April 30, 2018



Just Squeeze Me

Duke Ellington, lyrics Lee Gaines ©1941

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April 26, 2018

Headline of the Day

"Yes We Kanye." -- Jim Geraghty

April 25, 2018

Released Today!

Looking forward to Jonah's book:

(Also, the EconTalk appearance is awesome!)

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 4:02 PM | What do you think? [4]
But johngalt thinks:
"Democracy is about disagreement. It's about having arguments."

"The whole point of the enlightenment was this idea that you could persuade people."

But just before those sentences Jonah said,

"A bunch of friggin' Nazis" (...) "say that they want to get rid of people like me and people like you."

Is Jonah truly concerned that such a sentiment holds any persuasive power over a free people? Has he no better ideas to counter with, that he suggests such voices must be silenced, or at the very least denounced? That it the tactic of the tribal, socialist, left.

Jonah decries "winning" and "strength" without acknowledging the enforced socio-political and socio-economic changes that Trumpism [strong, forceful, Americanism] rose up in resistance to.

Posted by: johngalt at May 4, 2018 3:22 PM
But jk thinks:

I had to go back and listen. Two points:

Uno: I enjoy this because of its cross-philosophical comity. The EconTalk podcast provides a richer view of teh book's thesis.

Dos: I think you're jettisoning context. Winning must be about ideas (~10:05), not just winning. The friggin' Nazis (~8:20) are actual self-proclaimed Nazis.

His employer's founder famously kicked the John Birchers out of the Conservative movement so that it could develop from teh fringe party that lost in '64 to win in a landslide twenty years later. If we elevate the Roy Moores, Joe Arpaios, and Steve Bannons, we lose not only the party but risk losing the Enlightenment.

Posted by: jk at May 4, 2018 4:34 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Actual self-proclaimed Nazis are the best kind, if not the only kind. They're also one of the most rightly-vilified groups on Earth. So why do so many find it so necessary to silence them? Let them speak, and instantly disqualify themselves from any serious consideration. No?

Posted by: johngalt at May 8, 2018 3:17 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"If there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other, it is the principle of free thought ‚ÄĒ not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought we hate." Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., (United States v. Schwimmer, 1929).

"I have always been among those who believed that the greatest freedom of speech was the greatest safety, because if a man is a fool, the best thing to do is to encourage him to advertise the fact by speaking. It cannot be so easily discovered if you allow him to remain silent and look wise, but if you let him speak, the secret is out and the world knows that he is a fool. So it is by the exposure of folly that it is defeated; not by the seclusion of folly, and in this free air of free speech men get into that sort of communication with one another which constitutes the basis of all common achievement." Woodrow Wilson, "That Quick Comradeship of Letters," address at the Institute of France, Paris (May 10, 1919); in Ray Stannard Baker and William E. Dodd, eds., The Public Papers of Woodrow Wilson (1927), vol. 5, p. 484.

Posted by: johngalt at May 8, 2018 3:23 PM

April 24, 2018

Still Glad I'm not on the Left

Tyler Cowen appreciates free markets, but is quite far from being anyone's idea of "a right winger."

Prepare to feast on his "Holding Up a Mirror to the Intellectuals of the Left" to see the other guys get some serious -- and well deserved -- medicine.

I find that left-wing intellectuals complain more about the right wing than right-wing intellectuals complain about the left. This negative focus isnít healthy for the viability of left-wing intellectual creativity.

Probably the two best "market failure" books this year were written by colleagues of mine, coming out of libertarian traditions: Bryan Caplan and Robin Hanson (with Kevin Simler, whose background I'm not as familiar with). In Hanson's case, the book was intermingled with influences from science fiction. The left continues to produce plenty of content on market failure, but rarely am I surprised by the material.

I see social media as leading to more left-wing than right-wing intellectual conformity. If only because many more intellectuals are on the left, it is a more significant phenomenon where leaders on the left announce talking points, or the villain of the day, and their followers pick up the charge.

