Sunday, September 01, 2013

Monsanto and the Bees

It has been a story recently, that there was a beekeeper doing research into breeding honey bees capable of resisting Monsanto’s pesticide Roundup. It is believed by many that Roundup is a contributing factor to the honey bee deaths that have been plaguing the United States, so of course there would be people interested in researching this matter.

The biggest obstacle to those seeking to research the negative effects of Monsanto products has been Monsanto itself and the ties of that company to the United States government. The tests required by the United States government, after sufficient input from Monsanto lobbyists, reveal nothing about the long term effects of Monsanto pesticides or of the GMO crops designed to resist them.

Some smaller independent research has been done. The case of the Illinois bee keeper is just such an example where by selective breeding of bees he was able to breed a honey bee that is resistant to the detrimental effects of Monsanto products in the long term.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture then seized the bees, and even promptly lost them according to most reports, while others have reported that the queens have been destroyed.

Of course this would be the case that a government in the United States would do that, given that the official position of the United States government is that Monsanto products are completely harmless. Said products have been deemed so completely harmless that aspersions are cast upon those who might doubt their safety.

The alleged reason was a disease called “foulbrood” but the owner of the bees, Terrence Ingram, insists that his bees did not have foulbrood.

The most obvious explanation is that the State of Illinois was acting at the behest of Monsanto to eliminate research that would embarrass Monsanto. A more sinister explanation is that the executives of Monsanto do not actually want there to be any Monsanto pesticide resistant bees.

The most sinister explanation of them all is that Monsanto does indeed want there to be bees resistant to Monsanto pesticides, bees that are patented by Monsanto and therefore any bee keeper that has bees with patented genes owes a royalty to Monsanto. And perhaps the bees weren’t actually destroyed the way the article reports, but were taken into Monsanto custody and reported destroyed as a step towards this goal.

Although it is only speculation, it is indeed possible given Monsanto’s record on all other GMO related matters.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Sanjay Gupta and Medicinal Marijuana

First Dr. Sanjay Gupta went public on CNN endorsing medicinal marijuana, claiming that the research shows that he was wrong to trust the reports of the DEA. Then prominent media outlets ran stories about a father in New Jersey who claims that medicinal marijuana is vital for his daughter and her severe form of epilepsy, and also discussed a medicinal marijuana bill on Governor Christi’s desk.

This indicates that the tide is definitely turning on the issue. Public support for medicinal marijuana or just marijuana in general has been rising to the point where it is difficult for the ruling class to ignore.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, the medical mouthpiece of the establishment, would never have come out in favor of medicinal marijuana without knowledge that it would be safe for him to do so. Were the political establishment still firmly against marijuana in any form, Dr. Gupta would have been quickly discredited.

Instead of discrediting Dr. Gupta, a story was covered that supports medicinal marijuana. Several outlets covered the father and his attempt to get an answer out of Governor Christi, and Governor Christi’s non-committal answer.

There is still dissent, with Republicans generally on the side of leaving matters the way they are, but increasing Democratic support for the issue is revealed by the way the media is leading this issue. Like gay marriage, an issue that previously only libertarians were bold enough to take, eventually progressives and liberals caught up and are starting to fight on the same side as well.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Militarily Pivotal Presidency

Simple raw calculations are all that is needed to determine which president was the economically pivotal presidency. Finding out that Herbert Hoover was economically pivotal comes as little surprise to those that never fell for his false reputation as a do nothing president.

Trying to figure out which president is the most pivotal in terms of use of the military and foreign affairs is more complicated. Each particular war could, in theory, be considered the turning point in United States foreign relations. But there is one war in particular and also one president in particular that stands out.

Reading "Recarving Rushmore" by the Ivan Eland of the Independent Institute gives an interesting perspective to a usually overlooked president, William McKinley. It is commonly assumed that he wished to avoid war with Spain, but research by Ivan Eland shows otherwise. William McKinley played a very coy game of pretending to oppose the war while encouraging it behind the scenes.

While previous wars had some sort of arguable pretext, even though in the Mexican-American war the actual course of the war went far beyond the pretext, there at least was a case to be made for military action by the United States. There wasn’t always a good case, but there was some case.

