April 30, 2011

So-Called "Thinkers"

Heh.


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.

STRIKERS,

Did the critics win? Will Atlas parts 2 & 3 get made? Will John Aglialoro go on strike?

In an interview this week with the LA Times, our hero, John Aglialoro was quoted as saying: "Critics, you won... I'm having deep second thoughts on why I should do Part 2."

John Aglialoro going on strike!?

NOT. GOING. TO. HAPPEN.

Yesterday, the Hollywood reporter brought the story to a head citing John "I've got to give it to the critics. They won this battle, but they will not win the war. The message has been told in Part 1, and it will be told in Parts 2 and 3."

John Aglialoro will not be stopped. And... neither will the message.


Art Posted by JohnGalt at 4:12 PM | What do you think? [0]

Read 'em and Weep!

The Club for Growth rankings for 2010 are out. It doesn't look too good in Colorado.

But Keith Arnold thinks:

Colorado doesn't look so bad from where I'm sitting. I've got Senators #61 and - wait for it - #100 (out of 100, I presume), and 27 Congressmen (including my own) tied for #435.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at April 29, 2011 3:09 PM

Atlas Shrugged Part 1

If we're going to talk about it every day, we'll have to accept Pollywood's review.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:48 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

I mostly liked this review but my comment was so voluminous and wide-ranging I made it into a new post.

Posted by: johngalt at May 1, 2011 1:33 PM

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*?

Jonah Goldberg:

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.

CNN Money:
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.


Posted by John Kranz at 10:58 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Thanks for the twin breaths of fresh air brother! Lest anyone think 3Srcs is merely a "bad news and proselytization" rag.

Posted by: johngalt at April 29, 2011 11:47 AM

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.

They succeed in part because demonizing conservatives and their values is a left-wing art. But the truth is that capitalism and the free market produce less selfish people. Teaching people to work hard and take care of themselves (and others) produces a less, not a more, selfish citizen.

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."

But jk thinks:

Of course he's not wrong. I agree with a lot of Mr. Prager's opinions. I used to enjoy his column in JWF -- those were the days!

Likewise, I loved Michelle Malkin, read a couple of Ann Coulter's early books. A short time ago, Brother br quoted Bernie Goldberg. Goldberg wrote two incredibly powerful and important books on media: "Bias" and "Arrogance."

Then he wrote "The 100 Worst People in the World." I bet that was cathartic and I have no doubt that he was hurt by the bridges he burned writing his serous media critiques.

But I find Prager, Coulter, Malkin and Goldberg to be of little worth in any serious advocacy. Like the swiftboaters, you bring up a substantive comment or opinion and immediately have to defend the speaker's most outlandish statements.

I don't know if that is fair but I know it to be real. I don't mind defending the most outlandish statements of Milton Friedman, FA Hayek, or Ludwig von Mises.

Posted by: jk at April 29, 2011 11:38 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I think that was my point: "But does that make him wrong?" In other words, do you have any rebuttal aside from ad hominem?

One need not defend every statement a man makes in order to defend one such statement.

Peace on.

Posted by: johngalt at May 1, 2011 1:31 AM

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:

Posted by John Kranz at 5:18 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

My favorite specious argument was that the existence of a WalMart store would tempt neighborhood kids to "get a record" for "kids being kids" and "picking things up" in the store. Yeah, those friendly mom and pop stores don't tempt kids to shoplift. And even if something does accidentally fall into some kid's pocket I'm sure mom or pop wouldn't call the cops.

Posted by: johngalt at April 28, 2011 7:27 PM
But jk thinks:

Gonna get a record! Bloody Walmart!

Several astonishing concerns, but I must agree that was up near the top.

Posted by: jk at April 28, 2011 8:15 PM

It's Time to Weigh In...

I love these, but ten minutes seems a little long. Oh well:

But johngalt thinks:

Well done! Fittingly that guy who got the anal exam really kicked some ass. And yet...

Let me get this straight: The guys at the top need to decide, "What should we have, more bottom up or more top down?" What could possibly go wrong?

The reaction of the crowd on the other hand is explained by the travails of one Gail Wynand.

Wynand had thought he had power. He believed that his papers molded public opinion. Bitterly, he discovers that his papers never belonged to him, but to the crowd -- and that public opinion dictated his policies, not vice versa.
Posted by: johngalt at April 28, 2011 3:13 PM

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.

Go see the movie."

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.

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/movies/2011/04/atlas-shrugged-producer-critics-you-won-hes-going-on-strike.html
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."

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.

-- Cliff

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.

But Keith Arnold thinks:

Only slightly off-topic - different movie, related theme of issues with a meddling, over-reaching, central-planning government: http://bit.ly/jUjK3W

Doubtless near and dear to the hearts of all the ThreeSources brethren...

Posted by: Keith Arnold at April 28, 2011 11:33 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Umm, right link? Day by day?

Posted by: johngalt at April 28, 2011 3:14 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Yes, read the word balloons - I won't tell you who Sir Golfsalot thinks is the hero of Joss Whedon's movie and spoil it. I'll just say that you can't stop the signal.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at April 28, 2011 3:56 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes! I came back for a pre-emptive Mea Culpa but you beat me to the click. I was stuck on "movie." For some reason Mal and the kids are first and foremost a teevee phenomenon to me.

Sir Golfsalot. Heh. Trump is trying to make it Sir Hoopsalot.

Posted by: johngalt at April 28, 2011 4:20 PM
But jk thinks:

Is that Donald Trump, the leader of the Republican party? That Trump?

Posted by: jk at April 28, 2011 4:45 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Well, one sunshiny ray of hope - at least it's looking like Mike Hucksterbee won't be "the leader of the Republican Party." Sources on the ground say he's dissolving his campaign apparatus.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at April 28, 2011 7:23 PM

Word of the Day

(I'm not making this up:)

Newshole.

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

But jk thinks:

Been called worse.

Posted by: jk at April 27, 2011 6:39 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

I'm actually feeling a bit disappointed, now that I've Googled the term - I expected worse. I've seen "dittohole" (disparaging term for a Limbaugh fan), "memory hole" (thank you, George Orwell), and "Masshole" (someone whose persistently ignorant voting habits have given us Ted Kennedy, Chris Dodd, Barney Frank, and Romneycare). I expected a definition with a little bit more Tabasco.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at April 27, 2011 10:01 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Yeah, I know Chris Dodd's from across the line in Connecticut. For some reason, every time I mention Ted Kennedy, I have him mentally sandwiched with Chris Dodd. Little matter - Dodd and Kerry are pretty much interchangeable.

Mea culpa.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at April 27, 2011 10:05 PM

Ryan 2012

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!

2012 Posted by John Kranz at 4:34 PM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

I like Ryan. I'm not inclined to spike him over purity issues. I still like Bachmann better. I think she's a better contrast to Obama. And, hers would be a better likeness as the 45th face on this shirt.

Yes, I know ... a shallow reason.

Posted by: johngalt at April 27, 2011 7:16 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm afraid I'd look like a newshole in that shirt...

I should trust your judgment above all others, but I see in Rep. Bachmann a ticking time bomb who is going to go deeply into social issues someday soon in a very big way. Maybe I'm wrong. Like Gov. Palin, she has instant cred with the Social Conservatives and can perhaps afford to keep quiet.

Unlike Gov. Griz, her social conservatism has a -- euphemize how you will -- anti-gay streak that is objectionable to me. Virtually any other issue from the social cannon is easy for me to accept, tolerate, and find some common ground with. I also hold with blog friend sc's contention that it is repellant to young voters, especially those with a predilection toward liberty.

Posted by: jk at April 27, 2011 7:50 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Not being a regular reader of dumpbachmann-dot-com I wasn't aware of Bachmann's repeated sponsorship of a Defense of Marriage amendment for the Minnesota Constitution. I wouldn't call that "anti-gay" but "anti-gay activism." But I do see your point. I'd like to see states pass civil union laws allowing any 2 unmarried adults eligibility for the rights of married persons without being called "married." Do I think Bachmann would support this? Probably not.

Posted by: johngalt at April 28, 2011 2:54 PM

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
Posted by John Kranz at 4:07 PM | What do you think? [3]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

I've been unavailable and missed some VERY GOOD blogging here - including a chance to weigh in on Jim Wallis. Pity...

I read this quote, and mentally caught myself filling in the name "Barack Hussein Durka Durka Muhammad Jihad Guevara Manson Obama."

Posted by: Keith Arnold at April 27, 2011 5:51 PM
But jk thinks:

The exception that proves the rule "If you have to explain a joke..." I have not brushed up my Team America of late and had to Google®. Saw me some funny things... Mister Taranto missed that one.

Posted by: jk at April 27, 2011 7:05 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I didn't miss a chance to weigh in on Jim Wallis and there's no reason you should either. I was actually surprised there was no kerfuffle over my comment there. (Or my discussion of God toward the end of "Mother of Exiles" five posts later.)

Posted by: johngalt at April 28, 2011 3:49 PM

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:

Dear Ritz-Carlton:

Thanks for your e-mail celebrating your and your employees' participation in "Give Back Getaways" -- activities in which you and your employees (along with some of your customers) "give back to the community."

Have you taken something that doesn't belong to you? If so, by all means give it back!...If, though, you've not taken anything that doesn't belong to you, you possess nothing that you can give BACK.


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.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 3:06 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

News flash - I saw Stossel aired on FNC during a weekend segment. Perhaps he'll get promoted to the flagship channel soon!

Posted by: johngalt at April 27, 2011 3:21 PM

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.

But jk thinks:

Yet another great line from Taranto: "We don't have time for such silliness," Obama said at his briefing today. Then, as John Podhoretz notes, the president "flew off to Chicago to be on The Oprah Winfrey Show."

Posted by: jk at April 27, 2011 4:43 PM

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

Posted by John Kranz at 12:38 PM | What do you think? [0]

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.

The last one generates a few good comments:

Yeah! Just sick! Crazy ass party of assholes. Sad they have children.
but hey . . . there's no pineapple trees on the paper's pattern, or hula girls, or volcanoes. nice try, mr. president! even a picture of Don Ho wold have clinched 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.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:11 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Not a single mention of Fox News? Your lefty friends are slipping.

Posted by: johngalt at April 27, 2011 2:26 PM

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.

But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Great post, JG!

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 26, 2011 6:12 PM
But jk thinks:

Yeah, what he said!

Posted by: jk at April 26, 2011 6:25 PM

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.

Is this the NFL that players want? A league where elite players attract enormous compensation and benefits while other players--those lacking the glamour and bargaining power of the stars--play for less money, fewer benefits and shorter careers than they have today? A league where the competitive ability of teams in smaller communities (Buffalo, New Orleans, Green Bay and others) is forever cast into doubt by blind adherence to free-market principles that favor teams in larger, better-situated markets?

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.

Unions need their anti-trust exemption because without it, almost everything that they do would be illegal. Unions function the exact same way as cartels like the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) do: They restrict supply (labor for unions, oil for OPEC) thus driving up prices (wages for unions, barrel of oil for OPEC). The result for American football fans: higher prices and less football.


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?

But johngalt thinks:

I say the owners made a deal with the devil when they "demanded the unearned" and coerced local taxpayers to build their fancy new revenue enhancing stadia. But in the end it will not be players, or owners, who "lose." (Lose being defined as 'who gives more money to someone else.) That dubious honor will go to fans. Fortunately, attendance is not compulsory.

Posted by: johngalt at April 26, 2011 4:01 PM

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.

In the 1970s, the common theme was that the world was in danger of running out of key natural resources perhaps as soon as the year 2000. The 1972 Limits to Growth study, for example, predicted that the world would run out of gold, zinc, mercury, and oil before 1992; the U.S. government's1980 Global 2000 report predicted that the world would face an oil shortage of 20 million barrels a day by 2000 and that oil would cost $100 a barrel. As recently as 1993, David Brower published a full-page ad in the New York Times featuring a headline that read, "Economics is a form of brain damage." Not long before, at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, environmental activist Hazel Henderson suggested that economists should be sent to re-education camps.

Today, the "population bomb" looks very different than in 1968, and there has been a revolution in thought about how to regard resource scarcity. Far from experiencing runaway population growth, fertility rates have fallen so fast around the world that the UN now forecasts global population will peak sometime after mid-century--within the lifetime of young adults alive today--and then probably begin declining by the end of the century. There are many factors in the fertility rate decline, but the most powerful correlation appears to be the spread of individual freedom and democracy.


