Tuesday, December 28, 2010

About That "Fox News Viewers are Misinformed" Study

This one's well worth your time:

The definition of "misinformed" seems to be "disagrees with us". The video highlights Peter Schiff's famous prediction of the collapse of the housing bubble, with another talking head acting like he was nuts. I'm sure that a similar study done before the bubble popped would have found him "misinformed".

Speaking of that collapse, I'll never forget the day in the '08 campaign when Sarah Palin made a comment about how Fannie and Freddie were going to cost taxpayers a bunch of money, and the talking points memos went out: "What an uninformed rube she is! Doesn't she know that Fannie and Freddie aren't actually government agencies?". That was what they hammered for, oh, about three days, until it became crystal clear that that ignorant chillbilly was right, and the US taxpayer was going to be on the hook for billions.

Then there was the time she put up that Facebook post about "death panels", which of course we are assured weren't in Obamacare. And a few days later, they took out some end-of-life counseling that look an awful lot like death panels. And now they've put that counseling back in via administrative fiat. And the FDA has killed Avastin to fight breast cancer. Stupid, stupid Sarah with her funny accent and goofy kids' names....

I've lost count of the times the libs mock Glenn Beck for his "crazy talk". Funny thing about that, though. I keep thinking "well, he's gone off the deep end with this one", but a few months go by and his "crazy talk" becomes reality. More "misinformation" for the Fox viewers, right?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Firewall 8: A Nation of Desire

Bill explains how the Judeo-Christian morality in our culture promotes liberty:

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Boehner's Opportunity

Next month, John Boehner will take over as Speaker of the House from Nancy Pelosi, who justified her use of a jet to transport her between DC and her home based on her position in the line of succession to the presidency. He has an opportunity to correct a flaw in 3 U.S.C. § 19, the law providing for that succession if there is no Vice President to take over. As his position provides an opportunity for the presidency to switch to the opposing party, if he were to introduce or support legislation to remove the two Congressional members in the line of succession, it would be rightly seen as putting principle above political advantage.

James Madison, widely considered the Father of the Constitution, disagreed with the first Presidential Succession law that placed the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House in the line of succession. To his objections, let me attempt to add a few others:

Using our current situation as an example, if some combination of circumstances removed both President Obama and Vice President Biden from office before another Vice President could be nominated and approved, the odds are pretty good that those circumstances are extraordinarily bad. At such a difficult time, a President Boehner who had a sitting Cabinet almost entirely composed of the opposing party would find it even more difficult to govern. Meanwhile, the House would have its own succession to work through. Presumably, Eric Cantor would move up to Speaker, and the other Republican leaders would each slide up one position, assuming of course that whatever took out both the President and Vice President at the same time didn't also take out the Speaker...

Traditionally, the Senate President Pro Tempore is the senior member of the Majority party, which skews toward really old people. Robert Byrd was 93 when he died in office. Strom Thurmond was 99 years old when he last held the title of President Pro Tempore. The current PPT, Daniel Inouye, is 86 years old. Any scenario I can imagine under which Obama, Biden, and Boehner are either dead, incapacitated, or otherwise removed from office before any of them can get a new VP in place is not one in which an octogenarian legislator should be the Commander in Chief.

In my opinion, the simultaneous vacancy of both President and Vice President is best filled by someone who has been in Cabinet meetings throughout the administration, and already has a good working relationship with the other members of that Cabinet.
[Click on the title above, or date stamp below, to see the full article.]
Speaker Boehner should support legislation that removes himself and Senator Inouye from the line of succession, and puts Secretary of State Clinton behind Vice President Biden, where she rightly belongs.

Yes, I just endorsed Clinton over Boehner for POTUS. Weird, but entirely logical.

Threely for this post: http://3.ly/BoehnerOpportunity

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Monckton: The Not-So-Hidden Agenda of GoreBull Warning

Viscount Monckton explains the GoreBull Warning endgame:

Friday, November 26, 2010

Firewall 7: American Exceptionalism

Bill somehow manages to score a 7-run grand slam:

You can buy the DVD of the entire "What We Believe" series too. Great stocking stuffer for friends and relatives who don't understand us.

Monday, November 22, 2010

"I Don't Understand" with Obama

Neal Boortz describes this video with the tweet: "So simple even a liberal Democrat could understand it."

He may be a bit optimistic about that. In my experience, they recoil at any DoublePlusUngood CrimeThink.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Quantitative Easing Explained

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Hannan Explains US Exceptionalism

Peter Robinson sat down with British MEP Daniel Hannan for a five part interview [Part 1|2|3|4|5] right before the election. His recurring theme is that America's institutions and culture have reinforced each other to set us apart from the European institutions and culture from which we separated long ago, creating our exceptional liberty and prosperity. Hannan says Obama is trying to make the US more European, and therefore less American. And he has help from the ruling class in all parties.

One key insight is that we have what he calls "open" primaries. By that he doesn't mean that Democrats can vote in Republican primaries to choose the Republican nominees for various races, but that Republcans can do so. You see, in the European model, the party bosses choose who stands for election in each district. Ponder that when you see and hear the elitists in both parties telling us how those darned TEA Party extremists cost the GOP control of the Senate by nominating all of those divisive candidates instead of the safe RINOs that we may rest assured would have won in a walk.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Firewall 5: Gun Rights

Bill is back with part 5 of his Firewall series:

Monday, November 1, 2010

See the Ad Mysteriously "Forgotten" by New Castle County Cable

Even though Christine O'Donnell's campaign bought the airtime last week, somehow the cable company in New Castle County, DE (whose county executive, coincidentally, is her opponent in the Senate race) "forgot" to run it. Never fear; you can see it right here:

We the People of the First State from Friends of Christine O'Donnell on Vimeo.