The case for the Spanish-American war was imperialism, nothing less and nothing more. The sinking of the Maine served as an incident, but didn't serve as a cause. More than any other military action, it set the course for future United States military involvement around the world, setting the state for the many crimes of Woodrow Wilson.

The reason why William McKinley doesn't get the recognition he deserves is because while preparing for war, advocating war, and later waging war, his public statements were to the effect of opposing war. Why he spoke out against a war that he wanted is a very curious subject to examine, which can be read about in "Recarving Rushmore."

Sunday, April 07, 2013

The problem with Feminism

In a rather interesting conversation to observe, a skeptic confronted a feminist on what the word "feminist" means. The person claiming to be a feminist said that it was a person who supported gender equality. The skeptic replied in a rather interesting manner.

If that were all there was to feminism, there would be no controversy. There is a lot of controversy.
P -> Q
:: ~P

This response was apparently not welcomed because the skeptic was then compared to a misogynist trying to put women back in the kitchen.

The problem is, the skeptic was right. If feminism simply meant someone who supports gender equality there would be very little controversy except for a few very backwards people. There is, however, much controversy, and that supplies evidence that there is much more to feminism than simply seeking equality. This is the reason there are people who say "because I support equality, I am not a feminist."

The problem is that feminism, and feminists in general, refuse to own the radicals in their own movement.

Take the case of Westboro Baptist Church, famous for picketing funerals with anti-gay propaganda. Many Christians are quick to say that the members of that church aren’t "true Christians," a response that has caused Antony Flew to describe the "No True Scotsman" fallacy. A fallacy or not, it does show that the speaker believes that the members of the Westboro Baptist Church are not demonstrating the way a Christian should behave.

With feminism, there is a different response, and it is not even up to the level of a No True Scotsman fallacy. This response is so common it has even been given an acronym – NAFALT. When confronted with something radical said in the name of feminism, apologists will say "Not All Feminists Are Like That."

Take the case of Youtube Vlogger Femitheist, who made a video that appears to advocate androcide, reducing the male population to 10% of its current numbers. Rather than say "yes, that is a position taken by feminists" or "no, that is not a position taken by feminists" the speaker seeks to simultaneously embrace and reject the radical position.

It is this refusal to own the issue, by either acceptance or rejection, that confounds those who would wish to be allies if feminism was what advocates claimed it to be, because the positions taken by the radicals are clearly not positions that advocate equality. If the "mainstream feminists" were to take a position, for or against, the radical positions then those who do not consider themselves to be feminists and consider themselves to be supporters of equality can finally come down one way or the other with regards to feminism.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Even More Dangerous DHS

The most dangerous thing, politically speaking, is an unaccountable center of political power. Allegedly the United States government is set up to prevent such a thing from happening. Congress has the power of impeachment of both the President and of Supreme Court justices. The Supreme Court has the power to nullify laws that were passed. The President has both enforcement power and veto power.

It is a nice theory, but does not work so well in practice. As it stands now, the congress has ceded almost all of its power to the other branches. What should be accomplished through legislation is instead accomplished by executive order or by judicial fiat. The only power that still remains with congress is that to pass a budget (or even a continuing resolution) and even that was attacked recently with the idea to mint a high denomination platinum coin.

The Department of Homeland Security, perhaps one of the most dangerous departments in the federal government, no longer submits to any sort of checks of authority. According to Infowars, Janet Napolitano is ignoring requests by members of congress to explain the large ammunition purchases by the Department of Homeland Security.

This follows but a few months after John Pistole, director of the TSA, declined to show at a congressional hearing. And this is not the first time that the leadership of the TSA has declined to show, setting rules for their participation that include not allowing critics of the TSA at the hearings.

There is very little accountability in the United States government. But blatant disregard of this magnitude is startlingly new. Only the quasi-independent Federal Reserve has ever been able to disregard the checks and balances up until this point. Moreover, the TSA has even retaliated against elected officials that dared to criticize the TSA. It is clear that in addition to controlling all entry and exit to the country, the DHA is setting itself far above the law.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Dangerous Department of Homeland Security

Libertarian websites, and other concerned allies on this issue, have noticed that the officials at the Department of Homeland Security have purchased an unjustifiably large amount of munitions. Janet Napolitano claims it is for training purposes, but training rounds are the cheapest rounds anyone purchases and hollow point rounds are not used for training.

