Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Good-bye 2008

I thought for my final post of 2008, I would write about the observations I have made both in my personal life and in the goings-on in the world at large. Here it goes:

The 2008 Presidential Election
It seems as each election comes and goes, more and more time is spent by politicians, beginning earlier and earlier, to sell us on the idea that they are what's best for this country. Being as how this is the first election that I've used my recently developed critical thinking skills towards, it baffles me how much "hope" and "faith" we put into another fallible human being. The position and power of the U.S. presidency has grown so enourmously over the last century that it sickens me to think how much damage one person could ultimately do to our lives. The centralization of power in Washington, and power and corruption displayed by our "leaders" should have our founders rolling around at lightning speeds in their graves. I'm saddened to see what the federal government, what government everywhere, has become these days. We have an immoral and quagmire of a war, wire-tapping, eminent domain, Patriot acts, 10 trillion dollars of debt, money as stable as that found in the game of Monopoly, wasteful spending, and worst of all, ignorance of basic economic principles by the political class. It's maddening to me to see how much power the government has over our lives and our means. On a positive note, here's an article looking at all the progress  the human race has made, outside of government.

The Financial Crisis / Auto Bail-out
We have the government to thank for most recessions and depressions, including the 1929 crash and following depression, and especially for the recent debacle. The fact is plain, when the government interferes in the market, negative consequences follow. One of the worst consequences of government interference, even when regulating, is a concept called "moral hazard". What is moral hazard? Moral hazard is everyone learning to lower their guard because if anything bad happens to them, the government will play Superman and come to the rescue. This happens on the personal, local, and national levels. It's the belief that government is the great protector of the universe and will make us whole in the event of a loss. Without this role played by the government, people and businesses would do what is neccesary to protect themselves and be stronger for it. Of course this doesn't mean there won't be fraud, but it certainly means fraud would be harder and disincetivized to commit as everyone would be wiser. Moral hazard also reduces quality and efficiency in the market. If a company, no matter how big, is so inefficient and unproductive, leading to a decline in competitiveness, loses market share to other companies, that know how to satisfy consumers, and is given a break by the government (who has no money of it's own, mind you), then not only is it an unfair business practice, but both taxpayers and consumers pay the price. And the ones it hurts the worse are the poor, as the wealthy can manage. Moral hazard has gotten so commonplace and rampant in our country that I fear a complete breakdown of government may be the only thing to stop it. Keep in mind however, that there are other silver linings to that scenario.

Personal Growth
My own personal growth and increase in knowledge in such areas as economics, politics, and personal finance have made 2008 a year to appreciate and remember. I have developed my understanding of the principles of liberty, and of such economic thought as that taught by the so-named Austrian school. I have been better prepared with logic and reason for those I've had conversations and debates with regarding politics and economics. I vow to continue building those skills and my knowledge of truth in the world, and to continue to stand up and fight for both personal and economic liberty for all.

Family Growth
My wife and my relationship has grown and we have grown closer together. My son has gotten bigger and has made me so proud to know him and have him in my life. I am full of so much love for my family that I pray every night that I can be the best husband and father to them. My wife has made a giant accomplishment in passing her test to obtain citizenship in this country. I hope that I can be an influence to both of them to love and support the principles of liberty and limited government found in the U.S. Constitution.

Well that's it. I am sure there's more but that is all I can think of writing about right now. It's time to put the year behind us and march forth in honesty, integrity, and strength in fighting for our liberty!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

North Pole Bailout

A little late I know, but some much needed comic relief. Enjoy:

Santa Claus Bailout Hearing

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Overpopulation: The Perennial Myth

There are those in the world that believe the earth is or shortly will be overpopulated. That the earth and all of it's resources won't be enough to support the growing size of the human population, and will lead to greater and greater strife and human conflict. Those who believe such are completely wrong and perpetuating an evil myth. (I say evil because the proposed solutions involve a decrease in freedom and an increase in the size and scope of government.) And here to make my point is an article from The Freeman, a publication by the Foundation for Economic Education. I recommend reading the entire article, and if you're still not convinced, feel free to browse through the links below. The Freeman article can be found here. An excerpt:
From the period before Christ, men have been worried about overpopulation. Those concerns have become ever more frenzied. On an almost daily basis we are fed a barrage of stories in the newspapers and on television—complete with such appropriately lurid headlines as “Earth Near the Breaking Point” and “Population Explosion Continues Unabated”—predicting the imminent starvation of millions because population is outstripping the food supply. We regularly hear that because of population growth we are rapidly depleting our resource base with catastrophic consequences looming in our immediate future. We are constantly told that we are running out of living space and that unless something is done, and done immediately, to curb population growth, the world will be covered by a mass of humanity, with people jammed elbow to elbow and condemned to fight for each inch of space.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Patents: Invention vs. Innovation

