Wednesday, May 31, 2006


What's happening

Some news...

Valley of the Kings Tomb Unveiled

Pedophiles to lauch political party

Clemens to unretire, again

Hurricane predictions begin

Study on bawling babes

After 'Today', Katie Couric Off to CBS


Foreign Policy

Why does the United States feel the need, or even feel compelled to police the world.

I was watching Team America last night, and I have often wondered why it is both expected by nations around the world and in the same instance, frowned upon.

I wish we could just pull troops out of all other nations, but if we did this, where would that leave us? How many countries would change? How many new wars would be fought? Who would then be in the lead, in this game of Risk?

I don't necessarily think that it is in the 'greater good' for us to maintain foreign bases around the world, but is a simple pull out better?

This can also be applied to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


Classic Funny

This is fun. Check out the video here.


Afraid to Privatize

Why are there so many people out there afraid to privatize? I always just thought it was an irrational fear of the unknown -- it works fine as is, leave it alone mentality (the 'if it ain't broke' approach).

Now, I read why so many have feared this and even moved against it in many instances. It is from stories like this one.

And its not just from water either. It is from just about anything and everything. The underlying assumption is that the government ought to be involved in some way.

Question: why do we feel that the private sector or proverbial "free market" should provide these goods and services, rather than the public sector?


Star Wars III

I was watching Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith last night and found it quite enlightening. This is the episode where the Republic becomes the Empire, and Anakin becomes Lord Vader.

A couple of quotes stood out for me (yet, I could only find the one):

The Emperor: [to the Senate] In order to ensure our security and continuing stability, the Republic will be reorganized into the first Galactic Empire, for a safe and secure society which I assure you will last for ten thousand years!
[Senate fills with enormous applause]
Padmé: [to Bail Organa] So this is how liberty dies... with thunderous applause.

The other had to deal with Padmé questioning Anakin if they were on the right side of the war. Initially there were Seperatists who were fighting the Senate, then there was the transformation of the "democracy" of the Respublic into the Empire, then there was a new rebellion to fight the empire.

How do we know if we are on the right side? Should we value democracy? Is a republic really any better than an emperor?

Since yesterday was Memorial Day, it seems like a good time to question our memories and the reasons for our monuments and memorials. They all tend to romanticize war, death, and politicians. A hell of a thing to remember.

Monday, May 29, 2006



Many of you may have gotten an email from me about joining a group called

It's a pretty good website, where anybody can write just about anything they wish to, and have others make a lot of commentary. Obviously, as the network increases, there are more comments and discussion. Essentially it is much like blogging, but more op-ed and journalistically styled, for mass reading.

Anyway, please join. It costs nothing and you can accumulate points towards stuff for participating. It also gives you the chance to brush up on your writing skills.

Whether you join or not, please check out the discussion of my Myth of a Teacher Shortage article. Make some comments if you have time. Apparently, some folks didn't take to kindly to it.



Does the existence of an externality, legitimize governmental intervention? Additionally, how do we measure externalities? What is an appropriate amount of externalized costs and benefits, deeming a tax or subsidy?

Where do the actual policy economists stand on this issue? Does anyone actually know?

Is there a particular time or a particular good/service that you think is inappropriate to subsidize, even if there were significant positive externalities?

It would be interesting to see what some people say.

Sunday, May 28, 2006


Econ Question

Does modern economics still believe in an unemployment-inflation tradeoff?

Friday, May 26, 2006


Some Sad Comedy

In the classical sense this is quite a comedy:

Spanish-American phone tax finally defeated

Read the FEE article.



Anthony Boardman's Cost-Benefit Analysis text is considered by many to be the premier text (tome) for policy analysts. So I picked up the 3rd edition about a month ago on ebay. Glancing over it a bit last night. I came upon this section (p.90):

Intrapersonal Externalities: Consumption under Addiction
For some people, the consumption of a particular good today increases their demand for its consumption in the future. For example, exposure to classical music during childhood may contribute to a demand for such music in adulthood. Economic models of addictive goods assume that the amount demanded at any time depends on the amount of previous conusmption. Rational addiction occurs when consumers fully take account of the future effects of their current consumption. If current consumption is myopic or fails to take account the future risks, then addiction is not rational. For example, some children may fail to anticipate the consequences of tobacco addiction during their adulthood or some adults may fail to anticipate the risk that their casual gambling may become a disruptive compulsion. Such cases involve negative intrapersonal externalities -- harm imposed by current consumers on their future selves.

The presence of negative intrapersonal externalities brings into question the appropriateness of using changes in social surplus measured under market demand schedules as the basis for assessing the benefits of alternative policies. On the one hand, the demand schedule reveals the marginal willingness of the market to pay for additional units of the good. On the other hand, the satisfaction from addictive consumption may not actually make consumers better off--it avoids the pain of abstinence but does not provide as much happiness as would alternative consumption in a nonaddicted state. The stated desire and costly efforts made by many adult smokers to quit smoking suggest that they perceive benefits from ending their addiction. In other words, they wish they had not been addicted by their younger selves.

Should this actually be considered an externality? Yes, these potential future costs were not taken into account by the younger you, but are these costs actually assumed by society (presumably at a loss)? Isn't this really just a matter of expectations and asymmetric information on the part of the youth. For tobacco use in particular, Harvard's Kip Viscusi showed that youth actually over estimate the risks of smoking. So those "costly efforts" by adults to quit smoking may primarily be from the heavy subsidies by local, state, and federal governments, along with the Tobacco companies like Phillip Morris.

