Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Cheese Is Moving. And It's Not Going To Stop

Economist Don Boudreaux, of George Mason University, sent the following gem to The Washington Post:

Emily DeRocco complains that "The April 9 Business article 'Don't Blame NAFTA for Downturn, Many Economists Say' quoted politicians, economists and labor representatives but not a single manufacturer - those at the heart of this wrenching debate" (Letters, April 12).

She's mistaken. Those at the heart of this debate aren't manufacturers (or politicians, economists, or labor representatives). Those at the heart of this debate are consumers. Or, those at the heart of this debate should be consumers.
Unfortunately, consumers are too large in number and too disparate in interests to organize effectively for political purposes. The result is that consumers' interests in trade discussions are largely ignored, even though an economy's success is measured not by how well that economy satisfies the wishes of producers, but exclusively by how well, over time, it satisfies the demands of consumers.


Donald J. Boudreaux

If you hit the link above, Boudreaux goes on to say that "Producers exist to satisfy consumers; production is the means and consumption is the end. Protectionism is a policy built on the premise that consumers exist to satisfy producers."

Lord have mercy, that man can type.

If nobody wants what you're making, or if someone else makes it better than you, or if they make the same thing for less cost, whose problem should it be?

Look at the little self-help/business book "Who Moved My Cheese?" when you get a chance. It's a parable about some mice in a maze who show up at the same spot every day for cheese. One day, the cheese stops appearing. (Full Disclosure: My cheese disappears on a regular, predictable basis. I have a tendency to irritate those who bring cheese....) Half the mice get busy and look elsewhere for cheese, and eventually find more. The others, at the encouragement of their misguided leaders, sit and wait for the glory days of cheese production to return. (See Mitt Romney's campaign promises.)

Obama and McCain, to some extent, have told people that the cheese has moved, and they'll have to move to find it.
When Obama accused some of the mice of being "bitter", he spoke the truth.
The Clintons and Kucinich have generally declared that the problem lies with the unfairness of the cheese-movers.
Romney promised Detroit that he would bring back the cheese. If elected, he'd make cheese fall from heaven like manna fell on the Children Of Israel.

The company where I work has a market that is constantly moving. We never do the same thing for more than a year. I don't want to tempt fate by saying "You Can't Hide Our Cheese Where We Can't Find It", because deep down, I'm superstitious.

But I don't think you will ever hear us complain about unfair competition. Like Galileo told The Church: The Cheese moves.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Brett Younger Is Leaving Broadway Baptist

The Star-Telegram is saying that Reverend Brett Younger is leaving Broadway Baptist Church, the church where I've been a member for a couple of decades.

I can't blame him. He's resigning at Broadway to teach at an Angel Factory in Georgia called the McAfee School of Theology. (Hat Tip to Doug Dickens for the phrase "Angel Factory" in reference to Seminaries and Divinity Schools.)

If you're new to this site click here and then do some Googling. You'll get the picture.

Here's something Brett emailed me when I asked him about going to hear Bruce Springsteen in Dallas. Good stuff.
He wrote it for the church newsletter.

Wouldn't it be great if every preacher, priest, rabbi and Imam saw the rest of the world this way?

Do you think that Iraq, Northern Ireland, Pakistan, Iran, Tupelo Mississippi, and The Fundamentalist Latter-Day Saints' YFZ Ranch would be more pleasant if that were the case?

Here's a Springsteen lyric from a song called "Reason To Believe". It's on the Nebraska CD, which for my money is the best album ever recorded by a Yankee.

There's nothing on it but Bruce Springsteen, his acoustic guitar, and a harmonica.

A man is standin' over a dead dog that's lyin' by the highway in a ditch
He's lookin' down kinda puzzled, pokin' that dog with a stick
Got his car door flung open, he's standin' out on Highway 31
Like if he stood there long enough, that dog'd get up and run....
It struck me kinda funny, seemed kinda funny sir to me,
Still at the end of every hard earned day people find some reason to believe.

