But Now You Know

The search for truth in human action

Cash for Clunkers Causes Pollution and Poverty


This was going to be an article about how the Obama administration’s “Cash for Clunkers” campaign is an assault on the poor — which it is, because it breaks the flow of newer used cars to poorer people — but, in gathering facts for it, I came to realize that another of the unintended consequences of this self-destructive law is that it, literally, will increase pollution.

Why?

Ultimately, both of these side-effects are caused by the bizarre, authority-obsessed requirement that the cars traded in be destroyed, not sold to owners of even older cars.

Cash for Clunkers Pollutes

This is because the older a car, the worse its gas mileage. Not only in general, but also because cars tend to perform worse as they age.

But Now You Know is getting GREAT mileage out of this picture of the wind-powered Aerius, that charges its own hybrid battery while driving, in defiance of the laws of thermodynamics

But Now You Know is getting GREAT mileage out of this picture of the wind-powered Aerius, that charges its own hybrid battery while driving, in defiance of the laws of thermodynamics

Cash for Clunkers only rewards people for buying new cars, not for simply buying any car that got better gas mileage, regardless of its age. And it destroys the cars traded in, regardless of their own gas mileage.

This means that only more-prosperous people, who can afford new cars, are able to use the C4C program. They are, therefore, often trading in relatively nice, fuel-efficient cars. Often, they are even buying cars only a couple of miles per gallon more efficient.

Meanwhile, what about the people with older cars, which are much less fuel efficient?

Simple: They are having the nicer, more efficient used cars they WOULD have bought destroyed. Leaving them in a pollutive car longer than if the C4C never happened in the first place.

Since the older the car, the more pollutive, this has the net effect of WORSE pollution, not better.

Someone buys a new car that gets two miles per gallon better. His used car is destroyed, instead of going to someone who owns an older car that gets TEN miles per gallon worse. The net result is an LOSS of 8 MPG.

Take this real-life example:

  • Dude A has a 16 MPG truck
  • Trades it in for an 18 MPG truck, Obama gives him $3500 to save 2 MPG
  • Dude B has a Chevrolet 1500, that gets 9 MPG
  • Dude B finds he cannot afford to buy to buy a 16 MPG truck, because prices have gone up so much.
  • He keeps his old truck.

Net result? The Obama plan gets credit for a whole 2 MPG increase, but actually produced a 7 MPG decrease.

“But this isn’t a good example”, some greenie shouts, “people were trading in SUVs for compact cars!”

While that would be a good example of the program increasing traffic deaths, it’s not actually true in this case.

This is because the initial stats claiming it were a contextual lie.

The actual numbers, in fact, show that the most people traded their vehicles in for SUVs and trucks.

But that’s not all…there is a large “carbon footprint” around manufacturing a new car. Statistically, it should be impossible for the above +2 MPG truck to save enough, in pollution, to make up for being built, over keeping the used truck. Same with non-carbon pollution, manufacturing versus microscopically worse gas mileage. Keeping an older car can actually reduce pollution.

Of course that wasn’t the original point of this article:

…and Causes Poverty

In their attack on consumer choice, the Obama administration attacked consumerism itself, which is a very politically-correct thing to do. But the fact is that consumerism makes our economy more efficient, and benefits the poor.

As the best-off consumers buy better things, items out of favor — whether used or just old models — become less expensive, allowing poorer people to buy progressively better stuff for the same prices.

In the case of cash for clunkers, the Obama administration broke this:

  • Nice used cars will now be in shorter supply, which will raise the relative prices of the remaining nice used cars.
  • This will make it harder for poorer people to afford to upgrade.
  • This will trickle all the way down to the very poorest, who will soon find that their ability to buy some minimal car AT ALL, is affected.
  • That can mean the difference between getting to a job, and getting out of poverty, or being trapped indefinitely.

So aside from the many other unintended consequences of this program, and there are many, the program has actually set the scene for poor people to have an even harder time affording cars, a vital tool for earning more money.

What’s more, most of the sales are ones that would have happened, anyway.

Didn’t Even Help

The net result of Cash for Clunkers will be more depressing effect on our economy. Government is often credited with the famous Reverse Midas Touch: Everything it touches turns to crap

The net result of Cash for Clunkers will be more depressing effect on our economy. Government is often credited with the famous Reverse Midas Touch: Everything it touches turns to crap

Speaking of poverty, the program did not actually stimulate car buying, to help the economy, especially did not help the American car companies (who did not deserve it, anyway), and did not even get those new buyers to save gas mileage!

Why?

Because most of the buying was just what economists call “front loading”; the choice to buy a car was simply moved ahead…once the plan ends, car purchasing will decline to an abnormal low from where it would have been, as most people who could have anticipated buying a car in the next year or two will have simply bought ahead, at taxpayer expense.

The net result, therefore, will be the same amount of economic activity, but crammed hastily into a shorter period of time, and with the economy-damaging side-effect of government spending having required government debt or taxpayer burden.

“Hasty” seems to be a government motto, of late.

Oh, and the “helping American car companies”? The people who took advantage of Cash for Clunkers mostly bought Japanese cars.

In all, these factors mean that even this most feel-good of big government programs, Cash for Clunkers, has had the overall effect of increasing pollution and harming the poor, by removing perfectly good, modern used cars from the road, trapping poorer people in much older cars, for longer…while either increasing pollution through manufacturing more new cars, or just causing future economic turmoil by using economy-depressing public finance to encourage people to simply buy their cars a few months early, all at one time.

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August 14, 2009 Posted by | Economy, environment, Politics, Society | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Who Are the 47 Million Uninsured?


Not everyone in our country has health insurance...but the reasons aren't what you're led to believe.

Not everyone in our country has health insurance...but the reasons aren't what you're led to believe.


EVERY TIME someone spouts the “forty seven million uninsured” number, show them this.

You routinely hear that claim in the health care debate, but, for some mind-boggling reason the opponents of nationalized health care rarely, if ever, stop to point out exactly WHO is being counted in that number.

When you’re deciding whether we should be forced to surrender our remaining medical freedom of choice to make coverage “universal”, consider who these “uninsured” actually are:

The Breakdown

The largest, overlapping, groups of uninsured in the US include:

  • 9,000,000 Millionaires
  • 27,000,000 people who make more than $50,000 per year, but choose not to get insurance
  • 22,000,000 Young adults who can afford insurance, but choose not to
  • 14,000,000 People who can already get medicaid, but choose not to
  • 11,000,000 Illegal Immigrants
  • 23,000,000 People who are actually insured. That’s right; you’ve been lied to…surprised?


This adds up to more than forty seven million, because of the overlap – for example young adults who are millionaires and change insurance companies fit into four categories, above.

