Audio Clips

30 September 2011

Note To Teacher: Learn How To Pick Your Battles

A Vacaville, California teacher has been docking students for saying "Bless you" after someone sneezes.  He says it is disruptive and rude.  Um, are you sure there aren't more important things to be teaching?

28 September 2011

Gene Epstein: Sure, All Institutions Fail, But Government Fails the Worst

I read Gene Epstein every week in Barron's and I have his book Econospinning so when I saw that Reason did an interview with him at FreedomFest I jumped at it.  It's an interesting 5 minute interview and I love that he calls Paul Krugman a crackpot, (Hear, hear!)  but I especially liked his insight in the last few seconds where he berates Joseph Stiglitz for winning a Nobel Prize for pointing out that asymmetry in the markets causes institutions to fail.  Yeah, no kidding.  What Mr. Epstein then so brilliantly points out is that, yes, that's true, but to then put your faith in government is folly of the worst sort since the asymmetries cause governments to fail even more spectacularly that private institutions.  Bravo, Mr. Epstein!

27 September 2011

Barton Hinckle Comments on Elizabeth Warren's Class Warfare

A. Barton Hinkle is one of my favorite writers and he recently responded to Elizabeth Warren's rant against evil businessmen.  He makes quite a few good points and I thought it would be worthwhile to post the article here.  Enjoy!

Elizabeth Warren's Voodoo Economics

The liberal Senate candidate sets fire to a straw man.

Elizabeth Warren is cheesed off.
Received wisdom says conservatives are the ones driven by anger—Republicans took the House last year because 2010 was another “year of the angry white male,” and all that. But in August remarks about class warfare that have gone viral, the Democratic candidate for a Senate seat from Massachusetts is visibly seething.
That’s okay; everyone gets worked up now and then, and most of us are lucky enough not to be caught on camera at the moment. Funny thing is, Warren’s comments—her rage and resentment and sarcasm—have made her an overnight heroine.
In the video, she addresses an imaginary captain of industry:
“There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own,” she lectures. “Nobody. You built a factory out there? Good for you! But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn't have to worry that maurauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory . . . .Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea—God bless! Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”
A few points.
(1) This is a pretty powerful takedown—of a position nobody holds. Or at least nobody outside an Ayn Rand novel. If Warren can find someone who thinks he does not live in community with other people, then she might have an argument. But don’t sit on a hot stove waiting.
(2) For someone who objects to the term class warfare, she sure draws a mighty bright line between “you” and “the rest of us.”
(3) The question is not whether a captain of industry should pay taxes—but how much. Reasonable people can debate where to set marginal tax rates. But when the richest fifth of Americans pay 64 percent of federal income taxes while the bottom two-fifths pay less than 3 percent, the case for even greater progressivity is not beyond rational debate.
(4) Outside of a few anarchist collectives, there isn’t a soul around who minds paying taxes for roads, cops, firemen, or schoolteachers. It’s the jillion other things government does—from corporate welfare to the Iraq war—that people object to.
(5) Plenty of smart, well-meaning people also think even government’s core functions could be delivered better and for less—just as the Obama administration has used the Dartmouth Atlas to argue for greater efficiency in medical care. E.g., since 1970  inflation-adjusted per-pupil spending in public K-12 education has doubled. Class size has been cut in half. Neither change has produced any substantial effect on academic performance. Why don’t we have the equivalent of a Dartmouth Atlas for public education?
(6) Warren’s remarks epitomize the caricature of a progressive as someone who loves jobs but hates employers. She implies the captain of industry is simply sponging off society and hoarding the proceeds. But hiring workers is a huge social good. So is providing a funding basis for pensions, which generally rely on stock returns. So is creating products people want. Five bucks says Warren has a smartphone and a DVR and a bunch of other modern conveniences, and that she didn’t buy any of them with a gun to her head. So why is she so mad at the people who offered to sell them?
(7) Warren suggests the principle of fair play means the industrialist owes society a debt, to be repaid in steep taxes because his other contributions do not count. But this argument is one of the weakest of all the arguments for political obligation, for reasons most people can figure out after a few minutes’ thought. (E.g., Suppose I mow your lawn without asking, then demand payment because it’s “only fair.”) Why hasn’t she given them any?
(8) Perhaps, like film critic Pauline Kael, who famously didn’t know anyone who had voted for Nixon, Warren doesn't know anyone who believes government and taxes should be small. And, therefore, perhaps she does not understand their reasoning. She certainly doesn’t give any indication that she does.
So for the record, the reason is that—as Sheldon Richman wrote recently in The Freeman—“government is significantly different from anything else in society. It is the only institution that can legally threaten and initiate violence; that is, under color of law its officers may use physical force, up to and including lethal force—not in defense of innocent life but against individuals who have neither threatened nor aggressed against anyone else.” Many of those who truly love peace prefer to live in a society where the use or threat of violence is minimized.  Maybe that idea simply hasn’t crossed Warren’s mind.
Maybe that’s why she looks like she’s ready to haul off and hit someone.
A. Barton Hinkle is a columnist at the Richmond Times-Dispatch. This article originally appeared at the Richmond Times-Dispatch.