The piece is well worth a read in full and a bookmark.

Environment Posted by John Kranz at 1:22 PM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

Unlike Gary Johnson's issue positions, I don't agree with all of the Hayward piece. I do, however, strongly agree with his exposition on the beneficial effects to the environment from private property rights. This turns classic environmentalist dogma on its head.

Posted by: johngalt at April 26, 2011 3:01 PM
But J thinks:

Here is one of the best talks I have seen on population growth. Well worth the time and a fine compliment to the book noted above. Enjoy!

Posted by: J at August 8, 2012 5:28 PM
But J thinks:

A link to the talk:

http://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_on_global_population_growth.html

Posted by: J at August 8, 2012 5:29 PM

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!

Posted by John Kranz at 12:41 PM | What do you think? [3]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

They even suck as flower pots.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 26, 2011 2:57 PM
But jk thinks:

I confess I would like a USB conversion.

Posted by: jk at April 26, 2011 3:30 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

For the purists among you, I spotted this in the Vermont Country Store catalogue, whose slogan is "purveyors of the practical and hard-to-find": http://bit.ly/jug0z7

It may run on electricity, but there is no electronic display. It types. To paper.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at April 29, 2011 4:42 PM

Johnson 2012

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.

2012 Posted by John Kranz at 12:06 PM | What do you think? [7]
But jk thinks:

He may need to work on that name-recognition thingy...

Posted by: jk at April 26, 2011 12:45 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I'm fine with all of this. My objection to legalized pot basically amounts to, what relatively benign MAD [mind-altering drug] exists to placate the users who are bound and determined to engage in illegal behavior? As a friend said, "It's hard to be counter-culture with a legal recreational drug."

Posted by: johngalt at April 26, 2011 2:41 PM
But jk thinks:

A great reason to legalize everything, jg! Well, that and JS Mill's self sovereignty and Hans Hermann-Hoppe's transcendental creation of property rights based entirely on self-ownership...

I didn't want to pick the drug fight before my blog brothers sounded off on immigration and WikiLeaks. But we're here and we can't dance:

That is the worst reason I have ever heard to keep it illegal. Pragmatic to a certain extent, but you would not allow a little slavery to prevent more perverse abuses, you do not advocate keeping handguns illegal so that people won't want bazookas.

Posted by: jk at April 26, 2011 2:51 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yep. Yer right. That's why I prefaced with "I'm fine with all of this." Ours is an imperfect world and I of all people should not get caught up in a joust with that windmill.

WikiLeaks - Transparent government ... a good thing.

Legal working status though not citizenship - Participate in the economy in good faith but no voting rights ... a good thing.

Posted by: johngalt at April 26, 2011 3:56 PM
But Amy thinks:

I've really liked this guy since the first I've heard of him...which was about four days ago, I have to admit. Hopefully he'll have a chance here.

Posted by: Amy at April 27, 2011 3:03 PM
But jk thinks:

Now is the time for big dreams, Amy, but I fear he'll be a tough sell in GOP Primaries. If I take my pragmatist hat off, I must admit he might do well in the General. But the Republican faithful, I dunno.

Posted by: jk at April 27, 2011 6:43 PM

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.

wallis-sojourners.jpg

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.

But jk thinks:

They may talk about the second coming, but this line shows up on Facebook every couple months as soon as a new prog friend "discovers" it.

In an effort to clear the confusion in America: Obama is NOT a brown-skinned, anti-war socialist who gives away free healthcare. You're thinking of Jesus Christ.

When I say something (I stopped several times ago) I am told it's just a joke, lighten up. Yet there is an implicit QED after this, that they have discredited the concept of limited government.

Or maybe it's just a joke and I should lighten up. The "Republican Jesus" stained glass window, in contrast, was pretty funny: sorry I cannot attribute.

Posted by: jk at April 25, 2011 4:38 PM
But johngalt thinks:

To an extent they have discredited the concept of limited government; to the extent that one believes Jesus Christ is his Lord and savior.

Posted by: johngalt at April 26, 2011 11:31 AM

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.

It gets worse. There are also subsidies to cover the deductibles and copayments of insurance policies purchased through an exchange--and like the premium subsidies, these subsidies also phase out with income. There is also the likelihood that federal and state income taxes on upper-middle income families will have to be raised above current levels to finance the cost of the subsidy, the Medicaid expansion, and other provisions of the new law. Both of these effects exacerbate the law's negative work incentives.


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.

But johngalt thinks:

You and President "miss-me-yet?" call them toll booths. Democrats and the current POTUS call them "iron curtain" social safety nets. Like their namesake, whether these nets keep citizens inside or out (or both) has no bearing on their egaliatarian "goodness."

Posted by: johngalt at April 25, 2011 2:34 PM

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.

Any car, truck or SUV named among the worst in at least three of those six total studies made the final cut to be on the "Worst-Made" list.


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."

GM and Chrysler account for nine of the cars among the bottom eleven. In other news, the UAW is grateful for your generosity in keeping their union from disappearing. It appears you've achieved little else with your donation.


I mean, it's not like GM cars catch fire in the garage...oh, wait.

But johngalt thinks:

As an old-school Mopar guy I honestly wish they'd let Chrysler "fail" and be resurrected, Phoenix like, as an actual car company again. I've been taken in by the new Dodge Grand Caravan R/T commercial: "Leather wrapped instrument panel, almost 300 horsepower, in a minivan? Almost makes you wish you had kids. Waaah. Almost." But one of the biggest disincintives to an actual purchase is the union ownership of Pentastar HQ. (I just can't get that Eminem "imported from Detroit" image outta my head.)

Posted by: johngalt at April 25, 2011 2:41 PM

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!

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 10:18 AM | What do you think? [0]

April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

From Mary Katherine Ham:

Hat-tip: Insty

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 12:25 PM | What do you think? [0]

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.

It would at least be consistent. As we noted last Tuesday, the administration is reportedly engaged in a disinformation campaign to cover up the depth of the burden that's been dumped on American families.

The fiction is found on the White House's Federal Tax Receipt website. It says a family of three earning $50,000 a year pays a mere $19 in interest on the national debt.

Whether it's an honest mistake or a cynical fabrication, the administration's claim is still wrong.



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."
Oil and Energy Posted by John Kranz at 11:56 AM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

Wild and Crazy Idea time:

I propose dividing the federal government into two competing divisions - The United States of Red America and The United States of Blue America.

Each will be established and governed exclusively by Republicans and Democrats, respectively.

Red America will be a Constitutional Republic and Blue America will be a Democratic People's Republic (if that's what they really want.)

Red America will repeal the 16th, 17th and 18th amendments, abolish two-thirds of executive branch departments, respect private property rights manage a reserve currency based on Friedmanite principles. Blue America will repeal the Constitution, institute single-payer national healthcare, guarantee a government job to every citizen and run the Fed the same way they do now.

Every American (and resident alien) can elect to live under the authority of one or the other but not both of these governments. On April 30 each year citizens will be able to switch to the other government at no charge, but will have to abide completely by the rules of that government for the entire year and will NEVER be able to vote.

Crimes will be adjudicated in the government of the victim.

Red America will provide for the national defense and Blue America can piggyback along for free. Why not - the rest of the western world has been doing it for centuries.

I'm probably missing a few details but I'm sure we can work them out.

Posted by: johngalt at April 23, 2011 12:24 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Oh yes, and to put into context for the post it comments to ... Red America will not infringe on private development of energy resources.

Posted by: johngalt at April 23, 2011 12:28 PM
But jk thinks:

On first read, I thought you were talking secession. The spirit of John C. Calhoun haunts these pages on occasion.

Reading it correctly, there's much to like. Hans Hermann-Hoppe talks about competing governments at the end of "Theory on Socialism and Capitalism."

I confess I cannot quite get my mind around the actual implementation. It sounds good on paper, but what keeps my (blue) neighbor from hauling my (red) ass into court for Section 3.4.981: Crimes again Gaia with an Incandescent bulb? (To be fair, the Red courts will incarcerate the blues for medicinal marijuana and sodomy.)

Hoppe is a protogee of Murray Rothbard. And while I appreciate the intellectual rigor, we wittingly carve out a slice of life where we allow a Lockean Police to protect us from real abuses by others. I appreciate that the force component is regularized and restrained by, in our case, the Constitution.

Having to evade the blue police (mandatory recycling) and the red (daily "Pledge of Allegiance") seems too much.

Beyond my flippant examples, there are real externalities. The energy extraction will have a non-zero pollution component, the strict wage equality laws will retard economic growth. Looking at Wisconsin, I find it hard to see the two living peacefully together for too long.

Posted by: jk at April 24, 2011 10:46 AM

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.

2012 Posted by JohnGalt at 11:05 AM | What do you think? [0]

Romantic Comedy

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.

"Global warming isn't scientifically proven," he wrote.

WHAT??? Does he think the world is flat, too? I thought in horror. I'm from California. I've been recycling and saving dolphins since I was in the womb. Suddenly, memories came rushing back to me like a horrible movie montage: The arguments we had about hybrid cars--he contended that it didn't make a damn difference, since car companies still pollute in other ways. I thought he was just defensive about his decidedly not-green race car. And the way he would constantly rib on Al Gore, even after "An Inconvenient Truth" won the Academy Award... He was always so skeptical about the merits of organic food, too. And, hey, did he even have a recycling bin?!


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."

But johngalt thinks:

Reminds me of the 'House' episode when, on clinic duty, House tells the vegan hippie chick her boyfriend has been "cheating on her" with *gasp* BEEF!

Posted by: johngalt at April 23, 2011 10:05 AM

April 22, 2011

Counting Money

"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.
Don't Demand the Unearned Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 10:29 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

I heard that quote too. Let's deconstruct:

"I'm rooting for everybody to get rich." Obama's patented opening strawman.

"But I believe that we can't ask everybody to sacrifice ..." Implying that everybody does indeed "sacrifice." What sacrifice is there in taking an Earned Income Credit to get a tax refund when you paid no tax?

"... and then tell the wealthiest among us..." Those earning $200,000 per year or $125,000 per year each for married couples are "the wealthiest among us."

"...well, you can just relax and go count your money, and don't worry about it." Except maybe that little worry about the massive inflation the president is happily bringing your way, making your savings go down in value and your relative tax burden go up. Gold anyone?

But this time, the best is saved for last. "WE'RE NOT GOING TO ASK ANYTHING OF YOU." Because if federal income taxes are not RAISED on productive individuals they won't be doing their part. They aren't already paying huge shares of their incomes in taxes already or anything like that.

The president and congressional Democrats like to talk about "shared sacrifice." Giving upwards of 1/4 of one's earned income to the government is one helluva sacrifice. When do the government spenders start making their sacrifices?

Posted by: johngalt at April 23, 2011 1:29 AM

Quote of the Day

The trouble with quotes on the Internet is that you can never know if they are genuine.-- Abraham Lincoln
On the web Posted by John Kranz at 7:52 PM | What do you think? [0]

Happy Mother Earth Day, Citizen!

I'll bet you forgot to buy a card and gift, didn't you? Boy, is your face red!

Did you even know it's International Mother Earth Day today, citizen? Socialist despot Evo Morales and his buddies at the United Nations sure do. You see, in April 2009, they passed a unanimous resolution to celebrate this important event every year. In the accompanying speech, Morales explained to his colleagues that "Mother Earth was now having her rights recognized" and expressed his hope that the present century will be known as the "century of the rights of Mother Earth." He explained to the UN that its member states "now had the opportunity to begin laying out a Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth."

And don't worry -- you'll be pleased to know that they're making great progress toward this goal.


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...

Environment Posted by John Kranz at 10:34 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

I want to see the government's Power of Attorney from Mother Earth.

Posted by: johngalt at April 22, 2011 11:53 AM

Happy Earth Day!

Reason.tv

(Or here's a charming Earth Day Rap)

Environment Posted by John Kranz at 12:00 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

"More people are being fed better today than at any time in human history." Yeah, a little too much better if you ask the First Lady.

Posted by: johngalt at April 23, 2011 12:09 AM

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:

momsrising_org.gif

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.

