Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Four Charts That Will Tell You All You Need To Know About "The War On Poverty"

Here's a chart that I've probably posted a dozen times.  It shows how poverty was dying nicely, all on its own, until LBJ declared war on it. 
Then poverty started feeling better, was taken off life support, and is now doing quite well. 

 
Here's another chart showing the amount spent by Federal anti-poverty agencies per poor household in 2011.  It comes to more than $61,000 per poverty-level household.  These numbers were bitterly contested when first released by The Weekly Standard, but they are what they are. 
 


Here are two more charts showing the wealthiest counties in the USA  Check out the counties around Washington D.C. 
This is where the 1% lives. 


By name....


From The Atlantic Monthly, hardly a Tea-Party periodical....

To be clear, this isn't telling you that the richest people in America live one commute from D.C. In fact, parts of Connecticut, New York, and California are much, much richer than the richest parts of the Greater DC Area. Instead, it's telling you that these counties, of varying sizes, have the highest median income, because there is a striking concentration of high-earning (if not quite vertiginously rich) households around the district.

On the Virginia side, Falls Church City (#1 richest county in the country) is enveloped by Arlington (#7) and east rim of Fairfax County (#5), which borders Loudoun (#2) on its west side. From Loudoun, you pass south through Prince William (#13) to Stafford (#9).

In Maryland, encircling Washington, you have, clockwise from the noon position, Montgomery (#12), Howard (#4),  Anne Arundel (#24), Calvert (#23), St. Mary's (#29), ​and Charles (#18). All of these counties border each other, forming a kind of reverse-C (or Hebrew Fe) around the District.

A staggering amount of the money we send to Washington D.C. stays there.   (We send it there because all truly civilized societies provide welfare, safety nets, free educations, free transportation, and free internet wireless, or so they tell us....)

All decent people are in favor of giving some of their wealth to help the poor, sick, disabled and elderly. 

There is absolutely nothing wrong with calling "bullshit" on government's claims of effectiveness in doing the job for us. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Elizabeth Warren's 11 Commandments Of Progressivism

Senator Elizabeth Warren, the Moses Of Massachusetts, recently spent some quality time with Jehovah atop Mt. Sinai, and came down from the mountaintop with "The 11 Commandments Of Progressivism". 

Please stop your revelry, quit worshipping the Golden Calf, and join me in critiquing Ms. Warren's commandments....


First, let's straighten out some terminology.  The American Left routinely violates the English language by using words to mean whatever the hell they want them to mean.  For instance, I'm a Liberal.  It's a great old word, coming from the same root as liberty, liberate, libertarian, and liberation. 

The American Left seemed to start off as "The Progressive Movement", then morphed into "Liberals", and then after defiling that fine old word, refashioned themselves as "Progressives". 

Here's Michael Barone, explaining some of the transition:

Liberals just aren't very liberal these days. The word "liberal" comes from the Latin word meaning freedom, and in the 19th century, liberals in this country and abroad stood for free speech, free exercise of religion, free markets, free trade -- for minimal state interference in people's lives.
In the 20th-century, New Dealers revised this definition by arguing that people had a right not only to free speech and freedom of religion but also, as Franklin Roosevelt said in his 1941 Four Freedoms speech, freedom from fear and from want.
Freedom from want meant, for Roosevelt, government provision of jobs, housing, health care and food. And so government would have to be much larger, more expensive and more intrusive than ever before.
That's what liberalism has come to mean in America (in Europe it still has the old meaning), and much of the Obama Democrats' agenda are logical outgrowths -- Obamacare, the vast expansion of food stamps, attempted assistance to underwater homeowners.

I support marijuana legalization, I support gay marriage, and I support lots and lots and lots of birth control.  That makes me a Liberal, in the old-school sense of the word. 

I do not believe that someone should be forced to hire stoners, forced to bake cakes for gay weddings, or forced to pay for someone else's morning-after birth control pills.  In the old-school sense of the word, that makes me a.... Liberal. 

So I'm glad that Senator Warren, the Moses Of Massachusetts, has decided to change her label to "Progressive".  Progressive means "someone who wants to take your stuff". 

Let's look at Fauxcahontas's stone tablets:

 The 11 Commandments Of Progressivism !!
  
- "We believe that Wall Street needs stronger rules and tougher enforcement, and we're willing to fight for it."