I just read the cover article in my latest copy of The Freeman, the 52-year flagship publication of the Foundation for Economic Education. It is titled "Do Patents Encourage Innovation? The Case of the Steam Engine," found here. It is an interesting article on how history, in this case the history of the steam engine, has shown that patents seem to stifle innovation. Now, I'm not saying that I agree with the authors, but it did spark some thought wanderings on the claim. 

To understand how such a claim is strengthened by the case of the steam engine, you'll have to read the article. But the more I think about it, the more I come back to a big question. Though patents may stifle innovation, do they encourage invention? That really is the big question. After all, without a guarantee of monopoly on an idea, just how big is the incentive to invent anything at all. Then again, monopolies hurt consumers by eliminating competition and weakening the incentive to innovate. Perhaps patent protection can be revised or even somehow privatized. At this point, I don't know what's been discussed and debated out there regarding patents, but maybe one day my curiosity will take me there.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Lemon Socialism

I've just heard this name and I'm already in love with it. What it means, as explained by David Boaz, president of the Cato Institute, is socializing or nationalizing lemon (read: loser) companies. He goes on in this inteview to talk about the auto bailout, a must watch:

David Boaz on "Lemon Socialism"

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Gov. Spending Hurts Economy

This video by Daniel Mitchell of the Cato Institute explains why the theory that says the government should increase its spending to boost the economy, as proposed by John Keynes in the early 20th century, relies on several logical fallacies that when examined, both in theory and in practice, prove that Keynes was wrong. Educating yourself on this is especially important during this time in the history of our country.

Keynesianism Demolished - by Daniel Mitchell

Buy a Gun, Now!

I'm a little fired up right now after reading about Brittany Zimmerman of New York. She was being attacked, with a knife, and managed to call 911 for help. The problem is, the police didn't arrive for 48 minutes and by then she was already dead and found by her boyfriend.

This is a perfect example of why private gun ownership is so important to self defense. Had she been carrying protection in the form of a firearm, no doubt she would still be alive. To insist that the only protection people have a right to is the police is an insult to anyone who values their own life and the lives of their loved ones. I hope we can all learn a lesson from this tragedy on the importance of securing our God-given right to bear arms.

My heart goes out to the Zimmerman family and pray that others, living in such dangerous places as New York, are better prepared.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Money, Banking, and The Fed

In order to get better educated on how the dollar came to be and why we have the Federal Reserve, I recommended watching this video (via YouTube) by the Ludwig von Mises Institute.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Increased Scientific Dissent II

Here's the link to the full .PDF report titled "More Than 650 International Scientists Dissent Over Man-Made Global Warming Claims. Scientists Continue to Debunk 'Consensus' in 2008" from the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Here's more of the introduction (the text contains links in the .PDF file):
The chorus of skeptical scientific voices grow louder in 2008 as a steady stream of peer-reviewed studies, analyses, real world data and inconvenient developments challenged the UN and former Vice President Al Gore's claims that the "science is settled" and there is a "consensus." On a range of issues, 2008 proved to be challenging for the promoters of man-made climate fears. Promoters of anthropogenic warming fears endured the following: Global temperatures failing to warm; Peer-reviwed studies predicting a continued lack of warming; a failed attempt to revive the discredited “Hockey Stick”; inconvenient developments and studies regarding CO2; the Sun; Clouds; Antarctica; the Arctic; Greenland; Mount Kilimanjaro; Hurricanes; Extreme Storms; Floods; Ocean Acidification; Polar Bears; lack of atmosphieric dust; the failure of oceans to warm and rise as predicted.

In addition, the following developments further secured 2008 as the year the “consensus” collapsed. Russian scientists “rejected the very idea that carbon dioxide may be responsible for global warming”. An American Physical Society editor conceded that a “considerable presence” of scientific skeptics exist. An International team of scientists countered the UN IPCC, declaring: “Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate”. India Issued a report challenging global warming fears. International Scientists demanded the UN IPCC “be called to account and cease its deceptive practices,” and a canvass of more than 51,000 Canadian scientists revealed 68% disagree that global warming science is “settled.”

