Audio Clips

28 August 2011

Wise Man That Buddha

I recently heard this quote by Buddha: "Conquer the angry man by love, conquer the ill-mannered man by goodness, conquer the miser with generosity, conquer the liar with truth." Great counsel

27 August 2011

It's Hard To Imagine Why Public Union Employees Are So Unpopular

Wendy McElroy recently wrote about unions and I found the following statistics interesting.

In December 2009 the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that government employees at the state and local levels earned an average of $39.60 an hour (including benefits), while private workers earned $27.42—over 30 percent less. Moreover, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, private workers have a 20 percent chance of losing their jobs in any given year; public workers have a 6 percent chance.

John Allison of BB&T Interview

Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit fame recently interviewed John Allison and Mr. Allison had some pungent insights into the damage that the Federal Reserve, banking regulation, Congress and Keynesianism have wreaked on the economy. He finishes up with a great explanation of why capitalism works.

Rebuilding After Disasters

Peter Boettke of George Mason University recently wrote an article for The Freeman called "The Militarization of Compassion". He writes about disasters and the tendency to want a command and control rebuilding effort afterwards. In a study he conducted he found that the sooner commerce was allowed to resume and private humanitarian efforts allowed to take place the sooner things got back to normal. I found the following paragraph to be enlightening.

The language of disaster and recovery efforts is one of centralization—a military effort is presumed to be required to tackle the urgent problem. But the militarization of compassion is not very effective in achieving improvement. As my colleague Chris Coyne (author of After War and a forthcoming book on humanitarian aid) suggests in his paper “Delusions of Grandeur,” imagine you asked the firemen responding to a raging fire at a corporate building to also coordinate the provision of medical supplies and treatment, oversee the reconstruction of the building, and then rebuild the company’s supply chain after the fire was extinguished and the building rebuilt. This is precisely what happens through the creeping militarization of humanitarian efforts.

26 August 2011

Cops Are Going To Need To Learn The Law Eventually

Dear Mr. Police Officer in the video,

I understand that you probably found the whole need for the encounter annoying and time-wasting, but the reality is that citizens have the right to keep an eye on those who are empowered to take away our liberties, namely law enforcement officials. The power that we give to police comes with an expectation that we will be able to check any abuse of that power. The easiest and most legal way of doing that is filming law enforcement while they're in the performance of their duty. You're all going to have to learn to deal with it. Frankly, that makes me more comfortable because I figure the bad seed among you, admittedly a minority, will learn to keep themselves in check if they know that at any moment someone could start recording their actions and holding them accountable. Thanks for your service.

25 August 2011

Republican Congressman Shows Contempt For 1st Amendment

Congressman Chabot, a Republican from Ohio, was recently holding a town hall meeting. He reportedly asked the police to round up all cameras from the public, possibly to prevent embarassing YouTube footage. Unfortunately for him, I think his fears are about to come true. Please share this as far and wide as you can! You can call Congressman Chabot's office and let him know what you think by calling (513) 684-2723.

Ethanol Is a Naked Wealth Transfer Program

It doesn't transfer naked wealth, it nakedly transfers wealth. Thought I should clarify.

Myths About the Cost of Living

24 August 2011

How to Make a Pencil

This video was fascinating.

3 Myths About Capitalism

Jeffrey Miron of Harvard does some great videos talking about economic concepts. This one is about some of the common misconceptions of capitalism.

20 August 2011

Sushi Anyone?

The Myth of the Free Lunch Debunked

Milton Friedman is a master illustrator of economic principles. In this video he debunks the myths that corporations pay taxes and that printing money is a free lunch. He also says there is no Santa Claus or Tooth Fairy. My children were watching the video with me and that came as a shock to a couple of them. Now when they're adults they'll be able to say that Milton Friedman was the jerk who told them there was no Santa Claus. Way to go Milt.

19 August 2011

Reduce the Salt in Your Diet

Now is Not the Time! Check Back In A Half Hour.

A Barton Hinckle is quickly emerging as one of my favorite writers. He recently wrote a laugh-out-loud column on the frequency with which people use the phrase "now is not the time." I found myself laughing all the way through it. I loved the part at the end with the "there are those who" moments. I'm including the whole article because it was great.

The Clock Is Ticking

We keep hearing that now is not the time for partisan politics. When would be a good time?

"It's time for leadership, not petty partisan politics," declares Courtney Lynch, a Democratic candidate for Senate in Virginia. She raises an interesting point, albeit unintentionally: When is it time for petty partisan politics rather than leadership? If now is not a good time, when would be?