Wall Street already has more rules than the freakin' Koran.  The Securities And Exchange Commission has a budget of 1.32 billion dollars.  Stock purchasing and trading is already one of the most regulated activities on Earth. 
On top of that, Elizabeth Warren's Democrat tribe held the Presidency, the House of Representatives, and the Senate in the time period immediately after the recent Wall Street fiascos.  Nobody on Wall Street went to jail. 
Elizabeth Warren wants more power and control and money for government.  It really is that simple. 

- "We believe in science, and that means that we have a responsibility to protect this Earth."

I believe in science.  I believe that I have a responsibility to protect this Earth.  (What's up with her saying "this Earth"?  Do we have undiscovered responsibilities to protect other Earths?  And will this require additional funding?)
I do not believe that protecting this (or any other) Earth obligates me to give money to Barack and Elizabeth and The Goracle
I will believe that my activity influences the weather when those three jet-setters start acting like their activity influences the weather.  Canadian Geese spend less time in the air than those three con-artists.   

- "We believe that the Internet shouldn't be rigged to benefit big corporations, and that means real net neutrality."

Good Lord in heaven....  If we were to discover that some internet service provider was rigging searches, we could drop them like a hot potato.  Leave it to the customer.  End of story.
 
For instance, the Progressives who run Google have de-emphasized their Blogger/BlogSpot service (the one that hosts this blog) in the Google search algorithm. 
I believe that there is a 5 to 1 ratio of Libertarian/Conservative bloggers to Liberal/Progressive bloggers. 
It is far more effective for Google to stifle blog search results than it is for them to contribute $$$ to Progressive candidates. 
I can't prove any of this.  I don't want Washington, or Senator Elizabeth Warren, or Rand Paul to spend a dime trying to prove this.  It's a dumbass conspiracy theory of mine. 
It's Google's company, and they can run it however they choose.  Google gives me this blog site for free, and I can start paying for Wordpress or something else if I choose to do so.  Until then, I shouldn't do any bitching about my delusions of Google violating net neutrality.
 
- "We believe that no one should work full-time and still live in poverty, and that means raising the minimum wage."

And this will guarantee that more low-skilled workers won't work at all, and will live in poverty. 
If I become king and arbitrarily set the minimum selling price on all cars at $50,000.00, you're going to by a Mercedes every single time.  That used, beat-up 1975 Volkswagen Beetle will go unpurchased at $50,000.00
The minimum wage was first put in place in the U.S. to keep (black) poor workers from taking (white) middle-class jobs.  It has always worked precisely as intended. 

- "We believe that fast-food workers deserve a livable wage, and that means that when they take to the picket line, we are proud to fight alongside them."

Elizabeth, you ignorant slut
McDonald's, Whataburger, Wendy's and Burger King hire the people that Harvard, M.I.T., Bell Helicopter, Google, Microsoft, Yale, and NASA refuse to hire.  Elizabeth, you have refused to hire those fast-food workers. 
Don't take to the picket line.  Stop marching.  Stop bitching and moaning about the low wages offered by others.  Hire those people.  It's easy to make money off of low-skilled labor, right?
And in your spare time, look up the black teen unemployment rate.  Do you really want to price even more of those kids out of a job?  Or are you just trying to get traction from an issue that polls well with Low Information Voters Progressives?    

- "We believe that students are entitled to get an education without being crushed by debt."

Then for the love of God, please end government's near-monopoly on higher education. 
Fire Thomas J. Perez, the Luddite son of a bitch who is now the Secretary Of Labor.  (You know, the guy who, when working for the Justice Department, prevented universities from using the Kindle, because Kindles discriminate against blind people.) 
End lifetime employment guarantees for under-worked academics.
Investigate the possibility that government loans just might be the reason universities can jack up their prices to ridiculous levels.   
Give people a freakin' choice.  There is no reason why a course in Western Civilization should cost more than it did in 1950 (adjusted for inflation). 
We're dealing with cartels, not classrooms.

- "We believe that after a lifetime of work, people are entitled to retire with dignity, and that means protecting Social Security, Medicare, and pensions."

Too late.  Social Security and Medicare are both bankrupt.  Gone.  They've spent it all. 

- "We believe—I can't believe I have to say this in 2014—we believe in equal pay for equal work."

I can't believe I'm having to say this in 2014 either.....