Junk Science Posted by John Kranz at 6:20 PM | What do you think? [3]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

...women and minorities most affected.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 21, 2011 6:49 PM
But jk thinks:

Friend has not commented, but friend-of-friend asks:

John: That group cannot be trusted when it comes to protecting consumers against businesses. Do you have any links to an organization who actually cares about people and not only profits and that says BPA is safe?

No, Porky, breathe from your diaphragm!

Posted by: jk at April 21, 2011 7:07 PM
But jk thinks:

For those playing the home version, friend-of-friend is pretty nice and gives my response a possibly kinder reception than it deserves.

Posted by: jk at April 21, 2011 7:16 PM

Duh!

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?

That's what Democrats are now charging -- and they are pointing to it as proof that Republicans have no leg to stand on as they hold out against the debt ceiling hike that everyone knows has to happen.

This has gotten little attention, but Senate Dems points out that on pages five and six of Ryan's proposal, the plan lays out its version of what constitutes "appropriate levels of the public debt" over the next ten years. It says that in fiscal year 2012, the appropriate debt limit would be $16.2 trillion -- nearly two trillion higher than it is now. In 2021, according to Ryan's proposal, the proper debt limit would be $23.1 trillion -- nearly $9 trillion higher than the present.


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.

Ivy Starnes was considered the worst of these kids. Jeff Allen, a man who worked in the factory, has this to say about her:

"She had pale eyes that looked fishy, cold, and dead. And if you ever want to see pure evil, you should have seen the way her eyes glinted when she watched some man who'd talked back to her once and who'd just heard his name on the list of those getting nothing above basic pittance." (2.10.1.110)

Dagny herself actually met Ivy and tried to get answers out of her, back when she was searching for the elusive inventor of the motor. Ivy sadistically preys on people's emotions and enjoys tormenting them. In this respect, she is what Galt calls a "looter of the spirit" and has a lot in common with James Taggart, who also enjoys destroying people for his own amusement. What's truly terrible about Ivy is that she acts sadistically but speaks in terms of charity and brotherly love. She embodies the very worst of what Galt considers looter ideology.


But jk thinks:

I had a difficult time with the Rand villains, most notably Ellsworth Toohey. I did not see, as a young man, what was in it for a Toohey or the charming Starnes children.

Then I met a couple hundred of them.

Posted by: jk at April 21, 2011 4:40 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:


Misery loves company, and sadly it's easier to spread disappointment and failure to others than enthusiasm and perseverance.

Btw, my take on AS is that it won't be very successful if at all. Artistically, it well captured the spirit of the novel, but that didn't make for a compelling story.

nb

Posted by: nanobrewer at April 27, 2011 9:48 AM

Whew!

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.

The directive came two days after an incident in which a Boeing 737 carrying Michelle Obama got too close to a massive military cargo jet as both planes were trying to land at Andrews Air Force Base.

The managers in one air traffic control center were unaware of a potential problem, and the manager in the Andrews tower was reluctant to say anything when he noticed that the two planes were two miles closer than FAA standards allow, federal sources said.


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.

But johngalt thinks:

Excellent! This brings to three the number we have nominated for the President's new Independent Payment Advisory Board.

Heh! A government committee that decides who gets paid and who does not. What could go wrong?

Posted by: johngalt at April 21, 2011 2:17 PM

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:

And, I was going to write something on this, but Ed Morrissey beat me to it:

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.

This reasonable business decision created more than 1,000 jobs and has brought around $2 billion of investment to South Carolina. The aerospace workers in Puget Sound remain among the best paid in America, but the union nonetheless asked the NLRB to stop Boeing's plans before the company starts to assemble planes in North Charleston this July.

The NLRB obliged with its complaint yesterday asking an administrative law judge to stop Boeing's South Carolina production because its executives had cited the risk of strikes as a reason for the move. Boeing acted out of "anti-union animus," says the complaint by acting general counsel Lafe Solomon, and its decision to move had the effect of "discouraging membership in a labor organization" and thus violates federal law.


Ah, that must be the Anti Dog-Eat-Dog Law, or one of the Fairness Laws, or something, right? The WSJ isn't sure what law the NLRB is talking about, either. Not only do businesses routinely relocate to find the most advantageous environment possible, states and cities compete for that business by calculating their business climate. If this has escaped the notice of the NLRB, perhaps they should get out more.

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.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 11:54 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Oh yeah, sure. Just go ahead and make references to Ayn Rand and her novel 'Atlas Shrugged' to explain every instance of economic market distortion and political influence peddling you find in your daily newspaper. As if some dusty old novel written 50-plus years ago is some magical crystal ball that can explain the cause for ALL of them! As if.

Posted by: johngalt at April 21, 2011 3:19 PM

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."

The bulbs are already widely used in the UK following EU direction to phase out traditional incandescent lighting by the end of this year.

But the German scientists claimed that several carcinogenic chemicals and toxins were released when the environmentally-friendly compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) were switched on, including phenol, naphthalene and styrene.


Environment Posted by John Kranz at 11:38 AM | What do you think? [0]

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 Willoughby
There 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.

Tea Party Posted by John Kranz at 10:01 AM | What do you think? [0]

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
b) Living together
c) Having a baby together
d) Making payments on each others credit cards

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.

Health Care Posted by JohnGalt at 11:52 PM | What do you think? [0]

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.

But it isn't just the cost of the charge that needs to be evaluated. There's also the TIME to recharge.

On 240VAC 30 amp circuit the charge time is 8 hours. On 115VAC 15 amp household outlet the charge time would be about 4 times as long, or 32 hours. They provide this type of charging for "convenience use when making stops or for emergency charging." They tell you to count on about 5 miles of range per HOUR of charge time by this method. Nissan has developed a fast charger that can fully refuel 80% of the 100-mile range of a LEAF in ... 30 minutes. You can buy one for $16,800. (Be careful though, because "Nissan warns that if fast charging is the primary way of recharging, then the normal and gradual battery capacity loss is about 10% more than regular 220-volt charging over a 10-year period.")

IT'S JUST ALL SO COMPLICATED!!!

Enviros and 'Lectric car apologists will try to tell you that all of these limitations are just because the technology is "new" and it will improve rapidly as more people buy the things and by becoming mainstream the car companies will compete with each other and solve all the problems. But electric cars are NOT new. I rode in one in Denver that dad took from the University to Cinderella City to show off to normal people. That was about 40 years ago. FORTY!

Why can gasoline engines get the same range on a couple gallons of gasoline that 'Lectrics get on 32 hours worth of power into the biggest electric heater you can plug into your wall socket? Even though gasoline engines are less than a quarter as efficient as electric motors? Because gasoline has a TREMENDOUS energy content.

I'll quote from a blog post I wrote in July 2008:

"A single gallon of gasoline contains 131.76 megajoules of energy, compared to 2.1 megajoules in a stick of dynamite. 1 gallon of gas therefore equals 63 sticks of dynamite.
An average lightning bolt releases 500 megajoules, or 3.8 gallons of gasoline energy."

Now, going full circle back to the Nissan LEAF ... that 24 kwh battery pack it carries can hold 86 megajoules. That's 0.65 gallons of gasoline. (86 MEGAjoules sounded like a lot for a second there, didn't it!) Cost to fill up: $3.69 per gallon equivalent. Well, at least it's got that in common with gasoline powered cars.

But jk thinks:

I been thinkin' 'bout this...

1) You left Chevy Volt Catches Fire, Again out of an otherwise comprehensive post.

2) I just bought a battery for the mister2. Fossil that I am, I winced when AutoZone® said $102. Hybrid buyers are warned that they will have to replace the batteries in five-seven years. I don't think many internalize that and I suspect fewer consider that prices for replacement and disposal might escalate in that time.

I picture seven year old Prii being worth as much as my old HP inkjet printer with empty ink cartridges. A clever person might innovate a better third party replacement by then. But it is a Beta none include in calculations.

Posted by: jk at April 21, 2011 9:39 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Part of my original email to auntie that was left on the 3Srcs cutting room floor was this from the Wiki page:

"It is estimated that each battery pack costs Nissan US$18,000 (as of May 2010[update]), and this cost is expected to be halved by mass production."
Posted by: johngalt at April 21, 2011 12:13 PM
But jk thinks:

I think it will be halved -- but by Schumpeterian gales, not "mass production." Batteries? They don't mass-produce those?

I wonder if the new packs will retrofit, how much people will pay for scheduled maintenance on a five year old car, and whether disposal of the old packs might become pricey. (We're reaching a point where you pay as much to dispose of your old flat-screen TV than to buy the new one.)

These are the Bic® lighters of cars, are they not?

Posted by: jk at April 21, 2011 12:32 PM

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?

But Keith Arnold thinks:

I saw over at another site that Papa John's just cancelled their advertizing at Wonkette for this. My prediction is that Wonkette's traffic at least triples today - for the very reason you cite. Yes, I plead guilty. I was one of them; I thought Wonkette had folded long ago, and was surprised they're still functional.

I'll do penance by ordering a pizza tonight. Solidarity, and all that.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at April 20, 2011 7:04 PM
But jk thinks:

Mixed emotions (no anchovies on mine, please...) I truly like to see somebody pay for outlandish disregard to human dignity. I love a private market whack with zero state involvement.

On the other hand, this could impede the advertising model for Internet punditry. If blogs just become just too dangerous, advertisers might be more inclined to finance CBS Evening News instead. No danger of anything ever being noticed there.

Posted by: jk at April 20, 2011 8:02 PM

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.

In his speech on the debt crisis, Obama agreed -- laying out his philosophy on the issue by explaining that we must "reduce spending in the tax code." This mystifying phrase, I came to discover after a thorough investigation, translates to this: "Hey, let's tax the rich because everyone hates those bastards anyway." Here the president also explained that your earnings, if you manage to accumulate enough profit -- presumably by robbing the needy, the elderly, the handicapped and the environment -- by default, it belongs to the IRS. Keeping too much of yours, as Obama points out, is tantamount to taking it from Washington and, thus, those who really need it.-- David Harsanyi



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

I was talking up Richard Epstein's book in some comments way down South on this page. Today Insty links to a superb Hoover Institution article of his, Let the Rich Get Richer.

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."

At this point, ambiguity in the idea of "security" turns the social contract theory of John Locke and David Hume on its head. By Locke and Hume's conception, every person was required to renounce force in order to increase his own security from the aggression of other individuals. It is hard to think that anyone, no matter how powerful, is left worse off by this one trade-off.

Under Obama's more aggressive agenda, however, security includes "Social Security" so that each person has to undertake to support his fellow citizens who are not able to support themselves, even if unthreatened by others. Put otherwise, no longer is a successful individual just under a duty not to take advantage of the less fortunate by use of force and fraud; now that duty extends to supplying financial support to all individuals against the vicissitudes of life--without offering any explanation as to why they are unable to undertake that task for themselves.


Whole Read Thing Gotta.

But johngalt thinks:

Good stuff. If only we could get Donald Trump (R/D/I-Opportunist) to say some of this instead of talking about Obama's birthplace. (Which, more and more, seems to have been Simbirsk in the Russian Empire circa 1870.)

Here's a good candidate for a Trump Stump:

To lawyers and economists in the classical liberal tradition, it is a good thing, not a bad thing, if the richest person in society gets richer—so long as no one else is made poorer. But to the committed egalitarian, that supposed social improvement in fact poses a real threat because it increases the amount of inequality of wealth in society.

So the president blissfully advocates programs that reduce overall social wealth in order to soften these wealth differences. But it’s a mug’s game. In the end, it is growth, and only growth, that can cure the national malaise. And that means letting the rich get richer so that they can bring the rest of us along with them.

Posted by: johngalt at April 20, 2011 3:50 PM
But jk thinks:

Funny, I think I saw in WikiLeaks that the President's password was "Simbirsk..."

Posted by: jk at April 20, 2011 3:55 PM
But jk thinks:

As for his Populist Comboverness, one of my famed moonbat Facebook friends said "you know, he actually does say some things that make sense."

QED

Posted by: jk at April 20, 2011 3:57 PM

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.

It's almost enough to make you begin to doubt his sincerity.


Steven Landsburg

Politics Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 1:31 PM | What do you think? [0]

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.

