July 31, 2013
Under President Obama, "Income Gap" gets ... Wider
Investors Editorial Page:
Research by University of California economist Emmanuel Saez shows that since the Obama recovery started in June 2009, the average income of the top 1% grew 11.2% in real terms through 2011.
The bottom 99%, in contrast, saw their incomes shrink by 0.4%.
As a result, 121% of the gains in real income during Obama's recovery have gone to the top 1%. By comparison, the top 1% captured 65% of income gains during the Bush expansion of 2002-07, and 45% of the gains under Clinton's expansion in the 1990s.
The Census Bureau's official measure of income inequality — called the Gini index — shows similar results. During the Bush years, the index was flat overall — finishing in 2008 exactly where it started in 2001.
It's gone up each year since Obama has been president and now stands at all-time highs.
Read More At Investor's Business Daily: http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials/073013-665705-income-gap-grew-sharply-under-obama.htm#ixzz2aeUovkfz
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The editorial blames "Obama's historically weak economic recovery, which has left the rest of the country falling behind while the wealthy have managed to make gains." That is surely a factor, but the bigger reason is, I think, Stealthflation. Hear me out - I left the following comment on the IBD article:
The non-recovery recovery is one explanation for the growing gap between rich and poor under President "spread the wealth around." The other, perhaps more powerful effect, is the roughly 10 percent per year that working people's purchasing power declines each year as a result of monetary inflation - inflation that is carefully excluded from government CPI data but that exists nontheless as illustrated by the Chapwood Index (dot com) of real consumer commodity costs. Inflation hurts most those with less disposable income, but barely affects the so-called "one-percent" since so much of their income comes from stock market investments, which actually increase with higher inflation. I like to call this intentionally hidden yet fully real inflation "stealthflation." But I wasn't the first.
It's not about choosing what's in the basket, it's about tracking the prices of the SAME ITEMS rather than changing the basket to keep the total cost as low as you can manage.
Just as gold is not a good monetary base, it is not a good inflation index. It reflects fear, uncertainty and doubt (thanks JC!) more than supply and demand, as our friendly wager demonstrated.
Your list of ways government screws people is precisely correct, but whatever made you think there's any limit to said screwing? Each of them represents a special interest profiting over the diffuse interest of the consumer. Inflation is the profit of the special interest called "central bankers" or FED.
I don't care what's in an indexing basket, as long as it includes two of the three top expenses for nearly every working family: food and energy, and just as important - does not get revised from year to year.
Every 'merican has a natural right to drive his own car to work five days a week, eat fast food half of the time and tv dinners the other half, and watch WWE or American Idol on an HD flat screen measured in feet rather than inches. The cost of doing all of this will ALWAYS increase (as long as there are central bankers pulling the strings) so it shouldn't be such a mystery to figure out how MUCH more it costs every year. Saying that "hamburger can replace steak, if needed, to stay on budget" doesn't account for the guy who could already afford only hamburger.
Let me propose a new diet I'll name "The M2 Diet." Eat only M2 and your budget and your waistline will both shrink precipitously.
Apologies for the thinly-veiled snark but I'm as frustrated by those who ignore price inflation as you are by my insistence it is real.
"Every six months, we take the precise price for the same item quarter by quarter and calculate the increase or decrease, then developed a weighted index based on price. These items include basically everything that most Americans consumer during the course of their lives."
So yeah, go ahead and criticize the lonely financial planner who created this thing in his garage on weekends. It still gives a better indication of "the true cost of maintaining a constant standard of living."
"It is universally assumed that the governmentâ€™s rate of inflation is accurate. It simply isnâ€™tâ€¦ This blind acceptance is one of the main reasons people are reliant on the government entitlement programs that are bankrupting our country."
I read all they had on the site the first time you mentioned it. I'll start with small quibbles: he wants a higher index so that inflation adjusted entitlements pay more. I think one of the greatest mistakes of Social Security has been to index to wage growth instead of inflation -- I want to grow them less.
He was looking for a model that reported higher increases because of Mom's alimony, and coincidentally it helps his primary business because he can tell a fixed income investor beating the PCE or CPI that they should not be content. Doesn't make him wrong, just convenient.
The larger quibble is that this is not an abstruse, understudied branch of economics: this is well studied academically, and hotly debated on CNBC on days that end with 'y.'
Any basket of goods measurement is at best a proxy for monetary inflation. I don't think anyone blindly accepts the CPI -- that is a strawman. It is written into contracts and legislation because a simple value is needed. Its biggest failing is that you change the basket and you change the results. Chapwood found a basket that helps Mom. And you found Chapwood.
It's a better bad estimation because he took a poll? I respect both crowdsourcing and Starbucks. But the recent increase in my grande breve cappuccino is not a monetary phenomenon -- it is a corporate pricing decision of a cartelized commodity based on market share and the perceived elasticity of my addiction.
You're by no means alone. Stand-Up Economist II Peter Schiff was arguing with Kudlow last week. Were I a nicer guy, I'd've found and posted a clip. But I'm in Michael Mann's shoes here: the great preponderance of mainstream credentialed economists reject out of hand a suggestion of 7-10% inflation. I'll need a Dr. William Gray or Richard Lindzen-class argument to change sides. not a guy who mistakes a proxy for the measure.
Great rebuttal brother, but let me give a slightly different explanation for your cappuccino price hike:
It is a corporate pricing decision in a highly competitive market based on maximizing profit on top of rising input costs - costs that rise because fuel cost has doubled since 2009, and taxes and fees have had upward pressure. These costs affect every business that sells to Starbucks, so their increases are passed along and added together. (Rising pension and health care costs fit in there too, somewhere, everywhere.)
You are right to bring up the technological advances that combine a phone, computer, calculator and metronome in a single device for a fraction of the cost, but when was the last time that happened in coffee? Or food? Or energy?
I'll answer the last one: A few years ago, in North Dakota and Colorado. Something called "fracking" that is opposed, at least publicly, by governments from sea to shining sea, constituting yet another unseen regulatory cost.
I won't die on the hill saying inflation is 7-10%, but if the official government measure of this monetary phenomenon is DOUBLED it is still below that range. Butowsky's greater point (and I'll thank you for not naming him in order to underscore your implication that he's a crank) is that "manipulation by the government on the CPI is the single greatest reason why people are becoming increasingly reliant on government entitlement programs." I don't read him as wanting the entitlements to rise more, he wants fewer people to have to resort to them.
I suggest a disconnect in the quote you pulled. Mom is less likely to request food stamps if the COLA on her alimony is applied at Chapwoodian levels (reader exercise: is the inflation adjustment on alimony "earned income?" Discuss...) Yet the real world effect would be buckets and buckets more gub'mint money out the door as the bulk of CPI-adjusted payments are likely public.
Your Starbucks counterexample isn't really what I'd call inflation. You can argue that the oil component of "energy" is denominated in dollars and subject to inflationary pressure, same with coffee beans maybe but I'd like to see more data; like oil it is cartelized. But rising taxes and fees and its suppliers' health care benefits are most definitely not monetary phenomena. As they say in Animal House: "I'm not going to sit still while you bash Milton Friedman!"
Coffee benefits from technological advances in shipping as well as better financial instruments to hedge risk. Agriculture? I read something somewhere.... Plenty of innovation to go around if the Luddites are held in check.
(The Everyday Economist used to criticize me for my suggestion that innovation was disinflationary for most of the same reasons I'm using on you...)
If inflation is "always and everywere" a monetary phenomon, then disinflation surely must be as well. So how is innovation a monetary phenomon?
If the resulting rise in prices from government (mis)management, (over)regulation and (over)taxation may not be called inflation then what may I call it? I'm happy to use the right word for "everything costs more than it used to" if someone will just enlighten me.
[I'll give your disconnect citation more thought.]
July 30, 2013
Lighten Things Up
A little laugh before I stop speaking to all ThreeSourcers ever again... I got a funny email from my biological brother. There's a picture meme, but I think the caption alone works:
"George Zimmerman is going to change his name to 'Ben Ghazi' so the Obama Administration and MSM will never talk about him again."
Much better than defense counsel's "knock knock" joke.
Romney killed Detroit
...with a little help from all the other taxers and spenders from Washington D.C. to city hall.
We discussed the obvious philosophical causes for Detroit's bankruptcy in the Starnesville post. Today we have the economic causes, as told by my favorite living economist, and some other guy. Investors' - Detroit Is Patient Zero In High-Tax, Sluggish America
Milton Friedman was quick to remind people that government stimulus spending is taxation and a prosperity killer. Governments don't create resources; they redistribute resources.
While tax rates were raised during the Great Recession, they were raised a lot more during the Great Depression, which explains the difference in severity between the Great Depression of the 1930s and the modern Great Recession.
To push this point home, the highest marginal income-tax rate in 1931 was 25% and by 1938 it was 83%. Whoever heard of an economy being taxed into prosperity?
In 1967, under Gov. George Romney's leadership, Michigan initiated a state income tax, initially setting the highest rate at 2.6% using federal adjusted gross income (AGI) as its tax base. The state's income tax rate peaked in 1983 at 6.35% and is now down to 4.25%.
Even though a 4.25% maximum tax rate is a lot better than a 6.35% tax rate, those towering tax rates have surely damaged today's Michigan economy.
The state's corporate tax rate stands at 6%.
Then we come to Detroit itself. In 1962, Motown adopted a 1% net income tax for residents and 0.5% for nonresident income earners. In 1964, the city initiated a 1% corporate tax as well.
Detroit's income tax stands at 2.4% today, and the corporate tax is 2%.
Businesses that can locate outside Detroit do. In 1950, 1.85 million people lived in Detroit.
Today the population of Detroit would be lucky to top 700,000. You can't balance a budget on people who leave or are unemployed.
Imagine a boiler's heat is turned way up, its safety valves are shut off and you tap the boiler every five minutes with a little brass tap hammer.
By turning the boiler's heat way up and shutting off the safety valves, you have guaranteed the boiler will explode.
By tapping the boiler every five minutes with a little brass tap hammer, you're guaranteed you'll be there when the explosion occurs. Such is the case with Detroit.
Is it mere coincidence that, the larger the geographical scope of the taxing authority, the larger the tax rate? After all, it doesn't take as much taxation to drive producers from a city as from a state, or from a state as from a nation.
Annual rise in cost of living? Roughly 10 percent
Let's pause the battle for the soul of the Republican Party long enough to examine more proof of the existence of Stealtflation (R). This Fox Business article dates to last summer, but except for the Bing or Google page caches it may be the closest you can get to the chapwood index site, which is either swamped after their FNC mention this morning or blocked by the Secret Service.
Wait, what's that sound? whup whup whup whup...
UPDATE: This guy stole my term, Stealthflation, before I even coined it! (And we need to work on our SEO 'cause the first Threesources hit for the term didn't come until the third page.)
The Chapwood Index creator said he came up with it to show how working folk are getting robbed every year by their government through devaluation of their earnings. (Also the reason I keep harping on it, by the way.) As I look into our company parking lot I must credit the amazing production effiencies and technologies that allow sub-$15k cars to be produced in the uber-regulation era. Cars without which an ever growing segment of the working class would be living in the pre-automobile past.
Today Colorado, Tomorrow the World!
Get ready for Ron Binz, America. His efficacy in raising our utility rates and regulating beyond the bounds of law has been recognized in high places and he is in line for a big promotion. The WSJ Ed Page does not seem to be a fan:
Yet that will seem minor if the next FERC chairman is Ron Binz--the most important and radical Obama nominee you've never heard of. An electric regulator in Colorado from 2007 to 2011, Mr. Binz is the latest Presidential nominee who doesn't understand the difference between making laws and enforcing them.
No, that's unfair. Mr. Binz doesn't care about the difference. In a recent interview with the Association for the Demand Response and Smart Grid trade group, reflecting on the lessons of his Colorado job, he nodded at the "judicial role" of regulators. But then he mused about their "legislative role" too: "I saw the commission not simply as an umpire calling balls and strikes, but also as a leader on policy implementation."
Oh boy. Binz will now be bringing those umpiring skills to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which used to be a quiet overseer of electric transmission and interstate pipelines
FERC was a sleepy regulator until the Obama Presidency, but it has statutory powers that could be turned into anticarbon weapons, such as the authority to impose fines of up $1 million per day for what it claims are violations. They also include the power to block energy mergers and the construction of terminals, pipelines and transmission.
You can bet that Mr. Binz will be creative and political, and don't be so sure his only target is coal. At an Edison Foundation panel this March, he called natural gas a "dead end" technology because "on the carbon basis, you hit the wall in 2035 or so." He added that "We have to do better on carbon than even natural gas will allow us to do." This is unusual in that the greens usually pretend to support gas to make outlawing coal seem more reasonable. Mr. Binz let the mask slip.
Mr. Binz is part of the White House's damn-the-voters strategy of imposing through regulation what Congress won't pass, and now he wants to glide into FERC without protest. But the Senate's advice-and-consent role is especially important because a FERC chairman has broad powers, much like a CEO's, even if other commissioners dissent--and the chairman is not supposed to carry Mr. Obama's banner. Mr. Binz's record and methods deserve far more scrutiny than they have received.
Odds of Binz's not being confirmed? Zero? One in 100? Over-and-under anybody? Of course he we will be confirmed and the War on Coal will be escalated to Natural Gas.
The gas industry is enjoying a "first they came for the coal and I said nothing" moment at present.
Quote of the Day
Per Nancy Pelosi, we had to pass ObamaCare so we could find out what's in it. Well, they passed it, and three years later we can finally say definitively what is in it: a ban on full-time employment for low-income workers. -- Robert Tracinski
July 29, 2013
T'was not my intent to convert tg and jg. But I could really do pretty well without this:
If Secretary Hillary Clinton defeats Governor Christie in 2016, I'm going to be a wee bit upset with Another Voice of Warning.
Kumbaya. I bet we could all agree that President Christie would be another step toward Federalizin' Centralizin' Crony-capitalizin' Drug Warrin' big Gub'mint. For that reason, I expect to support Senator Paul in 2016.
I'll break to point out some heterodoxy: so was President Reagan. Neither James Earl Carter nor Ronald Wilson Reagan were Rand Paul. By libertarian logic Carter == Reagan.
I call shenanigans on that and I call shenanigans on Christie == HR Clinton. My friend's analysis is well thought through and fair to a point. But I've big quibbles. In energy, I think Sec. Clinton will be beholden to the environmentalist supporters she shares with President Obama. Keystone and Fracking will not have a friend on Pennsylvania Avenue. Do we get the economy of North Dakota or Detroit?
Before ObamaCare® and RomneyCare® there was HillaryCare® Downplaying differences between Clinton and Christie by comparing Romney and Obama is a bit circuitous -- whom would you want making decisions and appointing Cabinet heads when the ACA disintegrates?
Before Gov. Christie became the earthly incarnation of Satan himself, he was known as a tough guy who took on public sector unions (which could kinda be important between 2017-2021) and a fierce advocate of free markets which we have not had in the GOP for the last two elections.
My brother jg will go ahead and pull the R for Christie if he has to. But if we spend three years running him down, he'll be one of the few. If I may invoke a Democrat in GOP politics, I am asking, Van Buren style for "mutual forbearance." At least from jg (as I don't think tg has ties to the party), can we have a friendly war to the death for the soul of the party? Please?
Well, like I said, I don't really know much about Christie. Has not popped up on my radar until this. Not a good place to start....
But he might be redeemable. I will wait and see.
The Reagan Carter bit is on point. But given that, is it too bold to submit that while we would be better off with Reagan than Carter holding office in 2016, we really don't want either? Reagan was good for his time. But now the trends he did not stop - and in some cases helped along - have intensified. The integrity of the republic depends on their reversal. In 2016 we need a party that is ready to contend for these things.
It is kind of a tricky game. I was not around for the 2012 elections but I've been told GOP lost a few places because Tea Party section balked at middle ground Republicans who could have won a majority in favor of more 'pure' candidates who were destined to lose. Should national republicans follow suit? I don't know, and 2016 is a long ways away anyway. A lot can happen between then and now and I really prefer not to pin Presidential hopefuls until the November before. It is really early for personality death fights.
P.S. Regarding energy - Obama has not been able to stop fracking yet.... That is a fight against the tides. I do not think any Democratic President is going to waste their political capital on killing fracking. Maybe if the Democrats sweep the Congress and the executive it could happen as an after thought. But there is too much money to be made and too little is to be gained by not making that money. The environmentalist lobby is such a small part of the populace. Environmentalism is not an issue that excites the masses.
@tg- A thorough analysis with which I mostly agree, differing mostly in how I would term the severity of explosions and collapses. I think those civil institutions you mentioned are alive and well in the communities which represent the TEA Party, i.e. rural and small to medium cities. And reversing their decline is a large part of the TEA Party platform (sometimes to my chagrin.)
3. Health Care - If you listen to Senator Cruz, and I do, every chance I get, the last exit before Obamacare cum Single-payer is January, 2014. If 41 GOP senators or 218 GOP congressmen don't muster the principled fortitude to defund it through the continuing resolution, every president for the next several decades will have to govern around the ban on full-time employment for low-income workers.
@jk- I see my purpose to call balls and strikes more than to advocate. You can lament the stridency of AVOW and the Paulbots but it doesn't make them go away. Personally I choose tumult over polity within the party, because I see the leadership ("establishment") being too beholden to the approbations of media. This makes them "Democrat-lite" and it is the strategy of a permanent minority party.