Think of all the people who came into your workplace with the exact same background, education and training. 
Then eliminate everyone all those who don't perform your same job in your department. 
Then eliminate those who are better workers than you and those who are worse workers than you. 
In Elizabeth Warren's world, the remaining people are those who should be paid the same as you. 
Could you think of anybody? 
No?  There's no one else with your identical training, education, certifications, pedigrees, work ethic, punctuality, attitude, result, profit margins, congeniality, and downright awesomeness? 

That's why the "equal pay for equal work" theme is nothing but a feast for lawyers. 

- "We believe that equal means equal, and that's true in marriage, it's true in the workplace, it's true in all of America."

This is a meaning less statement.  Dell Computer means Dell Computer.  Tape dispenser means tape dispenser.  Stapler means stapler, and phone means phone (to name just a few of the things on my desk.) 
I don't know how this Word Pasta made it into the commandments.  

- "We believe that immigration has made this country strong and vibrant, and that means reform."

I agree. 
But "reform" is another one of those words that the American Left has desecrated. 
Thanks to "Healthcare Reform" and "Campaign Finance Reform", the word "Reform" now means to take something and f**k it up beyond all recognition. 
How 'bout we change that commandment to "We believe that immigration has made this country strong and vibrant, and therefore we favor Open Borders." 

- "And we believe that corporations are not people, that women have a right to their bodies. We will overturn Hobby Lobby and we will fight for it. We will fight for it!"

Corporations are comprised of groups of people.  They're sure as hell taxed like they're people.  And, to a lesser extent, they can be sued like people. 
Women have a right to their own bodies, because they are people. 
People do have a right to their bodies. 
It follows that people have a right to the goods and services produced by their bodies and minds.   
Therefore, no individual or corporation should be in charge of providing healthcare, child support, income tax withholding, Social Security contributions, Medicare, Medicaid, or 40 acres and a mule to anyone. 
Putting companies in between people and government (for tax withholding, etc.) is a structure that began as one of FDR's many wartime mistakes, and it should end now. 

And the main tenet of conservatives' philosophy, according to Warren? "I got mine. The rest of you are on your own."

And Elizabeth Warren's philosophy is "You got yours.  And I want it." 
Go here to read about Warren's support for the Corporate Welfare Bank. 

God Almighty, I'm glad I got this out of my system. 

BTW, the Libertarian movement only has two real commandments - "Don't hit people and don't take their stuff." 


 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Yes, I'm still alive

Yes, I'm still alive. 
Working 75-hour weeks. 
I'm "temporary" manager of our wood shop. 
I have 143 employees, on two shifts. 
I will be back to regularly scheduled ranting and blogging as soon as we find a permanent wood shop manager. 

In the meantime, we're building circular bakery fixtures and displays like this one:

 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

A hypothetical question about a 2nd-World Country

As I've stated below numerous times, I'm swamped at work.  We are busy, busy, busy.  We are so far behind that we occasionally look behind ourselves and think that we're in first place. 
I haven't had much time to write lately. 
However, after reading libertarian-ish stuff about economics, globalization, free trade, and economic development for the last ten years, I can see how my work stuff and my political stuff sometimes intersect quite nicely.  Theories and reality sometimes do come together! 

What follows is an email that I got from my friend and co-worker Darrell (one of our salesmen/project managers) about some display fixtures we're doing for grocery stores in Panama. 
Yeah.  
A Fort Worth TX company is doing display fixtures for stores near the Panama Canal.   
(As an FYI, there is a suburb of Panama City called San Francisco, not to be confused with Nancy Pelosi's fiefdom in California.)
Please enjoy Darrell's underlining, exclamation points!!, emoticons :)  and bold text.  Darrell types like he speaks.  Read his email, and I'll try to make my points later...

Greetings from Panama! It is after 2100 hours on Friday night and Edgar and I are getting ready for a good night’s rest here in the hotel.  A very brief report as we get ready to hit the hay and hit it hard again tomorrow.  

1.       The first container arrived today at 0900 at the San Francisco store – and it worked out perfectly that it was the La Cresta (what we thought would be the first store) container with all that we needed for the first install. The stores are not – as we were led to think – anywhere near ready to be open. We will have everything set up in all of the stores before they are ready to earn dollar one!

2.       The Solid Surfaces were ALL intact and unbroken. Kudos to the Jamie and the other guys at Infiniti (under the direction of Dan and Angel) for an excellent packaging job!

