Saturday, April 30, 2011

Why bother with taxes? Why not let Ben Bernanke print all of it?


Why bother with a debt limit?  We've raised it 75 times in the last 50 years.  What does a debt limit do?  Who does it fool?

Which leads to the next point....Why bother with collecting taxes at all?  If we're going to let Ben Bernanke and The Federal Reserve print an arbitrary amount of money at will, why not let him print up a massive $14 trillion dollar batch, bring in some forklifts and shipping containers, load up the entire press run, and send the whole batch to China and get it over with? 
Then print another 3 trillion or so to keep the TSA crotch-gropers paid, and the Department of Transportation parasites paid, and the borders of South Korea and Germany and Iraq and Afghanistan and England guarded with our armies.  Let's get it done !! 

What kind of finesse about printing money are we attempting?  The Chinese are dumping dollars as fast as they can.  They're not loaning us any more.   

Go here for a complete discussion with Mark Steyn. 

This picture (being developed for a Bernanke Buck) came from Dan McCall's Facebook page. 

Friday, April 29, 2011

TRIP. Tonight. Rahr Brewery. 6:30.

I'm playing guitar and singing with Mike Coyne and Big Daddy John Spivey at the Rahr Brewery in Fort Worth tonight at 6:30
It's a fund-raiser for TRIP, the Trinity River Improvement Partnership.  You also get to see a documentary called Up A Creek, detailing the history of the Trinity River and the dangers of the current Trinity River development plan.  TRIP was set up as an alternative to the billion-dollar Trinity River Vision boondoggle set up by and for JD and his mama, Kay Granger.  I'm sure that I'll be posting more about this group as I learn more about it.  Hell, the Granger outfit has already doubled the size of the original budget.  (It's now up to something like 900 million.) 

I'm going to be doing some Buffet tunes, some Jerry Jeff Walker, and a few originals.  Spivey will be singing an original composition called "Mama Tried".  (Guess who that one is about !!) 

Here's the lyrics to one of the songs I'll be doing.  There was an old guy named James Cook who worked on my father's farm, and about three times a year he'd tell me about a little dog that helped his family get through the Great Depression.  I wrote this in honor of Mr. Cook, and his dog, and to get in a slam at Franklin Roosevelt. 
It's called "The Dog That Knew". 

"Back in the Great Depression, I made fifty cents a day,
Just digging ditches, picking cotton, or whatever else would pay.
Had a house full of kids, and couldn't keep 'em fed,
Every night we'd go to sleep, afraid we'd wake up dead. 

Well, one day here's this little dog like I have not seen since,
As if God had crossed a beagle with some kind of barbed wire fence,
And that little dog did something that I've never seen before,
He went and caught a rabbit, and then laid it at my door. 

Well, Daisy took that rabbit and she threw it in a pot,
Then we sat down at the table, thanked the Lord for what we got,
We thanked the Lord for sunshine and them children in the yard,
And we thanked God for little dogs that knew that times were hard.

Had that dog for seven years and Lord, he fed us well. 
That dog could bring a rabbit back straight from the gates of hell,
You see those rabbits ran like lightning up and down that river bank,
Sometimes they ran through gulleys that could scare a Sherman tank. 

And Mr. Roosevelt he said "It's only fear itself",
Well I bet Mr. Roosevelt had groceries on his shelf. 
They said it was a brand New Deal, that's all that some folks had. 
We had us a little dog that knew that times were bad. 

Well, Daisy took that rabbit and she threw it in a pot,

Then we sat down at the table, thanked the Lord for what we got,
We thanked the Lord for sunshine and them children in the yard,
And we thanked God for little dogs that knew that times were hard.

It's been forty years, I guess, since I first heard it said,
About that old man's dog and how it kept his family fed -
You see, my back yard's full of dachshunds, those useless weiner dogs;
Never caught a rabbit, and Lord they eat like hogs. 

Sometimes I'll take 'em huntin', and Lordy what a sight,
There's a man whose little dogs are scared that rabbits bite.
So if y'all see me looking like I don't eat enough,
It's because my little dogs don't know that times are tough. 

So y'all bring me a rabbit, and I'll throw it in a pot,
I'll sit down at the table, and thank the Lord for what I've got.
I'll thank the Lord for sunshine and those dachshunds in the yard,
But I'll wish I had some little dogs that knew that times are hard. 