Education Posted by John Kranz at 12:36 PM | What do you think? [4]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

So - indulge me for a moment on this one, my friends - we read these things:

"The majority of multigender encounters are male-dominated. (F)or example, while involved in conversation, the male is much more likely to interrupt. Most likely because the male believes the female's expressed thoughts are inferior to his own."

- and -

"For example, males are dominant over females, whites over blacks, and affluent over impoverished."

At last! Now I understand Kanye West's outburst at the VMA awards, imposing himself on Taylor Swift. Though black, he's male and established; she, though white, is female and up-and-coming. All this time, I've simply thought West was an ass. Who says you can't learn anything useful in college these days?

Posted by: Keith Arnold at April 20, 2011 2:28 PM
But jk thinks:

'scuse me, Brother Keith, I'm gonna let you finish and all but...

People are going into debt to absorb this twaddle! I used to think it was the occasional humanities elective and that nobody was really harmed, but I am constantly reminded that there is no space for an American History or Constitution class, all to provide more of this untruth.

A good friend got a Computer Science MBA five years ago and took field trips to an S&M conference. Dominant Matrix indeed.

Posted by: jk at April 20, 2011 3:51 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Question: Please briefly explain the matrix of domination-

Since the power of an individual's free will is distributed it is therefore dominated by organized or "collective" power, thus giving trade unions, special interest groups and the mainstream press the ability to overwhelm that individual free will with egaliatarian socialist claptrap that many an individual will succomb to even in spite of his innate prior knowledge of the fact that it is, indeed, false. Through this concentration of power provably false ideas repeatedly become official government policy through a mechanism we've been taught to revere called "democracy." So ended the great Roman empire and classical Greece.

Posted by: johngalt at April 20, 2011 4:03 PM
But jk thinks:

I've forwarded this to the Dean...

Posted by: jk at April 20, 2011 4:26 PM

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.
[...]
Mr. Ryan has been lambasted for linking his "premium support" Medicare subsidies to inflation, not the rate of health cost growth. But if that's as unrealistic as the liberal wise men claim, then Mr. Obama's goals are even more so. Medicare grew 2.1 percentage points faster between 1985 and 2009 than Mr. Obama's new GDP target. At least Mr. Ryan is proposing a workable model for bringing costs down over time by changing incentives.

Mr. Obama, by contrast, is relying on the so far unidentified technocratic reforms of 15 so far unidentified geniuses who are supposed to give up medical practice or academic research for the privilege of a government salary. Since the board is not allowed by law to restrict treatments, ask seniors to pay more, or raise taxes or the retirement age, it can mean only one thing: arbitrarily paying less for the services seniors receive, via fiat pricing.


Other than that, Mr. President, the idea is awesome.

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 12:06 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Obama will have no trouble identifying 15 "geniuses" for his Independent Payment Advisory Board. Hell, I can nominate two hands-down experts off the top of my head: Gerald and Ivy Starnes.

Posted by: johngalt at April 20, 2011 3:31 PM

Salute!

ThreeSources salutes Commander Shanti Sethi for her service and general hossness.

Shanti-Sethi.jpg

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.

In mid March, her ship made a port call in Chennai, India. The Indian media were quick to recognize the success of a daughter of their nation and the visit received a great deal of publicity.


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.

trumka.jpg

"Look for the Union Label..."

UPDATE: This calls for a link to my favorite fake AFSCME video.


Scientific Fact...YAWN!

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 a huge development in this ongoing saga and a major endorsement of the scientific method. Over the past decade, German toxicologists had been among the most aggressive in arguing for precautionary standards when regulating plastic additives. BPA is used to line metal cans and make epoxy products and polycarbonate plastics, including children's sippy cups. Phthalates are softeners used to manufacture vinyl products, from gym mats to cabling and medical tubing.


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...

Junk Science Posted by John Kranz at 1:52 PM | What do you think? [3]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

...an old clay pot with traces of lead, zinc and uranium in the soil.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 19, 2011 2:54 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

I know whereof you speak. Whenever people see me actually drink water from the kitchen faucet, I never have to wait long for someone to freak out about how dangerous it is. From the municipal water supply! And then they rave on about how I really need to buy water in bottles...

My response to them is that I wish they'd seen me as a kid, drinking water from a hose in my yard while I played. Five decades later, and I have no ill effects. Except for this twitch. Well, it's actually more of a tic than a twitch...

Wimps.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at April 19, 2011 2:55 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I thought I could just quip that the scientist who "discovered" these "scientific" conclusions merely needed to be excommunicated from whatever society he's a member of. Then I read the article and learned there isn't just one individual that the enviros can blame.

The author naively asks, "At what point should science prevail?" Why, whenever it agrees with the worldview of them that does the reporting of course, and never otherwise.

Posted by: johngalt at April 19, 2011 2:59 PM

April 18, 2011

This Objectivist

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.

Taylor Schilling is riveting as Dagny Taggart [...]


And click through for a nice Reason-behind-the-scenes video.

Posted by John Kranz at 7:10 PM | What do you think? [0]

Death and Taxes

We have to do a little tax discussion on tax day.

Beyond the actual amounts confiscated raised in revenue, a couple of my heroes discuss compliance costs. Art Laffer has a guest editorial in the WSJ. The 30-cent tax premium describes how an additional, 30% deadweight loss is added to the already distortionary effects of the tax code:

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.

Mitchell excerpts:

Second, we should remember that compliance costs are just the tip of the iceberg. The video also briefly mentions three other costs.

1. The money we send to Washington, which is a direct cost to our pocketbooks and also an indirect cost since the money often is used to finance counterproductive programs that further damage the economy.

2. The budgetary burden of the IRS, which is a staggering $12.5 billion. This is the money we spend to employ an army of tax bureaucrats that is larger than the CIA and FBI combined.

3. The economic burden of the tax system, which measures the lost economic output from a tax system that penalizes productive behavior.


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.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:23 PM | What do you think? [14]
But jk thinks:

I don't want critics to mischaracterize ThreeSources, so I must challenge your "amendments" accusation.

You may attack "The Progressive Era" amendments if you wish. But even then, I'll keep the 19th, extending the voting franchise to women. My wife says I have to.

All and all, I'm quite a fan of Article V and think the Constitution, in toto, was much improved. Out of 27 Amendments , we get:
1-10 Bill of Rights: ten out of ten in my book. You may have the space to quarter soldiers in peacetime, my condo is somewhat small.
11 Mixed bag. I get the point but it kept indigenous Americans from redress.
12 Better organization of the Executive, accounting for the exigencies of factional rule.
13, 14, 15 Slavery, undoing Dred Scott and extending the voting franchise to every adult with a penis. We got stuck with a stronger Federal government with 14, but that is a worthwhile trade for the sins of slavery.
16-24 The Progressive ones. Bad,bad,bad,good,good,good,mixed,good.
25 Procedural. Gave us President Ford, probably better codified.
26 In the vein of Brother br, sending a guy off to war, let him vote on the C-in-C
27 Tidy.

15,19,23 and 26 extend the franchise, which I call an unalloyed good; 13 and 14 fix the most egregious flaw in the whole document, 21 cancels the ill-ventured 18; 11,20,23,24,25 and 27 are paperwork that you can argue about if you choose.

So, out of 27, only two evil ones (16 & 17) stand today. That's not so bad. If you wish to throw 24 in, be my guest but you're providing a powerful weapon to the Bull Connors of the world. I'm fine keeping it.

Posted by: jk at April 19, 2011 4:03 PM
But jk thinks:

And if you want to commiserate on the bad ones, I'll fulsomely recommend Richard Epstein's How Progressives Rewrote the Constitution. I'm, three-quarters through and it is approaching five stars.

Posted by: jk at April 19, 2011 4:13 PM
But johngalt thinks:

You have no sympathy with the faction of Founders who believed a "bill of rights" was superflous and misleading as to the true nature of the Constitution - an enumeration of the powers of government with no impact whatever on individual rights?

I generally agree with your assessment of the other amendments but I had all those other "rights" before Amendments 1-10 gave 'em to me.

Posted by: johngalt at April 19, 2011 5:11 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And br, the "voluntary" tax discussion was in the context of "change." [No representation without taxation.] In defense, this idea also helps with one of the illegal immigration concerns.

Posted by: johngalt at April 19, 2011 5:29 PM
But jk thinks:

The good people of Britain did not see the need to enumerate their rights. Now you cannot get a firearm permit even if you are the actual Queen.

Our happy, hale, and handsome neighbors to the North thought the same and have done Orwellian torture to the idea of free speech. (cf. Ezra Levant).

I don't think you get McDonald v Chicago without the Second Amendment bein' writ down on a piece o' paper and I certainly don't think you get Snyder v. Phelps without the First. Our neighbors in the community of liberal free societies are unprepared to combat calls to suppress hate speech and draw the line between respect for Islam and dhimmitude..

I like ratified text.

Posted by: jk at April 19, 2011 5:43 PM
But johngalt thinks:

At this point I think my only reasonable reply can be, magister dixit. Well done.

Posted by: johngalt at April 20, 2011 3:18 PM

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

Hat-tip: Instapundit

Education Posted by John Kranz at 10:56 AM | What do you think? [4]
But johngalt thinks:

Yes. Rahe is, of course, correct. Call it group-think or political correctness or academic totalitarianism - the name does not matter - it is anti-survival behavior on the part of humanity.

I had to refer to the Hat-tip link to see who pulled the subject quote and gain some insight as to why no others were equally elevated, but the link is non-specific so I have no clue. Did you read the entire, fascinating essay? Were you not tempted to pull other quotes? Are you merely goading one of your loyal readers to do so?

Man, what an article you've linked here!

Posted by: johngalt at April 18, 2011 3:11 PM
But jk thinks:

So busted. I did read it and I did think it deserved a "read the whole thing" suggestion which I debated adding.

Going for the stock QOTD format, it's users' choice. Plus, I know the Sage of Knoxville is pretty well read 'round these parts. I frequently assume I am sweeping up the crumbs behind Insty.

Posted by: jk at April 18, 2011 6:17 PM
But jk thinks:

Lest you think I am withholding on tax day, the Instapundit link was the usual soul of brevity: "PAUL RAHE: Truths You Cannot Utter."

Posted by: jk at April 18, 2011 6:38 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The original link no longer works but this one leads to the same article.

Posted by: johngalt at May 9, 2011 1:45 AM

National Geographic

Somebody can spin this into a philosophical discussion if he or she wants. Or the ThreeSources animal lovers can just enjoy.

www.uzood.com/video/44291/The-Orangutan-and-the-Hound

Hat-tip: My biological brother via email.

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 10:37 AM | What do you think? [5]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

ThreeSources contribution to a feel-good Monday.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 18, 2011 11:50 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Social animals socializing! I doubt you'd see this with anti-social animals, like bears or engineers.

Posted by: johngalt at April 18, 2011 2:55 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Bears or engineers - what's the difference?

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 18, 2011 5:53 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Ummmmm, some bears are cute and cuddly enough (from a distance) to be chosen as the mascot of something?? Sports teams, children's toys, (...) enviro-nazi groups?

Posted by: johngalt at April 18, 2011 7:45 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Ah, good point, but engineers can be mascots, too.

Only an engineering school would have an engineer as a mascot. How lame. Maybe they should add marketing as a degree.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 19, 2011 11:49 AM

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

FEATURE ARTICLE

Going Galt

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!

2012 Posted by John Kranz at 11:14 AM | What do you think? [0]

Review Corner

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.

But johngalt thinks:

First, thank you. Thank you for being the first. Honestly I have to say I wasn't sure where to start so I am glad that you broke the ice. Let's start here: L-I-K-E. 5 stars. Not perfect, mind you, but as close as was practicable; particularly since fear of falling short of perfection may be the single greatest reason it took 50 years to make it to the screen. Going in I calibrated expectations by telling people not to expect Ben Hur on a Blair Witch budget.

Our venue was the 7pm screening in Boulder and when we arrived early there was one couple in line and the ticket agent told us it was "nearly sold out." The crowd was late to arrive and almost filled the auditorium. Our crowd reaction was identical to yours, with most of the laughs being led by my very own father. Watching with him was a joy. He had read the Cliff's Notes but not the book and many of the scenes really seemed to move him.