 

3.       The fixtures were completely intact and undamaged with the exception of one pretty big scratch (might have been done by one of the workers while cutting the foam and wrap away) on the a metal cabinet and one little bend in one of the pieces on the Checkout Counter. Extreme Kudos to one Clinton for his assistance in leading me in the packaging of all of the fixtures. It was excellence in every way possible! It is  very difficult to explain how significant Clint’s contribution was to this project!

4.       It is extremely “primitive” here in Panama City with no forklift and not even an available pallet jack to use in unloading the containers. Edgar and I worked and supervised a group of young men workers in unloading it “piece of piece by piece of piece.” It took 22 minutes to load by Mikey at Metal Shipping (In Texas) – and 2 hours and 15 minutes to unload (In Panama) – basically by hand. I have a short video of Edgar wringing out his shirt at the mid-point of the process that is priceless. He is now asleep already and snoring loudly. J


5.       Oh – the most important part…The clients ABSOLUTLEY LOVE the look of the fixtures. We are really close to getting the commitment on the next 6 of their stores. And (censored) was talking us up today about the prospects of the remodeling the rest of the 40+ (censored, not any of your damn business) stores in Panama and the 32 stores in Costa Rica. And – in the interest of a true long-term partnership with the parent company – remodeling a few dozen (censored) pharmacies and even more of (censored again; you're on a need-to-know basis) in Central America.

6.       It will be a long few days here – but the prospects are bright!

7.       Lastly, I have copied but a fraction of the Marco and Infiniti people that have contributed to this effort…and there were 19 names in either the To: or the CC: lines above (when I first tried to send this last night)!  And THAT is source of great pride for me. It should be to you all, also.  I am filled with gratitude for your help in this true TEAM effort.

Darrell (Last Name Censored)
Project Manager
The Marco Company

Ok, let's begin the economic and political and Libertarian analysis of each bullet-point in this email....

1) Shipping Containers.  These ugly metal boxes are so significant to our lives, so vital to the global economy, and so wonderful for trade, but most of us have little or no idea how much they have enriched our existence.  Prior to the invention of containers, manufacturers and shippers had to "break bulk" every time a shipment moved from truck to boat to rail to truck.  Theft was rampant.  20% losses were common. 
Back in the late 1950's a genius entrepreneur named Malcom McLean invented a metal box that could travel by truck, rail, or boat.  (Think about how many nations have different standards for their roads, their truckbeds, their railcars, and their harbors, and you'll understand the magnitude of his task.  Mr. McLean really, really, really wanted this system to work.) 
Unless you are a Luddite, a Nationalist, or a racist of some sort, you understand that Free Trade is the greatest economic concept ever devised.   Politicians rant against Free Trade, corporate lobbyists try to protect their industries from it, and government munchkins love being photographed rushing to the aid of those whose lives have been disrupted by globalization.  This makes as much sense as rushing to the aid of Blockbuster employees whose lives have been disrupted by Netflix. 
Thank you, Mr. McLean for increasing global trade by inventing the shipping container.  Because of this glorious metal box, one million people per month are leaving poverty in China alone!     

2) "The Solid Surfaces were all intact and unbroken..."  The unions hated McLean's shipping containers.  They hated the concept.  They still wanted to unload each container onto a boat when it entered each harbor, and then reload it when it went onto the rail.  And then unload the container and reload it when it went from the rail to a truck.  I swear to God, that's what they wanted to do.  You can read stories about it here.
But it's hard for The Teamsters and union dockworkers to steal from your shipment when the factory in China (or Fort Worth) puts a seal on the door and all container movement comes to a shrieking halt if the seal is broken. 
Thank you again, Mr. McLean, for inventing a shipping device that allows the Free Market to function smoothly.  Readers, unless you're in Asia, the device you're using to read this rant arrived in your nation via Shipping Container. 

3)  I'm not going to go off into who is at fault for the damage (that probably happened in the store, caused by store employees, and not by us). 
But had the display fixtures in question needed repair, the nation of Panama would've allowed Darrell to do the work. 
Contrast Panama's approach with that of The Peoples' Republic Of Canada, where a foreigner can't even carry his toolbox across the Canadian border because the Canadian government is afraid that doing so will destroy Canadian jobs.  Seriously.  Texans can't carry their own toolboxes into Canada without special permits, or paperwork explaining that it's for "warranty repair". 
Making foreign labor illegal is as harmful to your well-being as making foreign products illegal.
If you disagree, spend a few minutes questioning why we've had an embargo with Cuba since the JFK era. 