Still pretty disappointed with much on the right, but there is "a remannt" keeping the flame alive.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 5:48 PM | What do you think? [0]

April 21, 2018

A Trainful of Libertarians

First, some props to Duke's Michael Munger. His "unicorns" riff is the best answer to dirigisme I know.

1. Go ahead, make your argument for what you want the State to do, and what you want the State to be in charge of.

2. Then, go back and look at your statement. Everywhere you said "the State," delete that phrase and replace it with "politicians I actually know, running in electoral systems with voters and interest groups that actually exist."

3. If you still believe your statement, then we have something to talk about.

Coloradans have two spectacular examples. The first is "the train to the plane." It's technical name is "the A-Line" and its official name is "The University of Colorado A Line." As in:


CU paid FIVE MILLION DOLLARS for the naming rights. prompting concerns that "that sure seems like a humongous waste of money" and "won't that confuse travellers as it does not go to the University?" Both pale to "wouldn't it be better to associate the University with Nazism or chlamydia than a train that is millions over budget, years late, and breaks down all the damn time?"

(Nobody calls it that anymore. They kept the money, but seemed to have graciously let them off the hook for aiding and abetting.)

It has been presented to the good people of Colorado that the project has turned a corner and is near complete. Because the gates don't work, they pay as much as $55/hour to have human flagpersons control the intersections. Some arrangement was made to drop them, but the trains blow loud horns near residential areas all day and all night.

While it stopped breaking down every day (Channel 9's Kyle Clarke had a daily feature on his news program "Is teh A-Line working today?") we may notg be out of the woods. Passengers were stuck on an overpass for almost three hours, with no bathrooms, water, food, or plight updates. Several Chicago Cubs fans missed the game they had flown in to see.


Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is 100-year-old technology. They had time and money. Unlike many transit projects, they had potential ridership. They had CU's $5 million Simoleans. And -- here's where Munger's unicorns come in -- they could not pull it off.

I'm running out of ones and zeroes, but the second Denver Metro example is teh VA Hospital in Aurora. This project -- run by the Feds -- makes the choo-choo look good. In the years that this project has been overdue, I've watched several large hospitals go from plain earth to open for surgery.

Yet people still line up to have The State unicorns take over.

Colorado Posted by John Kranz at 11:45 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Where is Benito Mussolini when transit boosters need him?

His "success" such as it was, is not hard to achieve. Simply place tight controls upon journalists and prioritize operations on all rail lines that carry tourists. Oh, wait.

Posted by: johngalt at April 23, 2018 2:23 PM

April 20, 2018

Be Very Careful What you Wish for

Colorado has gone to open primaries. Many people -- notably Jon Caldera -- have worried about the opportunity for shenanigans. Together with mail-in ballots and same day registration, a clever strategist could interfere with the other party's primary, especially if his or her preferred party was not competitive in the current cycle.

My general response is: "yeah, they could saddle us with Dan Maes for Governor and Ken Buck (HOSS - CD4) for Senate!" Those of you with a life or a location out of the Centennial State should know that refers to two uncompetitive candidates who were propelled by Tea Party enthusiasm to victory over more electable candidates.

Jim Geraghty ends his Morning Jolt newsletter with the 2016 version: the Clinton Camp's desire to run against the unelectable Donald J. Trump

ADDENDA: Who wanted Donald Trump to win the Republican presidential primary in 2016? Hillary Clinton's campaign.

From early on, the Clinton camp saw Trump as an enemy to encourage, Chozick writes. During the campaign, as had been previously reported, there was an effort to elevate Trump into a so-called Pied Piper in order to tie him to the mainstream of the Republican Party.

"An agenda for an upcoming campaign meeting sent by [Campaign Manager] Robby Mook's office asked, "How do we maximize Trump?" Chozick writes, describing a time when the GOP primary was still crowded.

I think we can consider Trump maximized now.

Be careful what you wish for!

I recall the sentiment in 2008. "If only the Democrats will elect that greenhorn, no-account Community Organizer, our principled statesman ***cough, cough, Senator McCain*** will sail to victory!'