A very thoughtful review by Robert Tracinski via email, which I'll share soon, lamented that the characters were two-dimensional. I won't go that far but I did think there was room for more powerful portrayals, particularly by Francisco. The Francisco in my imagination was more Ricardo Montalban and less Erik Estrada. It may be a generational divide - I asked my wife and her 16-years the junior sister during the film "is Francisco a hottie?" In unison dagny said "no" and her sis said "yes." :) He was good, but could have been better. His scenes with Rearden covered the essential points but I really thought this 1 hour 40 minute film could have withstood an extra 5 minutes to more fully explain the relationship between Francisco and Dagny. Our only other quibble was that the actor playing Jim Taggart was too handsome, trim and fit for his character. A minor criticism, to be sure.

The Rearden Metal bridge was spectacular. Jim's taking credit for his sister's proactive steps in Mexico was a foreshadowing of Obama's 2012 campaign where he will take credit for the TEA Party Republicans' budget slashing. The cameo of Ayn Rand herself on Dagny's computer screen was a warm touch, and the Atlas statuette on Hank's desk also spoke to those of us "in the know." I was thorougly entertained and satisfied with the message. I think its quality bodes well for the prospects of Parts II and III.

Finally, I'll leave you with the opportunity to listen in on an 8-minute dialog between 850 KOA's Jon Caldera and yours truly. The entire hour's segment is an excellent discussion of Rand and this movie but to skip ahead to my segment just slide the bar to the 25 minute mark, or 27 minutes if you just can't wait to hear my voice.

Posted by: johngalt at April 16, 2011 1:47 PM
But jk thinks:

Nicely done, bro. I didn't know Caldera had a radio show; he is a true friend of liberty in this state.

Posted by: jk at April 17, 2011 11:34 AM
But jk thinks:

And another thing...you must get a way to watch "Stossel." He had your too-handsome-by-half Matthew Marsden on with the director and financier. I think Marsden would have won you over.

Posted by: jk at April 17, 2011 11:38 AM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Heh! I listened to that segment live and did not put the Eric from Ft. Lupton together. Great discussion, although you forget to slip a reference to ThreeSources.com in there...

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 18, 2011 10:33 AM

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...

SCOTUS Posted by John Kranz at 2:44 PM | What do you think? [3]
But AlexC thinks:

I'm tempted to get a Kindle for the instant gratification factor, but man I love to hold a book in my hand.

Of course I have about 15 books in the queue, stacked up and waiting for me to read. :(

Posted by: AlexC at April 16, 2011 11:36 AM
But jk thinks:

I consider it an imposition to have to read a real book. I may be worse than most, but I cannot think of a Kindle owner I know who does not now prefer Kindle books.

Posted by: jk at April 16, 2011 11:48 AM
But jk thinks:

We've had this talk before, but I remain astonished that your travel schedule does not push you over the line -- you don't mind dragging a pile of books to Alaska?

Posted by: jk at April 16, 2011 11:51 AM

Sen. Rand Paul Defends the Tea Party

Woot!

Tea Party Posted by John Kranz at 1:16 PM | What do you think? [5]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Lest anyone forget, Jim Bunning being driven from office was the opening that lead to Paul being elected. We were told that the Tea Party was an albatross and that Paul was too extreme - we needed to nominate moderates like Bunning to have any chance to win. Let that be a lesson - talk about an upgrade!

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 15, 2011 2:05 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"Liberty, equality, fraternity" or, "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." This is the choice before Americans in our national polity.

I know which I choose. You?

Posted by: johngalt at April 15, 2011 3:59 PM
But jk thinks:

I had forgotten how well Bastiat destroys that.

Mr. de Lamartine once wrote to me thusly: "Your doctrine is only the half of my program. You have stopped at liberty; I go on to fraternity." I answered him: "The second half of your program will destroy the first."
In fact, it is impossible for me to separate the word fraternity from the word voluntary. I cannot possibly understand how fraternity can be legally enforced without liberty being legally destroyed, and thus justice being legally trampled underfoot
Legal plunder has two roots: One of them, as I have said before, is in human greed; the other is in false philanthropy.

Posted by: jk at April 15, 2011 4:29 PM
But johngalt thinks:

This morning I saw a short, soundless, clip of Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Reparations) giving a floor speech in front of a large pie chart with the title "Shared Sacrifice." It got me to thinking about the principle of liberty, and how to go about pointing out to the good congresswoman that she is essentially advocating for a name change, from Statue of Liberty to Statue of Shared Sacrifice.

Posted by: johngalt at April 15, 2011 6:49 PM
But jk thinks:

A short, soundless clip of Rep. Lee is the best kind.

Posted by: jk at April 16, 2011 10:41 AM

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.

But it is equally clear that Americans did not realize that the price they might pay for big government would be 15.7 million fewer jobs and $4,154 less in per-capita income. Big government costs more than higher taxes. It is paid for with diminished freedom and less opportunity. You can't have unlimited opportunity and unlimited government.


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.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 10:39 AM | What do you think? [3]
But HB thinks:

Does this mean it is time to bring back Huck-a-Whack posts? There is likely a stockpile in reserve.

Posted by: HB at April 15, 2011 11:04 AM
But jk thinks:

I didn't know they were ever out of season!

Posted by: jk at April 15, 2011 11:18 AM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

"You can't have unlimited opportunity and unlimited government." That's quote of the day/week/month material right there.

The Refugee is proud to have been in the Gramm camp as well, even having volunteered for his campaign and met him in person. Straight shooter and one of the best.


Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 15, 2011 11:21 AM

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.

But Keith Arnold thinks:

Don't hatchet your counts before they chicken. I have no doubt that what he meant was this: "When I'm President, I will add 40 million Americans to the list of unemployed, and as a result, they will be able to do their taxes in less than the five minutes it takes to write the words Unemployed and Bankrupt on their 1040-EZ and mail it in." He's on a pace to fulfill this one.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at April 14, 2011 8:45 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Perhaps. I more expected his meaning was, "Spend five minutes sending us the postage-prepaid postcard you find in your January welfare check envelope and we'll mail you a nice "Earned Income Credit," courtesy of your tax-paying neighbors."

Posted by: johngalt at April 14, 2011 10:48 PM

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.

You've seen the draft script. Now I give you the World Premiere of "Who Owns Your Life?"

Please share prodigiously.

But jk thinks:

Heh -- thanks for changing the gender stereotypes.

Posted by: jk at April 14, 2011 4:29 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Well done!

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 14, 2011 5:14 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Updated this morning to add the Barack Obama quote that partially prompted my efforts.

Posted by: johngalt at April 15, 2011 9:28 AM

But Keith Arnold thinks:

Doesn't seem to be a theater anywhere near me - mayhaps there's not enough receptive viewers in California? From the look of the theater listing, I'll be waiting for this to hit cable...

Posted by: Keith Arnold at April 14, 2011 3:36 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Torrance? Central LA?

http://www.atlasshruggedpart1.com/theaters#California

Me and my kinfolk are going to the premier in BOULDER. (Yes, that Boulder.)

Posted by: johngalt at April 14, 2011 3:53 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Both are nearly an hour from me, and through downtown traffic. Yeah, I'm just whining. Eleven million people in the LA area who desperately need to see this, and it's showing on two gorram screens. You'd think a market this size...

Who am I kidding? We can't even hold onto an NFL franchise. I've got no reason to believe that this American Idol level, entertainment-addicted wasteland has the synaptic firepower to understand this movie. They're still waiting for Meet the Fockers VII.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at April 14, 2011 6:04 PM
But johngalt thinks:

LOL

One should count himself lucky it's on any LA screens. It's tantamount to Friedman's 'Free to Choose' airing in Moscow in the 1920's.

Posted by: johngalt at April 14, 2011 11:36 PM

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.

But johngalt thinks:

Refreshing. An honest biography of one of the world's greatest philosophers. And nary an accusation of her being a "solipsist."

Posted by: johngalt at April 14, 2011 3:16 PM

"Net Reduction": Two Definitions

Obama on spending in the debates:

Obama's record on spending:


Using numbers from the U.S. Treasury, we see that the debt during Bush's eight years in office increased from $5.7 trillion to $10.6 trillion, or $4.9 trillion over eight years. That's bad; that's basically $610 billion per year. But in the less than three years Obama has been in office, the debt has increased from $10.6 trillion to $14.2 trillion, a $3.6 trillion increase in about 27 months. In other words, Obama is increasing the debt by $1.6 trillion per year, three times as fast as Bush.

Government Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 1:07 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

We should count ourselves lucky when the President takes only two opposite positions on an issue. His modus operandi is to give multiple platitudinous statements with absolutely no regard for compatibility or consistency, and then count on the listener to remember only what he wanted to hear. It is Schroedinger's Cat with a teleprompter. President Obama is truly the first Quantum President in U.S. history.

Posted by: johngalt at April 14, 2011 2:44 PM
But jk thinks:

It's almost as if he said these things just to get elected...

Posted by: jk at April 14, 2011 3:23 PM

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!

Posted by John Kranz at 12:58 PM | What do you think? [4]
But johngalt thinks:

I hope you at least mean $14 PER YEAR for a trillion years, ya cheapskate! ;)

Posted by: johngalt at April 14, 2011 2:36 PM
But jk thinks:

Fire Breather! Radical! Cut the 14 once from the baseline and you got it.

Really man, I don't think you are cut out for gub'mint budget work...

Posted by: jk at April 14, 2011 3:27 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Count on Kranz to throw Grandma out in the snow.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 15, 2011 11:45 AM
But jk thinks:

Mondo Heh! I taught Draco as an undergrad...

Posted by: jk at April 15, 2011 12:51 PM

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.

Amy Alkon trashes it nicely, as do the three testosterone filled lads from Trifecta. I received a link in email from a good friend of the blog who "wanted to puke."

[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."

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 12:02 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

PPFTHT. We'll wipe out those twits with the doors of our SUVs and not even slow down.

Seriously, I think this is just a rehab put-up we can blame on General Zod's mental therapist. (Didn't you think that first "consciousman" looked familiar?)

Posted by: johngalt at April 14, 2011 2:59 PM

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:
We're not going to be able to do anything about any of these entitlements if what we do is characterize whatever proposals are put out there as, "Well, you know, that's -- the other party's being irresponsible. The other party is trying to hurt our senior citizens. That the other party is doing X, Y, Z."

President Obama today:
One vision has been championed by Republicans in the House of Representatives and embraced by several of their party's presidential candidates…This is a vision that says up to 50 million Americans have to lose their health insurance in order for us to reduce the deficit. And who are those 50 million Americans? Many are someone’s grandparents who wouldn't be able afford nursing home care without Medicaid. Many are poor children. Some are middle-class families who have children with autism or Down's syndrome. Some are kids with disabilities so severe that they require 24-hour care. These are the Americans we’d be telling to fend for themselves.


Hat-tip: Insty


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.

To be sure, there is room for compromise, especially on the first question, but the issues are not just numerical. The parties start with fundamentally different visions of markets and government.


But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Mankiw is full of it. Both parties are about "spending more and allocating that spending via central planning." Republicans proved it while they held both the White House and Congress. Republicans just profess to want to tax less, meaning future generations will be saddled with debt.

There is no room for compromise on this. As Rand said, you cannot compromise with poison. "There can be no compromise between a property owner and a burglar; offering the burglar a single teaspoon of one's silverware would not be a compromise, but a total surrender--the recognition of his right to one's property."

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at April 14, 2011 10:44 PM

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

Economics and Markets Posted by Boulder Refugee at 6:10 PM | What do you think? [0]


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.

Economics and Markets Posted by Boulder Refugee at 2:38 PM | What do you think? [4]
But johngalt thinks:

Stop government grants not to farm that are more valuable than government subsidies to farm? EXTREMIST!

For what it's worth, as I drove home to the farm last night a male pheasant flew directly across my path from one fallow field to another. [sarcasm] Ain't that proof that government works?[/sarcasm]

Posted by: johngalt at April 13, 2011 3:42 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Nah, JG, you're missin' out here. Think about putting your place into CRP. At $190/acre, it's entirely possible that you could buy hay to replace what you wouldn't grow on yours. Consider: no irrigating, swathing, baleing or stacking. Sell your baler and swather and take the family to Disneyland. Best part: the taxpayer pays to feed Sampson. Pretty attractive, no?