Also, I think he greatly down-plays the benefits of allegedly addictive goods and services.

Thursday, May 25, 2006



That's me now. All But Dissertation. =) I passed my second (and harder) prelim. Now, all I have to do is write a book-length work on some as-yet-unexplored topic in Political Science.

No rest for the weary.


Are You Austrian?

Hey everybody. If you ever wondered if you're up to the high standards that it takes to be truly Austrian, take this quiz.


What Are Rights?

We've had many discussions on this blog concerning rights. Property rights, Right to life, Right of Self Ownership, Etc.

But what are these "rights"? Are they characteristics that people have like hair color? Or are they something else? And where do these "rights" come from anyways? How do you know?



I know most who read here also read the LockerRoom, but I'm posting this anyway. Sign the petition today! Lift Federal restrictions on exploration in ANWR.


The Lottery Addiction

There is a new story on the 48 states on how they are "raking in gambling proceeds"

It's sad really. I don't think that gambling was ever intended to be provided by the state. The state enjoys giving itself the right to provide this service while excluding all others. An old paper, about the topic, fits the discussion nicely: Advocating a Social Ill for the Social Good.

Even our good Friend Mr. Snow, had something to say on the subject.

For some history of lotteries, I would recommend reading some of Cook and Clotfelter. Here is some history, and a nice update with more economics. If you would like my paper on the subject, shoot me an email.

Also, check out this Chicago Tribune article. They should have never had the monopoly in the first place, now they want to sell or leases it?!?!?

Lottery "rocked by scandal". Who would have thought?

Wednesday, May 24, 2006



In Stossel's new book, he put together a little section (in four parts) on global warming. Very practical and no where near alarmist. Even though he gives concern, he appears optimistic. I found one part quite interesting. Here's the paragraph:

But Dr. Patrick Michaels, author of the Association of American Geographers' 2003 Climate Paper of the Year, points out that melting Arctic ice won't raise sea levels any more than the melting of ice in your drink makes your glass overflow. "The Artic ice cap is just floating ice...if it's not a land mass adding to water."

Wow (at least when I read it). It is perfectly logical, and I never really thought about it like that. It makes sense. He then goes on to talk about Greenland, Norway, Russia and their glaciers that aren't melting.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


A Choice?

Do individuals make or even have a choice in being sexually attracted to others? This does not necessarily have to fall into a homosexual vs. heterosexual argument. I mean, do I truly have a choice in being attracted to red heads? What about individuals of a particular ethnicity, race, or skin-tone?

If we do not believe in a pure deterministic world, which I do not, then there is a choice. Preferences have been established, whether we believe that individuals are capable and able to make choices through openly rational, conscionable decision-making or through unconscious preference creation.

It is very much a choice to continue to be attracted to someone or a group of individuals based on their characteristics, however, is the initial attraction a choice -- since there is no previous experience or at least limited preference formation?

So, getting to the issue at hand, is attraction a choice? Is sexual orientation a choice? I think the initial one is more difficult, while that latter can be answered yes. Continued activity, even if based on intangible thoughts and feelings, is still a choice.


Climate Science

The Dallas-based National Center for Policy Analysis has just put out a new study on Global Warming.

Although I have not read it yet, it appears to be in some conflict with Mr. Gore's vision. Who would have thought, right?

Anyways, here is the study.

Here is the WSJ article on the subject.

Monday, May 22, 2006


Reading Stossel

I was just reading chapter six of John Stossel's new book, and I can across his consumer advocacy section, which he seems to enjoy the most (at least so far).

Interesting facts include:

The pet food industry is over fourteen billion dollars, greater than the gross domestic product of over ninety four countries!

The average funeral runs about 6,500 and apparently all funeral homes are required to give a price list upon request.

Generic (vs. name brand) foods taste tests generally lead to similar rankings, or at least higher than expected rankings for the generic brand. In fact governmental rankings on grades of foods, when re-graded scored high for the generic than the name brand.

There is basically no difference between bottled water and tap water.

Internet purchases were related to less than 12 percent of all the known causes of identity theft. It appears there is actually greater risk in handing your credit card off to your waiter at your favorite restaurant.


The Injustice of the "Family"

One of the bedrock notions of libertarianism is “self-ownership” or the exclusive right to control one's life. The obvious political implication being that no other individual (or group of individuals) has the right to tell you what to do with your life. That means no more government bossing you around. But what about parents?

In the traditional Anglo-American household, parents tell their children what they can and can not do. They tell them what to eat, how to dress, and even when to speak. If the child disobeys, it is well within the law to punish him. And if the child runs away, the parent can track him down and drag him back to bondage. This is all considered by many to be “within the rights” of the parents. BAH!!! What rights are these that allow you dominion over another human being? These “parents” are nothing more than modern plantation owners and the good children who mind their parents are nothing more than Uncle Toms. It is slavery, sanctioned by society and the state!

How else can a rights-loving libertarian view this situation? Are these children not human beings? And if they are human beings, don’t they have the same rights of self-ownership adults have? Obviously, these children ARE human beings and therefore they DO command the same rights as other human beings.

And if these children have the same rights, then they deserve the same freedoms as everyone else! That means NO MORE PARENTS! Anything less is INCONSISTANT with libertarian philosophy and nothing more than ENDORSING domestic tyranny!!! Clearly, if you love the foundations of freedom, you must HATE the modern family!!!



