Saturday, March 29, 2008

Medicare Stops the Heart

I was unaware that Medicare went into a deficit this year:
"But if Social Security appalls, Medicare quite stops the heart. We've seen this moment coming for twenty years and done nothing. Now it's here, folks: Medicare goes into deficit this year. For the first time, the general fund will be sending money to the entitlement programs, not the other way around. And that deficit will keep growing, and growing, and growing . . ."
I truly thought we had five or more years before this happened. I guess I will have to move up my strike date a few years. I had planned a general strike on or about 2015 to protest negative cash flows in Social Security and Medicare. I guess I need to rethink the date.

Dark Ages Goal Orientation

Cafe Hayek comments on Earth Hour:
"I commend you on your 'Earth Hour' effort. Persuading people across the globe to turn off lights for one hour supplies the perfect symbol for modern environmentalism: a collective effort to return humankind to the dark ages.

Donald J. Boudreaux"
Everyone has to have goals either explicitly or implicitly. Theirs are quite explicit.

Recession Watch: Not In Texas

Recession Watch: Not In Texas, Jobless Rate Hits Record Low, Even Construction Sector is Booming:
The Texas jobless rate dropped to 4.1% in February – a low not seen since the mid-1970s, the Texas Workforce Commission reported Thursday.
Anecdotally, I find this to be true. It is difficult to hire qualified applicants and restaurant waiters at high-end restaurants are young and inexperienced. There is construction everywhere around the perimeter beltway and near the new container facility. Now, if I could only say the same for the chemical business.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Federal Reserve's Butterflies

He may know butterflies, but he could use a coloring lesson:
"He shares a home in Racine, Wisconsin with two black labs, Freedom and Liberty."
I prefer the yellow variety myself, but a black lab is not bad either. (shameless rescue dog photo). And yes, Cole lives with me. He is awesome. That is my back yard, that is my plastic pool, those are my legs and biceps.

Are we Hysterical?

A rational suggestion that we hold the hysteria
Perhaps, but so far the concrete evidence is scant. A recession is a noticeable period of declining output. Since World War II, there have been 10. On average, they've lasted 10 months, involved a peak monthly unemployment rate of 7.6 percent and resulted in a decline of economic output (gross domestic product) of 1.8 percent, reports Mark Zandi of Moody's If the two worst recessions (those of 1981-82 and 1973-75, with peak unemployment of 10.8 percent and 9 percent) are excluded, the average peak jobless rate is about 7 percent.
I have not mastered the new phone in my office. Thus, finding the hold button is difficult. I guess that is why I am net short the market, regardless of my "feeling". It really does not matter how I "feel", it is how the market feels. How do you think the market "feels"? Optimistic or pessimistic?

Link to Megan

Instapundit is right to link to Megan. She is cool, and, well, tall. The real question is, "how tall is she laying down?"

Slade not Going to Prison

What a shame:
"Ousted TSU President Priscilla Slade agreed this afternoon to repay the historically black university $127,672.18 in a plea deal that lets her avoid prison.

In addition to repaying the money, Slade will also be given 10 years of deferred adjudication in exchange for the 'no contest' plea. That means the finding of guilt will not be on her record if she completes probation. If she violates probation, the conviction would be put on her record and she could be sentenced to up to life in prison. She must also perform 400 hours of community service."
As I have written many times, Slade needed to go to jail. If only to set an example and remind people what it is to be moral. I can only wonder if she will teach again.

Malthus said the same

The Malthusians of our era talk like this:
"Greenbang: What do you think is wrong with the debate on climate change?

Dr Kate: It hasn’t really got to grips with the fundamental problem, which is that Western, industrialised lifestyles are literally unsustainable. Climate change is just one symptom of this. WWF famously calculated that if everyone on earth were to enjoy the lifestyle of an average Western European, we would need three planet earths."
Of course, Thomas Malthus wrote in 1798 that the global population must decline. Paul Ehrlich wrote the same in 1968. Both were wrong as have all that have made similar predictions. Why should we believe Dr. Kate? What evidence does she have to support her predictions? The answer: we shouldn't because she has none.

