Saturday, August 24, 2013

Tax Migration

Definitely worth a read.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Union Power Dwindles Following Reforms

This is an interesting follow-up on the Wisconsin teachers' union rule changes.  It should give heart to reformers who will always have to put up with loud protests at the time, yet this example shows how effective reforms can ultimately be.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Adrian Peterson

Last season I started to think that (All Day) AP was the best player in a generation, but this game is the one that originally made me a huge fan:

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Steve Simpson on Free Speech

Speech Laws and the IRS

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Cost of Red Tape

This WSJ article, How America Lost Its Way, is worth reading.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Purpose and Enjoyment

As many may know, Firefly is by far my favorite TV show.  In this interview its creator, Joss Whedon, discusses how he manages to be so productive which I found incredibly interesting and motivating.  This passage in particular struck me, in that it shows how much he enjoys what he does, such that even relaxing involves productivity.
I ask about the melding of social and work that he seems to have mastered with his friends (Much Ado grew out of Shakespeare readings at his house). “For me that’s almost always necessary. I mean, obviously I’ve hung out with the Much Ado crew and they’ve become closer to me than I could have imagined, but the way I see people is by saying, ‘Come over and we’ll read Shakespeare. Come over and we’ll film Shakespeare.’ I need some kind of end. I like there to be a point. I was never a games night guy, but at some point social interaction starts to freak me out. So when there’s a point, it’s easier for me to see the people I love and hang out and try to have fun.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Obama's IRS SS

Here are some anecdotal accounts of how Obama sicced his IRS thugs against a broad swath of ideological opponents.  Gives me shivers.
I was one of those victims of the IRS scandal. As an outspoken critic of President Obama and his socialist anti-business agenda, the IRS targeted me for intimidation and persecution–not once, but twice. The first IRS attack started in January of 2011. After I won a victory in tax court in the summer of 2012, I was audited again 5 days later. FIVE DAYS. Tax experts have never heard of this happening- EVER.
How did I know this was a coordinated attack on conservative critics and donors? Because just in my small inner circle of friends, virtually every businessman that I met was getting hit with IRS audit notices only weeks after writing checks to the GOP and Mitt Romney. Strange coincidence, huh? In one case, a friend of mine who is a hedge fund CEO attended the first major Wall Street fundraiser for Mitt Romney. Only a select few Wall Street big shots attended. After they went home, almost every one of them in the room that wrote a check to Romney later reported receiving IRS audit notices. In another case, a friend of mine wrote a big check to Romney. He called me to report his suspicions when only weeks later he received an IRS notice. In another case, my next-door neighbor (who is a big GOP donor) reported being under vicious IRS attack. In another case, my accountant was suddenly audited only months after my first IRS attack. Even my publicist received an IRS audit notice.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Our IRS Tyrants

A compelling testimony from a free American woman.

And Yaron Brook's commentary, warning that if the government is allowed to effectively quell free speech, the only recourse citizen's will have left is overt violence.  I hope enough people speak out now so that we'll never have to experience the alternative.

Friday, June 07, 2013

Sweden's Riots

There are some good points herein, most notably:
In fact, there is serious inequality in Sweden, but the divide is not so much between the rich and the poor as between those with jobs and those without. And frequently this is an ethnic divide. As the author Fredrik Segerfeldt points out in a new study, Sweden has the largest employment gap between natives and foreign-born of all the rich countries where data is available. Only 6.4 per cent of native Swedes are unemployed, but almost 16 per cent of the immigrants are. In Stockholm, as in Paris, this problem is concentrated in the suburbs. In Husby, where the riots started, 38 per cent of those under 26 neither study nor work.
So what’s to blame? The aspect of the Swedish social model that the government has not dared to touch: strong employment protection. By law, the last person to be hired must be the first person to be sacked. And if you employ someone longer than six months, the contract is automatically made permanent. A system intended to protect the workers has condemned the young to a succession of short-term contracts. Sweden’s high de facto minimum wage — around 70 per cent of the average wage — renders unemployed those whose skills are worth less than that. Sweden has the fewest low-wage, entry-level jobs in Europe. Just 2.5 per cent of Swedish jobs are on this level, compared to a European average of 17 per cent.
Those with poor education, experience or language skills have found that Sweden is not such a utopia after all. If you never get your first job, you never get the skills and experiences that would give you the second and third job. All that labour ‘protection’ has created a society of insiders and outsiders. Sweden has generously welcomed immigrants into its borders. But there is another border — around its jobs market — and it is heavily fortified.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Commercial vs. Entitlement Society

Don Watson has a good post on the subject.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Government Tyranny

Milton Wolf has a great column highlighting the tyrannical nature of Obama's federal government.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Obamacare and the Sanction of the Victim

Paul Hsieh has a good column out showing how the implementation of Obamacare requires the sanction and participation of its victims.  He then recommends that such victims withdraw their sanction.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Obama's Virtual Phone Call to the IRS

I'm behind on the news and in keeping up with the lowlights of the day, but fwiw, here's my favorite WSJ columnist on the IRS scandal and Obama's role in it.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Institute for Justice

This is a nice promo piece for the Institute for Justice (which has litigated against eminent domain, campaign finance laws and licensing regulations among others).

