Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Just Give Consumers What They Want

Atlas Blogged points to a nice article on the future of DRM and old school media companies.

The music, movie and publishing industries do not deserve to survive if their only way to remain viable is to undermine copyright law and replace it with restrictive contracts backed by harsh penalties for breaking the inevitably flawed DRM they wrap around their products. Others will take their place, and I cannot see that this is a bad thing.
How many times do media companies have to spend millions of dollars on a DRM technology only to see it hacked in a matter of days before they simply give up?

It appears to me that it would be more productive to make money by providing users with what they want rather than forcing them to buy what you want.

Or to put it another way - consumers want digital music that they can use anywhere and anyway they want. On their computer, in their car, on their MP3 player, or on their home stereo. Find a revenue model that allows you to provide media in this fashion and you will blow the socks off Sony, Apple, Microsoft and all the rest of the companies that want to make consuming media difficult.

Not only will such a company become an immediate market leader, they will force all of the other companies to follow suit very quickly and you will see pirated content all but disappear.

Most consumers that I know don't find paying for content, they just don't like paying for content that is handicapped. As soon as traditional media companies understand this point, the tired game of copyright lawsuits will become a thing of the past.

Censorship is Bad, MmmKay?

In the past I have defended Google, Microsoft and others for complying with Chinese censorship laws, but never let it be said that I have defended China's right to censor.

I don't think we should be using different standards to judge China. In China, we don't have software blocking Internet sites. Sometimes we have trouble accessing them. But that's a different problem. I know that some colleagues listen to the BBC in their offices from the Webcast. And I've heard people say that the BBC is not available in China or that it's blocked. I'm sure I don't know why people say this kind of thing. We do not have restrictions at all.
Is this the case of a bureaucrat having no idea what it is his country does or does he really think he is going to fool someone?

China's policy of trying to stop sites is counterproductive and ill-conceived. Chinese citizens that want to find out about Tienanmen will do so, by trying to stop them the government is only confirming that they are trying to control their constituents.

I'm optimistic that this practice is going to be short-lived. Unfortunately, I do not have any evidence for this Pollyanna view.

You Can Trust Me, I Swear

Perhaps I was too quick in calling UN control of the Internet the worst idea of the decade.

The US defence department has set up a new unit to better promote its message across 24-hour rolling news outlets, and particularly on the internet.

The Pentagon said the move would boost its ability to counter "inaccurate" news stories and exploit new media.
Even if well intentioned this is a colossally bad idea. If news media aren't going to be carefull enough to fact check their stories, what is the likelihood that they will correct them via Pentagon sources?

This is going to be seen, whether right or wrong, as an attempt by the US government to spread propaganda. The government should recognize this and just let it go. They would have better luck stemming bad press by avoiding interference where they weren't wanted.

Yet another waste of tax payer dollars for little, if any, gain.

Tags: , ,

And the Worst Idea Of The Decade Is

At a conference in Greece aimed at continuing the discussion over who should control the Internet, the United Nations once again renewed calls for diminishing the U.S. government's influence over ICANN.

I don't get it. Why would they want to change control of the Internet? I have a long laundry list of complaints about the US, but they have left the Internet alone. Why would you change that and give it to the same organization that lets Libya chair the Human Rights Commission?

Seriously. One could make an argument that ICANN should be 100% independent, but I don't think that is feasible. Once there isn't a government to place a watchful eye on the organization you might as well give control to the UN because all sorts of special interests would start exerting pressure.

I'm not a huge fan of cheesy axioms, but I think this time its appropriate. If it's not broke, don't fix it.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Quick Hits

Life is still keeping me very busy; I had intended to blog about some libertarian cautionary tales, but other sites have beaten me to the punch.

When government runs what should be a private business, eventually you will dislike the results. Unfortunately, by then it is simply too late.


Campaign finance laws were intended to prevent Big Money from owning politics. In reality, they just ensured that Big Money were the only players.

Offending People With Style

Talking about free speech...

If you are going to offend people, you might as well do it unapologetically.
Responding to complaints about a recent South Park episode, Comedy Central

... defended the episode, saying that fans have come to expect such things from the series, and that this is neither the first nor the last time people will be offended by the show.

In other words, "Get over it, Biatch!"

I wish more media companies would respond the same way when faced with criticisms.

Freedom to Offend

Why don't people understand that the freedom of speech includes the freedom to say offensive things?

Racist blogs targeting minority groups in Australia are springing up on the web, but Google's Blogger, the service some are hosted on, refuses to take them offline, says an anti racism lobby group.

"I think what Google intends is not to restrict people's freedom of speech," Mr Stokes said.

"But we're talking about bashing up brown people and defaming them. This isn't politics, this is terrorism."

Actually, I think its called prior restraint. I mean, if you can only say things that don't offend anyone you really don't need a right to defend that freedom do you?

There are limits to free speech, but it isn't really related to the words that are said but how they are said. If your words are going to cause immediate harm (and not the hurt-my-feelings kind of harm) then you can be accountable for the consequences of your speech.

But notice that there must be consequences before you can be accountable - these blogs don't seem to qualify.

Let these bigots speak their mind so that everyone knows they are bigots and can be marginalized publicly. If you push them underground their hatred will only fester until it evolves into real action - and that would truly be a crime.

Friday, October 27, 2006

X-Prize For Politicians

I've been tossing this idea around in my head for some time now - I think that it is really exciting that a private individual is implementing it rather than a government body.

Each year the winning leader will, at the end of his term, get $5m (£2.7m) over 10 years and $200,000 (£107,000) each year for life thereafter. "We need to remove corruption and improve governance," Mr Ibrahim said.
...The Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership will be launched in London on Thursday... It will be available only to a president who democratically transfers power to his successor. Harvard University will do the measuring to see just how well the president has served his or her people during their term in office.

I agree with Tyler that the amount is probably a bit small, but there is nothing stopping other entrepreneurs from jumping on board to up the ante. In fact, if the program shows promise I would be surprised if that didn't happen.

The only problem with this approach is that it can be used for good just as well as it can be used for bad. Imagine a scenario where an entrepreneur rewards a leader for attempting to implement Communism, Socialism, protectionism or other such nonsense. You would end up with a situation where billionaires with money to burn would be completing against each other in order to get pet philosophies implemented. The devil, as they say, is in the details.

For the time being I'll be optimistic and hope that this is able to help Africa turn the corner.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

This Is Why I Mumble

When people ask me about my political affiliation.

How can anyone really take Libertarians seriously when people like this are representing the classical liberal philosophy?

HatTip: Out of Control

Poor Governance Is Not a Republican Quality

Liberals, these days, are all chanting the same refrain: "If Democrats were in power x would have been better." Where x is Katrina, the War in Iraq, the FDA, gas prices, whatever. You don't have to look hard to find examples of Democratic negligence in the not-so-distant past.

