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Friday, June 30, 2006

Stand Up For Your Position!

When people are cowards or unable to offer a reasonable rebuttal to a point made on a topic, they often respond by questioning the motivations of the opponent or their looks or some irrelevant feature. I recently heard such comments when discussing matters such as gasoline prices, the Iraq War or tax cuts.

Recently, economist George Reisman was confronted by this tactic after he posted on the global warming issue. From Reisman's blog:

One of the very first replies to my posting of CO2 Science’s journal review "A 221-Year Temperature History of the Southwest Coast of Greenland" was this: "’CO2 Science’ is funded by Exxon. Come on, you guys are usually such independent thinkers—you can do better than rehash this stuff.” (The response was on the blog at the Mises Institute.)

The author of this statement believes that it is sufficient to name the economic affiliation of an individual or organization to be able to dismiss and ignore anything that comes from them. This was a tactic employed for generations by the Marxists. Instead of refuting the criticisms leveled against their doctrines by economists and others, they were content to identify critics as a member of the capitalist class or as having received financial support from capitalists. The Nazis had their own variant of the practice. They were content to identify their critics as Jewish or as somehow supported by Jews or otherwise affiliated with Jews. The devastating criticisms of socialism made by Mises were dismissed on both grounds.

Now, today, here is Exxon. I don’t even know that it is the source of funds for CO2 Science, or is the major or only source. But I’m willing to assume that it is. How does it follow from that, that whatever comes from CO2 Science, or from Exxon, on the subject of global warming and CO2 emissions is automatically false?

Ignoring the argument and attacking the opponent is the method of the coward. If you care to make a point, be ready to defend it on its merits.

NBA Draft Second Thoughts

I should add that the NBA draft is a complete free market and it produces a better league by discriminatorilly seeking the very best players regardless of race, age or country of national origin. It is color-blind. So are all areas of the arts. There is no affirmative action that looks to undo prior instances of racism or prejudice. It does not compensate for bad childhoods or poor economic roots. Through this open market free from government coercion upon management to hire people based upon their percentage representation within the overall population, the finest product is presented.

Why cannot this principle be applied everywhere?

The message is the NBA does not now and never has considered me professional basketball material from a pure basketball talent perspective. I may have to accept that but it is very harmful to my self-esteem.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

NBA Draft

I am not sure if it is racial, religious or because of my openly stated political views, but I was not drafted last night by a single NBA team. That makes it almost 30 years that I have been eligible and was by-passed by the league. Even dopey Isaiah Thomas of the Knicks did not draft me. I am tempted to remove my name from the list. I will give them 1 more year. There is always Toronto.

They Earned Everything They Have

Libertarian Neal Boortz explains that Warren Buffett's plan to endow a charitable foundation with 85% of his fortune is not "giving back" anything. Because that presumes whatever it is was previously owned by another.

Writes Boortz:

Did you earn the money, win it, or was it given to you?...And let’s not forget former Democrat House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt! Gephardt liked to refer to Americans who worked their spot in the top 20% of income earners as those who “have won life’s lottery.” Yup! It’s the old “winning” theme again...

This “giving back” nonsense completely negates the reality that the people doing all of the donating actually earned that which they are giving through hard work, good choices, responsible decision-making and perseverance.

My guess is the top 20% woke up earlier, worked longer, studied harder, spent money less frivolously, obeyed the law and expended more energy than those in the lower rungs. And I prefer to live in a world where such effort is rewarded.

Boortz explains that there are actually very few Kennedys in the higher income levels:

“Oh,” your typical liberal will say, “they didn’t earn that money, they inherited it!” Right. Tell that to Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. The inconvenient truth for the wealth redistributionist crowd is that fewer than two percent of millionaires in this country inherited their wealth. God forbid that we should ever recognize that people might actually earn their wealth!

Thus, 98% have done something that people found valuable and voluntarily parted with their valuable dollars to purchase or rent. Alex Rodriguez, Madonna, the supermarket entrepreneur, the professional and the workaholic all produced something that was not on this earth before. They increased the wealth of the earth and were paid for it. Thank you. And keep all of it if you wish.

Quitting the New York Times

I have grown up with the New York Times. From whatever grade it was that I could understand the larger words and began to recognize the names and locations of other countries in the world, I have been a reader of the NYT. At a Greenwich Village Halloween shindig in the early 80’s I wore a “Sunday Morning” costume consisting of a bathrobe, a bagel and the Sunday NYT crossword. The NYT is so inhered in my weekend ritual that I cannot take a sip of coffee before holding the NYT front page open for review.

