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Saturday, November 19, 2005

Forcing Others To Live In Poverty

Could people who game data be doing it for their personal political reasons? The outlawing of DDT by environmentalists has caused millions of deaths a year since their successful campaign 2 generations ago. Today Africans lack electricity leading to deaths caused by unrefridgerated foods. They lack access to potable water. They burn dund or wood for home heating.

This is ignored by the environmentalists who roadblock any development for the sake of their own idea of a pristine lifestyle.

Writes Roy Spencer at TCS:

The whole DDT issue is a good example of stupid environmental policy. Insiders say the de facto ban on DDT was the result of politics, not of overriding human health and environmental concerns. Threats of trade bans on countries that dare to use DDT, one of the safest and most effective insecticides available, have contributed to over one million malaria-related deaths each year in Africa. Literally hundreds of millions of people contract the disease each year. While the knee-jerk hostility to DDT is now increasingly being realized to be bad policy (the reinstitution of DDT use in South Africa has reduced malaria deaths there by about 95%), it is but one example of how disinformation spread by well-meaning environmentalists lead to massive human suffering.

Well-meaning and ignorant? Or worse.

Just recently throughout Florida, Louisianna and Mississippi (and parts of NJ), Americans experienced a few weeks without power. Multiply that by many lifetimes. The people who force such primitivism force polticians worldwide to continue such suffering. Maybe these Africans should be allowed to choose their lifestyles.

Picture our friendly environmentalists at night. They sit in their dens after a great day of denying others the modern medical, technological and energy in order to live a better life. They turn down the lights, play their favorite CD, take a sip of their Merlot and think about whose lives they can dictate tomorrow. Sleep tight and don't let the bed bugs bite.

PS: In a documentary Bill Russell (Celtics great) explained to Samuel Jackson that when he grew up his family was not "poor". They were "broke". It was always thought of as a temporary thing. For these Africans, it would be temporary as well. If we allow it to be.

US Healthcare: Simply The Best

Just as headlines often do not tell us the full story (even in the very article it trumpets), David Henderson at TCS explains how data alone tells us nothing. It needs to be interpreted. So a Commonwealth Fund press release screams how US medical patients report "experiencing medical, medication, or test errors, the highest rate of any nation in a new Commonwealth Fund international survey."

Are we really that bad?

No, explains Henderson. But you have to interpret the data.

First, it is a comparison with only 5 other health systems surveyed: Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, and Britain. Before going further, understand that except for Germany, the others are all socialized medicine.

Now the truth:

The press release points out that 30% or fewer of American and Canadian patients were able to get needed medical care the same day, whereas for New Zealand, Germany, Australia, and Britain, the numbers were much higher: 58%, 56%, 49%, and 45%. What the 6-page-long Commonwealth press release does not report are the data on longer waits. Asked whether they had to wait more than 4 weeks for an appointment with a specialist doctor, only 23% of the Americans surveyed said yes, virtually a tie with Germany's 22%, whereas 40% of New Zealand patients, 46% of Australian, 57% of Canadian, and 60% of British patients said yes. Asked whether they had to wait more than 4 months for elective surgery, only 8% of Americans and 6% of Germans said yes, contrasted with 19% for Australia, 20% for New Zealand, 33% for Canada, and a whopping 41% for Britain.

Henderson mentions an economic axiom: He who pays the piper calls the tune. Americans pay more out of pocket but that direct payment of cash gets the doctors' attention.

I want my doctor to depend on me for his livelihood rather than to know that there are many more like me lined up, none of whom can affect what he is paid: I'll get better service that way. Interestingly, U.S. managed care organizations are currently adjusting their plans so that patients pay higher out-of-pocket costs because they've found that this effectively keeps overall costs down and quality up.

We constantly talk about incentives, conservation, choice and advancement. All of these are enhanced by the patient paying in this context. And so far at least we have the best health care system on the planet.

BTW, for those of you who can handle more positive stats about American healthcare:

The press release points out that 30% or fewer of American and Canadian patients were able to get needed medical care the same day, whereas for New Zealand, Germany, Australia, and Britain, the numbers were much higher: 58%, 56%, 49%, and 45%. What the 6-page-long Commonwealth press release does not report are the data on longer waits. Asked whether they had to wait more than 4 weeks for an appointment with a specialist doctor, only 23% of the Americans surveyed said yes, virtually a tie with Germany's 22%, whereas 40% of New Zealand patients, 46% of Australian, 57% of Canadian, and 60% of British patients said yes. Asked whether they had to wait more than 4 months for elective surgery, only 8% of Americans and 6% of Germans said yes, contrasted with 19% for Australia, 20% for New Zealand, 33% for Canada, and a whopping 41% for Britain.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Closer To The Vietnam Comparison For All The Wrong Reasons Part II

Evo Riguzzi adds to the commentary below:

There is absolute linkage between Viet Nam and Iraq and its called politics.

The Viet Nam war could well have been won had politics and politicians let the military succeed. Not that the military was problem free. When Lyndon Johnson stated he controlled B-52s to determine which outhouse could be bombed, the military ceded its professionalism.

Now again we see politicians pulling the will away from the fight. How silly a statement by Congressman Murtha yesterday especially for a veteran of Viet Nam. He surely must have lost his compass on what caused our loss in Viet Nam. It was the loss of the public will. He knows that the enemy follows CNN along with our service members. These statements do not show support for our servicemen and women and their respective families. By contrast, President Bush’s statements on Veterans Day were appropriate and I as a Veteran welcomed them. I was not insulted as reported by CNN or Senator Kennedy.