Hope to see some of you tonight !!!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Ummmm...We don't believe that our neighbors deserve a choice

Here's Reason magazine's Nick Gillespie laying into assorted idjits who don't want to allow their neighbors to have a choice in department stores.

The Hope And Change Sticky Note Campaign

There's a new Facebook campaign for people who are tired of Ben Bernanke/Barry Obama releasing all of their newly printed money into the environment. 

It's called the "Hope And Change Sticky Note Campaign". 

Next time you see a higher price on milk, eggs, gasoline, rent, Coca-Cola, detergent, bacon, or anything else you purchase with your Bernanke Bucks, stick a "Hope And Change" Post-It note beside the price. 

Take a picture. 

Mail it in. 

Do your part. 

Hope.  Change. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

He is a human. He was born on this planet. No defects were noted.

I was hoping for something that would answer the really big questions. 

Ron Paul - Liberty Defined

I picked up Ron Paul's Liberty Defined a couple of days ago.

Lord have mercy, what a book. 

It's a distillation of Dr. Paul's philosophy of government, boiled down to 50 categories.  Abortion, Assassination, Austrian Economics, Bipartisanship, and the Business Cycle all the way to Terrorism, Torture, Trade Policies, Unions and Zionism. 

This is the book of a man who is running for president, and who has been proven right on so many issues for so long that he no longer sees any need to pull any punches.  You will find sentences in here that cause you to put down the book in amazement, and think "Well, of course, that's true, but politicians just can't say things like this !!!   My God, Ron Paul no longer gives a shit !!  He's telling the truth, and to hell with the consequences !! 

And then you read the offending sentence a few more times, committing it to memory. 

Compared to the standard campaign book, this one is a diamond in a dung heap.  This book is going to melt the faces off Dr. Paul's fellow Republican politicians. 

Here are a few samples:

Assassination:  Our government has, for years, been involved in "regime change" around the world, which includes the use of assassination.  But up until February 3, 2010, there was no admission to such a policy or recognition of its illegality.  On this date, before the House Intelligence Committee, the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Dennis C. Blair admitted that indeed such a policy existed.  American citizens can be assassinated at the direction of the U.S. government with the authority probably coming from the DNI.  As he put it: "Being a U.S. citizen will not spare an American from getting assassinated by military or intelligence operatives." 

Bipartisanship:  When the ideas of both parties are bad, there is really only one hope: that they will continue fighting and not pass any new legislation.  Gridlock can be the friend of liberty. 

Business Cycle: This tendency to use macroeconomic measures began under Herbert Hoover in 1930, a pattern that was continued by FDR.  Hoover and FDR actually pushed the same agenda of high spending, attempted monetary expansion, controls on business, and efforts to keep wages high.  FDR managed to take us farther down the road to serfdom only because he had longer in office. 

Campaign Finance Reform:  If there were less to buy through influencing campaigns, there would be a lot less incentive to invest so much in the process. 

Capital Punishment:  Believers in the omnipotence of state military power are enthusiastic supporters of the death penalty.  It's strange to me that those who champion best the rights of pre-born are generally the strongest supporters of the death penalty and preventive, that is, aggressive, war.  Ironically, those who find the death penalty an affront to life are usually the strongest supporters of abortion. 

Central Intelligence Agency:  If the truth be known, we would all be safer if the CIA in is current form were to be abolished. 

Demagogues:  ....For this reason, people who burn American flags, provided that they own them and burn them on their own property, are deserving of defense.  I'm never so embarrassed by the Republican Party than when it demagogues issues like flag burning and saying the Pledge of Allegiance.  These are despicable campaign tactics. 

And it goes on and on, with Ron Paul speaking the unspeakable on the drug war, the Fed, insane military adventures, and all the other usual suspects. 

This is the book of someone who had "rather be right than be president", to quote Henry Clay.  The essays on personal freedom are too extreme for any of the current Democrat politicians.  The sections on economic freedom are logical and are written with an excellent grasp of political and economic history - more than enough to terrify the Pawlentys, Romneys, Huckabees, and the rest of those who want to take their turn driving our national car in the same disastrous direction. 

This is a great book.  I can't wait for the debates. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Let's assign each neighborhood a grocery store. One grocery store.

Don Boudreaux has produced another great parable:

Suppose that we were supplied with groceries in same way that we are supplied with K-12 education.