Let’s check out the details:

Millionaires: The kind of health insurance you get from employers, these days, is actually pretty self-defeating…it makes you pay thousands of dollars per year, and in return you get tens of dollars worth of coverage on office visits and other routine care. The US has more millionaires than the rest of the world combined, and if you’re one, you’re not going to bother paying a premium every month, to avoid the much smaller annual checkup fee. Of the nine million millionaires, many wisely ditch routine health insurance entirely.

$50,000+: Of course this applies, to a lesser extent, to many people who make more than $50K, twenty seven million of whom choose to be ininsured. They don’t bother with health insurance, because they can pay for checkups out of pocket, no problem. Especially if they are…

Young Adults: Two thirds of the “uninsured” not skipping out on medicaid are between 18 and 34. Those people feel, and are statistically correct, that they’re probably not going to need the insurance, anyway. Why pay $2,000 per year for insurance when you’re going to go ten years without even getting a checkup, and have not a single ill effect from it? Sure, they’re risking the rare catastrophe…but it IS rare, and anyway that’s their own fault and choice.

Medicaid-Dodgers: If you get on medicaid, you have to pay some small token premium…but if you choose NOT to pay that premium, and then you actually get horribly ill, you can actually sign up on the spot and still get covered, having essentially gamed the system and won anyway. So why ANYONE would bother signing up ahead of time escapes me. Fourteen million are smart enough not to.

Illegals: I don’t like how restrictive our immigration laws are, but nonetheless they ARE among the few legitimate functions of the Federal government…and, more importantly, anyone in this country illegally is CHOOSING to live a life that will essentially make insurance impossible to legally get. There are about eleven million of these people, and “uninsured” surveys don’t filter them, in fact they sometimes specifically count them. That’s their own choice and problem. Legitimate taxpayers shouldn’t have to support them.

The Insured: In fact, the majority of the “uninsured” who aren’t gaming medicaid ARE INSURED ANYWAY. See, the fearmongers who came up with these deceptive numbers are including anyone who changes insurance companies in a given year as being unisured for that year. This is because, legally, there is some point (even if it’s only one instant at midnight) where you are covered by neither policy. Therefore, twenty three million of the “uninsured” are actually insured for almost the entire year.

COBRA Fakes Uninsurance

Under the category of “actually just switching insurance”, anyone who changes employers is automatically covered by COBRA…but it is retroactive. They can simply choose to be “uninsured” for up to two months, rather than paying prematurely for the COBRA, in case they get another job…if something goes wrong and they decide to “get” COBRA, it becomes retroactive for the entire two months. So they are counted as “uninsured”, but just like medicaid-qualified people, they actually ARE insured, just skating on the payments.

This really shows the depth of the “millions uninsured” scam, because it means that when COBRA was passed, more  people became insured (anyone who has lost a job, for at least two months), yet the COUNT of “uninsured” actually went up.

Who is Left Out

Of course the examples of who are supposedly uninsured are equally deceptive…usually the fearmongers spout off about old people and babies.

The wealthiest segment of Americans are the elderly...yet they oppose limiting medicaid/medicare to those who actually can't afford to pay their own way. This richest group of Americans takes money from poor working Americans for their "Free" health care

The wealthiest segment of Americans are the elderly...yet many of them oppose limiting medicaid/medicare to those who actually can't afford to pay their own way. This richest group of Americans takes money from the poorest working Americans for their "Free" health care.

But, in fact, less than four percent of the elderly are “uninsured”, and of course 100% of those either are wealthy (the oldest fifth of Americans are the RICHEST fifth of Americans), or are covered by medicare/medicaid, since they’re…old. Either way, they just choose not to get insurance.

And, of course, ALL “children without health insurance” have parents who fall into the six categories above, or are directly covered by special plans for children. One hundred percent.

Who’s Actually Not Covered? Perhaps Nobody…

What’s more, in my effort to find a number for people who are actually uninsured, but NOT covered by medicaid, NOT making over fifty thousand per year, NOT choosing to ditch insurance because they are young and invulnerable, and NOT an illegal immigrant…I couldn’t find any, at all. The number is so small that it’s not even worth citing by the socialists, assuming it’s above zero in the first place.

Demand that they come up with an actual number, before we take them seriously on the claim that we surrender our remaining medical freedom in order to have “universal” coverage. Should we suffer the wait for treatment like Canada in order to save just five percent of the population from themselves? Two percent? One percent?

August 5, 2009 Posted by | Economy, Family, Health, Politics, Society | , , , , , , , , | 32 Comments

Check out the Worker’s Rights Manifesto


anarcho-capitalist-workerYou and I, as a workers, have certain rights that are naturally ours, and that nobody should be allowed to violate. These rights are choices we are free to make, unless the powerful try to steal them.

  1. The right to work for the amount we choose.

    What we earn should be a matter between ourselves and our employers, not something controlled or approved by some government…more

  2. The right to work for whom we choose.

    Where we work should be a matter of which job offer we accept, not controlled by some law or.…more

  3. The right to keep the product of our labor, and do with it as we choose.

    The product of our labour is the amount we agree to sell our services to an employer for. It is ours by right, and any authority who takes it from us for their own purposes is wrong.…more

  4. The right to decide how we work.

    What if we don’t want three weeks off, but would like a little extra pay, instead? What if we want to buy health insurance with a huge deductible for two hundred bucks a year, instead of paying two hundred bucks per month for full insurance, because we have a lot saved up in the bank in case we get sick? Nobody should be able to.…more

  5. The right to work the way we choose.

    We have a right to decide what is “safe”, for ourselves, instead of.…more

  6. The right to become owners / management, and be proud of it.

    If we work hard, and make the sacrifice of saving our rightful income (product of labor), or work in our own time to create a great new idea, we have a right to invest it to create new wealth.…more

July 28, 2009 Posted by | Economy, Philosophy, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Where’s the Hyperinflation?


When the unaccountable, secretive arm of the banking industry known as the Federal Reserve started lending itself (the banking industry) billions of newly invented dollars, late last year, responsible people all over America were horrified.

Some of the soundest economic minds even started predicting “hyperinflation”.

Well, it’s been three quarters, now…soon it’ll be a year.

“Where,” other people are saying, “oh where is that oh-so-scary hyperinflation?”

The answer comes in several parts:

What is Hyperinflation? Hyperinflation is a specific thing. It’s not the three percent inflation we normally “enjoy”, any more than it’s a flavor of cream pie. We must define what it is, in order to know if it happens.

What Causes Hyperinflation? Having defined it, we need to know if the things that cause it are happening. The Fed has printed new money for nearly 100 years, never with hyperinflation. Is what happened recently sufficient to change that?

How Long Would it Take? Is it too late? It’s been nine months; are we safe?

Well, Let’s See

What is hyperinflation?

An actually hyperinflated currency, the Zimbabwe dollar was so weak that this is a single note for one hundred TRILLION. The Fed would have to print fifty times as much as it did last fall, in order to match this ONE bill.