The recent resolution by the Senate to have the President report quarterly on the war’s progress is all show and no go. I guess these Senators haven’t been reading their inbox – all military units since almost the civil war (an exaggeration) have quarterly reported their fitness for combat with details as to what impacts them. Taking bullets and having vehicles destroyed impacts them. The Pentagon has a presence on the hill daily and briefings to the Armed Services Committees are constant and on going. More politics and positioning and not for the American people but for the American press.

Thank goodness these anti military support politicians were not around 65 years ago – we would all be bilingual, German and Japanese. How can any country believe us when we offer support. What a poor standard – it almost models the United Nations.

How popular was Abraham Lincoln in 1863? Mr. Lincoln’s resolve saved us from a disaster. Resolve and courage are needed by our politicians. Iraq is about to hold its third election in one year and someone considers the war a failure. More Iraqi units are coming on line and we have a failure? Iraq is a democracy and we have a failure?

It’s a good thing Al Qaeda members cannot say BOO for our politicians wouldn’t have room to cower.

And my final slap at some of these idiots, should we accept the French model? Let rampant riots run our country for weeks while we pine away at what to do and, oh, what a surprise.

Pardon my ranting, I’ve just about lost it.

Closer To The Vietnam Comparison For All The Wrong Reasons

In Iraq there are millions of citizens volunteering to vote under extremely dangerous circumstances, it is clear that the internal enemies are either outsiders or formers Baathist torturers that have lost power, there is a Constitution drafted by Iraqis of supposed intractible differences that stands for more individual liberty than war critics in America would likely approve if we had a new constitution draft (based on their acceptance of activist judges who alter the original intent of our Constitution), Iraqis are becoming more experienced in defending and policing themselves and the governmental and cultural turmoil of the Middle East is somehow showing there is a voice of those who want freedom in countries like Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Iran.

The din of the liberal press and the Democrat party is giving the enemy courage to keep the fight going a little longer. It is also hurting troop morale. Writes Oliver North:

This sudden loss of assurance in our fighting forces has nothing to do with casualty figures, troop levels, the leaders prosecuting the war in the field or new acts of terror by a ruthless enemy. Rather, the anxieties I'm now hearing from those I have covered in combat come in questions like: "Do you think that they are going to pull us out before we've finished the mission?" and "Will we abandon Iraq like we abandoned Vietnam?" Interestingly, not one of the thousands of young Americans I have covered in Iraq or Afghanistan has ever asked about or commented upon pre-war intelligence.

For more than two years the so-called mainstream media, the far left and some in Congress have been making trite comparisons between Vietnam and Iraq. Having spent a significant amount of time in both conflicts, about the only parallels I have seen in the two wars have been that bullets still wound and kill, and spilled blood is still red. But another common thread now ties the two hostilities together -- political cowardice in Washington, D.C.

At least when we left Vietnam, there had been a Tet offensive. Of course, the American media got that wrong as the Tet Offensive was a catastrophe for the North Vietnamese, General Giap admits in his memoirs. The cut and run espoused mostly by Democrats and the MSM shows either crass politics or global ignorance. Or is it cowardice?

Bob Woodward is a Republican Hack?

Mike Taylor on the Bob Woodward controversy and the Left's logical take:


Eric Alterman, uber-liberal columnist for The Nation claims that Bob Woodward's recent revelations about the "common knowledge" of Valerie Plame's occupation are not to be believed as Woodward is "so obviously acting as the chosen Bush administration vehicle for getting this information out the way it wanted to see it."

Later in this short piece, Alterman dismisses Woodward thusly: "No wonder (Woodward) is the most "successful" journalist in the profession, and really, how depressing."

If the Administration wanted to use Woodward, why wait until after Libby was indicted? My head spins at how the left has become utterly and completely irrational about the Bush Administration. If anyone defends the White House, they must be in league with Bush devils!

Bob Woodward? The guy that brought down Richard Nixon? The hero of Watergate? The guy who met in parking lots with Deep Throat? He's been co-opted by the Bush White House? THAT'S your explanation? You expect people to believe that theory? Do you really?

The left is crazy.

You may recall that Alterman wrote a book in 2003 entitled What Liberal Media? that claimed to prove that the MSM is either neutral or biased conservative.

I think that tells you all you need to know about Eric Alterman.

Don't drink his Kool Aid...

-- MTT

Mike, doesn't it sound like the Muslims blaming Isral for the recent bombing of the wedding in Jordan? Or how the Left can fabricate the history about the Iraq invasion 4 years when we all heard the speeches and recall the breaches of UN Resolutions?

They have learned the lesson on the BIG LIE.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

More Smooting From Conservatives

Taking a page from embarassing moments from Charles Krauthammer, Matt Towery, a pollster with solid conservative values and usually keen insights, bemoans the impending bankruptcy of GM and sees the culprit being high wages. He should have taken a deep breath before publishing this essay.

While recognizing the myriad costs that hamstring manufacturers in America, Towery proposes to force our competitors like China to pay their workers higher wages-actually wages commensurate with those paid in the US! He opines that if the Chinese had to pay anything close to our wages, manufacturers would open mills in the US instead of China. Maybe so, but that sounds like coercion and not so free market to me.

