Audio Clips

27 December 2011

Short Film: Seconds

This was a great little film about the choices and intersections on which our lives pivot.

23 December 2011

Walter Williams recently wrote an article on the poverty of persuasive evidence on the part of the overpopulation scare-mongers.  I enjoyed the article and thought you might too.

Population Control Nonsense
by Walter E. Williams • December 2011 • Vol. 61/Issue 10
According to an American Dream article [1], “Al Gore, Agenda 21 and Population Control,” there are too many of us and it has a negative impact on the earth. Here’s what the United Nations Population Fund said in its annual State of the World Population Report for 2009, “Facing a Changing World: Women, Population and Climate”: “Each birth results not only in the emissions attributable to that person in his or her lifetime, but also the emissions of all his or her descendants. Hence, the emissions savings from intended or planned births multiply with time. . . . No human is genuinely ‘carbon neutral,’ especially when all greenhouse gases are figured into the equation. Therefore, everyone is part of the problem, so everyone must be part of the solution in some way. . . . Strong family planning programmes are in the interests of all countries for greenhouse-gas concerns as well as for broader welfare concerns.”

Thomas Friedman agrees in his New York Times column “The Earth is Full” (June 8, 2008), in which he says, “[P]opulation growth and global warming push up food prices, which leads to political instability, which leads to higher oil prices, which leads to higher food prices, and so on in a vicious circle.”

In his article “What Nobody Wants to Hear, But Everyone Needs to Know [2],” University of Texas at Austin biology professor Eric R. Pianka wrote, “I do not bear any ill will toward people. However, I am convinced that the world, including all humanity, WOULD clearly be much better off without so many of us.”

However, there is absolutely no relationship between high populations, disaster, and poverty. Population-control advocates might consider the Democratic Republic of Congo’s meager 75 people per square mile to be ideal while Hong Kong’s 6,500 people per square mile is problematic. Yet Hong Kong’s citizens enjoy a per capita income of $43,000 while the Democratic Republic of Congo, one of the world’s poorest countries, has a per capita income of $300. It’s no anomaly. Some of the world’s poorest countries have the lowest population densities.

Planet earth is loaded with room. We could put the world’s entire population into the United States, yielding a density of 1,713 people per square mile. That’s far lower than what now exists in all major U.S. cities. The entire U.S. population could move to Texas, and each family of four would enjoy more than 2.1 acres of land. Likewise, if the entire world’s population moved to Texas, California, Colorado, and Pennsylvania, each family of four would enjoy a bit over two acres. Nobody’s suggesting that the entire earth’s population be put in the United States or that the entire U.S. population move to Texas. I cite these figures to help put the matter into perspective.

Let’s look at some other population density evidence. Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, West Germany had a higher population density than East Germany. The same is true of South Korea versus North Korea; Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore versus China; the United States versus the Soviet Union; and Japan versus India. Despite more crowding, West Germany, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, the United States, and Japan experienced far greater economic growth, higher standards of living, and greater access to resources than their counterparts with lower population densities. By the way, Hong Kong has virtually no agriculture sector, but its citizens eat well.

One wonders why anyone listens to doomsayers who have been consistently wrong in their predictions—not a little off, but way off. Professor Paul Ehrlich, author of the 1968 bestseller The Population Bomb, predicted major food shortages in the United States and that by “the 1970s . . . hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death.” Ehrlich forecasted the starvation of 65 million Americans between 1980 and 1989 and a decline in U.S. population to 22.6 million by 1999. He saw England in more desperate straits: “If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.”

Expert Poverty

By a considerable measure, poverty in underdeveloped nations is directly attributable to their leaders heeding the advice of western “experts.” Nobel laureate and Swedish economist Gunnar Myrdal said (1956), “The special advisors to underdeveloped countries who have taken the time and trouble to acquaint themselves with the problem . . . all recommend central planning as the first condition of progress.” In 1957 Stanford University economist Paul A. Baran advised, “The establishment of a socialist planned economy is an essential, indeed indispensable, condition for the attainment of economic and social progress in underdeveloped countries.”

Topping off this bad advice, underdeveloped countries sent their brightest to the London School of Economics, Berkeley, Harvard, and Yale to be taught socialist nonsense about economic growth. Nobel laureate economist Paul Samuelson taught them that underdeveloped countries “cannot get their heads above water because their production is so low that they can spare nothing for capital formation by which the standard of living could be raised.” Economist Ranger Nurkse describes the “vicious circle of poverty” as the basic cause of the underdevelopment of poor countries. According to him, a country is poor because it is poor. On its face this theory is ludicrous. If it had validity, all mankind would still be cave dwellers because we all were poor at one time and poverty is inescapable.

