28 November 2008


I've redecorated a bit lately. I've also changed the "Of Interest" line-up to the right. I'd like to make special note of Social Services for Feral Children (which was kind enough to cross link here) and Secular Right, a new blog for secular conservatives. I'm agnostic, but if there is a god, he certainly doesn't give a poop about our political systems, so our political systems should return the favor and leave to god stuff to the churches, synagogues &c.


Because it is Important Information to Relay

28 November 2008
Uganda's police warned male bar-goers to keep their noses clean after a probe found a gang of robbers had been using women with chloroform smeared on their chests to knock their victims unconscious.(AFP/File)
This is an actual news story and this was the picture that accompanied it. I am posting this as a public service to the faithful followers of Sean.E.Boy.
You're welcome.

25 November 2008

Free-Market v Pro-Business

One of the great misconceptions I've noticed is the conflation of "free-market" ideals with "pro-business" methods.
One of the greatest ninnies in the history of American politics (the man who once said of the US budget that there's nothing left to cut) put tax incentives into a spending bill to entice oil companies to explore and drill for oil. Which is kinda what oil companies are supposed to do anyway. It's akin to providing incentives for McDonalds to find and harvest cattle and potatoes, but I wouldn't be surprised if the government doesn't do that as well.
A lot of this nonsense is put forward by Republicans under the guise of promoting the "free-market" which is absolutely, positively nothing of the sort.
Free-markets are free of government regulation that help specific firms gain an unfair advantage. People also claim that lobbyists perform a vital function in the protection of free-markets. They do nothing of the sort.
They carry out the right of corporations to assemble and petition the government, but as Adam Smith once said:

People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty and justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary

The last clause is as important as the first, especially to a libertarian. Government intervention in free-markets necessitates tradesmen to assemble to protect their rights and interests. This quickly devolves into chicken or egg argument as to which came first, but it doesn't matter.

Anyway, here is a great piece written by Roderick Long that looks objectively as to whether believers of free-market are apologists for corporations.

Treasure Trove

of analysis of what's going on in the financial markets and the theory of what's going on behind the scenes here.

24 November 2008

Life of Reilly

Just another in a long line of fantastic articles written by Rick Reilly. Sometimes (very rarely) he writes stuff that either pisses me off or (even more rarely) bores me.
Much more often than not, he writes brilliantly.

21 November 2008


One day I see myself doing this (and probably going to the emergency room)

Making Glass in a Grill [With Video!]

20 November 2008

Glass Half Full

So I was pondering how much I'm going to disagree with the next administration and how much the current administration and congress handling of the economic crisis will probably give me an ulcer and maybe ruin my profession.

Then I got to thinking, is there anything to be hopeful about? Any change I can believe in?

My hope is that President-elect Obama will help lead some necessary change in our drug policy, and if you're listening, here's my proposal:

Take the current federal drug control policy, including foreign interdiction, the entire DEA and all funding and grants to the states and throw them out. Then...

Don't do another thing.

Nice and easy and you heard it here first.

19 November 2008

Gay Marriage

Since the debate over whether gays & lesbians have a "right" to marriage started brewing several years ago, my thoughts on the matter took time to coalesce. But coalesce they did and here's what I came up with:

Marriage is a legal arrangement between parties that have attendant legal rights; the ability to take title to property as "tenants by the entirety," is one small example and the one with which I am most familiar.

State legislatures have the authority to define legal arrangements in their respective states. Other states, under Article IV (full faith and credit clause) must abide by these arrangements unless otherwise proscribed by congress. Which congress took care of with the absurdly named "Defense of Marriage Act." I think the name foolish, but the authority of the congress to do this is without question. So it was fine to me the way things were going. And I thought a constitutional amendment trying to define marriage was/is an asinine idea.

The libertarian in me doesn't care about who wants to marry whom, but the small conservative in me (getting smaller by the day) prefers that the arrangement be handled by the state legislatures. I didn't think this an area where judges have the authority to decide that now things are different, and we now think that marriage can be between people of the same gender.
The past tense in that last sentence probably gave me away.

I was in traffic tonight pondering this (there was a news update on NPR about the California Supreme Court hearing challenges to the recently passed Proposition 8). I was going through in my head, again, that the states are well within their rights to decide who can engage with whom in certain contracts when it hit me.

No, they can't.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (for example only) can corporately dislike gay people and gay lifestyles and everything else gay. But the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has certain rules set-up affecting the establishment of corporations/partnerships/legal arrangements. If two or more people join together to form a Limited Liability Company or a Corporation, following the proper guidelines established by the legislature (a legitimate, if overwrought, use of government authority) no state or commonwealth can proscribe a particular class of citizens (however defined) from assembly--not including criminals (it seems reasonable to me to prevent certain types of convicted felons from participating in certain activities).

