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Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Korean Experiment

When Korea was partitioned into North and South in 1945, the people were "the most homogenous people on earth" per a letter writer to Jay Nordlinger at NRO. The writer then explained:

At the time of partition through about 1960, I’d say, the economy of the North was more developed than that of the South. The North had a smaller population, but one that was arguably better educated than the South’s. The North had more industry, too. During the 1950s, the South was absolutely destitute, and survived on food donations from the United States.

Thus, in 1945, an “experiment of nature” was carried out.

Take a small, homogeneous country and divide it arbitrarily more or less in half. Then install one kind of government in the north and another kind in the south. Close the curtain. See what happens.The results speak for themselves, don’t they?

For you who do not know, the North has run a socialist economy with nationalized industry and no economic entrepreneurship. The South has run a relative free market economy. The South has a major growing industrial economy with while the North is an economic basket case. The South ranks 33 in per capita Gross National Product internationally. There is no ranking for North Korea though the Asian Economic News reports " it is generally thought that per-capita income in the North is about one-10th of that of the South."

So the same people were split into 2 teams and began a race with one beating out the other by miles. The comparative strengths of the 2 economic systems are proven by the Korean example. And socialism is a beneficial system? Only is you think poverty should be the norm for all.

Friday, September 29, 2006

KISFUD: Keep It Simple For Us Dummies

Unlike Chomsky or Cornell West, the great economists were able to boil down complicated concepts into simple, understandable points. From modern economists like Sowell, Williams and Friedman to predecessors like Hayek and Mises to the Founding Fathers of economics like Smith, Ricardo and Bastiat, the best approaches to an efficient and rewarding social order were those that provided simple freedom to each man to do what he wants to do voluntarily. Each man can decide the subjective value of his possessions, his labor and his time. Those that intrude on the personal choice, impinge on those liberties and hinder order.

For instance on Competition, Bastiat wrote:

After all, what is competition? Is it something that exists and has a life of its own, like cholera? No. Competition is merely the absence of oppression. In things that concern me, I want to make my own choice, and I do not want another to make it for me without regard for my wishes; that is all. And if someone proposes to substitute his judgment for mine in matters that concern me, I shall demand to substitute my judgment for his in matters that concern him. What guarantee is there that this will make things go any better?

Thanks to Don Boudreaux at Cafe Hayek for this nugget.

The Libertarian Odyssey

Arnold Kling explains his intellectual odyssey from the "Far Left to Libertarian". Kling states:

The Far Left believes that bad policies come from evil motives. In this view, villains, such as powerful corporations, oppose good policies, and political incumbents lack the strength and courage to overcome the villains.

Libertarians believe that context is more important. We believe that government power is inherently corrupting, regardless of who holds leadership positions or how they are influenced. We believe that the market does a relatively good job of channelling self-interest toward socially desirable ends.

Arnold's comment that he stopped attributing evil motives to those he disagreed with was an important realization. It is actually very childish.

As a born-liberal until my late 30's, I too described all ideological opponents with Hitlerian traits despite always being mildly charmed by Bill Buckley and Barry Goldwater. I also began to see my liberal compatriots never being able to offer reasonable explanations for or against any policies. The reasons were always emotionally inspired. Upon reflecting upon many of Reagan's policies I began to admire him on many fronts as a president. I began to analyze whether the Big Government programs of the liberal government had borne fruit as intended. The opposite wound up being the empirical conclusion.

I realized that a limited government approach complied with my Jeffersonian inclination and Constitutional bearings. I found that empowering individuals was more beneficial than following the dictates of the elites. The elites are not evil people. They possess hubris and excessive self-regard.

I save the Hitler appellation for Hitler.

The Credibility of the Opinions of Carter, Bush and Stone

Drudge provides the following headlines:

Carter: Bush has brought U.S. 'international disgrace'...
Clinton: 'Incalculable Damage Done'...
Stone: 'I'm ashamed for my country'...

Can there be a better advertisement for the Republicans?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Oil Prices To Drop To Below $45?

Larry Kudlow and oil analyst Michael Lynch had a little discussion about the current and future oil prices. They talked about something called "market conditions" and also about "the supply and the demand", whatever those things are.

Here is some of the discussion:

KUDLOW: Did the oil inventory as it came out today have any impact? Now crude oil inventories are just about as high as they were back, seven, eight years ago in 1998. Gasoline inventories are not quite as strong but still strong. Does the inventory data affect--influence your price forecast?

Mr. LYNCH: Yes, it does. Especially--not just the US inventory but the OECD inventory data, which is showing that inventories are approaching the record levels we saw back 10 years ago in 1998 when the price collapsed to $12.

