Things Worth Checking Out, 7-5-14

Hilarious column from Reason taking a very tongue-in-cheek approach to outlawing volunteerism.

And another on the ExIm (Export-Import Bank) authorization. It’s about as Crony Capitalistic an organization as you can get.
I’ve run across this video once before, but forgot to get the code for it. What is the scientific method as described by Dr. Richard Feynman, a Nobel prize (and many others) winning physicist? Then compare that definition to the Global Warming/Climate Change/Alarmist crowd. Hint: None of the theories and models have come close to accurately predicting the facts on the ground (or in the air or water).
It’s getting late, so this will have to do me for tonight.

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Rights And The Declaration Of Independence

Sorry for not being here lately. Sometimes earning money to pay the bills has to take precedence. This is an expanded version of a comment I made on PBS at (http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/finding-empowerment-words-founding-fathers/). Fascinating discussion of how one little change in punctuation makes the Declaration of Independence even stronger.

As normally written:

Declaration of Independence“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

With the one little change:

Declaration of Independence“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, that to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
Changing the period to a comma makes the preface “We hold these truths to be self evident” apply to all five following phrases. It’s not really clear on the original text and punctuation rules weren’t as strict then as now. Read it a few times.
On to my comment:

The setting for the word “equal” here is in a political document. Political equality is equality under the law and legislation (not always the same thing).

Natural rights are concepts arising from the nature of members of our species, regardless of race, sex, religion or any other division you care to make except one: That you are capable of understanding that the rights you claim are equal to the rights of every other person and that you refrain from actions that infringe on the equal rights of others.

Natural rights are completely and solely negatives on the actions of others. They do not require anyone else to take any actions, only that they refrain from infringing on your rights.

Procedural rights, such as voting or trial by jury aren’t strictly necessary by nature, but have been found to be good methods within our general societal structure for handling how those rights are defined in general and protected in specific cases.

Children, the insane or those disabled in any other way that prevents them from being capable of understanding the concept of rights are not regarded as fully equal under the law. There are actions that they may not be free to take and there are consequences they would normally face as a result of their actions that they may be shielded from.

Almost every other political use of the word “rights” is actually an infringement on the natural rights of some people for the benefit of other people. Jefferson and the other Founders seem to have been very aware of those differences and were careful where they used the word “rights.”

Liberty and freedom are liberty and freedom to act without government permission, or indeed without anyone’s permission, as long as those actions do not infringe on the equal rights of others. There are no guarantees of outcome, only the freedom to “pursue” what you consider to be what is needed for your happiness. There is no guarantee that other individuals will treat you justly, whatever you consider that justice to consist of. Only the government must be restrained because only the government is authorised to use force and only in response, aside from the immediate self defense right of individuals.

Those shackles on government have been rusting away for a long time and they’re getting pretty loose.

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Things Worth Checking Out 6-22-14

Let’s take a look inside those unemployment numbers. We’re still a LONG way from a healthy job market. Our Decimated Labor Force at The Weekly Standard shows that it’s not “just the baby boomers retiring” that are drawing down the participation rate as is usually claimed when you point out the worrying numbers.

Peer to Peer isn’t just for files. Interesting Daily Beast article on the progress of Uber (one of the ride sharing via mobile companies) and what’s come up against it. As Europe Now Sees, Resisting Uber is Useless. At least the Euro cabbies didn’t try to pretend their protest was against anything but maintaining their government protected monopolies like the ones in San Francisco and Boston have done. I wish we had one set up here, but no luck yet. We’re just a bit too small.

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BLM Has More Problems Than Just Cattle

Here’s the story. Wild horses run free on Federal land. Nobody owns them, they’re just another species on the land. But, being horses, they like to eat grasses and do other things that “hurt” the environment. Complaints that there weren’t enough taken were met with the explanation that BLM didn’t have enough money to do more.

Don Boudreaux at Cafe Hayek found a way around that little money problem. Give it a read and see if you like his suggestion.

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Socialized Health Care Candy

Excellent post today at the Mises Institute making an excellent analogy between “free” sweets in socialized Yugoslavia, when he was there as a boy, and “free” emergency care in socialized heath care in other countries.

Here’s the link: Health Care and the Candy Store Called Socialism

 

In the US, if you wake up with a sore throat and call the doctor, they will usually be able to get you in to see him today. So you go in, pay your co-pay, see the doctor, and maybe get a prescription and told to call back if it isn’t cleared up in a few days. You’re happy, the doctor’s made money, the pharmacy’s made money and you get better in a few days. Problem solved.

