Audio Clips

30 November 2011

29 November 2011

Nick Gillespie Interviews Judge Andrew Napolitano

I try to keep the videos I post relatively short but this interview of Judge Andrew Napolitano was really good.  I was really glad to hear a libertarian defense of the pro-life position in the interview also.

27 November 2011

Carlos Gomar Represents the Worst Aspects of Entitlement Culture

I blogged a couple of weeks ago about University of Utah student Carlos Gomar who was at the Occupy protests with a sign that read: "Throw me a bone, pay my tuition".  I won't rehash my comments on how pathetic an activity that is, but I will post a video of Mr. Gomar being interviewed about that sign.  He looks even more stupid in the interview.  When asked why someone should pay his tuition, his response is essentially, "Because I want them to."  Really?!  How about you get a job rather than protest and then maybe you'll be able to pay your own bloody tuition?  What a parasite.  Here is the video:



I wanted to make sure that this was indeed the same guy mentioned in the Business Week article so I did a Google search for "Carlos Gomar Utah" and this story and photo came up with the heading "Utahns Hold Vigil For DREAM Act".  Does the guy in the photo look familiar?  It's the same guy in the video above so I feel pretty confident that it is the same Carlos Gomar mentioned in the Business Week article.  Again, Mr. Gomar, why don't you get a freakin' job like the rest of us did to pay for our college educations?  Ya lazy maggot.



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(Djamila Grossman | The Salt Lake Tribune) Carlos Gomar leads supporters and community members in a prayer for passage of the DREAM Act, near Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Sunday, Nov. 28, 2010. 
The DREAM Act would create a path to legalization and citizenship for immigrant youth who serve the country through education or the armed forces. 
Utahns hold vigil for DREAM Act 
Supporters of a measure that would provide children of undocumented immigrants a path to legal status gathered Sunday in downtown Salt Lake City to raise awareness of a Senate vote expected this week on the DREAM Act.

The gathering of several dozen people along South Temple near Main Street was among many events held nationwide over the holiday weekend to help push for passage of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, or DREAM Act. The House and Senate are expected to vote on the act this week, with the toughest opposition expected in the Senate.

Forming a circle and weathering snowfall for more than an hour, those in attendance prayed for passage of the act. Alma Castrejon, an organizer of the event in Salt Lake City, also urged the public to call Utah Republican Sens. Bob Bennett and Orrin Hatch to ask for their support.

Bennett has said he supports the DREAM Act. Hatch, a longtime supporter of the measure, recently expressed reservations about it, saying the nation’s immigration debate may have more pressing issues to address first, such as national security and the border. 

Critics of the measure have argued that it would provide amnesty to hundreds of thousands of people who are in the country illegally.

The act would offer conditional legal residency for those who entered the country illegally before age 16. To qualify for relief under the act, they would have to have lived in the United States for at least five years, earned a high school diploma or GED diploma and completed at least two years of college or military service. The measure is designed for those under 35 who do not have a criminal record.
“There are many people who have been in this country since they were 2 years old,” said Alonso Reyna, of Salt Lake City. “These are people who want to stay here and serve our country.”

Eduardo Reyes-Chavez, of Salt Lake City, said he attended the vigil Sunday to show his support for students in Utah who live in fear of being deported — and because the DREAM Act “is the right thing to do.”

“Education is important to everyone,” he said. “It doesn’t matter whether you are undocumented or not, you should have the right to an education.”

San Diego: A Model for Pension Reform?

One of the gentleman interviewed in this video is Chris Reed who is one of my favorite writers for the San Diego Union-Tribune.  I hope they are able to pull off this reform next summer.

26 November 2011

The Real Thanksgiving Story

A great explanation of the problem with communal property and the "tragedy of the commons".

20 November 2011

If I Ever Kill You You'll Be Awake, You'll Be Facing Me and You'll Be Armed

As a fan of Firefly, Nathan Fillion, free speech and fascism-fighters, this video made me swoon.

19 November 2011

The Importance of Failure

I recently read an article entitled "The Importance of Failure" by Steven Horwitz and Jack Knych in The Freeman.  It was so well written and important for people to understand that I'm linking to it and posting the whole thing here.  Fear of failure seems to be one of the defining characteristics of statists and Keynesians, and that just shows their ignorance of failure's role in human advancement.

The Importance of Failure
by Steven Horwitz and Jack Knych • November 2011 • Vol. 61/Issue 9
In today’s society failure has become something to fear, avoid, and therefore prevent at all costs. Whether it is unemployment compensation, farm subsidies, or bailouts for failing companies, the world seems to view failure as having no redeeming social value. If success is all good and failure is all bad, then it seems as though we should do everything we can to remedy or prevent failure.

