Friday, December 29, 2006

Advertise Cellularly

Ads are coming soon to a cell phone near you.

Beginning early next year, Verizon Wireless will allow placement of banner advertisements on news, weather, sports and other Internet sites that users visit and display on their mobile phones, company executives said.
Advertisers “are crazed to get information” onto the phones, Mr. Goodrich said. But the effectiveness “will be really limited until you’ve enabled site, sound and motion.”

That will not be happening anytime soon on Verizon, according to Mr. Harrobin. He said that during extensive tests the company did in determining whether to run ads, and how to run them, it determined that consumers find short, stand-alone video advertisements to be intrusive.

How can that be? Big Business only cares about money, why would they care what consumers want?

Because Big Business only cares about money, that's why. If consumers don't like advertisements on their phone they will simply find another carrier causing Big Business to lose money.

The cell phone industry is highly competitive (thanks, in part, to hefty deregulation I might add) so companies will do anything to please the consumer.

Ah, the wonders of capitalism.

More Jobs Destroyed

When will the people wake up to the fact that this is just a scam whose very purpose is to make money - they don't care about you or the thousands and thousands of jobs that this is going to destroy - they just want to make a buck at the expense of American Jobs.
Buying a book could become as easy as buying a pack of gum. After several years in development, the Espresso - a $50,000 vending machine with a conceivably infinite library - is nearly consumer-ready and will debut in ten to 25 libraries and bookstores in 2007. The New York Public Library is scheduled to receive its machine in February.
OK, nobody is actually pitching the story in that way - for this. Why is it when Wal-Mart sells a warehouse full of stuff at bargain prices there is a line of people waiting to take pot-shots at them?

Selling stuff cheap makes everyone better off - except the monopolist, anyway.

When Will They Learn

The French economy is doing so poorly that they want a Socialist to take over.

Ségolène Royal, the Socialist Party’s nominee for president of France, is gathering momentum
Granted, its early and the French are not known for their basic understand of economics, but shouldn't they eventually learn that economics isn't just a right-wing theory?

I hate to say it, but the French deserve everything that they get - hopefully it will serve as a lesson to everyone else in the world.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

I'm back

At least I think so. The New Year is going to bring a much more relaxed schedule and I'm just too opinionated to keep my mouth shut.

No promises about how frequently I'll write, but tune in for how conceived ramblings of the classical liberal type.

I'm Shocked!

Democrats and the left in general have been wringing their hands about the debt. Bush was plunging the country into poverty because he wasn't paying enough attention to the debt. Democrats promised to bring fiscal responsibility if only the public would elect them. Pay as you go! They cried.

Then they won the election now Krugman, DeLong, Pelosi and the rest are saying the deficit really isn't that big a deal and there are more important things to do.

What a bunch of hypocrits. This is why its important to constrain the power of goverment - all politicians (and their lackies and hangers on) are liars.

The End

In Part I I put forth the theory that Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events was a libertarian tale and proceeded to explain that the only way that you could reach that conclusion after reading the first twelve books was to succumb to confirmation bias.

Warning: spoilers ahead.

Hopefully I can now convince you that the thirteenth and final book, The End, reaches a libertarian conclusion, one that illustrates, quite clearly, my perspective of the world.

The story starts as the children are throw onto a solitary island after being shipwrecked with their arch nemesis Count Olaf. Islanders find the quartet and for the very first time in the Baudelaire's lives someone sees Count Olaf for what he is - a scoundrel. They tell him that he isn't welcome and bring the children back to their village where they meet Ishmael.

At the beginning of the series everything was black and white. Villains were villainous; heroes are noble with little room for grays. As the series progress and the children mature they are faced with those shades of gray - they face moral dilemmas where they must do evil in order to achieve their ends.

Just as they begin to understand that the world is not black and white Ishmael, the facilitator, puts everything back into good and evil.

Ishmael is the benevolent dictator, his only goal is to create a safe place for his people. He doesn't force anyone to do anything, but he makes it clear where he stands and the islanders invariably agree. In his attempt to keep everyone safe all individuality is lost. Everyone wears white robes, eats bland food and drinks coconut cordials, an opiate to keep them lethargic and compliant. A safe place, to be sure, but boring nonetheless.