KUDLOW: Is it possible that ethanol-related gasoline, which was a big problem, we couldn't deliver the stuff when the mandate went into place last winter and spring--is that getting to the gas stations better? Is the transportation better? Is that one of the factors helping the gas price story?

Mr. LYNCH: That's definitely one of the factors. It's also--we've ended the summer driving season, and so refiners no longer have to have the ultra-clean gasoline, which requires more ethanol, so that's also helped the market. But you know, ethanol supplies--it's a lot easier to build an ethanol plant than it is to build a refinery, so that's catching up.

And I just over-paid for a hybrid! That conspiracy between Bush-Cheney and the Texas Oilmen!

Choosing Not To Fight

Afghanistan Prez Hamid Karzai said this at a DC press conference yesterday:

[T]errorism was hurting us way before Iraq, or September 11th. The President mentioned some examples of it. These extremist forces were killing people in Afghanistan and around for years, closing schools, burning mosques, killing children, uprooting vineyards with vine trees, grapes hanging on them, forcing populations to poverty and misery. They came to America on September 11th, but they were attacking you before September 11th in other parts of the world. We are a witness in Afghanistan as to what they are and how they can hurt. You are a witness in New York. Do you forget people jumping off the 80th floor, or 70th floor when the planes hit them? Can you imagine what it would be for a man or a woman to jump off that high? Who did that? And where are they now? And how do we fight them? How do we get rid of them, other than going after them? Should we wait for them to come and kill us again? That's why we need more action around the world, in Afghanistan and elsewhere, to get them defeated, extremism, their allies, terrorists, and the like, of them.

Is he a Republican lackey or does just get it?

160 Democrats just voted against H.R. 6166. Do they get it?

Sliding into Anti-Semitism

While most Jews over the age of 50 are locked into a world-view colored by Father Coughlin and a harsh Christianity, an opinion taught by the oldest living generation of Jews to the middle-aged children, reality is that Anti-Semitism within the US and, more prevalent without, is promoted and acted upon by people advocating Left-liberal political philosophies.

Victor Davis Hanson in the Jewish World Review captures the current version of Anti-Semitism to which Jews are largely blindered:

We're accustomed to associating hatred of Jews with the ridiculed Neanderthal Right of those in sheets and jackboots. But this new venom, at least in its Western form, is mostly a leftwing, and often an academic, enterprise. It's also far more insidious, given the left's moral pretensions and its influence in the prestigious media and universities. We see the unfortunate results in frequent anti-Israeli demonstrations on campuses that conflate Israel with Nazis, while the media have published fraudulent pictures and slanted events in southern Lebanon.

We saw throughout the recent war between Israel and Lebanon countless acts of fraudulent reporting by Reuters and AP that always favored the Lebanese side. We have seen the UN and NYC accept Iranian President Ahmadinejad for speaking engagements with little hard questioning from the media. The result of the acceptance of this Holocaust denier and imminent nuclear bomb possessor is that Israel remains a "one-bomb" country. Only one nuke will end its existence.

Writes Hanson:

The dangers of this post anti-Semitism is not just that Jews are shot in Europe and the United States — or that a drunken celebrity or demagogue mouths off. Instead, ever so insidiously, radical Islam's hatred of Jews is becoming normalized.

The liberal Jews are aligned with comrades in academia and the press (many of them also Jews) who will do nothing to protect them. After it is all over, will they say once again "Never Again"?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Something New: "Youths" Riot In Europe

Found this headline: Third Night of Ramadan Rioting in Capital of Europe.

The rioters were "immigrant youths" as described by the Brussels Journal. The report states:

Youths threw stones at passing people and cars, windows of parked cars were smashed, bus shelters were demolished, cars were set ablaze, a youth club was arsoned and a shop was looted. Two molotov cocktails were thrown into St.Peter’s hospital, one of the main hospitals of central Brussels. The fire brigade was able to extinguish the fires at the hospital, but youths managed to steal the keys of the fire engine.

Apparently, during Ramadan the rule is fast during the day and eat and riot at night. I am looking forward to Europe's next few years as they passively watch the place go to pieces.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Failure Has No Children

In light of the hysterical assertion that our ousting of Saddam and other actions we have taken to defeat terrorists is creating more terrorists, Hanson comments:

[J]ust as it was idle in the middle of World War II to speculate how many Germans, Japanese, or Italians really accepted the silly hatred of Hitler, Mussolini, or Tojo, so too it is a vain enterprise to worry over how many Muslims follow or support al Qaeda, or, in contrast, how many in the Middle East actively resist Islamists.Most people have no ideology, but simply accommodate themselves to the prevailing sense of an agenda’s success or failure. Just as there weren’t more than a dozen vocal critics of Hitler after the Wehrmacht finished off France in six weeks in June of 1940, so too there wasn’t a Nazi to be found in June 1945 when Berlin lay in rubble.