[I]n 1992, the federal Public Health Service (PHS) recommended [that] all women of childbearing age consume 0.4mg of folic acid daily. The PHS estimated this could lead to a reduction in spina bifida, a crippling birth defect that partially exposes the infant’s spinal cord through a hole in the backbone, of about 50 percent (i.e., about 1,250 cases per year).

However, the FDA would not let producers of foods rich in folic acid (oranges, leafy green vegetables, etc.) inform expectant mothers of this preventive medicine until 1996. From PHS estimates, it may be reasonably postulated that the FDA’s four-year suppression of this health claim caused as many as 5,000 infants to be unnecessarily stricken with spina bifida.
When government has power to make all of our decisions for us, those decisions are likely to be driven by partisan concerns rather than efficacy concerns.

Everyone seems to be rooting for Democrats this November, just don't fool yourself into thinking that anything is going to change.

Ignorance Is No Excuse

Are people really so ignorant that they honestly believe that Castro is a good man? Or is this just anti-Americanism gone awry?

Capla Kesting Fine Art announces that an unveiling in Central Park of Fidel Castro on his "deathbed" may be the last opportunity to say "farewell" to the man some revere as a champion of civil rights. "Fidel Castro's Deathbed Portrait," described as a colossal portrait of a solemn Castro at rest, will be unveiled at 10:00 am November 8th, just north of the monument for Cuban poet, Jose Marti.

Let's put this into perspective. Castro is a man that:
Has executed thousands of political dissidents.
Not only spies on its citizens, but pays other citizens to spy on their neighbors.
Prohibits freedom of speech.
Outlaws freedom of the press.
Prevents the free movement of people.
Limits the free exercise of religion.

Which civil rights has Castro been a champion of? These people should be ashamed of themselves.

HatTip: Cato@Liberty

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Stop! It's Budget Time

For many managers across the country, now is simply the worst time of year. It's when they start working on budgets for 2007. Nobody thinks about it much, but this 30 day window (or so) probably has more effect on productivity and economic growth than any other single factor.

I'd also say that it is a process that few (if any) economists really talk about. A simple example should illustrate my point as well as illuminate why businesses operate more efficiently than government.

How a manager determines his budget:
  1. Analyze the previous year's budget.
  2. Modify expenses based on changes in business practices - changes in headcount, maintenance costs, inflation, etc.
  3. Brainstorm all of the projects that you would like to complete for the entire following year.
  4. Work with several vendors for each project to determine likely costs associated with project completion.
  5. Complete Return on Investment and Total Cost of Ownership analysis on all proposed projects..
  6. Throw out all of the ones that don't pay for themselves in a reasonable amount of time.
  7. Show the proposed budget to your boss who tells you to cut 10%.
  8. Cut corners, make some dificult decisions, put off some projects until the following year.
  9. After showing the budget to your boss, he tells you that Marketing wants to do X, so you will have to budget for Y - and you aren't getting any more money to do it.
  10. You make all the changes, miraculously finding enough corners to cut to make it all work.
  11. Wait for the executive committee to approve all budgets - getting yours back 10% smaller than it was just a couple days ago.
How a government manager determines his budget:
  1. Sit back and have a glass of champagne - your 5% uplift was built into the legislation that created your department.
So, while businesses are fighting to fit larger pieces of pie into smaller slices, government is content with getting bigger and bigger all the time. I think this is also part of the reason that business people tend to be sympathetic to small government ideals (I almost said Republican - oops), they know that it is possible to do more with less because they do it every day.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Keep The Bits a' Flowin'

Dave Hoffman sees a connection between bits of bytes and bits of water.

Perhaps the analogy is facile, but is there a meaningful connection between the economics of water and information? The reason that the analogy occurs to me is that both goods the real cost is access, not consumption. Obviously, there are some important differences too (information isn't life, whatever Neal Stephenson thinks, etc.) But it might be that the lessons from the partial commodification of water in the last thirty years, and the positive consequences of regulation, could inform our experiences with informational regulation as well.
I think the lesson is simple - when consumers get to consume for free, they over use it, leading to shortages. Whether the consumption is water or data should be irrelevant, the same lessons apply.

Everytime I here some pundit or activist say "Well, this time its different" I roll my eyes and think back to all of those other times they said "this time its different" and were wrong.

As much as we would like to provide free water for everyone and Internet for all, wishing it so just doesn't conform with reality.

Counting Hate Crimes

How, exactly, do you keep track of which crimes are hate-crimes and which ones aren't?

America’s Jews were the victims of 68.5% of 2005’s religiously motivated hate-crimes. Even though there are a lot less of us than there are Muslims, we incurred almost 7x more hate-crimes than America’s Muslim population in 2005. I am expecting CAIR to send every Jew in America a sympathy card in the very near future.

Part of me suspects that much of the difference resides in the fact that Jews are more likely to be upper class and therefore have better lawyers.

Of course, that could just be the anti-Semite in me talking.

David v. Goliath

Radley Balko points out a potential consequence of the new, stupid, unproductive anti-internet gambling law:
There's no appetite for slapping trade sanctions on US goods; that would hurt Antiguan companies and consumers far more than Americans. Instead, the country may refuse to enforce American patents and trademarks. This would make it possible for Antiguan-based companies to produce knock-offs of American intellectual property, like video and music recordings or computer software. Such a tactic would get the attention of major US firms like Microsoft Corp. and entertainment titan Time Warner Inc. It would also put tiny Antigua's trade war against the United States on front pages around the world.
How cool would it be for itty bitty Antigua to challenge the US and win? As the world becomes more and more connected and the long tail gets longer and longer it is certainly possible that countries that specialize in certain types of commerce could gain power that outstrips their relative size.

I wonder if poor third world nations could use this approach to get the US and Europe to drop their unfair agricultural subsidies? I guess they would have to start caring about the conditions for their poor first - but I'm guess it would work.

Honesty In Numbers

The FASAB wants politicians to fess up how much our entitlements are really costing us. Not a bad idea, especially considering that any business that kept books like the government would have long ago been the target of multiple accounting investigations.

The FASAB is made up of six independent members who support the proposal and three opposing members from the U.S. Treasury, the White House Office of Management and Budget and the Government Accountability Office.

Progress will never be made on entitlements as long as their true cost is hidden in the political game of he said/she said where voters are only going to believe the guy with the right letter after his name. Telling taxpayers how much they are on the hook for is bound to be an eye opener for many.

Is anyone suprised that the only dissenters are the ones from the political branches of government?

More thoughts at Coyote Blog and Marginal Revolution

Liberal Blogs Make Me Giggle

The left is flabergasted that Lieberman is beating Lamont in Connecticut.

But it’s still hard to understand why Lieberman’s strategy is working – given that the things he has recently said would be suicidal for most Republicans. As Arianna Huffington wrote, “Lamont is somehow letting Joe Lieberman get away with being the only candidate in the country who's actually benefiting from running as a Republican.”