So good luck, Brett, and good luck to whoever is next in line to poke us with a stick.
Sometimes, if you stand there long enough, we do get up and run.
I promise.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Philadelphia Pennsylvania Debate - Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama

The last debate I watched almost did me in. Swore I never would watch another one. All the candidates did was rehash their campaign trail talking points regardless of the question asked.

But my will power has disappointed me on other issues, so here goes. Liveblogged. Can't wait to see the pantsuit.

Uh - Oh....Looks like I've got to figure out how to spell Stephanopoulos. I'll call him George.

Opening statements. Obama goes first. He's been struck by the frustration of Penn. voters. He's doing damage control for his "bitterness" statement. Hillary's looking at him like a shrew.

Hillary talks about the promise of America. She's spouting cliches in a green pantsuit.

Now that they've both said nothing, we have a commercial.

Gibson: you two have different constituencies. Why not Fight to the end. Then take the other as a running mate?

Obama thinks highly of Senator Clinton, but this is all premature. And he wouldn't dream of having Bill as a V.P. spouse.

Hillary is going to get one of them into the White House. She's a uniter, not a divider. They just showed Chelsea in the audience. She's had cosmetic surgery, I think.

Ok, here's Charlie Gibson bringing up Obama's guns 'n' roses 'n' religion gaffe. Here's what he meant.....People are having a hard time, it predates the housing crisis. When people feel like Washington isn't listening, they focus on "constants" like religion. They focus on traditions of gun ownership. They focus on wedge issues.
Hillary looks like her planned rebuttal got blown out of the water. She's talking about her grandfather. She doesn't think grandfather would "cling" to religion when times were bad. I'm amazed that the leader of the free world might be chosen because an opponent said "cling".

George: Hillary told Richardson that Obama can't win. Do you, Hillary, think Obama can beat McCain? (In an election, not a steel-cage deathmatch....) Hillary gives a non-answer. George calls her on it. She says he can win, but she'd rather be the one to win. Or not win. As long as she wins the primary. And drags her party down with her.

Same question to Obama: Yeah, she can win, but I'm better. He goes into the accusations of elitism, being out of touch.... He's done a lot to reach out to religious people and gun people. He accuses her of taking one statement and beating it to death. He agrees that Hillary HAS gone through the wringer. On the baking cookies issue, for instance.....He's slyly reminding everyone of the Clinton era, and the wringer the Clintons went through. 20 million people just remembered Whitewater, Travelgate, Monica, Cattle futures, Gennifer, etc. Good move.

Hillary talks about working families. Talking points.

Charlie Gibson: Jeremiah Wright. Did you really not hear anything like that from his pulpit? Why did you rescind his invitation to the campaign launch? What did you know?

Obama: I hadn't seen the remarks that were on Youtube. He's trying to draw a line between the work of the church, and just a few remarks. There's some anger out there. We've got to move beyond it.

Charlie Gibson: Hillary, you said you woulda left the church. Should 8,000 members have left the church?

Hillary: I was asked a personal question, and gave a personal answer. Wright blamed the U.S. for 9/11, and she wouldn't've been able to stay there. But I don't remember any condemnation from these folks on Falwell and Robertson when they said almost the exact same thing....

Obama; I wasn't at church that day. I can't believe the future of the free world depends on the words of one minister. The church is a community that extends beyond the pastor. We're not going to solve problems without getting past these divides and talk about something besides preacher lynchings.

George: Does Wright love America? How are you going to act if you win and those clips are played over and over and over?

Obama: If it's not this, it'll be something else. The American people are about to be distracted by something that doesn't matter. Wright's a former marine. But he's angry about injustice.

Gibson: Hillary, do you want to change the topic?

Hillary: Let's talk about preachers some more....We've got to figure out how to overcome anger and bitterness. As leaders, we have to be careful who we give our seal of approval to. Farrakhan, Hamas, etc.

George: Hillary, people think you're a pathological liar....How do you respond?

Hillary: I'm not dumb. I wrote about going to Bosnia in 2004. You're right. I just said some things that weren't the case. Apologized. I said it was a mistake, and can hope you can get over it. Being able to rely on my experience of going to Bosnia and other countries and gives me a huge advantage.... Obama looks loaded for Bear....

George: Obama, do you think Hillary's a pathological liar?