4) Point number 4 is interesting.  A guy named David Mason and I once loaded a 53-foot Wal-Mart trailer in 18 minutes.  There were about 25 skids and 30 boxes, and we did it in 18 minutes.  I repeat, and I might want this included in my obituary, we loaded that trailer in 18 minutes.  Mikey got this shipment done in 22 minutes.  And it took more than two hours to unload in Panama because they don't have forklifts!

So here's the economics question....  Which process "saved or created" the most jobs?  Loading in 22 minutes or unloading for two hours without a forklift or a pallet jack? 

Well, working without the modern tools created the most work and the most jobs.  But creating jobs is not the purpose of work.  The purpose of jobs is to produce something.  Something that people want.  Here's a famous Milton Friedman anecdote that might make the point more clearly....

The story goes that Milton Friedman was once taken to see a massive government project somewhere in Asia. Thousands of workers using shovels were building a canal. Friedman was puzzled. Why weren’t there any excavators or any mechanized earth-moving equipment? A government official explained that using shovels created more jobs. Friedman’s response: “Then why not use spoons instead of shovels?”
That story came to mind last week when President Obama linked technology to job losses. “There are some structural issues with our economy where a lot of businesses have learned to become much more efficient with a lot fewer workers,” he said. “You see it when you go to a bank and you use an ATM, you don’t go to a bank teller, or you go to the airport and you’re using a kiosk instead of checking in at the gate.”
The president calls this a structural issue—we usually call it progress.

The writer goes on to dissect a few more paragraphs of Barackaganda.  Hit the link up top to read it all, and for a more thorough explanation of the difference between jobs and production.   250 years ago, 98% of us were farmers.  That's what it took to keep us alive.  Anybody want to turn back the clock? 

5)  Regarding how much the customer loves the displays, and how we've got the potential to do a lot more stores for (censored) in Panama and Costa Rica, and elsewhere in Latin America....
I was born in 1961, on a farm between Merigold and Drew Mississippi.  If you had told me as a teenager that U.S. companies would be exporting fruitstands, bakery racks, and other display fixtures into Latin America, I would've said that you were insane. 
Don't they have trees for wood in Panama?  Don't they have metal shops in Costa Rica?  They produce lots of oil in South America, so they make their own plastic? 
Yeah, they have all the raw materials down there, but they also have a choice....
Leave them alone, and they choose to buy their freakin' fruitstands from a U.S. company.  Could they make 'em cheaper in Latin America? 
Definitely. 
But Latin America is best at growing bananas and fruit and cattle.  West Fort Worth is best at making display fixtures.  It's called "comparative advantage", and with the exception of Ron Paul, I don't think any major American politician has ever understood it.
We really would be better off if without laws stating that Olympic and Army and Navy uniforms have to be made in the USA.  For the love of God, let everyone, everywhere, do what they're best at doing.  

6)  "It will be a long few days here - but the prospects are bright!"  Compare that sentence to the current Keynesian mess that our political system encourages. 
Presidents want the economy to improve now, so they mortgage our children's' future. 
Keynesian economists want to create full employment now, so they borrow from the next generation.
Going through a recession?  Create a "stimulus", using borrowed money via loans cosigned by infants. 

But in the private sector, Darrell works hard now so that in the future we might have brighter prospects. 

7)  Darrell makes a slight mistake in that last bullet-point.  He thanked everybody for the "team" effort. 
Most of us had little or no idea of the bigger picture.  Some of us were making metal brackets, some were cutting laminated sheets, others were painting parts. 
Very few people involved in the project were aware of the big picture.  The teamwork in the process was a matter of passing each part along to the next stage, in shops located miles apart. 
If one master craftsman had tried to do it all, it would've taken years to finish.  Nobody is good enough in all areas to do something like this. 


This guy has a good explanation of why that is the case:

In the first chapter of  “The Wealth of Nations”, Adam Smith, explains the optimum organization of a pin factory. Traditional pin makers could produce only a few dozen pins a day. However, when organized in a factory with each worker performing a limited operation, they could produce tens of thousands a day. This was the reason why Smith favored division of labor.

Karl Marx believed that this "Division Of Labor" would create a "loss of self" in workers.  Karl Marx was usually full of crap. 

So here's a hypothetical question about Panama....
Are Panamanians better off or worse off because of buying display fixtures from Fort Worth, Texas?