Population controllers have a Malthusian vision of the world that sees population growth outpacing the means for people to care for themselves. Mankind’s ingenuity has proven the Malthusians dead wrong. As a result we can grow increasingly larger quantities of food on less and less land. The energy used to produce food, per dollar of GDP, has been in steep decline. We’re getting more with less, and that applies to most other inputs we use for goods and services.
Ponder the following question: Why is it that mankind today enjoys cell phones, computers, and airplanes but did not when King Louis XIV was alive? After all, the necessary physical resources to make cell phones, computers, and airplanes have always been around, even when cavemen walked the earth. There is only one reason we enjoy these goodies today but did not in past eras. It’s the growth in human knowledge, ingenuity, and specialization and trade—coupled with personal liberty and private property rights—that led to industrialization and betterment. In other words human beings are immensely valuable resources.

What are called overpopulation problems result from socialistic government practices that reduce the capacity of people to educate, clothe, house, and feed themselves. Underdeveloped nations are rife with farm controls, export and import restrictions, restrictive licensing, price controls, plus gross human rights violations that encourage their most productive people to emigrate and stifle the productivity of those who remain. The true antipoverty lesson for poor nations is that the most promising route out of poverty to greater wealth is personal liberty and its main ingredient, limited government.

Article printed from The Freeman | Ideas On Liberty:
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[1] an American Dream article:
[2] What Nobody Wants to Hear, But Everyone Needs to Know:

22 December 2011

Memo to Harry Reid: Government Doesn't Create Jobs

John Stossel recently wrote an article about politicians claiming that their job is to create jobs.  Several CEOs are tired of that lie and have decided that they're going to start speaking out about the fact that government has no money of its own to create jobs with.  They only have what they take from others first.  If politicians would have the humility to recognize that one simple fact we would have a much better society.

Here is the article in full:

Job Creators Fight Back

Tired of being pushed around, a group of CEOs are speaking out.

Some politicians claim that politicians create jobs.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says, “My job is to create jobs.”

What hubris! Government has no money of its own. All it does is take from some people and give to others. That may create some jobs, but only by leaving less money in the private sector for job creation.

Actually, it’s worse than that. Since government commandeers scarce resources by force and doesn’t have to peddle its so-called services on the market to consenting buyers, there’s no feedback mechanism to indicate if those services are worth more to people than what they were forced to go without.

The only people who create real, sustainable jobs are in private businesses—if they’re unsubsidized.
Some CEOs are upset that people don’t appreciate what they do. So they formed a group called the Job Creators Alliance.

Brad Anderson, former CEO of Best Buy, joined because he wants to counter the image of businesspeople as evil. When he was young, Anderson himself thought they were evil. But then he “stumbled into a business career” by going to work in a stereo store.

“I watched what happens in building a business. (My store,) The Sound of Music, which became Best Buy, was 11 years (old) before I made a dollar of profit.”

In 36 years, he turned that store into a $50 billion company.

Tom Stemberg, founder of Staples, got involved with the Job Creators Alliance because he’s annoyed that the government makes a tough job much tougher.

He complains that government mostly creates jobs—that kill jobs.

“They’re creating $300 million worth of jobs in the new consumer financial protection bureau,” Stemberg said, “which I don’t think is going to do much for productivity in America. We’re creating all kinds of jobs trying to live up to Dodd-Frank...and those jobs don’t create much productivity.

Now, Stemberg runs a venture capital business. “I helped create over 100,000 jobs myself," he said. "Pinkberry and City Sports and J. McLaughlin are growing and adding employment.”
To do that, he had to overcome hurdles placed in the way by government.

“All that we get is grief and more hoops to jump through and more forms to fill out and more regulations to comply with,” complained Stemberg. “Fastest-growing investment segment in venture capitalism: compliance software.”

Compliance is the big word in business today. Every business has to have a compliance department. But resources are scarce, so these departments suck away creativity. It’s one reason that these successful businesspeople don’t think they could do today what they did in the past.

Mike Whalen, CEO of Heart of America Group, said he got started with loans from banks that took a chance on an unknown: “It is not an underwriting standard that can be dictated by Dodd-Frank with 55 pages. It’s kind of a gut instinct.”

