I was thinking "Takin' Care of Business" would make an excellent campaign rally song.

Palin's AK Gov. record includes near-record budget cuts in successive years, refusing pay increases, expending 1/5th as much as her predecessor to run the governor's office and selling the state jet.

Michele Bachmann, 8 years Palin's senior, opposed hiking the Pell grant, is pro oil, a climate change "skeptic", opposed all of the bailout bills, is anti-Obamacare, founded the Congressional Tea Party Caucus, and introduced a bill to prevent the ban of incandescent light bulbs.

IMHO, these are respectable records.

Posted by: johngalt at February 15, 2011 3:41 PM

Fictional 'Atlas Shrugged' Becomes America's Reality

With the 'Atlas Shrugged' movie [thanks for the link KA] set to open in just two months it is nice to see favorable treatment of the book in the press. This short column by Michael Smith of the Panama City News Herald includes one of the most objective summaries of the plot that I've ever read. But the main point is to show how the 1957 fictional plot so closely mirrors 21st century current events.

Hayek and Rand provide examples that are simplified views of our current times and the evolution of governmental control using collectivist policies in a "crisis" as an effective approach to problem resolution. A similar march toward a predictable endgame pitting the "looters" against the "producers" of value is clearly visible today.

And yes, he does also quote Hayek. (Now you can't resist clicking through, can you!)


Otequay of the Ayday

While looking for publication numbers for Rand's 'Atlas Shrugged' I found the data on this review page. It included this sarcastic quip by the New Yorker magazine in their review of the book upon its release:

The review in the New Yorker called the theme unbelievable and pointless. "After all," wrote the reviewer, [in October, 1957] "to warn contemporary America against abandoning its factories, neglecting technological progress and abolishing the profit motive seems a little like admonishing water against running uphill."

Nah, those things could never happen in contemporary America.

But jk thinks:

Insightful and prescient as ever over at the Times. Mister Toohey write that himself?

Stunning.

Posted by: jk at February 13, 2011 10:38 AM

February 11, 2011

Fracking EPA

A companion story to BR's Pique Oil: The EPA shall let no low-cost oil go unpunished.

The EPA has proposed examining every aspect of hydraulic fracturing, from water withdrawals to waste disposal, according to a draft plan the agency released Tuesday.

Does this come as any surprise? With so much new oil becoming accessible through the new process the energy nazis at EPA have to find some way to put a halt to it.

The EPA proposal notes that 603 rigs were drilling horizontal wells in June 2010, more than twice as many as were operating a year earlier. Horizontal wells can require millions of gallons of water per well, a much greater volume than in conventional wells.

One point of contention is the breadth of the study.

Chris Tucker, a spokesman for Energy in Depth, said he understands the need to address any stage of the fracking that might affect drinking water, but he's skeptical that water withdrawals meet the criteria.

Hey EPA ... Frack off.

But Keith Arnold thinks:

If the EPA ever had any usefulness - and I doubt it - then it has outlived it. We have a Department of Justice turning justice on its head, a State Department in a state of disarray, and now this. If ever you questioned whether government continues to serve the people of this nation, question it now.

On a highly related subject, let's watch a movie. I would value your thoughts on this trailer: http://tinyurl.com/64t8oe3

My only serious quibble so far it thier having updated it. I'm sure it will not seriously damage my reaction. I'm sure this will be a thread of it's own - on April 16.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at February 12, 2011 2:06 AM
But jk thinks:

That's the Samizdata rule. They have "Ministry of.." instead of "Department of," but they say Ministry of X is always the thing best poised to destroy X. As you enumerate, it is frighteningly accurate.

A beloved but misguided relative has devoted years to establishing a Department of Peace. I'm certain if such a thing ever transpired, the Shakers and the Amish would be shooting each other in the streets.

I thought the trailer looked purdy good!

Posted by: jk at February 12, 2011 10:28 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I was surprised that the movie has a contemporary setting, but not disappointed. The dialog in the trailer is not recognizable as Rand's. It has been modernized as well. This is probably a good thing. For devotees and neophites alike it will be more appealing, just as "Enterprise" could appeal to young and old Trek fans. And anyone who wants the original dialog can find it in one of about 7 million places.

I'm excited and looking forward to multiple viewings. That Dagny looks like a fireball, eh?

Posted by: johngalt at February 12, 2011 12:50 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

'Scuse me while I peel myself off the ceiling.

The reason that drillers started drilling horizontal wells - at higher cost - was because the Department of Fish and Wildlife, the EPA, Department of Interior, multiple state agencies and every "conservation" organization in the country were having little tiger kittens over the footprint and environmental impact of drilling platforms; they might interrupt with the copulation of Prebble's Tit Mouse. So, instead of drilling seven conventional wells on seven platforms, they drill seven horizontal wells from a single platform. These guys will shamelessly say and do anything to inhibit oil exploration merely for the sake of inhibiting it.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 12, 2011 9:40 PM

Compromise?

Here are a few words of advice to the fellows behind the "No Labels" movement:

Part III, Chapter 7 - "This is John Galt Speaking:"

"The man who refuses to judge, who neither agrees nor disagrees, who declares that there are no absolutes and believes that he escapes responsibility, is the man responsible for all the blood that is now spilled in the world. Reality is an absolute, existence is an absolute, a speck of dust is an absolute and so is a human life. Whether you live or die is an absolute. Whether you have a piece of bread or not, is an absolute. Whether you eat your bread or see it vanish into a looter's stomach, is an absolute."

It's even more pointed if you continue reading...

UPDATE: Yes, the word "break" instead of "bread" (underlined) was a typo. My 21st printing copy has it correctly. The error must have been imposed on the electronic version I own and excerpt from.

"There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil. The man who is wrong still retains some respect for truth, if only by accepting the responsibility of choice. But the man in the middle is the knave who blanks out the truth in order to pretend that no choice or values exist, who is willing to sit out the course of any battle, willing to cash in on the blood of the innocent or to crawl on his belly to the guilty, who dispenses justice by condemning both the robber and the robbed to jail, who shoves conflicts by ordering the thinker and the fool to meet each other halfway. In any compromise between food and poison, it is only death that can win. In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit. In that transfusion of blood which drains the good to feed the evil, the compromiser is the transmitting rubber tube."
But jk thinks:

Like. (typo: "eat your bread" perhaps?)

Posted by: jk at February 11, 2011 4:25 PM

Pretty Much pr0n

When I think of Esquire Magazine, my first thought is its support of great American fiction. A place where Hemmingway could pick up some money to finance a trip to Spain.

Which is very good inter-millennial branding, because it is just a porn magazine now, isn't it? I mean, I sport a libertarian sentiment on pornography and all. Like Justice Blackmun, I know it when I see it.

And you won't see anything untoward in their special feature preview of March's cover girl: Angel/Firefly/Sarah Connor sweetheart, Ms. Summer Glau.

But Hemmingway it ain't.

Television Posted by John Kranz at 2:53 PM | What do you think? [5]
But jk thinks:

To be sure it wasn't Hemmingway, I watched it another time.

Posted by: jk at February 11, 2011 3:30 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Watching this elicited a cognitive dissonance vis-a-vis decapitating Rievers with her bare hands. I just couldn't reconcile those two observations. But then, maybe in that little black number... Yeah, I'm starting to connect the dots.

Posted by: johngalt at February 12, 2011 3:36 PM
But johngalt thinks:

But really, Justice Blackmun was an idiot. P()rnograpy is very easy to describe. If she's wearing clothes, or a reasonable facsimile thereof, then it's art, not p()rn. And just because I now have this excuse, some examples:

"Battlestation Midway"

"Bommin' Betty"

"We Salute You"

This postcard to the Muslim Brotherhood

And even modern pinup art like this from here.

I'll leave it as an exercise to the reader to provide an example that invalidates my definition.

Posted by: johngalt at February 12, 2011 4:52 PM
But jk thinks:

Umm, David?

Posted by: jk at February 14, 2011 3:39 PM
But johngalt thinks:

My rule doesn't cover those without clothes. I limited my dispensation to the simpler subset "clothed."