Not last January, that's for sure. Back then, President Obama gave a speech outlining his plan to prevent terrorism. "Now is not a time for partisanship," he declared. "It's a time for citizenship."

Never let it be said the president does not know what it is the time for, and what it is not the time for. In September 2008, he told the Democratic National Convention that "now is not the time for small plans." The following January, he observed that while there was a time for profits and bonuses on Wall Street, "now is not the time." In mid-July this year, he warned Republicans: "Now is not the time to play games."

On the other hand, during the debate over health care last March, Obama noted that there were "plenty of folks in Washington who've ... argued now is not the time for reform. ... My question to them is: When is the right time? If not now, when?" He's a sharp one, that Obama!

Yet despite the president's skill at time-telling, some people still think he needs help. The Illinois GOP, for instance: "The chairman of Illinois' Republican Party contends this is not an appropriate time for President Obama to hold a Chicago fundraiser," news stories reported the other day.

Not long before, Matthew Norman, a columnist for the London Telegraph, suggested Obama needed to man up. "Now Is Not the Time for a Pacifist President," he wrote.

Norman is not alone. In June, erstwhile GOP presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty told the Council on Foreign Relations that "now is not the time to retreat from freedom's rise." How about in, like, half an hour?

Who else knows what time it is? House Speaker John Boehner certainly does. In January of last year, Boehner said it was not the time to debate "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." A month later, a Boehner spokesman wondered why Obama "thinks now is the appropriate time to stir up a controversial issue that sharply divides the nation."

After Scott Brown won a special election in Massachusetts, Boehner tweeted that with Nancy Pelosi determined to push health-care reform, "[now is] not the time to give up." A couple of weeks ago, Boehner declared that "now is not the time to increase taxes in any way."

Virginia's Eric Cantor agreed: "I insist again that now is not the time for us to be considering tax hikes," he said. Last March, Cantor told the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee that "now is not the time to be picking fights with Israel."

Just to be clear, that means now is the time for neither a pacifist president, nor one who picks fights—nor one who retreats from freedom's rise. Talk about having to walk a fine line.

What else is it not the time for? A carbon tax (Sydney Morning Herald), judging Tiger Woods (Jason Whitlock, Fox Sports), cutting critical government programs (Richard Cizek, The Hill), Phillies Fans acting like insufferable jerks (NBC Philadelphia) or energy-starved India to increase nuclear dependency (The Guardian).

It's also not the time for cities to aim lower (Sam Newburg,, fiscal restraint (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette), a voter-ID bill (South Carolina state Sen. Yancey McGill), a new Mideast peace plan (Rahm Emanuel), greed in the NFL (Honolulu Star-Advertiser), a war on Libya (Florida Rep. Chris Gibson), or for Congress to oppose creating jobs in Montana (Montana Sen. John Tester).

No wonder nobody ever seems to get anything done. It's never the right time for anything!

The now-is-not-the-time meme is a variation of the straw-man argument, in which you state a position nobody actually endorses and then knock it down. The president loves that trick. "There are those who suggest that nothing government can do will make a difference," he has said—along with "there are those who would continue and intensify this failed status quo," "there are those who would perpetuate every form of intolerance," "there are those who say we cannot afford to invest in science" and many more. Yet he never actually says who the "who" in There-Are-Those-Who are.

Unlike There-Are-Those-Who-Say, Now-Is-Not-the-Time may reflect the other side's actual position. After all, there are (in fact) those who say taxes should be raised, gays should serve in the military, and so on. Rather than confront such an argument head on, the pols invoking Now-Is-Not-the-Time try to dodge the merits of the question by implying the issue might be worth exploring—someday.

But just try to set up a date.

A. Barton Hinkle is a columnist at the Richmond Times-Dispatch. This article originally appeared at the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

18 August 2011

As If We Needed Another Reason To Use Charcoal

The State Is Force

Milton Friedman had a distinct talent for framing his arguments in such a way that the logic of them steamrolled the attempts to discredit the ideas behind them. This is a great explanation of the inherent violence that results from someone willing to impose their utopian ideas on society.

17 August 2011

Price Gouging: A Right Defended

In a recent issue of The Freeman, Lawrence Reed wrote an article addressing the accusations of price gouging that regular crop up against the oil companies. I thought this quote was a great defense of the oil companies.

Suppose someone offers to buy my house for twice what I paid for it a year ago and I refuse. It’s my house, and I really don’t want to move, but I announce that if someone wants to give me ten times what I paid, I’ll take it.