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


I'm glad that Tom Bowden and ARI have once again taken up the issue of antitrust and the irreparable damage and injustice it does.  This IBD editorial is a nice addition to their campaign.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Willingness to Think

I good article by Don Watkins at Forbes.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Fostering a Child's Personal Happiness

If I had kids, I think I'd send them to Leport Schools.  Here's an example of why.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Elan Journo on Panel at UC Davis

I neglected to post an announcement to this panel discussion on Islamists put on by the UC Davis Objectivist club, but it seems to have created quite the stir on campus.  I haven't yet seen any followup stories on the event itself however.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Indoctrinating Youth on the Taxpayer's Dime

You've got to love public indoctrination education of our youth.

And I must say I find it amazing that so many of the same people who are against the voluntary exercise of free speech by corporations  simultaneously endorse the coercive funding of education -- a policy which forces taxpayers to materially advance views they find abhorrent and destructive.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Growth of 'Disability' in America

NPR provides an interesting look at those the government pronounces "disabled".  I don't know much about the topic, so I found this quite informative (and not the typical slanted NPR social engineering masquerading as reporting).  Here's an excerpt:

But disability has also become a de facto welfare program for people without a lot of education or job skills. But it wasn't supposed to serve this purpose; it's not a retraining program designed to get people back onto their feet. Once people go onto disability, they almost never go back to work. Fewer than 1 percent of those who were on the federal program for disabled workers at the beginning of 2011 have returned to the workforce since then, one economist told me.
People who leave the workforce and go on disability qualify for Medicare, the government health care program that also covers the elderly. They also get disability payments from the government of about $13,000 a year. This isn't great. But if your alternative is a minimum wage job that will pay you at most $15,000 a year, and probably does not include health insurance, disability may be a better option.
But going on disability means you will not work, you will not get a raise, you will not get whatever meaning people get from work. Going on disability means, assuming you rely only on those disability payments, you will be poor for the rest of your life. That's the deal. And it's a deal 14 million Americans have signed up for.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Capitalists Create Wealth

A good article by Watkins and Brook.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Workings of Socialism

The WSJ provides a good look at the details of how central planning / government intervention affects the provision of healthcare under Obamacare.  It's a good example to keep in mind when thinking about socialism's workings in general.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Uninformed Fears <> Actual Risks

A good article on the Fukushima aftermath.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Detroit's as Harbinger of National Problems

Detroit's pension debacle - a storyline we'll see at every level of government for the next 25 years or more.

One point that's rarely made in these pieces is that deferring costs, i.e. levying them on those who aren't even receiving the benefits, leads to migration and thus even fewer people to tax.  So for instance the tax revenue that Detroit collected in the 70's, 80's and 90's went to services, schools, roads, etc., while the funding shortfall -- the deficit -- accrued as unfunded pension and healthcare liabilities (which would have to be paid in the future).  As time went on and the pensions started becoming due, current citizens not only faced higher tax rates, they also lived with diminished services since now the tax collection wasn't enough to pay for current needs.  Since current taxpayers want benefits from their taxes, e.g. safe, well-lit neighbourhoods,  they begin to migrate to places where taxes are still used for current expenses.  Once this process starts, it's almost impossible to stop, since fewer and fewer people are left have to shoulder the burden accrued by previous generations.  I predict that some time in the next decade, people will explicitly be looking at unfunded liabilities of both their own region and prospective regions to which to move.  That's when the reality that the only way out of this mess will be massive government bankruptcies and a concomitant repudiation of a lot of the unfunded promises  will finally strike home.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Making One's Way in the World

Despite all the legitimately negative news that accosts us every day, there are still current examples of what historically made America great.  Here's one of them.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Glee of the Bureaucrat

A sad tale, made worse by the facts that we're paying for these people and that their numbers and proportions are growing inexorably.  I'm less and less hopeful that enough people will find the words and the courage to speak out to turn this tide...

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Washington Monument Strategy

I didn't realize this had a name, but it explains why every story about government cuts talks about police and firemen.  It's part of the obfuscation that an informed voter has to be able to see through.

(And on the subject of the sequester, voters should also realize that even with the "draconian" cuts it will cause, overall government spending will still go up!)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The "French Way"

This letter from the CEO of Titan International to the French Industry minister sounds about right to me:

"The French workforce gets paid high wages but works only three hours. They get one hour for breaks and lunch, talk for three and work for three," Taylor wrote on February 8 in the letter in English to the minister, Arnaud Montebourg.
"I told this to the French union workers to their faces. They told me that's the French way!"
And his last line is almost out of Atlas:
"Sir, your letter states that you want Titan to start a discussion. How stupid do you think we are?" he wrote. "Titan is the one with the money and the talent to produce tires. What does the crazy union have? It has the French government."

Monday, February 18, 2013

Ayn Rand was Pro-Government

It's a little surprising that this even needs saying, but sadly today it does, and Don Watkins does a very good job of it in this blog post.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Atlas Shrugged Book Club

I've been meaning to re-read Atlas Shrugged for a while now (and indeed am hoping to run a reading group in the not too distant future too), so if time permits I'm going to try to follow along with the Atlantic's new book club.