Posted by: johngalt at February 18, 2011 3:40 PM

WSJ Ed Page 1, Kudlow 0

I'll give Larry Kudlow credit: he had this story on his show the night before last. The WSJ gets to it today.

But I was <Sen Tom Daschle voice>saddened and disappointed</Sen Tom Daschle voice> to hear Larry take a populist, nationalist, anti-free trade stance. Kudlow's a free trader, but he liked this deal about as much as Green Bay would like a Chinese purchase of the Packers. He had former SEC Chief Harvey Pitt on to explore avenues to hold up the deal through regulation and litigation.

The NYSE is a holy temple to Kudlow, I can dig that. But if you believe in what it stands for, and not the symbol, you must say "willkommen" to a firm that has the capital and thinks it can provide comparative advantage, no matter where it is located.

Kudlow's guests didn't push back, but most voiced the concerns of today's WSJ Editorial. The problem is that we starved the golden goose, not a Teutonic penchant for goosemeat.

If the merger proceeds, the temptation in Washington will be to fret about foreign ownership of U.S. financial assets. But far more constructive would be some reflection about Washington's contribution to sending these assets and trading offshore. The Dodd-Frank law requires mountains of new rules that will further burden U.S. financial players, not least in the new derivatives regime emerging from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. We would not be surprised if the NYSE Euronext managers view the Deutsche Börse merger as a potential refuge for its derivatives business if CFTC Chairman Gary Gensler realizes all of his regulatory ambitions.

I think everybody would agree on the WSJ's conclusion:
For most of the last century, America could count on the size of its economy and quality of its technology to give it a competitive edge. No more. If we want the U.S. to be home to the next great financial institution, or even to keep the ones we have, our politicians need to make America a more inviting place to trade and do business.

But Boulder Refugee thinks:

"...Teutonic penchant for goosemeat." Beautiful!

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 11, 2011 1:03 PM

Pique Oil

"Peak oil" has been forecast for about as long a stingy-haired, berobed sandal-wearers have been holding signs on street corners warning that the end is near. Somehow, technological advances just keep proving the predictions wrong.

Yesterday, the AP carried a piece describing new drilling techniques that could open reserves in the mid-US that exceed the Gulf of Mexico. This is the Niobrara formation under Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas and Colorado.

This new drilling is expected to raise U.S. production by at least 20 percent over the next five years. And within 10 years, it could help reduce oil imports by more than half, advancing a goal that has long eluded policymakers.

[...]

Petroleum engineers first used the method in 2007 to unlock oil from a 25,000-square-mile formation under North Dakota and Montana known as the Bakken. Production there rose 50 percent in just the past year, to 458,000 barrels a day, according to Bentek Energy, an energy analysis firm.

[...]

In the Bakken formation, production is rising so fast there is no space in pipelines to bring the oil to market. Instead, it is being transported to refineries by rail and truck. Drilling companies have had to erect camps to house workers.

Unemployment in North Dakota has fallen to the lowest level in the nation, 3.8 percent — less than half the national rate of 9 percent. The influx of mostly male workers to the region has left local men lamenting a lack of women. Convenience stores are struggling to keep shelves stocked with food.

[...]

Within five years, analysts and executives predict, the newly unlocked fields are expected to produce 1 million to 2 million barrels of oil per day, enough to boost U.S. production 20 percent to 40 percent. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates production will grow a more modest 500,000 barrels per day.

Of course, back during the ANWR debate, 1,000,000 barrels per day was "insignificant" and the 10 years-to-market was too far in the future to be meaningful. Never mind that such production would be online today and boost domestic production another 10 percent.

Hat tip: foxnew.com and denverpost.com

Oil and Energy Posted by Boulder Refugee at 10:39 AM | What do you think? [3]
But jk thinks:

First: ten points for the headline.

Second: a speculative segue. I also saw a short piece that claimed communications exposed by WikiLeaks show that the Saudis are finding it difficult to maintain current production.

Twixt this find and the Canadian tar sands, what Joel Garreau called "The Empty Quarter" of North America might become "the Saudi Arabia" of oil.

Posted by: jk at February 11, 2011 11:44 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Over the weekend I intended to write about how the increased exploration activity in the region is fueling economic development in my home town of Fort Lupton. Seems a big oil concern is enlarging their existing facility there. Anyone ever hear of an outfit called Halliburton?

Posted by: johngalt at February 11, 2011 4:03 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Here is the story I was referring to from last weekend. The "energy corridor" between Fort Lupton on the north and Brighton on the south largely consists of Halliburton (in Lupton) and Vestas in Brighton. I'm now taking bets for which will outlast the other. Odds are currently 10:1 against the windmills.

Posted by: johngalt at February 11, 2011 8:49 PM

February 10, 2011

Nepotism

My nephew, Tyrone, gets a picture and some play in a Denver Post story about male elementary school teachers.

Education Posted by John Kranz at 2:00 PM | What do you think? [0]

Economic Euphamisms

Neoclassical theory certainly allows for agents to have high disutility of work (i.e., to be "lazy") and high discount rates (i.e., to be "short-sighted"). The logic of neoclassical welfare economics still applies to those at the extreme tails of the preference distribution: expanding the opportunity set of the lazy and short-sighted makes them subjectively better off. -- Scott Beaulier and Bryan Caplan
From a very interesting paper: Behavioral Economics and Perverse Effects of the Welfare State. (Hat-tip: Nick Shulz.)

Practice with me: "I am not lazy, I have a high 'disutility for work,' and can, on occasion, 'have a high discount rate.'"

UPDATE: And I'll pass out a Quote of the Day to the same paper:

It is wise to pursue paternalistic reasoning cautiously. (Glaeser 2006) There is a risk of redefining all behaviors you disapprove of as "self-control problems," and all beliefs you disagree with as "judgmental biases." The danger you pose to yourself is probably trivial compared to the danger of living under the veto of a randomly selected behavioral economist.


The "Other" Chrysler Commercial

They had this one in the can and somebody said "let's go with the Eminem Ad." ???

Hat-tip: Ed Driscoll, who says:

For proof that Chrysler can produce an ad that reminds viewers of more positive connotations of the 20th century than the Welfare State in maximum overdrive, check out the other commercial they made in time for the Super Bowl. Note how swanky the visuals are, and how they're geared towards such style icons (real and imagined) as Don Draper, Grace Kelly, Sinatra and JFK, rather than Eminem.

Of course, this ad's slogan is neatly answered by the Super Bowl ad. Whatever happened to style? It got mugged on a side street by a wannabe Detroit rapper in a sweatshirt and hoodie.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:38 AM | What do you think? [4]
But Charlie PA Tpk thinks:

I do like the 'style' commercial infinitely better than the thuggish one.

I also find the music haunting, and realized I heard it in another automobile commercial: a VW ad: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=OXOrbo6DX9U

I wonder the name of that soundtrack.

Posted by: Charlie PA Tpk at February 10, 2011 11:22 AM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

This one is much better than Emineffingem to this 50-something geezer. In fairness to Chrysler, however, the two ads hit totally different demographics and are not interchangeable.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 10, 2011 2:22 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And whoever commissioned this ad has been fired for promoting a return to American Exceptionalism.

Posted by: johngalt at February 10, 2011 2:56 PM
But jk thinks:

Demographics aside, I'd argue that both are "institutional ads" promoting the company and not directly its products. Marketing folk realize they need to define the relationship of the bailed-out, foreign-owned ex-number three carmaker (that was #640 on their tagline list) with the country. And somebody chose the Eminem spot. I'd be kind enough top suggest they were going for "edgy" but I think they picked the wrong one.

Posted by: jk at February 10, 2011 3:00 PM

Coffeehousin'



Coffeehouse

My Funny Valentine


"My new mandolin meets Rodgers & Hart"



Live at the Coffeehouse dot Com



I never turn down a request -- somebody wanted to hear the new mandolin?

But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Love at first sight!

I hope Reason is paying an ad fee.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 10, 2011 2:14 PM
But jk thinks:

Thanks. I should at least get a free t-shirt...

Posted by: jk at February 10, 2011 3:01 PM

February 9, 2011

Nice Buffy Lit Crit

Yeah, I know, Egypt and the national debt. Creeping Velveeta Socialism.