If you call your doctor in most of the socialized health care countries, you might be able to get in sometime in the next month. So you don’t bother calling the doctor and the sore throat usually goes away in a few days anyway. No money spent, but you still get better.

US health care costs more with the same outcome. But since we’re not paying much directly out of our own pocket, we way overuse it. Sounds more like an over-insured problem to me, not the lack of available care. Insurance is for risk management, not every day or expected maintenance.

Let’s take a more serious example now. Say you’re in a friendly game of basketball and overextend an arm and get hit at the same time. Your shoulder hurts like hell and you can’t hardly move it. Either place, you go to the ER and get a cold pack and prescription for pain meds with instructions to call the doctor if it’s not better in a few days.

A few days go by and it’s not any better.

Here, we call the doctor and either get in that day or the next. The doctor sets you up for a CT scan that afternoon and finds a nasty rotator cuff tear. Two days later you’re in surgery and get it fixed. It costs you a good $500 or so all told, but you’re not hurting any more, the doctor’s happy, the hospital’s happy, big smiles all around.

Elsewhere, you call the doctor and get in a month or so down the road. Then you get scheduled for the CT scan, but the next opening isn’t for another 6 weeks. You get the scan and they find the same rotator cuff tear and put you on the waiting list for the surgery. That’s another few months. But hey, it didn’t cost you a penny and, long term, you have the same health outcome. The tear is fixed.

How much is all those months waiting in pain worth to you? You have to decide that for yourself. If you find yourself on Medicaid or one of the new “narrow” providers pool, you might be finding yourself in effectively socialized health care waiting lines already.

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Welcome

For all the uber intellectualism of the next two paragraphs, my political philosophy can be boiled down to the following in plain English: I want the government out of my bedroom and out of my billfold. If I’m not hurting someone else, then leave me the &$&!%* alone (and hurt feelings don’t count).

As knights of old threw down their gauntlets to challenge another, so do I now throw my virtual gauntlet down to challenge the mindset of those who think people are merely interchangeable biological units to be lead and controlled and otherwise shepherded from cradle to grave. I reject the notion that we are but children, to be taken care of by our anointed guardians, those who think they know better than we do what is good for us and what we should or should not want or do.

As a free human being I reclaim the right to make my own decisions and accept that I must also abide by the consequences thereof, for better or worse. I renounce the use of force or fraud in motivating the actions of others.

I’m socially liberal and economically conservative. I’m a champion for the smallest minority of all … the individual. I really don’t care if you’re black, white, red, yellow, blue or green with pink polka dots, whether rich or poor, straight or gay, an Atheist, a Buddhist or a fundamentalist Christian, male or female, you have the same rights I do; no more and no less.

I don’t want a bunch of flame wars here and I may delete comments for that reason alone. Political correctness pisses me off almost as much. If all you’re doing is repeating the talking points of the day, don’t waste our time. If you disagree with something, please say so but then say why. I’ve been known to change my mind on more than one occasion if given good enough reasons for doing so. I hope you have too.

If you have more to say than what a comment allows, submit a post of your own and if it’s well written and well thought out I may publish it here. If you have your own blog and are looking for more links, guest posting is a good method.

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A Great Day For Economics Articles

I love Cafe Hayek’s economics articles feed. Today was better than average. So good I felt it deserves its own post.

Today’s links went to two essays by Kevin Williamson

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/376445/welcome-paradise-real-kevin-d-williamson

This first one demonstrates in the simplest possible way that economic constraints cannot change reality. Substitute doctors for SweeTarts and you’ve got the long term downfall of Obamacare or any of a zillion (not being terribly precise here) other government mandates that have to do with price, demand and supply of real physical goods or services.