Here's some news that may be new to you:

Bono on malaria. Except, why not applaud a real solution. Why not DDT?

Montenegro chooses independence!!

Interesting study about child illness. Cancer causes joblessness ?

The number of U.S. inmates increases. Aren't enough people in jail already?

Gore @ Cannes -- Global Warming Warning

Fifteen minutes or less, or your next abortion is free. The Future of Planned Parenthood quickie service?



Why do Americans put so much value in "diversity", when it is really only diversity of the color of skin that matters to them? Or even sexual orientation?

The individuals that place so much value in diversity, do not value diversity of ideas, opinions, and thoughts. It is the intolerant tolerance or the illiberal liberal of which I speak.

I do not really understand it. It is like in Season Six of Southpark, episode "The Death Camp of Tolerance", which parodies the obsessively over-tolerance of everything. In fact, the Tolerance Camp Furher, expicitly stated that they were "not tolerant to intolerance" there. By the end of the episode, Mr. Garrison sets everybody straight (nice pun, huh), while accepting a medal at the Tolerance Museum. He says that, tolerance does not mean acceptance. You tolerate it but that doesn't mean you accept it. At the end, they throw him in the camp for not being tolerant of himself.

The reality is that these individual desire for you to accept everyone and everything as "normal" and that if you do not accept them, then you are in some way intolerant. But why should anyone's acceptance matter? Why am I or anyone else being coerced into tolerance, and even more so, acceptance?

Why should I have to be "tolerant" to anything or anyone? Are they (or society) somehow 'hurt' by my intolerance? Is the invisible society hurt by biggots, racists, or even simply intolerant people?

Also, why is there this movement in sensitivity training, state-coerced diversity training, mandated social justice initiatives and equality/equity brainwashing.

This actually reminds me of my similar issue with hate crime legislation:

In the laws eyes, some of us are just more equal than others....

Sunday, May 21, 2006


New Orleans


Only in the Great Chocolate City of the Big Easy

Mr. Nagin wins re-election as Mayor

I guess with that whole 'Katrina thing' it appears that he beat the Feds/FEMA in the blame game. I suppose also that individual responsibility and governmental accountability lost to entitlement and the shifting of fault and guilt.

Read the news.

Saturday, May 20, 2006


Mill's the word

Today, May 20th, we celebrate the 200th anniversary of John Stuart Mill's birth.

For those unfamiliar with Mill, check out this Wiki link.

Also, check out some of his many writings and be sure to read some of "On Liberty".

Happy B-day Milly ol' boy.

Read the WSJ article.

Friday, May 19, 2006


It's still Language, no matter how you say it

Why does it matter so much that there be an "official" language in the United States?

In some sense it will be good for limiting excessive expenses by the Federal government in communicating its agenda and furthering its coercion. So in some sense it is a limit to an excessively PC government, but it is also limiting the ability for those not knowledgeable of the English language to be unaware of the government's continued coercive agenda.

Is it mostly just a matter of nationalism? If so, then it would seem that we are taking this is the wrong direction. In reality, however, I find it hard to believe that it will change much at all. Isn't most everything already done in english anyway? Nothing that is already done multi-lingually will change.

Read the article.


Religion by the spoonful

This morning on the radio, everybody was talking about the DaVinci Code movie that is opening today. The hosts talked about the critic's opinions, the religious controversies, the boycotts and picketing in some areas, and even blasphemy and religion in school.

So, I thought it would be interesting to delve into this latter topic a bit more.

Why is religion in the classroom necessarily a bad thing? I know that the United States is not supposed to have an official religion that it coerces its citizens with, but does the supposed separation of church and state particularly matter in the setting of a classroom?

Do we honestly believe that teachers actually hold that much power over their students? Looking at classroom discipline these days would seem to give the impression otherwise.

I like the idea of people learning about religions, faith, and spirituality and since public education holds an effective monopoly on the education of children, shouldn't they in fact be compelled to teach it? If education of the youth wasn't a governmental monopoly then this wouldn't be an issue, but since they hold one, shouldn't they instead be MORE open to teaching those type of subjects rather than less?

That goblet of hemlock is waiting for us out there somewhere...

Thursday, May 18, 2006


Why should we care?

Why should we care about the death of an animal, the exinction of a species, or the loss of a particular animal's land resources?

My specific concern is why should anybody care about the potential exinction of the purebred Columbia Basin pygmy rabbits. Apparently the tiny rabbits are only found in Douglas County in north-central Washington. Read more on their questionable future here.

But really, why should any of us care? Do we receive extensive benefits knowing that one particular obscure creature still exists on this planet. Do we all really benefit from their continued existence, resulting in the need for a governmental intervention to correct for the market failure of obscure animals nearing extinction? Is protection or the prevention from exinction a public good?

What about the evolutionist standpoint. What makes us think that they (the animals) should continue to live? Even if mankind has created many ill effects leading the decline of this species, does that mean necessarily that weren't already "supposed" to decline in number. Although the evolutionist point-of-view is somewhat deterministic, it is right in not making a moral issue of the decline in particular species.

What about the issue of morality? Should we be ashamed of ourselves for not spending billions to save this rabbit. Should I be ashamed of myself for even talking about this in such a candid and callous manner?

What do you think? Why should any of us care?

