April 30, 2011
April 29, 2011
'Atlas Shrugged Part 1' news
Southern California reader(s) may want to take his lovely bride to meet Francisco d'Anconia this evening at 6:30.
This is one of several promotional events for the film that are advertised on Facebook.
They came to my attention as part of an email alert that the previously rumored John Aglioloro "strike" from Parts 2 and 3 is fiction.
Read 'em and Weep!
The Club for Growth rankings for 2010 are out. It doesn't look too good in Colorado.
Atlas Shrugged Part 1
If we're going to talk about it every day, we'll have to accept Pollywood's review.
Another Lord Keynes Sighting
Remember those stories we used to hear about unionized auto workers being paid not to work? And the ones we still hear about New York teachers still being paid not to work? Surely it comes as no surprise that postal workers are paid not to work.
Mail volume is down 12.6 percent compared with last year, and many postal supervisors simply don't have enough work to keep all employees busy. But a thicket of union rules prevents managers from laying off excess employees; a recent agreement with the unions, in fact, temporarily prevents the Postal Service from even reassigning them to other facilities that could use them.
The silver lining is that "the employees resent it." Ironically, that quote is take from a statement by William Burrus, APWU's president.
Who Says There's No Good News?
Not the Instapundit reader who doesn't mind clicking a couple layers! So what about Walmart*?
Even Madison Avenue has noticed. The New York Times reports that increasingly budget-conscious consumers are no longer willing to shell out extra for self-described "green products." As a result, the number of new earth-friendly products has plummeted. Meanwhile, Wal-Mart has largely abandoned its failed experiment with becoming a proletarian purveyor of green goods no one wants to buy.
NEW YORK -- Wal-Mart said Thursday that it is bringing guns back to many of its U.S. stores in an effort to lift slumping sales.
Degrees of Selfishness
Another rich, white, male, "gay-hater" says capitalism is better than socialism:
Yet, while [entitlements are] producing increasingly selfish people, the mantra of the left, and therefore of the universities and the media, has been for generations that capitalism and the free market, not the welfare state, produces selfish people.
But does that make him wrong?
And I love his close: "Capitalism teaches people to work harder; the welfare state teaches people to want harder."
April 28, 2011
No Cheap Groceries! No jobs! No Choice!
Penn & Teller did a superb episode of B******t on this, but this one is safer for work:
It's Time to Weigh In...
I love these, but ten minutes seems a little long. Oh well:
April 27, 2011
Another 'Atlas Shrugged Part 1' Movie Review
Because, if we aren't talking about it every day it isn't often enough.
Via email from Dr. Clifford Asness who produces the excellent Stumbling on Truth website, where he posts periodic original columns on topics in economics and investing. This as much a review of the reviewers as a review of the film. First, the film:
"I am telling you it's good. Particularly if what you're looking for is a rather straight (though adopted for modern times) telling of the story. Does it have its amateurish moments and characteristics? Sure. It was made for a trifle by Hollywood standards. The same critics that, if this tiny amount of money was spent on a poorly produced and acted "Indie" film, that happened to be about a hermaphrodite Palestinian boy who after escaping fascist Israeli persecution moves to Texas to face fascist American persecution (and isn't immediately granted his full "right" to all the healthcare the USA can afford), would sing it's praises and laud it's signs of a tight budget as "authentic."
OK, I guess that was about the reviewers too. Or maybe even mostly about the reviewers. But this is really about the reviewers:
"The book was also savaged by critics of the left and right in 1957, but loved by its giant number of readers beyond almost all others. History is repeating, but that's because sadly little has changed. We have to fix that. On Rotten Tomatoes (wouldn't the left love for me to have left off the "e"?) the critics have been running, wait for it, 6% for the movie, 94% against. The people have been running 85% for the movie. Now, you could argue that the people have tended to be Rand fans so that's biased. That's a bad argument. Rand fans would be the first, the absolute first, to savage it if it wasn't a good movie (have you ever seen Rand fans agree on anything except loving Rand?)."
And his conclusion:
"If you love the book, if you like the book, if you are at all open to the arguments in the book, you will love this movie. If you're a leftist who hates liberty, or a snob who enjoys destroying civilization with your superior-sounding mendacity, you probably won't like it so much.
Uncut and unedited version follows, including a link to the LA Times story where Aglioloro hints he might not make Parts 2 or 3 because "he's going on strike."
I've sent to this distribution list essays on limited government, and wonky quant finance papers. Now a movie recommendation (that is itself kind of a mini-essay on limited government).
Go see Atlas Shrugged. I did and loved it.
The critics hate it like socialist cats in the bath. The movie's producer, a hero of mine, is close to shrugging (see link below). It's hard to spend money, time, and blood on something, and have the critics savage it (which sadly matters a lot to success if not at all to truth), and go on.
I'm not sure if we have art imitating life or the other way around, but the critics are themselves Randian characters. They have an agenda - punish those who love liberty and have the temerity to defend it, then go to parties and be lauded by their friends for their heroic progressivism. And if they can make some snobby lies about cinematography along the way, more the better. (note - a small minority of critics have not seemed ideologically motivated, with them I simply disagree thinking they are using the wrong standard)
The book was also savaged by critics of the left and right in 1957, but loved by its giant number of readers beyond almost all others. History is repeating, but that's because sadly little has changed. We have to fix that. On Rotten Tomatoes (wouldn't the left love for me to have left off the "e"?) the critics have been running, wait for it, 6% for the movie, 94% against. The people have been running 85% for the movie. Now, you could argue that the people have tended to be Rand fans so that's biased. That's a bad argument. Rand fans would be the first, the absolute first, to savage it if it wasn't a good movie (have you ever seen Rand fans agree on anything except loving Rand?).
If you love the book, if you like the book, if you are at all open to the arguments in the book, you will love this movie. If you're a leftist who hates liberty, or a snob who enjoys destroying civilization with your superior-sounding mendacity, you probably won't like it so much.
Go see the movie.
p.s. The movie superbly preserves a message from the book that gives the lie to so much the left says about it. The heroes are not "businessmen" and the villains "government". The book and movie clearly show the heroes are liberty loving creators and the villains totalitarian thieves - and those thieves come in the form of big business crony capitalists (those who don't create but use the state's power to steal to enrich themselves) as often as government apparatchiks (and never the defenseless poor). Look for this. The movie and book are honest, the critics are not.
Word of the Day
(I'm not making this up:)
I dunno, if I were a journalist or whatever other kind of egghead who invented this term I think I'd have spelled it "newswhole."
Hat Tip: Taranto via JK
James Pethokoukis offers a pro and a con post.
My favorite is Item # 1 from the pro post.
Since Democrats are determined to hang Ryan's bold "Path to Prosperity" budget plan around the neck of every Republican running for office in 2012, why not have its author and best salesman advocate for it directly vs. President Obama?
Boom, baby! That is important. Any candidate is going to have to be able to champion either the Ryan plan or an equally serious and substantive alternative.
The con post is outsourced to Allahpundit:
Would he be a unifying, consensus figure? He voted for TARP, the tax on AIG bonuses, and the auto bailout. Some would forgive him for that given his leadership on the 2012 budget, but some -- like the libertarian wing -- wouldn't.
We could do worse -- and likely will!
Quote of the Day
The certificate reveals that the future president was born Barack Hussein Muhammad Jihad Guevara Manson Obama on July 4, 1976, in Pyongyang, North Korea. Not only is he not a natural-born citizen, he's not even old enough to be president. And his mother, Ethel Rosenburg, lists her religion as "Stalinist." -- James Taranto
On Giving Back
John Stossel strikes a resonant ThreeSources chord today. What's up with "giving back?" He quotes an awesome letter from Don Boudreaux:
Sadly, Mister Stossel's excellent TV show might fall to domestic budget cuts. FOX Business network requires the next programming level, and it occurs that his is the only show we watch in the extended package. Great show -- $4.50 apiece? I dunno.
Sleight of Hand
I care whether Barack Obama's presidency is legal. But when he was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States I reckoned it no longer mattered where he was born - he's the President now and nothing will change that. And yet, President Obama thinks it matters, if not for his presidency then at least for his re-election. In his announcement of the "exception" marking the release of his "long form birth certificate" he said he "believed the distraction over his birth certificate wasn't good for the country." Also, that "it may have been good politics and good TV, but it was bad for the American people and distracting from the many challenges we face as a country."
The obvious question to me is therefore, when was this distraction good for the American people? Why not "request ... that the Hawaii State Department of Health make an exception to release a copy of his long form birth certificate" during your election campaign? Or when an honorable U.S. soldier conscientiously objected to serving under your questioned authority because you had, inexplicably, refused to make this request for over two years? I think you answered these questions with the Freudian words "it may have been good politics."
But my concerns are larger even than this. My concern is not with the misdirection he gives us with his birth certificate sideshow, but with the President's overarching message:
At a time of great consequence for this country -- when we should be debating how we win the future, reduce our deficit, deal with high gas prices, and bring stability to the Middle East, Washington, DC, was once again distracted by a fake issue. The President's hope is that with this step, we can move on to debating the bigger issues that matter to the American people and the future of the country.
Mister President, with all due respect, a growing fraction of the American people believe that YOU are the reason our deficit is out of control, that gas prices have doubled, that liberty movements in the Middle East are receiving mixed signals from the once dependable beacon of liberty called "USA" and, quite frankly, why America's future will probably be worse before it gets better. You have tried Keynsian solutions. They have not worked. There is no debate. STOP your deficit spending. STOP campaigning for tax cuts. STOP manipulating energy and other markets. And STOP your unprincipled and haphazard military adventurism in the Middle East. Eliminate special tax breaks and subsidies for individuals AND corporations and institute a FLAT rate TAX and then sit down and shut up and take credit when America's economic output outstrips any period in the history of the world.
A Billion Hungry?
Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo direct the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and are authors of Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty, from which this excerpt is adapted.
The excerpt in question is a fascinating look under the covers of world poverty and hunger. The authors dig deeper than the usual, "so-and-so is too poor to afford food." Sustaining nutrition is available to most of the world's poor.
Using price data from the Philippines, we calculated the cost of the cheapest diet sufficient to give 2,400 calories. It would cost only about 21 cents a day, very affordable even for the very poor (the worldwide poverty line is set at roughly a dollar per day). The catch is, it would involve eating only bananas and eggs, something no one would like to do day in, day out. But so long as people are prepared to eat bananas and eggs when they need to, we should find very few people stuck in poverty because they do not get enough to eat.
In a Posrelesque twist, many who eat below than the assumed minimum caloric intake are making rational choices. Saving for a dowry, festival, or consumer electronics can outweigh food.
We asked Oucha Mbarbk what he would do if he had more money. He said he would buy more food. Then we asked him what he would do if he had even more money. He said he would buy better-tasting food. We were starting to feel very bad for him and his family, when we noticed the TV and other high-tech gadgets. Why had he bought all these things if he felt the family did not have enough to eat? He laughed, and said, "Oh, but television is more important than food!"
I love it! It fear it is easy to read my short post and misconstrue it as a good summary of a longer, more thoughtful magazine article (it is not). Nor am I downplaying poverty or making value judgments (I hope I'd have the discipline to choose my TV and cell phone over the luxury of those second and third meals...).
A political/philosophical takeaway that I would assert is the existence of a Hayekian complexity, unlikely to be well addressed by a bunch of Mrs. Jellybys dictating what they should eat.
Hat-tip: Professor Mankiw
Obama Birth Certificate T-Shirts
Is it copyrighted?
UPDATE: The infamous jk Facebook-Progressive caucus is steaming mad! I've never seen anything rile them up so.
Really? Obama had to release his birth certificate in order for people to believe he's a US citizen? Silliness indeed you carnival barkers! Now, lets get back to business. You're right Mr. President, we have much better stuff to do.
Don't think he should have released it -- he already released the one that EVERY OTHER CITIZEN BORN IN HAWAII is issued. When you appease idiots, it makes them think they're actually smart.