Michael Steele groks Palin and the Tea Party Movement

I've had my differences with some of the things Michael Steele has said and done during his tenure as GOP Chairman, but this Politico interview shows me he gets it now. He has been listening to the hoi polloi and communicates their message to the party elites:

Threely: http://3.ly/SteelePalinTP

Friday, October 29, 2010

Firewall 4: Natural Law

Bill's at it again with the fourth in his series "What We Believe", this time explaining the idea of natural law:
If you haven't seen the others yet, get caught up here:

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Time For Choosing

46 years ago today, and what the Gipper says is still true, except even more so.
H/T Sarah Palin

Threely: http://3.ly/Time4Choosing

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Lunching with Leftists

The Bride of Monster suggested we eat at a Vietnamese restaurant for lunch today. We settled into our booth, perused the menu, and each ordered chicken phở. Directly behind me were a couple of leftists reassuring each other how smart they are and how stupid the TEA Party types are. TBoM could see I wasn't taking this well, and via various gestures and code words dissuaded me from responding to them directly. She wisely suggested that I could "blog about it" (she knows I have one of these blog thingies but probably doesn't even know the URL).

I was a good boy while listening to one of them talking about how bad standardized testing for school teachers is. I just smiled and thought about how standardized testing for drivers, florists, hair braiders, and countless other occupations is exactly the sort of regulation they elect people to impose on the market to protect consumers against shady operators. Why should school teachers be exempt from the apparatchiks?

They dismissed the fact that "the words 'separation of church and state' do not appear in the First Amendment" by also saying "neither do 'assault weapons' appear in the Second". Well, that's a fascinating observation there, but the language is hardly similar:

  1. In the First Amendment, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" is very specific, and the Supreme Court first used the '' wording in 1947's Everson v. Board of Education. Somehow, the First Amendment was on the books a century and a half before this phrase was found written in invisible ink between its lines.
  2. By contrast "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed" is very broadly worded. It doesn't have to say "assault weapons", because they are a subset of "Arms". The Supreme Court has ruled that certain arms are not protected by the Second Amendment because they are not "ordinary military equipment" (United States v. Miller). So-called "assault weapons" are demonized precisely because they are (or at least appear to be) "military".

They continued by discussing how the Constitution provided for slavery (although the word itself didn't appear in the text until the 13th Amendment abolishing it) and that it counted slaves as "40%" (corrected by the other one to 3/5ths) of a person as evidence of how racist the Framers must have been. I bit my tongue and didn't say anything to them about how the 3/5 compromise was cleverly designed by the anti-slavery side to reduce the power of the slave states in the House and Presidential elections, and to keep them inside the union rather than split into two, three, or even more separate confederations of states that would have easily been reconquered by Great Britain. The abolitionists were playing the long game; they knew that slavery was an economic dead end, and the free North would build a powerful industrial base with free men while the South stagnated. Time was on their side.

After a while, their conversation turned to non-political matters, and my blood pressure settled down. Then the one closest to me stated as if it were an established fact that the TEA Party is motivated by racism. I turned around and said "I consider myself part of the TEA Party movement, and I am not motivated by racism." He tried to play it off like I was the @$$#013 by pointing out that he was talking to his friend, not to me, but I wasn't having any of it. Imagine Mel Gibson "talking to a friend" spouting negative stereotypes about Jews, with a Jew sitting back to back with him. Would anyone excuse such speech simply because Gibson wasn't talking to the Jew directly? I sure hope not.

Then he played the canard about how we didn't complain when Bush was POTUS, and since we were complaining now with a black POTUS... Raaacism! I told him that the people I know in the TEA Party movement did indeed complain when we felt Bush was betraying the principles he campaigned on. We opposed national health care when Hillary Clinton was pushing it.

That set off his friend, who said that ObamaCare isn't national health care, but a corporatist's dream. I tried to explain that the TP'ers I know don't really care that much for the big corporations buying favors from the government to shut down their competitors, and that ObamaCare would eventually lead to the nationalized health care he wants as it destroys the private health care industry, but he was too busy spitting out his hatred for me and anyone else who wants him or his sick relatives to die Die DIE! because we oppose national health care. And then he stormed out.

I didn't get to ask the guy who called us racists what he thought of the fact that most of us have spent the last few days defending a black liberal, that we're looking forward to seeing several new black faces in Congress next year.

At least TBoM didn't get upset that I reacted to that provocation. It's one thing to disagree on issues, but the charge of racism is so powerful that it must be confronted whenever it is raised. I won't sit idly by and let that charge be casually tossed out as if it were a proven fact. To let the charge go unanswered is to assent to its truth.[Click on the title above, or date stamp below, to see the full article.]

Threely for this post http://3.ly/LunchWLeft

Friday, October 22, 2010

Taiwanese Animators on "Waiting for Superman"

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Pseudonymity: Mr. Beck, Meet Ms. Frisch

Yesterday, on his Fox News Network program, Glenn Beck talked about how people are turning into monsters. He thinks that the level of discourse on "blogs", driven by the anonymity that many such sites offer, is part of the problem. He called on those of us who operate on the Internet under pseudonyms to stop doing it. He wants us to write under our real names. I realized then that I had never dealt with the issue here.