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


The Myth of a Teacher Shortage

We have heard this in North Carolina for a number of years now. What is all this about a teacher shortage? How can this be true? Aren't teachers actually overpaid for only 10 months of work?'s the issue:

The Myth of the teacher shortage

Upon having a conversation with a fellow co-worker on the subject of public school teachers 'needing' raises because of the alleged teacher shortage, I decided to do a little thinking on the subject to see what all was really involved.

My initial opinion on the subject lead me to believe that it was rather common knowledge that the teacher unions of each state actively pursue legislation and regulation to artificially restrict the supply of available teachers, thereby creating this alleged teacher shortage. (just like doctors with medical schools)

Not only are we talking about the certification, the testing, and the education degree, but also the limitations to more qualified individuals, who are forced to revert to taking basic level courses to teach a subject matter that they are more highly qualified to teach than those with a general undergraduate degree. Of course, I am talking about the lateral entry individuals who have degrees in the actual subject area they desire to teach, giving the education degree additional credence beyond its real value.

Then we have limitations on mobility across states, and even any times across counties and cities, where each laborer who would like to participate in the workforce is cut short because of excessive and unnecessary regulation. A fine example is the special law that had to be passed in many states, just to let Louisiana teachers teach in other states after Katrina. How absurd is this really? Why do we need to have a special session to artificially measure "competency" in the workplace? North Carolina didn't even pass their law in fact. I guess the teachers were worried about a little competition at the expense of individuals that really needed help. It is really a fine example of the myth of a teacher shortage.

But aren't teachers paid too little? I mean, that's what I always hear. But, who isn't? Is there anyone who could honestly say that they (individually) are being paid too much?

Laslty, we have the legitimizing factor, the win-all in the arguement for a teacher's raise: the measure of the national average for teacher's salaries.

Apparently we are always under the national average, and so an annual increase of 8%, if all other states do similar ammounts, will keep us below the national average. That doesn't really tell us that anyone is deserving of a raise, does it? Also, what about the cost of living? Or merit-based raises? Isn't there a better way to gauge "deserving"?

So, I suppose it is true that there is a teacher shortage, but only because it is self imposed.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


My phone bill

Every month I get a phone bill on a phone that I rarely use. In fact the only reason I keep it going is to have something in case there are problems with the cell phone. I also like having that extra phone number.

Anyways, with that phone bill, I get charged a 99 cent "paper phone bill charge" for them to send me my bill in the mail. It doesn't exactly get me excited to know that on top of the 20-some-odd dollars of taxes and fees, that they throw this extra dollar on top. Beyond this, they send advertisements in the mailing.

So...I am being charged 99 cents for them to advertise to me. Actually, sitting down and thinking about that gets me a little perturbed to say the least.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled political blog. That is all.


Nutty in NY

Stepping over our boundaries a bit, aren't we??

New York City Sues 15 Gun Dealers in 5 States, Charging Illegal Sales!!

Read the Times article here.


Since we are on the topic

Since we are on the topic of government failure, perhaps we should look at something similar to market externalities.

Let's call all the goods and services that are not 'public goods' and still provided by the state: governmental internalities. Examples would include road service, libraries, health services, postal services, and a number of other services. (1)

Some definitions:

Public goods are nonexcludable (in benefits) and nonrival in consumption.

Externalities occur when one person's actions affect another person's well-being and the relevant costs and benefits are not reflected in market prices. There can be both positive and negative externalities.

For more on the subject of public goods and externalities, read Tyler Cowen's essay.

(1)There are of course some externalities that can be associated with these goods and services, but externalities are a weak argument for monopoly power by governments (in my opinion)

Monday, May 15, 2006


Am I the only one?

Am I the only one that has issues with this?

The State of California will use GPS techonology to map homes of sex offenders. This will make it easier to track their movements and make sure they are far enough away from schools. Read more on it here.

Three things:

Does sex offender=pedophile?

If the individual's time in prison does not wipe away the guilt of the crime, what does? Is it a really a life long sentence crime, that continues outside of the jailhouse walls?

What is the purpose of punishment, if it continues beyond the state-determined sentence? What's the point: restitution or rehabilitation?

Some issues...please comment and set me straight. Am I looking at this the wrong way?


Government Failure

Although there has been much written about market failure, there has been considerable neglect in the area of government failure. Why is that? Is it simply unpopular, or is it because it can come into direct opposition with our own ideology?

Wikipedia provides a little taste of government failure.

I think this is the most important issue: What constitutes government failure?

Is it a bad law that distorts decision making, risks, and the essential allocation of time, resources, and funds?

Is it inefficient political structures like gerrymandernig, voting, lobbying, and pork barrel spending?

Or is it simply governmental involvement in the individual lives of its citizens beyond some optimal level?

Is today's welfare/warfare state a governmental failure, by its sheer size, excessive involvement, and inefficient allocation of resources?

If we are so quick to claim market failure, should not the same standard be levied against government failure? Or perhaps if market failure is rare, then governmental failure should be considered rare as well.

Want to learn more, buy Government Failure!!


This is ridiculous

Who owns the internet?

Apparently limiting the "land" available to websites is the domain of a few regulators. Find out more here.

Make sure to check out the comments by a few 'concern' citizens. Limiting the supply of available space on the internet, will, in the Long Run have many adverse effects. Actually, I would think it would be a regulator's dream to shift the entire pornography industry onto a particular domain. Go figure. Check it out.

Sunday, May 14, 2006


Following Instructions Can Get You Killed...

Or save your life.

