But Now You Know

The search for truth in human action

Government Alarmism Kills Dozens in Joplin, Missouri


“Better safe than sorry” is not a truism. In fact, it’s more often wrong than right.

Too much safety is its own danger. If you stayed in a wheelchair all the time, your muscles and bones would soon become so weak that walking really would be dangerous.

Mothers who try to protect their children from too much, of course, end up raising adults who are a danger to themselves, unable to deal with real-life situations once they’re out from their mother’s skirts.

And it’s no coincidence that our ever more “protective” government is called a nanny state; it does the same thing to us, even as adults.

But, in the case of the needlessly deadly tornado in Joplin, Missouri, this burden of destructive protection caused death in a whole different way:

Another response some children, and plenty of adults, have to a needlessly smothering authority is to stop taking safety seriously, even when it matters.

In 1973, the Joplin area responded to a particularly damaging by dramatically lowering its standards to include “dangerous” rainstorms, not just tornadoes. This means that when you hear a tornado warning in Joplin, it probably isn’t a tornado.

On top of that, the standards for what to trigger a tornado warning, nationally, has changed more recently to not require any actual tornado. At one time, this was called a “watch”, but now “there might be a tornado” triggers a false alert, not just a watch.

In fact, because of such “better safe than sorry” alarmism, there three quarters of all tornado alerts are false alarms, nationally. Therefore, people have wisely started ignoring tornado warnings.

Thanks to this, plus the abuse of the system for mere thunderstorms:

When the second-worst tornado in sixty years hit Joplin, people did what they’d, quite rationally, learned to do whenever the tornado siren went off; ignored it.

A pair of national media journalists, coincidentally in town for other reasons, felt the normal east coaster’s panic at the sound of tornado sirens, but were puzzled to discover that everyone else just went about their business, as if nothing were wrong.

This has happened many times in the past decades, and the locals had always been correct to sneer at it..

But — this one time — there was an actual, deadly tornado bearing down on them.

Sadly, the Culture of Safety has turned into the fable of The Boy Who Cried Wolf.

How many lives would have been saved without the government’s ridiculous alarmism?

Well, in 1953, a Joplin-sized tornado hit Waco, Texas at the time when the Federal government banned all tornado alerts. 115 people died.

Just seven years later, with warnings legalized and an siren system in place, a nearly identical tornado hit a nearly identical urban area, and only resulted in 15 deaths.

Now that progress has been undone, by the increased in government busybody mentality.

The way I see it, government alarmism is responsible for horrible, avoidable deaths of at least 100 people in Joplin, Missouri…and probably a large part of the other tornado-related deaths this year, for similar reasons.

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May 26, 2011 Posted by | Health, Politics, Society | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why the End Does Not Justify the Means


Why don't we torture accused criminals in order to find who is guilty? Because the end does not justify the means.

It has become clear that many politicians and lawyers, and a few real people, don’t understand what is meant by The End Does Not Justify the Means.

They act like people are saying the desire to have pancakes cannot justify making batter. But this is more specific. It’s about good versus evil. In their unfortunate perspective, caring about what is right must seem insane.

But the truth is that this phrase sums up one of the most important principles of ethics and morality:

It means that there are certain fundamental principles that are “right”, “good”, et cetera, that are essential to those conditions…and you cannot justify violating them because you have some “right” or “good” goal in mind.

For example, you cannot have justice, unless you adhere to the principles of justice; It’s not OK to do unjust things to people simply because you have a just goal in mind.

This is a basic philosophical rule that is ignored or denied by almost all evil people you will find out there, and supported by almost all good ones. Marxists coined the modern use of the phrase “the end justifies the means”, and naturally they and their socialist spinoffs were responsible for the vast majority of all great evils, for the past century.

Evil Men

Joseph Stalin, for example, justified the deaths of tens of millions of his own people, by saying that the population was too large for (relatively inefficient) Communism to support. The mass death left Soviet society more sustainable. Did the betterment of millions of peoples’ lives justify the murder of millions of other people? According to Consequentialist socialists; yes.

Previously, the Dominican order of Catholicism was an advocate of the idea that the end justifies the means (in spirit), and it just so happens that they went on to conduct, among other great evils, the Inquisition. It was literally claimed that you may be saving the soul of the man you tortured or murdered in the name of God, so it was OK. All the ways the current Pope is less popular than his predecessor appear to center around his being of that Dominican mindset. In fact, the position he held before becoming pontiff was the Head of the Office of Inquisition, I kid you not…it had simply changed its name for PR reasons.

