Audio Clips

27 August 2008

What?! We Have To Show Up to Work?

If you haven't read Breach of Trust by Tom Coburn I urge, nay, I beg you to go read it. It is about his time in the House of Representatives and how, after the Republican Revolution, the congressmen who came in on a wave of popular sentiment to cut back government largess ended up becoming no different from the bums they had replaced. Ever since reading that book about 7 years ago I have been an admirer of Tom Coburn. He is a man of principle and integrity. He ran for the House on the promise that he would serve no more than 3 terms. At the end of his 3 term, people came to him about running for a 4th term and he refused to go back on his word and instead returned to his medical practice, as promised. He has since run for and won a Senate seat. I check his Senate website when I can and I invariably find the most interesting things. Such as this.

It seems that every year we pay for thousands of hours of work that government employees don't actually do. I have this antiquated notion that under almost any circumstance imaginable, I should only be paid for the work that I do. Maybe that's why I didn't go to work for the federal government. I'm over-qualified just with that one simple character trait. People who steal taxpayer money should be punished severely. It betrays a public trust. We are told to pay our taxes under threat of violence. (If you doubt it, just stop paying.) But many of us feel like we should do our part to pay for legitimate government purposes. When a government employee takes money that otherwise would be in the pocket of a working American then they deserve harsh measures. As a federal employee you're already sponging off surviving off the sweat of another's brow so you have a particular responsibility to be prudent in the use of that money, including the representation of the hours you are working. It seems like a simple thought to me. It may be too simple for those employees who lie about their hours.

Where is that blood pressure medication?

Homelessness in San Francisco

For those of my friends unfamiliar with Armstrong and Getty, they are a couple of talk radio guys out in Sacramento and they talk politics and pop culture and crack me up. Anyway, they recently we talking a little about some changes that San Francisco is making regarding the homeless. SF has been asking people not to give to the bums because they already have access to over $200 million worth of services in the city. I've uploaded some of the commentary and laughed out loud at what Joe Getty labeled one of our most cherished freedoms.

20 August 2008

Homer Simpson, Nuclear Guardian and Hero of the Hour

I believe in expanding our alternative energy sources and I believe that we can produce energy cheaper than the energy being produced through fossil fuels. Of course, the easiest way to do that is to expand our nuclear power production but there is quite a bit of ignorance about nuclear energy and radiation. When you say "nuclear" people usually think of one of two things: mushroom clouds or Chernobyl. Let's talk for a minute.

First off, we've been producing nuclear energy all over the world for decades now and we have yet to have a rogue power steal weapons-grade plutonium. The people who want weapons-grade plutonium (rhymes with shyran) will just get it themselves through building their own centrifuges. The odds of a terrorist element accumulating enough plutonium and then having the know-how to build a nuclear weapon are vanishingly small. Plus, if we decided not to do things out of fear of misuse, as Patrick Moore (co-founder of Greenpeace and nuclear advocate) points out, we never would have harnessed fire.

Second, Chernobyl was a completely different design from the design used by western nations. Our system is significantly better, as Three-Mile Island illustrates. (Some of you who are familiar with my sense of humor might think that that last sentence was sarcasm. Shame on you.) Actually Three-Mile Island was indeed a success. No one, not one person, was harmed as a result of Three-Mile Island. All the fail-safes functioned like they were supposed to and isolated the reactor and kept it from being a danger. Even more fortunately, our designs are much improved since then. France has been producing about 80% of their power using nuclear power. It is extremely cheap per kilowatt hour produced when compared to other alternative energy sources like wind or solar. Let's stop being afraid of Jane Fonda and start using our brain.

13 August 2008

Gold Standard

I was rereading an article by Gerald O'Driscoll, Jr. from the November 2007 Freeman entitled "Subprime Monetary Policy" and I was struck by a quote by Mr. Greenspan from 2002.

Although the gold standard could hardly be portrayed as having produced a period of price tranquility, it was the case that the price level in 1929 was not much different, on net, from what it had been in 1800. But, in the two decades following the abandonment of the gold standard in 1933, the consumer price index in the United States nearly doubled. And, in the four decades after that, prices quintupled. Monetary policy, unleashed from the constraint of domestic gold convertibility, had allowed a persistent overissuance of money. As recently as a decade ago, central bankers, having witnessed more than a half-century of chronic inflation, appeared to confirm that a fiat currency was inherently subject to excess.