As a bit of promotion:

Measured by practically any physical metric, from the quality of the food we eat to the health care we receive to the cars we drive and the houses we live in, Americans are not only wildly rich, but radically richer than we were 30 years ago, to say nothing of 50 or 75 years ago.Kevin Williamson

And

For the conservative, people are an asset — in the coldest economic terms, a potentially productive unit of labor. For the progressive, people are a liability— a mouth to be fed, a problem in need of a solution. Understanding that difference of perspective renders understandable the sometimes wildly different views that conservatives and progressives have about things like employment policy. For the conservative, the value of a job is what the worker produces; for the progressive, the value of a job is what the worker is paid. Politicians on both sides frequently talk about jobs as though they were economic products rather than contributors to economic output, as though they were ends rather than means.”Kevin

The other article is

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/376231/politics-poverty-kevin-d-williamson

I read this one before and really enjoyed it the first time as well. A sample:

There are many competing definitions of “rich,” and they usually involve a percentage: the top 10 percent, the top 5 percent, the dreaded 1 percent. My own definition is the point at which the marginal utility of an additional dollar for personal consumption and investment is effectively zero. I think that this is a good definition for a couple of reasons: One, because people have different preferences, that point comes at very different wealth and income levels for different people, which is why there are so many people of relatively modest means who dedicate some non-trivial portion of their incomes to charity rather than to their own personal desires. Second, it accounts for the fact that while the value of an additional dollar for personal consumption may be zero, the value of deciding for one’s self how any additional dollars are to be disposed of is not zero. That is why there are so many people who work diligently to minimize their tax bills while giving away millions or billions of dollars to charitable ends. The position is not, contra the protestations of our  progressive friends, an inconsistent one.”Kevin

A very interesting article about who really pays Income Taxes, and why we should tax consumption instead of income.

http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2014/04/theres_only_one.html

You cannot put the burden of a tax on someone unless you cut into his or her consumption. If the Obama tax increases did not cause Gates and Buffett to tighten their belts, then they paid precisely 0% of that tax increase. Someone else paid, even if they (Buffett and Gates) wrote the check. If they invested less due to the tax, then workers might have received lower wages. If they gave less to charity then very poor African’s paid the tax. I have no idea who paid, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Gates and Buffett.Scott Sumner

And then finally a bit of data about who pays how much of the total income tax revenues

http://taxfoundation.org/article/summary-latest-federal-income-tax-data

The Top 50 Percent of All Taxpayers Paid 97 Percent of All Income Taxes; the Top 5 Percent Paid 57 Percent of All Income Taxes; and the Top 1 Percent Paid 35 Percent of All Income Taxes in 2011Kyle Pomerleau

Good reads all. If you’re looking to keep up with current economics articles, I highly recommend Cafe Hayek’s feed

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Thoughts For The Day

Obama took an unplanned trip to Afghanistan for …? Did he do anything there other than to try to make news? How many millions, if not tens of millions of dollars did it cost to make the morale boosting trip? Who was he trying to boost? The troops or himself and therefore his party?

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Interesting article about immigrant citizens vs native born Americans and how they do in life. As a general rule, the naturalized Americans do better and that only makes sense. They’ve already self-selected as wanting more for themselves and being willing to do what it takes by leaving their birth countries and coming here.

What prompted the note though was this short passage: “Here we [native born Americans] think freedom means whatever I wanna do, whatever I wanna say — that is freedom.” As long what you do doesn’t interfere with someone else’s equal right to the same, that’s true. But there’s the other side of it as well. Freedom means you have to accept responsibility for the consequences for your actions, for good or bad.

If you screw up then, while it’s ok to ask for help, you don’t have the right to demand it. Especially not at the end of a gun, whether you wield it yourself or second hand through a government’s.

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What pushes people into unemployment is when their gross pay and employment costs are more than the company makes from their work. Plus there’s always the group that simply expect a paycheck just for showing up, whether they actually do anything or not.

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From The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy, Thomas Sowell

The call for more “public service” is then a call for more people to work in jobs not representing the preferences of the public, as revealed through the marketplace, but the preferences of third parties enforced through government and paid for by the power of taxation.  Sometimes work for foundations and other nonprofit organizations is also included in “public service.”  What is crucial is that public service not be service defined by the public itself through its choices of how to spend its own money in market transactions, but defined for them by third-party elites.

Thanks for the reminder from Don Boudreaux

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For all the talk about whatever the particulars are of a given killer in these attacks, they all have one thing in common. They are a danse macabre with their very senselessness being the point, being an attack against society in general. A society that didn’t give them what they thought they deserved to get, just by existing.

The revenge is completed by the media and others who, with all the ongoing questioning of why this particular person did this horrific crime and how, if his life had been different it wouldn’t have happened, plant the fear and guilt in everyday people that the killer wanted them to feel. Thus proving to the next killer that he really CAN get the response that he dreams of.

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