Am I “gouging” somebody? Most people would say no, but they would be hard put to explain what the difference is between my action and that of those unpopular villains who produce and sell gasoline.

It’s true that my house is private property, but so is gasoline. When it’s in the underground tank at the gas station, it’s the private property of that station until somebody else buys it. It’s not public property. It certainly doesn’t belong to people who never took a risk and invested a nickel in it—and that includes all the bellyaching demagogues who will try to further their careers by bashing wealth-creators.

Time to Exploit the Children! Yeah! {Commence Dancing}

Van Jones, Obama's evicted "green jobs" advisor has come up with a video using children to try to advance the cause of statism. I'm going to let Katherine Mangu-Ward describe the video because she does a much better job than I could:

It's election season! Time to exploit children for political gain!

Today's entry: This video from Rebuild the Dream, the new organization of former Obama green jobs czar and 9/11 truther Van Jones, in which cute kids mouth bizarrely sophisticated talking points, including words and phrases they almost certainly don't understand, such as "infrastructure," "living wage," and "tax brackets."

A charming tyke with a speech impediment implores viewers to "remove the cap on the social security tax." Another gal with a ponytail wants to "close the revolving door between Washington and high priced lobbyists."

Then the grand finale: A serious child looks into the camera and says "we gotta stop letting corporations be recognized as people. We're the people, they're not!" Then all the kids say "yay!," wave American flags, and start to dance. Seriously.

Excuse me, I have to go kill myself.

15 August 2011

Safeway Introduces New Tongue Scanner

I understand that this will make self-checkout significantly faster.

Conservatives Are Always To Blame

A. Barton Hinckle wrote an article on Friday that highlights some of the hypocrisy in the media when it comes to describing protests and riots.

The blind rage of young people in working-class neighborhoods is the product of socioeconomic conditions. They should not be held responsible for their actions—the people who created the conditions should be held responsible. (David Cameron, this means you.)

Funny thing, though: You didn't hear that sort of guff in 2009, when middle-class conservatives turned up at town halls across the country to vent about health-care reform. Back then, the town-hall events were filled with "angry, sign-carrying mobs," wrote Politico, which lamented the way constituents were "shouting criticism" at members of Congress. Signs and criticism: Oh my!

"Angry mobs" were trying to "destroy president Obama," fumed Democratic Party leaders back then. "This is something new and ugly," seethed Paul Krugman of The New York Times, which described the town hall events as "brutal." No one seemed interested in the root causes of the sign-wavers' agitation then. You didn't hear much about the "disillusionment" and "disenchantment" of Tea Party protesters who marched on Washington in September 2009, and again the following March.

To be fair, after the Taxpayer March on Washington on 9/12, Reuters did pause to wonder what the source of public anger was: "Protests Against Obama: Race or Policy?" it asked, noting how "former President Jimmy Carter said out loud what Democrats had been whispering for a while, that the protests against the country's first black president are tinged with racism."

When conservatives wave signs, it's not "unrest" caused by a "sense of disenchantment." It's because they're bigots. Society as a whole is not to blame; they are, individually. They need an attitude adjustment. When violent mobs of young people burn down a city, though, they are not individually responsible—society as a whole is (or at least that part of society that ostensibly ticked them off). They don't need an attitude adjustment: conservatives do.

14 August 2011

Slow Motion Default

David Boaz, Executive Vice-President of the Cato Institute and author of Libertarianism: A Primer (one of the best introductions to libertarianism around) wrote a piece recently about the debt and the debasement of the dollar. I've been telling people for years that the easiest way for Congress to pay the debt is to simply print more dollars and hence make the payback cost less than it should have. Of course, it's completely dishonest and steals money from bondholders and gives it to the government. But I can imagine that most politicians lose sleep at night since they're already robbing us on a daily basis. Here is a great excerpt:

The New York Times editorializes that the Federal Reserve should be “more aggressive” in pumping more money into the slow economy. A couple of weeks ago the Times was breathlessly hyping the mythical fear of “default” if the debt ceiling wasn’t promptly raised. With that problem out of the way, the paper now quietly recommends a slow default on the national debt:

A more aggressive strategy would be letting inflation rise above the Fed’s comfort level of 2 percent or so to, say, 4 percent. That could help the economy by easing the repayment of debt.

“Easing the repayment of debt”: that is, paying your creditors less in real terms than they had expected. That’s a slow-mo default.

10 August 2011

The 'Made in China' Myth Debunked

How many times a day do you hear about how China is producing everything we consume now? Oh, the humanity! It turns out, unsurprisingly, to be overblown. Matthew Yglesias at ThinkProgress breaks down the reality. Here is an excerpt:

Whereas goods labeled “Made in China” make up 2.7% of U.S. consumer spending, only 1.2% actually reflects the cost of the imported goods.