The thing is, Republicans are generally losing to moderate and conservative Democrats, not ultra-liberal guys like Lamont. The conspiracy theories are already swirling saying that this is a Rovian plot. They try to spin it, saying that people in Connecticut aren't getting the full story, the local media isn't playing up just how conservative Lieberman really is.

Hogwash, Lieberman has been Senator for quite some time, the residents of the nutmeg state don't know Joe's politics by now then they don't really care anyway.

Its bad news for the liberal left, but Lamont is losing because America just isn't that liberal.

As a side note, I still haven't figured out why liberals are putting their stock in that big, bad top 1%. I thought anyone that was capable of donating $13 million of their own money into their own political campaign would be avoided like the plague.

Or is money only evil when it is used to create jobs?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Virtual Taxes

I reported earlier that the government is looking into taxing virtual economies.

While this is true, the source article makes it sound like this is something that Congress is pursuing, however it appears that isn't quite the case.

“There is a concern that the IRS might step forward with regulations that start taxing transactions that occur within virtual economies. This, I believe, would be a mistake,” Chairman Jim Saxton said today.

So the IRS may be looking into virtual taxes, but the Joint Economic Committee is recommending against it.

HatTip: TaxProf

This Should Suprise No One

What Senator Obama said in January:

SEN. OBAMA: I will serve out my full six-year term. You know, Tim, if you get asked enough, sooner or later you get weary and you start looking for new ways of saying things. But my thinking has not changed.

MR. RUSSERT: So you will not run for president or vice president in 2008?

SEN. OBAMA: I will not.

What I said in January:

I’m not sure if Obama wanted to ensure that he came down on both sides of the issue, fell captive to the far-left KOS-ites or needed to make some backroom deals to ensure support for his certain Presidential run in ’08. Whatever the reason, one thing is certain Obama is a hack.

Guess who was right.

More from KipEsquire.

The Internet Is Liberating

If your blogging host does things that you don't like you can just choose another. Its really quite simple.

Russian LiveJournal users ... are very suspicious (to put it mildly) of a new partnership between SixApart's LiveJournal and the Russian Internet company SUP.
users don't trust local internet companies not to sell them out to Russian security forces.

If the Internet were controlled by government - something that some liberal camps have been promoting for awhile - then there would be no choice between LiveJournal and Blogger and WordPress and PowerBlogs (and ... and ...) you would have to stick with the rules that the government had set.

"But the rules would be just" I hear the audience on the left shout.

"How is that President and control of Congress working out for you now?" I retort.

Don't get me wrong, if true, LiveJournal is doing something wrong, the point is that you don't have to trust them. You can punish them for the appearance of impropriety and you don't have to wait for the next election day to do it. You can vote them out now.

Name That Country

The figures are stark. An average of 112 cars a day have been torched across [the country] so far this year and there have been 15 attacks a day on police and emergency services. Nearly 3,000 police officers have been injured in clashes this year. Officers have been badly injured in four ambushes in the [capital city] outskirts since September. Some police talk of open war with youths who are bent on more than vandalism.

Answer here.

HatTip: InstaPundit

Taxing Away Socialism

I'm guessing that taxing things that everyone uses to support something that no one uses isn't a winning strategy.

Germany's 16 states agreed on Thursday to introduce from January 1 a licence fee of 5.52 euros (3.70 pounds) a month on computers and mobile phones that can access television and radio programmes via the Internet.

Any household or company that does not already have a licence will have to pay the new levy, which is the same as the one currently charged for radio access, state premiers agreed at a meeting in the town of Bad Pyrmont.

With the vast array of media services available through satellite, internet, cable and the rest, why are governments even broadcasting anymore?

The governments of Europe have essentially squeezed the business community dry, in order to sustain their social welfare system they will have to start taxing citizens even more - an effort that is likely to cause serious consequences for the elite.

Here's to hoping that they tax the socialism right out of Europe.

Government Scares Me

This is why I trust business more than government:

The government is is funding the roll out of fingerprint security at the doors of pubs and clubs in major English cities.

Funding is being offered to councils that want to have their pubs keep a regional black list of known trouble makers. The fingerprint network installed in February by South Somerset District Council in Yeovil drinking holesy is being used as the show case.

If bars want to start fingerprinting patrons - more power to them - I can choose to go to a bar that doesn't fingerprint me. With govenment you have no choices.

While you are waiting for such shenanigans to cross the pond, enjoy a cold one and jump over to A Stitch In Haste where its an all beer weekend.

Update: Kip takes a break from beer and points out that he blogged about the fingerprinting in February.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Environmentalist Longs For Eden

Can you read this article and doubt that environmentalism is being driven by an irrational worshipping of nature - but a nature that presumes that man is not natural.

Now just suppose they got their wish. Imagine that all the people on Earth - all 6.5 billion of us and counting - could be spirited away tomorrow, transported to a re-education camp in a far-off galaxy.
Reading the article gave me the same creepy feeling that listening to campus preachers made me feel in college - an amazement that people could really feel this way.

Iran Shoots Self In Foot

I'm going to predict the beginning of the end for the Iranian regime.

Iran's Islamic government has opened a new front in its drive to stifle domestic political dissent and combat the influence of western culture - by banning high-speed internet links.

In a blow to the country's estimated 5 million internet users, service providers have been told to restrict online speeds to 128 kilobytes a second and been forbidden from offering fast broadband packages. The move by Iran's telecommunications regulator will make it more difficult to download foreign music, films and television programmes, which the authorities blame for undermining Islamic culture among the younger generation. It will also impede efforts by political opposition groups to organise by uploading information on to the net.When

When people can talk about taking an action it becomes a release all but precluding any real action. When you are prevented from even talking about political action the only course available is to actually take action.

By confiscating satellite dishes, throttling internet speeds and other such nuisances, the Iranian government is pissing off the most affluent citizens - the ones that actually have the power and influence to affect change.

Unless the Iranian government backs down we will see another Orange Revolution. Hopefully, the US will have the common sense to stay out of it.

Being A Child To Become Illegal

Or so it appears.

Officials at an elementary school south of Boston have banned kids from playing tag, touch football and any other unsupervised chase game during recess for fear they'll get hurt and hold the school liable.

Recess is "a time when accidents can happen," said Willett Elementary School Principal Gaylene Heppe, who approved the ban.

Part of learning is making mistakes and getting hurt. You can't learn to ride a bike without falling and skinning your knee at least once.

Trying to protect kids from every chance of injury is only going to stifle their growth, development and, most importantly, their fun.

And besides, aren't kids getting fat enough without discouraging them from running?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Fixing Unemployment Insurance

Arnold Kling and Tyler Cowen are offering five King-For-The-Day policy recommendations so I'm going to use it as an excuse to offer one of my own.