The obvious conclusion is that the Department of Homeland Security is preparing for domestic unrest. But there is another aspect to the Department of Homeland Security that is also of great cause for alarm. It is which sub-agencies form the Department of Homeland Security.

The first departments to note are U. S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. These departments are there allegedly to prevent terrorists from entering the United States. What they do is to monitor the goods entering or leaving the United States. This ensures that all tariffs are paid, that drugs are not smuggled in, and that intellectual property is not smuggled out.

The next agency of note is the United States Border Patrol, a sub-agency of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. This agency monitors all people entering the United States by land. The U. S. Customs and Border Protection monitors all people leaving the United States.

The Transportation Security Agency, officially charged with protecting the airlines from those who might seek to conduct terrorist activities while in the air. Actually what they do is to track all people who fly, and to forbid certain people who have their names on the often denied "no fly list." Anyone who might seek to leave the United States by air must pass through the Transportation Security Agency. The Transportation Security Agency only monitors those leaving, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement monitors those entering the United States by air.

Then there is the U. S. Coast Guard. Originally it was part of the Department of Transportation that occasionally worked as part of the Department of the Navy. It was moved from the Department of Transportation to the Department of Homeland Security. Any activity on the shores of the United States is under their jurisdiction. It conducts maritime law enforcement, migrant interdiction, and drug interdiction.

This one agency, the Department of Homeland Security, therefore monitors the entrance or exit of all people or goods that cross the United States Border, by air, sea, or land. Anyone who wishes to enter or leave has to deal with some agency within the Department of Homeland Security, and has to deal with some agency if any goods are to enter or leave as well.

It is the ultimate dream of those in power, to have complete control over entrance or exit over a country. The Department of Homeland Security is that ultimate dream made real. If there is unrest, as the leadership of that department obviously anticipates, that department therefore also has the authority to close all the borders.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Obama is the New Biggest Spender

Although the website does not yet have GPI or GPD data for 2012, the value of Gold for 2012 is ready on That enables calculations for one measure, but only one measure, for the deficits for President Obama’s first term.

Using constant gold dollars, those who would overspend benefit in appearance from a rising price of gold. The price of gold has risen every year since President Obama has assumed office. That would make any deficits smaller when converted to constant dollars. Even by that measure, President Obama now has the largest deficits of any presidential term.

Measured in 1789 dollars, the gold-weighted dollar values of the deficits are:

Obama Term 1-99,821,590,396.08
Bush Jr Term 1-99,776,642,401.45
F Roosevelt 3-96,408,875,337.91
Bush Jr Term 2-85,474,167,431.44
Bush Sr-82,665,333,079.60
Clinton Term 1-63,508,876,217.31
Reagan Term 2-55,620,058,613.77
Reagan Term 1-34,590,184,231.84
Clinton Term 2-31,541,432,371.56
Nixon / Ford-30,632,171,603.66
F Roosevelt / Truman-30,513,251,062.43

Every single president since President Nixon severed the final link between the dollar and gold is included in the list of presidents that have the most unbalanced budgets. Since this is a constant dollar list, that means that these deficits are not impacted by the collapsing dollar.

For all the posturing about how President Obama wanted to fix the financial mess handed to him by President Bush, he has in fact done the opposite. It is no longer true that President Bush is the worst spender. These numbers do not lie. While it is possible to come up with explanations as to why these numbers are what they are, such explanations do not change what the numbers are.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Ryan's Lunch with Obama

As part of the fallout of Senator Randall Paul's thirteen hour filibuster, Representative Paul Ryan was invited to have lunch with President Barack Obama. Meanwhile the answer that Senator Paul received was a quickly written memo signed by Attorney General Holder and not an answer from President Obama himself.

Although many libertarians are still skeptical about Senator Paul, the symbolism of the luncheon with President Obama and Representative Ryan clearly show that the mainstream of both parties are very unhappy with what Senator Paul did.

The first line of attack was to get many of Senator Paul's Republican peers to describe his activities in a negative light. For example, he was described as a "crazy bird" by Senator McCain, and that was hardly the worst said about the filibuster. The effort was to ensure that he was seen not as a focus of resistance to President Obama but as someone outside the acceptable realm of debate.