Likewise, when Machiavelli used that phrase in his satirical indictment of the evils and abuses of Feudal government, The Prince, he succeeded in hitting the nail on the head as to what is most wrong and unjust.

Required by Good

In reality, the end does not justify the means, in part because the long-term outcome of ignoring principles in order to buy short-term results is a failure of your own goals.

The idea that the wise principles override the short-sighted goal (a form of Deontology, if you like them thar fancified words) is why courts will overturn convictions on technicalities, one of the few good and just things remaining in the US legal system. Any honest — or as close as they get –prosecutor will tell you that the reason they hate that condition is how it keeps them from breaking rules and simply gambling punishment, in order to convict people they think are guilty. They are restrained from unjust acts, by this absolute enforcement of the principles of justice, even though it may let a guilty man walk in the short term.

When you have a principle, like “do not violate someone else’s property”, it cannot be overridden because you have some end in mind like “but the wealth I steal from his safe will benefit several other people who deserve it more”.

Like setting aside money for bills and emergencies instead of partying all of your paycheck away, sticking to the principles of what is good, right, and just produces the best outcome in the long run. You are investing in your ultimate goal by sticking to it when the going gets tough. When you panic and abandon your principles for a short-term benefit, you end up making things worse in the end.

THAT is why the end does not justify the means.

May 12, 2011 Posted by | Philosophy, Politics, Religion, Society | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Why the TSA Screenings are Unconstitutional


It's not that the image shows your genitals to leering strangers that makes it obscene, but its violation of your 4th amendment protection against random searches

The 4th Amendment

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Your prudism about being ogled by minimum wage goons who share pics and stories of your genitals with each other and post them on the Internet is not the biggest reason why the nude scanners and crotch gropings cannot be allowed.

It’s that they also violate your Constitutional rights. And that kind of violation, you must never tolerate.

The Fourth Amendment secures not only our external property, but especially our bodies against unreasonable search and seizure.

By “reasonable” the amendment says it means “with probable cause”, and this means government agents must suspect you, personally, of a crime or else they are not allowed to search you, no matter what.

The police are not legally allowed to search random the houses on your block, just in case they might find something illegal, and even the most law-abiding of us is glad our privacy is protected this way. And they cannot, for the same reason, search all people passing through the gates at the airport, just in case they might find something illegal.

Appeal to Cowardice

Big Brotherment tries to justify this violation of the Bill of Rights with Appeal to Cowardice:

“But aren’t you willing to put up with a little inconvenience, to be safer?”

But real Americans aren’t cowards. Even if the violation of your body were improving safety — and in real life, it does NOTHING for your safety — it would not be a tolerable reason.

The government could judge who seemed a threat, and search those people. That would be “probable cause”, valid under the Constitution.

Searching people at random, instead, violates the Bill of Rights, and helps the actually-suspicious people get through the line. If the searches could actually stop terrorists, the random nature of the searches keep that from happening.

They who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.
— Ben Franklin

Nobody honest, not even on the pro-TSA side, denies that these random searches violate the fourth amendment…they just claim that you should surrender this Essential Liberty, to try to gain a little temporary safety.

But real Americans aren’t cowards. This expansion of the Police State ends, here and now.

November 18, 2010 Posted by | Family, International, liberty, Politics, Society | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Decline in Family is Caused by High Taxes


uncle-greedy

You may not realize exactly how much of your work is purely for Uncle Sam's profit.

Blame the Parents

Statistically, parents really do spend less time with their families, these days. Because of this:

  • Social conservatives, and some others who blame Hollywood, the music industry, and public schools for the decline in “family values”, condemn parents for not spending more time with their kids to offset those bad influences.
  • Teachers, in a dramatic demonstration of how to serve as an irresponsible role model, prefer to blame parents, not themselves, for the decline in public education’s results. Those parents just aren’t spending the time with their offspring that they once did.
  • Police like to blame parents for the trouble kids get in after school…they’re not spending enough time with them as role models.
  • Technophobes blame newfangled televisions, video games, the net, and mobile phones for, well, anything cultural or behavioral…and blame the parents for not screening such entertainment, not knowing what the kids are seeing.