I don't doubt some chicanery, but the idea that 13-dimensional string chess will work in electoral politics is flawed.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 11:50 AM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

You forgot Darryl Glenn.

But don't be so quick to pile on ol' Ken. Finishing within 30,000 votes (out of 1.77 million) or 1.7 percentage points was very respectable given that the Maes debacle happened the same year, obliterating any coattails from the top of the ticket. And then there was the three-to-one spending advantage.

The "cowboy boots vs. high heels" and "homosexuality is a mental disorder" comments are memorable, but probably not decisive.

I'm optimistic about Colorado's new open primary. It allows unaffiliateds to play a significant role in choosing party nominees, so I expect a moderating effect.

Posted by: johngalt at April 20, 2018 6:28 PM
But jk thinks:

I was bein' nice.

Ha. Actually, I am less certain that Glenn knocked out a winnable opponent. An incumbent Senator is a challenge to knock off, even Senator Bennet (Backbencher - CO).

Rep. Buck is now my congressperson and I am a fan. But I think Jane Norton would have outperformed by at least 1.7%.

Posted by: jk at April 21, 2018 11:45 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Speaking of Darryl Glenn, he's running for U.S. Congress now and might have a decent chance now that the incumbent Republican Congressman Doug Lamborn is likely going to have to find honest work for a change. Glenn shares the primary ballot with state Senator Owen Hill and two political newcomers.

Posted by: johngalt at April 24, 2018 5:41 PM

April 16, 2018

All Hail Freeman


On the web Posted by John Kranz at 4:59 PM | What do you think? [4]
But johngalt thinks:

Heh. "Bikers these days."

Posted by: johngalt at April 20, 2018 11:05 AM
But jk thinks:

Don't f**k with those guys -- they'll jack with your Yelp ratings as soon as look at you!

Posted by: jk at April 20, 2018 12:46 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Then your customer traffic will be sleepin' with the fishes.

Posted by: johngalt at April 20, 2018 6:12 PM
But jk thinks:


Posted by: jk at April 21, 2018 11:38 AM

QotD - He's a Stand up guy

But, actually (Trump) is a stand up guy is the theme from the column under the Spengler byline by David P. Goldman in PJ Media about the pardon of Scooter Libby (who the author declares is a personal friend). Here's the quote, with the QotD in bold b/c the context is important:

I ran into a Russian diplomat at a political lunch not long ago. We got to talking about Trump, and he said, "The one thing we can't figure out is why Trump moved the embassy to Jerusalem. What was the purpose of this maneuver? Was it to stir the pot and see what sort of reactions he would get?" I told the Russian that he didn't get it. Trump did it because he thought it was the right thing to do. The Russian stared at me uncomprehending. There hasn't been a "right thing to do" in Russia for the past hundred years, just the clever or expedient thing to do.

But there are several runners up:
Bush was at no legal risk (to pardon Libby), to be sure. He just worried about the optics. The psychiatric term for such behavior according to DSM-IV is "chickenshit."

The president acts on his impulses, and the result sometimes is awkward in the extreme. ... The next day the president had to qualify the (tweeted) statement (about missiles a-comin'). My guess is that he acted on his gut response to an atrocity. That's not the most prudent thing for a president to do, but it shows the kind of man he is. Of all the American presidents since Reagan, he is the only one to do what he thinks is right in spite of risks that could cow a lesser man.
and while not a N/Tr I do think he's a lout and a ruffian:
To the Never-Trumpers who think that our president is a lout and a ruffian who cares nothing for decent standards of behavior, I say: What you call "decent standards of behavior" have become so perverse, so cowardly, so hypocritical and so self-serving that only an outsider, a "lout," a "ruffian" with contempt for your standards will have the courage to do the right thing.

But nanobrewer thinks:

as an aside; can someone tell me who "Spengler" is? I was semi-regularly reading a column in Asia Times by an author with the name-de-pleume of Spengler and never did find out who it was writing those disruptive, economically brilliant columns.