Obama: I think she has a strong campaign to run on. Both of us are working as hard as we can to deliver a message. Sometimes it'll be imperfctly delivered. OBAMA SAYS HE CAN'T BELIEVE THE NEXT PRESIDENT WILL BE CHOSEN BECAUSE OF GAFFES. I once again feel somewhat reassured about this guy.

Wait a minute. George Stephanoupolos was one of Clinton's advisors. Is it fair for him to be moderating this debate?????????????????

A lady asks about Obama wearing flag lapel.

Obama: I revere the American flag. I wouldn't be running for President if I didn't. There's no other nation where my story is possible. He tries to show his patriotism by how he treats veterans, by bringing the war to a close, etc. Note to self: does Hillary have on a flag? He's going to continue to fight for those issues. He wore one yesterday when a veteran handed it to him. Flag pins are a distraction.

George: William Ayers, of the Weather Underground, is a freakin' terrorist. Obama, you had a fundraiser at his house.

Obama: This is an example of a distraction. He's an English professor in the 'hood. He did these things when I was an 8-year old. I'm also friendly with Tom Coburn, who advocates the death penalty for abortions. And he called Stephanopoulos "George", just to put Clinton's boy in his place.

Hillary: Obama is on Boards with this ex-hippie freak. (She's right, this is a huge, bigger than Reverend Wright problem.) She gets a laugh by saying that the Republicans should be ashamed to run anybody, jsut as an apology for the Bush years. But then she brings up how she's been "vetted". But she's reminding people of their Clinton fatigue.

Obama: Brings up that Bill pardoned members of the same Weather Underground group. Touche. The Republicans are gonna throw that on whoever wins. Maybe I'm an exception, but I think Obama is walking away with this thing....

Break for an advertisement. I'm thinking the Democrats should've cancelled this debate. All they're doing is giving John McCain some debate prep. He can now bring mention this stuff without being the bad guy.

Break time.
The AARP is running ads for an outfit called I can hear the Treasury draining. We're back....

Charlie: Is there a plan to get us out of Iraq? How's it going to happen? Will Clinton bring 1 or 2 brigades out of Iraq per month? Even if it creates huge setbacks?

Hillary: Yes, I am. I'm pulling troops out at that rate. Civilian control of the military. John McCain is now happier than a old hog in fresh slop. We will pull them out in a responsible manner. Diplomatic effort to get other countries involved.

Charlie: Are you saying that you know better than the military commanders?

Hillary: I'm saying that we can't continue to take losses. We don't know what will happen if we withdraw. We do know what'll happen if we stay.

Charlie: Your campaign manager said that we'd be out in 16 months, Senator Obama....

Obama: Accuses Bush of not leading, merely following Petraeus. I'll respect the military opinions, but I determine the mission, they determine the tactics.

George: Should the U.S. see attacks on Israel as attacks on the U.S. (by Iran)?

Obama: We gotta keep them from getting nukes. We can offer carrots and sticks.

George: So you would extend our deterrent guarantee to Israel?

Obama: They're our strongest ally in the region. The U.S. would take appropriate action.

Hillary: We should create an umbrella of deterence that goes broader. Massive retaliation. But also to other countries in the region????? What's she talking about? She says they're trying to intimidate people and she's going to retaliate? What the heck was Saddam doing???? I'm confused. Can't rewind though. That would be cheating.

None of these other countries can have nukes.... An attack on Israel would bring about retaliation, but so would attacks on other countries that are under the Hillary Umbrella Of Protection. (Which has a lovely green pastel shade)....

McCain: All these tax increases are paid for by "hope".

George: Will you make a "read my lips, no new taxes" pledge? for people under certain income levels? 250k? Will you roll back the tax cuts for rich folks?

Hillary: Yeah, I'll revert. I do not believe that it'll effect the economy. Hear that rustling sound? That's cash money leaving here to go overseas. God knows she makes me nuts.

Obama: I'm the first candidate to say I'll cut taxes. (He then goes off into the rules in Washington, the mortgage crisis, lobbyists, etc.)