In response to strident voices I resort to measured tones explaining where I agree or disagree, and why, and upon what moral authority. It is a slow way to prosthelytize, but I find its effects to be more lasting. If I could call off those dogs nipping at the NJ governor I would, but since I can't I'll just say "good dog" or "bad dog" as the case may be. Friendly enough?
@tg -- I wept when Governor Christie announced that he was not seeking the nomination in 2012. Like most, I first didn't believe him, but the day I believed him, I wept. You're the TR fan around here: he is bellicose, confronting his opponents on ideas and philosophy. He took on the public sector unions in New Jersey and prevailed. He fought off a "millionaire's tax" and governs an überBlue State with an almost unanimously Democratic legislature.
Give the big man two-and-a-half minutes.
I am not abandoning him over his doing his job collecting Federal Jack post-Sandy nor disappointments in gun rights or NSA.
I completely agree that a Rand Paul is needed more that the proverbial "next Reagan." Number 40 won me over to the GOP with a speech titled "the new Federalism," yet he arrogated Executive and Federal power. I want a Coolidge.
Ah, 2012... The Republicans nominated some very stoopid candidates, notably some with interesting takes on human biological processes. You get into a "no true Scotsman" argument as I would not call Todd Akin (Dumb - MO) or Richard Murdoch(Dummer - IN) Tea Partiers so much as traditional Social Conservatives. They were not Christine O'Donnell (Witch - DE) or Ken Buck (Boots - CO) types.
Fracking. Wow. You need to come visit us in Colorado someday (really, we would sacrifice some animal in your honor). It's a GIANT percentage of our state's income and prosperity, yet it will be outlawed soon -- the primary causus belli for the 51st State movement. Our geologist governor is holding it off as long as he can but Matt Damon seems to be considered handsomer than scientists. I very much hope you're right. But you're applying reason; around Boulder it is all "THEY"RE POISONING OUR CHILDREN'S DRINKING WATER!!!"
Rand Paul on Chris Christie: He's the king of bacon!
Call balls & strikes all you want -- I'm putting him in the box for two for breaking Reagan's 11th Commandment. & if I make Taranto's mixed metaphor column, well, we need the publicity.
Seriously, a statesman would better deflect an inter-party rival. A more-out=of-sadness-than-anger tone would work better here.
Exhibit B for "It's not your time, Doctor" was his being dismissive of the Paul Ryan budget. Great to say "Good start, I'd like to cut more!" Counterproductive to imply it is no better than Obama's.
"You give it, you're gettin' it back" comports well with "if they want to make me the target, they will get it back in spades."
Did Reagan win because of his acting ability? Perhaps. Christie is far more telegenic than the nerdy Senator Paul.
"Bringing home the bacon" was Christie's attack on Paul. Are we criticizing Paul for repeating it?
And Christie is saying it's ok to bring pork to New Jersey because it's such a high tax state. Some rationale.
Did you listen to Rand's interview? He tried to deflect the attacks and call for growing the party and increasing its appeal to young voters and northeastern voters.
Matt Ridley, Call your Office!
In his superb "The Rational Optimist" [Review Corner], Matt Ridley describes an optimistic and rational view of feeding the planet well and returning agricultural acres to wilderness. One might think the environmental crowd would be onboard. But, alas and alack, it uses technology.
Missouri farmers Blake and Julie Hurst take to the pages of AEI to have sport with a snooty locavorist column in The Smithsonian. The whole thing is great, but this section caught my eye:
We just bought a new planter here on our corn and soybean farm in Missouri. It will allow us to move a bit further toward adopting "precision farming." The planter communicates directly with global positioning satellites and will, using yield maps developed over several years, allow us to vary seed population rates over the field. We will plant more seeds in places where yields are typically high, and sow fewer seeds where yields have been lower. The machines that fertilize the farm will have access to the same information and satellites, allowing us to apply the optimal amount of nutrients precisely on each fractional acre in the field. We will be farming with a level of precision, economy, and individuality that has never before been possible. We will be spoon feeding our crops in a way that means each corn field might as well have been grown by, well, an artisan. We'll have that local knowledge that Wendell Berry so eloquently wrote about in the books and essays that were the founding documents of what is now the "food movement."
I cannot imagine any of my lefty pals enjoying that paragraph like I do. It encompasses capital, innovation and making life better. It describes truly sustainable agriculture Yet little of it would be popular in Boulder or on my Facebook feed.
(POSSIBLY UNDERMINIG THE THESIS) UPDATE: Kyle Smith:
What is "the cheapest, most nutritious and bountiful food that has ever existed in human history" Hint: It has 390 calories. It contains 23g, or half a daily serving, of protein, plus 7% of daily fiber, 20% of daily calcium and so on.
Also, you can get it in 14,000 locations in the US and it usually costs $1. Presenting one of the unsung wonders of modern life, the McDonald's McDouble cheeseburger.
July 28, 2013
Source: @tikchik (via @ConservCityGirl via @AHMalcolm)
How to tell if somebody really means it when she says never again.
Yep. Reminds me of a FB meme I saw yesterday. "You go ahead and give peace a chance. I'll cover you in case things don't work out."
A leader is a person who can create change and bring about a new state that, in his or her conviction, is superior.
It's time for a change of pace 'round these parts and Review Corner has your next summer read: Bob Lutz's Icons and Idiots: Straight Talk on Leadership
Lutz is a regular guest on Larry Kudlow's show. He is a garrulous, opinionated "car guy" who can field questions on politics, free markets, business and finance with equal aplomb. When I saw that he was hawking a book, I grabbed the iPad and bought it as he was speaking.
Lutz tiptoes into politics on occasion, but the book is about leadership, with most of the examples coming from his business career (though a High School teacher and Marine Corps Drill Sargent get the first two chapters). He has worked for some Icons and some Idiots in his long tenure in the automotive industry, as well as Barons and Bureaucrats -- and one of the first impressions is his ability to learn from all of them. It is neither a kiss and tell nor settling of scores book. It honestly assesses different styles, qualities and foci of leaders (and a rating system in the Afterword).
After the fact, [CFO of Ford of Europe, Harold A. "Red"] Poling had his "analysis," but it was never again discussed. What was evident to me then, like so many times in my career before and since, was that, once again, the bean counter religion, of which Red Poling was the high priest, living as it does in a world of spreadsheets and budget "timing," hopelessly removed from the unquantifiable reactions of the real world, had cost the company millions of dollars in profit.
Sure, a certain amount of bobbing and weaving-- call it tactical maneuvering-- is always required, but the core strategic priorities, the "what I want this organization to be, to stand for," can't change. With Rick Wagoner, it was the consistent thrust, the growth of the Chinese operation, a huge source of GM prosperity today. With Phil Caldwell, the unchanging strategic priority was quality and reliability. In my case, it was product excellence, an unwavering commitment to vehicles that customers would actually desire rather than be willing to settle for.
Lee Iacocca appears in the book, and a male my age cannot avoid comparisons. I devoured Iacocca's book when it came out and became one of his millions of young executive fanboys. While still respecting the mustang developer and Chrysler Chief, I am tempted to call Lutz a "thinking man's Iococca." I'd hire either one to run my car company, but there is a lot more nuance and strategic thought to Bob Lutz. My favorite section is his first day working for Iacocca, who assures that "Those potato cars (Taurus and Sable) are gonna bomb."
"We put a couple in a product clinic against our own upcoming Dodge Dynasty and Chrysler Fifth Avenue (elongated versions of the K-car, equally boxy, with "Greek temple" grilles, stand-up hood ornaments, padded vinyl roofs, and every dated styling cliché' that was driving American buyers to imports), and we killed 'em. Our average score was 7.5 on a 10-point scale. Theirs was a 5.0. It's gonna be the flop of the century. I hope you didn't have anything to do with it."
Lutz had just left Ford and knew that the 5.0 average was the arithmetic mean of those who hated the new look and gave it a one or two and those who loved it and gave eights and nines. Lutz didn't want to make cars that were people's "second choice" and that's what the K cars were, taking $3000 or more in incentives to move them off the lot.
When he dabbles in politics it will be to the favor of ThreeSourcers, but I'd pick up this book to get away a little. This is a book about cars and people and business and leadership. Five Stars.
July 26, 2013
Chris Christie: libertarianism "very dangerous"
At the Republican Governors Association gathering in Aspen, CO this week, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie sounded the alarm against the danger of too many people having too much freedom.
"As a former prosecutor who was appointed by President George W. Bush on Sept. 10, 2001, I just want us to be really cautious, because this strain of libertarianism that's going through both parties right now and making big headlines, I think, is a very dangerous thought," Christie said.
Christie's statement was in the context of the narrowly defeated bill that would have reduced funding for NSA collection of Americans' phone records, a subject that Christie dismissed as "esoteric."
Rand Paul tweeted a response:
Christie worries about the dangers of freedom. I worry about the danger of losing that freedom. Spying without warrants is unconstitutional.
But what I really want to know is, where the hell is the libertarian streak that's going through the Democrat party right now?
I once encountered a young leftist (who didn't think he was a leftist) arguing that Anthony Weiner isn't a leftist, he's a left-libertarian. Yeah, I know, it makes about as much sense as claiming that George W Bush was a serious conservative based on his campaigning on compassionate conservatism. Unfortunately, that's about as deep as most people's political understanding runs - if you say you think people should be allowed to get stoned and engage in consequence-free sex, you're a libertarian regardless of how much big government intrusion in our lives your actions actually support.
@AndyN; That's why I find primaries to be more fun; the IQ skips up at least a few points. But the GOP needs to pick somebody who can be sold to the low-information voter. That may or may not come to play in this, but Christie may enter as "the guy who won twice and big in a very blue state." That is ignored at liberty's peril.
@jg: Do we differ much? I'll go with the Gutfield quote and even admit that I am under-educated on Paul's foreign policy. My data points are an absolutism on NSA and a rush to pull foreign aid. Both are pretty popular-to-populists but I am willing to endure a little more nuance. Perhaps President Rand Paul will grow in office as Obama did and end up at a perfect place.
Both Paul and Christie are extremely effective explainers of liberty. No doubt I'll disagree with both, but I'd be happy with either.
My point, contra Gutfeld, is that the libertarians are running for the exits a few months early this season. They wonder why they have no political power, but they can't play like grownups. The second somebody says something "impure" they'll vow never to vote for him/her again -- off to Gary Johnson 2016 and we have not even had the midterms.
I am reading this slightly differently.
I think Gov Christie's remarks need to be placed in context. Two things happened this week that serve as the immediate context for his remarks.
1. The vote on the NSA funding amendment, as JG notes
2. A great deal of the conservative literati have been writing/debating about "reform conservatism", and the phrase "libertarian populism" keeps popping up.
Isolationism was not part of this context. Nor was it explicitly part of his remarks. One can oppose NSA without opposing isolationism.
The NSA vote was interesting because you had a coalition of radical liberals and radical conservatives strongly united (there was some pretty heated rhetoric on the House floor before the vote - directed by members of one party at their own party members!) against the establishment. It was a very clear divide and ti gives lie to many of the 'hyper partisanship' stalemate stuff we hear so much.
There is a large section of the Republican party, which Christie has termed libertarian, that wants to make this a central issue. The fact so many Democrats voted for the issues suggests that these concerns are open political capital no one has managed to capitalize on yet.
Thought leaders, wonks, and the more prominent politicians (like Mr. Rand) who are part of this wing have been working rather hard over the past few months to get their agenda crystallized and to force a debate about the future of the Republican Party. Two Presidential defeats in a row and the GOP has to do some soul searching. These men are ready to mount a fight for the Republican Party's soul.
NSA and civil liberties is part of this. Other topics of note are drones and secret assassinations, crony capitalism, the revolving door between executive agencies, lobbyists, and industry positions, and ending the drug war and all of the evils that come with it. Foreign policy takes a back seat in this discussion.
As I see it, Christie is fighting back against the NSA push specifically and the general "libertarian populist/reform conservative" movement generally. This is not where he wants the party to go and he has carefully chosen a place to make his stand against the movement in the most dramatic yet risk free way that he can.
Jk faults the libertarians for being spoilers and giving up on the GOP and going out of their way to drudge up men like Christie. Maybe. But from my view point, the libertarians have - for once - gone out of their way, think-tank, interest group style, to create a platform for the Republican Party - to change the party instead of just protesting against it. And that is exactly what Gov Christie is fighting against.
The libertarians have due reason to be upset.
Libertarians of all case always have good reason to be upset. I get upset with them because they punch so far under their weight in politics. Their tantrums are not effective though far less populous and engaged groups drive the debate and policy.
jg and tg make good points as to context, but might be overthinking a bit. I think Governor C is playing the long game. He purposefully campaigned just enough in 2012 to get the GOP aching for the candidate they couldn't have so that he could be the front runner in an open seat year. He then campaigned for a landslide in New Jersey, knowing that is his ticket.
Executing a multi-year plan for the White House (think not Machiavelli but Henry Clay), I don't think he is reacting to a Senate speech or a couple opinion articles in an odd numbered year. There is clearly a war for the party brewin' (I suggest, like Angel, the Republican Party has no soul as it were to fight over).
Christie is laying down his position as the standard bearer of a traditional, hawkish, law-and-order, Republican Party. He's got bits of Eisenhowerism that will drive Tea Partiers crazy, but Eisenhower won elections. Larry Kudlow is with him on guns, the WSJ Ed Page is with him on NSA snooping, Bill Kristol will prefer his foreign policy. The sum is a formidable hunk of the GOP from which to wrest the nomination.
Yes but it is the crusty old "establishment" hunk. It is the hunk that is on a serious electoral losing streak with up and coming voters. It is the hunk that appeals to old white guys. Well, it doesn't appeal to this old white guy anymore.
If there is a "soul" of the Republican party it is "thou shalt oppose abortion at every turn." To the point that I'm getting right to life mailers in the name of Rand Paul. So in that respect Paul is not abandoning traditional planks, much to my chagrin. But it's wise to win the primary first, and that seems where he's focusing - Iowa.
A great analysis by TG helped me see the bigger picture: The strain of libertarianism that Christie calls "dangerous" is most dangerous to establishment politicians, be they R's or D's. The establishment power base is on the coasts, particularly the east. They rigged the game to suit themselves and anything that diminishes government power doesn't suit them. A President Christie would be another President Bush, but with fewer principles (2A). I'd rather continue a reform effort that has anti-government corporatism appeal than elect another president who will maintain the big spending, big taxing, big regulating status quo. Freedom is at stake. I stand with Rand and his ilk.
I ended this post by asking where are the libertarian Democrats? While I have serious trust issues with the senior senator from Colorado (and this is an election year for him) he does sound here like he might be listening to the junior senator from Kentucky.
So that's why it's important to have this debate. We're having it in the Congress. Moderates, liberals, conservatives, all are sharing concern about the reach of the NSA's bulk collection program. Let's change it. Let's reform it. Let's narrow it.
The more-philosophically-inclined 'round these parts can perhaps tell me why I respond so negatively to what I call "Saganism," after Carl Sagan. It suggests that we humans with our free will and deferred production should not think too highly of ourselves, considering astronomical scale.
I'm not familiar enough with his scientific contributions to comment. I'll assume he has made important contributions. But his considerable pop-science cred was built telling PBS viewers that they're insignificant.
We're just a speck! Bill-e-uns and Bill-e-uns of stars! You think you're so cool in your Air Jordans®? You ain't! A speck I tell you!
Sagan quotes (which differ less from my satirical ones than you think) appear on Facebook memes, typeset over lovely galaxy pictures. The newest doesn't even require Sagan -- you can hear his voice in the back of your head. This insanely cool photo:
...spoiled by the Saganism "You Are Here."
Huzzahs then to Charlie Martin, for recalibrating the context:
In fewer than 200 years we've gone from an altitude of one mile to seeing the Earth from a distance of nearly a billion miles. To some people, I know, the Earth looks tiny, insignificant, in these pictures from Saturn. But to me it says "Look, we tiny creatures from that tiny planet -- we climbed this mountain, and we'll climb others."
Indeed. Reading Buzz Aldrin's book
(I mentioned to jg and dagny that it is quite good!) we only have 56 years to go to launching a trip to Alpha Centauri
I think Sagan would tell you the problem is with the "we." Nobody alive today remembers what it was like to be earthbound. And nobody who first loosed the bounds of earth is alive today.
Humanity can be spectacular against the universe as a backdrop, but a single human, even Albert Einstein and with or without Air Jordans, is never anything more than a mere giant, distinguished for his contribution to the accumulated knowledge of the specie.
Newsletter salutation of the day
Osvaldo Catastrophe, (which is "Dear Reader" after being wrung through the Carlos Danger name generator. Unfortunately this is not replicable. If you type it in again you'll get a different name, like "Felciano Trouble." It's almost as if there's no scientific basis for this thing whatsoever), -- Jonah Goldberg
And yet, I was thoroughly impressed when KHOW Denver's Michael Brown ran Barack Obama live on the air and got, also, Omar Scourge.
Doesn't Jonah know that "Dear" isn't a name and "Reader" isn't a surname? What's he expect?
The heuristics are obviously too sophisticated for a simple journalist.
July 25, 2013
I link to a great article at AEI: Imbalance: Institutions and the Chinese Economy, Past and Present.
I reviewed Glenn Hubbard and Tim Kane's book [Five Stars!] last month. Those who want a little more than my review without peeling off money to Amazon are encouraged to read this. The authors develop a small segment of the book which interested me: China's fall from prosperity and innovation and its relationship to Eastern Philosophy:
In particular, Confucius recommends the family as the model for the state, with all the former's positive and negative paternalistic implications. And, like Plato in ancient Greece, Confucius emphasized virtue and righteousness. According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, virtue in Confucianism is "a kind of moral power that allows one to win a following without recourse to physical force."