ReasonTV did a recent interview with James Delingpole who wrote Watermelons: The Green Movement's True Colors.  In the interview he talks about the fraudulent scientific "evidence" that the UN in particular has been using to advance the cause of global warming.  Like him, I don't care where the evidence leads, just give us real evidence rather than torturing the numbers to advance a corporatist agenda.  Great interview.

26 September 2011

Update on Michael Allison

Jacob Sullum of Reason gives an update on Michael Allison.

Michael Allison, an Illinois man who faced a potential sentence of 75 years in prison for recording police officers and attempting to tape his own trial, caught a break last week when a state judge declared the charges unconstitutional. "A statute intended to prevent unwarranted intrusions into a citizen’s privacy cannot be used as a shield for public officials who cannot assert a comparable right of privacy in their public duties," wrote Circuit Court Judge David Frankland. "Such action impedes the free flow of information concerning public officials and violates the First Amendment right to gather such information."
Allison, who figures prominently in Radley Balko's January cover story about "The War on Cameras," recorded his interactions with police officers during a long-running dispute over cars he was working on at his home in Bridgeport and his mother's home in Robinson. When he was cited for violating Robinson's "eyesore" ordinance, he brought a tape recorder to his trial because he had been informed that there would be no official transcript of the proceedings. The judge accused Allison of violating her privacy, thereby committing a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison under the state's eavesdropping law; she threw in four more charges after discovering that he had recorded his police encounters as well.
Judge Frankland ruled that Allison had a First Amendment right to record the police officers and court employees. And while a ban on recording devices in the courtroom might be justified, he said, the eavesdropping charge was inappropriate. As applied in this case, Frankland said, the eavesdropping law "includes conduct that is unrelated to the statute's purpose and is not rationally related to the evil the legislation sought to prohibit. For example, a defendant recording his case in a courtroom has nothing to do with an intrusion into a citizen's privacy but with distraction."
A few days before Frankland's ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit heard a First Amendment challenge to the eavesdropping statute, one of the country's strictest. Last month a Chicago jury acquitted a woman who was charged with eavesdropping after she recorded a conversation with internal affairs officers to document that they were encouraging her to drop a sexual harassment complaint. Also last month, in a case involving a Boston man charged with eavesdropping for capturing an arrest on his cell phone, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit said such recording is a "basic and well-established liberty safeguarded by the First Amendment." Yesterday I noted a California case where exercising that right led to a California man's acquittal.

25 September 2011

Or You Could Save Time and Just Shoot Yourself

The Institute for Justice put together this little video about the path a case takes to the Supreme Court.  It's fascinating and disturbing; it's fasturbing.  (I'm going to need to massage that a little still)  I was amazed at the sheer quantity of research, time and effort that goes into the whole process.  The nerd in me got a little excited.

24 September 2011

Elizabeth Warren: All Your Money Are Belong To Us

Elizabeth Warren is running to take the Massachusetts Senate seat away from Scott Brown.  She was the thinker behind Obama's consumer protection agency and has been unable to get nominated to the position because she's too radical for Congress to stomach.  This is a recent video from her campaign trail:

Aaron Ross Powell of Cato wrote a response to Warren's odd philosophy, but he said it best with a pithy sentence: "It seems awfully weird to demand that we repay benefits we never had a choice about accepting in the first place."

23 September 2011

Great Song

We watched this while we were eating breakfast this morning and really liked it.

22 September 2011

Turns Out the Tooth Fairy Thtops Coming When You're a Grown Up

Perry: You Don't Have a Heart Unless You Give Illegals In-State Tuition

During tonight's debate Rick Perry said that he doesn't believe you have a hear if you're willing to deny illegals in-state tuition.  He rightly points out that it was a state issue and I'm fine with Texas deciding to do that if that's what they want.  I find it insulting that he would say that I'm an uncaring creep if I don't feel like I should give preferential treatment to citizens of other countries that we don't give to residents of other states.  Why should the taxpayers subsidize people from other countries when they don't subsidize people from other states?  Why is pointing out that oddity an indication that I'm heartless, Mr. Perry?  I am less and less impressed with Rick Perry the more I learn about him.