Obama did the right thing by waiting until now to release his birth certificate. He could have done it when the first wave of birthers appeared, but instead he waited until the birthers included potential presidential candidates and then decimated them. Of course this won't stop Trump, Bachmann and various CNN reporters from continuing to look like morons by raising the issue and introducing legislation about it.
I think I've been clear in my opposition to birtherism. But the sturm and drang make the birthers look pretty good by comparison.
April 26, 2011
Layers and Layers of Factchecking
The world's worst typist has to be pretty cautious on the stone throwing. But nobody at the Washington Post knows which states the GOP Leadership members are from?
The fight also has implications for another 2012 race. Rep. Mike Pence (R), who is expected to run for governor in Washington, has been leading the fight to defund Planned Parenthood in that state.
Worse still, it's from a Chris Cillizza column on Governor Mitch Daniels. You'd think they might have Indiana on their mind.
'Mother of Exiles'
This is the name that Emma Lazarus gave to the Statue of Liberty when it was gifted to America from France in the 19th century. The poem she reluctantly wrote to aid in raising funds for the building of a base to place it upon came to be the statue's meaning put into words:
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame With conquering limbs astride from land to land; Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame, "Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
One analysis of the poem published by the University of Virginia errs in its characterization of an irony:
"As political propaganda for France, the Statue of Liberty was first intended to be a path of enlightenment for the countries of Europe still battling tyranny and oppression. Lazarus' words, however, turned that idea on its head: the Statue of Liberty would forever on be considered a beacon of welcome for immigrants leaving their mother countries."
I disagree with this conclusion. The statue and Lazarus' words were, in fact, symbols of enlightenment and freedom and did stand in contrast to European tyranny and oppression. However, the fault for European emmigration was not America's new statue but the fecklessness and intransigence of Old Europe's governments.
Is this germane again, today? Do the words in the great statue's base beckon to a new generation of American Patriots to strive for not just "democracy" but liberty?
It is true that much progress toward liberty has been made in America's 19th and 20th centuries, but in many other ways the once "golden door" of America has become as tarnished as the oppressive societies to whom she once showed the way. From the U of VA's concluding paragraph:
Just as Lazarus' poem gave new meaning to the statue, the statue emitted a new ideal for the United States. Liberty did not only mean freedom from the aristocracy of Britain that led the American colonists to the Revolutionary War. Liberty also meant freedom to come to the United States and create a new life without religious and ethnic persecution.
Yet this means little if economic persecution remains. Let not the New Colossus be transformed from the Mother of Exiles to the Mother of Equals, nor let our "tired" our "poor" our "huddled masses" once able to breathe free, succumb to the persecution of "shared sacrifice." Some lecture us that "cutting programs that help those who need them most is morally wrong" and "when Jesus talked about how God will judge nations, he said that God will focus on what we did or did not do for the neediest among us." And yet, how do government policies which violate the eighth and tenth commandments advance Jesus' word?
God's judgement, and liberty itself, are things reserved only to individuals and not to the abstract form we call "nations." Our government "overlords" would do well to remember this important distinction, as would voters.
R U Ready 4 Some Football??
I understand -- and applaud -- the paucity of Charlie Sheen commentary, Idol chatter, and the like around here. But the silence on the NFLPA strike is deafening.
Roger Goodell takes to the WSJ Ed page today to suggest that the union is endangering the parity that has made the sport so popular. Complete freedom of labor (Unfettered Capitalism, anybody?) would remove smaller market teams from viability.
In an environment where they are essentially independent contractors, many players would likely lose significant benefits and other protections previously provided on a collective basis as part of the union-negotiated collective-bargaining agreement. And the prospect of improved benefits for retired players would be nil.
Conn Carroll refuses to take the argument seriously, because those filing the suit (Brady, Manning &c) profited from the existing system. Carroll notes that only the union exemption from anti-trust makes the current system legal. If it is removed from the NFLPA, it cannot be legally recreated by the league or owners.
The answer is the NFLPA. See, unions are exempt from U.S. anti-trust laws. So practices that would be anti-trust violations if performed by a business suddenly become legal if they are performed as part of a collective bargaining agreement with a union.
Tough, n'est ce pas? My inclination is to consider the owners to be the grownups and as capital investors empowered to dictate work rules. There is not a team and a league without their capital. I'd make the world's worst anti-trust lawyer but I do not admit that the NFL is a monopoly. They are dominant but not immune from competition.
One hates to upset the delicate balance that has provided the NFL with a truly superb product, but can he ask a talented athlete to forego better compensation in the location of his choosing to provide this product?
What I Believe
I appended this to a three-digit comment count discussion on Facebook.
Stephen Hayward lays out beautifully what I have been trying to say. That the role of affluence and innovation -- contra the environmental movement -- is hugely beneficial. And that the greens should embrace wealth creation instead of promoting asceticism.
At first sight, the connection between rising material standards and environmental improvement seems a paradox, because for a long time many considered material prosperity and population growth the irreversible engines of environmental destruction. Paul Ehrlich, the famous author of The Population Bomb, which predicted that runaway population growth would lead to mass starvation and ecological devastation, offered a seemingly scientific formula for this relationship: I = PAT, where I = impact on the planet, P = population, A = affluence, and T = technology. In other words, to minimize our impact on the planet, there need to be fewer humans, we need to be poorer, and we need to have less technology.
The piece is well worth a read in full and a bookmark.
Joseph Schumpter, Call your Office..
The last typewriter factory closes its doors:
According to the Daily Mail, "Although typewriters became obsolete years ago in the west, they were still common in India - until recently. Demand for the machines has sunk in the last ten years as consumers switch to computers." The devices had been a status symbol in India, notes the Business Standard.
HatTip: HuffPo, of course!
Brother Keith asked whether Governor Gary Johnson might be the candidate ThreeSourcers are looking for. I say yes but wonder about the rest of y'alls with his position on drugs.
Brian Dougherty a Reason has a nice compendium for those want to test the waters:
Race 4 2012 sums up some highlights of a public Twitter question-answering session from Johnson. I summarize their summary with quick picks, some obvious, some less so: no intervention in Libya, originalist Supreme Court nominees, blames the Federal Reserve for the economic crisis and supports the idea of commodity-based currency and would pardon Liberty Coin maven Bernard von NotHaus if his conviction stands, would legalize pot and pardon pot criminals, no tax hikes (but for a Fair Tax reform), very pro-domestic oil drilling, abolish the Department of Education and cut agricultural subsidies by at least 43 percent, kill the Transportation Security Administration, says he's into Austrian economics, thinks WikiLeaks is a good thing, and wants a path to legal working status though not citizenship for illegal immigrants.
April 25, 2011
What Would Jesus Pay For?
I've been drawn to do a post on the "What Would Jesus Cut?" campaign by "a coalition of Progressive Christian leaders" for some time now but couldn't quite compose a counter-invective with comparable magnitude to this ode to suicidal selflessness and moral misdirection. I"m still not sure that WWJPF is adequate but the battle must be joined.
Take a good, long, close look at this photo of Reverend Jim Wallis.
This is the face of the man behind the campaign that says, "Are we saying that every piece of military equipment is more important than bed nets, children’s health and nutrition for low-income families? If so they should be ashamed of themselves."
Notice any similarity to the way another contemporary redistributionist speaks? They both use a strawman and guilt. But any guilt rightly due to America was assuaged long ago. Only the unearned guilt of success and prosperity remains as the tool for these mystical moochers.
No, Mr. Wallis (I will not call you Reverend) "we" are not saying anything. We cannot speak. I can speak. I say I will provide for the common defense but will not give coerced alms to any who do not deserve them. I have no shame from the likes of men like you, for what are you without the power of other people's money? What have you created, without it? What have you protected, without it? How would you survive, without it? Please sir, read the sign: NO SOLICITORS. Good day.
Toolbooths to the Middle Class
I don't wish to rekindle the Quantum Theory debate, but it is interesting to speculate on counterfactuals and how the world would have been if... The BBC Show Red Dwarf suggested that if Quantum Theory holds true, there would be a universe "where Ringo was a really good drummer."
And there might be one where President George Bush pursued his domestic agenda without the exigencies of 9/11. This, admittedly, could be a utopian or dystopian tale...
But lost for all time was the campaign coinage "tollbooths to the middle class." I don't know if a domestic W would have fixed them, but it is an important concept that is ignored in progressive politics. It is swell to give $1,000 to everybody who makes less than 10,000, but the marginal rate on a worker making 9,999 is roughly, negative-eleven-billiondy-one per cent. Which is what economists call "a lot."
Professor Daniel P. Kessler details the effects of ObamaCare® on this:
Fixing the notch is not so easy. To phase out the subsidy smoothly for families with incomes of 134% to 400% of poverty, the law would have to take away $22,700 in subsidies as a family's income rose to $93,700 from $31,389. In other words, for every dollar earned in this income range, a family's subsidy would have to decline by 36 cents. On top of 25% federal income taxes, 5% state income taxes, and 15% Social Security taxes, this implies a reward to work of less than 20 cents on the dollar--in economists' language, an implicit marginal tax rate of over 80%. Although economists may differ on the effect of taxes on work effort, it is hard to fathom how anyone could argue that this will not reduce economic activity.
And this is just new legislation. These pernicious effects are layered on top of welfare, food support, housing subsidies, and all the other tollbooths Governor Bush highlighted in 1999.
Look for the union label...
The bailed-out Chrysler and General Motors dominate this year's Forbes list:
To determine our list of the worst-made cars on the road, we started with the lowest-rated vehicles from six reliability and performance studies conducted this year. Those studies are all from Consumer Reports: The Most Reliable Cars Report; Best and Worst Values Report; Highest Cost of Ownership; Best and Worst Safety Performance Survey; Best and Worst Fuel-Economy; and the CR overall scores for 2011 vehicles.
To be fair, the bias toward fuel efficiency did not help the "Big Two-point Five," but David Freddoso at the Washington Examiner wonders if the US taxpayer got such a great deal:
Thank goodness we put up $80 billion to bail out GM and Chrysler. They are now building such wonderful cars that they have achieved total dominance of the Forbes "Worst Cars on the Road" list, which we could also call the "Bottom Eleven."
I mean, it's not like GM cars catch fire in the garage...oh, wait.
He's a Lumberjack and He's Okay...
Y'all may know my Cousin Syd from his superb coffeehouse performances. He sends a different kind of video today, to celebrate the completion of a small project he's been working on for a couple of months.
I hope everyone affected will forgive my nonstop chainsaw noise since the weekend of Feb 23rd. Cleaning up has been my primary “recreation” since that day. To make the chore interesting, I set up my camera to snap a picture every minute as I chopped up the 150(?) year-old Elm that fell in our backyard. The below video let’s you watch me cut up a 90′ Rock Elm in about 2 minutes from the comfort of your arm-chair. It is best viewed by clicking on the 4-arrows at the bottom right to make it full size. Be sure and watch for guest appearances from friends and neighbors. A huge thanks to everyone who offered to help! I needed the exercise and was having fun with the video.
Speaking for myself, I love honest toil and could watch it all day!
April 24, 2011
From Mary Katherine Ham:
April 23, 2011
Has the President been spending his leisure time with Marion Berry?
"President Obama's suggestions that "there's no silver bullet that can bring down gas prices right away" and that one of the "few things we can do" to ostensibly bring prices down is to "finally end the $4 billion in taxpayer subsidies we give to the oil and gas companies each year" are both ludicrous.
To bring down gas prices right away simply suspend federal regulations dictating specific formulations for specific regions during specific seasons. Reducing the logistical requirement to just "regular, premium and mid-grade" nationwide would allow productivity gains that would flood the market with affordable petrol.
And how exactly is taking money away from oil companies going to bring gas prices down? Not that I oppose eliminating those and all corporate subsidies but please, are we idiots?
But the crown jewel of the President's cheap gasoline plan is "We need to invest in clean, renewable energy. In the long term, that's the answer. That's the key to helping families at the pump and reducing our dependence on foreign oil."
With as much respect as I can muster for the office of President of the United States, investing in so-called "renewable energy" to help families at the pump is like asking alchemists to replentish the kingdom's treasury after his highness has given all of the realm's treasures to China and Brazil.