(caption: An actually hyperinflated currency; the Zimbabwe dollar was so weak that this is a single note for one hundred TRILLION. At the rate it printed money for two months last fall, the Fed would still need over eight years just to print enough to equal this one scrap of paper)

Well, “inflation” is when you increase the amount of money, or the supply of it compared to the demand for goods in society…but when non-economists say “inflation”, they usually mean “prices go up”.

And so “hyperinflation” is just “prices going up really, really fast”. The amount necessary to count is generally said to be “100% per year for three years”, for long-term hyperinflation, or else “50% per month” for short-term hyperinflation.

The most inflation we’ve ever suffered, in the 1970s, was less than 14% per year. Normally, it’s between 2% and 3%.

Right now, prices are going DOWN most months, not up. There isn’t even price stability now, much less price inflation.

But why would prices be going up OR down, in an unhealthy way?

Super-quick history:

Almost exactly 100 years ago, in 1907, the US suffered yet another in a long series of destructive depressions and panics, generally caused by money shortages creating runs on banks, price failures, stock market crashes, et cetera.

But this one was stopped dead in its tracks by a group of wealthy entrepreneurs who made very short-term loans to various financial groups, allowing banks to pay off depositors, et cetera. The result was the downturn cut short, never becoming a full-blown depression.

A brilliant lesson was about to be learned, but unfortunately government prevented that. Instead of a newish industry of short-term finance lenders/insurers springing up, the Federal Government announced it was going to act in that role, from now on. It created the Federal Reserve, which would use its coercive power to print imaginary new money to lend to financial institutions in times of crisis.

(Sadly, it did the opposite; it lent out newly minted money in good times, but tended to cut it off whenever there was a financial panic, which was the only time it was supposed to lend in the first place…this is part of what triggered the start of the Great Depression in 1929)

Well, the Fed is a whole other discussion, of course, so we’re going to skip ahead, now

Today:

So instead of lending out money during a crisis, the Federal Reserve increases the amount of money a few percent per year, lending it out in good times. This is part of why we have (usually moderate) inflation…the amount of money increases faster than the demand for goods, so there’s more money to spend than stuff to buy, and prices increase.

But from 2004 through 2008, the Fed did something it hadn’t done since 1938 when we went off the Gold Standard: It started DECREASING money supply:

(caption: Notice that M1, paper money and money in US banks, shrinks (goes below 0 growth) from 2004-2008)

(caption: Notice that M1, paper money and electronic money in US banks, shrinks (goes below 0 growth) from 2004-2008)

Notice that the most important line, the red M1, goes below zero (to shrinking money), and stays negative longer than it had been at any but one time in fifty years. And currency (actual paper money) falls lower than ANY time in that span.

This is because M3, which includes money in foreign banks, was going up so quickly: Money was fleeing the US because of our wars, and the 700% inflated oil prices, and our billions in new foreign aid. We would buy oil that should have cost a few hundred billion, but instead cost us trillions, and send the money for that oil to Saudi Arabia, and other foreign countries.

Over the course of four years, this added up to a shortfall of between two and three trillion dollars in the domestic US economy. That money was all overseas.

Here comes deflation

The Federal Reserve cannot possibly keep money supply balanced, as illustrated by the recent deflation

(caption: The Fed's monopoly could never work better than any other monopoly, and now it's produced deflation)

This didn’t even leave enough money to pay for our normal goods, much less allow the economy to grow…plus, of course, the cost of making things was shooting up from the high oil prices, as all things require energy, while there was LESS money to cover that universal new expense.

The result? Deflation, and therefore a money shortage, that led to the economic depression starting in 2008. There was not enough money to run the economy, so prices began FALLING, the US suffering what appeared to be a “loss” of about three trillion dollars. This was simply the change in prices to represent the trillions missing because of M1 shrinking for four years.

The Federal Reserve’s response? It actually CUT its offered money supply in 2008, by refusing to lend to banks suffering financial trauma…once again failing to act in its sole official role of “lender of last resort” as in 1907.

But it couldn’t keep that up, because deflation destroys a market economy.

So, once this cutting off of emergency money caused the banks to start failing, the Fed belatedly loosened its purse strings: It lend out over two trillion dollars to financial institutions, in just a few months.

Is It Enough to be Hyper?

Now if the Fed did this all the time, lending out a trillion dollars each month when the economy was just fine, we might really have hyperinflation.

But, instead, the Fed did this ONE TIME, starting from a money deficit of three trillion dollars.

So, in fact, what it did was produce enough new money to, hopefully, make up for the money shortage.

Being down trillions of dollars, then adding two trillion, could not make prices double every year. Or even once.

Even if there had been no shortage, two trillion is not enough to increase prices by 50% every month, nor 100% every year, because it is a fraction of the many trillions of dollars in our economy, and only happened one time. Hyperinflation requires more money to be printed even as prices are going through the roof, so that people come to expect it and overprice things ahead of time.

But, even if it had been enough to cause hyperinflation, there’s one last big factor:

Time delay.

How Long?

We can’t guarantee that there will be NO backlash from this infusion of money, until about 18 months have passed. Historically, changes in money supply take between 6 and 18 months to hit prices in an economy. It has to gradually spread throughout the system, being spent, invested, and saved over and again, until its full impact is felt and absorbed.

So we have until mid 2010 to see whether there are SOME effects from the unhealthy throwing of two trillion unearned dollars at our socialized banking institutions.

What About Government Spending?

For better or worse, it is actually impossible for government spending to “stimulate” an economy, at all. And since the current “stimulus packages” are financed by bonds and deficit, not the printing of money, they are actually DE-Flationary. Read the above link, to understand exactly why these things are so.

Sorry, Not Even Close

But, ultimately, whatever backlash there is, it cannot be hyperinflation. With an economy of, depending on how you count, eight to twelve trillion dollars, you can’t make prices jump even 50%, even for ONE month (and it must keep happening, to be hyper), by printing two trillion new dollars. Not even if there were not already deflation to counter.

The great danger, to this day, is deflation, not inflation, which can produce a long-term spiral of economic depression

The great danger, to this day, is deflation, not inflation, which can produce a long-term spiral of economic depression. What's worse, is that the Consumer Price Index, adjusted to compensate for annual cycles like Christmas spending and winter energy prices, showed deflation six months earlier than this chart.

July 25, 2009 Posted by | Economy, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Why Stimulus Spending Depresses the Economy


There is a good reason why Bush’s “economic stimulus” plans helped land us in economic depression, and why Obama following that precedent with bigger, badder stimulus plans will do even more harm.

It is the same reason why Japan’s “stimulus plans”, upon which ours were partially based, kept them in an economic depression for a decade, and did the same thing in Sweden.

