Saturday, April 10, 2010

Prediction: Congressman Bart Stupak will soon be attracting even higher bids

It irks the crap out of me to go to all the trouble of creating a motivational poster like this one....

....only to have the guy retire to "spend more time with his family". 

Since it's difficult to reward a guy properly for betraying an entire nation while he's still holding elective office, I'm betting that we'll soon see Congressman Stupak working in a highly paid job as a bag man lobbyist between donors and The Current Ruling Regime.  Time will tell. 

The latest sign that we are living in The End Times

Go here for details. 

Chapter 9 of the book of Revelation is the most apocalyptic thing I could find to illustrate the pics I found there. 

13The sixth angel sounded his trumpet, and I heard a voice coming from the horns[b] of the golden altar that is before God.
14It said to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, "Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates."
15And the four angels who had been kept ready for this very hour and day and month and year were released to kill a third of mankind.
16The number of the mounted troops was two hundred million. I heard their number.

17The horses and riders I saw in my vision looked like this: Their breastplates were fiery red, dark blue, and yellow as sulfur. The heads of the horses resembled the heads of lions, and out of their mouths came fire, smoke and sulfur.

18A third of mankind was killed by the three plagues of fire, smoke and sulfur that came out of their mouths. 19The power of the horses was in their mouths and in their tails; for their tails were like snakes, having heads with which they inflict injury.
20The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk. 21Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Dear statists - do you take any tax deductions?

April 15th is approaching.  If you're reading this from outside the U.S., that's the day when Americans pay their income taxes. 
I ask these questions online about twice a year.
I challenge people on these any time politics comes up in a conversation.
As has been widely discussed elsewhere, 47% of us, with earned income tax credits and other deductions, wind up paying no income tax at all.  The top 25% of taxpayers pay 85% of the taxes. 

If you're a Statist/Democrat, and truly believe that government is the best distributor of assets and that government makes the best choices about how our money should be spent.... you ever claim ANY income tax deductions?  Do you feel guilty about not allowing Tim Tax-Dodger Geithner to make even more of your spending decisions for you? 

Do you ever add a couple of thousand dollars to your initial involuntary contribution every April 15th, ? 

Do you ever wonder how many Democrats hire tax attorneys? 

Please....start putting your money where your mouth is.  Add a significant amount of money to your income tax return.  Write a letter to the editor, saying you've done so, and why. 

Everyone you know will think you've lost your mind. 

Thursday, April 8, 2010

John Jay Myers, Pete Sessions, and a fan named Christina

My friend John Jay Myers is running for U.S. Congress, 32nd district of Texas. 

Here's JJM"s latest campaign video.  Does John Jay cross the line here?  Heck yes, he crosses it.  Not only that, but he gets a running start, cartwheels over it, stomps it a few times, and then in a final celebratory moment, backs up and does it all again. 
More power to him.  This is no time for shy people. 

John Jay's opponent in this race is Pete Sessions, who in 2006 was able to make the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington Top-20 Congressional Corruption List.   Lordy, think of all the competitors for that one.  That's almost like being voted "Worst Juggler" at the Parkinsons clinic.

JJM packed a lot of text and verbiage into this video, so watch it once to get an overall feel for the thing and watch it again, hitting the pause button now and then, relishing every moment.  Then forward it to everyone you know in Dallas. 

Enjoy.  It doesn't get any better than this.     

Go here to learn more about John Jay Myers for Congress.

Stephen Fincher - Welfare Queen For Congress

Stephen Fincher, a Republican candidate for congress in Tennessee's 8th district, favors small-government, lower taxes, and he has an appropriate disdain for Obamacare. 
Good for him.
He's also a gospel singer. 
He's a succesful cotton farmer. 

And in one eleven-year period, from 1995 - to 2006, Fincher and his wife received 2.5 million dollars in crop subsidies from government you. 

