31 March 2007

quote of the day-or-so

Most people, including many libertarians and including me, could live with a simple cash transfer of X thousand dollars per uninsured person, coercive though it might be. But that’s not what’s involved, nor is the looming fiscal disaster the most pernicious result of Medicare and its ripple effects on private insurance. We now have a situation in which primary-care physicians can barely make a living, general surgeons and anesthesiologists are migrating to cosmetic surgery, the federal government is a ubiquitous presence in medical decision making, and wealthy people over 65 won’t fork over $20 for a flu shot. If all libertarians had to say about this issue is, “Taxation is theft,” we’d be doomed.

Virginia Postrel

quote of the day-or-so

What good is freedom of speech, when all you can do is talk to other prisoners?
Mike Munger

the homosexual agenda

i've been hearing about the dreaded homosexual agenda for yonks. not really being able to conjure up what that might be, i decided to make a concerted intellectual effort...

8:00 am - awaken to hot rhythms of Erasure
8:01 am - head to kitchen to brew coffee
8:06 am - take shower, singing Pet Shop Boys' "Rent"
8:27 am - preen before mirror
8:40 am - find clean, studded leather banana hammock, one that's suitable for the office
8:45 am - iron sleeveless mesh tee shirt, no starch
8:50 am - cover attire with armani smart suit and tie, italian shoes
8:56 am - eat breakfast of diet pills and head to office, rolling to beats of Paul Parker
9:38 am - stride into office, wink at copier repairman
9:40 am - begin work
12:11 pm - head to lunch with friends
1:56 pm - return to work
3:25 pm - duck out for quick hair appointment
6:20 pm - head to gym; today is abs!
8:13 pm - dinner for one in front of the tv; hope you're not too late for American Idol
10:00 pm - head to bed, you have an appointment with Wilde

one can feel the evil. how will we save our culture? think of the children. just not like that.

30 March 2007

free ride on economic coattails

who'da knowed? seems iceland is balls-out beating the pants off much of the world in economic growth with unemployment below 2%. having instituted a flat tax scheme, chopped corporate rates from 45% to 18%, and implementing tax competition internally, their revenues tripled and tripled again. they've also granted private property rights to fisheries, one of their major industries. all of this market liberalization has made the icelandic economy a major powerhouse.
Why did Iceland turn this way? The international trend toward economic liberalization played a role. Free-market economists like Friedrich von Hayek, Milton Friedman and James M. Buchanan all visited the country in the 1980s, influencing not only Mr. Oddsson but many of his generation. In the battle of ideas here, the right won. There was also a common recognition that the old methods did not work. Inflation was proving too disruptive, government companies too inefficient, the subsidies too costly. Ideas conspired with circumstances to bring about successful economic reforms.
so we needn't think we're going out on a limb to dream of liberalizing our own markets. we have yet more proof that it can be done and that Keynes was a tool. or we can just sit by and watch india and china eat our breakfast.

think of the children.

27 March 2007

soak the rich!

Mark Perry put me onto an article in Investor's Business Daily that pulls apart the myth of "the wealthiest 1%" BS we've been hearing about for yonks from Gorekerryedwardsclintonobama. all that lip service tries to create a common foe that is The Rich in order to form a zombie army of pitchfork- and torch-wielding peasants to storm the gates of inequality.

Far from 'favoring the rich,' as many believe, our tax code is massively redistributionist, sending literally trillions of dollars into low-income homes and far less into wealthy homes. This may be good or bad, depending on your point of view, but the fact is it's happening. And those who argue that recent tax cuts 'benefit the rich' ignore the reality.

A new study by the Tax Foundation shows the extent of the redistribution. The lowest-earning one-fifth of households, it says, get about $8.21 in total government spending for each dollar of taxes paid. Households deemed 'middle income' get $1.30 in return for every dollar sent to Washington. The rich get back 40 cents.

Looking at both taxes and spending in a representative year — 2004 — the study found an estimated $1.03 trillion to $1.53 trillion was 'redistributed downward' from the two highest-earning income quintiles. That's a lot of redistribution.

Today, some 44 million Americans pay no taxes at all. Meanwhile, the upper 5% of all income earners in 2004 paid 57.13% of all taxes, up from 35.01% in 1980. In other words, the U.S. tax code is becoming more progressive, not less.

No one minds helping the truly needy. But as with welfare in the pre-1996 reform era, reliance on government can become a habit — imposing huge costs on our national economy.

Worse, a 'what's in it for me?' attitude seems increasingly the norm. Once a nation of stoic, self-reliant individualists, America now seems full of people who think other taxpayers owe them something. They see the 'system' as a giant cow to be milked — and damn the cow.

This is backed up by polling data. In a 1994 Pew poll, 57% agreed with the statement 'Government should care for those who can't care for themselves.' Today, it's 69%.