Residents of each county would pay taxes on their properties. A huge chunk of these tax receipts would then be spent by government officials on building and operating supermarkets. County residents, depending upon their specific residential addresses, would be assigned to a particular supermarket. Each family could then get its weekly allotment of groceries for “free.” (Department of Supermarket officials would no doubt be charged with the responsibility for determining the proper amounts and kinds of groceries that families of different kinds and sizes are entitled to receive.)

Except in rare circumstances, no family would be allowed to patronize a “public” supermarket outside of its district.

Residents of wealthier counties – such as Fairfax County, VA and Somerset County, NJ – would obviously have better-stocked and more attractive supermarkets than would residents of poorer counties. And, thanks to a long-ago U.S. Supreme Court decision, families would be free to shop at private supermarkets that charge directly for the groceries they offer; such private-supermarket families, though, would get no discount on their property-tax bills.

When the quality of supermarkets is recognized by nearly everyone to be dismal, calls for “supermarket choice” would be rejected by a coalition of greedy government-supermarket workers and ideologically benighted collectivists as attempts to cheat supermarket customers from out of good supermarket service – indeed, as attempts to deny ordinary families the food that they need for their very survival. Such ‘choice,’ it would be alleged, will drain precious resources from the public supermarkets whose (admittedly) poor performance testifies to the fact that these supermarkets are underfunded.

And the small handful of people who call for total separation between supermarket and state would be criticized by nearly everyone as being, at best, delusional and – it would be thought more realistically – more likely misanthropic devils who are indifferent to the malnutrion and starvation that would sweep the land if only private market forces governed the provision and patronizing of supermarket. (Some indignant observers would even wonder aloud at the insensitivity of referring to grocery shoppers as “customers”; surely the relationship between suppliers of life-giving foods and the people who need these foods is not so crass as to be properly discussed as being ‘commercial.’)


Does anyone believe that such a system for supplying groceries would work well, or even one-tenth as well as the current private, competitive system that we currently rely upon for supplying grocery-retailing services? To those of you who might think so, pardon me but you’re nuts.

To those of you who understand that such a system for supplying grocery-retailing services would be a catastrophe, why might you continue to count yourself in the ranks of those who believe that government schooling (especially the way it is currently funded and supplied) is the system that we should continue to use?

I apologize for scraping the entire post.  Save a link to the Cafe Hayek website.  Worth reading daily.  Hourly.  Or more. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Why is Chinese Communism producing better results than Indian Democracy?

Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for dinner. - James Blovard

Marvel Variants just got back from a trip to India and China.  He claims it was a work-related trip, but we never really know. 
He came to our production meeting Friday and said that leaving India and entering China was like re-entering civilization.  Comparing the two places almost made Mr. Variants question the benefits of democracy.  (India is a democracy, China is not.) 

So is democracy enough to guarantee prosperity?  Not no, but hell no. 

Hitler was elected by a democracy of sorts.  So was the economy-wrecking, depression-lengthening, agency-spawning FDR. 

But why is India such a goofy, bass-ackwards place if the citizenry are more-or-less free to control their own destinies? 
Why have you never seen a picture of the Indian skyline?  (Short answer: India's electrical grid is so erratic, nobody trusts an elevator.  Therefore, nobody builds tall structures.) 

There's only one website that will explain this properly.  And that's the Index Of Economic Freedom, put out by the Heritage Foundation every year.  Here's an explanation of how the index works:

How do you measure economic freedom?

We measure ten components of economic freedom, assigning a grade in each using a scale from 0 to 100, where 100 represents the maximum freedom. The ten component scores are then averaged to give an overall economic freedom score for each country. The ten components of economic freedom are:

So where are India and China on the index?
Out of the 179 economies open enough to be analyzed, India is 124th and China is 135th.  That's not much difference. 
But how could a democracy remain in such a low position? Does India really have less economic freedom than freakin' Egypt (96th) or Uganda (80th) ????

How could a place where people control their own destiny remain so screwed up?

Well, here are some details, all from the Freedom Index: 

Despite the challenging global economic environment, the Indian economy has recorded average annual growth of around 8 percent over the past five years, propelled by domestic demand and continuing strength in services and manufacturing.

However, growth is not deeply rooted in policies that support economic freedom. Progress with market-oriented reforms has been uneven. The state maintains an extensive presence in many areas, playing a major role through many public-sector enterprises. India’s restrictive and burdensome regulatory environment discourages broader private-sector growth and hampers realization of the economy’s full potential. Corruption remains significant, and the judicial system remains inefficient. Increasing inflationary pressure poses a major risk to overall macroeconomic stability.