Now, just for the sheer joy of it, imagine if the Democrats dared to nominate a traditional welfare queen for Congress.  Someone who sits around the house all day, collecting welfare and producing little babies who will reliably vote for Democrats.  Do you think there might be an uproar? 

So what is there about this form of welfare that bathes Stephen Fincher in such down-home, cottony goodness? 
When our government subsidizes a particular crop, it confuses the price signals.  In a truly free market, if too much cotton was produced, the price would drop.  Fewer people would grow cotton.  The price would then reflect what people were willing to pay for it, and what farmers would willingly be paid to grow it. 
If not enough cotton was on the market, the price would rise.  More and more people would grow cotton until the price dropped again. 
Are Obama and Pelosi and Reid paying too many people to grow cotton?  We'll never know. 
But are you having to pay too much for cotton T-shirts, shirts, socks and sheets because of farm subsidies and prohibitive tariffs on cotton imports?  Hell yes. 

And what do other countries do, when they learn that we're giving Stephen Fincher $2.6 million dollars to grow cotton?  They retaliate against American imports into Brazil.  Then Obama and Pelosi and Reid have to do even more silly things to make it ok with Brazil. 

So here's the deal: to avoid retailiation by Brazil on U.S. exports of all kinds of things that have nothing to do with cotton, U.S. taxpayers -- that's you -- will send the Brazilian cotton industry $147 million a year in aid.

It apparently has not occurred to the Obama administration (remember all the indignant campaign talk about Washington lobbyists?) or Congress to simply end the subsidies.

So we  ( you ) will continue to subsidize U.S. cotton farmers AND now we'll also be subsidizing Brazilian cotton farmers.
What would happen next in an ideal world?  Well, if the Brazilians were smart, they would totally open up their market to U.S. cotton, along with every other product that we subsidize.  Because if U.S. voters really are dumb enough to produce cotton at a high price and then sell it at a low cost to Brazilians.....well, we deserve to be ripped off even more, don't we? 

Here's Fincher trying to justify his welfare queen status:

“People are quick to say with their mouth full, ‘Well, the American farmer is on the dole,’ ” Fincher said. “But a loaf of bread is two bucks when it could be 10 bucks. I know what it is with the government in my business. We would be all for not having government in our business, but we need a fair system.”
No, no, no.  We are still paying then 10 bucks, but we're paying it to Washington, which takes a cut off the top before passing the 10 bucks to their constituents.   (Instead of merely paying a lower price to Kroger's or Albertson's or Publix or A&P.)  
I've read various economists stating that if we were to end all subsidies, quotas and tariffs, it would save the typical household somewhere between $4,000 to $10,000. 

Here's another Fincher supporter:

(David) Nance, of the Gibson County Patriots, said, "I don't see the agricultural subsidy thing as an issue at all," adding: "If it were an issue, then we would never elect a farmer to Congress at all. Because basically, most farmers get agriculture subsidies. If they didn't, they'd be broke, and we'd be buying our food from China."
David, David, David.    They wouldn't all be broke.  Some might have to start doing something else.  There would be fewer agri-millionaires. 
Here's a cool map of all the farmers in Manhattan who collect $250,000 per year in farm subsidies.  Go here for an explanation.  Big dots represent the $250,000 per year Long Island farmers.  The little dots represent those farmers that you are paying less.  Their commutes from Manhattan to their John Deere tractors upstate must be long indeed. 

Seriously, these Manhattanites need a farm subsidy about like Pope Benedict needs a farm subsidy. 

Our food would be cheaper if Obama, Pelosi, and Reid would simply allow us to purchase food from whoever had the best price.  It doesn't matter if good comes from the other side of I-35, the other side of Tarrant County, the other side of the Red River, the other side of the Rio Grande, or the other side of the Pacific.
Who really believes that the lines of latitude and longitude of the farm matter? 
How much more in taxes would you be willing to pay to keep Mr. and Mrs. Fincher in the style to which they've grown accustomed?   
But some of you, every time you eat a cotton sandwich, or enjoy a cotton and pasta casserole, you feel safer knowing that your food was grown here.  And you delight in knowing that you paid more than you had to. 