When I first became connected to the Internet, I had two daughters still young enough to live at home, each of whom walked a few blocks to grade school, and later a few more blocks to middle school. The thought that some barking moonbat leftist might be sufficiently angered by my position on an issue to lash out against either of them, or to The Bride of Monster, chilled me to the bone.

So I decided that the best way to protect all three of them was to use the pseudonym "Monster", or some form of it. I soon found that username was taken on many sites, but "The Monster" generally was not. On Twitter, even that was taken, and I used a Latin expression that helps explain one reason I embrace this name: "Sum, ergo monstro.". (The English word "Monster" ultimately derives from the Latin verb "monstro", which means "show, point out, nominate, or appoint".)

My current employer is large enough to be politically correct. Since anyone who disagrees with Leftists is branded "racist", I fear that if someone knew my real name, they might try to get me fired for "hate speech". I'm sure I'm not the Lone Ranger here; not many of us in the Dextrosphere are tenured professors like Glenn Reynolds, who can't be fired for straying off the leftist plantation. I don't see why we should hand our enemies such a gift on a silver platter.

The wisdom of this policy has been demonstrated in the behavior of the infamous Deb Frisch, who was enjoined from having any contact with Protein Wisdom's Jeff Goldstein after she repeatedly made über-creepy sexual comments about his then-infant son. By the strangest coincidence, right before Beck called for us all to use real names, she resumed her activities against Goldstein's family, making a profanity-laced call to his elderly mother.

Incredibly, the Maryland authorities (where Jeff's mom lives) won't take any action based on a single phone call, despite the existing restraining order, and the train of abuses that led to it. It looks like the only thing Jeff can do is hire a private attorney to pursue a civil action. He hasn't slept more than a couple of hours the last three days, and needs our help. If you can spare a few shekels, pop over there and hit the tip jar.

[Click on the title above, or date stamp below, to see the full article.]

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Liberal Headplosion System Test

This is a test of the Liberal Headplosion System. It is only a test: This is a test of the Liberal Headplosion System.  It is only a test.

If this had been an actual Liberal Headplosion, you would have been directed to your nearest MainScream Media outlet for specific information. Expecting actual headplosions on November 2, we are performing this test as a public service to assure that you are ready to observe them in their full glory.

[H/T Tammy Bruce]

Friday, October 1, 2010

Extremist Rhetoric

Remember how we've been told that the Tea Party is inciting violence against our enemies? Anyone who says that and doesn't denounce this crap has no room to talk.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Right to Earn a Living

Reason TV interviews Timothy Sandefur, author of The Right to Earn a Living about the gradual subversion of the Constitution to allow government intrusive regulatory power.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Dale Peterson Says

Maybe it'll take the place of "Simon Says"...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

She's a Witch!

This is supposed to be the end of Christine O'Donnell's political career:

Her opponent was once "a bearded Marxist", but he's lost the beard. She "dabbled in 'witchcraft'" and decided it wasn't for her once she saw it up close. Frankly, I'm confused about why anyone thinks this reflects badly on her at all. Wasn't she supposed to be an uptight sexually-repressed über-Christian who thinks that even masturbation is sinful?

Dr. Alveda King had an abortion and now is passionately anti-abortion. How many others do we know of who have "dabbled" in strange practices, been shocked by what they found was being done, and left those communities, to become the most outspoken critics of their former friends?

Christianity itself was considered an apostasy of Judaism. One particular person who participated in persecution of those apostates (up to and including killing them), was Saul of Tarsus. His conversion into Paul, the prolific Apostle whose letters to various churches comprise a large part of the New Testament, is so well known that we can speak of such an experience by the shorthand "Road to Damascus".

And haven't we been told ad nauseam that one of the things that makes President Obama so great is that his father and stepfather were Muslims, and he spent a few years in Indonesia, studying in Muslim schools, before his own conversion to Christianity? Isn't a reasonable description of that experience "dabbling in Islam"? The Left loves berating stereotypical hicks who never travel out of their little backwoods holler, and have no personal experience with The Other. O'Donnell has had that experience, and somehow that's supposed to make her unfit to serve in the US Senate?

Friday, September 10, 2010

What's The Matter With Menthols?

Our friends at reason.tv pose the question: "What's The Matter With Menthols?"

Joseph Califano played The Card, noting that menthol smokers are disproportionally black folks. Therefore, not banning them is somehow targeting persons of color.

We see the same argument in the opposition to Arizona's immigration law. Any behavior that is engaged in by a Victim Group at a higher rate than an Oppressor Group cannot be prosecuted, for to do so is de facto raaaaacist. Unless that behavior is self-destructive, in which case failure to prosecute the dirty money-grubbing businesses that profit from that behavior is raaaaacist. Unless those businesses are politically connected, of course. (Paging Dr. King... Dr. Alveda King...)