His proposal, he claims, is not protectionism but a means of "ending the trade advantages of China and other emerging countries".

He proposes:

How about this: Let's reinvigorate the movement to close foreign "sweat shops," but with this crucial difference from efforts to date: Instead of arguing the morality of these establishments, let's apply an economic "eye-for-an-eye" standard.

If a nation like China refuses to pay its workers more, the United States could tax China's exports to the U.S. on a scale based on the difference between what China pays its workers and what America pays its workers for making the same product.

Oh, no! That's protectionism, some will say. It's against the principles of global, free-market economics.

Somewhat, yes, but with a difference. This eye-for-an-eye approach would encourage competitive behavior from the Chinese or whomever. They would pay no set surcharge on their goods; only a tax indexed to their wage scale relative to the country that imports their products -- us. Legitimate Chinese businesses with a solid future would pay higher wages; sweat shops wouldn't, and they'd suffer accordingly.

This idea is ridiculous. He expects that Chinese businesses will voluntarily pay workers multiples of the market wages in order to increase the price at our shores? Why wouldn't they just raise the prices and pocket the additional money rather than pay it to the US Treasury? And why should US consumers pay such high prices when cheaper are available. Wouldn't the Chinese manufacturer set up straw companies in other countries to get around the wage mandate?

With all due respect, the only way to compete is to lower costs. If unions provided salaries for workers beyond their fair market values, then the salaries need to be scaled down in order for companies to continue doing business.

Towery concludes:

It would send the message that the opening of markets worldwide has to mean a parallel closing of worldwide business loopholes. Only on this level playing field can true globalism take permanent root.

Matt, the playing field will never be level as there is comparative advantage among competing interests in life. Someone can do things better and cheaper than other people. Those that can do things better and cheaper can sell to those who cannot. The latter group can find other things they do either better or just do because the first group won't do it. In the end, your proposal merely penalizes local consumers for the sake of businesses that should make changes.

And to use GM as an example is ludicrous. The reason GMs cars do not sell is because people do not wish to buy them. Maybe GM needs some new ideas.

Galloway's Speech

Mike Taylor writes on George Galloway's speeches as captured by MEMRI:

Does anyone remember Battlestar Galactica? A very bad television series about the future. The Earth is a peaceful united place and is ambushed by an alien "race" of robots called Cylons. The ambush is facilitated by a traitorous human, Baltar, who has hopes that the victorious Cylons will install him as viceroy over a subjugated Earth.

George Galloway reminds me of that Baltar creep.*

In a recent speech, Galloway,
Praises Bashar Assad,
claims that Syria is being framed for the murder of Rafik Hariri,
supports Hezbollah,
says that the Iraqi "resistance" is defeating the US,
quotes Mao Tse Tung,
labels Hugo Chavez a "hero" and
calls for the Arab nations to unite... presumably to defeat the Western powers of Great Britain and the United States.

All in one speech!

If Galloway weren't a "pusillanimous creature that crawls on the Earth or slinks through slimy seas"**, he might be dangerous.

At the very least, the VERY least, Galloway is a treasonous dog. Aren't there laws in Great Britain against seditious speech?

He also says one very strange thing:

"When Hitler was on the French coast and my country stood alone, when the Americans were watching the war on television before they joined it, we faced a violent foreign military invasion.

I wasn't aware that television was that widespread in 1940... a TV set in America retailed for $395 in late 1940. That's somewhere close to $4,500 dollars today. And we were still in a depression, despite all the wonderful alphabet federal programs that FDR invented.

I'm not sure if too many Americans were watching the beginning of WWII on television.

In any event, Galloway is deranged and seems bent on uniting the Arab world against his own country.

-- MTT

* No, I haven't memorized geeky sci fi TV series... the internet is great for looking up trivia.

** A chocolate chip cookie for anyone that can identify this quote!

Mark Reynolds answers (showing he either knows old movies or has access to the internet like Mike does):

The great and wonderful wizard of OZ – (Frank Morgan)

Mark has never seen a color movie.

From Mike:

You can redeem your cookie at our next meeting.

The full quote:

"Why, anybody can have a brain. That's a very mediocre commodity. Every pusillanimous creature that crawls on the Earth or slinks through slimy seas has a brain. Back where I come from, we have universities, seats of great learning, where men go to become great thinkers. And when they come out, they think deep thoughts and with no more brains than you have. But they have one thing you haven't got: a diploma."

-- MTT

Natural Rights vs Government Rights

In the context of a discussion about open immigration, the brilliant libertarian blog Coyote Blog discusses the issue of rights and governments. This squarely lays out the philosophic difference between libertarians (and our Founding Fathers I submit) and Liberals (the 20th Century breed of big government types).

He writes:

Like the founders of this country, I believe that our individual rights exist by the very fact of our existance as thinking human beings, and that these rights are not the gift of kings or congressmen. Rights do not flow to us from government, but in fact governments are formed by men as an artificial construct to help us protect those rights, and well-constructed governments, like ours, are carefully limited in their powers to avoid stifling the rights we have inherently as human beings...