The luncheon was very symbolic and very profound. President Obama did not invite Senator Paul to the lunch. Had he done so it would have legitimized Senator Paul for daring to question whether the president has unlimited authority with the drone program.

Instead Representative Ryan was invited. To a libertarian this appears to be two Washington insiders meeting with each other, but to the mainstream press this is seen as opposition leaders meeting with each other. Therefore the purpose of the lunch was to legitimize Representative Ryan as President Obama’s opponent.

It is very important for the status quo to see Representative Ryan instead of Senator Paul as the opposition. Representative Ryan has carefully cultivated an image as being the staunch Republican leader of opposition to President Obama. During the 2012 Republican Party convention, after the party rejected any input from delegates and supporters of Representative Ron Paul, insulted them, marginalized them, and disenfranchised them, the choice of Paul Ryan was rather laughably offered as a way to win those votes back. In 13 hours Senator Paul proved that he actually does provide opposition in ways that Representative Ryan never did.

On budget issues, Senator Paul actually submitted a budget proposal that had $500 billion in actual cuts. These were not the “smaller increases” that are so commonly called cuts in Washington. This means that Senator Paul, and not Representative Ryan, is the true budget hawk.

The subject of the filibuster is even more important. Senator Paul was speaking on an issue that theoretically should garner support from disillusioned supporters of President Obama. The filibuster painted President Obama as firmly pro-war and siding with the neoconservative wing of the Republican Party.

It is the neoconservative wing that led to the last several defeats of the Republican Party, and it is the wing seeking reform, a very loose coalition of the Tea Party movement, some old guard paeloconservatives, and the remaining libertarians who have not yet fled the Republican Party, that led to many of the victories over the last few years. If the Republican Party is to have a future it will need to come from that base, but that base is a threat to the current leadership of the party.

Allegedly the Tea Party had already been nullified. The movement had in general been coopted by having Sarah Palin and Glen Beck take over as the leaders and spokespeople for the party, and then by having Representative Bachmann become the leader of the House Tea Party Caucus. Then in the 2012 presidential race, the candidate who was the least appealing to the Tea Party movement was the one that won the primary.

Representative Ryan is being offered as an alternative to Senator Paul as the leader of the future of the Republican Party. He would be a fresh face on an old arrangement, and the media would gladly sell him that way. Both parties would prefer that, and that is why President Obama met with Representative Ryan instead of Senator Paul.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Police, Fire Fighters, and Teachers

Whenever budget negotiations happen on the state or local level, especially when the subject of whether or not taxes should go up, the first thing threatened is the employment of the police, the fire fighters, and the teachers. Every time spending increases or tax increases are at risk, those who advocate increases insist that failure to raise taxes or spending means that those three are threatened. On the federal level, meat inspectors, roads, and the military are threatened instead, as well as Social Security checks for seniors.

Based on the rhetoric, it seems as if the only people hired by the state and local governments are police, fire fighters, and teachers. All the tax assessors, all the code enforcers, all the inspectors and auditors are never placed at risk.

It is probably a case of offering the most valuable services up first in negotiations, the ones that would be most difficult to cut because of the repercussions of doing so. Cutting the fire fighters does put people at risk. Cutting the police endangers their ability to act as a criminal gang, as well as preventing them from occasionally catching a criminal. Cutting teachers means that parents will be responsible for their own children.

Cutting auditors and assessors simply means people will be left alone to go about their business. If police, fire fighters, and teachers were retained while all the code enforcers were furloughed or fired, it would greatly reduce the burden of government in noticeable ways.

As much as it may be the case that the most "important" services are offered up for sacrifice, on the understanding that people won't dare cut those services, the auditors and assessors will not be cut because that would allow people to find out just how much the government weighs on their daily life. People would get the temporary experience of being free, and they might decide they actually like it. As such the rhetoric must continue to be as if the only government employees are those that are considered to actually have a positive impact on people.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Nose in the Tent

A constant mantra of those who constantly seek additional restrictions on firearms is that there is no call to confiscate any firearms. All the restrictions have been on the acquisition of firearms; the purchase, sale, gift, inheritance, or manufacture. Whenever those who oppose limiting self defense get too worried about new firearm restrictions get concerned about new proposals, the mantra is repeated that the panic is over nothing since nothing in the new proposed legislation involves confiscation. Even the gun registration proposals do not include any proposals to confiscate any already owned firearms.