That's all I have to say about this email. 
It's been a long, long day. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

One Obama paragraph. Five errors.

I've been very, very busy at work, so I haven't been posting much on this site.  I've been producing things that other people want.  I produce things that people voluntarily give their money for. 

The president of the United States has been very busy too.  But he takes things by force. 

Fortunately for the nation, Barack Obama has disadvantages that I (and many others) don't have. 

You see, we're not burdened by being totally full of shit. 

Here's a recent Barack speech, in italics. 

"You'll hear if you watch the nightly news or you read the newspapers that, well, there's gridlock, Congress is broken, approval ratings for Congress are terrible.  And there's a tendency to say, a plague on both your houses. 

And I take pride in being the Point Man for Tarrant County, Texas, for many of those who say "a plague on both your houses".  Both houses spend other peoples' money like drunk cowboys.  Both sides support the Drug War, they've supported the War on Gays, the War on Brown People, etc., etc., etc.  My side doesn't. 

But the truth of the matter is that the problem in Congress is very specific.  We have a group of folks in the Republican Party who have taken over who are so ideologically rigid, who are so committed to an economic theory that says if folks at the top do very well then everybody else is somehow going to do well;

Name ONE "economic theorist" who says that if "the folks at the top" (and they're centered around D.C.) do well, then EVERYBODY ELSE is going to do well.  Name one.  Barack, I will kiss your ass on the White House steps, and give you 30 minutes to draw a crowd beforehand, if you can produce the economic theorists who claim that if the folks at the top are doing well, then EVERYBODY ELSE will somehow do well.  There will always be some losers.  Always.  In the purest libertarian capitalist system that anyone can imagine, there will be some heartbreaking losses.  Someone, somewhere, will be the last VHS cassette manufacturer. 

BTW, here's a map of the wealthiest counties in the USA.  I'll never tire of posting it.  Barack is in the middle of that radioactive orange spot. 



....who deny the science of climate change;

Well, you got me there.  Climate is changing.  It always has.  I believe that it always will.  So does everyone else.  But I'm not going to stop flying, or hauling the nation's toilet paper around in semi-tractors.  Barack, you aren't going to stop flying either.  So please, please, please drop the posturing.  We've been through four or five Ice Ages in the past, and we're blessed to live in the gap between a couple of them now.  Enjoy it while it lasts.   

....who don't think making investments in early-childhood education makes sense;

Here's an analysis of the Government Accounting Office's study that proved that investment in early-childhood education don't make sense (when government is the party making the investments).  Most caring people in America have heard of this study.  Read it, for God's sake....

who have repeatedly blocked raising a minimum wage so if you work full-time in this country you're not living in poverty.... 

If, if, if....If, if, if....  That's like saying "if you get lucky enough as a low-skilled victim of public schools and the legal system and the drug war, you're not living in poverty."  We have a horrifying number of unemployed minority teens in this country.  They are unemployed because the minimum wage is too high.  The only alternative to that view is to believe that employers are now more racist than they were 70 years ago. 

...who scoff at the notion that we might have a problem with women not getting paid for doing the same work that men are doing.

I scoff at that notion.  I repeat....  I scoff at that notion.  And if you are honest, so will you.  Think of your workplace.  Think of someone who does your exact job, with your exact experience level, and your exact output, and your exact level of training. 

Thought of that person yet?  No?  Well, you never will.  He or she doesn't exist.  That's why this segment of Barack's Inequality Crusade is a red herring.  It's a feast for lawyers and the government's regulatory munchkins. 

Also, if you adjust for hours worked and education, women make virtually the same as men.  Barack's Pajama Boys pulled that 77% number out of their asses. 

So there you have it.  One paragraph of a Barack Obama speech.  Five misrepresentations of reality.  He could've said that Republicans are superstitious homophobes.  Well, maybe.  He could've said that they're scared of people with different skin colors from theirs.  Well, yeah, but so are Democrats.  Barack could've said that Republicans are Crony Capitalists of the worst possible sort, and I woulda stood on my coffee table and cheered. 

There's so much low-hanging fruit out there, just waiting on a politician like Barack to reach up and pluck it. 

He can't even do that properly. 

Sorry for the anger in this post.  But I'm so tired of that man.  I've spent a long, long day trying to hire and train victims of our public schools who first became victims of the Welfare State, who then became victims of the Drug War, and who then later became victims of "the helping professions" in government social work bureaucracies.  The system depresses me and terrifies me. 