Family Matters

And, statistically, there’s no question that there’s some strong correlation between the amount of time parents spend with kids, or families in general spend together, and many other things, like drug use and success later in life. The more family time, the better-off the kids are.

It isn’t clear which way the causal relationship goes, but there’s certainly something happening there.

Prosperity-haters therefore blame most of society’s problems on how Greedy Materialists in America spend all day working, both parents, therefore leaving the children in the hands of day care help that is luck to keep the kids healthy and sane, much less serve as good role models and teachers.

If only they were willing to do without many of the nice things in life, like a second car and TV, they’d raise better kids.

They’re halfway correct.

The problem isn’t that people are so greedy as to wish to have decent lifestyles for themselves.

Even your combined household income, after all government burdens, ends up being a fraction of what you earn

Even with your combined household income, after all government burdens, you end up keeping a fraction of what you earn

Working Man’s Burden

The actual cause of this decline in family time is taxes.

You thought the title was simply hyperbole to drag you in, didn’t you.

The typical main breadwinner in the US pays about 28% of his income in Federal taxes.

The typical second earner in the US brings in 27% of the first earner’s income, after taxes.

This means that the second parent is actually gone all day just to pay the first parent’s taxes.

And that’s only counting Federal taxes taken directly out of each earner’s check.

It doesn’t count the massive local tax burden they both pay for the public school that is failing their children, the state income taxes, and the many other tax and regulatory burdens we all shoulder outside of the direct hit on our paychecks.

But what it all adds up to is that, if not for high governmental costs, the second earner would not have to work at all, and yet the family would still have more money than it does now.

One of You Labors ONLY For Government

Toiling for the government's profit is not nearly this much fun in real life

Toiling for the ruler's profit is not nearly this much fun in real life

In fact, the second earner’s ENTIRE after-tax income is only a fraction of their household’s governmental burden.

Just cutting the tax and regulation-compliance burden in HALF would allow the second earner to stay home completely, or both earners to work far less than they currently are, and therefore spend more time with the kids…or even each other.

The greed is not on the part of the people who want to live better lives, but the government bureaucrats and the selfish people who support their massive spending (calling for expanded government, voting for politicians who bring home pork), therefore a tax burden so huge that people need to spend all day working, neglecting their families.

The death of the family is yet another problem caused by Big Brotherment, not simply bad parents.

Social conservatives, cops, teachers, and everyone else who is concerned about absent parents and family values should focus first on freeing parents to do something other than toil for the tax man.

October 1, 2009 Posted by | Economy, Family, Politics, Society | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

New Page: The Culture of Safety Does More Harm than Good


culture-of-safety-tall-300px

But Now You Know has a new permanent page, a useful list of many ways in which today’s worry about safety is actually dangerous.

The increasing obsession with safety in the US has the opposite effect of the one intended. As with a mother determined to keep her child from all pain, the actual result is greater danger, more harm, and less actual living and happiness.

  • Avoiding germs gives you a weak immune system
  • Mandatory safety standards often cost lives
  • The FDA’s years-long approval process dooms terminal children
  • They need to suspend our rights…in order to fight for LIBERTY in the war on terror?

Let’s start with something even the caution-mongers can understand:

Avoiding risks can actually be physically dangerous. SOME exposure to risk prevents atrophy, giving the mind or body the opportunity to learn how to care for itself.

And then something the fear-freaks can never understand:

Life without risk ends up being barely worth living. Take away the freedom to choose what risks to take, and you take away the liberty to choose how much life to enjoy.

YOU may not want to do X, because it’s scary for you, but other people may find it worth the risk.

Issues explained and carefully footnoted on the page include:

  • Exposure to Germs is Good for You
  • Gun-Free Zones CAUSE School Shootings
  • Even Moderately Frequent Hand-Washing Increases the Risk of Dermatitis
  • Protecting Wall Street with Bailouts Causes More Crashes:
  • Always Wearing Sunblock Promotes Skin Cancer
  • The FDA Kills
  • “Dangerous” Playgrounds Help Kids Learn
  • Big Brother and the Nanny State
  • Safe Play Makes Kids Fat
  • Too Much Safety KILLS
  • Outward Bound is Crippled with Safety

Read the actual page, here.