The emphasis on righteousness stands, like much of Christian teaching, in sharp contrast with the supposedly greedy behavior of traders, merchants, and bankers. Agriculture was noble, but commerce was not -- a moral theme that seems prevalent in all cultures.
Another essential teaching of Confucianism is that leadership expressed through moral example is superior to rule through law. This principle is contrary to today's conventional wisdom about the importance of rule of law as a foundation for economic growth, but it served the dynasties well and shaped the development of Chinese institutions.
My birth year helped me escape some of the worst abuses of deconstructionist education, but the superiority of Eastern thought was ever present. The spirituality is revered even by Catholics and scientists who accept little of its content.
I don't mean to suggest that Hubbard & Kane spend pages whacking "Master Kong." But I do. The philosophical seeds of an empire's failure were sown thousands of years ago.
Master Diego say: Read Whole Thing.
On first reading I saw a possible opening for criticism on philosophical grounds, after reading the whole thing of course. I read with interest TG's historical critique. If jk equates "eastern philosophy" with Confucianism he may overlook the Taoist and Buddhist elements. In my limited experience I consider them all a part of "eastern philosophy."
But while eastern philosophy, like Christianity in the west, had its influence on economic matters I contend that jk excerpted the wrong passage if he sought to explain China's prosperity ceiling.
There were no corporate bodies outside of the state, nor independent cities. This point is vital. The institution of the corporation - limiting liability of the individual - was a keystone institution in Western growth. With corporate protection, entrepreneurs were freed to take more economic risks, to pool their resources while protecting their intangible rights to corporate property. That idea is impossible in a system where all property in the kingdom is the king's. A corporation expands the scope of profit-sharing beyond the family, which is perhaps why the familial strength of Chinese culture is overly appreciated. Moreover, the corporation enables innovation and competition, and it also normalizes failure without personal bankruptcy, another key to entrepreneurship.
Rather than examining which philosophies fail to embrace, much less create, this innovation we should consider which does embrace it.
I read the whole Goldstone piece (it is a topic which interests me). I enjoyed it, chuckling a bit at his denials of Eurocentrism -- no doubt that is self-interested rational behavior for an academic.
My review of Hubbard and Kane's book criticized their abandoning their own measure of economic power as soon as they had defined it. I think that gets to the heart: are you more impressed by the absolute economic growth of China or the per-capita growth of England? I've forgotten their formula (it's okay, so did they) but that is the exact metric they were targeting. Goldstone is correct to celebrate the anti-Malthusian growth in China as they added population and simultaneously improved consumption.
And yet, comparing it to the Enlightenment/Industrial Revolution/Bourgeois Dignity growth in Northwest Europe suffers from the pitfalls of comparing American and Chinese economies today. The sheer size of China must either be conspicuously filtered out or it will dwarf everything else in statistics.
Goldstone, the not-at-all-Eurocentric-academic, does not hesitate to point out the lack of sustainability in China's "efflorescences." This returns me to my original point of Confucius. The Scots-British-American growth was predicated on Adam Smith and John Locke which allowed it to grow -- to use David Deutsch's words -- infinitely. China, predicated on Confucius, can have a Zheng He efflorescence but the next leader burns his ships and barbecues his giraffe. To be clear, the line I drew was not from Zheng He but the guy (son?) who decided that China didn't really need any of that trade or technology stuff. Good agrarian character for us!
You may call me a technocrat but that drives me mad! We have our Jenny McCarthys and some current leaders who not embody Lockean ideals, but true leaders in the Mao/Pol Pot frame are not likely.
That philosophical foundation has kept the flame of growth alive (until today, and I'll take Goldstone at his word that 0.8% dGDP/dt is growth). The Confucian foundation offers an evergreen platform to go back to the caves.
@jg: I'm going to wade far further than my intellectual pay-grade allows, but I suggest that the agrarian ideal is common in Eastern Philosophy, closely seconded by acceptance of un-empiric mysticism.
I can afford to be called Eurocentric, but a medical system based on chi meridians, harmonic auras, chakras, and copious amounts of tea will not provide the sustainable growth of one that recognizes germ theory and adds to it with empirical science.
If one accepts -- as I do at most levels -- Deirdre McCloskey's predicating's sustainable growth with the philosophical and rhetorical acceptance of bourgeois dignity, it's a corollary to view Confucianism as a contrary example. A culture that violently purges its bourgeois every couple hundred years is at something of a disadvantage for long term innovation.
Oh, things were going pretty well, but last year we roasted and ate all the engineers. Bad luck.
The comparison to England is unfair, because England is the great exception. England (and Holland) was the place where things ended up differently. Italy, and Iraq, and Byzantium had "efflorescences" that failed too. What happened in China is what happened everywhere. (On a similar note, I would suggest that the agrarian ideal was shared by most every premodern agrarian culture, including most of the West. We still see it in Super Bowl truck commercials...)
Which brings me back to the author's original argument. The trouble I have with it is that they do not tell me anything about China that isn't true of all pre-modern cultures (except England!). They had the chance to, but their own 1000 year decline schematic forces them to abandon any insights their approach might have had. Instead of asking "Why was China not Europe in 1800?" they should have stuck to their main topic - why some nations fall and others rise - and maybe try and answer questions like "Why did the Han dynasty fall apart in 200 AD and leave China in shambles for the next five hundred years?" Or "Why were the technologically advanced Song unable to hold of the Mongols from over running and destroying their entire country?" Or "Why were the Qing able to increase China's territory by 4x and have 2x population increase without lowering living standards in their early days, but then became so weak that they could not fight off a few British gun ships* in the 1800s?"
*It is worth noting that they were powerful in the early days to defend against Western imperialism. They fought - and won - a war against the Dutch for the ownership of Taiwan in the 1600s. Google "Dutch Formosa" for details.
I guess we are asking different questions. I am obsessively interested in "Why England?" "Why not X?" interests me mostly as a tool to answer question #1.
The agrarian ideal is universal. So is poverty. Correlation? Causation?
Labeled by both contemporaries and historians as "the grandest society of merchants in the universe", the British East India Company would come to symbolize the dazzlingly rich potential of the corporation, as well as new methods of business that could be both brutal and exploitative.
In this one sentence from the Wiki Corporation page we have both the clue to the origin of English economic exceptionalism and the false notion used to "manage" capitalism since its inception - that it is somehow "brutal" to trade freely or "exploitative" to buy low and sell high.
Perhaps TG is familiar with the volume from which it was taken: John Keay, The Honorable Company: A History of the English East India Company (MacMillan, New York 1991).
Organic, Gluten-free Schadenfreude!
I was the only person on the Whole Earth, as near as I can tell, to criticize Whole Foods's CEO John Mackey's book from the Right. Every other review I read lauded Mackey for his fulsome defense of Capitalism, which I applauded. No doubt some on the left objected to kind portrayals of profit.
But Mackey distinctly separates himself from Milton Friedman: Whole Foods cannot devote itself to profit! No, Conscious Capitalism requires it serve its employees and the community and its suppliers and -- I think you get the idea.
I suggest that there are great business reasons to treat stakeholders well: you want to recruit and retain the best employees, partners and customers. All of the items from all of the companies in his book were defensible on long-term profit grounds. The touchy-feely stuff is outside of metrics and it is foolhardy to run a huge business on immeasurable parameters.
At the end of the day, it won't even buy you what you think it will buy you. A not-really-lefty Facebook friend posts this approbationally -- she and her husband have unsuccessfully opposed a new Arvada Walmart. Why can't they be more like Seattle? Even Saint Frickken Whole Foods is not good enough!
[Seattle Mayor Mike] McGinn contended in a letter that the nonunion Whole Foods pays "significantly lower" wages and benefits than other grocery stores, including some already in West Seattle. So the idea of allowing Whole Foods to go in there violates the city's social and economic justice goals.
Memo to retailers: you're all Walmart; stop pretending otherwise.
Love it, love it, love it. Almost as good as Detroit's Rust Belt Schadenfreude.
"Just say no to Whole Foods!"
"First they came for the smokers, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a smoker.
"Then they came for the WalMarts, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a frugal shopper.
"Then they came for the Whole Foodses, and I didn't speak out because I support labor unions."
When they come for the pot shops, there will be no one left to speak for me."
July 24, 2013
Otequay of the Ayday
Detroit's failings are many and its debts staggering. Obama did not cause them. But his economic remedies and intervention have achieved little. And his unhinged enthusiasm about what was happening in Detroit in 2011, and how it fit into the larger story of American economic life, provides an inconvenient backdrop for Obama's economic address Wednesday and those that follow. -Major Garrett in Remember When Obama Said Detroit Was Coming Back?
Funnier than Yoram Bauman
With great respect to the "Stand Up Economist," the competition (Peter Schiff) is pretty good:
Hat-tip: Thomas E. Woods
A too-willing crowd, but still very funny.
Yeah, he doesn't know the "tough room" like I do...
"Go Boulder Libertarians! Woo hooo!"
Quote of the Day
Hence, Operation Oprah, to get young people on the hook so they can subsidize the older and sicker. To be fair, people like Kanye can get young people to buy $120 plain white T-shirts, so maybe he can get them to make this bad financial calculation, too. But will it work for the moderate and conservative Democrats that keep the party viable? -- Mary Katharine Ham
Who is Diego Menace?
Slate's "Carlos Danger" pseudonym generator: the Internet now has a purpose!
Share to Facebook, heck yeah! I dig it. (Hat-tip Jim Geraghty)
Awesome! Anthony WEINERforMAYOR has got to be a White House plant to distract from their shenanigans. How could anyone be so clueless? I couldn't stop laughing when he said, "Now that I'm running for mayor I've decided I won't do that anymore."
My Carlos Danger name doesn't roll off the tongue but I did look up Ayn Rand's pseudonym:
Karl Marx = Alfonso Threat
Chet Atkins = Antonio Dynamite
Richard Nixon = Jaime Evil
Vladamir Putin = Raphael Kill
Barack Obama = Omar Scourge
Drudge wins for headline of the day:
ERECTION UPDATE: Pressure mounts on Weiner to pull out......
I am genuinely concerned that the hubhub around Rep. Wiener will distract -- not so much from the President, but -- from the far more dangerous Empire State Rehabilitation Candidate, Eliot Spitzer. Where Weiner is a doofus, Spitzer was a dangerous abuser of power as NYAG.
I was happy to see his tenure as Gov. cut short as his eyes were clearly on the Presidency and he has the friends and money for a real run. It's not that I am in any way above dick jokes in a mayoral race, but they are providing cover for Spitzer's rise which is not a laughing matter.
I take comfort in the belief that Spitzer could never rise as fast or as far as the Big Apple's Weiner.
July 23, 2013
Boulder Libertarians Fight Bag Ban
Libertario Delenda Est is suspended for a post. Here we find L:ibertairians doing something useful -- and the Boulder Daily Camera actually prints a guest ed about it!
It was only a few years ago that libertarians warned that growing corn to make ethanol as a gasoline substitute was a really dreadful idea. We were proven right and there is now almost universal disdain for the use of corn to make ethanol, except, of course, by the ethanol industry.
So now in the City of Boulder we have another really bad idea: tax ten cents for nearly every plastic shopping bag.
What could possibly be wrong with what the City Council documented in its disposable bag fee ordinance?
The council calls this new bag tax a fee, but, of course, it's a new tax on those who wish to use a product. According to the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, new taxes require a vote of the citizens and fees don't. So the City Council calls it a fee. George Orwell's famous quote is worth repeating, "War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength."
So what are we Libertarians going to do about this?
We are considering (a) Organizing a citizens' initiative to place on the ballot a prohibition on this new tax. (b) Handing out free plastic bags in front of the stores of cooperating retailers.
They were keeping their powder dry until a really big issue came along. One that only they could solve. Colorado faces constitutionally dubious new laws regarding arms, energy and the democratic process but Boulder Libertarians come out in full-force for... "free plastic bags."
Life really is too easy in America.
Whoa! The quality of mercy is not Brother jg...
I'm offering organic, gluten-free olive braches to Boulder LPs because this is something of a pet issue of mine.
Plus we might never reach our other-sided friends on arms, fracking, or the GOP's War on Minority voters. But sometime -- I hope -- they might see unintended consequences in more picayune legislation.
Blog friend sc disarms opponents in abortion debates by immediately switching to antitrust rulings in Major League Baseball. Sometimes, replacing the hot button emotional issue with an allegory, like laying down a solid bunt up the third base line, is a good play.
(Not that I ever reached on bags either, but one must keep trying...)
Bah. Summer soldiers and sunshine patriots, the lot of them.
A DAWG-Denyin' Good Time was Had by All
Dr. William Gray's talk at LOTR-F last night was superb. For those who attended (ThreeSources acquitted itself quite well!) the slides are here. And Gray's academic/hurricane page here.
I heard so many of my favorite arguments elucidated well by the charming octogenarian that I became convinced I was of his intellectual caliber. I later recognized the name and realized that he was one of my early influences.
This was the second-best attended LOTR-F evah (Yaron Brook was first). And there were enough "30-second speeches" before that I demurred. But I was prepared to share this from Alex B. Berezow:
The Left repeatedly insists that climate change is the world's #1 problem, and this has distracted us from the world's actual #1 problem: Poverty. About 1.3 billion people don't have electricity, meaning they also don't have adequate access to food, healthcare or the Internet. Essentially, such communities are condemned to a life of indefinite poverty. Providing them with cheap electricity is a compassionate, progressive thing to do.
Yes, attendance was so high that management should have moved us upstairs and put the regular patrons in the basement!
I'd like to highlight a few takeaways:
1- Global Climate Change research has little to do with science, and much to do with global politics.
2- Global temperature will rise if atmospheric CO2 doubles, but probably only by 2 to 3 tenths of a degree. (0.2 to 0.3 C)
3- Global temperature variation due to natural causes has historically, and will in future, dwarf the CO2 driven change.
4- The largest cause of global temperature change, by far, is deep water ocean currents. Or, as I coined last night: The source of Global Warming is "Davey Jones' Locker."
5- Dr. William M. Gray's prescription for the "problem" of "Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming?" Do nothing. If it becomes a problem in future there will be plenty of time and technology to deal with it.
July 22, 2013
Her Second Term?
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Michelle Obama is speaking out about the toll that gun violence is taking on young people, in a shift that shows the first lady's willingness to tackle new and polarizing issues as she shapes her second term.
FLOTUS's Second term agenda. Refresh my memory, which Article in the Constitution describes that?
Selfishness - Rational vs. Imperial
This reflects a deeper abuse of Ayn Rand's philosophy. The prevailing philosophy of altruism, in denouncing business and profit-making as evil, has to construct a caricature of self-interest designed to make it look bad. In this caricature, "selfishness" is crassly materialistic, viciously adversarial, and stoked by personal vanity. Above all else, self-interest is defined in a way that is superficial and short term--making it into a straw man of that is easy to knock down.
Ayn Rand not only defended self-interest but sought to understand it properly, showing how genuine self-interest focuses on long-term values, on rationality and real achievement rather than preening vanity or lust for arbitrary power over others. -Robert Tracinski in 'Sears: Less "Atlas Shrugged" Than "Game of Thrones'
Meanwhile, in Buffy News
First, an aside: I could not have done better choosing the episodes for SyFy's Buffy Marathon last night. I would not have picked Buffy vs. Dracula. But I would have been wrong. Even though all are on Amazon Prime anytime, I watched "Hush" and "Buffy vs. Dracula," and DVR-ed "Once More with Feeling" and "Fool for Love." Still awesome.
Yet I post to link to a review of Much Ado About Nothing, written by NRO intern Will Allen.
Joss Whedon's depiction of this most playful Shakespearean comedy is a sheer delight. It is also a rebuke, a surprise, and a challenge, in that order.
First the rebuke. Filmed in twelve days at Whedon's California mansion, this film flatly rebuts the conviction (on eye-popping display in this summer's The Great Gatsby, Man of Steel, The Lone Ranger, and Pacific Rim, among others) that a film can be improved simply by adding more: more thundering explosions, more cranium-cracking sound effects, more cataclysmic bloodshed -- and, often, more footage. (For a detailed critique of this trend, see Christopher Orr's brutally funny takedown of The Lone Ranger at The Atlantic.) While hardly trifling at 109 minutes, Much Ado barely moves the scale alongside today's swollen blockbusters: Gatsby, 143 minutes; Man of Steel, 143 minutes; The Lone Ranger, 149 minutes.
Hat-tip: Jin Geraghty, who liked it too.
Special Night at LOTR-F!
Join us on Monday, July 22nd, where your special guest speakers will be Dr. William M. Gray and Barry E. Schwartz, who will be presenting "The Myth of human caused climate change -- what the media won't tell you". After the presentation there will be short Q&A, followed by the opportunity to network with other local liberty supporters. Come for the event, stay for the food and networking - you're guaranteed a great evening no matter what!
This event is open to the public, bring your friends!
As it happens, I am bringing a friend: The denyin'-denier, über-environmentalist Facebook friend, JC, plans to meet me there.
It's going to be a Wang Dang Doodle!
Brother jg and Sister dagny ask for a seat to be saved as well... Fun, fun!
Every self-respecting uber-environmentalist should want to ask himself, why does the most prosperous and technologically advanced nation on earth mismanage its national forests so?
"Drought and climate change have contributed to this scenario, but the condition of the forests is the primary underlying factor, with nearly homogenous landscapes of mature, single-age stands that are overly dense and stressed from competing for nutrients and water. In other words, they are ripe for insect attacks and destructive wildfires," Duda said.