Good night. 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Do you remember "Schoolhouse Rock"?

Back in the early 1970's, back when Saturday morning cartoons were still popular, ABC had a series of short vignettes called "Schoolhouse Rock". 
They dealt with grammar, history, math and such. 

For everyone who remembers.....

 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

An explanation, an experiment, and a parable about Milton Friedman's Four Ways To Spend Money


Here's a chart showing Milton Friedman's famous Four Ways To Spend Money. 

Here's a 2004 interview with Friedman, in which he explains the famous Four Ways To Spend Money.  (All government spending is in that nasty bottom right quadrant, BTW.  Any project that is advertised in terms of number of "jobs created" is a waste.  I'm just sayin'....)
There are four ways to spend money. You can spend your own money on yourself. When you do that, why you really watch out for what you're doing, and you try to get the most for your money. Then you can spend your own money on somebody else. For example, I buy a birthday present for someone. Well then, I'm not so careful about the content of the present, but I'm very careful about the cost. Then, I can spend somebody else's money on myself. And if I spend somebody else's money on myself, then I'm going to have a good lunch! Finally, I can spend somebody else's money on somebody else. And if I spend somebody else's money on somebody else, I'm not concerned about how much it costs, and I'm not concerned about what I get. And that's government. And that's close to 40 percent of our national income.
Here's something from MSN Money, posted about a month ago.  It's an experiment that confirms Friedman's hypothesis about the top right and bottom left quadrants of the chart.  If you're helping someone else spend their money, or they're helping you spend yours, more money will be spent, often on silliness....
You and your friends are eating out and you plan to divide the tab evenly. Now you're faced with a dilemma. Do you splurge at the expense of your friend's pocketbook, or do you eat light, knowing you're going to end up paying for your friend's lavish meal? 
This seemingly innocuous event has caused enough consternation that a group of three scientists actually performed field experiments to see how unscrupulous people really are. 
According to io9.com, the experiment went a little like this: A group of strangers gather to eat at a restaurant. The participants are each told how they will pay for their meal. Some will pay individually, some are told they will split the check, and the remaining people are told that the meal will be free. 
The diners then ordered their meals without anyone else seeing what they had chosen.
The results of the dining experience are described by io9.com:
To no one's surprise, the people who paid individually were the most frugal, the people getting the free lunch were most extravagant, and the people who split the bill were in the middle, and therefore slightly unscrupulous.
Some diners were then told that they would have to pay just one-sixth of the cost of their individual meal. There was no difference between what those diners ate compared to those who were told they had to split the bill evenly, according to io9.com.

But what happens when you're in a large group of anonymous people?  Here's something from the immortal Russ Roberts, writing waaaaay back in 1995.  This essay, called "If you're paying, I'll have Top Sirloin", has already made it into the Libertarian Literary Canon.  The entire parable is scraped and reposted here, just to make my point....

As Congress prepares to try to cut spending, I am reminded of an evening last fall at the St. Louis Repertory Theater, our local company. Before the curtain rose, the company's director appeared and encouraged us to vote against a ballot proposition to limit state taxes. He feared it would lead to reduced funding for the company.

I turned to the woman sitting next to me and asked her if she felt guilty knowing that her ticket was subsidized by some farmer in the "boot-heel" of Missouri. No, she answered, he's probably getting something, too. She seemed to be implying that somehow, it all evened out.

I left her alone, but I wanted to say, no it doesn't even out. If it "evened out" for everybody, then government spending would really be depressing: all that money shuffled around, all those people working at the IRS, all those marginal tax rates discouraging work effort just to get everybody to get the same deal.

Here in St. Louis we recently completed Metrolink, a light rail system. It cost $380 million to build. We locals contributed zero out of pocket. It was paid for by the rest of the country. Shouldn't we feel guilty making people in Kentucky, Mississippi and Maine pay for our trips to the hockey arena downtown? No, say the beneficiaries. After all, we paid for BART in San Francisco and MARTA in Atlanta and all the other extraordinarily expensive, underutilized public transportation systems whose benefits fall far short of their costs. It's only fair we get our turn at the trough.

This destructive justification reminds me of a very strange restaurant.

When you eat there, you usually spend about $6—you have a sandwich, some fries and a drink. Of course you'd also enjoy dessert and a second drink, but that costs an additional $4. The extra food isn't worth $4 to you, so you stick with the $6 meal.