Here’s How

  • Lost Money: Every penny spent is taken from the private sector: whether through taxes; or by borrowing that robs from private investment, so nothing is gained. Then that money is wasted before it’s spent, because of the cost of bureaucracy, red tape, political motivation, and the lack of any control over the benefit of what it’s spent on.
  • Crowding Out: The government spending competes with private spending, but has no checks or balances, no responsibility, so that it can crush the private competition out of the market, causing more economic harm instead of helping. It hires away workers and managers with large budgets, yet contributes less. It draws away research and investment from the private sector, et cetera.
  • Chilling Effect: Healthy private investment and behavior is seen as punished, as unconditional public spending displaces it. Government spending tends to reward failure, and not to create wealth, while private spending depends upon productivity and success to expand. Bad companies, which do not contribute enough to society to justify their existence, have their ineffective ways perpetuated, instead of being excised and replaced with new competition.

Lost Money

Your Neighbors

1194819_old_windowYour neighbors are planning to upgrade all of their crappy single-pane, wooden windows to nice thermal-pane replacement windows.

(Don’t ask how I know, just work with me, here…)

Your neighbors, therefore, shall cause the full employment of a team of six carpenters/installers, for one week. And those workers will, in turn, use their pay in ways that end up rewarding others, by spending or investing.

Of course they’ll also be profiting the company that sells windows, which in turn will reward its suppliers by ordering more, et cetera.

Your neighbors will, too, have nicer windows. Their house will be more comfortable. They will save money on their energy bills. And, if they are Global Warming True Believers, they will also feel very good about their effort to save the earth.

All of this benefits society and the economy. Even the feel-good parts.

Big Brother

But perhaps your neighbors will be prevented from doing this, by Big Brotherment.

Maybe their taxes are, or will be, high enough that they won’t be able to afford to buy those thermal replacement windows.

Perhaps, in fact, the amount necessary to upgrade their house will, in fact, be spent on a Stimulus Package, funded by their taxes.

That tax money, instead of being spent on their house, will instead filter through the government bureaucracy. The majority of it will actually be paid to bureaucrats, who produce nothing but paperwork and rules.

What’s left, in theory, will go to some union contractors in Iowa, to finance a Corn Museum. Never mind that Corn makes more money for its producers than any other crop, the government is financing this to “stimulate” the economy.

So a team of three union carpenters will get paid for about five days, based on your neighbor’s tax money. Three, because a majority of the money was lost to red tape, and only five days, because the union monopoly dominating the government contract in question is overpaid.

Better still, once their hourly coffee breaks and four mandatory half-hour breaks are deducted, and you take into consideration the bizarre “safety” rules in their contract, that leave them standing around more often than working, what you will actually get is about the amount of work one carpenter’s could do in five days.

And it will be dedicated to building the 23rd corn museum in the United States.

So the options are:

Free Market

  • Your neighbors get a house full of thermal windows.
  • Six carpenters get fully employed for a week.
  • A window company is rewarded for improving the lives of your neighbors.
  • Money is saved on energy.
  • The planet is no longer doomed.

Government Stimulus

  • Iowa gets 0.01% of a corn museum.
  • Three carpenters get employed for five days, to do the work of one carpenter.
  • People may, if the project is ever finished using other people’s tax money, get to save an hour over driving to the privately funded corn museum next door in Illinois.

Now a government bureaucrat will, in defense of his precious Pork budget, say “but we can’t be sure your neighbor will buy thermal replacement windows!”

But, quite frankly, we can be just about 100% certain that they will spend it on something they value. I’m not entirely clear on how even pet rocks and full body massages would be any less of a contribution to the economy than another corn museum.

And, seriously, much of the government’s spending benefits society less than corn museums, too.

Bridges to nowhere, two thousand dollar toilet seats, military equipment the generals said they didn’t want, but some senator insisted on funding because it is built in his state, methadone for junkies that is more addictive and toxic than the heroin it is replacing, free benefits for illegal aliens…

Face it, the corn museum was actually an optimistic example of government benefiting society.

Ultimately, each dollar the government spends must come from a dollar ALREADY taken from your pocket, directly or indirectly. There is no stimulation, because it’s just the same dollar. And, worse, YOU would have bought something you felt was beneficial, not wasted it on some bureaucratic make-work project.

Crowding Out

(caption: Buying stuff on closeout from a bankrupt company helps the economy far more than a government check)

(caption: Buying stuff on closeout from a bankrupt company helps the economy far more than a government check, regardless of whether it saves the bankrupt company)

And let’s not forget that the government’s spending competes with private spending. There is a pressure against private industry, when it’s forced to compete with a government that can forcibly finance a project without any standards for success.

Workers

As noted above, if you are a carpenter, you can get a job where you are paid for what you accomplish, in the private sector, or you can get a job in a government contract where a union monopoly guarantees you more pay, for less work, a coffee break every single hour, and you’re not actually expected to even succeed, or do good work.

With government spending, therefore, one ends up with fewer skilled workers in the private sector.

Research

Better an easy government research job with no results required except regular publication of results, than private sector research, that must actually prove some contribution to society.

This is why things like cancer research and alternative energy research have produced only insanely expensive, ineffective results.

Business

Why build a privately financed corn museum, when there is a public one planned nearby? The free market depends on the pressure of demands, which can be supplied because of the reward of profit, fame, et cetera. All of which is quashed by public competition…producing LESS economic activity, prolonging, or even creating, economic downturn.

Investment

This is even true of investment. Why risk money buying stocks, or investing in any other resource that actually helps create wealth and grow the economy, if the government is issuing trillions in bonds that it can guarantee, at gunpoint, it will be able to afford to pay off?

This is part of why the US stock market is below where it was a dozen years ago; the past nine years of massive growth in government spending have crowded out even investment, depressing economic growth and the availability of money for business and individual use.

Chilling Effect

1164432_carpenter_series_1Capitalism helps society prosper, in part, by requiring that businesses be efficient and useful, or else be displaced by other, better, more efficient competition. Government “stimulus” spending helps bad behaviors and inefficient companies survive, preventing the openings for new, better ways.

Reward Failure

Government spending, too, has to reward failure and punish success, directly. Not just by bailing out failures, but with its own agencies: It would be irresponsible to expand the budget of a project that was already coming in ahead of schedule and under budget. What a waste of taxpayer dollars! Instead, if the agency wants to expand its budget, it must fail. It must show how it is over budget and behind schedule, and how natural this is, how more money and power will help it achieve its goals.

Punish Success

Meanwhile, responsible, productive businesses are punished for their contribution to society.

What if Ford ends up the weakest of the three automakers, because it didn’t take the thirty billion taxpayer dollars and declare bankruptcy? What does this tell companies in other industries, when they’re considering whether to be productive, or else squander money and go crying to the stimulus committees for bailouts?

Government Gangrene

There are hundreds of billion dollars in bad investments, loans, et cetera, that need to simply fail, because they cannot ever be productive. Right now they are gangrene on society’s body, just burdening our health and slowly spreading…but the stimulus/bailout money keeps them from being removed, and even helps them expand, quashing healthy alternatives.

The Solution

In each case, around the world in history, the only way to get out of economic depression was for the government to STOP killing the economy with its fake “stimulus” packages.

