Saturday, October 10, 2009

Catching Up

I'm way behind on my reading and blogging and will be gone on a hiking trip next week, but I did want to post a few important links for those of you who haven't seen them yet. (I assume most readers here are regular NoodleFood readers, but since I know a few aren't I'll post some of the highlights along with an encouragement to become regular NF readers.)

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Paul Hsieh has been on a productive tear, with two Op-Eds out, one in the Christian Science Monitor "Health care in Massachusetts: A warning for America" and one in the Denver Post "The Real Stakes". Thanks and congrats to Paul for all his hard work and success.

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Freedom of speech is under attack in many ways. Here's a scary story of what happened to Dan Edge when he tried to lead a respectful and lawful protest against a curfew law in Greenville. (The comments to this post are also worth reading.)

Here's an example of the government telling private enterprise what they can and can't say (hint: disagreeing with the administration's viewpoint is on the prohibited list). It's worth reprinting the government's language in this matter:
CMS is concerned that, among other things, this information is misleading and confusing to beneficiaries, represents information to beneficiaries as official communications about the Medicare Advantage program, and is potentially contrary to federal regulations and guidance for the MA and Part D programs and other federal law, including HIPAA. As we continue our research into this issue, we are instructing you to end immediately all such mailings to beneficiaries and to remove any related materials directed to Medicare enrollees from your website.

Please be advised that we take this matter very seriously and, based upon the findings of our investigation, will pursue compliance and enforcement actions.
And here's a report on the FTC's new guidelines forcing bloggers to disclose any material connections to products they may discuss, review or endorse. The "guidelines" are necessarily and purposefully non-objective so that bureaucrats will have to weigh each instance on a case-by-case basis.

I don't think it's hyperbole to start wondering when we'll have a Speech Czar and when we do, that may mean the end of any peaceful and rational disagreement -- so speak up as forcefully and often as you can to help ensure that we can continue to argue for a better society.

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Diana Hsieh has started a great new project (on top of her podcasting) . She's developed materials to help lead Atlas Shrugged reading groups. There are currently three such groups on-going in Colorado and she's generously made the material available to others who might want to follow suit. (BTW if anyone in the coastal Orange County, CA area wanted to start a group, I'd try to attend.)

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Gus Van Horn brings us an inspiring story of a young entrepreneur in Malawi. Now imagine what that type of person could accomplish in a capitalist society.

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The Financial Post has a good article on the causes of the financial crisis and the dangers of increased regulation. I liked this section (emphasis added) as well as those explaining how regulation forces homogeneity and therefore susceptibility to the same risks:

IT IS A FUNDAMENTAL misunderstanding that the market is rational and at some sort of equilibrium, where all information and wisdom are incorporated in decisions. Neoclassical economic models filled with unrealistic assumptions about humans and the economy should always have warning stickers attached to them. The market is nothing other than all the millions of decisions that we all take as we produce, act and invest -- and the tiniest bit of introspection is enough to realize that we do not behave like the textbook models. Since finding lots of information before acting takes time and costs money, we often go with our gut, following rules of thumb and copying what others have already done. That is why the market has a herd instinct. When others seem to be successful at something and get rich on it, you follow suit. After a while, the hollowness of the enthusiasm becomes apparent, and then it often changes into overblown fear that soon ushers in recession.

A key lesson to be drawn from such events, however, is that borrowers, lenders, bankers and brokers are not the only ones to be affected. Politicians, bureaucrats and central bankers are at least as likely to succumb to the herd instinct -- and they have special power. If you act in a different way from what they have approved, they may take your money or even send you off to jail. This gives them the ability to head the march of the lemmings and set its pace.

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