"No one should ever underestimate politicians' ability to continue to make the wrong policy choices"
While the Fourth Estate sleeps at the switch it is good to see that someone is watching out for icebergs on the horizon for the "full faith and credit of the United States." The "young pinkies from Columbia and Harvard" who roam the halls of the Obama Administration seem to think they can steer the ship of state directly toward said icebergs with no consequence.
It's no surprise that the White House would try to hide its poor stewardship of the public fisc in order to continue its perverse policies that have only made the problem worse.
If this is true, I'm buying a Hummer®
AP -- President Barack Obama says one answer to high gasoline prices is to spend money developing renewable energy sources.Walt Disney said one answer to higher gasoline prices is "Wishing will make it so."
Post Time: 4 months
Krauthammer handicaps the 2012 GOP nomination horse race. He gives a fair and realistic appraisal of my favorite, Michele Bachmann, at 20:1 but the best part is his dismantling of the Trump sideshow:
Donald Trump: He's not a candidate, he's a spectacle. He's also not a conservative. With a wink and a smile, Muhammad Ali showed that self-promoting obnoxiousness could be charming. Trump shows that it can be merely vulgar. A provocateur and a clown, the Republicans' Al Sharpton. The Lions have a better chance of winning the Super Bowl.
I'd heard rumors that Donald had called Charles and the latter was warming to the former. The prior passage shows that Krauthammer still has sound judgement.
It's been written a few times already. But I want to buy the film rights to "DealBreaker!" A tender tale of a DAWG-denyin' race car driver and his earth muffin girlfriend:
[...]one day, I logged on and saw that he had weighed in on a virtual debate and assumed a staunch position.
Ergo, the ex will remain an ex, but in my story...
Hat-Tip: Instapundit, of course.
"Even after 'An Incovenient Truth' won the Academy Award."
April 22, 2011
"I'm rooting for everybody to get rich," [Pres. Obama] said. "But I believe that we can't ask everybody to sacrifice and then tell the wealthiest among us, well, you can just relax and go count your money, and don't worry about it. We're not going to ask anything of you."That is a quote from the president's speech today at a renewable energy company. Apparently, that's what rich people do. They just sit around and count their money.
Quote of the Day
The trouble with quotes on the Internet is that you can never know if they are genuine.-- Abraham Lincoln
Happy Mother Earth Day, Citizen!
I'll bet you forgot to buy a card and gift, didn't you? Boy, is your face red!
This from a lengthy (but superbly entertaining) Ben O'Neill post on the Lv Mises Institute site. He quotes Rand, he delves into rights, where does a guy stop excerpting?
If the Earth really is a rights-holding entity, on par with a human being, then this implies that humans may not interfere with the body of the Earth without its permission, just as a person cannot interfere with the body of another person without their permission. Since all physical resources required for human survival come from the Earth, and are a part of this "living system," this implies that humans cannot do anything -- they cannot even exist on Earth -- without the permission of the Earth. And if governments are the representatives of the Earth in exercising its rights, then this logically implies that people cannot do anything without the permission of their government. This is the real purpose of the doctrine. It logically eradicates any possible human rights.
Well, citizen, as a rights-holding entity, I cannot force you to read the whole thing, but...
Happy Earth Day!
(Or here's a charming Earth Day Rap)
April 21, 2011
Try to Teach a Pig to Sing...
I posted a few days ago (Scientific Fact, Yawn!) on the refutation of the junk science on plastics. I lamented (what I whiner I can be...) that "None will be disabused of their junk-science asceticism." (a whiner with bad grammar, "None" should be singular...)
A good friend who used to work for me is on Facebook today with "Chip in $5 today to our 'Get BPA out of canned goods campaign!'" I'll save you a click to see the linked page:
Moms! And the people who love them! Versus a bald libertarian with a beard! Whom you gonna believe?
This is the most insidious campaign. If my buddy wants to forego the convenience of a water bottle, he's not hurting anybody. But BPA linings have virtually wiped out Botulism and the thousands of deaths it caused annually. This junk science will kill.
I passed along a link to the AEI piece. We'll see if my PhD friend is educable.
Those wacky Democrats have caught the GOP in flagrante hypocritia, and the WaPo is there to report it:
Does Paul Ryan's own budget proposal give away the game on the debt ceiling -- and undercut the GOP's leverage on the issue -- by acknowledging that it must be raised?
Chairman Ryan never claimed that the debt ceiling would not be raised. I doubt anybody has a plan out that would prevent it. The mantra is that the ceiling not be raised without a plan to cut spending.
Online Education Rocks!
This time, in history and literature.
First JK brought us the Khan Academy for math and science.
My contribution in kind is Shmoop University.
No one will be surprised that I found these guys by searching for something relevant to Atlas Shrugged.
In the brief time I've spent perusing the voluminous content they offer on this controversial and revolutionary novel I have been greatly impressed. The treatment is honest, accurate and thorough. I hope to use it to help explain some of the book's themes to others. (And to refer to other literary titles and, when time permits, move on to history topics.)
Looter of the Spirit
When I explain to people that environmentalists and some in the government don't really have any aspirations of their own, they just want to deny the aspirations of others, they typically ask me why anyone would choose to live that way. Here's an excellent explaination derived from Ayn Rand's novel 'Atlas Shrugged' courtesy of Shmoop dot com:
But then Jed Starnes died and his three children took over the factory. These children were all horrible people who ran the factory into the ground and inspired Galt to begin his crusade. The kids preached the slogan "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need." Basically they did away with salaries and had people "vote" on what others should earn based on their "needs." This turned into a disaster.
It looks like the First Lady and the Vice President will be safe in the air:
Los Angeles -- The Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday issued new orders requiring that air traffic control supervisors oversee the arrival and departure of planes carrying the vice president and first lady.
I was so concerned. I was thinking that we might fix the broken, antiquated, government monopoly flight control system so that everybody would be safe.
But special protection for Michelle Obama and VP Biden will be much easier -- that Ray LaHood, he's quite the genius.
Anti Dog-eat-Dog Act
With all respect to my blog brother, I am starting to believe it is Ayn Rand's world, and we're just living in it. Mankiw embeds this:
So Boeing management did what it judged to be best for its shareholders and customers and looked elsewhere. In October 2009, the company settled on South Carolina, which, like the 21 other right-to-work states, has friendlier labor laws than Washington. As Boeing chief Jim McNerney noted on a conference call at the time, the company couldn't have "strikes happening every three to four years." The union has shut down Boeing's commercial aircraft production line four times since 1989, and a 58-day strike in 2008 cost the company $1.8 billion.
UPDATE: Claire Berlinski adds "This could well be the most outrageous insult yet to the free market economy"
Remember those two recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board? The guys making these decisions about the commanding heights of the American economy have never even been confirmed by the Senate.
Oh please, oh please, oh please...
Please, may this prove to be true:
Peter Braun, who carried out the tests at the Berlin's Alab Laboratory, said: "For such carcinogenic substances it is important they are kept as far away as possible from the human environment."
Quote of the Day
I can truly say that I am not offended in the least by that man’s comments. He obviously was not saying what he said to my speech (since he wasn’t listening at all to it), nor was he saying it to me. He was saying it to a member of the opposing side and couldn’t even string together an intelligent piece of criticism. -- Tricia WilloughbyThere is hope for this great nation. Fourteen year old Willoughby spoke with poise and dignity at a Wisconsin Tea Party, proving her moral and intellectual superiority to the Union Thugs who failed to shout her down.
Today Ann Althouse prints an email from her. Grab a Kleenex® and read the whole thing. If you can judge a group by its enemies, I am starting to get pretty proud of the Tea Party.
April 20, 2011
First Comes Love, Then Comes . . . What?
I'm lazy tonight and just copying titles for my posts. This one answers the question:
What types of factors make it more likely a non-married couple will be together one year later?
a) A joint gym membership
And the obvious answer is, a combination of a and d.
In one of these studies we have in the pipeline (accepted for publication) we found that all sorts of things make it more likely that a non-married couple will remain together. Things as serious as signing a lease together or sharing finance as well as less serious things like having vacation plans or a gym membership. But do you know what didn’t predict which couples would remain together? (Um, I just gave you a pretty huge clue, right?) Yes, having a baby together didn’t affect the odds of the relationships continuing. By the way, were talking about a very large national data set here of non-married people in serious romantic relationships who are generally in their 20s and early 30s. Yes, having a baby together is not one of the things that is associated with being together a year later (and we’ll be checking in the future out to two and three and four years later).
Yet another reason why so many young people want the government to provide free health care for them and their families, since their family can't even commit to being a family.
Hybrid and Electric Cars Suck
My dad recently emailed us a column from an engineering trade rag that bore the same title as this post.
So I am not going green with a hybrid/electric. No offense to Prius owners who are doing their part. It is just not for me. I am sticking with a regular gasoline car that gets good mileage but also has good performance. My other car, a 2010 VW GTI is one of those. It is a blast to drive. The 0 to 60 time is sub-6 seconds and it gets 31/32 mpg on the highway. Cost only $25K too. A real winner.
My dear Hawaiian auntie asked, "Does anyone know how much it costs to "fill one of these cars up with electricity"? I've never seen a quote,only how far you can drive & how long it takes to charge them. I realize it depends on how much your electrictricy costs are,but I've never even seen any estimates. Also how many windmills is it going to take to make all this extra electricity. Just wondering."
She's right. The only time the "fill-up" cost is ever talked about they just say "a few dollars." So I did some calculating from data I found at Wikipedia for the Nissan LEAF. [Yes, I know it's a bit long winded but I think you'll enjoy this.]
The Nissan LEAF has a 24 kwh (kilowatt hour) battery. At 10 cents per kwh and assuming perfect conversion of line current to DC and then battery charge the cost to charge the battery from empty would be $2.40.
America is Stunned!
The Wonkette site cruelly mocks Governor Palin's son with Downs Syndrome as Trig celebrates his third birthday. And the reaction is instantaneous:
Wonkette is still there?
All Hail Harsanyi
And isn't it about time we shared responsibility and kicked in our share for the extraordinary benefits provided to us by Washington? And by "all" of us, of course, I mean the folks who make more money than I do.
Other than That, the Story was Accurate...
Yesterday's item on Charles Manson and global warming (since corrected) should have referred to the inverse, not the contrapositive. -- James Taranto
The President's Budget Speech Subjected to Intellectual Rigor
Epstein places President Obama's calls for higher taxes and more egalitarian wealth distribution into more serious economical and legal discussion than they usually receive. We've heard and analyzed the remarks in a political context. Epstein subjects them to a bit of intellectual rigor. I suggest that ThreeSourcers will dig it.
Obama neither mentions nor rejects these limitations on the public good arguments. Instead, he skillfully turns this classical liberal argument to deeply collectivist ends. The president's broad conception of public goods quickly gives way to the wholly different image of all Americans as part of one giant family--with the attendant obligations of reciprocal support. "Part of this American belief that we are all connected also expresses itself in a conviction that each one of us deserves some basic measure of security."
Whole Read Thing Gotta.
Quote of the Day
So the Obama position seems to be that a) the rich ought to meet obligations over and above what the current tax code requires; b) the Obamas are rich, and c) the Obamas choose to meet no obligations over and above what the current tax code requires.
Please briefly explain the matrix of domination
Huh? Dominatrix? What?
Walter Williams finds an article by Candace de Russy who finds a student's exam from an introductory sociology class for which the student received 100%. I don't know that any ThreeSourcer will be completely surprised, but to read them in sequence is a shock I invite you to experience by clicking.
Average Americans, as parent, student and taxpayer, have little idea of the academic rot at so many of our colleges. Save for a tiny handful of the nation's colleges, what distinguishes one college from another is the magnitude of that rot.
I Don't Care, Obama is Awesome
I cannot imagine another response to the WSJ Ed Page's devastation of President Obama's Independent Payment Advisory Board.
It sounds absurd, but there the President was last week, gravely conceding Mr. Ryan's analysis of Medicare's balance sheet and then claiming that the solution is to give a lot more political power to an unelected board to control health costs. Democrats believe this board will play doctor and actuary and allocate health resources better than markets, so allow us to fill in some of the details of this government-planned future.