Examples

It took Japan and Sweden ten years to figure this out. Some other countries never have, and still are suffering for it.

Even in the US, the government constantly expanded spending to “stimulate” from 1929 through 1938, and only truly enjoyed healthy economic growth when spending and regulation were massively cut in the late forties and fifties.

The opposite of this was the depression of 1920-21, where banks failed, commodity prices plummeted (like housing prices now), the stock market crashed…and the US government did virtually nothing.

That lack of “stimulus” resulted in a depression less than two years long, unlike the decade of the other examples.

Check out the extensive history of economic downturns in the US, for more.

Self-Transfusion?

Ultimately, government spending actually sucks the life out of the economy, increasing and prolonging economic depression, because it must take private money in order to “spend” the public money…as if you gave yourself a blood transfusion by taking blood your left arm and putting it in your right…with the stress of the transfusion actually leaving you weaker than when you started.

July 15, 2009 Posted by | Economy, Politics | , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Why Do Good People Hope Obama Fails?


che-obama-posterized

(caption: Hoping The People succeed often means hoping a specific politician's agenda will fail.)

There was a recent hue and cry about Rush Limbaugh saying he hoped that Obama would fail.

But he has plenty of people on his side…from all over the political spectrum. Why?

Look not at the words a politician uses to adorn his proposals, but at the things it will actually produce.

There is a huge gulf between the pretty things Obama promises, and the poverty and tyranny he, like his predecessor Bush, would deliver if successful.

Progressive “Universal health care”, anywhere in the world, produces universally short supply and slow progress of medical technology.

“Renewable energy” has been the promise of government for forty years, but all that it’s ever produced is renewable economic malaise.

“Comprehensive immigration reform” means bundling bad ideas with good ones, for an overall worsening of conditions.

Our economic depression was caused, in part, by high energy prices (because of Bush’s insane foreign policies driving the price of oil up 700%). Now Obama promises to drive up energy prices even higher, on purpose, in the name of “global warming” that ignores the past two years of global cooling…and we should wish him to succeed?

Canadians illegally sneak to the US to get health care, when suffering or even in danger of death, because it can be months, or even years, before their own system rations out treatment to them. Britain actually bans life-saving treatments it deems “too expensive”. You’re not even allowed to buy them for yourself, much less get them “free”. The whole problem with US health care, in the first place, is that government has been increasing the “universal” and “free” parts for over forty years, stripping consumer control from our hands, causing prices to go up and service to plummet…would we really hope Obama manages to make that rationing universal?

There are debates, in America, over:

* Whether jobs should be protected from new immigrants, or they will increase wealth and demand enough to be a net plus

* Whether people who have broken existing laws in order to sneak into the country, by tens of millions, should be given blanket amnesty, or have to go back home and start over legally, or simply be thrown in prisons or exiled permanently.

* Whether tax-paying, productive people should be forced not only to subsidize poverty and failure among formerly tax-paying Americans, but even for foreigners who show up illegally just to get the free handouts, as is helping bankrupt California right now. Should their children suffer for their wrongs, or just the children of people who pay taxes?

All of those debates should be settled, separately. Lumping separate issues together to force people to take the bad ones in order to have the essential good ones is one of the great crimes of modern government.

But we must hope he succeeds in this?

That’s not the kind of “hope” people voted for in 2008.

We hope THE PEOPLE succeed…which often means hoping a specific politician’s agendas fail, completely.

July 10, 2009 Posted by | Economy, environment, Health, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Hypocritical Car Dealers’ Whining…


This car dealer whines about how an automaker should not be allowed to lay him off, and then talks about how HE laid off 35 employees

(caption: This car dealer whines about how a car company should not be allowed to lay him off, and then talks about how he laid off 35 employees)

Oh no, the bankrupt automobile manufacturers are ending their association with two thousand car dealerships!

This is unacceptable, because bankrupt companies should never cut costs, nor do anything else to become efficient and remain in business. They should keep all of their employees, business associations, et cetera, even if it means continuing to lose money and vanish entirely within the year.

On the other hand, why are these hypocrite car dealers not doing the same thing?

The ones pandering to a grandstanding Congressional panel today complained that they — the dealers themselves — had to lay off dozens of employees.

One of them said something like “I have been turned into a glorified used car dealer, which…[sob]…cost thirty-five of our loyal employees their jobs! [whimper]”

But…but…why on earth did he not simply keep all 35 of those employees, the way he’s demanding the automaker be forced to keep his dealership?

Every single explanation he might give, if asked this, would translate into an argument for why the automaker needed to get rid of extra dealerships.

Of course, the automakers could have kept more dealerships, if the Obama administration were not undermining their ability to get out of insane contracts with the UAW monopoly.

But, either way, the automakers are SUPPOSED to cut costs, at the cost of jobs and associations.

Or else the car dealerships should not be laying off employees, just because they lost their new car contracts.

And now we see another consequence of the Bush/Obama nationalization of industries...

And now we see another consequence of the Bush/Obama nationalization of industries...

June 12, 2009 Posted by | Economy, Politics, Society | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fowl-Weather Conservatives?


Beware the Republicans in Name Only, who adopt Conservative jargon only when safely out of power

Beware the Republicans in Name Only, who adopt Conservative jargon only when safely out of power, but believe in socialism.

Listening to all the “Obama is a socialist, someone save us from the fascist state” hubbub going on now from the neocon pundits and politicians, you wouldn’t guess that, for six to eight years, the Liberal/Neocon wing of the Republican party controlled all important aspects of government, and acted almost exactly like Obama is now…if anything, worse.

Where were these frauds, when Bush was the one nationalizing banks, passing huge bailouts, expanding regulations to record size, socializing health care, et cetera?

Why are fake Republican pundits suddenly talking Conservative now, when they were talking Liberal then?

Because now they’re out of power. Impotent, they feel safe arguing for the liberty they despise, simply to get back into power…at which point, history says, they would simply expand government faster than the Democrats.

This happened when Nixon replaced Lyndon Johnson. He signed more Great Society bills into law than his predecessor.

The same thing happened with Bush following Clinton; he expanded domestic spending more in any ONE YEAR than Clinton did in an entire four-year term.

His solution to the Katrina disaster?  Throw money at the problem, even when the corrupt Louisiana and New Orleans governments had already been given, for a decade, more Corps of Engineers money per year than the rest of the nation, combined.

When recession hit, or years later depression, both times their “stimulus” packages were Keynesian socialism, even the fake “tax cuts” mostly being socialist tax credits and semi-annual welfare payments disguised as meaningless “rebates” that did not change economic behavior at all.

When Bush crippled our economy with huge new regulatory schemes in health care, shipping, and insurance, these faux-Conservative talking heads were silent, defended him, or even bragged on it.

When he expanded socialized health care more than ever before in US history, with the prescription drug “coverage” that inevitably caused the price of prescription drugs to explode, why were they not screaming “socialism”?