I too am bringing a friend....hope to get there very early so will save a table.
The only thing that would be more fun than this to talk about tonight is theMotorless City.
Daniel Hannan at the Telegraph (UK) quotes a description of Detroit from the Observer, then compares it to Starnesville in Atlas Shrugged:
A few houses still stood within the skeleton of what had once been an industrial town. Everything that could move, had moved away; but some human beings had remained. The empty structures were vertical rubble; they had been eaten, not by time, but by men: boards torn out at random, missing patches of roofs, holes left in gutted cellars. It looked as if blind hands had seized whatever fitted the need of the moment, with no concept of remaining in existence the next morning. The inhabited houses were scattered at random among the ruins; the smoke of their chimneys was the only movement visible in town. A shell of concrete, which had been a schoolhouse, stood on the outskirts; it looked like a skull, with the empty sockets of glassless windows, with a few strands of hair still clinging to it, in the shape of broken wires.
Statism is turning America into Detroit -- Ayn Rand's Starnesville come to life
Beyond the town, on a distant hill, stood the factory of the Twentieth Century Motor Company. Its walls, roof lines and smokestacks looked trim, impregnable like a fortress. It would have seemed intact but for a silver water tank: the water tank was tipped sidewise.
UPDATE: James Pethokoukis: Must there always be a Detroit?
A more perfect analogy was never made. Ever.
Brother jk, as I read it, appealed to the GOP to make intergenerational debt a focus of future elections. I herewith appeal that they instead simply point to Detroit, and ask: "Do you want your town to be the next Detroit? Then it is time for all of us to start living within our means, earning our own keep, and stop demanding things we have not earned. The Democrat party will NEVER take that approach. You can elect Republicans, or you can live in the next Detroit."
And a Comments Update: Investor's: "Government Motors is Alive and Detroit is Dead"
Indeed, the scary part is that Detroit is what Obama wants to fundamentally transform America into: a place where wealth is redistributed, not created, and where government picks winners and losers in an economy in which we all ultimately lose.
Speaking at Ohio State University in May, he told graduates not to listen to "voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that's at the root of all our problems."
Detroit didn't. We should.
Libertario Delenda Est
Tid bit du jour, courtesy of Jim Geraghty:
Second Amendment advocates aim to replace Democratic senators John Morse of Colorado Springs and Angela Giron of Pueblo. (They also tried to recall Senator Evie Hudak of Westminster and Representative Mike McLachlan of Durango, but failed to collect enough signatures.) Back in 2010, Morse won, 48.1 percent to 47.2 percent, with about 250 votes separating him from his opponent (and Libertarian Douglas Randall collected 1,258 votes).
If the Libertarians had any sense (hahahaha I do crack myself up sometimes), they would fold the party, stop running candidates, and become a powerful interest group along the lines of the NRA. They could direct large amounts of money to the best liberty candidates in both parties and publicize lesser known but philosophically kindred candidates in primaries.
Instead they act as spoiler to elect Jon Tester in Montana, the 60th vote for ObamaCare® and Rep Morse in Colorado, a majority voice for gun confiscation. Way to go.
The End of an Era
Alternate headline: "You're Welcome, Brother Keith!"
Thanks to jg, however, you can still reach us at; www.nascarretards.com
I really gotta give out that URL more often. It's easier to remember.
July 21, 2013
I owe these and the other scholars acknowledged in the notes a deep intellectual debt. However, they would be the first to agree that much more attention has been paid to the question of why poor nations stay poor, as opposed to the question of why rich nations revert to poverty, a somewhat less common phenomenon. My concern here is not with economic development but rather with the opposite process of institutional degeneration. My over-arching question is: what exactly has gone wrong in the Western world in our time?
The promised polemical review of Steven Hayward's "Politically Incorrect Guide to the President's" is postponed. ThreeSources apologizes for the inconvenience. But catching up with reviews, I have a more serious book that did not get a Review Corner.
Niall Ferguson's The Great Degeneration: How Institutions Decay and Economies Die hits most all of the ThreeSources sweet spots; had it a Buffy reference, it would be perfect.
I discovered Ferguson because an Amazon reviewer responded to my Deirdre McCloskey review with the suggestion that I read his "Civilization" [Review Corner]. That scored Ferguson 4.75 stars (I'm tough but I'm fair) and he is back for more with "The Great Degeneration."
As "Civilization" discussed the innovations and institutions that built a prosperous society, "Degeneration" concerns itself with the injuries to those which produce stagnation and decay. Adam Smith noted China as a "stationary state."
In Smith's day, of course, it was China that had been "long stationary": a once "opulent" country that had simply ceased to grow. Smith blamed China's defective "laws and institutions" -- including its bureaucracy -- for the stasis. More free trade, more encouragement for small business, less bureaucracy and less crony capitalism: these were Smith's prescriptions to cure Chinese stasis. He was a witness to what such reforms were doing in the late eighteenth century to galvanize the economy of the British Isles and its American colonies.
Writing in the 1770s, it seemed obvious to Adam Smith that the reasons for China's puzzling 'stationary state' of economic stagnation lay in its 'laws and institutions'. Could it be, by the same token, that the economic, social and political difficulties of the Western world today reflect a degeneration of our once world-beating institutions? There certainly seems little doubt that the West is experiencing a relative decline unlike anything we have seen in half a millennium.
As Insty might say, glad that could never happen to us!
To demonstrate that Western institutions have indeed degenerated, I am going to have to open up some long-sealed black boxes. The first is the one labelled 'democracy'. The second is labelled 'capitalism'. The third is 'the rule of law'. And the fourth is 'civil society'. Together, they are the key components of our civilization.
As Heinlein noted, it is not guaranteed that a wealthy country stay prosperous, For all the great books that highlight the causes of prosperity -- and Review Corner readers will know that is a favorite genre of mine -- Ferguson finds the other side underserved.
A large section is devoted to debt, which Ferguson sees a symptom and signpost of degeneration. More than the absolute albeit serious problem, he sees a breakdown in the contract between the generations.
In his Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790), Edmund Burke wrote that the real social contract is not Jean-Jacques Rousseau's contract between the sovereign and the people or 'general will', but the 'partnership' between the generations. In his words:
one of the first and most leading principles on which the commonwealth and the laws are consecrated is, lest the temporary possessors and life-renters in it, unmindful of what they have received from their ancestors or of what is due to their posterity,
SOCIETY is indeed a contract . . . the state . . . is . . . a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born.
It is my hope that the "green-eyeshades" branch of the GOP positions the debt in this manner -- this is far more compelling than accounting and China-bashing.
Regulation gets the same treatment
Why is it now a hundred times more expensive to bring a new medicine to market than it was sixty years ago -- a phenomenon Juan Enriquez has called 'Moore's Law* in reverse'? Why would the Food and Drug Administration probably prohibit the sale of table salt if it were put forward as a new pharmacological product (it is after all toxic in large doses)? Why, to give another suggestive example, did it take an American journalist sixty-five days to get official permission (including, after a wait of up to five weeks, a Food Protection Certificate) to open a lemonade stand in New York City? This is the kind of debilitating red tape that development economists often blame for poverty in Africa or Latin America.
In my next I shall ask if excessively complex government regulation of markets is in fact the disease of which it purports to be the cure. The rule of law has many enemies, as we shall see. But among its most dangerous foes are the authors of very long and convoluted laws.
Lurking inside every such regulation is the universal law of unintended consequences. What if the net effect of all this regulation is to make the [Systemically Important Financial Institutions] more rather than less systemically risky? One of many new features of Basel III is a requirement for banks to build up capital in good times, so as to have a buffer in bad times. This innovation was widely hailed some years ago when it was introduced by Spanish bank regulators. Enough said.
Were the author American, he'd certainly end with some bold policy suggestions and point to an awaiting new millennia of awesomeness. But the Brits gave us "One Foot in the Grave," and Ferguson, while not moping about it, is pointing out what is so. He ends with a disapprobational look at President Obama's "You Didn't Build That."
This surely is the authentic voice of the stationary state: the chief mandarin, addressing distant subjects in the provinces. It is not that the implied interdependence of the private sector and the state is wrong. It is the overstatement of the case that is disquieting, as if it took government to build every small business or, indeed, to 'create the middle class'. Also striking is the conspicuous absence from the speech of any future project comparable with those cited from the past.
The Second Inaugural gets no better treatment:
[T]he appropriate yardstick for an effective government was 'whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified'. By contrast, 'without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control'. The words 'debt' and 'deficit' were not mentioned. The dangers of excessive regulation and litigation were ignored. And civil society scarcely featured at all, as if the hallowed phrase 'we the people' is now synonymous with 'the government'. It is bad enough to see state capitalism touted as an economic model by the Chinese Communist Party. But to hear it deployed by the President of the United States as a rhetorical trope nearly devoid of practical content makes this writer, for one, pine for the glad, confident morning of 1989 -- when it really seemed the West had won, and a great regeneration had begun.
Ferguson's style and wit make it less depressing than this review corner suggests. Four-point-seven-five stars, and an update to Civilization giving it the full five.
Good stuff! The bashing of Obama's overt socialism wins my full agreement, as does the rest of what you've excerpted save one - debt, and the "contract between the generations."
Is that not how Obamacare (R) was sold? The healthy young have a contractual duty to pay for the health care of the failing aged, and will be supported similarly in turn?
I see nothing wrong with debt, so long as it is repaid by those who incurred it. But with government debt this can never be so. It is and always will be repaid by those who are able, to the benefit of those who are in need.
My father-in-law, Macho Duck, related a story during after dinner conversation last night that was told to him by his elderly cousin who has long resided in South Africa. As I understood it, a particular individual had raised a farm animal to maturity and chose to make a feast for the village of it. The cousin could not impress upon him the folly of this, rather than husbanding the animal to produce a larger herd. Instead he traded future wealth creation for present approbation of his neighbors.
As the west has become more prosperous it has also become more concerned with the approbations of others, be they neighbors of individuals or the governments of the other nations of the world. Rather than working toward the "greedy" creation of wealth, the west is ever more devoted to the "virtous" and "just" actions of giving away more and more wealth to others. Even if we don't have it. Even if we have to borrow to do so. The blame for this falls squarely on the shoulders of the "A-word."
'first is the one labelled 'democracy'. The second is labelled 'capitalism'. The third is 'the rule of law'. And the fourth is 'civil society'.'
Nope, the key component is freedom.
The institutions are generally guide rails to freedom, not anarchical freedom.
Legitimate, consent of the governed, government takes money from others who may be in your generation or another. WWII debt is not the moral crime that ObamaCare is.
True. And Operation Iraqi Freedom debt is not the moral crime that TARP and the Stimulus Act were.
July 19, 2013
Taking guns away - from the Leftists
Responding to President Obama's attorney general using the legally just ruling in The Florida Case as another excuse to take guns from law abiding citizens, Jeffrey T. Brown tells us to 'Stand Your Ground' Against the Left.
To Holder and the president, the isolated events involving Trayvon Martin, which have not been publicly replicated anywhere else in America on any regular or reported basis, serve as yet another excuse to launch sweeping radical attacks on the rights of all Americans. They loathe the ability of citizens to protect themselves against the left's predators, whether social or political.
There's an angle I hadn't given enough thought. It's commonly understood that welfare statists deplore citizens who can protect themselves against government, but don't the same voices tell us that criminals are the "real victims" and deserve our "understanding?" The latest Rolling Stone cover fits in that niche. If so, the fight to protect individual gun rights is both political and social.
Segue to a post-Newtown story about mass murders, also from American Thinker, which claims Psychiatric Community Not Stepping Up. I touched on this aspect of the Newtown case when I cited widespead use of anti-depressants like Ritalin ("Ritalin is not just like methamphetamine, Ritalin is methamphetamine.") in the comments here. Author Bernie Reeves is more specific, laying blame at the feet of those social professionals whose reason for being is to detect and treat the mentally ill - psychiatrists.
It is now time to remove guns from the top position in media coverage and implore the psychiatric community to coalesce and present a formula to identify and deal with potentially psychotic patients. As it stands now, the only method to remove dangerous patients is to have them arrested, which requires a process often too difficult and wrenching to contemplate.
The Sandy Hook shootings have affected parents more deeply than any of the dozens of previous massacres since the 1980s. Discussing the event with young children is difficult, and creates anxiety that saying the wrong thing could be permanently damaging. It is indeed a national trauma that requires national therapy. There is a gnawing helplessness that 'there is nothing we can do'.
Yet there is, but the professionals who can construct a solution are the ones who abandoned their duty, leaving 20 little children and six adults dead. You would think they would step up.
Ow! That's Gotta Sting
The Jacket pummels the Moldy Sage 0f 42nd Street:
It's got to be a pretty good gig to be Paul Krugman. He's rich enough to bitch to The New Yorker about not being able to afford a home in St. John so, sigh, St. Croix has to do. He's got tenure at the second-best college in New Jersey, an equally secure gig at the second-best newspaper in New York, and he's even copped a Nobel Prize (economics, but still).
After that, Nick Gillespie gets tough. Any competent referee would have stopped this about halfway through. Embrace prurience and read the whole thing.
"Pompous jackassery" indeed. I make it a habit to seek out my opponents' ideas for two reasons: One is to see if there is any small opening for a point of agreement. The other? As a starting point for creating a counter-argument. Without this I fear my discourse would become cold, contemptuous, detached from reality and yes, moldy.
Tweet of the Day
Isn't Organized Labor more to blame? Sixty years of making sure the working man wasn't "taken advantage of." At least, not by employers.
July 18, 2013
Lilly Ledbetter. Call your Office!
Lookit me, bros! I'm one o' them fatcat ex-smokers that pull in the big bucks!
In a working paper published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, research economists Julie L. Hotchkiss and M. Melinda Pitts studied the relationship between smoking and wages. Using data from the Tobacco Use Supplement to the U.S. Census Bureau's Current Population Survey over the period of 1992 to 2011, the economists found that people who had quit smoking for at least a year earned higher wages than smokers and people who had never smoked. Their data shows that nonsmokers, which include never smokers and former smokers, bring in about 95% of the hourly wages of former smokers.
Smokers, on the other hand, are not rewarded as much in the workplace. They earned about 80% of nonsmokers' wages. Even one cigarette a day triggers a wage gap between smokers and nonsmokers, the economists write. "Smoking erodes the value of your human capital in the labor market," said Ms. Pitts.
Hate to be "Anti-Science" or anything, but is there not a chance that income disparities of 10-20% are common enough that there are several ways to throw a statistical lasso around a group of disciplined career-driven workers?
They determined that differences in the characteristics of smokers and nonsmokers, such as educational attainment, as well as unmeasured factors like an employer's tolerance to smoking behavior are mostly driving the wage gap. They noted that education level was the largest contributing variable. Nonsmokers tend to be more educated, are less likely to have spouses who smoke and live in states where cigarette prices are higher than smokers.
The findings suggest that the characteristics of former smokers are more highly rewarded in the labor market than those of smokers and people who've never smoked. "It takes a special person to quit an addictive behavior, and there is a higher reward for smoking cessation than not ever starting it," said Ms. Pitts. "I think the qualities of persistence, patience and everything else that goes along with being able to quit are valuable to employers."
Or, in less scientific parlance: "Duh."
Thinking people would use this to question any study that purports bias between group X and Y based on median, or worse average, income.
One Cheer for ObamaCare®!
Anything the Unions hate this much cannot be all bad...
What Mr. Hoffa and the other union reps don't mention amid their cold sweats is that less employer-provided insurance means less of a role for unions as middle men in contract negotiations. Then again, all of the harm they are now discovering was obvious during the ObamaCare debate. It's another reminder that Big Labor now exists mainly for the benefit of unions and their leaders, rather than the workers they supposedly represent.
July 16, 2013
Many are critical of the Florida Trial verdict because all six members of the jury panel were non-black, but did it have to be that way? CNN's Carol Costello tells us that a potential black juror was dismissed, by the prosecution, and guest Michael Skolnick tells us why:
COSTELLO: Although if I remember correctly one of the prosecutors struck a black, a potential black juror from the jury.
MICHAEL SKOLNICK, POLITICAL DIRECTOR TO RUSSELL SIMMONS, CO-PRESIDENT GLOBALGRIND.COM: Yeah, he was also, I was just, he was also a Fox News watcher. So that was, you know, problematic for the prosecution.
I couldn't have made this more incriminating if I tried, but those are straight, verbatim quotes. Costello even smirked after Skolnick said "Fox News watcher" but quickly caught herself.
Bombshell in "This Florida Trial"
I risk sensationalism with the headline but under the circumstances, I believe it is warranted.
Those of us who tried to objectively follow the case that led up to this Florida trial could never explain what caused the transformation from one man following another on a public street to two men in fisticuffs and wrestling on the ground. What precipitated the anger in one or the other party? The trial's prosecutors, and most of the media commentary before, during and after, put that blame on hatred or racism in the heart of George Zimmerman. Between the racism and the gun violence angle, this comports with the typical narrative from those sources. But that entire narrative was left in pieces on the floor of the Piers Morgan show on CNN last night.
So, again, Piers Morgan's question: "But you felt that there was no doubt in your mind from what Trayvon was telling you on the phone about the 'creepy ass cracka' and so on, that he absolutely believed that George Zimmerman, this man -- you didn't know who he was at the time, but this man -- was pursuing him? And he was freaked out by it?"
Why was he freaked out by it, Rachel?
JEANTEL: Yes. Definitely. After I say, "Might be a rapist." For every boys or every man, every who's not that kinda way, see a grown man following them, would they be creep out? So you gotta take as a parent. You tell a child, "You see a grown person follow it you, run away," and all that.