The National Cotton Council:  Protecting America's food supply.

"To each according to his need" - Karl Marx

"From each according to his ability; to each according to his need"

                                            - Karl Marx

The Commie Coke pic came from here. 

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A few links

Go here to see the understatement of the decade

Go here to see a correlation between the power and prevalence of a certain group and the debt of each state. 

Go here to read about the world's worst White Sox fan. 

Go here to learn why pollsters find that at least 47% of the electorate will support ANY government spending program. 

Go here to read about people who don't have enough rat holes to throw their money into. 

John Stossel on "What Is A Libertarian?"

I used to be a Kennedy-style "liberal." Then I wised up. Now I'm a libertarian.

But what does that mean?

When I asked people on the street, half had no clue.
We know that conservatives want government to conserve traditional values. They say they're for limited government, but they're pro-drug war, pro-immigration restriction and anti-abortion, and they often support "nation-building."
And so-called liberals? They tend to be anti-gun and pro-choice on abortion. They favor big, powerful government -- they say -- to make life kinder for people.
By contrast, libertarians want government to leave people alone -- in both the economic and personal spheres. Leave us free to pursue our hopes and dreams, as long as we don't hurt anybody else.
Ironically, that used to be called "liberal," which has the same root as "liberty." Several hundred years ago, liberalism was a reaction against the stifling rules imposed by aristocracy and established religion.

I wish I could call myself "liberal" now. But the word has been turned on its head. It now means health police, high taxes, speech codes and so forth.

So I can't call myself a "liberal." I'm stuck with "libertarian." If you have a better word, please let me know.

Go here to continue reading.....

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

South Texas, Afghanistan, and the cost of prohibition

From the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

MEXICO CITY — As more U.S. states permit medical marijuana, and California considers legalizing cannabis sales to adults, Mexico is voicing irritation at the gap between drug laws north and south of the border and saying it undercuts the battle against Mexico's violent drug cartels.

Mexico Secretary of the Interior Fernando Gomez Mont said last week the U.S. medical marijuana trend was "worrisome" and "complicates in a grave way" efforts to resolve Mexico's soaring drug-related violence.

....More states are permitting medical marijuana use, and New York may become the 15th to do so. California, which pioneered medical marijuana use in 1996, is moving even faster, setting a November vote on whether to legalize personal marijuana possession and allow regulated sales of marijuana to those over age 21. If approved, the move would be the first of its kind in the U.S.

A Mexican historian and commentator, Lorenzo Meyer Cossio, said the government of President Felipe Calderon "feels offended" by the growing trend of U.S. states to allow medical marijuana, or perhaps go further as California may do. Mexican laws against marijuana and narcotics remain tough, the result of U.S. pressure dating back more than half a century, he said.

....Calderon, the head of a center-right party, deployed 50,000 soldiers to the border days after coming to office in late 2006 to combat the cartels, which derive huge profits from marijuana as well as cocaine, heroin and methamphetamines.

....Mexican marijuana production is soaring, according to a report issued Thursday by the Justice Department's National Drug Intelligence Center.

.....Even advocates of the decriminalization of marijuana in the U.S. said they empathize with Mexican leaders, who are deploying troops in a fierce battle with well-armed drug cartels at the urging of Washington.

They are caught in the middle of realities of U.S. consumer demands and American political intransigence," said Stephen Gutwillig, the California director of the Drug Policy Alliance, an advocacy group for alternatives to the drug war.

Gutwillig said he thinks the trend toward allowing medical marijuana in U.S. states, and even the outright decriminalization of marijuana, would eventually weaken the Mexican drug cartels. "Any sort of authorized regulated market for marijuana in the United States cannot be good for the bottom line of criminal cartels," Gutwillig said.