How to Avoid the Tragedy of the Commons

The "tragedy of the commons" is an economic problem that is bandied about by statist and free-marketeers. This is a great explanation of the concept and the potential solutions.

The Overpopulation Myth

Jeff Jacoby recently wrote an article debunking the perennial myth of overpopulation. Here are a couple of highlights.

For more than 200 years the population alarmists have been predicting the worst, and for more than 200 years their predictions have failed to come true. As the number of men, women, and children in the world has skyrocketed - from fewer than 1 billion when Malthus lived to nearly 7 billion today - so has the average standard of living. Poverty, disease, and hunger have not been eradicated, of course, and there are many people in dire need of help. But on the whole human beings are living longer, healthier, cleaner, richer, better-educated, more productive, and more comfortable lives than ever before.When human beings proliferate, the result isn’t less of everything to go around. The planet doesnt run out of food and fuel, minerals, and metals. On the contrary, most resources have grown cheaper and more abundant over the past couple centuries - in tandem with rising population.
The explanation is no mystery. Yes, more babies mean more mouths and therefore more consumption. But more babies also mean more minds and arms and spines - and therefore more new ideas, more effort, more creativity, more initiative, more enterprise. “Human beings do not just consume, they also produce,’’ writes George Mason University economist Bryan Caplan. “The world economy is not like a party where everyone splits a birthday cake; it is more like a potluck where everyone brings a dish.’’
Amen! See my other recent post on overpopulation for a visual debunking.

Talking People Off the Ledges: Citizens United Edition

The Center For Competitive Politics put together this 4 minute video busting some of the most ridiculous myths about the Citizens United case. The Supreme Court decided that case last year, but this is a pretty interesting debunking of the crazies.

This Week in Grammar

And now it's time for Grammar Wednesday! This time every week we go over the minutiae of grammar for your entertainment.

09 August 2011

Two Drunk Young Women Celebrate the Burning of London

This BBC report made me sad. It is two young women being interviewed and they are reveling in the chaos and destruction happening in London. They blame everything on "the rich people" and business owners.

Federal Health Care Mandates

About a week ago I posted about the federal mandates that drive the cost of health insurance up. If you want to read a much better article about the subject you can find it here. The Future of Freedom Foundation is a great place to find free market defenses. Here is a highlight from the article:

A shift toward “preventive care” and fewer subsequent treatments is the supposed mechanism for cost savings. But that assumes, incorrectly, that political appointees know what reduces costs better than insurance executives.

Insurers already have an incentive to reduce costs while pleasing customers, so long as states allow competitors into the market. If the mandated policies achieved that, insurers would already offer them for free or reward participation with a discount on premiums. Evidently, applicable items such as contraceptives and “well-woman” preventive care visits do not save money for insurers.

On the other hand, insurance industry-leaders note that coverage mandates, particularly those that bar point-of-treatment pricing, increase unnecessary physician visits. To recoup the cost of those visits, insurers have no choice but to raise premiums for everyone.

08 August 2011

How to Build a PC From Scratch

This is mostly just me getting all excited about maybe building a computer, but Lifehacker (one of my favorite sites) just finished a guide to building your own PC. Woot!

The Rahn Curve: Government's Ideal Size For Economic Growth

Daniel Mitchell is an economist with the Cato Institute. Here he explains the Rahn Curve and what it tells us about future economic growth in the United States.

Taxpayers Sweeten the Pension Pot For Santa Clara Public Employees

Matt Welch, one of my favorite writers, posted this today:

Here's a charming story, care of the San Jose Mercury News:

Santa Clara County's housing authority could have spent $16 million of federal funds to help more struggling families put a roof over their heads. Instead, it chose to more than double the value of its employees' retirement benefits.

That may sound unusual, but federal housing officials say it was an allowable expense. Still, the switch from a 401(k)-style retirement plan to a pension allowing workers to retire early -- with guaranteed lifetime payments -- is raising eyebrows at a time when generous public employee pensions are under fire. [...]

Bill Anderson, chairman of the Housing Authority of the County of Santa Clara's board of commissioners, conceded that the money spent on employee pensions could have been used in other ways, including housing aid for low-income families.

Indeed, the waiting list for federal housing assistance is so long that applicants must now wait four to nine years. [...]