But, as usual, the leftists' elevation of their good intentions over all else sets up the Law of Unintended Consequences to bite them in the butt. If bad behavior disproportionately committed by members of a Victim Group cannot be confronted, it will grow more prevalent. Those who are victimized by that behavior will grow embittered toward that Victim Group, increasing prejudice rather than helping to eradicate it. Of course, since that insures repeat business for the grievance mongers, maybe it isn't so unintended after all.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Obama vs. JFK on Tax Cuts

Just saw this tweet and couldn't agree more:
JazzShaw GENIUS from the Winston Group. Obama vs. JFK on the benefits of tax cuts. RT THIS! http://bit.ly/bhxbU8

Threely for this post: http://3.ly/BHOvJFK

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Forgotten Man

The Forgotten Man:

Monday, August 30, 2010

Miller Time

I really don't think Bob Schieffer understands what Joe is saying. But until Cubachi provides some more Christie clips, consider this your Commonsense Conservative Porn fix:

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Chris Christie Contrasts Common Sense vs. Government Drones

Some fresh Chris Christie awesomeness [Hat Tip: Cubachi]

Another reason to decentralize government. Why should states have to fill out a thousand-page application to get money from the US government? Let the feds tax us less, and each state can raise that revenue instead.

Monday, August 23, 2010

I Want Your Money

This looks very promising:

Words Mean Things: Surrendering the High Ground

Good old Jazz Shaw and I engaged in a little back-and-forth via Twitter today, sparked by his tweet:

Dear Congress: You can keep all the Bush tax cuts, but you have to cut spending. This isn't rocket surgery.
I responded by pointing out the missing word in that first clause:
@JazzShaw Not "tax cuts". Tax RATE cuts, which INCREASED tax revenues. Expiration will REDUCE tax revenues.

In subsequent volleys, Jazz assured me that I was reading in meaning he hadn't intended (that the two parts were linked, so that the "tax cuts" would result in lower revenue, which then must be "paid for" by the spending cuts). I'm glad to hear I was wrong about that, but I still believe that we should always refer to "tax rate cuts", and avoid even the appearance of linking tax rate cuts to spending reductions, in order not to surrender ground in policy debates.
I wasn't just reacting to Jazz when I tweeted that, but to the kind of "argument" provided yesterday by Nancy Skinner on Freedom Watch with Andrew Napolitano:

Now, I don't for a moment mean to compare Jazz to Nancy, who seems to fill the same role for Andrew as Alan Colmes did for Sean Hannity: mindlessly repeating Democratic talking points that serve as hanging curve balls to be smacked out of the park. You can almost see her flipping through the list of liberal shibboleths (shall I go Palin and coin the portmanteu "lib-oleths"?) until she could find one that fit the situation at hand.

But when we debate on their terms, we unnecessarily handicap ourselves. As you can see in the above clip, Nancy spewed such a barrage of BS that Charlie Gasparino got stuck dealing with only one particularly large pile of it (the idea that money in the hands of higher-bracket earners has a smaller "multiplier" than money "redistributed" into the hands of lower-income people who will use it to consume more, thereby providing a "stimulus" to the economy). I think Don Boudreaux was trying to make the same point as mine but it got lost in the crosstalk. (Note to Napolitano: Try having two guests instead of three; it might make cut down on that.)

I don't want to get bogged down debating the Laffer Curve here, but to put it simply, the idea is that higher marginal tax rates will change the behavior of high-bracket earners. They may put in less time on the job to spend more with the kids, or divert money that would have gone into investing in new production capacity (which means more jobs for lower-bracket folks) and put it in tax shelters like municipal bonds. These alternative investments aren't expected to make as large of a profit, but after the effects of the tax rates are considered, the taxpayers figure they'll actually get to keep more. This pulls capital out of the economy and somewhat depresses the rates paid on the tax-sheltered investments.

Either way, if the marginal rate goes above a certain point, it will actually result in lower revenues for governments. Leftists refer to a tax rate reduction as a "tax cut" that must be "paid for", even when the tax rate reduction produces the same or higher revenues, in effect paying for itself. Note that even a rate reduction that goes below the point of maximum revenues can still meet that standard, because for any point above the maximum, there exists a point below it that brings in the same revenue.

The reason the "Bush" tax rate cuts, like the "Reagan" cuts before them, worked so well, is that they reduced those highest marginal tax rates to a level where people could improve their after-tax income by concentrating on making their investments profitable, and stop worrying about the tax implications. The money that was tied up in arcane shelter instruments came back to create new jobs. Tax revenues went up in real dollars under both the "Reagan" and "Bush" tax rate cuts.

However, there was a difference. The earlier cuts were "permanent", meaning that they would remain low until Congress took action to increase them again (during the Clinton administration) but the "Bush" cuts had a built-in expiration date, which will see them end this year unless Congress extends them with Jazz' permission. For several years now, taxpayers have been making investment decisions recognizing that Democratic majorities in Congress are very unlikely to "cut taxes on the rich", so the high-bracket marginal rates are nearly certain to rise back to pre-Bush levels.

Restoring those tax rate cuts, and committing to keep them for several years, will not need to be somehow tied to spending reductions to "pay for" them. As they have done before, they will again pay for themselves. Using our opponents' terminology of "tax cuts" reinforces their ability to frame the debate in terms of fiscal responsibility. We need to convey that cutting rates will actually be a tax increase. Everyone understands that a business can cut prices and increase revenues. We need to talk about tax rate cuts as putting taxes "on sale".

[Even if those tax rate reductions do result in lower revenues, we can't allow ourselves to be in favor of that being an excuse to raise the taxes. Government spending always costs us, regardless of how it's "paid for". But that is a topic for another day.]
[Click on the title above, or date stamp below, to see the full article.]