Also from the Star-Telegram:

FORT HANCOCK -- When black SUVs trail school buses around here, no one dismisses it as routine traffic. And when three tough-looking Mexican men pace around the high school gym during a basketball game, no one assumes they're just fans.

Fear has settled over this border town of 1,700, about 50 miles southeast of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, epicenter of that country's bloody drug war. Mexican families fleeing the violence have moved here or just sent their children, and authorities and residents say gangsters have followed them across the Rio Grande to apply terrifying, though so far subtle, intimidation.
The message: We know where you are.
At schools in Fort Hancock and nearby Texas towns, new security measures and counseling for young children of murdered parents have become a troubling part of the day.

"I have friends with fathers who've been annihilated," said Israel Morales, a junior at Fort Hancock High School. "They just hug you and start crying. It just traumatizes you."
Mexican drug gangs have not fired a single shot in Fort Hancock, and no one has disappeared. But as drug violence continues unabated in and around Ciudad Juarez, residents of Texas border towns fear it will spread their way.

"There's been incidents of school buses followed, and threats to some of the students and threats to some of the staff," Hudspeth County Sheriff's Lt. Robert Wilson said. "It's caused us to really go on high alert."

Schools have installed security cameras and hired an armed off-duty sheriff's deputy to patrol its three campuses for the first time.

Here's Alfred W. McCoy, of the Countercurrents website, on one of our biggest problems in Afghanistan:

In the late 1990s, the Taliban, which had taken power in most of the country, lost any chance for international legitimacy by protecting and profiting from opium -- and then, ironically, fell from power only months after reversing course and banning the crop. Since the US military intervened in 2001, a rising tide of opium has corrupted the government in Kabul while empowering a resurgent Taliban whose guerrillas have taken control of ever larger parts of the Afghan countryside.

This is no better than anecdotal evidence, BUT.....  Among my ex-con employees, I've had two who worked on death row (cleaning, etc.).  According to them, prison authorities couldn't keep drugs out of death row.  Think of the implications. 
We're spending billions, incarcerating millions, and creating food for the Big Government machine by insisting on prohibiting something that certain people are going to do, no matter what. 
How much worst does the situation in Afghanistan and Mexico have to get before we end the Drug Lords' production monopoly? 

Freakonomics: The Movie

Freakonomics, the best-selling pop economics book by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, will soon be coming to a theatre near you. 
Or maybe it'll just come to Dallas. 

Remember the trend of about 5-6 years ago, when concerned Moms would politely ask "Are there any guns in your home?" before they would allow their little Dylan and Joplin to come over and play? 

Levitt and Dubner reveal that a swimming pool is 100 times more likely to kill a child than a gun.  Then they examing why we worry about guns more than we worry about swimming pools. 

The book examines why most inner-city drug dealers live with their mothers. 
They authors ask if a child's name can affect his future income. 
They look at thousands of standardized test scores, and develop a formula to reveal which teachers cheated to make themselves (and their schools) appear to be succesful. 

The book isn't about economics as much as how to think about a problem. 

Here's a link to the Freakonomics website.  

Their follow-up title, SuperFreakonomics, generated considerable controversy by recommending "Geoengineering" as a climate control solution, instead of requiring people to purchase Big Al Gore's Perpetual Motion Machines.  Go here and here for their blog posts on why they dared commit that heresy. 

Amazing stuff.  Great book.  Can't wait to see the documentary.  These guys are among the many reasons I started reading economics texts for fun. 
You can go here to see the film's website, which is still under construction, and you can go here for a New York Times piece about the film being chosen as the closer for the Tribeca Film Festival. 

Monday, April 5, 2010

Glenn Reynolds on "The Knowledge Problem"

If no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else?" -- President Reagan, Jan. 20, 1981.