During the economic turmoil that followed the dot-com bust and the 9/11 attacks I knew several people that lost their jobs. Most of these people took advantage of the generous unemployment benefits and some of those turned down jobs or half-heartedly searched for new jobs taking full advantage of the (extended) benefit. One of the guys timed the start of his new job to be on the precise day that he was going to lose unemployment compensation.

As long as government is going to pay for people to be unemployed some people are going to choose to be unemployed. One could argue that government shouldn't provide protection from unemployment at all, but that would be an impossible political sell. Since elimination isn't possible, reshaping the program to offer the right incentives is the right approach.

Before you can just eliminate the hard-outs you have to understand what it is that you want to accomplish. Unemployment insurance needs to make sure that people do not lose their house, their cars, their livelihood and generally avoid bankruptcy if they are unlucky enough to lose their jobs.

The easiest way to accomplish this without just handing out money is to implement a government provided low-interest loan for the unemployed. The loan could cover mortage, utilities and car payments for sure and perhaps minimum payments on credit cards and other miscelaneous bills. The loans would be very low interest and could be paid back over a very reasonable amount of time - say five or ten years. The repayments could even be setup to come out of payroll before taxes.

This approach has several benefits over the current system.

  1. It could cover involuntary and voluntary termination.
    Right now, if you quit your job you can't get unemployment. This means that people have to tolerate conditions that they wouldn't normally put up with if they could afford to be without work for a month or two. This gives some additional power to employees which should please any liberal and gets rid of some legal processes that are used up fighting over whether or not a termination was warranted or not since some states view termination with cause as uneligible for unemployment benefits.

  2. People will only borrow what they really need.
    If someone has six months of bills squirreled away in a bank account (don't we all?) then they are unlikely to ask the government for money. The current system rewards people for taking something that they really need.

  3. People will be motivated to find jobs quickly.
    See above. If you have to pay back everything that you borrow you aren't going to be turning down perfectly good jobs so that you can spend more time watching soap operas.

  4. Its very cheap to implement.
    At the end of the day the program essentially revenue nuetral since most of the money will be paid back. The costs of running the program should probably be cheaper than the current system because you don't the enforcment mechanisms. You don't need lawyers and judges to decide if someone deserves unemployment or not. You don't need social workers checking to see if you are really looking for a job or just freeloading. You don't need accountants making sure that Big Bad Corporation is paying the unemployment insurance.
I can already hear some bleeding hearts complaining that it isn't fair to make poor people pay back unemployment loans. To assuage those types of fears I think that it would be reasonable to make the system slightly progressive. Perhaps people at or near the povery line would only have to pay back 90% of the loans assuming that there is a borrowing maximum.

As long as there was a real cost for being unemployment - or at least making sure that it wasn't profitable - it should be quite easy to eliminate much of the fraud associated with unemployment while providing the type of protection that liberals want.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Warning! This Is Patently Offensive

Or so says the Philosophy Department Chair at Marquette University.

As Americans we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful, and relentless. I refer, of course, to the federal government.

Who knew that Dave Barry was such a threat? Its heartening to see academia standing up for personal liberty this way.

Philosophy Department Chair James South sent [student Stuart] Ditsler an e-mail stating that he had received several complaints and therefore removed the quote. He wrote, "While I am a strong supporter of academic freedom, I'm afraid that hallways and office doors are not 'free-speech zones.' If material is patently offensive and has no obvious academic import or university sanction, I have little choice but to take note."

So you can say anything you want as long as the University says its OK.

Got it. I weep for the future of America when our future is learning, very early on, that you can use coersive power to stifle even the most innocuous dissent.

I Can Admit When I'm Wrong

Shortly after Kos posted the inaugural "Libertarian Democrat" post over at Cato Unbound I said:

After the rebutal essays are published I'm putting even odds on Markos becoming completely unhinged which should, all things being equal, put an end to this Democratic Libertarian BS once and for all.

I was totally incorrect in my prediction, the ensuing conversation has been far more civil, both in formal responses and blog responses, than anything I would have ever imagined. You aren't seeing any of the name calling and snark that has accompanied previous topics. Nothing that convinces me that I should be checking the 'D' on my ballot come November, but very thoughtful responses all the same.

This particular topic has gone so well that I am considering adding Cato Unbound back to my blogroll.

I'm Not The Only One

...that sees the parallel's between religion and global warming.

GLOBAL WARMING is a religion, not science. That’s why acolytes in the media attack global-warming critics, not with scientific arguments, but for their apostasy. Then they laud global-warming believers, not for reducing greenhouse gases, but simply for believing global warming is a coming catastrophe caused by man. The important thing is to have faith in those who warn: The End Is Near.

Others just say it more eloquently than I do.

HatTip: Cato@Liberty

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Defintion Please?

I do not think that word means what you think it means.

The Chinese are openly debating "regime change" in Pyongyang after last week's nuclear test by their confrontational neighbour.

Wouldn't openly insuinate that there should be a source somewhere that actually substantiates the claim? You would think a newspaper would have better editors.

At Least Its Not Europe

As much as I complain about politics and policy in the US I have to occasionally acknowledge that the EU is far worse.

THE Government is seeking to prevent an EU directive that could extend broadcasting regulations to the internet, hitting popular video-sharing websites such as YouTube.

The European Commission proposal would require websites and mobile phone services that feature video images to conform to standards laid down in Brussels.

Ministers fear that the directive would hit not only successful sites such as YouTube but also amateur “video bloggers” who post material on their own sites. Personal websites would have to be licensed as a “television-like service”.
God forbid that someone would get the opinions of an unvetted amatuer with a camcorder.

The EU's obsession with controlling every aspect of everything has got to backfire sometime.

Doesn't it?

How Has Blogging Changed You

However, I really do think that daily blogging has made me think more about a panoply of issues, insofar as I have had to deeply examine why I think what I think if I am going to be making arguments in public. Further, reading a great deal of rabidly partisan blogging (from both sides of the aisle) has enhanced my distaste for such approaches to politics. That distaste has extended to other media. For the longest time I was quite the consumer of political talk radio, but for almost two years I have found my interest in such to have radically waned. I mostly listen to sportstalk now.

Much of this seems to apply to me as well. I can't even stand to listen to NPR anymore; the half-truths and barely hidden spin simply drive me bug-nutty. The deeply partisan blogs, from Daily Kos to RedState, are an instant turn off.

I'm not sure if it is the state of partisanship these days or the fact that I have taken some serious time evaluating my own viewpoint that shallow analysis just turns my stomach.

For those of you that write or discuss politics on a regular basis do you see any similar effects on yourself?

HatTip: ProfessorBainbridge

Happy Anniversary to Me

One year ago today I posted my first blog entry to this site.

Since that time I have posted 452 entries and had 8000 visitors from six continents. That is certainly not a lot by most standards but I'm quite proud that my odd little hobby has generated so much interest.