Monday, February 11, 2013

A Tribute to Lars Hedegaard

This is a very worthwhile tribute from Mark Steyn.  Among other important observations:
As most of you know, Lars was charged, acquitted, re-charged, convicted, fined 5,000 kroner and forced to appeal to the Supreme Court – for the crime of expressing his opinion about Islam. He won, but he lost. He lost three years of his life. The point of these new heresy trials is that the verdict is ultimately irrelevant – the process is the punishment. After I saw off the Islamic enforcers in my own country, their frontman crowed to The Canadian Arab News that, even though the Canadian Islamic Congress had struck out in three separate jurisdictions in their attempt to criminalize my writing, the lawsuits had cost my magazine (he boasted) two million dollars, and thereby "attained our strategic objective—to increase the cost of publishing anti-Islamic material."
I should perhaps mention too, as with most things I post, I don't agree with the opinions carte-blanche.  For example I don't think that Europeans cater to Muslims in order to get their vote, the cause is much deeper and worse, it's the lack of self-esteem (or even actual self-loathing) that many Europeans feel which makes them incapable of standing up for any Western principles.  Muslims just happen to be the barbarians at the gates, if it's not them it will be a self-grown dictator of Hitler/Stalin stripes who will collect their souls.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

A Good Question

I think Tom Bowden raises a good point in this blog post where he examines the (non-)reporting of a disallowed corporate merger.

But here’s what interested me most about the articles. Normally, I would expect reporters to ask how a newsworthy event affects their readership’s values. I expect reporters to ask the questions their readership would want answers to. So, for example, if the big story is a ruptured oil pipeline, I would expect news reports to discuss the expected impact on prices at the pump, or the possibility of supply shortages—problems that would have practical impact on their readers.
Here we have, in effect, a ruptured merger. Is it too much to ask that reporters dig into the facts about what, if anything, was lost when the deal died? Most readers of prominent news outlets have some kind of practical stake in shipping, either as businessmen who need parts and products delivered, or as private individuals who send and receive packages. On behalf of such readers, I would expect reporters to care about whether the merged companies could have provided lower prices, faster deliveries, a wider service area, new ideas in logistics—or, if not, what else explains the efforts behind the aborted acquisition.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Appreciating the Rule of Law

I often think that living under the rule of law, even when the laws aren't perfect, is vastly under-appreciated.  My biggest example is the Roman Empire, where historically 100 million people lived the best lives ever until the 1700's or so.  This story of some Mexican towns "going vigilante"  reminds me again how difficult it is to secure the rule of law (i.e. of how many ways decent people could go wrong in trying to establish an objective system of law) and thus makes me appreciate it from that perspective too.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Appreciating the Positive

This WSJ makes a very good point, despite all our current problems life today is pretty darn good.  Here are the final two paragraphs, but I think the whole piece is worth reading:

Even though the inflation-adjusted hourly wage hasn't changed much in 50 years, it is unlikely that an average American would trade his wages and benefits in 2013—along with access to the most affordable food, appliances, clothing and cars in history, plus today's cornucopia of modern electronic goods—for the same real wages but with much lower fringe benefits in the 1950s or 1970s, along with those era's higher prices, more limited selection, and inferior products.
Despite assertions by progressives who complain about stagnant wages, inequality and the (always) disappearing middle class, middle-class Americans have more buying power than ever before. They live longer lives and have much greater access to the services and consumer products bought by billionaires.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Moving to Avoid State Income Taxes

Several stories are out recently revealing how many high earners move to avoid onerous state taxes.  It makes me happy that in the process they help starve the blood sucking parasites that make up the electorate and governments of our most socialist states (e.g. CA and NY).

This story for example, reveals that Tiger Woods saved about $100 million in CA taxes over a 16 year career.  While this story highlights a potential developing trend of hedge funds and private equity firms leaving NYC to relocate to Palm Beach, Florida.

Another beneficial result is that several states are discussing reducing their income and corporate taxes to become more competitive.  Not only will this make the movement of high income earners  more pronounced -- it might also eventually allow activists in high tax states to successfully promote freedom over tax, spend and regulate. (I know, the latter is probably wishful thinking, the leaders in these states seem to be willing to completely bankrupt their states rather than even consider changing their ways.)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Roe v. Wade 40 Years Later

ARI has two valuable commentaries:  Dr. Peikoff at the Huffington Post, and the first ARI podcast featuring Onkar and Tom Bowden.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Enititlement Programs are not Part of the National Debt

For those willing to engage in the next political tragi-comedy, the debt ceiling negotiations, here's a good WSJ piece laying out some valuable talking points / myth-busters.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Regulating Google

A good blog post on Google's right to charge for and use the property it has created.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Building Businesses

I enjoyed this Forbes story highlighting the Koch brothers ability to build businesses by thinking long-term and willingly taking on calculated risks.  They seem to be very admirable entrepreneurs.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

The Danger of Municipal Bonds

For some reason markets seem to be much more "jerky" than I would have ever guessed from standard economic theory.  I predict that one day in the next three years, the market will suddenly "realize" that's it's been mis-pricing the risk of municipal bond defaults and "haircuts", and the bond market will see a precipitous decline.  This WSJ story lists one of the principal risks that, in my opinion, the market currently isn't really discounting:
The municipal bankruptcy unfolding in Stockton, California is giving investors a bad case of deja vu. Just as the Obama Administration bailed out the United Auto Workers in Chrysler's bankruptcy while hanging bondholders out to dry, the city of Stockton is subordinating its bond debt to worker pensions. But what's really scary is that the Stockton case could be replayed in dozens of California cities.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Soul Searching After a Horror

I think this article is a good example of the positive soul-searching a horrific event can elicit.  Hopefully Indian culture will improve as a result of the recent prominent gang-rape-murder.

I post this as a reminder that we must continue to try to offer positive and constructive analyses as our own cultures worsens, the alternative is to have religious views gain prominence.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

France as the Model

It's nice to see Ayn Rand quoted as the lead in to an editorial, especially when the editorial makes a decent point.