But some ThreeSourcers might enjoy this take on "I Was Made to Love You" as a retelling of Shaw's Pygmalion.

Television Posted by John Kranz at 6:14 PM | What do you think? [0]

Joke of the Day

Hey, today we learn economists can be attractive. And a noted professor displays actual humor:

The St. Louis Fed is running a video contest on the importance of an independent central bank. Winner gets a free lunch with Ron Paul.

Actually, $1,000.

But Boulder Refugee thinks:

I sincerely hope the Fed Board passed the hat between them to get the $1,000. I fear, however, that they are using taxpayer money to create a justification for using taxpayer money. The joke is on us.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 9, 2011 6:00 PM
But jk thinks:

They sold a few bonds in the FOMC, br, no biggie.

Posted by: jk at February 9, 2011 6:10 PM

Valuing AOL

Insty brings the comical news that AOL's market cap dropped almost the exact value of their Huffington Post purchase.

Thought one: the share price plummeted because thousands of stockholders said "holy cow. AOL is still alive?" They then checked their portfolio and liquidated their remaining positions.

Thought two: I think it actually is worth $315 Million. I may not agree with them too frequently but it is a good traffic magnet. If you're AOL, you need something.

UPDATE: Where else do you go to find that no, 30,000 pigs are not flowing down the Dawson river.


Just When You Get to Like the Guy

Michael Milken perhaps wins some award for rags to riches to rags to riches cycles. The poster boy of 80s "greed" rejuvenated himself -- and to some extent greed -- as many Americans realized he was right. The man succeeded in battling Altruism and Cancer, he should be a ThreeSources hero.

Today, he's on the case of Pharma innovation. He sounds like me with a good editor as he decries the abysmal P/E ratios in the sector:

Consider companies that make consumer products--things like soft drinks, detergent, cosmetics and beer. While their price-earnings ratios will vary, in today's market their average will most likely be in the neighborhood of 20. But the average P/E of the largest American pharmaceutical research companies (Abbott Labs, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly, Merck and Pfizer) was recently near 10. Investors must have concluded that pretzels and eyeliner produce faster profit growth than prescription medicines.

Lower Pharma P/E ratios are a recent phenomenon. A generation ago, drug firms regularly topped magazine lists of the most-admired companies in America, a reputation usually reflected in their stock prices. But facing the specter of regulated returns, enterprise values dropped sharply during debates about proposed health-reform legislation in 1993. When the proposals failed in Congress, valuations eventually recovered. In the last decade, Pharma P/E ratios dropped again.

Contributing to these lower valuations are patent expirations, regulatory complexity, uncertainty about litigation exposure, and high U.S. taxes on repatriated foreign income. These factors undoubtedly influenced the decision by Procter & Gamble to leave the pharmaceutical business entirely in 2009 and concentrate on consumer products.

Procter & Gamble responded rationally to clear market signals that discouraged development of life-saving drugs. But for people whose health, and perhaps survival, will depend on these medicines--that includes you and me--the implications of the disparity in market valuations are ominous.


Pretty good stuff. So what is Milken's answer to "patent expirations, regulatory complexity, uncertainty about litigation exposure, and high U.S. taxes on repatriated foreign income?" Clearly, the answer is more Federal spending and regulation.

Sorry if that last paragraph induced whiplash, but I'm serious. He wants to increase the FDA's budget rather than shrink its mission. He wants to increase NIH spending (whatever, we do much worse things...) Support prevention (I think all that's left are mandatory, random, government colonoscopies). Match other countries' tax breaks (who is this guy?)

He clearly identifies the problem of too much government, enumerates its costs in dollars and life. Then, curiously, calls for more government to fix it.

Maybe Michael Douglas was right.


Pharmaceuticals Posted by John Kranz at 11:41 AM | What do you think? [0]

Hoss III

Rep. Jeff Flake, (HOSS - AZ), voted against the Appropriations Committee's proposed budget cuts.

The 27-22 vote broke down by party, with two notable exceptions: GOP Reps. Jeff Flake (R., Ariz.) and Cynthia Lummis (R., Wyo.) joined with Democrats and voted 'no' in protest over cuts they viewed as insufficient. Republicans very nearly lost a third member. Freshman Rep. Tom Graves (R., Ga.) had also threatened to oppose the measure, but was won over at the last minute.

Dey was too small.
He certainly didn't sign up for the Appropriations Committee to make friends.

112th Congress Posted by John Kranz at 10:52 AM | What do you think? [0]

February 8, 2011

Quote of the Day

James Pethokoukis says it's "time for a Milton Friedman break." I concur:

But the doctrine of "social responsibility" taken seriously would extend the scope of the political mechanism to every human activity. It does not differ in philosophy from the most explicitly collectivist doctrine. It differs only by professing to believe that collectivist ends can be attained without collectivist means. That is why, in my book Capitalism and Freedom, I have called it a "fundamentally subversive doctrine" in a free society, and have said that in such a society, "there is one and only one social responsibility of business--to use it resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud."

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 4:10 PM | What do you think? [9]
But johngalt thinks:

OK, can you give a better idea of how Mises' "economic and scientific principles, providing a way to accept freedom without rewiring intrinsic human behavior" is different from Atlantis? So far I don't see any distinction besides your assertion of being a thousand times easier to share with others.

Rather than leave my request open-ended I'll try to focus it by pointing out that Rand saw two different kinds of "intrinsic human behavior." One uses reason acting in concert with reality. She called this "fully human." The other evades reason and reality, and even thought itself. She called this "the culture of death." Any free society that purports to appeal to both of these at the same time is a perilous proposition.

Posted by: johngalt at February 9, 2011 7:07 PM
But jk thinks:

It's hard to pitch this as some kind of cosmic smackdown as I don't think either's ideas are in conflict.

Where Rand and many of her followers make a moral and philosophical case for freedom and private ownership, Mises presents the case economically. He shows, methodically, why Socialism in all its forms is untenable.

He is writing this in 1922. We think we're fighting the elites, but his whole world has accepted Socialism as modern, intelligent and inevitable. The Fabians are riding high in Britain, 16 of the last 20 years in America has been under a "progressive" President, and Bolshevik revolution has yet to be proven evil, and the Nazis are making noises where he writes.

He explains that under communal control of the means of production, that the producers will decide what is produced, whereas if Capital owns it, the consumers will decide.

He points out the value to peace to have each individual choose his position in a division of labor economy. He talks about the importance of price models in a dynamic economy to signal resource allocation. He talks about directing capital to its best use. He talks about the fairness of income inequality.

He even applies it to some not-traditionally economic areas including a very contemporary (for 1922) look at gender roles.

Few of the ideas will be brand new to ThreeSourcers in 2011 (though the producers' disposing of production was new to me), but he lays them brick by brick to build a substantive edifice of the benefits of Liberalism.

As I said, at the end Rand and Mises have told the same story and constructed the same environment. Where Rand builds the case philosophically, Mises is "Scientific" (his word, I would use "economic.")


Posted by: jk at February 9, 2011 7:46 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"Fairness of income inequality." A philosophical case for this rests in first agreeing that the concept "fairness" means impartial and equal treatment and not equal reward. The former is the dictionary definition. The latter is the Progressive definition.

The "fairness" of income inequality needs no defense in the absence of the egalitarians perverted claim that equal results are the "fair" product of unequal causes or performance; income inequality simply "exists." Yet the world in which we, like Mises before us, live does include egalitarians.

Rand dealt with this by explaining that causes have effects; that production has rewards. Then went on to explain that egalitarians have no benevolent passion for equality. Instead, she wrote, "... the claim to it is only a rationalization to cover a passionate hatred of the good for being the good." Fairness is not the issue. Income inequality is not the issue. The issue is an attempt to violate the physical Law of Causality on the part of these mystical, non-productive humans.

What this explanation requires of the listener is to acknowledge that redistributionists don't actually love the needy, they merely hate the successful. (This threshold is too high for many to cross.)

What would LvM say?