Charlie: Obama, you'll increase the capital gains tax? Bill dropped it, George W. dropped it. Revenues went up. But when the tax was increased, revenues went down. Charlie is beating them about the head and shoulders with an economics Clue Stick.... So why raise it at all?

Obama: He would look at it for purposes of fairness. Those who can work the stock market are paying a lower rate than their secretaries. Nobody has the cajones to bring up the Rahm Emmanuel flat tax. it's the only way to cut out the loopholes. But it would alienate the accounting profession.

Charlie: Why cut off your nose to spite your face?

Obama: it depends on how business is going, whether tax income will go up or down.

Hillary: We used to have a great economy in the 1990's. That because Bill gave us NAFTA, gave us free trade in a lot of areas, etc....all the things you're against, Hillary. They keep showing Chelsea in the audience. Is Bill there? I wouldn't raise Capital Gains above 20%. It would depend on the financial situation at the time.

More blather about their tax code changes that only Congress can really we're getting into Social Security Salvation Schemes. I've heard them do these lines so many times. Social Security is doomed. Every five years, I get a listing of what I've paid into it. If that had gone into the stock market every year since 1975, I'd be paying someone else to type this stuff for my own amusement.

Sorry. Brief digression. I couldn't make myself listen to it any more.

More ads from the AARP. I'm sure they want more Free Lunches.

Ok, we're getting into the Peoples' Right to Keep and Bear Arms. This'll be good.

Charlie: This is the one year anniversary of Virginia Tech (where people died because classrooms are a gun-free zone.) Both of you are flip-floppers on this issue. Whassup with that?

Hillary: One person a day is murdered in Philly. She'll be a good partner for cities. She'll bring back the COPS program. She'll redo the assault weapons ban. She'll give police access to info on illegal guns. She'll do everything but answer the question. Most lawful gun owners want to be sure that we keep guns out of the wrong hands. She's going to find a balance.

Charlie: You can't own handguns in D.C.

Obama: The constitution confers an individual right to bear arms. We have two realities - the tradition of gun ownership vs. what's happening in Philly and Chicago.

Charlie: You answered a questionaire saying you favored a ban on handguns.

Obama: Nope. We just have to keep them away from certain people. 34 guns deaths of public school children in the South Side of Chicago.

George: Hillary, do you support the D.C. gun ban?

Hillary: It's dividing the Bush administration. But I'm not going to answer the question.

George: Answer, please.

Hillary: Sensible, common sense regulations.

George: Please answer??? Pretty please??

Hillary: I favor what works. What works for NYC won't work for Montana. Different rules for different places. This way she's not alienating either group. Both sides probably hear what they want to hear in this.

George: Affirmative Action. How should it be changed?

Obama: blah de blah blah blah. blah blah blah blah blah. Blah. He still believes in Affirmative Action, but it can't be quotas. Which is like saying I like circles, but they can't be round.

Clinton: We need more Affirmative Action for people with disadvantaged backgrounds. End No Child Left Behind. Compete and Win in The Global Economy.

Charlie: Gas prices.

Hillary: She met with truckers in Harrisburg. She's gonna investigate. (They've done this every time gas increases by .25 cents.) Release some oil from reserves. And have a gas tax moratorium.

Charlie: I'm going to quote Jimmy Carter, and startle The Whited Sepulchre into a fit of rage, and make him forget everything I just said.....

Obama: I'm talking, but Jimmy Carter insanity keeps popping into the head of the guy typing this.....

George: How would you use George W. as a former president?

Hillary: (Giggle) There will be opportunites to ask All the former presidents to help.

Obama: Having their advice and counsel is important. Big Daddy Bush had a wise foreign policy.

One more commercial break, with a final question for each.

Religion, Free Speech, and more Bill of Rights....

Charlie: Neither of you will win this based on pledged delegates. It'll be superdelegates who make the call. Make the case for yourself.

Hillary: WE need a fighter who will take on the special away with the subsidies 55 billion worth, that they've given to the drug companies, insurance companies, oil companies, BUT NOT THE ETHANOL FARMERS, and we're going to tackle all the problems. Blah blah blah track record blah blah fight for people blah blah blah keep faith cliche cliche blah cliche commander in chief blah rebuild our military blah blah blah economy. It Takes A Village. You can count on me.