September 25, 2009 Posted by | environment, Family, Health, Politics, Society | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Workers Dislike Unions


We’re told by teachers, politicians, and the media that unions are the best thing ever to happen to people who work. Without them, we’d all be working 80 hour weeks, for pennies per hour, and dying by 30 from how dangerous the conditions are.

And yet, for some reason, most people not only don’t belong to unions, are not even thinking about forming unions, but wouldn’t even want their industry unionized, if they had the chance. In fact, unions are dying out. The odds are that if you don’t more or less inherit a union career because you’re locked into a Company Town situation, you will never join one.

As Americans have gained more freedom to leave unions, they have mostly stopped belonging

As Americans have gained more freedom to leave unions, they have mostly chosen independence

In the 1940s, 35% of American workers belonged to trade unions. Today in the private sector, membership is less than 7%. It is even lower in states that protect your right to have a specific job without joining a union.

Why?

Because, in reality, a union takes more freedom away from a worker, than from anyone else.

Pay is Important

It’s not fun, negotiating with an employer for your compensation. Well, not unless you’re really in demand. Then it can be joyful agony, trying to decide which offer is best, and what to require you be paid…but, the rest of the time, it’s unpleasant.

But the joy and pain are both because of how completely important your pay for your work really is. Your entire lifestyle depends on that set of decisions.

Not just how much you’ll be paid, but in what form. Do you want more cash, or would you prefer more days off? Are you better off putting up with a company insurance plan, that is cheaper but less responsive and lacking in choices, or more money and save up for your own checkups? Do you want paid lunch and breaks, or more money and come home sooner?

The problem with a union is that it strips away any control you have over that life-changing question.

You don’t even get to choose when, or how, to negotiate. Union management takes all power away from you, and you have to cross your fingers, praying whatever they think is best happens to be something you can tolerate.

Even under the best circumstances, they’ll be negotiating for the lowest common denominator. What the average worker is worth, and the union will gain from getting. The problem is that in the real world, almost nobody’s average. A good compromise, famously, is one where everyone goes away equally unhappy. With a union, you don’t just have to compromise with an employer, but also with all of the other workers.

You Become a Cog

With a union, you must settle for:

What the average worker is worth…

Diluted by what benefits the union management and corporate management negotiate.

You also lose the power to be paid for your effort, quality, ideas, and unique traits.

Right to work states protect your choice to not join a union, even if there is one at the company where you work

Right to work states protect your choice to not join a union, even if there is one at the company where you work

For example, you may be willing to work extra-hard to make more money, or have more job security. You may not even need to work hard; there may be some special part of your occupation you’re particularly good at.

But most unions avoid the idea of being paid for how well you do the job, replacing it with being paid for how many years you’ve worked. What could be a worse system of payment than this?

Of course it’s bad for the customers, because quality falls by the way-side…and therefore is bad for the company, as its profit depends on that quality. But it’s also bad for you, the worker, whose efforts become meaningless…just hang on to the job for as long as you can, that’s the only way you can make more money.

Likewise, no amount of effort can protect you from being laid off during the slow or hard times, with a typical union contract. You could be the very best at your job, but if you’ve only been there a few years, you’re out the door.

The Worst Kind of Middleman

It’s bad enough that unions harm companies, consumers, and society by causing unemployment, playing insider favoritism, price increases, inefficiency, low quality, reducing non-union worker pay, and other means, plus all the above disadvantages to union members, but what do you gain, in return for this?

  • The right to be forced to pay union dues, whether you find them worthwhile or not.
  • The privilege to have part of that hefty fee spent to bribe government officials with policies you probably don’t actually like, and be punished if you object.
  • The fortune of having some of the rest divvied up among the secretive, corrupt union management and their cronies and masters, for no apparent reason whatsoever.
  • Oh, and the joy of having yet another Tyranny of the Majority government ruling over you, in the form of that union’s quasi-elected crony management.
You have a right to set your own standards, not depend on a bullying middleman

You have a right to set your own standards, not depend on a bullying middleman

It’s no surprise that unions actually reduce real household income.

Not a Number, but a Free Man

The reason most of us eschew labor unions like they’re a porcupine who recently attacked a skunk’s posterior, is that we really are better off as free people, than as vassals of a collective, whose real function seems to be the profit of its “leaders”.

In other words, I’d rather protect my right to earn pay based on what I’m worth, not my seniority, and not be given useless token “compensation” that sucks part of it away, like hourly coffee breaks and a dubious promise of unreasonably high, distant retirement pay, I probably won’t see, once the union bankrupts my employer.