Other than that, Mr. President, the idea is awesome.
ThreeSources salutes Commander Shanti Sethi for her service and general hossness.
America is truly a wonderful country. Where else would you find a female Navy officer from Reno, Nevada, commanding the destroyer USS Decatur? Did I mention that she is of South Asian origin? Oh, and let us not forget that she is a graduate of the nation's oldest private military academy, Norwich.
Hat-tip: Blog friend Sugarchuck.
File This Under "If Sarah Palin Said It"
Or file it under "Thank NED for the blogosphere." You see something that makes you go "hmmm." and you can frequently find somebody else who saw it.
I am not going crazy! Ann Althouse also disagrees that "Texas has always been a pretty Republican State" as the President asserted. Sam Rayburn and Lyndon Johnson were not available for comment.
I stole the headline from an Althouse commenter. And, for the record, I also agree with Althouse on another point. This video is making the rounds for President Obama's comment at the end ("let me finish the answers next time"). Really? That's the worst thing the President has done to you today? I would give Mister Obama a pass on that one.
April 19, 2011
Still Miss the Woodcuts
There was weeping and gnashing of teeth when the evil Rupert Murdoch purchased the Wall Street Journal. Right, left and me wondered if there would be substantive changes in our nation's finest newspaper.
I hold that it is editorially unchanged. The one alteration is the replacement of the staid and stately woodcut illustrations with color photos. The former were part of the paper's branding. The new ones have a more modern, multimedia-friendly look.
It also allows somebody -- I don't who or his title -- to present opponents of the editorial position in an unflattering light. Minority leader Pelosi always gets a "Botox-Before" picture that makes her look 107, President Obama gets a scowling, angry picture that makes him appear even more surly than he is.
But. This. Gem. Of AFL-CIO Chief Richard Trumka. I may just weep.
"Look for the Union Label..."
UPDATE: This calls for a link to my favorite fake AFSCME video.
Looks like we may not all die from water bottles after all:
A comprehensive review by the German Society of Toxicology of thousands of studies on BPA concluded, "[BPA] exposure represents no noteworthy risk to the health of the human population, including newborns and babies." The group, which included several scientists who have advised regulatory caution on BPA, bucked calls by advocacy groups to lower safe exposure levels.
This is near and dear to my heart since I know a lot of these people. They are shocked that I tempt fate by drinking water out of plastic bottles and regale me with tales of outrageous hoops they jump through to avoid it. I mention that about 10,000 people die of food poisoning for every one that dies from the plastic that prevents it. They usually recommend some documentary I have to see.
And I could forward this story to them, but it would be a waste of ones and zeros. None will be disabused of their junk-science asceticism. It's much better to store your mayonnaise in an old clay pot...
April 18, 2011
David Kelley of the Atlas Society, gives out some stars for the film:
The skeptics are wrong. The completed film was shown today for the first time in a private screening. It is simply beautiful. With a screenplay faithful to the narrative and message of the novel, the adaptation is lushly produced. The acting, cinematography, and score create a powerful experience of the story.
And click through for a nice Reason-behind-the-scenes video.
Death and Taxes
We have to do a little tax discussion on tax day.
Beyond the actual amounts
David Keating of the National Taxpayers Union provides a useful perspective on how big the tax compliance industry is. According to his research, as of 2009 the income-tax industry employed "more workers than are employed at the five biggest employers among Fortune 500 companies--more than all the workers at Wal-Mart Stores, United Parcel Service, McDonald's, International Business Machines, and Citigroup combined." Without diminishing in any way the professionalism of tax attorneys, accountants and financial planners, all of these efforts produce nothing other than, well, tax compliance.
Misallocation of resources, anyone?
Then the Internet Segue Machine® provides Dan Mitchell of CATO's The IRS: Even worse than you think. In this post, he reprises a video I posted where the distractingly attractive William & Mary student Hiwa Alaghebandian address the problem of compliance costs.
Second, we should remember that compliance costs are just the tip of the iceberg. The video also briefly mentions three other costs.
He suggests a flat tax or consumption tax and I am fine with either one. But easier to implement and possibly as effective would be the plan I have seen on these very pages: let's end withholding, and move tax day up to Election Day.
Quote of the Day
To an ever-increasing degree -- in the academy and in the professions -- we live in a moral and intellectual atmosphere that is stifling. We live in a time in which those who want to advance in the professions must pretend to believe what we all know to be untrue. The totalitarian temptation persists. I doubt that it will ever go away. -- Paul Rahe
Somebody can spin this into a philosophical discussion if he or she wants. Or the ThreeSources animal lovers can just enjoy.
Hat-tip: My biological brother via email.
April 16, 2011
Going Galt - The Ayn Rand Factor and the Atlas Shrugged Movie
Robert Tracinski is one of the best Objectivist writers on the scene so I was very interested when I recieved this 'Atlas Shrugged Part 1' movie review from him in my inbox. In short, he is glad the film was made but thought it should have been of higher quality.
I have seen the film, at an advanced screening arranged by the producers, and I am afraid that it is a pale shadow of the book. A friend of mine calls it "a Roman copy of a Greek original," a reference to the Roman empire's penchant for copying Greek sculptures of gods and heroes--but when you compare the copy and the original side by side, you inevitably find that the energy in the limbs has gone slack and the life has gone out of the eyes. The details are reproduced, but the animating spirit has been lost.But Tracinski does not suggest that all of the story's spirit has been lost.
This same combination--vaporous leftist "idealism" and cynical looting by gangster government, all of it wrapped up in appeals to "sacrifice"--might remind you of an important political leader in today's environment.
The movie's greatest signifance, according to Tracinski, is its relationship with the TEA Party.
The Tea Party movement began, in last 2008 and early 2009, during a huge surge in interest in Ayn Rand's masterwork, when talk of "going Galt"--a reference to one of the novel's heroes--sent Atlas Shrugged back onto the best-seller lists after more than 50 years. The two phenomena are connected. The financial crisis and the giant government bailouts sparked a renewed interest in Ayn Rand's intellectual and literary defense of capitalism, and in turn Atlas Shrugged helped give ideological confidence to the nascent Tea Party movement. Now the Tea Parties and their supporters have repaid the favor by winning a 300-theater opening for the small, unheralded film version of the novel. [emphasis mine]
[For the hopelessly obsessed, such as myself, I've posted the entire article including original hyperlinks below.]
TIA Daily • April 14, 2011
The Ayn Rand Factor and the Atlas Shrugged Movie
by Robert Tracinski
After more than 50 years, a movie version of Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand's perennially best-selling pro-capitalist epic in finally coming to the big screen—but through the strangest route possible.
That the film hasn't been made long ago, despite being one of world's most successful literary properties, is surprising—but not too surprising. No, it's not because the novel is difficult to adapt to the screen, as you will sometimes hear from both its critics and its admirers. Yes, the book has long, complex exchanges of dialogue that have to be ruthlessly condensed. But Ayn Rand started out her career—in the 1920s through the 1940s—as a Hollywood screenwriter, working for such legends as Cecil B. DeMille and Hal Wallis. She wrote her novels in a very cinematic style, with stark visuals, sharp exchanges of dialogue, and peaks of high drama. She gave a director everything he could ask for to keep the audience in their seats: visually beautiful settings from the skyline of New York City to the mountains of Colorado, large-scale action scenes set on railroad lines and in steel mills, big ideas expressed in sharp-witted exchanges of dialogue—and, of course, passionate love scenes with handsome leading men and beautiful leading ladies.
If you can't figure out how to make a good movie out of all of that, then brother, you don't know your own business.
Hollywood, as many of us have long suspected, does not know its own business. Plenty of big-name directors, writers, producers, and stars expressed interest over the years. But whether it was the pro-free-market politics, the larger-than-life heroic characters, or the big philosophical ideas, the book forced modern Hollywood outside its comfort zone, and no one was able or willing to figure out what to do with it.
So the version that comes to us now is one that was hastily put together at the last minute, with only weeks to go before the film rights lapsed. It has a small budget, no recognizable stars, an inexperienced director, and a script co-written by a producer with no literary or artistic experience whatsoever. The resulting film was unable to find a major distributor, so even though it was scheduled for April 15—a perfect symbolic date for a protest against big government—the movie was originally set to open only in a dozen small "art" theaters in a few big cities.
That was about six weeks ago. Then something remarkable happened.
Atlas Shrugged is set to open tomorrow in 300 theaters across the country. True, that's still a fraction of the opening distribution for a big blockbuster—but it's an awfully big fraction. This means that the film won't just be opening in a few big cities but will play in quite a number of towns across the heartland. Places like Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, and Lakeville, Minnesota. In politics, we ask: but will it play in Peoria? Yes, it will, at the Grand Prairie 18 in Peoria, Illinois.
More remarkable is how this happened: as a result of grass-roots pressure and agitation from fans of the novel. This allowed the producers, who decided to self-distribute the film, to convince many local theater operators to give the movie a chance.
I know from local experience that a lot of this pressure came from Tea Party groups or individual Tea Party members, many of whom have taken inspiration from the novel, so this huge jump in distribution has to be seen as the latest success—and as a show of strength, numerical and ideological—for the Tea Party movement.
I have never seen a film spread through this kind of grassroots groundswell of enthusiasm, with zero support from movie critics, cultural elites, or celebrities. This is all the more remarkable because most of the people clamoring for the film are doing so sight unseen. So we have to interpret this as an enormous demonstration of support for Ayn Rand's novel, which readers hope will be faithfully adapted in the film.
I have seen the film, at an advanced screening arranged by the producers, and I am afraid that it is a pale shadow of the book. A friend of mine calls it "a Roman copy of a Greek original," a reference to the Roman empire's penchant for copying Greek sculptures of gods and heroes—but when you compare the copy and the original side by side, you inevitably find that the energy in the limbs has gone slack and the life has gone out of the eyes. The details are reproduced, but the animating spirit has been lost.
The movie does not adulterate or rewrite the ideological content of the novel. Rather, the script has a tendency to take Ayn Rand's complex and original characters and reduce them to Hollywood clichés. Yes, you read that right. Contrary to the usual literary smears against Rand, it is her characters who are fresh and complex, while it is Hollywood's stock heroes and villains who are two-dimensional cardboard cutouts. The novel's version of Lillian Rearden, for example, is a fascinating study in how the left uses its pose of moral and intellectual superiority to keep the people who do the actual thinking and the actual work—the world's innovators and wealth-creators—intimidated and suppressed. Lillian's goal is to prevent these men from expressing pride in their achievement and to make them eager to demonstrate their subservience to their "progressive" overlords. She does this in high society by using her husband's money and position to support a salon of leftist artists and intellectuals. Much more memorably, she does it at home by subjecting her husband—an innovative, self-made steel tycoon—to a constant drumbeat of emotional abuse intended to make him feel that business, like sex, is not a subject to be mentioned in polite company. (He eventually learns to question both of those assumptions.) Lillian Rearden is a totally original yet instantly recognizable archetype of manipulative power-lust—yet in the film, she is reduced to not much more than a catty trophy wife of the type we've seen many times before. So Hollywood found a way back to its comfort zone, after all.
Unfortunately, this persistent flaw takes a good deal of the ideological and dramatic punch out of the story and may leave some new viewers of the film wondering what all of the fuss is about. I hope they take the time to find out by picking up the original novel, because there is a lot there that will justify the enthusiasm of Ayn Rand's fans and of the Tea Partiers who have picked up her novel in recent years.
The film covers just the first part of the novel. The producers wisely chose to divide Ayn Rand's densely plotted thousand-page epic into three segments, with the plan of presenting them in a trilogy of films. The main story line in Part 1 is the struggle of the protagonist, railroad executive Dagny Taggart, to hold her railroad together and save an American economy dying from suffocating taxes and government regulations. Sound familiar?