With the New Deal, and later with the Great Society and many other intervening pieces of legislation, we began creating what I call non-right rights. These newly described "rights" were different from the ones I enumerated above. Rather than existing prior to government, and requiring at most the protection of government, these new rights sprang forth from the government itself and could only exist in the context of having a government. These non-right rights have multiplied throughout the years, and include things like the "right" to a minimum wage, to health care, to a pension, to education, to leisure time, to paid family leave, to affordable housing, to public transportation, to cheap gasoline, etc. etc. ad infinitum.

Here is a great test to see if something is really a right, vs. one of these fake rights. Ask yourself, "can I have this right on a desert island". Speech? Have at it. Assembly? Sure, if there is anyone or things to assemble with? Property? Absolutely -- if you convert some palm trees with your mind and labor into a shelter, that's your home. Health care? Uh, how? Who is going to provide it? And if someone could provide it, who is going to force them to provide it if they don't want to. Ditto education. Ditto a pension.

These non-right rights all share one thing in common: They require the coercive power of the government to work. They require that the government take the product of one person's labor and give it to someone else. They require that the government force individuals to make decisions in certain ways that they might not have of their own free will.

The Liberals seem to want these government rights as an obligation to all citizens even though the cost is enormous to the opportunities of those given the entitled rights to provide for themselves. They will tell you they would prefer the poor to have jobs like they do, good educations like they have and the right to choose lifestyles like they do. But the poor need their helping hand. All of this is belied by historical evidence (which they ignore).

A few years back an old friend of mine advised me how her brother commuted from lower Rhode Island to Boston every day by train. It took him over 2 hours each way. She harrumphed how there could be direct train rides from lower RI to Boston which could cut his commute time considerably but the government will not support improving the train systems "in this country".
There are so many assumptions in that statement that are false.

First, by using the term government, it means I have to pay taxes to support government's provision of this enhanced train service. Why do I have to pay higher taxes to support her brother's personal choice to live so far from his job?

Second is the assumption that train travel is a benefit to America. If it is then why is ridership on the existing lines so poor. A WSJ editorial from 1/29/02 stated:

[Amtrak] actually saw ridership decrease after September 11, even with a long shutdown of the nation's airspace, many people afraid to fly and new security hassles at airports. Amtrak's 2001 operating loss was a record $1.1 billion, according to a Transportation Department report released Friday.

So people are making choices with their wallets and time by eschewing the train services provided.

The friend's message showed an expectation that I was obligated to subsidize her brother's commutation costs. That is not his right. This is the essence of our Constitutional debates.

The US Communists Did Aid and Abet Murder

Edward R. Murrow's good friend Lawrence Guggan was a Soviet spy who provided Soviet agents countless classified documents used by Stalin for his purges, strengthening his hold on Eastern Europe and harming US interests world-wide. Murrow defended his friend againt McCarthy's attacks. Duggan eventually "committed suicide" after being questioned by the FBI.

All of this comes from Ann Coulter. Ann got much of this information from the Venona Decrypts and the testimony of now credible witnesses like Whitaker Chambers. Meanwhile, liberal Hollywood film-maker, George Clooney, ignored any evidence to the contrary in his story about the famous "Red Scare".

She writes:

During the height of the Soviet purges in the mid-'30s, as millions of innocents were being tortured, exiled and killed on Stalin's orders, Murrow's good pal Duggan was using his position at the State Department to pass important documents to the Soviets. The documents were so sensitive, Duggan had to return the originals to the State Department before the end of the day. Some were so important, they were sent directly to Stalin and Molotov.

But to hear Hollywood tell it, they were the persecuted. The point is that the Venona Decrypts prove McCarthy correct. As Coulter has challenged, give us some names of the falsely accused Communists?

She concludes:

I believe anyone would find it preferable to have been a "target" of McCarthy in the '50s than to have been an ordinary citizen living in the Soviet Union, Hungary, Poland, the Ukraine or any nation infected by the Red Plague.

This blog will provide more on the Venona Decrypts. My study to date shows that FDR's administration, starting with senior adviser Alger Hiss, had many Soviet spies. carping about whether McCarthy has as many names in his briefcase as he actually had reminds me of how some today scream about racial profiling, stop and search policing and ensuring airport baggage inspectors are in unions at the same thousands of Islamic terrorists have the goal to explode a dirty bomb in the NYC subways.

For a review of Hollywood's soft selling of life under Communism see this.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

I Was The Last To Know About Plame's Job At CIA

Mike Taylor is prolific today (keep them coming) and reports on the Plame Outing testimony. You know her, the CIA desk jockey who was keeping America safe from the bad guys. Sshhh! She was claissified.

Here's something you might not hear on the Nightly News:

Bob Woodward, anti-GOP icon from those halcyon days of Watergate, testified on November 14th to Patrick Fitzgerald that he knew of Valerie Plame's work at the CIA ONE MONTH BEFORE BOB NOVAK'S COLUMN.

In his testimony, Woodward said that he learned Plame's place of occupation in an offhand way from several Administration officials, and not in a way that was intended to defame Joe Wilson and his wife. Woodward went on to say that he mentioned Plame's status to another Washington Post writer, Walter Pincus, also before Bob Novak's column.

Now for crying out loud, what the heck was pat Fitzgerald doing for two years? Wasn't the core issue Plame's "undercover status"? Didn't he ask ANYONE if they knew what the woman did other than her neighbors?

I've lived cheek-by-jowl here in my Ridgefield condominium and I can't tell you what the woman next door does for a living.