Wouldn’t you?

Words of the Sentient:

Unionism seldom, if ever, uses such power as it has to insure better work; almost always it devotes a large part of that power to safeguarding bad work.
– H. L. Mencken
THe methods by which a trade union can alone act, oare necessarily destructive; its organization is necessarily tyrranical.
– Henry George

Unionism seldom, if ever, uses such power as it has to insure better work; almost always it devotes a large part of that power to safeguarding bad work.

– H. L. Mencken

The methods by which a trade union can alone act, are necessarily destructive; its organization is necessarily tyrranical.

– Henry George

September 7, 2009 Posted by | Economy, Politics, Society | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 32 Comments

How, Exactly, Are They Defending Our Freedom?


neo-con-war-shortWhen people object anything relating to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, neocons claim that they should be quiet and comply, because the criticism hurts the feelings of “the troops”, who are busy “defending our freedom” over there.

I do appreciate that the soldiers feel like they’re serving America…but defending our…freedom?

Our freedom? We Americans, here in the United States?

When I’m faced with this argument, it is hard to give a clear, coherent response for or against, because the claim makes no sense to me, whatsoever.

This is an honest question, not sarcasm:

What, exactly, does the conquest of Iraq have to do with American freedom?

Did we conquer Iraq for American freedom?

  • First, we built up momentum to attack because Hussein was supposedly involved in 9-11.

But then it became more widely understood that Hussein was one of Al Qaeda’s mortal enemies. In fact, one of the things bin Laden demanded was that Hussein, whom he referred to as a socialist infidel, be removed from power. So…

  • Second, when we actually attacked, it was supposedly because of Weapons of Mass Destruction. We knew Iraq once had WMD, because we openly sold Hussein the technology for them, in the 1980s, and claimed we thought they still had somehow kept some, despite the years of inspections.

But it turned out, after we got there, that we had known he didn’t have the WMD any more at all, so…

  • Third, we retroactively decided we were there to remove Saddam Hussein from power. He is a dictator, killed hundreds of thousands of people, imposed tyrannical laws, et cetera.
Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with close American ally Saddam Hussein, in the 1980s

Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with close American ally Saddam Hussein, in the 1980s, shortly after the US acknowledged Hussein had been using WMD against civilians.

Of course we supported him doing ALL of those things, including the mass murder, for decades, we even sold him WMD tech months after acknowledging that he was slaughtering innocents with it, but let’s just pretend that’s why we invaded, anyway. It sounds good.

The problem is that NONE of those things have anything to do with American freedom.

The Warfare Facts

  • First, 9-11 wasn’t an assault on American freedom. Al Qaeda was attacking in order to change our foreign policy (giving money to Islamic tyrants, occupying Saudi Arabia, killing a million people in Iraq with economic sanctions, backing Israeli war crimes).

…in fact, the only 9-11 related assault on freedom was domestic, like the PATRIOT Act.

  • Second, American freedom wasn’t going to be threatened by Hussein having mustard gas, or anthrax, or even nuclear bombs. Nobody ever seriously suggested he could conquer the US with his mighty navy of 16 wooden patrol boats and his deadly force of a few dozen short-range SCUD missiles, no matter how many WMD he loaded on them.

Liberty depends on economic freedom…whomever controls your life needs, controls you. This war has crippled the US economically, which had turned into an assault on our freedom of choice. By the way, why exactly did we sell him WMD technology in the first place?

  • Third, that’s barely even a fight for Iraqi freedom, since they’re voting as much against freedom now as anyone who knew about the region would have expected. The laws passed are on their way to becoming more repressive than under Hussein’s secular government. These include a move to make burqas mandatory, and growing bans on freedom of expression. Certainly overthrowing Hussein has nothing to do with freedom here in America.

Actual Assault on American Freedom

Because we’ve been “on war footing” for six years, BOTH parties have used the “don’t criticize the government during a war” argument, dramatically attacking American freedom of expression. We have had “free speech zones“, warrantless wire tapping, demands that we not criticize foreign policy lest the troops feel bad, secrecy regarding torture and other violations of American principles, et cetera.

