Thursday, August 23, 2012

If you've been unsuccessful, you didn't fail on your own

From Mark Perry's Carpe Diem blog.  Read the context (a potential business being strangled by government trolls, hobbits and munchkins) if you get a chance:

Look, if you’ve been unsuccessful, you didn’t get there on your own. If you were unsuccessful at opening or operating a small business, some government official along the line probably contributed to your failure. There was an overzealous civil servant somewhere who might have stood in your way with unreasonable regulations that are part of our American system of anti-business red tape that allowed you to not thrive. Taxpayers invested in roads and bridges, but you might have faced city council members who wouldn’t allow you to use them. If you’ve been forced to close a business – it’s often the case that you didn’t do that on your own. Somebody else made that business closing happen or prevented it from opening in the first place. You can thank the bureaucratic tyrants of the nanny state.

Yep.  They didn't let you build that. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I'm not saying the government is too big, but....

I'm not saying the government is too big, but....

if it really is too big, what would it look like? 

Here's the Samizdata quote of the day -

What if we have reached a point where the scale and scope of government have become absurdly large? What you would observe is a growing gap between the theories used to justify government expansion and its practical impact. You would observe the cost of education and health care rising, without commensurate benefits. You would observe stimulus programs that increase employment according to computer models but not in reality. You would observe crony capitalism. You would observe budgets distorted by public-sector unions. You would observe fraudulent accounting that shifts costs for pensions onto future generations.

- Arnold Kling

Well, if you're going to put it that way....

Picture of bloated guy came from here

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Why We Can't Shrink Our Government, by a failed Obama economist

Three and a half years ago, the media was drooling over the geniuses Barack Obama had appointed to turn around the economy - Peter Orszag, Christina Romer, Larry Summers, Timothy Geithner, and Jared Bernstein. 

All but Geithner have now resigned, probably because the populace is about to figure out the con game that  Orszag, Romer, Summers, Geithner, and Bernstein have pulled on them. 

These jokers backed some semi-trailers up to the Treasury and looted the place.  In a less sheep-like society, the mobs with tar and feathers would've already surrounded their homes. 

One member of this crew, Larry Summers, has taken to the pages of The Washington Post to try to justify another couple of decades of looting.   His article is called The Reality Of Trying To Shrink Government

Summers says that we won't be shrinking the size of government, or our debt, anytime soon. Here's a summary of his argument:

1) We're living longer than the brain trust that invented Social Security anticipated.  In the near future, the number of people on Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security is going to explode.  (Everyone has seen this coming, but nobody has done anything about it.  This is a good case for smaller government.)   

2)  The interest on the national debt is far bigger than anticipated.  It's going to consume 3.2% of our GDP by the year 2020.  (Everyone has seen this coming, but nobody has done anything about it.  This is a good case for smaller government.)

3)  Here's the funny one, the one where Summers goes Full Obama Retard on us.  Things that government purchases cost more than things that the private sector purchases !!!  Here's a terrifying glimpse into the mind of a Statist: 
Third, increases in the price of what the federal government buys relative to what the private sector buys will inevitably raise the cost of state involvement in the economy. Since the early 1980s the price of hospital care and higher education has risen fivefold relative to the price of cars and clothing, and more than a hundredfold relative to the price of televisions. Similarly, the complexity, and hence the cost, of everything from scientific research to regulating banks rises faster than overall inflation. These shifts reflect long-running trends in globalization and technology. If government is to continue providing the same level of these services, government spending as a share of the economy has to rise, by at least 3 percent of GDP.

It's almost impossible to write something that stupid without having gone to an Ivy League University for practice. 

Do you know why the price of TV's and clothing has dropped like a stone, while the price of healthcare and education has gone into the stratosphere? 