I tried corroborating this with an official transcript of the Piers Morgan Live show but could not find it in unedited form, so will just have to rely on the Rush Limbaugh version quoted above, as linked by Drudge.
So Rachel suggested that Zimmerman "might be a rapist" and Travon should "run away." But where he would have run towards, he knew his younger brother was there. Did he instead decide to stop and fight, because of this perception, a possible sexual predator? At least this does more than anything I've heard to explain why Travon might have tried to beat Zimmerman senseless.
It also suggests that the Zimmerman case might be out of the news in the blink of an eye, after this revelation.
UPDATE: Here's Drudge's version, including a link to a Corner blog.
It's my understanding that Zimmerman was following the advice of the 911 dispatcher and returning to his vehicle at the time he was assaulted. I don't know if there's any evidence to support that beyond Zimmerman's own account of the events. If it is true though, "decide to stop and fight" doesn't really describe turning and pursuing someone who's no longer pursuing you.
I've wondered all along if Martin didn't initially decide to confront Zimmerman with much less violent intent, but then saw the gun, took the fact that Zimmerman was armed to mean he really was a dangerous threat, and decided that the only way to save himself was to put Zimmerman down. That might be even more likely if he was concerned that Zimmerman might follow him home to his little brother. A less charitable interpretation would be that he was willing to just walk away from a garden variety crazy ass cracker, but when Jenteal planted the notion in his head that Zimmerman was gay, he decided a little gay bashing was in order.
I intentionally avoided using the word "gay." I'm not as interested in watching the purveyors of group privilege politics squirm between two of their pet special interests as Limbaugh most certainly is. The most interesting part of this revelation, to me, is the part Jeantel's words may have played in sparking the confrontation. Had she not said, "might be a rapist" how likely is it Travon would have just walked into his father's girlfriend's house, to where Zimmerman had apparently followed him very near? We would never have ever learned their names.
Do you know if there's a publicly available map of the neighborhood with an official version of where events took place marked on it? Every one I've seen has been nothing but speculation, but none of them I've seen guess at Zimmerman getting any closer to the house where Martin was staying than the opposite end of the street - about 2-1/2 blocks of townhomes away. I'm not trying to be antagonistic or difficult, just sincerely curious - is that what you meant by very near?
If Zimmerman actually did follow him almost to that house, Martin would have had to then follow Zimmerman all the way back up the street and around the corner to get back to where he was shot. I don't think anything in Jeantel or anybody else's comments or testimony has even suggested that Zimmerman was ever much closer to the house where Martin was staying than the point at which Martin was shot.
Prior to reading this blog yesterday I was under the impression that the conflict occurred nearer to Zimmerman's home than Martin's. I can't cite a reason, that was just my understanding before reading [3rd paragraph]:
Zimmerman trailed Martin almost all the way to Martinâ€™s then place of residence, at which point there was a confrontation.
I, and I think you, believe Zimmerman followed to observe and Martin turned back to confront. Jeantel's admitted suggestion "might be a rapist" while still conspicuously absent from the public conversation about the case, helps explain why that confrontation became so violent so quickly.
This comment thread suggest that it truly is a media story. Helen Maria! After a gazillion hours of breathless TV coverage and a good deal of blog squawk, nobody knows what went down. Not just the hidden layers of mens rea, but the basic facts are obscured.
I am sorry but for this reason this revelation is no bombshell. The big networks are still pushing this as a "stand your ground" story, I don't think 20% of my Facebook feed knows GZ was not as white as Pat Boone. Nothing inconvenient gets out -- this bombshell will resound among Rush's listeners.
Perhaps, but I think my original prediction still has traction. The more they keep talking about it, the more likely someone rebuts with "but Trayvon thought he was gay." After Holder puts on a show long enough that his boss believes they've satiated their public's cries for "change" they'll let it fade into history. After all, the alternative is to have a truly honest conversation about race in America. That would be the death-knell for the race baiting industry.
$KO Where's that Global Warming?
July 15, 2013
I don't know if you guys have heard about this Florida trial...
Apologies in advance to those who have been enjoying ThreeSources as a "Zimmerman Free Zone;" this breaks the streak.
On one hand, the trial says nothing about anything. To quote Edna St. Vincent Millay:
And lay them prone upon the earth and cease
To ponder on themselves, the while they stare
At nothing, intricately drawn nowhere
In shapes of shifting lineage;
As Insty remarks
, it's a case about race except the perpetrator is "blacker than Homer Plessy." Jacob Sullum, and many others have pointed out
that it is not about "stand your ground" laws. And Taranto reminds
that it fits nowhere into lynching or mob rule cases.
It is one single and tragic case.
At the same time, it is about everything, because everybody (at least on my Facebook and Twitter feeds) have imbued everything into it. It's not about stand your ground laws, but it is clearly about using a gun for self defense: not in a clear case of zombies kicking down your door, but in public at a confrontation of one's choosing.
To those not involved directly, it a media event first and foremost. NBC's shameful editing of the 911 launched this endeavor. And MSNBC and FOX have kept the embers aflame for months. A pox on both their houses.
Post verdict social media has been an exercise in sad. My famous lefty FB pals are ready to leave the country or burn down the local Chick-Fil-A. Our blog friend Lattesipper has changed his profile pic to Trayvon's -- and yes, he uses the adorable cherub of 15, not the more current gangsta audition pictures.
One lefty work friend posted a very humble, mirror-image-of-my-thoughts blurb on Facebook. She admitted she had not seen the whole trial and that she didn't have personal knowledge of what went down and what was right. But she was upset at Facebook friends who consider Zimmerman a hero. I was going to post that we were mirror images but shared some humility about dictating to the rest of the world what really happened and what each person really thought. In the 15 minutes it took me to come back to it, her friends had filled the post "Hero?? You mean sad f^&*in jerk loser of all time!" Repeat, adding sanctimony and intensity.
I demurred and will continue so to do. A lot of people are upset. A young African-American I played hockey with as a lad was quite upset. I am going to be uncharacteristically quiet.
But ThreeSourcers know I am a terrible person already -- and I have a segue.
One can view this in the Arnold Kling/Jonathan Haidt prism. FOXNews and MSNBC have played this up. To the FOX viewer, it is Civilization vs. Barbarism. GZ is a community watch guy -- defender of civilization. Martin was a dope smokin', street fighting hood. One defends the property owners, one is a punk and a problem.
To MSNBC (and to be fair, all of the not-specifically Conservative media), we have oppressor/oppressed. A 17 year old boy tragically loses his life -- shot by "a wannabe cop," who was probably a racist.
I guess I will be true to my libertarianism. I don't know what happened. I don't know what any of the participants were thinking. But I believe in due process. The State of Florida threw everything they had at this case (because of media malfeasance, but we work with what we have). And six good people of Seminole County Florida -- unanimously -- said that the state had not made its case.
I sure as hell do not want to make it much easier for prosecutors to indict. I do not think the young African-American community would be well served by advances along that line. Personally, I am happy because I thought the decision to prosecute was political. I consider Zimmerman a tragic player and not a hero.
I guess I take my lefty friend at her word, she always complains of a right wing lunacy flood on her feed. I find it somehow hard to believe that she has more and wackier right wing friends than I do. I certainly suspect a strawman; this kook tsunami is claimed more than it is seen. But I follow Taranto's Best of the Web on Facebook, and there were some pretty happy people posting there. Perhaps the worst lesson is just how easily people can be played by the media.
UPDATE: I do love this country: Juror B-37 gets book deal.
Zimmerman is no hero, but he's also no murder.
"How does something like this happen?" How do dozens of young men get shot to death every weekend in your home town, Mr. President? Is the root of the problem more likely "wannabe" cops, or "wannabe" thugs?
But in this specific case it seems a series of events conspired to lead to the result. Many say that Zimmerman provoked the altercation. He may have, but none of the facts in evidence constitute a crime. Or shall we make it illegal to walk down the street behind another person?
Further: Oakland demonstrators carried banner advertising socialistworker.org. [Last video at story.]
"Justice 4 TRAVON, FIGHT THE, NEW JIM CROW, socialistworker.org"
Not exclusively the self-interested race concerns we've been told, it seems.
I think brother jg and I are on the same page.
There is so much bad information around, I do not know what is true anymore. The damning thing I heard was that GZ was told not to engage by the dispatcher on the 911 call. Taking that as true, I don't think it alters the legal decision but it figures poorly in my moral calculus: neighborhood watch should defer to the Police.
Socialists come out for anything...
UPDATE: Like Will Saletan I got it wrong:
The 911 dispatcher who spoke to Zimmerman on the fatal night didn't tell him to stay in his car. Zimmerman said he was following a suspicious person, and the dispatcher told him, "We don't need you do to that." Chief prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda conceded in his closing argument that these words were ambiguous.
Of course the trial says something; it says a lot really. Unfortunately, the most salient point is how quickly Ratings Whores turn into Propaganda Pimps (and how badly it dishonors both the dead and the living).
Think the FB team will let that through?
Ink by the bucket
The tiny town of Westcliffe, Colorado (pop. 417) is the county seat of rural Custer County in south central Colorado and, as the county seat, has to have a "paper of record" and apparently does in the form of the Wet Mountain Tribune, "Published every Thursday since 1883."
Now, it seems a dustup ensued when the paper of record criticized, and apparently sought to block, members of a local TEA Party group marching in the town's Independence Day Parade carrying rifles. (I think, perhaps, loaded and, perhaps or probably, those "scary" black rifles so maligned these days.) For its part in the dispute the Wet Mtn. Trib. managed to earn itself some friendly competition. Those wacky TEA Partiers decided to form and publish their own weekly. They call it Sangre de Cristo Sentinel. "A different view from the same mountains." They believe they'll do well with subscriptions in this rural market, where they estimate 80% of readers are conservatives. (And a print subscription costs less than a buck a week!)
The moral of this story is to not behave like you buy your ink by the barrel if you only buy it one bucket at a time.
Hat tip: 850 KOA's Mike Rosen show.
$20 For a business card size ad. Should we run a few?
Yes. I also intend to subscribe, since circulation is more valuable to the "wannabe journalists" than is our 20 bucks.
July 14, 2013
I'll need to defend myself from hypocrisy next week. For next week I will be more generous to a more polemical work. Yet this week, I will subtract stars for the author's including opinions. What gives?
Charles Johnson's Why Coolidge Matters: Leadership Lessons from America's Most Underrated President is a great and important book. It is a superb addition to the Harding-Coolidge rehabilitation corpus.
And yet too few are heeding Coolidge's words. Pro-New Deal historians promulgated a myth that continues today of Coolidge as taciturn and passive. Coolidge's recent defenders seem to be swinging to the opposite end of the spectrum, attempting to replace the myth with a Coolidge cult of their own. Led by, among others, talk-show host Glenn Beck; Amity Shlaes of the George W. Bush Foundation; Gene Healy, a fellow at the Cato Institute; and Larry Kudlow, a Reaganite turned CNBC host, well-meaning fans of Coolidge claim him as the "last liberal president" and thus as the antidote to the near-imperial presidency that we suffer today.
It is my contention that Coolidge is ignored (in some cases even hated) not because he was ineffective as an executive, but because he was spectacularly effective at helping the common man while defeating attempts to socialize America. Coolidge steered the country through what Jay Lovestone, a Communist union leader, called the "eve of giant class conflicts."
Johnson's look at Coolidge is rooted in Coolidge's appreciation for the Declaration of Independence. Johnson considers Lincoln and Coolidge the two presidents who took their principles from the Declaration.
Coolidge, then, had rechristened the Declaration's central premise -- that men institute government to protect their rights against both tyranny and mob rule -- to illuminate the politics of his day, much as Lincoln had understood the Declaration as a Rosetta stone to his own.
Why Coolidge Matters is not a biography. The biographical information it contains supports the author's looks into our 30th President's foundational philosophy. His response to the Boston Police strike was his political springboard, yes -- but to Johnson, it was his separation from the Progressive wing of the Republican party: the founding event that created Coolidge as the Anti-Wilson.
Coolidge's entire collection of speeches in the Foundations volume, especially because it begins with Wilson's death and ends with the sesquicentennial address on the Declaration, may be seen as a thinly veiled rebuttal to the theory and politics of Progressivism. The question perhaps implicit in the collection is this: Now that Wilson has passed from the scene, what ought to replace him?
Herein lies much of the contrast with Coolidge: Wilson minimized the Declaration as a product of its time; Coolidge celebrated it as a document for all time. Wilson believed it was "impossible to apply the policies of the time of Thomas Jefferson to the time we live in." Coolidge believed the opposite: "The trouble with us is that we talk about Jefferson but do not follow him. In his theory that the people should manage their government and not be managed by it, he was everlastingly right."
I was chastised -- perhaps deservedly -- for a negative four star review
of America 3.0 last week. I will over-compensate with a too-positive four for Johnson.
Johnson interrupts with little asides about how Coolidge's approach was better than President Obama's or the current Republicans in Congress. I don't know that I disagreed with a one, but it like an actor in a movie mugging for the camera with an aside; it takes you out of the space.
I think it also cheapens the final product. In eight years, all the data in this book will be valid, and readers can compare Coolidge to President Rand Paul or President Oprah. His asides turn a great book into a blog post.
Still great. Four stars. If you're reading one Coolidge book, make it his autobiography. Two, certainly Amity Shlaes's "Coolidge" [Review Corner] Three -- and you oughta read three, I'd pick up "Why Coolidge Matters."
The Obama presidency can't be considered all bad, for it has given us cause to re-examine the New Deal era and its characters. It also gives partisans an opening to oppose government activity, who might not have done so if the chief executive were from his preferred party. I'm thinking Patriot Act, Prism, NSA scandal, etc.
July 13, 2013
Who needs whom?
A building block in my case that producers should refuse to do business with customers at odds with their production is this story out of Washington D.C. last week.
“We’re at a point where we don’t need retailers. Retailers need us.” Thus said D.C. council member Vincent B. Orange (D-At Large), "a lead backer of the legislation, who added that the city did not need to kowtow to threats."
Randal O'Toole, call your office!
Walter Russell Mead highlights what I consider an important milestone in the history of the world.
Houston has officially topped New York City as the greatest exporter of goods in the US--exports totaling $110.3 billion. The reasons for the shift should be familiar to anyone who’s been following the economic miracle in Texas. The FT reports:
My headline refers to Cato Hoss Randal O'Toole's praising
of the city that nobody calls Paris-on-the-Gulf.
Houston has heat, humidity, and is the subject of derision from oikophobes. But with no zoning laws, O'Toole shows them relatively unaffected by the housing bubble. "That's because nobody wants to live there" suggests Jon Caldera, truly playing Devil's Advocate on his show of the same name.
Nope, explains O'Toole, it is the fastest growing city. I remember that many of the Katrina diaspora elected to stay in Houston where they were offered shelter because they enjoyed functioning and limited government and the concomitant opportunities.
La Plata County, Welcome to Oglala!
The Sherriff is not pleased:
"Under the new laws, I cannot issue a firearm to a deputy,' [La Plata Sherriff Duke] Schirard said. "Also, any citizen’s firearms that are recovered by the Sheriff's Office cannot be returned to them under the nice new laws."
Other than that?
He also said the new laws prevent him from returning to residents firearms that have been seized as part of an investigation or recovered as stolen property.
Another trouble with "North Colorado;" it would be a stupid name for Durango.
The "Producer's Pledge"
"I am proud of my company's product and the profit we make by selling it to others - freely, and to our mutual benefit. Since certain government entities have materially restricted my ability to produce and profit it is no longer beneficial for me to sell my product in the jurisdictions of those government entities. I therefore pledge that I will no longer sell my product through distribution channels that serve the state, county, or local governments that restrict or prohibit my ability to produce my product."
The idea here is that when the voters of, say, Boulder County, Colorado, find their gasoline prices spiking and supplies becoming scarce they will finally make the connection between their voting habits and the supply of daily conveniences that they have come to take for granted.
If you are interested in the supporting "rant" for this idea, read on below.
Ayn Rand said,
"Productive work is the central purpose of a rational man’s life, the central value that integrates and determines the hierarchy of all his other values. Reason is the source, the precondition of his productive work—pride is the result."
Anyone who has ever felt the gratifying sense of an accomplishment after making or building something has a hint that this is true. But the central purpose? The central value? To answer those questions ask this one: What else, other than productiveness, gives man pride?
Just as the passage of the 2009 "Stimulus" Bill precipitated a civil uprising known as the TEA Party, the partisan overreach of Colorado's 2013 legislative session produced a movement advocating that many rural Colorado counties secede from the rest of the state. Practical problems with that idea spawned a call to rearrange Colorado's legislature such that every county is represented by its own state senator, regardless of population, as is the case regarding the several states in the United States Senate. But this too has a practical problem. The same problem that led to both the 2013 Colorado legislature and the 2009 United States legislature being controlled by a single political party. The problem is something Americans have long been taught to hold as a virtue. The problem is democracy.
Democracy is not the same thing as freedom. Democracy is the idea, not that people decide how to live their own lives, but that a large enough group of people can decide how everyone is to live his life. To understand if an idea is virtuous or not imagine its extreme. The extreme of democracy is ochlocracy. (Look it up.) The extreme of freedom is, liberty. And to understand just how mixed up and turned around political philosophy has become, consider the fact that those who once advocated for extreme freedom, whether from a monarch or from a religion, were called "liberals" but those known as liberals today are advocates of "social equality" and/or "environmental protection" via democracy - a decidedly anti-liberty prescription.