But John Allison, who built BB&T Corp. into the 12th biggest bank in America, says that “gut instinct” is now illegal.

“It would be very difficult to do what we did then today. It was semi-venture capital thing. The government regulations (today) are so tight, including setting credit standards, particularly since the so-called financial crisis and since they ... changed the credit standards in the banking industry, making it very hard for the banks to finance small businesses.”

These successful businessmen realize that in one way, they profit from the regulatory burden. They can absorb the costs. That gives them an advantage over smaller competitors.

“Somebody who wants to compete with us can’t because we can afford to hire the guys that can read this stuff and to keep us in compliance with the law. They can’t,” Anderson said.

Politicians rarely understand this. One who learned it too late was Sen. George McGovern. After he left office, he started a small bed-and-breakfast and hit the regulatory wall he helped create. Later, he wrote, “I wish during the years I was in public office I had this firsthand experience about the difficulties businesspeople face....We are choking off business opportunity.”

Wish they learned that before leaving office.


The True Nature of Fortune Cookies

21 December 2011

Superintendent Whines: But Now We Have To Compete!

Katherine Mangu-Ward of Reason points out a recent complaint by the Michigan superintendent, Rob Glass.  Michigan is on track to allow unlimited charter schools by 2015.  He whines:

"We might see a fundamental shift that takes us where we may never see where we are today again," he said at a well-attended school board meeting Thursday night at the Doyle Center. "We have to think about how we're going to compete in this new landscape."

Um, I think that might be the point...

20 December 2011

Term Limits Talk Between Walter Williams and James Buchanan

I have generally been in favor of term limits, but I think Walter Williams makes some good points about the possible ineffectiveness of term limits.

16 December 2011

Armstrong and Getty: Name That Trombone Christmas Song!

For years, Joe Getty has been treating us to his once-a-year trombone playing by doing a Name That Tune with Christmas songs.  It is easily one of my favorite parts of the year and announces the beginning of the Christmas season.  Merry Christmas and to all a New Eardrum!

Armstrong and Getty Band Names for 2011

Armstrong and Getty have a tradition of creating band names from tidbits of conversations.  The names are hilarious and listener Mary in San Jose collected all the names they invented during 2011.  This is a part of that list.

Drug Policy Recommendations

The Cato Institute recently did a conference on the failed US drug policy.  ReasonTV interviewed quite a few of those who participated about their opinions.

15 December 2011

ReasonTV Interviews Susan Herman, President of the ACLU

I don't agree with every position that the ACLU has taken but I found this interview fascinating and I agree with Ms. Herman that people of all political stripes need to be communicating to their elected officials that government has gotten too large and too powerful.

14 December 2011

Help Aggregate Demand This Christmas

If you haven't seen the Keynes v. Hayek videos you need to do that NOW!  (Also, if you're spending your evenings wondering to yourself how you can surprise me this Christmas, this video gives you a couple of ideas.)  ;-)

Lawrence Reed on Humility

The December issue of The Freeman had the following article.  I really enjoy Lawrence Reed's writings because he gives me hope when I get upset with the world.  This article is on the need for humility.

Wanted: A Healthy Dose of Humility
by Lawrence W. Reed • December 2011 • Vol. 61/Issue 10
An awful lot of people in this world are really puffed up about themselves. One of the character traits I wish were much more widely practiced these days is good old-fashioned humility.

T. S. Eliot said, “Humility is the most difficult of all virtues to achieve; nothing dies harder than the desire to think well of oneself.”

If you’re not sure what humility is, these lyrics from an old Mac Davis tune will at least remind you of what it’s not:

Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble when you’re perfect in every way.
I can’t wait to look in the mirror ‘cause I get better looking every day.
I guess you could say I’m a loner, a cowboy outlaw tough and proud.
I could have lots of friends if I want to, but then
I wouldn’t stand out from the crowd.
Oh Lord, it’s hard to be humble!

I couldn’t disagree more with those words. It’s not hard to be humble if you stop comparing yourself to others. It’s not hard to be humble if your focus is building your own character. It’s not hard to be humble if you first come to grips with how little you really know. “The wise person possesses humility. He knows that his small island of knowledge is surrounded by a vast sea of the unknown,” noted Harold C. Chase.