Ok, you could say the same thing about Virginia or South Dakota.  What else would be enough to make Marvel Variants want to kiss the ground in a Shanghai airport? 

Here are the difficulties faced by an Indian entrepreneur, point by point: 

Business Freedom: Potential entrepreneurs face severe challenges. The regu­latory framework is burdensome, and the legal framework is weak. It can take almost 200 days to obtain a construction permit.

Trade Freedom:  Significant differences between bound and applied tariff rates, import and export restrictions, services market access restrictions, complex and non-transparent regulation, onerous standards and certifications, discriminatory sanitary and phytosanitary measures, restrictive import licensing, domestic bias in government procurement, problematic enforcement of intellectual property rights, export subsidies, inadequate infrastructure, anti-dumping restrictions, and complex and non-transparent customs add to the cost of trade.

Fiscal Freedom:  India’s tax rates are relatively high. The top income tax is now 30.9 percent (30 percent plus an educational assessment of up to 3 percent). The top corporate tax rate is 33.99 percent (30 percent plus a 10 percent surcharge and a 3 percent education tax on that total). Other taxes include a dividend distribution tax, a tax on interest, and a value-added tax (VAT). A general sales tax (GST) was recently approved to replace the VAT. In the most recent year, overall tax revenue as a percentage of GDP was 18.6 percent. 

(Notice how they can't take in more than 20% of GDP, no matter how high they put the rates?  Ever wonder when Obama is going to figure that out?)

Government Spending:  The government still plays a central role in the economy. In the most recent year, total government expenditures, including consumption and transfer payments, fell slightly to 27.2 percent of GDP. Public debt is 78 percent of GDP. 

(Hey, that could be the United States !!  They're now taking in 18% of GDP and spending 27%.) 

Monetary Freedom:  Inflation has been relatively high, averaging 9.9 percent between 2007 and 2009, and was running above 11 percent in 2010. The government subsidizes agricultural, gas, and kerosene production; applies factory, wholesale, and retail price controls on “essential” commodities, 25 crops, services, electricity, water, some petroleum products, and certain types of coal; and controls the prices of 74 bulk drugs that cover 40 percent of the market. Domestic price and marketing arrangements apply to commodities like sugar and certain cereals.

(Our true rate of inflation is closer to 10% than Bernanke will admit.  When I started writing this post, I had no intention of pointing out how the U.S. was headed in India's direction.  Looks like we're going there, doesn't it?)

Investment Freedom:  Foreign investment is prohibited in some industries and capped in others. Foreign investment in real estate is limited to company property used to do business and the development of some types of new commercial and residential properties. Bureaucracy is non-transparent and burdensome, and contract enforcement can be difficult. Foreign exchange, capital transactions, and some credit operations are subject to approvals, restrictions, and additional requirements.

Financial Freedom:  Too tiresome to quote in full, but here's the kicker:  The government has introduced new financial instruments including derivatives.

Property Rights:  Transfers of land are restricted, and there is no reliable system for recording secured interests in property. Courts take years to reach decisions, and foreign corporations often resort to international arbitration. Protection of intellectual property rights is problematic. Proprietary test results and other data about patented products submitted to the government by foreign pharmaceutical companies have been used by domestic companies without legal penalties.

Freedom From Corruption:  Corruption is perceived as significant, especially in government procurement of telecommunications, power, and defense contracts. India ranks 84th out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index for 2009. Corruption is viewed as an obstacle to foreign direct investment.

Labor Freedom:  India’s labor regulatory framework is evolving. The non-salary cost of employing a worker is moderate, but dismissing an employee is costly. The informal economy (working off the books) is an important source of employment.

There you have it.  India, a democratic nation, is one of the most screwed-up places on earth.  Most of the voters probably favor protectionism, high tariffs, the occasional kickback, an "Indians First" investment policy, subsidies, and everything else you'll find under the Big Government Christmas Tree. 

So what's the solution? 

Enforcement of property rights.  Free trade.  Elimination of subsidies.  Enough government to provide a working courts system and to defend India's borders, but not much else. 

In other words, the platform of The Libertarian Party.  Please consider Libertarian candidates in the 2012 elections.  After all, the U.S. is only #9 on the Freedom Index, and we're falling fast. 

Map came from here.