Incompetent People Clueless

Incompetent People Really Have No Clue:
"People who do things badly, Dunning has found in studies conducted with a graduate student, Justin Kruger, are usually supremely confident of their abilities -- more confident, in fact, than people who do things well.

One reason that the ignorant also tend to be the blissfully self-assured, the researchers believe, is that the skills required for competence often are the same skills necessary to recognize competence.

The incompetent, therefore, suffer doubly"
I know someone like this. Incompetent to the core, but thinks she is spectacular. And we all suffer for it.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Life When You Are Different

Life as a Tall Girl:
"Sometimes, one of the toughest mental health challenges we face is simply learning to feel good about ourselves. "
A wise, and short, man once told me, "they are all the same height laying down." If you know what I mean.

Trust, but Punish: Megan

She wrote it, not me:
"I think this determines how we should handle the financial meltdown. In many sorts of repeat games, 'trust, but punish' is the value maximizing strategy for all participants. That's my approach to financial regulation. We should aim to provide maximum transparency, and keep the moral hazard problem down by establishing capital requirements that reduce the government's downside risk. But we should be very suspicious of prospective regulations that aim to prevent failure; the best way to do that is usually to close off potential avenues of success."

If you don't read Megan's blog and you are interested in economics, you better. She has a unique perspective for someone who has an academic degree in economics. She understands the complicated stuff, but can talk down to the rest of us without, well, telling us we are stupid. We are stupid, but Megan does her best to convey economics to the layman via catchy turns of phrases. Now, if she wasn't so darn tall and lived in New York, I'd........

What Your Government Grows

Economic insanity:
"My daughter, who owns a feed and farm supply business in Bosque County, Texas, 40 miles west of Waco, reports that corn is being grown in Texas where corn has never grown before. This corn is destined for the ethanol craze.

The agricultural programs supporting corn make it a sure winner for growers. If the crop fails for any reason, federal crop insurance covers the losses. If a bumper crop and a glut tend to depress prices, there is compensation for that, too.

A corn grower cannot lose money. How would you like to be in a business that can't lose money? And 51 cents per gallon federal subsidy for ethanol production sweetens the deal, further distorting grain markets."

Monday, March 24, 2008

Protectionist Fevor Hits Arizona

When I wrote that Ohio should enact protectionist legislation against Illinois, I was just kidding folks. Now Arizon is taking a protectionist bent towards New Mexico. I did not know I had that much influence:
"'I am concerned that such out-of-state purchases hinder the development of renewable energy here in Arizona, and potentially deprive our state of much needed economic development,' Mayes said in a letter to APS, echoing concerns she raised at a regulatory meeting last week."

I'd Vote For Them

And I don't even shop there, but they make more of a difference in the lives of people than the government ever could. They do deserve a Nobel Prize.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

How the Fed became a pawnbroker

I am not sure I like the Fed becoming a pawnbroker:
"With its new tools, the Fed has provided liquidity without printing much money. It has temporarily absorbed risky and illiquid securities, and supplied government securities, which are risk-free. So instead of monetary policy, in the sense we traditionally have thought about it, the Fed has become a risk-absorber (temporarily, we hope). Or, to put it less kindly, a pawnbroker."

Maybe This Is Why It Is Great... live in Houston Texas.

It is a perfect day to walk the dogs along the bayous and feel the breeze on your face. What a great day.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Oh Please, Save Us

"They" just know better. "They" will just save us, while sipping wine and getting richer:
"'So, do we really think the world is on fire?' Branson, the British magnate and adventurer, asked several guests, as a manservant scurried off to fetch him another glass of pinot grigio.

Branson does - and so did most of his guests. So on this recent weekend on his private hideaway in the crystalline waters between the islands of Tortola and Anegada, they tried to figure out what to do about it and perhaps get richer in the process."

If You Demand Magic, Magic Won't Help

Another gem from Overcoming Bias:
"I was pondering the philosophy of fantasy stories, and it occurred to me that if there were actually dragons in our world - if you could go down to the zoo, or even to a distant mountain, and meet a fire-breathing dragon - while nobody had ever actually seen a zebra, then our fantasy stories would contain zebras aplenty, while dragons would be unexciting."
And as a bonus, yet another diamond is added.
But don't forget that this is the Future, relative to the Dark Ages of a thousand years earlier. You have opportunities undreamt-of even by kings.