It all depends and it's really hard to say. Just ask Slate's Michael Kinsley. His article on the reaction of United Flight 93 passengers brings up a lot of interesting questions about human nature and how we define heroism.

Friday, May 12, 2006


Auction Hiatus

So after about a four year hiatus I am now back and active on
For some reason it caught my attention again. I don’t remember what got me up and active after such a long break, but I do know why I keep coming back.

I have gotten some really good deals and continue to. It’s cool to be able to get some good stuff cheaper than anywhere else I know. Ebay is where I have bought some of my South Park Seasons (I now have 1-7). I just bought my latest one for about 12 dollars cheaper than amazon (and 22 cheaper than and that's with shipping and handling included.

Does anybody else have any recommended sites for browsing or shopping? Any good deals to note? OR good places to shop?

Have a good weekend everybody!!


Thank You For Smoking

Wednesday night some of us went to go see Thank You For Smoking. Good movie. I enjoyed the characters, the general humor, and the lasting impression of individual liberty and choice.

There was an interesting moral dilemma created from his job as a Big Tobacco lobbyist and his participation in the life of his son. Read Jenna's review in the next CJ to find out more.

Essentially, the moral of the story is to argue more often cause you can never be wrong if you do it right. Question everything and think for yourself!

Here are some good lines:

Nick Naylor: Michael Jordan plays ball. Charles Manson kills people. I talk.

Nick Naylor: You know the guy who can pick up any girl? I'm him on crack.

Nick Naylor: I have a bachelor's in kicking ass and taking names.

Thursday, May 11, 2006


News and Junk

Some goings on...

Good article about oil profiteering. Who's making the most money? (Courtesy of the Door.)

Anti-Smoking Pill. Luckily the FDA has given us permission to use it, but this won't likely ease the game of 'Mother May I?' More here. Check out the other new drug on the market. It is amazing what they can come up with these day!!! Here.

Hope you haven't been on the phone lately. Not soo much good news. Here's more.

Women and men. Where do you get your information? Some new info on paternal instinct.

Bird flue unfounded? What? Who would have thought that?!?!? Here.


No Science, Not Even Science?

We're told since middle school that conducting a proper scientific experiment is conceptually simple. You observe a phenomena, you formulate a hypothesis to explain it, divine some testable predictions from that hypothesis, then finally test those predictions using experiments. If enough experiments confirm your predictions, you have yourself a scientific theory. We call this the "scientific method".

The important criterion here is falsifiability. For a theory to be scientific it has to yield testable, falsifiable, predictions. If you can't test it, it ain't science. This is a very reasonable sounding criterion for what is scientific that falls apart upon closer inspection.

What I mean is that if we follow this criterion to its logical conclusions, we would have to dismiss all familiar scientific theories as pseudo-science. Why? Because one can never "disprove" a hypothesis with empirical evidence--no hypothesis is falsifiable. The problem arises because we can't test single hypotheses one at a time. When we conduct experiments we have to test a slew of hypothesis all at once. For example, If I were to test my hypothesis that a force called gravity will cause an apple to fall to the Earth when it's dropped I am also testing my hypothesis that no force greater than gravity will push the apple away from the Earth.

If I drop the apple and it flies into space, does that disprove my hypothesis that a force pulls it to the ground? Not at all! I can easily say that it only disproves my second hypothesis. There must be some force stronger than gravity pushing the apple into space!

This is an important insight made a long time ago by philosopher of science Pierre Duhem that still hasn't fully been appreciated by our legal system or high school science teachers.

The moral of the story: Searching for truth about the world around us is VERY hard and empirical evidence only takes us so far.


Video Poker anyone?

This is the best governmental hypocrisy has to offer.

North Carolina is set to ban Video Poker as early as today.

Umm...apparently it is only "okay" to gamble if it is governmentally sold.

Read more here.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


Up the min

Come out and support an increase in the minimum wage on May 15th!!

Be there or be square...

Find out more here.


Waiting for Taco Bell

While I was waiting for Taco Bell to open sunday morning, I decided to open my Bastiat book, which happens to live in my car. I decided to turn to the very last essay, titled something like "Protectionism and Free Trade".

Two important points:

Why are the net effects from trade are treated as a loss of profit by so many? An opinion of the contemporary cameralists believe that exporting more than you import=profit, whereas importing more than you export=loss(deficit). By this logic, which he touched upon, sailing a ship out into the middle of the ocean and sinking it is more profitable for a country, since the whole quantity was exported and nothing imported=total profit!

He also commented on comparative advantage (he used the analogy of cheese from Amsterdam and wine from France). I think it is important to recognize that all individuals, companies, and even nations (if you believe that) attempt to achieve a comparative advantage in some good or service. It seems that it follows from the simple division of labour through to specialization and the rational attempt to act in one's own self interest.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


What a bunch of...

Look at this! Then read this!

Yeah, what a load of....


Food for thought

This post is motivated by Hans-Hermann Hoppe's "Economic Science and the Austrian Method":

For something, anything to be explained by empirical research, i.e. gained empirical knowledge, then the initial proposition much necessarily have to be either fasifiable or provable through observation. Understanding this, economic laws can not be understood through empirical research, otherwise they would not be laws, since they could be falsifiable at any time in the future.

The Austrians, at least some anyways, believe that it is folly to empirically test economic laws, all of which derive from Mises's axiom of action. Hoppe cited a few here:

Whenever two people A and B engage in voluntary exhange, they must both expect to profit from it. And they must have reverse preference orders for the goods and services exchanges so that A values what he receives from B more highly than what he gives to him, and B must evaluate the same things the other way around.