Posted by: nanobrewer at April 16, 2018 1:09 AM
But jk thinks:

Yes, indeed. I cheered President Trump for this action and jeered Bush for his pusillanimity (n. the state of being a chickenshit).

@nb: It is David Goldman and I agree with your assessment.

Posted by: jk at April 16, 2018 10:55 AM

April 13, 2018

Our Margaret

Haven't linked Peggy Noonan in, like, forever. I'm afraid we'll lose our license.

But today's is very good. And, while I'm not sure her criticisms of the party and the President will go over well, I find the thesis correct: Republicans need artists, not economists (sorry, Bryan).

Senators and representatives still have not reckoned with the shock of 2016. They're repeating what's been said and following an old playbook. They remind me of what Talleyrand is supposed to have said of the Bourbons, that they had learned nothing and forgotten nothing. Some know an old order has been swept away, but what will replace it is not fully formed, so they're not placing bets.

It isn't all about Donald Trump. Mr. Trump came from the chaos, he didn't cause it. He just makes it worse each day by adding his own special incoherence. The party's intellectual disarray both preceded and produced him. He happened after 20 years of carelessness and the rise of the enraged intersectional left. He was the magic pony who was not like the other Republicans. But he can't capitalize on this moment--he can't help what is formless to find form--because he's not a serious man.

Republicans will have to figure it out on their own. After they lose the House, they will have time!

I'll spare whataboutism by my being first: the Democrats are running on "A Better Deal." A third grader could write a Democrat Campaign Motto Generator that would spit out some slightly warmed-over FDR-ism and they could hit that button every two years.

"But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends..." we were the party of ideas. We had a cannon. We had a philosophy. I don't know what it is anymore. When the artist finds something more that "we suck a little worse than the other guys" I'll be back.

I hope you can read the whole thing -- holler if I can provide paywall help. She uses ex-boss Reagan as her example of an artist, finding the soul, shape and essence of thing. Unsurprisingly lovely prose.

April 11, 2018

Farewell, Mister Speaker!

I figured I would be the only one in this great nation with a kind word or thought for Rep. Paul Ryan (Whirlwind Reaper - WI). But -- no -- Megan McArdle handles the task with dignity and aplomb.

If he lost the battle for fiscal sanity, it's not because he didnít fight hard; it's because he faced an overwhelming force. Ten years ago, Ryanís budget crusades seemed admirable, if quixotic. Now, however, the crusade just seems suicidal. Any serious attempt to put entitlements on a sustainable path or address our budget imbalances will be extremely painful. It will have to be done on a bipartisan basis, because any party that tries to inflict that pain alone will be decimated in the next election -- except the party bases donít want their politicians to work with anyone from the other side, and will primary anyone who shows any sign of moving towards the center. Talking about a budget deal no longer means tilting at windmills; it means sending your pikemen out to face a 21st-century artillery barrage. You can't really blame anyone for thinking better of such a charge.

But johngalt thinks:

Something doesn't add up here. Please check my work:

Ryan resigned to spend more time with his family so as not to be "just a weekend dad."

Ryan's entire congressional career has been dedicated to federal budget fiscal sanity through budget (read: entitlement spending) reform. Some say it was his reason for returning to Washington every year.

Pursuit of bipartisan entitlement reform "just seems suicidal."

Paul Ryan retired. Not with a bang but with a whimper.

Why not speak truth to power, appeal to his constituents to rally behind him, and make a "suicidal" charge into the establishment's entitlement empire? You know, because it's so important to him. What's the worst that could happen? Lose reelection? Buehler?

Posted by: johngalt at April 12, 2018 3:27 PM
But Terri Goon thinks:

I always like him. It's too bad he was too nice of all things!

Posted by: Terri Goon at April 12, 2018 3:29 PM
But jk thinks:

The WSJ is laudatory today. Good for them. One of the meanest "don't let the door hit your ass on the way out" columns I saw was Peter Suderman's in Reason. (I would pay $9.95/mo. for a webcam of the Suderman - McArdle dinner table. That has got to be the best show in the world.)