But Dagny's story isn't just about economics. It is about her sense of loneliness and isolation in a world where men of enterprise, initiative, and ability seem to be disappearing. And more: we see her loneliness in a culture where clear-eyed rationality and self-assertive ambition are no longer valued. Dagny faces a world that has fully adopted, in all of its ugly actual details, the left's credo of "need, not greed." Everyone has needs—expressed in long, whining complaints about how "sensitive" they are—and no one has the guts to take responsibility for supporting his own life and achieving his own happiness. In short, these guys have taken over.
Dagny finds an ally in the steel tycoon, Hank Rearden, who helps her build a crucially needed rail line to the nation's last remaining industrial boomtown—and I think you can guess that they find, in each other, a solution to their problems.
Dagny's main obstacle is her older brother, Jim, who is no good at running the railroad but knows how to run to Washington. While Dagny tries to keep the railroad alive by supporting the last growing industrial enterprises, Jim is always scheming for short-term profits from political favors and government subsidies. Again, sound familiar? He is the perfect fictional villain for the age of bailouts—the era of Government Motors and banks being turned into "government sponsored entities."
It is Jim's cabal of politicians and politically connected businessmen who begin the action in Part 1 by plunging the nation into an economic crisis, from which Dagny saves them, and they end Part 1 by causing another, worse crisis. Again, sound familiar? But while the film presents Jim as another Hollywood cliché, a soulless young corporate schemer, the novel's portrayal is more complex, interesting, and relevant to today's political environment.
In the novel, Jim has pretentions of being an intellectual and a deep, sensitive, "spiritual" type. Even when his schemes have the obvious ulterior motive of extorting unearned wealth, they are always pitched in terms of altruist bromides. But he really means the bromides, and Ayn Rand's point is that you can't tell where the "idealist" motive leaves off and the cynical one takes over. Jim believes that someone needs to be sacrificed to "the public good"—and he always tries to make sure he is "the public" and not the one being sacrificed.
This is summed up in a scene early in the novel when Taggart concludes the negotiations for one of his corrupt deals by offering a macabre toast: "Let's drink to the sacrifices to historical necessity."
This same combination—vaporous leftist "idealism" and cynical looting by gangster government, all of it wrapped up in appeals to "sacrifice"—might remind you of an important political leader in today's environment.
This is just scratching the surface of an epic novel, and the story widens and deepens as it goes beyond Part 1. But I think you can now see how an obscure, low-budget film has become a grassroots crusade before it even opens in the theaters. The spread of the Atlas Shrugged movie is just part of a wider Atlas Shrugged phenomenon—and part of the Tea Party phenomenon.
The Tea Party movement began, in last 2008 and early 2009, during a huge surge in interest in Ayn Rand's masterwork, when talk of "going Galt"—a reference to one of the novel's heroes—sent Atlas Shrugged back onto the best-seller lists after more than 50 years. The two phenomena are connected. The financial crisis and the giant government bailouts sparked a renewed interest in Ayn Rand's intellectual and literary defense of capitalism, and in turn Atlas Shrugged helped give ideological confidence to the nascent Tea Party movement. Now the Tea Parties and their supporters have repaid the favor by winning a 300-theater opening for the small, unheralded film version of the novel.
The novel has not yet found anything near its fullest and best expression on the screen—nor have we seen anything near the full scope of its impact on American politics.
Not Everybody <3 Gov. Christie?
Blog friend Perry sends a missive from the battle lines. It seems our favorite Guv is supposed to apologize for telling the media "can you guys please take the bat out on her for once?" "She's in that Sunday story on Joe D in the star ledger beating the be-Jesus out of me over this." The antecedent of her being State Sen. Loretta Weinberg, who draws a salary and a pension because she was swindled by Bernie Madoff.
The Democrats said Christie's comment advocated violence against women. Weinberg was "appalled."
Speaking as a denizen of fly-over country, I'd be appalled if people from Jersey didn't talk like this. Perry adds:
There was a recent poll that the liberal media here tried to spin as Christie being unpopular. Supposedly 2/3 of the polled don't want Christie to run for president. Of course, because they want to keep him as governor!
I'm astonished to be the first. I snuck out of work early and caught the 4:45 Atlas Shrugged Part 1 in Westminster. It was sparsely filled -- not empty, not packed. The lovely bride and I grabbed the two handicap seats in the front section that look like they're reserved for the Queen and VP Biden or something. Only two others braved the front section but I heard a good number in back laugh at some of the lines. And there was significant applause at the end.
I liked the movie better than I thought I would. It's been two decades since I last read the book, so I was not doing a page by page comparison, but I found that when I expected something to happen, it always did.
More important was a faithful portrayal of the characters, and on this account I will be generous with the stars. Taylor Schilling's Dagny Taggart was flawless. She has to carry the first part on her own and did; I'll give props to the writers and Ms, Schilling. Casting Rep. Barney Frank as Wesley Mouch was a bit of genius. No, seriously all the characters were well cast, though I think Francisco d'Anconia gets short shrift from the writers. Perhaps his role (and role) will be better fleshed out in subsequent releases.
The pacing and cinematography were very good. The action happens in the plot and people and nothing got in the way. By the same token it looked good, moved crisply, and had a serious score with classical themes instead of hip hop.
Five stars. I loved it and will buy the DVD the day it is released and watch it again.
April 15, 2011
ThreeSources Book Club
It's twennyseven gorram dollars and it is not on Kindle®, but Insty links to a book I can't wait to read:
DAVID BERNSTEIN'S Rehabilitating Lochner is now shipping. I'm writing a review of it right now, and it's excellent; Bernstein makes clear that Lochner was pretty much the opposite of how it has been portrayed in the progressive narrative.
Lochner v New York is lumped into the infamy basket with Dred Scott, Plessey v Ferguson and Koremastu, but I thought that it protected a Fifth Amendment right to contract -- if for some odd reasons. Review Corner on the way. Holler if you want to borrow it after, and if you buy, click through the Instapundit link. Professor Reynolds could pretty much claim me as a dependent on his taxes...
Sen. Rand Paul Defends the Tea Party
Don't Blame Me, I Voted for Phil Gramm!
Now there's a bumper sticker I would besmirch the mister-two with.
The best Presidential Candidate of my lifetime, former Texas Senator, and Econ professor has a guest editorial in the WSJ today describing what the country would look like after a normal recovery. [Spoiler alert!] Without government intrusion we would have per capita GDP "$3,553 higher than it is today, and 11.9 million more Americans would be employed."
A good trial lawyer might argue that the star-struck millions who voted for Mr. Obama knew or should have known that his election would mean a larger, more powerful federal government, a massive increase in social spending, and higher taxes on the most productive members of American society, and that the voters got exactly what they voted for. Elections have consequences.
I accept, as a Frank Meyers fusionist, that the evangelical wing of the party is necessary for any electoral success. But Senator Awesome was leading the field in Hew Hampshire when he answered a "values" question with "I'm not running for National Pastor."
It's a cruel fate that we cannot have Phil Gramm. In return I pledge my life, my fortune and my sacred honor to ensure that they don't get Governor Huckabee.
April 14, 2011
Well, this one did not come true
I laughed when Insty linked to this. But I was surprised that he actually said it:
When Barack Obama was running for president, he promised voters a simpler tax code. "When I'm president," he said, "we'll put in place a system where 40 million Americans . .. can do their taxes in less than five minutes."
I don't remember hearing that particular howler, but I wonder if even "the rubes" believed that. If you're going to fix all of society's through the tax code, you're not going to get to the post card return.
Not Even Counting Pheasant Payments
Steve Chaman at Reason:
If you don't mind sweat, dirt, or the smell of manure, this is a great time to be a farmer. Incomes are up, land values are high, and global demand is growing. Oh, and if you're one of the lucky farmers, there's a bonus: a tap on the federal treasury.
Who Owns Your Life?
While introducing his deficit reduction proposal at George Washington University this week, President Obama justified raising income tax rates on Americans:
"Some will argue we should not even consider ever, ever, raising taxes, even if only on the wealthiest Americans. It's just an article of faith to them. I say that at a time when the tax burden on the wealthy is at its lowest level in half a century, the most fortunate among us can afford to pay a little more."
With all due respect, this is a strawman. I say we should not ever consider raising tax rates, even if only on the wealthiest Americans, because it is as unethical as forcing America's sons and daughters to go to war. It has absolutely nothing to do with "faith." I created this Xtranormal video to illustrate this.
Please share prodigiously.
One more day...
Don Luskin on Ayn Rand
This link should be good for 7 days for non-subscribers.
Those who have given the pound of flesh to Rupert: here
Rand was not a conservative or a liberal: She was an individualist. "Atlas Shrugged" is, at its heart, a plea for the most fundamental American ideal--the inalienable rights of the individual. On tax day, with our tax dollars going to big government and subsidies for big business, let's remember it's the celebration of individualism that has kept "Atlas Shrugged" among the best-selling novels of all time.
"Net Reduction": Two Definitions
Obama on spending in the debates:
Obama's record on spending:
The Kranz Plan
I have to confess I stole the idea from the President who used a 12-year window to make his cuts look bigger. But I am ready to take this all the way:
I propose $14 of spending cuts over a trillion years -- crisis solved!
Quote of the Day
Did someone move the 2012 election to June 1? We ask because President Obama's extraordinary response to Paul Ryan's budget yesterday--with its blistering partisanship and multiple distortions--was the kind Presidents usually outsource to some junior lieutenant. Mr. Obama's fundamentally political document would have been unusual even for a Vice President in the fervor of a campaign. -- WSJ Ed Page
The Wages of Collectivism
I frequently refer to the classic Saturday Night Live skit where the sour milk is discovered. Then everybody has to smell it to see how bad it smells. There's probably a passage from Lord Byron or Voltaire that describes the same thing, but...
I thought of embedding this yesterday on the sour milk theory. If you have not seen it, take a whiff. Its creepiness nears if not matches the Demi Moore/will.i.am "I Pledge" (fealty to his lord majesty Obama) video.
[Sorry I cannot embed. It seems that it is more tender and understanding to link...]
Ayn Rand does a great riff on racism as a symptom of collectivism. When we stop being and accepting others as individuals, it's a quick step to stereotypes and a short hop to racial animosity. I submit this to be the final step: cleave the world in half and dictate that the xy chromosomes are responsible for every crime, boorish impulse, or thought committed by any member.
I'm not apologizing for anything that somebody else did. Real sorry about slavery, abrogation of treaties with indigenous Americans, Koremastu v. United States, and the entire ABBA oeuvre. But you'll have to get your mea culpas from those more directly involved.
UPDATE: Ann Althouse: "That's patent idiocy, and a man trying to suck up to women by blabbing about energy... needs some better suck-up lines."
April 13, 2011
All Hail Tapper!
Seriously, I have had my differences with him, but Jake Tapper at ABC has been tough on the Administration and one of the few who will not roll over to have his tummy scratched at the WH Press Conferences. He notes something of a discrepancy today:
President Obama at the GOP House retreat, January 2010:
Mankiw on "The Budget Mulligan"
The headline is mine. Professor Mankiw is charitable and serious on the speech, even as he lays out stark differences.
Here we see the fundamental differences between the parties: One believes in spending more and allocating that spending via central planning. The other believes in spending less and harnessing individual choice and competition to ensure that the money is spent wisely.
Can't Do It Justice
Walter E. Williams, apparently anticipating POTUS's plan to soak the rich in order to close the budget, penned a piece in Townhall.com titled "Eat the Rich." Basically, he lays out in hard numbers how this can't possibly be enough.
No pulled quotes here. You have to read it for yourself - it's that good.
Hat tip: Mike Rosen, KOA Radio
Two more days...
Goring The Refugee's Ox
Three Sourcers may know that The Refugee is an avid hunter, has a bird dog in training and loves tromping through the weeds hoping that a non-native ringneck pheasant will spring into the air. Recently, he decided that he should support Pheasants Forever (PF), a group dedicated to improving habitat.
He just received his first magazine issue from the group, the Spring 2011 publication. The theme for this edition was the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). For the non-hunter/non-farmer types reading this blog, CRP is a program in which the government pays farmers to not plant crops. The payments can be as high as $190 per acre; approximately 30 million acres are in CRP. At $190/acre, that's $5.7 ba-ba-billion, though the actual number is probably somewhat less. In return, the farmer agrees to keep the land out of production for 10-15 years and plant it with native grasses and other habitat cover. Many organizations, including PF, credit CRP with a resurgence in pheasant, duck and other huntable populations.