Friday, August 20, 2010

A lesson for our times: The Cookies

Posted with the Author's permission

The Cookies
by Andrew Michaels
Copyright© 2010 by Andrew Michaels

A mother was contemplating a dilemma. Normally, she assigned cleaning the toilets as a grungy chore for misbehavior. But none of her five children had misbehaved enough to be assigned the chore, and the toilets really needed to be scrubbed.

Then she had an idea. She took five large cookies from a tray of leftovers from her latest ladies meeting, put them and a ziplock bag, and called all of her children to her. "I need the toilets cleaned," she told her children, "and I will give the five cookies in this bag to the one who cleans them." She then offered the task to her children beginning with the oldest. Each made an excuse: "Sorry, Mom, I have too much homework." "I promised my friends I would play ball with them." "I told Becky that I would come by." "I need to finish my school project today." Finally, she came to the youngest. He thought about the last time that he had to clean the toilets, and how the smell had almost made him sick. Then he thought about how delicious those cookies would taste. "OK, I will do it," the youngest told his mother.

He gathered the cleaning supplies, and went to each of the three toilets in the house, scrubbing them thoroughly. By the time he came to the third toilet, he was against almost sick from the smell. But he forced himself to finish, them reported to his mother that he was done.

Mother inspected the toilets, expecting to have to point out some areas for rework. She was impressed that her youngest had done a thorough job, not rushing through the task just to get finished. "You have done an excellent job," she told her youngest, "and here is your reward!", handing him the bag of cookies.

The child opened the bag of cookies, the delicious smell wiping out the nausea from the odor of the toilets. He started to reach into the bag for the first cookie.

"Not so fast," his father spoke. The father had come in the door from work just before the mother handed the boy the cookies, and decided he needed to teach a valuable lesson. "What were you planning on doing with those five cookies?"

"Eating them?" the youngest replied.

"Don't you think it is greedy for you to eat all five cookies?" his father continued.

"Not really, since I earned them," the son answered. "All of my brothers and sisters were offered the opportunity to earn the cookies. I only got the job because they refused."

"Regardless of that, we need CHANGE in this household. I cannot continue to reward selfish and greedy behavior in my house. Give me the bag," the father demanded.

The boy reluctantly handed the bag of cookies to his father. The father took the bag, and distributed one cookie to each of the siblings, leaving the smallest cookie in the bag and returning it to his son, who was in tears.

"From each according to his ability, to each according to his need," the father quipped, repeating a quote he had heard from Barack Obama. He was so proud to live in a country that had elected Barack Obama as president, a country that valued fairness above all else, a country that would no longer excuse greed and selfishness, just because someone supposedly "earned" their money.


The lesson had been well learned. No child ever volunteered to do another task in the house, no matter how great the reward the mother offered. Once the oldest figured out that they could call human services if the parents ever did anything to punish them, and shared that secret with his siblings, they ignored the threats of their parents. No child ever did another chore, spending their days in idleness and fun. As each came of age, they proudly took their place in public housing and on the welfare rolls, continuing their idle existence. The father could not figure out where the mother had gone wrong with their upbringing.

The End

Monday, August 9, 2010

Krista Branch: Remember Who We Are

Can't wait for the official video to come out. Here's a unofficial one for Krista Branch's new song:

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Reason TV: Evolutionary Psychology

I've been planning on writing a series of posts about how our species evolved into its current condition, and how that process has influenced the way people think about the organization of society. Here is a husband-wife team of researchers into the very topic. Listen to what they have to say; it helps to explain a lot we need to be looking at.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cookie Dough

The deluge of red ink generated by the current Congress and Administration has brought into sharp focus the phenomenon of inflation. Unfortunately, as seems to be the case on virtually every area where government action impinges upon economies, there's so much disinformation that people don't understand what's going on. So, I'm going to explain it in really simple terms. This could take a while, so settle down in your easy chair and we'll start off with a story about Mrs. Smith's cookies....

Every Saturday morning, while Mr. Smith is down at the office catching up on work, Mrs. Smith and her three kids have a regular routine. Each of them has a list of chores to do; Mom's list includes baking a batch of chocolate chip cookies to reward them for getting the jobs done. She always bakes an even dozen, nice large cookies, which allows for each of them to have three cookies.

One day, the eldest, Johnny, tells his mom that it isn't fair that he does more work than his younger brother and sister, but gets the same reward, and insists that he should get four cookies instead of just three. Mrs. Smith thinks about it, and makes thirteen cookies so that Johnny can get four, while everyone else only gets three. Well, you don't have to be Nostradamus to predict out what happens next. Mary thinks she's doing more than little Billy, so she ought to get four cookies too, so the week after Mrs. Smith makes fourteen cookies. Now Billy is upset because he doesn't get as many as his older brother and sister, and he wants four cookies too!

Soon they're up to sixteen cookies, four each. But Mrs. Smith isn't mixing up a larger batch of cookie dough; she's just making each cookie 33% smaller than she did before. Everyone has more cookies, but since there's not any more dough, they aren't getting more to eat.
If you can understand the difference between "more cookies" and "more dough", then you're well on your way to understanding inflation.

Once upon a time, money was based on some objective standard of value. Many tribal cultures that herded animals used livestock in their trading activities. The very word "pecuniary" came to English from the Latin word for cattle, "pecus". But cattle are not interchangeable; some are of superior value to others, (as the President's penchant for Wagyu beef demonstrates) making accounting with such a "currency" rather imprecise.