The men and women of rural Colorado have many reasons to seek separation from their neighbors in the urban counties but as one county commissioner said, "The mandate that tells us what kind of energy sources we may use was the last straw." And understandably so. In addition to producing food that feeds the urban county populations, many of the rural counties produce another valuable export product that results in billions of dollars in wealth creation and millions of dollars in tax revenues to state and local governments. That product, actually many products, is known as oil and natural gas.
For economic reasons the fastest growing process used today to extract oil and gas in the United States is hydraulic fracturing, or fracing. (Also spelled "fracking.") The only real difference between fracking and conventional drilling is that a water-based solution is pumped into the well after drilling and before pumping to create pathways through which the oil may escape to the well bore. That's it. It's not polluting and it's not sinister, although its detractors do everything possible to convince us, the people who vote, that it is both of those things. And many people are convinced. One such person is Washington County resident Steve Frey who said, "I don't want be [sic] in a 51st state. I don't want any part of their fracking that they're doing in Weld County."
I could not possibly agree more with Mr. Frey's contention that he has a right to be free from every aspect of the oil extraction process called "fracking" that he disagrees with, for whatever reason he chooses to do so. Industry must begin taking immediate steps, doing everything in its power, so that those who oppose its practices must not be forced to accept the severance tax revenues accorded to their local government by fracking. Unfortunately, government holds the reins on virtually every aspect of this unfair treatment of Mr. Frey and others similarly situated. Industry has but one thing it may control. Namely, to whom and to where it chooses to sell its product.
Well said and well thought. But it strikes me as a very tough sale.
Trying to think of a producer who would eschew a sale, it would probably have to be more direct. Maybe I wouldn't sell to the Taliban, but withholding gas from a poor stupid Boulder guy's Subaru? It doesn't take many cycles to rationalize away that.
My employer sells bucketloads to gub'mint. I read your pledge first, as you presented and thought "we're not going to leave that money on the table" while he rest of your post loaded.
NED bless Magpul (though principled stands might be a plus in that industry) but while government seems pretty close to Atlas, I think business is light years away. And for every principled Galt, there are a dozen James Taggarts to patch things over. In fact, we probably make the Progressives' favorite error of conflating business-folk with Capitalists.
Yes. Your very last point is key. And it is the only way we can convince producers to do this, as a moral issue.
"Do not conflate winning special favors from government with achievement. Cronyism and achievement are each other's mortal enemies."
(I quote because I just said it on Facebook.)
Just as peaceful Muslims lose credibility when they fail to denounce the crimes of Islamofascists perpetrated in the name of their faith, capitalists lose credibility when they fail to denounce and distinguish themselves from crony-capitalists.
I'm not thinking we would encourage individual gas stations to refuse fueling Subarus (while still selling to SUV owners) but for oil producers or refiners to stop selling to retailers who don't agree to temporarily padlock their pumps in those cities and counties. The producers will still have a world market to sell into. The retailers will be under public pressure to make a decision. If one agrees he will be the only one in the region to receive fuel shipments. This applies to all counties, even the ones that allow fracking.
There are details to be worked out, for sure, but to any extent such a plan is executed, especially just before an election, it will bring an important question into the public square: Do producers need consumers, or do consumers (and government) need producers?
"We will rebuild America's system on the moral premise which had been its foundation, but which you treated as a guilty underground, in your frantic evasion of the conflict between that premise and your mystic morality: the premise that man is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others, that man's life, his freedom, his happiness are his by inalienable right." | Atlas Shrugged
July 12, 2013
North Colorado on Jimmie Kimmel
Aaah -- it's what it is.
The lame name charge is Righteous. We gotta think of something better to call our pipe dream. Stream of consciousness here...
You get the idea. And you know you want to play along at home.
Oglala. Not mine but I dig it.
New Colrado was fun, but will make it harder -- we do have to get legislative approval from "old" Colorado.
Global Warmity Goodness!
Mr. Ridley, call your office! Matt, line one...
Some Trees Use Less Water Amid Rising Carbon Dioxide, Paper Says
Or so says the New York Times. Probably some shadowy Koch Brothers outfit.
"...though that has not yet been proved." Proof? All we need is "consensus."
Meanwhile, in Buffy News
Very cool article on the clothes and costume treatments in "Much Ado About Nothing:"
This is not The Cabin in the Woods. There are no big sartorial clues in Much Ado About Nothing for a switcheroo mid-point that makes you go "ahhh...now I get it". Nonetheless, director Joss Whedon's always inventive costume designer Shawna Trpcic could not resist the urge to pepper his film with subtle meaning. Plus everything on screen is contemporary set but shot in black and white. In costume terms it is a far tougher job to be seen and yet not seen, and even more so without the use of colour. Delicate application of fabric and pattern is vital.
I. artless and male, missed most of the subtle clues enumerated in the article; but I was struck by the costumes, even forgetting that there was no budget and little time. Joss was rooting around in actors' closets. Yet -- and I am a big fan of B&W photography and film -- I remember being struck the classic beauty of Amy Acker's clothes and the comedic, slapstick cop suits of Nathan Fillion and Tom Lenk. Sean Maher's Don John is painfully dark; his formality of dress underscores his distance from his brother and his brother's friends perfectly, while adding a cold, villainous professionalism.
I remember thinking everyone was dressed just perfect except that I would have made Hero and Beatrice dress slightly less similarly, but anything beyond that was not appreciated until this article.
You see, a Shark Ate my Grandpa...
Unexpected great fun was had last night. Browsing through my Twitter feed, it seemed every person but me was watching "SharkNado." I don't generally bow to peer pressure -- but this was everybody: left, right, smart, stupid, AL, NL -- all tweeting about this obviously awful movie.
I caught the last hour (kinda think that was enough). And I taped the second showing on the DVR in case the lovely bride wants to see it or I yearn for the backstory and character development I missed. But the fun was that everybody was watching it and everybody was mocking it. Jim Geraghty nails it in this morning's "Morning Jolt:"
ADDENDA: If you missed last night's SharkNado on SyFy channel, I'm sorry. (Don't blame me, that's how the network spells its name, perhaps hinting that its programming executives aren't that interested in science fiction.) Of course, if you watched it and wasn't watching the mocking live commentary on Twitter simultaneously, I'm even more sorry. It was like a giant, national Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode, mocking the so-bad-its-good, lowest-of-low-budget, unrealistic computer-generated-imagery, clichéd dialogue, and everything else. It was, from the weirdest of sources, a giant, unifying national moment.
Years from now, we'll all ask each other, "where were you when the Sharknado hit?"
And there really was a moment when young girl opens emotionally to young guy that the trouble isn't really the floods, or the multitudinous flying sharks, or even the tornados -- rather the emotional pain of gramps' long ago demise. Twitter roared: "You know, I don't think we really needed backstory..."
UPDATE: Jonah Goldberg (in that other un-linkable NRO newsletter):
Amazingly, that premise is actually wildly more plausible than the execution. The whole movie was like one of those kids' placemat games where you have to spot "What's Wrong with This Picture?" To set out to identify the most ridiculous scene, the worst acting, or the dumbest dialogue of the movie is to march along the edge of a Mobius strip of stupidity toward madness.
But look, I'm not going to sit here and attempt to justify a movie about swirling cyclones of sharks laying waste to people so stupid they should write "TGIF" on their sneakers to remember that the toes go in first. Suffice it to say if you spent the same two hours huffing airplane glue while sitting in your garage with the car running and the doors closed, you would have emerged two hours later having lost fewer IQ points than we happy few watching Sharknado.
UPDATE: I also saw, for the first time on TV, the awesome Fiat 500 "The Italians are Coming!" commercial brother jg posted last month.
So it wasn't a COMPLETE waste of an hour.
July 11, 2013
Parody is Obsolete
I'll steal Insty's entire post:
WORLD ENDS: WOMEN AND MINORITIES HARDEST HIT. Climate Change Will Affect Non-White Americans Disproportionately.
I should not have clicked. But I did. And you will too. This
is the literary equivalent of Saturday Night Live's sketch where everyone had to smell the spoiled milk:
What if some people in the U.S. live in areas that are hotter than the neighbors just across town? The researchers, all from the University of California, Berkeley, decided they wanted to check if access to trees and other green cover, which keeps neighborhoods cool, is correlated with race. Having more trees and less asphalt in an area keeps reduces air conditioning bills and air pollution.
The researchers found that non-white Americans are more likely to live in census blocks that have little tree cover and more asphalt than white Americans. Blacks were the most likely to live in so-called "heat islands" in cities and suburbs, followed by Asians, then Hispanics, then whites.
This means that in the future, if global warming brings on more heat waves, non-whites could be more vulnerable than their white neighbors. To fix this, cities could plan tree-planting initiatives, the Berkeley researchers wrote in a paper they published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. Many major cities, including New York and Chicago, already have new-tree plans in place.
Mommy, make them stop excerpting, it hurts, Mommy...
How do they know that the correlation does not go the other way? Instead of non-white Americans being "more vulnerable" to global warming, maybe they are causing it? Data doesn't lie.
Some Rational Optimism for Thursday
Very much in the spirit of his "The Rational Optimist" [Review Corner]. Sadly very much not in the style of "saucily exhibiting Kelly Slater's package".
How much would we have to pay Kelly to recite this speech for a promo video?
STOP NET REFORESTATION NOW!
Lies! All lies! Ridley is obviously a shill for Big Prosperity.
Mugged by Reality
My beloved and überprogressive niece found herself marooned from work by the BART Strike.
The unions--the Service Employees International Union and Amalgamated Transit Union--represent about 2,400 BART station agents, train operators, mechanics, maintenance workers, and professional staff. The unions have sought a wage increase of 23.5 percent over the next three years. Other key sticking points include employee contributions to pensions and health insurance. All sides agree they are far from reaching a deal and the unions could strike again after August 4. In the meantime, the public should take a close look at BART compensation figures.
She confronted a picketer and mentioned that she was not really getting a 23.5% raise...
Yet Another QOTD
Has it really been only five years since we were conditioned to believe that "there's an app for that"? Which, when you think about it, is really quite a revolutionary thing to believe. -- Robert Tracinski
I fight Malthusianism like my blog brother fights altruism. We are never, ever, ever going to run out of ones and zeros.
Dan Henninger at the WSJ Ed Page sees more universal and fundamental laws at opposition to the ACA. I fear I may have given QOTD honors away too hastily.
Maybe we have been listening to the wrong experts. Philosophers and pundits aren't going to tell us anything new about government. The one-year rollover of ObamaCare because of its "complexity" suggests it's time to call in the physicists, the people who study black holes and death stars. That's what the federal government looks like after expanding ever outward for the past 224 years.
Even if you are a liberal and support the goals of the Affordable Care Act, there has to be an emerging sense that maybe the law's theorists missed a signal from life outside the castle walls. While they troweled brick after brick into a 2,000-page law, the rest of the world was reshaping itself into smaller, more nimble units whose defining metaphor is the 140-character Twitter message.
Quote of the Day
Virtually the only public defenders of the settlement were an intern at ThinkProgress, Kumar Ramanathan, and an attorney for SUNY general counsel's office, both of whom interpreted the blueprint in a highly peculiar fashion (they seemed to see it as merely a "reporting" tool) and then proceeded to celebrate the idea of a government mandate requiring universities to investigate publicly-protected speech. Posts by FIRE eviscerated both of these items. -- KC Johnson, Minding the Campus
July 10, 2013
"saucily exhibiting Kelly Slater's package"
There are many reasons to embed the preceding promotional video. I'll try to hit them all, in no particular order.
Product placements for HTC phones and Windows Phone OS, which they refer to as "Surface" at the end of the promo.
A hip soundtrack, featuring a group I'd never heard before.
Feminist schadenfreude. After all, has there ever been, in the history of advertising, a man who complained that a woman in a commercial was "sexualised?" The commenter's mindset is clearly revealed by the term "typical blonde size six surfer girl." Jealous much?
Equality. This one nearly provokes me to profanity. It is fast replacing altruism as, in my opinion, the most dangerous and dispicable idea in human thought. To wit:
So what exactly is so offensive this time, as the surfing giant is merely using a tried and tested marketing approach? Probably the fact that this little voyeuristic semi soft-core porn clip is representing a professional sport which has been fighting a long and ongoing battle for gender equality.
Please. Men and women are - wait for it - differ'nt. Commercial advertising is as free-market as anything else left in this world and its practitioners have discovered a formula that works. You may not like the formula, and you may not like that it works, but no amount of snippy commentary will ever change those facts.
Freedom. Freedom to voluntarily participate in a promo video featuring ass shots, of your own ass. "12 butt shots in one minute and 46 seconds exactly." Huzzah! Perhaps you'd prefer if she wore a burka, Ms. Salvo? As a father of daughters, I have no objections whatsoever to this promo. Natural, athletic beauty is nothing to hide or to battle against using shame, much less the government regulation that is so routinely resorted to in such matters of "inequality." You, who claim to seek "gender equality" would have more credibility if you didn't object to the same "offenses" as does the Taliban.
Did I mention badonkadonk?
Hat tip to Tully Corcoran and the "Popular Now" feed on Bing.
And I speak fluent Redmondonian. The tablet at 0:29 is Microsoft's "Surface:" positioned to destroy the iPad about the same time ads like this lose their efficacy and appeal.
In "North Colorado" the iPad will be illegal.
Hahahahahahahahahahaha! Make sc miss a Red Strat with a rosewood fretboard and you're doing something right!
The Independence Institute:
Today the Independence Institute's federal civil rights lawsuit achieved its first major success, eliminating the problems that were caused by two vague phrases in House Bill 1224, the magazine ban.
The Independence Institute's David Kopel is representing 55 elected Sheriffs and one retired police officer in lawsuit against the new anti-gun laws signed by Governor Hickenlooper last March.
Tuesday night, on the eve of a federal court hearing, the plaintiffs and the Colorado Attorney General agreed on proposal to fix two problems the magazine ban.
Two completely foolish provisions of the bill were fixed: the "readily convertible" clips and "continuous possession."
Better. Better. Part of me likes the stupidity of those provisions because they highlight the lack of thought and foresight that went onto this legislation. But a win is a win. The lawsuit now proceeds to whether these laws pass Heller and McDonald.
Pipelines vs. Choo-choos
Rail tragedy in Canada underscores the reality that pipelines like Keystone XL are the safest way to transport oil
Railways suffer spills 2.7 times more often than pipelines. The State Department said trains spill 33 times more oil than pipelines. "The evidence is so overwhelming that railroads are far less safe than pipelines," says Charles Ebinger, director of the Brookings Institution's energy security initiative.
I love trains. I also love oil. In this case though, I gotta go with "pipeline."
Quote of the Day
The school system decided to instead create its own lunch menu for next year.
The district lost about $100,000 trying out the federal menu, which offered such meals as "part" of a chicken patty on a minicroissant, EAGNews.org reported.
Yum! See if those local-yokels can be as imaginative as the First Lady's Office!
JWF presents this as a whack against Michelle Obama. Insty links and I won't rush to her defense. But it is a better window into government benevolence: people far away fixing a problem that you don't have.
Aren't there other people even further away whose problems she could fix instead?
Hahahahahahaha! A bit like my sister-in-law's Dept. of Peace initiative: I should be happy that she is starving high school students in upstate New York, thus protecting so many more important things from her mischief...
July 9, 2013
Quote of the Day
President Obama's decision last week to suspend the employer mandate of the Affordable Care Act may be welcome relief to businesses affected by this provision, but it raises grave concerns about his understanding of the role of the executive in our system of government.
Article II, Section 3, of the Constitution states that the president "shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed." This is a duty, not a discretionary power. While the president does have substantial discretion about how to enforce a law, he has no discretion about whether to do so.
This matter--the limits of executive power--has deep historical roots. During the period of royal absolutism, English monarchs asserted a right to dispense with parliamentary statutes they disliked. King James II's use of the prerogative was a key grievance that lead to the Glorious Revolution of 1688. The very first provision of the English Bill of Rights of 1689--the most important precursor to the U.S. Constitution--declared that "the pretended power of suspending of laws, or the execution of laws, by regal authority, without consent of parliament, is illegal." -- Michael McConnell
"How" or "whether"... tomato, tomahto. Very well, I use my substantial discretion to proclaim that I shall enforce my law using the 5-second rule, except that 5-seconds shall, for the purposes of Obamacare, be 12-months... for now.
Would I love to share this partisan hackery on Facebook! But I'll settle for y'alls.
So Republicans are more knowledgeable than Democrats, contrary to what many would like to believe.
According to whom? None other than the Pew Research Center, a left-of-center organization. Moreover, Pew’s latest survey only reaffirms previous surveys demonstrating the same result.
In fact, the results weren’t even close.
In a scientific survey of 1,168 adults conducted during September and October of last year, respondents were asked not only multiple-choice questions, but also queries using maps, photographs and symbols. Among other subjects, participants identified international leaders, cabinet members, Supreme Court justices, nations on a world map, the current unemployment and poverty rates and war casualty totals.
In a 2010 Pew survey, Republicans outperformed Democrats on 10 of 12 questions, with one tie and Democrats outperforming Republicans on just 1 of the 12. In the latest survey, however, Republicans outperformed Democrats on every single one of 19 questions.
Amusingly, the Pew report attempted to soften the stark partisan knowledge disparity:
"Republicans generally outperformed Democrats on the current quiz. On 13 of the 19 questions, Republicans score significantly higher than Democrats and there are no questions on which Democrats did better than Republicans. In past knowledge quizzes, partisan differences have been more muted, though Republicans often have scored somewhat higher than Democrats."
In a word: "duh."