Oil Prices, Real and Adjusted, from 1990 to mid 2008

Oil Prices, Real and Adjusted, from 1990 to mid 2008

We have had economic malaise caused by both the huge deficits and diversion of wealth-production the war produced, and the 700% increase in the price of oil that attacking or threatening four different oil-producing nations caused. And this resulted in a depression that Bush and Obama have used to expand government massively into our personal lives, and to loot our future to pay off failing multinational corporations, perhaps the most vicious of the attacks on our freedom.

You know, there may be a country closer to home than Iraq, where our troops should be fighting a government that is attacking American freedom…

Anyway, I definitely need someone to explain what is the “defending AMERICAN freedom” part of invading, conquering, and occupying Iraq.

Words of the Sentient:

A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it.

— Oscar Wilde, A Portrait of Mr. W.H.

August 16, 2009 Posted by | International, Politics, Society | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

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

It’s OK if it Kills People


(caption: Standing by a compact car, crushed in a test against a mere mid-sized car: "The laws of physics can't be repealed. Even with modern safety features like multiple air bags, people in small, light cars are always at a disadvantage in crashes." -- Russ Rader, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)

(caption: Standing by a minicar, crushed in a test against a mere mid-sized car: "The laws of physics can't be repealed. Even with modern safety features like multiple air bags, people in small, light cars are always at a disadvantage in crashes." -- Russ Rader, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (click picture to see video))

It’s bad enough that new gas mileage standards will cost the already-struggling US automakers at least $21,000,000,000 per year, which they will pass on to YOU, either in as consumers or taxpayers, but they also can TRIPLE the chance of your family dying in a car crash.

The new CAFE standards require automakers to have a much higher average gas mileage within a few years.  But since automakers can’t force people to buy smaller cars, this means they must stop making larger cars, in order to force the “average” bought to be more efficient.

GM, for example, is going to literally stop selling the Caprice, one of its most popular and longest-made cars, to regular people…because it’s large. It will only offer those to “fleet” buyers, like police, taxi, and limo companies. Each company will also make the cars it does offer smaller and lighter. You will have no choice but to buy these, if you want a new car.

And, of course, you will be forced to finance this change through your taxes, with the new Cash for Clunkers law, while Cap and Trade (if you let it pass) will cause more car shrinkage and insane tax burden on you than CAFE and Cash for Clunkers combined.

Forced Green = Death

(caption: You're three times as likely to die in a small vehicle than a large one)

(caption: You're three times more likely to die in a small vehicle than a large one)

Yet no expert seriously denies that smaller cars are far more dangerous than large cars. They may refuse to use those exact words, but crash test results like this are not just normal, but a question of physics.

When a car hits something, its size, weight, and the materials out of which it’s made decide how much harm will come to its passengers. This is true even when an immobile object like a fence or tree…but it’s most true when hitting a moveable object, like a deer or another vehicle. These factors determine how much of the energy goes to moving the object you hit, and how much to crushing your body.

Even if your car has a rigid steel frame (Smart cars) and crumple zones (European cars), the change in speed from hitting a heavier object will snap your body around and kill you.

So when Barak Obama and John McCain attempt to force through standards that will effectively ban the building of larger vehicles for families, they are condemning many people to death. But, they say, this is worthwhile in order to force greater fuel economy on regular people.

Efficiency is more important than human life.

In 2004, a study by Dynamic Research, Inc. found a a 20% change in the weight difference between two vehicles in a collision produced a 15% change in mortality. The motivation, of course, was to show that people needed to be forced to drive lighter vehicles; punish SUV owners by reducing the side of their vehicles…but a more rational way to look at it is that, since large vehicles (and deer, and trees) will not cease to exist, a 20% reduction in the weight of new cars means a 15% increase in the death of families riding in them.

Your Death: A Risk They’re Willing to Take

(caption: Barak will remain safe in his gas-hogging limosine)

(caption: Never fear; Barak will remain safe in his gas-hogging limosine)

Not only will there continue to be industrial vehicles, tractor-trailor rigs, and other necessary vehicles on the road to hit your shrinking family car, and not only will the deer you hit not be on a corrresponding diet, but bear in mind that the “fleet vehicles” the politicians use are effectively exempted. So Obama, McCain, government officials, and their loved ones will still be safe in their gigantic limosines, massive taxis, and ponderous police cars, to collide with and crush we mere mortals.