If the trend continues, the Future might be a very fine place indeed in which to live. But if you do make it to the Future, what you find, when you get there, will be another Now. If you don't have the basic capacity to enjoy being in a Now - if your emotional energy can only go into the Future, if you can only hope for a better tomorrow - then no amount of passing time can help you.

Thank you Eliezer.

Sustainability is for thee, not for Me

Coyote gets it. Sustainability and lifestyle reduction is for you, not for ME:
"I have never fully understood the word 'sustainability,' but in this context, doesn't it mean 'poorer'? It strikes me that McKibben is trying to sell poverty, or at least advocating that everyone voluntarily become poorer. He is successful with middle-class soccer moms at the library only to the extent that he hides this fact and calls poverty something else -- in this case 'smaller, more sustainable local economies.'

By the way, does jetting from city to city across the country to sell his book make him a sustainability expert? If he believes what he says, why doesn't he just sell his book within a 50-mile radius of his home?

Sustainability is always for thee and not for me."
Humph. Do as I say, not as I do.

How About Just Not Doing It

This falls under the heading of Dangers of Superstitious Thinking:
"Philippine health officials Wednesday warned people taking part in Easter crucifixions and self-flagellation rituals to get a tetanus shot first and sterilise the nails to avoid infections.

The department of health issued a health warning advising people taking part in the rituals this Friday to have tetanus shots and to check the condition of the whip they will use before lashing their backs.

It warned that dirty whips could lead to tetanus and other infections.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque said that as was hard to discourage 'flagellants from whipping their own flesh, the best penitents can do is ensure that their whips are well-maintained.'"
I guess the same could be said of S&M practitioners.

Content be Damned

I don't know why, but I thought this was cleaver:
[It's] also interesting to see how blogging often, and offering a usefully contrarian view, can get one into the pages of the New York Times, content be damned.

Change Congress: the Larry Lessig Launch

Change Congress: the Larry Lessig Launch:
"The most interesting part, so far, has been Lessig's argument to conservatives for why we need public financing. First, the idea he semi-endorsed is not full public campaign finance. It is public financing for incumbents, an idea he credits to Paul Begala and James Carville. Incumbents would be prohibited from raising any money, at all, period. Their funds will come from the U.S. Treasury and be a function of how much their opponents raise. If Challenger Jones raises $1 million, Congressman Smith gets a check for $800,000."
I like it, but it will never happen; to much inertia to keep the current system in place.

h/t to Megan

The Joy of the Merely Real

The joy of the real world:
"For what sin are rainbows demoted to the dull catalogue of common things? For the sin of having a scientific explanation. 'We know her woof, her texture', says Keats - an interesting use of the word 'we', because I suspect that Keats didn't know the explanation himself. I suspect that just being told that someone else knew was too much for him to take. I suspect that just the notion of rainbows being scientifically explicable in principle would have been too much to take. And if Keats didn't think like that, well, I know plenty of people who do.

I have already remarked that nothing is inherently mysterious - nothing that actually exists, that is. If I am ignorant about a phenomenon, that is a fact about my state of mind, not a fact about the phenomenon; to worship a phenomenon because it seems so wonderfully mysterious, is to worship your own ignorance; a blank map does not correspond to a blank territory, it is just somewhere we haven't visited yet, etc. etc..."
The closing line is priceless.
You might say that scientists - at least some scientists - are those folk who are in principle capable of enjoying life in the real universe.

That Way Is Closed to You

You can never go back.:
"Maybe there are stupid happy people out there. Maybe they are happier than you are. And life isn't fair, and you won't become happier by being jealous of what you can't have. I suspect the vast majority of Overcoming Bias readers could not achieve the 'happiness of stupidity' if they tried. That way is closed to you. You can never achieve that degree of ignorance, you cannot forget what you know, you cannot unsee what you see.