When Bush said that he was banning guns in occupied Baghdad NOT to repress the resistance fighters, but only to “reduce violent crime”, parroting Liberal gun control freaks’ excuses, why did they not scream in horror? Obama has actually spoken more in DEFENSE of the second amendment than either Bush or McCain, and yet they claim he’s trying to confiscate all guns.

Let’s face it, the neocon Liberals in the Republican party leadership, and much of the “Conservative Media”, including talk shows and Fox News, don’t believe a word of what they are now saying. They are, if anything, worse than the Liberal Media…their advocacy expanded government and attacked liberty far more successfully than the Democrats have.

Let’s not get sucked in by their “rebranding” scam.

Like super-Liberal RiNO Bob Dole said, when opposed by all true Conservatives in his 1996 run for the presidency, “if you want a Reagan, Bob Dole can be a Reagan”…to them, it’s all a game of packaging and playing at what true Conservative supporters of  liberty believe.

June 4, 2009 Posted by | Economy, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Thank Liberalism for the SUV…again


(caption: You can't ban powerful vehicles, any more realistically than you can ban stupidity.)

(caption: You can't ban powerful vehicles, any more realistically than you can ban stupidity.)

 

Years ago, busybodies decided to violate the limits to the powers of the Federal government, by setting gas mileage standards (and many other harmful regulations) on automobiles.

As is always the case with the Law of Unintended Consequences, this actually produced the opposite of the intended results.

It created the green-hated SUV boom.

This is because there are legitimate uses for large engines, and large vehicles. You can’t just declare that everything has to get X miles per gallon. Obviously, trash trucks cannot. The tractor-trailer rigs that deliver most of our goods cannot. Vehicles that actually are needed to drive somewhere on the road and then go off-road to do work cannot. 

There are, in fact, many sporting or work activities that require the power or weight that make high gas mileage impossible.

So the bureaucrats were forced to create special exceptions…for example, a Sports-Utility Vehicle class.

But arrogant, ivory-tower civil rulers cannot anticipate all needs. OK, let’s face it, they are actually incompetent at anticipating the needs of real people. 

So it didn’t occur to them that regular families need large vehicles, for many reasons. Nor that the regulations on minivans would make them too underpowered and, well, ugly, for most people to find tolerable.

So, in fact, the typical family was faced with an artificial division between the “efficient” vehicles, and those even more powerful than they need.

They were, therefore, actually driven (no pun intended) to buying from the latter class. Stuck between feeble, dangerous, ugly cars with good mileage, and inefficient, powerful, good-looking ones, they chose the latter. As they should.

It’s the environmentalists’ own fault.

And now they’re at it again:

The Obama/Pelosi administration have announced a McCain-like plan to FORCE Americans to drive even weaker, uglier, more fuel-efficient cars. This will not only increase poverty, by hugely raising the price of cars and therefore pricing people out of transportation, but will surely have many other unintended consequences, in the long run. More automaker bankruptcy, as they’re forced to make cars we won’t buy? Even crazier automotive trends, as we try to find a way to get what we actually need, instead of what they want us to have?

Have fun finding out what they’ll be.

May 25, 2009 Posted by | Economy, environment, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Stop Blaming Capitalism: for Socialism’s Failures


New, Permanent Home!

This article has garnered such overwhelming response, that it has been given a permanent place, here.

The page below is now only a quick summary, with the details and citations moved to the real page.

(Almost all of what "evil capitalists" are blamed for is actually caused by socialism)


HMOs, the health care crisis, strip mining, robber barons, deforestation, SUVs, “global warming”, world hunger, unemployment, inflation, periodic recession/depression…what all have in common is that Big Government is the cause, but your economic freedom is blamed.

Politicians tend to force bad government programs on us, which then have destructive side-effects, usually the opposite of what’s intended, and then saying the effects were caused by whatever freedom of choice is left over, and trying to take that away.

Included in the list of such failures:

An entire group founded around this topic, including extensive discussion of it, can be found at Stop Blaming Capitalism, for Socialism’s Failures

(It's amazing how many things government forces on us, which are then blamed on our freedom)

(It's amazing how many things government forces on us, which are then blamed on our freedom)

May 13, 2009 Posted by | Economy, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Real Americans Don’t Buy American


When you hear those lazy, tax-dollar-stealing car company reps on the radio saying you should “buy from us, or otherwise be sure to Buy American”, don’t forget that “Buy American” is unamerican.

Not only do they rob the taxpayers, but these lazy bureaucrats want us to buy inferior cars, out of fake patriotism

Not only do they rob the taxpayers, but these lazy bureaucrats want us to buy inferior cars, out of fake patriotism

The American Dream is for everyone to earn their way, NOT for people to be given an easy way out with affirmative action.

And Buying American™ in order to protect overpriced, inefficient union monopoly jobs is the very worst form of Affirmative Action.

We Americans have, for good reason, a long-standing belief in “meritocracy”, people getting what they earn, earning what they get.

Most of us have ancestors who came here because they could earn what they deserved, regardless of class, nationality, or whatever…at least compared to anywhere else.

And they passed on the kind of attitude necessary for such a tremendous move. Most of us still have a healthy dose of it, today.

And we’re in the one place in the world where we still have some opportunity to exercise it. Not as much as America used to, especially not as much as we’d like…but still more than anywhere else.

So we love this place, America, because we really do believe it’s the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave.

We love it enough that it’s hard to avoid getting suckered into tolerating, or even supporting, something completely unamerican, if it’s clothed in enough patriotic trappings.

The examples of that today are many…more than since the middle of the Cold War. But, aside from the many others which get plenty of bandwidth on the net already, there’s one which I almost never hear anyone speaking out against.

So I’m doing that, now.

Do you know who deserves to have the money for that new car you want to buy?

Whoever makes the best car in your price range. Frankly, that’s the only answer that fits with the Spirit of America.

Same with your shirt, your birdhouse, your silicon implants…whatever.

Yet some people, mostly bloated, bureaucratic corporations who make products which can’t compete on fair terms because they’re overpriced and underquality, have the nerve to tell us that it’s patriotic to “Buy American”. And because the word “American” is one we love, we’re tempted to fall for it.

But we need to stop.

If Mitsubishi and Hyundai make better cars than Ford and Chrysler, then they’re going to get more money. Then Ford and Chrysler are going to struggle. The solution? It’s for them to get off their lazy butts…and we, as Americans, are just the kind of straight-talkers to SAY that about them…and make better effing vehicles.

But if they can convince us to unconditionally “Buy American”, along with forcing us to give them billions in bailouts, then they don’t have to. They can keep making mediocre-or-worse cars. Which is what they’ve done since at least the mid seventies.

I remember an ad where Lee Iacoca leaned forward earnestly at what was implicitly his desk as a Ford executive, and said, in essence, “OK, we admit it, we have been half-assing the cars. But you taught us a lesson, so now we’re making really good cars. All you have to do is come back and try us out, we’ve decided that Quality is Job One, now.”