One of the greatest teachers and theologians of our day, Pastor Timothy Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, makes this keen observation: “Until the twentieth century most cultures, including ours, held that having too high an opinion of oneself was the root of most of the world’s troubles. Misbehavior from drug addiction to cruelty to wars resulted from hubris or pride—a haughtiness of spirit that needed to be deterred or disciplined. The idea that you were bigger or better, or more self-righteous, or somehow immune from the rules that govern others—the absence of humility, in other words—gave you license to do unto others what you would never allow them to do unto you.”

These days, however, it’s a different story. Being humble rubs against what millions have been taught under the banner of “self-esteem.” Even as our schools fail to teach us elemental facts and skills, they somehow manage to teach us to feel good in our ignorance. We explain away bad behavior as the result of the guilty feeling bad about themselves. We manufacture excuses for them, form support groups for them, and resist making moral judgments lest we hurt their feelings. We don’t demand repentance and self-discipline as much as we pump up their egos.

Don’t get me wrong. Humility doesn’t mean thinking less of yourself. It means thinking of yourself less. It means putting yourself in proper perspective. It means cultivating a healthy sense of your limitations and the vast room you have to grow and improve. It means you don’t presume to know more than you do.
Fifty-three years ago this month (December 1958) Leonard Read’s essay “I, Pencil” [1] made its debut. Let me summarize it for you here: No one person—repeat, no one, no matter how smart or how many degrees follow his name—could create from scratch, entirely by himself, a small, everyday pencil, let alone a car or an airplane.

A mere pencil—a simple thing, yet beyond any one person’s complete comprehension. Think of all that went into it, the countless people and skills assembled miraculously in the marketplace without a single mastermind—indeed, without anyone knowing more than a corner of the whole process. It’s impossible not to think of the huge implications of this lesson for the economy and the role of government.

It is in fact a message that humbles the high and mighty. It pricks the inflated egos of those who think they know how to mind everybody else’s business. It explains in plain language why central planning of society or an economy is an exercise in arrogance and futility. If I can’t make a pencil, holy cow, I’d better be careful about how smart I think I am.

Big Plans, Broken Shells

Maximilian Robespierre blessed the horrific French Revolution with this chilling declaration: “On ne saurait faire une omelette sans casser des oeufs.” Translation: “One can’t expect to make an omelet without breaking eggs.” He worked tirelessly to plan the lives of others and became the architect of the Revolution’s bloodiest phase: the Reign of Terror. Robespierre and his guillotine broke eggs by the thousands in a vain effort to impose a utopian society with government planners at the top and everybody else at the bottom.
That French experience is one example in a disturbingly familiar pattern. Call them what you will—socialist, interventionist, collectivist, statist—history is littered with their presumptuous plans for rearranging society to fit their vision of the common good, plans that always fail as they kill or impoverish people in the process. I’ve said it in this magazine before but I’m happy to say it again: If big government ever earns a final epitaph, it will be, “Here lies a contrivance engineered by know-it-alls who broke eggs with abandon but never, ever created an omelet.”

None of the Robespierres of the world knew how to make a pencil, yet they wanted to remake entire societies. How utterly preposterous and mournfully tragic!

The destructive acts of pride don’t always come from brash and fiery revolutionaries or egotistical tyrants full of pompous and hateful rhetoric. More often they come cloaked in benevolence and disguised as the wisdom of the elders, who have only the best of intentions for the whole community. An outstanding example of this type of hubris is the political philosophy in Plato’s Republic, in which he maintains, with breathtaking vanity, that the world would be a harmonious and prosperous place if only philosophers like himself were given absolute authority to run it as they saw fit!

We would miss a large implication of Leonard Read’s message if we assume it aims only at the tyrants whose names we all know. The lesson of “I, Pencil” is not that error begins when the planners plan big. It begins the moment one tosses humility aside, assumes he knows the unknowable, and employs the force of government to control more and more of other people’s lives. That’s not just a national disease. It can be very local indeed.

In our midst are people who think that if only they had government power on their side, they could pick tomorrow’s winners and losers in the marketplace, set prices or rents where they ought to be, decide which forms of energy should power our homes and cars, and choose which industries should survive and which should die. They make grandiose promises they can’t possibly keep without bankrupting us all. They should stop for a few moments and learn a little humility from a lowly writing implement.

So humility, in my book, is pretty important stuff. It may well be the one virtue of strong character that is a precondition of all the others.