Posted by: johngalt at February 10, 2011 3:44 PM
But jk thinks:

If I could copy/paste out of Kindle (or type worth a dang), I'd've drowned you in quotes by now.

Mises covers the topic at length (he is arguing against actual Marxists, after all) and I think you'd dig it all. In addition to the expected differential between skills, smarts and dedication, he discusses the price signals of different occupations, migration and geography, relative dangers of occupations, and selection of artists.

If everyone is going to be paid the same, we're going to have a surfeit of Hawaiian Ukulele luthiers.

I also liked his suggestion that the wealthy propel innovation by funding early adoption and experimentation in new products and services. The first Plasma TV I ever saw was $24K for a small one; if nobody bought that, I would never have seen my $800 42" or its $600 LCD replacement.

Posted by: jk at February 10, 2011 4:41 PM
But johngalt thinks:

You're right. They're both pretty much the same and both arguments will fall on deaf ears when it comes to the egalitarians.

At the beginning I read into your words an implication that Rand's philosophy requires some kind of "rewiring of human nature." Is that really what you meant?

Posted by: johngalt at February 11, 2011 1:11 AM
But jk thinks:

Yes, I suppose I did say that. And yes, it does go back to the "Elevator Talk" wars.

I also claimed as hardwired human nature the desire of "improving society and leaving a better situation to posterity" up to and including Altruism. Again, maybe I'm too stupid to pick it up, but I read Rand by the schooner in my 20s and never sensed a contradiction.

It is Tracinski's and Peikoff's expositions on Objectivism -- and, too a lesser extent Yaron Brook's, yours, and dagny's -- that I wrestle with.

Extirpating altruism is the foundation of this objectivist epiphany. If I might insult all ThreeSourcers at once, it seems quite similar to "accepting Jesus Christ as your savior." As ye are reborn in Rand, so shall ye be free...

Mises does not require that you discard altruism. He explains the same things Rand does, with economics: "Hey this sounds nice on paper, but it won't work and here's why."

Agreed that both are hard for egalitarians to accept, but I am very comfortable making Mises's arguments. As soon as you get to "the virtue of selfishness" with moderates who are not devoted to philosophy, you're dead. They'll settle their bar tab and shuffle out the door.

Posted by: jk at February 11, 2011 10:43 AM

Existence Exists

Why state the obvious, you may ask? Because many postmodern schools of thought deny it.

Part III, Chapter 7 - "This is John Galt Speaking:"

"We, the men of the mind, are now on strike against you in the name of a single axiom, which is the root of our moral code, just as the root of yours is the wish to escape it: the axiom that existence exists."
"Existence exists -- and the act of grasping that statement implies two corollary axioms: that something exists which one perceives and that one exists possessing consciousness, consciousness being the faculty of perceiving that which exists.

"If nothing exists, there can be no consciousness: a consciousness with nothing to be conscious of is a contradiction in terms. A consciousness conscious of nothing but itself is a contradiction in terms: before it could identify itself as consciousness, it had to be conscious of something. If that which you claim to perceive does not exist, what you possess is not consciousness.

"Whatever the degree of your knowledge, these two -- existence and consciousness -- are axioms you cannot escape, these two are the irreducible primaries implied in any action you undertake, in any part of your knowledge and in its sum, from the first ray of light you perceive at the start of your life to the widest erudition you might acquire at its end. Whether you know the shape of a pebble or the structure of a solar system, the axioms remain the same: that it exists and that you know it."

This is the foundation of my philosophy and world view. What's yours?


I'd've Tried the Black Eyed Peas Halftime Show...

"Only in Boulder" the denizens assert with great pride. As you start to question the collective municipal wisdom, the phrase takes a different meaning -- but I digress.

Unwelcome bear on Boulder hospital property chased off with country music

Maybe it was the country-western music or maybe it was just too loud to sleep. Either way, Colorado Division of Wildlife officials succeeded over the weekend in shooing away a hibernating bear after it was found holed up under a residence on Boulder Community Hospital property.


This facility used to be devoted to outpatient rehab, and I know it well from the lovely bride's 10 week stay. It is right at the edge where the town ends and the mountains begin. Not too suprising that a bear would be there.

Colorado Posted by John Kranz at 2:43 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Sheehan... Churchill... The names in this story are evocative.

I laughed at the suggestion that some other kind of music "might not have worked as a deterrent." Jeez man, if they played country-western music that loud in northwest Boulder I'm surprised they didn't turn out a few hibernating hippies too!

Posted by: johngalt at February 8, 2011 3:25 PM

Daniels 2012

I think Gov. Christie may be too busy touring his stand-up comedy act. I followed Insty's link to this one, but I had not seen this one:

2012 Posted by John Kranz at 11:53 AM | What do you think? [2]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Christie has taken the teacher's union and given it the appearance and aroma of roadkill. The damage to the union may be permanent and is likely to spread to the rest of the nation. With unions as the #1 funder of the Democratic machine, this is cutting off their supply lines.

Christie is dead-on in his attack on public sector unions as the key to controlling government spending. This is especially true at the state/local level and somewhat so at the Federal level (entitlements bigger issues at the national level). Christie is a political field general, if there ever was one, who understands attack points and leverage in a way that would make Patton doff his star-studded helmet.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 8, 2011 12:20 PM
But johngalt thinks:

He doesn't need to run for POTUS to make a difference. He could just write some of our candidates' speeches!

Posted by: johngalt at February 8, 2011 3:50 PM

Ice Station Atlantis

Where the hell is Algore and why didn't he tell us he was coming for a visit?

Yes, I knew that snow was forecast to begin around 11 pm tonight. I was finishing up some work on the indoor arena footing with the skidloader around 9 pm and noticed horizontal snow outside the open doorway. Funny, I didn't recall the forecast including WIND.

So my plans to mount the plow blade on my riding mower and deliver to dad's place in town before the snow hit were scuttled. Instead, just taking the trash can out to the road felt like something out of Admiral Byrd's "Alone" with the barbed wire fence serving as my lifeline to get back to the house. (Well, it wasn't really that bad since I could still see the porch light but I'm taking artistic license.)

The Atlantis Farm weather page doesn't show it but the wind chill reading dropped below zero around 10:30 and is still dropping with the thermometer (down 20 degrees in 90 minutes) while winds hold steady around 20, gusting to 30. It's exhilirating to experience these weather events in such an isolated domicile. It's definitely got a frontier feeling to it.

While I'm on my soapbox seems like a good time to tell Mr. and Mrs. Refugee that while unloading 6 cubic yards of wood shavings by hand (345 scoops of the grain shovel) and moving sand into the corners of the arena I came to the conclusion they are probably responsible for creating more actual jobs than has President Obama! (Mrs. Refugee brought her equestrian training operation to our barn for the winter months, along with a half-dozen or so horses.) But I love the work and we're glad to have them. Maybe one of these days the Refugee himself will come out for a visit!

But jk thinks:

Glad to know that the AB3S (Always Buy Three Sources) program is paying dividends. Ricardo, Schmicardo...

Posted by: jk at February 8, 2011 10:31 AM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

345 scoops? You counted them?!? Dude, that's OCD...

Yes, The Refugee will come out and perhaps share some suds, but most likely after the bird season has come to a complete end. There's this pooch here that drags me out to the fields at every opportunity... it's his fault...

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 8, 2011 11:45 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I didn't count them this time, but I did once before. If I were really OC I'd make sure it takes exactly 345 scoops every time.

And I think you need a new dog - mine brings me beer.

Posted by: johngalt at February 8, 2011 1:52 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Yeah, I can see it now. You get to 345 and still have two scoops to go: "Oh, shit, what do I do - what do I do - Dagny!!"

My dog brings me birds, at least when I don't miss 'em. With regard to the beer thing, I'm still teaching him to read labels so that he can bring the right one.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 8, 2011 2:45 PM

February 7, 2011

The Obama-O'Reilly Super-view

Some of you may have viewed the much touted Bill O'Reilly interview with the president before the Super Bowl. Here's the passage that caught my attention:

O'REILLY: Do you deny the assessment? Do you deny that you are a man who wants to redistribute wealth.

OBAMA: Absolutely.