The happiness of stupidity is closed to you. You will never have it short of actual brain damage, and maybe not even then. You should wonder, I think, whether the happiness of stupidity is optimal - if it is the most happiness that a human can aspire to - but it matters not. That way is closed to you, if it was ever open."
Sad, but true. True and uplifting. Your choice, but not really.

Climate facts to warm to

Climate facts to warm to:
"'Is the Earth stillwarming?'

'No, actually, there has been cooling, if you take 1998 as your point of reference. If you take 2002 as your point of reference, then temperatures have plateaued. This is certainly not what you'd expect if carbon dioxide is driving temperature because carbon dioxide levels have been increasing but temperatures have actually been coming down over the last 10 years.'"
Is this significant or a matter of picking the starting and end points to make the data fit? You tell me. How about negative feedback?
The satellite was only launched in 2002 and it enabled the collection of data, not just on temperature but also on cloud formation and water vapour. What all the climate models suggest is that, when you've got warming from additional carbon dioxide, this will result in increased water vapour, so you're going to get a positive feedback. That's what the models have been indicating. What this great data from the NASA Aqua satellite ... (is) actually showing is just the opposite, that with a little bit of warming, weather processes are compensating, so they're actually limiting the greenhouse effect and you're getting a negative rather than a positive feedback."
And the punch line. What if science is wrong about global warming?
A great many founts of authority, from the Royal Society to the UN, most heads of government along with countless captains of industry, learned professors, commentators and journalists will be profoundly embarrassed. Let us hope it is a prolonged and chastening experience.
It is worse than that. I can hear it now whenever science speaks up: "Remember when you were wrong about global warming? How can I believe you about [insert scientific phenomena here]?" This could be damaging beyond damaging in the history of science. But we will see.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

This is a Graph

Coyote blog thinks he is linking to a chart regarding the link between the global temperature and CO2. That is not a chart. This is a chart.

The next question is which President is better at managing the global temperature. Who do you think?

Let's add Reagan and Bush 41 to the mix.

This is not a political blog, but it is interesting to me that the trend under Reagan is slightly upwards, Bush 41 downwards and GW Bush almost flat while under Clinton it was upwards. Interesting, but likely irrelevant.

Dr. Helen: Picking Locks and Minds

Dr. Helen: Picking Locks and Minds:
"'If you give up too easily or lose patience, you aren't allowing yourself a fair shot at it. Do not be sloppy in the way that you use your tools. A professional differs from the incompetent mostly in attidue [sic], in the willingness to proceed carefully and with full attention.'"
Sounds like the key to almost any endeavor. That and priority setting as well as proper focus.

Collectivism's Greed

The greed of collectivism:
"People say that the market promotes selfishness, but it turns out that it is when things are owned collectively that greed thrives."

CARPE DIEM: Houston: The Next Great World City?

CARPE DIEM: Houston: The Next Great World City?:
"This freedom has made Houston the most affordable major city in America, with housing costs that are less than half of most other major urban areas. This freedom has also created an innovative and growth-friendly environment that is creating tens of thousands of new jobs each year."
Well. Not really. Houses are cheap because there is a lot of available land and cheap immigrant labor. In the place of zoning and government regulation, we have home owners associations and thick covenants. They are likely less onerous than governments, but onerous never the less.

Sorry Mark. You just plain missed it on this analysis.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Quote of the Day

A little political for this blog, but not a bad Quote of the Day:
"'Civil rights used to be about treating everyone the same. But today some people are so used to special treatment that equal treatment is considered to be discrimination.' ~Economist Thomas Sowell"

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Kling Approves of Fed Action

Kling Agrees:
"I approve of what the Fed is doing. But looking at government as whole, I would say it is like a 10-year-old boy rescuing an old woman from a fire that the boy started in the first place. For most of the past year, the goal of the political class has been to keep unqualified buyers in homes as long as possible."
The ten-year-old boy part is a nice touch.

Video = Emotional Manipulation

Every once in awhile I stumble on something that is so simple and brilliant, well, it is simply brilliant:
"I am a fan of Neal Postman's view that reading promotes logical thinking, while video facilitates emotional manipulation."
This is why I think TV manipulates the general population to feel like buying things they don't need with money they don't have while striving only to appear better than the losers on Jerry Springer. I guess it all boils down to being a serf. It is not like I am not a serf myself, but at least I know I am a serf.