But is that so? Without denying the value of perseverance, and recognizing that the slogan “never give up” can be useful in overcoming certain obstacles, we must keep in mind that failure can act as a guide to more worthwhile activities. For example, in 1921 Walt Disney started a company called the Laugh-O-Gram Corporation, which went bankrupt two years later. If a friend of Disney or the government hadn’t let him fail and move on, he might never have become the Walt Disney we know today.

More important than this individual learning process is the irreplaceable role failure plays in the social learning process of the competitive market. When we refuse to allow failure to happen, or we cushion its blow, we ultimately harm not only the person who failed but also all of society by denying ourselves a key way to learn how best to allocate resources. Without failure there’s no economic growth or improved human well-being.

Economists, especially those of the Austrian school, often emphasize how entrepreneurs discover new knowledge and better ways of producing things. But entrepreneurial endeavors frequently fail and the profits thought to be in hand often don’t materialize. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, over half of small businesses fail within the first five years. But failed entrepreneurial activity is just as important as successful entrepreneurial activity. Markets are desirable not because they lead smoothly to improved knowledge and better coordination, but because they provide a process for learning from our mistakes and the incentive to correct them. It’s not that entrepreneurs are just good at getting it right; it’s also that they (like all of us) can know when they’ve got it wrong and can obtain the information necessary to get it right next time.

On this view failure drives change. While success is the engine that accelerates us toward our goals, it is failure that steers us toward the most valuable goals possible. Once failure is recognized as being just as important as success in the market process, it should be clear that the goal of a society should be to create an environment that not only allows people to succeed freely but to fail freely as well.

The Knowledge Problem

Understanding this point requires a broader vision of the market process. For Austrian economists the fundamental economic problem is not the efficient allocation of given resources to our most valued ends at a given time, but rather how we overcome the “knowledge problem”—the division of knowledge that characterizes the social world. It is more important to figure this out than to master the problem of resource allocation because new knowledge drives economic growth and creates prosperity. If the main task of the market were merely to allocate known resources to their most efficient uses, economic growth would seem impossible, since we would be stuck in a primitive world. Where is there any room for the innovation or change that drives progress and improves our lives? If a plow is deemed the most efficient use of iron and all iron is constantly allocated to making plows, how could iron ever be allocated for a new invention such as a tractor? The answer is that entrepreneurs change the most efficient use of resources by discovering new uses. By understanding the economic problem posed by limited, unique, and dispersed knowledge, we can better understand the role failure plays in coping with this problem.

Competition figures prominently in this system. Competition promotes entrepreneurial activity and the discovery of knowledge by empowering a variety of decision-makers to try to find new and better ways of using resources as well as new ends to achieve. This decentralization ensures that what F. A. Hayek called the local knowledge of time and place will be best used. Centralized planning, like other forms of government allocation, necessarily relies on the knowledge of fewer people, limiting discovery and restricting knowledge-dissemination to fewer channels. Competition is a better way to overcome the knowledge problem.

Failure and Opportunity

We can understand the role of failure if we recognize, as Ludwig von Mises did, that all human action intends to “remove felt uneasiness.” We are always striving to improve ourselves by achieving our highest valued ends as often as we can. On these terms, failure is all around us because no human ever achieves a complete lack of felt uneasiness. We always have unsatisfied ends. Israel Kirzner uses the term “alertness” to describe how the entrepreneurial element of human action identifies which ends to strive for and which means are available. Kirzner says that for market action to occur, entrepreneurs must first be alert to opportunities for profit. The possibility of profit keeps entrepreneurs alert to the ways people strive for ends or make use of means that fail to remove felt uneasiness. Once they’ve noticed this failure in human knowledge, the same opportunity for profit spurs entrepreneurial activity to find a new way to achieve those ends, or to find better ends themselves. So a failure in human knowledge becomes the catalyst for producing new knowledge via the entrepreneurial process.

When entrepreneurs attempt to correct a particular failure in knowledge, they often fail themselves and incur losses because of competition. Although bankruptcy is painful in the short term, such failure is an integral part of how entrepreneurial activity and the market function. Failure in a competitive society informs market participants about which activities or jobs to strive for and which to avoid, lest they waste time and money. Jobs that add value to society should be pursued, while those that fail to add value should be eliminated. Markets help guide market participants far better than any bureaucracy can because bureaucracies lack the market’s key components of competition, profit, and loss, which reveal failures and allow for their correction.