Housing authority workers who under the old plan had to wait until they were almost 60 to draw from retirement accounts -- which could be shrunk by market losses -- can now receive a guaranteed monthly pension check as early as age 50. And they'll have a guarantee of 2 percent annual increases after they retire.

The kicker?

The change in retirement benefits was made possible after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2008 made the housing authority one of 32 Moving to Work demonstration sites. The program allows more spending flexibility to encourage "innovative" approaches that "use federal dollars more efficiently."

This is the kind of thing George Will was talking about when he wrote: "America is moving in the libertarians' direction not because they have won an argument but because government and the sectors it dominates have made themselves ludicrous."

Gosh, it's just so hard to figure out why people dislike public employees in general these days!

07 August 2011

Creepy Quote of the Day

Jesse Walker of Reason Magazine wrote this morning:

From an essay in the Sunday New York Times: "The public was desperate for a leader who would speak with confidence, and they were ready to follow wherever the president led." No, that isn't an historian explaining the rise of Mussolini. It's the Emory psychologist Drew Westen, writing wistfully about the leader he wishes Obama would be.

Man, some people are just willing to give their free will over to anyone.

06 August 2011

Always Assert Your Fifth Amendment Rights

This is a great talk by James Duane, former criminal defense attorney and now professor at Regent Law School, on why you should never talk to the police. It is extremely compelling information. It's long, about 20 minutes, but worth your time.

05 August 2011

David Mamet On His Conversion to Conservatism

Jacob Hornberger Interview

Jacob Hornberger is the President of the Future of Freedom Foundation, one of my favorite websites. I've been reading their articles for years. Here is a great interview of Jacob by Matt Welch (another one of my favorite people!)

03 August 2011

Transfer of Wealth

I was reading an article in Business Week and they quoted T. Boone Pickens as saying "Go to the past 10 years, and look at our costs with OPEC - $1 trillion in 10 years. The largest transfer of wealth from one group to another." I'm going to leave side all the concerns I have with Mr. Pickens' desire to take money from taxpayers to line his pockets from his wind power schemes and just address his complete misunderstanding of economics. When I take my hard-earned money to the grocery store to buy some milk I don't call that a "transfer of wealth". I call it a trade. The store traded me some milk for some money. Why? Because they wanted the money more than they wanted the milk. I traded because I wanted the milk more than I wanted the money. We both won. We have been being oil from the Middle East for decades because we want the benefits that oil gives us and we value those benefits more than we value the cash. We both win. If Mr. Pickens is truly concerned about unfair "transfers of wealth" he should instead focus on the money that is being stolen from our kids and grandkids by running up a truly horrendous national debt that they will have to pay just so we can continue our entitlement culture. Now you're talking about theft.

02 August 2011

Communitarians v. Individualists

The problem with the communitarian argument, that we are social creatures and therefore should be governed by social forms of government, is that we don't all socialize in the same way. I like country music as well as The Proclaimers, Jesse Cook, 80's hair bands and Mozart. Other people like rap and heavy metal which hold no appeal to me. So I don't affiliate with those people in those venues typically. However, a rap lover and I may both have a strong affinity for gun-rights and so we would associate under those circumstances. Communitarians say that they love this variety and yet they frown on individuals making their own decisions in their lives. They do that by desiring to impose a one-size-fits-all solution to community problems. Because, you know, communitarians are smarter than you.

01 August 2011

Finally! The Punk Rock Anthem For Politically Disenfranchised Babies! Yeah!

ReasonTV's Nanny of the Month

Why Does Health Insurance Keep Getting More Expensive?

Because the government can't stay out of it.

The Obama administration was able to successfully require insurance companies to pay for birth control. I'm not interested in having a discussion on the morality of birth control I'm only interested in this as an economic impact and this is a perfect example of one of the reasons health insurance keeps going up. When the government makes it a requirement that insurance companies pay for certain health care cost, they are, naturally, going to spread that cost across all their customers' bills. Therefore, the unintended consequence is that all our health insurance bills go up.

If the government would just mind their own business then insurance companies could create multiple types of insurance contracts. If I'm a single guy I don't necessarily want to pay for birth control in my insurance premium. But if the government requires it be in the policy, then I have to pay for it regardless of whether I want it. Why shouldn't I be allowed to find a policy that fits my desires?

Instead of being able to invent all kinds of insurance programs, the market is forced into a one-size fits all (or, at best, a few sizes-fit-all) option. That's nonsensical. With 300 million different people living in this country, there are bound to be millions of different needs and wants. Who on earth believes that the government knows how to answer those desires?

But, of course, you know the answer to that. Government believes that they know how to provide for your needs and wants. Because they're smarter than you.