That was twenty-something years ago, if I recall correctly.

Just recently I saw another ad. Another car exec looking repentantly into the camera and ernestly saying something like “OK, we get it, we’ve been half-assing the cars. But you taught us a lesson, so now we’re making really good cars. We think quality is job one, now. No…really. This time we mean it.”

No, they’ll mean it when the people — who really do buy inferior cars because of emotional appeal — stop letting  the FEELING of being patriotic come before the actual actions of American ideals.

I’m going to stick to being a REAL American, and you should, too.

Support whomever deserves it, because anything else is not only wrong, and unamerican, but self-destructive in the long run.

May 4, 2009 Posted by | Economy, Politics, Society | , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Unemployment Benefits INCREASE Unemployment


The recent increases in unemployment benefits, rather than helping fight unemployment, have actually increased unemployment dramatically 

 

The recent increases in unemployment benefits, rather than helping fight unemployment, have actually increased unemployment dramatically

Subsidies Cause Surplus

If you wanted to have too many apples, you could simply get the government to pay billions of dollars to apple growers. You can do this with almost anything; it’s called a subsidy.

Aside from the many problems intentional subsidies always cause, there are many “unintentional” subsidies. Perhaps the worst of these is the unemployment subsidy.

When you give people money for each apple you grow, more people choose to grow apples, and apple growers choose to make more. It creates an imbalance, producing more apples than the society really finds worthwhile.

When you give people money based on how unemployed they are, you likewise cause more people to be unemployed, and people to be unemployed longer. I don’t even need to go into how that creates an imbalance, as (unlike apples) more unemployment is obviously, universally, bad.

Some people, mostly those who have little real-life experience (like a Kennedy or Bush family member) might say “But nobody would CHOOSE to stay unemployed, just for benefits”.

Second, they’re wrong…but I’ll get back to that.

First

FIRST, it doesn’t matter if nobody does it on purpose. When the Fed raises interest rates just 0.25%, fewer people buy houses. Not one human being actually says “I am not buying this house, because the Fed raised rates by a fraction of one percent”.  It isn’t even raising home loan rates (it has no control over those), just the rate at which it lends to banks. Yet the trickle-down effect is fewer homes bought, in part because home loan rates creep up a tiny bit.

The same is true of unemployment. There is a trickle-down impact, over the span of 300,000,000 people, where some stay unemployed longer, and more BECOME unemployed, because unemployment is subsidized. As even a tiny increase in home loan interest rates invisibly pushes a few people over to the side of not buying a house, an increase in unemployment subsidy pushes a few people over into being unemployed.

Over the span of hundreds of millions of people, that is dramatic, in both cases.

And now we can get back to “second”:

Second

The ivory tower “nobody would choose to stay unemployed” people are wrong.

People DO choose not to work because they know they have an unemployment buffer.

They choose not to work as hard or otherwise volunteer to be the one laid off, choose not search as hard, pass up jobs they would otherwise take, and even actively stay unemployed, because of the unemployment benefits.

We who have real-life experience probably ALL, right now, know people who are doing this. Many of you, in fact, probably have done it. I am a consultant, so I don’t get unemployment benefits, but I’m sure it would influence me if I did.

I certainly have friends who actively cite the unemployment benefits as allowing them to take their time working. I even know someone who says they are glad the benefits have been extended, as they will be able to go for a year without looking for a job, now.

Sure, most states have some sort of fake attempt to require people to look for and take jobs. But there’s no way to actually make this work. It would cost more than unemployment benefits provide, to actually verify all the claims people make on their “looked for a job” forms. And any cheaper means of proving it would be draconian against all the people who were honest.

The Unemployment Subsidy

So yes, that’s exactly what the Liberals’ unemployment extension has done:

Increase unemployment, by subsidizing it.

We will have higher unemployment rates, and suffer this depression longer, because of the benefit increases. Yet another example of government’s coercive “help” making the problems they attack worse, instead of better.

April 3, 2009 Posted by | Economy, Family, Politics, Society | , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Going Green is Bad for the Environment


green-evil-grey

Many of the wild claims made by Green lifestyle advocates are actually worse than doing nothing at all. They increase your carbon footprint, increase trash, and are generally bad for the planet, as well as harmful to people.

You may think you’re helping save the planet, or at least being a responsible member of society, if you recycle, avoid styrofoam, drive a hybrid, use electricity instead of fossil fuel, et cetera…

But, unfortunately, taking the advice of the “green living” trendies may actually do more harm than good.

“Green” environmentalism is chock-full of urban legends, inductive reasoning, and pseudoscience that end up harming the environment, as well as being directly bad for the people pushed to conform.

Here are some facts on the subject, gleaned from the Facebook group of the same name. JOIN Going Green is Bad for the Environment, if you want more info on the topic.

_______________________________

Government-mandated Recycling Pollutes

… (not the for-profit kind) is usually so inefficient that it produces more pollution than making new paper, glass, and plastic! 13 of the top Superfund hazardous waste sites were once recycling centers!

[1] New York Times: Recycling is Garbage

[2] http://Pen & Teller on Recycling

[3] Recycling Myths

[4] Not PC on Recycling

 

Biofuels Have Huge Carbon Footprint

…actually have a bigger carbon footprint than simply using fossil fuel, because they require the clearing of land for agriculture, AND the farmers use fossil fuels to run their farm equipment.

[5] New Scientist Magazone: Forget Biofuels, Burn Fossil Fuels and Plant Forests

[6] How Big is the Biofuel Carbon Footprint

[7] Carbon Footprint of Biofuels: Can We Shrink it Down to Size in Time?

[8] London Times: Biofuels Produce More Greenhouse Gas than Fossil Fuels 

Hybrid Cars are Worse than Normal Cars

…have batteries are so bad for the environment that you probably can’t drive one long enough to make up for the damage, before the battery goes bad and you need a new one, causing the problem all over again

[9] Prius Outdoes Humvee in Environmental Damage

Environmentalism Causes Forest Fires

Laws preventing the clearing of wood from “wild” areas, combined with efforts to prevent small forest fires, set up “tinderbox” situations, and are the reason the gigantic wildfires end up engulfing large areas

[10] Environmentalist Fires

Continue reading

April 2, 2009 Posted by | Economy, environment, Politics, Society | , , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Attacking AIG-style Bonuses Will Cause MORE Companies to Fail


Money BombRecently, I wrote an article about how Golden Parachutes are important for our economy, instead of bad.

And yet now we have people objecting to AIG fulfilling its contractual obligations to people who might otherwise have abandoned the company to collapse years ago.