Obama: His campaign is based on our being at a defining moment: war, economy, lack of trust. We're disillusioned. He bet on the American people. No spin and P.R. Change happens from the bottom up. No PAC money, registered lobbyist money. His bet has paid off. In record numbers.

And the winner of this thing, after watching them go at it for one hour and fifty two minutes, smearing each other non-stop.....John McCain.

The Downside of Diversity

The Future Aggie wanted to play tennis last night, but I got home too late.
So guitars were brought forth.
Our friend and neighbor Amy came over and we sat on the deck and played and sang for about two hours.
We live in East Fort Worth, in what can only be called a "changing" neighborhood. I love it here.
I live on a corner lot and my neighbors, starting from the northeast, are (by minority status): black, gay, white, lesbian, black, hispanic, white, and a mixed race hardware couple (he works for Home Depot, she works for Lowe's.)

Amy and I realized that we were in a row of four adjoining homes that contain 1) a former Catholic priest, 2) a Baptist Youth Minister, 3) A protestant music minister, and 4) a newly ordained minister from the Universal Life Church - that's Amy. She did this so she could officiate at her friends' weddings.
Seven weiner dogs live within a block of each other. They live and bark harmoniously with the Black Labs and German shepherds.

The East Fort Worth / Meadowbrook neighborhood is a diverse place.

Our schools, public institutions, and politicians talk about "Diversity" like it's one of our most precious resources. Maybe it is.

But if that's the case, why do the most diverse neighborhoods get the worst city services? Fort Worth Weekly published a list of the problems a few weeks ago....I'm also saving it here, just in case the people at the FWeekly take the article down.

Here's my theory. If my neighborhood was comprised of 46-year old white guys who read a lot, voted the same way, did the same things socially, sent their kids to the same schools, and went to the same neighborhood churches, then we would have zero potholes on the East Side. We would see each other more often, form common bonds, and put group pressure on the city to take care of the potholes. (If you don't believe me, count the potholes near Tanglewood Elementary. It won't take long.)

Why would someone who rants about government spending gripe about the spending in HIS neighborhood? Well, there are things that only government can do - provide for roads, the common defense, provide police and fire protection, and deliver the mail. Ironically, with the exception of the fire department, those are the exact same areas where they do a crappy job on the East Side.

But since we're so diverse, we don't see each other except in the neighborhood front yards. We don't organize and raise hell about the city inadequately repairing the street in front of my house three times in twenty years just to get the money spent. The only thing we have in common is a zip code.

But we're diverse. And that's supposed to be good, at least according to our politicians who love to spread the "D" word over every possible sentence and document.

I wonder why they prefer diversity ? ? ?

Oh. I get it.

Tarrant County Libertarian Meetup

About a month ago, I lamented the lack of activity on the Tarrant County Libertarian Party website.
They weren't dead, they were just napping, and sent me an email about having a meetup this Saturday afternoon.

April 19, 2008, 3:00 PM
Seekers Coffee House
1700 Precinct Line Road, Hurst, TX
Hurst, TX 76054

Monday, April 14, 2008

Elitist Elitism

American Heritage Dictionary
e·lit·ism or é·lit·ism
Define Elitism:
Audio Help (ĭ-lē'tĭz'əm, ā-lē'-) Pronunciation Key n.
The belief that certain persons or members of certain classes or groups deserve favored treatment by virtue of their perceived superiority, as in intellect, social status, or financial resources.
The sense of entitlement enjoyed by such a group or class.
Control, rule, or domination by such a group or class.

Barack Obama recently made this statement about the middle class to a group of wealthy elites San Francisco Democrats: 'It's not surprising ... they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them, or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations,'

This statement was genuinely elitist, but it was not a mis-statement. It was something that politicians and journalists call a "gaffe".

Define "Gaffe" - when someone, usually a politician, accidentally tells the truth.

Obama was correct, of course, but his unfortunate statement has sent religious gun nuts (excluding me) into a frenzy.
In P.J. O'Rourke's immortal words, "This country was founded by religious nuts with guns". And don't think we don't know it.