Humans have always considered certain minerals to be precious; the varying quality issues that plague the use of livestock to measure value go away once the technology exists to refine metals such as silver and gold to standardized levels of purity. Those metals are entirely fungible. Most cultures that possessed that technology settled upon either or both of those two metals to define their currency. The US Dollar was originally based upon the Spanish Dollar, a 90% silver coin (about 25.5g silver content) produced in Mexico and Peru as well as Spain itself. Our Constitution forbids any state from making anything other than gold or silver coin legal tender, which suggests the extent to which those the Framers considered those two metals good objective measures of wealth.

What does this have to do with cookie dough? Back when gold and silver were used in coins, governments would sometimes "debase" the coins by reducing their precious metal content. When that happened, even though the new coins had the same name and nominal value as the old ones, they weren't worth as much. Johnny may not realize that his four new cookies have no more dough in them than the three old cookies, but his stomach is no more full. Some people may not notice that the new coins have less silver or gold than the old ones, but some do. When governments put more money into an economy in proportion to the goods and services that money can buy, it drives prices up in that same proportion. If there are 33% more dollars in circulation, with the same level of production, what once cost $3 will cost $4.

This is where the Clever Kids will complain that you can't argue by analogy, and the Cookie Dough Story is far too simplistic. Of course, it's simplistic, because, as I've said before, all economics discussion is "all other things being equal". Fiscal policy doesn't exist in a vacuum; increases in the supply of dollars don't just relate to the goods and services in the US economy, because those dollars can be spent anywhere in the world. Further, inflation depends not only on how many dollars are in circulation at any given point in time, but also on expectations of the future. But the long-term relationship cannot be denied; stable prices depend on stability of the ratio of the money supply to the goods and services available for that money to purchase.

Since we no longer make any pretense of tying our currency to an objective standard of value, and instead leave it to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System to manage the money supply (within the constraints of the spending authorized by Congress and the willingness of the market to purchase instruments of US Government debt), there can no longer be a sudden increase in the money supply such as followed the discovery of gold and silver deposits in the New World. Changes in the money supply are now entirely under the control of the government. It is therefore particularly galling that an asset held over a period of time may be sold at a paper "profit" representing nothing more than the inflation of the money supply.

Consider that with the low inflation rate of 3% per year, an asset need only be held for nine years and nine months for it to experience a purely paper increase in value by the same 33 1/3% as the Smith family cookies. And then, the same government that created that inflation will tax that 33 1/3% "profit". At the 20% capital gains tax rate set to return soon, the paper value of the asset must exceed the inflation rate by a quarter (3.75% if inflation is 3%, 5% if inflation is 4%, etc.) just to leave enough after paying the IRS (not including any state income tax) to have money worth the original purchase price of the asset. An honest tax code would index all capital gains to inflation, so that these paper gains are not taxed.

But under our current tax code, inflation is a double tax. As the above shows, it taxes as "income" these illusory gains. It is also a hidden tax on cash assets (including bank accounts, or contractual obligations of others to pay future amounts defined as some number of dollars. The uncertainty of how severe inflation may be in the future acts as a powerful disincentive to make long-term investments. A common criticism of US corporate culture is the obsession with "this quarter's profits", to the detriment of long-term considerations. How sophisticated are our betters in Europe, who make five-year plans, the Japanese who think in decades, or the Chinese who think in centuries! Well, is it any wonder, under the circumstances?

When people weigh investment decisions, they have to factor in the inherently uncertain nature of the returns to be had. It's one thing to sell your labor today for a specific amount of money; you know exactly what value you'll be getting in exchange for the time and effort you invest to earn it. But a decision to spend today in the hope that it will pay off many years hence is based on considering a wide range of possibilities: A continuum of returns, starting at none and increasing, with various probabilities for each, can be estimated and quantified. The popularity of lotteries and casinos indicates that some people are willing to make a bet that is unlikely to pay off, but that is self-correcting. The people who make rational decisions about risk and reward (and return with the capital to continue doing so) will always limit the former as compared to the latter.

Government policies introduce further uncertainty into that calculus (and I mean "calculus" quite literally; if you don't use that branch of mathematics, or rules of thumb derived from it, in making investment decisions, you probably aren't doing a good job of it). There is great risk that the money supply will be greatly inflated, robbing our currency of its value, and paper profits will then be taxed away, in reality robbing the asset of part of the little value it retains. Combine that with the knowledge that the Bush tax cuts will go away automatically, little if anything is likely to be done about it, and whatever is done will likewise be temporary (the next Congress will want to fiddle with taxes again; it's just what they do), and you have a recipe not for tasty cookies, but for economic disaster.
[Click on the title above, or date stamp below, to see the full article.]

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Interview with a Zombie

Not with our friend Zombie, mind you...

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Let the NAACP explain this

At an Atlanta tea party meeting....

Sunday, July 11, 2010

I am America

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Incorporation Insanity

I feel like I'm in a Twilight Zone episode. Yesterday, I was celebrating the RKTBA victory in McDonald v. Chicago in the chat room of The Ed Morrissey Show when the discussion turned to the crucial question of whether the Fourteenth Amendment had "incorporated" the Second Amendment to bind the states as well as the "Federal" government against infringing gun rights.