Kelly Thomas: Exhibit A In Why Cops Need To Be Recorded By the Public

For anyone unfamiliar with the brutal police beating and murder of transient Kelly Thomas by several Fullerton California policemen, this video will bring you up to speed.  The picture of Thomas post-beating is not for the faint of heart.  Brace yourself.

Two cops were indicted in his murder the day before yesterday, September 20th.  One is being charged with murder, the other with involuntary manslaughter.  God bless Kelly Thomas's Dad.

21 September 2011

When All Else Fails, Just Tell 'Em What They Want To Hear

Mike Riggs of Reason reports on the Attorney General assuring people that now they're serious about closing Gitmo.  I'm sure it has nothing to do with pandering to a base you made that promise to 3 years ago and then reneged on it.  Nah.

Here's Mike Riggs' report:

The Associated Press reports that Attorney General Eric Holder has reiterated the Obama administration's promise to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, something Holder says will happen "as quickly as possible, recognizing that we will face substantial pressure." And by quickly, Holder means: "We will be pressing for the closure of the facility between now and [the election—]and after that election, we will try to close it as well."

Translation: We're going to try to do now what we promised you we'd do three years ago. So vote for us. If we don't do it now, you should still vote for us, because we'll do it later. We promise. 

Via Hot Air's Ed Morrissey, who muses, "It’s getting difficult to determine whether the Obama administration is working harder to fool its allies, its base, or itself.  If they believe that Obama can run and win in 2012 on the I’ll-close-Gitmo platform, then I’m guessing it’s the latter."

Defense Spending Has To Be On the Chopping Block

If we are actually serious, as a country, about cutting spending then there is no way we can legitimately leave defense spending out of the discussion.  There is waste that can be cut.  Any argument otherwise seems disingenuous.

Another Astonishing Kelo Update

I just recently posted an update on what was happening with the property that was stolen from Susette Kelo by the US judicial system. Now, it turns out, one of the Connecticut Supreme Court Justices has apologized to her for not siding with her. A little late, but at least it's a start. Here's Damon Root reporting on it at Reason.
A hell of a story from The Hartford Courant’s Jeff Benedict, who was present for an extraordinary encounter between Connecticut Supreme Court Justice Richard N. Palmer and Susette Kelo, the homeowner he once voted against in the infamous eminent domain case:
I had delivered the keynote address [at the New Haven Law Club] on the U.S. Supreme Court's infamous 5-4 decision in Kelo v. New London. Susette Kelo was in the audience and I used the occasion to tell her personal story, as documented in my book "Little Pink House." Afterward, Susette and I were talking in a small circle of people when we were approached by Justice Richard N. Palmer. Tall and imposing, he is one of the four justices who voted with the 4-3 majority against Susette and her neighbors. Facing me, he said: "Had I known all of what you just told us, I would have voted differently." I was speechless. So was Susette. One more vote in her favor by the Connecticut Supreme Court would have changed history. The case probably would not have advanced to the U.S. Supreme Court, and Susette and her neighbors might still be in their homes. Then Justice Palmer turned to Susette, took her hand and offered a heartfelt apology. Tears trickled down her red cheeks. It was the first time in the 12-year saga that anyone had uttered the words "I'm sorry."
Palmer should be sorry. So should U.S. Supreme Court Justices John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, David Souter, and Anthony Kennedy, whose five votes upheld Palmer’s erroneous judgment and put the final nail in the coffin.

19 September 2011

17 September 2011

Peter Schiff: Austrian Economics Explains the Recession

Peter Schiff is a businessman who testified before Congress recently and shared some well-explained insights into why the mortgage mess and the recession happened. He does a good job of not being difficult to understand. It's a little long at about 14 minutes, but worthwhile.

16 September 2011

The Abject Failure of the Minimum Wage

Walter Williams is an economist at George Mason University and a fantastic teacher of economic principles. Here he talks about how the minimum wage has hurt low-skilled people, including youth, by preventing them from getting jobs.