Or, consider this: Whenever an exhange is not voluntary but coerced, one party profits at the expense of the other.

Or the law of marginal utility... Or take the Ricardian law of association...

Or as another example: Whenever minimum wage laws are enforced that require wages to be higher than existing market wages, involuntary unemployment will result.

Or as a final example: Whenever the quantity of money is increased while the demand for money to be held as cash reserve on hand is unchanged, the purchasing power of money will fall.

Hoppe furthers that the only way to know these laws is through rigorous logical formulation. He uses an analogy to make this point: is as if one wanted to establish the theorem of Pythagoras by actually measuring sides and angles of triangles. Just as anyone would have to comment on such an endeavor, mustn't we say that to think economic propositions would have to be empirically tested is a sign of outright intellectual confusion?

Although I am not sure if I fully buy into that, I think he makes a valid point on empirical understandings and their necessary limitations. I think it is fair to empirically test observations in an attempt to find new laws, but without the logical justification and formulation of new theories, they can only survive as theories.


"Freedom's Just Another Word...

...for nothing left to lose." ~Janis Joplin

Mitch tried to start this conversation over at the Lockerroom a few weeks ago, but I thought I might have better luck here.

Can we apply the timeless logic of Bobby McGee to individuals living on government's largesse?



'ello Gov'na

In case you hadn't heard:

MM running under LP platform for Gov. in '08.
More here and read the speech.


On the windfall taxes

Pretty good article in the WSJ. It gives a nice discussion of the proposed windfall tax, the benefits of high gas prices, a market failure, or simply the evil oil companies.

Find it here.


Advertising and Public Education

Should advertising of potentially dangerous or risk-associated goods and services be regulated by the public health czars? Examples often cited include the fast food moguls, evil tobacco, and alcohol. Should they be charged with corrupting our youth?

Although there is certainly evidence to suggest the advertising is an effective use of company resources (individuals purchase goods and services), does that imply that an appropriate policy is to limit advertisizing mediums to "dangerous" products?

In the 1970's and 1980's the federal government and the other groups effectively limited cigarette and alcohol advertising to minors. In more recent times, there have been called for greater "social responsibility" of fast-food companies, junk food manufactures, and even toy-makers to limit advertising to children, especially on the all-important saturday morning cartoon time slots.

Now this is beyond the simple, who's actually buying the junk food, fast-food, or toys? or Where do the kids get the money for that? Rather, I wonder how we presume that advertising, wether it is potentially risky or dangerous products to kids is necessarily damaging. Isn't becoming aware of alternative goods and services almost universally beneficial.

Just because the advertisment says one thing, there is no reason to believe that individuals can't make decisions for themselves. Just because its there in front of them, why should it be considered some how coercive? Perhaps they need the reminder that no one is forced via product promotions, coupons, or advertising to consume risky or harmful goods and services.

It seems that the underlying assumption in public health officials' policies are that advertising is nearly 100% effective or that it is a coercive mechanism leading to actions against one's will or not in our own best interest.

I suppose one has to believe that individuals are rational, or that they consistently act in their own best interest, (wether the activity be highly risky or risk free) to not buy into the public health arguments. I for one am of that opinion.

Monday, May 08, 2006



They want to make the AIDs test as common as cholesterol check? Aren't they overblowing this one a bit? The current numbers are 1/270 have AIDs, then again, everyone has AIDs (Past post)

You mean we didn't already do this???

Actually this statement from Alexandre Dumas makes more sense now:
“Men's minds are raised to the level of the women with whom they associate”


Good Read

Today's Mises Daily Article is a good read. He covers a lot.

We just need to remember to fight the good fight in the name of liberty!!

Find it here.


Externalize the internalities

I was thinking that perhaps an alternative approach that should be taken in modern public economics is not to equate each and every MSC to MSB, but rather to look at the aggregate of all positive and negative externalities, and only look at the distributional effects to see if the "net out" on the whole.

The reason, I am wondering this is because of the problematic pigovian tax approach. It could be that I am mostly, just not a fan of taxes, but it might seem that artificially influencing the price of a good may have more negative effects than positive (on the whole). Especially, since new science comes out and tells us that everything (literally...everything) is bad for you. So, as easily as that is recognized, the notion and ability for governmental interference in the pricing signals of a good and/or service is not all that appealing to me. It also, presumes that some "Economist General" has more information than others actively participating in a market.

The whole approach, at least to me, is problematic and reeks of paternalism.

What do you think?

Sunday, May 07, 2006


Good Line

This is a really good line and a honestly sufficient enough for opposition of the death penalty:

...I can't figure out how people who claim to be against government power can also want the state to have the ultimate power -- to kill.

Here's the rest.



Okay, this doesn't make any sense to me! I need someone's help to see exactly what she is trying to say. Discussion please...

Friday, May 05, 2006


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Public Health

While reading Jacob Sullum's "For Your Own Good: The Anti-Smoking Crusade and the Tyranny of Public Health" I came upon this paragraph:

The CDC's growth can be seen as a classic example of bureaucratic empire building. More generally, it is easy to dismiss public health's ever-expanding agenda as a bid for funding, power, and status. Yet the field's practitioners argue, with evident sincerity, that they are simply adapting to changing patters of morbidity and mortality. In doing so, however, they are treating behavior as if it were a communicable disease, which obscures some important distinctions. Behavior cannot be transmitted to other people against their will. People do not choose to be sick, but they do choose to engage in risky behavior. The choice implies that the behavior, unlike a viral or bacterial infection, has value. It also implies that attempts to control the behavior will be resisted.