Not Perspective, but Panic

CARPE DIEM: Some Perspective on Subprime Mortgages:
"Of the 46 million mortgages, 2.04% were in the foreclosure process in the fourth quarter of 2007, or about 940,000 homes. Of the total number of homes (69.7 million) including those with no mortgage, the percent of all homes in foreclosure was 1.35%. Obviously then, 98.65% of homes were NOT in the foreclosure process in QIV 2007."
Sometimes it is panic that matters, not perspective. If you panic, you are often dead. If you pause to examine facts, you are far better off.

Unfortunately, panic may rule the day.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Megan McArdle Does It Again

Megan McArdle (March 17, 2008) - Bear attack:
"No one who took excessively risky behavior--even if they honestly didn't realize it was excessively risky behavior--should escape without getting spanked, hard. Pain is nature's way of saying 'Don't do that!', a lesson that apparently a lot of us needed to learn.
True that.
Alas, we live in an imperfect world, and the price of preventing catastrophes is that you will have more of them to prevent.
Nice turn of phrase. Now I know why she gets the big bucks.

Sold by Megan McArdle

Megan McArdle is Sold!:
"The thinking goes that we need to draw the line here, whatever the cost, because if we let the financiers go on their merry way, eventually they'll create a wave that will swamp the Fed's power to intervene. Possibly so, but from what I hear, the people on Wall Street are pretty much scared right down to the tips of their Gordon Gekko underoos."

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Oldest Profession

Getting all hot under the collar over the oldest profession |
"No, sometimes we ideologues have it right: the simplest, most radical option is also the most practical one. Even if you morally disapprove of prostitution - I do not - as a practical matter, legalising it makes lots of sense. Compared to what goes on down in most parliaments, prostitution is a noble calling."

Not an endorsement

Not an endorsement of Adam Smith in Beijing:
This latest work, however, illustrates why world-systems theory has found little purchase except in the most intellectually undemanding environments (including, apparently, sociology departments)...

The book offers more insight into the sad state of intellectual development in sociology departments, even at such prestigious institutions as Johns Hopkins, than it does into the realities of wealth and poverty in the world economy.
Don't read the whole thing and forget about the shameful book.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Good Question

What do you want to be when you grow up?
Now asked his son, Mike, and me that question he was not taking about what professions we wanted to become when we grew up. He was asking us if we wanted to grow up to become more honest or less honest. More reliable, or less reliable. Have more integrity or less integrity. That was what he wanted to find out when he asked that question. P208
Just askin'

Line Up the Dominos

Liquidity Trap - The Current:
"The terrifying speed of Bear's collapse has stunned investors -- less than ten days from rumor to ruin. Investment banking stocks plunged on the news, particularly Lehman Brothers, which like Bear Stearns, has relatively light cash reserves and a heavy exposure to the debt markets. If the bank's sudden collapse shakes confidence in other institutions, more such situations will surely follow, and Bear could be the first domino in a long line."
This and the level of consumer non-payment of debt has me concerned about a meltdown. This might be a time that I thought would not come. Then again, it might be a Japan scenario of real estate crashing followed by economic morass. The only difference might be the flight from the dollar into other currencies causing an even weaker dollar translating into even higher energy costs. All of those things might be enough to tip over the hole pyramid scheme.

What am I doing about it? Keeping lots of cash and shorting the market to balance my long positions. I just don't think I am short enough.

Tasty Totalitarianism

Not so much for the Spitzer-isms, but for the tasty quote:
"At the center of the totalitarian impulse is the belief that, at bottom, freedom belongs only to the state, that the individual should not be treated as a free actor but rather, as Lenin put it, “‘a cog and a screw’ of one single great Social-Democratic mechanism.” Of course, few canny bureaucrats quote Lenin today. The stock of that totalitarian genius is too deeply depressed by his association with Communist tyranny. But really, the Spitzers of the world are, as someone said about Philip Rahv, born-again Leninists. “What socialism implies above all,” said Lenin, “is keeping account of everything.”"
Not only keeping account, but controlling everything.