Because competition is a voyage into the unknown, we can only know after the fact what works and what does not. Thus economic failure is not “waste.” Calling entrepreneurial failure a “waste” implicitly assumes that one knew ahead of time what the best use of resources was. Such knowledge is not available to anyone, which is why failure is necessary to provide the needed signals.
The subsidies, bailouts, stimulus packages, and other interventions that now increasingly characterize the U.S. economy disrupt this process. Farm subsidies (including cheap water out west), for example, prevent entrepreneurs from finding and capitalizing on failures of knowledge in farming. While there may be new and better ways to grow food, it is difficult for entrepreneurs to find this out if farmers are kept afloat by the government. Perhaps decentralized, local farming would be discovered as more profitable if larger monoculture farms that are possibly damaging the environment were allowed to fail. By preventing inefficient methods of production from suffering losses, subsidies reduce the degree of failure in agricultural markets and make it harder to know that misallocation has taken place and to correct it.

Not letting Chrysler and General Motors fail during the Great Recession prevented an entrepreneurial response to this misuse of resources. The bailouts created two types of negative incentives. First, the companies were encouraged to keep making cars when their losses showed the resources and labor could better be used elsewhere. Second, the government deterred any new entrepreneur from entering the industry and doing things better. Many politicians defended the bailout because they did not want the hundreds of thousands of autoworkers to become unemployed. But when hundreds of thousands of workers become unemployed they do not disappear. They find different jobs that would contribute to society in a better way than working for a bankrupt auto company. The physical assets of bankrupt companies also get reallocated to alert entrepreneurs looking for bargains. Failure is necessary for learning and for success.

The Keynesian argument for government jobs programs is that any sort of work will restart spending in a recession, even hiring people to dig ditches and fill them up. But do a higher GDP and a job by themselves make society better off? Would it be better to have a 2 percent unemployment rate with 8 percent of the employed population doing jobs that don’t add real value (so around 10 percent of the labor force is not adding real value) or more unemployment with everyone who is working really adding value?

Unemployment

Unemployment is a form of failure, and it involves the same considerations as when businesses fail. If a job no longer contributes value this needs to be made clear so that those workers can find jobs that actually do. Imagine if the disemployment of farmers had been prevented during the transition to an industrial economy. In 1941, 41 percent of the U.S. workforce was in agriculture. In 2011 the portion was 3 percent. Where would industry be today if we had prevented the majority of the 41 percent from losing their jobs and finding new ones? It is right that this sort of “failure” was allowed to occur because the displaced farmers found new jobs in the cities and elsewhere. Those new jobs helped society transition from agriculture to industry to services, creating even newer jobs all along the way. This is strong evidence that learning from failure takes place in labor markets.

Autopoiesis (life’s continuous production of itself) is one of the principal characteristics of life, and constant change is its essence. This applies to the economy as well. For us to maintain or increase a high standard of living we must constantly change how we do things. This change won’t be fueled by lucky guesses or by bureaucratic decrees, but instead often by entrepreneurial activity in the face of failure in the market. Since that activity drives the train of progress, it is in society’s interest that the tracks be cleared of governmental obstacles.

Article printed from The Freeman | Ideas On Liberty: http://www.thefreemanonline.org
URL to article: http://www.thefreemanonline.org/featured/the-importance-of-failure/

ReasonTV: 3 Reasons Not to Forgive Student Loans

17 November 2011

Simply Astounding Musical Genius

This 60 Minutes piece about a 12 year-old composer at Julliard is simply amazing.

16 November 2011

Bad Lip Reading: Michell Bachmann

You've probably seen some of these Bad Lip Reading videos, but they still crack me up so I thought I would share this one.

"One Jew Person"  "I bring milk, not backyard meth.  It's a prison party."  "The sugar fountain fairy swore so hard"

15 November 2011

Anti-Dumping = Job-Killing

This is a great video on why "anti-dumping" laws actually hurt the Americans they're supposed to protect.  If China wants to sell us their silicon for cheap we should let them.  That means we keep our own supplies for future use if necessary.  Dump away, China!

10 November 2011

Liberty, Security and the TSA

Great video on the "security theater" that is our TSA.

Too Big To Fail? Let's Make You Bigger!

The Washington Post had an interesting article recently about Wall Street's quick recovery compared to the rest of the country.  The thing that struck me though was pretty early on in the article.

The largest banks are larger than they were when Obama took office and are nearing the level of profits they were making before the depths of the financial crisis in 2008, according to government data.