O'REILLY: You deny that?

OBAMA: Absolutely. I didn't raise taxes once, I lowered taxes over the last two years.

O'REILLY: But the entitlements that you championed do redistribute wealth in the sense that they provide insurance coverage for 40 million people that don’t have it.

OBAMA: What is absolutely true is I think in this country, there's no reason why, if you get sick you should go bankrupt. The notion that that's a radical principle, I don't think the majority of people would agree with you.

First of all, "I lowered taxes" is not a defense against being a redistributionist. What he couldn't say was that he lowered taxes equally for everyone, because he didn't. He lowered taxes on low-income earners, effectively increasing redistribution of wealth ... the original charge he tried to deflect.

But O'Reilly didn't call him on that, and since the cuts were so small it is sort of small potatoes. When Bill asked the president about redistribution in Obamacare he deflected. Effectively he said, "Redistribution is OK if the majority of people agree with you."

Other than that though, no, President Obama is "absolutely" not a man who wants to redistribute wealth.


2012 Watch

Christie, Daniels, Palin, Huckabee, who cares? Chris Cillizza at the WaPo has decided the 2012 GOP Nomination is "not worth having."

Fast forward three months, however, and the president's approval ratings are up, the unemployment rate is down and Democrats are feeling a whole lot more confident about Obama's chances of keeping hold of the White House next November.

Which prompts the question: Is the Republican presidential nomination worth having?


Which prompts the question "Is Cillizza old enough to have seen the SNL that joked about Democrats declining the nomination to avoid the 1992 reelection juggernaut of President George Herbert Walker Bush?" Yes, to his credit Cillizza is not Ezra Klein and realizes that American History goes back before last Thursday. He doesn't reference the SNL skit, but:
Those stratospheric numbers kept some of the biggest-name Democrats -- Mario Cuomo, anyone? -- out of the Democratic race and allowed a Southern governor named Bill Clinton to emerge as the nominee against a incumbent president whose approval rating stood at just 33 percent in October 1992. (For you non-math majors out there, that's a 46-point collapse in under 18 months.)

So, February 2011 is too early to call the 2012 election. As Taranto would say "out on a limb." But any suggestion that the current occupant is unbeatable is suspect.

2012 Posted by John Kranz at 6:34 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Nevertheless, one wonders if Christie is not keeping his powder dry for 2016. Beating a sitting president is always an uphill task. If unemployment is 8% or lower and inflation has not heated up a year from now, expect some R candidates to conclude that the nomination is not worth having. If, however, the misery index exceeds 11, guys like Christie might jump in late.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 8, 2011 11:57 AM

Forsberg Watch

For those who've not yet heard, former Avalanche great Peter Forsberg (age 37) has re-signed with the team ($1M) for the remainder of the season. The team's next game is 7:30 pm tonight in Phoenix (Altitude 2). But he can't play until he gets an immigration work visa. Unless a miracle is pulled off today it looks like his first start will be Wednesday in Minneapolis.

But jk thinks:

Yeah, ALL Colorado ThreeSourcers owe me an apology. Immigration troubles, indeed.

Posted by: jk at February 7, 2011 6:31 PM
But johngalt thinks:

You are welcome for that batting-practice fastball.

Posted by: johngalt at February 7, 2011 6:49 PM

This Story Never Gets Old

That is, to journalists, this story never gets old. "Oh, our BlackBerrys and Laptops mean that we never leave work and why can't it be 1802 again?"

In "Who's the Boss, You or Your Gadget?" the NYTimes opens the story with three great examples of people using technology to be able to participate in important personal activities without missing important work activities. You'd think Andy Riley-Grant, Karen Riley-Grant and their fetching baby daughter Margot would be thrilled to be connected to the grid. As soon as they are voted the "Stuff White People Like Family of the Year" they will be able to immediately update their Facebook status. And yet, it seems there is some discontent in Arugulaville:

But all of this amped-up productivity comes with a growing sense of unease. Too often, people find themselves with little time to concentrate and reflect on their work. Or to be truly present with their friends and family.

There's a palpable sense "that home has invaded work and work has invaded home and the boundary is likely never to be restored," says Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project. "The new gadgetry," he adds, "has really put this issue into much clearer focus."


Palpable, huh. That sounds bad.

People now have choices. That's good. Some people will make bad choices, that's too bad. But these constant cries to go back to the caves annoy me to no end. I just went from a touchscreen almost-a-smartphone to a Windows 7 HTC-Surround (sorry, AlexC!) Working from home, I love being able to go somewhere and know that I can be found if needed. That lets me go (like the first four paragraphs), more than it ties me down (the rest of the article).

Hat-tip: Instapundit

Technology Posted by John Kranz at 3:54 PM | What do you think? [2]
But Terri thinks:

I'll second that. And frankly I'm constantly making the choice. Yes, I want to/need to slip out of the home office and yes I still want to be connected or no, I need to concentrate on what I'm doing.
The choice allows the freedom. If you're going to become a crackberry addict that's your problem, not mine.

Posted by: Terri at February 7, 2011 4:39 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

He seems to make these poor, woebegone workers into victims. Hit the damn off switch, idiots.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 8, 2011 12:05 PM

Yoda: There...is...another

Governor Christie seems pretty sincere in his presidential demurrals. But as the great political consultant, Yoda, said "there ...is...another." And it's Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels.

Governor Daniels is in the WSJ Ed Page today with a clear and passionate refutation of ObamaCare based on its effect on State budgets and sovereignty.

For state governments, the bill presents huge new costs, as we are required to enroll 15 million to 20 million more people in our Medicaid systems. In Indiana, our independent actuaries have pegged the price to state taxpayers at $2.6 billion to $3 billion over the next 10 years. This is a huge burden for our state, and yet another incremental expenditure the law's authors declined to account for truthfully.

Perhaps worse, the law expects to conscript the states as its agents in its takeover of health care. It assumes that we will set up and operate its new insurance "exchanges" for it, using our current welfare apparatuses to do the numbingly complex work of figuring out who is eligible for its subsidies, how much each person or family is eligible for, redetermining this eligibility regularly, and more. Then, we are supposed to oversee all the insurance plans in the exchanges for compliance with Washington's dictates about terms and prices.


One is forced to compare this clear thinking with Governor Mitt Romney's Massachusetts albatross. I score it Mitch 1, Mitt 0.

2012 Posted by John Kranz at 1:18 PM | What do you think? [5]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Daniels is a great policy guy. Not sure he has the charisma to be POTUS, and you really need policy and charisma. If Christie doesn't run, I would choose policy over personality but not give it much hope against Obama unless things are really in the crapper.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 7, 2011 3:37 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Policy wise, Daniels is one of my faves. But he doesn't have Christie's "presence."

I sometimes wish Romney would just go away. Then I remember when I saw him live at the state GOP convention. He was slingin' the red meat. I believe that most mainstream Republicans are getting the TEA Movement "religion" at least in their rhetoric. I just wish I had more confidence in their convictions. Which brings us full circle to a former governor of Alaska.

Posted by: johngalt at February 7, 2011 3:41 PM
But jk thinks:

Governor Griz continues to always do one better than I expect. Sigh.

Posted by: jk at February 7, 2011 4:25 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, but electability is still a concern. As "one woman" wrote:

"Don't take it personally .. .the majority of America does not want to hear anything from Sarah."

Posted by: johngalt at February 7, 2011 5:24 PM
But jk thinks:

Damn those hate-filled, violent, right-wing tea partiers...

Posted by: jk at February 8, 2011 10:36 AM

Super Bowl Commercials

Okay, let's put the persiflage aside and talk about important things. I thought the commercials were pretty good last night.

The exception was the Chrysler full length feature film spot. I'm not ragging on it, but I felt that they really tried too hard. It's a fine line to walk. Advertisers must craft a masterpiece without looking like they were trying. I'm not saying it's easy, but other guys hit it.

Upon leafing through my morning blogs, Professor Reynolds reminds with a link that taxpayers paid $9 million for that ad and now, the company needs more. That certainly does suck, but I disagree with Reynolds that the ads in genera; did. I tried to dislike the GM spots because of my avowed enmity for Government Motors. But, no, they had some good spots.