That is now over as I cancelled my subscription last night. The reason was its divulging of the government’s bank-data program that the NYT acknowledged was a rousing success and legal. Despite the interest such a report may generate, the downside was tipping off Islamic terrorists. And that endangers me, my family and my fellow Americans.

That the NYT is a voice for the Left never swayed my allegiance, attention and money. Much like citizens of the Soviet Union learned to interpret Pravda, I would read between the lines to reconfigure distortions and cull the truth in a report. The internet now provides us all a means to disprove many of the false assertions. I was also able to locate subtle, pro-big- government, socialist shadings in their economic reporting. I found it to be an intellectual game.

While the social and economic policies the NYT supports lead to increased unemployment, decreased opportunity, fatherless children, reduced economic production and all sorts of other harms to the very people they seek to benefit, at least these programs would be decided largely through legislative debate where public opinion would have access to all sides and projections. Even a good faith disagreement on foreign policy is a must in an open democracy. Well-stated reasoning in any disagreement is a necessity for better judgment of the polity.

I could also ignore its anti-Israel reporting as it provides an example of the moral equivalence philosophy in all of its vacuity. I considered its Middle East reporting as a natural progression of its earlier reporting on Stalinist Soviet Union and other socialist havens over the decades. While these examples persuade the unknowing, it also allows us to prove the fallacy of their arguments.

However, in this war instituted by Islamic Fascists, the NYT reporting has gone beyond anti-Bush bias. It has imperiled our nation to such a degree that I cannot provide further financial support to it. Maybe another weekend subscription loss of $3 per week is minor. I suspect this week we will see a report of considerable lost readership. And it is sad that the opponents of conservatism lose their most ardent yet articulate voice. Because that means what is left are the Murthas, the Moores and the Koskids. All positions in the national debate deserve strenuous, reasonable proponents. When a side of an argument loses its rational voice, the public loses out in the end.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Mexico's Woes

Robert Samuelson discusses the dilemma of Mexico: Its citizens would stay there if there were a strong local economy. Unfortunately, Mexico's 4% rate of growth is too little given its size. Samuelson explains that in 1970 South Korea has 1/2 the per capita income of Mexico. Now, at $19,000 South Korea has double Mexico's per capita income.


What else? The same issues that drag down every mediocre or failing economy: Government involvement, employment regulations, tax laws and a lack of private property rights.

One example from Samuelson:

An extreme case in point is Pemex, the state-owned monopoly oil company. Without competitors or complaining shareholders, its operations are lax. In 2004, Pemex had $69 billion in sales and 137,722 employees, according to its Web site; in the same year, Exxon Mobil had $291 billion in sales and 85,900 employees.

A profit-oriented company, Exxon earns over 4 times the income with 60% of the staff. And we can bet the salaries at Exxon are much higher than those at the Pemex.

Yes, you can legislate yourself toward permanent employment but not to prosperity.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Breast Cancer from Mammograms

It is reported that some women have increased risk of breast cancer after a mammogram. Now lawyers can sue doctors for either suggesting a mammogram or not.

A study of 1,600 women with BRCA 1 and 2 mutations, defective genes linked to breast cancer, found they were 54 per cent more likely to suffer the disease if they had ever had a chest X-ray.

For women given chest X-rays before the age of 20, the risk of developing breast cancer before their 40th birthday more than doubled.

It is the perfect legal storm.

Conspiracy To Reduce Gas Costs

Larry Kudlow predicts oil prices to drop in the next 6 months to year to about $40 to $50 per barrel. No, conspiracy fools, it has nothing to do with Bush-Saudi-Halliburton-Texas oilmen playing us for unfair profits (not sure what those are exactly). It just has to do with that boring old theory of supply and demand.

Writes Kudlow:

The economic principles at work here are very simple: Markets work. Supply and demand works. Higher prices are gradually slowing consumption. At the same time, those high prices continue to stimulate outsized profits and investment returns. So capital is pouring into all the energy sectors, providing a strong foundation for new energy production. Chevron, for example, is reinvesting virtually all its profits in new oil-and-gas exploration and drilling. The drilling industry, meanwhile, has recovered from last year’s Hurricane Katrina shock and is once again producing near peak capacity.

There’s even good news from Washington on the energy front. The House Resources Committee, chaired by California Republican Richard Pombo, has just delivered the Deep Ocean Energy Resources Act, which will give coastal states the authority to drill 100 miles or more offshore. This will allow for exploration and production in the deep seas and on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), where kajillions in oil-and-gas reserves are waiting to be siphoned. It also will provide the coastal states with significant oil and gas royalties. Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi opposes this, but the bill has strong bipartisan support.

If you want to believe in conspiracies, think of it is a plot between consumers, suppliers and Adam Smith. They work that magic every time.

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