I'm no legal expert, but one reporter talking about Plame to another reporter about her non-secret status months before Bob Novak's column seems very exculpatory to me. And what about Andrea Mitchell? A few years ago she claimed, on CNBC, that "Everyone knew about Valerie Plame's job. It was common knowledge on the cocktail circuit here in DC".

Then there's the retired general who claims that Joe Wilson mentioned to him that his wife "works at the Agency" while both were in a "green room" at Fox News Channel several years ago.

Some secret. Really "classified" information. A real outing...

Like a mackerel in the moonlight, this whole thing stinks.

We Were Never For The Iraq War Even When We Were Saying We Supported It If Not Demanding It

Mike Taylor provides this link to the actual videos of Democrats supporting the Iraq War (until they didn't and then forgot that they had)

Democrat after Democrat strongly supporting the Iraq war before it began… in their own hyperbolic way… desperately trying to convince the electorate that they were just as strong as national defense as the Republicans… if the GOP can edit a 30-second spot on this, it would be great.

Hillary Clinton and Jay Rockefeller are the highlights, with Dingy Harry Reid a close third…

-- Mike

Government Could Make A Whorehouse Boring

Governments have no entrepreneurial gene. They may know how to tax business, attack business and inhibit business but they do not know how to do business. An economics student and gambler from New Orleans, Vedran Vuk, explains how the Canadian government's attempt at creating casinos sucked the life and vice out of these halls of human addiction.

Vuk examines Canada's, government-owned and run casinos in Ontario. He explains how there are no free drinks, lousy buffets and architecture that could only have been chosen by 20 government nerds in a boardroom. In comparison, the gaming paradise of Las Vegas was created, designed and managed by entrepreneurs whose one thought has been and continues to be "how do we get people to buy our product"? In the Canadian casinos people wait in line to get seats at gambling tables.

Writes Vuk:

Las Vegas casinos do not give great buffets, free drinks, and special prizes out of the goodness of their hearts. These offers come through the concern for their own bank accounts and the competition with other casinos. The commie casino designed for the people of Ontario is worse for the customers than casinos based on profit.

The essentials of economics are missing. Writes Vuk:

Ludwig von Mises pointed out the flaws of government-run non-profit organizations by saying, "In the absence of profit and loss the entrepreneurs would not know what the most urgent needs of the consumers are. If some entrepreneurs were to guess it, they would lack the means to adjust production accordingly."

A Mises Institute Christmas: $17The government-run casinos have fake entrepreneurs that cannot adjust their production through dealers and effective management to match the demand of customers. They only make guesses at the number of customers that may possibly come into the casino. This is exactly what Mises is speaking about when he says of such quasi-markets, "They want people to play market as children play war, railroad, or school. They do not comprehend how such childish play differs from the real thing it tries to imitate."

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

It Is Owed To Those Retirees, Of Course

Bill Suda sent in this cute story from CNN Money about the Greatest Generation. It does not represent every member of the retiree generation, of course.

NEW YORK (MONEY Magazine) -

Q. I live in a nice, but not fancy, retirement community. Every week one of our clubhouses provides a special lunch for low-income people that is subsidized by the government and costs only $1.50.

Many of my friends here routinely take advantage of this lunch, even though they are all financially secure. They say they're entitled to the meal because "income" means money earned from a job and they're too old to work, and because this country owes a lot to seniors for all that our generation has done. Can they be right?

Answer: We hear that the DAR chapter in your community says it's okay for their members to get in the chow line too, since their families founded this country. Just kidding.

The subsidized-lunch bunch is kidding too -- kidding themselves. Those meals are meant for the truly needy, not the self-appointed worthy. The respect that our country owes seniors (whether they're members of the "greatest generation" or the Ozzie and Harriet crowd that followed) doesn't allow them to rewrite the rules.

Yet that's precisely what your friends are doing when they decide that their income, whatever its source, shouldn't be counted in a means test.

Moreover, by pretending to be poor, they're poaching from a program that can afford to serve only so many meals -- meals that are clearly intended for people less fortunate than your friends.

Aren't they just the Greatest Generation? Don't we owe them so much that they should never spend another dime on anything? They really are teaching the younger generations some important lessons. Obviously, the above does not represent all members of the retiree generation.

Mis-ID On Vote On Intelligent Design

Mike Taylor corrects the misimpression of the Dover vote on "Intelligent Design". He writes:

I was lucky enough to hear from one of the successful School Board candidates to get the whole story. Amazingly enough, I heard her on NPR.

A recap:

The Dover school board voted last year (?) to include the reading of a paragraph about intelligent design in the school’s science classes. It is a fairly innocuous statement about how some believe that the gaps in the fossil record of evolution might suggest some sort of divine intervention, leading to present day species.
Opponents for each school board seat ran against that policy. Their platform was that the reading of that paragraph belonged in a social studies class on philosophy, not in a science class.

The opponents won all seats.

From my perspective, it was a good call by the opponents. I think the previous school board was trying to get the paragraph read in a required class, not an elective class on philosophy.

What annoyed me was that NPR set up the story as “Religious zealots were trying to talk down evolution in Dover, imposing their right wing ideology to inculcate children”… the woman elected to the school board explained that she and the other members were all Christians and they didn’t object to discussions of intelligent design. They just objected to a philosophy discussion in science class.

I got the impression that the NPR interviewer wasn’t expecting that explanation.