To your direct question, jg, I think it is one thing -- and a good thing -- for a sitting Congressperson to put all the chips on #22 and face the consequences. Ron Paul and Justin Amash have had great careers doing just that.

But Speaker Ryan accepted a leadership position. Like the WSJ Ed Page, I do not think he wanted it. Once he did, he is now betting for the whole House GOP Caucus.

My problem with his libertarian detractors (and there is a bootlegger and Baptist coalition) like Suderman is that there is ZZZZEEEEEERRRRROOOOO appetite for austerity. The President of his own party doesn't care. The GOP base doesn't care. This quixotic strike you seek has no backup outside Liberty on the Rocks -- and they won't vote because of Public Choice Theory.

I think he did a good job herding the fractious cats of the GOP caucus and sublimating his preferred policies. Accepting the Speakership gives him institutional and party-wide responsibilities.

Posted by: jk at April 12, 2018 5:51 PM

The Good Lord (and Adam Smith!) Provides

Free trade advocates, like anyone who favors smaller government, face a Pollyanna problem. Without strict government oversight, who will build "muh roads" or keep the air clean?

If government takes over, it may not be ideal, but jk, you just want to do *ahem*nothing? Well, I'm a devotee of FA Hayek. With trade and property rights, spontaneous order will emerge and solve things better than Government. It takes some trust to let go.

My blog brother advocates tariffs and general head-knockin' to keep China from exploiting its vast reserves of rare Earth metals. Why, they did that predatory pricing that Walmart* is always accused of, and now our great nation is hosed! Or, perhaps, not.

TOKYO--Japan has hundreds of years' worth of rare-earth metal deposits in its waters, according to new research that reflects Tokyo's concern about China's hegemony over minerals used in batteries and electric vehicles.

Between our Japanese allies, and potential resurgence of domestic production, we are not subject to Chinese domination.

Trade on!

But johngalt thinks:

In defense of my heretical endorsement of wielding state power in the marketplace I must correct your characterization. My proposal is intended to keep China from exploiting OUR vast reserves of rare Earth metals. As the linked article said, the Chinese hegemony is made possible by that communist state's ability to flat-out ignore the chemical waste problems involved in processing of the metals. They don't have a monopoly on raw materials, they just underprice our for-profit businesses trying to compete on a vastly tilted playing field.

But what if our anti-pollution rules are overly strict? One form of government "subsidy" to the rare earth metals industry might be to get Leviathan off their backs.

Posted by: johngalt at April 11, 2018 3:29 PM
But jk thinks:

I think I got it -- apologies if I presented it poorly. I'm suggesting that the introduction of Japan as a supplier potentially changes everything. They might split the difference between our NIMBY and China's YOLO.

Posted by: jk at April 11, 2018 5:03 PM



The Girl from Ipanema

Antònio Carlos Jobim, Vinicius de Morae. English lyrics Norman Gimbel ©1962

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April 10, 2018

I Think I Made a Funny

Is there no respect for property rights at all? Yoko's $17,500 rock is missing!


That Evil Anne Rand Villian

I'm cycling through the PBS / Masterpiece Mysteries of late. It was never my genre, but I became hooked on "Father Brown," based on the G.K. Chesterton character. Then, it was a short hop to "Grantchester:" kind of Father Brown with a young Anglican. I stuck around for s very sweet and endearing ensemble cast. I could not recommend a show more highly.

Now, I am six seasons into "Inspector Lewis." Each episode is more like a film than a TV show. Regular-guy-but-brilliant-detective travels in the rarified air of the financial and academic elite in Oxford. His partner, Detective Sergeant Hathaway, was an elite student who dropped out of divinity scholarship to pursue police work.

It's entertaining and stimulating with intricate plots and high-minded allusions to Oxford scholars of old.

But last night, I saw The Indelible Stain, which featured a character named "Professor Anne Rand" played by Nancy Carrol. I won't provide spoilers as to whether she was or was not the killer, but she was an aggressive self-promoter, devoid of feelings, sympathy and compassion. Comically unsympathetic in a show of general nuance.