Friday, December 28, 2012

GW, IPCC and the Evidence

Here's a good read on the latest developments on AGW, including this teaser excerpt:
The big question is this: Will the lead authors of the relevant chapter of the forthcoming IPCC scientific report acknowledge that the best observational evidence no longer supports the IPCC's existing 2°-4.5°C "likely" range for climate sensitivity? Unfortunately, this seems unlikely—given the organization's record of replacing evidence-based policy-making with policy-based evidence-making, as well as the reluctance of academic scientists to accept that what they have been maintaining for many years is wrong.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Effect of Taxes on Investment

A good rebuttal of Buffett's political nonsense.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

ARI and Libertarians

The Ayn Rand Institute has published a new Q&A on their view of, and willingness to work with, libertarians.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Entitlements Lead to Personal Impoverishment

I agree with the gist of this well-written editorial.  Welfare recipients et. al. are actually worse off for not having a job, even if they're given an amount of money equal to what they could make working.  This passage summarizes the broader point:
It is a simple fact that the United States is becoming an entitlement state. The problem with this is not just that it is bankrupting the country. It is that the entitlement state is impoverishing the lives of the growing millions dependent on unearned resources.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Maxham on the Spirit of Science

I enjoyed this post on the proper approach to science and how the AGW crowd violates it.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Exit Taxes?

I've been predicting something like what's speculated here for a long time.  My guess though is that the first step will be to ensure that anyone receiving pension or other benefits will have to live in the jurisdiction in question (and therefore be subject to its taxes).

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Appreciating the Rule of Law

It's sad to see the rampant corruption in Mexico, but as this story helps illustrate, some countries, such as Canada, still benefit from a general rule of law.  Let's hope that that's something we can maintain here in the US as well.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Teachers Teach Class Warfare

As low as my estimation is of the California Teachers' Union, this video still amazes me.  Being forced to (indirectly) fund this scum is a reason for me to consider leaving the state.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Defending Energy Producers

Alex Epstein urges producers to take the moral high ground.

Friday, December 07, 2012

NEOS on Immigration Reform

I agree with this, particularly this point:
The STEM Jobs Bill, if enacted, would represent progress only in superficial terms; on net, more people’s rights would be respected to a greater extent. But on principle, there will be no progress. The STEM students would not be viewed as human beings pursuing their own dreams, but as tools for the use of Americans who judge their political success by the standard of annual GDP growth and the support of minority voting blocs in election seasons. They would be statistically, not morally significant. They would be spared deportation and humiliation for the sake of making America richer, not for the sake of being able to lead more fulfilling lives.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Death Spiral States

Besides needing my capital for trading purposes, I've always been reluctant to buy a house in CA because prices seemed too high here, and I thought that they would have to come down due to 1) the rule of thumb of disposable income to housing costs, 2) that the mortgage interest deduction would eventually disappear (after all anyone who has enough money to own their own house must be rich!), 3) the state and its populace seem very intent on vilifying and penalizing businesses in general, hence the economic prospects long term seem pretty poor.  A recent Forbes article adds a fourth reason (though it's not strictly independent of my reason #3): Don’t buy a house in a state where private sector workers are outnumbered by folks dependent on government.

(I should also note that I've been generally wrong about the housing market, so this isn't a recommendation of any kind, just my personal conclusion.)

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

A Revealing Ad from the DOE

My latest at Forbes.  Here's the opening:

Not long ago I heard a shocking radio advertisement from the US Department of Energy and the Ad Council. Convinced that I misheard it, I downloaded the ad from the Ad Council’s website. Here’s my transcription of the opening, including sound effects in brackets { }:
“This is the sound of a brand new outdoor grill being hurled off a 20 storey building {Crash! Bang!}. Now a stylish glass coffee table {Whoosh! Shatter!}. An electric guitar {Boing! Kerplunk!}.
These are the things you could enjoy, all cast into oblivion, because when you throw away money on wasted electricity, you throw away everything you could have bought with it.”
After reading this, you might wonder: “How could this be considered shocking?  Of course money spent on energy is not available for spending on other things.  Indeed, what could be more logical and incontrovertible?”  But if you’ll take a minute to consider both the source and intent of the ad, you might just join me in my consternation.

Read the whole thing.

PS This post's title is the title I'd originally proposed for the article.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Burdened by Solar Power

Even the LA Times is starting to understand that when something's uneconomic, the losses must be borne by someone.

Perhaps even more interesting is the double standard set for productive industries vs. those allowed for political darliings:

Gov. Jerry Brown has vowed to "crush" opponents of solar projects. At the launch of a solar farm near Sacramento, the governor pledged: "It's not easy. There are gonna be screw-ups. There are gonna be bankruptcies. There'll be indictments and there'll be deaths. But we're gonna keep going — and nothing's gonna stop me."
Counties have little say because the state controls planning and licensing of large-scale projects. The California Energy Commission issues the permits for utility-scale solar farms, and counties depend on the commission's staff to look out for their interests.
Of course the reverse has been the case for nuclear power ever since its inception.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Useful Info for Business Owners

An interesting interactive graphic showing the various states' friendliness to small businesses.  I wonder how well this would correlate to net tax transfers federally?  (My completely un-researched guess would be that those states unfriendly to business receive net payments while those friendly pay more than they receive.  Of course given our deficits, it's possible that they all receive more than they contribute, in which case I'd guess that the net transfers would be ranked according to these graphs.)