My favorite was from one of the world's greatest companies: the Hyundai hybrid ad that pictured a world "what if we always accepted the first thing that came along?" Joe Schumpeter, call your office, people were using brick-sized cell phones and CRT screens.

It was a great whack at the Prius and Honda hybrids, but it was an equally good whack at Socialism. Mises would have approved.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:22 AM | What do you think? [7]
But jk thinks:

Definitely my second fave. I made the Apple and not the Anthem connection.

I did get a weird vibe from the Chrysler commercial (even before Eminem). They showed the iron fist statue and several of the early scenes looked somehow Soviet. I don't know if they were playing against that or missed it.

The tag line, however, is perhaps the best ever: "Imported from Detroit." Genius.

Posted by: jk at February 7, 2011 1:10 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Honorable mention: Darth Vader

Posted by: johngalt at February 7, 2011 2:56 PM
But jk thinks:

Yeah the VW Vader Kid was good. But everywhere but 3src, it is acclaimed as the best, hands down no competition. There are a few others I preferred.

Posted by: jk at February 7, 2011 3:04 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

I got a laugh out of the VaderWagen kid. I had a funny thought on the Eminem/Detroit commercial, if I can add my $.02 to the exchange: notice how empty and run-down the city was until close to the end? I laughed at the unintended irony, as the Motor City continues to implode under the mismanagement of lefty racial politics and the death-spiral of the Formerly Big Three. "That's how we do it in Detroit"? I'm not sure that's something to brag about, skinny kid. For anyone who wasn't yet convinced Detroit needed to be crossed off your list of premier vacation destinations, that commercial pretty much sealed the deal.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at February 7, 2011 3:16 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I linked the Vader Kid for my eldest, who loves her Vader costume. I must also link the Budweiser ad for dagny (who loves the horses and not the beer.)

Posted by: johngalt at February 7, 2011 3:26 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Oh, and seeing Roseanne Barr taking a full-frontal smackdown from a runaway log? I could have skipped the halftime show and watched that over and over again. To quote Hoban Washburn, "... 'cause I don't think that's ever getting old."

Posted by: Keith Arnold at February 7, 2011 3:30 PM

February 5, 2011

Sharansky on Egypt

A long and detailed interview by David Feith in the WSJ Ed Page:

In the book, Mr. Sharansky argues that all people, in all cultures, want to live in freedom; that all dictatorships are inherently unstable and therefore threaten the security of other countries; and that Western powers can and should influence how free other countries are. Rarely have these arguments been dramatized as during the past weeks—in Tunisia, Jordan, Yemen and especially Egypt. So late Wednesday night I interviewed Mr. Sharansky to hear his explanation of our current revolutionary moment.

As mentioned before, Sharansky has become disillusioned with President Bush. But I think it is clear that Iranian or Egyptian dissidents cannot look to the US for even solidarity. My libertarian friends celebrate this, I cannot.

But AlexC thinks:

That is the great tragedy of the 2009 Iranian "uprising".

Lovers of freedom learned that they cannot count on the United States for even the smallest bit of moral support in their pursuits of liberty.

Shameful.

Posted by: AlexC at February 5, 2011 2:11 PM

February 4, 2011

What's the Plural of Hoss?

I think Senator Rand Paul goes right up on Rushmore next to Judge Roger Vinson.

ThreeSourcers will especially dig his comparison of the Clay cousins.

Paul, who sits at Henry's desk, grappled with the pair's legacy. Henry Clay, he noted, is a darling of historians, but it is Cassius Clay, an unapologetic agitator, who captures his eye. "A venomous pen was his first weapon of choice, a Bowie knife his second," Paul said, smiling slightly. "He was so effective with the one, he found it wise to have the other handy."

At the risk of spoiling the ending, this Kentucky Senator thinks there's too much compromise on budget cuts. And he's ready to take out his Bowie knife.

Must thing read whole.

112th Congress Posted by John Kranz at 11:39 AM | What do you think? [0]

Quote of the Day

Public intellectuals who beat the wealth disparity drum have an argument that goes something like this: Inequality is bad; there is correlation between bad things and inequality; ergo, the U.S.A. is trucking down the Pan-American Highway to banana republicdom if Congress doesn't repeal those pesky Bush tax cuts and go back to '60s cartel economics. -- Josh Brokaw, Reason.com
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Taking on my familiar contrarian role:

There is nothing wrong with wealth disparity. A healthy economic system is dependent on the existence of wealth disparity, with some parties who have wealth and are willing to trade it for goods and services, and others who want that wealth and are willing to provide those goods and services in order to obtain it. Wealth is like temperature: if everything on the planet is the same temperature, entropy has reached maximum. No winds blow, no rain falls, and the system stagnates and dies. Inequality powers both systems.

Picture a city in which every person is prosperous and comfortable. Eventually, one of them will become hungry and go to the Taco Bell for a bite to eat. But the Taco Bell is closed, because there are no employees; because everyone is prosperous, no one is willing to sling tortillas at the Taco Bell. Economic entropy. It applies to communities and nations alike.

Put another way, wealth disparity causes trade, and trade is the mechanism by which wealth disparity is alleviated, as the formerly poor gain wealth and their condition rises. One might even say that free-market trade is a more humane and more effective mechanism for redistribution of wealth than taxation and confiscation ever could be.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at February 4, 2011 12:42 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Not only might I say that, I actually do.

Well said. Love the entropy analogy. Here's a similar one - electric potential, aka "voltage." What is it called when everything is at the same voltage? Dead battery.

Posted by: johngalt at February 4, 2011 3:39 PM
But jk thinks:

Mises (as usual) hits this one out of the park. In "Socialism," he points out disparity's contribution to innovation. In the Socialist utopias he sees everyone trying to create in 1922, he points out that if they succeeded, the lack of income disparity would impede innovation because the wealthy are the early adopters. This year's luxury becomes next year's necessity -- but only if we allow those evil rich to waste their money experimenting.

Posted by: jk at February 5, 2011 11:27 AM

February 3, 2011

Obamacare now "entirely invalid"

... at least until a court higher than Vinson's says otherwise.

Here's something that I missed on the day of the ruling, and that JK and even the Washington Examiner missed when the former declared Judge Clyde Roger Vinson "our hero." (I agree, by the way. If his ruling survives higher court scrutiny he could be as great a hero to individual self-government as was George Washington in his day.)

The Examiner concluded: "Ultimately, these issues will likely be decided by the nine justices of the Supreme Court -- unless the 112th Congress beats them to it."

But Vinson himself has already beaten them to it. The media makes much of the fact that in its short life the Obamacare law has been ruled in favor of by two judges (Democrats) and against by two others (Republicans.) But the judiciary is not a democracy (usually.) It only takes one court to invalidate a law (ask California voters) if its ruling is sufficiently broad. With the severability issue, the wizards of smart who wrote Obamacare behind closed doors gave Vinson the power to do exactly that.

Professor William A. Jacobsen wrote on his Legal Insurrection blog Monday:

Judge Vinson found that there was no need for an injunction, since the declaratory judgment that the entire law was invalid was sufficient. In effect, there is nothing left to enjoin, since no part of the law survived. By contrast, in the ruling in Virginia last year invalidating the mandate, the Judge severed the mandate from the rest of the law (but denied an injunction preventing the rest of the law from taking effect).

Here is the key language from the Order showing that Judge Vinson expects the federal government to obey the declaration that the law is unenforceable in its entirety:

"...there is a long-standing presumption “that officials of the Executive Branch will adhere to the law as declared by the court. As a result, the declaratory judgment is the functional equivalent of an injunction.” See Comm. on Judiciary of U.S. House of Representatives v. Miers, 542 F.3d 909, 911 (D.C. Cir. 2008); accord Sanchez-Espinoza v. Reagan, 770 F.2d 202, 208 n.8 (D.C. Cir. 1985) (“declaratory judgment is, in a context such as this where federal officers are defendants, the practical equivalent of specific relief such as an injunction . . . since it must be presumed that federal officers will adhere to the law as declared by the court”) (Scalia, J.) (emphasis added).