The target demographic for the show must certainly have "gotten it;" I don't suppose many at the BBC have different sentiments for the woman who spells her name with a 'y.'




Antònio Carlos Jobim, with lyrics by Aloysio de Oliveira. English lyrics Ray Gilbert ©1965

Live at the Coffeehouse dot Com


April 9, 2018

Once on the easy side

As I whined in the comments about the Erie elections, it is my curse to always defend the policy side that requires a long, tedious explanation. "Do you want them poisoning your kids?" ask the fractivists. Let's examinbe property rights and the rule of law, retorts I. Why in the 1758 case of Fignipple vs. Wallace....

But I think I have finally found an "easy one."

One of the elusive "common sense gun regulations" is to raise the minimum age for purchasing an AR-15 from 18 to 21. Surely, jk, you couldn't argue with this...

Well, yes, an 18 year-old is old enough to vote and be party to a contract. Why everything but beer and cigarettes is in the young adult's purview. But I am not going there. Instead, I paint a picture of a 20-year-old single mom with an abusive ex-boyfriend. Why are these uncaring monsters ready to prevent her from exercising choice about defending herself and her children? Why are they taking away a reliable, comfortable, and accurate method of defense?

Gun Rights Posted by John Kranz at 11:56 AM | What do you think? [5]
But johngalt thinks:

Allow me to engage you on this one, as I have been making the case, privately, for a higher age limit on semi-automatics of any barrel length (or, really, anything with an interchangeable ammo magazine) than on single or double action guns.

Limiting your single-mom to a reliable Colt 38 or pump action shotgun causes no hardship in her defense against a single ex-boyfriend. A rapid reload weapon is the one to choose when defending against zombie attack, or any group of attackers - or when making and offensive *ahem* "assault" say against a school or a concert crowd.

So unless she has more than one ex threatening assault at once, she's good with the wheel gun.

As for "poisoning our kids" with fracking, when has that ever happened?

Posted by: johngalt at April 10, 2018 5:15 PM
But jk thinks:

"ThreeSources: where pride in your ideas goes to die!"™

My imaginary interlocutor responds with "She sure as hell doesn't need an AR-15!" He's not as well-informed as you, but the second part of my response might suffice:

"My problem is that you, progressive white person who lives in a safe community, are taking her options away. I would let her and a responsible firearms dealer decide -- not you.

"It might actually be best. Our subject is 5'5" 125 pounds. Wacko Boyfriendo is 6' and 220. He is bigger, stronger, more aggressive and more confident in a violent situation. The AR is comfortable, reliable, and capable of projecting threat."

I won't call you names, but I will suggest that a nervous young woman of smaller build will have a difficult time appearing imposing with the .38 revolver. I'm not a shotgun guy -- but in front of the kids?"

I'm a nutty libertarian dude -- I cannot imagine why anything is 21 after the 26th Amendment. But I still think this has legs in a consequentialist discussion. Your picks are good for an experienced handler, but why take choices away?

Posted by: jk at April 10, 2018 7:11 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I can't imagine why anyone opposes Federal Income Taxes after the 16th Amendment either - clearly the passage of a Constitutional Amendment evidences moral certitude on a subject.

Driving licenses (as unconstitutional as they may be) are not issued until age 16, and even then are attached with a growing list of restrictions. Yet for-profit businesses turn away customers below the age of 25. As it turns out, actuarial experience shows that drivers below that age are at significantly higher risk for bad judgment. In addition to this evidence we now have scientific understanding of juvenile human brain development showing that it doesn't fully mature "until at least the mid-20s."

So the same thinking that leads to learning permits for young drivers suggests that young shooters should establish proficiency with less efficient weapons. Is three years really too long to wait for the legal purchase of a high-capacity rifle? I mean, how is age 21 any more arbitrary than 18, or 16, for whatever adult responsibility we may be contemplating? Or age 25 for that matter. When the Constitution was drafted, average lifespans were about half what they are today.

My aim is not to eliminate youth access to high-capacity weapons, but to eliminate or at least reduce their UNSUPERVISED access to them. When purchased and controlled by an adult guardian, I would make no restrictions.