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Proudly Defending Values

Though it isn't philosophical -- indeed the whole reason Conservatives don't and can't believe their own philosophy is that morally it's based on the evil and unpracticeable doctrine of altruism -- this Bill Whittle address provides  a good common-sense attempt to defend better values.

(PS I know 'unpracticeable' isn't an accepted word, but it seems to capture the idea that I'm after much more accurately that would the word  'impractical'.)

Friday, November 30, 2012

Theocracy in our Future?

As the failures of Leftism and the threat of Islamism grow, I fear that the solution won't be a renewed advocacy of a secular, individual-rights-respecting Republic, but some form of Christian Theocracy.  There are already signs of this, here's one example in Kentucky.
Tom Riner, a Baptist minister and the long-time Democratic state representative, sponsored the law.
 “The church-state divide is not a line I see,” Riner told The New York Times shortly after the law was first challenged in court. “What I do see is an attempt to separate America from its history of perceiving itself as a nation under God.”

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Sweet Irony

Given voter demographics (in this case the vote of college professors), the irony here is too sweet to not at least momentarily savor -- even if Obamacare is a nightmare for all of us.

Effective Dec. 31, Community College of Allegheny County will cut course loads and hours for some 200 adjunct faculty members and 200 additional employees to avoid paying $6 million in Affordable Care Act-related fees in January 2014.
College President Alex Johnson announced the plan in an e-mail to faculty and staff members last week. “As you probably know, the Affordable Care Act has redefined full-time employees as those working 30 hours or more per week,” Johnson wrote. “As a result, the college must adjust hours of some temporary part-time employees and adjuncts to comply with the new legislation’s conception of part-time employment.”
The college is capping adjuncts’ work load at 10 credits per semester, formerly 12. Temporary part-time employees will be limited to 25 hours per week (permanent part-time employees, already eligible for coverage under the college’s health care plan, remain unaffected).
For adjunct faculty, the blow is twofold. It quashes hopes of employer-assisted health insurance while cutting income for those who previously taught a larger course load.
Adjunct English professor Clint Benjamin, who has been teaching at the college for six years, pays out-of-pocket for catastrophic health care coverage only and had vague hopes of improved insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Not only is he now ineligible for such help, but the course load reduction will translate to up to $600 less in pay each month.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Science and Scientific Thinking as Crucial to the Economy

I'm glad to see some Forbes writers tackling the issue of religion vs science and how that affects our everyday life.  It seems to me that too many people are willing to give the GOP's most fervent religionists a pass if they simply advocate some (short term) positive economic policies.  From the article:
Here’s an even more disturbing thought – scientists currently believe that the Earth is about 4.54 billion years old because radioactive substances decay at generally stable rates.  Accordingly, by observing how much of a radioactive substance has decayed, scientists are able to determine how old that substance is. However, if the Earth is only 9,000 years old, then radioactive decay rates are unstable and subject to rapid acceleration under completely unknown circumstances. This poses an enormous danger to the country’s nuclear power plants, which could undergo an unanticipated meltdown at any time due to currently unpredictable circumstances. Likewise, accelerated decay could lead to the detonation of our nuclear weapons, and cause injuries and death to people undergoing radioactive treatments in hospitals. Any of these circumstances would obviously have a large economic impact.
The bottom line is that this economy, at its root, is built on  a web of scientific knowledge from physics to chemistry to biology. It’s impossible to just cherry pick out parts we don’t like. If the Earth is 9,000 years old, then virtually the entire construct of modern science is simply wrong. Not only that, most of the technology that we rely on most likely wouldn’t work – as they’re dependent on science that operates on the same physical laws that demonstrate the age of the universe.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Some Good News on the Healthcare Front

From FIRM's blog.

Monday, November 26, 2012

An Important Preface

Too much of what I read as advice to the GOP on immigration is that they have to cater to immigrants in order to get elected; the underlying message being that though it's wrong, it's necessary.  As a result, I'm all too happy that Jerry Bowyer prefaces his Forbes print article on the subject with the following:

Finally, I add this exhortation to my GOP brethren: If you see your problem with immigrants as merely one of marketing, then you will not succeed. The nativist wing of the party is not just politically inconvenient, it is morally and economically wrong. The point is not to capitulate to political necessity; the point is to have the right policy. The right policy is a growing economy, non-burdensome immigration laws, a welfare system which promotes work, not dependency, and a culture of assimilation, not isolation.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Nihilism in Action

This story of union workers happy to have shut down Hostess is a good example of nihilism in action.  They admit that as a result of their own actions, they no longer have jobs.  Now that's a result they could easily achieve without any union action, but that's not the goal, instead it's to make sure that no one can have those jobs and that the company can't exist.  I don't know any way to fight this attitude but by challenging its intellectual roots AND by morally condemning those who advocate and practice it.
“I think we’re the first ones who have stood up and said, ‘We’re not going to let you get away with it,’” said Sue Tapley, the strike captain on hand Friday morning at the Biddeford plant, which employed nearly 600 people. “You can fight them. You can shut them down.”