Increased Scientific Dissent

A full U.S. Senate report should be released today showing the growing number of scientific dissent to the theory of man-made global warming. The pre-release article can be viewed here at the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works blog. An excerpt:
The UN global warming conference currently underway in Poland is about to face a serious challenge from over 650 dissenting scientists from around the globe who are criticizing the climate claims made by the UN IPCC and former Vice President Al Gore. Set for release this week, a newly updated U.S. Senate Minority Report features the dissenting voices of over 650 international scientists, many current and former UN IPCC scientists, who have now turned against the UN. The report has added about 250 scientists (and growing) in 2008 to the over 400 scientists who spoke out in 2007. The over 650 dissenting scientists are more than 12 times the number of UN scientists (52) who authored the media hyped IPCC 2007 Summary for Policymakers.
Here are a few quotes from dissenting scientists and as soon as the full report is released I will have it posted here:
Warming fears are the “worst scientific scandal in the history…When people come to know what the truth is, they will feel deceived by science and scientists.” - UN IPCC Japanese Scientist Dr. Kiminori Itoh, an award-winning PhD environmental physical chemist.

“It is a blatant lie put forth in the media that makes it seem there is only a fringe of scientists who don’t buy into anthropogenic global warming.” - U.S Government Atmospheric Scientist Stanley B. Goldenberg of the Hurricane Research Division of NOAA.

“CO2 emissions make absolutely no difference one way or another….Every scientist knows this, but it doesn’t pay to say so…Global warming, as a political vehicle, keeps Europeans in the driver’s seat and developing nations walking barefoot.” - Dr. Takeda Kunihiko, vice-chancellor of the Institute of Science and Technology Research at Chubu University in Japan.

“After reading [UN IPCC chairman] Pachauri's asinine comment [comparing skeptics to] Flat Earthers, it's hard to remain quiet.” - Climate statistician Dr. William M. Briggs, who specializes in the statistics of forecast evaluation, serves on the American Meteorological Society's Probability and Statistics Committee and is an Associate Editor of Monthly Weather Review.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Free Market Clapper

Oh this is too funny, I just had to post a link:

The Free Market Clapper - a Flash animation by Mark Fiore

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Right to Shout "Fire"?

I am currently reading a book by Murray Rothbard titled "For a New Liberty" and it has thus far been very enlightening. I just read the end of Chapter 2 and thought I would post here an interesting point on our right of freedom of speech:
Consider, for example, the classic example where liberals generally concede that a person’s “right of freedom of speech” must be curbed in the name of the “public interest”: Justice Holmes’ famous dictum that no one has the right to cry “fire” falsely in a crowded theater. Holmes and his followers have used this illustration again and again to prove the supposed necessity for all rights to be relative and tentative rather than precise and absolute.

But the problem here is not that rights cannot be pushed too far but that the whole case is discussed in terms of a vague and wooly “freedom of speech” rather than in terms of the rights of private property. Suppose we analyze the problem under the aspect of property rights. The fellow who brings on a riot by falsely shouting “fire” in a crowded theater is, necessarily, either the owner of the theater (or the owner’s agent) or a paying patron. If he is the owner, then he has committed fraud on his customers. He has taken their money in exchange for a promise to put on a movie or play, and now, instead, he disrupts the show by falsely shouting “fire” and breaking up the performance. He has thus welshed on his contractual obligation, and has thereby stolen the property—the money—of his patrons and has violated their property rights.

Suppose, on the other hand, that the shouter is a patron and not the owner. In that case, he is violating the property right of the owner—as well as of the other guests to their paid-for performance. As a guest, he has gained access to the property on certain terms, including an obligation not to violate the owner’s property or to disrupt the performance the owner is putting on. His malicious act, therefore, violates the property rights of the theater owner and of all the other patrons.

There is no need, therefore, for individual rights to be restricted in the case of the false shouter of “fire.” The rights of the individual are still absolute; but they are property rights. The fellow who maliciously cried “fire” in a crowded theater is indeed a criminal, but not because his so-called “right of free speech” must be pragmatically restricted on behalf of the “public good”; he is a criminal because he has clearly and obviously violated the property rights of another person.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Henry Ford's Position on Bailouts

The below is from
Thanks to Kevin Duffy for a reminder of what the great entrepreneur Henry Ford said on February 11, 1934: "Let them fail; let everybody fail! I made my fortune when I had nothing to start with, by myself and my own ideas. Let other people do the same thing. If I lose everything in the collapse of our financial structure, I will start in at the beginning and build it up again."
Let it be known that I agree with his position.