There is no reason to conclude that this presumption should not apply here. Thus, the award of declaratory relief is adequate and separate injunctive relief is not necessary."

In this sense, this decision is far more sweeping than the Virginia case, and presents a greater problem for the Obama administration which arguably does not have authority to implement any aspect of Obamacare.

JK was correct: "Hoss" indeed.


MONORAIL!

Lest you think the President is the only guy who wants us all ridin' trains, The Denver Post reports:

The Metro Mayors Caucus is pushing for an election this year to double the current 0.4 percent FasTracks sales tax so the financially troubled transit project can be completed by the end of this decade.

The caucus, which represents about 40 mayors in metro Denver, coalesced around the 0.4 percentage-point increase after hearing poll results Wednesday that suggest area voters would pay a higher tax if they are convinced it will deliver FasTracks as promised by the Regional Transportation District seven years ago.


MONORAIL!......MONORAIL! ..."But Main Street's still all cracked and broken!"..."Sorry, Mom, the Mayors have spoken!"

Colorado Posted by John Kranz at 3:49 PM | What do you think? [4]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Point of curiosity - is there actually any public mass transit system which is self-supporting on the basis of fares collected and advertising space sold anywhere in America (not counting within the borders of theme parks)? I don't begrudge the existence of monorails, city busses, and subways if they're self supporting, but if I'm underwriting a portion of somebody else's ride to work, I have a problem with that.

Amtrak delenda est!

Posted by: Keith Arnold at February 3, 2011 5:06 PM
But jk thinks:

I always guessed that the NYC subways might come close to break-even, but I could be worshipping government again. Maybe you're right.

I doubt it's destined for success in Colorado, though. We combine your SoCal love of cars with a fierce, Western independent streak.

Posted by: jk at February 3, 2011 5:45 PM
But AlexC thinks:

There is not a public mass transit system anywhere in the world that supports itself.

When those "robber barons" ran the railroads, they subsidized their passenger service based on freight traffic. Even so, with the advent of cars and airlines, passenger revenue fell even lower.

Because the government was involved, railroad were not permitted to cancel service or close certain routes (passenger or freight) to cut costs.

Which led to a raft of bankruptcies in the 50s and 60s.

... and now we have Amtrak with loses billions, while the major railroads make millions hauling more freight than ever.... unburdened with passenger service.

What a country.

Posted by: AlexC at February 5, 2011 2:25 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

The subway system here?! Surely you jest?

All right. New York's Metro Transit Authority cannot sustain itself at any level, whether you're talking about within in a single borough, the city proper, or any of the counties it serves. Both NYC and Albany give much Albany gives. Vanished into thin air was the supposed $833 million surplus of several years ago, after fares were hiked from $1.50 to $2 per ride. They're now $2.50, with big cuts in the discounts for multi-ride and monthly tickets. But hey, somebody's gotta pay for all the union workers' generous health care plans, and their ability to retire after 20 years. At the end of 2005, the MTA went on an illegal strike for three days, after they didn't get their demands for a guaranteed 8% pay increase every year for three years.

Here is a thorough take, and though it's several years old, it still holds true. This was my take, several months before the illegal strike. Nothing's changed, not just in the last several years, but in the last several decades. The subways grow slower and dirtier, and management doesn't care. I should consider myself that my train from Westchester merely gets delayed and/or rerouted because the controllers can't decide which track to use. If I were commuting in from Long Island, its line is perhaps the worst-managed railroad ever.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at February 6, 2011 10:53 PM

Draconian Budget Cuts of a Magnitude that will Harm Critical Services

WaPo: Those mean ol' Republicans want to cut $30 Billion. I guess they don't like kids or something.

The figure represents a sharp reduction from President Obama's most recent budget request, and Democrats have dismissed the proposal as draconian, arguing that cuts of that magnitude would harm critical government services.

Stark, clear differences -- I'm all for it. The Democrats want to be the party that voted 100% not to repeal ObamaCare® and the party of the unlimited Gravy Train. Let's go.

But Keith Arnold thinks:

Not stark and clear enough, in light of the $100 billion in cuts originally discussed. I'm fearful we're looking at signs of the GOP being unserious about devolving the size of government.

"Critical government services"? When the Democrats want to come to the table ready to defend (a) why the government and not private business, individuals, or charity is the best choice to do the particular task on the chopping block, and (b) what the Constitutional authority is for the federal government garnering that task to itself. Anything that can't pass that two-pronged test ought to be done away with - period.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at February 3, 2011 5:00 PM

What Egypt Needs: Property Rights

Hey, I love Democracy and wish it upon my Egyptian brothers and sisters. But, as usual, their problems are more centered around the lack of rule of law and property rights.

Hernando de Soto was hired by the Egyptian government in 1997.as part of a USAID project. The results went unstudied after a cabinet shakeup, but are germane today:

-- Egypt's underground economy was the nation's biggest employer. The legal private sector employed 6.8 million people and the public sector employed 5.9 million, while 9.6 million people worked in the extralegal sector.
-- As far as real estate is concerned, 92% of Egyptians hold their property without normal legal title.
-- We estimated the value of all these extralegal businesses and property, rural as well as urban, to be $248 billion—30 times greater than the market value of the companies registered on the Cairo Stock Exchange and 55 times greater than the value of foreign direct investment in Egypt since Napoleon invaded—including the financing of the Suez Canal and the Aswan Dam. (Those same extralegal assets would be worth more than $400 billion in today's dollars.

All the tools that a populace could use to advance are denied. As possibly the last Sharanskyite on the planet, I suggest that Egypt might be a good candidate for U.S. interest (sorry big-L libertarians!)

A long term ally and peaceful neighbor to Israel, Egypt is the right location for a model middle eastern democracy. She boasts an educated, mostly secular populace that has seeds of western friendliness.

Yes, there will be a backlash for our long term support of Mubarak. Certainly the exercise is fraught with peril. All the same, compared to Iraq and Afghanistan, it could be a low cost path to a free and powerful nation in that difficult neighborhood.



Nice Look at President Reagan

In prep for the 100th anniversary of President Reagan's birth (Sunday, Feb 6), The American editor Nick Schultz sits down with Reagan biographer Steven Hayward,

Twenty-two minutes, but it's good stuff.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 1:15 PM | What do you think? [0]

What Happens When Desert Goes Communist?

First, nothing, then: sand shortage.

And the list of drug shortages keeps on growing

Fear not, the government is poised to help:

In December, US Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, vowed to introduce a bill by last month that would give the FDA “new tools” for require drugmakers to contact the FDA as soon as they believe a supply problem exists (see the statement). The idea is to give the agency additional time to locate other suppliers, including from outside the US. So far, though, Klobuhar has not introduced a bill.

"New tools to require..." I really like that locution. I'm thinking of the Angel episode where the torture expert solemnly lays out his pliers and saws, prepping just like a dental hygienist for prophylaxis. The problem is not mentioned in the article, but the first commenter nails it. Government has pushed the prices down for generic drugs, more tightly regulated the producers, and it is no longer a profitable industry.

Perhaps Senator Klobuchar could write a bill...

Pharmaceuticals Posted by John Kranz at 11:07 AM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

I wish Sen. Klobuchar would also write a bill telling me who to notify when the toilet paper roll is close to empty in the Atlantis Farm crapper. (Nothing is too small for a central-planning solution, right?)

Posted by: johngalt at February 3, 2011 2:54 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

I think there is an iPhone app for that.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 4, 2011 10:41 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Ha! But my government issued iPhone hasn't yet arrived in the mail.

Side note: In Ayn Rand's first novel "Anthem" almost all of the characters use words like "we" and "us" but nobody uses the "selfish" term "I." Yet Apple has everyone saying it. Who'd've ever thought that Apple would become a clandestine subversive outfit in the service of selfishness?

Posted by: johngalt at February 4, 2011 3:44 PM

February 2, 2011

America Falls to #9 in Economic Freedom

In the article JK linked on Ayn Rand's birthday the author lamented how even those who derive personal inspiration from Rand's opus 'Atlas Shrugged' "engage in the same tried-and-failed tactics of behind-the-scenes lobbying and appeals to the "public good" that have led to the shrinking of economic freedom over the past century."