Without giving any actual numbers, PF claims in an article that CRP has a "proven track record of taxpayer return on investment worth celebrating." Really? How does the taxpayer get money back? According to PF, it comes back in the form of hunter dollars spent at motels, restaurants, gas stations and the like. Five billion worth? Doubtful. But even if true, the vast majority of taxpayers never see a dime of the "return." It just another government-sponsored money transfer.
A later article in same issue infuriated The Refugee. Basically, it was a how-to guide for landowners to qualify for the most Federal jack. The author, Rob Drieslein quotes Brooks York, who manages 300 acres:
My message to many farmers is that you've got $280 per acre in fertilizer, chemical costs and seed and you've got a piece of ground that producing $100 or maybe zero dollars in crops, then you're much better off getting paid $135 from the government not to farm it.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but if your costs are $280 and your revenue is $100, you're better off not planting it even without the government cheese. Why should the taxpayer fork over his hard-earned money so that the farmer can sit in and easy chair and get paid?
The perverse aspect of this arrangement is that the government provides price supports that guarantee a profit to the farmer, which is an incentive to farm more. Then, too many acres are farmed, so Uncle Sam pays them to not farm it. How 'bout if we take away the price supports and the CRP funds? Then, farmers will make an intellegent economic decision. Fallow acres will still supply habitat for critters.
The Paul Ryan budget supposedly removes farm subsidies. How far it goes is unknown to The Refugee. Even though The Refugee's hunting might be impacted, there's no reason for taxpayers in suburban Orlando to pay farmers in Kansas to plant grass just so The Refugee can blast away at glorified chickens.
May the ox rest in peace. In his own budget cutting move, The Refugee will be saving the cost of a PF membership next year.
If the Tea Party did nothing but send Ron Johnson to the US Senate (the anti-Lafollette?), it was all worth it. His first floor speech is on the WSJ Ed Page today (holler if you would like it emailed around Rupert's wall)
In 1902, the federal government spent 2% of the nation's gross domestic product. State and local governments spent 5%. Government was close to the governed. The size, scope, and cost of the federal government was constrained by the Constitution's enumerated powers. The individual was preeminent, and government's role was modest and pedestrian.
UPDATE: Thanks, Brother Keith! video
In a mind-bending departure from the carbon-based life plane, Eugene Robinson tries to convince the reader that the recent 2011 budget compromise was a diabolical plot to end democracy as we know it.
There’s no question who won last week’s showdown. The outcome — nearly $40 billion in painful cuts — goes well beyond the GOP’s initial demands. That Democrats were able to save a few pet programs is something but not much.[Emphasis in the orginal text.]
Sure, Eugene - $40 billion out of $1.4 trillion has the nation writhing in pain. But he goes on;
The far-right ideologues in the House seek to starve the federal government to the point where it can no longer fulfill its constitutional duty to promote the general welfare.
Clearly, no government can survive on a meager $1.3 trillion budget. Memo to Eugene: "general welfare" in context of the founders did not refer to a welfare state in which the government pays for the food, housing and medical care for all citizens.
Let's hope that he's right about one thing:
Ryan seeks not just to reduce the nation’s long-term indebtedness but to change the essence of the relationship between citizens and their government.
In an effort to avoid more than three pulled quotes, The Refugee left out some real howlers from the column. The nation might be better off without a strong Left wing, but you've gotta appreciate the entertainment value that they bring to the party.
CORRECTION: The US budget is approximately $3.5 trillion, not $1.3 trillion as indicated. The Refugee regrets the error.
April 12, 2011
WASHINGTON – The historic $38 billion in budget cuts resulting from at-times hostile bargaining between Congress and the Obama White House were accomplished in large part by pruning money left over from previous years, using accounting sleight of hand and going after programs President Barack Obama had targeted anyway.And I thought they were going to cut spending -- what a naif!
Sales Taxes and the Internet
"Why should out-of-state companies that sell their products online have an unfair advantage over Main Street bricks-and-mortar businesses?" Durbin said in a speech in Collinsville, Ill., in February. "Out-of-state companies that aren't paying their fair share of taxes are sticking Illinois residents and businesses with the tab."Exactly. Let's abolish the regressive sales tax. Oh wait, he has a different idea.
Margaret Thatcher with a Drawl
On the 150th Anniversary of Ft. Sumter, I think the South may rise again. Check out Sandy Springs, GA and Mayor Eva Galambos
High, Fast, Over the Plate
Joy Pullman is not so keen on the Atlas Shrugged movie. What's it need? Compromise:
Refusing a philosophical compromise on the book's message makes the script and its performance, in some scenes, as unconvincing as the book.
"Most Americans will find Ayn Rand's worldview distasteful, immoral, and absurd" screams the subtitle which may or may not be Pullman's. It's not quite Whittaker Chambers, but it is equally surprising coming from the AEI.
I'm in no position to comment on the film, but the idea that you'd water it down to appeal to modern tastes is patently ridiculous and antithetical to everything for which Rand stood. I can't imagine anybody (except perhaps Pullmann) who would enjoy an apologetic, diluted Randian tale.
Quote of the Day
Moody's estimated that the original Republican plan for $61 billion in cuts would cost 700,000 jobs. It looks like the final package will end up with cuts that are roughly two-thirds this size, which should translate into 400,000 lost jobs. -- CEPR's Dean Baker, in an interesting compendium on the budget deal.Simple math, really.
It's hard to dissever the unfortunate politics of the Libertarian Party from Reason Magazine, but I still salute the latter as I strive to bury the former. Complicated, I know.
But Peter Suderman's short and hilarious piece on Peter Orzag is the best thing you'll read all day.
Fernando Dominguez cut the figure of a young revolutionary leader during a recent lunch period at his elementary school.
I saw this story on the TeeVeeNews this morning (without Master Dominguez, sadly) and could not believe my eyes. The morning anchor had the first libertarian thought of her young life and said after the clip "that will be controversial."
Stupid %^*@^* parents! Don't know what their kids should eat or what they should learn. Thanks NED the Chicago Public Schools are there to save these poor children.
April 11, 2011
Danger! Metaphor Alert!
UPDATE: The WSJ chimes in. On the more serious side, when Government Motors's competitor, Toyota, had far less clear defects, DOT Secretary Ray LaHood made a big stink. There were Congressional investigations, and runaway Toyotas were all over the news. Seems like this is not such a big deal.
Quote of the Day
Paul Krugman responded to my reply (March 31) to his two critiques (afternoon and evening of March 30) of my post (January 14) on the negative correlation between investment and unemployment. He now says that Taylor "professes himself baffled." Of course I didn't profess any such thing. I simply showed that Krugman was wrong. -- John TaylorHat-tip: The Everyday Economist Yeah, I stole his Quote of the Day. So what?
Libertarian Party's Senator Keeps Cap'n Trade!
Libertario Delenda Est!
Whenever Libertoids starts dishing out the famous equivalence and suggest that their irrelevant biennial temper-tantrums do no real harm, remind them of their complicity in sending Jon Tester (D-MT) to the US Senate. Tester ousted incumbent Republican Conrad Burns by 3,562 with the LP's Stan Jones collecting 10,377. Now I can hear the capital-Ls screaming about Senator Burns's many shortcomings in the field of liberty.
But Senator Tester was the 60th vote for ObamaCare®. Today, the WSJ Ed Page salutes him for at least having the honesty to block every legislative attempt to reign in the EPA on Carbon. Other Democrats participated in subterfuge to keep Executive Power at its zenith yet defend their votes back home.
But the Libertarians' man was all in:
All 13 tacitly acknowledged that the EPA rule will do economic damage because they voted to limit its breadth or delay it for two years. But then they helped to kill the one bill that had the most support and would have done the most to prevent that economic damage.
Who knows, there might be a lesson for the Tea Party in there.
Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie
Robert J. Samuelson writes "On the Left" in today's IBD ed page that Big Gov't Edges Ever Closer to Self-Destruction:
Public opinion is hopelessly muddled. Polls show Americans want more spending for education (74%), health care (60%), Social Security (57%) and, indeed, almost everything.
This has always been the basis for my belief that everyone would be better off without the government's "help." Some would have more and others would have less, but at least everyone would know where he got his and have the comfort of getting to keep it. The disconnect between voters' "wants" and their willingness to pay for it is evidence of the fatal flaw with socialist governments: The witches-brew of human nature mixed with democracy.
Economic Laws Still in Effect
"Unintended consequences?" Heck, I'd file it under "unimaginable success:"
Although only 142 homes were built under the ordinance, they went up in all parts of the city to help diversify Longmont's housing stock, Fedler said.
I thought they wanted affordable housing...
A Little Free Advertising
Good Friends to Have
I don't think we're really fighting around here. I'm guessing that most of us are pretty pleased with the first derivative of discretionary spending, though we would all like more.
The WSJ Ed Page calls it A Tea Party Victory in their lead editorial today:
One of the ironies of Friday's budget deal is that it is being criticized both by Ms. Pelosi and some conservative Republicans. We can understand Ms. Pelosi's angst. But conservatives are misguided if they think they could have done much better than Mr. Boehner, or that a shutdown would have helped their cause. Republicans need to stay united for the bigger fights to come this year, and for now they and the tea party can take credit for spending cuts that even Mr. Obama feels politically obliged to sell as historic.
Only Zimmerman can go to China
I confess I was a little disappointed at the early reports claiming Bob Dylan had allowed the Chinese censors to edit his song list. I'm a fan of the sage of Hibbing, Minnesota, and -- compared to the rest of the country -- something of a fan of the middle kingdom.
But it did not sit well that "Blowin' in the Wind" was censored from the set list. Then again, was it? Our beloved media claims it was because he played it in Singapore but not in Beijing. Eggo propter hoc, dominatrix. Ron Radosh is not so sure.
Clearly, since Dylan alters his set list each night, we do not know what they asked him to sing. He had to give them his lyrics in print, and as [Sean] Curnyn writes, "The mental image of these communist bureaucrats going through all of those songs, trying to figure them out, is an oddly pleasant one."
The best part of Radosh's column, and one that must be internalized every couple of years, is that Bob Dylan is not captive property of the left no matter how many times they claim him.
The ignorance the media has about Dylan is most apparent in this AP dispatch appearing this morning in The Washington Post. Take the very first sentence about a forthcoming concert Dylan is to give in Vietnam: "After nearly five decades of singing about a war that continues to haunt a generation of Americans, legendary performer Bob Dylan is finally getting his chance to see Vietnam at peace." The writer, obviously a very young person without any familiarity at all with Dylan's work, does not realize that Dylan never sang about the war in Vietnam, and never joined one single protest against it.
Stop it! I'm going to cry!
Nothing in Radosh's piece or Sean Curnyn's that he links to, exculpates Dylan. But it inculpates MoDo and the AP and WaPo for establishing a narrative without any factual basis. Who'da thunk?
Even if I had known about YouTube when I was a kid. And e-mail. And "sending a link." I don't think I would have ever expected my friend Sugarchuck's sending me a YouTube link to the Lawrence Welk show.
But he's right.
April 10, 2011
It's not about who won, but who lost
My dear blog brother has accused me of negatively reinforcing good behavior for suggesting that Speaker Boehner's budget compromise with Obama, Reid and the rest of the Socialists might not have been lauditory. My point was that this doesn't necessarily imply he'll do the same thing when negotiating next year's budget. I'm giving him the benefit of a significant doubt. But Dr. Michael Hurd is not:
Throughout this debate, the Republican leadership argued that the deficit should be cut. They made the debate about numbers: First $100 billion in cuts, then $60 billion, and then finally $30 billion. They never argued why anything should be cut in the first place. It just should be cut -- because. That's the essence of principle-by-number.
But Dr. Hurd isn't really throwing Boehner and Cantor overboard personally as much as philosophically.