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Powell on Immigration

Another good piece on immigration, the first half of the article is definitely worth reading.  A snippet:
Consider that in the decade between 1900 and 1909, a near record 8.2 million immigrants arrived at our shores. About the only immigrants denied entry into the United States were those believed to have a disease or a criminal record. During this decade, the percentage foreign-born people in the population was at an all-time high. According to the Census Bureau’s Historical Statistics of the United States, unemployment got down to 1.7 percent (in 1906) – the lowest recorded peacetime level in U.S. history.
How could this be? Well, when taxes are low, when there are few regulatory obstacles to enterprise, and it’s easy and inexpensive to start a business – entrepreneurs can create productive jobs fast, maintaining low unemployment even when the labor force expands rapidly.
Immigrants themselves create a substantial share of new jobs. Immigrants include the most entrepreneurial part of our population, because they take the very difficult step of leaving their homeland. By coming to America, they demonstrate that they’re open to new things and willing to work hard. The labor force participation rate of recent immigrants is reported as high as 94 percent, about one third higher than the general population.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Even in Opposition the GOP is Pathetic

I agree with the gist of this analysis.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

DeBunking Immigration Myths

The WSJ has a good column out addressing some of the prevalent myths.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Political Repercussions

Following up on a previous post, I think this is a good approach to letting employees understand how political decisions affect business and thereby how those decision affect them personally:

Metz said he will hold meetings at all his restaurants starting in December to discuss the surcharge and to tell employees "that because of Obamacare, we are going to be cutting front-of-the-house employees to under 30 hours, effective immediately."
Metz said he hopes the post-election meetings will inspire employees rather than alienate them. "What we're going to ask them to do is to speak to their elected officials, to try to convey what this means in terms of their jobs and their livelihoods," Metz said.
Metz said he understands the problems that will create not just for his scheduling but for his employees. "I think it's a terrible thing. It's ridiculous that the maximum hours we can give people is 28 hours a week instead of 40," Metz said. "It's going to force my employees to go out and get a second job."

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Look into the Future

Canada's healthcare system is decades ahead of ours, but with Obamacare phasing in, we're making every effort to catch up.  Here's a nice story from the Montreal Gazette, expect to see similar stories here in the not too distant future.

MONTREAL — Surgery wait times for deadly ovarian, cervical and breast cancers in Quebec are three times longer than government benchmarks, leading some desperate patients to shop around for an operating room.
But that’s a waste of time, doctors say, since the problem is spread across Quebec hospitals. And doctors are refusing to accept new patients quickly because they can’t treat them, health advocates say.
A leading Montreal gynecologist said that these days, she cannot look her patients in the eye because the wait times are so shocking. Lack of resources, including nursing staff and budget compressions, are driving a backlog of surgeries while operating rooms stand empty. The latest figures from the provincial government show that over a span of nearly 11 months, 7,780 patients in the Montreal area waited six months or longer for day surgeries, while another 2,957 waited for six months or longer for operations that required hospitalization.

Monday, November 19, 2012

CA's Newest Tax

The editors at the WSJ look at California's new cap-and-trade tax. Here's how they summarize the likely outcome:

This assumes the money ever materializes. A study for the California Manufacturers & Technology Association this year estimates the new law will cost state and local governments between $21 billion and $39 billion in revenue due to job losses in the hundreds of thousands and 5.6% slower economic growth by 2020. California has lost about a third of its industrial base over the last decade.
This is the same policy that President Obama wanted to impose at the national level before West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin literally put a bullet in it. Cap and tax has been sold as a way to end global warming, which it has no chance of doing. As California shows, its real purpose is to subject even more of the private economy to political direction and grab more revenue to spend.

In another piece they also surmise that the timing of the lawsuit against the law, filed by the CA Chamber of Commerce was the result of failed political gamesmanship:

The lawsuit claims that by raising revenues, the air resources board is imposing a tax, which only the legislature can do—and only with a supermajority vote. Yet why did the Chamber of Commerce wait until after the election and one day before the first auction to sue? The air resources board announced the auctions nearly two years ago and adopted their final framework last November.
Businesses have been lobbying Sacramento fiercely to drop the auctions all year. Maybe they hoped the governor would intercede on their behalf after the election if they supported his tax campaign—or that the $6 billion annual tax hike would satisfy liberals' desire for more revenues. If so, they were mistaken.
If that's the case, I hope those on the Chamber of Commerce begin to realize that principled action -- e.g. defending the individual's absolute right to produce -- would not only be the moral course, in the long run it would also be the most effective.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Immigration in the Heartland

Here's a good take on immigration.  And the story he references in the WSJ suggests latino immigration is following the pattern that every previous ethnicity or nationality did before it.  (But imagine how much faster and easier this would happen were we live in a freer, less regulated and less entitled, society.)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Creating a Vigorous Debate - Not

Future of Capitalism highlights an interesting factoid about academia.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Confronting the Myth that Deregulation Caused the Financial Crisis

In a recent Forbes column, Brooks and Watkins show that the partial repeal of Glass Steagall was not the cause of the 2008 financial crisis.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Consistency in the Practice of Religion

Many people argue that Islam is a religion different than any other in terms of its political and worldly aspirations.  In my opinion this is not true.  While there may be some secondary or tertiary level differences between religions in this regard, the primary danger and commonality of all monotheistic creeds are the reliance on faith and the attributing of the Good to whatever some ineffable being decrees.  Those set the method and goal, and eventually dictate that believers attempt to enact the God's will on Earth. Everything else is details.

That said, there is a marked difference between modern day Christians and Muslims.  The majority of the latter take their religion seriously and practice it consistently, while the majority of the former hold a contradictory sets of views: faith mixed with its antithesis, reason (a respect for which marked the glorious Enlightenment).