It's because TV and T-shirts are relatively unregulated, and the government, for the most part, stays out of the TV and T-shirt industries.  Jesus Christ Almighty, get a freakin' clue !!  Read some Milton Friedman or some Thomas Sowell or some Henry Hazlitt, or any other reality-based economist.  Subsidies and regulations drive up prices.  Prices are high for healthcare and education BECAUSE the government helps pay for them.  (Everyone has seen this coming, but nobody has done anything about it. This is a good case for smaller government.)

Summers goes on to make a few other lame points.  (The one about how we can't reduce defense spending is also a real knee-slapper.  We're responsible for 45% of the world's defense spending.) 

That's all he had to say. 

Anyone who finished middle school could go into D.C. and cut the staff and the spending by 50% with no loss of services that wouldn't immediately be taken over by the private sector at a much lower cost. 

Read his whole article.  Or Stephen King's Pet Sematary.  They're equally scary. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Chinese Washing Machine Story 2.0

I'm totally buried at work. 
No time to post anything new. 
There's a chance I'll be going back to China soon. 
I'm trying to put together an e-book of these stories. 
Hope you like this one.  It's a re-post from 2007.  This is how it really happened !


I've been posting old emails from my China trips any time I'm too tired to think but too wired to sleep. This one's from a little more than a year ago, when I made a Quality Control trip to a vendor called "Aifei" in Xiamen.
Wendy is Aifei's #1 sales rep., and translator.

Here goes....

Dear family, friends, co-workers, Moderate Baptists, retail booksellers, and people from the Starbucks on Camp Bowie,

I hope everyone is doing well. I still don’t have Internet access at the new apartment, and haven’t had much free time outside of working at the factory and getting moved into the new place. I’m writing from the Coffee Bar near our new apartment.

Our company apartment is bigger, nicer, and more luxurious than anything that 99% of the Chinese can afford, or have ever seen. I never doubt for a moment that I’ve been blessed, and am very fortunate to have been born where I was born.

All that obligatory gratitude aside, the apartment was designed to look like the Jettson’s. Unfortunately, the utilities were provided by The Flintstones. It’s on the 27th floor of a high-rise that’s still being built by small angry people with lots of hammers.

Let’s start in the kitchen: There is a double sink with cold water only. The left-hand side sink is about the size of a piece of photocopier paper. The right-hand side sink is about the size and depth of a shoebox. Fran will tell you that I can dirty enough dishes, forks, ladles, and colanders to fill both of these sinks just by microwaving one pack of popcorn.

To the left of the sink is the space where the microwave ought to be. But that’s the only space where I can chop up whatever small animals that I’m having for dinner. (The food suppliers, restaurants, and I have a mutual “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy....) So the microwave stays on top of the fridge until needed. There is a dual surface gas cooktop that works great.

Below that is a Thing that’s not quite a Dishwasher. They call if a “sterilizer”. When I asked Wendy why I needed the sterilizer after the dishes had already been hand washed, she said “Bad Water”. I know all about the Bad Water from the medical disaster of my first trip. She also suggested that I leave the dishes in the sterilizer at all times. I asked why. She said “Bad Air”. Considering that they’re always burning huge piles of leftover Asbestos, DDT, Napalm, Agent Orange, etc. all over the countryside, I’m taking her advice. Good Karma.

The refrigerator is small, but will keep beer cold. The only ice trays they sell here are about the size of two playing cards placed end to end. The ice is all dice-sized cubelets. Made from Sparklett’s, because of Bad Water. A minor hassle.

I’ve got two great balconies. One of them overlooks other high-rises, but the other one has a great view of the lake and the bay. That’s where I have my new washer/dryer. (All in one machine.) It has two digital dials, and about 20 buttons. The owner’s manual is only in Chinese, which I’m slowly trying to translate with a Character-Finder dictionary (don’t ask how that works, it’s too tiresome to explain. But I feel like I’m on the Medieval Committee that turned all the Greek, Latin, and Hebrew into the King James Bible.)