The Baudelaire children soon discover that Ishmael doesn't lead the simple life that he imposes on everyone else. He has a secret cache of books, food and luxuries that everyone else is protected from.

The children accuse Ishmael of abusing his power:

"...abridging the freedom of expression and the free exercise thereof is [not] the proper way to run a community ... You want everyone to lead a simple, safe life--everyone except yourself."

The reply is the standard statist response:
No one should lead the life I lead ... I've read more of the world's treacherous history than almost anyone, and as one of my colleagues once said, this history is indeed little more than the register of crimes, follies , and misfortunes of mankind.

Don't you see? ... I'm not just the island's facilitator. I'm the island's parent. I keep this library far away from the people under my care, so that they will never be disturbed by the world's terrible secrets.
The children are then given a choice - live a safe life and abandon everything that they enjoy - all that makes them individuals, or live a life of uncertainty and danger - the same life they have been living for the past twelve books.

This is Virginia Postrel's between stasis and dynamism A world that is controlled without passion vs a world of unknowns and passion and discovery.

The children tell themselves that they should pick the safe life, but find they cannot make the sacrifices necessary to choose that path. They use their gifts as individuals to try and save themselves and their friend disobeying their benevolent dictator.

In the end their choice is justified as the rest of the islanders follow Ishmael to their likely deaths terrified of the prospects of striking out on their own.

The lessons of this tale are clear - the world is a terrible, nasty, miserable place - but if you entrust your well being to others you will surely be disappointed. Not even the benevolent dictator can keep the world at bay and trouble invariably befalls the people. The only difference between the 'safe world' and the real world is that when you depend on someone else to protect you, you lose all ability to protect yourself; when your protector fails you are lost.

That is the libertarian theme that speaks to me. The world is not an orderly place, by trying to force order upon it much is lost in the way of individualism but nothing is gained because the order maker (the government) invariably fails and when it does those most in need of help no longer know how to take care of themselves.

A Series of Unfortunate Events

If you are anything like me (and of course you are) when someone proclaims that they have found major libertarian themes in popular media you face it with skepticism.

The libertarian blogosphere has erupted in Potter worship seeing the second coming of Ayn Rand in the pages of Harry Potter's story. Now, that isn't to say that a libertarian can't see something to like in the pages, I just think you have to go too far to get a real theme out of it.

That being said, I'm going to try and convince you that Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events does exactly that. I just finished the series after my daughter asked me to read it with her and very little in the first twelve books will leave a classical liberal nodding in agreement and pumping the fist of freedom.

Please note that spoilers abound from here - read at your own risk.

Sure, you can paint Mr. Poe as the inept bureaucrat that acts in his own self-interest as opposed to the interest of his wards. The Council of Elders from the Vile Village are the libertarians caricature of democracy as mob rule and over regulation to the point of absurdity with even the rule book being forbidden because it makes reference to forbidden activities. The same story even paints the phrase "it takes a village to raise a child" and paints it as the absurd tripe that it is.

This is nothing more than confirmation bias though. There are plenty of examples that could paint the series a liberal's delight. From Mr. Poe the self interested capitalists that leaves the Baudelaire children in one bad situation after the next to Esme Squalor that seems to care about nothing other than fashion and wealth the villains of A Series of Unfortunate Events seem to point out everything that is wrong with the world as seen by the left.

The series does point out human frailty and folly throughout; villains are poorly educated, vain, ruled by mob psychology and peer pressure. The heroes are well read, selfless and pursue noble ends. So what changes in book thirteen that convinces me that its a libertarian tale?

Find out in Part II.

Friday, December 01, 2006


After giving it considerable thought and trying to figure out how to fit regular blogging into my schedule; I have decided to put this blog on indefinite hiatus.

My new career is just taking too much time and my personal life makes late evening blogging more than a little difficult. Since building a regular readership is hard enough when you are posting daily I can't justify maintaining this particular blog. And anyways, it clears up a spot on Kip's Elite Eleven for something that is going to provide more value.

I appreciate the blogging relationship that I have established with many of you and I hope that you can follow me to Degrees of Freedom where I will continue to blog occasionally as long as they will have me.