Sometimes, you go to the same restaurant with three friends. The four of you are in the habit of splitting the check evenly. You realize after a while that the $4 drink and dessert will end up costing you only $1, because the total tab is split four ways. Should you order the drink and dessert? If you're a nice person, you might want to spare your friends from having to subsidize your extravagance.

Then it dawns on you that they may be ordering extras financed out of your pocket. But they're your friends. They wouldn't do that to you and you wouldn't do that to them. And if anyone tries it among the group, social pressure will keep things under control.

But now suppose the tab is split not at each table but across the 100 diners that evening across all the tables. Now adding the $4 drink and dessert costs only 4¢. Splurging is easy to justify now. In fact you won't just add a drink and dessert; you'll upgrade to the steak and add a bottle of wine. Suppose you and everyone else each orders $40 worth of food. The tab for the entire restaurant will be $4000. Divided by the 100 diners, your bill comes to $40. Here is the irony. Like my neighbor at the theater, you'll get your "fair share." The stranger at the restaurant a few tables over pays for your meal, but you also help subsidize his. It all "evens out."

But this outcome is a disaster. When you dine alone, you spend $6. The extra $34 of steak and other treats are not worth it. But in competition with the others, you've chosen a meal far out of your price range whose enjoyment falls far short of its cost.

Self-restraint goes unrewarded. If you go back to ordering your $6 meal in hopes of saving money, your tab will be close to $40 anyway unless the other 99 diners cut back also. The good citizen feels like a chump.

And so we read of the freshman Congressman who comes to Congress eager to cut pork out of the budget but in trouble back home because local projects will also come under the knife. Instead of being proud to lead the way, he is forced to fight for those projects to make sure his district gets its "fair share."

Matters get much worse when there are gluttons and drunkards at the restaurant mixing with dieters and teetotalers. The average tab might be $40, but some are eating $80 worth of food while others are stuck with a salad and an iced tea.

Those with modest appetites would like to flee the smorgasbord, but suppose it's the only restaurant in town and you are forced to eat there every night. Resentment and anger come naturally. And being the only restaurant in town, you can imagine the quality of the service.

Such a restaurant can be a happy place if the light eaters enjoy watching the gluttony of those who eat and drink with gusto. Many government programs generate a comparable wide range of support. But many do not. How many Americans other than farmers benefit from the farm subsidy programs? How many Americans other than train riders derive benefit from the Amtrak subsidy?

People who are overeating at the expense of others should be ashamed. That shame will return when others are forced to cut back too. This requires deep cuts and an end to the government smorgasbord where the few benefit at the expense of the many.

There you have it.  The original Milton Friedman theory, a real-life experiment, and a Russ Roberts parable, all illustrating why government spending is generally a disaster. 
If you want someone to do a better job of pulling all this together, go elsewhere.  This is the best I can do. 
Here are some more charts, extravagantly posted on my site for your benefit, because I downloaded them from elsewhere at no expense to myself (ahem). 





The Greatest Achievement In History

From the great Arthur Brooks, of The American Enterprise Institute:

The achievement shown on this chart is possibly the greatest accomplishment in history.

"What did it? The United Nations? US foreign aid? The International Monetary Fund? Central planning?
No.
It was globalization, free trade, the boom in international entrepreneurship. In short, it was the free enterprise system, American style, which is our gift to the world.
I will state, assert and defend the statement that if you love the poor, if you are a good Samaritan, you must stand for the free enterprise system, and you must defend it, not just for ourselves but for people around the world.

It is the best anti-poverty measure ever invented."


(And we did it by not really trying!  If you keep the bureaucrats, academics, government munchkins, and other trolls busy chasing their tails, there is no limit to human accomplishment.) 
 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Help crack the NSA's secret code

The National Security Administration (NSA) recently sent out the following Tweet, partially as a game, partly as a recruiting stunt, and perhaps to polish their self-image as a buncha fun-loving guys who spend their days reading your emails and logging your phone calls. 

The idea was to get amateur cryptographers to see if they have what it takes to work for the NSA.  Here's what the Tweet looked like. 


I put aside my scheduled recreation for the evening....


....Well, the book part, anyway, and figured it out in under 30 minutes.
 
Hit this link for the translation. 

The National Security Administration.  The only branch of government that really listens!!