The last month, especially, has been quite good. KipEsquire added me to his Elite Eleven. Tons of attention to my fisking of Kos's Libertarian Democrat crap has elevated me to Crunchy Crustacean in the TTLB ecosystem and I've hit the top 100,000 at Technorati.

You know you have made it when you've been linked as an example of an extreme libertarian!

Thanks for reading, thanks for commenting and thanks for making this fun enough to do for a whole 365 days!

TSA Has Head Up Ass

Recently an airport security guy confiscated my 4 ounce shampoo container because he said the maximum allowed is 3 ounces. I pointed to the airport’s own sign that says 4 ounces is allowed, but that didn’t seem like a good argument to him. It was too late to check my bags, so he confiscated my mostly empty 4 ounce container.

But here’s the interesting part. The container is semi-transparent, and contained obviously less than 1 ounce of liquid. Apparently the empty portion of the container posed a threat. Or to put it another way, as we humorists like to do, the airport confiscated my 3 ounces of nothing so that I couldn’t use that nothing to blow up the plane.When

When are passengers going to get so fed up with the lawlessness of the TSA and revolt? When security guards can't even take their own instructions about the non-threat of shampoo seriously, its time for a change. Revoke the TSA mandate to screen passengers and let airlines do their own thing.

The airlines have far greater insentive to make sure their airplanes don't blow up than the TSA does and it is long past time that we let them do it.

Science LOL

When you actually read the concerns about using clones for food you really have little choice but to roll your eyes.

The available science shows that cloning presents serious food safety risks, animal welfare concerns and unresolved ethical issues that require strict oversight,

Um - science doesn't raise any ethical issues and government certainly doesn't have any place legislating ethical issues - next!

I had also thought that science was supposed to rely on empirical evidence. What evidence shows that clones provide a 'serious food safety risk?'

Industry scientists derided the petition's safety concerns, built largely on a theoretical possibility that subtle genetic changes seen in some clones may alter the nutritional nature of meat.

I guess the group that is presenting this concern doesn't believe in evolution then does it? After all, the theory of evolution is based on the 'theoretical possibility that subtle genetic changes seen in some clones may alter' a species - up to and including the change in the nutritional nature of meat.

Cloning Burgers

How can you read this news and see anything but positive?

The FDA is currently set to allow beef and milk from cloned animals onto the market. Further, the products will likely not be branded as such and there is no way to know if we're currently consuming products from cloned animals.

Wow! Eliminating genetic diseases and increasing the yield and quality of product is going to be a huge boon, lowering cost for food yet again.

Yet somehow, there are those that don't like the fact that they might be eating a cloned cow, which I just don't understand. A cloned cow is, by definition, exactly like an uncloned cow!

What point does labeling have? You might as well force farmers to label whether or not they harvested the corn on a Saturday or a Sunday since it has exactly the same impact as cloning does.

When a policy does nothing more than allow people to act on their hatred of technology then its certainly a bad policy.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Privacy, Schmivacy

Polls show that Americans think they are losing their privacy, but most don't seem to care.

When pollsters ask Americans about privacy, most say they are concerned about losing it. An MSNBC.com survey, which will be covered in detail on Tuesday, found an overwhelming pessimism about privacy, with 60 percent of respondents saying they feel their privacy is “slipping away, and that bothers me.”
Only a tiny fraction of Americans – 7 percent, according to a recent survey by The Ponemon Institute – change any behaviors in an effort to preserve their privacy. Few people turn down a discount at toll booths to avoid using the EZ-Pass system that can track automobile movements.

And few turn down supermarket loyalty cards. Carnegie Mellon privacy economist Alessandro Acquisti has run a series of tests that reveal people will surrender personal information like Social Security numbers just to get their hands on a measly 50-cents-off coupon.

This doesn't suprise me at all. The media and politicians keep repeating that Americans are losing their privacy, but the average American doesn't know what the hell they are talking about.

If they rephrased the poll questions to ask "Do you care if Madison Avenue knows what you bought for lunch last week?" the answer is going to be a resounding 'meh.'

Most of the data that corporations have about us is really inconsequential. And if it means that you get to buy your Cherios for a couple cents less that's a price that most American's are willing to pay.

Taxing an Illusion

You know that bureacrats have become overly self-important when they seriously consider taxing virtual transactions.

Users of online worlds such as Second Life and World of Warcraft transact millions of dollars worth of virtual goods and services every day, and these virtual economies are beginning to draw the attention of real-world authorities.

Seriously? From a purely intellectual point of view it would be interesting to see consumption dry up after taxing was imposed. It would be a real life illustration on the damaging effects of government policy.

Who knows, such a move could spawn an entire generation of libertarians and other small government types.

More likely, though, is that the US is going to chase out any semblence of internet presence out of the country. Between the anti-gambling legislation, this and any other nonsense that the Fed thinks up, the US is going to appear very hostile to internet companies.

HatTip: Greg Mankiw

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Fun Facts For Nutjobs

Plane crashes into building on 10/11/6 - turn it upside down and you get -

Government Conspiracy!!!!

Climate Hate Crimes?

Some are proposing that skepticism about the effects of global warming and climate change should be illegal.

Grist Magazine’s staff writer David Roberts called for the Nuremberg-style trials for the “bastards” who were members of what he termed the global warming “denial industry.”

Roberts wrote in the online publication on September 19, 2006, "When we've finally gotten serious about global warming, when the impacts are really hitting us and we're in a full worldwide scramble to minimize the damage, we should have war crimes trials for these bastards -- some sort of climate Nuremberg.”

When proponents of "environmentalism" want to limit debate and punish those that disagree with them how can you call it anything but religion?

All scientists should be skeptics, that's the only way that science moves forward.

Update: Just to be clear - this guy is not a climate change scientist. In fact he isn't really a scientist at all, which should be clear given that he doesn't understand that all scientists should be skeptics. Unfortunately, scientists aren't running the policy debate on climate, nutballs like the one above are, and they view the environment as something to be worshiped as opposed to a resource that we should all value, but consume as a resource.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Money Isn't the Only Cost

This shouldn't suprise anyone that knows anything about economics.

[A]ccording to a new study conducted by a Baltimore ER physician. Two years ago, he found that the number of men who check into the ER during a televised sporting event drops 30 percent as opposed to the levels on the same day of the week when there are no sports on. Now, his new study reveals that in the four hours after the event ends, overall ER attendance is 40 percent higher than the average for the same day and time of the week.

Critics often accuse economists of only caring about money, which simply isn't true. Money just happens to be the cost that is the easiest to identify and measure. Time, quality, happiness and all sorts of other intangibles enter into a persons' decision to purchase goods and services.

If someone can delay emergency medical treatment in order to finish the game is it suprising that some people would decide to forgo some treatments if they had to pay full price for it? The assumption that these decisions are wrong or not rational are simply off base because no one, except the person himself, understands what the risks and costs are.