It's sad enough when a nation punishes its most productive citizens and rewards the least productive. But the real shame is that there are so many myths about taxes and poverty we can't even have an honest discussion about it.

from the outside, one would think that the poor are left to rot. perhaps they are, but it's not our tax policy that's causing it. what ever happened to "ask not what your country can do for you?"

26 March 2007

tax season

stolen directly from Indexed

quote of the day-or-so

Any time a man has to pay for something he does not want because of the initiating of force by the government, he is, to that degree, a slave.
Raymond Cyrus Hoiles

24 March 2007

another argument against banning incandescent bulbs

one of our original overhead lights in the kitchen died a while ago. being über-hippie types, we decided to look for a greener compact flourescent bulb as a replacement. for $11, wife bought a pack of two, each with a glass cover to mask the hideous structure of a normal cf bulb. unfortunately, wife has the coordination of a drunken jellyfish two weeks dead, so the blubs, having had a face-to-face encounter with mother earth, no worky. now, given that these bulbs have mercury and other pollutants, we need to find a way to re-dispose of our $11, preferrably for free.

someone tell me where to take my bulbs (please submit all responses as xml documents). think of the children.

update: after watching my daughter tug on the cord for a cf lamp, i wonder if requiring people to keep mercury-spewing accidents within reach of children is such a good idea. it's somewhat surprising, i know, but laws have unintended consequences.

pragmatic libertarianism

i caught two mentions of the lack of pragmatism on the part of libertarians this weekend. the first is from Radicals for Capitalism by Brian Doherty.
The more distinctly libertarian types might read Road to Serfdom and find someone speaking to their secret heart, encouraging and compelling them to walk on an ideological path that among businessmen in the postwar era marked one as a bit of a queer duck, old-fashioned and possibly outmoded. But they were also imbued, many of them, with a sense that they couldn't, mustn't be quiet about these vital truths. The civilization they loved and fought to preserve and wanted to pass on to the their children was at stake. It was hard to explain to your neighbor or someone seated next to you at a dinner party why legalizing narcotics or protstitution, say, or ending public education was vital to the future of a free America; but it had to be said. You could get many friends and associates to nod along with you about domestic communism and about the excesses of the New Deal, but not some of these more outré ideas. But you had to express the whole truth: If your movement merely positioned itself as being against socialism (conceived as complete state ownership of the means of production), you were playing into the hands of the gradualist left in America. Although leftists were for heavy taxation and regulation and interference in empoyer-employee relations, they could truthfully say that they were against socialism too.
the second is from an LP blog post challenging LPers to come up with some constructive ideas rather than simply bitching about the gubmint.
Libertarians are often great at idealistic theory, but have been critized by some as being unable to find real solutions to the current issues of the day. Here's a challenge for the weekend. Let's try to find some workable libertarian solutions to these complicated problems as they have presented themselves in the congressional arena.
issuing such challenges should help limited gubmint types push a more coherent message to alter the debate. i doubt the current political hegemony will permit a third party to gain much traction, but maybe that isn't necessary in the short run. so stop merely complaining and find a tangible way to make a difference. and do some extra for me; i'll be on the couch.

i guess i would be remiss if i didn't remind the pooh-poohers of liberty they might be able to find a way to accomplish their own goals without using the implicit coercion in leveraging gubmint against each other. we're destroying society by trying to control it.

21 March 2007

knotted ties of death

an english headmaster has decided to save his kids from certain death: real, knotted ties as part of a school uniform. i can't even think of where to begin making fun of this.

one person can make a difference

Kim Hawke, member of the Lee Soil & Water Conservation District Board and a libertarian, voted to reduce government wastefulness, eliminating jobs for some, but saving money for all. imagine what could happen if more people gave a damn about waste and inefficiency, let alone limited government.

wal-mart as a progressive force for good

over at the WaPo, Sebastian Mallaby offers up a vision of wal-mart as a progressive force providing more and better subsidies to the poor than even uncle sam.
But let's say we accept Dube's calculation that retail workers take home $4.7 billion less per year because Wal-Mart has busted unions and generally been ruthless. That loss to workers would still be dwarfed by the $50 billion-plus that Wal-Mart consumers save on food, never mind the much larger sums that they save altogether. Indeed, Furman points out that the wage suppression is so small that even its "victims" may be better off. Retail workers may take home less pay, but their purchasing power probably still grows thanks to Wal-Mart's low prices.

less google love

until google manages to team with K-Fed, i don't think i'll be using their services anymore. boo, google. boo.

20 March 2007

i'm not the only one

i've been wondering if i should equate government-run health care with government-run health care. there's something that keeps niggling at me, but i can't put my finger on it.

18 March 2007

quote of the day-or-so

To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.
Theodore Roosevelt

quote of the day-or-so

In politics shared hatreds are almost always the basis of friendships.
Alexis de Tocqueville

17 March 2007

tax law

i propose that all state and federal politicians should be required by law to prepare their own taxes themselves and by hand, not even using a calculator. until then, we won't have a reasonable, simplified tax scheme that doesn't favor some groups over others.