-- MTT

Sowell on Inequality and Cosmic Justice

I read just the intro to Thomas Sowell's " The Quest For Cosmic Justice " .

Quoting Hayek:

The late Nobel Prize–winning economist and free-market champion Friedrich Hayek, for example, declared, "the manner in which the benefits and burdens are apportioned by the market mechanism would in many instances have to be regarded as very unjust if it were the result of a deliberate allocation to particular people."

Hayek basically said that people look at unequal wealth distribution as the result of some central plan rather than random events in the real world. Sowell talks about the unfairness of physical and mental capabilities and the seekers of cosmic justice attempt to even the playing field for them. One point I get is the alleged secularists have just replaced one God with another. Or maybe one devil with another (capitalism).

Sowell finds that cosmic justice is a faiy tale. He writes:

Cosmic justice is not simply a higher degree of traditional justice, it is a fundamentally different concept. Traditionally, justice or injustice is characteristic of a process. A defendant in a criminal case would be said to have received justice if the trial were conducted as it should be, under fair rules and with the judge and jury being impartial. After such a trial, it could be said that "justice was done"—regardless of whether the outcome was an acquittal or an execution. Conversely, if the trial were conducted in violation of the rules and with a judge or jury showing prejudice against the defendant, this would be considered an unfair or unjust trial—even if the prosecutor failed in the end to get enough jurors to vote to convict an innocent person. In short, traditional justice is about impartial processes rather than either results or prospects.

The final paragraphs of the introduction:

Much, if not most, of the concerns billed as "social justice" revolve around economic and social inequalities among groups. But the general principles involved are essentially the same as in other examples of pursuing cosmic justice. These principles have been proclaimed by politicians and by philosophers, from the soapbox to the seminar room and in the highest judicial chambers.

Nobody should be happy with cosmic injustices. The real questions are:

What can we do about them—and at what cost?

What should we do collectively about them—and how much should we leave up to individuals themselves?

The issue is not whether undeserved misfortunes shall be addressed. The issue is whether they will be addressed politically, rather than in the numerous other ways in which they have been, are being, and will be addressed, usually without the high costs, counterproductive results, and dangers to the whole fabric of society that the politicizing of such misfortunes has produced repeatedly in countries around the world....

Not only does cosmic justice differ from traditional justice, and conflict with it, more momentously cosmic justice is irreconcilable with personal freedom based on the rule of law. Traditional justice can be mass-produced by impersonal prospective rules governing the interactions of flesh-and-blood human beings, but cosmic justice must be hand-made by holders of power who impose their own decisions on how these flesh-and-blood individuals should be categorized into abstractions and how these abstractions should then be forcibly configured to fit the vision of the power-holders. Merely the power to select beneficiaries is an enormous power, for it is also the power to select victims—and to reduce both to the role of supplicants of those who hold this power.

Germany Raises Taxes To Grow. Huh?

Captains Quarters provides this link to the "new" economic proposal in Germany. Get this: They plan on creating a consumer tax, a VAT tax, of 3% and also increase the marginal tax on the wealthy from 42% to 45%. Hell, it's all numbers anyway.

Angela Merkel has apparently taken the 2 horrible ideas from her coalition government to make one big future mess.

For those of us espousing free market, low tax capitalism, this is another example of bad economic policy with real life people.

Explains Captain Ed:

When last seen, this strategy started an economic crisis across Asia that almost killed the Pacific Rim market. Japan, which had been seen as a juggernaut moving implacably towards global economic leadership surpassing even its American mentor, kneecapped itself by doing exactly what Merkel proposes in almost identical circumstances. Given France's state of affairs, the new German policy appears almost assured of sinking the EU in a similar fashion.

American economic planning had better not count on significant investment from European sources over the next few years. The only ones we're likely to see will be those who come across the Atlantic in balloons, hoping to escape the Brussels Wall of economic stupidity.

Sadly, we need a strong Europe as trade partners. More sad, citizens in the US largely of the big government-big tax variety (and if the NYT is to be believed it is a majority of Americans) have no more understanding of economics than these fools

Bicultural Death

Mark Steyn tells us a story about lovely peaceful Fiji that held only Fijians and ethnic Indians brought to the island to serve indentures. This bi-cultural paradise changed when the demographics put the two groups at a 50-50 tie. Before you knew it there was a coup and lovely Fiji was now under military dictat.

Steyn draws a comparison with France and other Euros where there are 2 cultures, the indigenous and the Muslim. And the Musloms are gaining in the demographics game.

And the Fijian scenario - a succession of bloodless coups - is the optimistic one. After all, the differences between Fijian natives and Indians are as nothing compared with those between the French and les beurs. I love the way those naysayers predicting doom and gloom in Baghdad scoff that Iraq's a totally artificial entity and that, without some Saddamite strongman, Kurds, Sunnis and Shias can't co-exist in the same state. Oh, really? If Iraq's an entirely artificial entity, what do you call a state split between gay drugged-up red-light whatever's-your-bag Dutchmen and anti-gay anti-whoring anti-everything-you-dig Muslims? If Kurdistan doesn't belong in Iraq, does Pornostan belong in the Islamic Republic of Holland?

Steyn explains that the US is truly multi-cultural. Just look at the names of 9-11 victims:

Arestegui, Bolourchi, Carstanjen, Droz, Elseth, Foti, Gronlund, Hannafin, Iskyan, Kuge, Laychak, Mojica, Nguyen, Ong, Pappalardo, Quigley, Retic, Shuyin, Tarrou, Vamsikrishna, Warchola, Yuguang, Zarba. Black, white, Hispanic, Arab, Indian, Chinese - in a word, American.