The Lesson of the Pencil

Read, I, Pencil: Library of Economics and Liberty:
"The lesson I have to teach is this: Leave all creative energies uninhibited. Merely organize society to act in harmony with this lesson. Let society's legal apparatus remove all obstacles the best it can. Permit these creative know-hows freely to flow. Have faith that free men and women will respond to the Invisible Hand. This faith will be confirmed."
Not faith. Evidence supported by reason and logic.

H/T Cafe Hayek

No Economy Is An Erector Set

Note my slight title change: No Economy Is An Erector Set:
"A far greater danger to Americans' prosperity than a President with a poor speaking style and a penchant for standard-fare political shenanigans is the spread of the belief that economic salvation lies in having someone 'in control.'"
Those that treat it so put on on the Road to Serfdom.

One Sentence on Hedge Fund Wizards

Hedge Fund Wizards - Brookings Institution:
"While most hedge funds probably don't operate in such a nakedly self-serving way, the underlying logic of Oz's strategy is quite common: take a position that yields high returns with high probability and extremely poor returns with low probability, and keep your fingers crossed."

The Stupid Man

A brief story on intelligence:
"Milton Wilcain was obviously not a very smart man. Sure, he went to college, eventually receiving a Master's Degree, and he ran a business employing three hundred people, but we know he was unintelligent nonetheless. Despite these seeming contradictions, we can come to this conclusion because if he had been intelligent, he would have been allowed to keep his money to spend as he wanted and he would have been allowed to live as he wished, without anyone telling him how. Instead, other people took what he owned and used it better than he could have."
Read the whole thing.

Creating Serfs

If you don't know math, you will work for someone who does. Or, you'll end up working for the bank and live in poverty. H/T Carpe Diem

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Demographic Bull

I really don't thing these guys have a clue:
Because, replies the author of Decline
and Fall: Europe’s Slow-Motion Suicide
, “children are expensive. They
require you to sacrifice your time and your interests and your own
comfort. If your highest good is pleasure, if your highest good is a
sophisticated life, then children get in the way. Why would you spend so
much money and so much energy on children if your highest good is simply
material well-being? That's sort of the spiritual dimension of the
problem."“The spiritual dimension of the problem.” There are so few
children in Europe, in other words, because there are so few believers.
I would say it has more to do with education than religion. People have less children as women gain more education and control over reproduction. Being a baby factory went hand in hand with men controling women's fate. Education plus freedom changed that equation. I suppose those guys would like to change it back. Not me.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Pay Attention to the Comments

This is very clever and true:
"As a general rule, the more attention people draw to the things they do, the less important those things actually are.

Locust said this on March 12, 2008 at 4:38 am"

Monday, March 10, 2008

Why I have a Mac

They Criticized Vista. And They Should Know:
"Their remarks come from a stream of internal communications at Microsoft in February 2007, after Vista had been released as a supposedly finished product and customers were paying full retail price. Between the nonexistent drivers and PCs mislabeled as being ready for Vista when they really were not, Vista instantly acquired a reputation at birth: Does Not Play Well With Others."

Yes We Can

CARPE DIEM: Can't We Bury the Middle Class Income Myths?
the average household size has declined by 21% from 1967 to 2006, while real, median household income increased by 31% over the same period. Result? A significantly, much, much higher standard of living for the average household member, i.e. the typical member of the middle class!
Start digging.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Drugs in drinking water?

I always suspected drugs in the water supply to our corporate headquarters, but now I have proof:
A vast array of pharmaceuticals — including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones — have been found in the drinking water supplies of at least 41 million Americans, an Associated Press investigation shows.

To be sure, the concentrations of these pharmaceuticals are tiny, measured in quantities of parts per billion or trillion, far below the levels of a medical dose.
Actually, this is a story with undertones aimed straight at the chemical industry and the press-fueled fear factory.
Water providers rarely disclose results of pharmaceutical screenings, unless pressed, the AP found. For example, the head of a group representing major California suppliers said the public "doesn't know how to interpret the information" and might be unduly alarmed.
Yes. It is the AP's aim to unduly alarm the public and take aim at the chemical and pharmaceutical industry. Industries that havs saved hundreds of millions of lives and made the lives of billions possible.