The Gilded Age

A commenter stopped by to repeat the liberal meme that the "Gilded Age" was the result of laizze faire capitalism and we don't want to do that again do we?

Unfortunately, that is just liberal revisionism. The excesses of the Gilded Age were as much a product of government intervention as libertarians claim is occuring in today's world.

Americans' sense of civic virtue was shocked by the scandals associated with the Reconstruction era, including corrupt state governments, massive fraud in cities controlled by machines, political payoffs to secure government contracts (especially the Crédit Mobilier of America scandal regarding the financing of the transcontinental railroad), and widespread evidence of government corruption during the Ulysses S. Grant administration (see {Whiskey Ring. Led by the Bourbon Democrats, especially Samuel J. Tilden and Grover Cleveland]], there was a call for reform, such as Civil Service Reform. More generally there was a sense that government intervention in the economy resulted in favoritism, bribery, kickbacks, inefficiency, waste and corruption. The Bourbons Democrats led the call for a free market, low tariffs, low taxes, less spending and, in general, a Laissez-Faire (hands-off) government.
Now those were Democrats that I could stand behind.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

More Of The Same

Instead of tackling Harold Meyerson's Cato Unbound's Democrat Libertarian essay head on I'll just offer a couple snarking responses. Kip already got the meat of it and I think it would end up sounding a lot like my previous attempts and sound very much like what I wrote earlier today.

The very first words that Harold put down almost made me stop reading. "Markos Moulitsas has, as usual, made an important contribution to our political discourse with his essay on Democratic libertarianism."

Important?! It was barely readable and didn't even attempt to answer the major libertarian concerns about the left! Though, I have to admit to being presently suprised that someone admitted that the major parties are internally inconsistent.

Not suprisingly, Harold failed to address the primary point that every libertarian blog has made since Kos made his original overtures. Corporate power only exists because government has the power to create the rules that the marketplace runs by. He, instead, tries to tell us how bad corporations are and only government can protect us.

So I'll say it again. The power that business has only exists because government has granted it to them. Until someone on the left addresses this point kiss any support from libertarians goodbye.

Law Bleg

I've been subpoenaed.

Part of me is curious to see how the process works, the rest of me doesn't want to be bothered with the interuption.

I know at least a couple lawyers read the blog on occasion - any advice or information on what to expect? I'll be a witness for the prosecution in a federal case.

Much Left Unsaid - Part II

Part I is here.

Not everything that Geoffery Stone says is off base. I'm sure that many liberals feel the way that he does - I just don't think its representative of liberalism today. Take for example:

5. Liberals believe government must respect and affirmatively safeguard the liberty, equality and dignity of each individual. It is liberals who have championed and continue to champion the rights of racial, religious and ethnic minorities, political dissidents, persons accused of crime and the outcasts of society. It is liberals who have insisted on the right to counsel, a broad application of the right to due process of law and the principle of equal protection for all people.

6. Liberals believe government has a fundamental responsibility to help those who are less fortunate. It is liberals who have supported and continue to support government programs to improve health care, education, social security, job training and welfare for the neediest members of society. It is liberals who maintain that a national community is like a family and that government exists in part to "promote the general welfare."

Liberals, in general, have been champions of equal protection and due process and should, rightly, be lauded for those efforts.

While I think that the progressive desire to help everyone is ill-advised and generally does more harm than good, you can only fault them for being wrong - not inconsistent.

7. Liberals believe government should never act on the basis of sectarian faith. It is liberals who have opposed and continue to oppose school prayer and the teaching of creationism in public schools and who support government funding for stem-cell research, the rights of gays and lesbians and the freedom of choice for women.

Yet secular faith is just fine. Many, including me, have pointed out the the environmental fetish that many on the left have is nearly a religion. Nature is inherently good and anything that harms nature is bad. Does it get more religious than that?

8. Liberals believe courts have a special responsibility to protect individual liberties. It is principally liberal judges and justices who have preserved and continue to preserve freedom of expression, individual privacy, freedom of religion and due process of law. (Conservative judges and justices more often wield judicial authority to protect property rights and the interests of corporations, commercial advertisers and the wealthy.)

He just couldn't resist throwing in a "conservatives are evil, greedy bastards" line could he? Why can't liberals acknowledge that the wealthy are individuals too and deserve to have their rights protected just as much as everyone else? I have never understood why liberals despise property rights - is it a holdover from when only the wealthy owned property?

I believe that property rights, probably more than any other issue, is what drove the Founding Fathers and inspired the Constitution.

10. Liberals believe government must protect the safety and security of the people, without unnecessarily sacrificing constitutional values. It is liberals who have demanded and continue to demand legal protections to avoid the conviction of innocent people in the criminal justice system, reasonable restraints on government surveillance of American citizens, and fair procedures to ensure that alleged enemy combatants are in fact enemy combatants. Liberals adhere to the view expressed by Brandeis some 80 years ago: "Those who won our independence ... did not exalt order at the cost of liberty."

And the last one is a humdinger. An implicit accusation that conservatives don't value the Constitution, but without an admission that liberals despise the parts of the Constitution that Conservatives value: limited and enumerated powers for government.

This is, of course, where I smugly point out that libertarians love the whole Constitution - limited government power and unlimited personal liberty.

Stone paints a picture of pretty rainbows and sunny skies, hopefully I've been able to fill in the gaps and point out the ugly truth to some of the liberal values.

Update: More thoughts from Professor Bainbridge here and here.
Update II: Jane Galt shares her thoughts.

Much Left Unsaid - Part I

Geoffrey Stone published a list of 10 things he thinks defines liberalism. I'm guessing that he had a limit on the length of the essay, because he left a bunch of exceptions out of his list.

1. Liberals believe individuals should doubt their own truths and consider fairly and open-mindedly the truths of others. This is at the very heart of liberalism. Liberals understand, as Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once observed, that "time has upset many fighting faiths." Liberals are skeptical of censorship and celebrate free and open debate.

Except when you disagree with liberal ideals. From the kerfuffle over Survivor to heckling of Republican speakers on college campuses to destroying pro-life displays I don't think that many liberals would agree with Mr. Stone's celebration of open debate. In fact, if you spent any time on liberal blogs you would see routine belittlement of opposition if not outright censorship.

2. Liberals believe individuals should be tolerant and respectful of difference. It is liberals who have supported and continue to support the civil rights movement, affirmative action, the Equal Rights Amendment and the rights of gays and lesbians. (Note that a conflict between propositions 1 and 2 leads to divisions among liberals on issues like pornography and hate speech.)
Well, except when you don't like the differences. Black politicians are frequently called traitors or Uncle Tom. You also frequently see blogs on the left openly attack Democrats that don't toe the party line.