Article printed from The Freeman | Ideas On Liberty:

10 December 2011

Democracy Requires Boundaries

This is a great 2 1/2 minute explanation on a couple of the dangers of democracy.

09 December 2011

Book to Read: The Rights of the People

I just reviewed a book by Tim Sandefur and today read a review he wrote about another book I'm going to have to read. Sounds like I'll need to take my blood pressure meds before I read it though. Here is an excerpt from Tim's review:

The Rights of the People: How Our Search for Safety Invades Our Liberties
By: David K. Shipler
Times Books, $27.95, 400 pages

Shipler surveys — with exceptional accuracy for a nonlawyer — the sad state of the law regarding searches and seizures, interrogations, and confessions; he also reports from the scene, riding the rough neighborhoods of Washington, D.C., with police officers who are quite conscious of what pressures they can exert, and what half-truths they can employ, to circumvent the spirit, while staying within the letter, of the law. In fact, by exploiting Fourth Amendment precedents, police officers can now search more or less at will. In Atwater v. City of Lago Vista (532 U.S. 318 (2001)), for example, the Supreme Court held the Constitution was not violated when a police officer handcuffed and arrested a Texas mother who was driving without wearing a seat belt. Because officers can search an arrested suspect and anyone in her immediate vicinity, the Atwater ruling gives police almost unlimited search powers. As then — Justice Janice Rogers Brown observed in People v. McKay (27 Cal. 4th 601, 632633 (2002) (concurring opn.)): "In the pervasively regulatory state, police are authorized to arrest for thousands of petty malum prohibitum 'crimes' — many too trivial even to be honestly labeled infractions.... Since this indiscriminate power to arrest brings with it a virtually limitless power to search, the result is the inevitable recrudescence of the general warrant."

Worse, the U.S. Supreme Court has held that warrants are not required when prosecutors seek to obtain information from third parties to whom a defendant voluntarily yields it. Since many people do not realize what information they are giving away — location information automatically beamed to their cell phone companies, for instance — they are far more vulnerable to snooping than they realize....

08 December 2011

Due Process on the Chopping Block

I frequently can't believe the complete disregard for the Constitution that our politicians seem to have, but this just leaves me speechless.  The Senate wants the President to have the power to detain indefinitely American citizens that he declares enemy combatants?  What happened to due process.  Apparently that Bill of Rights thing is just a bunch of *!#(&%$.

07 December 2011

Book: Property Rights in 21st Century America

Cornerstone of Liberty: Property Rights in 21st Century AmericaCornerstone of Liberty: Property Rights in 21st Century America by Timothy Sandefur
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is a very powerful indictment of the decline of property rights in the US. It starts with a valuable and concise history of the philosophical underpinnings of private property rights and then details some of the worst abuses of government power in taking property rights from Americans. I love Tim Sandefur and have heard him interviewed several time on the Armstrong and Getty Show, but I wish there had been more helpful suggestions on how to reverse this trend. One way to start would be to get everyone to read this book.

View all my reviews

Wall Street and Occupy Sitting In a Tree...

This is a great indictment of both Wall Street crony capitalism and Occupy Wall Street greed.  Share it with your friends!

06 December 2011

Obama the Powerless?

Gene Healy wrote a great op-ed on President Obama that is worth reading.  Here is one of my favorite excerpts:

It isn't just that he's been a terrible president, it's that no earthly figure could deliver the miracles he promised: among other things, "a complete transformation of the economy, "care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless," to "end the age of oil in our time," begin to heal the very planet and, perhaps most unrealistically, "fundamentally change the way Washington works."

Like they say, though, it couldn't happen to a nicer guy. Since Obama has stoked irrational public expectations for presidential salvation in virtually every public policy area, it's hard to feel sorry for him.

04 December 2011

Trade Is A Win For Both Parties

This video is a good explanation of why trade doesn't involve one party having to lose in order for the other party to get what it wants.

03 December 2011

The Trumping Resource: Innovation

Julian Simon was an economist who boldly defied the Malthusian ethic that resources would eventually dwindle and mankind would suffer the consequences.  His argument was that human ingenuity and innovation combined with free-market principles would come up with more efficient ways to use resources and alternative resources for those in decline.  That's why I have a hard time worrying about "peak oil".  Here is a great video on this topic.

01 December 2011

Chris Matthews on President Obama

This is from a recent Armstrong and Getty show.  It's clips of Chris Matthews talking about problems with President Obama.  It's pretty interesting.