I think it pretty much speaks for itself. What do you think?


Can the Military be Decentrally Organized?

Chris' recent posts got me thinking about this question. When it comes to domestic affairs, I agree with him that central planning ussually winds up busted. But what military affairs? Can one effectivley organize a military, or conduct a war, without central planners?

Or to narrow the question "can a military be organized with less central planning than we currently have in the Untied States?" Or an even narrower question, "can our war-time military complete its goal of forcing its will on the enemy effectively with less central planning?"

What about going so far as to "privatize" the military? Would a for-profit army do well on the battlefield, respect the human rights of its enemies, AND protect the rights of American citizens?


Cinco de Mayo

Happy Cinco de Mayo everybody!!!

Uds. necesitan beber muchas cervezas y comer tacos y burritos!!!

Take it easy and have a good one!!
I am sure that I won't have to remind anyone that it is five o'clock somewhere!!

Learn a bit about Cinco de Mayo.


State Owned

The underlying assumption prevalent in modern and historical public policy arguments, is that the pursuit of state-directed activities are considered the pinnacle of individual existence. As I have mentioned before, when someone slacks off at work, their productivity declines and society loses and we all die a little inside.

Whether it is a decline in the state coffers or in productivity, the state and therefore society is viewed as the ultimate goal and owner of all that exists in society.

What brought this up?

Upon reading Jacob Sullum's book, I ran across a sentence that inspired this post. When England's King James I (Scotland's James VI) took the throne in 1603, he published A Counterblast to Tobacco. This just happens to be one of the earliest anti-smoking tomes. Anywho, James worried about this habit, as Sullum put it:

The king worried that dependence on tobacco whould make his people unsuited for war--since they would yearn for the weed during battle--and deplete their property. (Tobacco was still a luxury; during the Elizabethan period, the historian Egon C. Corti reports, it sold for its weight ins ilver.) "Is it not the greates sinne of all," James asked, "taht you the people of all sortes of this Kingdome, who are created and ordeined by Gof to bestowe both your persons and goods for the maintenance both of the honour and safetie of your King and Commonwealth, should dispable your selves in both?" Thus he forthrightly asserted a permise that today's anti-smoking activists, who aslo complain about tobacco's impact on the public treasury, prefer to leave unspoken: that the function of the individual is to serve the state.

Thursday, May 04, 2006


Bunch of B.S.

Taking the fizz out of school.
I mean it's already boring enough, what perks do kids have left?

Check out the deal brokered by Clinton, here.



I agree and disagree with the many of the points in this Wall Street Journal opinion piece. Check it out here.

Thoughts on the death penalty, society, the judicial process and Moussaoui...



Some thoughts....

Should the autonomous individual be counted as a cost of benefit to society? In many conservative and libertarian circles, the self-directed actions of an individual are necessarily counted as a benefit and many times a large one at that. Alternatively, autonomy of the individual is also counted as a cost to society at large to many of the liberal persuasion. This tends tp be echoed by the central planners, public health, and transportation (urban sprawl) officials, who see individual "choice" as a cost in their equation.

In all reality, since no man is an island, the autonomy of an individual has to be placed in the setting of a society where there are costs and benefits externalized through action and transaction.

Regardless of whether the we live in a deterministic world or a world with freedom of choice, the main essence of the argument for autonomy seemingly comes down to the inability by another individual to act as they "should". Often times, you can see this when individuals take risks, drive instead of ride, choose to not recycle, or just about anything else.

I know that this doesn't really answer my question, but I think it puts into perspective the issue of "social costs".

Does anyone want to take a stab at this one....


Spontaneous Order and Central Planning

Here is a very good article explaining spontaneous order and the problems of central planning. It is entitled Rinkonomics by Daniel B. Klein.

This is very useful for understanding the failures of urban planning and economic development. It is also interesting to see the parallels between transportation systems and the rinks that he describes. Now we just got to find a way to privatize the roads.

Interesting theme at the bottom of the paper -- like the golden rule of mutualities.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


A light in the Addict

I just finished up an article titled The Discovery of Addiction: Changing Conceptions of Habitual Drunkenness in America by Harry G. Levine. It was a pretty good article and it is useful for understanding both the public health and the medical/physiological definitions of terms like "habitual", "addictive", "substance abuse" and a variety of other terms that have evolved alongside the changing perception of addiction in America since the 1700's.

This sort of article is important because it gives us a sociological interpretation of the changing perceptions of purported habit-forming substances. Since the temperance movement of the early 1800's which climaxed with the prohibition, was the first group to discover addiction and the "disease" of alcoholism, this is useful for understanding how it was later applied to opium, heroin and cocaine, marijuana, and even tobacco.

It also provides a pretty solid and lengthy bibliography which I will soon be exploring. You can catch the article here or here.


This is interesting...

I think this guy really is my favourite economist: Anthony De Jasay
Here is his new article titled: Paternalism and Employment.

I never thought about social welfare programs like this. This is very interesting. and if you have the chance to read through the article, it could lead to a very interesting discussion.

Also, a new one on minimum wages by the folks at the Mises Institute.
You can find it here.


Philosophy of Liberty Video

From the International Society for Individual Liberty.

Check it out!


Alcohol industry profits off underage drinkers!!