Europe needs people from other cultures. The Euros are not repopulating enough indigenous to hold back the dike. Actually, given the relative military zeal, the Muslims will win prior to their reaching population parity.

And in 10 years where will democracy be flourishing? In Iraq and Afghanistan.

Suggestions To Mr. Bush

Mike Taylor sends us this one from the links. Golfing in mid-November. That global warming is so bad!!!!

Here's Mike:

Skip and I were out playing golf on Sunday morning, so we both missed Howard Dean on Tim Russert’s show Sunday morning. I surfed the web and came up a transcript with the following exchange.

MR. RUSSERT: But there's no Democratic plan on Social Security. There's no Democratic plan on the deficit problem. There's no specifics. They say, "Well, we want a strong Social Security. We want to reduce the deficit. We want health care for everyone," but there's no plan how to pay for it.
DR. DEAN: Right now it's not our job to give out specifics. We have no control in the House. We have no control in the Senate. It's our job is to stop this administration, this corrupt and incompetent administration, from doing more damage to America. And that's what we're going to do. We're doing our best.

So the best that the Dems can do is obstruct and call Republicans “incompetent” and “corrupt”?!? And THIS is going to get them elected in ’06?

Fer cryin’ out loud.

Another set of polling stats from Russert that I found interesting:

MR. RUSSERT: Let's talk about the Democrats and some of the polling data. Congressional Democrats have the same priorities as you: yes, 26 percent; no, 54 percent. So the Democrats aren't perceived as the answer. And look at this, Chairman Dean. We asked independent voters: Do you believe that Democrats have a clear message, a vision for the future? Fifty-two percent of independent swing voters say no. One in four Democrats say you have no clear vision, no agenda, no clear message. Joe Trippi, your former campaign manager said, "Obviously, the results" from Election Night "are great for us Democrats. But given the GOP's problems, the tightness of the results suggest that people aren't happy with either party right now. Democrats have got to push an alternative agenda."

If the Dems had any clue they would have been able to take advantage of the Bush White House’s unwillingness to fight back and the Congressional Republicans inability to act like a majority party. Yet the Dems’ seething rage and hatred consumes them to the point that they can’t even formulate a single frickin’ alternative idea. Thank goodness that the Dems have been so witless as to appoint Screamin’ Dean, Stretch Pelosi and Dingy Harry Reid to leadership positions. Those morons have saved our Republican bacon so far.

Fight back, Mr. President, fight back hard! Congressional Republicans, find a good Whip and let’s give the American people action instead of rhetoric.

-- Mike Taylor

Monday, November 14, 2005

Regulate Gas Prices And Let The Free Market Reign?

You have to read (or not) Charles Krauthammer for a proposal that claims to recognize supply an demand: Make gas prices have $3 per gallon ceiling regardless of the retail price and send $1 or whatever is the difference to the Treasury. Or something like that.

Great quote from him:

"The beauty of a gas tax at $3 is that it obviates the waste and folly of an army of bureaucrats telling auto companies what cars in which fleets need to meet what arbitrary standards of fuel efficiency. Abolish all the regulations and let the market decide. Consumers are not stupid. Within weeks of Katrina, SUV sales were already in decline and hybrids were flying off the lots."

While he is suggesting price controls and money sent to Treasury earmearked for incentives for automakers and alternative fuel providers, he thinks he is letting "the market decide". Even really smart guys have blind spots. Sometimes there are columns (and posts) that should never have been published.

France and The US Race Riots of the 60's

Professors Gerald Posner and Gary Becker compare and contrast in their excellent blog the French riots with the race riots in the US from the 1960's.

Becker explains how the US cities worst hit by riot resulted in the worst post-riot economic conditions. The refusal of entrepreneurs and insurers to re-enter such neighborhoods or cities or the high costs for those that did return led to a decrease in wealth. Becker posits that recognition of the terrible after-effects may play a part in the lack of such recurrence (except for the Rodney King riots that also left terrible economic repercussions in its wake).

Posner thinks that the high unemployment of Muslims in France (the French do little statistical analysis of the race and nationality of its workers) has led to this riot syndrome. He opines that maybe affirmative action raised blacks in America to levels of opportunity that quelled the spirit of hopelessness. France has no comparable employment policy.

Clearly, rioters do not hold a 9-5 job, live in homes with mortgages to pay or come home to oversee their children's homework assignments like us American parents. However, I would credit affirmative action less and the positive effects of our relative free market economy more for the dearth of riots in America. Also, the French rioters do see and hear a deluge of anti-Western propaganda from their media as well as a global Muslim jihad (not criticized by Muslim moderates- see Dennis Prager on this issue) to inspire their criminal activity.

Posner has a Pollyanic hope for France:

Perhaps these riots will give greater power to the few politicians in France who recognize that important economic reforms are needed to help all young Frenchmen get jobs, and to allow them to advance in the economic hierarchy when they demonstrate the requisite talent and ambition. Economics cannot predict with any confidence how such reforms will affect the prospects of further riots, but these reforms would surely improve the position of young immigrants, regardless of their religion or country of origin.

Which France is he talking about? The one that faces reality squarely or the one I have seen during my life?