So, Pew is saying that the gap between smart and dumb is getting wider? Something must be done! Harrison Bergeron, call your office, STAT!
As for the political allegiances of the smart and the dumb, that would only matter if poll tests were not forbidden by the Constitution.
Meanwhile, in Buffy News...
Guess I will have to check this out. Both Blog Sister, dagny, and biological sister, Diane, recognized Amy Acker in Much Ado About Nothing (did I mention that that movie is pretty good?) from her role in "Person of Interest."
She'll always be "Fred" to me, but word is out that she will return to next season of Person of Interest.
Acker came as a great addition to an already great cast. Glad she's staying in the mix.
I must write about the train crash in Quebec, thought this humble blogger last night. A serious post about the unintended consequences of economic activism. Fighting pipelines is swell business and all: print up some T-Shirts, have a march, meet at Starbucks, try to hook up. . . what a great day.
But the cost of fewer pipelines is borne by more rail transport. And rail accidents are more likely, more serious, and *ahem* more horrific than pipeline accidents. This has the makings of a serious post.
What's this? Bret Stephens, a serious writer on the serious editorial page of the nation's most serious publication weighs in: "Can Environmentalists Think? Think of the Keystone XL pipeline as an IQ test for greens." Ouch.
It lacks the correct moral and contains an inconvenient truth.
Not that the disaster lacks the usual ingredients of such a moral. The derailed 72-car train belonged to a subsidiary of Illinois-based multinational Rail World, whose self-declared aim is to "promote rail industry privatization." The train was carrying North Dakota shale oil (likely extracted by fracking) to the massive Irving Oil refinery in the port city of Saint John, to be shipped to the global market. At least five people were killed in the blast (a number that's likely to rise) and 1,000 people were forced to evacuate. Quebec's environment minister reports that some 100,000 liters (26,000 gallons) of crude have spilled into the Chaudičre River, meaning it could reach Quebec City and the St. Lawrence River before too long.
Environmentalists should be howling. But this brings us to the inconvenient truth.
The reason oil is moved on trains from places like North Dakota and Alberta is because there aren't enough pipelines to carry it. The provincial governments of Alberta and New Brunswick are talking about building a pipeline to cover the 3,000-odd mile distance. But last month President Obama put the future of the Keystone XL pipeline again in doubt, telling a Georgetown University audience "our national interest will be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution."
The first application for a Keystone XL pipeline permit was filed with the U.S. State Department in 2008. Since then, the amount of oil being shipped on rails has risen 24-fold. Environmentalists enraged by this column should look at the photo of Lac-Mégantic that goes with it, and think it over.
Yes, one would hate to see a rise in CO2:
Photo credit: Paul Chiasson/Associated Press
"Check your premises" the mythical beast called 'rational environmentalist' would say. You base your case on the premise that humans should extract and consume petroleum products. We have demonstrated "new" ways to live that are not DEPENDENT on such dangerous anachronisms.
[Purposefullly left high and slow, right over the plate, for whomever is next to bat.]
& that's Stephens's point once you get beyond a great and enjoyable oil slick of snark -- we truly require conservation and environmentalism that is divorced from green religion and bounded in reason.
My shoulder's a little stiff, I'll leave the high hanger. But I must offer Bjorn Lomborg as an example of a reified corporeal rational environmentalist. At least I think he's real...
I considered Bjorn when I wrote that, but I don't think he would agree that every man deserves as much prosperity and consumption as he can earn.
You may, however, think of me as an -ahem- environmaa-haa-ha, well, conservationist. My new palacial home, about to leap off of the drawing board, is designed with geothermal heat pumps for heating and cooling. Powered by electicity, with efficiences of about 400%, ground-source heat pumps are thought to be so friendly to the earth that congress pays people like me to buy them, via a tax credit offsetting part of the cost.
And, since insulation is being made so inexpensively today, I'll be insulating to levels higher than required by building codes for even less energy consumption.
Then there's the wood burning fireplace. At 87% efficient, EPA emissions approved, and centrally located in the highly insulated building with ducting for outside combustion air, I expect heating requirements via the heat pumps to be greatly reduced whenever I enjoy the ambience of a real fire. And I no longer cower in shame from this indulgence, having learned that heating appliances that use "biomass fuels" (wood and wood pellets, among others) are eligible for a tax credit of their own. Hurry though - this one expires at the end of the year.
I think I'd like a pair of Birkenstocks for Christma - err, Kwanza.
We'd each find 100 things to disagree with Lomborg over in the first hour of interrogation -- even before the waterboard came out. But he is capable of rational thought and avoids the enviros' sin of comparing something (say a pipeline) to an ideal (nuclear unicorn flatulence) instead of to an actual alternative, such as a freight train of rail cars.
Your house and President George W. Bush's ranch. My understanding that that was an environmental wonder. Funny that the media never compared it to VP Gore's two BTU-hog mansions.
If the former president could autograph my Birkenstocks that would be extra cool!
July 8, 2013
Ratings-challenged CNBC could be looking to mix things up.
The business cable network is experimenting with a new roundtable show that, sources said, may air in the 7 p.m. time slot currently occupied by "The Kudlow Report."
Producers are throwing around ideas for a rapid-fire talk show about stocks -- and are brainstorming possible hosts, sources added.
My life will have no more meaning..
Yep, I felt the same way when Qdoba announced it was removing the Poblano Pesto Burrito from its menu. I was skeptical, but I did find new reasons to live.
Got to wondering last night that FOX Business might pick him up. By some cable magic (or my lovely bride's hacking the descrambler, I dunno) I am again receiving that channel. I would not miss John Harwood.
July 7, 2013
Otequay of the Ayday
"It's a fascinating transformation for Obama," said Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law professor at George Washington University who has become one of the administration's chief legal critics. "He rightfully criticized President Bush for violating the separation of powers and using signing statements to rewrite legislation, but Obama has been far more aggressive in circumventing Congress and far more successful in creating an imperial presidency," he said. --Obama Skips Past Congress Again With Health Mandate Delay
I mean, better late than never and all, but still (In retrospect, it seems possible that there may have been some wagering at Rick's Cafe...)
Turley, and those of us who ever viewed the president charitably, may well be rubes but the way he has conducted his office may well also be the downfall of his precious "comprehensive immigration reform." John Fund sez:
The growing belief that the Obama administration can't be trusted to respect the rule of law may prove to be one of the biggest obstacles it faces in passing the immigration reform it so powerfully desires.
I shall not entrust Misters James Bennett and Michael Lotus to craft a set list. Every successful musician knows that you open strong and give the people a "slam bang finish" as Bing Crosby says in "White Christmas." Then, you can hide a lot of marginal crap in the middle. It has to be done and it works.
America 3.0: Rebooting American Prosperity in the 21st Century-Why America's Greatest Days Are Yet to Come opens poorly and I am not certain about the ending. This hides a great deal of exceptional content in the middle. The book came über-highly recommended by blog friend tg. I grabbed the Kindle sample and was über-ünderwhelmed. After ascertaining that we were talking about the same book, and that I should proceed, I provided Jeff Bezos with his pound of flesh and continued.
The opening section -- comprising the sample -- is a utopian vision of the authors' America 3.0. America 1.0 is the expanding agrarian Constitutional Republic from its founding until the Progressive era.
The words of the Declaration were subversive. They set a flag in the ground beyond where America was at the time. But the flag of freedom for "all men" was visible on the horizon, and it served as an inspiration in America and around the world. Jefferson's assertions were like a bit of rogue code left in our national software by its first programmer. It went viral and ultimately transformed the entire system.
America 2.0 is the industrialized. post-progressive nation we enjoy today, with its unsustainable debt and centralized institutions. America 3.0 is after we accept and implement the authors' suggestions. Like any good utopian manifesto, things are swell. People are affluent and underarm odor is non-existent. I have to confess it is a bit out of character for me to so denigrate an optimistic future vision of America -- and one that prospers on principles with which I basically agree. Yet, The Jetson's had flying cars.
I'm glad I was prodded to proceed. True to tg's enthusiastic review, it mines history to provide some original and well researched perspectives of the American character. The Absolute Nuclear Family (ANF), which the authors trace back to Germanic peoples, comes to Britain through the Saxons, and takes root in America which has the resources to feed and fuel it.
In the ANF, heritance is undefined and optional, children leave to start their own families and pursue their own careers. It is so normal to me that I am taken aback when I hear of other arrangements outside fiction, history or anthropology. Yet, though not unique, it is unusual and practiced to a highly individual extent here.
Societies based on extended families discourage people from being enterprising because any success you achieve personally necessarily "belongs" to your extended family. As a result, the trade-off for security in other societies has been stagnation. In contrast, if a nuclear family is successful, there is no extended family that can claim a right to the wealth it has generated. People may help out their relatives out of love or kindness or loyalty, but they do not have a legal or even social obligation to do so.
A dynamic society of quick innovation and capital formation required this mutability.
People in the Northeast were on average more literate than they were in the South. For these reasons the Northeast had the prerequisites for industrialization well in place as the nineteenth century got rolling. Perhaps the least visible of these preconditions, however, was the Absolute Nuclear Family (ANF) system, which allowed and expected children to support themselves and form their own families and to be free to move to another city or state if they desired.
Then came the Progressives. The authors and I agree on the transformative nature of their reign. But they hold, like many of my mixed-economy friends, that unfettered capitalism was breaking down and that it was somewhere between inevitable and desirable that large institutions and more centralized governments should take over and boot America 2.0
The first of these waves came in 1913, with the passage of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Amendments, authorizing, respectively, the federal income tax, and mandating the direct election of senators. In that year, also, the Federal Reserve Bank system was created, providing for the nation's first peacetime governmental paper money system, and insulating it from the direct influence of Congress. Collectively, these changes amounted to a substantial revision of the constitutional order. Had we been France, we would have called it a new Republic and given it a number. Although America 2.0 began, socially and economically, before the Civil War, 1913 marked the first real turn toward a state run fundamentally from Washington rather than from the state capitals.
The immediate postwar era was a disappointment to Progressives. Wilson's legacy was repudiated at the polls in 1920 with the victory of Warren G. Harding and his running mate Calvin Coolidge over James Cox and a young Franklin D. Roosevelt. Harding has been reviled by Progressive historians for the ultimate Progressive crime: giving the voters what they wanted instead of what Progressives thought was good for them.
Many of the 3.0 recommendations are right up my street as well: converting the military to a defense of the "commons" (Deepak Lal call your office, Professor Lal...) Keep the shipping lanes and communications infrastructure open without standing armies in Europe and Asia. Decentralization is a theme that resonates. Including -- what have we here? North Colorado?
Another tool that is overdue for use is the division of large or conflicted states into several smaller states. This state-level secession is not to be confused with secession of a state from the United States. Any such division of existing states would not be unilateral, but it would be negotiated. It is perfectly constitutional and has been done twice in US history, the first time in 1820 when the state of Massachusetts divided peacefully into present-day Massachusetts and Maine. The second time was hotly contested, in 1863, when West Virginians formed a separate state and gained admission as such into the Union when Virginia seceded. As these precedents demonstrate, dividing an existing state into two or more states is a remedy that can be pursued without any constitutional amendment, by state legislative action, although new states would require the approval of Congress before admission.
Division of a state in modern times would be a complex process, but clear guidelines can be imposed, and the process will be manageable. Precedents exist for division of state debt, and state assets, and this could be negotiated as part of the general debt workout. Creative solutions might include the creation of an interstate compact between the two (or more) new states to continue joint operation, either temporarily or permanently, of some state institutions or facilities that could not readily be divided. In fact, most financial and institutional matters might be handled in that matter temporarily, while still allowing each new state its own Senate and Electoral College representation, and, most importantly, to begin resolving taxation and social issues according to local majority will.
I have not provided much documentation for my negative comments. And to be fair, I would recommend this book. My complaints are two:
The authors take a very institutional and non-economic view of the changes in America. Yes, we grew in people and land mass. But, the American per capita GDP routinely doubled, compounding into changes of opportunity and lifestyle that exceed the changes in policy or institutions. Projecting into the future requires even more reliance on economics. I'd compare it to David Deutsch's Beginning of Infinity and speculate that economic changes will outpace and be more important than institutional ones.
Secondly, why not go back to 1.0? I look at the same events, very closely matching the authors, and see "great, free, prosperous nation grows, is ruined by Progressive-collectivism, almost recovers in Harding-Coolidge era with reapplication of liberty, then ruined by progressive-collectivism again..." Why do we need 3.0 when the principles of 1.0 were so successful -- and so well matched to an American character and family structure?
As tg suggests, it is an interesting and well-crafted book. I'll give it four stars and a fulsome recommendation.
"New from Microsoft: Windows!"
I salivated when I disovered jk's review of America 3.0, a book my father is currently enjoying and was on my mind as I read and commented on the post about Men boycotting marriage. But this has to be the most negative 4-star review ever written.
I dismissed his second criticism with my opening quip. As for the first, don't the authors posit that the institutional framework of America 1.0 was the cause of the rapid economic expansion? Far from ignoring America's economic changes, the authors set out to find their cause.
I do not know, from jk's review or from dad's, whether the authors mention how earnestly the Progressives are trying to destroy that cause, intentionally or otherwise. The Absolute Nuclear Family is anathema to proponents of government welfare and free daycare for single mothers, tax policies that make it harder for a single earner to support a family by his or her self and, to a lesser extent, gay marriage. Progressives are trying to take us to an uber-extended family - one which includes all of my neighbors as brothers. We all saw where this strategy led the Soviet Union - and the Twentieth Century Motor Company.
But I need to add a critique of my own. The key attribute of the ANF is not the family itself, but the individual freedom of the family founders. The size and origin of their brood matters far less than the fact that that parent 1 and parent 2 chose whether or not to admit these dependents into their ANF. They were not assigned a larger set of dependents against their will, either by relation or by government fiat.
Yes, and nothing from Redmond is remotely usable until its third release. Fair point.
You also know me well enough to suggest that this is not a well-constructed review. I started with much to say and lost steam after summarizing a small part of the book's content. Four stars as the content is good and well presented.
As those four stars were well earned, so too is the one subtracted from perfection and a dismissive introduction.
I'd answer your question by saying that they ably pollute Progressivism -- but from its failures and not from its structural philosophical defects; "oh, too bad we outgrew the New Deal like we outgrew the Constitutional Republic." Guess it is time to try something new. And let's start with a default on our fiscal obligations...
The less-than-effusive also represented a divergence from tg's worshipful review and personal suggestion on Facebook. No doubt my effusive praise of Buffy causes some to say "well it's good, but..."
I also have a deep dislike of utopia books. "Don't immanentize the eschaton, brah!" And the introductory section detracted from the seriousness of the rest of the book. Government is hard; the suggestion that the writer is smarter than the collective wisdom of Madison & Co and can produce happiness for all is off-putting. Some would think life stinks in Galt's Gulch -- and our 51st State initiative on Facebook is highlighting how much better we will be at protecting the unborn in North Colorado.
So I'll defend my score if not my presentation. You are absolutely right to identify with the ANF in the direction you're headed. The author's go even further and clearly mean to highlight not the strength of familial bonds, but the benefit of their limited range. Contract law exists only because cultures moved beyond trading within a trusted extended family sphere. And yet it remains a good size to secure its members from government dependency.
hat unfettered capitalism was breaking down and that it was somewhere between inevitable and desirable that large institutions and more centralized governments should take over and boot America 2.0
Having read the authors work elsewhere, I think they tempered their views of big government somewhat to make their book approachable by a larger group than the libertarian/right milieu from which they come.
But I think their broader point rings true. America 2.0 did not come about just because a bunch of progressives got together and made a new political philosophy. Their political philosophy was intimately connected to the events of their day, and their policies would not have been possible - or even thought of - without them.
Consider the case of national regulations. In 1850 government regulations on consumer products would be impossible. Most things were produced locally. They were produced hamlet to hamlet and family to family. In 1950 this was no longer the case - a much smaller number of organizations were making products consumed by pretty much everybody. National regulation became possible and to many people desirable. But without the institutional systems that defined America 2.0 businesses - economies of scale and hierarchy are the notable ones - they simply would not have been thought of, and would be impossible to implement.
This is also why I find their description of America 3.0 convincing. What happens when you have a 3-d printer in your house that print out everything you used to buy at Walmart? Regulation becomes impossible. People have already started to talk about how difficult it will be to regulate gun ownership now that a machine in your yard can print one for you. I don't think it will be long before the same story is said about everything. When you move production away from the factories and into homes (or millions of little community production places), it becomes very much near impossible to make consumer-safety regulations. You can't tell people what kind of light bulbs to use when they are making the light bulbs themselves.
the suggestion that the writer is smarter than the collective wisdom of Madison & Co and can produce happiness for all is off-putting.
I just didn't get that attitude when I read the book. The authors did not seem to construct any new program - their observation was that the institutional/economic changes mentioned above are going to happen. They are happening. No matter how hard teachers unions or EPA regulators or progressive thinkers try to stop these changes from happening, they will. "Given that the economic character of the nation is changing", they say, "this is what we can do to take advantage of the transition." They are not trying provide a new plan that will bestow happiness to all of America - just suggesting how America can benefit from the changes that are coming.
Now I am a lot less sanguine about all of this than they are. I can see lots of nightmare scenarios where this may lead. But I do think this transition is happening and will keep happening.