Economist Friedrich Hayek explained in 1945 why centrally controlled "command economies" were doomed to waste, inefficiency, and collapse: Insufficient knowledge. He won a Nobel Prize. But it turns out he was righter than he knew.

In his "The Use of Knowledge In Society," Hayek explained that information about supply and demand, scarcity and abundance, wants and needs exists in no single place in any economy. The economy is simply too large and complicated for such information to be gathered together.

Any economic planner who attempts to do so will wind up hopelessly uninformed and behind the times, reacting to economic changes in a clumsy, too-late fashion and then being forced to react again to fix the problems that the previous mistakes created, leading to new problems, and so on.

Market mechanisms, like pricing, do a better job than planners because they incorporate what everyone knows indirectly through signals like price, without central planning.

Thus, no matter how deceptively simple and appealing command economy programs are, they are sure to trip up their operators, because the operators can't possibly be smart enough to make them work.

Later on in the essay:

Hayek's insight into economics and regulation is often called "The Knowledge Problem," and it is a very powerful notion. But recent events suggest that it's not just the economy that regulators don't understand well enough -- it's also their own regulations.

This became apparent when various large businesses responded to the enactment of Obamacare by taking accounting steps to reflect tax changes brought about by the new health care legislation. The additional costs created by Obamacare, conveniently enough, weren't going to strike until later, after the November elections.

But both Generally Accepted Accounting Principles and Securities and Exchange Commission regulations require companies to account for these changes as soon as they learn about them. As the Atlantic's Megan McArdle wrote:

"What AT&T, Caterpillar, et al did was appropriate. It's earnings season, and they offered guidance about , um, their earnings."So once Obamacare passed, massive corporate write-downs were inevitable

And there's more:

Obamacare was supposed to provide unicorns and rainbows: How can it possibly be hurting companies and killing jobs? Surely there's some sort of Republican conspiracy going on here!

More like a confederacy of dunces. Waxman and his colleagues in Congress can't possibly understand the health care market well enough to fix it. But what's more striking is that Waxman's outraged reaction revealed that they don't even understand their own area of responsibility - regulation -- well enough to predict the effect of changes in legislation.

In drafting the Obamacare bill they tried to time things for maximum political advantage, only to be tripped up by the complexities of the regulatory environment they had already created. It's like a second-order Knowledge Problem.

Possibly this is simply because Waxman and his colleagues are dumb, and God knows there's plenty of evidence that Congress isn't a repository of rocket scientists. But it's just as likely that adding 30 or 40 IQ points to the average congressman wouldn't make much difference.

The United States Code -- containing federal statutory law -- is more than 50,000 pages long and comprises 40 volumes. The Code of Federal Regulations, which indexes administrative rules, is 161,117 pages long and composes 226volumes.

No one on Earth understands them all, and the potential interaction among all the different rules would choke a supercomputer. This means, of course, that when Congress changes the law, it not only can't be aware of all the real-world complications it's producing, it can't even understand the legal and regulatory implications of what it's doing

He continues:

The bad news is obvious: We're governed not just by people who do screw up constantly, but by people who can't help but screw up constantly. So long as the government is this large and overweening, no amount of effort at securing smarter people or "better" rules will do any good:  Incompetence is built into the system.

The good news is less obvious, but just as important: While we rightly fear a too-powerful government, this regulatory knowledge problem will ensure plenty of public stumbles and embarrassments, helping to remind people that those who seek to rule us really don't know what they're doing.

If that doesn't encourage skepticism toward big government, it's hard to imagine what will.

I loved everything about this essay except the last sentence.  As long as politicians are promising free healthcare, money, salvation, chickens in every pot, etc., there will be those who believe every word of it. 

Go here to read the whole thing

The contradiction pics came from here and here and here and here. 

Two Days Down, Five Days To Go

Two Days Down, Five Days To Go. 

Could Wednesday be next ?

End it, don't mend it.  Privatize that sucker !

The cool logo came from here.