Unfortunately, as the Enlightenment fades further from the scene, Christians are beginning to practice the more unadulterated version of their religion, with predictable results.  See for instance the literal 6,000-years-since-Creation-believing evangelicals.  Or the prominent public comments on rape and abortion by various Republican candidates.  Or the recent blasphemy ruling in Poland.

Expect a continued devolution to a consistent faith-based practice of Christianity if no one rises to ably defend a secular, pro-reason worldview.  (Obviously I think Ayn Rand has given us one and admirably defended it, but it remains to be seen if enough voices will emerge to use her ideas to substantially influence the culture.)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Results of Catering to "Need" as Altruism Requires

Though not universal, the types of observations this physician makes are a real indictment of our whole altruistic system.  I'm guessing all of us can think of way too many personal examples which make these observations credible.

(As a philosophical aside, one of the main goals of egalitarianism is to ensure that those furnishing other's needs can't and don't judge them.  Were emergency rooms left to private charity, you can bet that the type of  scum described in the doctor's observations would receive no, or very limited, voluntary help.)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Brother You Asked For It

The WSJ summarizes some of the potential  new problems that California may add to its existing ones now that it has elected a Democratic super majority.  They end the article with the only silver-lining that I can see:
The silver lining here is that Americans will be able to see the modern liberal-union state in all its raw ambition. The Sacramento political class thinks it can tax and regulate the private economy endlessly without consequence. As a political experiment it all should be instructive, and at least Californians can still escape to Nevada or Idaho.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Does Immigration Threaten Our Culture?

I have my second column up at Forbes.  In it I tackle the question: "Does immigration threaten our culture?"  I'm pretty happy with it, so please feel free to share and/or comment as convenient and appropriate.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Realities of Running a Business

Given that public schools go out of their way to avoid the subject, it becomes necessary for business owners to explain the realities of business to employees.  I think more could be done in this vein, and well before it comes to laying people off.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Hoenig on Immigration

I enjoyed this piece (from 2010 but still relevant).

Friday, November 09, 2012

Targeting the Productive in CA

With Prop 30 passing in California, the new top marginal state tax rate goes up to 13.3% (on incomes above $500,000).  The tax was sold as primarily affecting the top 1% and is projected to cost those taxpayers an additional $21,883 per year.  Overall the new sales and income taxes are supposed to generate $6 billion per year.  My guess is that the new taxes will prompt enough people to leave the state and/or prevent newcomers from coming that on balance the state will actually end up with lower tax revenues.  (Those who leave not only don't pay the new incremental sales and income taxes, but they also don't contribute what they had been up to now.   Moreover the types of people targeted by the income tax are those who start and run businesses, so their employees will also no longer be part of the tax base.)

I sincerely hope this is the case, because I'd like nothing more than that the blood-sucking public union workers and teachers quickly bankrupt the state and thereby provide an object lesson to everyone in the country.

I should also note that my prediction only holds for 2013 and onward; the bastards actually imposed a retroactive tax (which in my opinion should be illegal) for 2012 which no one could have planned for.

Salon has a totally different take on the outcome of the CA election (not specifically prop 30), I think it's worth reading to see the mentality we're up against.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Profits in Medicine

Amesh Adalja has a good article out in which he defends profits in medicine.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Ayn Rand for Liberals

Onkar was published in the Huffington Post earlier this week.  Here's his opening:

It's no secret that the right is awash in Ayn Rand. Tea Partiers carry signs like "Who is John Galt?" and, astonishing for a novel published 55 years ago, sales of Atlas Shrugged topped 445,000 last year.
All of this has prompted researchers like Yale historian Beverly Gage to wonder, "Why is there no liberal Ayn Rand?" Good question. Liberals today, Gage observes, have no long-term goals or vision, no big ideas, no canon.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Investment Analysis

I agree with the analysis in this article, both to the specifics of local daily deal sites and to the wider points made.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Doctor takes out Political Ad Panning Obamacare

Though I don't think too much of the actual letter/advertisement, it's nice to see victims of socialization attempt to stand up for themselves.  (In my opinion the letter concedes all the crucial issues and just focuses on what amounts to a poor implementation of an otherwise good idea.)

Sunday, November 04, 2012

A Silver Lining?

Over the past few decades we've seen a steady but precipitous decline in the standards and objectivity of the mainstream lapdog media -- and a concomitant waning of its influence on regular Americans.  If there's only one good thing that comes out of the scandalous tragedy of Benghazi, I hope it's the sounding of the death knell for this corrupt media.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Obama vs Rand

A good column at Forbes discussing the contrast.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Germany's Wind Power Could Cause Blackouts

Interesting though of course critics have pointed out this problem for decades.  But who can argue with the religion of environmentalism and the power of government subsidies.  On this latter, an interesting tidbit from Texas:
Wind farms in West Texas earlier this year were paying utilities to use their electricity on particularly gusty days because they can still earn $22 a megawatt-hour in federal tax credits.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

The EPA Goes After Cities

In case cities and municipalities didn't have enough costs with all their overspending on public service pensions and benefits, the EPA is unilaterally adding to their burdens.  I wonder how many additional bankruptcies we'll see as a result?