This needs to be re-explained, in simpler, clearer terms:

  • If a company is struggling, it needs the best people it can get, in order to TRY to save itself.
  • If you are the best man for the job, then you don’t need to work for a struggling company. You are almost certainly going to choose a healthy, growing company where your job is secure.
  • In order to obtain your services, a struggling company must either:
    1. Offer you far more money up front, which it probably can’t afford to do, or
    2. Offer you protection against the company failing, like a bonus that you will get even if, or only if, something goes wrong despite your best efforts
  • In order for struggling companies to have a chance to survive, benefiting the entire economy and all of we who are in it, you must therefore have:
    1. The power to offer bonuses in case the company fails despite a manager’s best efforts
    2. enforcement of that bonus contract, so the potential managers trust it’ll get paid, and
    3. freedom from punishment for receiving such a bonus

The problem, here, is not AIG honoring a style of contract that is absolutely necessary for the health of our economy.

The real problem here is the same that we face whenever there is government intervention with our taxpayer money:

This form of socialism will always cause conflicts of interest, that will harm the recipient, the taxpayer, and the economy ever more, in a snowball effect.

Think of how people were trapped on welfare, from the 1970s through 1990s. 

The government bailed  out people in need, but then had to punish them if they ever made any progress in getting out of poverty, because it would be irresponsible to keep paying them the same amount of welfare, when they got even a little of their own income. 

Likewise, many state governments violate your freedom of choice  on health-related issues, on the premise that those states are paying for some people’s health care. They impose gigantic taxes on tobacco, alcohol, even convenient food, claiming that people who use them are raising government health care costs.

In all three cases, the freedom of private people is violated as a natural domino cascade starting with government taking your taxpayer money, and bailing people out with it.

Our response to this obvious conflict of interest, between bailouts and people’s free choices, should be to legislate against bailouts, not liberty.

March 19, 2009 Posted by | Economy, Politics, Society | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

So You Thought Oil Prices Were NOT Driven Up by War?


Resistance fighters in Gaza, struggling against the internationally condemned occupation of Palestine by the Israeli government, have been shooting shoulder-fired missiles at Israel for years, now. They have even killed a handful of people, in their largely-fruitless effort.

Faced with an election, and the need for an October Surprise, the Israeli government decided to “retaliate” against this long-standing effort, by slaughtering a few thousand semi-random Palestinians, by attacking ANYONE who lived in the areas from whence the missiles supposedly were being fired.

The effect on the US, other than dirtying its hands by unconditionally defending the Israeli government’s war crimes?

Oil prices, that were steadily declining for months, as I noted and explained here, suddenly reversed themselves, and have climbed since the butchery started.

The only glimmer of hope for the US economy, keeping hope of not being entirely trapped in another economic depression, was the dramatic drop in the oil prices that helped create the depression in the first place.

Anyone who thinks the previous, 700% inflation of oil prices were from a weak dollar, or oil shortages, or growth in demand, et cetera, take note. As illustrated in this chart, the actual cause of high oil prices was, and is today, foreign policy strife.

We’re backing “retaliation” against the Palestinian neighborhoods that is killing tens, or hundreds, of times more innocents than the Palestinian resistance fighter attacks do, and the sole “benefit” we get is newly crippling oil prices.

January 6, 2009 Posted by | Economy, International, Politics | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Super-Sizing Sour Grapes


What Americans have, even in the midst of an economic depression, is an embarrassment of riches.

When the citizens of other countries complain that Americas eat too much, what they are really saying is “We are jealous of America’s plentiful food”; Despite (or because of) all their redistributive, anti-choice socialist programs, the typical European has less access to food, in diversity or amount, than even the poorest fifth of Americans. Maybe nobody in Europe goes hungry, but they don’t really prosper, either.  (facebook readers beware; the rest of the article is after the picture, don’t ask me why that happens)

It is easy to despise what you cannot get.</b>

A Fox found a bunch of grapes, on a vine over a lofty branch. Turning round with a One, Two, Three, he jumped up, but with no success. At last he had to give it up, and walked away with his nose in the air, saying: "I am sure they are sour, anyway." MORAL: It is easy to despise what you cannot get.

And when they say “Americans are too fat”, what they mean is “Americans are more affluent”. Americans don’t need to walk as much, or otherwise engage in as much involuntary physical labor. Even poor Americans have more comfortable homes, more access to cars, more video games and computers, infinitely better television, more leisure, even without the Europeans’ governments forcing them to suffer the pay cut imposed by a mandatory six week vacation every year. 

Of course their response to this being pointed out is “more leisure? More entertainment? More living space? Bah! What kind of horrible way of measuring quality of life! People must be equal, not happy, you dirty materialist!” And yet, of course, everything about socialism is materialistic, an endless class war of envy and hate, worrying about who has more than whom, redistributing wealth, controlling our choices. That is the reason Marxists called it the Materialist Dialectic.

But it turns out that socialism traps people in stagnancy and perpetual shortages, while freedom allows people to have many more things. So, naturally, the actual materialists had to turn around and claim that prosperity is “decadent”, and “greedy”. How it can be more greedy than wanting to redistribute other people’s money for oneself, I don’t know.

Americans have a tendency to be hard workers. They are, statistically, the most productive society on the planet…but people, in general, who have access to more food and more leisure have to learn how to balance that with the need to choose to maintain physical fitness. Even if Americans, as a society, do learn that, the percentage of individuals who do not will still drag down the “average”.

An embarrassment of riches is a wonderful problem to have. “Oh no, too many people want to date me!” “Oh woe, I’ve grown so many tomatoes, I must give them away!” “Pitty me: now that I’ve won the lottery, people keep asking me for money!”

Who would seriously choose a life of more hunger, less choice, and more involuntary struggle over one where they need to choose to struggle a bit to stay in good physical condition?

In tests, lab animals that go somewhat hungry live longer. This probably is true of people as well…but what benefit is the added life, if it’s a result of being forced to do with less? 

We’re better off being faced with the need to control how much to work out, to watch our diet, et cetera, than being lean because we haven’t the chance to be flappy even if we were irresponsible. To be free to choose whether to life short, fat, comfortable lives, or strive for longer, healthier lives.

Some of us will chose wrong…but that isn’t necessarily limited to the ones who choose leisure. 

For some people, the effort may make life less worthwhile. For others, the working to “stay fit” might actually be more fun, as well as healthier. 

Americans are free to choose, whereas the victims of socialism in the rest of the world have what is supposedly best forced upon them “for your own good”, in a one-size-fits-all solution. People are better off being free to determine their own size.

That’s why even the most enlightened, economically and socially homogeneous European country still has more citizens wishing to become Americans, than Americans (despite our larger population) wishing to move to that country.

The price of choice, is the risk of mistakes. Even life-altering ones. But, overall, the benefit far outweighs the cost.

Americans can be proud to have the freedom that allows us the prosperity to choose whether to supersize their meals. The reason the rest of the world complains, ultimately, is that they are deprived of even the option. They have super-sized Sour Grapes.

December 19, 2008 Posted by | Economy, Family, International, Philosophy, Politics | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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