15 September 2011

Arrested and Strip-Searched Without Cause, FBI Apologizes

Mike Riggs of Reason wrote about Shoshana Hebshi being handcuffed and pulled off a plane with the 2 Indian men who were sitting in her row. She was held without explanation for 4 hours and was also strip-searched "for her own safety". If we don't stop this kind of thing then we can't complain when it happens to us.
The identity of a passenger removed from Frontier Airlines flight 623 last Sunday has been confirmed by the Associated Press. A half-Arab half-Jewish Ohio housewife named Shoshana Hebshi, who claimed on her blog earlier this week that she had been detained in Detroit, strip-searched, and interrogated, was in fact one of three passengers escorted off flight 623 by WCAA police on September 11. Hebshi wrote on her blog that she and the two Indian men sitting her row were pulled out of their seats and handcuffed without being told why. Hebshi was then put in the back of a police car, driven to an airport facility shared by WCAA and the Department of Homeland Security, and placed in a holding cell. Authorities kept Hebshi at the facility for four hours, during which time she was interrogated about her personal life and travel itinerary, and strip-searched. At no point was she told what she did to earn this treatment: I asked him several times what was going on and he wouldn’t answer me. It was like I was invisible. I felt so helpless and shocked. I was being treated like a criminal. A plainclothes officer stood came to my door and asked me if I spoke English. Something in me snapped at that question. Of course I spoke English I’m an American citizen, you asshole! Well, I left the expletive out. “Ok,” he said and stood watch outside my door saying he wanted to make sure I didn’t “flush anything.” He also wouldn’t tell me what was going on. Eventually a female uniformed officer came in....I was to stand, face the wall in a position so the camera above the toilet couldn’t see, and take off my clothes. I complied... “You understand why we have to do this, right? It’s for our own protection,” she told me. FBI Spokeswoman Sandra Berchtold denied to the Associated Press that it instructed airport authorities to "arrest" Hebshi and the two other passengers: "We received a report of suspicious activity on that particular plane. We did not arrest...these passengers....We didn't direct anybody to arrest them." To further emphasize that the agency had nothing to do with Hebshi's treatment, an FBI agent called her on Monday and apologized, according to the AP. The Wayne County Airport Authority, on the other hand, told the AP it was following protocol: "[We] responded appropriately by following protocol and treating everyone involved with respect and dignity." But if everyone was being treated with respect and dignity, why were Hebshi and the two Indian men handcuffed and strip-searched, while every other passenger on the flight was moved from the plane to the facility by bus, without cuffs, and without strip searches?

Paul Ryan on Getting America Running Again

Paul Ryan makes a compelling case for improving the tax code by making it fair, competitive, and simple. Why are we not doing this immediately?

14 September 2011

Best Example of Benefits of Free Trade? The USA.

Donald Boudreaux, one of my favorite economists, is in a new video explaining that the best example of the success of free trade zones is the USA. There are no tariffs between the states so I can buy a pineapple from Hawaii without having to pay a tariff for it. Hawaiians can buy maple syrup from Maine without a tariff. That's why this country has risen to such economic dominance. Of course, statists are doing everything they can to dismantle that, but that's a topic for another day.

13 September 2011

Biggest Threats to Civil Liberties Today

Mike German, a former FBI agent, recently did an interview with ReasonTV and told them some of the major dangers facing civil liberties today. Among the highlights: massive data gathering by the US government and collaboration between multiple entities that blurs the lines of jurisdiction and legality.

12 September 2011

New Armstrong and Getty Clips

I posted some new A&G clips in the widget at the top of the blog, including the one about the cops in Marin, California who tazed a guy because he refused to go to the hospital. Marin taxpayers are having to pay the guy almost $2 million because of those cops. Who wants to bet that they don't lose their jobs.

09 September 2011

From Tragedy To Farce

Daniel Mitchell had a great post today at Cato's website.
Obama’s Economic Policy: From Tragedy to Farce

Posted by Daniel J. Mitchell

Herman Cain probably had the best reaction to the President’s speech: “We waited 30 months for this?” My reaction yesterday was mixed. In some sense, I was almost embarrassed for the President. He demanded a speech to a joint session of Congress and then produced a list of recycled (regurgitated might be a better word) Keynesian gimmicks. But I was also angry. Tens of millions of Americans are suffering, but Obama is unwilling to admit big government isn’t working. I don’t know whether it’s because of ideological blindness or short-term politics, but it’s a tragedy that ordinary people are hurting because of his mistakes. The Wall Street Journal this morning offered a similar response, but said it in a nicer way.
This is not to say that Mr. Obama hasn’t made any intellectual progress across his 32 months in office. He now admits the damage that overregulation can do, though he can’t do much to stop it without repealing his own legislative achievements. He now acts as if he believes that taxes matter to investment and hiring, at least for the next year. And he now sees the wisdom of fiscal discipline, albeit starting only in 2013. Yet the underlying theory and practice of the familiar ideas that the President proposed last night are those of the government conjurer. More targeted, temporary tax cuts; more spending now with promises of restraint later; the fifth (or is it sixth?) plan to reduce housing foreclosures; and more public works spending, though this time we’re told the projects really will be shovel-ready.
And let’s also note that Obama had the gall to demand that Congress immediately enact his plan – even though he hasn’t actually produced anything on paper! And then, for the cherry on the ice cream sundae, he says he wants the so-called supercommittee to impose a bunch of class-warfare taxes to finance his latest scheme. What began as tragedy has now become farce.