So why is it so difficult for us to believe that getting back to a gold standard would be beneficial? It has been the strongest bulwark again government dilution of our currency. By forcing government to abide by a currency that is limited to a fungible and tangible good that is subject to dilution through government efforts and subterfuge. Inflation is caused by the presence of more dollars chasing the same number of goods and services. The only way that can happen is when the money printing agency introduces more of the currency into the system. Since we have no limitation to the currency that can be introduced, we essentially have an unlimited potential for inflation. Inflation is a hidden tax on the American people and the only way we can prevent it is to demand that the Congress return to a gold-backed currency. As long as the Federal Reserve has the discretion to introduce currency in whatever amount they deem appropriate we will continue to be taxed by their inflation. Pure and simple.

By the way, take some time to read the article. It is a great explanation of how the subprime mortgage mess came about.

12 August 2008

T. Boone Pickens Comes Bearing Gifts. Ruh Roh!

For those unfamiliar with T. Boone Pickens he is a self-made billionaire from the oil industry. He is now on a crusade to save the US from its oil addiction. I believe that Pickens is cynical in his approach. He has heavily invested in wind and natural gas and now is on a PR campaign to try to get Americans to create a tax-subsidized plan that would create the world's largest wind farm and rely heavily on natural gas.

Now, don't get me wrong. I have no problem with people looking for opportunities in the market, but that fact is that Pickens wants to have the tax-payer subsidize his little odyssey. My only question is this: If it's such a great idea, why can't it happen on its own merits? Why does it need money out of my family's pocket to work. It's like the sports team owners who say that the stadiums they need will be such a benefit to the city that the taxpayers should subsidize the construction.

If it's such a great idea, why don't you put your own money where your mouth is and take the risk. You shouldn't need to put a gun to my head and force me to pay taxes to fund your scheme Mr. Pickens. And frankly, that's what you're asking for.

See also "Pickens Plan Is Based on Ignorance" and "Pickens's Slim Economics".

09 August 2008

New Feature on My Blog

I've added a widget to the top of the blog so I can post audio clips that I think you'll find interesting. Just as a starter I've added one of my favorite clips from the Laura Ingraham Show. It's from a few years ago but it still cracks me up. Stay tuned for some new posts in the near future.

05 August 2008

The War of Ideas Loses a General

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was a Russian nobel prize winning author who was exiled from his country because he dared to speak up about the gulags. He gave a great speech at Harvard entitled "A World Split Apart" which I have read multiple times. It is a bold challenge for us to stand up and defend the western tradition and our own faith in God and not give into the socialist trend imbued with godlessness that he saw destroy his own country. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn died on August 3rd. Take some time to read his speech and enjoy his thoughtful challenge.

03 August 2008

Free Broadband for Everyone!!!

In a new article in Business Week this week the chairman of the FCC, Kevin Martin, argues that broadband access is so vital to American Freedom and Success that we should give it to people "at absolutely no cost." Let me take this apart a little bit.

First off, I question the premise that broadband is vital to economic success. I realize that it is a valuable tool particularly in business. I have it at work. It is valuable to me at work so we pay for it. People who are not currently paying for it feel that it is not worth the added expense for faster data transmission. That is their right to make that assessment. Who are we to tell them that they're wrong. Now, some may say that there are those who want broadband but can't afford it to which I say, just wait, it keeps getting cheaper. I'm paying the same price for broadband that I was paying for 56k service 10 years ago. Everyone in the country didn't have access to electric light the day after Edison invented it. It took decades to get the infrastructure in place to turn us into an electrical society. It took decades for the car to become a common household good. In 1971 only 1% of the population had a microwave oven. By 1986 that had grown to about 25% and now, nearly 40 years later, practically every graduating high school senior gets one to take to college.

It takes time to distribute technology and infrastructure through a country as large as ours. The article makes the point that there are other developed countries where a greater percentage of people have access to broadband. I believe it, but how many of those countries are as vast with populations as widespread as ours. The problem is taking care of itself without the FCC "giving" broadband to people for free. Let's talk about that.

It never ceases to amaze me at the ignorance or deceit of bureaucrats when it comes to economic principles. Where does Mr. Martin believe this manna from heaven in the form of broadband for everyone is going to come from? Is it growing in the ground as we speak without us having to do anything? Of course not. The infrastructure has to be put in place by human beings who have to be paid for their time and effort. The maintenance and upgrade of that infrastructure is performed by human beings who will have to be compensated. So where is the money going to come from to pay for that effort? Why, you and me of course. Capital can only be created through human sweat and ingenuity. Government cannot pay for anything except with money that it has first taken from you and me. At the very least Mr. Martin should be honest and say "We believe that broadband is so important that we are going to take money from people in the form of taxes and give it to other people to make broadband available to everyone. Then we will continue to take money from those same people and continue to give it to these other people so that the broadband is always there." That would be a refreshing breath of honesty. To say anything else shows a gross ignorance of the realities of life. I hope our FCC chairman isn't that ignorant. Then again, he is a bureaucrat.