Hillary is now doing everything but taking assault rifles to her Tuesday morning Bible study, and I predict she'll eventually do exegetical studies of the book of Romans at the rifle range. She might volunteer for the next Utah Firing Squad.

One editorial says she's trying to cast Obama as this election's John Kerry. (Speaking of out-of-touch elites....)

And then there's the Huffington Post:

This weekend she (Hillary) tried to paint herself as a good old boy, the kind of gal you'd want to have a beer with -- not like that "elitist" Barack Obama: "You know, my dad took me out behind the cottage that my grandfather built on a little lake called Lake Winola outside of Scranton and taught be how to shoot when I was a little girl." After she said this, she took a shot of whiskey. What's next, ads of Obama windsurfing?

Now John McCain has chimed in:

WASHINGTON — John McCain called Barack Obama’s recent comments that Pennsylvanians are “bitter” an “elitist” remark but stopped short of calling Mr. Obama himself elitist.

Let's look at this a little closer. If elitism is a sense of entitlement to favored treatment because of intellect, social status, or financial resources, coupled with control, rule, or domination by those classes, then all of these candidates are "elites" of one peculiar breed or another.

The Clintons have already dones the Wellesley thing, the Ivy League thing, the Rhodes Scholar thing, plus the eight years in the White House thing.
McCain comes from military aristocracy, if there is such a thing. Daddy was an admiral, and there are airfields named after his Granddaddy in Mississippi. (I come from a long line of Mississippi elites, and know these things....)
Obama and his wife are both Ivy Leaguers, and he was editor of The Harvard Law review.

Let's go backward through the last few presidents:
George W. Bush comes from old money, and has an Ivy League MBA.
We've already discussed The Clintons. Neither grew up as elites, but they got to Martha's Vineyard as fast as they could.
The Elder George Bush - like son, like father.

Reagan could make a case for being a non-elite.
Carter is about as elitist as a Yazoo City bait shop.
Ford wasn't much of an elite. I think he got through school on a football scholarship.
Nixon had an "Enemies List" comprised of elites. But he wasn't one.
Lyndon Johnson wasn't an elite, but was burdened with an administration of "the best and brightest" leftover elites from Kennedy.

Kennedy - now there was an elite. The money, manners, and education. He had it all.

Ike wasn't an elitist, except on battlefields.
Truman was a tailor.
Roosevelt was an elite, and an elitist.

If you had to be governed for the next eight years by a randomly selected ex-president from one group or the other, which group would you pick? The elites, or the non-elites?

Give A Man A Fish

Give a man a fish, and you've fed him for a day.
Teach a man to fish, and you've fed him for a lifetime.
Then, for humanitarian reasons, pay the man for fish, no matter how many fish are rotting in the marketplace, and he'll expect to be paid the same amount for his fish next year.
You'll have lots and lots of fish.
Then restrict, tax, or ban the fish from other countries (to pertect Amurrican jobs), and the man will soon be filthy rich.
So pay the man to not fish, since we need stable fish prices, and this will limit the supply.
The man can then spend every waking hour lobbying Congress to preserve The Amurrican Fishing Industry. And not fishing.

I'm kinda proud of that. If anyone sees flaws, weaknesses, or inaccuracies, please comment below. Written in a hurry, and the syntax is shaky. I want to continue finessing it, and have it done in a Needlepoint Sampler for Christmas.

An outfit called The Badlands Journal has one of the better explanations of the current Farm Bill Fiasco that I've read.
Most of these programs and subsidies were established to support subsistence farmers during The Great Depression. Now they're entitlements for millionaires. Unbelieveable.

One subject that's gotta have further research, a topic that's I've tried to push deeper and deeper into my subconscious, but it keeps bubbling to the top:

My beloved father (now deceased) - who could go off onto some of the most memorable anti-government, anti-welfare Queen, anti-giveaway rants I've ever heard - was a farmer. And a succesful one.

But there's only one way to be succesful in a subsidized, corporate welfare industry.....and that's to be......naw, I don't even want to think about it. This is going to take some time, and a therapist. And a grief counselor.