(And you are right, I am not convinced that changes in purchasing power have "exceeded the changes in policy or institutions." But I am open to being convinced. Could you explain a bit more what you mean by this? )
P.S. One of the things I liked about America 3.0 was the entire approach it took. It is a book for popular audiences aimed at touching contemporary debates that is not obsessed with current personalities or character assassinations. It is a book about the future , but 7/10ths describe the past. Grounded in firm principles, historically informed - those are not words I can use to describe very many popular political works. Part of my 'worshipful' enthusiasm reflects how much I wish modern political debates had this type of grounding. I disagreed with a lot in the book. But I strongly support the way they reached their conclusions and the manner in which they presented them. This (combined my confidence I could give this book to a liberal friend and it would not talk past them) impressed me .
I shared JK's review with dad and he had a brief reply:
I pretty well agree with jk on the first part of the book, where the authors try to predict the future. It could have been omitted to the betterment of the book. Even if read with tongue in cheek, it still serves no purpose.
I am only about 30% into the book, so I cannot comment much more.
As Brother jg points out, I did give it four stars; I, too, appreciated its historical grounding and seriousness.
You mentioned a couple times that this was a "popular" book. And I recall your telling me the introduction which did not wow was just there as a sop to placate the stupid conservative masses (or something like that... :)) I'm less likely to bifurcate and grade on a curve.
I'll set this book on the virtual shelf next to historical economics books like Deirdre McCloskey's Bourgeois Dignity, Nail Ferguson's Civilization and The Great Degeneration, Glenn Hubbard's Balance, Matt Ridley's The Rational Optimist, and His Majestic Holiness Professor Deepak Lal's Poverty and Progress and Reviving the Invisible Hand.
Perhaps I do Bennett and Lotus a disservice to lump this book in that genre, yet their point about the Absolute Nuclear Family is an important and original addition to the corpus. You compare it to Ann Coulter's "Why People I don't Like Suck!" I place it in good company.
Yes, technology enables regulation and fortunately facilitates escaping it sometimes. But I don't see the success of progressivism as inevitable. Cleveland-Taft-Harding-Coolidge fight TR-Wilson-Hoover-FDR and lose. It was worse in Germany and Britain and could have been better here.
But it wasn't reach. It was -- and remains now -- a taste of wealth and a Malthusian fear of the future.
As an economic book, the 3D printer example is perfect: the new innovation of distributed manufacturing. As a political book, the institutional changes were not as well defined and are a much less inevitable. I hope the monopoly of the Teachers' Unions are broken but they will hang on a long time and destroy as many children's lives as they can.
A friend pointed me at a TED-talkish interview of Elon Musk. The interviewer pinned him down with the statistical difficulties of replacing fossil fuels. Musk answered "We Must." The crowd cheered but I thought "that's not really an argument." Many of the 3.0 transitions struck me as "We Must."
July 6, 2013
Gimme that old time [Constitutional] Religion
Hmm, am I ahead on my reading? Or behind in my reviewing? I seem to have quite a queue lined up. Yet I cannot wait to share a couple quotes from Steven Hayward's The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Presidents: From Wilson to Obama. Like me (and Gene Healy), Hayward longs for the day of Presidents' behaving as chief magistrates and defenders of the Constitution with a lot less "Leader of the Free World." As late as Benjamin Harrison, presidents refused to speak on current affairs and legislation "You ask for a speech. It is not very easy to know what one can talk about on such an occasion as this. Those topics which are most familiar to me, because I am brought in daily contact with them, namely public affairs, are in some measure forbidden to me. . ."
And that, in an enjoyable early chapter, highlights the problem: post TR they all talk too damn much. Consider the current occupant of the White House while reading an Article of Impeachment against the 17th:
That said Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, unmindful of the high duties of his office and the dignity and propriety thereof . . . did . . . make and deliver with a loud voice certain intemperate, inflammatory, and scandalous harangues, and did therein utter loud threats and bitter menaces as well against Congress as the laws of the United States. . . . Which said utterances, declarations, threats, and harangues, highly censurable in any, are peculiarly indecent and unbecoming of the Chief Magistrate of the United States, by means whereof . . . Andrew Johnson has brought the high office of the President of the United States into contempt, ridicule, and disgrace, to the great scandal of all good citizens.
Hayward, Steven F. (2012-02-13). (The Politically Incorrect Guides) (Kindle Locations 708-713). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.
Oh dearie me. He also gets in a quote from George Will:
The Strong, Silent Type
"Madison took the country into war, the British burned down his house, and he still didn't give a speech."
Just imagine if old Andrew had the ability to appear on a sycophantic television broadcast 24 hours a day. And a teleprompter. That would have been an even greater disgrace to the high office of the President.
July 4, 2013
4th of July Rap
Making the rounds on Facebook:
Independence - The Universal Good
Mike Rosen did a very good job deconstructing the "America sucks" diatribe of a Denver Post columnist on his radio show Tuesday, but for those who don't have time or inclination to listen I'll do it again here, hitting just the high points.
First the title: "Beware of zealots this Independence Day." That's right, flag-waving Americans should remind "thoughtful" people of bomb-throwing Islamists. But perhaps I'm just too sensitive.
In recent times, we've seen an uptick in gratuitous, obsequious, false patriotism, rooted in empty slogans and reflexive - not thoughtful - displays of bravado rather than heartfelt allegiance and love of country.
Recent times? I believe this began in earnest on a particular date: September 11, 2001. Didn't something memorable happen that day, Steve?
They proclaim love of country is exhibited in the absolute defense and embrace of the Second Amendment, typically above all other constitutional provisions, as a critical defense against a paranoia-imagined government takeover.
And here the - thoughtful - Mr. Lipsher either denies or ignores history. Take your pick. Why can boy scouts take "Be Prepared" as their motto but the rest of us should, instead, place complete faith in a government that says, "trust us, we'll take care of you?" A government operated by other men, no better nor worse than those whom it serves, but entrusted with the authority to use force. Like all other powers in government, that force must be checked.
They throw around terms such as "liberty" and "tyranny" without any apparent appreciation for their meaning: They are mere buzzwords, dog-whistles to help them identify "us" and "them" in their quixotic quest to "take America back" from implied - but rarely explicitly stated - minorities, liberals, Muslims, Hollywood, welfare recipients and the Kenyan/socialist/America-hating President Obama.
This is mere rant, intended to detract from concrete ideas of liberty and tyranny. While it is true that some Americans are xenophobic this by no means describes the majority of American patriots, much less their motives. They merely seek to maintain what is great about America - individual freedom and the right to create one's own prosperity - without having it "spread around a little" against his will.
Like most Americans, I truly love my country and the unparalleled opportunities it affords me, and I'm proud of our achievements as a nation. But I also see its flaws - often cloaked in our incredible wealth and national arrogance - and I want it to be better.
But are you proud of your achievements as an individual? Or, more importantly, do you believe others have the right to be proud of their own achievements? Achievements like incredible wealth and, not arrogance, but pride in their "heartfelt allegiance and love" of a nation conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal?
I believe you when you say you want America to be better. So do I. But there may be a great divide between what each of us would prescribe as "better." For my part that would be more freedom not less, less regulation and compulsion not more, more charity and volunteerism not more taxation and redistribution. These principles should extend beyond our shores as well: Free trade with other nations not free aid, defense cooperation not replacement of their armed forces with ours. Every nation, like every person, is free to work and achieve and own the fruits of those labors without threat of being pillaged by others, like redistributive governments that employ a Viking morality under the guise of democratic "majority rule." These principles would make not just America better, but the world.
On this day, July 4, 2013, Happy Independence Day people of the earth.
America the Beautiful
While looking for the flaming anti-patriotism column I wanted to blog about I found, on the KOA radio page, Patriotic Babes.
July 3, 2013
If Only Someone Had Foreseen...
[California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones ] this week bemoaned UnitedHealth Group's decision to flee California's individual insurance market and thus strand 8,000 policyholders. "I don't think this is a good result for consumers," said Mr. Jones. "It means less choice, less competition and even more consolidation of the individual market with three big carriers." -- Allysia Finley WSJ
I thought I read something about more choices...
"Keep what you have" yada yada yada...
No, Mr. Jones, there will be NO choice and NO competition. There will be - single payer. Do you not.freaking.get.it? How many other idiots did Mama Jones raise?
Awfully sporting of them to delay ObamaCare® until after the midterm elections; else, the awesomeness of it would guarantee a Democrat sweep.
Imagine delaying implementation of the Civil Rights Act or the Emancipation Proclaimation. "Well, this is a complicated change to our society and implementation of it will take longer than first anticipated." Complete horse shit. Obamacare (R) is specific on requirements and deadlines for the private sector but deliberately non-commital on performance by government. It's naught but a collection of new authorizations for executive agencies, for them to exercise how and when the "czars" see fit. It is big government at its worst.
And its critics should demand its implementation be accelerated, not retarded. Then maybe more of the idiots will get the idea.
Otequay of the Ayday
"Do as I say, not as I do" edition-
"MS. PSAKI: Well, he was reiterating what the President has said publicly and what was also in the readout, which is that this is -- democracy is about more than just elections. It's about ensuring that people can have their voices heard -- peacefully, of course, is always the goal. And he -- and you saw that the President urged President Morsy to take steps to show that he is responsive to their concerns, and the Secretary agrees that that is an important step for the government to take."
From the State Department Daily Press Briefing today.
Wish I Could be this "Silent"
I am reading Charles Johnson's "Why Coolidge Matters" You'll have to wait for Review Corner, but Johnson does an awesome job of tying Coolidge to the Declaration of Independence. What he believed and how he governed came directly from the Declaration.
The WSJ offers today's "Notable & Quotable" from his "Address at the Celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence" in Philadelphia, July 5, 1926:
It was not because it was proposed to establish a new nation, but because it was proposed to establish a nation on new principles, that July 4, 1776, has come to be regarded as one of the greatest days in history. Great ideas do not burst upon the world unannounced. They are reached by a gradual development over a length of time usually proportionate to their importance. This is especially true of the principles laid down in the Declaration of Independence. Three very definite propositions were set out in its preamble regarding the nature of mankind and therefore of government. These were the doctrine that all men are created equal, that they are endowed with certain inalienable rights, and that therefore the source of the just powers of government must be derived from the consent of the governed.
If no one is to be accounted as born into a superior station, if there is to be no ruling class, and if all possess rights which can neither be bartered away nor taken from them by any earthly power, it follows as a matter of course that the practical authority of the Government has to rest on the consent of the governed. While these principles were not altogether new in political action, and were very far from new in political speculation, they had never been assembled before and declared in such a combination. But remarkable as this may be, it is not the chief distinction of the Declaration of Independence. . . .
It was the fact that our Declaration of Independence containing these immortal truths was the political action of a duly authorized and constituted representative public body in its sovereign capacity, supported by the force of general opinion and by the armies of Washington already in the field, which makes it the most important civil document in the world.
From the man known for his silence and considered by the Schlesinger school as not a man of thought.
In contrast to America's constitutional republic, we are now seeing the natural consequence of a fully democratic implementation of such "consent of the governed" in Egypt. The "duly elected" president there is now being treated with the same disdain and vitreol by "the people" and lack of support by Egypt's armies, as the "dictator" Mubarak who preceeded him.
The obvious moral is that "consent of the people" is an individual act, not a collective or a plural one.
Happy INDEPENDENCE Day!
Quote of the Day
Anyway, the primary argument from optimistic Democrats is that even though they haven't won a U.S. Senate race in Kentucky since 1992, and even though Obama is phenomenally unpopular there, and even though Mitch McConnell is going to have roughly a bazillion dollars in his campaign account, and even though McConnell's campaign team has elbows so sharp, they use them to remove staples, and even though turnout will likely be lower and more GOP-friendly in a midterm year, even though a better Democratic candidate couldn't beat newcomer Rand Paul in an open seat Senate race four years ago, and… er, wait, where was I going with this? Oh yeah, Democrats think they have a solid shot because McConnell's poll numbers are pretty mediocre. -- Jim Geraghty
July 2, 2013
Reform Proposal: GAAP Accounting
Many things are divisive and I have little hope of great legislation coming out of the 113th Congress. I'm rooting for the world's crappiest immigration bill: as bad as ObamaCare® for transparency and legislative process -- but this time I think it is a net gain.
Looking for something that could be done, I suggest reforming the CBO and forcing the government to use real live would-not-get-you-thrown-in-Sing-Sing-if-you-were-a-business accounting, or Generally Applied Accounting Practices (GAAP). I am quite tepid on GAAP for business and find many of its recommendations wrong. But compared to this:
Here's the scam: Lawmakers peddle what is a massive subsidy for universities while claiming that student loans generate a windfall for the taxpayer. This phony windfall is conjured by creative accounting that politicians mandated via the Federal Credit Reform Act of 1990. Specifically, the law requires a deliberate under-counting of the cost of defaults.
This is partly how a Democratic Congress and President Obama managed to enact ObamaCare in 2010 while claiming that their big entitlement expansion would reduce costs. The health plan was paired with legislation that made the U.S. Department of Education the originator of roughly 90% of all student loans, which in turn generated billions in imaginary budget "savings."
To its credit, the Congressional Budget Office has noted on various occasions that while the law forces it to use this Beltway math, CBO knows it's not accurate under fair-value accounting. And in a new report on the costs of student loans made in the decade ending in 2023, CBO quantifies the size of this discrepancy at $279 billion. CBO adds with its typically wry understatement that Washington's mandated accounting method "does not consider some costs borne by the government."
Not gonna get a flat tax, not gonna get competing currencies, not gonna outlaw the DH. But a bill (amendment?) to force accurate accounting could do as much good long term. It would be hard to pass, as bad accounting serves the spending contingent well. But at least they would have to vote for shady accounting -- wouldn't that would be a kick in the head?
I don't understand - even without any defaults, how does the business of making subsidized loans "generate a windfall?" Is it the interest margin between the new 6.8% APR and the FED discount rate of 0.75%? Why, those heartless politicians are funding health care for old people on the backs of young college students!! Oh wait, we already knew that.
What are you smokin'?
I have been a big Willie Nelson fan for a long time. I have recently upgraded him from "great songwriter and troubadour" to "guitar hero." Do yourself a favor and buy his most recent "Let's Face the Music and Dance." He does the great American songbook -- which is awesome -- but most notably, he seems to say "I'm Willie Nelson -- and I'm doing a guitar album."
Buy the album, get a T-Shirt, celebrate a great American legend by all means. But DO NOT buy his economics. Here he is on Facebook:
We like to root for safe technology and the little guys. Tesla Motors has a mission to use technology in electric cars that will make them affordable and help lesson global dependence on petroleum-based transportation. State legislators are trying to unfairly protect automobile dealers in their states from competition. Sign this petition to help Tesla Motors defend their right to sell directly to consumers:
I went around this topic with my pal JC, and I agree that the dealers are rent-seeking. I'm not going to lose a lot of sleep on either side of this issue. But my new favorite guitarist -- like my most honest progressive buddy -- sees Tesla as this great victim. I see them as a great leech. They would not sell 11 of their $100000 'lectric cars with no accompanying government bribes.
Willie likes to "root for the little guys." Please, we are shoveling money at Tesla and its customers as fast as we can so they can provide $100000 sports cars to the 1%.
Note that this is not the first time Nelsonomics has been discussed. Bob McTeer had some suggestions:
Economics majors understand the nonintuitive reality that real progress comes from job destruction. It once took 90 percent of our population to grow our food. Now it takes less than 3 percent. Pardon me, Willie, but are we worse off because of the job losses in agriculture? The would-have-been farmers are now college professors and computer gurus or singing the country blues on Sixth Street.
Meanwhile, in Buffy News...
By my troth, a book in Octob'r due...
Joss Whedon's new adaptation of Shakespeare's classic comedy has already been acclaimed as "a masterpiece".
This official book features an Introduction by Joss, his full screenplay, and a gallery of photos from the set. Also included is an extended interview with the director, discussing his approach to the play, and the production of the film, shot in just 12 days at Whedon's own house.
I know y'all're sick of hearing about it, but we saw it a second time Saturday (with Blog friend and Weldon aficionado, Terri). It is a masterpiece and has spread from the "art cinemas;" you can see it at the AMC 24 in Westminster or Century 16 in Boulder (or the Esquire in Denver if you're feelin' artsy...)
July 1, 2013
Related: From Larimer County CO Sheriff Justin Smith on Facebook.
*The CBI advises local law enforcement to ignore and violate new Colorado gun laws*
The salacious details are at the link.
Otequay of the Ayday
Rapists don’t disarm women, lawmakers disarm women. I work out five days a week. I studied krav maga. I can out-lift the majority of male hipsters. I can try to be as much like Lara Croft as I want to be but the bottom line is that nature has given me a different muscular structure, bone density, and stature. I will never be able to outfight the majority of men. Most women can’t take a solid punch from a man. This isn’t admitting a weakness, it’s admitting science. Weakness is when we try to deny science and refuse to give ourselves a fighting chance like the chance we have with firearms. A firearm is an equalizer for a woman. Your state legislator, Joe Salazar, told women that we were too stupid to carry firearms because we might “pop off at somebody.” His view was shared by his Democrat colleagues, as we later learned from remarks by the likes of Hudak, Rosenthal, and others. We believe in female empowerment in every aspect of life, apparently, but the power to buy our own birth control and carry a gun. These lawmakers are making sitting ducks out of the female sex and I’ve had enough. --Dana Loesch at the "Farewell to Arms" Freedom Rally near Denver yesterday
Quote of the Day
According to Der Spiegel, the NSA has been going through the phones, computers, and who knows what else of European Union officials. If European politicians were any angrier, they would be commenting on Daily Kos. They're so mad, Islamic Rage Boy is telling them to calm down. Alec Baldwin is imploring them to not lose their temper. -- Jim Geraghty