Sunday, October 31, 2010

LTE: Voting for Freedom

OActivist Susie Lider had this excellent LTE published in her local paper. I think these are the types of letters that can accumulate to have a very strong and positive long term impact on politics and the culture. So thanks, and congrats, Ms. Lider!

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Sewing Machine War

Congrats to Adam Mossoff for being so prominently featured in this WSJ article on patents.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Subsidies Encourage Losses

I've never understood why people think it's a good idea to subsidize uneconomic activity in the name of economics (e.g "we just have to give them enough money so that they can get over the hump"). This is always the result.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

IJ on Regulation's Effects

The Institute for Justice has a good editorial out in Usatoday showing some of the specific ways in which busy-body regulators impede economic activity. In each case, regulators are violating the rights of producers and the result is impoverishment and a killing of the American spirit. Let's hope we can soon end the regulator's reign.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Undercurrrent's Blog

Since publishing their latest print edition, the Undercurrent's staff has been quite active blogging. Here's one on prohibition which includes this memorable line:
Since anything is permitted outside the law, the blackest criminal wins in a black market
Be sure to peruse the whole set of articles.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

O'Donnell's Latest

As much as I'm in favor of the general sentiment behind the Tea Party movement, there's a real danger that it acts in completely knee jerk ways, i.e. giving way to sentiment, anti-incumbency and anti-"elitism". Such actions have no positive component, they're not motivated by a positive view of the good, and as a result they can end up in the endorsement of people like Christine O'Donnell.

Here's one telling story about her. Not only is she vehemently against the separation of Church and State, she's completely (and I mean completely) ignorant of its history and meaning.
Local schools do not have the right to teach what they feel?" O'Donnell said. "Talk about imposing your beliefs on the local schools."

When O'Donnell cited "indispensable principles" of the Founding Fathers in her criticism of an overreaching federal government, Coons interrupted her to say, "One of those indispensable principles is the separation of church and state."

"Where in the Constitution is the separation of church and state?" O'Donnell asked, a statement that drew laughter from the audience. When Coons returned to the topic a few minutes later, he said her comment "reveals her fundamental misunderstanding of what our Constitution is."

"The First Amendment establishes the separation, the fact that the federal government shall not establish religion," Coons said.

"The First Amendment does?" O'Donnell interrupted. "You're telling me that the separation of church and state is found in the First Amendment?"

When Coons summarized the amendment as saying government shall make no law establishing religion, O'Donnell interrupted again: "That's in the First Amendment?"

Her comments, in a debate aired on radio station WDEL, generated a buzz in the audience.

"You actually audibly heard the crowd gasp," Widener University political scientist Wesley Leckrone said after the debate, adding that it raised questions about O'Donnell's grasp of the Constitution.
(As an aside, the lack of positives is one reason that I'm also so against the libertarians, a point I alluded to in my most recent editorial.)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Business Man Stands Up to the President

This is a great editorial, but imagine how much better it would be if Mr. Langone added the moral dimension. Instead he ends by essentially conceding the altruist premise -- a premise which ultimately underlies and explains all of the welfare state's gains over the last century.

Here's the editorial's byline which I think is perfect:
If we tried to start The Home Depot today, it's a stone cold certainty that it would never have gotten off the ground.
And here's my favorite section:
If we tried to start Home Depot today, under the kind of onerous regulatory controls that you have advocated, it's a stone cold certainty that our business would never get off the ground, much less thrive. Rules against providing stock options would have prevented us from incentivizing worthy employees in the start-up phase—never mind the incredibly high cost of regulatory compliance overall and mandatory health insurance. Still worse are the ever-rapacious trial lawyers.

Meantime, you seem obsessed with repealing tax cuts for "millionaires and billionaires." Contrary to what you might assume, I didn't start with any advantages and neither did most of the successful people I know. I am the grandson of immigrants who came to this country seeking basic economic and personal liberty. My parents worked tirelessly to build on that opportunity. My first job was as a day laborer on the construction of the Long Island Expressway more than 50 years ago. The wealth that was created by my investments wasn't put into a giant swimming pool as so many elected demagogues seem to imagine. Instead it benefitted our employees, their families and our community at large.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

American Thinker on Free Speech

I thought this post was a very succinct and well-written analysis of why publishers must not give in to Islamists' threats against free speech

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sell Assets to Pay Off Our Debt

As long as it's accompanied by spending cuts (i.e. a return to a properly limited government), I'm in favor of this plan to eliminate the deficit.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Supporting Stephen Bailey

For anyone who’s ever thought: “I would become politically active if only there were a candidate worth supporting”, I’d strongly suggest you investigate Stephen Bailey’s platform and candidacy.

In my opinion, were he to win his race it would be a very big deal for all Americans, not just his constituents, since he would be able to inject good ideas into the debates in congress. But even were he to lose, any broad grassroots support will give future potential candidates more reason to think that their candidacy has a real chance to succeed. Plus Bailey’s current race is an opportunity to bring good principles into the political domain for the first time in a long, long time. Support can be in the form of volunteering, campaign contributions, writing, or any combination of the above. (I personally chose to contribute to his campaign.)

At Some Point, the Only Moral Choice is to Resign

This resignation letter, by a respected member of the American Physical Society, is another example showing why State and Science must be kept separate. A small excerpt, but read the whole thing:
3. In the interim the ClimateGate scandal broke into the news, and the machinations of the principal alarmists were revealed to the world. It was a fraud on a scale I have never seen, and I lack the words to describe its enormity. Effect on the APS position: none. None at all. This is not science; other forces are at work.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fed Causing Another Boom

I'm back from a great vacation in Paris, and will now be posting regularly as I get caught up. Here's the first item that caught my attention, it's another little piece of evidence for why I think there will be some forthcoming opportunities for short-sellers like me.
The market for high-yield securities, as junk bonds are more politely known in the business, is booming as never before. And Mr. Casey, one of today’s junk-bond kings, is in the midst of a run unlike anything Mr. Milken saw from his X-shaped trading desk in Beverly Hills.

Like many blue-chip corporations, companies with less-than-sterling credit are rushing to sell bonds and take advantage of low interest rates. In the first nine months of this year, a record-breaking $275 billion of junk bonds have been issued worldwide, up from $163 billion during the period last year, according to the financial data provider Dealogic, a research company.

“Other than 1988 at Drexel, this is the best time I’ve ever seen, and it’s getting better,” said Mr. Casey, who worked at Drexel Burnham Lambert with Mr. Milken and now runs the junk-bond business at JPMorgan Chase. “In high-yield, it’s undeniable that these are the best years that anyone has seen in their career.”
Of course this is only possible because the Fed is pumping money into the system at a crazy rate, depressing yields and making otherwise marginal firms look like viable investments. We all know how that ends, though the trick of course is in the timing.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Ayn Rand, Values and the Defense of Freedom

My latest editorial, Values and the Defense of Freedom, is now available at PJM. Please feel free to stop by and comment.

Friday, October 08, 2010

The Stock Market and Price Controls

Another excellent piece by Jonathan Hoenig. You'd think we could do better than Pakistan, but we won't if we keep ceding more power to regulators.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

America is Based on Individual Rights

Charlotte Cushman has a nice piece out at the American Thinker on individual rights and America. I'll have some additional thoughts on how the issue of values ties in to this in an upcoming editorial.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Stephen Bailey for Congress

An interview worth listening to. I thought Bailey warmed up as the interview proceeded.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Bank Failures Graphically

This is a nice animation showing recent bank failures.