Statistically, you are twice as likely to die in a small car than a larger one, during a crash…THREE times as likely, if it’s a single-car crash. That’s right; you don’t have to hit an SUV to die from driving a small car: The more your car weighs, the more it can push back against the object it’s hitting, reducing the speed at which your body is jerked in an accident.

In fact, in a recent test by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, smaller vehicles even proved doomsday devices in crash tests against mere mid-level vehicles. It’s not just that a smart car will kill you if it collides with an SUV, but even a normal sedan…and when the new laws are in effect, the normal sedans being made then will be death traps against one made today.

So if a Cap and Trade politician’s limosine crashes into your family car, a few years from now, you (not he) will be far more likely to die than today…but that’s ok, it’s a chance he’s willing to take.

The Mid-sized sedan is slowed moderately by the impact, but the minicar reverses direction in a fraction of the distance. Outcome: Sedan's driver; pissed off, smartcar's driver; dead

The Mid-sized sedan is slowed moderately by the impact, but the minicar reverses direction in a fraction of the distance. Outcome: Sedan's driver; pissed off, smartcar's driver; dead

July 20, 2009 Posted by | environment, Politics, Society | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 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

Secrecy is Tyranny


(caption: Keeping secrets from voters is exactly as coercive as holding a gun to their head in the voting booth)

(caption: Keeping secrets from voters is exactly as coercive as holding a gun to their head in the voting booth)

Secrecy, even in and of itself, is a form of tyranny.

No, this doesn’t mean when you don’t tell your friend about his surprise party, nor concealing the recipe for Coke Classic, not even the hidden initiation rites for that fraternity…

But when you cause someone to do something they would have otherwise not chosen, because you conceal information from them, then you are coercing them, the same as if you pointed a gun at their head. 

And, in the case of government, when the People are supposed to control policy through elections and popular support, any government-concealed information that changes how they would vote is tyranny, same as if they sent stormtroopers to help fill out ballots on election day.

Any pundit you see complaining that a government official told the American public too much is, in effect, advocating tyranny.

It’s one thing to hide when troops are making an attack for a few days, or to openly refuse to tell exactly how a nuclear bomb is made…but it’s another, entirely, to conceal information that will change how people vote, no matter what “national security” excuse they invent.

This is most painfully transparent when the actual “national security” excuse is “this will embarrass [some government official or office]”. Embarrassment, shame, and general changing of how someone sees something are obviously not legitimate excuses. What’s more, it would not matter either way, because that is the price of liberty.

America is supposed to be a free country. This requires responsibility for the consequences of one’s actions, including when it means something embarrassing, whether to your neighbor or the foreigners who will be horrified or disgusted at our government’s behavior.

In fact, without secrecy, many of those evils would not occur in the first place, just as in our real lives. If the government can’t hide when it bribes a foreign official, or tortures someone, or other evils, then it will face public and international shame, and the threat of voter retaliation, and hopefully not do it in the first place.

By preventing voter retaliation, a government does not make itself more stable…just more tyrannical.

May 29, 2009 Posted by | International, Philosophy, Politics, Society | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

I Hope I Get Swine Flu


So far, some 2,700 people have been hospitalized with the current “swine flu” outbreak in the US. 3 have died.

Each year, some 200,000 people are hospitalized with the normal “seasonal flu”. About 36,000 die.

2,700:3

200,000:36,000 

So for the regular flu, that’s an 18% chance of dying.

“Swine flu”, just about 00.1% chance of dying.

If I’m gonna get one or the other, I hope it’s h1n1 – the “swine flu”.

Refer to Beware the Coming [insert non-threat] Pandemic!!! for why this ridiculous hysteria started in the first place.

Hint: Fear Equals Funding

May 11, 2009 Posted by | Family, Health, Society | Leave a comment

Why Don’t We Waterboard Criminals?


The original version of this article, with the horrifying, graphic depictions of neocons in their natural habitat, is here.

The neocons have been making a big deal of how waterboarding and other “psychological” tormenting of prisoners is not actually torture, unless you cause permanant, serious harm or death.

They also say that we GAIN things by using these “harsh interrogation techniques”, so that makes it OK:

The End Justifies the Means.

Well, yes, that is a Marxist/socialist slogan, which has produced millions of deaths and more suffering than any other idea in history.

And sure, real Conservatives spend their lives fighting against the End Justifies the Means philosophy…but we’re talking about neocons, RiNOs. The Neocon movement originates with self-described Trostyites, which is why they still have most of the underlying Marxist mindsets.