The article ends with this scaremongering quote:
"We know we are being exposed to other people's drugs through our drinking water, and that can't be good," says Dr. David Carpenter, who directs the Institute for Health and the Environment of the State University of New York at Albany.
The "that can't be good" statement is the last refuge of a fool. It is not even scientific. Minute quantities could be bad. They could be good. Most likely, they are innocuous.

But, the bottom line is fear mongering works to sell newspapers. So it will continue and the chemical industry will continue to spend billions counteracting it or, more likely, not fund research into new and better ways to serve humanity. Now that is truly scary.

Eduction is not Included in Freedom

Homeschoolers' setback sends shock waves through state:
"'California courts have held that ... parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children,' Justice H. Walter Croskey said in the 3-0 ruling issued on Feb. 28. 'Parents have a legal duty to see to their children's schooling under the provisions of these laws.'

Parents can be criminally prosecuted for failing to comply, Croskey said.

'A primary purpose of the educational system is to train school children in good citizenship, patriotism and loyalty to the state and the nation as a means of protecting the public welfare,' the judge wrote, quoting from a 1961 case on a similar issue."
Wow. How is this keeping with the finest traditions of this country? How is this anything other than tyranny?

Friday, March 07, 2008

Thomas Sowell: In the Short Run

"In the short run, you can get away with all sorts of things. But, in the long run, the chickens come home to roost."
Simple and brilliant.

So Let's Lower the Standards

Why Can’t a Woman Be More Like a Man?
"Departments of physics, math, chemis�try, engineering, and computer science have remained traditional, rigorous, competitive, relatively meritocratic, and under the control of no-nonsense professors dedicated to objec�tive standards. All that may be about to change. Following years of meticulous planning by the activists gathered for the hearing, the era of academic d�tente is coming to an end."
My college experience was one of massive entry for women, but then the field was leveled by everyone having to take and pass the same tests. Science is objective. You can either solve the physics equation or you can't. It does not care if you are a man or a woman.

I really don't see how we can force science to adopt equality of outcome across gender lines. If we do, then the whole world will suffer the consequences.

The Age of Prosperity

CARPE DIEM: The Age of Milton Friedman:Good Time To Be Alive:
"Shleifer continues:

The last quarter century also saw wide acceptance of free market policies in both rich and poor countries: from private ownership, to free trade, to responsible budgets, to lower taxes. Three important events mark the beginning of this period. In 1979, Deng Xiao Ping started market reforms in China, which over the quarter century lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. In the same year, Margaret Thatcher was elected Prime Minister in Britain, and initiated her radical reforms and a long period of growth. A year later, Ronald Reagan was elected President of the United States, and also embraced free market policies. All three of these leaders professed inspiration from the work of Milton Friedman. It is natural, then, to refer to the last quarter century as the Age of Milton Friedman."

Watch What They Do, Not What They Say

The Non-Sulzberger Death Tax :
"The news was that the publisher of the New York Times, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., had sold his Upper West Side apartment to his wife for $3.25 million for what a Times spokeswoman described as 'estate-planning purposes.'"
So, the liberal New York Times owner wants taxes on everyone but himself. Hipocrisy in action.

Monday, March 03, 2008

How Airlines Lost Credibility

I guess I am not unique in criticizing airlines. However, that is not going to stop me.

I have just lost two hours of my life that I will never get back in Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH). When I left my office, there was no indication the plane would be late. And yet, an hour before the flight was scheduled to depart, a 1:30 minute delay was posted. It was 10 minutes before the revised time and they had not even started boarding. Five minutes before the time, nothing. Finally an announcement that they were waiting on crew. They pushed back another 15 mintues, then another 30 minutes. For those keeping track at home, it is now 2:15 minutes late. And yet, 15 minutes before the now-3rd revision and no crew member. There is no way we are going to make it.

So basically, instead of realism, we get lies. They knew hours ago that the plane would be late and yet no communication. And they wonder why people don't trust them or believe them.