That is until now. In California there are now proposals to end the "grandfathering" of older acquisitions that are restricted by new laws. In a package of legislation there is the first step towards a law that authorizes confiscation.

According to the proposed legislation, the purchase of ammunition would require the same background checks that are required for firearms. The purchase of semi-automatics would be forbidden, which is more extreme than legislation anywhere else in the United States. The sale of magazines that can hold more than ten bullets would also be restricted. The part that should be of greatest concern is that the ownership of any existing magazines larger than the ten bullet limitation would be forbidden.

The author of the legislation explains that the biggest failing of any gun control (sic) legislation is that a person can claim that any forbidden item was purchased before it was forbidden. Although this newest restriction does not cover firearms, it does cover magazines and therefore sets a precedent for applying ownership restrictions and turn in restrictions to the realm of gun legislation.

That is the point of the additional feature of the restriction of magazine size. It creates a precedent. Unless this particular measure is overturned in the courts it creates a precedent that will be difficult to challenge when future applications of ownership restrictions are enacted. The argument by those who wish to restrict ownership will be that ownership restrictions are not new, that by accepting the confiscation for one feather therefore confiscation for all features is accepted. Also when these measures are enacted in other states, their existence in California will serve as a precedent.

That is why this particular law, the law that requires the turn in of all oversized magazines, must be the first priority to challenge the requirement to turn in all magazines that are covered by this new proposed legislation. It stands in stark contrast to all the assurances of those who oppose effective self defense and is the next step towards disarming the population of the United States.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Economics of Intimate Relationships

Economic principles can be applied outside of economics, viewing it as Praxeology instead of Economics. This is true even in the case of intimate relationships, where economics can be used to analyze certain aspects. This does not mean, as critics of libertarians often wrongly say, that libertarians put a price tag on everything, but only that the principles can be used to gain greater insight.

One part of analyzing intimate relationships is to help solve the riddle of the old complaint that men who sleep around are not condemned the way women who sleep around do. It is an old complaint about a double standard. There is, however, such a thing as a male slut.

Reducing intimate relationships to their simplest form, men trade love for sex and women trade sex for love. This model borders on over-simplified, but not quite. It does ignore as irrelevant all the various characteristics any individual might seek in a partner. It also leaves out the relevant aspect that women also seek sex and men also seek love, but it leaves it out for the sake of creating a simpler model.

Viewed as a transaction, men giving love to gain sex and women giving sex to gain love, one can see where the criticism of the slut comes from. Any person who gives a valuable commodity away without charging for that commodity is looked down upon, and receiving it from that person is not considered as valuable as if it had been traded for.

Also given that perspective, one can immediately see what it would take for a man to be seen as undercharging. Such a man is known as “the nice guy.” Youtube commentator GirlWritesWhat has a video about how women, especially feminists, look down upon nice guys, because what they are doing is giving away all the emotional support that normally would cost a woman a relationship with the man.

Just as men seldom seek actual long term relationships with woman who are physically intimate too early in a relationship, women seldom seek actual long term relationships with men who are emotionally intimate too early in a relationship. The reason people don't get a quick answer to the question "where are the male sluts?" is because the term needs to be defined, and economics helps with that.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Mainstream Deficit Absurdity

There is an argument being made in mainstream and Keynesian circles that the deficit must not be cut because otherwise what little recovery there has been in the economy so far would be damaged and perhaps erased. This is in response to false cuts proposed by Republicans such as Representative Paul Ryan who only proposed a reduction in the rate of increase and not a single actual cut, and also in response to arguments by libertarians that reducing the deficit is vital to restoring some economic order.

From an Austrian perspective, this argument is rubbish. The biggest threat to the economy of the United States as well as the rest of the world is the loss of value of the dollar, caused primarily by the low interest rate policy of the Federal Reserve in support of the expansive deficits of the Federal Government. If the Federal Government were to significantly reduce spending, there would be no reason for the Federal Reserve to keep interest rates so low, and therefore the decline in the dollar can at least slow, and perhaps even stop or even reverse.