My reaction was described as "barking". I can't believe that learned men and women can read the same words I read and come to the conclusions they have reached. Either I'm barking mad, or they are.

I responded that the Second Amendment doesn't need to be "incorporated", because it applied to all levels of government ever since December 15, 1791. Just read its text:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
There isn't a word there saying that the "Federal" government can't infringe that right, but States can, unlike the First Amendment, which plainly opens with the phrase "Congress shall make no law..."

Somehow, the notion has become popular that the Constitution only defined the limitations on the powers of the "Federal" government, and did not limit the powers of the States. But that's complete nonsense: Article I, Section 10 explicitly restricts State power, Article IV is all about the States, and Article VI places limits on State laws.

The Tenth Amendment says:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
I see this as yet another case of the Constitution helping to define the powers of States: It leaves it to the people of each state to write their own constitutions to determine what powers to grant the state government, provided that nothing in the Constitution either gives that power to the "Federal" government or places it off-limits to the states.

Since the Tenth Amendment was proposed en masse with eleven others, including the Second, one could plausibly argue that its wording informs or restricts the meaning of the Second. In my analysis, the only glimmer of a theory under which the Second Amendment doesn't apply to the States is found here. This reading of the Tenth basically says "If the Constitution doesn't come right out and use the word 'state' in declaring a limit on government power, then that limit only applies to the 'Federal' government, not the states".

But I'm not buying that reading. When I read the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the original Articles of the Constitution, Federalist Papers, and the Bill of Rights, I come to the inescapable conclusion that when any of those documents speak of rights of the people that must not be infringed, they mean that those rights are superior to the powers of any government, and a government which infringes those rights, in doing so is violating its very reason to exist.

[Click on the title above, or date stamp below, to see the full article.]So, am I barking mad, or is the judicial consensus so far from what our first Congress meant when they proposed the Second Amendment, and the states understood when they ratified it, that I just seem insane as a sane man must appear in a world gone mad?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Time Perspectives

Watch this, and think about what it's saying. Then think some more. This is about a fundamental problem that seems to be getting worse, not better.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Awesome campaign Ad

For some reason, I can't embed this:

Monday, May 24, 2010

America's new culture war: Free enterprise vs. government

Arthur C. Brooks had a column in yesterday's Washington Post (?!?).

Read it. Print it out. Email it to your friends. He nails it!

Money quotes:

"When it comes to support for free enterprise, we are essentially a 70(for)-30(against) nation.

"Free enterprise brings happiness; redistribution does not. The reason is that only free enterprise brings earned success."

"The 70 percent majority, meanwhile, believes that ingenuity and hard work should be rewarded."

"What matters most to Americans is the commitment to principle, not the exercise of power. The electorate did not repudiate free enterprise in 2008; it simply punished an unprincipled Republican Party."

Thursday, May 20, 2010

NJ Teacher's union forced to take back seat to kids

"When New Jersey teachers union members refused to make room for students in a legislative committee hearing, the chairman took the meeting to the students."

Read it all.

Wall. Rifles. NO blindfolds!

Everybody Draw Mohammed Day

I'm not that much good at drawing, so mine's in the form of a rebus:

And yes, it's midnight GMT, so we're joining the party.

Poor Muslims aren't allowed to have any Ham. You know, I pity them.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Border Security is not a Laughing Matter

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Reason TV: The Downfall of "Downfall" Parodies

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

An Entrepreneur and the Minimum-Wage

by Don Boudreaux on April 29, 2010

A.G. (who asks me to use, in this post, only his initials) is a regular reader of Cafe Hayek. He’s 28 years old and is an entrepreneur in Charlotte, North Carolina. His firm employs 25 people, 21 of whom are low-skilled workers. A.G. just sent this memo to his employees:

To All Team Members:

The schedule for next week has been posted. You may notice that hours have been cut back on your schedule. This is across the board, not just you. I don’t want anyone to think they’ve done something wrong to deserve a cut in hours, so I wanted to explain why it’s happening.

There are a couple of reasons for this:

Go here and read the whole thing.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Crist-icism Down the Memory Hole

Until earlier today, http://charliecrist.com/2010/04/crist-campaign-rubio-camp-prefers-baseless-rumors-over-talking-about-his-record/ went to this page. Here's the money quote:

“To put these rumors to rest once and for all, as we have said countless times before, Governor Crist is running for the United States Senate as a Republican. He will not run as an Independent or as a No Party Affiliation.

“The Governor is proud of his conservative credentials and stands firmly behind the principles of limited government and more personal freedom, the bedrock values of the Republican Party. He is proud to be a member of the Party of Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan.

“This should completely and utterly put to rest any of the unfounded rumors coming from the Rubio campaign that Governor Crist would run as anything other than the Republican that he is.”
Now, strangely, the first link produces this:
Page Not Found

We're sorry, but the page you are looking for cannot be found. If you need more help, please use the search form to your left in the sidebar.
Sorry, Charlie, but you can't just make inconvenient prior statements disappear down the Memory Hole. The voters will remember in November.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I voted Democrat because...

Read the whole thing.

My vote for the number one reason:

"I voted Democrat because it was easier than thinking."

Monday, April 19, 2010

Condell: What do you know about Islam?

Smitty found this one via Jihad Watch:

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Reason TV: I Am Free Enterprise

A reminder of what the creeping corporatism of the regime will destroy:

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

You Picked a Fine Time To Lead Us

I have a warm spot in my heart for parody...