In other words, if the people of Pennsylvania tried to say, via legislation, that gays could not form a General Partnership, the legislation would be promptly (& rightly) rent asunder by any court worthy of the name. The same holds true for licensing authority. There is no compelling reason for the state to deny a gay person a driver's license, an insurance license or a license to do any of the other things that the state in it's infinite wisdom deem requisite of licensing.

The argument that "marriage is different" fails in that the same argument could have been made to justify and perpetuate any social change that is now taken for granted that wasn't explicitly sanctioned by legislature. For example, women were able to own, purchase and transfer property without express statutory authorization. Cultural norms, of which I'm typically a fan, slowly evolved from only white, Christian men being allowed to take title to everyone being able to, regardless of gender, creed, race or sexual orientation. It fails the reasonableness test to claim that gays can participate in every other form of legal contract, save this one. You know, because they'd ruin it.

If marriage (or our culture) can't withstand the "assault" of gays wanting to be married, then what good is it?

None of the above changes the fact that this is still entirely a state issue and of no concern of the federal government in any context.

17 November 2008

A Good Reason

if not the best why three "big three" automakers should rot, here.


just wow

hat tip to Jonah at NRO

15 November 2008

It's been a while

Two great timewasters:

Assembler and Zilch.


I get reason magazine (I got Bob Barr to autograph my November issue!) and their website is just great. They also have reason.tv where I caught this:

The Drew Carey Project is there also.

Malkin on Paulson

Normally I find Michelle Malkin noxious--in fact I haven't read anything by her in a few years. But I stumbled upon this, and she's right. My favorite parts (emphasis added by me):
In September, Paulson offered his lofty pledge: “The ultimate taxpayer protection will be the stability this troubled asset relief program provides to our financial system, even as it will involve a significant investment of taxpayer dollars. I am convinced that this bold approach will cost American families far less than the alternative — a continuing series of financial institution failures and frozen credit markets unable to fund economic expansion.”
Two months later, Paulson’s conviction melted faster than microwaved butter. “Our assessment at this time is that this is not the most effective way to use TARP funds,” he sheepishly told the nation Wednesday.
Hey, who died and put Emily “Never Mind” Litella in charge of the economy?
Paulson explained at his non-mea culpa press conference that he knew when the bailout was signed that it wasn’t going to work as sold: “It was clear to me by the time the bill was signed on October 3 that we needed to act quickly and forcefully, and that purchasing troubled assets — our initial focus — would take time to implement and would not be sufficient given the severity of the problem.”
Now he tells us? Would have been nice if he had made this clear — quickly, forcefully, and publicly — to the Beltway stooges who were pulling the TARP over our eyes. So much for Paulson’s earnest transparency commitments on the Hill.
Members of Congress who let themselves be bullied into switching their votes on the bailout should be experiencing the biggest case of buyers’ remorse in U.S. history. They fell for what Nobel Prize-winning economist F.A. Hayek called “the fatal conceit” — the disastrous idea that a federal bureaucrat has the knowledge to do a better job than the private market in organizing and directing an economy. They gave unchecked power to a single government official without a clue.

14 November 2008

Beard Me

Judges measure the beard of Sarwan Singh during a ceremony in Surrey, British Columbia November 11, 2008. Singh was attempting to break the Guinness World Record. Singh's beard measured at 1.895 metres.