11 March 2007

to ubuntu or not

i am toying with the idea of installing ubuntu on my home desktop as my primary OS, but i have reservations due to my past purchase of music from itunes. anyone know of a player or mechanism for dealing with the music from linux? i think banshee will at least let me move the music to the ipod, but i was thinking about being able to play directly on the PC.

update: emusic has a preview version of their download manager for linux. why can't all the other shoppes be more like emusic? (i mean that in many different ways.)

quote of the day-or-so

Rather than creating a world of atomistic individuals, as its enemies have predicted accusingly, these classical liberal [libertarian] ideas have created a world in which networks of trust and interdependence are omnipresent and worldwide.
Brian Doherty, Radicals for Capitalism

10 March 2007

tat

gun ban to gun ownership requirement

a federal appeals court recently struck down the handgun ban in DC on second amendment grounds, rejecting the all-too-popular "militia only" argument. the DC establishment does not believe citizens should be able to protect themselves with firearms, what i deem a reasonable exercise of right.

maybe if DC passed an unenforced ordinance "requiring" people to own firearms, the district might enjoy a drop in violent crime.

java persistence

i've been fighting against hibernate for a few days trying to correct some mappings within entities that have very simple relationships. we chose to go the annotation route and i am seriously regretting that choice. the annotations push databasespeak into the domain and clutter code with what amounts to useless information.

rather than being able to express a concept of ownership or backreference to a parent entity cleanly and concisely, i am left telling hibernate how to build tables/sql for me--all in classes that are not meant to know about a database. for example, i need to use a combination of @OneToMany, @ManyToOne, @JoinColumn, etc across classes. i should be using @Parent, @Owned, @Shared, or some such higher-level descriptors. at least toplink used a separate class to define mappings. those were the days...

probably the most frustrating element has been the quality of online documentation at the hibernate site. it is horribly vague and lacks clear prose--i guess a common problem in IT. the API documentation is the worst i've seen: simply generated javadoc from uncommented code. that one really bit me when i created my own PreInsertEventListener and was left to dig up an example in source code to know that a boolean return value of onPreInsert meant 'veto the insert.' is it really that hard to describe that in a javadoc comment? it's been a common problem i've found in java development in general: one must find the source code to know how to use something in a framework or change its behavior.

futurecar

i have a craving for an all-electric car, preferably one that has the zoom of a Ferrari and the price of a snickers. i was intrigued by a show called FutureCar on the discovery channel (i'd link, but their site uses pop-unders) that discussed many alternative energy sources of the future. unfortunately, they gave equal weight to all comers rather than picking through the pros and cons very well. the most appalling thing was to hear the voice-over actor describe how a compressed-air-powered vehicle could produce its own fuel, compressing air as it drove, achieving [i shit you not] "a perpetual motion machine." i wasn't the only one who noticed.

maybe i should turn this post into an opportunity to rail against crappy schools...

McD's better than Starbucks?

via the AP, consumer reports rates McD's chicken milk at the top of the pack, even outperforming Starbucks. since i milk my own chickens except for the occasional biggie-sized latte with cheese (hold the pickle), i am not so affected by the result, but i fear the coming partially-hydrogenated apocalypse.

09 March 2007

is peak oil BS?

the New York Times featured an article casting doubt on the notion of peak oil.
Within the last decade, technology advances have made it possible to unlock more oil from old fields, and, at the same time, higher oil prices have made it economical for companies to go after reserves that are harder to reach. With plenty of oil still left in familiar locations, forecasts that the world’s reserves are drying out have given way to predictions that more oil can be found than ever before.
provided Hugo Chavez continues to nab big oil projects, the cost of oil will remain high enough to encourage more extraction. so what does that mean for the future of green technology? i still want my electric car and solar-powered hive.

office space moment

i'm in the market for a new shredder. my old one seems to have jammed up one time too many. if anyone has any recommendations, i'd like to hear.

update: i bought a Fellowes P70CM, the cheapest cross-cut at best bugger. it gulped down my documents like a [champ].

i guess i have ended my one-man boycott of the place since it's now only 2 minutes away from my house. there goes the neighborhood.

02 March 2007

peace-keeping mission

it's time we sent troops to the swiss border to prevent future incursions and do some good ole nation building. the french, realizing that the swiss had no ammunition when they invaded lichtenstein, rescinded their offer of surrender.

01 March 2007

is gore a hypocrite?

seems Al Gore, global warming nut that he is, manages to burn through an enormous amount of power in his 10,000 sqft house. i might note that "company spokeswoman Laurie Parker said the utility never got a request from the policy center and never gave it any information." so it's possible the whole story is a facist republican attempt to bring down a modern american hero. or not. they claim to balance their carbon emissions by investing in green stuff. but how does investing actually make up for emissions?