From the modern Keynesian perspective, the support from the argument comes from the recession of 1937, the recession inside a depression, which is blamed on an alleged desire by the Roosevelt administration to reduce federal spending. A refutation of this particular argument can be found at the VonMises website with the article The Dangerous Lesson of 1937 by Jonathan Finegold.

Jonathan Finegold wrote his article in response to attempts by Keynesians to answer a difficult question: given that they had predicted recovery, and it would be difficult to admit that they were wrong, they had to find a justification to refer to the ongoing malaise as a double dip.

That it is being dragged out again in response to the desperate need to balance the budget is yet more evidence of increasing desperation among those in the political class and their supporters, and the crash that will inevitably come unless the fiscal policies of the United States government are reversed.

For decades, not changing course was the only way to maintain the status quo. The problem now is that no matter what is done the status quo is finished. The only reason to not change course now is to avoid admitting error, which for some people is more critical than being right. Disaster might be a sufficient cause to lock down tyrannical controls on the population. Peacefully giving control over to those who believe in liberty would be, from their point of view, a disaster.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Curious Reversals

Even though the budget crisis has not been solved, and it appears that the national debt may be poised to grow to 200% of GDP in a few years, the elected officials in Washington DC have decided that it is far more important right now to deal with the problem of undocumented immigration from Mexico. Perhaps they feel they have time to deal with this, because working on actually fixing the budget was only postponed by a few months.

The mainstream punditry are discussing how the Republican Party appears to be trying to reach out to Latino voters by being willing to make deals on amnesty and other immigration related topics. Of course the analysis discusses how Republicans have a difficult time reaching out to minorities. Several months prior, when George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin, Latinos or Hispanics were not considered to be minorities but were considered to be white.

But the more curious aspect of immigration reform is how the Democratic Party, generally perceived as the racially sensitive party and contrasted with the Republican Party, is the party more favored by the Latino vote. Yet under President Barack Obama, deportations of illegal immigrants have proceeded at a far higher pace than under President George Bush.

Likewise, the Democratic Party is the party with a reputation for being generally opposed to aggressive warfare, which seems to make Democratic Party politicians more eager to prove themselves through militancy, and because of their reputation they do not have to worry about attracting blame for the wars they wage.

The Republican Party has a severely undeserved reputation for limited government. That is why there is far less of a reaction when Republican Party politicians create agencies such as the TSA or the DHS, pass legislation such as the USAPATRIOT Act, No Child Left Behind, or Prescription Drug Coverage for Seniors, or enact abuses such as Telecom Immunity.

The Republican Party also has a reputation for being fiscal hawks. While both parties are profligate spenders, at least the Democrats try to enact some minor token tax increases to address their proposed spending. The so-called fiscal hawks are regular advocates of deficit spending, which is why although the Democrats are very likely to maintain any rate of spending started by Republicans, it is the Republicans who accelerate spending.

On issue after issue, it comes up over and over again that what one party has a reputation for advocating, the other party is the actual advocate. It is bad enough that there is no genuine choice between the two wings of the one party, but the choice is made even more obscure by each party representing the opposite of what it stands for on the few issues that divide them.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

In Denial over the Budget Crisis

The arguments being made with regards to solving the governmental budget crisis are becoming fundamentally absurd as the situation with the federal deficit and federal debt worsens. As the deficits do not shrink and as the debt continues to grow the hysteria to deny the only three solutions gets louder.

People are actually proposing that there is no reason to balance the budget, and that paying off even a portion of the debt is bad for the economy. Perhaps there would be a short term downturn if a portion of the debt were paid off, and perhaps not, but the long term effects would only be beneficial. The argument is made citing the downturn of 1937, where an additional tax as well as additional labor regulations combined to create a recession in the middle of a depression.

Suggesting tax increases as a means to close the budget gap elicits a response that taxes aren’t raised for that purpose but instead to control inflation. This puts the paltry show of raising the taxes on top earners a few points in a new light, as it shows that the purpose had nothing to do with dealing with the fiscal cliff but was entirely and only about making the rich pay more. That it took place during fiscal cliff negotiations was showmanship, nothing else.

Those who are burying their heads in the sand are actually hoping that people making arguments about balancing the budget and paying down the debt are just posturing for political purposes, because the belief is that no person seriously believes that fiscal responsibility is a good thing.