3 Winners In Last Week's Elections

John Fund's short recap of the political winners finds:

1. John Warner, former Gov of Va, helped elect Tim Kaine to the Va governorship. Warner is a Democrat who polls well with centrist, anti-Hillary Democrats. A relative unknown (but this is only 2005), he is quoted as saying:

"The Democratic Party ought to get over refighting how we got into the war and, again, continue to press the president on what he hopes to do in terms of how we will finish the job."

Fair enough point.

2. John McCain is a popular Senator, admired by all voters of both parties, who has been instrumental in all important Senate policies (including the moderate Gang of 14) with lots of TV face time. His problem is he does not get the support of conservatives. With his championing of campaign finance reform and global warming restrictions, he is too Big brother for my tastes. Yet, like most Americans, I admire his forthright style and unquestioned patriotism.

3. Government unions won on various referenda in California. Arnold apparently did not get "out of the box" fast enough and the unions spent $150 million to defeat the initiatives. With government worker unions so strong in California, they defeated bills to limit teacher tenure (teachers do not have faith in their talent matching their salaries, I guess), end gerrymandering (I guess incumbents do not have faith in their talent matching voters wishes) and reform the budget process (I guess the state legislators do not have faith in democratizing the handling of state wealth).

The beauty of the last victory is, as Fund says, that it is likely to be Pyrric, especially:

if it accelerates the flight of California private-sector jobs and capital to other states, taking the source of much-needed government revenue at the same time. Even the most powerful economic engines can rust. Take New York City, which today has the same population it did two generations ago but a total of 30% more government workers. During the same period, the number of Fortune 500 headquarters in New York City has dwindled to 30 from 140. When the unions win too much political clout, the overall economy inevitably suffers.

We have often written about the flight of businesses from high tax-high regulation states. The same occurs among countries with France and Germany facing business flight and a brain drain. It always comes down to the struggle between Leviathan minions and freedom lovers.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Gore: Always First And Long

Al Gore is truly the voice of a portion of voters who do not see world-wide terror as the same threat that others do. In an interview carried in The Age.com, Gore said:

"I don't want to diminish the threat of terrorism at all, it is extremely serious, but on a long-term global basis, global warming is the most serious problem we are facing."

Gore is Chairman of an investment company named Generation that intentionally avoids investing in things like tobacco and uranium. They look to "combine conventional equity market analysis with longer-term judgements about sustainability".

"Capitalism is at a critical juncture," he says, arguing that the focus on short-term results is undermining issues such as the long-term sustainability of profits, how a company relates to the community and its employees, and the environment.

I agree. With Al Gore involved in investments, people who invest their capital with him are in "a critical juncture". Someone should buy short anything he wants long.

NYT Energy Analysis Ignores The Solution

The NYT provides us useful means of conserving energy at home to reduce demand for oil and gas. Anna Bernasek in Real Energy Savers Don't Wear Cardigans. Or Do They? describes how we have improved fuel efficiency any time the price of fuel increased enough to make it economically prudent to conserve. This is Econ 101. She focuses largely on fuel used in driving, where from 1979 to 1985 efficencies such as Americans eschewing driving "gas guzzlers" reduced our demand for gas and led to a worldwide decrease in oil prices.

However, it is only at the end of the article we learn that vehicles are only 40% of total domestic oil consumption. The other 60% represents involves industrial and home electricity needs. She suggests turning off or unplugging computers when not in use though this kills computer drives that are quite costly( Econ 101 tells us to choose the fuel expense over the expense of a new computer).

Why does Bernasek (and the NYT) promote insignificant changes to consumption of fossil fuels when there is a major change that could reduce such demand permanently? Given that greater impact can be made by changing the fuel dynamic of the 60% used in electricity, the solution is an increased use of nuclear power.

Peter Huber in the City Journal explains that electricity has taken over as the energy source of many industries formerly powered by oil. We use fossil fuel to create this electric energy. Writes Huber:

So today we use 40 percent of our fuel to power the plug, and the plug powers 60 percent of GDP. And with the ascent of microwaves, lasers, hybrid wheels, and such, we’re moving to 60 and 80 percent, respectively, soon. And then, in due course, 100/100. We’re turning to electricity as fuel because it can do more, faster, in much less space—indeed, it’s by far the fastest and purest form of power yet tamed for ubiquitous use. Small wonder that demand for it keeps growing.

And while the Greens protest the use of nuclear, nuclear is the most environmentally sound energy source. Writes Huber:

Nuclear power could do it—easily. In all key technical respects, it is the antithesis of solar power. A quad’s worth of solar-powered wood is a huge forest—beautiful to behold, but bulky and heavy. Pound for pound, coal stores about twice as much heat. Oil beats coal by about twice as much again. And an ounce of enriched-uranium fuel equals about 4 tons of coal, or 15 barrels of oil. That’s why minuscule quantities contained in relatively tiny reactors can power a metropolis.

The NYT conveniently ignores a solution to a problem it portrays. But the NYT is a proponent of the Greens. And the Greens are hypocrites. The NYT and the Greens use scare tactics from out-dated modes of nuclear technology (featured in movies starring out-dated actors-see The China Syndrome) to deny citizens cheaper energy costs. They maintain the dependence on foreign oil by denying the construction of oil refineries and drilling in the continent. And it is done for the benefit of whom?

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