3. Liberals believe individuals have a right and a responsibility to participate in public debate. It is liberals who have championed and continue to champion expansion of the franchise; the elimination of obstacles to voting; "one person, one vote;" limits on partisan gerrymandering; campaign-finance reform; and a more vibrant freedom of speech. They believe, with Justice Louis Brandeis, that "the greatest menace to freedom is an inert people."

Does anyone think its a bit odd to include "individuals have a right and responsiblity to participate in public debate" and "campaign-finance reform" in the same belief? Not only is the so-called "reform" a limitaiton on speech, it just doesn't work.

The money spent on campaigns this season has broken all number of records. So the desired intent of "keeping money out of politics" has only succeeded in keeping individual's money out of the game. The big boys still get to play.

4. Liberals believe "we the people" are the governors and not the subjects of government, and that government must treat each person with that in mind. It is liberals who have defended and continue to defend the freedom of the press to investigate and challenge the government, the protection of individual privacy from overbearing government monitoring, and the right of individuals to reproductive freedom. (Note that libertarians, often thought of as "conservatives," share this value with liberals.)

It is also liberals that who have defended the right of government to interfere in all manner of individual freedoms. From smoking bans to eating froie gras to forcing poeple to eat healthy, liberals only think that individuals have the right to choose when they agree with the decision.

Continue reading Part II here.

Liberals Were Wrong

During the confirmation hearings of Alito and Roberts the left was apoplectic tyring to convince anyone that would listen that the nominations were a thinly disguised attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade.

This pretty much puts lie to that particular meme:

The Supreme Court, as expected, refused on Monday to allow an Atlanta woman to reopen the 1973 ruling that was a companion case to Roe v. Wade. The case of Doe v. Bolton, also decided Jan. 22, 1973, added to Roe by restricting the medical requirements imposed on the abortion option. Sandra Cano of Atlanta, who was the "Mary Doe" of that case, asked the Court to reopen her case under federal court Rule 60 (b). Her appeal was denied without comment, and with no indication of any dissent. (Doe v. Bakerf, docket 06-162).

If Alito, Roberts and the rest of the conservative court were truly out to reverse Roe there is no way that they would have denied hearing this case.

Not that the left will ever admit a mistake or shut up with all the dumb conspiracy theories.

Illinois to Repeal Laws of Economics

The Illinois House Utility Oversight Committee voted 9-4 to extend the ill-conceived electrity rate freeze for an additional three years. Not only is it absurd that the vast majority of people do not understand the impact of such a freeze, politicians are failing in their duty to explain it.

I'm not sure that I believe Com-Ed's prediction of bankruptcy, but the freeze is only going to delay the inevitable. Meanwhile, loudmouth know-nothings are showing their ignorance for all to see.
That's why Citizen Action/Illinois supports extending the current electricity rate freeze for three more years, protecting consumers from unjustified rate hikes while still allowing the utilities to make healthy profits.

Rates have been decreasing in real terms for nearly a decade - how, exactly is a rate hike unjustified? Eventually rates will have to be raised; that is unquestionable. The longer obstructionists delay that painful step the more likely we will see disruption in supply and the larger the increases will be.

If I didn't live in Illinois I would wish a pox on all these idiots - but I don't want to have to suffer for their ignorance.

Monday, October 09, 2006

What's The Fuss?

I just finished the fourth episode of Survivor and so far the race issue has played out almost exactly as I thought it would. In other words - not at all.

The teams were initially divided into four racially segragated teams. During the third week the original teams were broken up into two diverse teams. From this new makeup the teams ceased operating on purely racial terms seeking to find alliances that were selfishly advantageous.

Thats not to say that race won't or doesn't come into play. I'm sure that in the final weeks of the show there will be some appeals to common ancestry, but early in the game we saw a white tribesmen vote against a white tribesman and black tribesman vote against a black tribesman. Racial overtones won't come into play (in my view) until the game is really zero sum. At this stage every trick will be played - but it will have nothing to do with race and everything to do with winning.

TV Without TV

I noticed in my last post that the term "TV Show" probably isn't long for this world. Or, it could become anachrocistic. Will our children (or grandchildren) still use the term 'watch TV' even though they aren't really sure what a TV is?

Or will short form, episodic programming be called something else? What should TV without TV be called?

Tags: ,

Lack of Imagination

Sometimes I think that much of the anti-capitalist sentiment comes from a severe lack of imagination. People don't believe that the future is possible because they don't understand how the future can overcome today's problems.

This post from Slashdot will hopefully illustrate my point a bit more clearly.

If everyone started watching '24' or 'CSI' on video iPods or streamed over the Internet — instead of on TV in their living rooms — these top-rated shows would probably go the way of 'Cop Rock.' This is because Nielsen Media Research cannot collect data about what people watch on handheld video-viewing gadgets or from PCs streaming network TV shows. While Nielsen estimates around 90% of TV viewing still happens in homes, it's this burgeoning 10% that TV networks and advertisers are desperate to delve into.

Quite obviously, if more people were watching TV from the internet then they wouldn't depend on Nielsen to tell them who was watching would they? In the slashdotter's view of the world, all that great TV that only gets watched on computers and handhelds would get canceled because the ratings would be terrible.

What they fail to realize is that networks know precisely how many people are downloading content from the internet and as the percentage of people watching that way increases they will discount the effect of Nielsen on their decision making.

The problems of today will not be the problems of tomorrow. We need to simply trust that the people of tomorrow will know how to deal with them a lot better than we do.

How Do You Define Yourself?

I got a bit unlucky today and caught some of Terry Gross's interview with Alan Chanmbers, President of Exodus International. (brief aside: Is there a mainstream interviewer that is any more softball than Terry? She had on two people that are polar opposites; yet, from the interview you would have thought she was in love with both of them. Yuck)

Exodus is, from what I understand, a group of ex-gays that are trying to get other gays to not be gay anymore. Isn't it a little odd to define yourself by what you are not? I can understand wanting to change your lifestyle - that's prefectly peachy. But why then spend the rest of yourlife telling everyone that you are no longer who you used to be?

It just doesn't make much sense to me.

Friday, October 06, 2006

No Fly List

The no-fly list isn't very accurate.

60 Minutes, in collaboration with the National Security News Service, has obtained the secret list used to screen airline passengers for terrorists and discovered it includes names of people not likely to cause terror, including the president of Bolivia, people who are dead and names so common, they are shared by thousands of innocent fliers.
Yawn. I'm guessing that its not really supposed to be a real tool. Its just a way for the agencies to show that they are doing something and for people to think that their politicians and government are doing something.

This is, in effect, no different than the stupid random searches at NY subways or giving haz-mat suits to a fire department in rural Alaska.

The government has no real incentive to provide effective security - they only have to provide the appearance of effective security. When the appearance of security appears to be more secure than actualy security you will end up with appearance every time.

Unless, of course, the breach of security has real costs for those supplying the security - which it does not.

Wasting Time

Suprisingly, the government wastes a lot of time.