A proposed solution is that the United States, being in control of its own currency and with the ability to print more, is unable to go bankrupt. This is presented as the grown up and mature solution, mocking those who say the budget should be balanced before there is a fiscal disaster.

The denial that the current Kenyesian order is failing is intense. And as the situation grows more dire, the arguments needed to bolster it grow more and more extreme. It can cause a person to wonder what defenses would be offered when it finally does collapse.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Private Prisons Aren't Private Prisons

The most common example, and also the worst, of privatization of government functions occurs with the prison industry. More than any other, "private prisons" are held up as a reason why government functions should not be privatized.

Perhaps the reason is that with other functions, sometimes the job gets done. Construction projects to eventually get completed and many contracting functions are also examples of experts being brought in to give advice on a task. With prisons there is little in the way of advanced technical expertise, and the job is ongoing.

Still, the "private prison" is not private. Every single customer of a "private prison" is a government agency. Every single client of a “private prison” is sent there by a government agency.

A private prison would have private customers, those that subject people to incarceration outside of the government system. A private prison would have private clients, people incarcerated outside of the government system. Since those don’t exist, every single example of a so-called private prison is not actually private but is instead a contracted prison.

This also means that if there was a private prison, the owner and all of the employees would be criminals. They would all be engaged in the crime of kidnapping, as well as other assorted crimes necessary to make the private prison operate.

There is no real justification for people to make this kind of error. Private and contracted are two different arrangements. Just because the company that conducts the enterprise makes a profit does not mean that it is a private enterprise.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

They Should Be Allies

There was recently a gun buy-back program, sponsored by a medicinal marijuana dispensary. This is an interesting, if unfortunate event considering the common ground between those who believe in marijuana reform and protecting the second amendment.

It is a common enough occurrence, people who should be allies find themselves separated by party lines and the same underlying issue is divided between red and blue. Those who believe in ending the war on drugs are seldom the same people who believe in ending the war on guns, yet both are reacting against an overly strong federal government violating people's rights.

It is the same basic issue, self determination and the freedom to act in any way that doesn’t cause harm to others. Yet many liberals who support marijuana reform are terrified of firearms, and many conservatives who defend the second amendment are staunch opponents of drugs.

Not all liberals support drug reform, but it is within the allowable range of ideas for liberals. Likewise not all conservatives want to protect the second amendment, but it is within the allowable range of ideas. But support for gun liberty is not allowed for liberals and support for drug reform is not allowed for conservatives. Libertarians are once again completely outside the standard spectrum.

This is yet another in a long list of examples of how the two party system is designed to keep people apart from and opposed to each other. Natural allies lose sight of the common ground by the focus on specific issues as well as the great blinders of the red versus blue divide.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Krugman's Phony Disaster

Paul Krugman penned an unusually dishonest editorial recently, When Prophecy Fails, in which he chastises the "economic doomsday prophets" for there being no catastrophe coinciding with the fiscal cliff negotiations.

It is an absurd piece because even Paul Krugman must know that those he considers to be "doomsday prophets" are primarily of the Austrian School of economics, and the reason followers of that school see economic hardship increasing has little to do with kabuki negotiations taking place in Washington that won't have any effect on solving the fiscal problems of the United States.

While economists cannot predict politicians and their decisions, there was little reason for anyone to predict that there would be anything other than some variant on the dominant Keynesian model resulting from the negotiations. As it turns out, there were some superficial proposed cuts in spending and a small tax increase on the top income earners, but nothing that would indicate a desire to balance the budget.

When the fiscal cliff negotiations failed to significantly accelerate the collapse of the economy, something no Austrian had reason to predict, Krugman seized the opportunity to say "see, these negotiations failed to significantly accelerate the collapse of the economy."

Some would say that Paul Krugman should know better, but his purpose in writing that was not to convey economic information from the author to the reader. His purpose, as is the case with most of his columns, is political, to lend support to the establishment economic model by virtue of his name and prestige through a straw man attack on an alternate economic model.

Prophecy did not fail. There was no prophecy to fail, except in the political and not economic imagination of Paul Krugman himself. Only those economists who subscribe to the mainstream view, and not the "doomsday prophets", were at all concerned about the fiscal cliff model.