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 13, 2011 5:54 PM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

PF bought our family farm in upstate MN a while back. Minus the DNR (Mn Dpt of Natural Resources) acres, it just was not panning out any more.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at April 14, 2011 11:52 AM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

I have no issue with PF buying land for habitat preservation or conducting habitat improvement projects (and they do a lot of them.) Those activities are done with private donations and (mostly) volunteer labor. They also have staff biologist to advise on habitat restoration.

My issue is when they lobby for and promote the use of public funds for those purposes or when the biologist become consultants for maximizing government jack. At that point, they are just another rent-seeking organization.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 14, 2011 1:32 PM

WIsconsin Hosses!

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.

This body played a key role in limiting federal government expansion. Debate in the Senate was unlimited. The cloture vote did not exist. As George Washington had said, the Senate really was the saucer that cooled the tea.


UPDATE: Thanks, Brother Keith! video

112th Congress Posted by John Kranz at 12:45 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Allow me: http://bit.ly/fHfcHo

That's the text of his speech, and includes a link to a video of the same. As you said: Hoss.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at April 13, 2011 3:14 PM

Alternate Reality

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.

Media and Blogging Posted by Boulder Refugee at 10:30 AM | What do you think? [2]
But jk thinks:

On the backs of America's seniors and most vulnerable citizens...

Posted by: jk at April 13, 2011 12:39 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The combination of this Robinson column, which Rosen read to me on my morning commute, and the philosophical vacuum on the GOP side, which was explained by Dr. Hurd in my Who Lost post, had my creative juices flowing this morning. Hmmm... how to drive home the immorality of redistributive taxation? How's this for an Xtranormal script:

Woman - "Do you support a military draft?"

Man - "Of course not. It is immoral to force a citizen to risk his life against his will, even for the good of the nation."

Woman - "Then it is also immoral to force a citizen to give his earnings to the government against his will, even for the good of the nation."

[pause]

Man - "That's different. My life is worth more than just money."

Woman - "But you earn money by trading some of your finite lifetime to work for someone else. How much of your life is it moral for the government to take away from you?"

[pause]

Man - "That's why it's only moral to tax the rich. They get so much money for the time they work that it's okay to take some of it."

Woman - "Let me get this straight: If you earn little you have a right to keep it and if you earn much you don't?"

Man - "Yes. All men are created equal and they should stay that way."

[pause]

Woman - "Did you invent an iPhone too, just like Steve Jobs did?"

Man - "We are more equal at some things than others."

Woman - "I hope that the inventors don't stop letting you decide what we will be equal about."

Posted by: johngalt at April 13, 2011 3:35 PM

April 12, 2011

Never Mind

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!
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

The Refugee is perhaps a bit more optimistic than his blog brethren. Here's the way he looks at it:

- Had the Democrats passed a budget for FY2011, it likely would have been ~$80 billion more than what the Republicans passed. We're money ahead by any scorecard, even if it is not spending what was previously allocated.
- Under normal budgeting, the Dems would ask for an 8% increase and the Republicans would be trying to hold the line at "only" 3% - and vilified for that.
- When the likes of E.J. Dionne wail about the demise of the progessive agenda, we're doing something right.

The remainder of FY2011 is penny-ante stuff. The real battle is over the debt ceiling and 2012. We won't get all we want - that's nature of Washington - but a reduction in the real size of government, and not just the rate of growth, is a huge win.

The greater worry is: When the crisis is over, are we back to business as usual or have we found a new religion? That's the ultimate test of success or failure.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 12, 2011 5:38 PM
But jk thinks:

Agreed up and down the line. And for the record I am pretty optimistic.

Yet it was disturbing to read the headline "Budget tricks helped Obama save programs from cuts." It seemed to negate the results of a lengthy contretemps. More importantly, it seems an abuse of executive power. I don't think Madison contemplated the President funging money around to fund priorities that do not match Congress'.

Posted by: jk at April 12, 2011 6:07 PM
But johngalt thinks:

As you suggested, "Captain Renault, call your office."

Posted by: johngalt at April 12, 2011 7:18 PM
But jk thinks:

Taranto nails it: The analogy that occurred to us was to finding money under the cushions of a couch. So that's what Obama meant by "change."

Posted by: jk at April 13, 2011 1:00 PM

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.
Government Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 3:45 PM | What do you think? [0]

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.

But johngalt thinks:

Heh. It could have been worse!

Once again the reviewer chides Rand for "greed" when she never advocated such a thing. There is a difference between greed and "rational self-interest" which the reviewer accurately quotes as one of Rand's four basic tenets. And the term "selfishness" which Rand has used, is a synonym for greed only among altruists. In fact, selfishness is the antonym of selflessness. (A basic tenet of the altruist philosophy.)

The reviewer also fails to understand the true replacement for "abused authority." (She uses the modifier "abused" to shield her cherished principle of a "valid" authority outside of the individual.)

"She appeals to the natural and highly American intolerance of abused authority; but she locates a replacement authority inside the individual himself, stripping away any mediating institutions, deity, or natural law."

To the contrary - the "mediation" for man's individual authority is an epistemology of reason applied to a metaphysics of objective reality or, as the reviewer might say, "natural law." Addle your body and brain with drugs if you please but you cannot escape the damage it will objectively do to your life. A moderating deity on the other hand is nothing more than another abuse of authority.

I'll ignore her obligatory mention of Rand's occasionally imperfect life decisions but I must sternly disagree that Rand sought to replace existing authority figures with herself. Which of her four basic tenets encompasses authoritarianism? How does one make a rational case for rational self-interest by demanding one submit himself to the authority of another?

Will these distinctions be lost on viewers of the movie? Perhaps, but compromising the ultimate authority of a man's mind is no winning bargain. One may only lead a horse to water...

For my part it is sounding like a home run.

Posted by: johngalt at April 12, 2011 3:22 PM

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.

Masterful

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.

Hat-tip: Instapundit

But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Please allow The Refugee to weigh in: Orzag's title (albeit unofficial) is "Chief Rent-seeking Officer" or CRO. The job description is brief: bring in 20X as much government cheese as we pay you.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 12, 2011 1:23 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Reminds me more of the job that Vernon Jordan arranged for Monica Lewinsky at Revlon. "We don't be needin' no 'deficit hawks' in 'dis here White House!"

Posted by: johngalt at April 12, 2011 2:26 PM

VIVA FERNANDO!

Fernando Dominguez cut the figure of a young revolutionary leader during a recent lunch period at his elementary school.

"Who thinks the lunch is not good enough?" the seventh-grader shouted to his lunch mates in Spanish and English.

Dozens of hands flew in the air and fellow students shouted along: "We should bring our own lunch! We should bring our own lunch! We should bring our own lunch!"

Fernando waved his hand over the crowd and asked a visiting reporter: "Do you see the situation?"


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.

Education Posted by John Kranz at 10:32 AM | What do you think? [5]
But johngalt thinks:

Any truth to the rumor that THX1138 was set in Chicago?

Posted by: johngalt at April 12, 2011 2:15 PM
But HB thinks:

Here is the best quote from the article:


But parent Miguel Medina said he thinks the "no home lunch policy" is a good one. "The school food is very healthy," he said, "and when they bring the food from home, there is no control over the food."

A parent (!) thinks that there is no control over the food that comes from the home. Is he essentially saying that he is too lazy to pack/inspect what his child is taking for lunch?

Posted by: HB at April 13, 2011 1:00 PM
But jk thinks:

Perhaps Miguelito trades Papa's delicious kale-and-quinoa-on-whole-grain sandwiches for a hot dog, Doritos® and pudding (presumably with a cash sweetener).

Mister Medina cannot control every student's lunch -- that's what we have teachers for!

Posted by: jk at April 13, 2011 1:40 PM
But jk thinks:

And, @jg, dunno about THX1138, but it struck me that a certain FLOTUS hailed from the Windy City.

Posted by: jk at April 13, 2011 1:42 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Life immitates art.

Posted by: johngalt at April 13, 2011 3:04 PM

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.

But jk thinks:

It's like quantum theory for metaphors (sorry, jg). This does not align with one metaphor, this story somehow encompasses every one of an infinite metaphor set.

Posted by: jk at April 11, 2011 6:32 PM

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 Taylor
Hat-tip: The Everyday Economist Yeah, I stole his Quote of the Day. So what?
But johngalt thinks:

Better hope he's not a [shameless legal harrasser of poor blokes who link copyrighted articles] (righthaven?) client!

Awesome quote though.

Posted by: johngalt at April 11, 2011 7:38 PM

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.

We have far more respect for Jon Tester, the Montana Democrat who is running for re-election in 2012 and voted against all four bills to limit the EPA. Those votes may hurt him next year, but at least he didn't join the cynics. As for the rest, they are today's reason to hate politics.


Who knows, there might be a lesson for the Tea Party in there.

But johngalt thinks:

This is a tailor-made example of Ayn Rand's dictum: "There are two sides to every issue. One is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil." Montana's Mr. Tester gets credit here for being merely wrong and not evil.

Rand is routinely criticized for her use of inflammatory words like evil, sacrifice and selfishness. They are inflammatory only to those who wish to evade the full meaning of what she describes. In this case the "cynics" (I'll call them duplicitous) vote for shackles on our economy and tell their constituents "we got your back in Washington." That, friends, is evil.

Posted by: johngalt at April 11, 2011 7:51 PM

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.

By the same polls, between half and two-thirds regularly feel their taxes are too high; in 2010, a paltry 2% thought them too low. Big budget deficits follow logically, but most Americans want those trimmed, too.

The trouble is that, despite superficial support for "deficit reduction" or "tax reform," few Americans would surrender their own benefits, subsidies and tax breaks -- a precondition for success.

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.

But Keith Arnold thinks:

The public wants more redistribution to them, and to pay less - or nothing - to get it. Magical thinking. I want a steak dinner, medium, with all the trimmings; I want to only pay $2.00 for it; and I want it delivered to my front door.

I don't need to take a Home Ec class to know that my wish isn't coming true anytime soon. If the public had passed a Civics class when they were in school, they'd already know theirs isn't either.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at April 11, 2011 4:09 PM
But jk thinks:

Civics? Is that like recycling?

Posted by: jk at April 11, 2011 4:12 PM

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.

But some say the program left Longmont with a glut of affordable homes -- more than 690 have been built through the affordable-housing fund -- while stifling home construction in today's tight economy.

The 10 percent requirement, they say, is dragging down profits and cutting into a builder's ability to get credit.


I thought they wanted affordable housing...

But johngalt thinks:

Affordable for whom? City taxpayers can't think a $988,000 foreclosure writeoff is any kind of bargain for them.

Posted by: johngalt at April 11, 2011 3:41 PM
But jk thinks:

I wish our out-of-staters were familiar with the city of Longmont. It is an oasis of non-Boulderism within Boulder County. With trailer parks and meat-packing plants beside high tech industries and Boulder commuters, I'd call the city pretty diverse without the aid of gub'mint. You have an equal chance of seeing a mullet or a Porsche on Main Street.

But legislators love to close the barn doors when the cows are safely away, and this response to an overheated housing market arrives just in time to thwart any chance at recovery.

Seems like there might be a lesson in here somewhere.

Posted by: jk at April 11, 2011 7:11 PM

A Little Free Advertising

But nanobrewer thinks:


I'm getting teased: I'm stuck in Sillydeplphia all week, back Friday at 5 pm. Someone tell me where it's playing, please!!

Posted by: nanobrewer at April 11, 2011 6:03 PM
But jk thinks:

Century 16 in Boulder. AMC Promenade 24 in Westminster. All colorado locations

Posted by: jk at April 11, 2011 6:26 PM
But Amy thinks:

My husband and I will be at the Friday night showing at the Aurora Century 16! Should be interesting.

Posted by: Amy at April 12, 2011 9:00 PM

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.

112th Congress Posted by John Kranz at 12:25 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

"Stay united for the bigger fights to come this year..." Yep. That's what Republicans need to do alright. And does it need to be said that when those fights come Republicans must WIN them? In this context "win" means cut spending to 2008 levels or less. This is the next "step in the right direction" that TEA Party libertarians expect to see. If Boehner can't deliver I expect we'll (TPL's) be looking for someone else to handle the gavel.

Posted by: johngalt at April 11, 2011 3:51 PM

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.