And a .38 Special may not look as menacing as an AR-15 on its own, but in the same diminutive hands one of them will be effective and the other too heavy and awkward to be of any use, whether she pulls the trigger or not.

Posted by: johngalt at April 11, 2018 3:53 PM
But jk thinks:

You left out how much I enjoyed Prohibition until those louche bastards repealed it. I find Alcohol Tobacco & Firearms odd exceptions to the age of majority. Sign contracts, marry, join the Marines -- but no Marlboros!

On the long gun, I'm forever colored. I know -- rather well --one particular female human who is uncomfortable with both heavy handguns and recoil of all but the smallest caliber cartridges. Watching the glow of this person holding an AR-15 in the store changed my life. While it is perhaps heavier in a box on the scale, the three-point stance of shoulder-arm-arm distributes the weight and recoil -- as one might choose an SUV over a motorcycle.

Posted by: jk at April 11, 2018 4:57 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I only advocate restriction of magazine reloadable weapons, not all long guns. This would cover semi-auto pistols for 18-20 year-olds, by the way. There are other long gun options to choose from.

And a disclaimer: This proposal is theoretical. I think it makes sense and have been soliciting reactions to it. So far I seem to be the only pro-gun person who likes it.

Posted by: johngalt at April 12, 2018 5:02 PM

April 6, 2018

The limits of free markets

Defenders of capitalism, from libertarian free-traders to self-dealing globalists, are agog at the "protectionist" stance of President Trump vis-á-vis China. I see it as a damned if we do, damned if we don't, situation. But there are nuances that don't make the evening news, fake or otherwise.

Most ThreeSourcers are probably aware that China is the world leader in commercial supplies of rare earth metals, used in many of the world's high tech consumer and military products and systems. But why? I, for one, had believed it was a matter of geology and geography and the raw minerals were just preternaturally abundant in the People's Republic. Au contraire.

America's problem has never been a lack of rare earth deposits - it has plenty. The problem has been maintaining a domestic industry to mine the minerals and transform them into final components. For a while, Colorado-based Molycorp made a go of mining rare earths at Mountain Pass [a mine in California]. But it struggled to turn a profit, and eventually went bankrupt. In the middle of last year, a bankruptcy proceeding sold the mine to another China-involved consortium. The Chinese partner in the consortium, Shenghe, will have exclusive sales rights to the mined product for a period of time, according to sales documents.

That brings us up to date, and on to the final question: How do we fix things?

Free market types like to focus on environmental regulations. Mining rare earth metals is a nasty business, with a lot of chemical and radioactive byproducts. Properly disposing of that detritus is extremely costly, which makes mining rare earth metals for profit hard. In fact, regulators closed the Mountain Pass mine and fined it at one point for skirting the rules.

Of course, Molycorp was also badly damaged by the massive price swings brought on by China imposing and then ditching its export quotas.

But regardless, blaming the hippies for America's rare earth metal woes is doubling down on a bad strategy. Blinkered enthusiasm for free market solutions is how we lost domestic operations in the first place. Furthermore, China itself solved the environmental problem by just not caring, and created dystopian wastelands in the process.

The author goes on to draw analogy with nuclear power, and make a case for nationalization. One thing this "Randian" has come to understand is that there really are flaws in unbridled free-markets. Namely, that competing nations have enough money and little enough scruples to take over strategically important segments in toto. Or, stated differently, "The capitalists will sell us the rope to hang them with."

But jk thinks:

Yes, government must step in and manage trade. Because they are wiser than the individual citizens, and are driven by purer motives -- well, let's face it, they're just better people.

I've committed the broadest heresy in libertarianism by suggesting that the Bernakeist, 2% inflation-targeted monetary regime is not-the-best, but in the grand scheme of things really not the worst.

The best response to both of us is Milton Friedman's "where are you going to find these angels?" Public Choice theory says that they will be just as self-interested and Hayek has shown they will not have the knowledge required.

You like the current group, fine, but what about the policies of those appointed by President Elizabeth Warren and confirmed by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer?