13 November 2008

Thoughts on Palin

I keep hearing and reading that Sarah Palin is one of the bright young stars of the Republican Party. I also was struck by the fierce defenses of her, especially in the realm of "conservative" radio and print. And I've come to the question, "why?"
What are her bona fides of conservatism? What in her record shows she has any concept of traditional conservative thought?
She fought corruption in Alaska, or so the narrative goes. Good for her. Good for Alaska. Being against corruption doesn't make you a conservative.
She has also brokered higher tax rates for the oil companies that end up being tax rebates to the brave souls who live in Alaska. There are no state income or sales taxes and only a few municipalities collect property taxes. So the residents get state tax rebates without paying taxes. On tax policy, she is in league with Obama.
To her credit, after it became unpopular, she abandoned the bridge to nowhere. But the state kept the money. I assume that the money was used for more legitimate ends, but as one who has significant problems with the federal government giving states any money for anything, I doubt it.
Some of the same nonsense was blathered about Lynn Swann when he ran for governor of Pennsylvania. Idiots like Sean Hannity were saying how important it is to get conservatives like Swann elected. When Swann was on Hannity's show he was asked what he saw as a shortcoming of congress, my guess is so that he could show that he could be an objective critic of his own party. His complaint was that the feds weren't giving the states enough money for No Child Left Behind.
Now anyone with the slightest idea of what conservatism is or stands for, especially apropos federalism, can spot the obvious conflicts above. But nary a word is said.
The same can be said of the treatment of Bush. Whenever there was legitimate criticism of Bush from the right, it was promptly quashed. After writing the excellent book Impostor, Bruce Bartlett was fired from the think-tank he worked at and has become almost invisible at National Review Online. Here's the test I give to Republicans who say they've been critical of Bush (or, "I haven't agreed with all of his policies,"): if a Democrat were to sign McCain-Feingold or either of the last two farm bills or impose steel tariffs or textile restrictions or have spending increase as much as it has over the past eight years, how would you react. The answer is that they would blow their stacks. As well they should, these are idiotic policies no matter who proposes or endorses them. But they didn't and thus have no standing, with me, for when they criticize a Democrat for doing what he believes in. According to Jonah Goldberg:
Dissent from Bush was muted for years, in large part because of 9/11 and the Iraq war. Conservatives, right or wrong, rallied to support their president, particularly in the face of shrill partisan attacks from Democrats who seemed more interested in tearing down the commander in chief than winning a war. But the Bush chapter is closing, and the fight to write the next one has begun.

He wasn't "their" president, and continued defense of Bush or his policies will only erode whatever intellectual integrity remains. I will leave for another time and place (and have mentioned elsewhere already) the absurd notion that objection to Bush's views on the role and scope of presidential authority can be construed as "tearing down the commander in chief" or was limited to Democrats.
Back to Palin, if you can't handle an interview with lightweights like Couric and Gibson at 44 years old, you'll probably never be fit to be president. If she's on the ticket in 2012, Obama won't even have to campaign.
Anyway, I'm more and more into the Libertarian camp. Just finished What it Means to be a Libertarian and am moving on to Libertarianism: a Primer. Also I've picked up a bunch of stuff by Ludwig von Mises. Good times.

12 November 2008

P.J. O'Rourke

Very good article in the Weekly Standard.

Also his great speech, "The Liberty Manifesto."

He also recently wrote On the Wealth of Nations, which distills Adam Smith's magnum opus and also his Theory on Moral Sentiments. O'Rourke's is thoroughly enlightening and entertaining. I have Smith's Wealth. I hope one day to tackle it.

Just a great writer.


Price of oil, below $60/barrel, has fallen more than 60% in four months.

If oil companies were run by farmers, they be getting more subsidies by now.

Looks like the oil companies need better lobbyists.


My congressman is a horse's ass. The bigger shame is that no one seriously challenged his seat.

I wonder if a man committed to fiscal discipline will vote in favor of the auto industry bailout (no not that one, the new one--another colossally bad idea brought to you by the US Government), and if he does (which he will) how he will justify it.

Can anyone provide an economically sound reason why congress should provide more money to failing companies?

I think the good tidings from the Phillies win have subsided.

Barstool Economics (& Taxation)

The following was posted over at facebook by an old friend. I guess it's been circulating. I enjoyed it and thought I'd post it here, also (please see update below).

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:
The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1.
The sixth would pay $3.
The seventh would pay $7.
The eighth would pay $12.
The ninth would pay $18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.
So, that's what they decided to do. The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve."Since you are all such good customers", he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20". Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.
The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men - the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his "fair share?"
They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.
And so:
The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).
The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33%savings).
The seventh now pay $5 instead of $7 (28%savings).
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).
Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.
"I only got a dollar out of the $20," declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man, "but he got $10!"
"Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man. "I only saved a dollar, too. It's unfair that he got ten times more than I!"
"That's true!!" shouted the seventh man. "Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!"
"Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison. "We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!"
The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up. The next night the tenth man didn't show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn't have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

*UPDATE*--This article was originally attributed to an economics professor at the University of Georgia. It has been brought to my attention that the professor did not write the above and I've removed his name. Please see here. I believe the moral of the parable still stands but think the beating up of the rich guy is a bit on the nose and doesn't help--and in many ways detracts--from the parable's main moral. I'm leaving it in the post, though, as I don't want to be seen as covering up the nasty bits.

09 November 2008

World Series Parade-a little late

Large crowd

Brett Myers & Cole Hamels (among others)--the chants of "MVP" were concussive

Phiilie Phanatic

Charlie Manuel

Pat Burrell

Ricky Gervais

I never knew he had a previous career:

I stumbled upon that while looking the below up for a friend. Just a great bit froms Extras: