30 April 2007

what would Washington think?

what would Washington think of our military empire, given his prescient warning against over-militarization and foreign entanglements? (not to mention political parties, power struggles, and a general malaise regarding liberty)

vote Paul. he's not perfect, but he's risen to the top.

separation of school and state

Jeff Jacoby over at the Boston Globe has issued a "call for separation of school and state." he makes an oft-heard point that
Parker v. Hurley, in other words, was not just a victory for gay-marriage advocates or a defeat for Judeo-Christian traditionalists. It was a reminder that on many of the most controversial subjects of the day, public schools do not speak for the whole community.
Neal McClusky wrote an analysis on the subject, Why We Fight: How Public Schools Cause Social Conflict. loss of parental control in education is another example of modern society's devolution into might makes right tyranny of the majority socialism.
rather than bringing people together, public schooling often forces people of disparate backgrounds and beliefs into political combat.

the bulb fiasco

back when i first posted about the negatives of compact flourescents, i had only dreamed of the foulness that could result from a broken bulb. now there's a real story.
It's quite odd that environmentalists have embraced the CFL, which cannot now and will not in the foreseeable future be made without mercury. Given that there are about five billion light bulb sockets in North American households, we're looking at the possibility of creating billions of hazardous waste sites such as the Bridges' bedroom.
i'll chalk it up to ignorance, like the plastic bag ban in california. i guess we must be seen doing something rather than appear complacent working toward a real solution.

29 April 2007

licensing laws suck

gee, i wonder which special interest group started this particular racket.
It seems you don't have to be licensed in Arizona to put steel mesh over vents to keep roof rats out. But you need a license to advertise that you put steel mesh over vents to keep roof rats out.
regulation, while a useful concept in a world of cheats and greed (that is, one run by humans), needs to be thoughtfully implemented lest it reduce us to pawns and lab rats under the control of our neighbors.

if you think this is a nit of an example, you should check out some other instances of governmental denial of a right to earn a living. our national polity is reverting to oligarchy.

still think Friedman was wrong?

28 April 2007

like father?

i've been noticing traits in Boy that i don't much care for at the moment.

whinercritical thinker
obsessivedetail oriented
know-it-allknows it all

24 April 2007

the once and future republic of vermont

looks like i'm moving to vermont. any state with a strong(?) grassroots secessionist movement has got to be a good place to raise a family. the wapo has a short article on the subject as well. choice quote:
After the Great Flood of 1927, the worst natural disaster in the state's history, President Calvin Coolidge (a Vermonter) offered help. Vermont's governor replied, "Vermont will take care of its own."

a product of public schooling?

letter to the editor, as seen on the arkansas democrat gazette site (via scavinger)

Daylight exacerbates warning

You may have noticed that March of this year was particularly hot. As a matter of fact, I understand that it was the hottest March since the beginning of the last century. All of the trees were fully leafed out and legions of bugs and snakes were crawling around during a time in Arkansas when, on a normal year, we might see a snowflake or two. This should come as no surprise to any reasonable person. As you know, Daylight Saving Time started almost a month early this year. You would think that members of Congress would have considered the warming effect that an extra hour of daylight would have on our climate. Or did they ? Perhaps this is another plot by a liberal Congress to make us believe that global warming is a real threat. Perhaps next time there should be serious studies performed before Congress passes laws with such far-reaching effects.

i thought it might've been fake, it's so stupid.

20 April 2007

there's no such thing as a free lunch. or parking.

Steven Landsburg over at Slate draws a picture of our collective (i.e. "your") ignorance of economics and it's effect on our environment.
There's a general principle here: We get bad outcomes when damaging the environment carries no penalty. That's why the world has too much pollution and too many cars on the street. It's also why, whenever something exciting happens at the ballpark, everyone stands up to see better and nobody succeeds. We all jump up out of exquisite concern for our own interests and none at all for the damage we inflict on our neighbors.
requiring free parking is a form of price control that drives inefficient allocation of constrained resources. that means waste—of energy, and thus pollution; and of opportunity cost: the loss of benefit to society of what else could take up that space.

19 April 2007

safety regulation

i found the following explanation in the latest newsletter from the Advocates for Self-Government. i find it a perfect example of what a market can provide that centralized regulation cannot. imagine how pleased i could be if i could find an organization to certify my food providers as being high fructose corn syrup-free, local, or grass-fed.
It's Kosher! Specific, Concrete Examples, Part 2

by Sharon Harris, Advocates President

Specific, well-known, concrete examples can make the case for liberty come alive for your listeners. One example of a working free market solution can be more persuasive than a hundred abstract theories.

Last issue I offered the example of Underwriters Laboratories as an illustration of how the market can provide reliable safety standards. Here's another.

Many people fear that, without government regulation, there would be no way to insure food and drug safety. However, in the U.S. today we already have a proven, highly effective, non-government, voluntary food certification system in place -- one that is actually more precise and trustworthy than the federal government's system.

Orthodox Jews eat only kosher food. Other Jews also prefer kosher foods. Kosher dietary laws are complex and extensive. This complexity, plus the lack of reliable kosher information on U.S. food labels, long ago led some Jewish organizations to offer food companies the opportunity to display labels certifying their food as kosher. However, these companies can only display the kosher label after rigorous and ongoing inspections.

This is an entirely voluntary offer. No company has to participate. However, huge numbers do. Indeed, 75 percent of all U.S. prepackaged foods have some kind of kosher certification. Today in the U.S. there are dozens of companies certifying hundreds of thousands of products. You have probably seen kosher labels (usually a K or U in a circle) on many products you buy. There are hundreds of kosher certifying organizations around the world.

Kosher certification is completely self-funding, as the tiny cost of kosher certification is more than paid for by the advertising benefits the kosher label provides. Certification makes products more attractive to a multi-billion-dollar U.S. market of Jewish customers and non-Jewish consumers (such as Muslims, Seventh Day Adventists, and the lactose-intolerant) who value the information a kosher label provides.

Further, kosher labels are far more precise and reliable than government food labels. For example, some Orthodox Jews prefer dairy products from milk that has been under constant rabbinical supervision from milking to bottling; the label "Cholov Yisroel" guarantees that. Compare that strictness to U.S. law, where, for example, "non-dairy" food can in fact have a small amount of dairy product, and the phrase "natural flavors" can have multiple meanings.

Obviously, given the chance, similar methods would quickly emerge to replace today's expensive, coercive, and less stringent government labeling system. And consumers would be safer and better informed.

18 April 2007

quote of the day-or-so

Racism is simply an ugly form of collectivism, the mindset that views humans strictly as members of groups rather than individuals. Racists believe that all individuals who share superficial physical characteristics are alike: as collectivists, racists think only in terms of groups. By encouraging Americans to adopt a group mentality, the advocates of so-called "diversity" actually perpetuate racism. Their obsession with racial group identity is inherently racist.
Rather than looking to government to correct our sins, we should understand that racism will endure until we stop thinking in terms of groups and begin thinking in terms of individual liberty.
Ron Paul, Government and Racism

the best part of the whole Don Imus thing has been the proof that we don't need gubmint to restrict speech to save us from ourselves. those offended by his speech have leveraged the power of the market to change the world.

14 April 2007

quote of the day-or-so

What most people really object to when they object to a free market is that it is so hard for them to shape it to their own will. The market gives people what the people want instead of what other people think they ought to want. At the bottom of many criticisms of the market economy is really lack of belief in freedom itself.
Milton Friedman, Wall Street Journal, May 18, 1961

(via Mark Perry, again)

09 April 2007

quote of the day-or-so

as ganked from Mark Perry...
Good economists are seldom popular with the political class. This is not a shortcoming unique to democratic systems. Dictators like good economists even less. Why is this?

As a rule, politics doesn’t educate. It obfuscates, pontificates and prevaricates. It often seeks to advance the interests of the few at the expense of the many. It is a playground for the short-sighted and the demagogic. Economics, on the other hand, tells us a great deal about how material life can be improved through the operation of entrepreneurship and markets. It informs us that there are laws beyond those that legislatures pass, and consequences for ignoring them.

The good economist is the one who takes the discussion of economic matters to the lofty level it deserves. When others spout clever sound bites, unsubstantiated charges and snake-oil remedies, it’s the good economist who raises his hand and calmly declares, "Wait a minute! Let’s look at the facts. Let’s separate the wheat (truth, logic and evidence) from the chaff (nonsense, false assumptions and panaceas)."
Lawrence W. Reed, President of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy

02 April 2007

this is why the country will collapse on itself.

consider this story an ice cube-sized tip of an enormous iceberg. societal wealth has caused us to forget how we acheived our wealth.