This is more than a problem of communication. It's an intellectual and moral problem the Republicans have. Boehner and Cantor actually seem to believe they won. Evidently they're not perceptive enough to see that Democrats set them up along. (...) It's hard to believe that newscasters can ask with a straight face, "Well, who won? The Republicans or the Democrats?" Like there's any question?!
And though he is more critical of the GOP leadership than I, we share the same strategy for long-term success.
It's now up to the Tea Party to go back to the polls and keep repealing and replacing Republicans who mostly agree with Democrats, until America really does become a two-party system. We're clearly not there yet. Democrats and Republicans won the budget battle; but America lost it.
Good Blog Categories
The ThreeSources blog categories (this one filed under "Media and Blogging") suffer from both benign neglect and a sort of commons problem. Every now and then I see one of my esteemed colleagues has added to or organized the list. I am not a heavy user but admit they are very valuable to find older items and are useful pari passu with the seriousness of their use and maintenance. I'll try to improve, but this post has the best I have ever seen. I dare not even aspire to this:
The post is well worth a read as well. Instapundit highlighted it for its keen insight: "Demand is slack because everyone who could afford more crap already owns more crap than they need or even want." US Consumer growth will not be fed from old sectors. The flat screen TV craze is gone. Nor will it come from green energy appliances. The US Consumer will not recover until the next big thing lifts it up. And, pace Durden, it will have to be cool enough to overcome a newfound frugality.
The good news is that feeding China and India with middle class items might keep us solvent until then.
April 9, 2011
Gentlemen, Resume Spending
While driving home last night after losing a $20 Texas Hold'em stake to my preternaturally lucky nephew I heard on the radio that the Government Shutdown™ had been averted. "Boehner caved" thought I. But when I looked for reports of the Democrat triumph I couldn't find any, not even on Reason. In fact, FNC's Carl Cameron says Who Won the Shutdown? It Wasn't Even Close.
HR1 was originally to seek spending cuts of $32 billion until Tea Party conservatives insisted on more than $ 60 billion. House Speaker John Boehner won more cuts than he originally sought and got the Senate to agree to votes to defund the health care reform law and groups like the nation's largest abortion provider Planned Parenthood - once votes Senate Majority leader Harry Reid said he'd never allow to come to the floor.
So despite caving on all of the Republican riders at least some of them will be voted on, putting the Dems on record for 2012, but the rider aimed at stopping the EPA energy tax is not among them.
For all of their class-warfare eat-the-rich rhetoric the Democrats appear to be the ones who caved. They had the "extreme" TEA Party backed Republicans right where they wanted them, or did they? Across the nation local officials were standing ready to take over when federal workers took their (read "our") toys and went home. A Colorado sheriff vowed to keep Rocky Mountain National Park open. The governor of South Dakota, when asked by the feds to close the state highway that accesses Mount Rushmore National Monument, refused and instead offered to run the place while the Washington boys were indisposed. Err, umm ... "no thanks." Apparently the Dems in D.C. feared that despite so many of us being on the government payroll, too many Americans might not miss them when they were gone so they "worked hard to make sure the government would keep doing the people's business."
Very well. Boehner may or may not have actually buckled on the billions. The real test will be if he stands firm when it comes to the TRILLIONS.
April 8, 2011
JK Gets a Bailout!
It was a banner day for liberty theory at the Condo of Love™ yesterday.
I started the day with an email from a good friend, soliciting book recommendations. He is on the side of liberty and light but wanted intellectual ammunition to counter the Bono crowd. My suggestions were not necessary but it was an honor to be asked. (For those playing the home version, I went with Postrel, Mises, Hayek, and Russ Roberts in the first round. I am saddened at the omission of Henry Hazlitt.)
Then, some use-it-or-lose-it vacation time gave me a big hunk of the day to read Hans Hermann-Hoppe's A Theory of Socialism and Capitalism. Hoppe is a protogee of Murray Rothbard. Rothbardians are sometimes too out there for me even, but I discovered their primacy of self sovereignty as a foundation of property rights. Enthralling.
Hoppe goes on some epistemological digressions that I think my brother jg would enjoy more than me, but he comes home to the absolute relative impoverishment to society that results from any restriction, limitation, or removal of the producers' right to sell the means of production. Brilliant. I snuck in an extra chapter after dinner before firing up the TiVo and watching--
Kudlow. "We still believe that free market capitalism is the best path to prosperity." My favorite guest, Don Luskin, co-author of "I Am John Galt" is on discussing whether "The Ben Bernank" must follow Trichet's ECB lead in tightening. (Larry-Y, Don-N, Michael Pinto-Y). Then the phone rings..............is it Satan?
Having dominion over the telecom industry, the dark lord's caller ID matches the original underwriter of my condo loan, and his corporeal incarnation is a pleasant young man. He informs me that I have qualified for an FHA Loan Adjustment. I can get a new 25 or 30 year fixed mortgage at 75 bps below my current rate with no closing costs, or a 15 year fixed at a percent-and-a-quarter less. Would I be interested? "Do I need an appraisal (on my underwater property)?" Nope. "So, this is some government thing?" Yes sir, this is an FHA modification program. "If I meet you at the crossroads, do I get mad guitar skills?" I'm sorry, sir, I'll have to check with Underwriting...
Speaking of underwriting, you'll be glad to hear that there were credit checks involved. He had to get my permission to pull reports and call me back.
I was watching John Stossel when the return call came. Veronique de Rugy and The Jacket were saying that government overspending and mismanagement were so bad that even the Ryan Plan would not --
Hello? Yes, how's it goin'?
As Dudley Moore says at the end of Arthur [spoiler alert!] "I took the money," in this case, the 15yr at 4.25%. The irony was keenly imprinted in my brain, but I'll confess that thoughts of a principled stance did not survive long. I don't think there is any mechanism that would allow my refusal to be heard by anybody more in control of policy than a telemarketer. The money would not be returned to the taxpayers, it would just go a recipient less likely to fulfill his obligations than me.
So thank you blog readers! Productive members will guarantee a loan with negative collateral at a below market rate -- and pay Quicken Loans's closing costs and sufficient bounty to warrant a telemarketing push. If any readers think I am rationalizing and should have made a principled stand, I'll take my criticism like a man.
In the meantime, I think I owe you all lunch, or coffee or something.
April 7, 2011
They've Done It!
No, not reach agreement on the overdue budget. The Dinosaur Media has finally found something of consequence that will be lost as a result of the looming Government Shutdown™ - Fort Sumter Reenactment Could Face Shutdown Without Budget Deal By all means then, capitulate to Harry Reid's demands!
What bothers me most about stories like this, and Chris Coons' (D-Witch Haters of Dover) lament that "my people will be prevented" from working a job fair in Delaware this weekend, is this idea that anyone who is paid by the government is somehow forbidden from taking the individual initiative to work for free. You know, VOLUNTEER! (Seems I've seen an Ad Council spot or two about that.) And the Fort Sumpter site ... doesn't it belong to us? Where does the federal government get off locking us out of our own historical places? Before you know it they'll be preventing Muslims from building churches at Ground Zero.
UPDATE: Larimer County Sheriff vows to keep Rocky Mountain National Park open for visitors in the event of a government shutdown.
"The reality is, we are at the local level sending the message to Washington: We can take care of things," he said.
Quote of the Day
Insty brings us one from Robert A Heinlein. This should be recited every day, like the pledge of allegience:
Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded -- here and there, now and then -- are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.
April 6, 2011
Colorado Dems Choose Unions over Schools
When news of a 2011-12 budget compromise between Colorado's Republican House and Democrat Senate was announced this week the big story was that cuts to state funding of K-12 education would be $82 million less than our Democrat Governor had recommended - $250 million instead of $332 million. Despite this change and that Democrats are largely in control, the house majority leader's insistence on some relief from last year's new $60 million per year tax on local businesses earned him the blame of at least one house Democrat, Pueblo's Sal Pace:
"I think it's disappointing that a greater reduction in cuts to K-12 didn't materialize, and it could have if the speaker didn’t insist on corporate special-interest tax cuts," Pace told members of his party during a caucus meeting immediately after the budget compromise was announced. "We could have minimized the cut to schools to around $200 million if (McNulty) wasn’t protecting his (campaign) donors."
But Pace and his fellow Democrats had an opportunity to save far more than $40 million in cuts to schools by agreeing to another Republican proposal that was scuttled:
McNulty also pressed to allow local government agencies like school districts to raise the employee contribution rates to the Public Employees' Retirement Association.
No figures were given for what kind of savings could have resulted but PERA costs are counted in billions, not millions of dollars. So the Democrats had a choice to cut funding to schools or ask unionized teachers and state employees to pay a slightly larger share of their own retirement costs. Judging by which way they went it is clear that McNulty isn't the only one who can be accused of "protecting his (campaign) donors."
Nick Gillespie and Veronique de Rugy have a thoughtful column on the Ryan budget plan. "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" spends much of its time on the good, and delivers some serious props for seriousness.
But then, this is Reason, we have to get into the bad and "the ugly:"
The Ryan budget punts completely on the issue of Social Security reform. There's simply nothing of substance in the document, other than vague hand-waving of the historic greatness of the system and the observation that current and near-retirees will get screwed if nothing is changed. There are statements about how it would be a mistake to increase the amount of wages subject to payroll taxes and that people are living longer, but no clear proposal for how to maintain a system that no longer makes demographic sense.
No sprinkles on that ice cream sundae? What do the other kiddies think?
I think it's no longer credible to complain that the GOP has not put forward any sort of meaningful solution for the budget. At this point, they're the only ones who have put forward a detailed outline; the Democrats still seem to be hoping that if they kind of mill around long enough, eventually an angel will float over the horizon and deposit a plan that doesn’t annoy anyone (and/or allows them to pay for the entire thing by raising the marginal tax rate on the Koch brothers and Richard Mellon Scaife to 110%).
Gov. Mitch Daniels:
The House budget resolution is the first serious proposal produced by either party to deal with the overriding issue of our time. The national debt we are amassing threatens the livelihood and the liberty of every single American, and in particular the life prospects of our young people.
Wall Street Journal Ed Page:
Well, so much for dodging entitlements. This year's trendy complaint, shared by the left and the tea party, that Republicans hadn't tackled the toughest budget issues was blown away yesterday with the release of House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan's budget for 2012. We'll now separate the real reformers from the fiscal chickenhawks.
To be fair, the folks at Reason prefer Rand Paul's plan. And so do I: start whacking whole departments -- when can we start? Candy Mountain, Charlie!!
Meanwhile, in reality land, some items on the Ryan proposal will be implemented in 2012 and the balance will show that the GOP got serious, plus provide a campaign platform.
UPDATE: There's hope! Facebook commenters are taking Reason to task for the concerns I raise.
WAIT! I Think I have seen this one...
Milwaukee Sentinel via Ann Althouse
As of 9:45 this morning, the Associated Press had results for all but 7 of the state's 3,630 precincts and Kloppenburg had taken a 140 vote lead after Prosser had been ahead most of the night by less than 1,000 votes.
Huh. The collectivist overcame a narrow lead when very late votes came out of urban county precincts, just pushing the progressive over the top. You can't script an exciting finish like -- oh, wait...no it appears you can script an exciting finish like that.
April 5, 2011
Striking NFL athletes under 26 can get on their parents' insurance, thanks to ObamaCare®:
I said, "Man, this is awesome. I'm a professional athlete and I am getting on my parent's insurance." I got lucky on that, but some of the guys have families and children, and they are having to pay for their own health insurance now. It's just the little small things that you are having to pick up now in this uncertainty that you wouldn't have had to worry about before.
Really coming through for America's less fortunate! I'm reconsidering my opposition. Hat-tip: Taranto
UPDATE: This is also WSJ's Notable & Quotable today.
The Pitchfork Judiciary
Colorado's state Supreme Court justices are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the legislature, just as United States Supreme Court justices. This explains my surprise that high court judges in many states, including Wisconsin, are actually elected directly by popular vote. Tyranny of the Majority, anyone?