08 September 2011

Kelo Eminent Domain Update

Damon Root of Reason gives us an update of the infamous Kelo Supreme Court decision. Set phasers to "Derision".
You seriously cannot make this stuff up. New London, Connecticut, the municipality that received the Supreme Court’s notorious stamp of approval in 2005 to bulldoze Susette Kelo’s neighborhood to make way for a “comprehensive redevelopment plan” that would provide “appreciable benefits to the community” is now using that seized land as a dump site for storm debris. Click here for the original story from The Day, which includes a video of local residents enjoying the “appreciable benefits” of New London’s eminent domain abuse by dropping off some tree branches.

07 September 2011

Why Are Wealthy Nations Wealthy?

Adam Smith has had a profound influence in our understanding of why some nations have done better than others when it comes to a prosperous populace. Here is a quick explanation of Mr. Smith's key insights.

05 September 2011

Quote of the Day

If it be admitted that a man, possessing absolute power, may misuse that power by wronging his adversaries, why should a majority not be liable to the same reproach? Men are not apt to change their characters by agglomeration; nor does their patience in the presence of obstacles increase with the consciousness of their strength. And for these reasons I can never willingly invest any number of my fellow creatures with that unlimited authority which I should refuse any one of them. — Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America [1835

03 September 2011

Now THAT Is Fresh Sausage

Chris Christie Speaks Truth: We Can't Afford Promises From Past Politicians

The refreshing thing about Chris Christie is that he just tells it how it is.  There is not enough money to pay the promises that were made by the politicians for the last several decades.  They KNEW they couldn't keep those promises but they didn't care.  Why would they?  They weren't going to be around when it all came tumbling down for public employees.

02 September 2011

Michael Allison: Constitutional Hero

Michael Allison was arrested on 5 counts of Eavesdropping because he video-taped a law enforcement officer in the performance of his duty. This is apparently illegal in Illinois. If convicted he would face 75 years in jail. The DA has offered him a plea bargain that would involve probation but no jail time, but, God bless him, Mr. Allison refuses to admit guilt. A local news station has been covering it and I've included a video of their coverage below. I wish Mr. Allison the best of luck in fighting the tyranny he faces.

Qualification for White House Press Secretary: Selective Amnesia

Jay Carney, White House Press Secretary recently announced that President Obama's upcoming proposal would (definitely this time) bring unemployment under 9%.  I know some of you are asking, "Now wait a minute, didn't they say that the stimulus package in 2009 would bring the unemployment under 8%?" and I can understand your confusion.  However, as Mr. Carney has explained, repeatedly apparently, we shouldn't "relitigate the battles of the past."  I ran that phrase through Google Translate and found out that it means, in plain English, "We're sick of you repeatedly pointing out to us the failures of Keynesianism, so if you wouldn't mind, please shut your pieholes."  Wow.  That Google Translate is powerful!

01 September 2011

Public Sex Now Legal In New Mexico (If You're a Policeman)

An 8-year veteran New Mexico State Police officer was caught on camera having sex with a woman on the hood of a car in broad daylight while still in his uniform. I don't want to dwell on the lurid nature of the event, but I have to bring it up because today the State Police announced that the officer will not be charged with any crime. Maybe I'm wrong, but I would imagine if you or I were caught doing this we would have multiple charges leveled against us. It's nice to be a cop. I'm sure this won't make more people cynical about law enforcement.

New California Babysitting Law Proposed

Armstrong and Getty spoke today about a piece of legislation that California Assemblyman Tom Ammiano has proposed that would require people to pay their babysitters minimum wage as well as vacation time, workers comp and providing them a break after every two hours of babysitting. I don't know about you but that would pretty much mean that my wife and I could not go out on dates anymore.  Hear the clip in the list of clips at the top of the blog page titled: A&G - New California Babysitting Law Proposed.