In his famous 1968 interview (the very year of protest) conducted for Sing Out! by his friends John Cohen and Happy Traum, Dylan was asked by Traum: "Do you foresee a time when you’re going to have to take some kind of a position?" Dylan answered in one word: "No." Traum, obviously upset, argued that "every day we get closer to having to make a choice," because, he explained, "events of the world are getting closer to us ... as close as the nearest ghetto." Dylan's answer: "Where’s the nearest ghetto?"


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?


Neil LeVang

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.

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 10:44 AM | What do you think? [0]

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.

Principles are qualitative, not quantitative. "Man has a right to live for his own sake, unencumbered by force." That's a principle that will slash budgets. "The budget deficit should be smaller than it is." That's a true statement, but it's not a principle. In fact, the truth of the statement begs for a principle to defend it. From the likes of Republican leaders John Boehner and Eric Cantor -- none were forthcoming.

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?!

Perhaps the real victors in this budget battle are the "moderate Republicans" -- in other words, those who don't stand for anything other than Democrat-lite.

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:

tyler_durden110405.gif

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.

But jk thinks:

Et tu, jg!

You, and Reason, should treat the Speaker like a dog: Praise him when he does good, roll up the newspaper when he's not*. Every victory is couched in reminders of past failures or expectations of future disappointments. An Atta Boy is warranted.

[* I would not and do not advocate smacking a dog. A Speaker of the House, on the other hand...]

Posted by: jk at April 9, 2011 12:49 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Heh. I thought this was an atta boy!

I said I "thought" (last night) that Boehner must have caved. This belief was borne of my attitude yesterday - "Go ahead, shut it down, and keep it shut down long enough for a plurality to realize where they would be without taxpayer largesse." And yes, I realize that a few billion either way won't make any difference. The key in this negotiation was to show the Dems that we won't blink when the big money negotiations come around. I was simply looking for a clue as to who blinked yesterday and, according to Campaign Carl, it was the Dems.

I won't defend Reason but I don't think I said anything that would make the Speaker feel trod upon.

Posted by: johngalt at April 9, 2011 4:58 PM
But jk thinks:

"Very well. Spot may or may not have actually piddled on the rug. The real test will be if he stands firm when it comes to the CARPET."

Not exacly out of the Cesar Millan playbook man -- but I am glad your heart is in it!

Posted by: jk at April 10, 2011 10:55 AM

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.

But jk thinks:

And I swear my first year savings (~2500) will go to promote candidates who will not pursue such inane policies.

Posted by: jk at April 8, 2011 11:14 AM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Heh! While was reading your comments, The Refugee was muttering, "I'm going to tell him that he owes me a coffee," just for laughs.

Actually, The Refugee just bought a truck that uses FlexFuel. So, he can buy fuel at below market prices thanks to the generocity of ThreeSourcers and other like-coerced taxpayers. Consider us even.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 8, 2011 11:22 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Goramned MOOCHERS!!

[kidding]

If I recall, Rand herself acquiesced to the idea of taking these rare opportunities to get some of your taxed bounty back. The correct attitude is that this is an offset against prior taxes you've paid YOURSELF. It's a subtle form of the Danneskjold strategy.

And your planned use for the windfall is superb.

One caveat in all this - Make sure the refinance is permanent and non-revokable. In the early stages of this new way to deliver the unearned there were cases of temporarily restructured loans...

Posted by: johngalt at April 8, 2011 12:19 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Just saved $12 filling up with E85 subsidized ethanol (compared to regular unleaded). That would be $4 from JK, JG and Keith. Many thanks, guys. Don't think that I don't appreciate it.

Curious what it will do to my gas mileage - will track and see.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 8, 2011 4:42 PM
But dagny thinks:

Please DO NOT talk about the inequities of mortgage financing. It makes steam come out of my ears! In contrast to JK, jg and I are not upside down on our home. Our LTV is about 67%. Additionally (probably much like JK) our credit scores, income, and payment history are fine and WE CANNOT GET a re-finance.

We have been told this is due to extensive government regulations regarding the nature of the property itself. The fact that we have 30 acres in a rural area and our barn is worth more than the house apparently makes us unfinanceable! Heaven forbid we should prefer to live somewhere that does not fit in Barney Frank's little box.

By now you can probably see the steam from my ears in Erie.

Posted by: dagny at April 8, 2011 6:10 PM
But jk thinks:

Fairness is on its way, dagny. A bit more mistreatment and disregarding of property and contract rights like this and soon nobody will be able to get a mortgage.

Posted by: jk at April 8, 2011 6:20 PM

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.

Fort Collins Coloradoan:

"The reality is, we are at the local level sending the message to Washington: We can take care of things," he said.

When Smith issued a news release Thursday afternoon announcing his intent to provide the staff to keep Rocky Mountain National Park open if the government attempts to shut the gates, he had not yet talked with National Park Service officials about his plan.

"The park is federal property, and I don't know that he has the authority, that a state or county agency would have the authority to manage the park," Rocky Mountain National Park spokesman Larry Frederick said.

If federal workers are told to go home Saturday, Rocky Mountain National Park will close and lock the entrance gates, barricade the roads and bar the public from accessing the park per orders from Washington, he said.

(...)

Smith said, if the National Park Service follows through with its threat to barricade park entrances, he's not sure what the Sheriff's Office will do.

"We'll deal with them," he said of National Park Service officials.

But Boulder Refugee thinks:

The potential loss of cowboy poetry has reduced me to tears. And now this! It's all too much to take.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 7, 2011 3:58 PM
But jk thinks:

My government bailout is being processed by the FHA and I would be discommoded by any delay...

Posted by: jk at April 8, 2011 11:09 AM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Discommoded?!? Does that mean "get off the pot" or "a mode of dancing under a spinning mirror ball"?

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 8, 2011 4:36 PM
But jk thinks:

Excellent update! Methinks Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith is a serious hoss, and more deserving than most of an heroic cowboy ode in his honor.

Justin! Let 'em in.
Congress cannot Sheriff Smith's mountains close. For as the Boehner and the Reid meekly, pens-drawn advanced -- Sheriff Smith knew whence power sprang. Songbirds listening. People ever seeking. The quiet piece, the strength in a man's free will.
This park. My park. The people's park. Shall. Not. Close.

Posted by: jk at April 8, 2011 6:15 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Stirring prose my brother. Djou manage to write all that without a federal grant? Get outta town! Can't be done!

Posted by: johngalt at April 9, 2011 12:24 PM
But jk thinks:

Well, I did apply for a small NIH stipend...I understand the gub'mint's still open.

Posted by: jk at April 9, 2011 12:45 PM

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.

This is known as "bad luck."


Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 1:29 PM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

In this classic quote from Heinlein's 1973 classic 'Time Enough for Love' we have a fifty-word thumbnail sketch of the main theme of Atlas Shrugged.

Posted by: johngalt at April 7, 2011 3:01 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Indeed: any comments on AS? Where's going to the most un-hip place to see it opening night?

Posted by: nanobrewer at April 11, 2011 3:07 PM
But jk thinks:

@nb: seems like seeing it in Boulder would have some philosophical value, but I am thinking I'll hit the GigaGinormaPlex in Westminster.

Posted by: jk at April 11, 2011 3:47 PM

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.

In the end, McNulty got it all, except the local PERA hike.

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."

But jk thinks:

We need a Captain Renault category, for when we are "shocked, shocked..."

Posted by: jk at April 6, 2011 6:33 PM

Dammed Libertoids!

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?

Megan McArdle:

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.

Anyone criticizing this plan without offering a specific and equally bold program of his own has failed in the public duty to be honest and clear with Americans about the gravest danger we are facing together.


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.

Mr. Ryan's budget rollout is an important political and policy moment because it is the most serious attempt to reform government in at least a generation. The plan offers what voters have been saying they want--a blueprint to address the roots of Washington's fiscal disorder. It does so not by the usual posturing ("paygo") and symbolism (balanced budget amendment) but by going to the heart of the spending problem, especially on the vast and rapidly growing health-care entitlements of Medicaid and Medicare. The Wisconsin Republican's plan is a generational choice, not the usual Beltway echo.


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.

But johngalt thinks:

Where is it written that, eventually, we cannot have BOTH the Ryan plan and the Rand Paul plan? They aren't mutually exclusive. Fact is, Speaker Boehner gives the Ryan plan a shot at success NOW, while the Paul plan will have to wait for Majority Leader Paul sometime in the future.

Posted by: johngalt at April 6, 2011 1:20 PM
But EE thinks:

There is an explicit reason why Social Security was not tackled within the context of the plan. Paul Ryan outlined the reasons for neglecting SS in the plan in the video here:

http://www.cnbc.com/id/42429728

Posted by: EE at April 6, 2011 2:07 PM
But johngalt thinks:

As I understand it, the Paul plan doesn't refreeze glaciers or lower sea levels either.

Posted by: johngalt at April 6, 2011 2:40 PM

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.

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

April 5, 2011

So Sweet!

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.

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 5:15 PM | What do you think? [3]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

This quote from Chicago back-up defensive safety Craig Steltz, whose contract for 2011 was to pay him $555,000, and who is eligible to become a free agent in 2012. And he thinks it's "awesome" to be able to piggyback on his parents' coverage. He'd best be volunteering to wash dishes, mow the lawn, and write the check for the premium. Otherwise, Surfer Boy is a mooch in my book.

If you're reading this and you work for the Steltz family's medical insurer, call me. I'll do the underwriting calculations of his coverage for free. Lessee, how much wear and tear on that body? How many open-field tackles did he have last year? Anyone have his sack numbers?

Seriously, though - if his insurer were voluntarily offering to add him to the policy, and charge premium fairly based on the risk, I've got no problem with this - free men have a right to enter into contracts just like this subject to the mutual agreement of the two parties. It's when the guv'mint tells me that I have no choice but to extend coverage, and to do it at a loss...

Posted by: Keith Arnold at April 5, 2011 7:09 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Steltz et. al. don't even have to demand the unearned, the government coerces it on their behalf!

Posted by: johngalt at April 5, 2011 7:31 PM
But jk thinks:

Just as long as the American voter understands ObamaCare's complicity in extending the strike next September...

Posted by: jk at April 6, 2011 12:27 PM

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?


A brief review of the "debatepedia" entry on the election of judges provides two opposing views:

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.

v.

Elected judges wrongly interpret public opinion over the law - Legal decisions require a strict interpretation of law. It should not be driven by popular opinion. Yet, this is precisely what judicial elections call for. This diverges from basic judicial principles of applying the law objectively and neutrally.

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 feel like the victim of a drive-by shooting," Justice Prosser, 68, said in an interview in which he described his record on the court as moderate. "Here I am, I’m walking along, I should win this race going away. But I mean, not if people aren't thinking about what they're doing."

In a primary election on Feb. 15, Mr. Prosser won 55 percent of the vote, compared with 25 percent for Ms. Kloppenburg. The balance went to two other candidates.

But jk thinks:

Hrrrmphhh. Just finished the very unsatisfying "The Executive Unbound: After the Madisonian Republic" this weekend. Eric A. Posner and Adrian Vermeule suggest that Madisonian limits were never enough to constrain the executive and that instead of seeking legal remedies, we should just be happy that political pressure does a swell job.

Sorry to do a review corner in a comment, but that book got me thinking of the DNCC commercials against Ken Buck's Senate campaign. The phrase "Seventeenth Amendment" is conspicuously absent from Posner's book, yet it is the elephant in the room in almost every chapter.

But the sadness is that "tyranny of the majority" is completely unrecognized outside of elite circles of people devoted to liberty theory. The blog optimist does not see that toothpaste ever going back in that tube.

More democracy == more freedom. The world accepts that as truth.

Posted by: jk at April 5, 2011 3:37 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Color me naive - but when members of the judiciary are elected by the general public based on their stances on the issues and how they will "vote," then how are they different from members of the legislature?

Mayhaps I'm drawing too much on silly, outmoded ideals and a little Schoolhouse Rock, but I was under the impression that it was supposed to be legislators who enact laws that represent the will of the people, and judges who were supposed to interpret that law consistent with overarching Constitutional principles - not render decisions based on their own individual political stances, law-be-damned.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at April 5, 2011 7:17 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And rule not merely on their own individual political stance but also, demonstrating "knowledge of recent social trends" they must "advance a form of law that is seen as 'just' to all citizens."