Monday, April 5, 2010



Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Anti-Administration Protestors Threaten Violence

(NSFW video)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Irony: A Pictorial Definition

Maria Conchita Alonso Rips Sean Penn a New One

Dear Sean, WHY?

Even though I have great respect for your artistic talent, I was appalled by a recent television interview where you vigorously showed support for the regime of Hugo Chavez. Therefore, I've decided to set the record straight for you regarding the Chavez regime, supporting my case based not only on my political ideologies, but on proven facts you choose to ignore. Otherwise, I believe your position would be different.

Being born in Cuba, a country where freedom of speech is non-existent, it's startling to observe how Venezuela, where I was happily raised, is fast becoming Cuba's mirror image: Dismantling of fundamental democratic rights deserved by its people and citizens of the world.

Read more: http://newsbusters.org/blogs/maria-conchita-alonso/2010/03/25/open-letter-sean-penn#ixzz0jdI2gW6w

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Day by Day: Declarative

Chris Muir tries Bill's challenge to write out the words of the Declaration of Independence by hand:

You are reading Day by Day, well, day by day, aren't you?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Every Picture Tells a Story, Don't it?

Goy sets the record straight about the horrors of "the last eight years".
Bookmark this one. It's a keeper!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Breaking Eggs

One of the most rewarding (and infuriating) experiences of being a parent is answering the question, “Why?”

When the kids are little, answering their questions requires you to actually know things. Why IS the sky blue? Why IS grass green? As they get older, the whys become more challenging. You will be forced to examine your beliefs and how you arrived at them. You had better be ready to explain your opinions with facts. “Because I said so.” is no longer an acceptable answer.

My oldest daughter is now 14.
Anyone who has ever had a teenager knows this means that I am a constant chauffeur. I'm always driving her and/or her friends somewhere. And I listen to talk radio. Anyone who has listened to talk radio in the last six months, knows that it's “All Healthcare, All the Time” Eleventy!

One day (I'm not sure who I was listening to) my daughter asked me, “What's wrong with giving people health care?”
We had been watching videos of the annual Rube Goldberg competition the night before, so I had an apt analogy at hand.

I asked her, “How do you make scrambled eggs? Step by step.”

“Well, you take the eggs out of the frig. Take the pan out of the cabinet. Spray the pan with Pam” etc..
A step by step of how to go from raw egg to fluffy scrambled goodness. (Though I add a little milk while I'm beating the eggs, but I digress)

Me, “So there's a lot of small, simple steps to turn raw eggs into something you can eat. And none of them cost us money, except for the things that are directly connect to the food: The eggs, the Pam and the electricity we use to cook. There's a lot of small, simple steps that Congress could take to make health insurance available to everyone. Like protecting doctors, so they don't get sued all the time.

“I can buy my car insurance from any company in the country; whoever has the best price for the coverage I want, but I have to buy health insurance only from Texas. It's the law”

“My company gets a tax break for buying my insurance. But I wouldn't get the same break if I just bought it for myself.”

“None of these things are complicated, and they don't cost anything”

“Now imagine one of those Rube Goldberg machines that uses dominoes, and balloons, and baskets and stuff: All just to break an egg. That's Obamacare. It's complicated and expensive.”

Her, “But why would they want that?”

Me, “Because they want be in charge of breaking the eggs. If they make it impossible to break your own eggs and they control the only egg breaking machine; then you have to come to them whenever you want breakfast”
[Click on the title above, or date stamp below, to see the full article.]

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Postrel: Obama is Glamorous; Palin isn't

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Reagan v. Obama

If you haven't listened to this clip yet, do it. Do it now.

HT: Cubachi

Monday, March 8, 2010

Labour hid ugly truth about National Health Service (NHS)

Interesting article in the Times Online about the uncovering of three reports (took a freedom of information request) commissioned by Lord Darzi from international consultancies to assess the progress of the NHS as it approached its 60th anniversary in 2008.

Money quote: “The risk of consequences to managers is much greater for not meeting expectations from above than for not meeting expectations of patients and families.”

And this is one of the models for Obamacare?!?

Friday, February 19, 2010

"Uncle" Orson hits one out of the Park!

Orson Scott Card is one of my favorite authors of both fiction and essays. His latest "Civilization Watch" column in the Greensboro, NC Rhinoceros Times entitled "How to Produce Stupid Children" should be required reading for all parents who truly love their kids and want them to grow up and be able to think for themselves.

There are too many good quotes to pick one and call it the "money quote". Here's a sample:

"As long as a single child grows up to vote Republican, these educators feel that they have failed."

"The Leftaliban version of American history has clearcut black-and-white good-vs.-evil stories to tell." (I do believe he's created a new word!)

"When they stop teaching American history before 1877, that will mean that everything that has made America a great, exceptional nation that has inspired and, yes, saved the world repeatedly, and is still the inspiration for true reformers in every part of the world – all those things will be ignored."

"But, you see, that "narrative" – the story of Franklin, Paine, Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Hamilton, Jackson and Lincoln – is useless to them. It hurts them. It encourages people to think for themselves."

As the InstaProfessor says: "Read the whole thing!"

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Too Late to Apologize: A Declaration


Friday, January 22, 2010

New favorite sign

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Day Obama Care Died

Paul Shanklin does it again! I just hope that he's right!