I'll stick with "unfettered," thank-you, Silence, and thank you brother jg.

Posted by: jk at April 9, 2018 12:27 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Clearly it is a major departure for me to endorse government management of anything, but here is another question for both of us: Should the Pentagon be privatized as well?

I see international trade as a direct analogy to international military combat. Both are pursuits of warfare but with different weapons.

Posted by: johngalt at April 10, 2018 5:07 PM

April 5, 2018

40 Years Late, but still

"Moses had a temper, but he never left a girl at the bottom of the Red Sea."

Hat-tip: AC2

Posted by John Kranz at 3:54 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Amazing that this movie got made.

In high school I was quite pleased with a solitary bumper sticker I had affixed to my Datsun pickup.


Posted by: johngalt at April 5, 2018 6:30 PM

Ain't Democracy Grand?

The Town of Erie, which I call home, held Mayoral and Board of Trustee (BoT) elections Tuesday. The results were captured quite perfectly in this meme:


This is from a private group and I'm not certain whether the poster prefers attribution or plausible deniability. A more public assessment is Channel 7's "Erie voters take a stand against oil and gas in Tuesday's election"

For those who did not follow it, it encapsulated everything wrong with politics. A town Facebook group I long enjoyed for "anybody know whose dog this is?" and "What's the best Chinese food delivery in Erie?" became all-fracking, all the time. Name calling ensued. Followed by blocking and excommunication. The pro-frackers who got kicked out started their own group, but it's mostly dirty jokes. Your equanimous blog brother remains in both groups, but the sum of the new parts is less than the old whole.

You've heard me whine that I watched this happen to my beloved Lafayette. Do I move again? To Mead? McCook, NE? How far from Boulder to escape its inexorable permeation for a period of one human life? I guess I'll lump it -- hey, Lafayette is still a nice place, even post-Boulderization. So we'll be getting municipal trash and Internet, more debt and more skate parks. C'est la guerre.

Majoritarianism rules! Property rights? Not so much. Maybe the State of Colorado will be of some help.

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

Dang. I thought at the very least it would be close. It wasn't even that.

Posted by: johngalt at April 5, 2018 6:21 PM
But jk thinks:

You thought there were more Mom's that wanted to poison their children in their schools? The "fractivists" are an amazing bunch.

No sir, not close at all. I had hoped for a few BoT seats for the forces of reason and enlightenment, but everyone -- myself included -- had a list of candidates.

Eire is lost, the Visigoths have won.

Posted by: jk at April 5, 2018 6:42 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I have a hard time accepting that two-thirds of Erie's voting public are fractivists, or are even sympathetic to the overwrought opinions of same. Instead I think it was a knee-jerk backlash against "outside interest groups [are] spending big money on the town of Erie's election."

The Boulder Daily Camera's story headlined "Pro-fracking group pours $55K into Erie election" probably did far more harm than the $55K did good.

Posted by: johngalt at April 8, 2018 10:28 PM
But jk thinks:

All my positions always seem to suffer from a gross asymmetry of explanation. "Do you want them fracking an oil well 500' from your child's school?" I consider it wondrous that we got 33%.

Posted by: jk at April 9, 2018 11:55 AM

April 4, 2018

All Hail Freeman


On the web Posted by John Kranz at 3:24 PM | What do you think? [0]

Chart Subhead of the Day

Hey, it's a coveted award!

The WSJ News Pages publishes a story on sales slowdown in the rooftop solar industry, driven by less aggressive sales practices by the big players:

SolarCity grew with help from a hard-charging sales culture. Before being acquired by Tesla, the company, which was run by Lyndon Rive, the cousin of Tesla founder Elon Musk, tapped salespeople from the mortgage industry and Las Vegas casinos to sell solar panels, and gave them aggressive quotas, according to current and former managers and employees interviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

But you gotta have a chart:


April 2, 2018



Is You Is or Is You Ain't my Baby?

Louis Jordan, Billy Austin ©1944

Live at the Coffeehouse dot Com


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