For reasons that I don’t understand, this Washing Machine can be programmed to wash one load for up to 20 hours. Yes, 20 hours. I think it has a similar capability for drying times, but I’m afraid to find out. I might incinerate something.

Combine all this with a safety feature that won’t let you open the door when there is ANY water or ANY heat in the machine, and it’s time for ADVENTURES IN LAUNDRY ! ! ! My first load washed for about 3 hours, and dried for about half that many. I don’t have accurate times for the 2nd load on Sunday, because there was a lot of starting and stopping involved - I’d call it 9 hours total. Every time I tried to move from washing to drying, it started a new wash cycle for a random length of time. And of course, the door wouldn’t open. Then, when I did persuade it to go from wash to dry, after about 3 hours of drying, the damn door still wouldn’t open because of the excessive heat.

It was ridiculous. My shirts were held hostage. All the crowbars were back at the factory.

Most businesses here have a little Buddhist mini-shrine/altar somewhere on the premises. They burn incense on the altar in front of the Buddha statue about twice a day. If things are going badly, they will even place sacrificial fruit in front of the statue (apples, oranges, plums, etc. etc etc. Some people try to fake it with plastic fruit, but I bet that doesn’t work as well..)

Anyway, I thought it would make for a funny photo to show Wendy if I took a picture of some fruit in front of my washing machine, as a sort of hostage exchange for my shirts. I put some bananas, oranges, and grapes on the balcony in front of the washer, and went to get my camera. When I went back on the balcony to take the picture, the door was open. The Chinese Washing Machine was apparently satisfied with my offering.

You can’t make this stuff up

My shirts had been washed so many times they were almost transparent. And they will now fit my little daughter perfectly.

The washer/dryer works very hard, and it works for long, long hours. It’s very complicated. And you’re not going to get anything out of it until it’s ready to give it to you. So I’ve named it Aifei….

My driver just showed up to take me to the factory.

There’s more to tell, like the hot water heater that doesn’t hook to either of the sinks or to the shower, but maybe is what keeps the toilet water so nice and toasty. The bed has a Chinese-style mattress - a term I wasn’t familiar with until this trip. “Chinese Style Mattress” translates into English as “If you have a Basketball, you can dribble on it.” But this email is already over-long. This coffee bar has 6 CD’s in the music rotation, and one of them is Christmas music. When “Joy to the World” comes over the speakers, the Chinese workers and customers don’t know the difference, but all the Westerners in the place look up from their laptops and smile at each other. It’s great. I’ve met people from all over the world in this place. I love this country.

Go here if you have time to read the Chinese Dog Story. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Gary Johnson rips Paul Ryan. In Fort Worth. Covered by Reason magazine.

Reason magazine has a reporter named Garrett Quinn following Gary Johnson's tour of Texas. 

Gary Johnson is unimpressed with Paul Ryan.  Here's Mr. Quinn's conversation with Johnson on the danger of Republicans in Libertarian clothing:

Gary Johnson is not happy that some in the media call Republican vice presidential candidate and Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan a libertarian.

“He voted for the Patriot Act, he voted for the National Defense Appropriation Act, he voted to ban online poker, he’s proposing a budget that gets balanced in thirty years. He is anything but a libertarian, anything but,” said Johnson after a packed campaign dinner at Hill’s Café.

Johnson, the Libertarian Party nominee for president, noted that Ryan was a strict social conservative that voted to restrict abortion rights and against marriage equality.

“Paul Ryan submitted personhood legislation that is anything but libertarian,” he said. Johnson's eyes widened and his volume increased as he went into detail about Ryan’s support for a national version of Virginia’s controversial transvaginal ultrasound law.

Yeah.  Can you imagine the interest your grandkids will be paying on a budget that's not balanced for another 30 years???

Also, if you hit the link at the top, you'll see that the pic from the interview isn't from Johnson's appearance at Hill's Cafe in Austin, but from Fort Worth's own Joe T. Garcia's restaurant, where the Tarrant County Libertarian Party held a fundraise/rally.