The Fascist Label Applies

Read Victor Davis Hanson's brilliant essay on the accuracy of the label "Islamic Fascism" to today's terrorists. It is a loose association of disparate tribes and gangs with the open goal of institution of sharia and a caliphate through jihad. The commonality of the status of earlier fascists such as the Japanese and Nazis compares with the current crop of Islamists. They share a similar outlook of failed peoples desperately seeking their rightful superior role in the world.

Hanson explains:

Envy and false grievance, as in the past with Italian, German, or Japanese whining, are always imprinted deeply within the fascist mind. After all, it can never quite figure out why the morally pure, the politically zealous, the ever more obedient are losing out to corrupt and decadent democracies — where “mixing,” either in the racial or religious sense, should instead have enervated the people.

Read the whole thing.

Americans Are Doing Better On Less-Why?

Bruce Bartlett provides his opinion on the anomaly of why Americans who have experienced wage stagnation over the past few years are not wholesale in protest against the Republican economic program. Because while wages have slightly dropped and medical benefits take up a larger slice of employer provided compensation (and do not forget the bite taken by higher gas prices):

[P]eople continue to move up out of the working class into the middle and upper classes. According to the Census Bureau, the percentage of all households with an income below $25,000 per year (in 2005 dollars) fell to 27.1 percent last year, from 27.6 percent in 2004. In 1995, 28.9 percent fell into this income class. In 1985, the percentage was 30.5 percent. In 1975m it was 33.1 percent.

At the same time, the percentage of households that are considered well-to-do -- those with an income above $75,000 (in 2005 dollars) -- rose to 28.3 percent last year, from 27.9 percent in 2004. In 1995, only 24.4 percent of households had that much income, up from 20.2 percent in 1985 and 14 percent in 1975.

In short, despite all the talk about the rich getting richer at the expense of the poor, the fact is that the percentage of households with low incomes has fallen and the percentage of those with high incomes has risen.

I would also add that people are seeing greater family wealth through the increased value of their homes and the regular increase of retirement savings through 401k plans. If you can maintain a decent lifestyle while your assets accumulate and your children grow up and out of the house (when they are 30?), your financial situation is much stronger than most of those from prior generations can claim. And you will support a low tax, high growth economic policy.

Thanks Bruce for your economic analyses sans the book sales advertisements.

Anti-Pope Rhetoric And Those Who Refuse To Face The Enemy

Besides the violent Muslim reaction (is there any other kind?) against Pope Benedict's comments on Islam, is the criticism of him by people of the West. Why are so many people who have condemned the Pope's openness on the subject of violence in the name of religion (not being heard by its practitioners in any meaningful way) the same people who protest the West's attempts to defend itself from the Islamic fanaticism?

Dennis Prager discusses why those who have criticized pope Pius for his inaction against Nazi genocide in the Holocaust now criticize Benedict for facing the lead-up to a new Holocaust.

He provides 2 examples of the hypocrisy:

Take The New York Times editorial page, for example. It is written by people who condemn Pius for his alleged silence and now condemn Benedict for not being quiet. According to the Times, Benedict will only create more anti-Western Muslim violence. But that was exactly the excuse defenders of Pius XII so often offered for why Pius XII did not speak out more forcefully -- that he was afraid it would only engender more Nazi violence. Yet Pius's critics have (correctly) dismissed that excuse out of hand.

Another example is Karen Armstrong, the widely read ex-nun scholar of religion. She has written of Pius XII that his "apparent failure to condemn the Nazis has become a notorious scandal." Moral and logical consistency suggest that she would welcome a pope who did confront today's greatest evil. But she has joined those condemning Pope Benedict. She wrote (putting these arguments in the mouths of affronted Muslims with whom she sympathizes): "the Catholic Church is ill-placed to condemn violent jihad when it has itself . . . under Pope Pius XII, tacitly condoned the Nazi Holocaust."

The argument is so illogical that only those who attended graduate school or Catholicism-bashers could find it persuasive.

There has been a strong current of avoidance by the liberal Left in its refusal to face the Islamic terrorism of the past few decades. The acts have been regular for the past 15 years and their destructive force has been escalating. However, their efforts are pointed towards defeating our defense measures rather than defeating the intolerable. The same strategy was used by them during the latter part of the Cold War after JFK died. Maybe there is satisfaction in making the best theoretical argument but their self-congratulations will be short if the Islamists make further in-roads. Those of us in the practical world will have to work harder for our survival.

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