Cue the Heritage Foundation, who compiles a worldwide Index of Economic Freedom each year. In the 2011 edition the USA is ranked #9, having been surpassed by Denmark last year and avoiding by 0.1 points being #10 behind ... Bahrain.

But jk thinks:

I'm shopping for a giant foam rubber hand on a stick with nine fingers held up. Maybe something in Red, White and Blue to show my pride.

Posted by: jk at February 2, 2011 3:08 PM

Good News

Administration opponents enjoy acc - cent - tu -at - ing the negative. Much as I love Professor Glenn Reynolds, he's a good example. His "CHANGE: " series has had a lot of value, especially when many media outlets were too enthusiastic in finding the cheeriest economic data.

But you can't fight the tape, and I posit it is wrong to cherry pick the worst data. It will spoil your beer and ruin your investment portfolio. The DJIA is well over 12K and the S&P500 over 1300 as I type. Life has got to be somewhere between Reynolds and Kudlow.

And this, from Mark Perry, is the greatest thing I have seen in a long time:
GDP_q42010.jpg
We have recovered ALL our pre-recession production without recovering employment. Now I feel for every American who struggles to find work. But productivity gains are where wealth comes from.

Of course, there are limits to efficiency gains, and as we soon reach those limits, hiring will pick up and the jobless rate will decline. But for now we can consider it a testament to the resiliency and efficiency of the U.S. economy, employing the world's most productive workers, that we were able to amazingly produce a record level of output in 2010 with 7 million fewer workers than in took three years ago to produce that same amount.

But Boulder Refugee thinks:

The degree to which employment rebounds will be determined by the marginal cost of adding an employee. To that extent, the cost of Obamacare will be factored into a hiring decision and retard employment proportionally until higher productivity gains exceed higher costs.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 2, 2011 5:39 PM
But jk thinks:

Oh yeah. This is NOT to let President Obama and the 111th off the hook for horrendous policy, just glowing in the resiliency of our national product that "we ain't dead yet!"

I would also suggest that as we start to reduce the marginal costs of which you speak and make future burdens less frightening, that we could enjoy an honest-to-goodness rebound.

Posted by: jk at February 2, 2011 5:47 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Macho Duck points out, via email, that GDP figures include government spending.

"The rationale for doing that is that "they" can't put a value on government activity, therefore it must be worth what it costs. I'm not making this up."

He estimated that a "real honest GDP" measure would flatten out around the bottom of the blue curve, mirroring civilian employment.

The author called this figure "Real GDP" but I'm not sure his BEA and BLS sources define "real" the same way he does.

Posted by: johngalt at February 9, 2011 1:10 AM

Happy Birthday Ayn Rand

Alex Epstein suggests businessmen should thank the author.

Methinks [really? we're now starting paragraphs with "Methinks?"] Epstein makes a common fallacy equating businessmen with free market proponents and entrepreneurs. For every Fred Smith, there are a pile of Jeff Immelts. The current crop of rent seekers leading the Fortune 500 does not strike me as very John Galtish.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 1:02 PM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

Intending to expand and clarify your statement rather than dispute it, the set "corporate executive" includes the subsets "businessman" and "looter." The definition of business is a "profit-seeking enterprise or concern." An economist's definition of looter is a rent-seeking enterprise or concern.

Loved the article. Saw more than one ASQOTD in there. I also saw this, perhaps more persuasive, treatment of an old internecine dispute.

"Unfortunately, while Rearden experiences a lifelong moral transformation in the story of "Atlas," most of the readers of "Atlas Shrugged" do not. While many businessmen derive lasting inspiration from "Atlas," they do not attain or pursue an enduring understanding of the moral virtue of profit--and certainly do not proudly defend their right to practice it freely. Thus, many of "Atlas Shrugged’s" most vocal admirers at once proclaim adoration for the novel, while simultaneously attempting to justify their existence by appealing to some “higher cause” (“the environment,” “diversity,” “the community”)--and certainly do not proudly stand up for their right to pursue profit in a free market. They engage in the same tried-and-failed tactics of behind-the-scenes lobbying and appeals to the “public good” that have led to the shrinking of economic freedom over the past century."

We debated and never resolved whether using societal good as a selling point would stop us "having the argument [Hayek or Marx] every time." But what if the refrain became "life, liberty and the pursuit of profit?"

Posted by: johngalt at February 2, 2011 2:45 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm not going to fight you on Ayn Rand's Birthday.

Actually, you scored a devastating hit for your side when Bill Gates and Warren Buffett started their insane altruism club.

Posted by: jk at February 2, 2011 3:04 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I thought that proper nouns were to be capitalized, e.g. Insane Altruism Club.

Posted by: johngalt at February 3, 2011 2:49 PM

February 1, 2011

Rearden Metal

Don't tell me you haven't thought it.

UPDATE: UPDATE: Several readers suggest the name "Rearden Metal."

(Several Instapundit readers spell better than me -- title corrected from "Reardon.")

Technology Posted by John Kranz at 2:04 PM | What do you think? [4]
But AlexC thinks:

Cars?

Let's make bracelets out of it.

Posted by: AlexC at February 1, 2011 2:35 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

I'm going to double down and comment on BOTH of your posts - this one and the one on the Volt review.

Build me a car made out of Reardon Metal, and powered by an all-electric motor that I recharge from a clean, safe, nuclear reactor. That reactor can be in my backyard, or if it's more convenient, onboard.

THEN ask K.C. Hernandez that question again.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at February 1, 2011 2:58 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Outrageous! It will endanger the public! It will put other steel companies out of business! It must be STOPPED!!!

[Anyone illiterate enough so as not to recognize this as sarcasm, coming from a commenter named 'JohnGalt,' is already running around slandering the stuff anyway.]

Posted by: johngalt at February 1, 2011 3:30 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm thinkin' about four-and-three-quarters, Brother Keith, but I wish you the best of luck.

Posted by: jk at February 1, 2011 6:40 PM

The Greatest Automotive Review of All Time

And I only read the first page out of five. It gets a little dull. But Page One...

Hat-tip: Instapundit

But johngalt thinks:

Fun article. As for the car, I'm waiting for what Jeremy Clarkson says!

Posted by: johngalt at February 1, 2011 3:50 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Br'er JG: as long as you're invoking the literary distinctives of your blog nom de plume (see above re: Rearden Metal), I'm shocked that you haven't commented that the Volt power plant is nothing compared to one that runs on ambient static electricity.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at February 1, 2011 4:18 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Some things aren't for discussion outside of the valley.

Posted by: johngalt at February 1, 2011 7:34 PM

VP Gore in town today?

Tongues off the post kids, Five below at Atlantis Farm and it is not supposed to get above zero today.

When we had the honor of meeting The Everyday Economist last month, I suggested that perceptions of cold in Denver were overblown. A few Monday Night Football games got us a reputation that I enjoy, but that the Front Range does not really deserve. Dagny gave me icy stares throughout the peroration: feeding horsies in subzero a handful of mornings is plenty chilly for a former Seattle resident.

We're paying today, and I understand it is headed toward our friends in Minnesota and Pennsylvania. Enjoy!

UPDATE: Avs game cancelled in St. Louis. Governor Rendell is gonna blow a gasket!

Posted by John Kranz at 12:17 PM | What do you think? [0]

Our Hero!

judge_vinson.jpg U.S. District Court Judge Roger Vinson (AP Photo) From an excellent Washington Examiner Editorial: A judicial drubbing for Obamacare
Vinson said the government even conceded that its interpretation of the Commerce Clause to support the individual mandate "breaks new legal ground" and is "unprecedented." He concluded, "If it has the power to compel an otherwise passive individual into a commercial transaction with a third party ... it is not hyperbolizing to suggest that Congress could do almost anything it wanted. It is difficult to imagine that a nation which began, at least in part, as the result of opposition to a British mandate giving the East India Company a monopoly and imposing a nominal tax on all tea sold in America would have set out to create a government with the power to force people to buy tea in the first place."
HOSS!
Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 10:55 AM | What do you think? [0]

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