Sooooo, what you're telling me is that we bailed out these banks because if they had failed it would have brought down Western Civilization as we know it and our solution to prevent that from happening again is to make them EVEN BIGGER?!  Sure.  Nothing bad could happen because of that.

09 November 2011

3 Things I Learned As My Plane Crashed

What a powerful talk.  We can take advantage of Ric's experience and apply some great life lessons because of it.

A. Barton Hinkle recently wrote an interesting piece about how government is interfering with our lives medically.  Here is an interesting excerpt.

Merely providing resources is no longer enough. See, for example, health care: To provide the uninsured with medical care, it does not suffice simply to pay taxes that fund social-welfare programs. Under the Romney/Obama individual mandate, everyone must buy health insurance for the sake of the common good. 
The same rationale undergirds much of the campaign against obesity—which, some say, costs society $270 billion a year. Part of that total comes from direct expenses such as medical care for diabetics. An additional $73 billion allegedly comes from lost productivity due to poor health—at least according to a rather inexact study funded (surprise!) by Allergan, the maker of a gastric-band system for obesity surgery.

The social cost of lost productivity is an interesting concept. It implies not only that you have a duty to avoid becoming a burden to others, but also that you have an affirmative duty to produce resources for others. (Because otherwise, society has "lost" something that, in truth, it never had in the first place: your future exertions.)
I find it interesting that the underlying assumption is that I have a duty to provide my productive efforts to the common good.  That whole way of thinking is repugnant to me.  I voluntarily give my efforts to organizations that I believe in, but the assumption that my efforts are "deserved" by society, and particularly government, is ridiculous.

08 November 2011

The Role of Incentives

This is a great explanation on how economists try to evaluate the role of incentives in decision-making.

05 November 2011

Military Reunion 8

Reason: Sexual Abuse Victim Forced To Pay Attacker

Reason Magazine pointed this out the other day.  It's appalling and I can't believe this judge would make a decision like this.  Apparently justice is blind.  And stupid.

Here is an excerpt from Reason:

A San Diego judge ordered Crystal Harris to pay $1,000 a month in spousal support to her ex-husband -- just as soon as he finishes up his six year prison sentence for sexually assaulting her. As 10News reports, "The entire assault was caught on tape and what it captured was enough to convict Shawn Harris of a felony -- forced oral copulation."
So why is a victim being forced to pay her attacker? According to Judge Gregory Pollock, it's because Crystal Harris brought home six figures worth of bacon while Shawn Harris was unemployed.
"I can't look at a 12-year marriage where one side is making $400 a month, the other side is making over $11,000 and say no spousal support," Pollock said in court. "That would be an abuse of discretion."

04 November 2011

Michael Moore Must Just Laugh At How Stupid People Are

Shikha Dalmia wrote a quick piece on how disingenuous Michael Moore is.  It's short so I'm just posting the whole thing here.  He has to just laugh at night about how stupid people are for believing he's "one of them."


More on Michael Moore's Millions

When Michael Moore told Piers Morgan that he was not among the hated 1 percent, he wasn’t lying. That’s because with a net worth upwards of $50 million he’s among the top 0.1 percent.
He made a big deal about paying a third of his first $3 million in taxes to this “great country," as I noted previously. But what has he been doing since then? Collecting subsidies from Michigan taxpayers to make millions more, as it turns out, completely unlike the bailout money that evil Wall Street fat-cats received from federal taxpayers.
Henry Payne, my former colleague at The Detroit News reports that Moore took $1 million in film subsidies to make “Capitalism: A Love Story” from a state that has a mega-billion dollar fiscal hole.
What’s more, he made $222 million at the box office whose DVD distribution was handled by Sony, an evil corporation. What did he do with the money? Give it all away in charity, buying turkeys for Michigan’s poor on Thanksgiving? Errr….Not exactly: He bought a $5 million mansion in tony Torch Lake, Michigan.
But that doesn't mean he can't rally a crowd in front of Oakland City Hall urging it to expand its protests to leafy suburbs like Oakland's middle-class Walnut Creek because that’s, you know, “where the money is,” as he put it.
Actually, as Payne notes, Torch Lake is where the money is. So maybe after he is done with Oakland he can lead an Occupy Torch Lake protest. Yes, Michael?
Full disclosure: I live in Oakland County that, I believe, could really use a protest to liven things up.

01 November 2011

Military Reunion 6

Pelosi: Boeing Plant Should Be Shut Down For Not Unionizing

There are essentially two kinds of people when it comes to government: those that think that government should do little more than protect liberties and enforce contracts and those who think that government should step in wherever it feels like it.  Which kind would you guess Nancy Pelosi is?