Anyway, I’m wondering why we’re wasting this technicality, in our own justice system.

Why Not?

 

If we can harm suspected terrorists in case it might make us safer, why not suspected criminals?

Protect Us from Criminals

Why not waterboard a possible serial killer, and then flush his bible (don’t ask me why so many psychopaths are strongly religious) down the toilet, in order to find out who he’s killed?

Why not strip an accused child molester naked, have women laugh at him, leave him in a forty degree room (still nude) all night with no sleep, in order to find out whether he did, and to whom?

These things are not torture, and anyway they are justified because we profit from them.

The neocon talk show hosts, and surviving neocon politicians (vote carefully, next primary) will quickly protest “but the 8th amendment bans that”. Apparently, interrogation can be cruel and unusual, yet not be torture, even though many court cases citing the 8th amendment actually bandy about the T-word interchangably.

But then we need only use a constitutional amendment to revoke this man-made priveledge.

Or why even bother…why not pass a law suspending the citizenship of anyone accused of a serious crime? And then rent space in an Indian/riverboat casino to conduct the Harsh Interrogation off of US soil?

Frankly, I need the neocons to answer the question, at that point, because I don’t see how their Philosophy of Cowardice could but DEMAND that we do this, in order to have greater safety from murder and rape.

Why Not

 

But I can explain why, to an actual Conservative, classic liberal, or any other decent human being, we must not “harshly interrogate” criminals.

We should probably set aside basic human decency versus evil, because if you don’t get THAT reason, then you probably never will. 

Rights

Let’s start with that 8th amendment:

Yes, it (and a number of other parts of the Constitution) prohibit “harsh interrogation”.

But they do not grant a man-made priveledge  only to Americans, that you can suspend with some Clintonian wordplay, the way the neocons and other socialists argue.

In fact, the 8th amendment protects a Natural Right. You, I, and any other sapient being are BORN with a right to freedom of speech, religion, self-protection, and many other choices, including not to be tortured without our consent.

The Founders knew this, and said specifically they were only mentioning certain rights in the Constitution to keep future sociopaths from finding excuses to violate them…but that ALL natural rights were still to be universally protected.

So using some technicality to violate those rights would not magically make them go away. Torturing the criminal would still be wrong.

And remember, “universally protected”: The Founders did not believe that those natural rights only apply to Americans. That wouldn’t be very “natural”.

They simply did not have the power to force the French government to protect natural rights. But they intended the protections to apply against the Federal government of the US, which was what the Constitution created and limited. 

So when the Federal government violates the rights of a foreigner, it is absolutely against the spirit of the Founders. Something, once again, a Conservative understands, but a Marxist-cum-neocon does not. That, obviously, includes torturing them, as well as censorship and the many other violations the Bush administration committed against foreigners, showing themselves not to be Conservative at all, just neocons.

Principles

When people try to justify evil means, because the end is desirable, they are like a child who wants to spend his money on candy now, instead of saving it so they have enough to eat supper later.

This is because the “end” is always something short-sighted. You are giving up the thing that causes more good in the long run, the investment, in order to get a quick fix, the instant gratification.

Short-sighted is not always short-term:

Perhaps you’re going to kill ten million people now, so that in a generation your empire is small enough to feed itself. Ask Stalin and Mao about that. But you’re still abandoning the principles (everyone has a right to determine his own life) that makes society stable and healthy in the big picture. Even “easy way to feed the next generation” is short-sighted, if you’re murdering to do it.

So violating people, no matter what euphamism we use, brings harmful, evil precedents into our society. The REAL, long-term end is violated, even the safety that the neocons pretend to value above all else. 

We cannot let government officials torment suspected criminals, because we are setting a precedent of condoning that evil behavior. If it’s OK to non-torture molesters and mass murderers, then why not rapists? How about people who stole, and still have hidden, the life savings of elderly people? Regular investors? Tax cheats?

Not protecting your principles makes the slippery slope, sometimes a fallacy, become real — nearly inevitable.

This is why we throw out ANY evidence gotten in violation of the Constitution or our natural rights.

And it’s why letting our government ever violate natural rights is wrong.

The very minimum standard for how we treat foreigners should be “Would we tolerate treating an American, who accused of a crime, this way?”

May 8, 2009 Posted by | Philosophy, Politics, Religion, Society | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

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