Yes, I know we had storms today, but talk to me. Tell me how long things will be delayed. I know you know. You have computers that can map all the dependencies when one plane or one crew is delayed. You know. Tell me. That is all I ask.

Thus endth my rant.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Financial Hindsight

How a Bubble Stayed Under the Radar - New York Times:
"I’d come to realize that we’d never be able to identify irrational exuberance with certainty, much less act on it, until after the fact.”
That is why investing is very difficult. When is it a bubble and when is it a good investment? If Greenspan cannot tell, how can JimVAT?

Media Behind Curve on India Outsourcing

CARPE DIEM: The Coming Death of Indian Outsourcing?:
"Is the death of Indian outsourcing all that far off?

Assuming a 15% year-to-year salary hike rate, and a 2007 cost advantage of 1:3 in favor of India, if U.S. wages remain constant, India’s cost advantage disappears by 2015. Then what?"
Too late. It is already happening. High tech work outsourced to India is being third-sourced to China or other places with lower wages.

Going Dafta over NAFTA

H/T Instapundit.

Going Dafta over NAFTA:
Yeah, yeah...we know. But sometimes you just hafta.
Personally, I think Ohio should erect trade barriers with Illinois and Youngstown should not trade with Columbus. That would fix all of Ohio's problems.

Winter carnival activities canceled

Was Al Gore scheduled to attend?

Winter carnival activities canceled:
"Much of this week's winter carnival in Gilford has been canceled, due to too much winter."

Healthcare Neighbors

H/T Tigerhawk.

This is why countries with government-controlled healthcare need capitalist neighbors; they have to have somewhere to go:
"While other provinces have sent patients out of country – British Columbia has sent 75 pregnant women or their babies to Washington State since February, 2007 – nowhere is the problem as acute as in Ontario.

At least 188 neurosurgery patients and 421 emergency cardiac patients have been sent to the United States from Ontario since the 2003-2004 fiscal year to Feb. 21 this year. Add to that 25 women with high-risk pregnancies sent south of the border in 2007."
So where will they go when the US's healthcare system is ravaged by government control?

But this is the best part:
Progressive Conservative health critic Elizabeth Witmer says it reflects poor planning.

That is particularly the case with neurosurgery, she said, noting that four reports since 2003 have predicted a looming shortage.

“This province and the number of people going outside for care – it's increasing in every area,” Ms. Witmer said.

“I definitely believe that it is very bad planning. ...We're simply unable to meet the demand, but we don't even know what the demand is.”
So, instead of concluding the system just does not work, they just need to plan better.

This is the foundation that sits under economies that rely on centralized planning. When they inevitably crumble and fail, they blame it on poor planning and the need for more planners. As Hayek said 60 years ago, there will never be enough information or an organization good enough to plan an economy. It just does not work. But, it is still coming here and we will find out ourselves.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Fairtrade isn't

Alex Singleton on how Fairtrade isn't:
"Fairtrade is, in other words, a front organisation, crafted by unregenerate collectivists to con believers in nice capitalism to buy something which is neither nice nor capitalist. And the way to deal with cons is to expose them for what they are, so that only those who really do believe in the actual values being promoted here continue to support the thing."
Communism didn't disappear when the Berlin wall fell. It went underground into environmental and anti-globalization organizations in an effort at rebranding. It is the same-old-same-old.

New Six-Word Motto

Nice Motto:
"Our Worst Critics Prefer to Stay"
And it is true. We are labeled as evil, yet the labelers stay and prosper. Why is that?

Trade = Freedom

Why trade is important to freedom:
"If merchants 'were [ever] considered' no better than thieves, I say, consider who's doing the considering. The possibility of gains from trade in the hands of 'merchants' was and is the key driver for social and economic mobility and the political instability that comes with it. Feudal lords had much to fear and loathe at the possibility that by trading among themselves serfs might drag themselves out of hunger and ignorance. And so too the Church. Trade is possible only when people assert property rights. Assertion and exploitation of property rights by political subordinates is the beginning of the end of a social order based on birthright and violence."
This cannot be said enough. Trade is the only defense against serfdom.