Elected judges are more in tune with public opinion - The system of training through law schools and vocational work is elitist and prolonged, and leaves judges' opinions at risk of being, or appearing, out of date or out of touch. (...) Judges are often seen as lacking knowledge of recent social trends. Elections can help reverse these trends by forcing judges to understand and respect public opinion so they can advance a form of law that is seen as "just" to all citizens, not just to their own conscience.
Today's high court election in Wisconsin is as obvious an example of the latter opinion as one may ever see. Wisconsin Election Is Referendum on Governor is a predictably biased NY Times "news" story on today's vote, but the headline tells the story. Namely...
"This has really become a proxy battle for the governor's positions and much less a fight about the court itself," said Charles H. Franklin, a political scientist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
The outcome is now in great doubt, which is surprising considering where voter sentiment was 6 weeks ago.
For his part, Justice Prosser contends that Ms. Kloppenburg has become the darling of union leaders, protesters and others who opposed Mr. Walker's collective bargaining cuts. He said he saw protest signs in Madison that read: "Stop the Bill; Vote Kloppenburg."
I can't believe ThreeSources has been silent on
John Stossel's Facebook survey is running away with "it's still not enough cuts" and the wingnuttosphere is abuzz with disappointment. Yeah, I wanted to win WWII and have free cherry sundaes with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles.
At a slightly lower elevation than Candy Mountain, I think we have to realize that Chairman Ryan (I still like the sound of that)'s plan is audacious and it would be a game changer to get half of it.
The guys (and sadly Veronique de Rugy) who are throwing stones have a point, but cannot be taken seriously. Harry Reid runs the Senate and Barack Obama sits in the Oval Office. To suggest we kick the can down the road until we can get a $14 Trillion cut is no more serious than the President's proposal to do nothing.
Quote of the Day
Take a hundred people off the street. Show them a kid's finger-painting next to a reproduction of, say, the Sistine Chapel or Bierstadt's "Among the Sierra Nevada Mountains." Ask them which one the toddler did. Five bucks says they'll get it right 100 times out of 100. Heck, even art majors could probably score a solid B-plus. -- A Barton HinkleHinkle is less than impressed with a "vindication" of modern art that "study participants preferred the works by the famous artists 60 percent to 70 percent of the time" to works by toddlers, monkeys and elephants.
April 4, 2011
Wait: Hg in light bulbs not a good idea?
If only somebody could have seen this coming:
The nation's accelerating shift from incandescent bulbs to a new generation of energy-efficient lighting is raising an environmental concern -- the release of tons of mercury every year.
Budget Cuts with a Purpose
Not only does this recommendation by forecasting expert J. Scott Armstrong of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania hold promise for reducing the federal budget deficit, it could also reduce energy costs across the board nation wide.
The three researchers audited the forecasting procedures used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), whose "procedures violated 81% of the 89 relevant forecasting principles," Armstrong noted.
New Energy's Failure to Launch
Some may know that Colorado's latest ex-governor has golden-parachuted into academia in Colorado State University's "Center for the New Energy Economy." Today I learned that ex-guv Ritter's salary as the director there is $300,000 per year. (No word on the pension details.) But the news here is not his ridiculous salary. Rather, it is his apparently complete lack of knowledge on the subject of his office. He recently attended an organized debate at NYU where he and a "new energy" partner attempted to persuade some of the 33 percent undecideds in the audience of the premise: "Clean energy can drive America's economic recovery." From Vince Carroll in the Denver Post:
Before the Oxford Union-style debate, 46 percent of the audience registered support for the proposition, 21 percent were opposed and 33 percent were undecided. Afterward, opinion had made a dramatic shift, to 43 percent in favor, 47 percent against and 10 percent undecided.
So Ritter was so "persuasive" that over two-thirds of the undecideds left the debate agreeing with his opponents. He even managed to scare off one in twelve of those who came in already agreeing with him. I think Carroll closed this story best: "The New Energy Economy is a catchy slogan for a political campaign. But it leaves something to be desired as a substitute for substance."
Tax the Poor!
Strange complaint in the hallways of ThreeSources, but I am frequently amused at the regressiveness of the "green economy."
Jay Wieser at AEI calls it Green Socialism for the Rich.
Mr. Shiels and Ms. Kiely, the couple profiled in the article, have a "sprawling ranch house" in Glendale, Arizona (average daily high temperature June-August : 103 degrees), with an annual electric bill that has topped $5,000. Two government incentives for owning such an expensive-to-cool house: income tax deductions for mortgage interest and property taxes.
Meanwhile, back at the 'lectriccar factory, what else can we do for the lunch bucket worker who wants a $100K+ second sports car.
Some are ready to crown [Tesla Motors] as the plus one of the Big Three plus one:
I don't suggest the GOP should become the party of class warfare, but someone has got to point out what a bassackwards wealth transfer these green toys are.
April 3, 2011
Tentativeness in Science and Public Policy
My involvement in several DAWG debates on Facebook prompted me to look up examples of historic scientific errors. I found the 2004 article Error and the Nature of Science by University of Minnesota historian and philosopher of biology, Dr. Douglas Allchin.
Allchin, who appears to have been an adherent to the climate change "consensus" at the time, gives what appears to be a thorough list of possible sources of error in science. He calls it a "spectrum of error types." Among them are perceptual bias, reasoning error, overgeneralization, and "fraud, faulty peer review, and other mistaken judgements of credibility." Okay, so I'm very intrigued by this point. Here is a science historian looking for ways to protect and defend the reputation and validity of the scientific method, not just from those with an anti-science agenda (religionists) but from the errors of incompetent or unethical scientists.
But what is the intent of this analysis? It seems a clue can be found in the summary statement of the "spectrum of error types" where he writes,
The remedy for tentativeness in science is active analysis of potential errors, guided by an awareness of error types. Analysis may qualify the scope or certainty of conclusions and guide policy accordingly.
Earlier the author uses tentativeness as a euphemism for the inherent uncertainty in science. So in his summary he wants a "remedy" for the absense of the power of science to "guide policy" through greater "certainty of conclusions."
So what began as, in my estimation, a rejection of the influence of democratic principles (consensus) in science evolved into a suggestion of absolutism in science instead. Katie bar the door!
In the case of global warming mankind has been fortunate in that, since 2004, evidence of one of Allchin's most egregious error types has come to public light through Climategate. It is frightening to contemplate how much greater the political consensus could have been by now without that revelation.
Chock Full of Gloaty Goodness
Somehow, Professor Reynolds finds time to teach and write law review articles in between posting like 300 entries on Instapundit every day.
I really enjoyed this one on the gains in Second Amendment rights from Heller and McDonald. It is completely accessible to the laity, yet provides some important insights.
April 2, 2011
It Really IS Time
I was going to link to Ruth Marcus yesterday. Even a traditional, conventional-wisdom reporter at the WaPo has noticed the President's cliched device:
Set up two unacceptable extremes that no one is seriously advocating and position yourself as the champion of the reasonable middle ground between these unidentified straw men.
By letting it steep, however, I can now link to the meta post from Clive Crook: About Those False False Choices. Crook is on our side but references "the Kinsey Stricture." Not to be confused with the Robert Ludlum novel of the same name, Michael Kinsey pointed out that if it is now "not time for" something, that implies that it was once: the time for puppy mutilation has passed...
Of course one could argue that the false choice device was permissible until Obama started overusing and misusing it. Sometimes it really is time. And this might be one such time.
I will happily claim to be among the first annoyed by this. And I am quite pleased to two respected mainstream journalists notice.
UPDATE: Where are my manners? Hat-tip: Instapundit
Speaking of Romney...
... the "national front runner in the GOP presidential race" raised $1.9 MaMillion in the first quarter of this year. Which makes the $2.2 MaMillion raised by Michele Bachmann that much more impressive. Allahpundit:
I’m skeptical that she’ll be able to keep pace once wealthy donors open the floodgates for Mitt, but this is good press at a moment when she’s trying to convince people she’s a credible threat to win Iowa. And really — isn’t she? Especially with Romney already having more or less written the state off? Even if she doesn’t win, she stands an excellent chance of crippling Gingrich, Pawlenty, Barbour, and/or Palin by soaking up “true conservative” votes in a state each of them needs to have in order to launch him/her into South Carolina. She’s a giant-killer in the making.
April 1, 2011
Heckuva Job, Romney...
As we prepare to add 32 million members to Medicaid or to a similarly reimbursing program, John Goodman wonders Is Medicaid Real Insurance? At the risk of a spoiler, enrollment rates show it to be "not worth the effort it takes to fill out the enrollment papers" to one in six eligible.
Both anecdotal and scholarly reports from Massachusetts are consistent with this prediction. The wait to see a family doctor in Boston is now longer than in any other US city. More people are going to emergency rooms for their care in the state than before Massachusetts enacted its health reform. A Boston cab driver went through a list of twenty doctors (a list Medicaid gave her!) before she found a doctor who would see her. A preliminary report on the state as a whole found that nearly a quarter of adults who were in fair or poor health reported being unable to see a doctor because of cost during the implementation of the reforms. Further, state residents earning less than $25,000 per year were much less likely than higher earners to receive screening for cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Hat-tip: The Everyday Economist, who highlights the sentence: "Here's my bottom line: after we get through spending our $1 trillion under ObamaCare, there is no convincing reason to believe that the bottom half of the income distribution will have more care, better care, or better access to care than they have today."
The Refugee Gets a Spot of Ink
A recent op-ed in the Denver Post by former Colorado Sen. Tim Wirth and State Rep. Alice Madden tries to make a case that natural gas producers should welcome government oversight. Their rationale is that honest producers should have nothing to fear. The old "if you don't break the laws then the laws shouldn't bother you" canard so annoyed The Refugee that he had to respond. The Post saw fit to print that response in today's edition.
Not necessarily worth the click, but what the hell.
Longest Half Day of my Life, Man!
One of the seemingly innumerable and incalculable benefits of a Netflix membership is constant, 24x7 access to all Buffy, Angel, Firefly episodes and the Serenity movie. I was preparing for that benefit to be taken away today, but the Whedonesque blog brings tidings of great joy:
Buffy and Angel back to Netflix instant streaming. After disappearing for less than a day, BtVS and AtS are available for instant streaming again thanks to an expansion of Netflix's deal with Fox.
Do Not Drive or Operate Heavy Machinery...
I'm a Bit Verklempt...
From Starbucks® on Facebook: (who's surprised?)
Well now it is that easy, inspired by your ideas on MyStarbucksIdea.com we're proud to introduce the exciting new Starbucks® Mobile Pour service that puts baristas on scooters. In seven of the largest cities around the country, we're sending out two scooter baristas per every square mile to ensure speedy service.
All Sail Harsanyi
Those of us who have hailed Denver Post columnist David Harsayi over the past several years are saddened to see him moving on. However, there are some upsides. This, from The Refugee's brother-in-law:
Dave got a job with Glenn Beck as managing editor of his books division, Mercury. He will be responsible for selecting five to 10 books a year. His first project is a version of the Federalist Papers in updated language for all the poor folks like me who went to public schools. Dave will continue to syndicate his column for Creators Syndicate, and The Denver Post will carry it.
Sounds like an awesome project that The Refugee will have to pick up. Moreover, we will still be able to obtain the occassional Harsanyi pearl of wisdom.
Godspeed, David. Oh, wait, you're an atheist... best wishes!
Hattip: The Refugee's Brother-in-Law
This was not supposed to happen
This from today's Denver Post:
AURORA -- Two men were shot dead Thursday inside an apartment where they apparently planned to rob a man and a woman they thought to be marijuana growers, police said.
Marijuana is, for all intents and purposes, legal in Colorado. If you want it, you can get it or grow it with virtually no fear of prosecution. The Refugee was under the impression that if we made drugs legal, drug-related crime would end. What gives?
TV Worth Watching
Brother ac shares some news over at PAH20dS/dt>0
If only it were an April Fools' Day prank. With Japan officially cutting its corporate tax rate as of today, America now has the highest rate among advanced economies. Even its effective tax rate is way above average despite the likes of General Electric spending billions to game the labyrinthine code. A smarter approach would be to substitute a business consumption tax.
We're number one!
If You Did Not Hate Radical Islam Before