Government Computer News is reporting that a 15-page Inspector General's report on time wasted by workers at the U.S. Department of the Interior has raised such a stir that the Dept.'s own servers have seen major slowdowns due to excessive downloads of the report.

The IG's report, entitled "Excessive Indulgences: Personal Use of the Internet at the Department of the Interior," estimates that an average of 104,221 work hours per year are wasted by DOI employees alone, simply by those perusing Internet gaming sites. The report cited thousands of collected logs from users' computers showing workers spending between eight and fourteen hours at a time on gaming sites.

There are two ways to look at this. First, give them even more ways to waste time so that they don't actually enforce any of the stupid regulations (or create new ones). Or, they have too much free time on their hands and start getting rid of headcount and reduce their budget.

The fact is - this probably is about par for the course. Americans that have access to computers, in general, spend a lot of time surfing. Shh. Don't tell anyone - I'm actually at work right now and don't get paid to blog.

I'm also not convinced that this is a new phenomena that spawned with the internet. I used to spend a lot more time chatting with co-workers and taking smoke breaks and other such nonsence than I do now. People have never hunkered down for 8 straight hours (minus official breaks) to work. Why anyone expects anything else from government escapes me.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Politician Dance Party

One of the coolest things about capitalism and technology in general is that it bring you stuff that you didn't even know that you needed. Or stuff that you didn't even realize was possible.

Imagining eliminating lying politicians.

Imagine being able to check instantly whether or not statements made by politicians were correct. That is the sort of service Google Inc. boss Eric Schmidt believes the Internet will offer within five years.

Politicians have yet to appreciate the impact of the online world, which will also affect the outcome of elections, Schmidt said in an interview with the Financial Times published on Wednesday.

He predicted that "truth predictor" software would, within five years, "hold politicians to account." People would be able to use programs to check seemingly factual statements against historical data to see to see if they were correct.

Could this actually be possible? Would we be able to see at a glance the accuracy of a politician's speech? Services like FactCheck.org and the like provide some of this, but it takes individual effort and desire to go that far.

I say hook up this service to a strobe light and pin it to every politician's lapel and through a dance party. Even with fact checking I doubt most politicians would be able to help themselves.


I have added a Feedburner RSS feed to the site. I can't redirect the existing feeds since I host on Blogger, but you can subscribe to the new feed by clicking here: Subscribe to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of ...

I'm not getting rid of the other feeds, but I will be changing them to title only after about a week to make sure the new feed works ok.

If you have any problems with the feed or have any general comments about the layout/functionality of the blog stop by in the comments and I'll see what I can do.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Skip This Post If You Don't Like Football

After the embarrassing defeat on Monday night football, I told a friend of mine that if the Packers don't bench Carroll for good then they don't deserve to win another game.

The guy can't cover. He can't tackle. He can't follow the damn rules. Putting anyone at corner would be better than Carroll.

Turns out they did one better and released his sorry ass.

I don't have many good things to say about the Packers coaching staff. And it may not have been a good business decision, but I am oh so happy I will never have to curse the name of Ahmad Carroll anymore.

Can Reed Persuade Me To Jump Left

Bruce Reed, president of the Democratic Leadership Council, responds to Kos's Libertarian Democrat screed over at Cato Unbound.

First, personal liberty and personal responsibility go hand in hand. We won’t have more of one unless we insist on more of the other. Government is not the first nor the most important agent of responsibility, but its example matters. An irresponsible, unaccountable government of any size poses a far graver threat to individual freedom than a responsible, activist one.

I can agree with that.

Second, markets can be the most effective engine of individual opportunity, but only if they are honest ones, tempered in the public interest. Third, government must be an engine of individual opportunity as well, or else it will end up imposing a crushing burden of privilege and bureaucracy.

So far so good.

In a country like ours, the more likely threat to freedom is not government conspiracy, but government ineptitude and bureaucracy.

Wow! This guy really knows libertarians.

Unlike George Bush and the Republican Congress, we’ll give you accountable government that lives within its means. But we want government to do something useful, not just sit there.

Wha- huh? Never mind, he is just as clueless as Kos. The problem with government isn't the people running it, its the incentives that they have to do it right.

Incentives are the one thing that liberals simply do not understand - they think that everyone would just do the right thing if you just explained to them what the right thing is. The real world just doesn't work that way; I really hate to say it, but it's true.

If the best that he can come up with is "Bush was a liar, but we really mean it" then their hopes to enlist libertarians to the Democratic party is a wasted effort.

Dildos Make Headlines

I was suprised to see that the Supreme Court's decision to not grant cert to Ignacio Sergio Acosta v. the State of Texas was frontpage news on nearly every news source.

Sure, sex sells, but why is a ban on selling dildos a major news development? What I was not suprised to find was not a single news story explained that SCOTUS denying cert is not an implicit affirmation of the case.

The Supreme Court decides not to hear thousands of cases each session and when they do reject hearing a case it isn't because the case was correctly decided - its because they felt there were more important cases that needed to be dealt with in a limited amount of time.

Why anyone would be suprised that dildos are less important than abortion, the environment and affirmative action I have no idea. I guess nothing is more important than painting the Supreme Court as an ultra-conservative monstrosity that is going to seek to control every aspect of our lives.

News Flash! Congress already does that - we don't need a court.

Maybe This Wall Is a Good Thing

Arnold Kling points to some early signs of negative consequences of cracking down on illegal immigration.

Carnes ended up with less than 100 workers and fell two weeks behind, with bits and pieces of the fields unpicked. His income fell about $150,000, a significant loss.
Illegal immigrant workers who used to travel the country picking different crops as the seasons changed are hesitant to migrate for fear of being caught.
The problem is now reaching crisis proportions, food growers say. As much as 30 percent of the year's pear crop was lost in Northern California, growers estimate. More than one-third of Florida's Valencia orange crop went unharvested, Regelbrugge said.

This actually may be a good thing. People do not understand what they cannot see. Many (if not most) of the people that oppose immigration do so on the mistaken notion that immigrants take jobs away from native workers. Actually imposing the real costs of strict immigration could have two positive impacts.

First, it will (hopefully) illustrate the positive impacts of immigration. Importing low-skill labor means keeping costs low for the rest of us while the importer workers get a higher standard of living. A win-win if there ever was one.

Second, as rising prices or shortages start to cause real pain for consumers and growers alike there will be a push to liberalize immigration rules. Something that all supports of immigration would like to see anyway. Interestingly, we will see, in no uncertain terms, whether many on the right are really only concerned about the "illegal" part of illegal immigration.

A third, and I think highly unlikely, option is that low skill workers already in the US will flock to rural America to pick fruit when the wages start to rise. I'm not holding my breath.

Update: I missed another option, which is probably the most likely of all - the farmers will simply automate picking, replacing labor with capital. This mitigates my enthusiasm for a lesson to be learned by quite a bit.