Or if it can't be 'just' to all citizens, a simple majority will suffice.

Br'ers, our challenge is larger than any of us previously realized.

Posted by: johngalt at April 5, 2011 7:40 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Robert Tracinski observes that since Wisconsin is the birthplace of the Progressive movement they've worked hard over the decades to reshape state government in their own image.

Wisconsin is the birthplace of the Progressive movement, and in addition to promoting the power of unions, the Progressives also tried to break down the constitutional structure of government, including the separation of powers and indirect representation, and replace them with "direct democracy," in which every issue is put to an immediate vote by the people. This election is their ideal at work, and we see what it means in practice: giving outsized political power to any faction that is good at mobilizing a mob in defense of its special interests—which in this case is the unions.
Posted by: johngalt at April 6, 2011 1:06 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Hot Air blog covered the WI supreme election tonight. Latest word was with most precincts reported except for a few in Kloppenburg country, Prosser led by just 1600 votes. "...needless to say, we're headed for a recount" says Allahpundit.

Posted by: johngalt at April 6, 2011 1:10 AM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

The recount will give them time to find another 1700 ballots that someone misplaced in a union members car trunk.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 6, 2011 11:21 AM

Playin' Chicken

I can't believe ThreeSources has been silent on Prince William's decision not to wear a wedding ring the Ryan Budget Proposal. I think it is awesome on stilts. It is probably not exactly what I may have done and yes, tough guy that I am, I could have stood even more cuts.

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.

But johngalt thinks:

I'm happy with it. If the entire thing can be passed without an "efficaciousnessectomy" it will be a step back from the brink of existential peril. It doesn't overreach, seeking only to return spending to 2008 levels. Since the world didn't end then it'll be hard to argue that it would do so with passage of this budget.

After passage the campaign to educate and enlighten the public to the perils of 'demanding the unearned' must continue. But for now, take the $400 BaBaBillion per year and run!

Posted by: johngalt at April 5, 2011 3:34 PM
But jk thinks:

Six-point-two T-trillion over ten years, front loaded.

Posted by: jk at April 5, 2011 4:18 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I had heard $4.4Bn from Jason Lewis yesterday. Today he explains that he should have said $6.2Bn. $4.4Bn was the figure for deficit reduction over the course of the plan.

Jason is a big fan. He says it is put up or shut up time and as a litmus test for GOP candidates it will "separate the men from the boys."

Posted by: johngalt at April 6, 2011 12:54 AM
But jk thinks:

Those were the advance "whisper numbers." Chairman Ryan has underpromised and overdelivered.

I expect the moans of outrage from the collectivists and I can certainly understand a few cranks saying that this is our chance to return to 19th Century governance. But the number and seriousness of the "too small" brigade is disappointing.

Posted by: jk at April 6, 2011 11:32 AM
But johngalt thinks:

When dagny and I heard it reported on Monday morning's news we both said "where do we sign?" I don't even care what the cuts are. Cut baby cut. Even at the Pentagon.

Posted by: johngalt at April 6, 2011 1:23 PM
But jk thinks:

CATO makes that, what I would call the one serious critique, that Ryan does not cut miltary spending.

Posted by: jk at April 6, 2011 1:38 PM

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 Hinkle
Hinkle 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.
Art Posted by John Kranz at 11:50 AM | What do you think? [0]

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.

The most popular new light -- the curly cue, compact fluorescent light bulbs, or CFLs -- account for a quarter of new bulb sales and each contains up to 5 milligrams of mercury, a potent neurotoxin that's on the worst-offending list of environmental contaminants.

Demand for the bulbs is growing as federal and state mandates for energy-efficient lighting take effect, yet only about 2 percent of residential consumers and one-third of businesses recycle them, according to the Association of Lighting and Mercury Recyclers.

Environment Posted by John Kranz at 4:08 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

There is a very simple Obama Administration solution to this. Just pass a law that says mercury is no longer required to make fluorescent lighting technology work.

Posted by: johngalt at April 5, 2011 2:32 PM
But jk thinks:

Heh. Perhaps a bold plan to reduce mercury in CFLs 83.7% by 2040...

Posted by: jk at April 5, 2011 3:24 PM

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.

Armstrong and his colleagues recommend Congress end government funding for climate change research as well as other research, government programs, and regulations that assume the planet is warming. They also recommend Congress cease funding organizations that lobby or campaign for global warming.

"Based on our analyses, especially with respect to the violations of the principles regarding objectivity and full disclosure," Armstrong told members of Congress, "we conclude that the manmade global warming alarm is an anti-scientific political movement."



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.

And no wonder. Ritter and his colleague, Kassia Yanosek of the U.S. Partnership for Renewable Energy Finance, relied upon anecdote, personal experience and hopeful thinking more than hard data — and seemed frustrated the other side kept rattling off facts.

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.

Having subsidized excessive electricity consumption, the government decides the problem is that it's the wrong kind of electricity consumption, so Shiels and Kiely eliminate their annual electricity bill by installing $80,000 of solar panels, of which all but $27,200 is paid by subsidies.
[...]
Worse, the Glendale utility's solar subsidies are funded by an average $4.05 charge on all customers' bills. So lower-income customers, who, unlike the subsidy-sucking couple, don't have $27,200 out-of-pocket cash to buy solar panels, pay higher electricity rates.


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:
Morgan Stanley ... dissected the business case for Tesla Motors and issued a research note Thursday that called the Silicon Valley company "America's fourth automaker" and raised the price target for Tesla's stock to $70. That's more than doubling what the shares are trading these days, at mid-$20s. Shares shot up as much as 21 percent on Thursday on the news of the report.

This is absurd. They've sold maybe 1500 cars. Their only current model is a high end sports car and their next model will be a high end sedan. How do they compete with the cheaper models in the pipeline from established makers? Not to mention the whole range question. Can a Tesla get me to Vegas on a single charge?

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.

Environment Posted by John Kranz at 2:59 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

As are all of the DAWG-spawned redistribution schemes. As I've tried to explain on Facebook, not all of us can afford to be "green." Making electricity and gasoline cost more hits the poor the hardest. Maybe you are willing to "pay a little more" to assuage your assumed environmental guilt but millions of Americans are just trying to stay warm and buy groceries (delivered by trucks whose refueling cost is one-thousand dollars per fill up.)

Posted by: johngalt at April 4, 2011 3:47 PM

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.

But Keith Arnold thinks:

Good science is not the subject of a majority vote. Ask Galileo. And that applies even more today, when the votes of so many members of the so-called "consensus" have been bought with grants, manufactured through the bias of doctrinaire political agenda, or produced by peer browbeating.

Global warming - or climate change, or whatever this month's current euphemism is - either is happening or is not, and no amount of tracts, broadsides, and soundbites is going to change that; Mother Nature reads neither Newsweek nor the polls. I assert it's not, and that anyone saying otherwise is a fraud.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at April 4, 2011 11:43 AM
But jk thinks:

Eppur si muove: the only answer to those who claim "consensus."

Posted by: jk at April 4, 2011 12:55 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Keith, there is no question that climate change is occurring. There's also no question that it's been occurring since the planet first manifested 4 billion or so years ago.

The real issue is whether or not climate change is man-caused. One can perhaps argue that man does indeed impact and change the climate, but he would then have to acknowledge that so do the trees, oceans and other flora/fauna. To imply that man should, or even could, exist with no impact whatsoever is preposterous. The ultimate question is whether or not our use of technological devices pose an existential threat to the planet. I find that to be equally preposterous.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 4, 2011 3:42 PM
But johngalt thinks:

iPhones. I'm not so quick to exonerate the existential threat to the planet from iPhones.

Posted by: johngalt at April 4, 2011 6:01 PM

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.

Gun Rights Posted by John Kranz at 11:06 AM | What do you think? [0]

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.
2012 Posted by JohnGalt at 11:45 AM | What do you think? [0]

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."

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 6:07 PM | What do you think? [0]

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.

But jk thinks:

Mondo Like! (It took about an hour to load, did they feed the hamsters this morning?)

Plus the responses make me feel better about our minor disagreement on drug policy and enforcement. You talk show listening savage!

Posted by: jk at April 1, 2011 4:39 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Heh! Our internecine battles are entertaining, but we keep ourselves pretty sheltered. Participating in an open thread like that one is illuminating.

The thread continues...

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 1, 2011 5:13 PM
But jk thinks:

-- Oh, and br: a little soda water and a stiff brush will get that spot out.

Posted by: jk at April 2, 2011 2:48 PM
But johngalt thinks:

My comment taking one poster to task for dismissing your argument as "not persuasive" and then rebutting your reply with a well thought out and highly educated "Whatever" has not yet been posted. I guess the moderator thought it was a personal attack to suggest that people seeking agreement are most likely to succeed when everyone attempts to be persuasive rather than dismissive.

Posted by: johngalt at April 2, 2011 3:42 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The commentary has taken an unusual turn. We actually reached agreement on some points.

Posted by: johngalt at April 4, 2011 12:28 PM

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.

"Dream On," the Glee episode Joss directed, is also now available to stream.


Whew.

Television Posted by John Kranz at 2:26 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Can't stop the signal, JK.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at April 1, 2011 4:15 PM

Do Not Drive or Operate Heavy Machinery...

Hat-tip: LisaM

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 1:19 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Delayed clicking until today. Shouldn't have. 2.5 minutes of pointed humor.

Posted by: johngalt at April 4, 2011 2:54 PM

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.

We've even made ordering easy with our Mobile Pour app for your smartphone. Simply download it, allow it to pinpoint your location, select your coffee order and keep walking. Your fresh, hot Starbucks brew will be in your hands before you can say abra-arabica.


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

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

Media and Blogging Posted by Boulder Refugee at 11:41 AM | What do you think? [0]

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.

The couple were both critically wounded. Their child, a toddler, escaped the gunfire.

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?

War on Drugs Posted by Boulder Refugee at 11:30 AM | What do you think? [7]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

If a few anecdotes about police overreach can justify abandoning the enforcement of the laws, surely a few corollary anecdotes are enough to revive them.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 1, 2011 2:27 PM
But jk thinks:

No my friend. You offer a few anecdotes (minus two).

There are an estimated 40,000 no-knock raids every year for drug enforcement. More than 100 households on the absolute envelope of the Fourth Amendment -- every single day. Versus one random drug crime?

The blazing false equivalence of that kept me from commenting on the difference between general availability and "legal, for all intents and purposes." An actual, de jure legality would provide much greater protection against crimes like this.

Posted by: jk at April 1, 2011 2:48 PM
But jk thinks:

But, in the spirit of brotherhood, I offer a few anecdotes: Radley Balko on the 3 Worst Cases of Police Abuse in 2011. (Only 66% are related to the War on Drugs.)

Posted by: jk at April 1, 2011 3:08 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

But to be fair - and I know you are - you would have to put these incidents in the context to all drug-related police engagements. It's like using Abu Graib to say that we should never have entered Iraq.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 1, 2011 4:30 PM
But jk thinks:

No, not gonna be fair today. I cannot accept that there are more than 100 incidents a day that require a no-knock raid.

These are so potentially dangerous to the public and the officers involved, that they should be reserved for Jack Bauer situations: imminent danger to innocent life. Forty thousand of these is a cumulative destruction of the Fourth Amendment.

Posted by: jk at April 1, 2011 4:50 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I'm reminded what kind of story gets the heaviest comment activity 'round here.

Posted by: johngalt at April 2, 2011 2:22 AM

TV Worth Watching

Brother ac shares some news over at PAH20dS/dt>0

But AlexC thinks:

They're counting on me to double their audience.

7 is a worthy goal.

Posted by: AlexC at April 1, 2011 12:23 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Had me goin' until I read the comments. I admit it - I am a rube.

Posted by: johngalt at April 4, 2011 2:50 PM
But jk thinks:

The posted date might be factored in...

Posted by: jk at April 4, 2011 2:52 PM

If Only

James Pethokoukis:

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!

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 10:34 AM | What do you think? [0]

If You Did Not Hate Radical Islam Before

iran5.jpg

From "Iran Before the Chador"

Hat-tip: Instapundit


Don't click this. Comments (2)