(My fantasy is that by first seeing the burden it puts on government, people will eventually connect that to the enormous harm agencies like the EPA do to individuals.  And as a result a movement will emerge to abolish the EPA and its kin.  I can dream, can't I?)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

History of Progressivism

Worth a read I think, though to my knowledge, progressivism started in the 1890's not in 1913 under Woodrow Wilson.  (Indeed it's among the reasons I consider Teddy Roosevelt to be perhaps our worst president ever.)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The President's Role

My first column is now out at Forbes.  In it I argue that over the past century we as a populace have unduly elevated the role of the  president in American life, and that this poses a danger which the Founders had tried to stave off.

Here's the opening:
For months now (and seemingly longer) everyone’s attention has been on the presidential election.  Inundated with primaries, polls  and debates, the public at large is fixated on whether their candidate will win and what that will do for them.  At its most crass, it comes down to electing a candidate who gives away “free phones”.  At its most grandiose, as expressed in a ubiquitous Newsmax banner ad, it’s the question: “Who can save America, Obama or Romney?”
Viewing the election this way says much about contemporary attitudes, common to Democrats and Republicans alike.  It suggests that we as a populace see the president as a potential savior, someone to whom we can turn over our burdens, who can magically make the world right.
Historically and globally it’s a common attitude, but in this most uncommon of all nations, it’s a scary aberration.
Please read the whole thing

Monday, October 29, 2012

Get Some Value for your Tax Dollars

Though I haven't yet used this resource, I've heard that the language teachings for the foreign service are quite good.  They're now available online for free (i.e. no additional cost beyond the taxes already spent on them).

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Education is Key

Ultimately, the only way to impart political change is through education.  This article provides some concrete data on the subject, which I think should spur activists on.  As a teaser:

This pattern held true with other facts. The U.S. national debt today exceeds $16 trillion, a fact one can confirm at the White House’s Office of Management and Budget or the U.S. National Debt Clock. Those who correctly identified this statement as true support Gov. Romney over President Obama 53-35, and those who thought it was false support President Obama 63-27. These findings confirm a 2010 study by Douglas Schoen for IWV of Independent voters nationally which showed a consistent relationship between those who correctly answered basic economic questions and support for limited government and free markets.
Most interestingly, IWV’s latest research suggests that there isn’t just a correlation between one’s knowledge of economic facts and policy preferences, but that educating someone about those key facts can lead them to re-evaluate their support.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Hard to Believe that Obama Still has a Hope of Being Re-Elected

More on Behghazi from Larry Bell and Mark Steyn.  But on the positive side, at least Obama's fanboy mission in Vegas went well.

Fewer Religious in the US?

This story, citing a Pew study, makes the welcome claim that religion in America is waning.

As an addendum, I've often wondered what one could say about the historical impact of religion in hampering economic and intellectual development, and thereby promoting or enabling a class-divided society.  My biggest data point was the relative rise of North America vs. South America, despite the latter having many initial advantages in wealth and resources. (Christianity was hammered into the South Americans, but thanks to men like Jefferson and Madison that wasn't really the case in the US.)  Nonetheless, there was a push in America to make slaves religious, and it seems to have seeped into the black culture as this data point might suggest:
A new study released on Tuesday by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that it was not just liberal mainline Protestants, like Methodists or Episcopalians, who abandoned their faith, but also more conservative evangelical and “born again” Protestants. The losses were among white Protestants, but not among black or minority Protestants, the study found, based on surveys conducted during the summer. (my emphasis)
(Please note that I'm not denying that the choice of accepting religion or not is a matter of an individual's free will, it's just that in certain cultures many never come across the arguments or develop the thinking tools necessary to  make an educated choice in the matter.   In those cases the trend and the concerted push by the cultural authorities will generally hold sway.)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Would that Rand were Part of the Debate

Don Watkins and Yaron Brook have a good piece out at Forbes outlining how Rand's views contrast with those of the current paradigm.  One small criticism though, while I agree that Romney and Ryan are (much?) better than Obama and Biden, I'm not so sure that the right as a whole is better than the left as a whole. Hence I don't agree with siding with the right against the left as they do in their final paragraph.  (If I've misunderstood either their point or the whole right vs. left issue, corrections and criticisms are welcome, though please try to keep them polite and on point.)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Politicized "Science"

A good article summarizing new temperature data which further suggests that the threat of out-of-control AGW is a fraud.  And while science can be used to combat these frauds on a piecemeal basis, only challenging the underlying philosophy will have wholesale effects (i.e. will stop new variants from popping up ad infinitum.)  Such a challenge would include fighting for privatizing science, I might add.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Arguments Against the Freedom of Speech

For those wishing to defend free speech, this article has a good summary of some of the types of arguments you must be prepared to defend against.  (And remember that if the right to free speech is lost, as is slowly happening around the world, there is only one alternate method to resolve conflicts: brute force.)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Capitalism vs. Socialism Debate

Though I haven't watched the video of this 1984 debate between Drs. Peikoff and Ridpath (representing capitalism) and Drs. Vickers and Caplan (socialism) in decades, I remember it as a tour de force from Dr. Peikoff. You wouldn't know it by the outcome, but the defenders of socialism were credible figures, not hacks. Highly recommended! (The link is to part 1, the subsequent parts are found on the sidebar to the video.)

Monday, October 22, 2012

We Fight

Though it doesn't get too deeply into the content of freedom, I like this video for its production values and its general "sense of life".

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Best Seller

Congratulations to John Allison for having his new book hit the best sellers list.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Obamacare Restrictions

More effects of Obamacare (AARP I hope you're happy).  The real lesson is that unless the people who earn the money decide how to spend it (as occurs in, and only in, a free market) there is no correct or just solution.