Who would have thought? But why is this a problem exactly? Are individuals under the artificially restricted age of 21, necessarily worse off by consuming alcohol. I don't see how that could possibly be true.

This is a good one to discuss. Why is underage drinking problematic? Isn't it only illegal because it was arbitrarily deemed so my federal and state legislators? Is protecting people from themselves, making them worse off? Is this restriction appropriate or too paternalistic? What is a better alternative?

Check out the article. Ya gotta love this quote:

"What we see here is that there is a large conflict of interest for the alcohol industry between profitability and public health," Susan E. Foster of The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia told Reuters Health.

What conflict is she speaking of? I think it comes from the basic assumption that I mentioned above: that someone under 21 years of age is necessarily worse off by consuming alcohol and that companies are trying to take advantage of that situation and make a profit.


The Seven Types

This is great!

Check it out.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


As always...

Becker and Posner give some useful insights into the "non-issue" of the increase in gasoline prices. As always, a good read.

Find it here.


Of Note

New study, published in the JAMA shows that Americans are sicker than English. Yeah, we already knew that.... I wonder how much of this can be attributed to the accessibility of medical treatment and services. If newer services are available, reasonably priced, and more abundant are they not used more frequently like all other goods and services?

Sorry, couldn't find the study on the JAMA website, but here's the article.

Also, check out the May 2006 National Economic Trends provided by the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank. It's always good to know what's happening. Don't worry, it's mostly just charts. Make sure to check out the front page though: Cross-Country Personal Saving Rates.

Somebody want to answer me why American's personal savings rate is in the negative?


Medical Marijuana

The FDA annouced the other day that there was little if any use of marijuana for medical purposes. Anyone close to the information on the subject knows that this is a blatant lie. It is actually very depressing to see that a group such as the FDA can so easily be influenced by waivering political agendas. (Yes, I am presuming that this has little to do with medicine and more to do with ideology). Here's the release.

Also, check out the Slate article.

Anyway, it is truly difficult to see something that has as so little quantifiable costs (risk of addiction, individual and external harm) and many conveniently disregarded benefits to be banned for no other purpose than to save me from myself. So it continues....


Myths and Facts

The fact is the there is little or no causal evidence to support the broad opinion that drugs (all or some) necessarily lead to addiction. Bruce Alexander's "The Myth of Drug-Induced Addiction" supports this claim by primarily focusing on heroin and cocaine.

He cites numerous studies and simply follows the logical arguments that either take one of two of the following claims:

Claim A: All or most people who use heroin or cocaine beyond a certain minimum amount become addicted.

Claim B: No matter what proportion of the users of heroin and cocaine become addicted, their addiction is caused by exposure to the drug.

He does a very good job to dispel these popular myths. It's worth the read.

Also, some readings: here, here (gateway myth), and here (meaning of addiction).


WH Correspondents Dinner

Some morning humor at the expense of Mr. President served up by Mr. Colbert.

Find it here.

Monday, May 01, 2006


The Boys are Back

The Black Panthers were in town today, marching on Dukes campus to deal with the Duke Rapists in their own way.

It was their desire is to "deal directly" with the lacrosse players.

This is really getting insane. It's really sad that we aren't worrying about upholding the law, any more, but instead only wanting to make an example. Those Dukies, no matter how diversified, need to remember about their white and male priviledges, even if they did nothing wrong (innocent till proven guilty).

Since these guys are most well known for their violence and carrying weapons, this was going to be interesting. Here's the story.

Then the Klansfolk were gonna arrive. Want some information on the lacrosse team's conduct? Here you go.

More and More....



John Kenneth Galbraith dead at 97.

More here.



It will be interesting to see what we can learn from game theory for the planned "walk out" by immigrants today.

What risk are they going to assume individually? What sort of expectations are they going to have for their fellow workers to strike? What are employers going to do?

Read more on the event: here and here.


Double Standard in Criminality

There was an interesting article the other day about a new law that attempts to increase the penalties for eco-terrorism. Here's a little bit:

HARRISBURG -- Gov. Ed Rendell has signed into law a bill aimed at protecting farmers, researchers and others from what the bill's sponsor called "environmental extremists."

The law increases penalties for arson, criminal mischief, vandalism, agricultural vandalism, crop destruction and theft aimed at intimidating people who participate in lawful activities involving plants, animals and natural resources.

The law increases the severity of charges for suspects whose crimes involve eco-terrorism.

This is a double standard, making some crimes more "criminal" based on the victim. In some sense, I like this because many law makers have allowed this eco-terrorism to run amuck. Allowing these crimes to exists without proper punishment and emphasis on the violation of private property is inappropriate. However, I do not like the double standars it creates.


The Sierra Club doesn't condone those kinds of activities but says the new law is unnecessary and could chill free speech.

"Law-abiding people who are trying to draw attention to an environmental harm might be worried that they might step over the wrong line and just decide it's not worth it to protest," said Jeff Schmidt, director of the organization's 28,000-member Pennsylvania chapter.

Mr. Schmidt is especially concerned that the law singles out environmental groups based on the nature of their protests.

"Someone else who might do the same kind of activity protesting abortions or [unfair labor practices] might have the same physical impact," he said. Under the new law, those protesters would have milder sentences if convicted than environmental protesters.

"We're talking about things that have always been considered a violation of the law, but they're singling out environmentalists," Mr. Schmidt said.

I think its well said, no matter how hypocritical...

Read the article here.

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